PlugBug accessory simultaneously charges current Apple notebooks, iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:30
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod

This could be nifty.

Per Electronica, accessory developer Twelve South on Tuesday Tuesday unveiled a unique add-on to help Apple fans that travel with more than one device. PlugBug takes advantage of the changeable connector on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro AC adapter to add a 10W USB charger. The add-on can charge anything up to the power levels of an iPad and is seen as a way to charge any iOS device or other USB hardware without having to remember all the cables or charge through the MacBook.

The adapter doesn’t have to slot into the AC brick to work and has a cap to cover the exposed area. Twelve South imagines it as a substitute for those outside of North America who want a converter.

The PlugBug is already on sale and ships for US$35 through the company’s own online store.

If you’ve snagged one or have a favorite charger of choice, please let us know and thanks.

Rumor: Google to releases native Gmail app for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 05:00
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

More than three years since Apple launched the App Store, Google is rumored to be on the verge of releasing a native iOS app for its Gmail service, according to a new report.

According to M.G. Siegler of parislemon, “multiple sources” have stated that the launch of the application is imminent.

“I believe it has already been submitted to Apple for review. If it gets approved, it should be out soon,” he wrote, adding that he believes it will get approved.

Siegler went on to note that tipsters have said the app looks “pretty fantastic…perhaps even surprisingly so.” A key feature of the app is expected to be the addition of push notifications for the popular email service. Other likely feature additions include Priority Inbox and one-click starring of messages, according to him.

The author also speculated that upcoming Gmail features such as “contact icons, better threading, deep searching functionality,” and even Google+ integration could make their way into the iOS application.

Despite the arrival of Apple’s App Store in 2008, Google has preferred to use a Web interface for Gmail on iOS. Apple’s native Mail app on iOS has included support for Gmail accounts for years, though it lacks a number of the features that Google offers via the Web app.

Numerous reasons have been put forth for the delay in a Gmail app. Originally, some suggested that Apple was blocking third-party mail apps to avoid confusion with its own Mail program as well as Google’s tendency to favor Web apps for its services. More recently, friction between Apple and Google over the Android operating system has been cited as another cause of the delay.

According to a recently released biography, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed to “destroy Android” after handset maker HTC released an Android smartphone that he felt stole his company’s innovations.

“I don’t want your money. If you offer me US$5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want,” Jobs reportedly told Schmidt during a meeting in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to update iOS retail store app, allow for self-checkout feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 08:19
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail, Software

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As nice as the Apple retail store employees can be, sometimes you just want to grab your merchandise and go.

Per MacRumors, Apple is working on plans to give retail customers the ability to finalize their own in-store purchases via its iOS application for the iPhone, according to a new report.

Perhaps arriving even sooner than expected, the new functionality is expected to arrive as soon as this week.

An update to the official “Apple Store” application for iOS is said to allow users to charge purchases to their iTunes Store account, linked to an Apple ID and credit card just as App Store purchases are authorized. The anticipated option will only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf.

The new ability will not apply to more expensive items like the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs. Those devices will remain kept in the stockroom at Apple’s retail stores, and will require assistance from a salesperson in order to purchase.

But for accessories sold in stores, including cases for products like the iPhone and iPad, users will be able to complete the transaction on their own with an iOS device. An automated e-mailed receipt will serve as confirmation of the transaction, allowing customers to show employees that an item has been paid for.

The new self-checkout option is rumored to arrive soon after Apple launched an in-store pickup program via its online store. Customers in San Francisco can now order a product online and pick it up at a local Apple retail store, and that ability is expected to expand to other U.S. stores in the near future.

Another change is also said to be coming to Apple’s online store, allowing customers to place a single order with multiple items, and have those items shipped to different addresses. The enhanced functionality is expected to debut in time for the holiday shopping season.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in talks with studios to begin streaming movies to iCloud

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 06:23
Category: Apple TV, iCloud, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

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Additional movies: They’re never a bad thing.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood movie studios in an effort to give customers the ability to stream movies they own to devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Citing sources close to the story, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Apple wants to give its customers the ability to stream movies they have purchased through iTunes without the need to manually transfer the files. The talks come as Apple has launched its iCloud product, and movie studios have rolled out their own cloud-based movie streaming service, dubbed UltraViolet.

UltraViolet movies can be streamed to an iPhone or iPad using the Flixster application available on the iOS App Store, however an UltraViolet account does not include any movies that may have been purchased through iTunes. The new UltraViolet format lets people stream a film they have purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, and is seen as a way to help boost slumping sales of movies.

Rumors that Apple wants to give users the ability to stream and re-download movies they have purchased are not new. Apple has already secured deals for iTunes customers, allowing them to re-download songs and TV shows they own, but Hollywood movies cannot be re-downloaded.

Previous reports have claimed that the so-called “HBO window” has been a sticking point in negotiations. The window is a deal in which three of the top six film studios have distribution deals with premium network HBO, and under the terms of that deal, outlets must halt sales or distribution of a film when it premieres on HBO.

As recently as August, Apple was still said to be pursuing a cloud-based streaming and re-downloading service, though such a deal with Hollywood studios was said to not be imminent.

The studios’ UltraViolet service launched this week, giving customers access to “digital lockers” that let customers stream or download a digital copy of physical purchases on a wide variety of devices. The service requires customers to create an account that serves as a hub for all of their purchased media, and passcodes that ship with physical discs allow users to access those movies online from remote servers.

All of the major movie studios except for Walt Disney Co. are backing UltraViolet, while it is planning its own proprietary service called KeyChest. Neither Disney nor Apple were part of the consortium that formed UltraViolet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

Notifications:
– Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

– New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

– View notifications from lock screen

– Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

iMessage:
– Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

– Track messages with delivery and read receipts

– Group messaging and secure encryption

– Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

Newsstand:
– Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

– Displays the cover of the latest issue

– Background downloads of new issues

– Reminders for managing to do lists

– Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

– Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
– Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

– Add location to any tweet

– View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
– Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

– Volume Up button to take a picture

– Optional grid lines to line up shots

– Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

– Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

– Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

– Photo improvements for devices with cameras

– Crop and rotate

– Red eye removal

– One tap enhance

– Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
– Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

– Indentation control

– Drag to rearrange names in address fields

– Flag messages

– Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

– Customize mail alert sounds

– S/MIME

Calendar improvements:
– Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

– Tap to create an event

– View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
– Use personal photos for your Game Center account

– Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

– Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

– Discover new games with custom game recommendations

– AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
– Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

– Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

– Swipe left or right to switch between apps

– On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

– Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
– iTunes in the Cloud

– Photo Stream

– Documents in the Cloud

– Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

– Backup

– Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

– Find My iPhone

– Redesigned Music app for iPad

– Hourly weather forecast

– Real-time stock quotes

– Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
– Split keyboard for iPad

– Improved autocorrection accuracy

– Improved Chinese and Japanese input

– New Emoji keyboard

– Personal dictionary for autocorrection

– Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
– Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

– Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

– New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

– Option to speak a selection of text

– Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

– Exchange ActiveSync improvements

– Wirelessly sync tasks

– Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

– Improved offline support

– Save a new contact from a GAL service

– More than 1,500 new developer APIs

– Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple shifts iPad 2 battery orders from Simplo to Dynapack after leak-prone units discovered

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, switch a component supplier.

Per DigiTimes, part supplier sources maintained Wednesday that Apple had recently been pushed into switching battery supply for the iPad 2. Apple moved some of its orders from Simplo to Dynapack at the end of September after Simplo’s eastern China plant produced some leak-prone lithium-polymer packs according to the story. Apple’s use of safer lithium-polymer batteries kept them from showstopper fires, but the recharging problems were enough to require better.

Normally, Simplo would supply about 60 percent of iPad 2 batteries with Dynapack providing the rest. That ratio would have shifted more towards neutral with a part swap.

The issue hasn’t been independently confirmed. Both Dynapack and Simplo are widely known as Apple’s battery suppliers, and Simplo handles the batteries for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Companies like Apple are known to change orders for other components to keep supply up, such as a well known diversification away from LG for iPad 2 displays until it resolved display issues.

A successful swap could minimize any disruption in Apple’s manufacturing, although it still comes just as Apple is likely seeing a peak in shipments as it goes into the holidays. As such, it might be more sensitive to unplanned switches.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opinion: Per Your iOS Devices, Be Careful Out There

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 05:23
Category: Announcement, iPad, Opinion

I should have seen this coming.

Last night, as I’d done half a dozen times before without incident, I sat outside the BloomBars art space in Washington, D.C. replying to email on my iPad 2, listening to an ancient Guns ‘n Roses song off the “Appetite for Destruction” album and feeling like everything was right with the world.

This morning, I just got off the phone with my insurance company and have now learned that my deductible is US$250 before they start covering anything that was stolen.



Which brings up what happened in between last night and today, wherein the person who snagged my iPad 2 directly out of my hands, quickly tore the headphones out of the jack, sprinted down a nearby alleyway and had a good 20-30 yards on me before I could stop looking surprised/silly and begin chasing after him.

Like anyone who’s been in this situation, I feel like an idiot. Yes, I’d hung out at this art space before and been surrounded by naught by kind-hearted hipsters looking to get stage time to work on a new song, poem, rap or stand up set and felt like I had no reason to worry. The iPad 2, which I’d worked hard for and spent part of my tax refund on, seemed secure in my hands, the earbuds in my ears only solidifying my sense of connection to the device.

Within seconds, the thing you love has been torn out of your hands by someone who seems to be really, really good at stealing things and getting an insurmountable head start on you as he sprints away with the item in question.

If there’s any advice to offer, it’s this: Be careful out there. iOS devices are hip, simple to walk away with, easy to reset, a cinch to resell and the only thing the person who snagged my iPad 2 needs to buy to make it completely functional is an iOS attachment capable (roughly US$19 from the Apple Store or Best Buy or less than US$10 from an Internet-based supplier depending on where he looks) and nothing else.

As far as things you can actually do in this situation, the following are never bad ideas:

– MobileMe may still be US$99 per year, but I’m beginning to see the attraction of it, especially if it allows the iPad to either have its location tracked or its memory wiped remotely. Look into this and it may be a good investment.

– I’ve just been informed that Find My iPhone is free and doesn’t require a MobileMe account (which is out of vogue given the iCloud transition). It’s free, Apple stands behind it and from now on, I’m installing this on every iOS device I’ll ever own and a killer setup video to answer your questions is available here.

– Change your critical passwords once you get home. Yes, you should probably feed the cat if you’ve been out all day, but change your Amazon, Netflix, Gmail, Yahoo and other passwords just to play it safe. Your iOS device was just stolen and you probably don’t feel great about yourself or what happened, but you never know who your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will be handed off to and whether they’ll simply wipe it or jailbreak it to retrieve all the data/passwords/banking information they can find off of it. Change your passwords and watch your credit card statements over the next few days no matter what.

– Finally, give the cops all the information you can think of as to who you think stole your advice, their description and the moments leading up to the theft. In spite of everything that happened last night, I was able to flag down a cop within moments of the theft last night and they were able to find a person that had been in the thief’s group of friends only moments before my iPad 2 was stolen. Once the friend was identified, they brought in enough additional cops and a detective to compose the department’s softball team, so there’s something there and the situation doesn’t look as hopeless as it did an hour before.

The moral of the story: Enjoy your iOS devices, make the most of them and be careful, especially if you use an iPad 2 out in the open. A person should never have to live in fear, but exercise some caution (and some common sense, which seems to be lacking from my part) and you’ll probably be fine.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this homemade superhero costume won’t finish making itself…

Apple releases iOS 5 golden master, updated Mac OS X 10.7.2 build to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, 04:55
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Amidst yesterday’s hubbub about the iPhone 4S, Apple on Tuesday issued the golden master build of iOS 5 to members of its development community, along with a new build of Mac OS X 10.7.2.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story said the golden master build of iOS 5 is known as “Build 9A334”. It is said to be labeled as a GM, or golden master, seed, which means that it is likely to be identical to the final version of the software Apple will release to the public.

Those people said there are a handful of fixes contained in the golden master build. For example, the GM build of iOS 5 reportedly fixes an issue that existed when deleting a song or video from the Music and Videos applications on an iOS device, causing it to crash.

Developers are also notified that starting with iOS 5, AirPlay is enabled by default for video content available on applications and websites. Those with access to the golden master have also been advised that the WebKit framework in the latest build more closely matches the engine used in Apple’s Safari 5.1 desktop Web browser.

iOS 5 will be released to the public next Wednesday, Oct. 12. It will be compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, first-generation iPad, fourth-generation iPod touch, and third-generation iPod touch.

On Wednesday Apple released a new build of Mac OS X 10.7.2, known as “Build 11C73”. It is said to not contain any known issues. The forthcoming update to Lion will add support for iCloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Live Blog: Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” media event

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 4th, 2011, 09:46
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Ok, here are the touch points so far, as noted via the cool cats at Mac|Life:

– iOS 5 will be released on October 12th and continue to be free.

– iOS 5 will function on the iPhone 3GS, 4, iPad, iPad 2, and the two recent generation iPod touches.

– Contacts, calendar items and events will all be backed up with iCloud.

– Users will be able to turn location finding on and find friends with a “Find My Friend” feature.

– The iPod app is gone in iOS 5 and has been replaced with the iPod touch’s Music app icon.

– iCloud will debut on October 25th.

– Apple has apparently announced an updated iPod nano with FM radio, pedometer and larger buttons.

– The updated iPod nano will be available at the following price points: 8GB US$129 and 16GB for US$149.

– The updated iPod touch will be available at the following price points: 8GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64GB for US$399.

– The iPhone 5 will be available in both black and white upon release.

– The iPhone 4S will be powered by the A5 processor.

– The iPhone 4S will feature dual-core graphics, be 2x faster and function as a much better gaming device.

– Apple is citing eight hours of 3G talk time with the iPhone 4S.

– 50 hours of listening to your favorite tunes on the new battery…

– A new antenna system will switch between transmitting and receiving functions, Apple citing this as more reliable than the current iPhone 4 antenna.

– Apple is citing 2X faster downloads with the iPhone 4S.

– The iPhone 4S will function on both GSM and CDMA networks.

– A new 8 megapixel camera will offer a 3264 x 2448 resolution (Apple is stating that this is 60% more pixels than the current camera resolution).

– Camera: f/2.4 aperture, 30% more sharpness due in part to five element lenses.

– Better white balance and facial detection on the iPhone 4S camera.

– The A5 processor allows for speedier shots, Apple citing that the camera can go from the first shot to the next shot in half of a second.

– The new camera will feature 1080p HD recording, temporal noise reduction and video image stabilization.

– AirPlay mirroring will allow your iOS’s apps to be mirrored to a larger monitor via your AppleTV.

– The iPhone 4S looks exactly the same as the current iPhone 4.

– A “Siri” feature will allow you to give spoken commands (such as “What will the weather be like today?” to the device).

– Siri will allow you to reply to texts while the device is in a pocket and will allow for a reply text with a Bluetooth headset.

– Siri’s interface is both onscreen as well as audio, the feature being hardware-dependent and running on the iPhone 4S only.

– Siri will apparently read a text message to you and ask you questions as to how you’d like to reply.

– Siri can do dictations for emails too, the app placing a microphone next to the space bar in the keyboard. The app will start as a beta in the U.S., U.K., Australia, French and German with more languages and services coming.

– The iPhone 4S apparently features an identical screen size to the current iPhone 4.

– And now, your long-awaited pricing and capacities for the iPhone 4S: 16GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64 GB for US$399.

– The iPhone 3G can now be purchased new for US$49.

– Sprint has now been added to the list of iPhone wireless carriers along with AT&T and Verizon.

– Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin Friday, October 7th.

– The iPhone 4S will be released on Friday, October 14th.

– The iPhone 4S will be available in 22 additional countries on October 28th and reach 70 countries by the end of 2011.

That’s all for now and let us know what you think via the comments.

Rumor: Comcast developing AnyPlay app, looking to stream Xfinity content to iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:08
Category: iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, Rumor, Software

Get it to the iPad and they will love it.

Per a leaked screenshot and article over on MacRumors, Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., is said to be working on a new live television streaming service called AnyPlay, which will let iPad users stream live TV to its existing Xfinity TV iOS application.

The upcoming AnyPlay feature could allow Comcast subscribers to watch most channels included in their Xfinity TV service on the iPad, except for On Demand and Pay-Per-View programs.

AnyPlay will be limited to in-home use, as the service requires iPad owners to be in the proximity of a Motorola-made cable box. That hardware will allegedly send the live cable stream to the Xfinity TV iPad.

In addition to the AnyPlay box, users will also require an active Xfinity TV subscription and a high-speed wireless Internet connection to be able to watch live TV on the tablet.

The service will not work over other any other Wi-Fi or 3G network and will be limited to up to 10 registered tablets per home. Only one device can be used at a time to stream live TV programs.

The Xfinity TV iOS application, available in the App Store as a free download (iTunes link) for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, currently lets users access On Demand programs, browse through TV listings and control TVs and DVRs.

AnyPlay streaming would be accessed from inside the app in the future, although Comcast has not specified any details about the launch and availability of the new streaming service.

Competing companies like Cablevision and Time Warner have similar TV streaming applications — Optimum for iPad and TWCable TV, respectively — which are already available in the App Store. Earlier this year, Time Warner pulled major networks including MTV and FX from its application to placate broadcasters.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.