iOS Devices August 9, 2011

Facebook isn’t fantastic at hiding secret stuff in their Apps.  Just last month, its iPad ambitions were outed by some folks rummaging around in the App.  Today, Facebook released their Messenger app and seconds later, we see that there is a video component to the application:

The video component would seem to work on both Android (yep) and iPhone and would likely tie in with their recently announced Skype desktop video conferencing service as well.  The code looks very rudimentary at this point so it isn’t certain that the video can be enabled like the iPad version was with just a few tweeks.  Thanks Caleb!

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From the “I would be shocked if it was successful” department (literally – a quote from one of the execs near the situation), comes news from CNN that Tribune Company is exploring the idea of building a tablet that would compete against Apple’s iPad and tablets from other manufacturers.

Tribune owns a handful of major US daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun, along with 23 television stations.

Tribune aims to offer the tablet for free, or at a highly subsidized price, to people who agree to sign up for extended subscriptions to one of its papers and possibly a wireless-data plan with a partner cellular carrier, said five people briefed on the project.

The report states that this is the pet project of Eddy Hartenstein, Tribune’s chief executive, and they are working with manufacturing partners which may include Samsung.

The Tribune has faced threat of bankruptcy woes in recent years but it is noteworthy that only 8% of the US currently has a tablet, perhaps leaving the door open for other players.

Another suggestion: Subsidized iPad with subscription?

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Boxee has just released a free iPad app that allows users to stream almost any video type from their computer. Streaming features aside, the app is focused at helping users find content to watch online from their friends and what’s popular. Sharing is done through the Friends tab, which is a queue of everything your friends are sharing through Boxee’s social service. There is a also a Popular tab showing what the world can’t get enough of.

The social features are cool, but we really love the Watch Later bookmark you can use to bookmark videos from around the web. The bookmark takes an Instapaper approach and will queue up the videos on your iPad for viewing later. To go along with their Boxee Box, you can also send a video that you were watching on your iPad to your big screen — almost Air Play like.

Check it out in the App Store.

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Optimum today released an app for iPhone and iPod touch which will allow Cablevision users in the US to watch and control their content from home on the 3.5-inch screen.  Users of home VPN solutions will be able to take these services on the road with them as well.

“Our new Optimum App for iPhone and iPod touch extends Cablevision’s leadership in offering our full cable television service on new devices, functioning as televisions in the home,” said John Trierweiler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of product management.

“We are also pleased to maximize the value of our Optimum App as a navigation and programming discovery tool by incorporating controls for home TVs as well.  The introduction of this remote control functionality will make it even easier for our customers to locate and view all of the content they already receive as part of their television subscription, whether they want to watch on conventional TVs or these Apple devices.”

Besides the iPhone and iPod touch functionality, Optimum’s iPad app also gets the following updates:
• Ability to schedule and manage DVR Plus recordings
• Your favorite channels (“Favorites”) now automatically appear in the Optimum App on all of your devices
• Parental controls automatically get re-applied when the Optimum App is re-installed – no need to re-setup your parental controls
• Use your device as a remote control and control your iO digital cable boxes

Optimum began full in-house iPad streaming in April but was subsequently sued by Viacom and others.

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iOS Devices August 8, 2011

Yesterday, we broke the news that Apple was launching an ‘iMac for Education’ with downgraded specs to the education market for $999.  It was originally scheduled to be released toward the middle of the month (August 16th was set to be release date – and it still is when they hit the streets), but with the cat out of the bag, Apple went public with the details today.

As per usual, our man Mr. X, was spot on with details revealing:

  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 Dual-Core, 21.5-inch LCD
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750 with 256 MB, 2GB RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive, SuperDrive, OS X Lion

Some interesting notes about the machine:

  • It appears to be a hybrid between this year’s model and last year’s with slower processors and this year’s video card
  • No Thunderbolt underscores that these are aimed at labs and kiosk type situations.  Even Apple’s $599 entry Mac Mini now has Thunderbolt
  • Half the RAM at a paltry 2GB seems absurdly low. Again, this screams “kiosk!” Interestingly, Apple says the upgrades are “only configurable at the Apple Store” but lists RAM modules to the sides (right).
  • We’re told that this is the Education price of 1 of these machines and there are additional price drops at volume with the machine quickly hitting $899 in bulk and below (EDUs talk to your Apple rep!)

For those jealous of the EDU-only pricing, Apple still offers the previous model refurbished with the exact same specs (but twice the RAM, older GPU) for just  $929.


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