iOS 5’s Siri-like system navigation is called ‘Assistant’, uses device-info to handle actions

Apple’s purchase of Siri in early 2010 and their partnership with Nuance in 2011 has many hoping that Apple has something like speech-to-text or voice-navigation up its sleeve for iOS 5. One of the remaining advantages of Android over iOS is its system-wide Voice Actions technology.

Unfortunately, WWDC and the iOS 5 announcement came and went and nothing related to voice-navigation had been announced. Even so, the Apple-Nuance partnership has been confirmed by way of Nuance voices in Apple’s OS X Lion and Nuance speech-to-text functionality that is referenced in Apple’s internal settings modules.

But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t hard at work at this very moment trying to cram some native OS level voice recognition technology into iOS 5 before launch.

Coupled with Nuance speech-to-text, Apple appears to be planning to take the fruit of their Siri purchase and fully integrate it into this fall’s release of iOS 5. Because these new features have yet to appear in iOS 5 on the iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, Apple might be saving these new features as an iPhone 5 exclusive. This would be akin to Apple’s decision to make Voice Control and video recording exclusive features to the iPhone 3GS, even though they could technically function on earlier models of the iPhone. As you can see in Siri’s promotional video above, the company advertises itself as “your virtual personal assistant.”

As you can see in the screenshot above from an Apple iPhone test unit, Apple is currently developing and testing a new iOS feature called “Assistant.” This screenshot, from a reliable source, is corroborated with our own SDK findings (below). The source did warn, though, that development is not yet completed – and just went into testing – and may not even be finished by the time the next iPhone ships.

More info after the break…

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Most 9to5Mac Macintosh readers have moved to Lion

We were just rummaging through our web logs today to see how many of you guys have been upgrading to Lion.  Imagine our surprise when we saw that 53% of Mac users who visit 9to5mac have already done the update.  Here is the breakdown:

Today’s MacOS breakdown on 9to5mac

While our readership isn’t necessarily indicative of the larger Mac community, it does show that you guys have jumped in the deep end in a big way.  We should note that a full 10% of our readers were on Lion on Monday (below), having downloaded it ahead of time.  Apple today announced that a million people had upgraded to Lion overall, making  it the fastest MacOS update in history. Read more

OS X Lion loses compatibility with some network-attached storage drives

CNet has discovered that OS X Lion users lose support for Time Machine backups with third-party NAS hard drives. Time Machine in OS X Lion is now only compatible with Netatalk 2.0. This means that third-party NAS (network attached storage) drives will need a software upgrade from their respective manufactures in order to work with Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system. Users of cable-connected external hard drives will not be affected. Drobo, the company behind popular network attached storage devices has noted the issues on their website:

DroboFS, B800fs and DroboPro FS users running Mac OS X Lion (OS X 10.7) will experience problems with Time Machine.

The next official firmware release for all “FS” products will ensure full compatibility with the released version of Mac OS X Lion,  including use of Time Machine.

Another popular NAS drive maker, Synology, has already released a fix in beta form. Other NAS drive makers will likely follow up with their own OS X Lion compatibility updates.

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Speed Test: Lion vs. Snow Leopard

Lifehacker has conducted a series of tests to see which is faster: Lion or Snow Leopard. As you can see in the video above, the two operating systems do about the same in almost every category tested, but Snow Leopard weasels out the win almost every time. To be fair, most categories were won by a very small margin. Lifehacker summarizes:

Boot 1:32 1:25
Compress a ~900MB File 0:51 0:59
Decompress a ~900MB File 0:10 0:09
Duplicate a ~900MB File 0:09 0:09
Encoder a Movie for iPhone in Quicktime X 0:56 0:53
Launch 9 Applications 0:59 0:37
Open 10 Tabs in Safari 0:15 0:17
Total Time 4:43+ 4:29

Snow Leopard was built for speed and Lion was built to add functionality. It’s great to see Lion isn’t exactly slipping away on the speed end of things. How’s the speed on your end?

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OSX Server hits the App Store but XCode disappears (Update: XCode back, free)

In addition to Lion now being available at the App Store (had you heard?) and some new Mac Hardware, today you can also download OSX Lion Server from the App Store for an additional $49.99.  Full description below…

Interestingly, Xcode has disappeared and isn’t even available by search.  We’ll likely see an update to that in the semi-near future.

Update (Noon EST): Xcode is back (free).

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Lion hits App Store, download it right here!

Lion just hit the Mac App Store!!  Ladies and Gentlemen, start your downloads!

The $29.99 download is 3.5GB so your download times may vary.  After Lion downloads we are expecting an update to iWork shortly as well.  On the hardware side we are expecting some new Sandy Bridge MacBook Airs, new Mac Minis and a new Thunderbolt Display as well.

How fast is your download?  Are you getting the good speed?  Full specs and details below:

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iWork is about to get updated significantly for Lion with Full Screen Mode, Resume, Auto Save and Versions

We’ve just been informed that Apple has a significant upgrade on the way for iWork.  The new version has support for Lion’s standout features including Full Screen mode, Resume, Auto Save and Versions.  The download, at least in its pre-release form is 90.2MB.

Also, is that Safari getting a little update as well?

In case you are wondering, that KB Article isn’t yet live.

Thanks anon!

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Apple Stores begin Lion transition

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We’re getting word from numerous Apple Stores that the Lion transition has begun.  In this photo taken at the 14th St. Apple Store in NYC by a passerby, you can see Apple employees updating Macs as well as some heavy hardware in the foreground.  Those are reportedly the new signage packages.

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Apple Retail has 3 Lion install images and a possible dedicated Lion Caching Server

As we get close to the Lion launch, several tipsters have provided more information regarding the Apple retail overnight and  days after.  Tonight, Apple retail will hold an overnight from approximately 11pm – 7 am to give the retail staff enough time to update the stores visual elements with new marketing materials and re-image all display Macs with Lion.

As previously reported, our tipsters say most stores have recently received an external LaCie hard drive containing Lion installs, but we have received new information that the drives contain 3 different install images for Lion; Normal, Pro, and Joint Venture. 

JointVenture is an enterprise membership program to support businesses running Macs and iDevices.  It is believed that each of these installs will include unique software titles, and some of which could be new.

Furthermore we’ve heard rumblings that some stores will be receiving maxed out Mac Pro towers to be used as Lion distribution caching centers (speculation here).  Some believe that these stations would allow customers to purchase Lion (3.5GB) from the Mac App store and download it directly from the store server in minutes rather than hours it takes over a normal broadband connection.

MacOS X Server and internal builds of Time Capsule allow for Software Update Caching, so this is certainly something within Apple’s capabilities.  Also, Apple told Computerworld that users could come into the store to download Lion last month.

This would also be a huge help to customers who do not have access to a broadband Internet connection or users who want to walk through the install process with an Apple employee during a personal training session.  It would obviously also save Apple some internet bandwidth which at 3.5GB per user adds up.

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Apple holding overnight Tuesday for possible Wednesday OS X Lion launch

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We’re hearing from multiple retail sources across the world that Apple’s retail chain will be holding employee overnights Tuesday night. The likely topic? Lion.

In the employee halls of the retail chain sit large tubes that hold new posters for both front of store posters and posters within the store. Additionally, we’re hearing that each store has been sent a Lion-packing Mac Pro for an unknown purpose. As previously reported, LaCie hard drives loaded with the GM seed of Lion image are ready to be connected as installers on the Macs throughout the showroom floor.

New MacBook Airs with Thunderbolt and faster chips are expected to launch alongside Lion, but nothing from the retail channels confirms this timing. Apple has also been known to push back release dates with little notice (last week).  AllThingsD previously said “Thursday-Friday” and we previously were shown Apple internal delivery times for new products arriving last week.

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Apple ‘leaks’ Thunderbolt-equipped LED Display…on their website

MacRumors noticed that Apple placed images of their new LED Cinema Display on their website yesterday. The leaked display looks identical to the current model, but will have a Thunderbolt port on the back to easily connect with Apple’s latest Thunderbolt machines: iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros, MacBook Airs, and Mac minis in the very near future. You can tell that these are new displays based on the unreleased model number, previously thought to be a new White MacBook that they are attached to and by the OS X Lion wallpaper.

The differentiation is important because, as Apple has warned in a previous KB article, the CD no longer has to be the end of a Thunderbolt chain of devices.  For instance, you could have an external hard drive array connected to your monitor permanently rather than having to plug into another device which would terminate at the monitor.  For MacBook Air/Pro users, this would allow the ‘power-USB-Thunderbolt’ cable to do everything, yet again.

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Apple cutting prices internationally on upcoming Mac hardware

We’ve been getting word from some international Apple retailers that not only are MacBook Airs, Minis and White MacBooks getting updated soon, but those Macs are also going to see modest-significant price drops in some countries we’ve polled.  While we can’t get into the specifics of where and how much, we can tell you some models are being reduced more than the equivalent of $100.

A few things to consider: One, the US Dollar has dropped significantly against Pacific currencies like the Japanese Yen and Korean Won (below) in the past year.  Apple has in the past adjusted its products against currency fluctuations.

Also, Apple has been streamlining operations across the globe over the past few years and has been able to bring its prices more in line with US prices.

While these price drops are great news for our friends overseas, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to price drops in the US.

But we wouldn’t rule price drops out either, there have been unreliable reports of a $899 base price of a MacBook Air. Read more