Apple announces iPhone 5s, 5c handsets, sets release date for September 20th

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 12:15
Category: iPhone, News

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The iPhone you’ve been hankering for has arrived.

Per Macworld, Apple on Tuesday unveiled two new iPhones: the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c.

During the presentation, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller pointed out that the iPhone’s A7 chip uses desktop-class architecture, with a modern instruction set and over a billion transistors—and it’s the same size as the A6.

“iOS 7 already supports a native 64-bit kernel,” Schiller said. “All the built-in apps from Apple already have been reengineered for 64-bit, and it will be easy for third-party developers to compile their apps for the iPhone 5s as well.”

“The benefits are huge,” Schiller said. The A7 is up to twice as fast at CPU and graphics tasks, he said. The iPhone 5s offers 40 times the performance of the original iPhone—with half of that improvement just coming since the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5s and Touch ID:
The iPhone 5s also comes with a nifty new security feature: A fingerprint scanner built right into the Home button. That sensor can read fingerprints with incredible detail, and even supports multiple fingers. Support for that scanner in iOS 7 means you may never need to tap in your passcode again.

Touch ID uses your fingerprint to gain access to your phone. It does this by reading the fingerprint at an incredibly detailed level using the Touch ID sensor. Touch ID scans sub-epidermal skin layers with 360 degrees of readability—meaning you can hold your finger in any orientation.

“The sensor lives beneath the Home button on the iPhone 5s. That button is still tactile, but includes a stainless steel detection ring and the Touch ID sensor, with a laser-cut sapphire crystal on top. Touch ID is built deep into iOS 7,” Schiller said.

You can simply touch the Home button to unlock your iPhone. You can use the Touch ID to authenticate anywhere you’d otherwise need to provide your Apple ID password, too.

Touch ID also supports multiple fingerprints. So, you can unlock your iPhone with multiple fingers, or theoretically let a family member add their fingerprint to unlock your device, too.

The iPhone 5s camera:
Schiller said that the camera on the iPhone 5s is dramatically improved over its predecessor. He cited what he called “huge advancements”: There’s a new five-element, Apple-designed lens, with a larger 2.2 aperture, and a 15 percent larger active sensor area.

“The pixels on the sensor are 1.5 microns,” Schiller said, and he said that bigger pixels lead to better pictures. The camera also includes a new True Tone Flash.

The iPhone 5s camera also adds automatic image stabilization. It combines multiple photos taken simultaneously in real-time to stabilize and sharpen images. The camera includes a burst mode, too.

There’s a new video camera option, too: a Slo-Mo camera, which shoots 120 frames per second in high definition.

Other features:
There’s another completely new part in the iPhone 5s called M7: a motion co-processor. It continually measures motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass, without waking the A7, which Schiller said would enable new fitness accessories and apps.

In conjunction with a new CoreMotion API, Schiller said that developers could create apps to measure and track fitness in ways that weren’t possible before.

The iPhone 5s’s battery life is equal to or greater than the iPhone 5′s, Schiller said, with 10 hours of 3G talk time or LTE browsing.

The iPhone 5s is available in 16GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299, or 64GB for US$399. Apple is also offering six leather cases for the iPhone 5s at US$39 each. Orders for the iPhone 5s start on September 20. The unlocked prices for the 5s are US$649 for the 16GB model, US$749 for the 32GB model, and US$849 for the 64GB model.

Though the iPhone 5 will be retired, Apple will continue to offer the iPhone 4S in a free 8GB model.

The iPhone 5c:
“The iPhone 5c is made with all the incredible technology customers have loved with the iPhone 5,” Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said.

The iPhone 5C is available in a variety of colors: blue, green, white, pink, and yellow. The fronts of the phones are black, while all the rest of the body uses the new color, including the buttons and switches.


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When you turn on the iPhone 5c, the default wallpaper is color-matched to the phone’s body. There’s also a new line of custom cases, made of a soft-feel silicon rubber with microfiber internals, and cutout patterns of circles on the bottom two-thirds of the case. “You get this amazing combination of color between the iPhone 5c and its case.”

The iPhone 5c is made of a hard-coated polycarbonate, with a steel-reinforced structure for added rigidity — doing double duty as an antenna. The phone uses the iPhone 5′s 4-inch Retina display. It’s powered by an A6 chip, and offers higher-capacity battery performance, with a larger battery than the original iPhone 5. It also offers an 8MP iSight camera.

On the front, the iPhone 5c sports a new FaceTime HD camera that Schiller said is improved from prior iterations. And the phone supports more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world, Schiller said.

The iPhone 5c costs US$99 for the 16GB model, or US$199 for the 32GB model, with a two-year contract. The cases are also available in the same six colors; they’re available for US$29 each. You may pre-order the iPhone 5c starting on September 13. The unlocked prices for this model are US$549 for the 16GB version and US$649 for the 32GB version.

Please let us know what you make of the new iPhones in the comments and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to built biometric fingerprint sensor into more expensive iPhone 5S units

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

This is just about the last rumor before Apple hopefully unveils its long-awaited next-gen iPhone(s) today, so here we go.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the story last week stated that fingerprint scanners will be built into the “more expensive of two iPhones” Apple plans to announce at a media event on Tuesday, seemingly confirming a long stream of rumors regarding the feature’s inclusion.

The publication speculates that Apple’s entry into the biometric security segment will spark interest from other handset makers to find similar solution. Another source claims at least one smartphone running Google’s Android will incorporate fingerprint security, though it is unknown if the device will be marketed in the U.S.

Apple is expected to field a fingerprint sensor built by AuthenTec, a biometric security firm the Cupertino company purchased for US$356 million in 2012, and plans to place the module under the iPhone’s home button. While other handsets and computers have tried to use fingerprinting methods in the past, Apple’s solution is thought to be much more intuitive and less prone to error.

Instead of swiping a finger across a small sensor strip, the AuthenTec package uses RF field attenuation to map a user’s print. This static means of capture would allow iPhone owners to authenticate by simply pressing the home button as they would when waking the phone from sleep.

Most recently, rumors of a “silver ring” surrounding the “iPhone 5S” home button surfaced, with some claiming the part was added as an aesthetic flourish. AppleInsider, however, reported that Apple’s patent applications suggest the component likely serves a functional purpose in the fingerprint sensor’s design.

All should be revealed at today’s event, which is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe Reader, Acrobat Pro updated to 11.0.04

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:41
Category: News, security, Software

You can’t knock a useful update.

On Tuesday, Adobe released version 11.0.04 of its Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, add the following fixes and changes:

- This update provides system requirement enhancements, mitigation for security issues, improved overall stability, bug fixes, and feature enhancements.

Acrobat Reader 11.0.04 and Acrobat Pro 11.0.04 require an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Microsoft launches Xbox Music streaming service for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If you’re hankering for additional streaming music on your iOS device, Microsoft has its own offerings prior to Apple’s release of its iTunes Radio streaming service.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released Xbox Music app for iPhone. Xbox Music was first unveiled last October and allows users to listen to ad-supported or ad-free music (depending on whether they have a paying subscription or not) on their Microsoft devices, such as Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs.

With today’s launch on iOS and Android devices, Microsoft appears to acknowledge that it thinks Apple’s iTunes Radio could become a big player on the streaming-music front — something it hopes to stave off with the expansion of Xbox Music.

Today’s release of the app offers users the following:
- Stream ad-free music from a catalog of tens of millions of songs.

- Add songs, albums and playlists to your Xbox Music collection and access them from other devices.

- Create playlists that sync across your phone, Xbox 360, PC, tablet and the web.

- Listen to music while using your iPhone.

- Listen to artist-based radio stations.

- Enjoy a rich visual experience for searching, viewing and playing back music.

- The company also says it will be releasing an update soon that will allow users to download music for offline listening.

Though Xbox Music is a free download, mobile users will be required to have an Xbox Music Pass to listen to the service on their iPhone. Xbox Music Passes are available for a free 30-day trial, but retail for US$9.99 a month after that.

Xbox Music requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 5 “silver ring” around Home button could be part of fingerprint reader system

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that rumored cool “silver ring” that’s been rumored for the upcoming iPhone 5S handset?

It might be part of a fingerprint sensor.

Per AppleInsider and Fox News’ This Week in Tech, reporter Clayton Morris proposed the ring is merely aesthetic, possibly added so users can easily distinguish an iPhone that has a built-in fingerprint sensor from those that do not.

However, given recent patent filings, the metallic ring may be a functional component necessary to the sensor’s operation.

There stands a variety of ways to accomplish biometric fingerprint readings, including the stereotypical “swiping” motion made famous in movies, as well as methods using optical, thermal, pressure and capacitive measurements, among others. AuthenTec, which Apple purchased in 2012 for US$356 million, uses a few different capture methods in its products, though the tech most likely to be used in the iPhone doesn’t involve swiping.

Typical methods of swipe authentication, usually direct capacitance, involve a thin “strip” sensor that captures and stitches together multiple images of a fingerprint as a user sweeps their finger across the sensing plate. With direct capacitance, an electrical field is applied to the sensor, which detects ridges and valleys — the skin structures that form fingerprint whorls — by measuring variations in capacitance at the sensor plate. Lower capacitance denotes skin that is farther from the sensor, or valleys, while higher capacitance is associated with ridges.

A more accurate and robust method of capture is called radio frequency field sensing, or AC capacitance. Like direct capacitive sensing, this technique also measures capacitance of a sort, but the similarities end there. Instead of measuring the effect on an electrical field, a low frequency RF signal is inserted into the finger and received by the sensor. In this case, RF signal strength captured by the pixel traces are measured and the corresponding data is translated to form an image of the print.

Benefits of RF field/AC capacitance sensing include static non-swipe readings, resistance to dust and capability for the sensor to operate even when covered by layers of protective material. These types of sensors are usually larger in size to allow for a wider capture area.

One patent, filed by AuthenTec cofounder Dale R. Setlak and subsequently assigned to Apple, goes into detail about a technology based on mechanics which are very similar to RF field sensing. The property also relates to the company’s “Smart Sensor” — also based on RF field sensing tech — which has been used successfully in at least one phone, the Japan-only Toshiba REGZA T-01D.

As noted in Setlak’s patent, along with other similar inventions credited to his name, electrodes need to be in contact with the finger to pump the drive signal that will ultimately be measured by pixel traces on the pixel plate.

In nearly all RF field sensors, a ring disposed around the sensor array acts as the electrode that drives the low frequency RF signal into the finger, which is attenuated by ridges and valleys in the print and finally captured by AC sensors as a high quality image.

As a type of bonus side effect, the tech can also be used as a form of input. By analyzing slight movements or changes in attenuation over time, the system can interpolate gesture behaviors like scrolling, cursor control and, when combined with a physical or virtual button, drag-and-drop operations.

Embedding this type of package in an iPhone’s home button is likely quite challenging as the part moves up and down constantly, which would put undue wear on the sensing module’s interconnects. It is possible that Apple has found a way to separate the finger ring from the sensor array in order to isolate the integral components from wear and tear. Such a system would also be less apt to fouling or misreadings due to debris.

As for utility, the sensor design wouldn’t force users to swipe the home button to authenticate, but would have the module read the print while a user presses the button to wake the phone from sleep. In other words, the security factor would take place seamlessly. No new gestures to learn, just enhanced functionality, transparent to the user.

It remains wholly unknown if Apple has incorporated this particular fingerprint technology into the next-gen iPhone, though circumstantial evidence seems to point in that very specific direction.

Further, a non-functional aesthetic bezel rimming the home button, which has seen nary a design tweak since the first iPhone launched in 2007, simply to demarcate new biometric capabilities seems to go against Apple’s design sensibilities. When the company introduced a front-facing camera with the iPhone 4, it buried the feature just above the earpiece. No special decorations or embellishments to note that the handset sported FaceTime capabilities.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and be sure to check in tomorrow for coverage of Apple’s September 10th iPhone press event.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.18

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 08:53
Category: News, Software

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There’s nothing wrong with a regular update to a useful program.

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.18. The new version, a 110 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- VMM: properly handle NMIs on Linux hosts with X2APIC enabled.

- VMM: fixed potential crashes with 64-bit guests on 32-bit hosts (bug #11979).

- GUI / seamless: properly handle mouse wheel scroll events.

- GUI, VBoxManage: when unregistering a VM, also unregister the hard disk images which are used exclusively (bug #10311).

- GUI: prevent crashes under certain conditions on X11 hosts.

- 3D: multiscreen fixes (incorrect mouse position, flickers).

- 3D Support: several fixes for the Windows WDDM video driver (multiscreen, seamless).

- Snapshots: made live snapshots work again (bug #9255).

- Teleportation: made it work again (bug #9455).

- VBoxManage: on snapshot take, –pause is default and –live is for doing live snapshots.

- VBoxSVC: don’t crash on systems with many VLAN interfaces (Solaris hosts only).

- Network: after the host resumes from suspend, disconnect and reconnect the virtual network cables to force renewing the DHCP leases for the guests. So far only Mac OS X hosts and Windows hosts (bug #10063).

- NAT: on name server changes force a reconnect of the virtual network cable to notify the guest (Mac OS X hosts only).

- Mac OS X installer: keep previously installed Extension Packs on VirtualBox upgrade.

- Linux hosts / guests: Linux 3.11 fixes (bug #12001).

- Solaris hosts: fixed a potential kernel panic caused due to unexpected preemption due to logging.

- Windows hosts: fixed an issue with USB2 devices being inaccessible when plugged into USB3 ports.

- Linux Additions: added PCI device identifier to vboxvideo.ko fixing DRI initialization under certain conditions (bug #11957).

- Linux Additions: fixed udev detection in the init script with Linux 3.x kernels.

VirtualBox 4.2.18 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Opera web browser updated to 16.0.1196.73

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 09:37
Category: News, Software

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If you’re an Opera web browser fan, this might come in handy.

On Friday, Opera Software released version 16.0.1196.73 of its web browser. The new version, a 54.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:
- Quick typing strings at address field doesn’t start search.

- Corrected positioning and sizing.

- Fixed Opera 16 source release build.

- Implemented a gentler crash-loop recovery policy.

Opera 16.0.1196.73 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Leaked internal document shows Vodafone Germany slimming down iPhone 4S, 5 options following next-gen iPhone release

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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Come the next generation of iPhones, your Vodafone iPhone 5 and 4S choices in Germany could be limited to the most basic models.

Per Flo’s Weblog and MacRumors, an internal email has noted that the 32 and 64GB iPhone 5 in both black and white will be discontinued, along with the black/white 16GB iPhone 4S.

This confirms an inventory leak from Canadian carrier Telus, which also suggested that Apple would discontinue the higher end iPhone 5 models. Both carrier leaks indicate that Apple’s upcoming product lineup will consist of the flagship iPhone 5S, the low-cost iPhone “5C”, and the 16GB iPhone 5.

Apple’s iPhone lineup has been in question over the past several months, and it has been unclear whether the iPhone 5C will serve as a replacement for the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4S. The cost of the iPhone 5C remains unknown, and speculation has suggested that the phone, which is said to use many of the same parts as the existing iPhone 5, may not be truly low-cost, necessitating the inclusion of the lower-priced iPhone 4S in the product line.

An August note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that Apple would discontinue the iPhone 5 in favor of the iPhone 5C while continuing to sell the iPhone 4S through the end of of the year, but the information from Vodafone Germany contradicts this theory.

It is unclear where the iPhone 5 will fit into Apple’s iPhone line in terms of price. Estimates have suggested that the iPhone 5C will retail for US$400 to US$500 off-contract, and it is likely that the iPhone 5 would have a similar price tag. The iPhone 4S, though, could be priced below the iPhone 5C if it remains in Apple’s product lineup.

Apple plans to unveil the iPhone 5S and 5C during a September 10 iPhone event. The phones are expected to ship to a number of countries shortly after, on September 20.

If you’re in the German marketplace and have heard anything to this extent, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 Mavericks to arrive in late October

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Rumor, Software

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You might have to wait until the end of next month to get your mitts on Mavericks.

Per 9to5Mac, despite being announced in early June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the next major Mac update, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, may not arrive until late October.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s alleged launch plans, the web site reported on Friday that the debut for Mavericks is nearly two months away. In addition, the site also cited apparent “chatter” that iOS 7 for iPad won’t be available until October as well.

Last year, Apple surprised when it unveiled OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in February with little fanfare, outside of a typical keynote address. The software then became available in the Mac App Store in late July, or about five months later.

That means this year’s time between announcement and launch of OS X 10.9 Mavericks would actually be shorter than the same window for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was in 2012. Still, some had expected that next Mac operating system might launch in the near future, perhaps as soon as Apple’s iPhone media event next week.

Just this week, developers were supplied with the seventh preview build of Mavericks. The latest developer preview includes performance enhancements but still isn’t ready for the public, with features like iCloud Keychain remaining a work in progress.

Apple hasn’t given a specific launch window for Mavericks beyond this fall. When it does launch, it will pack in new features such as iBooks for Mac, Finder Tabs, Apple Maps, App Nap, Compressed Memory, and more.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV out of stock on online store, next-gen units possible in near term

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 06:00
Category: Apple TV, News

When the stock runs out, the new stuff is on its way.

Or that’s what one tends to hope.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has either run out of stock or suspended sales of refurbished Apple TVs through its online store, possibly hinting that a new version of the device is in the offing.

As noted by reader Brian, the Online Apple Store’s refurbished product webpage no longer shows the Apple TV as available for sale. Apple recently cut the price of the refurbished device to US$75 in early August, down from US$85 as seen in the above image.

While it is possible that Apple has simply run out or suspended sales of refurbished units, the timing of the stockout jibes with recent rumors of a possible product refresh. A report on Tuesday noted Apple took receipt of three fairly large shipments from Chinese partner manufacturer BYD Precision in August, the contents of each described as “Set Top Boxes.” The information was discovered in bills of lading from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Until the past few days, there have been little to no rumors regarding a new Apple TV, as most media attention has been focused on an anticipated iPhone lineup refresh. However, Apple has been actively updating the existing set-top streamer’s content, adding channels like Vevo, Disney, Weather and Smithsonian in late August, while a beta of the next Apple TV software released in July was found to have reinstated iTunes purchasing.

Apple last refreshed its Apple TV in March 2012, adding 1080p output to the unit while retaining the prior model’s design.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has scheduled a media event for Sept. 10 which is expected to see the unveiling of new iPhone models. Although mere speculation, it is possible that Apple may be planning to announce a new Apple TV product alongside the handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.