• Weekend News

    FaceTime may be something of a novelty to you, but take comfort in the fact that at least Australians are allowed to use it. That, unfortunately, is not the case in Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Today Apple confirmed these five countries won't be able to make video calls to other FaceTime-compliant devices (even over Wi-Fi), leading to some confusion over who actually blocked the capability – Apple (unlikely), the carriers or the countries' Governments (Apple confirms where FaceTime isn’t available [Updated] - 9 to 5 Mac).

    Apple is still struggling with subscriptions. On the App Store, they've been under pressure from publishers to add a complete pricing model for their readers, while their iTunes Pass service hasn't seen many sales (or releases) in the United States. It looks like the iTunes team may be looking to reverse their subscription woes by introducing a fully-fledged subscription model for music, à la Spotify, who they've been trying to block from entering the United States in the past few weeks. Of course, being Australians, we shouldn't expect to see either service for quite some time (Apple Reportedly Working on iTunes Music Subscription Service - Mac Rumors).

    What happens when you try to keep two iTunes libraries in harmony on two separate computers? Anything but harmony. TJ Luoma experimented with a multiple-computer synced music library that turned his once perfect library into "a 160GB mess". Now he's trying to make things right again, and writing about his experiences in a series of posts (iTunes bankruptcy, step one: The Great Purge - TUAW).

    Genius Lounge. Sounds like a cool idea, doesn't it? According to Apple Store expert Gary Allen, there's one coming to Apple's renovated St Louis Galleria (Minnesota) store, which will occupy a space near the Microsoft Store. Apple has been upgrading stores that now feature Microsoft as a tenant, with brighter entrances and new concepts such as this one, which will use a space outside of the store to use “as a Genius Bar check-in space, Wi-Fi lounge and/or training space” (New Store May Have Genius Lounge In Front - ifoAppleStore).

    Last year, Apple sent out a notification that some services formerly part of the .Mac service would disappear. They also said that HomePages would lose edit/create functionality but remain online for as long as needed. That's no longer the case, as Apple will now take down those published pages on November 8th. Of course, all that published material will remain on user iDisks, just not visible to the world (Apple will discontinue .Mac HomePage viewing Nov. 8 - The Loop).

    Speaking of November 8th, speculation says iLife '11 will drop just one day later. Federico Viticci writes: “Now, Nov. 8th is a Monday. Web content is published through iWeb, which is part of the iLife suite. Shall we expect iLife ’11 to drop on Nov. 9th, a Tuesday? That’d be likely (and definitely welcome). Previous rumors about iLife ’11 included iDVD, iOS integration and 64-bit”. Makes sense to me – an iLife/iWork update is long overdue (.Mac HomePage Shutting Down on Nov. 8th, iLife ’11 To Drop on Nov. 9th? - MacStories).

    Mike Schramm has an interesting interview with Marketing VP Eros Resmini of OpenFeint, one of the social gaming networks for iOS players. The two talked about how things have changed since the introduction of Apple's Game Center and whether it will seriously affect future business. He's not that concerned, “especially when you start talking about cross-platform and the notion that developers won't always be on iOS – they're going to start looking at things like Android and Palm and Amigo” (GDC Online 2010: OpenFeint after Game Center - TUAW).

    Windows is terrible at it and Mac OS X isn't much better – forced restarts after installing software updates have to be one of the most annoying things about being up-to-date on your home computer, and both major operating systems do it frequently. Why? Angus Kidman investigates, noting "the standard answer goes something like this: installers and system software updaters often need to make changes to core operating system files, and they can’t do that while the OS itself is in use without impacting on its stability and on programs that are already running" (Why Do I Have To Reboot My PC So Often? - Lifehacker Australia).

    You're all subscribed to the MacTalk Podcast, right? Right. Well, here's another one you should be listening to – it's called The Talk Show and each week, hosts Dan Benjamin and John Gruber spend a great deal of time talking about “technology, Apple, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Star Wars, Kubrick, and the Web”. Certainly worth trying out, if not subscribing to in iTunes (The Talk Show - 5by5).

    Finally, you may have noticed that I've started using “smart” quotes – and proper dashes in today's news post. That's all thanks to this excellent tutorial by Milind Alvares, who's so crazy about proper punctuation (“One of the things that immediately identifies a person who puts effort into their work, is if they write with proper punctuation, like “smart quotes” or “curly quotes” instead of "inch marks") that he's told his readers how to use them on the Mac and in iOS (Smarten up your Punctuation: Typing special characters - Smoking Apples).

    This week's Apple executive is Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive, pictured here at WWDC 2010 on the world's first public FaceTime call (CEO Steve Jobs appears in the bottom left corner). Photo from CNET.
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