Friday, February 25, 2011

Apple slashes Singapore price of MacBooks and MBAs by up to S$200

Trying to decide between a MacBook Air or one of the new MacBook Pros? Here's something to consider: Apple has just slashed the prices of MacBooks Airs and MacBooks in Singapore.

Here are the new prices:

- 13" MacBook is now S$1,348 from S$1,488. S$140 cheaper.
- 11" MacBook Air with 64GB of storage is now S$1,348 from S$1,488. S$140 cheaper.
- 11" MacBook Air with 128GB of storage is now S$1,648 from S$1,788. S$140 cheaper.
- 13" MacBook Air with 128GB of storage is now S$1,788 from S$1,948. S$160 cheaper.
- 13" MacBook Air with 256GB of storage is now S$2,188 from S$2,388. S$200 cheaper.

The price drop is only for Singapore and takes effect today.

(Thanks to @echoz for the tip-off!)

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Round-up: FaceTime leaves beta; What is Thunderbolt?; iOS 4.3 goes GM

- Apple has released FaceTime as a US$0.99 app on the Mac App Store. (Macworld)

- All of Apple's new Macbook Pros have Thunderbolt, Intel's new I/O technology that supports, power, data, video and audio. Macworld has a good overview of what it is. (Macworld)

- iOS 4.3 has supposedly reached Golden Master status. Hopefully it will be released soon. (Boy Genius Report)

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Developer's preview of Lion released

Apart from the new MacBooks, Apple has also released a developer's preview of Mac OS Lion.

Among the new features in Lion are:

Mission Control

- unifies Exposé®, Dashboard, Spaces, and full screen apps to give users a bird’s eye view of every app and window running
- with a swipe, the desktop zooms out to display open windows grouped by app and thumbnails of full screen apps as well as Dashboard.


- With a click, Launchpad displays all your Mac apps in a full screen layout where users can launch, re-order or organize apps into folders.
- Apps can also be arranged into multiple pages and users can swipe between them.

Full screen apps

- With one click, the application window goes full screen
- You can swipe from one full screen window to another and even back to the Desktop or Dashboard.

New multi-touch gestures

- Pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image
- Swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps
- Swiping up to enter Mission Control.

Apple's Lion page is here.

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The new MacBook Pros: Specs and Prices

The new MacBooks Pros have finally been unveiled. Here's quick summary of the specs together with prices in Singapore dollars:

13" Macbook Pro (config 1)
- 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor
- 320GB hard drive
- Intel HD Graphics 3000
- starts at S$1,648

13" Macbook Pro (config 2)
- 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core processor
- 500GB hard drive
- Intel HD Graphics 3000
- starts at S$2,048

15" MacBook Pro (config 1)
- 2.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
- AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB GDDR5
- 500GB hard drive
- starts at S$2,488

15" MacBook Pro (config 2)
- 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
- AMD Radeon HD 6750M with with 1GB GDDR5
- 750GB hard drive
- starts at S$2,988.

17" MacBook Pro 
- 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
- AMD Radeon HD 6750M with with 1GB GDDR5
- 750GB hard drive
- starts at S$3,398.

Availability: From the week of March 6.

The new MacBook Pros will come with Intel's Thunderbolt I/O technology that allows transfer speeds up to an 10Gbps each. Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.

They will also have a built-in FaceTime HD camera with triple the resolution of the previous generation for crisp, widescreen video calls. 

Full press release is below:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Updated: SG NextBus

A classy new look that is also information rich.

SG NextBus has just been updated and it looks like a completely new app.

Inspired by Twitter and by signboards (according to the app developer), SG NextBus embraces bold typography that makes the app much more user friendly at the same time.

The service numbers are nice and large and now come with additional information such as location and bus stop number. While the app relies heavily on whites and greys overall, it relies on colour to signal important information. Arrival times now come in white, green, red and grey. White is the default colour for the arrival times. If the time is rendered in green, it means that the bus is arriving soon while red is used to signify that the bus may be delayed. If the time is greyed out, it means that the data is more than a minute old and a refresh may be necessary.

The iPad version uses the additional space to display information in innovative ways. Note how bus arrivals are arranged by time in the third column.

SG NextBus is now also available as a native iPad app. The iPad version, which is meant to be used in landscape mode, features an innovative user interface that packs in plenty of information while remaining relatively easy to use. One unique feature found only in the iPad version is the ability to add buses directly from the map, even if they do not know the location name or bus stop number. This feature will be added to the iPhone version in the next update, which has already been submitted to Apple for approval.

Note that Voiceover is broken in version 2.0 but has been fixed in 2.0.1. If you are sight-impaired, you should hold off until the new version is available.

SG NextBus is my favourite app for checking bus arrival times and this update makes a useful app even more so.

If you don't already have it, what are you waiting for? Download SG NextBus here.

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New app: Singapore Flights

Need to look-up flights and freight schedules in and out of Singapore? Singapore Flights allows you to see flight schedules by airline.

Singapore Flights is free. You can download it here.

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New app: SGCatholics

If you're a Catholic tourist in Singapore and you don't want to miss Mass (especially with Lent coming up), SGCatholics is the app to get.

This app will help you find a Catholic church near you. Find out what time Mass is, add a favourite parish and find out how to get there.

This app is useful for locals too. With SGCatholics, you'll always be able to find a nearby church. No more excuses that you're too far away to attend Vespers!

SGCatholics is free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: Apple issues Mar 2 media invite; iPad 2.5 rumours; New MB Pros to get Thunderbolt (aka Light Peak)

- Apple has issued media invites for a Mar 2 event to introduce the next generation iPad. The new iPad is widely expected to be thinner, lighter and have a front facing camera. (The Loop)

- Even though the iPad 2 hasn't even been announced yet, rumours are swirling about the one after, which is supposed to have a Retina Display-like screen, double the resolution and new display technology that promises a wider viewing angle and a better reading experience in sunlight. (AppleInsider)

- The specs for the 13" Macbook Pro have leaked out and it will have Light Peak, which Apple is renaming Thunderbolt. (Fscklog via Mac Rumors)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Round-up: iPad 2 on Mar 2?; Light Peak launching same day as MacBook Pros; Specs about MB Pros emerging

- Both the New York Times and All Things Digital have reported that the iPad 2 is expected to be unveiled on March 2. If you're planning to buy an iPad, you should probably wait a few weeks. (New York Times, All Things Digital)

- Intel is launching Light Peak on Thursday, the same day Apple is expected to unveil its new MacBook Pros. Coincidence? Unlikely. (Mac Rumors)

- A number of rumours are suggesting that the new MacBooks will be using SSD to store the system, like this tidbit by French website MacGeneration. Putting the system on an SSD would enable the MacBook Pros to start up very quickly. (Mac Rumors has a summary of the specs)

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New app: Better Beauty (for iPad)

Emma Yong as Cyndi Lauper in Better Beauty

Better Beauty is an iPad app aimed at women in Singapore. A beauty guide, this app is impressively put together with nice layout, gorgeous photos and high quality video. I especially liked the do-overs for celebrities like Emma Yong which are accompanied by videos of these celebrities having fun.

Being locally produced, it also has links to local stockists as well, if you're interested in buying a product.

You can download a limited version of the app for free and buy the full version from within the app for US$1.99.

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Winners of the Singapore Movies Plus giveaway!

Congrats to the following people! You win a promo code to Singapore Movies Plus worth US$1.99.

@Vicarum Samuel
@Jack Tjia

Please email editor at imerlion dot com and we will send you the promo code directly.

If you didn't win, don't be disheartened. There will be more contests coming up shortly! The best way to learn about new contests is to follow @imerlion on Twitter, like us on Facebook or check the website regularly!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Manufacturers are starting to make accessories for iPhone 5?

Box of the product

It's not clear how much credence to give this but at least on iPhone accessory maker has begun producing a dock that it claims is iPhone 5-compatible.

E-commerce website DealExtreme is selling a docking station with audio out for just US$5.30 that they say "works with iPhone 4/5".

The full description goes:

- Color: White
- Elegant and compact with anti-slip bottom surface
- 2 in 1 feature: charge your iPhone and sync data at the same time
- Also can be connected with audio cable to play music via sound box
- Works with iPhone 4/5

Of course this could merely be the result of an over-enthusiastic (or extremely hopeful/savvy) manufacturer rather than someone in the know.

Here are more photos of the dock:

Front view of the dock

Back view of the dock

(Thanks to Thye Chean for the tip-off!)

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Contest: Win promo codes for Singapore Movies Plus

Singapore Movies Plus (US$1.99) delivers movie screening times and also makes it easy to book your tickets online. 

Want to win a free copy of the app? All you have to do is send a tweet saying "Hey @imerlion, I want Singapore Movies Plus for free!"

We'll pick the top 20 at random between now and noon on Monday, Feb 21.

Good luck!

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Updated: PocketDeals; nex SG; Showtimezz (Singapore)

- PocketDeals, which keeps track of special offers and deals in Singapore, now does push notification and loads much faster.

nex SG has a complete list of tenants, a list of mall amenities and parking options, new user interface and updated content.

- Showtimezz (Singapore) has a bunch of bug fixes.

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New app: SG Car Buyers Calculator

Buying a car? Really? Did you just rob a bank? Just kidding. I may not be able to afford a car but numerous other people in Singapore certainly seem to be able to, judging by the traffic jams on the CTE.

If you're in the market for a new car, SG Car Buyers Calculator might be of assistance.

With this app, you can:

- Calculate the cost of converting an Off-Peak Car to Normal Car;
- Calculate the Road Tax;
- Calculate how much you can afford based on your monthly available installment budget, the interest rate and your deposit.

The app is currently free. You can download it here.

(Thanks to Victor for the tip-off!)

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New app: Courts Young Lions

Ok. It's true that the national football team is a bit of an embarrassment. But Singapore football is not a lost cause just yet; the youth squad performed really well at the Youth Olympic Games and if they keep at it, I'm sure they will do Singapore proud (well, they can't do any worse).

If you're a fan, you can now follow their progress with the Courts Young Lions app. It has news about the team, fixtures, results, profiles of the squad members, and links to YouTube videos of the Courts Young Lions TV Magazine Show.

The app is also, as far as I can see, the only app by an S-League team.

Courts Young Lions is free. You can download it here.

(Thanks to @teenicholas for the tip-off!)

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Round-up: Steve at dinner with Obama; Apple looking to build cheaper iPhone; new Macbooks next week?

- The Whitehouse has posted a photo of Steve Jobs and other tech CEOs at a San Francisco dinner with President Obama. (MacDailyNews)

- Apple isn't looking to build a smaller iPhone, according to the New York Times. Instead, it is trying to build a cheaper iPhone. Why not a smaller iPhone? It wouldn't necessarily be cheaper to build, it would be harder to operate and it would require developers to rewrite their apps. (New York Times)

- Are new Macbooks in the offing? Mac Rumors reports that new Macbooks are expected on Feb 24. If you're planning to get a new Macbook, hang on. (Mac Rumors)

- Apple is planning to open another Apple Store in China, which will be bigger than the existing four. The new store will be in Nanjing Road in Shanghai. (Wall Street Journal)

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Movie apps now allow you to buy tickets too

Two recent apps make it easy to find for movie buffs to find a movie to watch in Singapore.

Showtimezz (Singapore) is a new app that links directly to YouTube. Tap on a movie and you get sent to the YouTube page with all the trailers for that movie.

The app also links directly to the online booking page of the various cinema chains and thus allows you to buy tickets from within the app. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work very well for Cathay Cinemas at the moment.

Update: The developer has fixed this and the page is now working.

Showtimezz (Singapore) is free. You can download it here.

Singapore Movies is not a new app but it warrants a mention here because for a limited time, the developer is linking to the online booking page of the cinema chain. Unlike Showtimezz though, this requires you to leave the app to go into Safari.

While this sounds clunky compared to Showtimezz, in practice, it actually appears to be better. For example, you can actually book tickets via Cathay's online booking system through Safari. Attempting to book Cathay tickets through Showtimezz, on the other hand, shows an error.

(Note: With the fix, this is no longer a problem.)

The link to online booking will work until the end of the month. If you if find this indispensable, there is a paid version of the app that has it. The paid version, Singapore Movie Plus has no ads, a cinemas tab and a days tab to make it easier to find a movie to watch.

Singapore Movies is free. You can download it here. Singapore Movies Plus is available for US$1.99.

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SIA app allows you to book tickets and log-on to KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines has released an iPhone app that allows you to check flight schedules, book flights, select seats, retrieve your boarding pass or log on to your KrisFlyer account.

Useful if you have fly on SIA often, though there seem to be bugs in the initial release.

Singapore Airlines Mobile is free. You can download it here.

(Thanks to Victor for the heads-up!)

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Round-up: More iPhone rumours; Apple launches subscriptions

- Will the new iPhone have a larger screen? Digitimes is reporting that the new iPhone will have a 4-inch screen compared to the 3.5-inch screen in the current iPhones. (Digitimes)

- Or perhaps it will have a keyboard? Taiwanese site says that Apple is trying out three prototypes, including one with a slide-out keyboard. ( via Macrumors)

- Apple has launched subscriptions for the App Store allowing publishers to sell subscriptions to magazines. However, Apple wants a 30 percent cut of the subscriptions sold through the App Store. Macworld has the details. (Macworld)

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Smaller iPhone in the works, MobileMe to be free?

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Apple is working on a new, smaller iPhone. Codenamed N97 (ha, ha), it is supposed to be half the size of the current iPhone. According to the WSJ, citing a person who has seen the prototype, the device was 'significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch".

Apple is also considering making MobileMe free and the focus of a cloud-based iTunes music service.

See the WSJ for the full story.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Updated: Hosay!; Singapore and Malaysia calendar; Mobile Holy Quran

- Huat ah! If you are a fan of Hosay!, you will be happy to learn that the app has been updated to version 1.1. The latest version has new phrases appropriate for the Chinese New Year.

- Singapore and Malaysia calendar has Chinese festivals and the Islamic calendar. To mark the Chinese New Year, the app is free until Feb 17.

- Local developer Zoosware has just released version 2.0 of their app, Mobile Holy Quran for the iPad. The new version has a new interface, the ability to change backgrounds, and the ability to add bookmarks and notes, among other things. This app is useful for beginners who want to read the Quran but who may not be native Arabic speakers.

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Stephen Fry meets Lim Ding Wen, developer of Doodle Kids

Fry and Ding Wen

To many, Stephen Fry is best known as a British actor who acted opposite Hugh Laurie in Jeeves and Wooster, and who played Melchett in various episodes of Blackadder.

However Doodle Kids developer Lim Ding Wen has never watched Blackadder or Fry and Laurie. So when the 11-year-old was interviewed by Stephen last week, what impressed Ding Wen most was the fact that Stephen had spent the day with Steve Jobs while interviewing him for Time magazine. (That and the fact that Stephen has a white iPhone given to him by none other than Jonathan Ive, Apple's VP of Industrial Design.)

The British actor and author interviewed Ding Wen last Friday. Stephen was in Singapore over the Chinese New Year, presumably to do some work for the Singapore Tourism Board. Apart from catching the fireworks, he also interviewed Ding Wen, who is best known as being the world's youngest iPhone developer. Back in 2009, Ding Wen developed and released an app called Doodle Kids when he was just 9 years old.

According to Ding Wen's father, the interview on Friday went well because it was more like a conversation than an interview. We look forward to seeing the interview some day!

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Round-up: iPad 2 LCD spotted?; iOS 4.3 beta 3 out; Sony Reader nixed from App Store

- 9to5Mac has acquired what they believe to be an iPad 2 LCD. They describe it as "definitely higher quality in terms of its build" but cannot confirm if the resolution is higher. According to the website, the LCD is lighter, over a mm thinner and has a smaller surrounding frame than the current iPad. Photos are available on their website. (9to5Mac)

- iOS 4.3 beta 3 is now out. No news yet about new features in this latest build. (Mac Rumors)

- Controversy has erupted over Apple nixing Sony's Reader app from the App Store. Apple claims that it is enforcing a rule that apps that allow book purchases outside the App Store should also allow book purchases within the app. Jason Snell of Macworld has a nice analysis of what this means. (Macworld)

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iOS market share in Singapore is world's highest

According to Net Market Share, iOS use in Singapore leads the world. Some 9.98 percent of Internet browsing in Singapore comes from iOS devices. This is followed by the island of Guernsey (6.33 percent), Hong Kong (6.01 percent) and Australia (5.61 percent).  In the US, iOS market share  is 3.4 percent while in the UK, it is 5.14 percent. Globally, iOS has 2.06 percent of total market share.

Here are the iOS numbers for neighbouring countries:

Brunei - 4.83 percent
Japan - 3.82 percent
Cambodia - 3.2 percent
Laos - 2.63 percent
New Zealand - 2.45 percent
S. Korea - 2.44 percent
Thailand - 2.06 percent
China - 1.97 percent
Malaysia - 1.65 percent
Taiwan - 1.13 percent
Indonesia - 0.81 percent
Vietnam - 0.75 percent
Philippines - 0.68 percent
Sri Lanka - 0.45 percent
Pakistan - 0.33 percent
India - 0.25 percent

Apparently, a lot of people in Laos got an iPad for Christmas because iOS penetration there is higher than in Malaysia.

Net Market Share also puts iOS market share in the Asia Pacific as 4.03 percent.

Click here to see the full report.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Taxi booking app upgraded, much improved.

ComfortDelgro Taxi Booking is the one app I rely on almost every day and I'm glad to report that the company has significantly improved the app.

The app now allows you to save the text in the note field so you don't have to keep keying in the same note from a favourite pick-up spot.

Bookings now are followed by an SMS confirmation. In addition, you can check the status of your booking as well as cancel bookings from the app.

One cool feature is the ability to locate the taxi on a map as it speeds towards you. Unfortunately, it doesn't work all the time.

This app may not win a beauty contest, but I have no problems recommending it. A must-upgrade if you want to beat long taxi queues.

ComfortDelgro Taxi Booking is free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: Woz talks about white iPhone 4; new iPad 2 rumour; Too much sand in Sandy Bridge

- Steve Wozniak says the white iPhone 4 was delayed by paint problems but will be available soon. (Mac Rumors)

- New iPad 2 rumour says device will have thinner screen, anti-reflexive glass (hurray!), Cortex A9 dual core processor running at 1.2GHz and RAM boost to 512MB. (Mac Rumors)

- Intel has found a flaw in the Sandy Bridge chipset. (Macworld)

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