Analysts and investors are waking up to a very different world on Wednesday morning -- one where they have to face the reality that Apple Inc. is not going to keep raising their shares by an unrealistic amount. Sure, growth appears to have stalled, but a quarterly net profit of $9.5 billion certainly doesn't sound like a dying company to us. And with no new Apple goodies until the fall (according to CEO Tim Cook), we can get back to sharing real stuff instead of the hallucinations the rumor mill keeps churning out. Whew!Tweetbot for iOS Adds Media Timeline, New Image Viewer
Tapbots updated its Tweetbot for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad apps on Tuesday, introducing a new media timeline. With a single tap, your Twitter feed is magically transformed into a nearly endless stream of only images and videos -- perfect for those of us who tend to scroll quickly through our feed in search of items of interest and skip over embedded media. The apps also feature a redesigned image viewer as well as fixing Instagram previews, and the tweet/status detail view now shows how many Faves and Retweets you actually have. The app updates are now available from the App Store, and free as always for existing users.AT&T Now Offers Genius Bar-Style Retail Appointments
The AT&T Consumer Blog announced Tuesday that the telco has added the ability to set up a retail appointment using a new online tool. Schedule a visit when it's most convenient for you, show up at the designated time and an AT&T representative will be happy to assist you with wireless, U-verse or other services. If that sounds vaguely familiar, then you've no doubt heard of or actually used Apple's retail-based Genius Bar. Okay, so AT&T isn't getting any points for originality here, but the idea is sound and we could all use more ways to get things accomplished in our busy lives.Google Fiber App Arrives for iPad
For all the lucky so-and-so's who are reading this from a super fast Google Fiber connection: We're jealous! Especially now that the search giant has blessed users with an official Google Fiber TV app for iPad. That's right, no more fumbling for the Nexus 7 included with each installation -- users can now search programming, browse listing or even select shows and recordings from the safety and comfort of an available iPad. Now if Google would just roll that fiber out into our hood, we'd have a reason to stop being jealous of our readers...Priceless: A Look at Afghanistan's Unofficial Apple Store
Did you know Apple has a retail store presence in Afghanistan? Sure, it may not be an official one, but you can't blame them for trying. Cult of Mac is reporting that the aptly-named "Apple Store Afghanistan" located in the Share-e-Naw district of Kabul moves "about five or six iPhones a day" to wealthy Afghans using actual Apple products purchased from distributors based in Dubai. Despite the lonely, empty look of the store, apparently business is good -- so much so that the owners may soon expand to a second location. They might as well, since it's likely to be a long wait for the real thing to arrive there...Dirty Kitchen Timer for iPhone, iPad Free April 24 Only
If you love the kitchen so much you'd like to spend all your time there, developer Brad Wallace Design has a deal for you. To celebrate the debut of their new Dirty Kitchen Timer app (available separately for iPhone or iPad), you can grab them both for absolutely free through Wednesday, April 24. The Dirty Kitchen Timer is a virtual kitchen app capable of running up to five simultaneous timers with customizable ringtones for each. Did we forget to mention that you'll be responsible for the interactive, 3D cooking pans and any potential mess they might make there? Thankfully, the Sponge button will return any Dirty Kitchen back to normal with just a tap. The developer also offers a limited free version of the app, which limits additional timers beyond the first to one minute. But why not grab the paid version for free while you can instead? Check out all the action in the embedded YouTube video below!
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Hybrid \ˈhī-brəd\ n. 1. an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera
3. something (as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function
— Merriam-Webster Abridged Dictionary
Generally speaking, hybrids are good. Hybrid cars save us money on gas and help the environment. Genetic hybrids produce delicious fruits like the grapefruit and tangelo. Without hybrid experimentation in music, we wouldn't have such brilliant, groundbreaking records from Miles Davis and the Beastie Boys.
But hybrid PCs are another story. There are plenty of them out there — powerful tablets that connect to full-sized keyboards, laptops with screens that spin around or detach — but none are really making any noise. It's not for a lack of design; some of these machines are so, um, inspired by the MacBook Air, you'd think they were designed in Cupertino, but still, they come and go without much fanfare.
If any of them were to succeed, it would be the Surface Pro: An anticipated hybrid with a slick design from a respected company, it should have been the one to break through. But sales figures haven't exactly gone through the roof. So what's the problem?
It's the software, stupid.
Reports surfaced last week that suggested Microsoft is considering an about-face on the touch-and-tile-centric Windows 8 by allowing users to bypass the Metro screen entirely and boot straight into the familiar desktop mode. It's a shame, really — Windows 8 could have been Microsoft's OS X, a radical change that embraces modern design aesthetics and positions it for decades of refinements. But Microsoft tried to do too much.
To design a good OS, compromises are necessary. OS X and iOS may be based on the same foundation, but their interface is very much dictated by the device they're running on, whether it's a 4-inch screen or a 30-inch one. There's overlap, to be sure, but the design tenets are separate and unique.
Microsoft, as it so stubbornly declared, refused to accept these compromises. Instead of building a next-generation desktop OS and crafting a separate, tablet version of Windows Phone, it crammed everything into a single hybrid OS. Desktop apps and multitouch apps run in completely different environments, making for a clunky, needless transition.
Not surprisingly, consumers haven't responded. Windows 8 Metro may be great on a touch-screen laptop, but it stinks with a mouse. And while the desktop mode works perfectly fine with a trackpad, it's a nightmare to use with your fingers. Simply put, it doesn't "just work," and I'm guessing most users are sticking with the environment that makes the most sense for whatever device they're using.
The Surface Pro was supposed to be that magical device that does everything — when you want it to be a tablet, it's as good as an iPad, and when you need to run Photoshop, it's a powerful PC. I'm not here to say it's a bad device (I'll let the sales numbers speak for themselves), but it just doesn't work as a hybrid.
And that's precisely why we won't be seeing one of these from Apple anytime soon. A patent unveiled earlier this month by the ever-vigilant Patently Apple shows that Apple is indeed experimenting with the idea, and the result is certainly an interesting MacBook concept:
"When connected or coupled to the base, the display may be rotatable and may pivot from an open position to a closed position. When disconnected or decoupled from the base, the display may be positioned in substantially any manner suitable by the user for viewing the display. The display may communicate with the base wirelessly and data and/or power may be transmitted to and from the base and the display without the need for cables or wires. ... Furthermore, in some embodiments, the screen may include a touch sensing or other input mechanism, such as a capacitive touch sensor, to allow the screen to further function as an input device for the computing device."
But whether you want to call it a MacBook touch or iPad pro, you probably shouldn't hold your breath. If Apple were to release one of the hybrid devices, one of two things need to happen: iOS needs to mature to the point where it can run desktop applications, or OS X needs to be completely retooled to support multitouch. Apple isn't going to force a hybrid machine on the masses that needs to switch between two operating system to function.
If there's anything Apple knows, it's that a simple, intuitive OS experience is key to a successful product. Even when we were forced to run dual environments on our Macs, Apple made sure the experience was seamless; OS 9 and Power PC apps ran alongside their OS X and Intel counterparts without the need to reboot. So Jony Ive certainly isn't going to make us switch into a completely different environment when we detach our MacBook screen, even if the transition is somehow automatic.
The fatal flaw of Windows 8 is that the desktop and mobile operating systems don't complement each other. If and when Apple decides to merge the Mac and iPad into one machine, it won't force two unrelated OSes to live under one roof. It'll let things evolve naturally, whether it takes two years or 20.
But by that point, it won't be a hybrid. It'll just be the be next big thing.
Find Michael Simon on Twitter or App.net @morlium.
Apple released its fiscal earnings for the second quarter today, announcing revenues that exceeded projections while also announcing its first profit decline since 2003. The revenue numbers were solid, with Apple reporting revenue of $43.6 billion and a quarterly net profit of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share. That’s well ahead of the estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters prior to the meeting, which had predicted profits of $9.98 a share.
Even Apple’s first decline in year-over-year quarterly earnings slightly beat early estimates, with Apple reporting an 18 percent profit loss to $9.5 billion that was slightly better than the 19 percent analysts had forecast.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s $43.6 billion revenue marked an 11 percent increase from last year, with much of that revenue springing from the enduring popularity of the iPhone and the iPad. In all, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones in the quarter, up from 35.1 million a year ago, as well as 19.5 million iPads, up from 11.8 million in 2012.
In addition, Apple announced a 15 percent increase in its dividend as well as a boost to its stock buyback program by $60 billion, which comes as welcome news to investors who have been pressuring Apple to extend more of its earnings to shareholders. According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple’s boost to its buyback program makes it the largest share repurchase in history. Shares rose as much as 5 percent in after-hours trading following the announcement of the buyback program, but settled down to less than 1 percent after Apple announced their earnings.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also used the opportunity to hint that new products might be on the way. In his prepared remarks for the conference call, he stated that “our teams are hard at work at some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014."
Digital distributor GOG.com expanded its library of Mac games by an impressive 22 titles today with an update that includes both classics and newer hits such as the Diablo-themed dungeon crawler Torchlight. We’ve already seen the bulk of these games on the Mac before, but GOG’s update also brings a few '90s PC favorites to the Mac for the first time. Better late than never.
Wing Commander 3, Crusader: No Regret, Total Annihilation, and Cannon Fodder finally debut on Mac as part of the rollout, but the update isn’t just about the revival of beloved oldies. Last year’s indie point-and-click indie puzzler Primordia (below) also makes its first appearance with the Mac, and it should scratch an itch for heady sci-fi musings in the vein of the 2012 film Prometheus.
That’s just a sampling of the games available in the update, which brings GOG’s Mac library up to 134 games. Other notable titles include the 1994 platformer Hocus Pocus, neo-noir point-and-click adventure Gemini Rue (which also recently appeared on iOS), and the endlessly entertaining action platformer Psychonauts.
Rounding off the selection are Populous 2, Ground Control II, Ultima VIII, Resonance, 7th Guest, Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, Lords of the Realm: Royal Edition 1+2, Pinball: Gold Pack, Space Colony HD, Sniper Elite: Berlin 1945, Stronghold HD, Stronghold Crusader HD, and Total Annihilation Kingdoms.
Already bought some of these for Windows via GOG.com? Don’t worry: the update allows you to download the newly available games free of charge if you already own the Windows version. Your wallet won’t hurt, either, as almost all of the "new" games cost no more than $10.
Follow this article’s author, Leif Johnson on Twitter.
Your iPhone’s camera is fantastic, and not because it has the best lens or the widest array of features, but because it’s always there with you, ready to take a shot in seconds. What if you have a little more time to get just the shot you want, frame it right, and set the focus, but don’t want to carry around another device just for snapping photos? For those who want to control more parameters and apply filters before clicking the shutter – or have the app do it all for you – Blux Camera Pro is a very good option to consider.
Swiping from left to right reveals the saturation, contrast, brightness, and sharpness controls, while a top-to-bottom swipe pulls up flash controls and lets you switch between cameras or apply an edge blur. Additionally, a bottom-to-top swipe lets you see the photos that you take; you can save them to your iPhone's camera roll from that screen. Tapping on the filter button reveals a vast array of preset settings, each bearing the name of a famous international city. You can also choose more traditional settings like portrait, cloudy, macro, and HDR, depending on your needs, and tap on the "plus" button to customize your interface – like adding a histogram or a grid, for instance.
Clearly, there's a lot in play within Blux Camera Pro's interface, but if that all sounds too confusing, simply tap on the blue icon at the top left of the screen and the app will analyze your shot and determine – based on your geographical location and the current weather conditions – which filter combination could be best for you. When taking the same shot using this method and our iPhone's default Camera app, more often than not, the former gave the better result with clearer, sharper, and better defined photos. It not a foolproof system, but it's easy to see when something is amiss before you take the shot.
Although the sound effects are great, the visual ripple used when adding or removing interface elements is fun at first, but lasts for too long and ultimately becomes annoying. The UI also doesn't rotate depending on how you hold your phone, so you could end up with all of the buttons upside down based on your preference. Also, you can’t take a shot using the phone’s physical volume button like you can with the default Camera app or most top-level third-party options.
The bottom line. Blux Camera Pro's vast array of options make it a great app to have if you’re serious about getting the best out of your iPhone camera, and it's wrapped up in a very clever interface, despite a few niggles.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Control virtually every aspect of your shot. Numerous filters are available. Can analyze the shot for you and suggest the best setup. Burst mode, anti-shake, and timer options are very welcome.
Interface is locked in a specific orientation. No physical shutter button available. Some options only available to those who purchase separate Blux Lens app. Potentially intimidating to novices.Score: 3.5 Good
In a marketplace chock full of free-to-play word games, Bookworm Heroes plays like a clear attempt to take back the mantle. PopCap didn’t invent casual word puzzles, but its Bookworm franchise certainly had a hand in its popularity. And while this asynchronous multiplayer entry boasts spritely animations and well-balanced word fighting mechanics, it pushes its in-app purchases a little too hard for our tastes.
This is a word game by way of the fighting genre, right down to opposing health bars that drain with successive attacks. Spelling longer words results in stronger attacks, and using specialized letter blocks offers potential effects like refilling health, packing more punch, or even chancing a second attack in one turn. As a fighting game, it features a distinct cast. Lex the Bookworm is joined by a cadre of human (and humanoid) characters: Hamlet the scribe, Razor the hacker, and Polyphemus the stone golem. Each packs his or her own specialized maneuvers, like Lex’s capability to eat words to refill his health, or Hamlet’s ability to ink opponents’ letters. While it’s odd at first to see such cute mascots hitting and biting each other, it fades into the background as part of the game’s charm.
You can also select optional pets to take into a fight for extra bonus effects and attacks. With the exception of one pet that offers unlimited once bought for $1.99, each of the heroes and pets cost in-game currency – between 750 and 1,500 coins per use. The game starts you with a cache of coins to bankroll your first round of games, and you'll earn more as you play words during the games.
However, this led us to an unforeseen problem. Since earning coins relies on playing the game, continued participation of your opponents is important. If they choose to stop, the coins spent to start a game with them are simply lost. Thanks to challenging several random (and unreliable) strangers who quit after a turn or two, we had such a coin deficit that we had to purchase a pack of currency simply to keep playing. PopCap plans to address this with a future update, but for the time being it’s problematic.
Even if it had all gone smoothly, though, the treasury would have eventually suffered from diminishing returns. The currency is given in such small doses that it’s extremely difficult to earn back enough to rent even the cheapest hero, Lex. And that’s without use of any pets at all; being pet-less against a pet-equipped opponent is a serious disadvantage, as well. Unless you’d like to constantly invite new friends into the game, which earns a coin bonus, buying packs becomes necessary to continue playing. Steering players towards in-app purchases is par for the course in free-to-play games, but Bookworm Heroes makes it seem almost obligatory.
The bottom line. Bookworm Heroes is a polished word/fighting game hybrid, but its aggressive in-app purchases ultimately mellow its charm.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Well-animated cast of characters. Differentiated and well-balanced powers.
Aggressive pay wall. No compensation for lapsed games.Score: 2.5 Okay
[This is an advertorial. Maclife gets a portion of each unit sold.]
Everyone loves a win-win situation. Why? Because everyone wins, of course. That's what you have here. We've put together a bundleof 10 beloved Mac applications that are valued at a total of $399. That's not what you'll pay, though, because you have the ability to write up your own custom price tag for this package. Get the bundle for as little as a buck, pay the recommended amount of $49, or go above and beyond to snag the top spot on the leaderboard and get entered to win a Macbook Air. No matter what you kick in, 10% of it will go to a charity of your choice, so you're doing some good for your Mac, your bottom line, and a worthy cause.
Here's what you'll get when you get yourself the Name Your Own Price Mac App Bundle:
- DiskTools Pro - The best hard drive utility you can get for your Mac makes it easy to defrag, backup, and repair your drive.
- Crossover 12 - Easily run and use Windows software on your Mac without the need to reboot.
- Snapz Pro X - Record and capture everything that happens on your screen and get easy outputs of your captures for sharing.
- Paperless - Get rid of the need for paper documents and physical files with the help of Paperless.
- Mac Blu-ray Player - Make your Mac capable of playing blu-ray discs so you can enjoy your favorite films on your Mac.
- Gemini - Gemini will help you keep your Mac clean and prevent it from getting bogged down in duplicate files.
- MusicTube - Take all of the music videos available on Youtube and make them viewable in more convenient way.
- HoudahSpot - Find any file or document on your Mac with ease.
- Elmedia Player Pro - Capable of playing nearly any file type and can capture streaming videos straight to your hard drive.
- PhotoBulk - An easy to use photo editor that lets you resize, optimize, and watermark your photos.
All of these apps together would normally cost you $399. If you head to our Deals tab, you can name your own price and get your hands on these 10 must have apps for your Mac. Pay what you want, chip in to charity, and score some great tools for you as well. You can't go wrong, so grab this bundle while you can. And remember, if at any point your name is at the top of the leaderboard, you will be entered to win a Macbook Air!
Back in the early 80's, boomboxes were king. You'd load up a cassette with your favorite jams, buy a ton of bulky, heavy D-cell batteries, and take the party to the park, or the beach, or wherever. Then Sony introduced the Walkman, and permanently changed how we listen to music on the go. The Berlin Boombox aims to bring back some of that old-school block-rocking, in the form of a DIY boombox made out of cardboard. It's quite literally a box that booms.
Assembling the Boombox is surprisingly easy. The multilingual instructions are accompanied by pictorial instructions several grades higher than the ones that came with your cheapo Swedish coffee table. Basically, assembling the Boombox amounts to connecting the speakers and battery to a small amplifier, and folding the whole thing up. The cardboard is pre-cut and scored for folding, and the whole thing goes together in about 15 minutes. Three AA batteries are included, and they fit into a clever compartment in the back.
Sound-wise, Boombox was quite a bit louder than we expected, and actually lived up to its name. The 3-inch full-range speakers emphasize the mids and highs, but there's actually a surprising amount of thump, considering the whole thing is made of corrugated cardboard. The metal volume knob turns smoothly, and clicks when the unit is turned off. Since it features a stereo-mini input, Boombox works with everything from iPhones to iPods, iPads, Macs,, and just about any other sound-emitting device you might have around.
The bottom line. It's not going to win any audiophile awards, but as a quirky, lightweight speaker for backyard BBQs and relaxing in the park, this box is a boom.
Studio Axel Pfaender
Price: €65 ($84.39)
iPhone, iPod, or any device with a headphone jack.
Easy to assemble. Well-constructed (for cardboard). Surprisingly loud.
Well, it's a cardboard boom box. Doesn't hold your device securely.Score: 4 Great
Posable 3D characters add a sense of realism, even to "flying boy" stories.
Photoshop and Painter might still rule the roost for digital cartoonists, but Manga Studio by Smith Micro is gaining ground quickly. Designed for the more specific needs of sequential artists, it includes multiple panels, speech balloons, and pens and pencils that behave just as they would in the real world.
Version 5 adds tools such as quick mask and layers so that your brush strokes stay neatly within your boundaries, a feature that’s been sorely missed in previous incarnations. It also includes 3D posable characters, objects, and backdrops, which means you can create drawings with a realistic sense of perspective and anatomy.
Despite all these useful new features, Manga Studio could still do with a lick of paint on its clunky user interface. It ditches OS X’s familiar traffic lights in favor of its own odd maximize/minimize controls, and each toolbar and workspace runs in its own window, which becomes akin to a treasure hunt when you accidentally minimize one.
Thanks to Manga Studio 5’s new graphics engine, you won’t be able to open files created in previous versions, so if you’ve got a huge library of older Manga Studio files we’d recommend sticking to its predecessor until version 5 is fixed. If you’re new to creating digital art, though, this is a great place to start.
The bottom line. Aside from some minor flaws, Manga Studio 5 finally delivers on the promise of an all-in-one comic-creation app.
$79.99 full, $49.99 upgrade
Intel Core 2 Duo, OS X 10.6 or later
Powerful masks and layers. 3D characters and objects. Lots of fun.
Minor UI issues. Can’t import files from previous versions.Score: 4 Great
Remember the so-called "Antennagate" crisis? While it seems like forever ago that iPhone 4 users whined about antenna problems with their handsets, they'll probably be reminded about it when their settlement check hits the mailbox.
9to5Mac is reporting that iPhone 4 owners who participated in a class action lawsuit against Apple over antenna attenuation complaints are finally starting to receive settlement checks.
More than a year ago, Apple reached a settlement with attorneys for the class action complaint, agreeing to pay $53 million to make the problem go away after supposedly “misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 -- particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software.”
Owners who cashed in on Cupertino's earlier offer of a free bumper or case were not eligible for the settlement, so if you haven't seen a check, that could be why. According to 9to5Mac readers who are receiving the payments, the settlement checks for a whopping $15 were issued on April 17 and must be cashed by July 16, 2013 or they are null and void.
Why only $15? Apparently the class action lawyers took home a cool $16 million from the settlement, which proves once again that the rich get richer and the rest of us just have to make do.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Despite the advent of digital downloads or locker services such as Ultraviolet, many collectors still prefer physical media. For years, such collectors have kept track of such media with Mac apps like Delicious Library, which will soon debut a complete overhaul.
MacRumors posted a sneak peek at Delicious Library 3 on Monday, the latest version of developer Delicious Monster's OS X catalog app for keeping track of physical media such as compact discs, DVDs, Blu-rays and more.
While Delicious Library has been out of the public eye in recent years after a setback involving Amazon catalog data, CEO Wil Shipley plans to introduce a new recommendations engine to the application, which will also feature "a 3D cover-view interface, interactive charts mode, flexible smart shelves and more."
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the upcoming version 3.0 is a companion iOS app which can be used for quickly adding new products to a Delicious Library catalog. While the application has always offered this functionality on the Mac using the built-in iSight camera, this is the first time users will be able to do the same thing using an iPhone camera.
No word on exactly when Delicious Library 3 will be available, but the Mac and iOS apps are expected "soon" on their respective App Stores.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of MacRumors)
Amidst all the gloom and doom over AppGratis being kicked out of the App Store, one beacon of light has appeared for app discovery services thanks to the return of AppShopper.
AppShopper announced in a blog post Monday that its free iPhone app has made a triumphant return to the App Store, reborn as AppShopper Social. As you may recall, Apple booted the original AppShopper back in December for running afoul of its developer guidelines, similar to the AppGratis saga that recently unfolded.
AppShopper's return is made possible by the inclusion of social networking features, which adds a Twitter-powered Friend Stream on top of the core app discovery feature. Users can share items on their wish list with friends, with both parties able to see what the other is rating as well.
The good news is that most of the original AppShopper core features are also present in AppShopper Social, which is an entirely new app and not an update to the original version. In addition to Wish List and My App tabs, users can receive push notifications and/or emails notifying them of updates and price changes for their favorite apps.
A few things are still missing, namely native iPad support, which is promised for a forthcoming universal update. "What's New" and "Top 200" charts are also missing for now, but could also return with a future version.
AppShopper Social is now available from the App Store as a free download, and finally supports the larger display of the iPhone 5, as well as other devices running iOS 5.0 or later.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 has arrived, and within hours we'll all know how Apple fared during the post-holiday season without having released any significant new products. Investors have probably been chugging Pepto-Bismol for the last week in anticipation of the conference call, and as a result we've been subjected to endless speculation about the company's fate. Assuming Apple has a tomorrow (yes, that's a joke), we sure look forward to getting on to some better news about what the company will be releasing this year...Apple Adds "Download Later" Option to iTunes Store Purchases
Macworld reported Monday that Apple has quietly answered our prayers by adding the option to purchase larger iTunes Store content like movies or TV shows, but download them at a later date. The change affects both iTunes 11 on Mac or Windows as well as iOS devices, which now show a prompt asking the user to download now or download later through the Purchased tab in iTunes. This addition fixes one of our own long-standing complaints -- sometimes we just want to take advantage of a sale or a free TV episode without actually going through the motions of downloading it. With the Apple TV now capable of streaming such iTunes in the Cloud content, storing large media files -- especially on SSD-equipped MacBooks -- is no longer required. Kudos to Apple for this little gem.Netflix Updates iOS App, Announces Family Streaming Plan
Just ahead of its quarterly earnings call on Monday, Netflix introduced version 4.0 of its free, universal iOS app, adding a new TV episode selector for the iPad to make it easier to find the exact one you'd like to view. The audio and subtitle selector also gets a redesign, and the app is now free of additional bugs as well. And while we're on the subject of those quarterly earnings, AllThingsD is reporting that CEO Reed Hastings announced during the conference call that Netflix plans to introduce a family streaming plan in the near future, which will allow four simultaneous streams at once (instead of the two currently available) for $11.99 per month. Along the same lines, the company will also introduce user profiles, which will allow family members to see their own recommendations, which means no more kiddie fare showing up in the parent's "recently watched" area.Apple Reportedly Returns Millions of Lemon iPhones to Foxconn
As investors circle the wagons around Cupertino and suppliers lament the pros and cons of doing business with Apple, The Register is reporting the iPhone maker is stepping up its quality control efforts, reportedly sending a huge batch of handsets back to Foxconn after deeming them unfit for sale. A report from China Business claims somewhere between five and eight million iPhones were returned "due to appearance of substandard or dysfunctional problems," according to an unnamed Foxconn employee. At a manufacturing cost of $200, that could rack up a $1.6 billion hit on Foxconn's books to replace the lemon devices. It's unclear which iPhone model had the issue, but the report suggests it's entirely possible the device in question could be this year's model, which is rumored to be delayed until later in the year.FX Photo Studio HD for iPad Now Free, Limited Time Only
The recent success of MacPhun's FX Photo Studio for iPhone promotion has prompted the company to do the same with the iPad edition, FX Photo Studio HD. After racking up more than one million downloads in four days, MacPhun is making the tablet version of the photo editing app free for a limited time (a $1.99 savings). So how long will the app remain free? The developer boldly claims to be reaching for a whopping 10 million downloads, and readers can help the company accomplish that task by heading to the App Store and grabbing it while it's free.Crazy Rumor: Could Tim Cook's Days as Apple CEO Be Numbered?
Apple will unveil its quarterly financials later today, and the rumor crazy train has really been running off the rails in the days leading up to the big event. AppleInsider is reporting that a so-called "whisper campaign" suggesting Apple CEO Tim Cook's days could be numbered after the company's stock price leaped above $700 last September and continues to languish just below $400 today. On the flip side, the report rightfully notes that AAPL stock has often been a bumpy ride -- back in 2008, CNBC asked Steve Jobs about a drop from $200 per share down to $117 and back up to $185, to which the CEO replied, "I think we've done pretty well for our stockholders over the past decade, and I would just encourage them to trust us. Maybe we know what we're doing." Sage advice that is worth repeating today, we'd say...
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of Macworld)
Little about the act of slicing strands seems terribly appealing in our everyday lives, but that simple premise is responsible for one of the App Store's biggest sensations. Cut the Rope's diverse and colorful physics-based puzzles have made green alien creature Om Nom a household name across two entries – the original smash and the even-more-whimsical Cut the Rope: Experiments – and now Cut the Rope: Time Travel aims to push the formula further ahead by looking to the past for thematic inspiration.
While not a significant departure from the swipe- and tap-centric approach of the earlier entries, Time Travel does have very notable addition. Now there are two Om Noms to feed: the regular one, as hungry as ever, and another pulled from a notable time period like Ancient Egypt or The Stone Age. Each of the six included eras in the initial release features its own unique mechanic to master, offering a solid amount of gameplay diversity across the 90 total stages.
Adding another mouth and piece of candy to guide to it does more than simply busy up the screen in each slickly-animated puzzle – it adds one more thing to consider as you swipe to dice ropes or tap to pop bubbles. Each monster needs to be satisfied before the stage is complete, and that's not even taking into consideration the ultimate goal of collecting the three stars found on each screen. Many times, the two pieces of candy are connected, and thus the movement of one directs that of the other, which can be tricky.
Getting each to its respective destination requires careful planning and execution, and while that doesn't seriously shake up the Cut the Rope experience, it does tweak the dynamic just enough to keep things interesting. And the era-specific gadgets are a nice twist, as well, starting with spinning blades and metal chains before leading to a button that freezes all movement, a second candy that mimics the movements of the first, and a few other unique additions.
Time Travel admittedly isn't quite as big of a shift from the earlier entries as we'd hoped for; it's more of the same on a general level, but variety has always been a strength of Cut the Rope's puzzles, so it doesn't feel tired even after some 600 stages between all of the releases. Still, one complaint worth lodging is that this entry doesn't seem quite as challenging on the top end. That may be addressed in the coming level updates, but for now it's pretty breezy. Also, the HD version for iPad is functionally identical, yet costs three times as much.
The bottom line. It's the same Cut the Rope that we know so well, albeit with a little more to love.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later
Great, accessible physics-based puzzles. Nice twist on the familiar formula. Solid amount of variety across the 90 included stages.
Won't be terribly challenging to series fans. Separate iPhone and iPad versions, with the latter priced at $2.99.Score: 4 Great
Although the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is my main computer, it spends most days tethered to a Thunderbolt Display. Mini Display promises the luxury of dual displays from anywhere, as it's a universal app that extends a Mac desktop onto an iOS device on the same local Wi-Fi network, but it’s not yet ready to replace the real thing. Avatron’s Air Display, which has been around for quite some time, actually does the same for a few dollars less, and works with both Mac and Windows.
With the free OS X-only Connect software running, Mini Display discovered my MacBook within seconds. When connecting, the Mac display will turn blue for a moment as the extra screen is added, or anytime a connected iOS device is rotated. While Air Display crams options into its Mac preference pane, settings are neatly tucked away inside Mini Display, where they can be adjusted on a per-device basis. You can save login credentials or choose to restore windows from the previous session, while Retina iPad owners also have “Best” or “More Space” resolution choices. With the MacBook connected to a Thunderbolt Display, Mini Display gave me a third display on iOS. I even tried for four, but the Mac client only allows one connection at a time. Unfortunately, even with fast 802.11n Wi-Fi, the app has a hard time refreshing the screen when there’s movement.
When tested, the smaller iPhone 5 was fairly responsive, but I saw noticeable lag on a third-generation iPad, even with just a simple TextEdit window. Mini Display bordered on unusable after moving a graphics-heavy Parallels Desktop VM window onto it, so this isn’t going to replace a real second display. On the plus side, Mini Display works great for travelers used to tucking toolbars away on a second screen, or for those who need more breathing room than a 15-inch laptop can provide. The app recognizes a wide range of gestures, including a two-finger pinch to disconnect, though I unintentionally triggered it more than I would have liked.
The bottom line. Mini Display is great for occasional, lightweight use, but it’s pretty much unusable for anything graphics-intensive. Despite the user-friendly interface, established rival Air Display is faster, cheaper, and also works with Windows.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
Settings accessed from iOS app instead of Mac. Quick connection speed. Retina iPads can choose between more space and optimized display resolution.
Noticeable screen lag, especially for graphics-intensive windows. Screen “blinks” occasionally during extended use. More expensive than competing apps. No Windows support.Score: 2.5 Okay
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Every Monday, we'll show you how to do something new and simple with Apple's built-in command line application. You don't need any fancy software, or a knowledge of coding to do any of these. All you need is a keyboard to type 'em out!
You’ve probably heard of ZIP files, and may have heard of TAR files, but RAR files are another compression technique with added benefits that you can use to send your files over the Internet or store on a disc. The advantages of RAR over ZIP is that RAR files can store the full file permissions, can be split into multiple files for easier transmission or storage, and have improved error handling and data redundancy in case your RAR file arrives broken due to transmission errors or bad sectors. Many users don’t know how to deal with RAR files, however, so we’ll show you how to extract their contents in this Terminal 101.
The first step to using RAR files on your Mac is to install the unrar package from Homebrew or MacPorts. To do this, type in the following command if you’re using Homebrew:brew install unrar
If you’re using MacPorts on your system, then type in the following command to install the unrar program onto your Mac:sudo port install unrar
You’ll be required to enter your administrator password if you’re using MacPorts to complete the installation.Listing contents inside the RAR file
Not sure if you wish to extract the contents of the downloaded RAR file? There’s an easy way that you can check to see what the contents of the file look like before you go through the extraction process. To do this, type the following command into the Terminal:unrar l file.rar
Replace “file.rar” with the actual name of your RAR file. When you do this, you will get a listing of the files contained inside of the RAR package. It will list the file name, size, compression ratio, date, time, and permission attributes.Testing the RAR file
If you believe that a file inside of your RAR file may be damaged, then you can test it using the unrar utility. To do this, type in the following command:unrar t file.rar
Replace “file.rar” with the actual name of you RAR file. When this command is run, you will see the file listing of the contents of the RAR file, and an “OK” beside of the files that are verified as having passed the file integrity check.Unrar-ing the file
To unrar your RAR file (i.e. to extract the contents of the RAR file), we’ll use the following command:unrar x file.rar
Replace “file.rar” with the path and filename of the RAR file that you will be extracting, and then press the enter key. The contents of the RAR file will be extracted to your current working directory. If you wish to extract the contents of the file to a particular directory, use this command instead:unrar e file.rar ~/pathToExtractTo
Replace “file.rar” with the path and filename of the RAR file that you wish to extract; and, replace “~/pathToExtractTo” with the path that you wish to extract the contents to.
For instance, if we had a file on our Desktop called “Sample.rar” and we wished to extract the contents to a folder on the Desktop called “MyFiles,” we could use the following command:
This would extract the contents to the MyFiles folder on the desktop. If the MyFiles directory doesn’t already exist, the unrar utility will create it for you automatically and place the files inside.
It is rare that you run into RAR files online, but in the event that you do, this unrar utility will come handy and allow you to handle the contents of the RAR file with ease.
Cory Bohon is a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer. Follow this article's author on Twitter.
Laptops used to be this size.
What a neat idea. According to HP, the Officejet 150 Mobile is the world’s first portable all-in-one printer, scanner, and photocopier. We’ve seen portable printers and mobile scanners before, but never both functions in the same unit. It could be of real interest to business travellers or real estate agents who spend a lot of time away from the company laser printer or their home office all-in-one inkjet.
Although portable, it measures 14x7x3.5 inches and weighs 6.4 pounds, or 6.8 with the optional battery fitted; it can be stowed neatly in your suitcase, but don’t expect to slip it into your briefcase with your MacBook. The battery’s good for 500 print-outs, which is very impressive, and you can use AC power if you take the cable and transformer with you. Its text-print speeds are OK for a mobile printer, outputting our 20-page text document in just under four minutes. Text quality is good, too, though it’s not as good as a regular HP Officejet at very small point sizes. Photos aren’t quite up to the “lab quality” we were promised—the colors could be more vibrant and a little less artificial—but they’re sharp, consistent, and solid.
The sheet-feed scanner is a mixed bag. It’s slow and you can’t scan over a Bluetooth connection. Images can look speckled and the bottom of the page gets stretched, though blacks are strong and white space blemish-free. Photocopies are surprisingly good, with very few imperfections.
The bottom line. The 150 Mobile is expensive to buy and run, and can’t replace your home all-in-one, but it’s an excellent piece of engineering and a real boon if you often need to scan, print, and photocopy on the go.
OS 10.5.8 or later, USB or Bluetooth
Portable. Long-lasting battery.
Expensive. Probably can’t replace a regular multifunction printer at home.Score: 3.5 Good
After years of neglecting the U.S. prepaid market, Apple has opened the floodgates over the last year or so, with subscribers flocking to Walmart and Straight Talk to get their hands on the iPhone 5.
GigaOM is reporting that TracFone-owned Straight Talk saw significant gains in both subscribers and revenue last quarter, adding 839,000 new customers following the debut of the iPhone 5 on its prepaid network.
While TracFone hasn't explicitly called out Apple's iPhone as the reason for its first-quarter 2013 gains, the numbers were clearly up from the end of 2012, which saw only 753,000 subscribers added. Ironically, Q1 saw TracFone actually beat out Verizon Wireless, whose subscriber base grew by only 720,000 new customers during the period.
Not so coincidentally, TracFone's Walmart-based Straight Talk division began selling the iPhone 5 in January. Prepaid subscribers can purchase the device outright for $649 (which Walmart spreads out over 26 monthly payments of $25 each), with unlimited talk, text and 3G data for only $45 per month -- which is a better deal than even T-Mobile's new "UNcarrier" plans.
TracFone owner América Móvil did confirm that its subscriber gains were indeed coming from its Straight Talk business as well as the Mexico-based Telcel América, but it's not hard to imagine an awful lot of those new subscribers are probably carrying around the iPhone 5.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Though we've never used it ourselves (hey, we're supposed to be Mac gurus, right?), Apple's One to One service for new Mac buyers seems like a great way for newbies to get up to speed -- but it might be a little less worth the money now.
ifoAppleStore is reporting that Apple has quietly updated the terms of its One to One service, which costs $99 for a full year of getting personalized assistance setting up a new Mac purchased on the company's online store or retail location.
"First, we’ll set up your email, transfer your photos, music, and other files, and show you how to keep everything in sync with iCloud," the service description reads. "Then, we’ll work with you to create a curriculum tailored to your goals, learning style, and experience level."
One thing that won't be included moving forward is data migration from an existing Mac or PC -- at least not 60 days after you pay for the service, which was previously included for the full 12 month term. Additionally, data migration will no longer be done via Wi-Fi, and now requires an Ethernet, Thunderbolt, FireWire or USB connection as well as the most recent version of OS X on the original Mac, which seems particularly limiting for users of older systems.
Finally, staff assistance for installations are now limited to any hardware or software purchased along with a new Mac.
The report theorizes such changes are usually the result of being too labor intensive, too troublesome or too costly, although it's unclear which of three might be the case here.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter