Apple’s New Game-Changer: Messages For Mac

Back in the 90s and early 200x, having the ability to send a text message across to another person far away from you via an electronic device (a la SMS) was a costly affair. Back then we didn’t have technologies and innovations as we have now so we were left at the mercy of our network carriers to charge us inexplicable amounts for sending and receiving SMSes. Today, it’s a different ball game altogether.

Ideas like the BlackBerry Messenger, more popularly referred to as BBM, from RIM have found a way to bypass the carrier and instead use the data networks of operators to send instant messages, making it cheap and convenient for users all around. And while we thought things couldn’t get better than this, they just did.

As you know, Apple’s answer to RIM’s BBM is iMessage — an instant messaging service available on all iOS devices, making it a true SMS replacement so long as all your friends have iOS devices which, let’s be honest, they probably do. Now, after a great response, Apple is bringing iMessage to Mac OS. Yes!

With the release of the Mountain Lion OS this summer, Apple will be making iMessage a part of the in-built desktop experience, offering something that not even the incumbent SMS can offer and something that’s not yet possible, unless you resort to a third-party chat protocol-using app.

Ubiquitous instant messaging

With Messages for Mac you can start a conversation on your iPhone and continue it on your Mac whenever you return home. Getting cozy on the bed with your iPad? No problem, your iMessages go with you everywhere. Throw in Skype for calls and FaceTime for video chats and we don’t need these useless carriers at all. Think different.

Apple releases iTunes Match with iTunes 10.5.1

Following several quick-fire beta releases in the past few days, Apple has now released iTunes 10.5.1 final to the public, bringing along iTunes Match as well for the Americans. With iTunes Match, users can now sync their music from their iTunes libraries to iCloud for $24.99 a year. Apple has explicitly said only songs that are available on iTunes can be synced and no songs from outside will be allowed. There’s no limit to your uploads so get downloading iTunes 10.5.1 from Apple’s site here, or from your iDevice’s Software Update option, and begin making your illegal music legal.

P.S. Despite the public launch, Apple is still labeling iTunes Match as a beta product. Developers who have tested iTunes Match will continue receiving a free three months with their yearly subscription.

Apple to launch iTunes Match soon, issues notice to be prepared

Apple is working very hard behind the scenes and is all set to launch iTunes Match very soon, judging by the ‘update’ they have sent out:

As we prepare for the launch of iTunes Match, we will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Saturday, November 12th at 10 AM PST.
Please turn off iTunes Match on all of your computers and iOS devices. On your computer, choose Store > Turn off iTunes Match. On your iOS device, tap Settings > Music, then turn off iTunes Match. On your Apple TV, please choose Music > Turn off iTunes Match.
The songs on your computer should not be affected. As always, please backup regularly and do not delete the music you add to iCloud from your computer.

Apple has asked beta users of its iTunes Match cloud library service to backup their belongings as all the libraries in the cloud will be deleted today at 10 AM Pacific time.

Apple had previously set itself a deadline of October to launch the service but failed to deliver.

We still haven’t received any new launch date but a launch any time soon looks imminent given Apple’s preparations.

iOS 5.0.1 seeded to developers, ‘fixes bugs affecting battery life’, will expire in a month

Apple has seeded iOS 5.0.1 build 9A402 to developers, featuring battery life fixes, multitasking gestures on the original iPad, improvement in Voice recognition for Australian users, and other bug and security fixes. In Apple’s words:

iOS 5.0.1 beta contains improvements and other bug fixes including:
– Fixes bugs affecting battery life
– Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad
– Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud
– Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation
– Contains security improvements

iOS 5.0.1 beta introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.

The update weighs in at 811MB and is available to download from the Developer Center.

Also, interestingly, iOS 5.0.1 expires for developers on Wednesday, December 14 at 8:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Any specific reasons, Apple?

Apple exhales iTunes 10.5

Apple has finally released iTunes 10.5 after releasing several beta updates to it. The download is around 103MB heavy and includes the following new features:

• iTunes in the Cloud. iTunes now stores your music and TV purchases in iCloud and makes them available on your devices anywhere, any time, at no additional cost.

– Automatic Downloads. Purchase music from any device or computer and automatically download a copy to your Mac and iOS devices.

– Download Previous Purchases. Download your past music, TV, app, and book purchases again, at no additional cost. Previous purchases may be unavailable if they are no longer on the iTunes Store.

• Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 5.

• Wi-Fi Syncing. Automatically sync your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iTunes any time they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network.

Download iTunes 10.5 from here.

iTunes 10.5 beta 9 releases

With just over 90 hours to go for Apple’s mega event, the Cupertino giant has seeded iTunes 10.5 beta 9 to developers interested in trying out the upcoming iTunes Match service. Following known issues were spotted from the release:

– “Scan and match” feature is not yet complete. Some users’ tracks may not be recognized by iTunes Match even if the tracks are available in the iTunes Store, and those tracks will be uploaded to the users’ iCloud storage. Some tracks may also be mis-matched to a different version of the same song on the iTunes Store.

– Music can only be added to iCloud from one computer at a time.

– Updating an iOS device to iOS 5 beta 7 may result in music failing to play. Users should turn off iTunes Match in settings and then turn it back on to restore functionality.

Via MacRumors

RIM launches BBM Music, for the love of the “BlackBerry Boys”

Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) has given some more love to the fruit-flavored phone owners in the form of BBM Music, just days after launching the BB Curve 9350/9360/9370 — the last of the 5 devices they launched recently. BBM Music is an addition to the highly popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service offered by RIM to its device holders. A Spotify-esque service, BBM Music allows users to get and keep up to 50 songs in their personal library upon payment of $5 per month. What’s the big deal, you might ask. Well, as with their BBM (messenger), RIM have added the social element to the BBM Music as well. You can add BBM Music friends to your circle and access their 50 songs as well (so RIM wants you to add strangers, eh). Not enough? You are also allowed to swap up to 25 songs per month for new ones to refresh your music library with the latest tunes, with your current library being stored locally on your handset.

The service was built by British music services company Omnifone, which has licensed 10m tracks across all music genres from classical to contemporary rock and pop, with new music generally available on the day of release.

The music, licensed from Universal Music Group, Sony, Warner Music Group and EMI, is essentially rented – it can be downloaded onto phones and listened to when the handset is offline, but cannot be transferred to other devices.

BBM Music

The new service begins today in closed beta for residents of the US, Canada and the UK, but more countries will be added down the road.

Show Press Release

RIM Announces BBM Music – A New Social Music Sharing and Discovery Service

New Cloud-Based Music Service Makes Music a Social Experience

Waterloo, ON – Research In Motion (RIM) today announced BBM Music, a new BBM (BlackBerry® Messenger) service for socially connected music fans.

BBM Music is an easy-to-use cloud-based service that enables social and viral music discovery by allowing users to build an evolving, community-based music library that is shared amongst their BBM Music friends. The size of the music library continues to grow as new friends join the community and each user can select music from a catalog with millions of songs from leading music companies – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI.

“More than 45 million customers already love the social communication benefits delivered through BBM and we are thrilled to be extending the experience into a uniquely social and interactive music service,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “We have partnered with leading music companies to provide a „full track‟ music sharing and discovery experience that will provide users with quality music on demand and allow them to connect with friends on a whole new level.”

Key features of BBM Music include:
– Music made social – BBM Music is a cloud-based, social music service that allows you to share and discover music with your friends, creating a continually evolving music library:
– Build a personal music profile with 50 of your favorite songs. You can refresh your profile by swapping out up to 25 songs each month.
– Invite your BBM friends to subscribe to BBM Music and to join your BBM Music Community.
– With each friend that is added to BBM Music, you grow your music collection since the songs from the profile of each BBM Music friend are available to you at any time.
– Up to 50 tracks from your personal profile are shared with your BBM Music Community, and each member of your community shares up to 50 songs from their profile with you.
– Enjoy a truly social community-based music experience – the more friends who join your community, the more songs you can listen to.
– Easily discover music that your BBM Music friends are listening to, and comment on your friends‟ songs and playlists.
– You can create multiple playlists from music in your profile as well as all of your friends‟ profiles, and with one click you can shuffle the entire collection of music from your BBM Music Community. You can even see which friend contributed each song while it plays.
– Within your BBM Music app, you also see a visual timeline that shows the recent updates of all users within your community. It gives you a chronological view of community updates, including who added new friends, which songs were added or removed, which playlists were created and what comments were made by your BBM Music friends.
– Listen to Full Tracks – BBM Music subscribers can listen to full tracks from their friends‟ profiles – not just previews.
– Offline Listening – Music can be saved to smartphones for offline listening, allowing users to access songs even when they don‟t have wireless coverage.
– Topping the Charts – Keep track of how many friends are listening to your tracks.

“A major component of online music continues to be about community, and the ability to discover new artists and music through word of mouth,” stated Rob Wells, President of Global Digital Business for Universal Music Group. “BBM Music dynamically and elegantly integrates the excitement of this social music discovery process with a high quality music service, enabling tens of millions of BlackBerry users to experience new music and to share those experiences with their friends virtually anywhere and at anytime.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with Research In Motion on their BBM Music service. RIM and its large base of BlackBerry Messenger users represent an exciting platform for expanding the reach of commercial digital music around the world,” stated Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business, U.S. Sales and Corporate Strategy, Sony Music Entertainment. “The combination of a premium music solution and instant messaging will enable viral music discovery and emphasize the social power of digital music. It also offers an effective way of serving younger consumers by integrating music into the fabric of an important hub of their digital activity.”

“A dynamic social music experience is a powerful way for our artists to connect with fans and also for fans to discover music by interacting with each other,” said Michael Nash, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy & Business Development, Warner Music Group. “Addressing more than 45 million BlackBerry Messenger users with a service tailor-made for its mobile community, BBM Music has the opportunity to reach a broad and engaged audience.”

“We are very excited to work with Research In Motion to bring our artists‟ music to BBM‟s huge and very loyal user base,” said Mark Piibe, Executive Vice President of Global Business Development at EMI Music. “BBM Music‟s unique social discovery experience offers fans a great new way to discover music, share their favorite tracks with their friends and build a stronger connection with the artists they love.”

“The widespread adoption of mobile devices provides the perfect foundation for consuming and sharing music. Brands that want to deliver a unique interactive experience must create services that are mobile, social, and contextual,” said Maribel Lopez Principal at Lopez Research and Constellation Research Group.

A closed (limited) beta trial of the BBM Music service is starting today in Canada, the United States and the UK. The BBM Music service is expected to be commercially available to customers later this year for a monthly subscription of $4.99 USD* in Australia, Canada, Columbia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Download Mozilla Firefox 6 Final Version Now!

Mozilla’s Firefox browser has been updated to version 6, and though it only shows ‘beta’ for now with the final version expected to be rolled out through the browser’s automatic updating feature starting next week, the final version is already available as a manual download from the Mozilla servers. This new release includes several minor improvements that might not be noticeable to the naked eye: no major UI changes or a revamped feature set — yet, after using the browser for a few minutes, you might immediately notice speed improvements of about 20% according to Mozilla itself, as well as significantly reduced memory consumption.

You can download Mozilla Firefox 6 from here:

  • Mac version: here.
  • Windows version: here.
  • Linux version: here.

Download Skype 5.2 for Mac!

Skype has updated their video calling software to version 5.2, bringing in some exciting new features to your Mac. The free version includes a “super awesome” background video chatting control bar, while the paid version takes you to the envious Windows level, unlocking group video conferencing, taking you a level up from Apple’s built-in iChat client. There’s also screen and document sharing to keep to interested.

The Windows version on the other hand, to keep the tradition of being better than the Mac version, has Facebook integration with the 5.5 update.

You can download the latest Skype client for Mac here.

Google updates Chrome 9 to stable build

Google has updated Chrome 9 from its beta version to a stable build.

Today, we’re excited to bring several new features from Chrome’s beta channel to the stable build, including WebGL, Chrome Instant, and the Chrome Web Store.

WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software. Curious about the three-dimensional possibilities? Try out these demos to experience the power of WebGL in the latest stable version of Chrome.

Download it now!

Note: Google’s Instant in the Omnibox has to be enabled manually.

P.S. I am currently using Chrome’s 10.0.634.0 version, which is a beta of Chrome 10.

Download Skype 5.0

As you all already know, Skype’s latest version, 5.0 has integrated Facebook into it, meaning you can see your Facebook contacts and even timelines (news feed) right from the Skype window itself. This new version has now come out of beta and has been released to the world for everyone to download. The good: it is finally here! The bad: for now, its Windows only. Mac and other Operating Systems will get a piece of this cake soon.

Another good feature of Skype 5.0 is the group video chat feature. A maximum of 5 users are now allowed to video chat (conference) with each other using Skype 5.0 Group Video Beta. (For now, since group video chat is still in beta, its free. But it could soon be charged for, as Skype hints)

Other notable stand-outs from Skype 5.0

  • Skype Home Dashboard
  • Contact List Integration with Facebook
  • Offline instant messaging
  • New contact search and improved contact adding
  • Enhanced call quality experience
  • User interface refresh