Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

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Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Rumor: Apple to add remote diagnostic tool in iOS 5.0

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s always nifty when you can get something fixed remotely.

Per the cool cats at HardMac, Apple has allegedly internally announced to its employees that the new remote diagnostic tool has been completed. Presumably, these features could arrive with this fall’s release of iOS 5, the next major upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The entirely online system will be triggered by a special URL sent via e-mail or entered manually. When a user visits the website and agrees, Mobile Safari will conduct internal checks of the system and send that data to Apple’s servers.

To ensure user privacy, the only personal data that will be sent to Apple will include its unique identifier, or UDID, as well as the name of the owner, the report said.

The list of information to be shared by the diagnostic system reportedly includes:
Battery health, including current charge level, amount of time since the last charge, minimum level to which the battery was discharged, iOS version installed and whether the handset was turned off normally the last time.

Apple’s iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is set to be released this fall. It will pack more than 200 new user features, including Notification Center, iMessage, and Newsstand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged white fifth-generation iPod touch component photos surface

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Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:39
Category: iPod Touch, photos

It’s the leaked parts shots that make things interesting.

Per Technobuffalo, a parts supplier has acquired white-colored parts purportedly for a fifth-generation iPod touch, providing further evidence that Apple is moving forward with a white version of the media player.

iFixDirect claims to have obtained a white front cover for a next-generation iPod touch. Other than the color difference, the alleged part does not show any major changes to the device.

In July, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPod touch would sport few, if any, distinguishable changes from the fourth-generation black models.

Kuo suggested that the iPod touch would not receive a “spec update” this year because Apple is prioritizing supplies of the A5 processor and other components for the iPhone and iPad. Supply and manufacturing constraints have left the Cupertino, Calif., company struggling to keep up with demand for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Also complicating the matter is the fact that the company has pushed the release of the next-generation iPhone past the usual summer timeframe. As such, the arrival of the iPhone 5 this fall will likely overshadow any iPod touch release. Additionally, Apple is reportedly stockpiling supplies for its next handset in anticipation of pent up demand.

Apple last updated the iPod touch in September 2010, adding a Retina Display, front- and rear-facing cameras and the A4 processor.

Evidence in Apple’s own iOS betas also appears to suggest that an iPod touch update is not viewed internally as completely new generation. Recent beta releases of the software contain references to an “iPod 4,2,” implying that the new device will be based on the fourth-generation iPod touch architecture.

A white iPod touch would fall in-line with Apple’s recent strategy of adding a white version of its iOS devices to generate renewed interest. Last year, Apple announced a white version of the iPhone 4, but was forced to delay the product after encountering manufacturing issues. 10 months after the black iPhone 4 was released, Apple finally began selling the white model.

Apple also introduced a white version of the iPad when it launched the second generation of its tablet in March. The company appeared to have resolved any manufacturing or paint issues with, as, unlike the iPhone 4, the white model shipped alongside the black iPad 2 from day one.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent application points to voice recognition/voice command technology in future versions of iOS

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Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 13:18
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’ve gotta love forthcoming versions of iOS.

Per freepatentsonline, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone’s voice to identify the person themselves, allowing the system to enact custom-tailored settings and access to personal content.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “User Profiling for Voice Input Processing,” it describes a system that would identify individual users when they speak aloud.

Apple’s application notes that voice control already exists in some forms on a number of portable devices. These systems are accompanied by word libraries, which offer a range of options for users to speak aloud and interact with the device.

But these libraries can become so large that they can be prohibitive to processing voice inputs. In particular, long voice inputs can be time prohibitive for users, and resource taxing for a device.

Apple proposes to resolve these issues with a system that would identify users by the sound of their voice, and identify corresponding instructions based on that user’s identity. By identifying the user of a device, an iPhone would be able to allow that user to more efficiently navigate handsfree and accomplish tasks.

The application includes examples of highly specific voice commands that a complex system might be able to interpret. Saying aloud, “call John’s cell phone,” includes the keyword “call,” as well as the variables “John” and “cell phone,” for example.

In a more detailed example, a lengthy command is cited as a possibility: “Find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed.” Also included is natural language voice input, with the command: “Pick a good song to add to a party mix.”

“The voice input provided to the electronic device can therefore be complex, and require significant processing to first identify the individual words of input before extracting an instruction from the input and executing a corresponding device operation,” the application reads.

To simplify this, an iPhone would have words that relate specifically to the user of a device. For example, certain media or contacts could be made specific to a particular user of a device, allowing two individuals to share an iPhone or iPad with distinct personal settings and content.

In recognizing a user’s voice, the system could also become dynamically tailored to their needs and interests. In one example, a user’s musical preferences would be tracked, and simply asking the system aloud to recommend a song would identify the user and their interests.

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed in February of 2010. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay.

HP to end webOS development, spin off computer business and focus on software/services

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Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 03:13
Category: News

Even the mightiest can fall.

Or be forced to radically restructure.

According to Bloomberg, Hewlett Packard, the world’s largest PC maker, has announced plans to spin off its PC business and scrap its recently acquired webOS smartphone and TouchPad tablet business to focus on software and services.

Per the report, HP “has been aiming to lessen its dependence on lower-margin PCs, where growth has stalled as consumers flock to tablet-style computers like those made by Apple.”

Recent reports have documented HP’s slide, along with most other top PC makers, in shipments of new computers as Apple continues to grow its sales of Macs and particularly iPads.

Apple was the only maker in the top 5 PC vendors of Western Europe to experience growth in computer shipments, and the company just surpassed HP in mobile PC sales, largely due to booming sales of iPads.

HP has been unable to gain traction for its own iPad alternative, despite a campaign launched last year to buy Palm for US$1.2 billion and use its webOS to power a new generation of mobile devices.

HP is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings after the market closes today, and is expected to detail its US$10 billion plan to acquire Autonomy Corporation, the second largest UK software maker, headquartered in Cambridge, as it spins off its PC hardware unit.

Autonomy develops enterprise search and data processing technologies that look for meaning in text, voice and video data, whether in a database, files or streams. Much of its technology has origins in research conducted at the University of Cambridge.

Following a series of mergers and acquisitions, HP represents a combination of Apollo, DEC, Compaq, 3Com and Palm, but is now valued at just US$62 billion, compared to Apple’s current market cap of US$338 billion.

Apple acquired HP’s vacated “Executive Briefing Center” Pruneridge campus in Cupertino, California, and has plans to develop the site, along with adjacent land it already owned, into a futuristic new “Apple Campus 2″ site, located one freeway exit away from its current Infinite Loop headquarters.

Skype WiFi out the door, focuses on offering cheap Internet access abroad

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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You asked for a cheap way to communicate on the road and Skype seems to have something to offer…

Per AppleInsider, Skype on Wednesday released a new iOS application that will offer iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users access to over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the globe for a nominal pay-as-you-go basis.

The Skype WiFi application offers those on the go an alternative to pricey international data plans, which can fetch around US$25 for just 20MB worth of downloads, by allowing them to connect to locally available WiFi hotspots for as little as 6 cents per minute.

Skype says it is working with a third party WiFi operators to provide access to “over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centers, bars and restaurants,” thus eliminating extra data roaming costs or other WiFi voucher purchases.

The application itself — previously known as Skype Access — is available as a free download from the App Store, but requires that users purchase Skype Credits in order to connect to one of the supported hotspots.

Prices for access to Skype WiFi hotspots start at US$0.06/4p/€0,05 (inclusive of VAT) and there is no data cap in place, which means iPhone, iPod and iPod touch users can use the same hotspot connection without worrying about any traffic limitations.

In order to promote the app’s launch, Skype said it plans to offer up to 60 minutes (or four 15-minute sessions) of free internet access for each unique Skype ID starting Saturday, August 20, 00:00 BST until Sunday, August 21, 23:59BST.

Skype WiFi requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried the new app and have any feedback to offer, let us know what you think in the comments.

Delta to begin testing iPad units in “electronic flight bag” capacity for crew members

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, News

Have iPad, will travel.

Per Flightglobal, Delta Airlines has started testing iPads as electronic flight bags domestically, in order to evaluate the viability of replacing printed on-board manuals and other information with digital versions and custom iOS applications.

The airline is interested in “digitizing on-board flight information that has typically been printed out,” Flightglobal has found out, and the company will start using Apple’s iPad as an electronic flight bag (EFB) in a limited testing phase that includes 22 devices.

The iPads will be preloaded with manuals, charts, and specific iOS applications that would help pilots receive updated information or compute various calculations otherwise done by hand.

“We’re loading Jeppesen Mobile TC charting software, a GoodReader document viewer that contains all of our manuals in an electronic format, and the Journey browser, which allows access to iCrew,” Delta Senior Vice President Steve Dickson said. “A Delta Meteorology app provides access to pilot-tailored graphical weather information and real-time looped Delta radar. Each pilot will have access to their Delta e-mail account and calendar.”

Other preloaded tools include a writing app, a web browser, a PDF viewer, a Wi-Fi finder app as well as “crew rest and cruise rest period calculators.” Although all 22 iPads will have the same suite of Delta apps installed, the pilots will have the opportunity to install any additional aviation applications as required during the test period.

Delta aims to bring instant wireless communications capabilities to its flights and a tablet like the iPad could provide such capabilities to current crews and even take part in changing the training process for Delta’s pilots. During this process the company will use both Wi-Fi and 3G+Wi-Fi iPad models.

The test will check whether the iPad solution works for users who are less familiar with technology. “Roughly a quarter of our testers rated themselves as ‘tech un-savvy,’” Delta said. “We need to make sure a solution is user friendly to any pilot, no matter their IT skill level while providing us a top of the line product that gives us long term expansion capabilities.”

Domestic passengers on the airline already have access, for a fee, to Gogo Wi-Fi in-flight connectivity, and the company is also exploring adding such capabilities to its international flights.

Once the iPad testing is complete, the airline will swap Apple’s tablet with Android Honeycomb devices. 16 Motorola Xooms will then be used as EFBs in a new trial run starting with mid-September.

The FAA has already authorized the use of Apple’s iPad as EFBs. Both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have started to replace paper manuals, which weigh as much as 40 pounds, with iPads preloaded with all the information required by pilots during flights in a similar endeavor to remove all on-board paper and use tablets containing all the required flight data instead.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve used in-air Wi-Fi before and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to invest $1 billion in Sharp plant to produce iPhone, iPad LCD units

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

A rumor is percolating that Apple is planning to invest US$1 billion in a new Sharp factory for building screens for its iPhone and iPad products has resurfaced, just days after a separate report claimed that the next-generation iPad has been delayed in part because of production constraints from the supplier.

Per Reuters, MF Global analyst David Rubenstein resparked the rumor in a sales note to clients on Wednesday, giving shares of the Japanese company a lift of more than 2 percent.

“We think it is highly possible that Apple will make an investment in Sharp’s Kameyama plant to the tune of around $1 billion in order to secure stable supply of screens for iPhones and iPads,” he said, adding that Apple’s investment would have a “material impact on Sharp’s profitability.

Last December, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei claimed Apple would pay a “large portion” of the 100 billion yen (UD$1.3 billion) required to build a new LCD manufacturing facility and would buy “most” of the panels produced there. Production was said to begin at the plant in the later half of 2012.

On Monday, a rumor emerged that Sharp’s supply of 9.7-inch 2,048 by 1,536 resolution next-generation iPad displays are insufficient for an iPad 3 launch in 2011. It was noted that the high-resolution displays are “mainly supplied” by Sharp with a high price, and Apple’s other suppliers Samsung Electronics and LG Display are both “unable to reach a good yield.”

“Due to iPad 3′s requirements over the physical thinness, rich color support and toughness will all conflict with the panel’s technology restrictions; therefore, this could cause a delay in the launch,” the report said.

LCD displays have reportedly been a limiting factor for both the original iPad and the second-generation model.

Apple was also said to be helping Toshiba on a new LCD plant last year, but an official with the supplier claimed “nothing had been decided” regarding a new plant. In April, reports claimed Toshiba had become the sole manufacturer of LCDs for the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently published Apple patents describe steps towards driverless printing for Mac OS X, iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Patents, Rumor, Software

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In a pair of recent filings, Apple proposed methods that would eliminate the necessity of printer drivers in order to streamline the printing process for users of its Mac OS X and iOS devices.

The first of the two patent applications, entitled “Walk-Up Printing Without Drivers,” reveals methods of circumventing the printer driver requirement when such a driver is absent from Apple mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Macs.

According to ConceivablyTech, Apple describes a new printing process for such mobile computing devices that would allow them to wirelessly detect a printer and determine whether a printer driver is installed.

The user would then be able to continue the printing job even without a driver by employing a series of APIs based on a discovery protocol such as Bonjour, an Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) and the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file, which is used to detect the printer.

In the event that the device still fails to pair up with the printer, the user would have a third way of completing the print job — by sending the documents to the cloud and using cloud-specific printing technology to communicate with the printer.

The second patent, filed on the same day as the first one, September 14, 2010 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and entitled “Data Formats to Support Driverless Printing,” shows a different driverless and wireless printing concept also explored by Apple.

The company suggests a new way for mobile devices to bypass the printer driver requirement by storing a specific data structure that would be able to specify the following printing characteristics when detecting a printer: “resolutions, color spaces, bit depths, input slots, face-up/face-down input orientation, output bins, face-up/face-down output orientation, duplex printing support, media types, copy support, supported finishings, and print quality.”

A new “URF-supported key,” part of discovery and transport protocols, is also mentioned by the second patent. Its purpose would be to offer a “standardized set of capabilities that are supported by a printer” that would let the user “generate printer data for any type of printer” without actually storing any printer-specific details on the computing device in question.

The new wireless and driverless technologies described by these two new patents would complement Apple’s existing AirPrint capabilities for iOS devices and could lead to a future driver-free printing experience for most Mac OS X computers.

Apple has high hopes for AirPrint, but has run into a few snags in the transition to driverless printing. Late last year, one rumor suggested that Apple had run into intellectual property issues with the AirPrint architecture, a problem that could potentially be alleviated should the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office grant the above patents to Apple.

Meanwhile, printer makers such as HP and EFI have been steadily adding support for the feature to their printer offerings.

If you have any thoughts on this, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Kingston announces Wi-Drive external storage unit for iOS devices

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Date: Monday, August 15th, 2011, 05:57
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

This could be nifty.

Per Macworld UK, accessory maker Kingston has announced the Wi-Drive, a portable storage and file-management device for iOS.

The flash memory-based drive is aimed specifically at the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and offers additional storage space and file-management features to owners of iOS devices.



Users can transfer files onto the Wi-Drive from your Mac or Windows PC via USB and communicate with the drive with the free Wi-Drive app from the App Store. Once installed, you’ll be able to connect your iOS device to the Wi-Drive over Wi-Fi.

The unit comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage space and up to three users can then wirelessly access the content stored on the Wi-Drive.

The 16GB version is available from Cancom for £89 and the 32GB version costs £119 from the same supplier. It is also available through solutions inc., Square Group, Farpoint, Western Computer, MCC Group, Micro Anvika stores and online at Ebuyer.