Apple Changes Promo Code Terms In App Store

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Date: Friday, June 17th, 2011, 15:06
Category: App Store, Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Review, Software

This isn’t exactly new information. It was reported as far back as May 3rd by Mac Rumors, but somehow I missed it until now. Apple has changed the functionality of the iOS App Store (unconfirmed whether this affects the Mac App Store) so that if you use a developer promo code to download an app, you will not be able to submit a review for the app; you will be “locked out”. Here is a blurb copied from an exchange with iTunes Store Customer Support:

Thanks for writing back and letting me know your concern. I understand that you are still not able to write a review. I know how disappointing it can be when things don’t work out the way they should. I am sorry to inform that it is no longer possible to rate or review an app if it was downloaded using a developer’s promotional code.

The crackdown is apparently in response to complaints that reviews were being skewed as a result of developers giving codes in exchange for favorable reviews. I’m not sure how widespread this issue is, and I’m sure the ones perpetrating the review stacking will find another way to do it, but for the most part it seems like a good idea. No worries about that here; regardless of how I get ahold of an app, if it’s crap I’ll tell you.

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.

Amazon quietly adds iOS support for Cloud Player music streaming service

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Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 03:10
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

Competition’s a bit weird sometimes.

Amazon has silently added support for browser-based playback of music in its new cloud streaming service on iOS-powered devices.

Per TechCrunch, Amazon quietly added support for iOS devices through its built-in Safari browser. Users can log into their account on Amazon and access the Cloud Player, which now allows streaming of audio files stored on its servers.

Users who visit the site will still be prompted with a message warning them that their browser is not supported. However, music playback now works through the service, and audio is even paused when a push notification or call is received.

“Of course, this implementation is still not as good as it is on Android, where Cloud Player is part of a native app,” author MG Siegler wrote. “But if Amazon did a little web work and made the web-based player optimized for the iPhone and iPad, it would certainly be very useable on a regular basis.”

Amazon’s cloud streaming service launched in March, but initially only had support for streaming via the Web and on Android devices. Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB of free online storage, with premium accounts expandable to up to 1,000GB.

The push to launch the service, which requires users to upload their own songs and is not backed by any recording industry licensing deals, was seen as a move to preemptively take on Apple and its own anticipated cloud music streaming service. It’s also been reported that Apple is expected to unveil its “iCloud” service this year with support for bookmarks, e-mail, contacts and more, in addition to music streaming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve played around with Amazon’s Cloud service on your iOS device and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 14:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Responding primarily to its recent location tracking controversey, Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3.3, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes the following fixes and changes for iOS-based devices:

- Reduces the size of the cache.

- No longer backs the cache up to iTunes.

- Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, the CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3.3 within next two weeks, resolve location tracking controversy with update

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 04:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

After, well, a lot of pretty awkward questions regarding Apple’s collection of certain tracking data and what’s being done with it, Apple promised last week to release a software update to address a location tracking bug in its iOS mobile operating system, and a pre-release build of iOS 4.3.3 indicates the company is acting quickly to release the update.

Per Boy Genius Report, which received an early build of iOS 4.3.3, the update will likely be issued within the next two weeks, but possibly even sooner.

Sources reportedly told the site that after installing the update, iOS 4 will no longer back up the location database file, “consolidated.db,” to iTunes when a user syncs their iPhone or iPad 3G. Apple will also, as promised, reduce the size of the file and limit the length of time that location data is stored.

Also as promised, the update will reportedly delete the database file when users choose to turn off Location Services on their iOS-powered device.

In addition to addressing the location data controversy, the update is also said to include battery life improvements, and fixes for bugs related to the iPod software.

Last week, Apple issued a statement in response to growing concern over a bug in iOS 4 that stored a database of up to a year’s worth of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations. Apple said they don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days worth of such data.

The company also said that the data should not be collected when users turn off Location Services on their iPhone, and the fact that it was being stored was a bug. The company said that it would release a software update “in the next few weeks” to fix the bug, stop backup of the database file, and reduce the size of the file and scope of the information stored.

Apple also promised that its next “major” iOS software release would encrypt the file on the iPhone, ensuring that the data could not be obtained by a third party for illicit purposes.

The company was forced to speak out on the issue after concern over the location data reached a fever pitch. The controversy prompted lawsuits, government investigations around the world, and a scheduled hearing on mobile privacy in the U.S. Senate, set to involve both Apple and Google on May 10.

The issue gained attention after two security researchers publicized their findings related to the “consolidated.db” file stored on the iPhone, although the file created by iOS 4 is not sent to Apple or anyone else.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO releases Go App for iOS devices

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Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011, 15:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s been promised for a while and it’s finally here.

Per Macworld, The HBO cable network has released its long-awaited iOS client Go app for iPhone and iPad. The app brings both HBO original series as well as hit movies to Apple’s iOS devices, but there is a catch: Unless you’re already an HBO subscriber with a participating television provider, you’re out of luck.

In addition to currently airing programs like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, HBO Go also provides access to a backlog of older programs, like Deadwood, The Wire, and the recently concluded Big Love. In addition, there’s access to bonus features and behind-the-scenes extras, and the app supports video over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections, so users can access their favorite shows from any location. A customizable Watchlist feature lets you mark programs you want to view later, and you can set up a Series Pass to automatically populate it with shows you’re following.

Of course, those looking to follow HBO’s series without subscribing to the preimum channel are still stuck. The network doesn’t provide à la carte access via its app (or its Web-based streaming service), and as its shows aren’t available in the iTunes Store while airing, you’re pretty much consigned to wait until the season is over—unless you want to pony up for an HBO subscription.

The HBO Go app requires a device running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple releases second iOS 4.3 beta to developer community, states multitouch gestures on iPad “just a preview”

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Date: Thursday, January 20th, 2011, 05:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released to developers the second external beta of its upcoming iOS 4.3, as well as a new pre-release copy of Apple TV software designed to support the mobile operating system’s new AirPlay feature for third-party programmers. The company also informed developers that some features present in the initial beta won’t make it into the 4.3 release.

Per AppleInsider, the new beta of iOS 4.3 carries build number 9F5135d and is available for all three of Apple’s iOS devices. At this point, it’s too early to tell what changes may come baked into the release when compared to the first beta, released exactly one week ago.

The first beta of iOS 4.3 introduced a personal hotspot control panel, new multitouch gestures for the iPad, and updated SMS alert settings. Resource files accompanying the release also provided hints at a handful of new iPad and iPhone models, as well as a potential “Find My Friends” social networking feature.

It should be noted, however, that the multi-touch gestures that made their debut in the first beta won’t be ready for prime time by the final release of iOS 4.3, according to a note to developers accompanying the release of the second beta.

“This feature will not be enabled in iOS 4.3 for customers,” the documentation reads, “but we are providing this preview to gather input on how these gestures work with your apps.”

Still, a picture’s worth a thousand words and gestures on the iPad could prove interesting:



As always, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Random FaceTime calls reported, iOS 4.2.1 bug suspected

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 14:50
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

As cool as the idea of FaceTime and videoconferencing can be, you really don’t want to be receiving these calls without expecting them.

Per iPodNN, some of Apple’s various FaceTime-compatible devices made a series of random calls to each other overnight between the 27th and the 28th, according to reports and complaints on Apple’s support forums. While the iPhone 4 was predominantly affected, the issue is also said to have hit the fourth-generation iPod touch, and even the Mac beta client. The calls are often described as showing mutual requests, even though no one actually dialed, and in some cases one of the devices was off.



The incidents are moreover said to have occurred at about the same time: approximately 6:30PM Pacific, 9:30PM Eastern and 3:30AM in central Europe. The exact cause is unclear, but could involve a problem on Apple servers handling the FaceTime system. Because of the involvement of Macs, the glitch is unlikely to be related to iOS 4.2.1, which was made public just last Monday.

Me, I’m of the opinion that this is a preemptive (and lame) initial attack by a SkyNet-esque computer that simply wants to terrify you by having to conduct a FaceTime call with relatives this close after Thanksgiving…

Black Friday prices appear for Apple iOS-based devices

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:16
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, retail

It’s begun.

Per the mighty AppleInsider and its iOS price guide, Apple is offering savings for the shopping holiday, though the company has sold out of its US$79.99 Apple TV deal and may be running low on its US$199 8GB iPod touch inventory.

iPods:
Meanwhile, Amazon.com is offering US$29 off the 8GB iPod touch. The online big-box reseller on Thursday held the best prices on the remained of Apple’s iPod line but has since raised its prices. As such, Apple’s Black Friday sale is extending the best discounts the rest of the iPod touches (up to US$51 off), as well as the iPod nano (up to US$21 off).

iPads:
Unfortunately, supply concerns have prompted Apple not to authorized resellers to take orders for the iPad online, so the product is not yet included in the price guide. Although iPads are listed on Amazon, they are priced above MSRP and sold online through other parties. Therefore, the best deals on iPads (US$41 off) come from Apple, in addition to the MiFi bundle deals offered by Verizon.

Stay tuned for additional Black Friday details as they become available and if you’ve heard of any good deals on your end, please let us know.