Thursday, October 11, 2012

New iPhone case

If you glance at your iPhone wish list, you may see things like longer battery life, expandable SD memory, a better flash, and an old school 30-pin connector for your shiny new iPhone 5. You can have all those things if you're willing to pledge $75 to the iExpander project on Kickstarter.

The iExpander is a jack-of-all-trades case that crams a whole lot into a relatively small size. You're still going to add 6.3mm of chunk to your sleek phone, but the trade-off is pretty tempting.

Let's start with the flashy stuff. The case has an ultrathin CAP-XX supercapacitor that powers an LED flash that can make a big difference in the quality of your low-light photos.

iOS maps

An application designed to replace the look, feel, and utility of Apple's old maps application has disappeared from the App Store, just days after its debut.

ClassicMap, an application from developer Katsumi Kishikawa -- who has two other applications on sale through Apple -- is no longer available.

The free application popped up on the App Store on Monday and made waves for offering users a way to get some of the same look and feel as the old version of Apple's maps, which used data from Google.

The app included an options menu that looked very much like Apple's own maps app, folding up to reveal extra options, including a toggle to switch between Apple's maps data and Google's. Notably missing were any sort of navigation features or Google's Street View, two things other developers and Google have scrambled to replace either through apps or through the Web.

In a tweet Kishikawa noted that the removal was "Apple's decision," though did not elaborate. CNET has reached out to him and Apple for additional information.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Android Payback: Apple to Cut Google Out of Stunning New 3D Maps App in iOS6

Android Payback: Apple to Cut Google Out of Stunning New 3D Maps App in iOS6
New Apple maps image based on C3 3D technology

New Apple maps image based on C3 3D technology

One of the most immediate effects of Steve Jobs' legacy on Apple is an animosity towards Google fueled by what Jobs saw as the outright copying of iOS by Android. Big tech companies will always be battling titans, but this is more. This is personal.

Still, the two companies have been bound by the mutual dependence since Google's services are bundled into iOS. And iMore reports that Google may make four times the ad revenue off of their use in iOS than they do from their own Android platform. Apple wants to change that. Apple has already begun intermediating search queries though Siri, effectively cutting Google out of the valuable identity information associated with those searches. Next up is that other large data components on iOS, maps.

It was widely reported yesterday that Apple will likely announce at its WWDC in June that the new version of the built-in maps app in iOS6 will not be fed by Google maps. Instead, Apple has developed its own, in-house 3-D mapping database, based on the acquisition of three mapping software companies between 2009 and 2011, PlacebaseC3 Technologies, and Poly9. The stunning 3D image above is from C3, which, according to the company, uses "previously classified image processing technology… automated software and advanced algorithms… to rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images." The video below shows a flyover of Oslo using C3′s technology.

So if this report is true, Apple will have a new maps app with much more highly-detailed imagery than Google, collected through military-style reconnaissance without the (ahem) gathering of any personal information. It is a good bet that Apple will finesse the transitions between the different map modes far better than Google's wonky shift from "map view" to "street view." What could go wrong? Although Apple now owns the source and can engineer accordingly, the new app likely runs more image data through the pipe, so performance on mobile devices—where it's most critical—is going to be an issue. Apple may have to build in detection of the processor speed of the requesting iOS device and send a thinner stream to older iPhones than to the new quad-core iPads.

There is obviously an interesting business story here about how Apple and other tech companies are trying to chip away at Google's dominance of web services. But even more interesting, to me, is the end-user's story. The bloody competition between Apple and Google is leading Apple to create more innovative user experiences for its customers, and that is a good thing. An operating system is just a container for content, and recreating content is much more difficult than just knocking off its container. By creating a new source for the content of maps on iOS, Apple is making their platform more distinct from Android, as if to say, "You can only copy so much." Although Apple is always improving user experience, this particular effort might have not happened had Steve Jobs not threatened to go "thermonuclear."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Google May Be Close to Acquiring Meebo for $100 Million

Google May Be Close to Acquiring Meebo for $100 Million [REPORT]

Google is in discussions to acquire Meebo for as much as $100 million, sources have told the often-reliable AllThingsD.

Meebo was founded in 2005 as a messaging app for the browser, a product that still exists as Meebo Messenger. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup has since developed an expanding suite of social and mobile apps for consumers as well as publishers, each designed to enable online communication.

Meebo raised $25 million in its last round of financing in 2010. The round was led by Khosla Ventures with participation from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised $62.5 million to date.

Neither Google nor Meebo could be reached for comment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to redeem promo codes for iPhone Apps

Want to redeem your code for an iPhone app?  

Here's how you do it:

  1. Click on the app store icon on your iPhone
  2. Click on Featured
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click "Redeem Code"
  4. Enter your promo code

OS X Lion Flaw Exposes Login Passwords in Plain Text

OS X Lion Flaw Exposes Login Passwords in Plain Text

white-macbook-sad-600An Apple programmer has accidentally left a debug flag in the most recent version of OS X Lion, which under certain conditions can cause login passwords to appear in a plain text debug log file, reports ZDNet.

The flaw affects users who have used Apple's encryption software FileVault prior to upgrading to 10.7.3, while FileVault 2 is unaffected.

To make matters worse, Apple has not issued a fix for the matter, so changing your user credentials right now does not help, as those credentials might end up in a debug log file as well.

The flaw, which was originally spotted by a security researcher David Emery, potentially enables anyone with an admin password to retrieve other user's credentials.

"This is worse than it seems, since the log in question can also be read by booting the machine into firewire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk or by booting the new-with-LION recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition and read the file. This would allow someone to break into encrypted partitions on machines they did not have any idea of any login passwords for," claims Emery.

We'll let you know as soon as Apple issues a fix for this problem.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Apple Flirting with Epix for Streaming Video

Apple Flirting with Epix for Streaming Video From 3 Major Studios

As rumors continue to run rampant about the alleged Apple HDTV set, now there's a tantalizing clue about programming Apple might use to entice people to buy and watch such a device.

Reuters found out Apple is currently in negotiations with Epix, a studio-backed company that streams relatively new content from major studios Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount.

Hey, isn't this how Netflix gets a lot of its best and newest movies and such for streaming? It sure is, and it's costing that company $200 million to do so, in an agreement that expires as soon as September of this year. Maybe Apple figures to get in on this action, perhaps even wresting exclusivity away from Netflix. There's talk of an Epix app for all iOS devices that will do just that.

One thing's certain: Apple's success with music on iTunes hinged on agreements with record companies, and its success with an Apple TV set likewise depends on favorable deals with movie studios.

If Apple wins streaming exclusivity for the latest movies, perhaps even beating to market those residing in its own iTunes video stable, the company could prove to be a juggernaunt in the HDTV world as well. Stay tuned.