January 26, 2013

Last year, 2012, was Tim Cook’s first full year at the helm, and the first full year without Steve Jobs. It was a year filled with new products and advancements, but it was also a year of controversy, mounting competition from companies like Google and Samsung, and a year of a rising—and later falling—stock share price.

To address the last year and the year ahead, Apple CEO Tim Cook summoned corporate employees to his Cupertino Campus’s De Anza 3 auditorium. With the company’s top executives in the first row, followed by several rows of employees, Cook spoke in his signature black, buttoned, untucked dress shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

Cook was reportedly pumped up during this Town Hall meeting, rallying troops amid questioning from analysts regarding Apple’s future as a global technology titan. According to multiple people in attendance at the meeting, Cook rallied his staff by discussing Apple’s latest earnings, its competition, and its future.

Find all of the details after the break:

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Apple has released a fifth beta of iOS 6.1 to registered developers. It is currently available via Apple’s iOS developer center. iOS 6.1 runs on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and includes a number of enhancements for both users and developers. For example, developers are welcoming new iOS Maps APIs to better integrate Apple’s mapping database into App Store apps. End users will find new features such as movie ticket ordering via Siri, improved lock screen media controls, and various other tweaks. Apple hasn’t announced when iOS 6.1 will be released to the public. Thanks, Matthew

Update: We’re now hearing some interesting things about this beta from the hacker community: expand full story

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Ashton Kutcher called the starring role scary and seemed to have an appropriate amount of reverence for the subject matter. However, reviewers seemed to have mixed feelings at best about the movie.

TNW’s Matthew Panzarino liked the movie and called it entertaining but inaccurate:

But, overall, jOBS works. The lead actors are likable and appear to have put serious effort into getting the spirit of the characters right. The film looks (mostly) good aside from some of what could likely be ascribed to budgetary constraints. And though the director is a tad indulgent here and there, it doesn’t take away from the overall feeling of ‘decent’ that I came away with.

This isn’t going to be the canonical Steve Jobs biography movie. Honestly, Jobs was such a complex individual that I can’t see one ever being made. But, as an impressionist portrait of a specific period in his life, it’s successful. Don’t go into it looking for complete verisimilitude or whip-crack dialog and you should like it just fine.

CNET’s Casey Newton, who was allowed to review this movie, didn’t like it:

My primary disappointment was in how shallow the film felt, given the extensive historical record. In the early days Jobs’ co-workers had to wrestle with a man who smelled bad, who cried often, who yelled constantly, who missed deadlines, who overspent his budget by millions. He did it in service of products we love and use daily, and yet his obsessions took a toll on those around him. It also inspired others to do the best work of their lives, pushing themselves further than they ever imagined they can go. There is great drama to be found in all that, but it is not to be found in the saccharine “jOBS.”

USA Today relayed some weirdness before the shooting:

Kutcher says that he started a fruit-only diet to prepare to play the Apple co-founder for the biopic Jobs, which premiered Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival.

The diet, which the film claims Jobs adhered to, ended up sending Kutcher to the hospital with pancreas problems.

“First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to like severe issues,” Kutcher said after the film’s screening. “I went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain.

“My pancreas levels were completely out of whack,” Kutcher added. “It was really terrifying … considering everything.[Jobs died as the result of Pancreatic Cancer]”

More review snippets follow:

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January 25, 2013

By Alex Allegro

Disclaimer: This is a developer unit of the Leap Motion and not the final stage of the product. Therefore, this review is not on the final hardware that has yet to released.

Few innovations truly change the way we interact with our devices. Touchscreens—once just a fantasy reserved for science fiction—are now more common than ‘dead screens’. Just show any iPad-wielding, 3-year-old kid a screen, and he’ll try swiping it. In a few years from now, eye-tracking technology may have a similar impact on devices. Today, though, Leap hopes to make motion and gesture control the next big thing with the announcement of its first consumer product, the Leap Motion. Promo video:

Due to the “overwhelming response” from developers, who say their app idea will help make the Leap a better product when it launches sometime this year, Leap has decided to send out over 10,000 beta units to developers. Fortunately enough for us, we were able to get our hands on one, and, after a few hours of somewhat extensive testing, I have my verdict on the Leap Motion.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 7.33.50 PMComing in a sleek black box with a hand-pasted sticker only reading “Leap Motion”, it’s no secret Leap took a cue from Apple on how to make a minimalist package. Opening the box reveals the Leap along with a letter from the CEO that briefly explained how valuable the developers are to the Leap’s success. You will find a micro USB-to-USB cable, as well. Plugging the Leap in and seeing your motions visualized on the screen only takes a quick download of Leap’s SDK (now at version 0.7.1) that is available to developers from their online “Dev Portal.”

The software is extremely “thinned out,” as once downloaded, the Leap software doesn’t open an app, but it instead reveals a small icon in the task bar with a pull-down menu. The only way to tell if your Leap Motion device is working is to open the visualizer and test it. The visualizer is a 3D grid that displays your finger movements with a long colorful tail. Each finger has its own color, but the device has trouble recognizing which finger is which, so you’ll usually get a different color for the same finger each time.

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