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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 9 September 2013

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VMware Fusion 6 and Fusion 6 Professional -- Hot on the heels of the release of its main competition (see “Parallels Desktop 9,” 5 September 2013), VMware has updated its popular virtualization package VMware Fusion to version 6 with standard and Professional editions. As you would expect, the virtualization applications are prepped and ready for the upcoming releases of OS X 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 8.1. In addition, Fusion 6 is optimized for the latest Mac hardware (including Intel’s latest Haswell processors) for faster performance and enhanced battery life when running Windows applications. Fusion 6 also uses the new multi-display capabilities in Mavericks to bring Windows apps to every available monitor — even an HDTV connected to an Apple TV (according to Ars Technica). It also enables you to create robust virtual machines with support for systems with up to 16 virtual CPUs, 8 TB virtual disks, and 64 GB of memory.

Fusion 6 Professional includes all the features in the standard edition, and adds a host of features that will make IT professionals’ hearts sing, including enhanced deployment of restricted virtual machines for more control over corporate desktops, linked clones for creating multiple copies of virtual machines without taking up additional disk space, and a “single virtual machine mode” that limits application features available to end users. ($59.99/129.99 new, $49.99/$69.99 upgrade, free updates for purchases after 1 August 2013, 511 MB, release notes)

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BusyCal 2.5.1 -- After adding support for Microsoft Exchange in its last release (see “BusyCal 2.5,” 19 August 2013), BusyMac has tidied up a few things with the release of BusyCal 2.5.1. The update fixes issues with time zones when syncing with Exchange, as well as various unspecified “edge-case” bugs related to Exchange. It also fixes crashes involving the Availability Panel, random calendar color changes when syncing with iCloud, and HTTP 400 errors when syncing with CalDAV Server. BusyCal 2.5 is available as a free 30-day trial from the BusyMac Web site, but the only way to purchase the app is through the Mac App Store. ($29.99 new, free update, 9.9 MB, release notes)

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Mailplane 3.0.2 -- Uncomplex has released Mailplane 3.0.2 with the addition of a few welcome user interface changes. The Gmail-specific email client’s main window now displays your selected account in the window title (handy for those managing multiple accounts), enables you to assign a global keyboard shortcut of your choosing to compose a new message, and highlights Find results as you type. Other improvements include the capability to drop URLs into a message and drag blocks of text to another position. Finally, Mailplane 3.0.2 is ready for the upcoming release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks. ($24.95 new, free update, 15 MB, release notes)

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Parallels Desktop 9 -- Enhanced for the upcoming operating system releases from both Apple and Microsoft, virtualization software Parallels Desktop has been updated to version 9. In addition to adding support for OS X 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 8.1 (with the return of the Windows Start menu), Parallels Desktop 9 optimizes support for such cloud-based services as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive so that files aren’t duplicated locally on your Mac and on your Windows virtual machine. It improves support for Full Screen mode and connecting an external monitor, with Parallels Desktop remembering the settings and shifting Windows to full screen on the connected monitor. The virtualization application also adds Power Nap capabilities to Windows and Windows apps (for those running a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display), support for accessing Thunderbolt and FireWire storage devices in Windows, gesture-based access to OS X’s Dictionary (via a three-finger tap) within Windows applications, and a PDF printer that enables you to save PDFs to the Mac desktop.

Purchase of Parallels Desktop 9 also brings a free six-month subscription to the recently announced Parallels Access service (normally priced as a $79.99 annual subscription), which provides remote access to any Mac or Windows application running on your desktop computer and frames it in an iPad-friendly user interface. The Parallels Access iOS app is available for free, and it’s compatible with the iPad 2 and later, as well as the iPad mini. ($79.99 new, $49.99 upgrade, $39.99 educational, 356 MB)

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CloudPull 2.5 -- Golden Hill Software has released CloudPull 2.5 with improved backup speed and the capability to export backups. The Google data backup application uses newer versions of the Google Drive and Google Calendar APIs that list only those files and events that have changed since the previous cycle to enhance performance. It further quickens the backup pace by taking advantage of an improved Google IMAP label extension, and using a new multi-file format for its database. The update also enables you to export backup files to a selected folder, with each Gmail label organized into a separate Apple Mail mailbox, Contacts and Calendars organized in a logical folder structure, and Google Drive files retaining their folder structure. Other changes include backups of Google Drawings saved in SVG format instead of PNG, and a switch to OAuth authentication when logging in to your Google accounts. Golden Hill has pulled CloudPull Free from the Mac App Store and has changed the name of CloudPull Premium to simply CloudPull. ($14.99 new with a 20 percent discount for TidBITS members, free update, 18.1 MB, release notes)

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Downcast 1.0.2 -- Jamawkinaw Enterprises has released version 1.0.2 of its Downcast podcatcher for the Mac with a smattering of new features and a goodly number of fixes. The update adds the capability to export downloaded podcast episodes, enables you to create your own hotkeys for playback control (or choose to disable them), brings a new unified preferences dialog with the new option to suppress confirmation alerts when deleting items, and adds a Show in Finder menu item for locating downloaded episodes. It also improves syncing of episode information via iCloud and provides “significant” stability and performance improvements. Downcast 1.0.2 fixes several issues that affected the syncing, unlocking, and display of podcast episodes. It also ensures that imported media is copied into the standard storage location for episode media, fixes a bug that prevented the main window from displaying if it was closed while playing a video, and restores standard window shortcuts for minimizing and toggling Full Screen mode. ($9.99 new from the Mac App Store, free update, 3.8 MB, release notes)

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