Nearly two years after launch, Siri seems to exit ‘beta’ with iOS 7

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 5.51.21 PM

With the iPhone 4S launch nearly two years ago, Apple introduced the Siri voice control system to its customers. At launch, Siri was a gimmicky feature at best, being released with bugs, a highly-computerized voice, sluggish content loading, and unreliable servers. In addition, Siri of 2011 was short on user compatibility, only launching with knowledge of English, French, and German. Apple certainly did not deny the early issues with Siri: the company launched the product in “beta,” a tag that has remained on the software ever since.

Since 2011, Apple has been slowly improving the service. In early 2012, Siri gained support for Japanese, and with iOS 6 in late 2012, the service added support for several new languages and capabilities. With iOS 7, Siri has been given a redesigned user-interface, new functionality, and all-new voices. Many of the server errors and lengthy processing time issues that riddled the product in its early days have now disappeared; and it seems that Apple agrees. With the upcoming launch of iOS 7, it appears that Apple will finally be taking Siri out of “beta.”

Late this past week, Apple updated its Siri webpages to drop all references to the product being in beta. Prior to this past week, the bottom of the Siri informational page read:

Read more

Apple releases OS X Mavericks Developer Preview 7

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 10.11.00 PM

A couple of weeks following the previous seed, Apple has released OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 7 to registered developers. The update is available via Software Update in the Mac App Store. If you find anything new, you can let us know at tips@9to5mac.com. We’ll be updating this post as changes are discovered. A new Apple Remote Desktop 3.7 seed has also been issued.

Read more

Apple releases OS X Mavericks Developer Preview 6

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 4.34.29 PM

Apple has seeded the sixth Developer Preview of the upcoming OS X Mavericks. The new preview is available via Software Update in the Mac App Store. This preview comes a few weeks after Developer Preview 5. Preview 5 added iBooks to Mavericks.

Also available today for developers are updated Remote Desktop apps, an updated SDK, and a new Safari 6.1 seed for OS X Mountain Lion.

Mavericks will be available for the general public this fall. We will be updating this post as changes in the new preview are discovered.

Read more

Apple cracking down on retail employee usage, sharing, and discussion of iOS 7 beta

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 8.21.05 AM

According to several Apple Retail employees, Apple management is cracking down on employee usage of the current iOS 7 betas. These people say that store managers and Apple’s Human Resources representatives are contacting employees that are discovered to be using the iOS 7 beta. Apple would like to make sure that these employees obtained the iOS 7 beta via official Developer channels, not third-party websites.

However, the larger concern is that some Apple managers feel that Apple Retail employees are purchasing developer accounts and distributing the iOS 7 beta to colleagues. Apple Human Resources, we’re told, has reminded employees of the official iOS Development rules via the RetailMe internal app. These rules, which employees agree to when they become an Apple retail employee, state that employees cannot install an iOS beta unless they are a registered member of the developer program:

Read more

Hack brings Russian subscription TV service ‘UnliMovie.tv’ to Apple TV, no jailbreak required

Russian blog iGuides.ru points us to a new hack for Apple TV users that brings Russian subscription TV & movie service Unlimovie.tv to the device with no jailbreak required. The service, which is currently in beta, requires users to manually change the DNS on their device (easily accessible from within Settings) in order to access its digital TV service directly through Apple’s own Trailers app.

It isn’t the first hack of its kind: Just a couple weeks back, one of our favorite media servers, Plex, arrived on Apple TV without a jailbreak through what appeared to be a similar hack of the stock Trailers app.

The Unlimovie.tv service is currently in beta, allowing users to access a number of Russian digital TV channels for free, but the creators plan to officially launch the service in September through its paid subscriptions. That is, of course, if Apple doesn’t put an end to it in the meantime. Read more

From beta 1 to release: how each major iOS version has transformed

Beta

Following its introduction earlier this month, Apple’s newest operating system has fallen under criticism and scrutiny from both designers and casual users alike. Due to both the tight development timetable and the new design direction under Jony Ive, following the removal of former iOS SVP Scott Forstall last fall, iOS 7 is, understandably, the most controversial and intriguing iOS version yet.

In response to much of the negative criticism directed towards iOS 7, some have suggested that iOS 7 will change substantially before it is released to the general public. Looking back at previous versions of iOS reveals a long trend of subtle refinements to the operating system during beta periods, not dramatic changes. Let’s take a look at how each version of iOS has transformed:

Read more

Google begins rolling out revamped conversational Voice Search features in Chrome

During its Google I/O keynote earlier this month, Google announced that it would be bringing conversational, Google-Now like voice search to the desktop. Using a UI similar to voice search and Google Now in its mobile apps, Google would soon allow Chrome users to search and drill down further into results using only their voice.

Today, Google appears to have finally started rolling out the feature for Chrome users on the stable and beta channels of Chrome.

After updating to the latest version 27.0.1453.93 of Chrome, users can navigate to Google.com, click the microphone icon, and choose to allow the new Google Voice search feature to begin listening. Google will only ask for permission to listen once and from then on users can simply speak in order to search. For certain search results such as questions Google will also provide audible results.

Not all of the functionality seems to be available as of yet. For example, when Google first showed off the feature users weren’t required to click at all. Google execs were activating the feature by simply saying “Ok, Google” and were able to continue searching with their voice, hands-free, from on the search results page. The feature as it’s currently implemented now requires users to click the mic icon in order to start a voice search. Read more

Ten years in, task/launcher app Quicksilver finally reaches version 1.0

Quicksilver, the donation-ware utility app that aims to speed up a wide range of the things you do on your Mac, has finally made it out of beta—some 10 years after it was first made available. The app is compatible with OS X 10.6 onward.

Quicksilver is best thought of as auto-complete for the Finder. Just as Google will suggest auto-completions when you start to type a search-term, Quicksilver also aims to predict what you are trying to do and offer shortcuts. There are also plugins for many apps that offer the same benefits within an app.

Although Spotlight does some of the same things, Quicksilver is much more flexible and personalized. For example, if you type PS, it might open Photoshop, as that’s something you do a lot. If someone else types PS, it might start an email to Phil Smith…

Read more

Microsoft officially offers workarounds for iOS 6.1 Exchange errors including blocking & throttling iOS users

We reported on Friday that AOL had informed its corporate employees via email that it would be temporarily disabling the ability to manage meetings with Exchange on iOS devices running iOS 6.1. AOL confirmed that it was working with Microsoft and Apple to fix the “continuous loop” bug, and many had highlighted the problem on Microsoft’s forums. It doesn’t appear Apple addressed the issue with its recent release of iOS 6.1.1, and Microsoft has now published an official support document to detail workarounds for the bug.

When a user syncs a mailbox by using an iOS 6.1-based device, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Client Access server (CAS) and Mailbox (MBX) server resources are consumed, log growth becomes excessive, memory and CPU use may increase significantly, and server performance is affected. Additionally, Office 365 Exchange Online users receive an error message that resembles the following on an iOS 6.1-based device: Cannot Get Mail, The connection to the server failed.

Microsoft suggested a few workarounds for the issue while it waits for Apple to fix the bug. First, it informed customers to “not process Calendar items such as meeting requests on iOS 6.1 devices. Also, immediately restart the iOS 6.1 device.” If problems with Exchange continue, Microsoft recommended and provided instructions for removing and recreating the device partnership, creating a custom throttling policy for iOS 6.1 users, or blocking iOS 6.1 users entirely.

Microsoft said it is working with Apple to resolve the issue and recommended customers “open an Enterprise Support case with Apple”: Read more

What’s new in iOS 6.1 beta: Maps bugs reporting, lockscreen music, more

Apple just released a beta version of iOS 6.1 to developers following the public release of iOS 6.0.1. We get mostly expected fixes in 6.0.1, but we already started discovering new features in the 6.1 beta. Here’s what’s new so far in iOS 6.1 beta. Let us know in the comments below if you find anything else:

— Apple is making it easier to report issues with its new iOS Maps app. As you can see in the image above, Apple changed what used to be a small link to a huge “Report a Problem” button that is larger than all of the other Map settings… Read more

Skype releases beta version 5.5 for Mac with improved UI and call quality

Skype just announcedthe latest beta for Mac with version 5.5. The release includes a number of improvements including an upgraded call UI, and an option to accept a call with video enabled or disabled. Other enhancements include optimizations to stabilization and call quality.

Today, we’re pleased to announce an update to Skype for Mac with the launch of Skype 5.5 for Mac Beta… We have improved the discoverability of Call UI like Windows and iOS that users can easily mute, send video, share screen, send file and add people during a call.

As always, you can download the latest version, Skype 5.5 for Mac, from Skype’s website.
Read more