Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rumor: MacBook updates to include glass trackpad, other goodies

As I hinted in my "fun" blog, I have been hearing some interesting things about Apple's upcoming line of portable computers. The talk amongst insiders on the new MacBooks is kind of scattered but here's a summation of what I've heard:

  • The new models are thinner than current MacBook and MacBook Pros and slightly more rounded, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.
  • The trackpad is glass, multi-touch and uses gestures. The screen isn’t multi-touch.
  • The body is manufactured out of one piece of aluminum. Eco-friendly, yet sturdy. Manufacturing process is completely different.
  • Release Date: Last week(s) of September.

There are some other things that I can infer but have heard nothing about in the next versions of the MacBook/Pros:

  • They will most likely have Intel Centrino 2 platform chips.
  • 16:9 screens which come in slightly bigger sizes: 14 inch and 15. 6 inch with different resolutions, obviously.
  • The Macbook Air line should get a 45nm processor (Atom?) to help with that battery life.
  • I have no idea if this will be called MacBook Touch or if they will keep their current monikers.
  • It will be the best thing since sliced bread...

So, if the rumormill is correct, will these updates be enough to keep you from buying a Mac laptop for the next two months?

Original here

iPhone App Store Games Hacked - All Apps Hackable

Apple's Fairplay DRM, which protects all the applications you download from iTunes, has been hacked. The method for hacking this has actually been around for a while, but has been recently applied to Super Monkey Ball and distributed into the wild. To do this, you'll need a jailbroken iPhone and SSH installed (to transfer the game and to fiddle with permissions). The theory is a bit techy and complex, but the execution isn't too insane if you know your way around XCode and the command line.

The next step, of course, is to get some sort of repository for hacked apps going. iPhone developers who are still pissed about the NDA might be receptive to people paying for their app on the iTunes store, but getting TIMELY updates from another source (or direct from themselves). This way users can bypass that week-long waitlist for revisions we're currently seeing in the App Store. [iPhone hacking via haklabs via Macnn]

Original here

Apple Files For Patent On Color Changing Cases, Geeks Freak Out

by Bryan Chaffin

[Update: We'd like to thank Observer Daniel Koskinen for sending us a working link to the patent, which he found at - Editor]

This story comes to you via a circuitous route: We noted it on Slashdot, which cited MacDailyNews -- which, having been slashdotted, is inaccessible for the nonce -- who we think noted it from Ars Technica's forums, as that site's thread on the subject was started on Saturday.

The story itself is that Apple has apparently filed for a new patent that has everyone all worked up. The title of the patent, according to the folks on the Ars Technica boards, is "Computing device with dynamic ornamental appearance." The idea submitted in the patent is for the casing for an electronic device be able to change colors according to dynamic conditions. As Apple put it in the patent application, "For example, the light may be used to exhibit a housing behavior that reflects the desires or moods of the user, that reflects inputs or outputs for the electronic device, or that reacts to tasks or events associated with operation of the electronic device."

The link to the patent [Link changed to one that functions properly], so we offer the quoted information provided by Ars Technica forum poster:

The invention pertains to electronic devices capable of dynamically changing their ornamental or decorative appearance, i.e., the outer appearance as seen by a user. The electronic devices generally include an illuminable housing. The illuminable housing, which includes at least one wall configured for the passage of light, is configured to enclose, cover and protect a light arrangement as well as functional components of the electronic device. The light arrangement, which generally includes one or more light sources, is configured to produce light for transmission through the light passing wall(s) of the illuminable housing. The transmitted light illuminates the wall(s) thus giving the wall a new appearance. That is, the transmitted light effectively alters the ornamental or decorative appearance of the electronic device. In most cases, the light is controlled so as to produce a light effect having specific characteristics or attributes. As such, the electronic device may be configured to provide additional feedback to the user of the electronic device and to give users the ability to personalize or change the look of their electronic device on an on-going basis. That is, a housing of the electronic device is active rather than passive, i.e., the housing has the ability to adapt and change. For example, the light may be used to exhibit a housing behavior that reflects the desires or moods of the user, that reflects inputs or outputs for the electronic device, or that reacts to tasks or events associated with operation of the electronic device.

You can find the Ars Technica post at that site's forums.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Perusing the discussion at both Slashdot and Ars Technica, we have found that the vast majority of reactions from the geeks has been very negative. Much of it has run along the vein of "Oh great, instead of faster CPUs, Apple is bringing us more eye candy," along with other equally obtuse comments, as if Apple chose to work on this idea in lieu of faster processors. This has been countered by a smattering of support for the idea from people intrigued by the possibilities.

Reactionary comments from the unwashed masses are nothing new, but the vindictiveness with which this patent is being greeted surprises even us. The fear of change often brings out the worst in people, especially on the Internet where the lack of reprisals offered by the medium's anonymity practically guarantees rude behavior, so perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised.

The most interesting thing we noted, however, is that most people tend to think this patent idea is for use on iMac cases, or other CPUs. We think it much more likely that a device with the ability to change colors would be much more likely to be an iPod or similar handheld device. Think of it as a built-in visualizer. Think, too, about the way such a device would appeal to many, many consumers. If eye candy helps pay the bills, we say bring it on. In the quest for profits, it is the innovative companies that will survive the onslaught of Dell's quest to turn computers into toasters.

In any event, we look forward to seeing what Apple brings to market, if anything, based on this patent application.

Original here

Microsoft opens Xbox platform

We're at an interesting point in the development life cycle of third-party programs, those little software applications one can add to gadgets and social pages.

While Facebook, widely acknowledged for jump-starting the app frenzy last year, tries to rein in what its partners are up to, Microsoft has decided to open up its Xbox 360 platform for any developer to create a video game. Meanwhile, Apple's sheen continues to get brighter with the success of Steve Jobs' new App Store for the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Microsoft's approach, confirmed Thursday, is about control. Anyone can create a game, but not everyone will be approved for release on the Xbox Live service.

Facebook, meanwhile, continues to tweak its appearance and, through a new service called Facebook Connect, it is trying to gain more control over the 400,000 third-party developers that build apps for the social networking site.
Facebook Connect is launching with only 24 apps of the several thousand available.

Connect will allow someone to sign in to a partner site with their Facebook log-in information. The effort is to make the Web "more open and connected," the company said in a press release.

Well, if that's so, let's hope more partners are allowed to open up soon because Facebook is starting to bite the hand that fed its growth.