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Geek This Week:
WWDC Review. The rumors that panned out and the ridiculous ones that didn’t.
Apple updated all of their laptops, which had begun just a few weeks ago with bumped White MacBook upgrades. All unibody MacBooks are now in the Pro segment with updated specs and IO. Some highlights are the return of Firewire with a Firewire 800 port, an SD Card slot and a display with better gamut. Not to be left out, the MacBook Air also got a bump in specs while dropping the price signifigantly. The Air models are now very affordable at $1499 and $1799.
A large demo of Snow Leopard was shown along with some of the core updates. The new OS will have full 64-bit architecture, Grand Central Dispatch, re-written applications and use a new standard called OpenCL. GCD is Apple’s way of taking advantage of multi-threading for performance on the standard CPU’s that have more than one core. In addition, the install is 45% faster and once upgraded to Snow Leopard, you will recover an astounding 5-6 gigabytes of harddrive space. While the OS will not have many visual differences from the current 10.5 version, the performance boost will be eveident right away. Finally, this will be the first OS that will be Intel-only, cutting the final cord with the PowerPC chips. Likely a shot across Microsoft’s bow, Apple announced Snow Leopard will cost only $29 for current Leopard users to upgrade. Apple plans on shipping in September.
Perhaps the most rumored and anticipated portion of WWDC, the iPhone announcements were left for last. Apple spoke about the 3.0 OS and the features we’ve already known: cut and paste, MMS, voice recorder. They did demo some new amazing apps and accessories for the dock connector including guitar amp hookups, medical equipment and more. TomTom demoed their forthcoming GPS app for the iPhone which includes a custom windshield mount that doubles as a speakerphone and charger. The new OS will be released on June 17th.
Two big hits against Apple, but more against AT&T was the revelation that MMS would not be supported by AT&T when the software launches next week and also that tethering would not be available either. There were a few seconds of awkwardness for Scott Forstall as these items came to light, but he continued as a professional would. AT&T was quick to state that MMS would be available by ‘late summer’ and they were still working on tethering packages to offer to US customers.
Of course Apple announced an upgraded iPhone, the iPhone 3Gs. The “S” standing for ‘speed’, the phone now has faster processing and updated code for the applications. Apple showed specs where the new iPhone will run faster for non-internet use such as opening apps, composing messages, etc. Safari seems to be extremely quick on it as well. New software features were announced that will only be available on the 3Gs such as video recording, voice control, Nike+ and more. As expected, the iPhone 3Gs will be in 16 and 32gb sizes for the same $199/$299 price but Apple (being conscious of pricing) announced the 8gb iPhone 3G would remain in production and be lowered to $99, which is a huge psychological barrier for people. The price-cut was effective immeadiately and the iPhone 3Gs goes on sale on Friday, June 19th.
– Auto Focus Camera (MacRumors, UMPCFever)
– Video (MacRumors, Engadget Mobile, Boy Genius Report, Businessweek)
– Up to 32GB sizes (Engadget, AreaMobile.de, Tweakers.net, Analyst)
– 7.2 Mbps 3G (AT&T, Boy Genius Report, MacRumors, Silicon Alley Insider, iLounge).
– Macrumors: Despite the multitude of possible case designs that have been circulating around the internet, most of them are either believed to be fake or have been proven to be fake. The most credible case leak came in February when a matte iPhone case appeared forum sources in China. This possibility of a Matte case was later repeated by iLounge which has had a good record in the past. Meanwhile, most of the depictions of front-facing iChat cameras have been artist renditions and we feel there has been no real evidence that Apple will be launching that feature tomorrow.
-John Gruber: iPhones with significantly faster processors, twice the RAM, and twice the storage and prices to remain the same as the current lineup: $199/299 for 16/32 GB, respectively. The video camera is going to be a major selling point. And also reveals that “iPhone 3GS” is the codename for this next gen iPhone. Finally, he is convinced the Apple Tablet is real but that we won’t see it tomorrow.
– 4GB sizes (Engadget, AreaMobile.de, Tweakers.net, Analyst)
– Magnetometer (MacRumors, Boy Genius Report, AppleInsider, Daring Fireball, UMPCFever)
Finally, there had been some rumors about the possibility of notebook updates at WWDC back in April. These small updates could incorporate 3G into some of the laptops, or lower the price to stimulate sales. There has also been talk of rebranding all aluminum notebooks under the “MacBook Pro” moniker.
This sort of talk, however, has died down in the days leading up to WWDC and it would be strange for Apple to devote much time to their laptop line at their development conference. If these changes are to take place, it seems likely they would be “quiet” updates or perhaps occur a few weeks after WWDC, itself.
Saw Ghostbusters in Philly at midnight. I was late and missed a reporter. Got to the theater, proton packless , at 12:15. started at 12. So awesome to watch in a theater. Yelling and cheering ensued. Met up with some fans from south jersey and Philly.
Reserved Ghostbusters for both Xbox 360 and Wii.
Upgrading my proton pack. Opened it up, going to install a pioneer speaker to the lower back. There’s a head unit in the pack itself, with a male to male wire through the neutron wand tube to the wand itself. I’m going to Velcro an iPod to the wand.
Big 30th this saturday, getting together at an undisclosed location in NYC.
Tech & Gaming News:
Facebook vanity URLs coming this weekend
Facebook’s 200-plus million members will be able to customize the URLs to their profiles starting at midnight Eastern on Saturday, according to a post on the Facebook blog. Currently, users’ profile URLs have been structured as a string of numbers. At least for now, it doesn’t look like the switch is mandatory.
This is a move that will help Facebook profiles get better traction in search engines, potentially upping traffic–and give people-search sites a run for their money in the process. For brands whose “fan pages” are a crucial part of Facebook’s marketing and advertising strategy, it’ll make their pages easier for people to access without needing to click around much.
But there’s fine print! “Think carefully about the user name you choose. Once it’s been selected, you won’t be able to change or transfer it,” the post by Facebook’s Blaise DiPersia read. “If you signed up for a Facebook Page after May 31 or a user profile after today at 3 p.m. EDT, you may not be able to sign up for a user name immediately because of steps we’ve taken to prevent abuse or ‘squatting’ on names.”
There’s something significant here: not being able to change or transfer your Facebook name means that it’s less likely there will be a big market for them on eBay, Craigslist, or elsewhere, something that could easily get out of hand otherwise.
Also: “We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook user name in the future,” DiPersia wrote. Presumably, this means that you’ll be able to use it for Facebook Connect log-ins on external sites, rather than your e-mail address.
EA almost invested in it’s own Project Natal.
Electronic Arts knows a good idea when its sees it. It seems that they were so taken with motion control that they were considering a platform extension of their own — one that would have utilized cameras. Microsoft, however, beat them to the punch with its own Project Natal.
“We almost invested to create a platform extension like that for some of the games we’re working on,” Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello told Kotaku.
“We’re very pleased, frankly, that it showed up at Microsoft, because I’d rather them pay for that. They can leverage it better, and we can build software. But I felt the market wanted that technology and I’m glad it’s coming.”
According to Riccitiello, EA was looking at the very camera system that Natal ended up utilizing. Calling the technology “compelling,” he said it made “a lot of sense” to pack something like it in with sports or music titles.
As for Sony’s motion controller, “I’ve been playing with that and it is cool. And we saw that two years ago. In fact, I think we introduced Sony to it.”
Electronic Arts has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Nintendo Wii for a while now, having developed titles such as EA Sports Active for the platform. However, Ricitiello believes that there’s still a place for traditional controllers.
“My guess is that where this ends up is: motion controllers end up with half the market. And the other half still ends up with a more traditional game controller.”
Test a Geek: This segment will return on a future episode of The Geekcast
Ask A Geek:
Mr. Bolshoi asks:
I am particularly interested in Sony Erricson ones. Currently, which is the best cell phone in Sony Erricson line-up with good mp3 player, good sharp camera and other sexy options in the $0 to $400 price range. Would like to know! Yes, there are people who actually use other phones besides iPhone.
Sony Ericsson has some good phones with built-in walkman capabilities. Without knowing your carrier, I will have to base the answer on some reviews and what is currently being offered. One of the top phones currently offered is the Sony Ericsson W760a from AT&T, which C|Net gives 4 out of 5 stars. The phone looks really nice and has an easy-to-use design. It also has a well-stocked, music-friendly feature set. It also offers broad world phone support, an accelerometer, and reliable performance.
While the menus are the slightest bit sluggish, and the controls were crowded, it seems like a reliable phone. Be aware that it lacks a camera flash, so take into account the lighting of when you’re using the camera.
Specifications: Band / mode: WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900 ; Talk time: Up to 240 min;
No Commitment Pricing $249.99
2-yr Contract Price $99.99
Total Due Today $99.99
Mail-in Rebate via AT&T Promotion Card – $50.00
Price After Mail-in Rebate $49.99
There is also the Sony Ericsson W995a, which C|Net gives 3.5 out of 5 stars. It has a really nice display and includes 3G service and Wifi. If you like watching movies, the phone also has a kickstand. A killer feature of this phone though is the camera.
The 8.1-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions and two quality settings. Editing options are quite extensive. You’ll find four color effects, a self-timer, a macro setting, four white balance choices, a brightness adjustment, an infinite mode (disables the autofocus for pictures taken at a distance), spot metering, a 16x digital zoom, an image stabilizer, 12 frames, multishot and night modes, an option for taking panoramic shots, and four shutter sounds. You can turn off the flash or you can keep it on and use it as a flashlight. An auto-rotate feature changes the orientation of the display as you tilt from portrait to landscape.
The W995a has a rated talk time of nine hours with GSM and four hours with 3G. Its promised standby battery life is 15.4 days with GSM and 15 days with 3G.
There is currently no carrier information, so pricing for the US is unavailable at this time.
Hack: Sync your Palm Pre with iTunes
The Palm Pre is an exciting device and it seems that the phone will seamlessly sync with iTunes for both Mac and Windows, allowing users to transfer non copy-protected content to the new Palm phone. The Palm Pre must be specifically presenting itself as an Apple iPod to trick iTunes into syncing data with it. This is why iTunes displays “Syncing iPod” rather than “Syncing Pre” during the demos.
Aside from transmitting Apple-specific Vendor Ids and Product Ids, the Palm Pre must also be responding to custom USB commands sent by iTunes to gather information about the device. So until Apple rolls another iTunes update, enjoy the syncing while you can!
The Geek’s View: This segment will return on a future episode of The Geekcast