AT&T announces Jump device upgrade/payment plan for smartphone/tablet early adopters

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:44
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, retail

attlogo

If you’re in the habit of snagging the new stuff as it comes out, this might come in handy.

Per Mac|Life, wireless carrier AT&T announced Tuesday a new initiative called AT&T Next, which allows consumers to buy a new smartphone or tablet each and every year with no downpayment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.

The move is seen as a response to T-Mobile’s recent attacks against the traditional subsidy business model, AT&T Next allows customers to buy a new device and agree to pay monthly installments. After 12 payments, the device can be traded in for a new one, or the customer can own it outright after making 20 payments.

While rival T-Mobile US offers a plan that allows up to two upgrades per year, their Jump! offer requires a US$10 per month payment just for the privilege of doing so. By comparison, AT&T Next requires no additional payments, and drops the usual US$36 activation and upgrade fees, which may be incentive enough for customers to stick with the carrier.

Beginning nationwide on July 26, AT&T Next will be available for both new AT&T customers as well as existing customers currently eligible for an upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple considering purchase of Israeli-based PrimeSense, creators of the Xbox Kinect

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:19
Category: Hardware, Rumor

kinect

It’s speculation, but it could lead to something interesting.

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il and 9to5Mac claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the US$280-US$300M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for US$400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in that country.

It’s been rumored that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At US$280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple vows to aid investigation surrounding electrocution of 23-year-old woman using charging iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News

applelogo_silver

It’s hard to say where this will go.

Per Reuters, Apple has said it will aid in the investigation of the death of a Chinese woman who was allegedly electrocuted when she answered a charging iPhone 5.

Apple announced the company is “deeply saddened” by the “tragic incident” that killed 23-year-old Xinjiang woman Ma Ailun. Apple vowed to “fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.”

Police say Ma was killed when she answered a call on her charging iPhone 5. The story gained traction when her sister wrote on the microblog Sina Weibo to warn other users to be careful.

Prior to the incident in China, there have been no widespread claims about faulty charging with the iPhone 5. Apple did recall iPhone 3G power adapters back in 2008 over a shocking risk that affected just a “very small” number of adapters.

Negative publicity in China regarding warranty policies prompted Apple to issue a formal apology in April. Since then, the company has been more aggressive in publicly responding to negative reports from the Chinese media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Apple apparently ramping up hiring for iWatch design, device could see late 2014 launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:03
Category: Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

Apple looks to be staffing up to build the iWatch.

Per The Mac Observer and the Financial Times, Apple is apparently hiring more employees for its wearable technology efforts to address issues that will likely push the rumored iWatch launch out to the end of 2014. Sources said Apple has been aggressively hiring new employees for its smartwatch project over the past few weeks, adding to its already growing pool of wearable tech engineers.

Sources close to the story said Apple went on the hunt for new talent to help overcome “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve.”

The idea that the iWatch won’t ship until later in 2014 has already cropped up thanks to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He noted in May that the company needed to update iOS as well as the iPhone and iPad to take advantage of the iWatch’s features, and that required more people.

Kuo recently offered the following comment:

“Apple may not have adequate resources to develop an iWatch version of iOS because it may require big changes to iPhone and iPad iOS this year. For these reasons, we think mass production of the iWatch is more likely to begin in 2014, not 2013 as the market speculates.”

Adding to the notion that a smartwatch is coming, Apple recently filed for a trademark on the iWatch name in Japan and other countries. Company CEO Tim Cook has also said that Apple has some “amazing new hardware” to introduce throughout the rest of 2013 and 2014, leading to further speculation that the iWatch is on the way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple, Samsung sign deal for Samsung to build A9 chips for 2015 iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:21
Category: Hardware, iOS, Processors, Rumor

From friends to litigants to partners again…

Per MacRumors and the Korea Economic Daily, Apple and Samsung on Sunday officially signed an agreement that will see the two companies working together on future A-series chips for Apple’s iOS devices, with the deal specifically covering A9 chips based on a 14-nanometer process node starting in 2015. The claim comes just weeks after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) confirmed a deal with Apple to begin producing A-series chips in 2014.

Samsung Electronics had supplied the AP [application processor] to Apple since 2007 but lost the contract to supply 20 nano AP A8 chips to Apple to Taiwan’s TSMC last year when it was engaged in patent disputes with Apple. Samsung Electronics developed state-of-the-art nanometer models ahead of its rival TSMC, regaining the order from Apple.

A previous report about Apple’s agreement with TSMC had indicated that it was a three-year deal covering not only Apple’s future A8 chip but also A9/A9X chips. Reports had indicated that Samsung would remain Apple’s primary supplier through next year as TSMC began ramping up its production.

As a result, it is unclear whether today’s deal will see both TSMC and Samsung producing A9 chips for Apple or if Apple has already shifted gears to return to Samsung as its primary supplier as part of its long-term roadmap.

Apple has reportedly been seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier as the two companies have become fierce rivals in both the mobile marketplace and in the courtroom. The two companies have, however, continued working together in several areas, particularly where Samsung’s competitors in the component market are unable to match its technology, production capacity, or pricing.

The shift to TSMC for production of the high-profile main chips for Apple’s iOS devices had been viewed as breaking one of the most significant remaining ties between Apple and Samsung, but it appears that Samsung has been able to bring Apple back into the fold by leading the charge to 14-nm chips. With partnerships with both Samsung and TSMC, it appears that Apple should be well-positioned to take advantage of whichever company takes the lead in developing the latest technologies.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Delicious Library updated to 3.1.1

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:09
Category: News, Software

dlicon

Late Friday, software company Delicious Monster released version 3.1.1 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The new version, a 77 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– PlayStation 4 games draw nicely.

– Help localized into Catalan courtesy of Xavier Escribano.

– Publishing preview doesn’t lock up the UI as much.

– Recommendations does a better job of hiding items you already own.

– Fixed adding books by barcode on Amazon China.

– Dates in smart shelf rules are normalized from the current time zone, so “Release Date >= 1990-01-01″ matches items with a release date of “1990”.

– Field names in smart shelf rules are more consistent with the names used elsewhere.

– Fixed spelling of plurals in some chart titles.

– Fixed “Refresh from Amazon” incorrectly being enabled for iBooks.

– Display warning for incompatibility on 10.9 Developer Preview 2.

– Word cloud charts don’t rearrange unnecessarily.

Delicious Library 3.1.1 retails for US$40 and requires OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple to ship Retina display-equipped iPad mini in early 2014

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 14:05
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

There’s gotta be a nugget of truth in here somewhere.

Per the Economic Daily News and AppleInsider, Apple’s iPad mini may not gain a high-resolution Retina display until early next year, if the latest rumor about the second-generation 7.9-inch tablet proves accurate.

The claim was published on Friday which said that though Apple originally planned to launch a Retina iPad mini this fall, it may be delayed until the first quarter of 2014. As such, the rumor suggests that a second-generation iPad mini will not launch this year.

It’s expected that a Retina display on the iPad mini would follow the same double-resolution approach used by Apple in existing devices like the iPhone and full-size iPad. That would mean the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch display would need to pack in the same 3.1 million pixels into a panel nearly two inches smaller in diameter.

The latest report comes on the heels of a separate rumor out of the Far East from earlier this week which claimed Apple plans to launch a new fifth-generation, full-size iPad in September. That report claimed that the features of a second-generation iPad mini, such as a Retina display, remain in flux at Apple.

Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in April that Apple was experiencing yield issues in manufacturing high-resolution screens for its next iPad mini. He suggested that production issues would push back the launch of the second-generation tablet, but at the time he believed it would still launch this October.

The first-generation iPad mini debuted last October with a screen resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. That matches the resolution of the first-generation iPad and iPad 2, but packs the pixels into a smaller space, giving the display a higher pixel density.

Still, the iPad mini display squeezes in only 163 pixels per inch — an improvement on the 132 pixels per inch found on the first two iPad releases, but still well below the 264-pixel-per-inch density of the third- and fourth-generation iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Google may be improving relations following Jobs’ passing

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 07:13
Category: News

google_logo1

It’s funny how quickly things can change in the world of tech. One second, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on stage with Steve Jobs during the iPhone introduction, and the next, Jobs is threatening to destroy Android and go “thermonuclear” against Google for “slavishly copying” the look and feel of Apple’s crown jewel — iOS.

You might also recall that Jobs, during an Apple town hall meeting in 2010, didn’t mince words when asked a question about Google and, in return, replied with the following comment:

“We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake: they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them [...] This don’t be evil mantra? It’s bullshit.”

All that said, it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple over the past few years has removed every Google property from the iOS home screen. You may have also noticed that Bing is now the search engine that powers Siri’s web search results in iOS 7.

Suffice it to say, Google and Apple are full-on competitors and have been for quite some time. Indeed, it almost seems like eons ago when Schmidt actually held a seat on Apple’s board of directors.

But the vitriol between the two companies, as evidenced by Jobs’ statements above, appears to have died down a bit — at least if you’re inclined to believe Schmidt.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the Allen and Co media conference, Schmidt said that relations between Apple and Google have improved and that the two companies are having “lots and lots of meetings.”

Reuters reports:

He noted that Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, who joined him at the press briefing, was leading many of the discussions. The two companies are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” Schmidt said.

That’s all well and good if it’s in fact true, but it’s easy to be skeptical when Google and Schmidt have always played it coy when it comes to publicly characterizing their relationship with Apple.

Best Buy begins offering trade-ins for older iPads, deal to run Friday and Saturday

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 06:50
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News, retail

best-buy-logo

Hey, a deal’s a deal and this is why a competitive marketplace is a good thing.

Per Electronista, just a few days after Target began offering gift cards of up to US$50 for buying various iOS devices, competitor Best Buy has begun offering a trade-in program where buyers can trade their older iPads (iPad 2 and third-generation models) for up to US$200 in gift cards that can be used for anything the retailer offers, including the latest iPad and iPad mini.
The trade-in offer is only good for two days — Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 — but the resulting gift cards can be used at the company’s online site or in-store. The company said that particularly pristine trade-ins may receive even more than US$200.

To qualify, customers must visit a brick-and-mortar Best Buy or Best Buy Mobile store that is accepting trade-ins. If put towards the current fourth-generation iPad, the US$200 minimum gift card would lower the price of a 16GB Wi-Fi model to US$300. If applied towards a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini, traders would pay only US$129 (plus applicable taxes). For some models in exceptionally good condition, the retailer says it will over more than the US$200 minimum card as a reward for trading in.

The company says it will recycle the iPads it receives in trade. While the program is a good way to upgrade an older iPad to the latest models, potential buyers are reminded that Apple is expected to produce new versions of the iconic tablets sometime in the fall.

Both the older iPads and the current fourth-generation ones will be able to run iOS 7 when it comes out later this year, leaving behind only the original 2010 iPad. However, only the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch will have access to all the new features in iOS 7. The current iPad and iPad mini cannot access the Camera app’s panorama or live filter features, the third-gen iPad doesn’t get AirDrop, and the iPad 2 will lack both AirDrop and all the camera changes.

If you’ve taken Best Buy up on this deal and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.