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Scott Buscemi

@scottbuscemi

Scott can be found on Twitter @scottbuscemi.

September 30, 2013

Crowdfunding follow-up: Muku Shuttr, the remote camera shutter for smartphones

Back in July, we featured the Muku Shuttr in our weekly crowdfunding roundup. Since then, the Kickstarter project went on to gain over 2500 backers and end with $94k in funding – well over the $10k goal. With the devices shipping out to backers starting next month, we took some time to review the device and speak with Kevin Keung, the head of Muku Labs.

Setting up the device

The device has two switches: one for turning the device on and off and the other for switching between iOS and Android compatibility. They’re easy to maneuver, but sadly there is no indication as to which is for on/off and which is for iOS/Android (although one is recessed and the other is not, which makes it easy to remember after some time).

Once you’ve turned it on and set it to your phone’s OS, it’s Bluetooth signal will start beaming out. Just like any other Bluetooth device, opening up the Settings app and going into the Bluetooth preferences will show the device available to pair.

How it works

The Shuttr is basically a one-button keyboard that sends the Volume + “key” to your phone. Rather than downloading a special/proprietary app, it works with the native camera app and any other app that takes a picture when the volume up button is pressed. Once you’re ready to take the photo, press the button and it’ll take a picture.

Having a remote shutter button around is powerful – no more finding a camera app with a self-timer function or asking someone else to take a group shot when traveling.

The battery is also self-serviceable, so once you use up all the juice you can open it up and replace the coin battery.

The crowdfunding experience and its effect

The demand for the Muku Shuttr pushed the project well beyond its funding goal – over 9.4x its $10k goal, in fact. Muku Labs’ Kevin Leung told me just a bit about how far that demand is extending:

Realizing that there is a true demand on this remote shutter release for smartphone through Kickstarter.  Dealers and distributors around the world approach us, exploring opportunity to bring Shuttr to retail store worldwide.  We are hoping that Shuttr will hit the shelf in one of the stores near you soon.

Going from an idea to a crowdfunding project to a product available at a retail store is an exhilarating experience for a development team. However, setting up shop quickly and efficiently is extremely demanding:

Fulfilling 3000 units in 2 months time is tough, we are trying so hard to push our suppliers in this busy season (most factories in China are super busy to fill up the container ships for Xmas in US and Europe).  But so far not only we didn’t slip any schedule, we managed to ship the first batch of 300 units 1 month ahead of our promise!

Muku Labs definitely has a hit on its hands – and the team seems to be capable of handling the customer support and product distribution like a well-oiled machine.

Availability and pricing

The Muku Shuttr is available from the Muku Labs website for $39 if you choose the black or white options or $49 for the Midnight Sun or Black Hole editions. All versions come with an elegant pouch and suction cup stand. With strong build quality and straight-forward setup and use, the Muku Shuttr makes for a great stocking stuffer.

September 29, 2013

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Rather than make you sift through all of these projects, we’re rounding up the best or most notable projects from around the crowdfunding web and delivering them to you in a simple roundup. If there’s a project that you’ve backed – or even a project that you founded – be sure to leave a link below so it can be considered for the next roundup. Check out our complete list of roundups here.

  • Petcube – stay closer to your pet (Kickstarter project) – A high-end Wi-Fi aluminum cube with an HD camera, microphone, speakers, and low-intensity movable laser. What’s not to love? Entertain and stay in contact with your pets while you’re out and about. The project is just $15k shy of its $100k goal and will surely succeed within the next 36 days remaining. Grab one for just $149 and receive it sometime around May 2014. expand full story

m7

When the iPhone 5s launched with the M7 motion coprocessor on September 20, Azumio’s ARGUS fitness app was updated that same day with M7 compatibility. I’ve been an ARGUS user for quite awhile, as it syncs with my LifeTrak and can also independently track steps in the background throughout the day even without a wristband.

The app is now the #1 free Health & Fitness app in the App Store and has been featured as one of the top “Designed for iOS 7” apps.

Seeing that the app gained M7 compatibility so quickly – it was the first one that I noticed and I haven’t been able to find one that added it before them – I was curious about how ARGUS was able to take advantage of the M7 so quickly. I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Kuhar, product manager for ARGUS at Azumio. He was able to break down some of the intricate information surrounding the M7. expand full story

September 22, 2013

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Rather than make you sift through all of these projects, we’re rounding up the best or most notable projects from around the crowdfunding web and delivering them to you in a simple roundup. If there’s a project that you’ve backed – or even a project that you founded – be sure to leave a link below so it can be considered for the next roundup. Check out our complete list of roundups here.

  • The Easy-Macro Smartphone Lens (Kickstarter project) – Taking close-up shots on the iPhone is near impossible, as the camera has trouble staying in focus. One option is to move back a bit then crop once the image is complete, but that usually results in a pixelated image. In comes the Easy-Macro Smartphone Lens. 6a2b86909d5e41bd05d2d0c0fbe94051_large We’ve covered the Easy-Macro lens before, but now they’re making improvements to the design and keeping up with the demand by taking advantage of crowdfunding. Now’s your opportunity to grab one for just $10, which is $5 off retail – great for your new iPhone 5s. Disclaimer/another-reason-to-back-the-project: I personally backed this project. expand full story

In a rather nervous video and associated blog post, Chaos Computer Club appears to demonstrate how they can get through Touch ID by taking high-resolution photographs of a fingerprint. Ironically, they claim the hack can be completed with “materials that can be found in almost every household” then go on to say that a 2400 dpi resolution photograph of the fingerprint must be used.

The group claims that Touch ID was only a little bit more difficult to get through compared to other fingerprint sensors, since the iPhone 5s’ scanner is extremely high-resolution. They go on to state that fingerprints should not be used as a secure method of authentication since they are left on so many surfaces and can be picked up very easily.

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Apple TV 6.0 update pulled after reports of bricking and networking issues

After Apple TV 6.0 was released on Friday with iTunes Radio and other enhancements, there were many reports of botched updates that required the user to restore their Apple TV. In some particular instances, Apple TVs have also been permanently bricked or they lost the content on the device during the update. Other devices could not download any internet content even when an internet connection was connected.

Last night, Apple took down the on-device update, and now devices on Apple TV 5.3 are seeing no update available. Of note, the 6.0 firmware is still available as a download on Apple’s website. The update is still available for some Apple TV users, although it seems sporadic and may be a result of background downloading.

We’ll update this post as more details arise.

(Thanks, Matt, Nick, and JX)

September 20, 2013

Everyone’s favorite hockey puck “hobby” has received a huge software update today. Apple TV 6.0, which has been in beta testing since June, brings with it iTunes Radio, AirPlay from iCloud, iCloud Photos and Videos (replacing Photo Stream), iTunes Music Store, and conference room mode.

AirPlay from iCloud, which mirrors Google’s Chromecast, is a feature that must be turned on from the Settings. Once enabled, it allows you to “use your iOS device to play videos from iTunes in the Cloud”, which means the content is streamed directly to Apple TV rather than your iOS device. This reduces local bandwidth in half, however, some users may not want the feature since Apple TV handles iCloud video streaming differently than iOS devices. On iOS, your video will start streaming immediately, but the Apple TV takes in a huge buffer which can result in a long wait before the video can start. Also of note, AirPlay from iCloud is only compatible with iOS 7 devices.

The software was called “Apple TV 5.4” while in beta, but it appears Apple has changed the name to Apple TV 6.0 in the public release (as seen in this iTunes Radio KB document).

The update comes just two days after the public release of iOS 7, which brings a refreshed design and several notable features like Control Center. The 1080p set top box is rumored to be undergoing a hardware refresh as soon as next month when the new iPads and MacBooks are set to be updated as well.

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September 18, 2013

Xcode 5.0 released with iOS 7 SDK, 64-bit app compiler

Alongside the release of iOS 7 this morning, Apple has just pushed out Xcode 5.0 to the Mac App Store. The free app includes the SDKs for iOS 7 and Mountain Lion as well as the 64-bit app compiler:

What’s New in Version 5.0

• Includes SDKs for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and iOS 7. • LLVM compiler builds 64-bit apps for iOS 7. • Automatic Configuration enables services like iCloud and Game Center with one click. • Test Navigator helps you quickly add, edit, and run unit tests. • Test Assistants display tests and code side-by-side for test driven development. • Auto Layout in IB can generate constraints automatically, or allow free-form design. • Preview Assistant demonstrates your UI in portrait or landscape, for iOS 6 or iOS 7. • Asset Catalog organizes all your project’s images in a single .xcassets archive. • Debug Gauges show CPU, memory, iCloud, and OpenGL ES usage at a glance. • Source Control top-level menu enables context sensitive branching and merging. • Modules build setting speeds compile times, and enables auto-linking system frameworks.

The update comes in at 1.96GB, which might take awhile with all of the iOS 7 downloading traffic.

Apple has also given its developer portal an iOS 7 style tweak today that brings a cleaner design to the site:

September 17, 2013

Amazon Mobile for iOS adds push notifications for shipments, deals and subscription activity

It’s building up to be a great day for Amazon iOS users. After Amazon Instant Video added AirPlay support this morning, the company has updated their Amazon Mobile app with push notifications for shipments (when they’re sent and when they have arrived), deals, and subscribe & save activity.

What’s New in Version 3.0.0

New for iPad: • Use the new sort and filter experience on iPad to quickly find what you’re looking for

New for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch • New notifications make it easier for you to stay on top of your upcoming shipments, Subscribe and Save orders, as well as Deals of the Day • Bug fixes

The app still has an “antique” non-iOS 7 look, but the push notification options are definitely welcome. Amazon’s relationship with the App Store has been quite shaky to say the least. Apple began a lawsuit against Amazon for using the company’s “App Store” trademark, although that was later dropped. In addition, Amazon does not sell ebooks through the Kindle App Store app since they do not want Apple to take a 30% slice. Customers can make regular retail purchases through the free Amazon Mobile app, though.

September 16, 2013

Latest Mavericks Developer Preview includes updated iTunes 11.1 with new iOS app organizer, other fixes

While the Developer Center still shows iTunes 11.1 beta 2, which was released August 16, today’s Mavericks Developer Preview 8 includes an updated version of iTunes 11.1 (build 110, as compared to 48 previously).

iOS 7 device icons are included in this build and a new “Apps” organizer for configuring apps on iOS devices (Thanks, Filipe!):

Also noteworthy are two new buttons in the podcasts section for accessing old episodes and a new sidebar for settings.

While listening to iTunes Radio, the history button now shows songs that were last played (along with audio preview and purchase buttons):

When you’re down to just one final skip, “1 skip left” appears near the skip button while listening to iTunes Radio:

With iTunes 11.1, a notification appears every time the song changes. In the latest beta, there is an option to turn off this notification in the Preferences pane and the option to keep song changes in Notification Center is also present.

The update makes the shuffle button work again and disables the unlimited skips on iTunes Radio loophole.

iTunes 11.1, which brings with it Apple’s streaming service, iTunes Radio, is required for syncing devices that are on iOS 7 which will be released on Wednesday. Mavericks itself, however, will be released late next month.

September 15, 2013

Print

As the success stories keep piling up, so do the number of projects filling up crowdfunding websites with, among other things, neat hardware- and software-related products. Some projects, like Pebble, gain thousands of supporters as well as millions of dollars in funding (and end up at Best Buy’s retail stores). Other projects flop and don’t reach their necessary funding amount.

Rather than make you sift through all of these projects, we’re rounding up the best or most notable projects from around the web and delivering them to you in a simple roundup.

If there’s a project that you’ve backed – or even a project that you founded – be sure to leave a link below so it can be considered for the next roundup.

  • The Tastiest Cord Solution: Cord Taco, Cordito, Cordlupa (Kickstarter project) – It’s probably not the best idea to actually eat these cord organizers. However, the unique designs allow you to beautifully wrap up your headphones, USB cords, and Mac charging block in style. Just three days into it, this campaign is half way to meeting its $15,000 goal. 925ff1db7b817ee0eb883193691dd012_large expand full story

September 12, 2013

While it appears there will not be any preorders available for the iPhone 5s, many retailers and carriers are announcing their iPhone 5c pre-order plans. Starting tonight at 12:01 am Pacific Time tonight, you’ll be able to place your pre-order directly with Apple and have it delivered right to your door on the 20th – as long as you’re able to beat out the other customers (potentially millions) to the punch.

As a result, it may be better to work out a pre-order with a carrier or retailer as the demand could be much more sporadic, as it has been in past years. On the other hand, these outlets usually receive less stock and Apple supplies their own stores more quickly than they do for third-parties. We’ll be watching the shipping times as these pre-orders roll out so check back frequently.

Below you will find all of the current announcements, but you should definitely also take a look at how to get the most money for your current iPhone:

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September 11, 2013

AAPL down nearly 6%: downgraded by big financial companies after yesterday’s event

After yesterday’s iPhone event, major financial firms downgraded AAPL which has resulted in a ~6% drop for AAPL this morning. As reported by ValueWalk, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of America, and UBS AG downgraded the tech company yesterday.

For Credit Suisse, AAPL is now considered “neutral”, down from “outperform.” Many of the analysts and financial firms were expecting the iPhone 5c to be an inexpensive model for China and other markets where phones go unsubsidized by carriers. However, the iPhone 5c was announced to be only $100 less than the flagship iPhone 5s.

Two days ago, we posted Fortune’s stock price chart that showed AAPL investors, by “conventional wisdom … buy the rumor and sell the news, but the series of stock charts … suggest the opposite.” However, yesterday’s downgrades and the resulting drop in AAPL stock price seem to abide by the conventional wisdom, as Apple never publicly announced that the iPhone 5c was going to be a low-cost or rather inexpensive model for the emerging markets, yet investors are disappointed by the company’s inability to match the rumor mill.

September 10, 2013

Joining the new “Space Gray” iPhone 5s, the 32/64GB versions of the iPod touchiPod nano, and iPod shuffle can now be ordered in new color as well. This might indicate that the iPod line won’t be seeing any update this season/year, since Apple is going through the effort to add the additional color.

The iPod touch sports a 4-inch Retina display, but it is still powered by the A5 chip (the A7 chip was just announced today for the iPhone 5s).

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The iOS 7 GM brings with it a slew of new ringtones that have replaced all of the default sounds for the device. All of the older ringtones are still available in a “Classic” ringtone.

Of note, Apple has even replaced the default ringtone with a new sound called “Opening” (at the end of the video above.

There are also new text tones: expand full story

Despite our best hopes and wishes, it appears Apple won’t be providing a livestream for today’s event. While you’re keeping tabs right here for our liveblog and tweets, we’ll also be hosting a live Google Hangout starting about 15 minutes before the 10 am PST event and extending through the duration of the keynote.

Check it out here. expand full story

September 9, 2013

Prologue: I’ve been a Parallels Desktop user since the Windows XP days (and recently reviewed the latest version, Parallels Desktop 9). However, I’ve always been watchful of VMware and their offerings. This review of Fusion 6 is from my perspective as a Parallels user and potential switcher.

Mac users who need to pull up Windows, Linux, or guest OS X virtual machines usually don’t care too much for the whistles and bells of the virtualization software – they simply want a solid, fast experience to get in, run professional programs or play a few games, and get out. For VMware Fusion users in particular, they tend to care more about the CPU performance for professional apps rather than 3D graphics and frame rates.  expand full story

September 8, 2013

Print

As the success stories keep piling up, so do the number of projects filling up crowdfunding websites with, among other things, neat hardware- and software-related products. Some projects, like Pebble, gain thousands of supporters as well as millions of dollars in funding (and end up at Best Buy’s retail stores). Other projects flop and don’t reach their necessary funding amount.

Rather than make you sift through all of these projects, we’re rounding up the best or most notable projects from around the web and delivering them to you in a simple roundup.

If there’s a project that you’ve backed – or even a project that you founded – be sure to leave a link below so it can be considered for the next roundup.

  • Nova: the slim, wireless flash for better iPhone photos (Kickstarter project) – Just a few weeks ago, we featured the iblazr LED flash, which closed with over $150k in funding. The Nova, on the other hand, is wireless, meaning you have more control over the location and angle of the flash. The project has already met its funding goal, so if all goes well, you’ll see your Nova in February. expand full story

September 6, 2013

With over 90% market share in Mac desktop virtualization software (according to NPD), Parallels is the clear leader in the industry. Now, Parallels has introduced Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac, bringing in new features, improving performance, and preparing for Mavericks and Windows 8.1. How does this version stack up? Is it worth the price? Read on to find out.

Performance

parallels desktop 9

With the software at its ninth version, some may be content with their version of Parallels and think the upgrade isn’t worth the price. However, as a previous PD8 (and all the way back to PD3), allow me to be straight-forward: this upgrade gives the biggest noticeable performance boost ever. The company claims the updated software provides 40% better disk performance, 25% faster virtual machine shutdown times, 20% faster virtual machine suspend times, and 15% faster web browsing and 3D graphics. expand full story

WSJ: China Mobile to carry the less-expensive iPhone 5C

The less-expensive iPhone, dubbed ‘iPhone 5C’ unofficially for now, will be coming to China Mobile, according to WSJ. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was in China last month to speak with China Mobile’s executives about the deal. We had heard whispers and rumors from analysts and other spectators about the news, but WSJ’s confirmation adds massive credibility to the news.

It isn’t clear if Apple and China Mobile have signed an official sales agreement, but the fact that Apple is planning to ship phones implies a deal has been struck.

Apple has asked Foxconn, its longtime contract manufacturing partner, to add China Mobile to the list of carriers slated to receive a new low-cost iPhone, one of these people said. It isn’t clear when the phones would be delivered. Apple is shipping two new iPhones this September, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, including a new high-end model and a cheaper version.

Apple will be holding a satellite media event in China for the first time, joining events in Tokyo and Berlin (and Cupertino, of course). It looks like this upcoming iPhone launch will be the biggest ever across the globe, and analysts are expecting that the new carriers – which includes DoCoMo, Japan’s largest carrier – will double launch week sales.

Update: Bloomberg says that the China Mobile iPhone, while coming, won’t be announced at the September 10th event.

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