PowerPage Podcast Episode 124

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 08:00
Category: Podcast

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Episode 124 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (33.4 MB, MP3). Update: the download link has been fixed.

Panel: Jason O’Grady, Rob Parker and Tom Hesser.

Topics: Is the iPad really all that? 27″ iMac problems, smartphone smackdown: Nexus One steps it up, Zune soon to phone home and we play “What’s on your Mac?”

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

Rob

Tom

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Subscribe to the PowerPage Podcast in iTunes or add the Podcast RSS feed to your RSS client. Our theme music is generously provided by The Tragically Hip their new release “We Are The Same” is available on iTunes. Don’t forget to join the PowerPage Facebook group!

Rumor: AT&T Apparently Outbid Verizon for iPad Data Plan

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 07:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

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While many were surprised to see AT&T offer a pay-as-you-go option for the recently-released iPad, others were shocked to see a lack of a Verizon option.

Per FoxNews.com, AT&T apparently offered a better price on a no-contract plan that sealed the deal.

According to the article, reporter Clayton Morris stated that both companies are “still talking,” despite the fact that Apple went out of its way to defend AT&T last week, and also introduced the wireless carrier as the sole 3G partner for the iPad in the U.S.

Last week, when Apple introduced the iPad, it also announced no-contract data plans from AT&T, running US$15 per month for 250MB of data, or US$30 per month for unlimited access. The plans will also offer free access to AT&T’s nationwide hotspots. Typically, cell phone companies charge US$60 per month for their mobile data-only plans.

As a contract-free purchase, users can buy a 3G-enabled version of the iPad starting at US$629. The AT&T network access can be purchased and later canceled at any time directly from the iPad. Though the device ships unlocked, due to hardware limitations it will only have access to AT&T’s 3G data network in the U.S.

Prior to last week’s iPad unveiling, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook defended AT&T in his company’s quarterly earnings conference call. He called AT&T a “great partner,” and said most customers have had a positive experience with the carrier.

SlingPlayer to Function Over AT&T 3G Network Connections

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 07:27
Category: iPhone, Software

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Wireless carrier AT&T has announced that the company will allow the SlingPlayer app for the iPhone to stream live TV over 3G network connections.

Per the New York Times, AT&T has worked with Sling to optimize the app in order to minimize network congestion. “Since mid-December 2009, AT&T has been testing the app and has recently notified Sling Media, as well as Apple, that the optimized app can run on its 3G network,” AT&T said in a press release.

Sling Media’s SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch was originally launched in May 2009 without the ability to stream over 3G, a limitation AT&T admitted to putting in place due to fears that the app “would use large amounts of wireless network capacity” and “could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network.”

Rumor: Apple Selects New Manufacturer for Fourth-Generation iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 06:37
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

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Along with Apple’s long-standing partnership with manufacturer Foxconn, Asus subsidiary Pegatron Technology will reportedly manufacture Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Per Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, Pegatron Technology has been selected by Apple for OEM production of the next-gen iPhone, expected to debut this summer. Pegatron will join Foxconn in manufacturing the handsets, industry sources reportedly said.

Although Pegatron officially declined to comment, the report noted that the company expects its handset shipments to “grow substantially in 2010″. The company currently produces LCD TVs and handsets, and is due to produce Microsoft’s Project Natal motion controller sensor for the Xbox 360 this year.

Pegatron was previously connected to the iPhone last fall and a report alleged that the company would build a new hybrid, world mode handset that would allow calls on both CDMA and GSM networks, granting access to Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Apple’s current iPhone manufacturer is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known by its trade name of Foxconn.

Apple Releases Second Firmware Fix for Flickering 27″ iMac Screen Issue

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Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 06:28
Category: iMac, Software

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Late Monday, Apple released its second firmware update to attempt to resolve the infamous screen flickering issue found on some late 2009 27″ iMac units.

The iMac Display Firmware Update 1.0, a 294KB download, will reportedly “address issues that may cause intermittent display flickering.”

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 or later to install and run and applies to all 27″ iMac models.

If you’ve snagged the firmware update and installed it, please let us know how it worked.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1.3 Update for iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 06:18
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released version 3.1.3 of its iPhone OS firmware. The update, which weighs in at over 200 megabytes and can be downloaded by attaching your iPhone or iPod touch to your Mac or PC, clicking the device in iTunes, then clicking the “Check for Update” button, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improves accuracy of reported battery level on iPhone 3GS.
- Resolves issue where third-party apps would not launch in some instances.
- Fixes bug that may cause an app to crash when using the Japanese Kana keyboard.
- Full list of security updates listed here.

If you’ve installed iPhone OS 3.1.3 and noticed any changes, please let us know.

QuickerTek Releases Wireless nCard for Older MacBooks, Mac Minis

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 06:31
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Pro, wireless

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It’s not quite as cool as whatever the iPad will become, but it’s useful stuff.

The cool cats at QuickerTek have released a new wireless nCard accessory for older MacBook notebooks and the Mac mini. The nCard extends Wi-Fi compatibility on the A, B, G and N standard and installs in the internal Airport card slot, with similar complexity to installing RAM chips. Per MacNN, the components are claimed to offer higher signal sensitivity and transmission power for potentially faster speeds and a wider reception area. Reception can also be further improved with an optional external antenna.

The nCard is compatible with 2006 through 2009 Mac minis but not the G4-based Minis, however and the 2006 through 2009 black and white plastic MacBook notebooks. The nCard also works in the 2006 through 2008 MacBook Pros in both the 15″ and 17″ inch models, excluding the unibody models.

The nCard is now shipping and is available for US$90.

Possible Forward-Facing Camera Slot Discovered in iPad Replacement Frame

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Date: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 06:40
Category: News

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Getting back to the iPad, physical evidence has emerged which points to a slot for a forward-facing camera that was found in the frame of replacement enclosures for the device.

Per the Mission Repair blog, a spot that closely resembles the holes present in the Unibody Macbook exists within the iPad frame. Mission Repair confirmed that the camera from the Macbook does fit into place on the frame, with the lens, LED, and ambient light sensor all lining up.

A few weeks ago, AppleInsider found that the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK provided evidence that the shipping iPad could support a camera. Per one developer, the native Contacts application on the iPad offers the option to take a photo, in addition to choosing an existing one.

This adds some validity to the rumors that Apple may still be working on a camera-equipped iPad that could recognize the face of its user.

After all, there may be some differences between the iPad Steve was waving around and the actual unit that may arrive on the shelves.

Let us know what you think.

Apple Releases iTunes 9.0.3 Update

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Date: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 05:16
Category: News

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Late Monday, Apple released iTunes 9.0.3, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, an 90.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes no longer ignores your “Remember password for purchases” setting.
- Addresses problems with syncing some Smart Playlists and Podcasts with iPod.
- Resolves a problem recognizing when iPod is connected.
- Addresses issues that affect stability and performance.

iTunes 9.0.3 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Some Users Reporting Bugs, System Slowdowns After Security Update (2010-001) Install

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 2010, 08:03
Category: News, Software

As well-intentioned as Apple may be, a number of users are reporting that the company’s latest Security Update (2010-001) is causing extremely slow start-up times and poor performance or crashing for several programs, including Skype, Firefox, and Photoshop CS3.

Per CNET, a used identified as “Forgiss” reported the following issue on the Apple Support Discussions board:

“I installed the security update this morning, and rebooted the machine. Startup was extremely slow. in the region of about 5-10 minutes with a consistent beachball untill startup has completed. After startup, I could not launch any non-apple product so far. That includes:
Skype
Firefox
CaptureONE Pro
Photoshop CS3 or CS4
Microsoft office suite (word, excel, etc)

Some applications would open, and then as soon as I try and open a file, it would crash (microsoft and Adobe Products) some would just bounce in the dock (skype, firefox) and some would start to open and then crash after the ID screen has been up for a few seconds. My Wacom Tablet is not recognised and crashes (through USB) although my iTunes and iPod Touch seems to work fine (so it’s not the USB drivers, per se). I have not had any problems with this computer since my upgrade to snow leopard (10.6) and have had no indication that there are any system issues.”

The help in the forum suggests that the hard drive on the computer was being slowly damaged to the point that Disk Utility (via Permissions Verify/Repair) was not noticing anything. The update also seems to have been the catalyst for the hard drive damage to become evident to the system.

If you’ve seen anything like this on your end, let us know.