AT&T confirms Personal Hotspot support for iOS 4.3, iPhone

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has confirmed that it will support the 3G/WiFi hotspot features that will come to the GSM iPhone 4 on March 11. Per ars technica, the company said that the pricing would remain the same as the current tethering model—AT&T customers must subscribe to the US$25 data plan that gives them 2GB per month, plus the extra US$20 tethering charge that gives them an extra 2GB. In all, that will make it US$45 per month for 4GB of data plus hotspot sharing when the feature arrives in iOS 4.3.

The iPhone’s hotspot feature first made its debut with the Verizon (CDMA) iPhone last month. Verizon iPhone users can currently pay US$30 per month for unlimited 3G data, and US$20 extra to use the hotspot feature with a 2GB cap. So, although the iPhone itself currently has no monthly data limit, those who decide to tether or share their 3G with other devices will have a lower hotspot data limit than AT&T’s comparable plan. And, if you use the hotspot sharing feature on your AT&T iPhone, it won’t pause your Internet connection when you receive a phone call.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think about the Personal Hotspot feature in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released the gold master build of its iOS 4.3, its forthcoming operating system update for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just over a week ahead of its scheduled March 11 release.

Per AppleInsider, the download is available to developers through Apple’s official iOS developer portal. People familiar with the software say it is known as build 8F190.

Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release, though two Golden Masters of iOS 4.2 were released after the first was found to have issues.

Apple announced the mobile operating system software update’s March 11 released date on Wednesday, and also showed off new, previously unannounced features. Among them is improved JavaScript performance, which is now said to be two times faster thanks to the Nitro engine taken from Mac OS X.

Improved iTunes Home Sharing will also allow users to access all of their content directly over Wi-Fi. And enhancements to AirPlay will allow applications and websites to stream over Wi-Fi to the Apple TV set top box. Sharing of photos over AirPlay can also use the built-in slide show options of iOS.

The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets users share their 3G data connection over Wi-Fi. Personal Hotspot will work with supporting carriers and monthly data plans on the iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also adds the ability to change the purpose of the hardware switch on the right side of the iPad and iPad 2. Users can choose to have the switch mute audio from the device, or have it serve as an orientation lock, as it originally did when the iPad first shipped last year.

The iOS 4.3 update is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. iTunes 10.2 has already been publicly released, adding compatibility with devices that are running iOS 4.3

If you’ve gotten your hands on the GM and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.15 update

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:56
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.15 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 18.7 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Several fixes to improve performance, stability and security.

Firefox 3.6.15 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

iOS 4.3 en route, will be delayed for CDMA iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The good news: iOS is on its way.

The bad news: You might have to wait for the CDMA version of it for your Verizon iPhone.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement of iOS 4.3′s on March 11 had Apple explicitly exclude CDMA iPhone 4 from the list of supported devices, indicating that a separate build will be provided afterward.

The new iOS 4.3 release will officially support the 2009 iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod touch, and iPad models. This leaves out the CDMA iPhone 4 as well as Apple TV (which is normally updated on its own, independent schedule).

The Verizon iPhone 4 was released using its own software build, labeled iOS 4.2.5. Other iOS devices remained at iOS 4.2.1, which was released in November. Apple subsequently updated Verizon iPhones to iOs 4.2.6 to fix a bug related to its new Personal Hotspot feature.

Apart from the brief exclusive of its Personal Hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware. Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model.

Apple hasn’t announced a date for the Verizon iPhone release version of iOS 4.3, but it is likely to follow shortly after the initial release for GSM iPhones because the new build packs a variety of features and improvements.

The general features provided to all iOS devices by iOS 4.3 include Personal Hotspot (WiFi tethering), which Verizon iPhone users already have. However, there are also a number of other significant new improvements Verizon iPhone users will want, including:
- Improved Safari JavaScript performance using the Nitro engine, which Apple says boosts JavaScript execution up to twice as fast. JavaScript powers much of the interactivity of modern web apps.

- Support for AirPlay video streaming by third party apps, as well as videos within the web browser or within the Photos app. Streamed photos also use slideshow transitions.

- The ability to locally stream (without downloading or syncing) any content from your iTunes library via Home Sharing: music, movies, TV, podcasts, or audiobooks.

New minor features in iOS 4.3
- A new Noteworthy font in Notes

- Fixes a slideshow stop after 15 image when using AirPlay

- The ability to cancel and delete an app that is downloading. It is currently only possible to delete an app that has been installed.

- A slightly redesigned keyboard; missing accented letters in European keyboard popups; increased font size for China and Pinyin inputs

- A new Parental Controls setting for the iTunes Ping social network

- A new menu for scrubbing in videos, with Fine Scrubbing by seconds/frames; Quarter Scrubbing by second; Half Speed Scrubbing by minute and Hi-Speed Scrubbing by minutes.

- A new Updates section in the App Store and new Accounts section in the Store menu.

- Location Services settings moves from General to Settings Menu, and both Location Services and Mail accounts ON/OFF button is changed to a lock symbol.

Some minor features (outside of Personal Hotspot) and bug fixes are also targeting just GSM iPhones:
- Baseband is updated to 05.16.00 (for iPhone 3GS), 04.10.01 (for GSM iPhone 4).

- Enabled Traffic Volume Indicator IE in CELL UPDATE; fixes issue with integrity protection failing after SRNS relocation and iPhone units deactivating and not activating after baseband logging is enabled.

- A control to set repeat of text tone (up to 10 times).

- Automatic refresh of information displayed in Field Test Mode (removing manual refresh).

- Slideshow options have moved to Photos app.

- New Contact photo user interface.

- Dual vibrate when receiving a text message.

A variety of minor changes and bug fixes are also addressed in iOS 4.3:
- Accessibility: Voice Over now reads the entire chart in stocks app while in landscape mode. Fixed issues that prevented controls from being dismissed, or that prevented the keyboard from returning when highlighting and swiping through search results.

- Calendar: deleting a recurring event now make the alarm go away; fixed an all-day alarm going off an hour early. Canceled recurring CalDAV calendar events now removed on the event list. Fixed Exchange calendar event duplicating when passing Israeli daylight savings time.

- Language: updates inconsistent translations in Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese; fixes auto-correction issue when switch back from Emoji to English keyboard.

- Mail: fixes orientation of Mail not following device orientation under specific conditions; fixes popover when drilling into a thread while the empty search field is focused; fixes mail message view and orientation when quickly selecting a message and hitting edit mode.

- Safari: addresses issue that caused browser to crash after loading certain websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces iPad 2, cites faster processor, dual cameras, March 11 ship date,

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:17
Category: News

Apple on Wednesday took the wraps off of its second-generation tablet, officially dubbed “iPad 2,” with a completely new, thinner design, a faster dual-core A5 processor, and two video cameras and a March 11 ship date.

Per AppleInsider, the new iPad 2 is one-third thinner than the first-generation model, just 8.8mm thick, even thinner than the iPhone 4. At just 1.3 pounds, it is lighter than the previous 1.5 pound iPad. It will carry the same starting price of US$499 for the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi-only model.

The device will begin shipping on Friday, March 11 in the U.S., while 26 more overseas countries will get the device on March 25.

The device features both rear and front facing cameras for recording video, taking photos, and FaceTime video chat. The new iPad also has a new A5 dual-core processor which offers up to 9 times faster graphics processing. Apple said the faster speeds of the new processor will not have any greater power consumption than the previous A4 processor.

The new iPad 2 will be available in both black and white and will be available on both AT&T and Verizon 3G networks from day one. It also sports the same 10-hour battery life.

A new accessory cable will also offer mirrored HDMI video out to HDTVs for 1080p high-definition output. The US$39 cable allows users to charge their iPad while using the video out feature.

Another accessory announced by Apple is a magnetic “smart cover,” which covers the front of the device. Covering the front of the device automatically locks the device, while taking it off will unlock it. Microfibers on the screen cover are said to clean the iPad 2 display, while magnets will automatically align the cover on the screen.

A video demonstrating the abilities of the case, including using it as a stand to prop up the iPad, was shown to the audience. Apple will sell a polyurethane version of its case for US$39, and a leather version for US$69.

The specs:

Size and Weight
Height: 9.50 inches (241.2 mm)
Width: 7.31 inches (185.7 mm)
Depth: 0.34 inch (8.8 mm)
Weight: 1.33 pounds (601 g) Wi-Fi, 1.34 pounds (607 g) 3G

Storage
16GB
32GB
64GB

Wireless and Cellular
Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
Wi-Fi + 3G model: UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Wi-Fi + 3G for Verizon model: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)

Display:
9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Chip:
1GHz dual-core Apple A5 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

Cameras, Photos, and Video Recording:
Back camera: Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still camera with 5x digital zoom
Front camera: Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio; VGA-quality still camera
Tap to control exposure for video or stills
Photo and video geotagging over Wi-Fi

Power and Battery:
Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

3G:
Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network
Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input/Output:
30-pin dock connector port
3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack
Built-in speaker
Microphone
Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Sensors:
Three-axis gyro
Accelerometer
Ambient light sensor

Location:
Wi-Fi
Digital compass
Assisted GPS (3G only)
Cellular (3G only)

Audio Playback:
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio formats supported: HE-AAC (V1 and V2), AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
User-configurable maximum volume limit
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through with Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately)

TV and Video:
Video mirroring and video out support: Up to 1080p with Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter (cables sold separately)
Video out support at 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable
Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Mail Attachment Support:
Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

Languages:
Language support for English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Catalan, and Vietnamese
Keyboard support for English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German, Traditional Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, Zhuyin, Cangjie, Wubihua), Simplified Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, Wubihua), Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (Romaji, Ten Key), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Estonian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Flemish, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Bulgarian, Serbian (Cyrillic/Latin), Catalan, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Macedonian, and Cherokee
Dictionary support (enables predictive text and autocorrect) for English (U.S.), English (UK), French, German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (Romaji), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Flemish, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malaysian, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Catalan, Vietnamese, and Cherokee

Accessibility:
Support for playback of closed-captioned content
VoiceOver screen reader
Full-screen zoom magnification
White on black display
Mono audio

Environmental Requirements:
Operating temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
Nonoperating temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

Mac System Requirements:
Mac computer with USB 2.0 port
Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
iTunes 10.2 or later recommended (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
iTunes Store account
Internet access

Windows System Requirements:
PC with USB 2.0 port
Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
iTunes 10.2 or later recommended (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
iTunes Store account
Internet access

In the Box:
iPad
Dock Connector to USB Cable
10W USB Power Adapter
Documentation

Environmental Status Report – iPad embodies Apple’s continuing environmental progress. It is designed with the following features to reduce environmental impact:
Arsenic-free display glass
BFR-free
Mercury-free LED-backlit display
PVC-free
Recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure

Full video playback of the event can be found here.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

- Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3

iTunes 10.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

PowerPage Podcast Episode 152 – iPad 2 launch day

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Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 22:25
Category: Podcast

PowerPage Podcast 2011

Episode 152 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (29.3 MB, MP3).

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

Topics:
This week we discuss today’s Apple’s iPad 2 event and where it places Apple in the tablet continuum. We also riff on iOS 4.3 and pick our favorite gear in “What’s on your Mac?”

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

  • HyperMac Micro ($69) – 3600 mAh battery for charging your igear. It’s a must-have item in my gear bag
  • Mixxx (free, Mac App Store) – Free and fun DJ software with automatic beat matching

Rob

Tom

  • Printopia ($9.95) Print from your iOS device as a file on your Mac, or directly to your Dropbox folder.

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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.

Verizon executive indicates that company will end unlimited iPhone data plans by summer

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: iPhone, News

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A Verizon executive hinted Tuesday that the carrier will cease offering unlimited data plans for the iPhone handset as early as the middle of this summer, while also fueling speculation that Apple will release an updated Verizon iPhone later this year.

Per Reuters, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Francis Shammo made the remarks at an investors conference. According to Shammo, the carrier will probably transition to tiered pricing data plans in the “mid-summer time frame.”

Shammo also told investors Tuesday that Verizon had kept the unlimited plan for the iPhone launch because it “didn’t want to put up a barrier” to consumers looking to try out the handset.

Rumors emerged in early January that Verizon planned to offer unlimited data to iPhone customers. Rival AT&T began limiting its data plans last year, but quietly began offering some of its iPhone customers unlimited data again in January in an effort to keep them from switching to Verizon.

After a leaked memo revealed that new iPhone 4 customers on Verizon would be offered just a US$30 unlimited data plan, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam went on record as saying the unlimited data plan would only be a temporary offer, with tiered pricing coming in “the not too distant future.”

The report noted that shares of Verizon fell 2.4% Tuesday after Shammo warned that a new iPhone could negatively affect profit margins. “There could be some (margin) lumpiness when you launch the phone,” he said. “If there happens to be a new one that comes out, that quarter might not look so good (either).”

According to one analyst, Shammo’s remarks serve as evidence that an updated CDMA iPhone would arrive later this year. “I would take that comment as a pretty strong signal there’s an iPhone refresh coming to Verizon in the third quarter,” said Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

Last week, Verizon CEO Dan Mead hinted that an LTE-capable iPhone from Apple is in the works. The executive also reassured investors by revealing that the iPhone 4 launch had been the largest in company history, contrary to reports that had suggested a more lackluster launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.14 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 04:50
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.14 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 18.7 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Several fixes to improve performance, stability and security.

Firefox 3.6.14 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

Patent granted for scratch-proof nitride coating on Apple devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 08:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

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The good news: Your Apple device might get a bit tougher.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has been granted ownership of an invention related to scratch-proof coatings on stainless steel devices, using a nitride layer to potentially make iPhones, iPads and Macs more durable.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week granted ownership of the invention “Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products” to Apple. Known as U.S. Patent No. 7896981, it describes a cost-effective system that uses a nitride coating to prevent scratches and blemishes on the metal surface of a mobile device.

Adding a layer of nitride atop a stainless steel exterior would protect a device from damage. But the choice of material would maintain the look and feel of stainless steel, as nitride allows the color of the metal to show through.

Nitride is not to be confused with titanium nitride, a ceramic material that is also used as a coating on metal. Unlike nitride, which is clear, titanium nitride has a metallic gold color that conceals the look of the metal beneath it.

Apple’s invention notes that stainless steel, while scratch-prone, is an ideal material to craft electronic devices. Stainless steel is preferable because it is not magnetic, and it is less likely to inhibit wireless technology like a cell phone signal, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The addition of nitride could give Apple the best of both worlds: the advantages of stainless steel would remain, while a nitride coating would address the chief concern of durability.

The invention also includes specifics on how the nitride coating would be applied to a device. It describes using a salt bath nitride process to coat stainless steel with an initial layer at least 15 to 30 microns thick and with a Vickers Hardness value of at least 1,000. Another method would use a nitrogen salt bath with an average temperature of no more than 580 degrees Celsius.

After the stainless steel sits in a superheated salt bath for between 45 and 90 minutes, the material would be removed and the nitride layer would be polished to remove no more than 10 percent, resulting in a smooth exterior.

Apple first filed for the invention in April of 2010. The invention is credited to Douglas Weber.