Apple releases third-gen Apple TV, adds 1080p support, new user interface in the process

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 13:30
Category: News

It may look exactly the same as its previous generation, but some oomph has been added.

Per Macworld, Apple unveiled a new Apple TV model on Wednesday, with support for 1080p video and a new user interface, at a special event in San Francisco.

The new Apple TV model features a redesigned user interface with iOS-like buttons that appear on the home screen below the thumbnail images. The buttons highlight Apple’s movies, TV shows, music, computers, trailers, podcasts, and settings areas, but also better call out the third-party services available on the Apple TV, including Netflix, Vimeo, and live sports subscriptions for baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Still, the good news for current Apple TV owners is that the new interface is available Wednesday as a free software update.

The company also added support for 1080p HD video with the new model. Previously, the Apple TV only supported 720p HD video, and that’s the highest resolution that Apple sold through the iTunes Store. Now the Apple TV can play 1080p video, and movies and TV shows sold by Apple will now be available in 1080p resolution as well.

Users can redownload movies you purchased on any of your devices. Movies and TV shows in the iTunes Store will now support 1080p HD. The higher resolution means better-looking photos too.

Apple has allowed you to redownload (or stream to the Apple TV) TV shows you’ve purchased already. The company has now added movies to the list of content you can redownload as well.

The Apple TV also incorporates Apple’s Genius functionality in order to recommend movies based on your downloading habits.

The new Apple TV looks identical to the previous model, but incorporates a more-powerful single-core A5 chip instead of Apple’s older A4 chip from the second-generation Apple TV.

The new model will be available on March 16 at the same US$99 price as before.

Apple posts streaming video of iPad 3 press event

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 13:19
Category: Hardware, News

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If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s worth even more.

Following its iPad 3 press event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Apple quickly posted streaming video of the event.

The keynote was hosted by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, and featured presentations by other members of the company’s top brass, including Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue.

The biggest news Wednesday was the new iPad, which features a high-resolution Retina Display and a new A5X CPU packing a quad-core graphics processor starting at $499. The cameras have also been improved, with a rear-facing 5-megapixel lens capable of 1080p video, while the wireless-capable models now feature connectivity with 4G LTE networks from carriers like Verizon and Sprint.

Other presentations, such as AutoDesk for iOS, new games and a newly-created version of iPhoto for iOS, are presented in the video and show the bells and whistles of the new tablet.

Click the link, take a gander and if something’s on your mind, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple releases long-awaited iOS 5.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:51
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been craving it for months and it’s finally here. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has released its iOS 5.1 update for qualifying iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices.

The update, which can be located, snagged and installed via iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Japanese language support for Siri (availability may be limited during initial rollout)

- Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream.

- Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation).

- Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces.

- Redesigned Camera app for iPad.

- Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers.

- Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer.

- Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad.

- Updated AT&T network indicator.

- Addresses bugs affecting battery life.

- Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls.

As always, if you’ve tried the new iOS and have any feedback to offer (positive or negative), please let us know in the comments.

iPad 3 press event live blog

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 09:22
Category: iPad, News

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Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here with the iPad 3 press event live blog, as covered via Macworld.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it and see what’s happening:

- The music is playing, people are filing in and the event should begin at 10 A.M. PST/1 P.M. EST.

- Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage and thanks everyone for coming on out. Begins to discuss the idea of a post-PC world and the devices you carry around with you on a daily basis.

- States that the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are post-PC devices and that last year, Apple sold 172 million post-PC devices, which accounted for 76% of the company’s revenue.

- Apple will add Japanese language support to Siri as part of iOS 5.1, which is available today and will be rolled out in Japan over the next few weeks.

- A new Apple TV device is now being unveiled.

- This is nifty: Movies and TV shows purchased/rented in the iTunes Store will now support 1080p.

- Photo Stream appears to be due for an update and Tim Cook is demonstrating how a picture taken with an iPhone is automatically synced over to an Apple TV in the background at full 1080p.

- Tim Cook is now beginning to discuss the iPad, its effect and the company’s sales numbers for the tablet.

- Building the suspense on the iPad 3…Barnum would be proud.

- “Until you see it, you can’t understand how amazing it is.”

- The iPad 3′s new screen resolution: 2048 x 1536 pixels. Do some nerd math and this is over 3.1 million pixels to gaze upon.

- Phil Schiller has declared that the 2048 x 1536 pixel display is only the first new feature, which is met with applause.

- The camera has been upgraded and the front of the device will now feature a FaceTime camera, complete with auto face detection, auto exposure lock, auto focus lock and HD video recording now at 1080p resolution.

- Apple has added a voice dictation feature to the iPad 3.

- The new interface features a microphone icon at the bottom of the screen (a la the iPhone 4S) that allows the user to tap and begin speaking.

- Siri will be available on the iPad 3 and the device currently supports U.S., British, Australian English, French, German, and Japanese languages.

- It was expected but you’ll like it: The iPad 3 features 4G LTE with EV-DO support and a maximum downlink of 3.1Mbps while also supporting HSPA (with a maximum downlink of 7.2 Mbps).

- If your carrier supports it, you can turn your iPad 3 into a hotspot and allow up to five users to connect at once.

- Faster processor time: The iPad 3 will use the A5X quad-core chip.

- Apple is citing 10 hours of battery life (nine hours with 4G activated).

- The new iPad is now 9.44mm thick and weighs 1.4 pounds.

- The iPad 3 will be available on March 16 and is priced at US$499 for 16GB, US$599 for 32GB, US$699 for 64GB. And US$629, US$729, and US$829 for 4G (these are the same prices as the iPad 2).

- The iPad 3 will be available in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, and more. One week later, 25 more countries.

- From what’s being said, the new resolutions of the iPad 3 look absolutely beautiful.

- Garage Band and iMovie for the iOS have been updated, will remain at their US49.99 price points.

- Ok, this is interesting: The new GarageBand adds smart strings joins smart guitars, smart keyboards, smart drums and a Note Editor. The app can sync in with iCloud to share data and a new “Jam Session” feature allows four iPads to play together to create a new song over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

- The updated GarageBand is available today as a free update for current owners and US$4.99 for new users.

- The updated iMovie for iOS allows users to easily create movie trailers as needed (select styles, templates, etc). The new version is a free update for current owners of US$4.99 for new users.

- Apple is introducing iPhoto for iOS, the current speech highlighting sharing tools, editing tools, brushes, support for both left-handed and right-handed users, etc.

- Once edited in iPhoto for iOS, photos can be shared via Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

- Photos can be shared to your iCloud and then viewed by anyone with a web browser.

- iPhoto for iOS is available for US$4.99 starting today.

- Apple WILL keep the iPad 2 in stock, but drop its starting price down to US$399.

And that about wraps it up. Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and thanks for reading!

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
- Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

- Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

- Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

- Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

- iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: iPad 3 might include Retina Display at $80 premium

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPad, Rumor

You’ve been hankering over the idea of an iPad 3 with a Retina Display for a while now.

Unfortunately, it might cost a bit extra.

Per MacRumors, a document that has surfaced out of the Far East claims that Apple’s third-generation iPad will cost US$80 more, starting at US$579 instead of US$499.

The leaked comparison chart shows a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only iPad priced at US$579, with the 32-gigabyte model for US$679 and 64-gigabyte for US$779. 3G-capable models are also shown with a price hike, though slightly less at US$70 for each model.

If the rumored prices prove accurate, the increases could be as a result of higher costs associated with the Retina Display Apple’s next iPad is expected to feature. Reports have pointed toward the new iPad screen having a resolution of 2,047 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice that of the current 1,024-by-768-pixel screen on the iPad 2.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.

A price increase for the next iPad would be a rare move for Apple, which has generally maintained price points for its iOS products with each annual upgrade. One of the biggest surprises with the first iPad when it was announced in 2010 was its US$499 starting price, which some analysts expected would cost over US$1,000.

There have also been suggestions that Apple could continue to offer the current iPad 2 at a lower price, much like the company currently does with previous-generation iPhone models. Some have seen a hypothetical US$399 iPad 2 as a way Apple could take away sales from Amazon’s US$199 Kindle Fire.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iOS 5.1 image shows off possible permanent lock-screen camera button image

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Date: Friday, February 17th, 2012, 05:45
Category: iOS, Rumor

An alleged leak of Apple’s upcoming iOS 5.1 update appears to show the addition of a permanent camera button on the lock screen and Japanese support for Siri.

Brazilian iPhone blog blogdoiPhone claimed on Thursday to have a obtained a “pre-GM” version of iOS 5.1 with a few minor changes from current beta versions. The GM version is the final candidate that is used in a software release.

The publication reported that the leaked software featured a fixed camera icon on the lock screen, whereas the current version of iOS 5 adds the camera button when users double tap on the home button. According to the report, sliding a finger up on the icon pulls up the camera screen.

The publication also appeared to show the addition of Japanese to the language options for Siri, the new voice-activated assistant on the iPhone 4S. Siri itself already claims to speak Japanese, as was discovered earlier this week.

Apple has promised to add Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish to Siri this year. One recent rumor claimed Chinese, Japanese and Russian support could arrive as early as next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Time Warner Cable streaming arrives for Macs, PCs

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

Additional content is never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Time Warner Cable’s streaming cable services are no longer exclusive to iOS devices. Now, Mac and PC users can now watch live TV from the cable provider through their Web browsers via the companys TWC TV Web app, available now in beta, works in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Users will also need to install Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in, version 4 or higher.

As with Time Warner’s iPad and iPhone app, restrictions apply: Subscribers can only watch live video at home, where their cable TV is set up. And although up to 200 channels are available depending on the user’s subscription package, Viacom content such as Comedy Central and MTV are absent. (Viacom forced Time Warner to stop streaming its content last year, and the companies have yet to reach an agreement to make the content available.)

In addition to live TV streaming, Time Warner’s Web app includes a guide with up to seven days of data and filter options for favorites, HD programming, and streaming channels. Users can also set their DVRs with the app, or change channels on a television set-top box. Search, parental controls, and closed captioning options are also available through the app. The DVR and channel guide features will work from anywhere, not just in the home.

If you’re interested, give it a go and let us know what you make of it in the comments.