Archive for August, 2010

In Case You Missed It: Aug. 22 – Aug. 28

Of course the big news wasn’t this week; that’d be ridiculous. No, the big news is next week at Apple’s yearly musical event, held this year on Wednesday, September 1st at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Meanwhile, it wasn’t all crickets around here at the Mac|Life, heck no. We even chased down a staffer in a remote controlled helicopter. Of course there’s a video after the jump.

 

Features:

10 Things We Want From iTunes 10 – KILL iTUNES! There we said it. Okay, we don’t really want Apple to kill iTunes, but would it hurt to build it from the ground up and dump all that junk legacy coding? I mean, ten years old? It’s more than time to dump the crud and turn iTunes into a leaner, faster music beast. And that’s just the first of what we want to see.

Apple’s September 1 Music Event: Our Magic Eight-Ball Predictions – So just what is going to happen this coming Wednesday? Well, we tasked our lucky Eight-Ball with finding out those answers, and guess what? It said iPads for everyone! Ha-ha, that Eight-Ball, always such a joker. Here’s what we really think likely.

it's da 8-ball
How-Tos:

How To: Create the Ultimate TV & Movie Mac – While we sometimes find analysts from Piper Jaffray to be a little bit phantasmagorical, we’d sure love the super sweet iTV HD as they envision it. At any rate, there are tons of sweet tricks you can run to make your Mac a more than adequate substitute for your existing TV and cable package. We saved the best ones for you.

How To Make Cheap iPhone Ringtones – We get this one all the time, and it seems with each iTunes iteration, Apple makes it a little harder to get that free ringtone goodness you’ve come to love and expect. Well, can you keep a secret? Shhhh, we’ll show you just how it’s done. Don’t tell Steve we told you.

Reviews:

Half-Life 2 Review – Between Second Life and Half-Life, we’ll take the epic, legendary first person shooter game every time. Valve has been doing killer work in getting their games up and running like gangbusters on the Mac platform. While not everything was flawless, there was enough greatness in the visuals, the dialogue, the works to make it well worth your hard-earned dollars.

Parrot AR.Drone Review – Seriously, quite a few of us came of age when video games were two white lines running vertically along the sides of the screen while a white dot bounced back and forth between them. Let’s just say, things have come a long, long, looooooonnnnnngggg way when you can whip out your phone and use it to pilot a quadricopter. Be sure to check out our first flight videos as well as some behind the scenes footage. The acting is Oscar-worthy, but the quadricopter is even better.

As promised, Nic Vargus runs for his life, as Roberto Baldwin hunts him down, iPhone style!

News:

Okay, this is typically where we break out the latest iPhone news, but it’s been kinda quiet on that front lately…China’s Unicom is handing out free bumpers with the iPhone 4 to head that whole antenna issue off…but can users get something for the humidity? because the iPhone certainly doesn’t care for some of Asia’s more tropical climate…and some dude beat some woman in a speed texting throw down….aaannndd that’s it for iPhone news, because where things were really at this week were the apps.

For instance, just when you think you’ve heard the latest nonsense from the App Store, Read It Later’s update got smacked down because someone was concerned about users having to register to use the app. Uh, isn’t that a feature of TONS of apps? And isn’t having a Read It Later account the entire point of a Read It Later app? Yes, yes it is…speaking of App Store rejections, just quietly pour some out on the curb for Google Voice, which continues to sit in official limbo, going on over a year now…if you’re a Google lover, you’re going to adore push notifications for Gmail and your Google Calendar, the latest from Apple’s one-time BFF…but wait there’s more! If you’re rocking the Chrome action, Google’s got a treat for you. Chrome to iPhone sends the page you were just reading, directly to your iPhone (kinda like Read It Later, you know?)…and while it’s not app news, per se, Google also decided to bring VoIP to your Gmail account, to bring even a little more love to your hearts (and, no, i already tried using mobile Gmail and no free phone calls to be had there)…since we’re all about the love, how about Netflix going universal app-style, rocking the streaming video of flicks direct to any of your iDevices? Pretty sweet, no?…some sweetness we’d like to get our hands on? Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox, now available to Android phones in an alpha version…and now to harsh your buzz, there’s the GoodGuide app, which is great for making you into a better, greener citizen, but can kinda freak you out a bit too much with how bad everything is for the environment…and now for the icing on the cake of suck, to kick you while you’re down, with iAds not doing so swell, rumor has it that Apple is considering placing ads in some unfortunate places — like your books on iBooks. Blah!

In other news, you ever notice how hard it is to find a case you really love or a messenger bag that’s to die for? We’re that way about a stand for our iPad; nothing’s quite Baby Bear good enough for us…although we have to admit, if this were a little sexier, we could definitely go for an iPad case that brought this kind of functionality…and with a Bluetooth keyboard and al
l, that case could be a hit in the boardroom where iPads seem to be gaining greater acceptance…you know who else wants an iPad? Mobile workers are seriously jonesin for the device, and no wonder…it’s not a case, but this might be something to consider, since your iPad can’t get hurt inside this sweet little pinball table holder. If only we had landed that job as a pinball wizard…

News

Official Netflix App Goes Universal, Your iPhone Squeals in Joy

Netflix on iPhone

If you love Netflix on your iPad, you’re about to love it even more if you also use an iPhone or iPod touch — the company just released an update that makes the app universal, so it finally works on all three iOS devices.

Netflix snuck an update into the App Store overnight, bringing their app to version 1.1.0. The one and only change is a big one, though — the app is now universal, which means it now works on the iPhone or iPod touch as well as the iPad.

The best news is, this isn’t simply a way to browse movies or manage your queue, although you can certainly do that. Your membership includes streaming, and that now includes playing movies, TV shows and other programs right to all of your iOS devices.

If you’re out and about and can’t finish watching your current program, just quit the app and you can resume where you left off — and that includes picking right up back at home on your Internet-equipped television, Roku box or even computer.

The Netflix 1.1.0 app is absolutely free, but requires an active membership to use. The app requires iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

News

Insight into Apple's Enterprise Marketing Methods

In the space of a few years, the iPhone has gone from being a smartphone non grata in corporate circles, to being a much sought after productivity device for suits around the world. You’ll also find enterprise-level business tech users hunkered down in deep thought, searching their minds and the iTunes App Store for ways to justify the purchase of the latest piece of successful businessman accoutrement–the iPad–to their superiors. If you’ve spent anytime working in a corporate environment, you’ll know that this is a definite change. Up until recently, the office was ruled by the PC and Blackberry–boring technology, sure, but also cheap and relatively secure, allowing a company’s the bottom line to stay red while providing a reasonably stringent IT security.

How did Apple manage to sway the hearts of the world’s enterprise giants? Simple: They left them the heck alone.

As part of an interesting op-ed piece over at GIGAOM, it’s argued that Apple has managed to snag themselves a large share of the enterprise market not as a result of expensive advertising or aggressive sales aimed at corporate purchasers (they do regularly post ads in publications like the Wall Street Journal and Business week, but not noticeably more so than they do in consumer-centric publications). Instead, the folks from Cupertino chose a different route: provide enterprise users what they need to feel comfortable in order to use the device, wind them up, and let them go.

By including greater IT security control over iPhone handsets and better enterprise-class Microsoft Exchange Server integration for iOS devices, Apple created an environment where large business could feel comfortable enough to consider the use of iPhones and iPads as tools to help them operate their businesses a possibility. This shift to meet the needs of the business world was a gradual one made over the course of a few years. Once the iOS devices entered the corporate ecosystem, the users were free to explore the App Store and find software that met the specific needs of the businesses they were involved in. This, GIGAOM argues, is a great example of Apple shaping its products to meet the demand of its users. This breaks away from the philosophy of most large manufacturers, who demand that a target audience be identified before a product can be built or released.

The article isn’t a long read, and the comments surrounding it are pretty lively–especially those responding to the statement that Apple allows users freedom of choice in how they use their devices. If you have a few minutes, it’s worth checking out.

 

News

Yerba Buena Center Gets Prepped for Wednesday Apple Event

Yerba Buena prep for Sept. 1, 2010
(Image courtesy of MacRumors and Wired)

Can you feel the excitement in the air? Apple has a media event coming on Wednesday, September 1 and if you happen to live anywhere near the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco where it’s all going down, you might have seen a preview of what’s to come.

MacRumors is reporting that prep work for the September 1 event has already begun at the Yerba Buena Center, as seen in the photo above from Wired. In keeping with Apple tradition, the side of the building has been decorated with an enormous banner showing the same guitar-themed artwork featured on the company’s media invitation sent out earlier in the week.

No one knows for sure what Apple will introduced next Wednesday when the event kicks off at 10:00AM PDT, but new iPods and a new version of iTunes are the most likely candidate. Also churning in the rumor mill is a new Apple TV device, cheaper TV show rentals, a new version of iLife and even more.

If you simply can’t wait for next Wednesday, have a look at our own theories on what Apple will be introducing, then feel free to come back here and propose your own in the comments.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

News

Apple Patent Reveals Plans for Audio Ports

It looks as though Apple could be ready to fire off yet another salvo as part of their continuing war against buttons and peripheral holes. A war you say?

Totally.

In 2006, the company did away with one hole by giving us the Magsafe power connector. In recent years you may also have noticed that their video out interfaces keep getting smaller and smaller: You just know that it’s leading to the utter destruction of a physical video connection in their gear. Similarly, the introduction of the MacBook Air and its single dual purpose headphone/microphone jack signaled an impending unceremonial farewell to the presence of microphone port in their mobile devices. If a patent application filed today is any indication, Apple may be just that much closer to perfecting the latter and realizing their dream of a smooth, hole-free housing for their devices:

“A connector for receiving a cylindrical plug, the connector comprising: a body defining an aperture and a cavity for receiving the cylindrical plug; a plurality of electrical contacts in communication with the cavity, the plurality of electrical contacts making electrical connections with the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity, at least one of the electrical contacts mechanically engaging and retaining the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity; and a microphone coupled to the body such that the aperture and the cavity provide an acoustic path to the microphone.”

Compared to some of the more pie-in-the-sky patent applications we’ve seen coming out of Cupertino over the years, this one, a bid to refine their machinations for the impending doom of a physical port they’ve already taken steps to do away with, seems down right reasonable. However, be they zany or straight laced, as we’re always reminding you, it’s best to take any and all patents filed by Apple with a grain of salt as many of them never make the leap from the drawing board into a fully realized product.

 

News

Survey: MacBook Pro #1 with Steam Gamers

It looks as though Apple users, a typically intelligent, tech-savvy and genteel lot (yes, we’re stroking our own egos here,) can add another particular to their growing list of resume foibles: 31337 [email protected]//®. That’s ‘elite gamer’ for all of you out there that don’t hablas l33t speak.

According to a monthly survey conducted by the game mongers at Steam, a growing number of the individuals enjoying their services are doing so on Apple hardware. Over 46% of the Mac gamers accessing Steam’s servers were noted to be using MacBook Pros. The number of individuals getting their pew-pew on with MacBooks and iMacs was almost half of this, with their entries to the survey topping out at 20.25% and 23.18% respectively. The rest of Apple’s computer hardware line fared even worse: Cupertino’s venerable Mac Pro was only able to snag 5.41% of Steam’s Mac traffic, and while the Mac Mini may be the king of a growing number of home theatre systems, the diminutive computer got owned by its Mac cousins, garnering only 3.44% of all Mac traffic on the servers.

While Apple’s most likely thrilled to see so many people getting game on using their hardware, the survey hosted one figure that we’re willing to bet they’re weren’t to happy to see: According to Steam, 96.79% of all users visiting their site on a Mac were still rocking Flash.

If you’re a Steam gamer, join our Mac|Life Steam group and join us every Friday from 4:00PM to 5:00PM PDT for Frag the Editor Friday.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.


News

Paul Allen Suing Apple Amongst Other Companies For Patent Infringement

paulallen

(Image courtesy of BusinessWeek)

Remember Paul Allen?  Well, he’s about to try and make sure Apple amongst a whole slew of other tech heavy hitters don’t soon forget him.  On Friday, he sued Apple, Google and nine other companies claiming that they’re making use of technology that came about ten years ago at his now-kaput Silicon Valley lab.

Granted Allen didn’t develop any of the said technology, but he does indeed own the patents.

This would mark a first for Allen.  He is in hot pursuit of companies, including some of the biggest names such as Apple and Google, that he claims are in violation of technology that had been originally developed at Interval Research Corp., in Palo Alto, Calif., which is a lab and technology site he financed on his own with 0 million.

“Paul thinks this is important, not just to him but to the researchers at Interval who created this technology,” said Allen’s spokesman, David Postman.  “We recognize that innovation has a value, and patents are the way to protect that.”

Allen’s suit names companies like: Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.  But missing from the list were Microsoft, with whom Allen remains a major investor and Amazon.com, based in Allen’s hometown of Seattle.  Postman opted to not comment on the list of defendants.

As for the actual details of the suit, it lists violations of four patents for technology that are key parts of the operations of the various companies – and of e-commerce and Internet search companies.  No estimated damage amount was listed.

In one patent, the technology allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they’re currently viewing, or that which might be related to the online activities of others, perhaps in Facebook’s case.

The second, gives readers of news stories the option to locate stories in a hurry in regard to a certain subject.  The other two enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, that are related to what that user is doing at the current moment.

via The Wall Street Journal

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

 

News

Mozilla Fennec for Android Now Available for Download

For those of you who prefer to rock an Android handset over Apple’s brand of smartphone sexy, prepare to be giddy: Mozilla has announced the immediate availability of Fennec (Firefox) alpha for Android, bringing with it improved performance and responsiveness that even occasional on-the-go users are sure to enjoy. The alpha version of the software marks Mozilla’s second update to Fennec for Android since April and brings us one step closer to the much anticipated beta version of the software.

In an interview with the folks at TechRadar, Mozilla’s representatives stated that a full, bona fide version of Firefox would be available to Android users in the later this year. Currently, the browser’s developers are hard at work crossing their eyes and dotting some tees as they pay close attention to some of the finer details of the software, including how it handles video, zooming and scrolling.

While we wait for that release, there’s no reason why Android loving road warriors can’t add some awesome to their browsing experience right now. The Fennec alpha comes complete with the ability to include add-ons, such as a Twitter client to your browser, for a richer web experience.

For those interested, the Firefox Fennec alpha can be downloaded here.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.


News

New Details on Rumored 2010 iPod touch and nano

iPod nano 2010 leak
(Image courtesy of MacRumors and Apple.pro)

If sources close to Apple are to believed, the iPod touch may be getting a substantial overhaul with the 2010 model expected next week — and that an earlier leak of a small touchscreen device seen above may actually be the next iPod nano.

iLounge is reporting that the fourth generation iPod touch may very well change the appearance of its back when it’s introduced next week. Those who love the dome-like curved back of the second and third generation iPod touches seems to be out, according to a source “who would have reason to know.”

“Think of the top of a MacBook Pro, only smaller, which is to say flat rather than curved at the center — closer to the look of the first-generation iPod touch’s back, only with modifications,” iLounge explains. “The rear camera is there, but there is still some question as to whether what’s next to it will be a LED flash like the one in the iPhone 4, or a microphone like the one next to the video camera of the iPod nano.”

What will likely remain the same on the iPod touch is the bottom-mounted headphone port and the dock connector port. The new details seem to also be tossing cold water on the theories of a front-facing, FaceTime-enabled camera on the updated media player.

So what about the little touchscreen device seen above? “We’re continuing to hear from sources that the little touchscreen device — the one with the sub-2-inch screen — is being thought of as a nano rather than a shuffle, even though it doesn’t make much sense to us,” iLounge concludes.

We’ll all know soon enough, when Apple kicks off their media event at 10:00AM PDT on Wednesday, September 1.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

News

New Details on 2010 iPod touch and nano

iPod nano 2010 leak
(Image courtesy of MacRumors and Apple.pro)

If sources close to Apple are to believed, the iPod touch may be getting a substantial overhaul with the 2010 model expected next week — and that an earlier leak of a small touchscreen device seen above may actually be the next iPod nano.

iLounge is reporting that the fourth generation iPod touch may very well change the appearance of its back when it’s introduced next week. Those who love the dome-like curved back of the second and third generation iPod touches seems to be out, according to a source “who would have reason to know.”

“Think of the top of a MacBook Pro, only smaller, which is to say flat rather than curved at the center — closer to the look of the first-generation iPod touch’s back, only with modifications,” iLounge explains. “The rear camera is there, but there is still some question as to whether what’s next to it will be a LED flash like the one in the iPhone 4, or a microphone like the one next to the video camera of the iPod nano.”

What will likely remain the same on the iPod touch is the bottom-mounted headphone port and the dock connector port. The new details seem to also be tossing cold water on the theories of a front-facing, FaceTime-enabled camera on the updated media player.

So what about the little touchscreen device seen above? “We’re continuing to hear from sources that the little touchscreen device — the one with the sub-2-inch screen — is being thought of as a nano rather than a shuffle, even though it doesn’t make much sense to us,” iLounge concludes.

We’ll all know soon enough, when Apple kicks off their media event at 10am PST on Wednesday, September 1.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

News