Rumors: Apple to hold low-key iPad 2 release event in March, include NFC feature in upcoming iPad/iPhone 5 devices

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Date: Monday, February 7th, 2011, 03:28
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple may be keeping its press event for the much-anticipated second-generation iPad on the succinct side during its release next month. In a two-line report published early Saturday by macotakara.jp, it’s claimed that the Cupertino-based company “seems to open a small event to introduce next generation of iPad.”

Such an event appears to be on track for March, the report added. Still, it cautioned that the device may only see an announcement during that time frame in the United States, with shipments and international availability possibly following at a later date.

Meanwhile, a related report filed Friday by iLounge appears to reinforce earlier rumors that both the new iPad and fifth-generation iPhone will include near-field communication technology, giving users the ability to have their device serve as an electronic wallet for quick wireless transactions.

More specifically, the report claims that Apple is actively developing new accessories that will communicate with the NFC radio chips inside the future iOS devices. For example, “an accessory could announce its presence and potential functions to an iPad or iPhone without the need for a Bluetooth or similar connection,” the report adds. The source of the tip further suggests “that an otherwise simple case could include a radio chip so that an inserted iPhone or iPad could go into power-saving hibernation mode automatically.”

Of all the rumors, the inclusion of NFC capabilities in the second-gen iPad appears most likely, especially given AppleInsider’s discovery last month that Apple was seeking hardware engineers familiar with radio-frequency identification (RFID) and an external report that claimed the electronics maker is actively testing NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3 update on February 14th

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 13:11
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Ok, Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s favorite holiday.

In fact, almost no one likes it.

Still, there may be something good to come out of it this year.

Per MacStories.net, a source has claimed that Apple will release its iOS 4.3 update for the iPhone and iPad on Monday, February 14th, at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

The update is expected to bring AirPlay functionality to third-party applications and the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi tethering feature, in 10 days. Apple usually releases its iOS updates around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

In the past, the website correctly predicted that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion would adopt various features and user interface elements from iOS, which powers the iPad and iPhone. But last November, the site also incorrectly reported that Apple would release iOS 4.3 in December with recurring application subscriptions.

Apple issued the first beta of iOS 4.3 to developers in mid-January. It introduced the new Personal Hotspot tethering feature for iPhone, as well as new multi-touch gestures on the iPad for quickly multitasking and accessing the home screen.

However, Apple later informed developers that the new multi-touch gestures in the iOS beta are just a preview for developers to test compatibility with their applications. The Cupertino, Calif., company indicated that the functionality will be included with a later update to iOS.

So far, Apple has released a total of three betas of iOS 4.3 to developers, with the most recent one issued this week. Other reports have speculated that iOS 4.3 could be released within two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And if this Valentine’s Day’s choices come down to buying your significant other something nifty to express how you feel and clicking the “Check for Update” button in your iTunes device list menu, play it safe and buy her something nice.

Verizon iPhone 4 preorder stock sells out on first day of availability

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 06:37
Category: iPhone, News

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It came and it went.

Per AppleInsider, initial demand for the Verizon iPhone was strong enough for both Apple and Verizon to appear to have run out of pre-sale stock of the new CDMA iPhone and are directing customers to wait until February 9 to purchase the device online or February 10 for in-store purchases.

Preorders for the Verizon iPhone began at 3 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, but only for existing Verizon customers. Initial interest appeared heavy, as some customers reported difficulty accessing the Verizon website.

Though it is unclear exactly how many units were offered during Wednesday’s preorder, Apple and Verizon have stopped taking orders for the device. Customers interested in purchasing the iPhone 4 on Verizon are directed to log back on to either the Verizon or Apple website starting at 3:01 a.m. Eastern on February 9. Retail stores will begin offering the handset at 7 a.m. on February 10.

If you went to order the Verizon iPhone 4 and have a story to tell, please let us know how it went in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 9.0.597.84

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 05:33
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 9.0.597.84 for the Mac. The new version, an 32.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

– WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software.

– With Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant), web pages that you frequently visit will begin loading as soon as you start typing the URL. (“Look, Mom – no enter key!”). If supported by your default search engine, search results appear instantly as you type queries in the omnibox.

– Lastly, the Chrome Web Store is now open to all Chrome users in the United States. As part of this, we’ve now added a link to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page, along with two sample apps. (If you don’t use these sample apps, they will automatically disappear after some time).

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T to include two free gigabytes of data to tethering plan come Feb. 13th

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Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News

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For the first time in a long time, AT&T has competition for the iPhone and has to offer some incentives to keep its customers coming back.

With that in mind, the company announced on Wednesday plans to add 2GB of data usage to its smartphone tethering plan. According to iLounge, current tethering customers will automatically get the additional 2GB of monthly data usage added to their plans at no extra charge as of February 13; customers who sign up for tethering afterwards will get the additional data from the start of their tethering plan. The total cost for 4GB of data plus tethering capability will be US$45 per month, the same price iPhone users paid for 2GB of data plus tethering in the past; users who exceed their data limits will be charged an overage fee of US$10 per gigabyte.

The plan change coincides with the release of an “AT&T Mobile Hotspot” app and the launch of the HTC Inspire 4G, however, the announcement makes no mention of whether a similar app will be offered for iPhone users, or if the company plans to make use of iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature. Notably, Verizon Wireless has said that it will also charge US$20 for use of the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature, but the 2GB of data included in the Verizon plan is for Personal Hotspot use only, while AT&T’s extra data will be applied to collective use across all devices.

iOS 4.3 may hit on February 13th, could bring Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T users

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Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:35
Category: iPhone, News

Apple is set to launch iOS 4.2.6 for Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 4 on February 10, but a 4.3 update may be made available just days later, bringing Personal Hotspot WiFi sharing to AT&T users.

Per AppleInsider, David Pogue of the New York Times noted that the new Personal Hotspot feature would come to existing AT&T iPhone users on February 13, a date that no longer appears in his review.

The reader said that Pogue’s review originally stated, “the single new feature in Verizon’s iPhone is Personal Hotspot, where the iPhone becomes a Wi-Fi base station. Up to five laptops, iPod Touches or other gadgets can get online, using the phone as a glorified Internet antenna.

“That’s incredibly convenient. Many other app phones have it — AT&T’s iPhone gets it on Feb. 13 — but Apple’s execution is especially nice. For example, the hot spot shuts itself off 90 seconds after the last laptop disconnects. That’s hugely important, because these personal hot spot features are merciless battery drains.”

The review now simply states, “AT&T says its iPhone will get it soon” without mentioning a date. While the February 13 date falls oddly on a Sunday, making it an unlikely date for an iOS release, it appears that iOS 4.3 will at least be released around that day.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

First iPad 2 screen photographed, seems lighter, better quality than first gen

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Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 10:11
Category: iPad, Pictures

The first iPad 2 screen has been sighted.

And it is nifty.

A series of leaked photos that surfaced from the iFixYouri iPhone 4 repair shop show what is believed is an iPad 2 LCD, fresh out of China. Per 9to5Mac, it’s currently impossible to say if the resolution is higher, though the unit seems to be definitively higher quality in terms of its build. The iPad 2′s display is also lighter, and over a millimeter thinner than the current iPad’s display with a smaller surrounding frame and could lead to an appreciably lighter iPad in the long run.

Apple releases third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta to developer community, no known issues cited

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Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 06:58
Category: News, Software

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The third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta shipped this week, developers actually citing no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build of Mac OS X 10.6.7 say it is known as 10J850, and was released late Tuesday. The delta update is reportedly a 376.9MB download.

Those people say Apple has asked developers to again focus their testing on the Mac App Store, as well as AirPort, Bonjour, SMB, and Graphics Drivers. The latest build has no known issues.

The last beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple’s forthcoming maintenance and security update for Snow Leopard, was released just over a week ago. That build, dubbed 10J846, was a 372MB download that asked developers to concentrate on the Mac App Store — the only change from the previous build.

And less than a week before that, on Jan. 20, the first beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7 was issued to developers. None of the releases have reportedly contained any known issues.

The last update for Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.6, was released in early January, and included access to the Mac App Store feature.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Adobe releases Flash Player 10.2.152.21 update

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Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 06:36
Category: News, Software

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You may love or hate Flash Player, but updated versions are never a bad thing.

Late Tuesday, Adobe released Flash Player 10.2.1521 for Mac OS X, a 7.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version functions essentially as a pre-release to version 10.2 and includes the following fixes and changes:

– General stability fixes.

– Additional audio and video fixes.

– Stage Video hardware acceleration – A new method for video playback in Flash Player allows developers to leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can decrease processor usage by up to 85% and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

– Internet Explorer 9 hardware accelerated rendering support – Flash Player takes advantage of hardware accelerated graphics in Internet Explorer 9, utilizing hardware rendering surfaces to improve graphics performance and enable seamless composition.

– Native custom mouse cursors – Developers can define custom native mouse cursors, enabling user experience enhancements and improving performance.

– Support for full screen mode with multiple monitors – Full screen content will remain in full-screen on secondary monitors, allowing users to watch full-screen content while working on another display.

– On Mac computers, hardware decoding of H.264 video in Flash Player is available with Mac OS X 10.6.4 and later on hardware supported by the Mac OS Video Decode Acceleration Framework (such as the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, and GeForce GT 330M). Whether hardware decoding will engage for a specific video is determined by the Mac OS Video Decode Acceleration Framework.

The full notes of the new version can be found here and Flash Player 10.2.152.21 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Intel confirms SATA controller chip flaw, may delay MacBook Pro refresh

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:30
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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If Apple’s notebook refresh is taking a bit longer than you’d like, it might just be Intel’s fault.

Earlier Monday, Intel acknowledged that a supporting chipset for the next-generation Core processors contained a flaw in the Serial-ATA (SATA) controller. The bug can cause poor hard drive performance or even make the drive invisible to the system.

Per Computerworld, Intel said it has stopped shipments of the flawed chipsets and retooled the chipset. It will begin shipping the fixed version late next month, and said that it “expects full volume recovery in April.”

The design gaffe could effect Apple’s next MacBook Pro refresh if the notebook line is to get new processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, as many speculated last month.

According to Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with the Linley Group (the publishers of Microprocessor Report) the mobile version of the supporting chipset may have been flawed.

In an e-mail reply to Macworld UK’s questions, Krewell pointed out a pair of Intel documents that note the mobile versions of the chipset use the same 6Gbps and 3Gbps ports as those used in the desktop versions.

According to Anandtech.com, the flaw affects only the 3Gbps ports — the chipsets’ SATA controller also offers faster-speed 6Gbps ports — making the likelihood of an impact on notebook makers even higher.

While the signs point to a problem for Apple, analysts split today on whether a MacBook Pro refresh would be delayed.

“It could mean a delay of two to three weeks,” said Martin Reynolds, a vice president with Gartner, assuming Apple intended to launch new MacBook Pros in March or even April.

Dan Olds, a senior analyst with Portland, Ore.-based Gabriel Consulting Group, disagreed.

“I don’t think Intel has shipped any [Sandy Bridge] chipsets for mobile yet,” Olds said. “I haven’t heard any chatter from the major players [about upcoming notebooks that use the chipsets], like Dell, for example.”

The unknown, of course, is when Apple was planning to launch revamped MacBook Pro models that rely on the Sandy Bridge architecture, and thus, the flawed chipsets.

Most close Apple watchers have been expecting an imminent refresh. Although Apple doesn’t hew to a set schedule for upgrades, the last time it boosted the MacBook Pro was in April 2010, nearly 300 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.