AT&T to argue need for T-Mobile resources, spectrum, in merger deal

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 06:13
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

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You may not think too highly of wireless carrier AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA, but apparently it’s necessary for the company to move forward.

This was the statement from company officials on Thursday, who said the deal would allow AT&T to significantly improve its mobile network capacity and give better service to its customers.

Critics of the deal, including competitor Sprint Nextel, are incorrect in asserting that AT&T is sitting on mobile spectrum, said Bob Quinn, AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs in a Macworld article. The proposed US$39 billion deal, announced in March, is a “very clean and quick way to deal with some of the spectrum issues that are facing this country and this company in particular,” he said during a press briefing.

The deal is necessary because AT&T is facing a spectrum shortage as mobile broadband use continues to skyrocket, the company has argued. While critics have suggested AT&T is hoarding spectrum, the company is using its 700MHz spectrum, acquired in 2008 auctions, and its AWS (advanced wireless services) spectrum to roll out 4G LTE (long-term evolution) service, Quinn said.

Sprint has questioned why AT&T, with the largest spectrum holdings of any U.S. carrier, needs T-Mobile. “AT&T has repeatedly reassured investors that it has the spectrum and network capacity it needs to meet the growing demand for data services,” Sprint said in a May 31 filing at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. “If AT&T has capacity constraints, they are the result of its failure to upgrade and invest in its network. AT&T has lagged significantly in network investment.”

Dozens of groups have voiced opposition to the merger between the second-largest mobile carrier in the U.S. and the fourth-largest. The merger would reduce competition in the mobile market and likely drive up prices, said critics including Public Knowledge, the Rural Telecommunications Group and the NoChokePoints Coalition, a coalition of telecom customers, consumer groups and small carriers concerned with mobile backhaul rates.

The merged company would be “contrary to the express policies of Congress and the Commission to rely on competition rather than regulation to protect consumers and spur deployment of new services,” Public Knowledge and the Future of Music Coalition wrote in a May 31 filing to the FCC.

The combined company would be the largest mobile provider in the U.S. and would be able to assert control over mobile handsets, applications, equipment and protocol development, Public Knowledge and the Future of Music Coalition said in their filing.

But AT&T, in a response filing to be sent to the FCC on Friday, will argue the merger will be good for mobile customers. By combining networks, AT&T will be able to increase its mobile capacity by 60% in New York City in the short term, and by more than 80% in the long term, Quinn said.

Los Angeles and San Diego would both see short-term spectrum gains of more than 45%, Quinn said.

The merger would give AT&T more spectrum and cell tower coverage, giving customers better mobile data service, he said. AT&T has tried other ways to improve capacity, including distributed antenna systems and Wi-Fi hotspots, Quinn said.

“We are not stupid,” he said. “We’ve been in the wireless business for a long time. We’ve tried all of these as short-term methods … to fix and provide for more capacity. While they give you some short-term benefit, they’re not long-term benefits to address the kind of bandwidth demands that we’re seeing.”

AT&T, in its FCC filing, will also note support for the merger from dozens of groups, including 15 state governors, 10 labor unions, nine venture capital firms and several tech firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle and Yahoo, Quinn said.

Many groups supporting the merger see the potential for AT&T to bring mobile broadband to more corners of the nation, he said. AT&T has said it plans to cover 97% of the U.S. population with 4G service if the merger is approved by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice. Right now, the company plans to cover 80% of the population with 4G service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Samsung announces Spinpoint M8 1 TB internal hard drives for notebooks

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Date: Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 07:22
Category: hard drive, News

You might just like this.

Per Macworld, Samsung this week announced the Spinpoint M8 internal hard drive with 1TB capacity.

The drive features two 500GB platters and is 9.5-millimeter (0.37 inches) high, so the drive can fit easily into laptop storage bays. The 5400-rpm Spinpoint M8 is priced at US$129, and available in the U.S. and Europe.

Until recently, the previous top capacity had been 750GB of storage, an option offered by companies like Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which currently offers an option in which buyers can select two drives for a total of 1.5TB of storage on a notebook.

Companies such as Toshiba and Western Digital offer 1TB internal laptop drives, but top notebook makers are not yet offering 1TB drives as an option. Desktop hard drives with 1TB storage are now commonly available.

The Spinpoint M8 drive is denser than earlier models as it can store more data per unit area, Samsung said. The drive is also more power efficient as it carries fewer components like heads to seek and access data.

The disk is about 7% faster than its predecessor and uses 8% less power, Samsung said.

The drive operates on the 3gbps SATA interface and has 8MB buffer memory. It generates less noise and an overall redesign of the drive structure protects the disc from physical fracture and data loss, Samsung said.

As always, let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Apple patent reveals efforts to create application that combines movie times with calendar scheduling

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Date: Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 06:27
Category: News, Patents

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If you’re looking for a movie ticket application that checks against your calendar and tries to find showings that are convenient for you, Apple may already be working on it.

Per AppleInsider, a patent application that went public this week proposes an idea that would link with the calendar data stored on a user’s iPhone, as well as location-based data for nearby theaters. The proposed invention was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a patent application entitled “Systems and Methods for Providing Context-Based Movie Information.”

Apple’s solution would obtain showtimes from multiple theaters, but would take care not to inundate the user with too many showtimes. Instead, movie times would be presented in time slots, and user would be presented with a series of time intervals that fit their schedule and location.

Even if a user were to manually select an unavailable time slot, the movie application could prompt the user to view information associated with a scheduled calendar event. From there, users could be presented with the option to cancel the event listed on their calendar, and the application would adjust accordingly, presenting new available showtimes.

In addition to showtimes and calendar conflicts, movie times and locations could also be recommended based on current traffic conditions. With this, users could determine which theater and showtime would be ideal after a scheduled event, like dinner at a restaurant.

Apple’s proposed iPhone software also has social elements integrated. The movie application could access a user’s list of contacts, and shared contacts would be able to see when and where their friends are seeing a movie.

Users could also choose to actively send their movie plans to friends. For example, if a calendar entry were to include the names and contact information of dinner participants, once tickets are ordered the appropriate information could be sent to those contacts.

The movie application could also include links to purchase tickets, as well as movie trailers. Apple already offers a similar set of features on its website, with movie locations and showtimes provided in an iOS-friendly HTML5 site.

Apple’s patent application, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in December of 2009. The proposed invention is credited to John Louch and Todd Ditchendorf.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises App Store guidelines to reject apps that focus on DUI checkpoint avoidance

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Date: Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 06:48
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Apparently, there are some apps that just won’t fly on the App Store.

Per Macworld, Apple has quietly updated its App Store Review Guidelines to effectively ban apps that warn drivers of nearby police checkpoints. The move comes after members of Congress had put pressure on both Apple and Google to remove such offerings from their respective mobile app stores.

The update to Apple’s guidelines, which was posted on June 6, and verified by an Apple spokesperson, includes a new entry in Section 22: Legal requirements. The last subitem on that list, number 22.8, now reads as follows:

“Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.”

Apple’s change of heart comes more than two months after four U.S. Senators sent a letter to Google and Apple asking that DUI checkpoint apps—which include programs like Buzzed, DUI Dodger, and Fuzz Alert Pro—be removed from the iOS and Android app stores. Congress ratcheted up the pressure even further last month during a hearing on location data. While that hearing ostensibly focused on privacy issues, Senator Charles Schumer of New York used his time on the floor to ask Apple executive Bud Tribble why Apple hadn’t removed or rejected apps that help drives avoid DUI checkpoints.

Tribble, Apple’s vice president of software technology, told Schumer:

“One of the things we found is that some of these apps are actually publishing data on when and where the checkpoints are [using information] published by the police departments. In some cases, the police department actually publishes when and where they’re going to have a checkpoint… They believe that these checkpoints provide a deterrent effect.”

Apple’s updated policy singles out apps that share unpublished DUI checkpoints, but seemingly leaves wiggle-room for Apple to ban apps using public data—when that data is couched in terms of avoiding detection for driving under the influence. It seems likely that existing apps that do not follow these rules will be removed from the App Store as well.

A check of the App Store Wednesday revealed that Fuzz Alert Pro has removed all mention of DUI checkpoints from its marketing, and the app no longer offers DUI data. At this writing, however DUI Dodger and Buzzed both remain in the App Store with their more singular DUI focuses intact.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and above all…drive safe!

Apple releases iMac Graphic FW Update 2.0 to resolve sleep issue

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 18:28
Category: iMac, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released an iMac graphic firmware update on Wednesday to resolve a startup and wake from sleep hanging issue. The iMac Graphic FW Update 2.0, a 699KB download, “fixes an issue that in rare cases may cause an iMac to hang during startup or waking from sleep.”

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 to install and run and can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iBooks 1.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 05:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released version 1.3 of its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.3 adds a couple of new features, including a read-aloud feature for some children’s books that isn’t working yet.

iBooks 1.3 requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple releases iTunes 10.3.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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Early Wednesday, released iTunes 10.3.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75 megabyte download, may fix the following bug, though official release notes have yet to be distributed:

– Release notes are the same as version 10.3, however it’s possible the release fixes an Unknown Error -50 syncing issue with iOS devices.

iTunes 10.3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5.3 or later to install and run.

Apple unveils iOS 5, cites 200 new features, highlights 10 for keynote

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Not that the iOS user base has done anything wrong, but there’s going to be some changes around here…

Per Mac|Life, Apple sent in Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about the 1,500 new APIs that developers will have to tap into, with 200 new features to end users/

10 of them were shown yesterday and boil down as follows:

Notification Center: This gathers information in one easy-to-use spot which is accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notifications will also be featured on the lock screen, where you can swipe across any of them to go straight to the app in question.

Newsstand: Brings all of your magazine, newspaper and other periodical subscriptions to one place. “When you purchase them they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand,” Forstall explained, showing off an integrated “newspaper stand” type graphic on the home screen.

Twitter: The rumors of deep Twitter integration into iOS 5 appear to have come true. There will be a single sign-on location in the iOS Settings and the feature will be integrated with apps such as the Camera and Photos for quick sharing.

Reader: The Reader view in desktop Safari is finally coming to Mobile Safari, which certainly poses a threat to existing services such as Readability. Reader for Mobile Safari will allow you to email the contents of a story as well as the link, and the browser will also gain the much-rumored Reading List feature similar to Instapaper. Last but not least, tabbed browsing finally comes to Mobile Safari as well. “It is lightning fast to switch between windows now,” Forstall exclaimed. Potentially putting another class of third-party developers out of business, Apple will introduce a slick new Reminders feature to iOS 5 which syncs across devices as well as to iCal.

Camera Button: iOS 5 will finally introduce a dedicated Camera button on the lock screen for quick one-tap access, and Apple has finally allowed use of the volume up button as a dedicated camera shutter. The Camera app also gains an auto exposure and auto focus lock, pinch to zoom and the ability to do basic editing such as crop, rotate and red-eye reduction without leaving the app.

iOS Mail: The app will gain rich text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses, entire content searching and the ability to mark emails as unread if you want to act on them later. Security is also getting a boost with the use of S/MIME, and there’s finally a built-in dictionary that’s now a service across the entire iOS platform as well.

PC Free: iOS will no longer require a physical connection to the computer to enable syncing. “We know we’re selling to a lot of places where the households just don’t have computers,” Forstall confesses. Now you’ll be able to take your device out of the box and setup/activate right on the device. Software updates will also now come over the air, and they will be in the form of “delta” updates with just the new bits, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes each time.

Game Center: “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet,” Forstall boasts. “There are more than 100,000 game and entertainment titles in the App Store.” Citing more than 50 million Game Center users in only nine months — eclipsing Xbox Live’s 30 million users in eight years — Forstall promises that the service will get even more social with friend and game recommendations and even the ability to purchase and download games directly from the app.

Finally, Forstall introduced the new iMessage service for iOS users, supporting all of the company’s devices. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages with delivery and read receipts as well as real-time typing notification. Start a conversation on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on the iPad, and it works over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

Among the other features coming to iOS 5 are AirPlay mirroring, wireless sync with iTunes (hooray!), multitasking gestures and much more. iOS 5 was released to developers via an updated SDK yesterday and will ship to customers in the fall alongside the free iCloud service, with support from the iPhone 3GS and up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OWC offers five year warranty for Extreme Mercury SSD

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:02
Category: News

Amidst everything that’s happening at WWDC, a good deal is still a good deal.

Other World Computing has announced that the company is now offering a five year warranty on its Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD line.

The drive, which features a SandForce processor, features a Tier1/Grade A synchronous NAND flash unit, operates at SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) and SATA Revision 3.0 specs (6Gb/s) and retails for US$279.99. Current benchmarks cit sustained reads of 284MB/s and write speeds of 266MB/s with sustained read speeds of 559MB/s and write speeds of 527MB/s.

If you’ve used the Mercury Extreme SSD line and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple demoes upcoming iCloud features, announces fall release date

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 05:09
Category: iTunes, News, Software

In the midst of everything at WWDC on Monday, Apple showed off its long-awaited iCloud service, describing it as a service that stores content, wirelessly pushes it to devices, and integrates with applications — all at no cost to users.

Per AppleInsider, iCloud was demonstrated by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who even admitted that the previous MobileMe service was not Apple’s “finest hour.” But he also said that despite the company’s previous mistakes, iCloud is a new product.

“Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” Jobs said. “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”

Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC. Apple has invested over US$500 million in its Maiden data center to support the expected customer demand for the free iCloud services.

The free iCloud services include:
The former MobileMe services — Contacts, Calendar and Mail — all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.

The App Store and iBookstore now download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.

iCloud Backup automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.

iCloud Storage seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup—which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.

iCloud’s Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via Wi-Fi.

iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if it can be matched to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a US$24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 supports this fall.

Features from the demo include the following:

Contact, Calendar and Mail Sync: Like MobileMe, iCloud will offer syncing of contacts, calendars and mail. It will also be an ad-free service, and will ship with all iOS 5 devices this fall.

iCloud will come set up by default on new iOS 5 devices. Users will also be given 5GB of storage for mail, all free through the new service.

iCloud will be integrated in the App Store on iOS devices, allowing users to see all of the applications they own, even if they are not installed on the current device.

Backup to the Cloud: Devices can also be backed up to the cloud, for users who want to become truly PC-free. Content will be backed up to the cloud every day, and users will identify their account with a username and password login on any device.

Backups will occur over Wi-Fi only, and will apply to a number of applications on iOS devices, including purchased music, books and applications; photos and video stored in the camera roll; device settings; and app data.

Documents in the Cloud:
A new feature called Documents in the Cloud automatically backs up documents created in Pages, Numbers or Keynote in the iCloud service. The newly released versions of the iWork suite for iOS already have this feature built in.

Developers will also have access to iCloud application programming interfaces for their software. Applications will be allowed to store full documents, and they will be pushed to a user’s device automatically. It will work across all iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have your two cents to throw in, let us know via the comments.