Google Play Books for iOS updated to 1.6.0, adds textbook rental support

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Date: Friday, August 9th, 2013, 06:16
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

googleplaybooks

This is kind of nifty.

Per AppleInsider,

Google on Thursday updated its iBooks-like Google Play Books port, bringing in-app rentals, highlighting and note taking for scanned books, as well as other features to the iOS title.

Now at version 1.6.0, Google Play Books for iOS now supports in-app rentals, which allows users to access select books from the service’s “millions of titles” on their iPhone, iPad or iPod.

In addition to existing rental titles, users can choose from Google Play’s newly introduced digital textbook library. According to Google’s website, students can save up to 80 percent off the cost of physical textbooks by renting through its service.

With the new service, users can highlight, make notes and, in some cases, copy text from textbooks during the rental period. A quick look at the Google Play store shows a number of titles are already available.

Aside from textbooks the latest version of Google Play Books allows users to mark up books compiled from scanned pages. A new sepia reading mode and stability improvements round out the update’s changes.

Google Play Books comes in at 16.6MB, can be downloaded for free via the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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

Apple to launch “Takeback Program” on August 16th, seeks to replace faulty knockoff USB power adapters with genuine article

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 07:34
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

replacement_adapter

You should probably stick with the real McCoy.

Per 9to5Mac and Mac|Life, following incidents such as the apparent electrocution of a Chinese woman by a faulty knockoff iPhone charger, Apple is ramping up a program in which customers can bring in their old USB power adapters and receive new, Apple-designed ones for a lower price via a “Takeback Program.”

To take advantage of the offer, simply bring in your old power adapter for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod after August 16 (either third party or designed by Apple) to your local Apple Store or authorized retailer, and the staff will dispose of it for you “in an environmentally friendly way.” If you did so, you can then purchase a new one for just US$10, although Apple’s announcement also states that this offer will only be available until October 18.

The new support page reads as follows:
“Recent reports have suggested that some counterfeit and third party adapters may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues. While not all third party adapters have an issue, we are announcing a USB Power Adapter Takeback Program to enable customers to acquire properly designed adapters.

Customer safety is a top priority at Apple. That’s why all of our products — including USB power adapters for iPhone, iPad, and iPod — undergo rigorous testing for safety and reliability and are designed to meet government safety standards around the world.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Updated Retina Display MacBook Pro with 1080p camera, MacBook Air with improved microphone expected at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:

“We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:

Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.”

The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.

If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours.

As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:

“MacBook Air to share dual built-in microphone design of Retina MacBook Pro. We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.”

Apple previously noted that the dual-microphone setup is ideal for voice apps like the included Dictation function.

Kuo expects the older, non-Retina MacBook Pros to freeze and be taken out of the spotlight, much like the iPod Classic. The computer would continue to be sold but with the current Ivy Bridge processors, optical drive slots, and high-capacity hard drives.

The report also notes that MacBooks in general are not immune from the overall global slowdown in PC purchasing caused by the iPad and other tablet cannibalization. The expectation is that 2013 will see 12M units sold, off 1.6M from 2012′s 13.6M total.

Finally, Kuo notes that Apple’s move away from optical and hard drive based storage continues to shift orders to SSD producers:

SSD to be mainstream storage solution for MacBook. We estimate the market share of MacBook with SSD to rise from 45% in 2012 to 64% in 2013, far ahead of the industry’s 15-20%. We also expect SSD penetration to continue to trend up, with SSD eventually replacing conventional hard disk drive and optical disc drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPad 5 component image points toward thinner, lighter design

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 31st, 2013, 08:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, Pictures

It’s a leaked component shot, but it might say something about the design of the next-gen iPad.

Per AppleInsider and Apple.pro, a new image has emerged that shows what looks to be a full-size fifth-generation iPad’s front panel, again showing design cues taken from the iPad mini.


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The image shows the rear side of what appears to be the front casing for an as-yet-unreleased iPad 5. The panel bears all of the holes and markings that typify Apple’s tablets — including a hole for the Home button and FaceTime camera — and the connector for the touchscreen component.

The panel bears the same thin bezel seen with Apple’s iPad mini, which observers expect will serve as the design guidepost for the next full-size iPad. Images and video of potential iPad 5 cases have borne the same design cues, with a thinner overall body.

The next full-size iPad is expected to retain the screen size of its predecessors, if only to application development for the device easy. Recent rumors suggest that Apple may add a centered rear microphone to the device to help in audio recording.

The rumored new iPad’s thinner bezels are said to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner. The new iPad, new iPad mini, and the next generation of iPhones and iPods are all expected to arrive some time in the fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon releases Cloud Drive Photos app for iOS users

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 13th, 2013, 04:37
Category: iOS, News, Software

amazon-100037019-large

Ne’er doubt Amazon’s ability to throw out a competing app.

Per Macworld, Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photos app has gone live and is available free of charge from the App Store, the app can transfer photos back and forth between a device and Cloud Drive, where they can be accessed using a desktop computer, Web browser, or other compatible device, like a Kindle Fire.

The app’s goal is to let customers enjoy the benefits of cloud storage—including ease of sharing and easier backups—regardless of what platform they use. In addition, the app lets you view your photo albums in various layouts from your iPhone or iPod touch and share Cloud Drive photos on Facebook, Twitter, and via email.

Launched in March of 2011, Cloud Drive offers users 5GB of free storage, which can be used for files of all kinds, including music, pictures, and video. Additional space is available for fees that range from US$10 per year for 20GB to US$500 per year for 1000GB (1TB).

The app is optimized for iPhone 5, and compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S, as well as iPod touch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation), and iPad. It requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the Cloud Drive Photos app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

AppleCare, AppleCare+ to undergo significant changes this fall, feature updated warranty policies, in-store iOS device repairs

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 13th, 2013, 03:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

applelogo_silver

You’re going to see some changes in AppleCare this fall.

Per AppleInsider, in a town hall session held on Thursday, Apple informed tech staff that major changes to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ service programs will be enacted starting this fall, with a broadening of current policies likely to cut costs and make the service more attractive to consumers.

The town hall session was led by Apple Vice President Tara Bunch, who revealed a set of after-sales policy shifts would soon be rolling out across the U.S., and eventually the world, with many of the changes referred to under the “One Apple” brand, said a source close to the story. While Bunch was referred to as Vice President of AppleCare, AppleInsider cannot confirm this assertion. On her LinkedIn page, Bunch lists her current job as simply “Vice President at Apple,” but it is known that she was previously vice president of Global Customer Support Operations at Hewlett-Packard prior to joining Apple in 2012.

As for the “One Apple” moniker, it is unclear if the term is an internal designation for the vast restructuring about to take place, or is intended to become a consumer mark once the new changes are in place.

“The biggest announcement, was the way repairs for iPhones will be handled soon,” the person, who asked not to be identified due to their active status as an Apple employee, told reporters. “The way it is now, if almost anything is wrong with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the entire device is exchanged for a like-new re manufactured (sic) device, whether brought into an apple store or sent in for mail in repair. Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer.”

Currently, Apple Stores have the tools to replace speakers, receivers, home buttons, the vibrator motor and battery. Come June, capabilities will be expanded to display replacement, and by July cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards will be dealt with in-store. In addition, employees will have access to advanced diagnostics tools that can remotely assess hardware issues and relay the data directly to technicians, allowing for quicker turnaround times.

The new in-house repairs are to be rolled out across the U.S., with international support coming online soon thereafter. Bunch reportedly said Apple expects to save nearly US$1 billion per year with the change in policy.

In another huge departure, Apple will reportedly reconfigure its paid AppleCare service as a subscription model, or introduce a new tier, which will be attached to a customer rather than a specific product. Under the proposed system, a customer is entitled to in-store training similar to the One to One program available to new Mac buyers, with each device owned being covered by the warranty. The new AppleCare may also include “exclusive” 24/7 support, though that has not been confirmed as a full set of features and pricing is not yet etched in stone.

Gratis after-sales coverage is also slated for an update, and will move over to a new system where phone support will persist for at least an entire year, with possible two-year support offered in the future. Apple currently offers 90 days of free phone support without buying the add-on AppleCare plan. Online support, knowledge base articles, online live chats and Genius Bar visits will continue to be free.

Apple is also looking to grow its home advisor team, which currently consists of over 4,200 technical advisors who work from home instead of an office, approximately double the number from one year ago. The program is meant to cut overhead costs and provide for a larger pool of potential employees.

Finally, the source said Apple’s online resources will see an overhaul in the coming months as the company is working to expand its current offerings to include support over iMessage and a revamp of the Support Pages website, which is expected to focus on interactive tutorials and video content. Unsurprisingly, the Web-based enhancements will be optimized for both computer and iOS device perusal.

In addition, Apple personnel will begin to take a more active role in the discussion boards, helping to answer questions, consolidating threads and performing general maintenance.

Most of the changes mentioned above will roll out by fall if all goes according to plan.

The source briefed on Apple’s upcoming changes pointed out that in-store repairs would also be a plus for those customers whose products are no longer under warranty. Instead of paying a universal “swap out” fee, out of warranty hardware issues will be fixed on a per device basis. Apple has reportedly deployed advanced in-store repairs at select locations, with customer response being largely positive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Canadian thieves rob Vancouver-area Apple Store location using bear spray as weapon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 08:15
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

If you’re going to steal thousands of dollars worth of Apple products north of the border, remember to bring along bear spray.


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Per the National Post, thieves armed with bear spray hit the Oakridge Mall Apple Store in Vancouver just before closing in Monday, spraying roughly 40 people and making off with an unknown number of iPods, iPads, and notebooks.

The robbery, which saw three men bearing a caustic, cayenne pepper-based chemical attack the Apple Store. There were roughly 40 customers in the store, of which five would later need treatment by paramedics for exposure to the spray. The robbers are said to have fled by car.

Most of the valuable Apple electronics are likely to have been out of reach of the robbers, as Apple Stores keep most stock in hidden storage rooms behind closed doors. Vancouver police say that the thieves made off with only “a small number of electronics.”

Apple releases iOS 6.1.2 update

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Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 12:42
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

Never doubt the speed of a fix in the wake of bad PR…

On Tuesday, Apple released iOS 6.1.2, a 107 megabyte download offering the following fixes for its supported iOS devices:

- Fixes an Exchange calendar bug that could result in increased network activity and reduced battery life.

iOS 6.1.2 is available via iTunes or Over-The-Air updating and requires an iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, third or fourth-gen iPad, iPod Touch 4th Gen or iPad Mini to install and run.

Apple secures 48 assorted patents, including inductive charging, integrating portable electronics with bicycles

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

It never hurts to have a patent for something.

Much less 48 of ‘em.

Per AppleInsider , the United States Patent and Trademark office published 48 newly granted Apple patents on Tuesday, covering technologies ranging from inductive charging to bike-integrated iPods, as well as one property covering the touchscreen technology that enables the latest iOS devices to achieve their current slimness.

The patents granted on Wednesday involve components and design elements for virtually all of Apple’s product offerings.

Inductive charging using printed coils:
This patent, filed for in June of 2012, describes systems “for harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils.” Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,362,751 calls for one or more moveable magnets that, when traveling along the path of the printed coils, can power a device.

The technology is akin to shake-to-charge flashlights that use induction to produce electric current which is stored in capacitors for later use. This type of system eschews the need for bulky batteries that must be plugged in for charging or replaced when depleted.

A similar technology is used in rival devices — including the Google-LG-produced Nexus 4 and Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phone 8 handsets — which integrate inductive charging systems that use a wall charger to recharge built-in batteries, thus doing away with pesky electrical cords. Apple has yet to bring a competing technology to market. Prior to the release of the iPhone 5, rumors circulated that Apple would bring wireless charging to bear in that handset, but Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said after the unveiling that the perceived convenience of such systems was questionable, since charging mats would still need to be plugged into an outlet.

In September, an Apple patent application emerged demonstrating a “realistic and practical approach to wireless power, providing over-the-air electricity to low-power devices within a distance of one meter.

Integrated touchscreen:
Apple also was granted a patent on a design for “displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup.” This is a continuation of the in-cell touchscreen patent, granted in July of 2012, which made an appearance in the iPhone 5. The in-cell touch panel technology allows Apple to make its devices noticeably thinner, but initial yield rates for the panels were problematic, and Apple is said to be evaluating a newer technology using “touch-on” displays, averting some of the problems that came with in-cell touch panels.

Notably, the patent granted today gives a mobile phone, a media player, and a notebook computer as examples of where the technology could be implemented. Tim Cook famously dismissed touch-enabled PC form factors, saying they were like “[converging] a toaster and a refrigerator.”

Integrating a portable electronic device with a bicycle:
Also among the patents Apple secured today was a design for interfacing an electronic device with a bicycle. In the filing, the device receives output from sensors coupled to the bicycle, displaying riding characteristics and even communicating with other devices in order to allow cyclists to ride as a team and assist each other.

The application for the patent originally emerged in 2010. Technology such as that seen in the patent has yet to materialize in any Apple products, but it is in keeping with other fitness-related offerings, such as the Nike+ compatibility seen in iPods and iPhones.

Tuesday’s patent haul covers many other technologies, including motion-based payment confirmation, beamforming antenna systems, device cooling mechanisms, and more. Among companies worldwide, Apple in 2012 ranked 21st for the total number of patents granted in 2012. Last year saw the Cupertino company granted 1,135 patents, just behind Google, which secured 1,151 patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“jOBS” biopic to be released in theaters on April 19th

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 24th, 2013, 08:49
Category: News

On Wednesday, it was announced “jOBS,” the independent biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, will hit theaters on April 19.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, the movie’s April 1st release will coincide with Apple’s 37th anniversary. Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 and incorporated on Jan. 3, 1977.


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According to the film’s producers, jOBS will chronicle the defining 30 years of the tech mogul from 1971 to 2000.

Alongside Kutcher will be Ahna O’Reilly in the role of Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan, while broadway star Josh Gad will play Steve Wozniak. Other cast members include Matthew Modine as former Apple CEO John Sculley.

The indie film is not to be confused with a big-budget Sony-backed picture that has Academy and Emmy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) adapting Walter Isaacson’s official biography. Unlike jOBS, Sorkin’s version will take place over the course of three scenes that will portray the pivotal moments leading up to the product unveilings of the original Mac, NeXT and the iPod.

Ahead of the April 19 release date, jOBS will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival as a closing night film on Jan. 27.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.