Apple looking to hire two software engineers to expand iOS’ “cloud-based” features

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Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, 04:05
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

When in doubt, there’s always cloud-based services to makes things nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is looking to expand its iOS development team with new employees who will enhance the company’s cloud-based services for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Just before Christmas, Apple posted two new job listings (1, 2) for the title of “iOS Software Engineer.” While the two full-time positions have different job descriptions, both describe an emphasis on remote storage for data access.

“Apple is hiring outstanding operations engineers to deliver and manage the next generation of hosted infrastructure serving Apple products and services,” one of the listings reads. The other says, “Apple is hiring experienced software engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access.”

One of the positions also seeks a candidate who has “experience developing large-scale offline or online storage systems.” Both positions are based at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus.

Some may view the hirings as further evidence of a cloud-based iTunes or other MobileMe-style services from Apple. The hirings could also be an effort by the company to bolster its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a device that also runs a version of the lightweight iOS operating system.

Numerous reports have indicated that Apple is interested in creating its own cloud-based iTunes service, which could allow users to stream their own music library from any Internet-connected device. It is believed that some of the functionality could come from Apple’s acquisition of Lala.

There’s also an e-mail allegedly sent by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs earlier this month, in which he purportedly said that his company’s MobileMe service would “get a lot better in 2011.” The US$99-per-year Internet-based service is an existing cloud venture from Apple, but a major portion of it, Find My iPhone, became free with the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple’s massive data center in North Carolina was set to launch this year, though Apple has not yet made any announcements for its potential use. But many have speculated that it will be used for cloud computing, perhaps via MobileMe, and streaming services, likely through iTunes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2, folds in AirPrint, organizational changes

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple released version 1.2 of its iBooks app for its iOS devices. The new version, available through the App Store, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Experience fully illustrated books, from children’s picture books to beautifully designed art books, available for download in the iBookstore.

- Organize your books and PDFs into personal Collections. Swipe left or right to jump between Collections.

- Print PDF documents and notes you’ve written in iBooks using AirPrint.

- iBooks now fits more words per page by automatically hyphenating text, available only on iOS 4.2 or later.

iBooks 1.2 is available for free and requires iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

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.

Apple releases long-awaited iOS 4.2.1 update for iPod touch, iPhone, iPad devices

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Date: Monday, November 22nd, 2010, 11:40
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

At long last, Apple has finally released its iOS 4.2.1 update for the following devices:

- iPad

- iPod touch (second generation and up)

- iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4

The update, which tops out at several hundred megabytes and is available via iTunes (as usual, just plug the device in, click the device window in iTunes, then click “Update”), adds the following fixes and changes:

- AirPrint

- AirPlay

- FaceTime Improvements

- Find text on the Web page in Safari

- New fonts settings available for Notes

- New SMS/MMS text tones and the ability to set custom tones per contact

- Additional restrictions (parental controls)

- Import .ics files to Calendar

- Bug fixes

- Multitasking on iPad: iOS 4.2 brings multitasking from iPhone and iPod touch to iPad. So you can be more productive as you work, have more fun as you play, or do a little of both. Everything happens smoothly and efficiently — without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily.

- Folders on iPad: Now your iPad has more room for more apps. Move apps into folders with drag-and-drop simplicity to declutter your Home screens and keep your apps organized for fast access to your favorites.

- Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch: Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch — the MobileMe feature that helps you locate your missing device and protect its data — is now free on any iPhone 4, iPad, or fourth-generation iPod touch running iOS 4.2.3 Once you set it up, you can find your lost device on a map, display a message on its screen, remotely set a passcode lock, and initiate a remote wipe to delete your data. And if you eventually find your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can restore everything from your last backup.

Not all features are compatible with all devices. For example, multitasking is available only with iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

Honestly, this was a long time coming and after two golden master development releases, it’s time to see how it pans out. Please let us know how the updates worked for you and, positive or negative, feel free to comment on it!

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.