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Microsoft announces Office 2015, releases Updated Outlook

Microsoft Friday announced a version of Outlook for 365 customers along with plans for next year.

Outlook for Mac brings greater compatibility with Exchange services and similar experience across all platforms including the OWA app for iOS.

As far as Office, the company said it expected to ship Office 2015 for Mac in the second half of next year:

In the first half of 2015 we will release a public beta for the next version of Office for Mac, and in the second half of 2015 we will make the final release available. Office 365 commercial and consumer subscribers will get the next version at no additional cost, and we will release a perpetual license of Office for Mac in the same timeframe.



Trent Reznor working on project for Apple

In an interview with Billboard:
It's related to that. Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them. I can't go into details, but I feel like I'm in a unique position where I could be of benefit to them. That does mean some compromises in terms of how much brain power goes toward music and creating. This is very creative work that's not directly making music, but it's around music.

Reznor was chief creative officer of Beats Music.



Seth Rogan expected to play Woz in upcoming Steve Jobs movie

Dave McNary for Variety:
Seth Rogen has been set to star as Steve Wozniak opposite Christian Bale in Sony’s Steve Jobs biopic, sources confirm.

As noted Christian Bale is confirmed for the title role based off of Walter Isaacson's biography. Danny Boyle will direct. The movie is expected to tell the story of Steve Jobs through behind the scenes drama of three major product launches.





Tim Cook on being gay

Tim Cook essay in Business Week
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

Powerful words.



Twelve South bring BookArc stand to Mac Pro

Twelve South announced Wednesday a new version of its BookArc stand for the Mac Pro. The stand holds the Mac Pro vertically.

BookArc takes the height requirement of Mac Pro from 14 inches standing upright, including space for ventilation, down to 7.5 inches resting on its side atop the chrome stand. This reduced height means Mac Pro fits in a lot more locations, including inside pro gear racks, cabinets or on studio shelves. Set inside a racked studio cabinet, Mac Pro on a BookArc takes up 5 rack spaces — instead of the 8 spaces in the upright position.


Twelve South notes that Apple documents that the Mac Pro can be used horizontally. The BookArc for Mac Pro sells for $59.95.



Walgreens and Apple Pay







Fitbit bring out three new fitness wristband

Fitbit this week unveiled three new products to its fitness tracker lineup. With some CES info rolling in, I got a good idea something was coming from and it looks like they want to get the word out before the holidays. It looks like the new products retool their Flex line with additional features and will take on Apple’s new watch.

The Charge and Charge HR look like an update to the Flex wrist concept. Returning with the Charge is LED readout, which was an option for a period on the Flex platform. The second Charge HR stands for hear rate and offers 24/7 monitoring.

The third product is the Fitbit Surge watch, which looks the most compelling. The Surge features a built-in GPS, which Apple’s watch lacks without being tethered to an iPhone. Other features you’d expect include Caller ID, text readout, and music controls. Also it features eight sensors in a combination of accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and light sensor.

Pricing is $130, $150, and $250 for the Charge, Charge HR and Surge. The Charge is available now and Charge HR and Surge are expected to start shipping in 2015.




Apple Pay sparks rift between merchants and credit cards

Bloomberg:
Objections to Apple Pay aren’t actually about convenience, reliability, or security—they are about a burgeoning war between a consortium of merchants, led by Walmart, and the credit card companies. Rite-Aid, CVS, Walmart, Best-Buy and about 50 other retailers have been working on their own mobile payments system, called CurrentC. Unlike Apple Pay, which works in conjunction with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, CurrentC cuts out the credit card networks altogether. The benefit to the merchants is clear: They would save the swipe fees they pay to the credit card companies now, which average about two percent of the cost of transactions.

This reminds me of when Apple got into it with magazine publishers over Newsstand. At that time, Apple pushed for customer privacy. That stance was on the side of consumers.


In this case merchants want to impose restrictions on their customers that are in their on interest. It’s clear the credit card companies and Apple have a profit angle here, but it also aligns with consumer interests. I can understand why merchants want to implement their own payment system. All these swipe fees certainly add up and either eat away at profits or makes it more difficult to compete on price alone. One option is the merchants could offer discounts for a particular payment method like cash or this CurrentC. That would at least give consumers an option for their privacy and convenience other than shopping elsewhere.



Podcast: End of Macworld Expo? Mac Hack, Jobs movie + more




Tool and guides emerge to upgrade older Macs for Yosemite Continuity/Handoff

Someone in the MacRumors forums put together a installation tool for activating Yosemite handoff features on older Macs. The feature officially requires Bluetooth 4.0 LE and is limited to only a handful of the most recent Macs. In addition to the tool, the community is sharing info and experiences to retrofit older Macs for this feature.

The tool presented can override Apple’s settings and enable the features in some Macs such as the 2011 MacBook Air and Mac mini. Older Macs can also add the feature, but it will require some surgery to replace the Broadcom Bluetooth module.

I’ve been curious about this and plan to try getting this going on my hackintosh. I’d also like to get it going on some older Macs, although it seems some are easier than others. Some upgrades simply require a PCIe adapter card and pop it in, others are more involved. Kits are available, but they can be a little pricy.

Obviously any adventures require a steady, confident hand and backups.





Recent Articles

Google Inbox

Today, we’re introducing something new. It’s called Inbox. Years in the making, Inbox is by the same people who brought you Gmail, but it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.

This is being rolled out via invites. You can request and invite or receive one from someone else with an account.




Memory upgrades for new 5K iMac from Other World Computing

OWC Monday announced memory for Apple’s just released 5k iMac. The newest iMac uses PC3-12800 DDR3L modules and should be a simple upgrade for most end users. OWC offers install videos to help customers upgrade the memory in their iMac.

8GB (2 x 4GB) PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600MHz Upgrade Kit with Lifetime Limited Warranty. $99.79

16GB (2 x 8GB) PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600MHz Upgrade Kit with Lifetime Limited Warranty. $197.99

32GB (4 x 8GB) PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600MHz Upgrade Kit with Lifetime Limited Warranty. $395.00

OWC’s kits offer savings of up to 50% over build-to-order options at Apple, which amounts to over $200 in savings.



Dropbox adds iPhone 6/6+, Touch ID support

Dropbox Monday released version 3.5 of their iOS app. The update adds support for the iPhone 6/6 Plus screen formats, in addition to Touch ID security.

The larger screen format allows the app to be viewed in a native resolution rather than scaled. Touch ID works in conjunction with the apps PIN code. So, you can use your fingerprint to unlock the app. This is separate from the Dropbox account password, so this is just a layer of device security once the app is synced with the Dropbox service.



Video: How to charge your iPhone 6 faster

This video demonstrates that the iPhone 6 can take a greater charge than previous iPhones. A comparison of charging rates of the 5 watt and 12 watt Apple chargers and the iPhone 6.




Apple announces iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3

Both new iPads got Touch ID. Also storage got switched up similar to the iPhone 6/6+ with a 16/64/128 lineup.

The mini 3 form is basically unchanged from the original mini. The only significant improvement over last year's model is TouchID and the change in the storage options. Even the CPU is unchanged as it sticks with the A7 chip. That seems weird.

The iPad Air 2 takes on a lot features from the iPhone 6. The camera has been updated to what appears to match the iPhone 6 camera, along with improved WiFi. Most remarkably is the new thin design. Interestingly the iPad Air 2 is about 1/2 the thickness of the original iPad.

Pricing for the mini 3 starts out at $399/$499/$599 and the iPad Air 2 is $100 more at each storage level, which again seems weird. The value here seems clearly with the iPad Air 2 in both size and specs. For those even more price sensitive, Apple's is keeping around the iPad mini 2 for $299/$349 for 16GB/32GB versions and the original mini for $249 for 16GB. The iPad Air is also hanging around for $399/$449 for 16GB and 32GB models.



Apple announces new iMac with 5K display

Starting out at about $2500, the new iMac with Retina 5K Display is an compelling announcement. The high 5K resolution, which is available only in 27-inch iMac form, allows for native 4K video editing in Final Cut Pro with the timeline and tools on screen.

The new iMac configuration tops out at 4 GHz quad i7 with a AMD Radeon R9 M295x GPU.

Missing, unfortunately, is an updated 5K Thunderbolt Display. Maybe in the near future.

I like my Hackintosh as a desktop and the new iMac hardware doesn't really move the needle for me. The 5K display, however, is tempting.



OS X Yosemite launches

Apple launched its latest version of Mac OS X Thursday. OS X Yosemite was originally announced in June. For me, the most compelling feature I think is Continuity, which better links OS X and iOS. The features will require iOS 8.1, which is expected on Monday October 20th. It also requires a Mac with Bluetooth LE, which are equipped on newer Macs or may require an adapter.

OS X Yosemite is available now for free. It requires a Mac made in 2009 or newer along with some specific models from 2007 and 2008.



Apple updates Mac mini

Thursday the Mac mini got some attention. Nothing crazy, but it did get a spec bump to current hardware and a trimmed pricetag.

The mini is Apple's lowest entry computer and it got more affordable at $499. One nifty feature is the Mac mini only uses 6-watts of power when idle. Also new are dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, and newer Intel graphics with Intel HD Graphics 5000 and Iris Graphics GPUs.



Apple Pay goes live October 20

Thursday Apple announced the formal release of its mobile payment system. We heard all about it last month when it was announced, so now we know the date.

Apple Pay in stores is fast and easy to use. Simply hold iPhone near the contactless reader while keeping a finger on Touch ID. In addition to the 262 Apple retail stores in the US, availability from leading retailers at launch include: Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Babies”R”Us, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Bloomingdale’s, Champs Sports, Chevron and Texaco retail stores including ExtraMile, Disney Store, Duane Reade, Footaction, Foot Locker, House of Hoops by Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Nike, Office Depot, Panera Bread, Petco, RadioShack, RUN by Foot Locker, SIX:02, Sports Authority, SUBWAY, Toys”R”Us, Unleashed by Petco, Walgreens, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market. In addition, many others will add support this year, such as Anthropologie, Free People, Sephora, Staples, Urban Outfitters, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and more.

Ultimately I think it will depends on adoption and Apple seems to have a good start. Personally I'm not sure it really solves a problem for me, but I'm curious about the convenience and security features are attractive.



HBO plans to launch stand-alone streaming service next year

Speaking at the Time Warner Inc. Investor Meeting today, Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO, HBO, announced that the company will offer a stand-alone HBO streaming service in 2015. Following a portion of his presentation focused on HBO’s domestic business, during which he cited significant growth opportunities inside the pay-TV universe, Plepler then turned to the current ten million broadband-only homes, which is projected to grow.

Plepler then added:

“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.

“So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”

This is big. We dropped HBO a while back because of expensive channel bundling. We just buy the shows we want on iTunes. Given a fair price and terms, we’d totally be down with a monthly streaming service to watch on an Apple TV.



Macworld/iWorld called off for 2015

“We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015. Our MacIT event, the world’s premiere event for deploying Apple in the enterprise, will continue next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

The decline of that show I think predated Apple pulling out, but certainly that was a big blow. Apple's keynote was a huge tentpole for the conference and expo, drawing a lot of attendees and media who wanted to see Apple's announcement. As Apple grew, however, it didn't need a third-party show to gather a own crowd, plus Apple could schedule events to meet its own timetables, such as this week's special event.

The other big blow to Macworld was the massive Apple-related presence at CES through the iLounge sections. Within the first year or two, the iLounge zone was bigger than Macworld Expo itself.

This is being called a hiatus, so it may return in some form. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else picks up the torch and does smaller, more affordable, and perhaps more frequent event in hotel ballrooms.



Podcast - Apple Event, iOS 8 Adoption + More




New Apple event set for October 16th

The Loop:

Apple on Wednesday sent out an invite for a special event being held on its Cupertino, Calif. campus on October 16. The event will begin at 10:00 am PT.

The logo reminds me of the original rainbow Apple logo, which makes me think this will be heavy on the Mac. Likely OS X Yosemite and some new hardware. iPads would seem a good bet too. Of course, the invite design could mean nothing.



Fitbit says not working on iOS 8 Health integration

Via 9 to 5 Mac:
We do not currently have plans to integrate with HealthKit… It is an interesting new platform and we will watch as it matures, looking for opportunities to improve the Fitbit experience. At the moment, we’re working on other exciting projects that we think will be valuable to users.

This is curious, but doesn't really surprise me. I think the Fitbit app is very nice and I like how it's open to two way data sharing with third parties. I'm not sure yet how Health fits into things for me. I'm not that interested in a central one stop shop right now. To me, Health is solving a problem I don't have, however, I'm sure new opportunities will come to light.

While I do hope Fitbit jumps on board, if they're working on other projects right now I can see them not being in a big hurry to throw resources at iOS 8 Health.



1Password Update for iOS 8 Bugs

AgileBits updated the iOS version of 1Password to version 5.1. Key features include support for the iPhone 6/6+, custom keyboard preference, and a big fix for some Touch ID functions.

I'm pretty excited about both adding TouchID and Safari extensions with iOS 8 and 1Password 5. Unfortunately the implementation was a little buggy out of the game. 1Password would lose the TouchID credentials and make you reenter in the master password. This appears to be resolved, in addition, they cleaned up the preferences a bit to make configuration less complex.





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