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AT&T creates virtual work partition for smartphone users

In today’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workplace, there’s an issue that often arises. Many smartphone owners who are choosing to use their personal devices for work use find it obtrusive when corporate IT departments wish to manage their devices. Now AT&T has introduced a new technology called “Toggle” to allow employees to access work apps from their own smartphones without becoming a security threat. Toggle is similar to virtualization and can be installed after an AT&T customer buys an iPhone or certain models of Android smartphones. The technology also works on the iPad as well. To enter the “work side” of their phones, users tap a special application icon that is a portal to work-related email and text messaging. Any document attachments that are accessed through Toggle are encrypted, and Toggle even has its own secure web browser. AT&T will help corporate customers set up private app stores for custom business applications. For those apps, data is pushed to phones over SSL, and administrators can manage the work partition as much as they like — all without infringing on the privacy of their employees. The cost to corporations is US$750 for configuration and training, plus $6.50 per device per month. There’s also a support fee of $1.50 – $2.50 per month. AT&T creates virtual work partition for smartphone users originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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AT&T creates virtual work partition for smartphone users

Thunderbolt 1.2.1 update reportedly fixes boot issues, adds Ethernet adapter support

Last week TUAW reported that the Thunderbolt 1.2 update, which was released to provide support for the new US$29 Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter, was causing some Macs to experience boot failures that often required a complete reinstall of Lion to resolve. Well, Apple apparently jumped on the problem as soon as it was reported, as a new Thunderbolt 1.2.1 update that fixes the problem is now available. If you’re using a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac with OS X Lion 10.7.4, then the update will appear in Software Update for easy installation. As usual, Apple has made a direct download link available . Thunderbolt 1.2.1 update reportedly fixes boot issues, adds Ethernet adapter support originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 12:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Thunderbolt 1.2.1 update reportedly fixes boot issues, adds Ethernet adapter support

More MacBook Maintenance Malarky: examining the arguments that none of it matters

Last week I wrote a rather, shall we say, “robustly worded” post discussing the lack of upgradability in the new MacBook Pro with Retina display (MBPwRD). This contentious post turned into one of my highest-traffic articles for TUAW ever, and certainly my highest-commented one (possibly helped a bit by Livefyre being the best comment system we’ve ever had). I am grateful to everyone who took the time to write one of the 192 (and counting) comments on my original post, even the ones who voted for “Gaywood is an idiot!” in my tongue-in-cheek poll. Many of you disagreed with me, and in so doing, raised a number of counter-arguments again and again; I want to dig a little deeper into those counter-arguments in this post and explore some of the issues I hadn’t fully thought through when I wrote my first one. Since my post there has been a wave of great articles around the web exploring the same topic: some decrying the MBPwRD, others asking what the fuss is about. Kyle Wiens (co-founder of iFixit), writing for Wired, boldly dismissed the MBPwRD as ” Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable ” and OWC asked ” was the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display originally a MacBook Air? ” Many people, like John Gruber , dismissed these posts because both iFixit and OWC have a financial stake in repairable Macs, leading to an undeniable conflict of interest. Personally, I felt both posts were written from the heart, rather than the wallet, but I urge you to read them and judge for yourself. Felix Salmon for Reuters picked up on my post and responded, calling the MBPwRD ” Apple’s strategy of built-in obsolescence .” He said: [This] means that the Apple ecosystem has just closed in much further – while on every previous Pro machine consumers could fiddle around quite a lot, this one is a completely inaccessible box. It’s about as far as you can get from the Apple 1, which came as a kit. The control-freakery which started in the operating system and then moved into software is now very much built into the hardware as well. Matthew Yglesias for Slate dismissed Salmon’s argument, however , and defended Apple’s alleged price protectionism as part of its “relentless war against commoditization and the total collapse of profits.” Meanwhile, Christina Warren, formerly of this parish , kept it really simple: ” Screw Upgrades: The New MacBook Pro IS the Future .” Garrett Murray shrugged and said ” It’s just progress, folks ,” and Andre Torrez waxed philosophical : “I give up… Being cynical about any new bit of technology that doesn’t fit into my view of how stuff should work has been a dragging anchor in my life.” Counterbalance Before we dive into the detailed arguments, I’d like to say some conciliatory things that should probably have been in my original post. Yes, the MacBook Pro with Retina display has some rather unusual choices: soldered RAM integrated onto the logic board, a proprietary SSD, extensive use of near-permanent glue in the battery assembly and the screen housing. All of these impair repairs and prohibit upgrades, it’s true. But each one of these is also totally defendable from an engineering standpoint, if we imagine that Apple’s brief to its engineers as “make the thinnest, lightest desktop replacement laptop you can without compromising battery life” — which is a noble goal, for sure. The oddball, tiny, bare-board SSD saves considerable space over a standard 2.5″ unit. Leaving the optical drive out entirely saves even more space. Even the soldered RAM and the glued battery saves space, because there’s no need for housing and slots and reinforcing struts and other gubbins. It might not save that much — but look at the iFixit teardown again ; there’s barely a cubic millimetre to spare in there. Apple made every scrap count. I’m not sure the space saving alone is that significant a step forward. Sure, the MBPwRD looks great because it’s a quarter-inch thinner than the standard one, but if we’re all honest with ourselves isn’t that more about aesthetics than practicalities? It’s not like the standard-issue MBP, at less than an inch, was exactly unwieldy to start with. It’s not like the Air, which is thin enough to put itself in an entire different product category. Put it this way: when have you ever said to yourself “if only this laptop was a quarter of an inch thinner, then I could fit everything I wanted into this bag”? But the weight… Ah! Having now played with a MBPwRD, and felt the heft of it (under the watchful eye of the Apple Store staff), I must concede that the loss of a half-kilogram (one pound) of mass is a really useful upgrade. I imagine it’d be more comfortable used in your lap (although maybe the heat it can put out might be off-putting). I’m certain your shoulder would thank you for choosing an MBPwRD after a particularly fraught cross-terminal dash to make a connecting flight. I undersold this point in my first post. Mea culpa. Plus the screen absolutely rocks my world. I’m not remotely tempted to buy one — like Marco Arment , I’m going through a period in my computing life where I am uninterested in desktop replacement laptops. I have a 27″ iMac, an iPad 3, and a very-much-secondary-computer 2009-era MacBook Pro and I’m perfectly happy with that combination for the time being. However, a brief spell in the Apple Store gawping at a Retina display did make me really, really want a HiDPI iMac. Oh, finally, one last thing: the MBPwRD has a standard HDMI port right there on the side of it, no awkward dongle needed or anything. Can we all take a moment to say a silent prayer of thanks for this sudden outbreak of common sense? OK, let’s move on. The Tinkerer’s Curse There is a school of thought that says you don’t truly own a thing if you can’t take it apart, change some of the bits, then put it back together again. This is particularly prevalent amongst computer nerds, because not so very long ago, these abilities were absolute prerequisites to owning any sort of computer at all. I am exactly such a person, and this is how I feel about computers, as well as lots of other stuff. It makes me uneasy about the sealed-up buttoned-down MBPwRD, and somewhat less uneasy about the MacBook Air and the iPad — the latter devices being considerably cheaper, I’m more accepting that they might have a shorter lifespan because I can’t retrofit some upgrade that I didn’t know I’d need. This mentality has driven me to try custom firmwares on ADSL routers and televisions; to experiment with jailbreaking my iOS devices; to do my own car maintenance; to cure my own corned beef; to shun jarred marinara sauce in favor of making my own. Sometimes, this sort of thing saves me time or money. More often it doesn’t, and that’s fine because deep down I’m doing it for fun, not profit. I wrote my earlier post from the gut and off the cuff, and it was largely driven by this sentiment. Many of you don’t share these concerns. Nor should you! I accept that I’m unusual in this regard. I cannot reasonably expect my feelings on this matter to sway many folk. My imp of the perverse wants to ask one question though: if you guys are all so dead set against tinkering, why do our jailbreaking posts get so much traffic? So, now that I’ve come clean about my biases, I’d like to address the specific counter-arguments that were repeatedly levelled at my last post. “This is just progress.” Possibly the most common response. “It’s newer and better, this is what the world looks like, get used to it. Apple made it this way because this was the best way to make it. Go away and stop bothering me with your conspiracy theories, you nutcase.” On the one hand, I can see this. As I noted above, this is absolutely an extraordinarily powerful laptop for its size and weight, and Apple couldn’t have managed that without making it this way. On the other hand… As Macworld senior contributor Glenn Fleishman put it, ‘Glue and pentalobe screws and unnecessary solder are not “tradeoffs that go into product development”.’ Put it this way. Let’s give Apple the benefit of the doubt and suppose the managers simply told the engineers: “go make the best damn laptop you can.” The engineers came back and said “we did that, but there’s one thing — the users can’t change the RAM or the drives any more. They’ll have to pay us for our premium-rate BTO models instead.” I think you’d be very naive indeed to imagine the managers did anything other than give a wide grin and say “that’s quite alright, boys. Win/win!” “I don’t care about fiddling with upgrades.” “Pro doesn’t mean upgradeable,” many people said, “it means powerful. I’m a pro, and I don’t want to think about upgrading my computer; I just want to get things done with it.” This is a perfectly valid line of reasoning, to my mind. I’m a software engineer by day, with 20 years experience of bending computer software to my will; when I think “pro” I think of my profession, and the demands we place on hardware — that we can adapt it to new software, for example. But of course there’s legions of professionals — photographers, video editors, designers, artists, musicians, writers, and on and on — for whom a Mac is merely a tool. A vital one, but still just a tool, to be used until it wears out and then discarded. Still, though. My 2009 MacBook Pro has had two drive replacements (from the stock 320 GB to 500 GB when my Aperture library grew too large, and then to a 64 GB SSD), a RAM upgrade (to compensate for Lion’s memory hunger ), and a replacement battery (the old one simply wore out). Without those changes, I’d probably have given up on it; as it is, it’s still rocking along. None of this was in any way difficult to fit. It’s a bit of a dirty secret in the PC industry that anyone with the ability to manage IKEA flatpack furniture or a middling compexity LEGO model can manage most computer modification. Plus, the upgrades bought several years into the computer’s life were significantly cheaper years later than if I’d bought them up front, which is an important point that’s been overlooked in much of this debate. Like most people, I’m always happy to not spend any more money than I have to. There’s also the cost of some of Apple’s BTO upgrade options. When I bought my iMac in January 2012, it came with 4 GB of RAM. Upgrading to 8 GB cost £160 ($251) and to 16 GB cost £480 ($754). Instead, I kept the 4 GB it came with, and bought an additional 8 GB from Crucial for £35 ($55). In the last round of product launches, Apple halved those prices… so it’s now charging a mere $250 premium to do a laughably easy task for you. If that doesn’t strike you as egregious, you must earn a lot more money than I do. “I don’t know how to repair my laptop, so I don’t care about repairability.” The main problem I see with this line of reasoning is that the MacBook Pro with Retina display isn’t just harder for you to fix; it’s harder for anyone to fix, including independent specialists you may be used to using. Sure, you can always pop into an Apple Store… unless you can’t. Some people live hours and hours away from their nearest store; some people live in countries where there are no official stores at all, just a handful of authorized service centers. With the older Unibody MacBooks (which offer above-average repairability), you could go to Apple, or you could save a good chunk of change going to an independent shop, or you could save even more buying the parts yourself and asking any expert you know to do the work for a case of beer. There was a big market, and markets create competition and keep everyone honest. The smaller that market shrinks, the more Apple can charge what it wants for aftermarket work. That’s not in anyone’s interests, except Apple’s. Think I’m being alarmist? My MacBook is powered by an aftermarket battery, purchased for less than a third of Apple’s price. How many of you would snicker at someone who paid $19 for an official Apple cable, when far cheaper alternatives exist and work just as well? It’s the same principle, just for parts on the inside of your computer. Or how about this: this week, Macworld’s Lex Friedman suffered a MacBook/glass of water intersection incident that destroyed the hard drive. Apple quoted him $180 to replace the 500 GB hard disk, generously saying there would be “no labor fee.” That’s a $100 premium over a $70-80 off-the-shelf part that can be safely fitted in minutes by a total amateur armed with nothing more exotic than a screwdriver. In the end, Lex spent slightly more than Apple wanted and bought an OEM SSD instead, which he successfully fitted himself . In the process, he’s significantly upgraded his system . If Apple can charge that sort of fee today, what would it charge if no-one had the choice to go elsewhere? However, I must concede an important point: it seems likely the MBPwRD won’t break very often. It’s true that RAM and SSD can fail, yes; but neither thing happens particularly often, and certainly a well-designed SSD should be far more reliable than the spinning mechanics of a HDD. About half the RAM problems I’ve seen have been due to thermal creep loosening the memory in its slot, requiring it to be removed and replaced (“re-seated”, in tech jargon); clearly Apple’s soldered-on RAM is immune to this. The new MacBook also represents Apple’s final solution to the lousy reliability track record of the SuperDrive. There’s that glued-in battery, of course. It’s one of Apple’s fancy new ones , but it’s still not going to last forever. “1000 full charge and discharge cycles before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity” and “a lifespan of up to 5 years” (emphasis mine) is what Apple promises you. This battery tech is too new to know if Apple’s marketing claims are accurate or not, so it must remain something of an unknown quantity for now. “I only keep my computers for two years, so it doesn’t matter to me.” A valid answer, but perhaps a little short-sighted I think, unless you literally throw the machine away when you’re done with it. In my experience, Macs have always enjoyed a rather longer lifespan than PCs; whether through reselling or hand-me-downs or simply clinging to life, I think you’ll find far, far more five year old Macs in use today than you would PCs of a similar vintage. Indeed, I know more than one person who has rationalized the higher purchase price of a Mac by saying “it’s OK, it’ll still fetch a good price on eBay in three years.” I think compromised repairability risks eroding this part of the Mac value proposition, by making it more likely that a middle-aged Mac would suffer a failure that rendered it beyond economic repair. “Apple has always been this way.” I don’t agree with this one at all. Apple shipped the first tool-less tower chassis I’d ever seen, in the form of the PowerMac G3 Blue & White; to this day, the Mac Pro has an elegant, flexible design that invites modifications and add-ons. The latest Mac mini design is the most internally-friendly Apple has ever shipped, with simple user access to the hard drives and RAM. All the Unibody MacBooks have been easy to work on too, supporting users who wanted to change drives and memory. The more consumer-ish Macs — the iMac, the MBA — have tended to be rather more sealed-up, but the “Pro” models have definitely not. “I have AppleCare, so repairability doesn’t matter to me.” It’s certainly true that if you don’t mind the expense ($349 for a MBPwRD, as much as 16% of the purchase price) AppleCare provides a fantastic service. I’ve always been very, very well taken care of when I’ve had to avail myself of the facility. Still, I (predictably) have two objections to this argument. Firstly, AppleCare doesn’t last forever. It’s two years on a Mac, on top of the year you get for free. As I mentioned earlier, my 2009 MacBook Pro is still marching along. Had I bought AppleCare for it, it would have expired by now, but I’ll get a year or so more use out of it as a secondary machine before recycling it as a test box for beta OS X versions, or a OS X Server box, or something of that ilk. If I’m spending $3,000+ on a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro today, I’d like to hope it’ll still be of some use in three or four years, even if it’s no longer my main computer. Secondly, did I miss a memo somewhere that we all decided that extended warranties were a good deal now? We all scoff when Best Buy tries to sell us warranties on TVs, right? Why is AppleCare any different? Whenever I bring this up, I am rebuffed by dozens of anecdotes of great experiences with AppleCare — and in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have some myself. AppleCare has replaced my iPad once, my iPhone twice, and paid for two repairs on my wife’s MacBook. But ponder for a moment what AppleCare covers. It’s not accidental damage (except for the newfangled AppleCare+, which isn’t available in the UK anyway). It only pays for instances where a device stops working in the second or third year of ownership. Shouldn’t we be taking it for granted that Apple devices that haven’t been accidentally damaged be capable of lasting three years without suffering random failures? Should we really be boasting that Apple sells us insurance for this? If Apple Care is such a great deal, doesn’t that mean Apple products break too often ? Oh, and finally, AppleCare doesn’t cover accidental damage, and accidents happen. “It doesn’t matter because it’s going to sell in huge numbers.” Cannot argue with this one. If I was an Apple shareholder (I’m not), I’d be extremely pleased with the MBPwRD, which appears certain to be a runaway success and pile even more money onto the mountain of bills Apple has tucked away in Cupertino. People vote with their wallets; they voted for the MacBook Air and they’re voting for the MBPwRD. But don’t forget — McDonalds, Justin Bieber, and Windows all sell in huge numbers too. It doesn’t make them laudable, tasteful, or, fundamentally, any sort of good idea. Popularity suggests the retina MacBook Pro is good, for sure — but it doesn’t mean it’s flawless. People don’t buy the perfect thing, because the perfect thing doesn’t exist; they buy the best thing they can, but there’s always room for improvement. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop to examine the pros and cons of the new MacBook from all angles. “It’s just like with cars.” “Cars changed just like this. They stopped being user serviceable and everyone got used to it. Get with the program, Grandpa.” This was an extremely common reply. I also feel it was one of the weaker responses, on numerous levels. One: practically everyone I know has a story about a dealer franchise ripping someone off in some dubious manner, having used the trust people have in the brand to convince people they need to pay over the odds for basic maintenance or repairs. I don’t see anything to celebrate about Apple moving closer to this model. Two: actually, what happened to cars was that most of the oily bits stopped requiring user maintenance. That’s not the same thing. I’ve set points gaps (rotor gap, to you Americans) and greased nipples and tuned carburetors, and that stuff went away because it stopped being necessary, not because the car manufacturers hid it away behind proprietary screws and glued-on panels. The process for maintaining stuff that still has to be changed regularly — tyres, brakes, oil, filters, batteries — hasn’t changed much in decades. In contrast, there’s nothing about the MBPwRD’s innards that makes it any less likely to break or be accidentally damaged than other laptops. It’s not magically proof against spilled liquids or electromigration . Three: the government doesn’t keep releasing new roads that make different demands of your car, but that’s exactly what happens with computers. As I’ve already mentioned, I found after upgrading to Lion that my MacBook was struggling with 4 GB of RAM. Unless you think the MBPwRD is literally the fastest computer that will ever exist, the metaphor is fatally flawed. “I can’t upgrade my 50″ TV to an 80″ model either.” This one is just silly. No-one’s complaining about being unable to upgrade their television’s size because that’s not physically possible. Making computers with upgradable RAM or replaceable drives is physically possible. Citation: almost every computer ever made. “Apple does say the RAM isn’t replaceable!” In my original post I whined that Apple doesn’t tell people that the RAM is soldered. Several commenters pointed out I was wrong, but it took me a while to work out why. It doesn’t say it on the landing page or the tech specs page or the store page . Where it does say it is on the BTO specification page , but only if you click the “Learn more” link next to the Memory section. That’s… not exactly obvious, in my opinion. Similarly, when I was in the Apple Store looking at the MBPwRDs, I overheard two customers ask two different sales representatives about the soldered RAM issue — “so, I can’t upgrade the memory later, right?” Neither rep understood the question, and neither of them could answer it. I’m still not convinced Apple is doing enough to come clean with people here, or to train its frontline staff. I can forgive this on the Air, but this is a “MacBook Pro”, and every MacBook Pro since the line launched in 2006 has had replaceable RAM. It would be perfectly understandable for users to simply assume this one is the same, and feel let down when they discover their mistake too late. The twist is that being more upfront with shoppers could only encourage upsell to the 16 GB option, making more money for Apple in the process. So I’m sure this is an oversight, rather than due to any sinister motives. TL;DR On the Internet, it often seems that everything must be compressed to a one-bit image: black or white, triumph or catastrophe, the very best or the absolute worst. It is my position that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, like almost everything once you think about it hard enough, is neither. It’s an extremely nice laptop with a first-of-its-kind screen and a reparability downside that ranks somewhere between “utterly irrelevant” and “a bit worrying”, depending on your prejudices and desires. Almost 4,200 words later, do I expect any of you to have changed your mind about this? Well, probably not. Confirmation bias is a funny old thing. But if I have made you think twice about the complexities here — even if I’ve just convinced you there are complexities where before you saw none — then please let me know in the comments. If I’m really lucky, someone buying a MBPwRD will be able to make a more informed decision after reading this — about the laptop itself, or about the BTO options they should be selecting. That’s really all I want to happen. More MacBook Maintenance Malarky: examining the arguments that none of it matters originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Spotify for iPhone, iPad update to offer radio feature, more streaming (Update)

Spotify is upping the ante in the music streaming market by offering a new radio feature to iOS owners in the US. Launched late last year for the desktop, the Pandora-like radio service lets you setup an unlimited number of radio stations based on an artist, album, song or playlist. You can then listen to these stations on your iPhone or iPad while on the go. Users can thumb through tracks and mark the ones they like and skip the ones they don’t. Premium users get an unlimited number of skips, while free users are limited to “the industry standard.” Free users will also see ads within the app. Because the radio service is available on multiple devices, you can start listening to a radio station on your iPhone and then pick it up on your iPad. The radio feature will debut in the next version of Spotify for iOS which will land in the iOS App Store soon. This feature will also come to Android “in due time.” Update: The app has gone live and is available for you to download from the iOS App Store. [Via Engadget ] Show full PR text Spotify Launches Free Mobile Radio in the US Starting today, Spotify users in the US can play for free on iPhone and iPad. The latest update to Spotify’s iOS app includes the new radio feature, giving free users in the US access to an unlimited amount of music on the move. The update is now available for download in the App Store. The new radio feature for iOS is seamlessly integrated into the Spotify service, creating an unmatched user experience of listening, discovering, saving and sharing music, from a catalog of more than 16 million songs. Spotify users on iPhone and iPad can now: Create limitless streaming radio stations from single songs, playlists, albums or artists Create an unlimited number of stations and listen as long as they like Save tracks to Spotify playlists – any song that users “like” will be saved, so they can find the songs later Personalize stations in real time by “liking” tracks to hear similar music Browse friends’ playlists and create radio stations based on their tastes Hear great new songs from Spotify’s state-of-the-art recommendation engine, based on what millions of real people are listening to Access a catalog of over 16 million tracks “Our focus has always been on creating an amazing user experience,” said Charlie Hellman, VP, Product at Spotify. “The radio feature we’ve added to our iPhone and iPad apps gives users the ability to discover, listen and save what they like on the go – all within one app – for free.” Premium users of the Spotify iOS app will continue to have an ad-free experience. Free users in the US will hear advertisements from the following launch partners: Chevrolet, Durex, Heineken, Jim Beam, Lipton Iced Tea, Macy’s, McDonalds, Progressive, Red Bull, Taco Bell, Verizon Wireless, and Warner Bros – all of which are current Spotify advertisers. The new Spotify radio feature will also be available to Premium users outside of the United States. Spotify for iPhone, iPad update to offer radio feature, more streaming (Update) originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Spotify for iPhone, iPad update to offer radio feature, more streaming (Update)

Sonos Sub a welcome addition to wireless speaker system

Sonos has released the Sub , a smart subwoofer that works with the Sonos family of wireless speakers. The team took a unique approach to research and design and the results sound great. I got to spend about an hour discussing and listening to the Sub at Sonos offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While your wallet might reflexively tighten at the US$699 price tag, your ears will be glad you spent the money. Here’s my look at the new Sonos Sub. Design When the team at Sonos decided to create a sub, they visited music lovers with existing subwoofers in their homes, across several countries. “The chief complaint we got,” said Craig Wisneski, product manager at Sonos, “is that users didn’t like how their subwoofers looked.” Craig noted that people tried several solutions to get their subwoofers out of sight, including hiding it behind, along side and sometimes even under furniture. The Sonos team addressed this concern by creating several large, foam geometric shapes: a cone, a cube, a sphere and so on. They then asked the users to select the shape they found most appealing, and imagine were it could live in their home. The vast majority chose the box shape represented by the Sonos Sub today. As you could imagine, the engineering team was then handed a unique challenge: design a fantastic subwoofer that would fit inside the customer’s choice of case. “There was an uncomfortable silence at that first meeting,” Craig told me. I bet. The result looks great. The sleek, glossy Sub (a matte finish model will be available late this year) is pretty enough to leave out in the open. The two custom-designed, oval speakers face each other in the center of the cabinet (if the Sub were a donut, the speakers would be in the hole), allowing you to position it however you want. Even under the furniture. Use The Sub sounds great. Rib-rattling great. But before I get to that, let me talk about setup and integration with other Sonos products. The demo unit I heard was paired with two Play:3 speakers , each on a riser about 5′ off the ground. The Play:3s were in portrait orientation. I mention this because the Sonos speakers are clever enough to note how they’re oriented and adjust their output accordingly. In portrait mode, the two drivers and one tweeter are in a column, and the Sonos software fiddles with the EQ to optimize that setup. The Sub likewise recognizes that it’s got two Play:3s available to it and adjusts its own EQ settings accordingly. If a Play:5 was in the mix, it would react to that, too. Of course, you can fiddle with basic EQ settings manually if you like, but I suspect most people won’t (and won’t need to). Setup is so basic I hesitate to even mention it. On the bottom you’ll find a power port and an ethernet port. That’s it. Once turned on, the it recognizes other devices and is pretty much ready to go. Sound I sent music to the Sonos setup from several streaming services via the iPad app , including Spotify , Rdio and Pandora . The app is great and allows you go create playlists on the fly and even interject music from several sources into a single playlist. iTunes music stored on a computer and a slew of Internet radio stations are also available. The first track we listened to was a bit of reggae and the bass shook my sternum. But don’t get the wrong impression. The Sub provides much more than volume. Next we listened to Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. Thriller is a master class in pop music production, and the Sub does justice to Quincy Jones’s work. As the song transitioned from the first verse to the refrain, I turned to Craig and said, “I’ve never heard this song like that.” And I meant it. The “shh-shh” of the hi-hat was razor sharp while the Sub accentuated the punch of each snare drum stroke with an appropriately solid shot. We turned it up loud and the case never rattled. Finally, the guys indulged me and let me blast a little Van Halen (the poor Sonons office workers!). “Drop Dead Legs” sounded as if we were in Eddie’s 5150 studio. Conclusion Here’s a very nice solution for serious music lovers. You’ll spend a grand on the setup Sonos showed me: two Play:3s and a Sub. That’s no impulse buy. But the results are really tremendous (and, honestly, less expensive that several other high-end setups). The Sub competently adds a welcome bottom-end to the Sonos setup and looks great. If you can swing it, definitely pick it up. Sonos Sub a welcome addition to wireless speaker system originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Sonos Sub a welcome addition to wireless speaker system

Camtasia for Mac 2.2 update adds new effects, interactivity

TechSmith today announced an update to Camtasia for Mac , its powerful screen recording and video editing solution. Camtasia is a popular application for creating screencasts, and the new features announced today should make the app even more handy for existing and new users. The new hotspot capability allows Camtasia for Mac 2.2 users to embed links in any videos. For example, a video can now include a call to link to a research site or online store that those watching the video can access with a click. Sharing has been enhanced, providing a way to create video content that can be played on iPhones, iPads, and Macs seamlessly. In the past, Camtasia has provided ways for users to highlight certain content to focus viewer attention. New Spotlight and Mask video features enhance that capability in Camtasia for Mac 2.2. TechSmith has also added a way to provide table of content functionality for videos that are uploaded to YouTube. Camtasia for Mac 2.2 is a free upgrade to owners of the 2.0 and 2.1 versions, while Camtasia for Mac 1.x owners can upgrade to the new version for US$49.50. The app is available on the Mac App Store for $99.99. A free 30-day trial of Camtasia 2.2 is available as well . Camtasia for Mac 2.2 update adds new effects, interactivity originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Camtasia for Mac 2.2 update adds new effects, interactivity

Ocarina 2 arrives on iOS

Smule has released Ocarina 2 , a sequel to its immensely popular Ocarina app for iPhone. Like the original , the app allows you to blow into your iPhone’s microphone to create a tone, which can be changed and adjusted depending on where you hold your fingers on the touchscreen. The new version brings features like a dynamic harmony, and the ability to choose songs to be played rather than just playing freestyle (which seems similar to the options in Smule’s Magic Piano app, and means Smule is once again selling extra songs as an in-app purchase). And there’s also a new “Whistle Mode,” and achievements that make the whole thing a little more game-centric. The last Ocarina created plenty of really wild videos and cover tunes, and odds are this version will do exactly the same. Below, you can see a video of a beta tester playing the Tetris theme on the new app. If you want to start tooting away on your own, you can grab the app right now from the App Store for free. Ocarina 2 arrives on iOS originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Ocarina 2 arrives on iOS

ACDSee Pro 2 is a fantastic photo organizer and editor

When considering an upgrade from iPhoto, most Mac users either toward Aperture or Adobe Lightroom . But there’s an often-looked photo editor and organizer that Windows users have been familiar with for years: ACDSee. ACD Systems brought ACDSee Pro to the Mac in 2009 , and today they’ve released ACDSee Pro 2 . A couple weeks ago, I spoke with ACDSee’s Simon Tipler, who gave me a preview of the new features. ACDSee is similar to Adobe Lightroom in that it utilizes a folder system rather than the albums that Aperture favors. For those who aren’t fans of the album system, the folders are easy to view and worth with. Unlike Aperture, you do not need to import photos as ACDSee will automatically see any photos on your hard drive and connected external drives. You can move photos onto your external drive or into different folders from within ACDSee. Like with Aperture and Lightroom, ACDSee works with RAW-formatted photos in a non-destructive manner. You can tone without fear of damaging the original image. It’s easy to toggle among the manage, view and develop modes. Batch workflows is one of the new features in ACDSee Pro 2, where you can select a group of photos and automatically rename files, set metadata, resize, copy, move and more. Those familiar with Automator will appreciate this feature. Another new feature is the ability to find duplicate images, shown above. Like with music tracks in iTunes, ACDSee can search your hard drive and external drives for any duplicate images, allowing disk space to be freed. The result will show you what kind of file, how big the file is and where it’s located. You can Quick Look from the results, go to the location in Finder or trash the files. It even found duplicate PDF files on my hard drive, which was handy. One of the best features to make it into ACDSee Pro 2 is lighting and contrast enhancement system that allows users to target a particular area of the photo and tweak shadows, midtones and highlights. You can create HDR-like photos or use it to bring out an undeveloped portion of a photo without affecting the rest of the image. Image toned in Aperture Image toned in ACDSee Pro 2 In the first image, I processed it in Aperture doing a basic tweaking of Levels, Curves and Sharpening. In the second image, I did the same thing in ACDSee (the Levels and Curves tool is combined in that program), then tweaked with the lighting tool to bring out the building in the background without majorly affecting the foreground lighting. It works really well, though you should take some time adjusting the lighting to get the best results. Simon impressed me with how he was able to fine-tune photos to the smallest detail. Other tools to play with in ACDSee include soft focus and clarity, which target the midtones of an image. For those looking for a MobileMe alternative to sharing photos, ACDSee offers free 10 GB of online storage space, which does not require a purchase to use. While you can share links to these albums, you can’t directly upload to Facebook or Flickr like you can with Aperture. Also, ACDSee is not connected with a printing service like Aperture, Lightroom or iPhoto. If you’re a fan of being able to send your images out to be printed in a photobook, etc., you’ll need to export them and upload them to your site of choice. There are some features I missed in ACDSee Pro 2, but not much. Mostly, I missed the standalone Levels tool, as I was used to working with in both Photoshop and Aperture. I also like Aperture’s Loupe tool. While you can easily zoom in on small areas in ACDSee Pro, and that view is shown while you’re sharpening an image, I liked having the loupe to use as needed. It won’t automatically import your images from iPhoto like Aperture will, which might be a turnoff for some. ACDSee Pro 2 is more than the US$79.99 Aperture and only slightly less than the $149 Adobe Lightroom . ACDSee Pro 2 is $139.99 and, like Lightroom, comes with a 30-day trial. Current ACDSee Pro users can upgrade for $79.99. It requires OS X 10.6 or higher and does have Lion features such as full-screen mode. If you’re looking to upgrade from iPhoto, ACDSee Pro 2 has a lot going for it. The batch processing and fine-tuning of lighting alone makes it a worthy contender over Aperture. I wish I had known of ACDSee before dropping the money on Aperture. ACDSee Pro 2 is a fantastic photo organizer and editor originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:09:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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ACDSee Pro 2 is a fantastic photo organizer and editor

New Bento 4 for iPad adds design tools for customizing database solutions

It’s a bit hard to believe that Apple software subsidiary FileMaker has been marketing Bento for more than four years now. The Mac version of the personal database debuted in early 2008, and separate iPhone and iPad versions can be had on the iOS App Store. Today the company is jumping the iPad build from version 1.15 all the way to version 4 , with new features to let users customize their libraries entirely on the iPad. Bento 4 for iPad is a completely new app, so it’s an additional purchase for existing customers rather than a free update — but it’s only $4.99 through the end of July. Bento 4 for iPad still syncs with Bento for Mac (version 4.1, also out today) for loading libraries and collections, but the enhanced library design tools in the iPad version mean that plenty of users will be able to execute their projects, start to finish, on the iPad alone. Bento’s Template Exchange is now directly accessible in the iPad app, so it’s easy to download and work with a pre-configured solution that someone else has uploaded to the exchange. The exchange lists almost 600 templates in English and that many more in several other languages, covering organizational tasks from Action Figures to Wine . Gallery: Bento on iPad Whether you start with a basic template or a fully customized one, the onboard design tools now allow you to create fields, reformat views and generally do all the setup tasks you’d have to do on the desktop with previous versions. In the prerelease demo I saw, the editing tools were fairly intuitive — drag fields to locate them, tap to rename, etc. I expect there’ll be a how-to video showing up on FileMaker’s site in short order. You can also retheme your library from Bento’s collection of color schemes, backgrounds and so on. Bento 4 also adds new views (Table, Split & Full Screen) and new field types including an encrypted field for sensitive information like account numbers, patient notes or passwords. Bento 4 for iPad is available today in the App Store for $4.99, going up to $9.99 in August. Bento 4.1 for Mac is a free update for existing users of 4.0 and is available at a special price of $29.99 through August. New Bento 4 for iPad adds design tools for customizing database solutions originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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iFixit examines the MacBook Pro Retina display

Last week, iFixit took apart a Retina MacBook Pro , and, this week, the repair company takes a closer look at the display assembly. In a 16-step guide, iFixit removes literally everything from the display assembly. It’s impressive to see all the films, sheets and other components that go into the LCD display. Not surprisingly, iFixit doesn’t assign a repairability score to the component because there is no way to repair the display assembly. The company concludes that “if anything in the display assembly breaks, you’ll need to replace the whole thing.” iFixit examines the MacBook Pro Retina display originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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iFixit examines the MacBook Pro Retina display