O'Grady's PowerPage » iPod

Apple releases updated nano, shuffle music players

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.

Apple confirms September 1st press event

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:52
Category: iPad, iPod, News, Software

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Apple has confirmed that the company will be holding a press event on September 1st for what’s likely to be a debut of new products and services. Per Macworld UK, the invite did not provide details of the event, simply giving the date and time accompanying a photo of a guitar with an apple shaped sound hole.

Apple has traditionally made new iPod product announcements in September. Rumors have been kicking around for a while about the possibility of an iPod Touch with a forward and rear facing camera. A forward-facing camera would allow the iPods to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi and new cameras could also offer support for Apple’s iMovie software, allowing video editing directly on the fly. Apple’s new high-contrast retina display, is also a possibility for new iPods.

At least a few iTunes announcements seem likely for the September 1st event. Last month rumors circulated that the newest version of iTunes would offer support for wireless iTunes streaming and syncing, and Apple quietly added the ability to stream music from MobileMe folders in its latest update. The MobileMe audio streaming feature could have been a test run of a larger iTunes plan.

Rumors have been swirling for the past few weeks about the possibility of US$.99 TV show rentals from iTunes. Currently iTunes only allows shows to be purchased for US$1.99 a pop, the rumored US$.99 rental would instead be good for just a few days. The cheaper price tag may however encourage more people to purchase the commercial free shows than currently, providing them an alternative to Hulu and other streaming sites that won’t break the bank.

While the picture of a guitar is a bit of a stretch for an event to unveil a new version of Apple TV, that doesn’t mean that Apple TV won’t be a part of the announcement, although it is likely it won’t be a focus for the event. A new version of Apple TV called iTV is rumored to have 16GB of flash storage, the ability to run iOS-based applications, and the ability to stream iTunes to iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches over WiFi. The iTV was at one point also expected to offer a TV subscription service, although those plans are thought to have been changed.

Finally, the announcement of a smaller iPad is not entirely out of the question. The announcement of a new version of the device in September would make it available before the holiday season, helping to potentially boost sales come gift giving time.

Either way, it’s all speculation. Stay tuned for September 1st when we provide every bit of information on the new products that we can prior to giving all of our readers a free pony.

Rumor: Apple iPod event could occur in August, not September, new features expected

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 9th, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, Rumor

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A new line of iPods could arrive a bit sooner than expected with a current rumor pointing towards an event rumored to take place on either August 16th or August 17th.

Citing a “reliable source within Apple,” MacMagazine reported Friday (via Google Translate) that Apple will hold an event either August 16th or 17th, a Monday or Tuesday. That would be sooner than the September timeframe in which many have expected that Apple will introduce its new iPod lineup.

The publication said that the music and media-centric event will be used to introduce a new iPod touch with a front-facing camera for FaceTime, as well as a rear camera with flash for taking pictures. It also said that Apple will add a gyroscope to the next-generation iPod touch.

The alleged August event would coincide with a recent rumor that suggested Apple would launch an updated version of its iLife suite this month. That report alleged that all of the current applications would be upgraded to 64 bits, and that a new “mystery” application would be a part of the package. It also claimed that iDVD would not be included, and instead would be made available for download like iMovie HD.

Last year’s media event, where the iPod nano with a video camera and FM tuner was announced, was held on a Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple promises fix for web-based jailbreak flaw in iOS-based devices, declines on specific date

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

The tug-of-war between Apple and the iPhone hacker community continues as Apple has vowed to fix a flaw that allows its iOS-based device to be jailbroken via the Safari web browser.

Per CNET an Apple spokesperson said, “We’re aware of this reported issue, we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Apple declined to say when the update would be available.

If you’ve jailbroken your iOS-based device recently and have any feedback about the experience, let us know what happened and how it went.

BMW announces support for iOS 4 “iPod Out” API for upcoming car models

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

When the “iPod Out” API was mentioned at Apple’s iOS 4 preview event back in April, no one really knew what it was. Still, this didn’t stop BMW Group from mentioning that it had integrated iPod Out into its newest BMW and Mini vehicle entertainment systems.

Per Macworld, the iPod Out API allows car manufacturers to integrate the iPod Classic OS look and controls into a vehicle’s on-board entertainment system. Owners of future BMW and Mini models will be able to control their iPod or iPhone fully from the car’s interface controls. In addition, users will have access to their device’s Genius feature and be able to make custom playlists.

In its statement, BMW announced that “future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone.”

BMW Group hasn’t outlined any specific timeline for integration, but notes that support will be coming to future BMW models using BMW ConnectedDrive and Mini models using Mini Connected. Customers who wish to use the iPod Out feature in new BMW Group cars need to have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

We Have a Winner: Outlet Charging Proves Faster for iPhone 4

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

Among the great debates of computer technology (along with whether or not to shut your computer down for the night or put it to sleep and how this affects the hardware) is the question as to whether or not to charge an iPhone or similar device via an outlet or USB port. Even in the case of charging an iPad, where the user receives a “not charging” message near the battery indicator, the device is charging, but slowly.

The guys over at When Will Apple? took the time to do a pretty decent job of comparing charging times on the iPhone 4, comparing USB to AC outlet. The conclusion: USB charging takes 23% longer to charge an iPhone 4 than charging via an AC outlet. If you’re in a rush to charge your phone, that’s a pretty significant difference.

The little flaw in this test is not knowing the amount of charge coming from the USB port used, as not all USB ports are created equal.

If you’ve found a different result on your end, please let us know.

How-To: deactivate Network Services to improve iOS device battery life

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Although the iOS 4 software update has been lauded as improving battery life for most users, some are finding the improvements lacking. Per the Apple Toolbox Blog, one source of this may be overuse of the Location Services feature which can accompany checking Push notifications, and having many open Safari windows open.

It now appears that overactive location services usage can result in poor battery life. Specifically, apps that use location services in the background can quickly drain the battery.

The post offers the following steps for resolving this and hopefully upping your iOS device’s battery life:

“To check location services usage on an app-by-app basis, navigate to Settings > General > Location Services.

Turn location services off for all applications, then turn them back on for desired apps one by one or in groups. Via this procedure, you can identify which app’s use of location services is draining battery.

Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off location services altogether and check for increased battery life.”

Rumor: Apple to launch iTunes wireless streaming/sync features in September

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 2nd, 2010, 05:52
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, iTunes, Rumor

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Despite everything Apple seems to be fighting with regarding the iPhone 4′s firmware, there may be something cool around the corner.

Per a “reliable” unnamed Apple source, the Boy Genius Report web blog is reporting that Apple will launch new wireless streaming and synchronization features for iTunes at its traditional September iPod event, or possibly sooner, according to a new report.

The report claims that the new features will allow users to stream purchased music and movies from Apple’s servers directly to their devices, eliminating the need for large amounts of local storage, and also stream music and movies from their home computers to their other computers and remote devices over their own Internet connections.

Finally, the report claims that any apps purchased on an iOS device would immediately and wirelessly sync back to the user’s home computers, along with any changes to Calendar, Notes, or Contacts; it is unclear whether this latter feature would supplant or be available in addition to Apple’s paid MobileMe service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind about this.

Developer submits App Store application for program that allows wireless iTunes syncing

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, 04:30
Category: iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Ok, this could be cool if Apple approves it.

Per Engadget, developer Greg Hughes has submitted an application that allows the iPhone and iPod touch to sync wirelessly with iTunes over Wi-Fi, and plans to submit the software to the App Store later this week.

The software, dubbed “Wi-Fi Sync,” requires a separate desktop application on either a Mac OS X or Windows machine that allows the sync to occur over a wireless network. Hughes, released the following video that shows the syncing process with the application, which must first be approved by Apple before it could be released for the App Store:



The first sync includes a pairing process that must only be done once to verify that the iPhone is to be synced with the computer. Once a handset has been paired with a computer by accepting prompts on both devices, iTunes is then launched on the computer and begins syncing with the mobile device.

It’s unknown as to whether Apple will approve the application or if it violates the company’s development rules on any level.