Apple releases long-awaited iOS 5.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:51
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been craving it for months and it’s finally here. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has released its iOS 5.1 update for qualifying iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices.

The update, which can be located, snagged and installed via iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Japanese language support for Siri (availability may be limited during initial rollout)

- Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream.

- Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation).

- Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces.

- Redesigned Camera app for iPad.

- Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers.

- Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer.

- Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad.

- Updated AT&T network indicator.

- Addresses bugs affecting battery life.

- Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls.

As always, if you’ve tried the new iOS and have any feedback to offer (positive or negative), please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to replace 30-pin iPhone, iPod, iPad connector with smaller alternative

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

It’s a rumor, but it involves replacing the classic 30-pin connector you know, love and are readily familiar with on your iPod, iPhone, and iPad with something new, so proceed to panic.

Also, begin hoarding food, as this means the apocalypse is well nigh.

An unsubstantiated rumor claims that Apple is looking to replace the venerable 30-pin iPhone, iPad and iPod dock connector with a smaller, space-saving successor that will possibly make a debut in the company’s next generation iPhone.

According to the iMore blog, unnamed sources have stated that the iPhone maker found a way to make the connector smaller in 2010 to help accommodate for the iPhone 4′s larger battery.

Another factor is the connector’s role in data transfer. With the advent of iCloud, AirPlay and the energy-sipping Bluetooth 4.0, a future iPhone may only need a cable for charging purposes.

It is unclear what would become of the huge ecosystem of existing “Made for iDevice” products, which is a lucrative business for both Apple and third-party companies, as it would be made obsolete by a redesigned connector.

Details remain scarce at this time, but check back and we’ll get information up as soon as it becomes available.

WaterBlock technology demoed at CES, could provide waterproofing shield for iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 04:13
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

With any luck, something will come of this.

And it will be spiffy.

Per Pocket Lint, HzO, the maker of a “WaterBlock” technology shown off at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, has said it is in talks with Apple about using its material in future devices, including the iPhone.

HzO was promoting its nano-scale film barrier at CES last week, pitching it as a potential solution to waterproof expensive electronic equipment. One of their demonstrations included submerging an iPhone into water, and having it remain in proper working order.

HzO’s technology is similar to the nano-coating process demonstrated at CES by P2i, branded “Aridion” and profiled yesterday. A video demonstration of Aridion-treated paper also appeared recently. The technology is already in use by Motorola on both its Droid RAZR smartphone and XYBOARD tablet.

While speaking to attendees at the show, officials with HzO said that Apple is among the companies that have shown interest in the water repelling technology. Company officials said Apple was interested in making a future iPhone waterproof, potentially with a sixth-generation model expected to be released later this year.

“We expect HzO to be in next season’s phones,” the company reportedly said.

In addition to Apple, its rival Samsung is also said to have shown interest in HzO’s technology. The company said it showed a Samsung executive a waterproofed Galaxy S smartphone, and that company officials were “really excited” by what they saw.

HzO’s WaterBlock technology protects the insides of devices on a molecular scale. It has been used in demonstrations to protect a number of Apple products, including the iPhone 4S, iPads and iPods, after the material has been applied to the devices in a vacuum deposition process.

The company says that WaterBlock is a non-toxic, organic material that is safe for people to use. It also doesn’t change the aesthetics of a device or add any weight.

The technology is intended for “accidental encounters” with moisture, meaning use in deep waters or being submerged for an extended period of time is not recommended. However, HzO coated devices have reportedly been immersed in water for “many continuous hours,” and they continue to work fine.

“The technology is designed to protect against failure due to jumping in a pool and forgetting your phone was in your pocket, or dropping your iPod in the sink while doing dishes, or getting caught in a torrid rain storm and getting soaked, or leaving your smartphone in your pants when they go through the wash,” the company said.

Still, a video’s worth a thousand words, so here we go:



Let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Apple patent for iOS device facial recognition goes live

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 05:59
Category: iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

At least your iPad will remember who you are.

Per Free Patents Online, a recently published patent application shows how future iOS devices could use a forward-facing camera to recognize an individual user, whereupon the device could automatically customize applications, settings and features to a user’s personal preferences once they pick up the unit.

Entitled “Low Threshold Face Recognition,” the patent describes a low-computation solution for quickly and accurately recognizing a user.

The filing provides a simple way for multiple users to share a single device, like an iPad. Each user could customize their personal profile with unique wallpaper, applications and settings, and that profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user’s face.

Apple’s application notes that robust facial recognition systems that work in various lighting conditions and orientations can be taxing on an electronic device, requiring resources and draining battery life.

Its solution would reduce the impact of lighting conditions and biometric distortions on an image. The filing describes a “low-computation solution for reasonably effective (low threshold) face recognition that can be implemented on camera-equipped consumer portable appliances.”

Rather than aggressively analyzing a user’s entire face and using up time and resources, Apple’s concept would rely on a “high information portion” of a human face. Potential high information portions could include eyes, a mouth, or the tip of a user’s nose.

By recognizing the individual features on a user’s face, the system could scale the distance between someone’s eyes and their mouth. That distance could then be measured against the reference image originally captured by the user in order to confirm it is in fact the same person.

Apple’s application notes that its facial recognition capabilities could be constantly active due to lower power consumption. This means a user could simply point an iPhone or iPad at their face, without pressing a button, and have the screen automatically turn on and unlock the device.

This could be accomplished through an “orange-distance filter,” which would capture the “likely presence” of a human face in front of a camera. This filter would also be used to detect a person’s skin tone, and measure the distance of their face from the camera.

Once a user has been recognized, the facial recognition technology could not only grant them access to the device, but also customize its settings based on a unique user profile. Each user would be presented with a personalized configuration, as an iPhone or iPad would be able to “modify screen saver slide shows or other appliance non-security preferences,” the application reads.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in June of 2009. It is credited to Robert Mikio Free.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Facebook iOS app reaches 4.1, adds Timeline feature, bug fixes

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Date: Monday, December 19th, 2011, 05:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Facebook is proudly introducing its new Timeline feature across both its web site and assorted apps and the iOS variant has just arrived. Per Engadget, version 4.1 of the Facebook app has just been released and is available for both the iPhone and iPad.

You will need to have already activated the timeline function on the web-based original, but downloading the latest version will also grant access to your friend lists and subscriptions. The update also boasts assorted performance boosts and more easily-viewed photos.

Facebook 4.1 requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Microsoft developing Office update for Lion, Office apps for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, 05:19
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Give Microsoft time and it’ll eventually get its products to new platforms.

Per The Daily, Microsoft is preparing a new edition of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad, as well as an updated Office for Mac OS X Lion users.

According to the report, Microsoft is “actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Appleā€™s tablet,” in recognition of the fact that iPad now accounts for the vast majority of tablets sold, and now represents a market nearly as large as Mac OS X itself.

The report also notes Microsoft is working to complete Office 2012 for Windows, already in beta, for release next year. An updated edition for Lion would presumably be made available through the Mac App Store. The existing Office 2011 only supports Snow Leopard officially.

By adding support for Lion document features such as Auto Save and Versions, Microsoft could bring its Mac Office into parity with Apple’s iWork suite, which has been updated for Lion but hasn’t been significantly revised since the release of “iWork 09″ nearly three years ago.

On iOS, Apple has enjoyed an uncontested run at providing its iWork productivity software for the iPad, as well as the smaller screen of the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps for iOS have remained at the top of the App Store’s highest grossing iPad apps.

While failing to predict the popularity of Apple’s iOS as a mobile platform, Microsoft has made some efforts to bring its apps and services to the App Store.

The company has delivered an iPad version of its Bing search app as well as MSN Onit and OnPoint apps, and has released a Tag barcode scanner, OneNote and Windows Live Messenger clients for iPhone.

Microsoft also just announced a deal to license its enterprise protocols involved with Remote Desktop Services, Windows Azure, Active Directory and SharePoint, to third party developer Agreeya Mobility, which plans to build apps for Apple’s iOS as well as Android and other mobile operating systems.

While Microsoft has largely ignored Apple’s iOS as it worked to improve Windows Mobile 6, then build Windows Phone 7 as a viable competitor, its own mobile platforms have failed to gain traction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0.1 update, offer battery, security, document, speech recognition fixes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 12:23
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it and it’s here.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple released iOS 5.0.1, the latest version of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. 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:
- Fixes bugs affecting battery life.

- Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.

- Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud.

- Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation.

iOS 5.0.1 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.

Apple patent points towards clip-on iPod nano, iPod shuffle devices with integrated speakers

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iPod, News, Patents

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It’s the patents that make tech interesting.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in building a clip-on iPod with the same wearable form factor as the current iPod nano or iPod shuffle, but with a new integrated speaker built directly into the rear clip.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled, “Speaker Clip.”

The text of the proposed invention makes no specific mention of the iPod nano, or even the similarly shaped iPod shuffle. In fact, it doesn’t even include Apple’s iPod brand name. But the accompanying images show a device that looks like the current clip-on iPod nano and iPod shuffle, only with the new inclusion of an integrated speaker.

The new iPod would feature the same clip on the back that is found on the current wearable models, but that new clip would have a cavity in the middle. Filling that hole would be an “acoustical device,” or speaker.

That speaker could simply be used for user-interface feedback, providing simple sounds such as clicks to create a more intuitive experience for users when utilizing the multi-touch screen on the front of an iPod nano. Or it could also be used as a more full-featured — albeit tiny — speaker to listen to music tracks, or perhaps even do something new, like play games.

The speaker located on the attachment clip would be wired back to the main housing of the device through a “conduit” in the spring-loaded hinge that attaches the clip to the device. The speaker could also be protected by a cover that could shield the speaker from the elements, but also allow sound to pass through.

The filing notes that any kind of acoustic speaker could be used in this device, but one example given is a piezoelectric speaker. The conduit that connects the speaker to the main housing and processor could be a coaxial cable, flex microstrip, or fine gauge wire.

The protective cover layer could be a solid surface with numerous perforations, allowing sound to pass through. A mesh layer atop the speaker, woven from either plastic, metal or natural fibers, could be attached with an adhesive to the protective cover layer.

The iPod nano gained its touchscreen-driven design in September 2010 with its sixth-generation hardware revision. The small, wearable device is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than its predecessor, yet it still manages to include up to 16GB of storage, a 30-pin dock connector, hardware volume buttons and a lock button, an FM radio, and even Nike+ integration with a pedometer.

There has been some previous evidence that Apple plans to expand the functionality of its diminutive iPod nano even further while retaining its current form factor. One alleged prototype reveled in a picture this May claimed to show a rear-facing camera placed on the device. But this week’s filing is the first suggestion of an integrated speaker.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in May of 2010. It is credited to John Benjamin Filson, Eugene Whang, and Matthew Rohrbach.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon counters against Siri, purchases Yap voice recognition startup

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 06:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

When in doubt about the competition, roll your own version and see what happens.

As competition between Amazon and Apple in the mobile devices market continues to grow, the online retailer has purchased a voice-to-text company called Yap.

Per The Atlantic, a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that Amazon’s acquisition of Yap was completed in September. The filing does not specifically name Amazon, but lists “Dion Acquisition Sub,” headquartered out of an Amazon-owned building in Seattle, Wash.

Yap offered a consumer-level voicemail-to-text service in private beta, but it was the company’s proprietary intellectual property that helped it raise US$6.5 million in venture capital in 2008. Yap is based out of Charlotte, N.C., and the service was discontinued in October following the apparent acquisition by Amazon.

Apple acquired Siri, which previously made an iPhone application, in April of 2010 for a rumored US$200 million. Now found on the iPhone 4S, Siri allows users to speak to it in natural language to gather information or accomplish complex tasks, like composing an e-mail or creating a calendar event.

While the Siri feature is driven by technology acquired by Apple, the iPhone 4S-exclusive voice recognition software is also believed to incorporate intellectual property from Nuance Communications, makers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Neither Apple nor Nuance have confirmed that Nuance technology is utilized in Siri.

Amazon’s interest in voice recognition technology comes as the company is prepared to launch its own color touchscreen tablet, the Kindle Fire, which will go on sale next week at a price of US$199, or less than half of Apple’s entry-level US$499 iPad.

While Apple sells devices like the iPhone and iPad with high margins and supports them with an ecosystem of content through iTunes and the App Store, Amazon’s entrance into the portable hardware business with devices like the Kindle Fire employs a very different approach. Instead of making money on hardware sales, Amazon aims to tie customers into its own ecosystem of buying products through its online storefront.

Amazon admitted to investors late last month that the impending launch of the Kindle Fire could pose a threat to its future profits. One estimate issued in September suggested that Amazon is poised to lose US$50 for each Kindle Fire it sells.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.