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iOS 6.1.3 Beta 2 Released for Developers

Apple has released the second developer beta of iOS 6.1.3, a minor point release to the mobile software suite that is said to include several bug fixes.

iOS 6.1.3 Beta 2

According to 9to5mac, the update features improvements to Apple Maps in Japan, and also addresses the lock screen bypass issue that was not resolved in the recently available iOS 6.1.2 update. The first beta of 6.1.3 only included the notes about Japan Maps enhancements, and thus the lock screen issue is a new addition to the developer build.

As usual with beta iOS software, the developer builds are only available to paying members of Apple's official iOS Developer program at the Dev Center. Anyone can register for a free account, but beta releases are restricted to those paying yearly membership dues.

New Retina MacBook Pro Processor Bumps Offer Minor 3-5% Performance Improvements

Following last week's introduction of new processors for the Retina MacBook Pro lineup, Primate Labs has analyzed benchmarks coming in from the new machines through the company's popular Geekbench 2 software.

Unsurprisingly, the benchmarks reveal a roughly 3-5% increase in Geekbench scores for each of the processor bumps. For the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro lineup, Apple bumped each of the three available processors by 100 MHz, accounting for the minor benchmark improvements.

One thing to note is that the new mid-range Retina MacBook Pro has the same speed processor as the old high-end Retina MacBook Pro. However, the new mid-range model is slightly slower than the old high-end model. While this seems surprising at first, the difference is easily explained by comparing the two processors: the old high-end processor has more cache than the new mid-range processor.
For the 13-inch lineup, the 100 MHz speed bumps were limited to machines based on the high-end stock configuration starting at 256 GB of storage, with those machines also seeing a 3-5% improvement in Geekbench scores.
Aside from the processor improvements for the Retina MacBook Pro lineup, Apple also reduced pricing on the 13-inch models by $200-$300, increased RAM on the high-end 15-inch stock configuration, and reduced pricing on storage options.

Google Introduces the Chromebook Pixel to Compete With the MacBook Air

Google today announced the Chromebook Pixel, a new Chrome OS-based notebook that Google is aiming directly at Apple's MacBook Air.
On the hardware front, Google has built in a high-resolution touchscreen display, as well as 32 or 64GB SSD storage, a backlit keyboard, and a dual core 1.8GHz Intel i5 processor. The unit includes a 12.85" screen with a 2560 x 1700, 239 ppi display -- the same range as Apple's 13" MacBook Pro with Retina, which has a 227 ppi screen -- as well as two USB 2.0 ports, a Mini Display Port connector, and a SD-card reader.

The machine runs Google's Chrome OS, the web-only operating system that the company introduced almost two years ago. As added perks, the Pixel comes with 1TB of Google Drive cloud storage for three years, and 12 free sessions of GoGo inflight Wi-Fi.
So what's next? Today we're excited to announce our newest laptop—the Chromebook Pixel—which brings together the best in hardware, software and design to inspire the next generation of Chromebooks. With the Pixel, we set out to rethink all elements of a computer in order to design the best laptop possible, especially for power users who have fully embraced the cloud. The philosophy of Chrome has always been to minimize the "chrome" of the browser. In much the same way, the goal of the Pixel is to make the pixels disappear, giving people the best web experience.

The Pixel comes in two flavors, a $1,300 model that includes 32GB of SSD storage and Wi-Fi connectivity, while the $1,450 option adds built-in LTE and a 64GB SSD. The Wi-Fi only model ships today while the LTE model is expected in 6-7 weeks.

While the Pixel's hardware is appealing, because it runs the Chrome OS there are not nearly as many apps available for it as comparable Windows or OS X machines. Gadget recommendation site The Wirecutter had this to say:
Maybe someday Chrome OS will really be enough of an operating system to replace Mac OS X or Windows on a productivity machine. But at $1,300, the Chromebook Pixel is just too much machine for the software. If you have the money to spend on the Pixel and you need the kind of hardware it's packing, you have so many other better options.

Google Releases Updated Maps for iOS SDK, Opens API Keys to All Developers [iOS Blog]

googlemapsWhen Google released Google Maps for iOS in December, it also announced an SDK that iOS developers could use to implement Google Maps in their apps rather than Apple's mapping solution.

Tonight, Google announced an updated Maps SDK that adds ground overlay support and makes API keys available to all developers via the Google API Console. Previously, developers had to register and wait to be granted access to keys.

Now that keys are freely available, it's likely that more developers will use Google Maps in their apps. Some developers may decide to allow users to choose between Google and Apple's maps, much like the recently released Sunrise calendar app.

Google has also included a sample app in the SDK that developers can use to learn how to use Google Maps in their apps and released a video (above) demonstrating some of the SDK's features.