Apple announces iPhone 4 at WWDC keynote

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 12:39
Category: iPhone, News

In his long-awaited Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the fourth-generation iPhone, termed the “iPhone 4″. Per Macworld, the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24$ thinner than the iPhone 3GS and includes new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

The iPhone 4 features a new screen technology called a “retina display” which operates at 326 pixels per inch, double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display measures the same 3.5″ inches diagonally, but at 960 x 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model with an 800:1 contrast ratio that’s also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

The new handset also sports the A4 chip, which boasts both a small footprint and good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that, coupled with the new chip, Apple says provides 40$ more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

The handset includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

The iPhone 4 also add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity and can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing which can be combined with new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information.

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. The company has also created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). Once the video has been recorded, users can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for US$5.

For Jobs’ “One More Thing” moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls via a feature called FaceTime between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only (at least through 2010). Users can also switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

The iPhone 4 will be available in both black and white, at US$199 for 16GB and US$299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24th, with pre-orders starting on June 15th. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a US$29 dock and a US$29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.

AT&T offers early upgrade dates to customers

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 10:34
Category: iPhone, News

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Just hours ahead of Apple’s anticipated fourth-generation iPhone announcement, AT&T has begun moving some customers’ upgrade eligibility dates forward to allow them to buy Apple’s latest handset.

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have reported that their eligibility for an iPhone upgrade has been updated, allowing them to buy Apple’s next-generation iPhone as soon as it goes on sale, fully subsidized with a 2-year contract agreement.

Customers can see their upgrade eligibility by logging into their account on the AT&T website and selecting “Check Upgrade Options.” Upgrade status can also be checked by dialing *639# from the iPhone.

“As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” AT&T’s message to eligible iPhone owners reads.

Though U.S. iPhone customers must sign a two-year contract with AT&T in order to receive the iPhone at a subsidized price, the wireless carrier frequently offers faster upgrades for its highest paying customers. Those with more services and a higher monthly bill typically are not required to wait the full two years before they become eligible.

Screen shot via TUAW

AT&T previously revealed that generally speaking, customers who spend more than $99-a-month per line are eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.

The latest round of upgrades follow previous updates by AT&T in May, when some users saw their upgrade eligibility date moved up by months, to June 21, 2010.

Moving up customers’ upgrade dates is the same approach AT&T has taken in the past. Last year, the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same $199 and $299 price points as new customers.

Apple poised to release updated Mac mini models in coming weeks

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Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 04:29
Category: Mac mini, News

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With available inventories of the Mac mini computer becoming increasingly constrained over the past two weeks, Apple seems poised to introduce refreshed models that may serve as a harbinger for some new I/O ports on the device.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have confirmed that the constraints are indicative of new models on the horizon, rather than intermittent delays resulting from the onset of the back-to-school buying season, which sometimes sees Apple curb the flow of Macs to its distribution channels in favor of filling large orders to universities.

The reports bear telltale signs that Apple is ramping down production of existing Mac minis and preparing its distribution for refreshed models which are said to include Nvidia’s MCP89 chipset, which is the successor to the existing MCP79 (or GeForce 9400M) chipset found alongside Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors across the majority of Apple’s 2009 Mac product line. An unannounced version of the Mac mini has been spotted with an HDMI connector instead of a DVI.

Apple last updated the Mac mini line in late October, introducing models with faster Core 2 Duo processors and adding a third server-oriented configuration that forgoes an optical drive in favor of two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB of storage. All three models were billed by the company as “world’s most energy efficient desktops.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon spokeperson confirms no iPhone for the immediate future

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Date: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 05:53
Category: iPhone, News

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The mighty Beet.TV posted an interview yesterday in which Verizon spokesperson John Johnson confirmed that the iPhone is definitely not coming to Verizon, at least anytime soon. “Verizon has no plans to carry the iPhone in the immediate future, but you’ve got to look at the incredible excitement around the Android devices.”

Johnson then went on to extoll the virtues of Verizon’s network improvements and the Android OS.

Until then, we’ll see what Apple has to offer at WWDC in a few days before the rumor mill begins anew…

VirtualBox 3.2.2 released

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Date: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 05:44
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 3.2.2. The new version, a 70.9 megabyte download, sports a list of fixes and changes that can be found here.

VirtualBox 3.2.2 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Apple releases sixth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, no known issues reported

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 11:09
Category: News, Software

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Apple this week issued a sixth beta of its Mac OS X 10.6.4 security and maintenance update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Per AppleInsider, the latest build remains free of known issues.

According to sources close to the story, the beta, which was issued to developers last Tuesday, is labeled as “build 10F564″, weighs in at 600 megabytes which developers being asked to focus on graphics drivers, SMB, USB, VoiceOver and VPN.

The last few builds have all contained the same focus areas and enhancements, and this week’s update is no different. The updates addressed issues that could cause the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive, and also fixed a problem that prevented some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from loading.

Apple first began widespread testing of Mac OS X 10.6.4 in late April. The previous update to Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.3, was released at the end of March. It included improvements for QuickTime X and OpenGL-based applications, in the form of a 437.2 megabyte update.

AT&T revises calling plans, announces tethering for iPhone OS 4.0

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T will be transitioning away from unlimited data plans beginning June 7th according to AppleInsider, the company introducing tethering, iPad 3G data plans capped at 2GB per month and slightly lower pricing.

The company announced this week that a new data plan for iPhone owners, dubbed “DataPro,” will be offered starting June 7th, providing 2GB of data for US$25 per month. Tethering will be available for an additional US$20 per month, and lets customers use their handset to share Internet connectivity with another device, such as a laptop. Tethering will be available this summer when iPhone OS 4.0 is released.

AT&T will also offer a less expensive data plan, called “DataPlus,” which offers 200MB for US$15 per month. The carrier noted in its press release that 65% of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB per month, while 98% use less than 2GB per month.

Customers who near their cap for the month will be sent a text message notifying them when they reach a certain usage level. For customers who exceed the cap, an extra 1GB in the DataPro plan costs US$10, and an extra 200MB in the DataPlus plan runs US$15.

Current AT&T customers are not required to switch to the new plans and sacrifice their unlimited data, but can do so without a contract extension.

AT&T also announced that it would discontinue its existing US$29.99-per-month unlimited 3G data plans for the iPad for new customers. This plan will be replaced by a no-contract plan that runs US$25 a month for 2GB of data. Customers who have the existing unlimited plan are not required to change.

Plans for voice and texting through AT&T will remain unchanged after June 7.

AT&T has long hinted that changes to its unlimited data plans were coming, as the company has faced network issues and bandwidth problems. The carrier has sought ways to encourage the heaviest bandwidth consumers to reduce or modify their usage of the AT&T network.

Last December, one AT&T executive said he believed it was inevitable that users who utilize more bandwidth than their share will have to pay more than the rest. At the time, the company said that 40% of the network capacity for AT&T is used by just 3% of smartphone users. Other reports have alleged that the average iPhone user consumes 10 times the bandwidth of a typical smartphone user.

Stay tuned for additional details and let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Adobe releases Camera Raw 6.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 04:37
Category: News, Software

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Early Tuesday, software giant released version 6.1 of its Camera Raw plugin, a program which delivers access to “raw” image formats in professional and mid-range digital cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and others. The new update, a 61.9 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), includes the following fixes and changes:

- This new version of the Camera Raw plug-in replaces the original Camera Raw plug-in that was installed with Adobe Creative Suite 5, Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Support has been added for the following cameras:

- Canon EOS 550D (Digital Rebel T2i/ EOS Kiss X4 Digital)

- Kodak Z981

- Leaf Aptus-II 8

- Leaf Aptus-II 10R

- Mamiya DM40

- Olympus E-PL1

- Olympus E-600

- Panasonic G2

- Panasonic G10

- Sony A450

Camera Raw 6.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Apple working to include Bing within iPhone OS 4.0 web services

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Date: Tuesday, June 1st, 2010, 05:40
Category: iPhone, News

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Per a report by TechCrunch, Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 will also include search and related web services from Microsoft’s Bing as well as inclusion of Google, as per usual.

The new iPhone OS won’t drop Google for Bing entirely, but will expand the number of search options iPhone users see, and apparently make those options more visible.

TechCrunch originally reported that Google would be entirely replaced by Bing search in iPhone OS 4, a claim that was later retracted in an update that said sources clarified “it’s more complicated than this” and that Apple wouldn’t be removing support for Google search.

Apple already provides an option to use Yahoo for web search in Safari, although that option is not obvious and requires visiting system settings to make the switch.

A report by Kara Swisher of the “All Things Digital” blog indicates Microsoft has been asking that Bing search be added to the iPhone’s search options for some time, and also wants to make the choice more visible to users.

Microsoft has also been in talks with Apple to get its mapping services integrated into the iPhone. Individual iPhone apps have already made use of Microsoft’s mapping services, but Apple’s own Maps app on the iPhone and iPad is hardwired to Google’s mapping services.

Last fall, Apple purchased Placebase, a mapping service designed to overlay demographic, economic and environmental data on top of maps. It has since been speculated that Apple planned to use the acquisition to either build an alternative mapping service for iPhone Maps, or more likely, add additional layers of features on top of the current Maps data to differentiate the iPhone from Google’s own map app for Android.

Last fall, TechCrunch writer Michael Arrington stated that “Apple expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google. Search, maps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google.” He added, “other than the browser, Apple has little else to call its own other than the core phone, contacts and calendar features.” That comment was repeated in the most recent article regarding Bing.

Arrinton’s dismissal of the iPhone OS as being little more than a client for Google services was further exaggerated by fellow writer Erick Schonfeld, who wrote “in fact, some of the best apps on the iPhone—Mail, Maps, YouTube, Search—were developed by Google.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

International iPad launch underway, line of over 1,200 reported in Japan

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Date: Friday, May 28th, 2010, 05:49
Category: iPad, News

Apple’s iPad hit the international markets today with initial reports over over 1,200 lined up at Apple’s Ginza flagship store for its 8AM opening. Per Electronista, lines had started as early as Wednesday in Japan and have been matched by similar lines in Australia and Europe. Japanese pre-order numbers aren’t known, but over 900,000 allegedly ordered the tablet in Europe.

The Tokyo queue was helped by the Japanese pre-order campaign, which let customers reserve their iPads in-person rather than online. Shoppers country have also historically been more likely to line up for product launches of many kinds, not just Apple, as NTT DoCoMo saw smaller but noticeable lines for the Xperia X10 handset.

Apple has routinely had a disruptive effect on Japan, as the iPod was the first foreign MP3 player to oust the Sony Walkman from its top spot; the iPhone makes up 72 % of Japanese smartphones and a small but sizeable portion of all cellphones in the country. Few tablets are sold in Japan outside of convertible notebooks, and the relative absence of competitors may give Apple free rein in the short-term future. Sony so far has refused to enter the market quickly but has been one of the few in the region to express interest in building a rival.