Apple releases third iOS 4.2 beta, adds SMS ringtones, changes AirPlay functionality

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Date: Wednesday, October 13th, 2010, 04:47
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Tuesday Apple released the third beta of iOS 4.2 to developers alongside the second beta of iTunes 10.1, making subtle changes to the distributions of the former for both the iPhone and the iPad.

Per fscklog, the iOS 4.2 build releases seem to be following a two week cycle, as the first iOS 4.2 beta was released four weeks ago, with the second beta arriving two weeks after.

People familiar with the latest iOS beta said it is known as build 8C5115c.

The beta contains several significant changes, including an updated version of the modem firmware. Noticeably missing from the beta were AirPlay features from previous builds. The AirPlay button has disappeared from the Photos, Videos, and YouTube apps on the distribution for the iPad.

Developers have noticed a bug with the AirPrint functionality. When printing from an iPhone, the image sometimes prints as just the size of the iPhone’s screen, not the original image size.

The beta also packs a number of smaller additions. According to fscklog, the new beta adds “a larger number” of tones for receiving text messages on the iPhone 4. The 17 new SMS ringtones include tones such as “Calypso,” “Choo Choo,” “Sherwood Forest,” and “Tiptoes.”

In a minor change to the iPad, the Connect to iTunes recovery screen now uses the controversial new iTunes 10 icon.

The iTunes 10.1 beta released alongside the iOS 4.2 beta continues to support printing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta, please let us know what you make of it.

Microsoft releases Office 2004 11.6.1, Office 2008 12.2.7, Open XML Converter 1.1.7 updates

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Date: Wednesday, October 13th, 2010, 04:20
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Microsoft released version 11.6.1 of its Microsoft Office 2004 suite, version 12.2.7 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite and version 1.1.7 of its Open XML Converter Utility. The Office updates, which weigh in at 16.4 and 333 megabytes, respectively, focus on improving security for both suites, fixing vulnerabilities that could allow malicious code to overwrite portions of your Mac’s memory and run arbitrary commands.

Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.1.7 is a 45MB update and repairs similar bugs.

The updates are free and available through the Microsoft AutoUpdate programs and require Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run Office 2004 and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run Office 2008.

If you’ve installed the updates and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

iPad to hit Walmart shelves Friday, October 15th

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Date: Tuesday, October 12th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPad, News, retail

Retail giant Walmart has announced that hundreds of its stores will begin selling the iPad on Friday, October 15th. This number will eventually expand to 2,300 stores throughout November.

Per Electronista, Walmart revealed the news Monday evening, confirming last week’s rumor that the Bentonville, Arkansas mega-retailer would start carrying Apple’s iPad this week. The chain’s stores will offer all six models of the tablet device.

The iPad can be ordered online from the Walmart web site but must be picked up in store. Retail stores will feature the device as part of a “separate showcase of Apple hardware,” the report noted.

According to sources, some Walmart stores have already placed the iPad on the shelves alongside Apple’s iPods in advance of Friday’s official launch.

If you’ve seen the iPad at your local Walmart prior to the Friday launch, let us know.

Rumor: Apple investigating potential iPhone 4 scratching issue

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 04:37
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Apple is reportedly in “something of a panic” concerning an issue with the state of the glass on its best-selling iPhone 4 handset. Per MacNN, sources internal and external to the company have commented that engineers have discovered an issue related to the rear glass. If dirt or debris gets trapped in a slide-on case covering the phone’s back, this may potentially scratch the device. Whereas it would only ruin the look of an older iPhone, on the iPhone 4, the damage is thought to carry the risk of eventually cracking or outright fracturing the glass.

As a response, the company is said to have blocked sales of most iPhone 4 cases from Apple Stores. Only the online storefront is believed to have reversed the policy, and then just this week. The iPhone team is currently said to be running a lab with a large, dedicated test program, although there is no indication of a solution on the horizon.

The issue may be even more critical for case makers than it is for Apple. While the latter has the reputation of the iPhone at stake, as well as income reaped from accessory licensing, case manufacturers are significantly smaller and can generate much of their revenue from the high foot traffic at Apple outlets. These companies may have have been relegated to selling at third-party stores or from their own websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad could feature 128GB of memory, Retina Display, USB port

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 04:40
Category: iPad, News

Coming this holiday season, round two of the iPad.

Per AppleInsider, Taiwanese component suppliers have indicated that Apple’s next-generation iPad will sport a 7-inch high-resolution Retina Display, a camera, and 128GB of capacity as well as the guesstimate that it could sell 45 million in 2011.

Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities said this week that suppliers contacted during a trip to Taipei indicated that Apple plans to launch a new iPad in the first quarter of the 2011 calendar year. In addition to having a smaller 7″ size, he also said the device will have a “micro or mini USB” port.

The information is similar to what Goldman Sachs said in late September, including the addition of a USB port. If true, the addition of a new port could be a result of the European Union making MicroUSB the default charging method for mobile devices.

White said the next-generation iPad will replace the first-generation iPad when it is released next year. He made no mention of Apple maintaining its 9.7″ model, though Goldman Sachs said the new 7″ variety would be in addition to the current screen size.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook, MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 03:04
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook and MacBook Pro models solves a charging issue that takes place when using the latest MagSafe power adapters.

The update, an 880 kilobyte download, requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or 10.6.4 to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes at all, please let us know in the comments.

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.

Verizon COO states new iPhone announcement would arrive from Apple, not Verizon

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Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:58
Category: iPhone, News

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Per the cool cats at Macworld, Verizon President and COO Lowell McAdam commented made a recent comment at the CTIA conference in San Francisco that reports of a Verizon iPhone would be addressed by Apple, not Verizon.

When asked to comment about a story from The Wall Street Journal that Apple will begin building a Verizon-compatible iPhone by the end of the year, McAdam dismissed the story as “one of those things that rolls out every few weeks whether there’s a basis for it or not.”

“I can’t give you any insights,” he continued. “But I think Apple is the one that has to make that announcement.”

McAdam remains hopeful that a deal will eventually be reached, especially as Verizon rolls out its Long-Term Evolution 4G data network.

“What I’ve always said is I expect at some point in time our business interests are going to align,” McAdam said. “I think things like LTE are another great reason why they’d want a device or tablet on that network. But I don’t have anything to say today about timing.”

Back in September, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg downplayed rumors of an upcoming Verizon iPhone by telling investors that he hopes Apple will work with Verizon to sell an LTE 4G smartphone.

Despite the remarks, rumors have persisted that a CDMA iPhone will arrive in early 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hitachi releases updated desktop, notebook hard drives, offers up to 750 GB capacities

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Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 08:10
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Electronics maker Hitachi announced its new 375GB per platter, 5400-rpm and 7200-rpm, 2.5″ hard drives: the Travelstar 5K750 and Travelstar 7K750 on Wednesday.

Per Macworld, Hitachi has stated that the drives offer the industry’s highest capacities in a standard 9.5 mm two-disk design.

The Travelstar 5K750 and 7K750 drive families are the first Hitachi hard drives that feature Advanced Format, which increases the physical sector size on hard drives from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes, or 4KB—eight times larger. Hitachi’s previous generation drive was the Travelstar 7K500, which had maximum areal density of 370 Gbits per square inch. The new platters have an areal density of 472 Gbit per square inch.

Hitachi’s 5400-rpm Travelstar 5K750 drives feature an 8MB buffer for caching and a Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gbit per second interface for fast data transfer rates. The drive consumes 0.5 watts while idle and 1.4 watts power during read/write operations, which Hitachi said contributes to longer battery life in notebooks and other unplugged applications.

Hitachi’s 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 drive has a 16MB buffer, which allows quicker access to data and faster system performance, especially for multi-tasking and other high-performance office and home applications. It uses 0.5 watts idle and 1.8 watts during read/write operations.

The Travelstar 7K750 is a self-encrypting drive using Hitachi’s Bulk Data Encryption (BDE) specification, which encrypts data using protected keys in real time. It also speeds and simplifies the drive re-deployment process. By deleting the encryption key, the data on the drive is rendered unreadable, thereby eliminating the need for time-consuming data-overwrite. The drive is said to be “independent of OS so that a BDE hard drive can be used on an Apple Macintosh system. However, because Apple systems do not support the ATA security feature set, a BDE drive will function only as a standard drive in an Apple system.”

Both of the new Travelstar hard drive families come in capacities of 500GB, 640GB and 750GB.

Travelstar 5K750 Retail Hard Drive Kits will be available next month with a suggested retail price of US$130. The drive will be shipping to system manufacturers for qualification by the end of the year. The 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 family will be available in Q1 2011. Pricing for that drive has yet to be announced.

iPhone 4 shipping times drop to 5 to 7 days

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Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPhone, News

Apple looks to have worked its its supply constraints for the iPhone 4 since the device’s June launch, AppleInsider reporting that the handset is now advertised for shipping within 5 to 7 days from Apple’s online store.

Both models of the iPhone 4 (available in 16GB and 32GB capacities for US$199 and US$299, respectively, with AT&T contract) now ship within 5 to 7 business days. The 8GB, US$99 iPhone 3GS ships within 1 to 2 weeks, while the white iPhone 4 remains unavailable.

The change in shipping times would imply that Apple has begun to catch up with strong consumer demand for the iPhone 4.

Shipping estimates had remained at three weeks or longer since the handset launched in June. In its first three days of availability, the phone sold a record 1.7 million units.

Apple has struggled to meet demand since launch, as supplies for overseas expansion have been constrained. Last month, the iPhone 4 launched in China, and carrier China Unicom was only able to fulfill about half of the preorders placed by customers.

In a similar fashion, Apple could not meet iPad demand for months after the touchscreen tablet launched in April. It took until late August for the Cupertino, Calif., company to improve online order shipping times to 24 hours.

The white iPhone 4 is still listed as unavailable, and Apple has not provided an update on the status of the device since July, when it said the product would not be available until “later this year.” The company has said that the white model proved “more challenging to manufacture than expected.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.