Sprint’s new ‘iPhone for Life’ plan coming Nov. 14 w/ yearly upgrades, starts at $80/month

After last month announcing its $70/month iPhone for Life plan that allows users to “rent” an iPhone and upgrade every two years, today Sprint announced that it will be launching a new 12-month lease option starting Nov. 14. That means that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users signing up for the iPhone for Life Plan will now be able to upgrade every year, and the old 24-month plan will become available for the iPhone 5S. Read more

Verizon offers two-month early upgrades alongside iPhone 6 launch starting today

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To go along with the launch of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Verizon is allowing early upgrades for any customers eligible for an upgrade over the next two months. That means that customers eligible for an upgrade on or before November 15 2014 will be able to upgrade immediately to a new device, including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Here’s details on the promo straight from Verizon:

As a special thank you to our existing customers, all Verizon customers who would be eligible to upgrade on or before November 15th have had their upgrade dates changed to become upgrade eligible immediately.  These customers can now upgrade to any device currently in our lineup, with new two year contract. Customers should check My Verizon to confirm upgrade eligibility.  

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Sprint debuts new ‘iPhone for Life’ plan with unlimited data and iPhone upgrades every two years

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Sprint has debuted a new iPhone-exclusive plan that allows users to “rent” an iPhone for two years, then upgrade to the newest model for $70 a month (via Bloomberg). The plan allows users to get the latest Apple smartphone for no money down and no tax, then pay $50 a month for unlimited data, texting, and calling, plus $20 each month for the phone, for a total of $70 monthly.

After two years, users will be able to switch to the newest iPhone model. However, because the phone is only being “rented” from the carrier, it must be returned in at the time of upgrade, where customers on a typical two-year contract would be allowed to keep the device after they paid it off.

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Gallery: First look at iOS 8 with Health app, Notification Center widgets, and more

Earlier today Apple announced the next version of its iOS software, iOS 8, during the WWDC keynote today. Below you’ll find a gallery of all the new bells and whistles in the latest operating system. If you’ve got some screenshots you’d like to send us, you can send them to tips@9to5mac.com.

The new software includes features like iOS-to-Mac continuity, quick-reply for first- and third-party apps, a new predictive text keyboard, changes to the Mail appHealthKit framework and Health app, Family Sharing features, new Photos cloud storage, an updated iCloud pricing scheme, new commands for Siri, App Store changes including beta distribution, a Touch ID API, third-party keyboards, new iCloud management and development features, a home automation framework, and even support for a brand new programming language.

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Synology gets even better w/ version 5.0: Why every Mac & iOS user should have a DiskStation

I’ll admit, I’ve never felt the need to purchase network-attached-storage (NAS) hardware for storing and accessing my media or backing up my files. These days most of my content, from photos and movies to back ups of important files for work, are already stored in the cloud. My photos are (supposed to) auto backup to Photostream in iCloud, iTunes has all of my music downloadable from all my devices from the cloud, and any important files and everything else go directly to Dropbox or Google Drive. Around 90% of my content is already stored and accessible from anywhere in the cloud.

That being said, for the last year or so I’ve been hearing more and more about Synology DiskStation products. Coworkers can’t stop talking about them, and the products have received a lot of praise from many other reviewers as well.

I’ve been putting the Synology DiskStation hardware and brand new DiskStation Manager 5.0 software to the test in recent months to see if I could really benefit from a NAS solution despite all my content already being on the cloud and backed up. With today marking the release of 5.0, the company’s biggest software update yet, I thought now would be as good a time as any to share my experience.  Read more

Teardown of new Mac Pro reveals upgradeable CPU

Following the launch of Apple’s new Mac Pro earlier this month and some early deliveries arriving for customers, Other World Computing today posted a quick teardown of the machine (via MacRumors). We’ll have to wait for a full, in-depth teardown to find out specifics, but several images posted by OWC do reveal what appears to be socketed CPUs. In theory that means owners should be able to perform a DIY upgrade of the Intel Xeon E5 processors shipping with the new base configurations.  Read more

Apple announces OS X Mavericks available today for free

Update: OS X Mavericks is available now as a free download on the Mac App Store. 

Apple has done something it hasn’t done before with a major release of OS X, announcing today during its iPad event that it will release OS X Mavericks, the latest version of its desktop OS, later today for free to all users.

Mavericks is available starting today for iMac and MacBook Pros from 2007 or later, 2008 MacBook Air, MacBook, and Mac Pro or later, and the 2009 Mac mini or later.

Apple first showed off Mavericks back in June at its WWDC developer conference and has since seeded several betas as well as Golden Master release followed by silent update to the GM release that could likely be the version Apple ships later this month. Despite not receiving a radical visual overhaul like iOS 7, OS X Mavericks includes over 200 new features and many big new user facing features like iBooks, improved multiple display support, iCloud Keychain, new Finder features, Maps, quick reply and lock screen notifications, auto-updating apps, and a number of under the hood enhancements to improve battery life and performance. (Full press release below) Read more

T-Mobile offering $0 down on iPhone 5c, $99 down on iPhone 5s with monthly installment plan

Following announcements from Walmart, Radioshack and others, T-Mobile is the latest to announce availability of Apple’s recently unveiled iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. We already know the two devices will be landing on all of Apple’s major US carrier partners (as well as in a handful of other countries on Sept. 20, and T-Mobile confirmed today it will be kicking off preorders for the 5c on September 13, the preorder date previously announced by Apple. The real news here is that T-Mobile’s new Uncarrier plans mean that the iPhone 5c will sell for $0 down with the $528 price tag paid through 24 monthly installments of $22. It will also offer the iPhone 5s for $99 down and 24 monthly payments of $22.91 to make up the $649 retail price.

As a reminder, Apple and most of its partner will sell the new iPhone 5s for $199 on contract and the new iPhone 5c for $99 on contract (for the 16GB models). T-Mobile’s full retail price works about to around the same as Apple’s, but it’s 5c price is a little lower than the $549 Apple is listing. That doesn’t mean we won’t see lower prices on the device at launch. Walmart already announced that it will soon begin accepting preorders for the 5c at $79 on contract and the 5s at $189.

Apple’s new iPhones will also become available in Australia, China, Canada, Germany, France, Singapore, the UK, and Japan later this month on September 20.

Verizon unveils 1 year “Device Payment Plan” for yearly updaters, moves full subsidies to 24 months

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

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USA Today survey: 42 percent of Windows upgraders plan on switching to Apple

Internet software firm Avast conducted a USAToday survey of Windows users to determine the number of people willing to upgrade to the latest Microsoft operating system, and the findings churned out some surprising responses.

According to USAToday, which noted the survey polled users of Avast’s anti-virus PC software on Oct. 25, the day before Windows 8 launched, nearly half of Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP users intend to switch to an Apple product rather than upgrade to Windows 8.

“Many households already have multiple PCs, and people are keeping their computers longer,” explained Avast’s Director of Strategy Jonathan Penn. “More people are going to the iPad as their second or third computing device.”

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Parallels 8 updated with USB 3.0 support, Windows 8 tablet gestures, more

Parallels introduced a big update today for Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac. It includes new features for Windows 8 users, full USB 3.0 support, and improved Retina display settings. On top of support for Windows 8 tablet gestures, Parallels is including a Windows 8 tile that allows users to access shared Mac apps. According to Parallels, the update also includes faster USB 3.0 performance, an increased limit for virtual machines running large apps, and “Smooth transitions when entering and exiting Coherence mode”:

Now Mac users can enjoy new features including Windows 8 tablet gestures and use a Windows 8 interface tile to access shared Mac apps.  These updates, plus the already deep Parallels Desktop 8 integration of Mac OS X and Windows 8, enable people to also use Mountain Lion’s Dictation feature in Windows applications, add Windows apps to Launchpad and the Mac Dock, enjoy brilliant Retina display resolution for Windows apps and more – making Parallels Desktop 8 an ideal way to run Windows 8 on a Mac without rebooting. Read more

Apple to debut new Photo sharing social Network at WWDC, reason Schiller quit Instagram?

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple is about to unveil an upgraded iCloud service at WWDC in June. Citing the usual sources “familiar with the matter,” the report also claimed the features would include new photo-sharing capabilities for sharing and commenting on sets of photos. It also mentioned the ability to sync video to iCloud, which sounds a lot like a Video Stream feature that we mentioned last year. Perhaps this is the reason Phil Schiller no longer needed Instagram?

The new features, expected to be announced at Apple’s world-wide developer conference beginning June 11, will allow iCloud users to share sets of photos with other iCloud users and to comment on them, these people said… Apple is trying to better compete in the red-hot market for photo sharing, dominated by fast-growing online services such as Facebook Inc. and mobile apps like Instagram—which Facebook has agreed to acquire for $1 billion.

We revealed last September that Apple was readying its Find My Friends network. At the time, we reported references to video streams that indicated Apple was likely considering a video syncing/stream feature similar to Photo Stream.

According to the report, Apple is “rolling out new features cautiously” as it worries about the cost of storing large amounts of data, but is also considering increasing the maximum number of photos and albums users can store: Read more