Apple to officially end MobileMe sync for certain features in iCloud transition

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

Apple’s transition to the iCloud is coming and it won’t always be easy…

Per AppleInsider, while many of the features of MobileMe are simply being upgraded in the move to iCloud, Apple has previously noted that Gallery, iDisk and iWeb are on the chopping block. Now, the company has further made it clear that data sync features will also be canceled in its iCloud transition steps.

A key feature of .Mac and later MobileMe was the cloud integration of iSync, Apple’s Mac-centric tool for keeping data in sync among a variety of devices as part of its “digital hub strategy” first unveiled a decade ago. The data sync of .Mac and subsequently MobileMe moved the “truth database” from the user’s Mac into the cloud, making it possible to sync additional types of data between Macs.

MobileMe currently allows a user to sync a variety of settings between Macs, including the layout of Dashboard widgets, Dock items, passwords and credentials saved in the Keychain, email account information including Mail Rules, Signatures and Smart Mailboxes, and System Preferences.

However, all of these features will terminate as soon as a user migrates from MobileMe to the new iCloud, according to Apple’s transition pages at me.com/move.

Other MobileMe features that are not being carried forward into iCloud include Gallery media hosting, iDisk cloud storage and its integrated iWeb web hosting, will be continued for exiting MobileMe subscribers until June 30 of 2012, even after migrating other data to iCloud. These features are easy to maintain independently from iCloud, because there is no direct equivalent in iCloud.

Gallery media hosting is being dramatically reworked as a Photo Stream feature, a push updating feature that presents a user’s photos on the mobile devices, Mac photo albums, and on Apple TV rather than via a web site. Similarly, iDisk is making way for an entirely new type of document and data updating that focuses on a users’ own hardware rather than web-centric hosting.

The iCloud migration process is currently only open to developers, as it requires users to have iOS 5 beta 5 on their mobile devices, Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 with the iCloud for Os X Lion beta 6 package on their Macs, and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows beta 4 running on any PCs they use.

Apple notes that while Mail, Contacts and Calendars can be migrated from MobileMe to iCloud, shared calendars may be affected in the move, while Bookmarks will simply be imported from a client system. This indicates the reduction in data supported in the transition to iCloud may largely be explained by Apple’s hopes to keep the migration as simple and problem-free as possible, avoiding the issues users had in the move from .Mac to MobileMe.

Another reason for the shift in features between MobileMe and iCloud may be explained by the underlying security changes that differentiate the wide open iDisk from the carefully sandboxed design of iCloud’s Documents & Data.

Currently, data synced to MobileMe by Mac OS X Sync Services is copied into openly accessible folders. It is likely Apple hopes to completely secure all iCloud data to avoid any embarrassing lapses and contain sensitive data from potential malware attacks. Individual apps, such as Keychain Access, Launchpad and System Preferences, may be modified in the future to take advantage of iCloud’s key value data store, duplicating the old MobileMe features in a more secure fashion.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Two Apple patents surface, company looking into inductive charging solutions

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Date: Thursday, August 4th, 2011, 10:09
Category: iOS, Patents

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It’s the patents that make things interesting.

According to Patently Apple, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application on Thursday detailing two specific plans for an “Inductive Charging System” for iOS devices.

Inductive charging is a wireless method using the electromagnetic field to transfer energy over short distances between two objects. In theory, a charging station would send energy through inductive coupling to an electrical device which would store the energy in batteries.

The first Apple solution uses a charging tower in which a user would wrap their earphone cables around the tower and place a new conductive metal mesh earphone on their device to begin charging.

The second Apple solution uses an acoustic charging mechanism, and no tower of doom. In this system, an earphone is fitted into a recess in an acoustic charger. Then, a speaker within the acoustic charger produces an acoustic signal which causes a corresponding speaker in earphone to vibrate. These vibrations generate a current in earphone, and this current could be used to charge the battery of the attached device.

The article points out that, “Instead of creating separate inductive chargers for various media players and tablets as others have done, Apple is trying to create a single inductive charger that would fit the needs of multiple devices.”

Cool stuff if it happens and check back here for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins iOS 5 app approval process

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Date: Thursday, August 4th, 2011, 07:56
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

If you’re hankering for iOS 5, it may not be that far off.

Per Cult of Mac, developers have begun updating their App Store software to provide compatibility with Apple’s forthcoming iOS 5 update for the iPhone and iPad, though no applications actually built on new iOS 5 code are yet available.

One of the first applications with iOS 5 compatibility to be approved was “Camera+” from developer tap tap tap. Recently, the release notes for version 2.2.3 of Camera+ noted that the software features “compatibility with that upcoming OS That Must Not Be Named.”

Less coy about iOS 5 support was “Mashable,” which updated its own iPhone application this week to version 1.5.4 and advertised that the software now has “iOS 5 compatibility.”

The software updates have led to wishful speculation that the release of iOS 5 could come sooner than expected, perhaps earlier than the fall debut Apple previously announced.

However, while some software may now be “compatible” with iOS 5, the latest builds released on the App Store are likely still based on the iOS 4.3 application programming interface provided by Apple. Developers are able to test application compatibility with iOS 5 by using the latest beta of the forthcoming software update.

There is no indication that Apple has begun approving applications based on the iOS 5 API. For example, last year Apple began accepting applications based on the iOS 4.0 API only 10 days before the update became publicly available, allowing software to take advantage of new features such as multitasking.

That means any iOS 5 software currently available on the App Store likely does not yet take advantage of new features in the forthcoming update. With iOS 5, developers will be able to take advantage of new functionality such as Notification Center for prompting users; Newsstand for purchasing, organizing and updating newspapers and magazines; and system-wide Twitter integration.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your minds via the comments.

Rumor: Apple could be launching iTunes streaming service in near term

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Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, 11:11
Category: Rumor, Software

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A few days ago, Apple enabled the ability for users to re-download purchased TV shows, as well as stream them to the Apple TV. Per AppAdvice, this move could be presented as evidence for Apple’s plans to launch a new re-downloading and streaming service dubbed iTunes Replay.

Since users already have the ability to re-download past music and video purchases, this seems like an inevitable next step for Apple. Such a feature would give users access to movies, music and television shows they purchased as far back as January 1, 2009, as well as streaming abilities for the Apple TV and any iOS devices. According to AppAdvice, the alias “iTunes Replay” will stick and that it’s currently being used internally.

The new service could be released within the next few weeks to purposefully distinguish its functionality from that of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service, which has just recently become available as a beta to app developers. If iTunes Replay indeed becomes a reality, it could help negate the need for third-party services like Spotify and Netflix.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Iomega Mac Companion hard drive boasts iOS device charging port, 2 and 3TB capacities

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Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, 04:52
Category: Accessory, hard drive, News

Apple’s recent Mac OS X Lion release shows how the Mac and iOS platforms are increasingly overlapping. And third-parties are beginning to follow Apple’s platform-blurring lead: On Tuesday, Iomega rolled out an external hard drive that also features a charging port designed for Apple’s mobile devices.

Per Macworld, the Iomega Mac Companion Hard Drive, which arrives in 2TB and 3TB capacities and sports 7200-rpm hard drives, feature a USB charging port for Apple’s iOS devices. Users will be able to plug their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into the Mac Companion Drive to recharge the batteries on those mobile devices whenever they’re back at their desktop.

In all, the Mac Companion Hard Drive offers two FireWire 800 ports, a USB 2.0 port, and a two-port integrated USB 2.0 hub. That latter connection means that users can connect printers, other external hard drives, or other devices to Iomega’s new offering. The Mac Companion Hard Drive ships with three cables—one for FireWire 800, another for USB 2.0, and a FireWire 400-to-800 conversion cable.

The drive also sports a capacity indicator gauge—basically a set of four LEDs—that will give users an idea of how much space they have left on the Mac Companion Hard Drive. Four white LEDs mean that less than 20 percent of the capacity is in use, for example, while a single red LED indicates that more than 80 percent of the storage space has been used up.

Iomega’s Mac Companion Hard Drive starts at US$195 for the 2TB model with the 3TB version retailing for US$295. The drive includes Iomega’s QuickProtect file-level backup software and 2GB of free online backup through Mozy. The drive is initially available through Apple’s online store and retail outlets, though Iomega plans to expand sales to other stores and sites later in August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype releases native client for iPad

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 08:37
Category: iPad, News, Software

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After over a year of anticipation, Voice Over Internet Protocol outfit Skype released an iPad-native version of its client on Tuesday. Per Macworld, the iPad app bears more than a passing resemblance to Skype 5 for Mac and uses a thumbnail grid of your Skype contacts; tap on any of them to bring up a look at their profile, along with options for voice calling, video calling, chat and SMS. Skype allows users to access their contacts via “Tags,” (think groups) but doesn’t allow them to actually assign contacts into those categories on the iPad app—you need to use the desktop program for that. You can also add new contacts, or even just dial any phone number you like via a standard keypad.

The app lets you make calls over Wi-Fi or 3G and you’ll need a Skype account as well as some credit if you want to make calls to actual phones. Video calls let you switch back and forth between the iPad 2′s front and rear cameras. If you’re using an original iPad, you’ll obviously only be able to receive video. And there’s support for instant messaging via Skype, including emoticons.

Skype for iPad is free and requires iOS 4.0 or later. It is not a universal app, meaning that if you already have the iPhone version on your iPad, you’ll need to download this one separately.

Apple releases pricing details for iCloud storage

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 04:34
Category: News, Software

Apple on Monday unveiled more details about its forthcoming iCloud syncing service, including details on pricing. Per Macworld, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had previously declared that Apple device users would get 5GB of iCloud storage for free with the option to add an additional 10GB (a total of 15GB) for US$20 per year, 25GB for US$40 per year, or 55GB for US$100 per year.

In comparison, cloud-storage service Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, 50GB for US$120 per year and 100GB for US$240 per year.

Also on Monday, Apple launched a developer beta of iCloud.com, which gives registered developers an early preview of the company’s iOS-like Web apps for iCloud-synced email, contacts, calendars, iWork, and Find My iPhone.

Apple still hasn’t said precisely when iCloud will become available to the masses, but the service is strongly tied to iOS 5, which the company promises will arrive “this fall.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 4.3.3 update out the door, adds functionality for playing purchased videos, Vimeo content

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 13:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: updates are nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released iOS 4.3.3 for its second-generation Apple TV set top device. Up until now, you could stream any TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store housed on a computer using Apple’s Home Sharing feature or via AirPlay. Both, however, require that the computer be turned on and accessible on your network—and that the files themselves are still on your hard drive. With this latest update, any TV shows you’ve purchased (or downloaded, in the case of free TV show episodes) are instantly available to stream over the Internet as what appears to be an extension of Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud functionality.

Under the TV Shows menu on the Apple TV’s home screen, you’ll now find a Purchased item at the top.

The update also adds support for playing videos from Vimeo, a popular video-sharing website that offers HD hosting.

Apple now includes directly Vimeo upload support in both its iMovie and Final Cut Pro X video-editing applications, so including a viewing option on the Apple TV is both natural and welcome.

To update your Apple TV to the latest software, go to Settings -> General -> Update Software and follow the directions.

At the same time, Apple added the ability to re-download TV shows in iTunes and on iOS devices, as it already does with music, books, and apps.

If you’ve tried the new update on your second-generation Apple TV, let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Adobe announce Edge 1.0 HTML 5 creation tool, offers preview for free

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 05:27
Category: News, Software

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Sometimes you have to transition to the next thing.

Per Adobe’s blog, Adobe has released a free public preview of Edge, a new motion and interaction design tool that lets users build Flash-style animated Web content using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Edge is planned for commercial release sometime next year and is designed to work in concert with the company’s existing professional design tools—Dreamweaver CS5.5, Flash Professional CS5.5, and Flash Builder 4.5 (as well as earlier versions)—is targeted to designers seeking an efficient way to use Web standards like HTML to create content featuring motion and transitions.

The application works natively with HTML and lets users add motion to existing HTML documents without altering the design or CSS-based layout. Users can also import standard Web graphics such as SVG, PNG, JPG, and GIF files and style them using CSS3. It also lets users create visually rich content from scratch with familiar drawing tools that produce HTML elements styled with CSS3.

The design stage (the workspace in Edge) uses WebKit to enable content design, preview, and manipulation. The timeline offers advanced techniques to boost productivity and precision in creating animations, and lets users define and customize motion applied to HTML elements, Adobe says.

Content created with Edge is designed to work on browsers such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Edge content can also be viewed on mobile devices running iOS, Android, BlackBerry Playbook, and HP webOS.

Adobe Edge is immediately available worldwide for Mac and Windows and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7 or later to install and run the application.

Apple TV units moving briskly, no signs of updated models for Q3

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 10:42
Category: Apple TV, News

Albeit not as popular as some of its other products, the Apple TV unit seems to be achieving moderate success, selling roughly 500,000 units per quarter as the 2011 holiday shopping season approaches.

The latest update to Apple’s US$99 streaming media box arrived last fall and within just a few months went on to sell a million units. Even so, Apple has provided no update on sales of the device. Per AppleInsider, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tells has stated that his industry checks indicate the company shipped 480,000 units during the second calendar quarter of the year, representing more than 70% year-over-year growth.

Although Apple continues to see Internet television devices as a nascent category, frequently referring to the Apple TV as a “hobby,” when sales of the device are pit against its peers, the Apple TV appears to be a runaway success.

For instance, Logitech said this week that “very modest sales” of its US$249 Google TV-based Revue set-top-box were exceeded by returns of the product from unhappy customers, prompting the company to slash pricing by 66% to match Apple TV’s US$99 price point.

The move will reportedly cost the device maker some US$34 million in one-time charges as it hopes to “remove price as a barrier to broad consumer adoption.” The failed partnership with Google also contributed to a US$29.6 million loss for Logitech during its fiscal first quarter, prompting the exist of chief executive Gerald P. Quindlen.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, Kuo said his industry checks have turned up no evidence that Apple plans push a hardware revision to the Apple TV into production during the third quarter. Instead, the Cupertino-based company will reportedly take a more measured approach to advancing the platform in 2011, relying instead on an Apple TV Software Update this fall that will allow devices such as the iPad 2 and upcoming iPhone 5 to beam their content to the big-screen.

The technology, dubbed AirPlay, essentially allows devices equipped with Apple’s A5 processor and the forthcoming iOS 5.0 update to mirror their video content from supporting applications to HDTVs hooked up to an Apple TV. While ideal for sharing video with friends and family, the feature is even more significant for Apple’s encroachment on the gaming market, as it will allow any iOS game developer to offer console-style gaming (demos below) by which the the iPhone or iPad transforms into a wireless controller, equipped with gyro sensors and touch-screen controls.

Even so, Apple continues to struggle with the second prong of its Apple TV strategy: HD video content. Unlike the inaugural Apple TV that offered a trove of archived television content priced between US$2 and US$3 an episode, the company continues to face opposition from networks who feel the new Apple TV’s US$0.99 per episode HD rental model devalues their content, according to people familiar with the matter.

Over the past year, Apple has failed to reach licensing agreements with content producers that would have them join Fox and partner Disney, for which Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is a director and largest individual shareholder, in providing their television content to Apple TV users. As such, Apple is now reportedly in talks to grow its streaming video business through a potential acquisition of Hulu, an ad-supported streaming service that offers video content from NBC, ABC, USA, Bravo, FX, A&E, and numerous other television networks.

“[W]e love the product. It’s clear that customers love the product,” Apple chief operating office Tim Cook said this month of the Apple TV. “We really guided right when we went to the new Apple TV just last fall. But right now, it’s still a hobby status that we’re continuing to invest in it because we think that there is something there.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.