Entire Beatles catalog now available via iTunes Store

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 08:41
Category: iPod, iTunes Music Store, News

On Tuesday, Apple announced that the entire Beatles catalog is now available via the iTunes Store. Per Macworld, the group’s complete box set is now available for US$149 with many individual tracks selling for $1.29 apiece. Single albums cost $13 each, with double albums such as the Past Masters compilation going for $20.

Each of the 13 remastered albums also sport iTunes LP features, including a mini-documentary on the making of the album. The complete box set also features an exclusive: the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” film of the Beatles’s first U.S. concert. However, if you’re not ready to pony up the full cost of the complete discography, don’t worry: everybody will be able to stream the video from iTunes for free for the rest of 2010.

The appearance of the Beatles on iTunes is the culmination of years of rumors, half-starts, and legal disputes between Apple and the Beatles’s Apple Corps. In a day and age where most new music is released online, the Beatles have long been the most prominent holdout from digital downloads. The closest the lads from Liverpool got was last year, when a limited edition of the band’s remastered discography was released on a USB flash drive with high quality digital tracks.

Despite Jobs’s well known love of the Beatles, Apple and Apple Corps have had a tortuous legal history spanning more than three decades. The companies first met in 1978, shortly after Apple’s inception, when Apple Corps sued the nascent computer company for trademark infringement; the two settled a few years later, with Apple agreeing to stay out of the music business. That lasted until 1989, when Apple started selling a Mac that could synthesize music; Apple Corps sued , saying that the move violated the earlier deal.

The two companies settled for a second time in 1991. That lasted until 2003, when Apple launched the iTunes Store, over which Apple Corps launched a new suit, once again pointing to Apple’s entry into the music business as a clear violation of the two companies’ settlement. That court case dragged on for several years until 2007, when the two companies struck a new deal to settle the breach. By the terms of the new deal, Apple would own all rights related to Apple trademarks and would in turn license those rights back to Apple Corps.

Apple releases second iOS 4.2 gold master to developer community

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Date: Monday, November 15th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released a second gold master of iOS 4.2, its forthcoming software update, which may address Wi-Fi connectivity issues some have reported with the iPad.

Per AppleInsider, the new build, dubbed 8C134b, has replaced the previous gold master released to developers on November 1st. Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release.

It is unknown what changes have been made in the second gold master, though it’s possible the latest version could be to address Wi-Fi issues that some users experienced with the pre-release build. Recent reports have claimed that Apple hoped to release iOS 4.2 sooner, but was forced to push back the launch to address issues with the software.

Regardless of whether the software has actually been “delayed” from Apple’s own internal launch goals, it has become increasingly apparent that there are issues with iOS 4.2. In addition to the Wi-Fi problems reported by testers of the first golden master, Apple has also cut features from AirPrint — specifically, the ability to print to a shared printer through a Mac or Windows machine.

Printer sharing was supposed to be a part of Mac OS X 10.6.5, but the software was released Wednesday without any official support for sharing a printer with iOS devices. The recently released iTunes 10.1 update was supposed to allow shared printers for Windows users, but the update arrived Friday also without mention of AirPrint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.2 update on Tuesday, November 16th

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

Since Mac OS X 10.6.5 hit, I’ve been playing with the new operating system update. Still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been hankering for Apple to finally release its iOS 4.2 upgrade.

Per iPhoneHellas, Apple is “mostly likely” to release the update on Tuesday, November 16th. The same site previously had accurate reports indicating the release time of Apple’s iOS software updates.

In addition, references to a November 12th launch that were allegedly found in previous builds of iOS 4.2 carrier bundles have been removed, providing more evidence that the update may not be issued until next week at the earliest.

The Friday launch was rumored earlier this week, in a report that also said that Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 would arrive on Wednesday. That turned out to be half true, as Apple released its latest update to the Snow Leopard operating system, but did not issue an update for iTunes.

iOS 4.2 is Apple’s eagerly awaited software update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It will mark the debut of iOS 4 on the iPad, bringing features like folders and multitasking that iPhone and iPod touch owners have enjoyed for months.

The update will also bring AirPrint and AirPlay to the mobile devices, though support for shared printers in Mac OS X 10.6.5 was axed at the last minute for still-unknown reasons. The ability to stream video from an iOS 4.2 device to an Apple TV through AirPlay will also require a software update for the Apple TV.

For iPhone users, iOS 4.2 will also bring the ability to create custom text message tones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.2 golden master build to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Monday, Apple released its golden master build of iOS 4.2 for its entire line of iOS-based devices including the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

Per AppleInsider, the new OS will sport features such as as AirPlay wireless streaming of audio, video and photos to the new Apple TV or other AirPlay-compliant devices and its AirPrint wireless printing architecture, designed to enable users to create hard copies of web pages, emails and photos managed through a new Print Center app.

The new update will also finally bring multitasking features and iOS Folders to the iPad, along with a variety of other features currently only available on the iPhone and iPod touch, such as support for multiple email aliases, a unified inbox, and messages organized by threads in Mail, and the ability to open attachments in third party apps.

New multitasking features will also incorporate the software orientation lock and music playback controls available on the iPhone running iOS 4, which are accessed via swiping to the left from the list of currently running apps. The iPad also presents a brightness control in this section (as depicted below).

The iPad will also lose its hardware toggle assigned to locking the screen orientation; the button will instead work to mute audio, just like the iPhone. This move has generated some controversy because Apple not only refuses to offer customers a choice of how their hardware buttons work, but has also duplicated mute functionality, as the audio down button already works as to rapidly mute audio playback.

The update will also bring Game Center to the iPad, allowing players to invite friends or find new opponents online to play against, as well as track their own achievements and high scores.

Apple has also outlined enhanced enterprise support features in iOS 4.2, including new device management capabilities, the ability to lock down email account settings, and stronger security enhancements.

iOS 4.2 will also include support for more than 30 new languages in keyboards and dictionaries, including Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.

It also strengthens accessibility features including support for navigating VoiceOver using a wireless keyboard and a wide range of refreshable braille output displays in more than 25 languages. On the iPad, larger text options up to 56 point fonts can also be specified for use in Contacts, Mail, Messages and Notes.

Other major changes include support for Google’s revised YouTube voting, a direct link to launching a FaceTime video call from within the SMS messages interface, and new CoreMIDI music APIs for music-related apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sony introduces 16.41, 8.13 megapixel camera sensors

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Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:24
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

Late Wednesday Sony unveiled a 16.41-megapixel IMX081PQ camera sensor that the company says could overcome many of the traditional barriers for phone cameras. The IMX081PQ is Sony’s first Exmor R-based CMOS sensor for a phone and uses the back-illuminated sensor to cut back significantly on noise. A unique photo diode positioning has let Sony achieve high image quality even with photo cells as small as 1.13 micrometers.

Per Electronista, the sensor can still shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second. A new, very thin lens system keeps the thickness to 7.9mm (0.31 inches), which while not thin doesn’t protrude as much as previous phones.

Another, noticeably smaller 8.13-megapixel design, the IMX105PQ, is tailored for smartphones where space is at a high premium. Combined with its own thin lens, this could fit into a 5.67mm space while still offering most of the benefits of the 16.4-megapixel option, including the Exmor R design and high light sensitivity.



Sample production of the 16.41-megapixel and 8.13-megapixel sensors won’t ship until January and April respectively, when individual sensors will cost US$30 and US$18 without a lens. Adding the optics will boost the prices to US$145 and US$97, respectively. These prices should fall significantly once the devices are made in large volumes and discounted for the economy of scale.

No customers have been confirmed, other than likely Sony Ericsson, but the sensors could be serious contenders versus the OmniVision sensors that have been staples of the iPhone since launch. As of yet, Apple isn’t expected to adopt Sony’s sensors, but it has been a fan of image quality over sheer resolution and may be eager to offer both in a phone.

OmniVision has yet to directly respond with an alternative product.

Apple now shipping fourth-gen iPod touch units

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Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

Customers who preordered their 2010 model iPod touch after they were announced last Wednesday began to receive shipment notifications on Tuesday. Per MacRumors, assorted tech blogs have been lit up today with word that initial preorder units of the new, fourth-generation iPod touch model are now shipping, with delivery estimates between September 10th and 14th.

If you haven’t ordered your new iPod touch yet, the Apple Store still shows delivery with one week, and reports customers in other countries are also seeing estimates of five to seven business days.

Apple previews iOS 4.2 at media event, hints at additional new features

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Date: Thursday, September 2nd, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Amidst yesterday’s announcements, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered a preview of iOS 4.2 for the iPad during the company’s special media event on Wednesday. Per the Mac Observer, the update will include wireless printing support along with multitasking.

The 4.2 update will also bring folders to iPad as well, and a new feature called AirPlay, which hinted at a new feature to be announced during the media event.

iOS 4.2 will be available in November as a free download for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Apple unveils new iPod touch, includes Retina Display, A4 processor, dual cameras

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 17:36
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

After months of hankering for it, Apple updated its iPod touch with the same Retina Display, front facing camera, rear HD camera, and A4 processor as the iPhone 4, all in a size slimmer than last year’s media player at today’s press event.

Per AppleInsider, the new iPod touch, along with the rest of the new iPod lineup, will be available next week. All three models of the new iPod touch have the new features, starting at US$229 for the 8GB model, US$299 for the 32GB version, and US$399 for the 64GB model.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the new iPod touch can run the same iMovie application that was previously only available for the iPhone 4. Using the rear-facing HD camera, users can shoot video and edit it right on the device.

The new iPod touch also has a forward-facing camera and a microphone, which allow users to do FaceTime with other iPod touch users, as well as iPhone 4 owners.

The fourth-generation iPod touch will also ship with iOS 4.1, which includes Game Center, Apple’s social networking application for game players. It also has the three-axis gyroscope, which allows for more precise controls in games.

Technical specifications for the device are as follows:

Size and weight:
Height: 4.4 inches (111.0 mm)
Width: 2.3 inches (58.9 mm)
Depth: 0.28 inch (7.2 mm)
Weight: 3.56 ounces (101 grams)

Capacity:
8GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive

Wireless:
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR
Maps-location based service4
Nike + iPod support built in

In the box:
iPod touch
Earphones
Dock Connector to USB Cable
Quick Start guide

Environmental Status Report:
Arsenic-free display glass
Brominated flame retardant-free
Mercury-free LCD display
PVC-free
Recyclable stainless steel enclosure
Smaller, more compact packaging (17% smaller, 16% lighter)

Display:
3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen
Multi-Touch display
960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch

Audio:
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
User-configurable maximum volume limit

Headphones
Earphones
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Impedance: 32 ohms

TV and video:
H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable (cables sold separately)

Cameras, photos, and video:
Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still photos (960 x 720) with back camera
VGA-quality photos and video up to 30 frames per second with the front camera
Tap to control exposure for video or stills
Photo and video geo tagging over Wi-Fi

Input and output:
30-pin dock connector
3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack
Built-in speaker
Microphone

External buttons and controls:
Sleep/wake
Volume up/down
Home

Sensors:
Three-axis gyro
Accelerometer
Ambient light sensor

Battery and power:
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Playback time:
Music playback time: Up to 40 hours when fully charged
Video playback time: Up to 7 hours when fully charged
Charging times: Fast charge in about 2 hours (80% capacity), full charge in about 4 hours.

Apple releases updated nano, shuffle music players

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 16:18
Category: iPod, News

And now, the reason you were curious about the Apple media event: new iPods. Per Macworld, Apple released dramatically updated iPod nano and shuffle music devices, the iPod nano receiving a touchscreen interface while the shuffle’s buttons were returned to its control scheme.

At long last, the iPod nano has shed its Click Wheel interface for a multitouch interface that uses tap and swipe to control. Apple says the new design makes this nano 46% smaller and 42% lighter than the previous version.

“Almost half as small, almost half as light as its predecessor,” Jobs said.

To get the nano that small, though, Apple shed the built-in camera that was introduced just last year to the fifth-generation iPod nano is gone, meaning users won’t be able to snap pictures and record video with the new device. They also won’t be able to watch video on the nano’s 1.54″ color screen; instead, Apple is positioning this version of the nano entirely as a music device.

The latest nano features an iPod shuffle-like video clip, making it easy for users to attach the music player to their clothing. The device also features physical volume buttons, a Shake to Shuffle feature for summoning new songs, and VoiceOver technology to announce artists, songs, and albums. There’s also an FM radio, support for Nike+, a pedometer, VoiceMemos, a Photos app, and support for 29 different languages. According to Apple, the built-in battery can handle 24 hours of audio playback.

During a demo of the new nano’s software, Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed out multiple Home screens, each capable of holding up to four icons. As on Apple’s iOS devices, you can rearrange the icons by tapping and dragging them. Unlike iOS devices, there’s no Home button—you tap and hold on the screen to return to the Home screen.

While you’re playing back a track, you can tap to bring up the controls as a translucent overlay over the album art. Just in case you clip the nano to your clothes upside down, you can use the two-finger rotate gesture to turn the Home screen.

As with previous versions of the nano, there’s the usual 30-pin dock connector and a headphone jack.

The new nano comes in seven colors—graphite, silver, pink, blue, yellow, and green, and a Product Red version. It will ship next week in two capacities: a US$149 8GB model, and a 16GB for US$179.

Prior to its unveiling, Jobs discussed the changes that had progressed with last year’s iPod shuffle, which was scaled down in its previous generation.

“People clearly missed the buttons,” Jobs said. So Apple combined elements the second- and third-generation models to create an iPod shuffle with the same circular playback controls that appeared on the second-generation iPod shuffle: Play/Pause, next track, previous track, and volume up and down. The fourth-generation shuffle also includes the third-generation iPod shuffle’s support for multiple playlists and the VoiceOver feature. Apple’s also added support for Genius Mixes, which automatically create mixes from songs in your music library. In addition, the shuffle’s built-in battery can last for 15 hours of music, according to Apple

The aluminum exterior of the shuffle comes in five different colors: blue, pink, green, yellow, and silver. Like its predecessors it comes in a single 2GB capacity for US$49.

Per the iPod classic, the device essentially remained the same, the device still offering up to 160GB of drive space and retailing for US$249 on Apple’s web site.

Apple patent reveals consolidated headphone jacks for upcoming devices

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Date: Monday, August 30th, 2010, 05:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

Per Patently Apple, Apple is looking to develop a new audio input port configuration for the iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. The effort seems to indicate that Apple is working to limit the amount of holes in its devices, because each ”breaches the barrier that protects components inside the housing.”

Apple’s answer is to reduce the hole count by making them multifunctional. It proposes removing the need for a separate microphone aperture by making it part of the socket the headphone jack plugs into. This adds only a couple of milllimetres to the socket length – the mic fits behind the tip of the jack plug. The result: “A microphone can be added to a mobile telephone without the need for an external aperture.”

According to the Apple Core, Apple appears to be considering combining multiple jacks into one smarter jack. It makes sense too. For starters, less holes mean less physical parts to manufacture (and potentially fail) and Apple is already heading down this road with the iPhone 4 which features two microphones and noise cancellation.

The first mic is for phone calls, voice commands and memos. The second mic is for FaceTime calls and for making your calls better.

The other potential direction could take is to use the new port for beamforming — where the audio input of the two microphones is used as an amiable directional input. Patently Apple thinks this could be advantageous for the iPhone in speakerphone mode or video camera mode when projecting or recording a sound source at some distance from the device.

Apple could even do away with invasive “breach” type ports altogether and convert its audio/microphone ports into surface contact ports that attach via a magnet — like the popular MagSafe power adapter found on its MacBook Pro notebooks. I just hope that Apple retains backward compatibility with the millions of 3.5mm stereo headsets that are out there, changing to a new jack entirely would alienate too many customers in one fell swoop.

The patent is credited to Apple employees Shaohai Chen, Phillip Tamchina, Richard Dinh, Jae Lee, Michelle Yu and Adam Mittleman as the inventors of patent application 20100216526.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.