I/O Stories June 25, 2014

Tune in live to Google’s I/O press event live stream

Google I/O starts today, and as per usual, the company is kicking things off with a huge 2-hour press event set to start at 9 AM PT. The event is said to be bringing a multitude of new products and service announcements, rumored to include the “L” version of Android, Android Wear smartwatches, a new line of “Android Silver” smartphones, a second-generation Chromebook Pixel, an “Android TV” set-top box, Project Tango tablets, and Google Glass announcements.

I/O Stories May 15, 2013

Google just announced a new unified messaging service today that will be available across multiple platforms and now the iOS app is officially available to download on the App Store.

Google-Hangouts-app-iconThe free Hangouts app is available as a universal download for both iPhone and iPad and offers group conversations with photos or 850 emojis, Video calls for hanging out with up to 10 friends, alerts that are synced across devices and more.

More Hangouts awesomeness: — View and continue your Hangouts across devices. — Get notifications just once.  After you see an alert, it’ll be removed on other devices. — Snooze your notifications if you’d prefer to respond later. — See what you talked about in the past, including shared photos and your video call history. — Keep a record of any Hangout for just a short period of time by turning history off. — View collections of photos shared from each of your Hangouts. — Choose from over 850 emoji to express what’s on your mind.

The Hangouts feature will also be coming to Gmail users today: expand full story

Google today announced that it is revamping the Google voice search feature available in Chrome on the desktop. While users have always been able to search with their voice through Chrome, Google is attempting to make the service work more like it does through Google Search apps and Google Now on mobile devices.

Chrome will now include “conversational search” with a brand new interface that doesn’t require users to click in order to search with their voice. Like on mobile devices with Google Now, users will now be able to simple say “Google” in order to activate voice search.

Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.

The new interface, as pictured above from Google’s demo of the feature, is much like the voice search interface for Google Now on Android devices.

The new feature will be coming to Macs and PCs through Chrome soon.

Google also briefly showed off some new content coming to Google Now including new cards for Reminders, Music Albums, TV Shows, Books, Public Transit, and Video games rolling out today: expand full story

From 9to5Google:

Google just announced its much rumored new music service called Google Play Music “All Access” live on stage at its Google I/O event keynote presentation.

Google execs focused on showing off curated playlists but also made a note of pointing out a “radio” feature that will automatically create an endless radio station based on the song you’re currently listening to. The service will also allow users to search for a particular song or view the “playlist” of a radio station to remove unwanted songs.

Also included is a feature called “Listen Now” that will provide quick access to recently listened to songs, customized radio stations based on your preferences, and recommendations for new releases from artists you like.

The service will be available on the web, tablets, and phones through Google Play and cost users $9.99 per month with a 30 day free trial in the US. Those that sign up before the end of June will be able to get the subscription for just $7.99/month and Google said the service will land in other countries soon.

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From 9to5Google:

We knew from leaks in the weeks leading up to I/O that Google was planning some gaming related announcements and today the company has officially announced the service in a press release ahead of its Google I/O keynote taking place now. Not only will the service allow Android developers to build in real-time multiplayer, social features, achievements, and leaderboards while storing game saves and settings in the cloud, the SDK for Google Play game services will also be available to iOS and web developers.

Google noted a few titles for Android have already been updated with the feature including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Not surprisingly, the cross-platform gaming service will also build in Google+ integration to track high scores, achievements and more:

-Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.

-Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.

-Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.

-Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.

Google’s full press release below: expand full story

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Just a friendly reminder that 9to5Google will be covering Google’s yearly developer conference called Google I/O today. The 3 hour(!!) keynote starts at noon ET today and can be watched via live stream here.

9to5Google will be posting the announcements as they happen so check back often. expand full story

I/O Stories May 9, 2013

Apple releases Thunderbolt firmware update v1.2 with stability fixes

Apple today released Thunderbolt firmware update version 1.2 with small stability fixes for Target Disk Mode and Thunderbolt. The 1.22MB update is available for download from Apple’s website here.

I/O Stories June 19, 2012

Google accelerating development of Siri competitor for Android

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is accelerating its plans to launch a competitor to Siri. 9to5Google has the full story:

We have heard several reports in the past that Google was working on various evolutions of its Voice Actions platform for Android. Back in December we heard of “Project Majel”, which according to reports is the codename for a new voice-controlled assistant app similar to Siri. In March TechCrunch reported on a similar project dubbed Google Assistant. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is accelerating its plans to launch a competitor to Apple’s Siri…

I/O Stories September 27, 2011

Intel: Existing Thunderbolt Macs will support optical cables

Pictured above: Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable (copper). A representative for Intel, Dave Salvator, told Macworld that the current range of Macs with Thunderbolt I/O will support fiber optic cables which are due next year. This will ensure backwards compatibility of optical cables with existing Thunderbolt ports which work with copper cables. Circuitry will ensure compatibility […]

I/O Stories September 23, 2011

Anand, as per usual, does one of the more in-depth reviews we’ve seen of the Thunderbolt Displays. Some interesting notes:

  • The Thunderbolt Display uses less power than the previous Cinema Display at its dimmest setting (likely just panel efficiency variance) and draws a bit more at max brightness.
  • Pegasus hardware seems to cause serious audio issues which corrupts sound while large file transfers are happening. Expect a fix.
  • There are some nuances with display daisy chaining. For instance, in one configuration Anand had to put a Promise RAID array between the two displays in a daisy chain to get them to work.
  • Next year’s Ivy Bridge will bring more Display options to Macs (and likely USB 3 since the controller is built into the Intel chipset). The future may also hold displays with GPUs built in.
  • For a $1000 display, the speakers “were OK, but not great”. The Camera and Mic were both good.

If you are considering getting one of these displays, check out the full review which was very favorable overall. MacConnection also has the lowest price we could find on the new Thunderbolt display at $979.

Update: Macworld put up a review this morning as well. 4/5 Stars.

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I/O Stories September 20, 2011

We told you late last night that LaCie Thunderbolt disks were arriving in Apple Retail Stores.  Today, LaCie officially announced the availability of its new products which hit the Apple online Store today for $399 (1TB) and $499 (2TB) earlier today.

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That is a $100+ premium over their Firewire drives and you’ll need a $49 Apple Thunderbolt Cable.

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series sets the new standard for the storage industry. Featuring a pair of 2.5″ drives in a Mac OS RAID configuration, the Little Big Disk delivers stunning read speeds more than 480MB/s in SSD and up to 190MB/s in HDD.

It appears that these drives are limited by the speed of the 2.5-inch drives, not by the bus as the faster SSD blows away the HDD version.  It is curious that they didn’t make a 3.5-inch variety which would have allowed for much greater speed and cost much less.

The SSD version will ship next month.

Promise sells their 4TB Thunderbolt RAID boxes for just over $1000, 8TB for $1500 and 12TB for $2000.

Full Press release follows: expand full story

Since Apple and Intel’s joint announcement of the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, one of the most anticipated products to make use of the technology has been the Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk from LaCie. The drive – which comes in both HDD and SSD flavors – was announced all the way back in February for a “summer” launch, and is now finally arriving at Apple Stores in both the United States and internationally. LaCie’s description of Thunderbolt and why it is important for a product like the Little Big Disk:

This new high-speed cable technology connects computers and electronic devices together like never before. Thunderbolt technology supports two 10Gb/s bi-directional channels from a single port, the fastest data connection available on a personal computer. At 10Gb/s, a full-length HD movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds.

Since the drive carries two ports, it can be daisy chained. The drives have already arrived at Apple Stores, which suggest immediate availability, and we are expecting an official announcement from LaCie in the coming days. The hard disk drive variant with 1TB of storage will reportedly cost $399.

Update: here they are.

Apple also announced Thunderbolt updates, another firmware update and a software update for Snow Leopard…

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I/O Stories September 16, 2011

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains: expand full story

I/O Stories September 15, 2011

Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays have begun arriving to customer’s homes. The display looks virtually identical to the previous generation of the giant 27-inch Cinema Display from Apple, and includes USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, and an Ethernet port.

More photos courtesy of reader Scott are after the break.

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Intel today released a couple tidbits to cast more light on Thunderbolt I/O and give folks some perspective concerning its road map. This is my next details some of the features which are outlined in greater detail over at the brand new Thunderbolt web site, which mostly covers branding and various technicalities. For example, we now have it in writing that all Thunderbolt-branded products are to interoperate across all vendors. Per official information, the maximum allowed length of electrical Thunderbolt cables is three meters. Plugs are compatible with Mini-DisplayPort, but DisplayPort cables won’t work as a Thunderbolt cable replacement.

The biggest takeaway is that active optical cables are coming “sometime next year.” Optics will extend Thunderbolt cables to “tens of meters”, but they’ll still provide the same 10 Gbps bidirectional data transfer speeds per channel (there are two channels per cable), much as today’s electrical cables that have circuitry in cable ends. In all, about twenty third-parties are backing Intel’s technology, which isn’t that much considering that Thunderbolt, after all, is a future-proof I/O technology from the world’s largest chip maker.

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…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.

I/O Stories September 14, 2011

After releasing an EFI firmware update for the MacBook Air earlier this week, Apple has released an EFI update for both the MacBook Pro and Mac mini this afternoon. The MacBook Pro update is version 2.2 and Mac mini version 1.3, fixing compatibility issues for the upcoming Thunderbolt Display and bringing numerous Lion fixes — and adding Lion Internet Recovery on the MacBook Pro.

Hit up Software Update on your Mac to get downloading. (via The Next Web)

I/O Stories September 13, 2011

Belkin took a little bit of time today at IDF to show off their new Thunderbolt Express Dock that provides a selection of ports that mirror the new 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display, sans the $999 price point.

The accessory sports three USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, Firewire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Perhaps the dock could use some more of that Apple “mimimalism” – we’re sensing some wasted space being used here.

There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, and Daily Tech reminds us we might still have to cough up $50 for a Thunderbolt cable. We’ll keep you updated when the device is officially announced. More Thunderbolt accessories here, another image after the break. expand full story

I/O Stories September 12, 2011

Apple’s Thunderbolt hardware pieces are coming together and to get ready, Apple is updating MacBook Air firmware. The 4 MB update promises to enhance the stability of Lion Recovery from an Internet connection, and resolve issues with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibility and Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance on MacBook Air (mid 2011) models.

Thunderbolt parts have already began shipping and new products include Docks, external PCI Card adapters, as well as storage.

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While we’ve yet to witness the abundance of Thunderbolt-enabled peripherals (they are coming, though), accessory makers have finally begun churning out interesting products for getting some mileage out of your Thunderbolt Mac. We spotted mLogic’s mLink this past weekend and love it a lot. The $399 box, SlashGear explains, hooks up with your Mac via a Thunderbolt port and acts as an external chassis that lets you connect PCIe cards to any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac, just like Magma’s ExpressionBox 3T. They also launched mDock and mBack accessories. The mDock, aimed at mid-2009 or later MacBook Pros, includes either a 2.5-inch Time Machine-friendly 500GB or 1TB SATA 5400 rpm hard drive, port extender and port blocker.

Of course, you can add additional storage by attaching your own external drive via a front-facing USB port. The accessory replicates all of the ports found on the side of your notebook, including MagSafe and mini DisplayPort for hooking up external monitors. Its dedicated front facing USB port provides 10 watts of power for charging the iPad and the box doubles as a standalone charger when not docked. Pity it lacks a pass-through Thunderbolt port. The mDock also neatly routes cables to the back, an important feat for the people in the never-ending pursue of the clutter-free desktop. And about that mBack gizmo…

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I/O Stories September 7, 2011

Usually, when a brand new industry standard debuts on Macs, there’s a period of shortage before compatible devices begin trickling in. Thunderbolt is no different. Intel partnered with Apple on Thunderbolt earlier this year and it took Apple several months to update its notebooks, iMac and Mac mini families with Thunderbolt I/O. The offering of supported peripherals was initially limited to Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable, LaCie and Promise RAIDs, Matrox gearBlackMagic’s solution for field video editing and a couple other devices.

Following Intel’s release of the Thunderbolt development kit, more companies are announcing Thunderbolt-ready products. By the way, 9to5Mac, MacRumors and other publications received tips that Apple began shipping its new $999 Apple Thunderbolt Display to stores. Now, among the upcoming Thunderbolt gadgets, Magma’s ExpressBox 3T, seen in the above image, caught our attention. Basically a three-slot expansion chassis allowing any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to connect to PCIe 2.0 cards, the box also lets you power up your MacBook Air’s integrate Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with any PCIe graphics cards, useful if you’re going to do some serious video-related work or play latest games on your Air. The accessory is to be demoed at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum which runs September 13 – 15 in San Francisco.

Magma joins Sonnet, which also unveiled a similar Thunderbolt box last month. The $150 Sonnet ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt adapter accepts ExpressCard peripherals and also expands your Air’s connectivity with eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and SDXC and CF cards. More product highlights after the break…

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I/O Stories September 6, 2011

We’re big fans of the Seagate GoFlex series of hard drives and, as of this evening, Seagate has pushed the size limit to an impressive 4TB on a single physical disk.

Currently the 4TB disk is only available in the form factor to the right for a significant $249 price tag. Obviously, the added density drives will filter down into other form factors including bare drives and RAID arrays in the coming weeks and months.

Seagate’ GoFlex enclosure got a facelift as well but alas, no Thunderbolt action for a few more months according to the press release.

As for the USB Desktop version pictured, we’re looking to get our hands on one for a review as soon as possible.  It is available for pre-order now for $229 at Amazon.

Full press release below: expand full story

I/O Stories August 25, 2011

If you aren’t interested in the $1000 Apple Thunderbolt display but still want to add some speedy data transfer to your new MacBook Air, Sonnet has a pretty good solution.  Shipping in October, Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter [ECHO-E34] will set you back $150 but give you access via ExpressCard to the faster data transfers including eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gig Ethernet or even speedier access to SDXC and CF cards.

There will be more of these “Thunderbolt docks” coming before the holidays.

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I/O Stories August 18, 2011

Apple updated its Thunderbolt display delivery page today, indicating that Thunderbolt Displays would ship in 2-4 weeks. 9to5Mac readers who ordered on launch date got shipment estimates anywhere from September 14th – 26th.

Perhaps more enticing, 9to5Mac affiliate partner MacConnection takes $20 off (as well as Tax advantages in most states) and believes they will begin taking delivery on August 26th, just 8 short days away (below).

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