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FCC Questions Verizon Plan to Throttle Some Unlimited Data Customers

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
verizon_lte_reliable

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today sent a letter [PDF via Gigaom] to Verizon Wireless, questioning its plan to throttle customers that have unlimited data plans during peak usage times. Verizon first announced its intention to throttle high-usage customers on grandfathered unlimited LTE plans last week.

In the letter, Wheeler says that he is “deeply troubled” by Verizon’s decision to throttle its unlimited users, as the company described its efforts as necessary for “Network Optimization.” Wheeler stated that he does not believe slowing the data speeds for select users falls under the “reasonable network management” umbrella.

“Reasonable network management” concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams. It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its “network management” on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology.

Wheeler goes on to ask Verizon to answer a series of questions, requesting that the company explain its rationale for treating customers differently based on data plan type and questioning whether Verizon’s new throttling policy is justified under the FCC’s Open Internet rules. Wheeler also questions the necessity of cutting data Continue Reading

Apple Launches New EFI Update 2.9.1 For 2011 MacBook Air to Solve Installation Problems [Mac Blog]

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
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Apple today re-released its EFI Firmware 2.9 update for 2011 MacBook Air models after the original EFI update appeared to be causing trouble for many MacBook Air users.

The update, originally released on July 15 to address sleep/wake issues, caused some MacBook Air machines to shut down completely for several hours. On other machines, the update simply refused to install. Today’s re-released software, labeled 2.9.1, presumably fixes these issues, allowing the update to be properly installed.

The MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.9.1 is available in the Mac App Store for 2011 MacBook Airs and can also be downloaded from the Apple Support site.

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NomadPlus Transforms an Apple Charger Into a Portable Battery [iOS Blog]

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
nomadplus

Nomad, the company behind the pocket-sized NomadKey iPhone cable, today debuted the NomadPlus, a product that transforms an Apple charger into a portable battery pack.

While there are hundreds of different portable battery options for the iPhone, the NomadPlus is unique because it functions with an existing Apple charger. The NomadPlus plugs into an Apple wall charger, transforming it into a 1500 mAh portable battery with enough juice to recharge an iPhone to 70 percent.

One of the most cumbersome aspects of most battery packs is the recharging of the battery itself, but the NomadPlus allows the add-on battery to be charged as an iPhone charges via the wall charger, a simple solution that saves time and effort.

The NomadPlus is not much larger than an iPhone wall charger, measuring in at 2.75″ x 1.33″ x 1.10″, and it weighs just 2.1 ounces. It supports pass-through charging, and will charge the iPhone before charging the battery itself.

While NomadPlus takes advantage of the Apple wall charger’s superb design and engineering, its USB port can be used to power up any number of smartphone or tablet devices. Upcycling your wall plug with NomadPlus is the way to Continue Reading

Apple Seeds First OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 Beta to Developers

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
10_9_5_13f7

Apple today seeded the first build of OS X 10.9.5 to developers, one month after releasing OS X 10.9.4 to the public. The new beta is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Mac Dev Center. The beta has a build number of 13F7.

OS X 10.9.5 follows new seeds of Safari 7.0.6 and 6.1.6 for Mavericks and Mountain Lion, which were released to developers last night.

It is unclear what improvements the 10.9.5 update will bring to Mavericks, but it is likely to include bug fixes and stability enhancements. Apple is asking developers to focus on USB, USB Smart Cards, Graphics, and Safari.

Along with working on improvements to Mavericks, Apple is also beta testing OS X Yosemite, which is due to be released in the fall. The last Mavericks update, 10.9.4, added several Wi-Fi fixes and improved wake from sleep reliability.

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Revamped Apple TV Debut Likely Delayed Until 2015 Due to Negotiation Difficulties

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
apple_tv_splash_2014

For several months now, rumors have continually suggested Apple is working on a revamped Apple TV, which may include capabilities like support for games and apps and expanded access to television content.

Every rumored release date has come and gone thus far, and according to a new report from The Information, an updated Apple TV is not likely to appear until 2015.

A source that spoke to The Information has suggested that Apple engineers who are working on the device have been informed that the product will not launch in 2014, largely due to ongoing contractual issues with cable companies and Comcast’s pending purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Apple engineers who are working on aspects of the device have been told by their bosses not to expect a launch this year and are working off timelines that assume a launch next year, according to a person familiar with the plans. Apple employees have cited cable companies “dragging their heels” and the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger as reasons the device and accompanying TV service haven’t launched.

Conversely, sources in the television industry have denied that cable companies are behind the delay, suggesting Apple has “bit off more Continue Reading

‘Modbook Pro X’ Tablet Based on 15-Inch Retina MacBook Pro Debuts on Kickstarter

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
modbook_pro_x

Modbook, the company with a history of offering pen-based Mac tablets using the internals of Apple’s notebooks, is announcing a new Kickstarter campaign today to support the launch of a new Modbook Pro X based on the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The $150,000 campaign will allow users to send in their own machines for conversion at $1999 or reserve complete systems directly from Modbook starting at $3999.

An innovative computer modification product, the Modbook Pro X incorporates the original hardware of a Retina-display Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-inch base system running the OS X 10.10 Yosemite operating system. The expansive drawing and writing surface of the Modbook Pro X has a scratch-resistant ForceGlass screen with paper-emulating texture that covers a crisp, clear 15.4-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels. Users get highly sensitive pen input with 2,048 pen pressure levels and pen tilt and rotate functionality for producing pro-quality creative deliverables.

Various configurations of the Modbook Pro X are available, including processor options ranging up to the top-of-the-line 2.8 GHz chip launched in the Retina MacBook Pro just yesterday, up to 32 GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of flash storage.

<img src="http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2014/07/modbook_pro_x_keybars.jpg" Continue Reading

Apple Reminding Shoppers of Upcoming ‘Sales Tax Holiday’ Discounts [Mac Blog]

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
sales-tax-holiday

As spotted by iClarified, Apple is now reminding customers of upcoming “sales tax holidays” that allow residents in several US states to purchase select Apple gear without paying an additional sales tax charge. Customers potentially could save hundreds of dollars by purchasing high-priced items like MacBooks during this annual discount opportunity.

If your state offers a tax holiday this summer, you can buy select Apple products without paying sales tax.* When shopping online, sales tax will appear during checkout, but you’ll see the correct tax amount on your email order confirmation.

The states that offer these summertime tax holidays that extend to Apple products include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina and Tennessee. You can find a list of dates and qualifying items here. In most states, the tax-free holiday begins August 1st and lasts only a few days.

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‘Mid 2014′ 27-Inch iMac Also Referenced on Apple Support Page

Posted by | July 30, 2014.
imac_mid_2014_27_listing

Following yesterday’s spotting of an unreleased “Mac mini (Mid 2014)” on an Apple support page, French site MacPlus noticed [Google Translate] another entry on the same page mentioning a Mid 2014 27-inch iMac model. Both the Mac mini and iMac entries have since been removed from the page, although they are still visible on a cached version of the page from yesterday.

Apple did release a new low-end Mid 2014 21.5-inch iMac last month, but the remainder of the iMac lineup remained untouched and those machines are still considered Late 2013 models.

While the Mac mini entry has been taken as a hint that an upgrade may be imminent, especially since the machine has not been updated since October 2012, the iMac entry may point more towards the inclusions being an error. With the new low-end iMac having been added just last month, it seems unlikely that further iMac updates will occur in the near future.

It is possible Apple may have planned for a broader iMac update in the middle of the year with the low-end model appearing as part of that refresh, but the company may have changed Continue Reading

OWC Shares Mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pro Unboxing, SSD Tests [Mac Blog]

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
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Following this morning’s release of Retina MacBook Pros with improved Haswell processors, OWC has procured both the entry-level 13-inch and and the entry-level 15-inch 2014 Retina MacBook Pro and provided a gallery of unboxing photos featuring the new devices.

As expected, the packaging on the updated versions is the same as previous-generation Retina MacBook Pros. The site did a quick teardown as well, revealing the internals of the new machines, which also appear unchanged.

Internal view of the mid-2014 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro
OWC also conducted some speed tests on the solid state drives of the two machines, testing the 128 GB drive of the entry-level 13-inch version and the 256 GB drive of the entry-level 15-inch model using QuickBench 4.0.

The 15-inch machine (equipped with a Samsung SSD) saw random read/write speeds much higher than that of the 13-inch version, averaging in at 194 MB/s for random reads and 322 MB/s for random writes and 262/245 MB/s for sequential read/writes.

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The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, meanwhile, saw average random read/write speeds of 165/131 MB/s and average sequential read/write speeds of 263/244 MB/s with its Marvell-controlled SanDisk SSD.

<img src="http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2014/07/mbpr_13_2014_ssd.gif" alt="mbpr_13_2014_ssd" Continue Reading

Instagram’s Snapchat Competitor ‘Bolt’ Soft Launches in Three Countries [iOS Blog]

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
instagrambolt

Instagram today soft-launched its new Snapchat competitor Bolt in Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand. First , a Snapchat clone with a twist — after receiving a photo, users must send an image or video in return before being able to view content.

Users in New Zealand, South Africa, and Singapore can download Bolt from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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‘Signal’ for iOS Lets Users Make Encrypted Voice Calls for Free [iOS Blog]

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
signalapp

Open source software group Open Whisper Systems today , Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike said the team’s goal was to make secure phone calls as easy to place as regular phone calls. Encrypted text messages will also be added to the app in the future.

“We’re trying to make private communications as available and accessible as any normal phone call,” says Moxie Marlinspike, the hacker security researcher who founded the nonprofit software group. Later this summer, he adds, encrypted text messaging will be integrated into Signal, too, to create what he describes as a “single, unified app for free, easy, open source, private voice and text messaging.”

Wired tested the app during the development phase and aside from a few early bugs, determined calls were “indistinguishable from any other phone call,” and MacRumors had the same results when testing the app. Signal also works Open Whisper Systems’ RedPhone app for Android, allowing both iOS and Android users to make secure calls with one another.

Signal can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Unreleased ‘Mid 2014′ Mac Mini Referenced on Apple Support Page

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
macmini

An Apple support page on Boot Camp was updated yesterday to include a mention of a mid-2014 Mac mini, perhaps hinting that a refresh of the desktop computer might be in the works.

First noticed by 9to5Mac, a cached version of the support page suggests yesterday’s update also added mentions of the 2014 low-cost iMac and 2014 MacBook Airs. Today’s newly released mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pros were not added to the updated page.

The mention of the mid-2014 Mac mini may be a simple error, but the machine is long overdue for a refresh. Last updated in October of 2012, the Mac mini is the only product in Apple’s mainstream Mac lineup that has not seen an update with Haswell processors.

Aside from the mention on Apple’s support page, there has been no indication that a Mac mini refresh is on the horizon. Several events, including the unveiling of the new iPads last October and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference seemed like opportune times for the company to unveil a refreshed version of the desktop computer, but no new Mac mini materialized at either event. It continues to remain unclear when Apple might release Continue Reading

Kindle for iOS Updated With Syncing and Navigation Improvements [iOS Blog]

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
kindle_app_icon

Amazon today updated its Kindle for iOS app to version 4.4, adding several features that have been requested by Amazon customers to make both sync and navigation within the app easier.

Books will now sync to the most recent page read across all Kindle devices and Kindle apps that are registered to a single Amazon account, making it easier for users to swap between various Kindle devices. A feature in the navigation menu continues to allow customers to manually sync to the furthest page read if desired.

Kindle Placeholders have also been implemented, letting customers jump to different areas of a book without losing their current reading spot, and it’s also possible for students to export notes, highlights, and more from “Print Replica” textbooks.

Kindle for iOS has also gained Wikipedia Smart Lookup, letting readers select a word and get more information from Wikipedia

Kindle for iOS Version 4.4 provides several customer-requested features that make sync and navigation easier.

Sync to the most recent page read – Any books you are reading on Kindle for iOS will now sync to the most recent page read across all Kindle devices and/or reading apps registered to your Amazon account. Customers Continue Reading

15-Inch Mid 2014 Retina MacBook Pro Benchmark Shows Decent Entry-Level Speed Gains

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
mbp-2014-sc

Apple’s newly refreshed Retina MacBook Pros, released this morning, have already begun showing up in Geekbench benchmarks, offering a look at the performance boost of the updated machines compared to their predecessors.

A GeekBench 3 result for the entry-level 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro indicates that the new machine is eight percent faster than the entry-level 2013 Retina MacBook Pro, and only two percent slower than the mid-level Retina MacBook Pro released in 2013.

Single-Core performance for the machine came in at 3050, up from 2811 for the similar 2013 model, while Multi-Core performance was also impressive, at 11586 vs. 10730.

mbp-2014-mc
The new Retina MacBook Pros feature upgraded Haswell processors in 2.6 and 2.8 GHz dual-core configurations for the 13-inch versions, and 2.2 and 2.5 GHz quad-core configurations for the 15-inch models, with build-to-order options featuring a 2.8 GHz quad-core processor available for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and a 3.0 GHz quad-core processor available for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

All of Apple’s 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros now come with 8 GB of RAM standard (upgradeable to 16 GB), while 15-inch models come with 16 GB standard. The high-end 15-inch Continue Reading

Apple’s Smartphone Market Share Slips as Huawei, Lenovo Make Gains

Posted by | July 29, 2014.
idc_2Q14_smartphones,jpg

Apple’s growth in the overall worldwide smartphone market continues to slow as it loses ground to smaller Chinese vendors releasing more affordable devices, even as the smartphone market itself grows substantially.

According to IDC’s latest estimates, worldwide smartphone sales for the second quarter of 2014 grew 23.1 percent year-over year as smartphones continue to replace feature phones, with a record quarter of 295.3 million shipments.

Apple shipped 35.1 million iPhones during the quarter, up from 31.2 million during Q2 2013, for a share of 11.9 percent, a slight drop from its 13 percent share in the year-ago quarter. The company’s growth was at just 12.4 percent.

Samsung, the vendor that has long held the top spot with the most smartphone shipments, fared even worse during the quarter, with estimated shipments of 74.3 million for a 25.2 percent share of the market, down from 32.3 percent in Q2 2013, and overall growth of -3.9 percent.

Smaller Chinese vendors like Huawei and Lenovo continue to see significant growth, with Huawei shipping 20.3 million smartphones during the quarter for a 6.9 percent share and growth of 95.1 percent, while Lenovo shipped 15.8 million smartphones for 5.4 percent market Continue Reading

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