Apple seeds OS X Mavericks Developer Preview 7

Apple is moving steadily forward on OS X Mavericks, releasing the Preview 7 version to developers today. The release includes a few extra wallpapers and a link to a new OS X Mavericks page that is not fully live, yet. There are also a handful of bug fixes that are detailed in the release notes posted by 9to5 Mac.

The latest Mavericks preview can be downloaded from the Mac App Store as a software update. Registered OS X developers can also download the preview from Apple's Developer Center.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

RocketSpace CEO Duncan Logan Talks Expansion Plans And What ‘Office-As-A-Service' Actually Means

RocketSpace, a San Francisco office company that has hosted companies like Uber, Zaarly, Podio, and Pocket Gems (though not always the main team), recently moved into a new, bigger space — two spaces, actually, one for early-stage startups and one for more mature companies.

The move seemed like a good opportunity to both tour the new office and talk to founder and CEO Duncan Logan about San Francisco real estate, his future plans, and his description of RocketSpace as an “office-as-a-service”.

To be honest, I went in suspecting that “office-as-a-service” was just a fancy way of saying “real estate company with other services”. However, Logan rattled off a number of other programs that Rocket Space has built on top of its desk/office rental business, including corporate innovation/partnerships, RocketU training, and the startup accelerator. As those other services grow, he said that revenue from rentals is becoming “a smaller and smaller percentage every month” of RocketSpace’s total business. Logan added:

If we were just about the real estate we would be rolling out RocketSpaces everywhere. While we do intend to expand to other locations, it’s really about building a brand which is really focused on the best startups. We think, as a young company, you are a product of your environment and you should choose that environment really carefully and surround yourself really carefully … and that’s more our focus than filling real estate.

As for where RocketSpace goes from here, Logan named a number of cities where the company might open a second location, including New York, Austin, London and Toronto. He said he’s hoping to sign a lease on a second US location by the end of this year and actually open the new office in early 2014.

Oh, if you want to see what the old RocketSpace looked like, you can watch this video from a year ago.

via TechCrunch

Get new life out of an old Mac Pro

You've been drooling at the video of the new Mac Pro, but realize that your chances of having enough money to buy one of the cylindrical black speedsters when they ship this fall are slim to none. Not to worry -- iMore's Peter Cohen has just the answer if you'd like to add some life to your existing Mac Pro.

What Cohen wisely suggests is replacing your old Mac Pro's hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD). He borrowed a couple of SSDs from One World Computing (AKA OWC) and put 'em through the test. The first was a SATA-based drive, the Mercury Extreme 6G (480 GB for US$549.99), while the second drive was a PCI Express-based drive called the Mercury Accelsior_E2 (up to 960 GB for $1289.99).

The Mercury Accelsior_E2 is unique in that it's a PCI Express card with an SSD built on. Cohen notes that you can upgrade the SSDs down the road, as the PCIe card-based devices have removable SSDs on them. Any Mac Pro from 2008 or later should work just fine with this drive placed into one of the two 16x slots, while 2009 and newer Mac Pro models will get the best possible performance from any slot.

I won't divulge all of Cohen's test results, but let's just say that the SSDs -- especially the Mercury Accelsior_E2 -- smoked the basic hard drive in terms of performance. While the maximum capacity versions of these drives aren't exactly cheap, they're certainly less expensive than any new Mac Pro will likely be.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

The spiritual successor to Mega Man is Mighty No. 9, and it's coming to Mac

Over the long holiday weekend, former Capcom game developer and father of the Mega Man franchise, Keiji Inafune, launched a Kickstarter campaign for his next game. It's called Mighty No. 9, and in the roughly 48 hours that has passed since the crowd funding began it has raised over $1.35 million USD. The game's original goal amount was $900,000, with a series of stretch goals that reach all the way to $2.5 million. Having just passed the $1.35 million goal, Mighty No. 9 is now officially coming to Mac.

You can score your own digital copy of the game -- which is schedule to launch in April 2015 (yikes) -- for a $20 contribution, though if you've got some extra cash to drop you can offer as much as $10,000. A donation of that size scores you a metric ton of bonus goodies as well as dinner and drinks with lead developer Inafune himself.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10/DSC-QX100 smartphone lenses to ship later this month

Rumors have been flying about a pair of camera lens accessories from Sony that will work with the iPhone and Android phones. Now AppleInsider is reporting that details have been leaked on the Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 (about US$250) and DSC-QX100 (about $500), both of which are set to be announced tomorrow and launched later in September.

The news was initially published by SonyAlpha Rumors earlier today, complete with an advertisement showing how the lenses work. They can be used totally detached from a phone and controlled by the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app (free), which allows the iPhone to be used as a real-time viewfinder. The lenses use Wi-Fi to connect to the iPhone or an Android device, but can also store images on a microSD card of up to 64 GB capacity.

The entry-level DSC-QX10 has a 1/2.3-inch Exmor CMOS sensor and a Sony G 9 lens. That combination gives the lens 18.9-megapixel images and a 10 times optical zoom. The DSC-QX100 has a 1-inch Exmor sensor capable of grabbing 20.9-megapixel photos, and has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with a fast F1.8 aperture, although not as much of an optical zoom range.

Should you decide that you'd like to have the lens attached to your iPhone "DSLR-style", there's an camera attachment case that the lens snaps onto. These lenses are a fascinating photography accessory for the iPhone that will bring iPhoneography to a higher level. Check out the video demonstrating the DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 below.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

On-the-fly business portraits are a snap with George

Here's a handy iOS app for a very specific task: Using the iPhone camera to create a nice looking snapshot for resumes, Linkedin or any business use. The app, called George - Quick Business Portraits (US$0.99) makes the process easy if you think ahead before you snap the photo.

What makes the app different is the ability to put your image in front of a more businesslike background. To make the app work its magic, your original photo must be taken in front of a solid background. You then click on the background of the photo, and the app adds a nice wood "boardroom"-style look replacing the background that was previously there. It's similar to the chroma-key or green-screen effect used on TV and in the movies. You can also adjust the contrast of your photo and sharpen it. A collection of backgrounds is available through an $1.99 in-app purchase.

There are options to save the photo to your camera roll or share it via Facebook, Twitter or email. All effects have an undo button.

I found the app pretty easy to use and the results were good. You can select either of the iPhone's cameras. Most of the icons the app uses were obvious as to their purpose, but one icon remained dim and I wasn't sure what it was. It turns out that it was the additional background feature, and the icon remains dim until you purchase more backgrounds. I think the app would benefit from some built-in help to avoid user confusion.

The background image inserted cleanly. If the background is not evenly lit, you can click a few times on the background to make sure it fits in.

George - Quick Business Portraits is a clever little app that fills a need some people will have. It requires iOS 6.1 or greater, and is optimized for the iPhone 5. It does have ads that are displayed at the top of the screen.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

YCombinator’s Paul Graham now taking applications for Startup School 2013 (and it’s free)

If you want to start a startup, there’s a school for that. It’s called Startup School, and it was created by YCombinator’s Paul Graham, who is now taking applications for attendees.

The best part? It’s free.

Previous speakers have included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, superangel Ron Conway, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann, and Uber founder Travis Kalanick. They apparently know a thing or two about starting startups — billion-dollar startups.

“Are you a programmer, engineer, or designer who has thought about one day starting a startup?” Startup School’s site asks. “Have you already started it? Then you’re invited to a free, one-day startup school.”

Paul Graham

Paul Graham

If you want to get in, the price is clearly right, but you’re going to have to jump through a few hoops. With speakers like these, there’s a lot of competition for limited seats. So Graham has set up an application form for you to tell Y Combinator about your education, work, developer tools, and “the coolest thing you’ve built.” Given that this is almost certain to be overbooked, you’d better have something interesting to crow about.

Startup School 2013 is in the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif. (no, not the Flint Cultural Center in Flint, MI), and it’ll be on Oct. 19.

You’ll need to apply by Sept. 20, and you’ll know if you made the grade by Sept. 30. The experience might be just what you need to push you over the edge and do that startup you’ve been dreaming about.

“Many founders have told us that this event was what finally made them take the leap,” Graham wrote on the site. It’s also probably a very good first step to applying to YCombinator if you want to get into probably the world’s most prestigious accelerator program.

Startup School 2013 speakers have not yet been announced.

via VentureBeat

GraphDive Raises $2M For Social Media Analytics And Targeting

GraphDive, a startup that uses Facebook Connect data to give businesses a better understanding of their online visitors, has raised $2 million in new funding.

Co-founder and CEO Shahram Seyedin-Noor said the company allows website owners to do more with the social data that’s already provided by users who log in to their sites via Connect. It analyzes a user’s account activity and infers their interests and key demographic data — age, income, education, and relationship status. (In its effort to build an “interest graph” connecting related interests, Seyedin-Noor said GraphDive could be compared to Gravity, except that Gravity is focused on publishers).

So far, the company offers three services that take advantage of that data, one for segmenting users into different groups, another for delivering personalized recommendations to those users, and a third for Facebook ads targeted at new users that are similar to the most valuable of a businesses’ most existing users.

How accurate is the analysis? Well, you can test it out yourself by logging in to the GraphDive site and seeing what the system infers about you. That’s what I did, and demographically, on three out of four counts, it pegged me correctly — the only incorrect inference was that I’m married. It also provided a list of my interests, which started off accurate and gradually became more shaky. Overall, it seemed to paint a pretty solid picture of who I am.

It’s clear how this could be useful to businesses, but what about consumers? Well, Seyedin-Noor argued that GraphDive is “the anti-spam company,” because it allows users to see content, recommendations, and ads that are actually relevant to them, and because those users have opted in by signing up for a particular site through Facebook Connect.

Seyedin-Noor added that the company, which he founded with Sina Sohangir in 2011, has seen 10x growth in terms of daily API usage in the past three months. Customers include Walmart and Lyft.

The new funding comes from Crosslink Capital, Correlation Ventures, Plug & Play Tech Center, Start Capital, and Pejman Nozad, adding to the $1 million that GraphDive raised last year. Future plans include adding new platforms, such as Twitter and Google+, and other languages.

via TechCrunch

Optimizely Co-Founder Pete Koomen On Using The Art Of A/B Testing

San Francisco startup Optimizely has had a lot of success in making A/B testing much more accessible to the masses. And along the way, Optimizely’s co-founders Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen say that they’ve learned quite a bit themselves about the practice of A/B testing, and what it can do for websites and software products — so much, in fact, that they decided to write a book about it, A/B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers .

The book has some rave reviews (Marissa Mayer has called it “smart” and “valuable”), so we recently invited Koomen to swing by TechCrunch TV and share some key takeaways. We also caught up a bit on the latest at Optimizely as a company, which just crossed over the 100 employee mark. Check it all out in the video embedded above.

via TechCrunch

Amazon's AWS Command Line Tool Hits General Availability, Lets You Control 23 Services From Your Terminal

Graphical user interfaces are great, but sometimes, the good-old command line is all you need. Amazon today announced that its command line interface for AWS has hit general availability.

For a while now, Amazon Web Services has made this command line tool available as a developer preview. The tool allows developers to control 23 of AWS’s services from the command line without the need to touch its somewhat convoluted web interface. Few people, of course, manage their AWS accounts from the command line, but having these tools available allows developers to automate many of their processes.

As Amazon notes, today’s release includes some updates to the file commands for its S3 cloud storage service that use a file system command syntax to allow developers to “list the contents of online buckets, upload a folder full of files, and synchronize local files with objects stored in Amazon S3.”

As with all things AWS, configuring the tool isn’t exactly trivial, but Amazon offers an easy step-by-step install guide and extensive documentation to help new users get started. The tool is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and also comes pre-installed on the most recent versions of the Amazon Linux AMI, Amazon’s supported and maintained Linux image for use on its EC2 cloud-computing service.

via TechCrunch

Researchers solve that pesky eye-contact problem with video calls

Let’s face it: video chatting with someone is awkward. While we’ve all gotten used to darting our eyes between the camera and the screen, so there’s no real way to make eye contact with the person you’re talking with. But instead of cheating it out of politeness, a team of researchers has found a low-cost way to bring eye-contact into video chatting — using a Microsoft Kinect.

Claudia Kuster, a doctoral student at the Computer Graphics Laboratory ETH Zurich, has coordinated a team of researchers to help solve the eye-contact problem without creating an expensive and over-the-top rig. The Kinect offers crucial facial recognition technology, which can determine the orientation of a person’s face and tilts the image to adjust for the angle. So, even if you’re looking down at the screen or up at the camera, the Kinect will recognize a shift and adapt accordingly.

While this is nifty in itself, tilting an image wholesale can adjust the entire depth of an image, making it look warped and unnatural when done incorrectly. Kuster’s team shows off its true cleverness in the software meant to handle the adjusted images, which actually works in two parts. First, the “foreground image” (re: the person in the shot) is separated from the background and then altered. The new image is then grafted back on to the regular background, effectively tilting the face without throwing the entire image.

Kuster’s team utilizes 66 different feature points on a person’s face to seamlessly analyze and blend the two images in real time, and is able to do so on a regular computer with no hiccups. The software also adjusts for lighting, colors, and can even identify two faces in a single frame — coping with many different faces and hairstyles.

It’s easy to see how this product could change video calling, especially in its capacity to make it all feel more personal. Kuster is now working on a way to make her software compatible with traditional cameras instead of the Kinect, allowing for even easier usage across laptop and mobile devices. With the end goal of a Skype plug-in, it may not be long before the limits of technology can’t impede anyone from making real eye contact.

via GigaOM

Twitter open sources Storm-Hadoop hybrid called Summingbird

Twitter has open sourced a system that aims to mitigate the tradeoffs between batch processing and stream processing by combining them into a hybrid system. In the case of Twitter, Hadoop handles batch processing, Storm handles stream processing, and the hybrid system is called Summingbird. It’s not a tool for every job, but it sounds pretty handy for those it’s designed to address.

Twitter’s blog post announcing Summingbird is pretty technical, but the problem is pretty easy to understand if you think about how Twitter works. Services like Trending Topics and search require real-time processing of data to be useful, but they eventually need to be accurate and probably analyzed a little more thoroughly. Storm is like a hospital’s triage unit, while Hadoop is like longer-term patient care.

This description of Summingbird from the project’s wiki does a pretty good job of explaining how it works at a high level. The implementation is a little more complex, of course:

The hybrid model allows most data to be processed by Hadoop and served out of a read-only store like Manhattan. Only data that Hadoop hasn’t yet been able to process, data that falls within the latency window, would be served out of a datastore populated in realtime by Storm. The error of the realtime layer is bounded, as Hadoop will eventually get around to processing the same data and smoothing out any error introduced.

Hybrid systems like this are actually becoming more common as companies realize they can’t survive in a real-time world with Hadoop alone. We’ve covered systems at numerous companies — Gravity, LinkedIn and Netflix among them — that aim to do something similar. Summingbird might be different in that it’s a hybrid system handling data from both Hadoop and Storm, as opposed to a pipeline of different systems, but web companies need some way to ensure they’re not trading off speed for accuracy, or vice versa.

Structure Europe in article square We won’t have anyone from Twitter at Structure: Europe (Sept. 18 and 19 in London) to talk about Summingbird specifically, but our data lineup is pretty impressive and can probably speak in depth about why it’s important. They come from places like PayPal, MailChimp and LinkedIn, as well as entrepreneurs with previous experience at places like Yahoo and the NSA.

For a little more on Summingbird, which Twitter actually describes as “streaming MapReduce” because of its focus on aggregation jobs, check out this presentation that Twitter’s Sam Ritchie (who also wrote the blog post) gave in June. It also might be worth checking out Yahoo’s open source Storm-YARN project for actually running Storm within Hadoop clusters in order to give Storm access to Hadoop-based data stores.

via GigaOM

The two most interesting things Jeff Bezos told the Washington Post about his plans for the newspaper

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who swooped in to rescue the legendary Washington Post by acquiring it for $250 million last month, hasn’t said much about what his plans are for the newspaper — although he has gotten plenty of advice from almost every media blogger or writer alive (including me) since the deal was announced. Given this vacuum of information, it’s not surprising that everyone is trying to read between the lines of an interview he did with the paper to try and figure out what the Amazon founder’s secret recipe might be for restoring the Post to greatness or profitability, or both.

While Bezos was pretty vague about the details of his plan — or even whether he has one at all — he did say a couple of interesting things about his view of the newspaper business, comments that I think raise a number of questions about where he wants to take the Post.

1) The reader comes first: Amazon is well known for putting the customer first, and Bezos suggested that he plans to bring that laser-like focus to the newspaper business, telling Post reporter Paul Farhi that “if you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post too.” For Amazon, this kind of approach means things like free shipping and a no-hassle return policy, but what would that mean in the context of a newspaper?

Some critics took this comment to mean that Bezos will push the Post to write about whatever readers are most interested in, rather than the kind of long-term investigative journalism that the paper is known for — in other words, more stories about Miley Cyrus and fewer pieces about war in Syria.

Bezos' "reader first" comments suggest he doesn't think investigative journalism can pay…

Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) September 03, 2013

That’s one interpretation, but there are others: for example, Bezos also said that he believes a focus on readers is important because he is “skeptical of any mission that has advertisers at its centerpiece.” That could mean the Amazon founder doesn’t want to just generate huge numbers of pageviews, which would be good news for Post fans who want more hard-hitting journalism. But his point about focusing on readers and less on advertisers becomes even more interesting when you put it together with another comment:

2) How do you make a living? Bezos noted that the Post “is famous for its investigative journalism,” which it pours huge amounts of energy and investment into — and then, as the Amazon founder noted:

“A bunch of Web sites summarize that [work] in about four minutes and readers can access that news for free. One question is, how do you make a living in that kind of environment? Even behind a paywall, Web sites can summarize your work and make it available for free. From a reader point of view, the reader has to ask, ‘Why should I pay you for all that journalistic effort when I can get it for free’ from another site?”

Newspaper paywall

There are two ways to look at this comment. One is to assume that Bezos isn’t a fan of paywalls, since they can easily be circumvented by aggregators. But what interested me most about the “reader first” mantra is that the new owners of the Orange County Register — businessman Aaron Kushner and his partner Eric Spitz — have said almost the exact same thing about their approach to reinventing the newspaper: namely, that they are putting the reader first, and they don’t really care what the impact of that is on advertisers. As Spitz put it to me:

“Our fundamental insight is that the business itself in the newspaper space has been operated for 75-plus years as an advertiser-first, subscriber-second business. We think that’s incorrect, and that they should be run as a subscriber-first, advertiser-second business — and when you make that shift, you see that a lot of other decisions fall from it.”

The interesting thing is that this approach led the OC Register management team in almost the exact opposite direction to what most people expected, and what many have come to expect from Bezos: instead of weakening or removing it, Kushner and Spitz have doubled down on the paywall — which is about as hard as any wall in the industry, with no free articles or social-media exceptions — and focused on building value for readers, including a massive investment in hiring new reporters and editors and adding new sections.

The bottom line is that Bezos’s commitment to putting readers first instead of advertisers could lead him in two very different directions: if he goes in one direction, he could remove the wall entirely and hope that giving readers what they want will generate enough value to pay the freight (which is the approach taken by one of his other investments, Henry Blodget’s site Business Insider). If he goes in the other, he could try to lock down the Post‘s content as much as possible and drive more revenue from that.

Which direction the Amazon founder will ultimately choose to go remains to be seen — but there’s no question that it is going to be fascinating to watch.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Getty Images / Spencer Platt and Shutterstock / Voronin76

via GigaOM

Apple updates iLife for iOS apps

Apple has released updates to the iLife apps for iOS. The company says the updates to iPhoto and iMovie address compatibility issues, while the update to GarageBand addresses minor issues related to general performance and stability. The "compatibility issues" may or may not relate to iOS 7, which is expected to be released to the public in the next several weeks. However, since the updated iLife apps don't feature any new iOS 7-inspired icons, it's likely that Apple will push out further updates to them once iOS 7 ships.

iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand for iOS are available in the App Store for US$4.99 each.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

TUAW over-analyzes the Apple event invitation

Shortly after @jdalrymple announced to the world that the invitations for the September 10, 2013 Apple event had been sent out, TUAW editor-in-chief Victor Agreda, Jr. noted that @HereIsTrev had tweeted the following message: "Please don't over analyse every last aspect of the apple invite ... oh, too late." Here's our take on the invitation, BuzzFeed-style:

  1. There are 25 full or partial circles on the invitation (I counted). 25 is the square of five, which means that the "S" in iPhone 5S means "Five-squared"

  2. Of course, these colors represent the spectrum of case colors for your new iPhone

  3. Only two of the circles are green, which Greenpeace should take notice of as it means that the new iPhone is ruining the environment

  4. The four empty circles are representative of the loss of Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall, John Browett and (most recently) Bob Mansfield from the executive ranks of Apple

  5. Blue is the most prevalent color on the invitation, which proves that Bondi Blue will be one of the colors for the new iPhone

  6. The phrase "brighten everyone's day" is all about the new display technology for the iPhone, which will be incredibly readable in full sunlight

  7. Many of the overlapping circles appear to be Venn diagrams. We are doing our best to determine what that means...

  8. The fact that Apple couldn't come up with a color for its logo in the center is a sign that the company is fresh out of innovative ideas

  9. Tracing the path of the colored dots reveals a new gesture that'll conjure up the spirit of Steve Jobs

  10. The dots are stylized fingerprints, meaning that the new iPhone will feature a fingerprint authentication feature

  11. The dot-filled invite also suggests iOS 7 will be sponsored by America's favorite candy, DOTS. See Android KitKat for context

  12. The thin font used on the invite hints at a thinner bezel for the iPhone display

  13. The multiple colors used on the invite suggest Apple will surprise us with multi-user support in a subsequent version of iOS 7.x

  14. Those round circles are indicative of pixels on the screen of Apple's long-awaited HDTV, which will be known as "Munstervision" in honor of the one man who believed in the product, Gene Munster


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Daily Deals for September 3, 2013

It's time to save some of that hard-earned cash with our Daily Deals, featuring exclusive TUAW Deals, a handy list from Dealnews and our own hand-picked iOS and OS X selections.

TUAW's Daily Deals

Bizness Apps - one year of mobile app development [On sale for $99, down from $708]

It's no secret, for small businesses, a Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter account are a must. A personalized mobile app is a great way to take customer interaction to the next level, but many business owners shy away because of steep development costs. Keep the checkbook closed, for less than the price of a newspaper ad, you can now create your own mobile app.

Bizness Apps is already helps OVER 100,000 of small business owners grow their client base. As the number 1 mobile app platform worldwide, this truly is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make your own mobile app – with zero programming knowledge required.

Save 86% off Bizness Apps - one year of mobile app development at TUAW Deals. You will need to provide your credit card details at the time of registration for renewal purposes. You may cancel your subscription at any time to avoid further charges.

Deals from Dealnews

  • Adorama: [eSATA Hard Drives] G-Technology 1.5TB G-Raid Mini Storage System for $99 + free shipping

  • [Cell Phone Cases] Otterbox Cases at All4Cellular: Extra 10% off, deals from $3 + free shipping

  • Dell Home: [Flat-Panel/LCDs] Dell Outlet coupon: 30% off refurbished Dell LCD Displays + free shipping

  • MacUpdate Promo: [Mac Software] SwitchResX 4 for Mac downloads for $10

  • MegaMacs: [Mac Pro] Refurbished Mac Pro Xeon Quad-Core 2.8GHz Workstation for $600 + $2 s&h

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  • Verizon Broadband: [Computer Services] Verizon FiOS Triple Play w/$300 Visa or Amazon Gift Card, router, for $80/month

  • eBay: [iPhone Accessories] Energizer iSurge Travel Cell Phone Charging Station for $20 + free shipping

  • MegaMacs: [Mac Pro] Refurb Apple Mac Pro Xeon Quad-Core 2.66GHz Desktop for $750 + $2 s&h

  • eBay: [Media Receivers] Pogoplug Wireless Multimedia Streaming Device for $15 + free shipping

  • TigerDirect: [Notebook Carrying Case] OGIO Deluxe Neoprene Laptop Sleeves for $0 after rebate + $4 s&h

  • Dell Small Business: [23-Inch LCDs] 2 Dell 23" 1080p LED LCD Displays w/ Dual Stand for $430 + free shipping

iOS Software

  • STREET FIGHTER IV VOLT [iPhone; Category: Games; On sale for $0.99, down from $4.99] Take on your friends in your favorite Street Fighter titles.

  • HeyHey Pix [iOS Universal; Category: Photography & Video; Now free, down from $0.99] Why should only adults have all the fun with their camera apps. HeyHey Pix allows children to take photos, decorate them and share them with the world.

  • STREET FIGHTER II COLLECTION [iPhone; Category: Games; On sale for $0.99, down from $3.99] Take on your friends in your favorite Street Fighter titles.

  • Speedometer GPS+ (Car speedometer, Bike cyclometer) [iOS Universal; Category: Navigation; Now free, down from $2.99] Speedometer GPS+ is a car speedometer, bike cyclometer and more.

  • Pacific Rim [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Pacific Rim is an all-new action fighting game inspired by the Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures film from acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

  • STREET FIGHTER IV [iPhone; Category: Games; On sale for $0.99, down from $4.99] Take on your friends in your favorite Street Fighter titles.

  • Ride 'Em Rigby - Regular Show [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $0.99] Help Rigby hang on for dear life as Muscle Man rampages through the park. Jump, duck and grab power-ups to keep your ride going as long as you can.

  • Push Launcher [iPhone; Category: Utilities; Now free, down from $0.99] App launcher that allows you to setup an alarm to launch an app on certain date/time and more.

  • Warlords Classic - official port from Mac/PC/Amiga [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $4.99] Warlords Classic is an official port of the fabulous game you have been playing in your childhood on PC, Mac or Amiga computers. Now it's available on your iPad.

  • Star Wars Pinball [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $1.99] Set in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars Pinball lets you interact with the most iconic characters, and relive the greatest moments of the Star Wars universe in 3 Star Wars-themed tables.

  • Toca Builders [iOS Universal; Category: Education; On sale for $0.99, down from $1.99] Join your new builder friends on an island far away and create a whole new world with blocks. Jump, walk, roll and rotate the builders to use their unique skills, and they will help to build whatever you can imagine.

  • Lens•Lab [iOS Universal; Category: Photography & Video; Now free, down from $1.99] Lens•Lab, the world's most advanced yet simple to use depth of field tool.

  • Calc Pro HD - The Top Mobile Calculator! [iPad; Category: Utilities; On sale for $0.99, down from $9.99] Whether you are checking the latest currency rates or converting simple cooking measurements, Calc Pro HD makes it easy to solve even the toughest calculations.

  • Calc Pro - The Top Mobile Calculator! [iPhone; Category: Utilities; On sale for $0.99, down from $7.99] Whether you are checking the latest currency rates or converting simple cooking measurements, Calc Pro HD makes it easy to solve even the toughest calculations.

  • Cut the Rope [iPhone; Category: Games; Now free, down from $0.99] Cut the rope to feed candy to little monster Om Nom.

  • Cut the Rope HD [iPad; Category: Games; Now free, down from $3.99] Cut the rope to feed candy to little monster Om Nom. Apple's App of the Week.

OS X Software

  • Two Dollar Tuesday [OS X; Category: Various; On sale for $1.99] Two Dollar Tuesday is offering three OS X apps for $1.99 each. Titles include Chronicle, Yoink, Play+ for YouTube.

  • TimerX [OS X; Category: Health & Fitness; Now free, down from $0.99] TimerX is a simple to use & multifunctional menu-bar timer utility.

  • Chronicle - Bill Management [OS X; Category: Finance; On sale for $1.99, down from $14.99] If you pay bills, you need Chronicle. It gives you the peace of mind of never having to worry about whether you paid a bill again.

  • MovieDek [OS X; Category: Video; Now free, down from $9.99] MovieDek is an application utility for extracting frames from a movie file and saving them as images on your Mac.

  • AppyFridays [OS X; Category: Various; On sale for $10.99] AppyFridays is offering a Lifestyle Bundle that heavily discounts three OS apps. Titles include HDR Darkroom 2, Ensoul Contacts, MiJournal and Axiom Basic (bonus app for the first 1,000 people). The sale lasts until September 5.

Note: All prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly. TUAW is not responsible for third-party deals and cannot guarantee availability or quality of any particular product at a specific price.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

If you advertise your app like this, I hate you

There are already plenty of games on the App Store that have gained an audience by downright copying existing IPs, but while many of these apps display a total lack of creativity in terms of content, most of them at least do their best to properly rip off the original idea. Sure, Modern Combat might look an awful lot like Call of Duty, but at least you know what you're getting.

The ad for Dragon City you see above commits a much more deplorable offense by not only preying on fans of an extremely popular franchise -- in this case, Pokémon -- but at the same time also downright lying to gamers.

The Pokémon franchise debuted on Game Boy back in 1996, and since then it has become a juggernaut in the gaming space. The many games in the series have carried a very familiar look for the entirety of the franchise's existence, and the battle segments in particular have an iconic and recognizable look. The following screenshot is taken from a Pokémon title that was released in 2004:

The similarities between the screenshot above and the Dragon City ad at the top of the page should be rather apparent. The problem is that the image from the Dragon City ad is completely fake. Here's what the actual combat of Dragon City looks like:

So why would Dragon City -- which purports to have more than 10 million players -- want to advertise itself with decidedly low-resolution art and a much less flashy aesthetic than that of the actual game? It's a classic bait-and-switch: Dragon City developer Social Point wants to appear to have the iOS equivalent of an insanely popular Nintendo RPG franchise, when all Dragon City really offers is a microtransaction-driven FarmVille clone with fighting lizards.

I'm not going to dive super deep into the differences between the games, but suffice to say that the Pokémon titles allow you to travel vast distances, meet characters and follow a long and detailed plot, while Dragon City revolves around creating what amounts to a neighborhood for dragons. They have almost nothing in common.

It's shenanigans like this that make it hard for customers to trust new app developers enough to give their games a shot. This upsets me, and if you enjoy finding new and original content on the App Store it should upset you, too.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Daily Update for September 3, 2013

It's the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You'll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what's happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today's Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Rumor Roundup: The 150-pound iWatch

Here's a riddle for you: what weighs as much as 150 pounds, but might also not exist at all? No, it's not your "girlfriend who lives in Canada." We'll ponder the real answer to this question later on.

Apple to deliver OS X 10.8.5 with Mail, screen saver fixes as soon as today (AppleInsider)

This article was posted August 26. It's September 3 as I write this, and 10.8.5 still hasn't been made publicly available. You're only 8 days off (so far), AppleInsider. Excuse me, "sometimes reliable" AppleInsider.

Retina iPad mini housing leaks in huge photo gallery (BGR)

"The case looks a lot like the current-generation iPad mini housing of course, though there are some subtle differences." Don't feel like you need to actually point those differences out or anything. If you did, you might actually lend some credibility to this rumor, and we just can't have that.

High-res photos claim to show iPad 5 front panel (9to5 Mac)

"The photos are consistent with what we're all expecting: essentially a scaled-up iPad Mini, with thinner bezels on the sides." Because this is consistent with what we're all expecting, you can also expect pundits to go frothing-mouthed insane once this product is announced. Minus 4000 quatloos to the first moron who unironically says, "It's just a big iPad mini."

Apple's September 10 iPhone Media Event Said to Also Include New iPads (MacRumors)

Hahahaha... nope.

More evidence points to iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C launch on September 20th (BGR)

Said "evidence" is really just mobile carriers like T-Mobile blacking out vacation days. Now here's a question: do these companies actually know the official launch date for these products, or are they just making an educated guess?

EXCLUSIVE -- iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C launch date seemingly confirmed by AT&T vacation blackout (BGR)

BGR eventually removed the "EXCLUSIVE" from this article after commenters pointed out that other outlets had published this story days earlier, but I've included it here "for the purposes of discussion." By which I mean "pointing and laughing at them."

And now for this week's biggest thing: leaked photos of the low-cost iPhone.

Analyst rantings and ravings aren't worth the pixels they're printed on, and "sources from the Far East" are flat-out wrong with hilarious regularity. Yet even though it can be faked, to me photographic evidence is usually the next best thing to having an Apple exec debuting an item onstage at an event. All this is a roundabout way of saying I'm convinced: the iPhone 5C is a happening thing.

With that out of the way, let's move back into the realm of pointless speculation and brain-damaged fantasy.

Apple projected to ship nearly 65M 'iWatch' units priced at $199 in first year (AppleInsider)

Some analyst floats some nonsense numbers for a completely speculative product. For some reason, this is reported like it's actual news. Attention AppleInsider and the rest of you rumor blogs: please just accept that these so-called "analysts" know precisely Jacques-merde about Apple and stop polluting the Internet with their re-reported nonsense.

Apple iWatch rumored for 2H 2014 launch, priced between $149-$229 (BGR)

Hey, speaking of sources not worth paying the least bit of serious attention to, "Digitimes cites an analyst" --BZZZZT, super-duper-mega-ultra-fail. Next!

The Boy Genius Report: The Apple TV that no one understands and the reinvention of television (BGR)

"It's not a rumor, but a fact that Apple is looking at bringing a game-changing TV experience out of Cupertino." Oh really? And your evidence is... what exactly?


I thought so.

"you can only fit so many 150-pound televisions in boxes on a plane"

Someone please remind BGR that this is the year 2013. Even today's biggest flatscreen TVs don't weigh nearly this much. Hell, I have a 40-inch LCD, and I can carry it in one arm easily. The issue isn't the weight, but the unwieldy size of the thing.

Mudslinging temporarily aside, I must take this opportunity to reiterate that Apple making its own HDTV makes absolutely no sense. BGR is mostly wrong about why it doesn't make sense, but at least they're making the effort to dust off their critical thinking caps.

And now, let me share with you what is hands down the dumbest thing I read in all of August.

What if Apple's iWatch is... a TV? (TNW)

Immediately after finishing this article, I wrote this on Twitter: "There's so much concentrated stupid in this article that it's hard to know where to begin."

Let's start at the very beginning: a very bad place to start.

"We are allured to the newest devices on offer because of some minor improvement that was actually invented many years ago, but we just weren't allowed to have it before."

Yes. This is exactly how technology works. It has nothing at all to do with optimising technological developments for mass production and making them cost-effective to deploy on a wide scale. It definitely has nothing to do with testing these things thoroughly before unleashing them on eager but fickle consumers. No; companies selfishly hold back their innovations until they're damn good and ready to release them. Right now, Google has a fully-fledged holodeck in its basement in Mountain View, but the jerks won't actually release it to the public until 2037.

"Over the past few years, [Apple's] stream of 'awe-inspiring' products seems to have dried up a bit, or at least hit a blockage in the pipe of creativity and innovation."

MEME ALERT: Apple can't innovate anymore. A touchscreen computer that fits in your pocket and is more powerful than a Mac Pro G5? Yawn. Another touchscreen computer the size of a paperback book that requires zero training to use it? Whatever, innovate faster. A notebook computer that weighs less than a kilogram with all-day battery life? MEH.

"Is it just me who feels this? No. The Internet speaks about it all the time – there's volumes of discussions out there"

And we all know that the vast, dramatically idiotic echo chamber that constitutes the Internet is the ultimate authority on Truth with a capital T. YouTube comments are where I usually go for my daily dose of "discussion."

"Apple's share value has consequently taken the hit as a direct result."

No. Apple's stock price has tanked due to a combination of analysts having unrealistic expectations for continually and exponentially increasing financial performance, a media obsessed with trying to distort every last fact about Apple to fit its "how the mighty have fallen" narrative, and (likely) a dash of good old-fashioned stock manipulation by some shady characters.

"Why is it that a company that has more resources than it has ever had cannot compete on the stock market with Google and Amazon, whose shares continue to rise?"

Because the stock market has become completely decoupled from anything resembling logic or sanity. Apple continually turns in earnings that any company would be overjoyed to report -- including Google and Amazon. Yet because the inmates are running the asylum in the USA's financial institutions, companies who are turning in modest profits see their stocks rise while Apple, turning in record profits quarter after quarter, sees its stock price tank. There's your answer for "why": stupidity, plain and simple.

"Apple doesn't do niche products, as they would tarnish its overall reputation."

Um, what? Here's a short and by no means all-encompassing list of products Apple has introduced over the years that started out as niche products. You may have heard of them:

  • The Apple I

  • The Macintosh

  • The iPod

  • The iPhone

And those are just the ones that succeeded. We'd be here all day if I listed all the niche products Apple has ever released. Hilariously, the most arguably "niche" product Apple sells right now is -- wait for it -- the Apple TV.

"TV [...] taps into a $39 billion market. A watch couldn't command even 1% of that market's earnings."

Apple reported quarterly revenue of $35 billion over the three-month period ending in late June. In three months, Apple's revenues nearly equalled those of the entire TV industry. Tell me again why Apple should give a rat's rear about the TV market?

"Many households have more than one TV. It's a gold mine."

No it's not. It's a boondoggle. People don't view televisions as a disposable, commodity product. The same consumers who'll happily upgrade to a new iPhone every other year will hold onto a television until it dies. I'm about as big of a technology hound as you'll find, yet I've owned a grand total of three television sets in the past 18 years. Meanwhile, I've owned four iPhones since 2009. Tell me again why Apple should get into the TV market?

"So let us imagine you are Apple and you're going to bring out a TV that actually profits mainly from its content."

In other words, let us imagine that Apple completely upends its hardware-centric profit model and decides to operate more like a video game company, or Google, or Amazon, or Microsoft. Let us also imagine that anyone who floats this as a serious idea has any clue what they're talking about when it comes to Apple's business model.

As for what this guy expects the Apple HDTV to be like, here's how it breaks down:

  • Gesture-based interface (like the Kinect) -- no remote

  • 65 inches

  • "simply invisible and unobtrusive"

  • "screen technology will most certainly be OLED"

  • "It's likely to be a 4K resolution screen"

  • "The unique selling point in terms of design could be a curved screen"

  • Priced at "a level that others cannot match"

  • Made in the USA -- even though it's more expensive

In other words, a bunch of hugely expensive technology that Apple has shown no interest in adopting, slammed together in the USA (somehow) and offered for less than the $10,000 that existing televisions using these technologies are selling for.

There's "magical thinking," and then there's this.

"A 65" TV is a rather large object to ship in and distribute. If it's made in the US, then suddenly the cost of shipping decreases which goes towards counteracting any extra labor costs."

Sure -- unless you want to ship this product to that niche market known as the rest of the world outside of the United States of America.

"If Apple doesn't act NOW, it will miss the biggest chance of its corporate lifetime."

Yes. Grabbing a thin slice of a highly-competitive, low-profit market with limited opportunities for consumer turnover is the biggest chance of Apple's corporate lifetime.

"I certainly am not one of those loudmouth, one-sided online trolls and to many people's surprise, given my love for technology, I have never owned or bought an Apple product in my lifetime."

I am shocked, shocked that someone who has never owned an Apple product has been able to demonstrate such "insightful" knowledge of the company's likely future direction. Please, tell me more.

"I have no intentions of doing so, either. The principal reason is due to Apple's eagerness to be separate and monopolistic which suffocates future innovation."

MEME ALERT: Apple is Big Brother, "walled garden," etc. ad infinitum ad nauseaum.

"[Apple] can turn things around beyond these minor innovations and has the potential for a massive profit gain from this TV – a TV called the iWatch."

No. Just no.

Here's the good news. This article was terrible enough that its writer has an extremely promising career ahead of him as an Apple analyst.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

The PrioVR sensor suit will track your whole body in virtual reality

YEI Technology just launched the Kickstarter campaign for its PrioVR virtual reality sensor suit. If it reaches its funding goal of $225,000, the suit will offer full-body motion tracking that can then be coupled with the OculusVR and other virtual reality headsets for a more immersive experience.

The concept is an exciting one, though I do have some concerns. The campaign video, for instance, shows a player waving a sword while wearing the Oculus Rift. That may sound like fun, but it also sounds like a recipe for accidental dismemberment. Full-body motion capture also requires a lot of room to operate, making it less practical.

Developer kits for the PrioVR can be had for a minimum pledge of $450. The company will offer a lite version and a pro edition with additional sensors.

Projects like the Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, MYO armband and now PrioVR have set lofty goals of making our virtual reality dreams come true. Realistically, some of these products are bound to turn out as duds, but that shouldn’t stop them, or us, from continuing to dream.


via The Next Web

After $258M Google Ventures And TPG Investment, Uber Hires Finance, Business, And Growth Execs

After announcing a $258 million funding round from Google Ventures and TPG, Uber is revealing a number of new hires today in finance, business and international growth at the executive level.

Uber stole Brent Callinicos from Google, where he was VP, Treasurer & Chief Accountant. He will be Uber’s new Chief Financial Officer. Former COO of Klout, Emil Michael, will be the company’s SVP of Business. Prior to Klout, Michael was SVP of Field Operations at TellMe Networks. Lastly, Ed Baker, who previously served as Head of International Growth at Facebook is joining as Head of Growth. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of (which was acquired by Facebook in 2011).

These are all huge talent wins for Uber, which was valued at $3.4 billion pre-money in this latest round. With the new funding, CEO Travis Kalanick had said that Uber will be moving into new markets and begin marketing efforts.

With the latest Google Ventures investment, Uber appears to be on a rocket ship to potentially becoming a public company. Clearly, as Uber continues to expand into new markets, domain experience in the areas of business development, finance and growth are going to be critical to the company’s future success. Callinicos was responsible for treasury and risk management at Google, and joined the company in 2007 after 14 years at Microsoft, where he was corporate Vice President and Divisional CFO for Microsoft’s Platforms and Services Division. He also served as Microsoft’s treasurer.

Michael comes not only with leadership experience as the COO at Klout, but helped lead field operations at TellMe, which should help Uber in the management of its rapidly growing number of hubs around the world. And Baker’s experience in helping Facebook grow its user base to past one billion should aid Uber in its expansion efforts.

My hunch is that we can expect more Silicon Valley talent to be added to Uber’s ranks.

via TechCrunch

Mobile Calendar App Event Book Gets A New Design And ‘Location Book' Features

While startups are trying to replace your mobile calendar by making it smarter, there’s a new-ish iOS app called Event Book that seems to be built around the belief that what calendars really need is to become simpler and easier to use.

Created by Abhinay Ashutosh, Event Book launched earlier this year. Since then, Ashutosh said the app has been downloaded more than 60,000 times, and he said that he has incorporated “user feedback from tens of thousands of folks” to release version 2.0 today.

The Event Book interface is divided into different “books”: The Day Book shows you your agenda for the current day; and the Week Book, the Month Book, and the List Book display all of your calendar items in a single list. In most sections, you can swipe across to see the next day, week, or month, and you can adjust between “long” and “short” views to determine how much information is displayed. In the Month Book, the number of dots under each day to indicate how many events you have scheduled.

None of this is exactly revelatory, but I think it looks pretty slick — if you don’t like the design of the native iOS app, but you’re not necessarily looking for lots of “smart” bells and whistles (something I’ve complained about in the past), this could be the app for you.

Day Book

When I asked how he sees Event Book fitting into the larger calendar market, Ashutosh said it offers “a unique blend of features and design”: “The app does this by combining thousands of points from users about what features they want most along with a killer, light, and themed design to create an app that really keeps you on top of your schedule while keeping up with your preferences and styles.”

As for what’s new, Ashutosh said that version 2.0 has a new design, as well as the ability to customize that design with new themes. There’s also a new “book,” the Location Book, which integrates with Apple Maps and Google Maps to allow users to save their favorite locations, add them to events, and bring up directions. For example, many of my meetings take place at the TechCrunch office, so the Location Book allows me to save the address and easily add it to any future events. (Not that I need directions in that case, but hey, it saves me some time.)

You can download the free Event Book here.

via TechCrunch

Keen On… Smart Machines: The Next Big Thing For Smart Human Beings

Average is over“, says economist Tyler Cowen in his new book of the same name. And success and failure in a world dominated by digital technology, he says, will be defined by our relationship to smart machines. If our skills “complement” smart machines, Cowen writes in Average Is Over, we are likely to be successful; if not, he warns Luddites, “you may want to address that mismatch”.

But Cowen isn’t a dystopian and he doesn’t believe that smart machines are taking jobs from human beings. ‘The smartest and most successful people in the future, he believes, will manage the smart machines. And as these smart machines become more central in how we manage our education and healthcare, he says, “human psychology” – the art and science of motivation – will become increasingly valuable. This is what he calls “the next big thing.” In the future, Cowen insists, power will lie with the humans who partner with rather than own the algorithm. And in this age of the smart human/machine partnership, traditional algorithm-centric companies like Google will be old businesses – “like GM”, he predicts.

“Marketing”, Cowen writes in Average Is Over, is the “seminal sector for our future economy.” But Cowen’s intriguing definition of marketing lies in figuring out how to motivate people and to get them to feel better about themselves. Everyone in the future economy – from doctors to educators to entrepreneurs – will be coaches. But who is going to own the operating platform in the age of the smart machine? That’s the trillion-dollar question which even Tyler Cowen isn’t smart enough to answer.

via TechCrunch

Send In Your Questions For Ask A VC With Spark Capital's Bijan Sabet And Trinity Ventures' Patricia Nakache

This week on TechCrunch TV’s Ask A VC show, we are fortunate to have two guests in the studio—Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet and Trinity Ventures’ Patricia Nakache. You can submit questions for our guests either in the comments or here and we’ll ask them during the show.

Sabet was an early investor in Twitter (Spark Capital, which just raised a new fund earlier this year, backed Twitter 2008) and served on the company’s board from 2008-2011. Sabet also led investments in Tumblr (acquired by Yahoo), Jelly, Stack Exchange, RunKeeper, Foursquare, Boxee (acquired by Samsung), OMGPOP (acquired by Zynga) and thePlatform (acquired by Comcast).

Prior to joining Spark, Sabet was Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at GameLogic (acquired by Scientific Games Corp) after serving as an EIR at Charles River Ventures.

patricia_nakache_7446-1_small Nakache, who focuses on investments in digital media and internet services, joined Trinity in 1999. She previously worked at McKinsey as a consultant helping companies in technology, financial services and retailing address their strategic and operational issues. Her current portfolio companies include Beachmint,, Kixeye, InfoArmy and others.

Please send us your questions for Sabet and Nakache here or put them in the comments below!

via TechCrunch

Steve Herrod’s first VC deal: $25M in cloud backup service Datto

Former VMware CTO Steve Herrod joined General Catalyst Partners in January, and his first investment as a venture capitalist is a big one — $25 million in cloud backup service Datto. DealBook has a good writeup of Datto’s story, but the other angle is what the deal says about Herrod’s investment strategy and about GCP’s push into enterprise software.

via GigaOM

Apple confirms September 10 iPhone event

Apple has just confirmed that it will be holding its next major event on September 10. If you’ve been following the news over the last month or so, this should come as no surprise. Cupertino is widely expected to announce the iPhone 5S as well as a lower-cost model, the iPhone 5C.

Apple’s invite simply says “This should brighten everyone’s day.” This is likely a thinly veiled reference to the iPhone 5C, which is expected to come in a plastic housing in a variety of colors.

Apple Sept 10 event

As for the rest, we already have a pretty good idea of what’s in store. The iPhone 5S is likely to feature an upgraded A7 processor as well as a dual-flash camera with f/2.0 aperture. It may also have a fingerprint sensor underneath the home button as well as a 128GB storage option, and could come in new gray and gold color options.

The iPhone 5C, meanwhile, is likely a colorful, budget-minded alternative to the iPhone 5S, and will be Apple’s first attempt to address the midrange smartphone market. It is likely to replace the iPhone 5. Of course, both devices will be running Apple’s new iOS 7, which is also likely to see an official release on September 10.

The iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C are both expected to become available on September 20. Apple is reportedly working on a new iPad as well as a new iPad mini, but neither of those devices are expected to make an appearance next week. We’ll be reporting live from Cupertino, so we’ll know soon enough. And don’t be surprised if more leaks and rumors surface before Apple makes things official next week.

via GigaOM

Think before you switch carriers

Government Confirms Multiple Surveillance Programs After Details Leak To Media

With a new iPhone or two on the near horizon and plenty of people ready to buy one, there are probably a few million people who are also thinking about switching mobile carriers. Last year, when the iPhone 5 was the newest kid on the block, I decided that I was through with AT&T and I switched to Verizon. Let's just say that I'm now wishing that I had stuck it out with Big Blue instead of jumping to Big Red. Here's my tale of woe, and I hope that it keeps you from making a similar mistake in the next few weeks.

My primary reason for switching last year was the incredibly slow and essentially unusable service that I received on AT&T's network when attending Colorado Rockies baseball games at Coors Field in downtown Denver. On certain occasions, it was apparent that AT&T was bringing in COWs (cells on wheels) to provide extra bandwidth for the crowds of 50,000 attending opening day or a special event. But for the most part, trying to use MLB At Bat in the ballpark was a futile effort as AT&T's network just didn't have the capacity.

So, I complained. For about two full baseball seasons, one of the first things I'd do at a game was to pull out my iPhone and use AT&T's app to send a network complaint. This seemed to be a fruitless effort, as by the end of the 2012 season I had seen no improvements in service. That's when I decided to bail on AT&T.

I was out of the country when the iPhone 5 first hit, but when I got back, I checked the Early Termination Fee for saying "au revoir" to AT&T and balked at the US$120 or so I still owed on the contract. My initial iPhone 5 order was for the AT&T model ... but then I went to my last baseball game of the season and got hit with incredibly slow service again. I canceled my order, and decided to take the hit and move over to Verizon.

When I got my Verizon iPhone 5, the first thing I noticed was that the service at my home was as crappy as it had been with AT&T -- I just live in a shadowed area with lousy service, I guess. But I stuck with it, having heard from others that Verizon's service in the Denver area was awesome. Yeah, right.

Apparently AT&T had acted on my complaints over the winter of 2012-2013, since when we went to the first Rockies game of the season my wife -- who had stayed with AT&T -- was amazed with the speed of the service at the ballpark. I figured it was just another COW helping things out and that she'd be griping about the service at the next game. Nope, the service was speedy and reliable for the entire season. Apparently AT&T's nationwide investment in 4G LTE had finally reached downtown Denver and really made a difference.

How was my VZW service at the ballpark? Horrible. Oh, on occasion when the Rox weren't pulling in a crowd and the ballpark was relatively uncrowded I'd be able to get highlights from another game on MLB At Bat, but for the most part the 4G service was incredibly slow.

Regardless of where I seemed to be with the Verizon iPhone 5 over the past year, my wife almost always had better service on AT&T. The kicker was a trip around Colorado we took over the Labor Day weekend. I'd be looking at one bar and "1x" on my Verizon iPhone, while my spouse was happily pulling down maps and information with four to five bars of signal strength on 4G on AT&T. This happened all over the state, from the beautiful Mesa Verde National Park to the high-country town of Ouray.

The moral of the story? If you're unhappy with the service and coverage you're getting from your current mobile carrier, think long and hard before switching, as you may be going from bad to worse. Of course, you might not have the same experience I did, and you might have much better Verizon coverage in your part of the world than AT&T does.

I don't want to pay another Early Termination Fee to Verizon to switch back to AT&T; perhaps some kindly AT&T rep will read my story and offer to refund last year's ETF if I return to the fold. Please?

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Spotify announces AirPlay-like Spotify Connect

Spotfiy has come a long way since it first sprouted up as an invite-only music streaming service. Now that the company's quest for world domination is well on its way, Spotify has announced its latest expansion, Spotify Connect.

Connect is a service that allows users to directly stream their music from their smartphones or tablets to their stereo, which is similar to Apple's AirPlay. Spotify Connect is launching on iOS devices first, with Android and desktop computer updates coming later on.

The system's app allows you to pick which room of the house your music will play in or allow you to switch to a different device on the go. In addition, it allows you to make and receive calls or play a game on your phone without interruptions to your music.

Of course you'll have to buy a new stereo for all this to work, but buying in is part of most new technology. Philips, Denon, Marantz, Hama, Pioneer, Band & Olufsen, Revo., Yamaha, and Argon are all building compatible systems which will be marked on shelves with the Spotify Connect logo.

You can find Spotify's launch video for Connect below.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple announces Sept. 10 special event

Apple Sept. 10 invite

The Loop confirms that Apple will hold a special press event at its Cupertino headquarters on September 10, 2013. The festivities will begin at 10:00 AM PT. It's expected that Apple will introduce a new iPhone at the event.

The timing is interesting, as the Intel Developer Forum, 360:iDev, Mobile Future Forward and TechCrunch Disrupt events are all scheduled for Sept. 10 as well. Expect a few stories about Apple buzz overshadowing the others.

As for what to expect, we're betting on a new iPhone (note that Jim used the singular when he said a "new iPhone is expected"). There's been lots of chatter about a less-expensive, plastic-shelled model, but we have no solid intel on such a beast.

Finally, the cute, colored dots on the invite certainly resemble iOS 7's default wallpaper, so expect a bit on Apple's latest mobile operating system. We'll see you then.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple could use gestures to grant user access on iOS devices

An interesting patent has been uncovered by AppleInsider that shows a way Apple could use gestures to grant access to specific apps and iOS device functions on a per-user basis. The patent would be an interesting implementation of allowing something many iOS device users want: individual user accounts on their iPhone and iPads.

iPads in particular are often used in a family setting, where one iPad may be used by everyone in the house. The ability to grant each user access based on gestures could mean that a child could use a custom gesture to unlock the iPad and have access to Safari, videos and games, but not his parents' contacts or iMessages. The use of gestures would overcome a potentially cumbersome user login screen.

Of course, Apple patents many things that never see the light of day, but let's hope this one does as multiple user accounts -- or in this case, individual user access accounts -- on iPads would be a thing many of us would like to see.

via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Meet Human, A Beautiful Fitness Tracking App To Help You Effortlessly Stay Healthy

Human is a newcomer in the crowded fitness space, but its take is different. Instead of being a stat-heavy activity app like RunKeeper or a life tracker gadget like Withings, Fitbit or Jawbone, Human is a passive iOS app designed to help you stay healthy. The goal is to move for 30 minutes every day, and to keep up with this simple habit. The company calls it the ‘Daily 30′. As it is extremely simple, keeping up with Human is easier than with competitive fitness systems.

“The basic premise of the app is very simple. Human tracks all of your activity and we put the focus on how many minutes you moved today and how many minutes you need to move,” co-founder and CEO Renato Valdés Olmos told me in a phone interview. “Each day of the week that you reach your Daily 30, we send out a push notifications,” he continued.

The startup chose to develop a very simple app to appeal to a mass audience, with an emphasis on design. The UI looks great with an ever-changing background picture. Everything is animated, making you want to open the app every time you receive the Daily 30 notification. But the most interesting aspect of Human is the technology behind it.

Along with Protogeo, it is one of the first fitness app to use passive location tracking. You set it up once and forget about it. Then, it calculates your speed with your location and your activity with the accelerometer. But when you launch Human, it doesn’t show you a timeline of your activities.

The most interesting aspect of Human is the technology behind it

“Showing the user a chronological timeline of your daily activity is great for the first few days. But after a few days, the magic wears out,” Valdés Olmos said.

That’s why the app’s depth is hidden behind the big minute count. If you tap on it, you’re taken to the activity timeline. And if you tap on an activity, you will see a map, the duration, distance and average speed. You can share this on Twitter and Facebook as well. In other words, Human automatically tracks your activities like RunKeeper — but you don’t have to remember to launch the app.

Over time, the team plans to use all this personal data to improve your daily habits. For example, you can tell the app where your office, your home and your gym are. The service can then build up the basic pattern for user behaviors.

“The goal is to send a notification that says ‘get off the subway two stops early and you’ll be on time to work,’” Valdés Olmos said. When it comes to privacy, he was quick to reassure me. “We want to be a different type of company when it comes to data collection,” he said. Users can export and delete everything with a single tap.

The startup hasn’t closed its seed round yet, but multiple angels are already committed to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in total. The app is available to iOS, but an Android version is coming soon. “We want to get as many people as possible to do the Daily 30,” Valdés Olmos said.

Human Screenshots

via TechCrunch