Skype for iPhone 2.1 released, background multitasking feature added

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Skype for iPhone 2.1 went live yesterday and albeit the update was relatively minor, users running iOIS 4 can now run Skype in the background on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS4. As a result, Skype users can now receive Skype calls and instant messages while other apps are running or the iPhone is locked. As with the iPhone’s Phone app, you can continue your call while you switch to another application.

Both Skype for iPhone and the update are free.

Skype for iPhone requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple in talks with T-Mobile to function as additional U.S. carrier

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 03:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Wireless carrier T-Mobile USA is said to be in discussions with Apple to bring the iPhone to the wireless carrier this fall, ending AT&T’s exclusive hold on the handset, according to a new rumor.

Per Cult of Mac, a “highly placed source” at T-Mobile, the wireless carrier and Apple are in “advanced talks.” The report placed an 80% likelihood that the iPhone will become available on T-Mobile’s network this fall.

Apple became interested because of the influence of T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, the source indicated. T-Mobile is the smallest of the four carriers in the U.S., with 33.7 million customers.

As it currently is, the iPhone 4 is not compatible with T-Mobile’s high-speed 3G network in the U.S., as the carrier uses the unique 1700MHz spectrum. The iPhone is compatible with UMTS/HSDPA 3G connections at the frequencies 850MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz. In other words, the handset would need a new internal radio to work with T-Mobile’s network.

Apple and AT&T originally agreed to an exclusive deal through 2012, though it’s believed the terms of that contract likely changed over the years.

The latest rumor comes as most expected the iPhone to first head to Verizon, as reports have indicated that Apple is working on a CDMA iPhone that would be compatible with Verizon’s network. Unlike T-Mobile’s network, which uses the same technology but operates on a different frequency, Verizon is a completely different technology, which would require a more drastic redesign of the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Current 27″ iMac unable to accept 1080p video input, firmware update may be en route

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 03:34
Category: iMac, News

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Apple’s updated 27″ iMac launched with a new feature: a Mini DisplayPort video port that worked in both directions, enabling external video sources to output video to the screen. Unfortunately, this feature is largely limited to 720p in HDTV applications however.

Per AppleInsider, this limitation effectively limits the iMac to accepting video input from recent MacBooks or other computers that produce DisplayPort video, which works significantly differently from earlier analog VGA or digital formats such as DVI/HDMI.

The shortcoming can be bridged by a converter box that accepts a DVI/HDMI signal (the two video standards are essentially the same in different packaging), transforms it to DisplayPort signaling, and scales it to the output resolution of the iMac.

A simple physical adapter won’t work for video input due to the iMac’s DisplayPort-only input limitation; cheap Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters can only extract the HDMI output signal the iMac generates and pushes through its Mini DisplayPort connector. They do not do any signal translation.

Two products that can do this translation work are the AV360™ Mini DisplayPort Converter and Kanex HD, both of which retail for US$150. However, while those products appear to be capable of generating both 720p and 1080p output, the 27″ iMac only accepts 720p video or its native 2560×1440 resolution.

It appears the 27″ iMac could accept 1080p input, and certainly can support display of the video resolution, as it falls well within its 2560×1440 native resolution. A similar problem affects Apple’s 24″ LED Cinema Display, which has a native 1920×1200 resolution but only supports that resolution via its DisplayPort input; like the 27″ iMac, it won’t accept a 1080p signal (1920×1080), the common format of higher end HD equipment such as HDMI set top boxes and the PS3, even though it appears it should be able to.

The problem is that Apple’s EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) on the iMac and LED Cinema Display doesn’t advertise 1080p as an option. EDID is a simple data structure a display sends to output devices that outlines what video formats and settings it knows how to support. Both devices appear capable of 1080p but simply don’t advertise that capability in a way that external devices like the AV360 and Kanex HD can take advantage of.

It appears Apple could update the firmware for these displays to enable support of 1080p input, allowing users to input full 1080p video from devices such as a PlayStation 3 or current MacBook. Users might not notice a major difference, as experts say its hard to see a real difference between 720p and 1080p on screens smaller than 50 inches.

However, some devices are hardwired to only support 1080p, and can’t scale their output to support the Cinema Display’s slightly higher resolution nor the 27″ iMacs much higher resolution, forcing them to downscale to 720p or not work at all (as is the case with the LED Cinema Display, which is really only indended to work with Apple’s Mini DisplayPort-equipped MacBooks and modern desktop Macs).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.