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Resource id #62Apple Still Tweaking iTunes Music Store Algorithms, Restored Editorial Focus Pleases Indies
Following several months of experimentation with how it curates the music portion of its iTunes Store, Apple has rolled back some of those changes to restore an emphasis on editorial rather than sales-based criteria, according to Billboard.

The news comes after a few independent record labels voiced concern over their artists being lost under the better-performing singers and albums of bigger labels. The company has apparently to not fully eliminate sales-based algorithms for deciding on what content to feature, but have "toned down" that aspect to allow editorial discretion to once again steer the offerings on iTunes' main page.

iTunes
After a few weeks of experimenting with that presentation, the iTunes teamed toned down the algorithm and re-asserted the role that editorial discretion has in choosing which music is highlighted in the store. "iTunes will always be driven by editorial discretion," says a source who is familiar with Apple's online store philosophy. "Editorial choice will always be at the heart of what music is featured in the store."
Despite the introduction of the sales-focused algorithm towards the end of 2014 and into the new year, the indie music market still found itself fairly well-represented on the storefront. As Billboard reports, the sector got 40 percent of carousel ads on the main page of iTunes, 50 percent of the "New Music" section, 37 percent of the "Hot Tracks" section, and 20 percent of what Apple calls the "Bricks", the rectangular-shaped ads populating the store.
Indie labels were worried that they would get lost in the shuffle with all the changes happening in the iTunes Store. They were concerned that a sales velocity algorithm playing a strong role in determining what would be featured in its sliders would bolster the advantage of the majors, who tend to have bigger-selling records.
Various other concerns of smaller labels were alleviated, as well, including iTunes' ongoing effort to clean up song duplicates in the storefront, to an extent where some songs were taken down despite being in compliance with the company's rules. But, as one indie executive noted, if a proper case is made to bring back the music, Apple will listen. "iTunes are flexible; they are not an account who says 'its our way or the highway.'"

Perhaps the biggest shift on the back-end of iTunes relates to how pre-order numbers factor into album sales. Previously, pre-order numbers were added to launch day sales, rocketing popular pre-release albums to the top of charts on release. The new configuration wipes pre-order figures away on launch day and starts all albums on level ground, requiring albums to garner successful day one-and-onward launches to hit the top spots.

Apple has been steadily building up iTunes in preparation for the future integration with Beats Music this year. The company has most recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe to possibly work on its iTunes Radio service and acquired media analytics company Semetric to integrate its Musicmetric tracking service into the iTunes/Beats refresh. Apple has also been seeking expertise in music journalism, perhaps to fill out editorial content appearing alongside listings in the iTunes Store.


iCloud Photo Library: What You Need to Know
With today's launch of the public beta of OS X 10.10.3 and the new Photos app for Mac, a number of users are now getting their first tastes of Apple's replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. The release will also complete the rollout of Apple's cross-platform iCloud Photo Library service, offering users an easy way to keep all of their photos stored in the cloud and synced across their devices. Various pieces of the service have been in beta since iOS 8.0 was made available to developers last June.

What Is iCloud Photo Library?


While Apple has offered some iCloud photo services such as Photo Streams for some time, iCloud Photo Library is a new service still in beta that moves the user's entire photo and video library into the cloud. The service is part of Apple's push to make it as easy as possible for users to switch among Mac and iOS devices throughout the day, making the user's photos are available on all of their devices and ensuring any changes get quickly synced across devices.

icloud_photo_library
Initially planned to launch as part of iOS 8.0, Apple pushed the service back to beta ahead of the public release as the company continued to refine the service and work on cross-platform capabilities. The Mac portion was also not ready for the public release of OS X Yosemite last October, but with the new Photos app for Mac ready for launch, all of the pieces are falling into place for iCloud Photo Library.

Turning on iCloud Photo Library


- iOS 8.1 or later: Open the Settings app and head to the iCloud section. Make sure you're logged in, and access the Photos section, where you'll find a toggle for iCloud Photo Library. This option can also be accessed through the Photos & Camera section of Settings.

- OS X 10.10.3: Open System Preferences and head to the iCloud pane. If you're logged in, you'll see a list of the various iCloud services. Hit the "Options..." button next to Photos, and you'll see a window where you can turn on iCloud Photo Library. You can also manage settings within the Preferences section of the new Photos app directly.

- iCloud.com: Photos stored in iCloud Photo Library are also accessible through Apple's web-based iCloud.com service. Through the web interface, users can upload or download photos, browse via Moments and Albums view, print or email photos, and mark individual photos as favorites.

iCloud Photo Library Settings


The new Photos app for Mac that arrives with OS X 10.10.3 is built to work with iCloud Photo Library, although users can opt to use local photo libraries on their machines if they prefer. Users opting for iCloud Photo Library have the option of storing the original photos on their Mac, which is ideal for offline access, or a more flexible optimized arrangement that stores originals locally if you have enough storage space but uses lower-resolution versions if local storage is tight and only downloads the full-resolution versions from iCloud as needed.

icloud_photos_prefs_mac
iCloud settings in Photos for Mac preferences

Similar settings are available on iOS, where users can choose between storing full-resolution photos right on their devices or saving some space by storing lower-resolution versions onboard and keeping the full-resolution version in iCloud.

On iOS and OS X, users will also continue to see an option for My Photo Stream, which is Apple's existing service that allowed users to automatically sync their last 1,000 photos between devices. On devices where iCloud Photo Library is active, there will no longer be a separate My Photo Stream album, as all photos are now included in the main library stored in iCloud.

The My Photo Stream setting does, however, offer some level of integration between devices where iCloud Photo Library is enabled and those where it is disabled. Turning on My Photo Stream on a device with iCloud Photo Library is enabled allows the device to import Photo Stream photos from other non-iCloud devices and also send new photos out to My Photo Stream for display on those devices.

Using iCloud Photo Library


Once you understand that iCloud Photo Library stores and syncs photos across devices, usage is very straightforward and it behaves very much like a local photo library stored on the user's machine. Users can freely manage, edit, and save their photos as they have always done, with the added bonus of that work automatically appearing wherever they have iCloud Photo Library enabled. The original photos always remain stored in iCloud, making it easy to revert any edits made on a device.


As with a local photo library, users can include photos from any source, making iCloud Photo Library more than the familiar Photo Streams of images taken on their devices. Photos and videos of a wide range of types from any source can be added to the user's library on one device, and they will sync to all other devices.

One important consideration when deciding whether or not to use iCloud Photo Library is that it is an all-or-none proposition on a given device unless the user chooses to use multiple photo libraries on OS X. With a single photo library, there is no option to sync only some photos while the remainder remain stored only locally, so for example, users can not opt to have only their iOS device photos synced to their Mac via iCloud Photo Library but not have their full library of photos in the Photos app for Mac synced to iCloud and the user's other devices unless they want to manage multiple libraries.

Pricing


iCloud Photo Library taps into a user's iCloud account storage, which is also used for iCloud Drive document storage, device backups, and more. iCloud users receive 5 GB of storage for free, but users who wish to back up their devices to iCloud frequently find they need more than that, and iCloud Photo Library will only increase the need for additional storage.

Apple offers several paid storage tiers for iCloud, priced on a monthly basis and ranging from 20 GB to 1 TB. The lowest paid plan at 20 GB costs $0.99/month in the U.S., with Apple also offering a 200 GB plan for $3.99/month, a 500 GB plan for $9.99/month, and a 1 TB plan for $19.99/month. Even the high-end 1 TB plan may not be enough for some users who have a lot of photos, requiring them to either archive some photos outside of the service or simply opt to not use iCloud Photo Library at all.

If you fill up your iCloud storage allotment, new photos and videos will no longer be uploaded to iCloud, and libraries will no longer be synced across devices. In order to restore iCloud Photo Library functionality, users will need to either upgrade to a larger storage plan or reduce storage usage by manually deleting certain photos or other files from iCloud.

Turning Off iCloud Photo Library


So what if you've turned on iCloud Photo Library and later decide you don't want to use it anymore, either for a specific device or across all devices? On a specific device, iCloud Photo Library can be disabled the same it was turned on, through the iCloud portion of the Settings app on iOS device or System Preferences or Photos preferences on a Mac. If you are currently storing optimized versions of your photos, your system will give you the opportunity to download the full-resolution photos from iCloud, at which point you will have a complete local photo library on your device.

If you prefer to turn off iCloud Photo Library entirely, you can head to the Manage Storage section of iCloud settings either in the Settings app on an iOS device or System Preferences on a Mac. In that section, you can choose to Disable and Delete iCloud Photo Library, after which point you will have 30 days to download your library to at least one device before it is removed entirely.

Wrap-up


iCloud Photo Library represents one of Apple's latest efforts to streamline the experience of using multiple devices, many of which have been bundled under the "Continuity" umbrella. While remaining separate, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite integrate the user experience with features such as Handoff, which allows users to pick up right where they left off on composing an email, browsing the Internet, and more when switching devices; Instant Hotspot, which lets users easily tap into their iPhone's cellular connection to provide an Internet connection for an iPad or Mac with no configuration needed; and convenient features for answering phone calls and carrying on SMS conversations right from a Mac or iPad.

Many of these Continuity features tap into iCloud as a method for linking various devices, and iCloud Photo Library takes that one step further to ensure the users' photos are available regardless of which device they are currently on. After an extended beta testing period as Apple has put together the various pieces for iOS, OS X, and the web, iCloud Photo Library is nearly ready for its full public release.


Case Logic Video Review: Hands-On With the Ibira MacBook Backpack
Case Logic is known its line of backpacks, cases, and other storage accessories, all of which are priced affordably, making it quite popular with people looking for inexpensive but quality solutions for carrying around their devices.

We met up with Case Logic at CES this year, where the company had a large booth showcasing all of its products, including the Ibira backpack, one of its newest offerings. We went hands-on with the Ibira backpack in our latest video review, so check it out to see what we thought.


The Ibira is a lightweight, slim backpack but we were impressed with what it was able to hold. We fit in a MacBook, an iPad, an Apple keyboard, an iPhone, several chargers and accessories, a water bottle, and several notebooks. Build wise, the backpack is made of a high quality material that feels like it will stand up to heavy usage, but the straps were a bit too thin and could use more padding to be comfortable.

Case Logic's Ibira Backpack is available in black and anthracite from the Case Logic website for $29.99.


Apple's iTunes Team Seeking Expertise in 'Music Journalism' Ahead of Rumored Revamp
Earlier in the month, Apple's London-based iTunes team posted a job listing describing an "Editorial Producer" who would have past experience reporting on pop culture, with specific background in music journalism (via Music Ally). While far from definitive, the job post could be hinting at some editorial-related expansions coming to the revamped Beats/iTunes merger set to launch later in the year.

Set to be split between editorial and producing duties, the full-time job would require the applicant to write, edit, and oversee a group of various freelance writers covering content from music to books and movies. A good portion of the job will be devoted to "special projects and promotions" as well, with a focus on collaboration between other departments to make sure all of the content is successfully produced on time.

iTunes
Key Qualifications

-Excellent communication, cross-departmental collaboration, and planning skills with a strict attention to detail.
-Seasoned writer with broad pop culture background.
-Deep contacts in the freelance world with writers who can cover the spectrum of pop culture (music, movies, books, etc.).
-Experience managing and motivating a stable of freelance writers.
-Experience working cross-functionally across content, business, and production teams.
-Project management experience.
Apple has been hinting at big changes coming to iTunes, with the company acquiring media analytic service Semetric, and BBC Radio host DJ Zane Lowe joining the company ahead of the big Beats Music revamp. As Music Ally points out, the new job posting could be pointing to an even bigger expansion for the service in terms of an original journalistic effort.

As it stands, Apple's iTunes, iBooks, and App Store point users in the direction of various top-selling or most popular music, books, movies, and apps with occasionally short "iTunes Editors' Notes" detailing new and favorite releases amongst the services. Despite the fact the new post seems to be pointing to an attempt by the company to add original content and opinions to their download service, as with any job listing, it's far from a confirmation that this will be a direction the company takes in the future.

Though the exact timeline for the launch of the new Apple-backed Beats Music service has remained blurry, news concerning the service has remained steadily consistent since its announcement. Most recently it was reported that the Beats Music revamp would see a fairly deep integration into OS X and iOS, with users possibly even being able to merge their Apple ID with a Beats account for a more seamless experience.


Mac Pro Buyer's Guide: Which Model to Choose
Apple's Mac Pro is quite an impressive machine. It doesn't look like any other computer; it's a work of art with its sleek, cylindrical body. It's fast, fast, fast. And it's expensive.

mac_pro_thunderbolt_display
The Mac Pro isn't for everybody, and not just because it's Apple's highest-priced computer. It is made to excel with a certain type of app: professional software that uses multiple processing cores, like software commonly used by videographers, photographers, animators, designers, scientists, and musicians. If that describes what you do on a daily basis, then you'll benefit from a Mac Pro -- you'll make your money back in time saved.

This guide takes a look at the Mac Pro's specifications, design, and performance. If you're in the market for a Mac Pro and you're not sure which model to buy, this guide will help you sort it all out.

Specifications


Apple offers two standard configurations. You can pick one of the standard configurations, but the Mac Pro is all about custom configurations. Think of the standard configurations as a starting point, and you can then customize your order to better suit your needs.

intel-xeonThe $2999 Mac Pro:

  • 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor

  • 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory

  • Dual 2GB AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards

  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage


The $3999 Mac Pro:

  • 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor

  • 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory

  • Dual 3GB AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards

  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage



amd-graphics-chipsApple offers the following upgrades for the Mac Pro:

  • 3.0GHz 8-core processor or 2.7GHz 12-core processor ($500 to $3,500 extra)

  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of RAM ($100 to $1,300 extra)

  • 512GB or 1TB of flash storage ($300 to $800 extra)

  • Dual 6GB AMD FirePro D700 graphics cards ($1000 extra)


As you can see, building a fully-loaded top-of-the-line Mac Pro can get expensive. Based on the add-ons you choose, your Mac Pro could cost up to $9,599.

Since the Mac Pro is such a compact computer, there's no room for adding extra drives or expansion cards like you would in the old Mac Pro tower, so you have to rely on the external ports. Fortunately, Apple includes a lot of them, but it also means you may have several external boxes sitting next to your Mac Pro, as well as a bunch of power plugs. Apple includes the following ports:

  • Four USB 3 ports

  • Six Thunderbolt 2 ports

  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet

  • One HDMI port



mac_pro_ports
Get more details on the Mac Pro specifications in our roundup.

Performance benchmarks


You've probably heard all the talk about the Mac Pro being Apple's fastest Mac. It's true, for the most part. The Mac Pro is designed with multi-core processing in mind, and the Mac Pro does its best when using apps that can take advantage of multiple cores -- high-end video editors, 3D renderers, audio editors, compilers, and other apps used by professionals.

The benchmarks prove this out. Several sites have published benchmarks that demonstrate the Mac Pro's multi-core prowess. Geekbench 3 results show that in its 64-bit multi-core tests, the 12-core Mac Pro is unsurprisingly the top performer.

geekbench-macpro-2014-multi
The results also predictably show that performance increases when you have more cores. After the 12-core Mac Pro is the 8-core model, followed by the 6-core and quad-core Mac Pros. When buying a Mac Pro, it pays to upgrade the processor. Get what you can afford. AnandTech and Macworld have more details about pro apps and performance.

The Mac Pro stumbles a little when it comes to single-core performance. Apps that only take advantage of a single-core include those that most general consumers would use every day -- email, browser, productivity apps, consumer level video and audio editors, etc. In fact, the iMac is a better single-core performer.

geekbench-macpro-2014-single
If your Mac is an everyday general use computer and you have the desk space, you're better off getting an iMac than a Mac Pro.

To get more performance out of your Mac Pro, consider upgrading the graphics cards. AnandTech's testing shows that some apps, like Final Cut Pro, take advantage of the two graphics processors in the Mac Pro, especially when rendering effects. However, there are apps (and most games) that aren't written to split compute tasks over two GPUs; one GPU is used for basic display duties, while the other covers the compute tasks, so there isn't a distinct advantage to a graphics card upgrade. If you work in pro apps, do some research to see if they can take full advantage of a dual graphics card setup.

The role of the Retina iMac


Apple released the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display in October of 2014. With its 5120 by 2880 pixel display, it seems like a desirable computer for pros.

However, in multi-core performance, the Mac Pro is still king. In Geekbench multi-core testing, the 12-core Mac Pro is nearly 100 percent faster than the Retina iMac, while the 8-core is 55 percent faster and the 6-core is 27 percent faster. The Retina iMac does outperform the quad-core Mac Pro, by about 15 percent.

imac_retina_waterfall
The Retina iMac does beat the Mac Pro in single-core performance, as you can see in the Geekbench charts above. Primate Labs, the developers of Geekbench, took a closer look at the performance between the Retina iMac and the Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro doesn't have the ability (yet) to drive a 5K display, but it can support up to three 4K displays. Apple had to build a custom controller for the Retina iMac to support a 5K display, so if you absolutely need a 5K display, the Retina iMac is your only choice.

If you're thinking of using the Retina iMac as an external display for the Mac Pro, you're out of luck. The Retina iMac doesn't support target display mode.

Which Mac Pro should you buy?


First, should you buy a Mac Pro in the first place? If you're a professional using high-end apps that can take advantage of multiple processing cores, then yes, a Mac Pro is the right computer for you. The Mac Pro is made for those kind of apps, and you'll be quite productive with such a machine.

If you just love the design of the Mac Pro and have the money, who's going to stop you from buying one? It is, after all, the smallest headless desktop computer Apple offers that isn't crippled like the Mac mini. Just understand what the Mac Pro is designed to do.

OK, so you're getting a Mac Pro. Which one? It's worth it to go for the $3999 model with the six-core processor. If you can afford to upgrade to eight or 12 cores, go for it. You'll see the performance boost with apps that can take advantage of multiple cores. The $2999 quad-core Mac Pro is a good performer, but in Geekbench 3 multi-core benchmarks, it's actually outperformed by the $2499 Retina iMac, which ends up being a better value. (It has been nearly a year since the Mac Pro was released, so a processor speed bump could happen sooner than later.)

The more RAM the better is also a good general guide, so try to bump up to at least 32GB if you're going to be doing intensive work on the machine. Storage is one area where you might be able to skimp, however, if only because the Mac Pro maxes out at 1TB and professional level users are likely going to be using much larger external RAID drives for speed, data protection, and capacity.


Buyer's Guide: Deals on iMac, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, Apple Accessories, and More
Following Valentine's Day, deals are a bit sparse, but there are still some discounts to be had on the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3. Best Buy is also continuing to offer discounts on its stock of now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air and iPad mini 2 models, and several sites have cut the prices on the Retina MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

We've also got some discounts on Apple accessories, including an exclusive discount on iPad, iPhone, and MacBook skins from SkinIt for MacRumors readers.

iPad Air 2


B&H Photo is offering up to $60 off its entire stock of iPad Air 2 models, dropping the price of the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 to $464. Discounts vary based on model, but the lowest discount is $35 and the highest is $60 off the 128GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2.

iPad Air


Best Buy still has a few now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air models available at low prices.

- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (AT&T) - $499.99
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (Verizon) - $566.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 64GB (Verizon) - $566.99

ipadair2c

iPad mini 3


Best Buy is discounting its stock of 16GB iPad mini 3 modelsby $50, dropping the price on cellular versions to $479.99 and the price of Wi-Fi only versions to $349.99.

iPad mini 2


Best Buy still has a few now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models available at low prices.

- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 64GB - $399.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 128GB - $499.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 128GB - $499.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Silver 64GB - $424.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Space Gray 128GB - $566.99

iMac


- 21.5-inch 1.4Ghz/8GB/500GB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $999, $100 off
- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $1,179, $120 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,389, $100 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,689, $110 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,794, $205 off
- 27-inch 3.5Ghz/8GB/1TB Retina iMac (Adorama) (B&H Photo) (MacMall) - $2,349, $150 off

imac_retina_waterfall

MacBook Air


- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $819, $50 off
- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $999, $100 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo (Adorama) - $919, $80 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,099, $100 off

macbook_air_yosemite_roundup

Retina Macbook Pro


- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,189, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,399, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,599, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (Best Buy) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,799.99, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB - (Best Buy) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $2,249.99, $200 off

macbook_pro_13_15_late_2013

Apps


There are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.

Calcbot, which just got an update, is currently available for free. Gunship X, normally $0.99, is free this week. Tactical game Frozen Synapse, normally priced at $9.99, is also free.

Duet Game is available for free this week as Apple's App of the Week pick. It's regularly priced at $2.99.

Apple Accessories


Groupon is selling a 3.3-foot Lightning cable plus a 5-watt power adapter for $14.99, down from the regular combined price of $38. The site also has the leather iPad Smart Cover for iPad 2, 3, and 4 for $12.99, down from $69. Woot is selling the Sony portable Bluetooth dock for $129.99, down from $249.

ipadsmartcover
The JBL OnBeat Mini Speaker Dock for iPhone 5/5s/6/6 Plus and iPad is available for $39.99 from Groupon, an 80 percent discount off its regular price. Woot is selling the Mophie Juice Pack Helium cases for the iPhone 5/5s for $29.99, down from the regular price of $79.95. LivingSocial is selling the Speck CandyShell Grip case for iPad mini for $14.99, down from $44.95.

mophiehelium
The Jawbone Big Jambox is available for $187.99 from Woot, down from its regular price of $299. The Ion iCade Arcade Bluetooth cabinet is available for $79.99from Amazon, $55 off its regular price of $129.99.

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SkinIt, a site that makes custom skins for a wide range of devices from the iPhone to the MacBook, is offering a special deal buy one get one 50 percent off deal for MacRumors readers. With the code MACRUMORS, you can get 50% off a second skin after purchasing one skin.

MacMall is offering discounts on several monitors. The 32-inch Acer B326HK 4K monitor is available for$879.99, $120 off. The ASUS Professional Graphics 27" WQHD 2560 x 1440 LED-Backlit PLS Monitor is available for$439.97, $270 off. The Dell 27" Ultra HD 4K Monitor is available for$579.99, $120 off.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.


Photoshop Celebrates 25th Anniversary With 'Top 25 Under 25' Artist Showcase
Popular image editing tool Adobe Photoshop turns 25 years old today and plans to celebrate by showcasing a collection of artists, all under 25, who use its comprehensive suite of tools in new and unique ways.

Released on February 19, 1990 with a handful of basic editing features, the software has seen massive updates and overhauls throughout the years, with over a dozen major installments to its software since its first launch.

Photoshop
As pointed out by Adobe, the source of the company's continued success in the ever-changing modern world is its "constantly evolving capabilities" that allow its software to be used for everything from coffee mug design to the artwork of a Hollywood blockbuster.
"For 25 years, Photoshop has inspired artists and designers to craft images of stunning beauty and reality-bending creativity," said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe president and chief executive officer. "From desktop publishing, to fashion photography, movie production, website design, mobile app creation and now 3D Printing, Photoshop continues to redefine industries and creative possibilities. And today that Photoshop magic is available to millions of new users, thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud."
Adobe launched a new TV spot for the 25th anniversary, as well, called "Dream On," which it plans to air during The Academy Awards this Sunday. With the Hollywood production theme, the ad includes references to movies like Gone Girl, Avatar, and How To Train Your Dragon 2, and the occasions where each film used Photoshop in the process of the movie's production.


In honor of the occasion, the company is holding a "Top 25 Under 25" artist showcase, with hopefuls uploading their artwork to Behance and using the tag "Ps25Under25" to submit themselves for the top spots. The winning 25 artists in the end will take over Photoshop's Instagram, each given a two week hold over the account, to showcase their work for the world to see. The celebration starts today with artist Fredy Santiago - a 24-year-old Mexican-American artist from California - already uploadingsome of his work to the social network.


StackSocial Offers 'Ultra-Premium' Bundle of 8 Mac Apps for $39.99
StackSocial began offering eight Mac apps in its "Ultra-Premium" bundle today, which includes Cultured Code's Things 2, an Apple Design Award winner, and Realmac Software's Typed, which was just released in December. The bundle is priced at $44.99, but StackSocial is offering MacRumors readers a $5 discount with coupon code MRULTRA5, bringing the price down to $39.99.

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The total retail value of all eight apps is $469, so the bundle at $39.99 offers a significant savings compared to buying each app individually. The apps included are:

- ScreenFlow 5 ($99.99) - screen recording tool
- Things 2 ($49) - task manager
- Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth ($49.99) - turn-based strategy game
- ProSoft Data Rescue 4 ($99.99) - data recovery utility
- ExpanDrive 4 ($49.95) - directly access files stored in many popular cloud services
- AfterShot Pro 2 ($79.95) - photo editor
- Typed ($24.95) - text editor
- Snapselect ($24.99) - photo sorter for finding and eliminating duplicate and similar photos

Civilization: Beyond Earth was originally announced for Mac last April and debuted in the Mac App Store in November. ScreenFlow previously won an Apple Design Award several years ago.

The Ultra-Premium Bundle is available until March 5.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner of StackSocial.


EA's 'The Sims 4' Now Available for Mac
As promised in January, the newest game in the EA-owned Sims franchise, The Sims 4, is now available for purchase on the Mac. The Sims 4 initially launched for PC back in September of 2014, but it's taken several months for the company to ready a Mac version of the game.

Like other games in the franchise, The Sims 4 tasks players with the creation and control of the lives of virtual characters. The goal of the game is to guide sims through life, establishing relationships, building homes, advancing through careers, and conquering goals.


The Sims 4 begins with creating a sim with deep customization options. It's possible to randomly create a sim to start the game off in just a few minutes, but for those who would like select each aspect of their sim, the options are available. You can customize facial features, hair, accessories, makeup, and select outfits for every occasion from day to day wear to party wear.

Beyond the physical, creating a sim also involves choosing a name, personality traits that affect how sims interact with other sims, and a lifetime aspiration like reaching the top of a career ladder, having a big family, or hosting amazing parties.

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Once a sim is created and ready to move into the world, the idea is to choose a house and direct your sim through life. With The Sims, the possibilities are endless. Sims can lounge around all day watching TV and being slobs, or pick up a job and pursue a career in several different fields, including crime, business, food, and more.

Sims have a never-ending list of minor achievements that are based on their relationships, personality, and lifetime goal, so gameplay largely involves fulfilling these minor achievements (a goal might be talking to a friend, cooking a meal, or buying a household item), earning money, building families, and progressing through the sim's life. Amidst all of this, it's also necessary to meet a sims' basic needs like hygiene, food, and sleep.

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Building houses and community lots is the other major aspect of gameplay in The Sims, and in The Sims 4, a lot of the building tools are easier to use and more intuitive than in past games, making it easy to create detailed structures that range from the simple starter house to sprawling castles.

The Sims 4 has a thriving online community where it's possible to download sims, houses, and rooms created by other users or upload your own. This content is accessible from the "Gallery" option marked by a portrait icon at the top of the screen. The gallery is home to a huge collection of content that can be added to your game with just a few clicks -- one of the most impressive aspects of The Sims 4.

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The Sims 4 has received some criticism for notable gameplay changes and features that were stripped from the previous game, but EA has pledged updates that will return some of the missing functionality to the game over the course of time. EA has already re-added pools and ghosts, two major features that did not ship with the game, and two additional free content updates have added genealogy to track sim family lines, holiday items, and two new careers.

EA's also released a major content pack for The Sims 4, Outdoor Retreat, which introduces a new vacations feature, new areas to explore, new traits, new skills, and more. Along with the full game, the new expansion is available on the Mac.


We tested The Sims 4 for Mac over the weekend ahead of its launch and we didn't encounter any significant bugs, performance issues, or lag when playing the game. Performance was equivalent to the PC version of the game. Of course, some users could still see issues, but on a 2013 iMac and a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, the game ran well. System requirements can be found here.

The Sims 4 is missing some of the content from The Sims 3 and has some major differences in gameplay, namely that it's no longer possible to travel around the world without loading screens, but it should be noted that the game's performance has been much improved by some of these tweaks to the gameplay -- The Sims 4 runs quickly and has minimal lag.

If you've been playing The Sims 4 for PC and want to transfer your saved game to Mac, that's possible with a USB drive. Simply copy the "saves" folder from the PC and transfer it to The Sims 4 folder on the Mac, and the save files will be available and ready to play once you log into The Sims 4 on a Mac.

The Sims 4 for Mac be purchased through EA's Origin platform for $39.99. There's also a deluxe version available for $46.66, which includes exclusive bonus content. Outdoor Retreatcan be purchased for an additional $19.99. If you already own the PC version of the game, you can download the Mac version at no additional cost.


Seagate Seven Review: Hands-On With a 7mm Thick Portable Hard Drive
Seagate debuted several new products at CES this year, including the candy-colored Seagate Wireless portable hard drive and the Seagate Personal Cloud, a NAS (network attached storage) option for home users, but the company's most attention-grabbing offering was the Seagate Seven.

Described as the world's thinnest 500GB portable hard drive, the USB 3.0 Seagate Seven is only 7mm thick, as its name implies, which means it easily fits into a pocket or purse, and it's fairly affordable at $99.

What's in the Box?


The Seagate Seven ships in a slim, padded box that contains the hard drive, a black fabric-covered USB cord to connect the drive to a computer, and a Quick Start Guide.

whatsinthebox

Design


Seagate describes the Seven as the culmination of 35 years of experience creating hard drives. Inside the Seven is Seagate's ultra thin 5mm hard drive, which is encased in 2mm of 100 percent stainless steel for protection.

At first glance the Seagate Seven might be mistaken for an internal drive due to its slimness and its industrial design, but it is a standalone portable drive. Without touching the Seven, it can be hard to imagine just how thin it is, but if you own an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6 Plus, that is a good approximation of thickness.

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At 7mm, the Seven is slightly thicker than the 6.9mm iPhone 6 and slightly thinner than the 7.1mm iPhone 6 Plus. It weighs 6.3 ounces (178 grams), which makes it just about the same weight as the 6.07 ounce iPhone 6 Plus (172 grams).

The Seven is 4.8 inches tall and 3.2 inches wide, which means it fits in a pocket as well as the iPhone 6 Plus. In the simplest of terms, it's really, really thin.

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Its stainless steel design is simple but may not be appealing to all people due to its minimal, unfinished look, and it's worth noting that the casing has a tendency to attract fingerprints. The drive itself feels well-built and it can withstand scratches and wear and tear, but it's still susceptible to drops.


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There's an indicator light located on the front of the hard drive, which glows blue when it is connected to a computer. The Seagate Seven ships with a high-quality fabric-encased USB cord, but at 12 inches, the cord can feel too short when it's used on a large desk.

Software and Performance


Aside from its thin profile, the Seagate Seven is similar to any other 500GB USB 3.0 portable hard drive on the market. It requires a USB 3.0 connection for optimal performance, but it is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and thus works with older machines. The Seven is bus-powered and draws power through a computer's USB port, so it does not need an external power supply.

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In our testing, the Seagate Seven saw average write speeds of approximately 103MB/s and average read speeds of 101MB/s, which is on par with other USB 3.0 hard drives like the LaCie Mirror, which we also reviewed, and fast enough for standard daily use. Unfortunately, the Seven is only available in a 500GB capacity, which may not meet the needs of users who need more storage space.

The Seven comes pre-installed with the Seagate Dashboard Installer and warranty information. With the Seagate Dashboard Installer, it's possible to install the Seagate Dashboard, which lets you manage all Seagate storage devices, and the Utility Driver, for power management and diagnostic features.

It comes formatted in exFAT, which is compatible with Windows and Mac computers, but it can be reformatted on Macs using the Disk Utility app.

The Seagate Dashboard is a useful app because it allows you to back up your mobile content (photos and videos) to the Seagate Seven or another Seagate drive with the accompanying Seagate Dashboard app for iOS. It's also possible to connect social networking accounts from Facebook and Flickr, where photos from the Seagate Seven can be automatically uploaded. Connecting to Facebook or Flickr will allow you to download photos from those sites to the hard drive as well.

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The Seagate Seven works with Macs running OS X 10.6 or higher and Windows machines running Windows XP SP3 or higher.

Who's it For?


According to Seagate, the Seven is aimed at tech enthusiasts who are always after the thinnest devices on the market. It's about twice as expensive as a standard 500GB hard drive from a company like Western Digital or Toshiba, and it's $40 more than Seagate's own Backup Plus Slim, which is just over 10mm.

The Seagate Seven may not be the best choice if you're looking for something that's going to sit on a desk or get occasional use, but if you need storage that's going to see a lot of travel, this is a solid choice -- provided you can work with the 500GB USB 3.0 limits.

You're not going to find much that's thinner or lighter than the Seagate Seven, and believe it or not, 3mm is a noticeable difference. To put it in perspective, the iPhone 4s was only 9.3mm thick, but in comparison to a 7.1mm iPhone 6 Plus, it feels like a brick.

Pros:

  • Extremely portable

  • Pocketable

  • Cutting edge thin design


Cons:

  • More expensive than standard 500GB hard drive

  • Only available in 500GB

  • USB cord is short



How to Buy


The Seagate Seven can be purchased from Amazon for $99. It ships with a three-year limited warranty.


Buyer's Guide Valentine's Day Edition: Discounts on iPad, iPhone, Apple Accessories, and More
With Valentine's Day on the horizon, retailers are offering some decent discounts on the iPad and the iPhone, and there are some deals on the MacBook Air and the Retina MacBook Pro.

Many online sites are also giving customers limited time site wide deals on a range of Apple accessories in honor of the holiday, so if you need a last minute gift, make sure to check out this week's Buyer's Guide.

iPhone


Target is offering a $30 discount on its stock of Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices, dropping the price of the entry-level 16GB iPhone 6 to $169.99 (with 2-year contract).

All iPhone 6 and 6 Plus purchases will also come with an additional $30 Target gift card. The promotion expires on February 14.

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iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3


Target is offering a $50 Target gift card with the purchase of any iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3, along with a $20 discount on the purchase of MS Office 365. iPad Air 2 prices start at $499 and iPad mini 3 prices start at $399.

The gift card with purchase deal will be available until 11:59 PM PT on February 14.

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Best Buy is offering a straight $50 discount on its entire stock of iPad Air 2 models dropping the price of the entry-level Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad Air 2 to $449. Best Buy is also offering $50 off its 16GB iPad mini 3 models, both cellular and Wi-Fi, dropping the price of the entry-level Wi-Fi only model to $349.

B&H Photo is also offering discounts of up to $50 on its stock of iPad Air 2 models and discounts of $10 to $30 on its stock of iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 tablets.

Retina MacBook Pro


- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (Adorama) - $1,189, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,399, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,599, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (Adorama) - $1,769.99, $230 off
- 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB - (Adorama) - $2,219.99, $280 off

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MacBook Air


- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama)- $819, $50 off
- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $999, $100 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo (Adorama) - $919, $80 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,099, $100 off

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Non-Retina iMac


- 21.5-inch 1.4Ghz/8GB/500GB (Adorama) - $1,019, $80 off
- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,189, $110 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,389, $100 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,689, $110 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $1,799, $200 off

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Mac Pro


- 8-core 3.0GHz/32GB/512GB/FirePro D700 Mac Pro (MacMall) - $6,149, $650 off

Apps


As always, there are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.

Board game Ticket to Ride is available for $2.99 this week, down from $6.99. Note Rocket sketchpad is available for free, down from $1.99. WeatherPro is available for $0.99, down from $2.99. Pomodoro Time is available for free this week, down from $1.99. Those Days is available for free, down from $2.99.

Apple Accessories


Groupon is selling the Griffin GuitarConnect Cable for iOS devices for $19.99, down from $29.99. The 'Prep Pad' Smart Food Scale and Nutrition Tracker is available from StackSocial for $112, down from $149.

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Beats by Dre Solo2 headphones are available for $159.99 from Groupon, down from $199. StackSocial is selling the Sesame 2 Wireless Auto-Lock for Mac for $29.99, $10 off the regular price. A refurbished Mophie powerstation duo or PRO is available for $39.99 from Groupon, down from $99.

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MacMall is selling a refurbished LaCie Rugged 1TB Thunderbolt hard drive for $89.99, $110 off the regular price. MacMall also has a refurbished 2TB Quadra LaCie hard drive for $119.99, $80 off the regular price.

Fluxmob, a site that sells super portable Bolt 3,000 mAh portable batteries is offering 20 percent off site wide through February 15. iPhone accessory maker Speck is offering 20 percent off site wide through today with the promo code SWEETHEART.

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Incase is offering a 40 percent off coupon code for its online store when signing up for the company newsletter. Cablejive, a site with a range of iPhone chargers and cables, is offering 20 percent off site wide with the coupon code LOVE.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.


Tim Cook Expected to Arrive in Israel Next Week for Inauguration of Herzliya-Based Offices
tim_cook_headshot_glassesA new report out of Israel-based business newspaper Calcalist [Google Translate] claims Apple CEO Tim Cook is planning to make a trip to Israel next week to coincide with the grand opening of the company's newest office space in the country. The plans are, however, yet to be finalized.

The project, housed in the beachfront district of Herzliya Pituach, has been ongoing since the middle of 2013, when Apple signed a contract to lease 12,500 square meters of office space in the district.

With the project now completed, Apple is set to house 800 employees in an expanded footprint of 17,000 square meters (183,000 square feet). According to Haaretz, the company's R&D centers in Israel are focused on "storage space, processors and communications chips," so the new Herzliya offices are likely to be tied into those areas.

Apple has two other office spaces in Israel: one much farther out from Herzliya in Haifa and another within walking distance of the new building in nearby Ra'anana. For that reason, Apple is expected to consolidate the Ra'anana offices into the new building once it's up and running.

As Haaretz noted back in 2013, many believe Apple's continued expansion overseas highlights the company's deep appreciation of foreign markets and its desire to keep the manufacturing of Apple products under as much of its own control as possible.
“Apple is preparing to drop external suppliers and to control its entire production process,” [Explace chairman Shlomo] Gradman said. “This is a company that maintains its secrecy and they’re currently exposed to information going every which way. So it’s buying companies and improving its abilities in the field of microelectronics so that it can control the production process from beginning to end."

“Even though Apple has been active in Israel for only a short time, the company has been impressed by the abilities here."
Apple first began making headway into Israel after purchasing flash memory firm Anobit to gather a few key components of the manufacturing of the iPhone and iPad - namely flash memory performance and reliability - under its own roof. A meeting last year between Cook and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed towards the company's continued interest in Israel's market, despite the specifics of the conversation being kept private.

(Thanks, Hagai!)

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


LaCie Mirror Review: Hands-On With LaCie's Latest Designer Hard Drive
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Seagate-owned hardware company LaCie debuted its newest design-focused hard drive, the $280 USB 3.0 LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive, which has recently become available for purchase. MacRumors met up with LaCie at CES, and we managed to get our hands on one of the company's new hard drives to share with our readers.


LaCie has a history of producing "Extreme Design" products that are aimed at people looking for an attention-catching desk accessory that also performs a useful function, which last year resulted in the LaCie Sphere, a silver-plated sphere that housed a 1TB hard drive. This year's LaCie Mirror follows in the footsteps of the Sphere, offering a 1TB hard drive in a mirrored enclosure, albeit with a slightly more traditional shape.

What's in the Box?


As a premium product, the LaCie Mirror ships in a premium box, which folds out in two tiers to unveil the hard drive in a padded compartment, a cord to connect it to a computer, and a wooden stand.

There's also a carrying pouch for keeping the Mirror free from scratches during transport, a cleaning cloth for removing fingerprints from the surface and a Quick Install Guide for getting the hard drive set up right out of the box. The hard drive itself ships covered with adhesive plastic screen protectors, so make sure to remove those before use.

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Design


The LaCie Mirror was designed by French designer Pauline Deltour, who has created a range of modern furniture and home accessories, including several pieces that are sold by Alessi and MUJI. The Mirror is similar to much of Deltour's previous work, with a simple, clean look that's able to fit in with any office design, from opulent to minimalistic.

It can easily pass as a decorative art object rather than being immediately recognizable as a hard drive, and this is definitely an accessory you want out on your desk, not hidden away in a drawer or cabinet.

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About as wide as an iPhone 6 Plus (but not quite as tall), the Mirror feels well-built and sturdy. It weighs in at half a pound and it is half an inch thick. The entire hard drive is mirrored, from the front and back to the sides. The mirrored surface is covered with Corning's Gorilla Glass 3, which ensures that it's going to stay free from scratches both when on the desk and when in travel.

Unfortunately, the Gorilla Glass doesn't repel fingerprints, which cover the LaCie Mirror in seconds when its picked up. The hard drive's tendency to attract fingerprints and dust explains why it ships with a cleaning cloth. Keep that nearby if you purchase the Mirror -- it will need a quick polish each time it's picked up.

The Mirror ships with a quality ebony wood stand, which has a slot for the hard drive itself and an extra slot where a pen can be stored. The dark wood contrasts nicely with the mirrored design of the hard drive and allows it to be positioned in either a portrait or landscape orientation.

Depending on how the hard drive is positioned on a desk or table, it will show your reflection, which can be mildly distracting. It also has a tendency to reflect sunlight or bright light that shines on it, another small distraction. Both of these situations can be avoided by simple repositioning and there are some benefits to the mirrored surface -- in offices where seeing people approach your desk is helpful, the LaCie Mirror offers a subtle way to keep an eye on your surroundings.

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The Mirror has a LaCie logo on the side with the USB port, which is used as a status light. When the hard drive is on, the logo lights up, and when it flickers, data is being accessed. When it flickers on for one second and then turns off for 30 seconds, the hard drive is in sleep or "Eco Mode" and when it is not lit, the hard drive is not powered on.

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Software and Performance


The LaCie Mirror offers 1TB of storage space and connects to a hard drive via USB 3.0 with the included flexible, fabric-covered USB cable. It requires a USB 3.0 port for optimal performance, but it also supports USB 2.0 and can be used with older machines. The Mirror is bus-powered and draws its power from a computer so it does not require an external power source.

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In our testing, the LaCie Mirror saw average read/write speeds of about 100MB/s and top speeds of 117MB/s (with read speeds that were ever-so-slightly higher than write speeds), which is in the range of other similar USB 3.0 hard drives. It's not super fast, but it's not underperforming compared to other USB 3.0 hard drives.

When the Mirror is plugged in for the first time in a Mac or Windows machine, it prompts you to open the included LaCie Setup Assistant to get the hard drive up and running quickly. The first setup option helps users partition the drive, either for use entirely with Mac systems or for use between Mac and Windows systems. Choosing a Mac only setup opts for the HFS+ format, while choosing a dual setup uses the FAT32 format.

HFS+ is not compatible with Windows machines, and while FAT32 is compatible with both systems, it limits the maximum single file size to 4GB. Windows users also have an NTFS formatting option.

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Once formatted, the setup process moves on to a registration process that activates the two-year warranty and then offers to install LaCie software including the Intego Backup Assistant for backing up files, the LaCie Desktop Manager for managing multiple LaCie devices from any computer, and the LaCie Private Public software to protect files with AES 256-bit encryption.

With the LaCie Desktop Manager software installed, the Mirror will enter "Eco Mode" after five minutes of inactivity, conserving energy. The hard drive exits Eco Mode when data is accessed.

The LaCie Mirror is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.5 or later or Windows Vista or later. It comes with a two-year limited warranty that includes web-based resources, support, and device repair or replacement.

Who's it For?


At $279.99 for a 1TB hard drive, the LaCie Mirror is not for the average consumer just looking for some additional storage space. Companies like Western Digital, Toshiba, Seagate, and more, offer 1TB hard drives at a fraction of the price, as low as $60. The fact that it's not a solid state drive and does not have a Thunderbolt port also means that it's unsuitable for users who are looking for above average speeds.

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The LaCie Mirror is marketed as a showpiece that's aimed at people who value design above cost. If you're looking for a hard drive that looks more like a fancy piece of desk art than a hard drive or if you love shiny things, then the LaCie Mirror is a solid choice. People who build minimalist, design-oriented workspaces will likely appreciate the aesthetic of the LaCie Mirror and the value in a conversation piece that's built on form as well as function.

Pros:

  • Slim design

  • Portability

  • Unique look

  • Gorilla Glass enclosure


Cons:

  • Expensive for 1TB of storage

  • Prone to fingerprints

  • Reflective surface can be distracting


How to Buy


The LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive can currently be purchased from Amazon for $279.99.


Award-Winning Dystopian Adventure Game 'République' Coming to Mac and PC
Indie studio Camouflaj today announced its hit episodic stealth game République is being ported to PC and Mac and will be available to download on February 26 via Steam, GOG, and the Humble Store.

The team says the new edition of the game has been "rebuilt from the ground up" to access the power of the Unity 5 gaming engine. They also tout that the Remastered edition is the first commercial game to "fully utilize" the power and functionality of the Unity 5 engine, allowing for a deeper, more vividly realized world with physically based shading, real-time global illumination, and reflection probes.

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“Ever since we committed to doing a desktop version of République, we’ve been haunted by the task for delivering something truly special for PC players,” says Ryan Payton, designer at Camouflaj. “When we got a glimpse at the next iteration of Unity we realized that this was the answer — beyond redesigning the game’s controls and UI for desktop, we’ve completely gutted all the game’s art, rebuilding everything using Unity 5’s cutting-edge graphical features. The result is something you have to see to believe.”
The game follows the story of Hope, a young woman attempting to evade capture from a mysterious, overbearing sect of the government intent on capturing her. Putting the player directly into the game, Hope tasks gamers to hack cameras and survelliance systems to safely guide her through the byzantine levels she finds herself trapped in. The game has garnered much attention since its release on iOS in late 2013, with our sister site Touch Arcadecommenting that, after the first episode, the game was "shaping up to be a masterpiece."

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The new Remastered edition will come with the first three episodes of the game - "Episode 1: Exordium," "Episode 2: Metamorphosis" and "Episode 3: Ones and Zeroes" - and include a Standard and Deluxe Edition.

The Standard Edition will retail for $24.99 and will include pre-purchase codes for the final two episodes of the story: "Episode 4: God’s Acre" and "Episode 5: Terminus." The Deluxe Edition includes all of this plus the complete soundtrack, an hour-long "making of" documentary, and two early prototypes (exclusive to the desktop version) for $34.99. Each will receive a 20 percent discount during the game's initial launch week.

The République Remastered edition has already shown up on Steam and GOG ahead of its February 26 launch date, but isn't yet available for pre-order.


Parallels Desktop 10 Update Brings Windows 10 Technical Preview to Macs
Parallels today announced an update to Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac, the company's software for running non-Apple operating systems safely on a Mac. The new update brings "experimental support" for Windows 10 and Office Preview for Windows 10 - including the expected Word, Excel, and PowerPoint programs - into Apple's OS X Yosemite ecosystem.

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With the update available as a download within the Parallels Desktop app for existing users, the company promises the Mac-based Windows 10 experience will provide users with "everything Windows 10 has to offer." This includes everything from the new Start menu, Photos, Maps app, and Cortana, to the Windows Store beta which offers Office Preview for Windows 10, all available without having to erase the existing functioning operating system.
“Parallels Desktop enjoys very strong support among software developers and IT pros. We are happy to deliver all the tools they need to quickly and safely test or run the latest OS and applications, now including the Windows 10 Technical Preview,” said Parallels president Jack Zubarev.
Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac is available to download for $79.99, with a Student Edition coming in at $39.99. Similarly, users upgrading from existing Parallels Desktop versions, like 8 or 9, can get a discount for version 10, with upgrade pricing set at $49.99. A two-week free trial is available to anyone who wants to try out the program's features, including the new technical preview of Windows 10, for a limited time frame.


Apple to Open Massive $850M Solar Farm in Monterey, California
During today's Goldman Sachs conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple is planning its "boldest, biggest, most ambitious project," yet in the form of a 1,300 acre solar farm in Monterey County, California.

The solar farm, which puts out enough power for almost 60,000 California homes, will provide enough renewable energy for Apple's new campus, every other office it has in California, all 52 stores in the state, and its data center in Newark, California. The solar farm is an $850 million project, which Cook says Apple is doing "because it's right to do."

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Image of Apple's North Carolina solar farm courtesy of Gigaom
We know at Apple that climate change is real and our view is that the time for talk has passed and the time for action is now. We've shown that with what we do.
Though highlighting the solar farm as good for the environment, Tim Cook also pointed towards the fiscal benefit of such a decision, explaining that there's a significant price difference between the fixed price of renewable energy and the price of brown energy. "We're thrilled to continue on the course of leaving the world better than we found it," said Cook.

Apple has already built a series of large solar farms in North Carolina, but at $850m, the Monterey County solar farm will be its most ambitious project yet.

Update: Apple will be partnering with First Solar and contributing $848 million to the First Solar California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, California. Apple will be receiving 130 megawatts of the solar project under a 25-year power purchase agreement, with the remaining 150MW being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric.

Construction on the California Flats Solar Project will begin in mid-2015 and will finish by the end of 2016.


iMac Buyer's Guide: Is the 5K iMac Right For You?
The new Retina iMac, also known as the iMac with 5K Retina display, came at a time when the iMac line needed an infusion of something new, something dramatic -- after all, it's difficult to get really excited about another speed bump. The last time Apple made a major change in the iMac was in late 2012, and that was when Apple shrank the iMac to 5mm at the edge, a change that was nice, but a thinner iMac wasn't on most people's wish list.

The Retina iMac is the change in the iMac lineup we've all been waiting for, but it's not quite the computer for everyone -- yet. This buyer's guide, and the video below, take a look at what needs to be considered when deciding to buy the Retina iMac.


What is the iMac with 5K Retina display?


The Retina iMac looks like your typical iMac from the outside. The key difference is the screen; you'll notice that it shows amazing detail, and images look crisper and cleaner on the Retina iMac than on a standard iMac.

Apple calls a display "Retina" when a user, at a typical usage distance, can't discern the individual pixels on the screen. The Retina iMac achieves this with a 5120-by-2880 pixel resolution. A standard 27-inch iMac has a resolution of 2560-by-1440. That's a lot more pixels (four times, to be exact) on the Retina iMac.

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Screen resolutions compared with the Retina iMac

If you're still trying to wrap your head around the enormity of the Retina iMac's resolution, Apple provides a sample 5K image that you can look at on your Mac. The Retina iMac can show this complete image on its display.

In order for the iMac to handle so many pixels, Apple had to create a new timing controller. It's currently found only in the Retina iMac -- the Mac Pro doesn't even have the graphics capability to handle 5K resolution (yet).

Who is the 5K iMac for?


The Retina iMac is $2499, out of the price range for many consumers. For most users, a 5K display is a luxury, not a necessity to be productive.

Content producers will benefit the most from a 5K display. There's enough screen resolution for video editors working with 4K content to show video at actual size and still have room for app menus in the editing app. Photographers who work with large files will also benefit from the display, and designers will have the space to create and modify projects.

That being said, if you have the money, there's nothing stopping you from buying a Retina iMac. Who wouldn't want a display capable of such gorgeous graphics? And with so many pixels, you can fit more windows on the screen, so you many not need a second display.

It's undoubtedly only a matter of time before Apple outfits the whole iMac line with Retina displays. Apple will eventually figure out how to reduce the costs to make such machines. Waiting to see if a more affordable Retina iMac is released isn't a bad idea, especially if your current machine still meets your performance needs.

Specifications


The Retina iMac is not just the high-end iMac with a better display. The specs between the standard configuration $1999 iMac and the $2499 5K iMac are different in three major areas (besides the display).

At the heart of the Retina iMac is a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. That's slightly faster than the 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz found in the $1999 iMac. For $250, you can customize the Retina iMac with a faster, 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

Another major difference is the graphics card. The standard $1999 iMac has a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M, while the Retina iMac has a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M290X (and don't forget the special timing controller). You can upgrade the graphics card in the Retina iMac to a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M295X for $250.

The final major difference is the storage device. The older 27-inch $1999 iMac comes with 1TB hard drive standard, while the Retina iMac has a faster 1TB Fusion Drive. Apple offers Fusion Drive and flash storage upgrades for an additional fee.

All iMacs include 8GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs, including the Retina model, allow the user to upgrade the memory. Apple supplies the 8GB as a pair of 4GB RAM modules, so you can add a couple of modules if you'd like later on after your purchase.

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All iMacs include the following:

  • Four USB 3 ports

  • Two Thunderbolt ports (Thunderbolt 2 for Retina iMac)

  • Ethernet port

  • SDXC card slot

  • Headphone jack


Mac Pro vs. 5K iMac


Apple's quad-core Mac Pro is $2,999 without a display. 5K displays aren't in wide distribution yet; the only ones you'll find are Apple's iMac and Dell's $2,500 UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor, which you can't use with the current Mac Pro. More 5K displays are coming (and it's possible Apple will update the Mac Pro so it can drive a 5K display), but you can consider a 4K display, which range in price from $700 to $3,000. The Retina iMac doesn't support target display mode, so you can't get one, connect it to your Mac Pro, and use it as an external display.

A 5K display or a quality 4K display can cost as much or more than a standard configuration $2,499 Retina iMac, so it's tempting to get the Retina iMac instead of the low-end quad-core Mac Pro.

Outside of price, there are software instances where you're better off with a Retina iMac. If your daily usage involves productivity apps, Internet access, and even iLife apps, the Retina iMac is a better choice. It outperforms the quad-core Mac Pro (and even the six- and eight-core models) in single-core performance, according to GeekBench 3 benchmark results.

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A Mac Pro is the better choice if you use pro apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Photoshop. These apps are designed to use multiple processing cores, and the Mac Pro excels in multi-core performance, according to GeekBench 3. The higher-end Retina iMac with a 4.0GHz processor does outperform the 4-core Mac Pro, however.

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Many pro apps still need to be optimized for the Retina iMac, so keep that in mind. Retina iMac owners have found that UI elements may have some performance issues. For example, in his review of the Retina iMac, Jason Snell found that Logic Pro X had issues when scrolling through a timeline, but this has since been fixed in an update.

Should you buy a 5K iMac?


The Retina iMac offers top-notch performance with the best display Apple has ever made. If you own an iMac that's more that four years old and you've been holding out for a game-changing upgrade, the Retina iMac fits the bill.

If you've bought an iMac within the past three years, you're probably happy with the performance of your current machine. The Retina display is more of a luxury, unless you often use pro app -- then you'll be able to take advantage of the high resolution.

The Retina iMac is really targeted at pro users who are working in different forms of media and use apps that take advantage of multiple processing cores. Editors of high-resolution video will benefit from the Retina display, and even if you're working in audio or lower-resolution video for the web, you may not need to rely on a second display as much as you do now -- the Retina display gives you plenty of space to do your work.


Buyer's Guide: Deals on Retina MacBook Pro, iPad Mini 2, Apps, and Apple Accessories
Deals continue to be a bit hard to find as we head into February, but there are still some discounts to be had on the Retina MacBook Pro, older now-discontinued higher-capacity versions of the iPad Air, some current iPad mini 2 tablets, and the MacBook Air.

We've also got deals on several apps and bunch of Apple accessories ranging from Mophie battery packs to the Jawbone UP fitness tracker. Several sites are also offering some pretty hefty site wide discounts in honor of Valentine's Day.

Retina MacBook Pro


- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (Adorama) - $1,189, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (MacMall) (B&H Photo) - $1,399, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) - $1,599, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,869.99, $130 off
- 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB - (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $2,299, $200 off

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MacBook Air


- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) - $854, $45 off
- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) - $999, $100 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo - $919, $80 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) - $1,099, $100 off

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Non-Retina iMac


- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo)- $1,199, $100 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $1,399, $100 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $1,659.99, $139 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $1,899, $100 off

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iPads


Best Buy and Amazon are continuing to offer now-discontinued higher-capacity Cellular versions of the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2 at $50 to $130 off.

- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (AT&T) - $499.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 64GB (AT&T) - $499.95
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99

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- iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB Space Gray - $249.99
- iPad mini Wi-Fi 32GB Silver - $299.99
- iPad mini Wi-Fi 32GB Space Gray - $299.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 16GB - $379.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 16GB - $379.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 32GB - $429.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 32GB - $429.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Silver 16GB - $379.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Space Gray 16GB - $329.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Silver 32GB - $429.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Space Gray 32GB - $429.99

- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 64GB - $399.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 64GB - $399.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 128GB - $499.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 128GB - $499.99

Apps


Our sister site AppShopper has a list of all the apps that have seen price drops this week. Some notable temporary discounts include Shark Eaters: Rise of the Dolphins (Free), Bloons TD 5 (Free), Baldur's Gate ($4.99, down from $9.99), Toontastic (Free), and Magnifico (Free).

Angry Birds Seasons has been named Apple's App of the Week and will be free to download for the next seven days.

Apple Accessories


A Refurbished Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Mini can be purchased from Groupon for $24.99, down from $59.95. Groupon is selling the Press Play Fuse Trio Car Charger for $14.99, down from $29.99.

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Incase is offering a 40% coupon code for signing up for the Incase newsletter. Speck is offering 20% off site wide for Valentine's Day with the promo code SWEETHEART. CableJive is offering 20% off site wide with the coupon code LOVE. Scosche is offering 20% off site wide with the coupon code Valentines2015 until 2/8.

Woot has the Mophie Juice Pack Helium battery case for the iPhone 5/5s for $29.99, down from $79.99. Tanga is selling the Apple leather iPhone case for the iPhone 5 and 5s for $19.99, a discount of $20 off the normal price. Best Buy is selling the Jawbone UP fitness tracker for $29.99, down from $79.99.

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A refurbished LaCie Rugged 1TB hard drive is available from MacMall for $84.99, down from $170. The Promise Pegasus2 R4 8TB RAID System with Thunderbolt 2 is also available from MacMall for $1,299, $200 off the regular price.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.


Apple Forces Users to Upgrade to Newest Adobe Flash Player to Patch Vulnerabilities
Apple yesterday posted a new support document and sent an email to its security mailing list noting that it is now requiring all OS X users to upgrade to the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player plug-in for Safari to address potential security vulnerabilities.

The company is blocking all older versions Adobe Flash Player prior to 16.0.0.305, and users with an out-of-date version of the plug-in will see messages like "Blocked plug-in" or "Flash out-of-date" when attempting to view Flash content within Safari before updating to the newest version.

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For users who are on systems that are not able to run Flash Player 16, there is an update to Flash Player 13 (13.0.0.269) that addresses the latest vulnerabilities.
APPLE-SA-2015-02-05-1 OS X: Flash Player plug-in blocked

Due to security issues in older versions, Apple has updated the web plug-in blocking mechanism to disable all versions prior to Flash Player 16.0.0.305 and 13.0.0.269.
The 16.0.0.305 and 13.0.0.269 updates were released by Adobe on February 5 to fix a zero-day vulnerability that was being exploited by hackers against Windows machines.


'ControlAir' App Brings Finger Gesture Controls to Mac
Earlier this week, gesture recognition technology company eyeSight introduced ControlAir, an app that uses a Mac's camera to read finger-based movements, allowing users to control various media applications without needing to physically interact with their computers.

The app, which is free to download, works with many popular Mac-based entertainment apps like iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, Netflix, QuickTime, VLC and Vox. The main control scheme is a user's index finger, which, when raised, calls up ControlAir's user interface banner.

ControlAir
Users drag their fingers left and right to highlight the volume rockers, previous/next and play/pause buttons, lowering their index fingers in an "air-click" motion to select and raising their fingers to their lips to mute. Once the designated app is open, ControlAir's touch-free functions will still be able to be called up even if the ControlAir app sits in the background of another.
“ControlAir offers a simple way to control your music and video applications,” said Gideon Shmuel, CEO of eyeSight. “Media apps are often running in the background and ControlAir keeps the control of those apps always accessible by simply raising a finger.”
ControlAir's responsiveness is impressive, and the app is compatible with any iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air with OS X 10.9 or later, but its constant requirement of access to a computer's camera functionality may hinder its usability for some. As long as a compatible app is open, the green camera-indicating light will remain on until the app is closed. ControlAir can recognize gestures up to five feet away, according to eyeSight, but still picked up and smoothly recognized inputs from up to seven feet in MacRumors' testing.


The limits to the app's current functionality are hoped to be addressed incrementally in the future, with eyeSight specifically promising more entertainment app support will be "coming soon."

ControlAir can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free. [Direct Link]



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