Weekly Wrap: Spotify, Netflix alternatives, Apple software updates

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Apple released software updates this week—but probably not the one you’ve been waiting for. Netflix made some news of its own—but definitely not the kind you were hoping for. The Weekly Wrap covers all this and more, as we look back once again at the week that was.

Apple software galore

Apple updated iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto, and even released a pair of minor updates to its under-loved iWeb and iDVD tools. The company also updated Aperture to version 3.1.3. Palindromic version numbers can only mean one thing: Unfortunately, at press time, I hadn’t yet figured out what that one thing was.

With all the software updating Apple’s been doing, one starts to wonder whether the company might have a new operating system coming out soon or something.

Other software news

Apple’s not the only company releasing software. Mozilla released Firefox 5 last month, which we in turn reviewed this month. Then came 5.0.1, which Mozilla said improved Lion compatibility. Of course, with Mozilla’s new version number scheme for Firefox, the group is already—really—working on Firefox 8. At its current release rate, Mozilla should release Firefox 100 sometime this afternoon. You’ll want to check out our story on ten useful Firefox extensions before they’re all rendered incompatible by another update.

Other software we reviewed included Compressor 4, CloudPull, MiStat, Tags, and Usher. Note that we did not review the guy who sings about his confessions, though.

Hints, tips, and tutorials

We showed you how to paste file paths into Open and Save dialog boxes. We shared a means by which those of you desperate to experience Lion’s flipped scrolling could get your multitouching hands on it now. We explained how to rip audio from Blu-ray discs. (Answer: All at once, like a Band-Aid.) And we showed you how you can use the Help menu sort of like Spotlight for recent files. What we didn’t provide, however, was some means to prevent the sound of The Beatles singing “I need somebody!” from popping into your head every time you click on the Help menu.

Twitter brought Christopher Breen’s Flip camera back to life. Unfortunately, now the camera won’t stop moaning for brains. While not running from his Zombie Flip, Chris also found the time to write up a tip on syncing baseball games in the MLB At Bat app with radio audio.

Additionally, we offered a guide to better macro photography. Study it, get good, and then enter our macro photography contest.

Let them entertain you

It was a big week for tech-centric entertainment news. Netflix raised its rates, and I then complained about the price hike at length while comparing various potential Netflix alternatives.

TiVo finally released an iPhone version of its iPad app, and made the app compatible with some older TiVos, too. The app won’t be worth five mice until it can prevent the networks from airing anything featuring a Kardashian.

AOL released Play, which it describes as like Instagram for music. (It’s getting to the point where they’re going to have to describe Instagram as the Instagram for photos.)

And, at long last, free music-streaming service Spotify launched here in the U.S.. Chris Breen wrote a first look; we didn’t have the heart to tell him that it should have been a first listen.

Apple fought the law

Apple and legal issues go together like Bill Gates and glasses. A patent-holding company called Kootol threatened Apple, Twitter, Google, Facebook, The Iconfactory and many other companies with legal action over alleged violations of a messaging patent Kootol will soon hold.

Apple’s back on the offensive against HTC while it’s also on the receiving end of disapproval from the W3C; Apple hopes to resolve both issues PDQ. For its part, HTC replied to Apple’s latest assertions with a huffy “Nuh-uh.”

Courts gave the go-ahead for a consortium that includes Apple and Microsoft to acquire various Nortel patents for $4.5 billion—or, as Apple and Microsoft call it, pocket change.

Safety first

If you want to stay safe on your iOS device, make sure you update to the latest version of iOS to block a PDF exploit. And buckle up, while you’re at it. Once you’re convinced that your iPhone is safe, you can use it to keep your Mac or (shudder) Windows PC safe, by letting Intego VirusBarrier for iOS scan your files.

There’s also a new MacKeeper bundle from Macware with 16 utilities to help protect your Mac and its data. To answer your question, yes, you are your Mac’s keeper.

I owe us iOS updates

StumbleUpon revamped its iOS offering, which we just happened to come across. Nuance released Dragon Go, an iPhone app that doesn’t merely listen to you, it understands you. I imagine that’s what having friends feels like.

Contributor Joel Mathis shared his thoughts on the best ways to discover news with the iPad and another roundup of iOS accessories. Joel’s doing so much sharing these days that we’re putting a gold star on his report card.

The end is just the beginning

Sure, now you’re caught up on the week behind us. But the week ahead promises to be even more jam-packed. The month’s past the halfway point now, and that means Lion’s closer than ever based on Apple’s promised July release date. And don’t forget we’ll provide live coverage during Apple’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. And if you do forget, make sure you check out next Saturday’s Weekly Wrap.

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