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

Parallels warns Mac users to not upgrade to Windows 8

Parallels for Mac virtualization software has been getting major updates this year with the recent release of version 8, making it even easier to run Mac and Windows apps side by side. In version 7, it made it a lot easier to upgrade and buy copies of Windows directly from within the app, and we even had a Windows 8 developer preview up and running. Unfortunately, with today’s launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8, Parallel’s is warning Mac users that the app is not ready to update to the new OS.

In a support document on the company’s website, it issued a “critical and urgent Windows 8 service advisory” telling customers it should wait before upgrading from an existing installation of Windows to Windows 8: Read more

Reflection and AirParrot apps bring Windows screen mirroring to Apple TV, iOS mirroring to PCs

We told you about Mac OS X apps AirParrot and Reflection in the past. Developed by app makers Squirrels, AirParrot allows you to mirror your Mac’s screen on an Apple TV-connected TV, while Reflection provides mirroring of iOS devices to any Mac display. The developers have since followed up with updates to both of the apps bringing many requested features such as audio and Mountain Lion support, but they released PC versions of both apps today that allow you to mirror your iOS device to a Windows machine or a PC’s screen to an Apple TV.

As for the Windows version of Reflection, it will release with all the same features as the OS X client, including: screen recording, audio support, frame colors, full screen mode, multiple device mirroring, and more. The first release of the AirParrot PC app will just provide basic screen mirroring features initially due to roadblocks during development. Head developer David Stanfill, who is also the founder of Napkin Studio, told us about the difficulties of bringing the AirPlay mirroring functionality to PCs and provided us with screenshots of the apps below:

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Amazon releases Cloud Drive desktop app for Mac and Windows

Amazon just launched its Cloud Drive app for Mac and Windows.

The Amazon Cloud service unveiled last year, but now users can play with the desktop app counterpart, rather than their browser, to manage files in the cloud. Folders and files can transfer in the background, but the service does not support syncing or a native desktop browsing client like Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, and SugarSync.

Cloud Drive offers all customers 5GB of free online storage with unlimited access from any computer. Additional storage plans start at 20GB and extend to 1,000 GB. Unlimited music space is currently available with any paid Cloud Drive storage plan for the duration of an existing plan term. Click here to start installing the free Mac app now.

The install is easy, as seen in the gallery below. There are a few ways to get a file or folder into Amazon’s Cloud once the app is installed: Just drag and drop to the new Cloud icon (looks similar to iCloud) in the Menu bar, or right-click/control-click on files and folders to see a new menu item that allows uploading.

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Apple subsidiary FileMaker releases new version of its flagship product, makes iOS version free

Apple subsidiary FileMaker has announced a new version of their flagship software product, FileMaker 12, with new database creation tools and themes. The Mac version of FileMaker 12 gain improved 64 bit support as well as wide area network support, enhance support for large databases, and add fast file and multimedia-content streaming. Database and project creation are now easier and faster with new and more intuitive themes on the Mac. The most important addition to the product is its more streamlined interface for creating interfaces that run on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Additionally, a new iOS device application is available for free. The app takes many features from the desktop product but is mostly used to run Mac-created databases. The Mac and iOS apps work in tandem.

The full press release is after the break.

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview out of the gate: Demoed on 82-inch touchscreen supporting 10 simultaneous users

Microsoft issued the Windows 8 Consumer Preview today for everyone to download and try. Demonstrating the operating system’s ability to scale from the smartphone screen all the way to high-end PCs and beyond, the Redmond, Wash.-headquartered software giant showcased Windows 8 on a monstrous 82-inch display that is capable of detecting up to 100 simultaneous touch events or 10 simultaneous users.

Unfortunately, AnandTech, which reported the story, does not have a video online yet. However, I think it is safe to take Microsoft’s word. Now, if the operating system only ran Apple’s Keynote, the ninja PC-plus-Windows 8 combo coupled with a huge projector-based display would make for an impressive keynote rig.

By the way, we would love to hear impressions from our tech-savvy readers that have managed to dual-boot Windows 8 Consumer Preview alongside OS X using Boot Camp (go here for the FAQ detailing system requirements).

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview product demonstration video is right below the fold.

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VLC 2.0 arriving with all-new UI, native full screen in Lion, Blu-ray support, more

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VideoLAN, the organization behind the open-source cross-platform VLC media player, is geared to launch VLC 2.0—a total rewrite of the program with new capabilities and an all-new user interface on the Mac platform. Available on Mac OS X, Windows and a variety of Linux/Unix platforms, VLC 2.0 [changelog] includes enhancements such as a native full screen mode in Lion, a redesigned subtitle manager, support for multiple video files inside RAR archives and enhanced video output modes. The Mac version will also support unprotected Blu-ray media, and Windows users will get to enjoy a 64-bit version.

The developers also added support for VLC’s lua-based extensions, letting users get information about movies from Allociné, post to Twitter, fetch subtitles automatically, and so forth. No disc burning features are included because “there are more suited apps for that.” One of the developers on the project Felix Kühne published a series of screenshots (more available on Flickr) highlighting the new Mac interface, credited to designer Damien Erambert. According to Kühne:

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Whited00r brings newer features to legacy iOS devices

In recent years, as newer iOS devices begin to shine, the older ones start to be left in the dust due to newer iOS features. Luckily, a new custom firmware called Whited00r brings some of these features to older devices such as the iPhone 2G/3G and older iPods. The firmware does not call for a jailbreak, but instead it is based off iOS 3.1.3 to bring you some of the latest features.

Whited00r added features like multitasking, app folders, reminders, improved home screen, video recording, and faster speed. What about iCloud? Whited00r used Dropbox syncing throughout the operating system to sync files with other devices. Whited00r also used a custom Newsstand to deliver news. (via TechCrunch)

The install process is very straightforward:

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Review: Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

(We’re offering a $10 discount/free Parallels MacBook Air contest this week)

If you are not new to Parallels, you will already be familiar with its ability to run Windows in a virtual machine within OS X. You might also be familiar with its Coherence view mode that allows you to run Windows and Mac OS applications side by side, rather than a full-blown Windows 7 in a separate window. However, Parallels Desktop 7 takes it to the next level with some of the deepest Windows/OS X integration yet.

The name of the game for the new Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac is definitely OS X Lion integration. Pretty much every new UI feature incorporated into Lion has been integrated into Parallels, and thus Windows 7. We put the new version to the test with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 developer preview on last year’s iMac with 4GB of RAM.

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Skype adds Facebook-to-Facebook calling to desktop client

Skype announced in a blog post today a new version of its desktop client that supports Facebook0-to-Facebook video calls and other enhancements such as smoother video rendering on the Mac platform and group screen sharing for Windows users with a Premium subscription, which is currently available for Mac users. Users who are chatting one-on-one will also be able to screen share with live video streaming.

The Facebook video calling is obviously the most interesting feature. You could previously see your Facebook friends’ social feed, like posts and update your Facebook status from within the Skype app and now you can call them in-app:

Initiating a Facebook-to-Facebook call from within Skype is quite easy; all you need to do is connect your Skype and Facebook accounts. Then, select a Facebook friend and hit the video call button in Skype- your friend simply picks up the call from Facebook. 

If Skype weren’t such a unwieldy app, we’d be tempted to consider it as a replacement for Facebook clients. To get the aforementioned features, download Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac or Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows.


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Forrester relents: Recommends Macs for business because your boss wants one

IT managers’ thinking is influenced by a myriad of business factors, including research studies advising them not to adopt Apple’s computers. But their attitude is changing as Forrester Research, one of the most outspoken proponents of the Mac-free business environment, now backpedals on their 2008 report which called for a total banishment of Macs in the workplace – even for the most mundane tasks such as handling email.

According to the Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt, a new Forrester survey (available for sale on the corporate card here) of 590 IT managers, Mac users comprise “the 17 percent of information workers who use new technologies and find innovative ways to be more productive and serve customers more effectively”. Wow, talk about change in stance. But wait, there’s more. “Mac users are your HEROes and you should enable them not hinder them”, the report concludes, HEROes being a Forrester acronym for Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives.

Just like with iPhone, “Macs are being freewheeled into the office” by corporate higher-ups – typically executives, sales reps and other workaholics – who rely on MacBook Pro machines rather than Windows notebooks which “are slowing them down”:

Employees want their PCs to boot in 10 seconds, not 10 minutes, and they don’t want to have to get a cup of coffee while opening a 20 MB spreadsheet in Excel. They’re drawn to uncluttered Macs — especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds.

That, and the looks…

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