New iMac Generation Almost Ready for Holidays, Could See Introduction This Month

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Date: Friday, September 25th, 2009, 05:03
Category: iMac, News

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Before the start of October, Apple could begin to fill out its 2009 Mac product line with a new family of iMacs sporting classier enclosures and a few added bells and whistles. Per AppleInsider, the new iMac dual-core desktops were finalized earlier in September and have been rolling off the Mac maker’s Taiwanese product lines for roughly two weeks, according to two people sources.

In addition to more affordable pricing, the systems are expected to come clad in a thinner industrial design. Though details are admittedly limited, it’s likely these new enclosures will also take design cues from the Cupertino-based company’s LED-lit Cinema Display offerings.

Aesthetic revisions aside, the late 2009 iMac line should also debut several features previously unavailable to Mac buyers.

People familiar with Apple’s thinking have suggested in recent months one of these moves could see the company finally embrace Blu-ray

With the costs of such drives remaining relatively high, it’s reasonable to presume such capability would fetch an added premium on most models.

A pair of other associated enhancements, one believed to be related to audio, should be seen with this new generation of iMacs according to sources close to the story.

For its part, AppleInsider believes Apple is primed to extend the capabilities of at least one technology introduced on the Mac platform as recently as last fall.

To make way for these new models, Apple’s corporate and educational sales teams this month have reportedly been offering their volume customers instant discounts of US$100 to US$200 on existing models. Anxious to clear inventories, representatives have allegedly stressed to buyers that these offers would be valid for just one week.

AT&T to Launch MMS Feature for iPhone Friday via Carrier Profile Update Over iTunes

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Date: Thursday, September 24th, 2009, 04:49
Category: iPhone, News

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American iPhone users will finally see AT&T’s MMS feature unlocked late Friday morning on the west coast by way of a carrier update file that will be delivered through iTunes, AT&T announced Wednesday.

“MMS Update: We know you’ve been eager for this service so we wanted to offer a quick update on the launch plans for MMS on Friday, Sept. 25,” AT&T wrote on its official Facebook page. “Late morning, Pacific Time, on Friday, the new carrier settings update enabling MMS should be live and ready to download through iTunes. We’ll provide the steps and all of the details you need right here at that time.”

Per AppleInsider, east coast residents will likely see their update available sometime early Friday afternoon. It also confirms that an iTunes update to the phone’s carrier profile will be necessary for MMS to be activated.

An article published over on DSLReports cited a source familiar with the company’s MMS upgrade as saying, “Starting at 10AM Eastern (on the 25), AT&T will send out a mass text to a group of iPhone users telling them that MMS now works on their phone.

Assuming all goes well, “They will keep doing groups of phones on the hour throughout the day,” the source said. Official word from company spokesman Seth Bloom said the upgrade would be targeted at early afternoon on the East Coast, or late morning for users on Pacific Time.

The source said AT&T was “very nervous” about the launch, due to seeing a surge in traffic from just a limited number of iPhone users selected to participate in advanced testing of the new service.

MMS allows users to send graphics, audio clips, location and contact files, and even video clips via an SMS-like messaging system. The new MMS features require an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS.

Picture and video messaging was originally scheduled to arrive in the summer, but will be a few days late. AT&T has said that iPhone data usage has been very taxing on its network, leading to delays as the company attempts to strengthen its service.

Originally, iPhone tethering was also announced for the summer, but AT&T officials have said that service is coming at a later date, with no specifics given. The company apparently has no intentions to cap bandwidth for iPhone users.

Apple Clears Legal Hurdle to Sell iPhone in South Korea

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Date: Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009, 03:05
Category: iPhone, News

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South Korean authorities cleared Apple’s iPhone for sale in the country on Wednesday by lifting a legal bar on operation of location-based services by Apple, a spokesman for a government regulator said. Per Macworld UK, the Korea Communications Commission decided to allow Apple to operate the services itself in a “flexible” application of local law, the spokesman said. Without the clearance, Apple would have needed a local operator to run the location services and manage user privacy for the data gathered, he said.

The move is partly aimed to avoid limiting choices for South Korean consumers, according to a spokesperson’s press release. South Korean’s mobile phone market is currently dominated by local handset makers Samsung and LG Electronics.

South Korean mobile carrier KT is in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone, though details are not yet available. Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Apple recently removed Wi-Fi functionalities from the model of the iPhone to be offered in China this year to obtain the country’s regulatory approval for the handset.

Apple Hunting Down Feedback from iPhone 3GS Users Citing Poor Battery Life

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Date: Monday, September 21st, 2009, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

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Albeit Apple is not openly acknowledging the issue, it’s taking the “shy kid” approach to reaching a solution. Per iPhone Blog, Apple is apparently seeking feedback from iPhone users over claims that the recent iPhone 3.1 Software Update is draining batteries.

Short battery life has been a concern since the introduction of the iPhone 3GS amongst many users, despite Apple promising improved performance at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple said the iPhone 3GS would deliver 9 hours of use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback and 30 hours of music on a single charge, about a 30% upgrade to the iPhone 3G.

However, a recent teardown by iFixit noted that the iPhone 3GS’s battery was just 6% more powerful than the battery in its predecessor.

Recently, the company has contacted a number of users on Apple’s discussion boards who have posted negative comments asking for feedback. A list of 11 questions – covering e-mail, push notifications, Wi-fi, Bluetooth and application use – is being sent out reports The iPhone Blog.

The note also contains an attachment which, when double-clicked, installs what looks like an unsigned profile, which apparently enables Battery Life Logging on the iPhone.

Once enabled, the iPhone will sync power logs back via iTunes, and they ask that those logs be sent back to Apple reports the The iPhone Blog.

The blog notes this isn’t the first time Apple, via AppleCare, has contacted iPhone users after posts on the company’s discussion boards.

It is not known what percentage of iPhone owners might be experiencing the problem.

Microsoft Offers Windows 7 Upgrade for $30 to Students for Limited Time

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Date: Friday, September 18th, 2009, 07:11
Category: News, Software

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As much as you may want to burn Microsoft’s headquarters to the ground, they do remain competitive on some levels. According to AppleInsider, Microsoft will allow students to purchase the upcoming Windows 7 operating system for US$29.99, roughly the same price as Apple’s competing Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Per the article, Microsoft this week launched win741.com, a Web site devoted to promoting Windows 7 to students.

“For a limited time, eligible college students can get the sweetest deal on Windows 7 – for only $29.99 USD,” the site reads. “That’s less than most of your textbooks! Hurry — offer ends January 3, 2010 and 12 a.m. CST.”

The offer applies to the Home Premium and Professional versions of Windows 7. Students will be allowed to purchase one copy of either from Microsoft’s online store. Similar offers are available in the U.K, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Korea and Mexico.

Rather than mailing a disc, the software will be made available for students to download in either 32- or 64-bit versions. The Web site’s FAQ recommends that those looking to do a clean install of the operating system buy a Windows 7 backup DVD.

For all non-students, Windows 7 is less expensive than Vista, but still much higher than Snow Leopard. A retail copy of the Home Premium upgrade will retail for US$120 and the standalone version is US$200. The Professional edition will cost US$200 for an upgrade, or US$300 for the full price. The Windows 7 Ultimate version is US$220 for the upgrade and US$320 for the full copy. Upgrades require Windows XP or Windows Vista to be installed on the machine.

The Windows 7 launch date is set for October 22nd.

Look at it this way: It’s not Vista, it’s gotten good feedback and it’ll happily run under Boot Camp, so there may be a bargain to be had here.

Apple Could Receive FASB Approval for Accounting Changes, Remove iPod Touch Upgrade Fees

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Date: Friday, September 18th, 2009, 04:34
Category: Finance, News

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If you’ve ever been irked at the small charges you’ve had to pay for an iPod touch software upgrade, this may be about to go by the wayside. According to Ars Technica, a rule governed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, that’s been heavily lobbied for by Apple and other electronics companies, may be enough to lift the charge that iPod touch owners have had to pay for updates of significant features to their devices. The rule focuses on “subscription accounting”, or devices that gain “significant new functionality” after their sale, like the iPhone, have to be reported over a series of years rather than all at the same time (presumably because the revenues associated with the product were the result of a series of updates, not just one lump sum).

In the case of the iPhone, subscription charges associated with them over two years round out the criteria. The iPod touch is different and because Apple doesn’t want to report the sales of those devices over a period of time, they’ve had to charge minimum fees for updates in the form of the US$10 and other fees that iPod touch owners have paid for the firmware updates. But if the new rule receives FASB approval, then Apple would be able to report sales of the iPod touch all together without having to worry about charging for updates, as well as the dual GAAP and non-GAAP reporting we’ve heard on their conference calls.

Such a chance could also help Apple’s stock price (seeing all of the iPhone’s sales at once would boost investor confidence), and it would help developers who are asking all users of both the iPhone and iPod touch to update right away, as they wouldn’t have to wait until users found the few bucks in question before downloading a large new update.

iPhone 3GS Radiation Measurements Released

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Date: Thursday, September 17th, 2009, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News

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You spend a fair amount of time with it next to your head, so you might as well have the facts.

Per a report released by the Environmental Working Group, Apple’s iPhone 3GS handset ranks almost squarely in the middle of smartphones in terms of radiation output. The report notes that according to compiled data, the 3GS produces approximately 1.19W/kg of radiation. The figure is substantially lower than the worst-case examples, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the Kyocera Jax S1300, which each produce 1.55W/kg.

The 3GS still produces considerably more output than phones towards the bottom of the scale, such as the Samsung Impression and BlackBerry Storm, which are rated at 0.35 and 0.57W/kg respectively. It also emits more than the 0.97W/kg of the original iPhone, but less than the iPhone 3G, rated at 1.39W/kg. The three best-performing phones on the list, such as the Nokia 9300i, are no longer being sold.

In a new report, the EWG claims that people using cellphones for 10 years or more could develop “serious health problems.” Because of radiation, the report suggests, cellphone users have an “increased risk of developing brain and salivary gland tumors, neurological symptoms such as migraine and vertigo, and neurodevelopmental effects observed as behavioral problems in young children.”

The EWG is pushing for the US government to require displaying radiation levels at points of sale.

Wall Street Journal Web Site to Go to Subscriber Model for iPhone, Blackberry Users

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Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009, 03:13
Category: iPhone, News

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If you loved free Wall Street Journal content on your iPhone, you can thank Rupert Murdoch for this one.

Per Paid Content, News Corporation has announced that readers of the WSJ on the Blackberry and iPhone will be charged US$2 per week for the privilege of reading news through the respective apps. Online and print subscribers of the WSJ will only pay US$1 a week. No time limit has been set yet, but Murdoch says it will be within the next few months.

This could be bad news for Hulu users as well, as Murdoch has stated that News Corp is considering either a pay-per-view or subscription model for Hulu. “No final decision has been made,” Murdoch said via Webcast at an investor conference today. The Wall Street Journal itself reports that subscription offerings will roll out for media content before the end of the year, though it was made in a different context from the Hulu statement.

(On a personal note, if this helps what’s been a great paper make its bottom line, then sure. Otherwise, who wouldn’t love to see Rupert Murdoch chased down the gray Manhattan streets with frothing wolves at his heels?)

Apple TV Price Reduced by $100 for 160GB Model, 40GB Model Discontinued

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 06:58
Category: Apple TV, News

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If you recently purchased a 40GB Apple TV unit, now may be the time to start kicking yourself. According to Macworld UK, the 160GB model’s price has been reduced by US$100 to US$229 while the company has discontinued the 40GB model, as seen in the Apple Store.

Some, including analysts, had anticipated a new version of the Apple TV at last Wednesday’s San Francisco event which saw a iPod refresh and new look in iTunes.

iTunes 9 adds a range of features, including Home Sharing and iTunes LP that would benefit the Apple TV.

AT&T Staggering iPhone MMS Feature Release, Some Users Report Early Activation

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News

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A number of iPhone users have reported that the long awaited MMS feature seems to have been enabled on their devices well in advance of AT&T’s declared September 25th start date according to howardforums.com.

The MMS support feature will allow iPhone OS 3.0 users to send pictures, video and audio recordings, contacts, or locations from Maps via 3G-capable iPhones.

In announcing its plans to enable the feature for iPhone users, AT&T explained, “It was important to give our customers a positive experience from day one. We support more iPhone customers than any other carrier in the world so we took the time necessary to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic. We truly appreciate our customers’ patience and hope they’ll understand our desire to get it right from the start.”

Rather than turning on MMS service for millions of American iPhone users all at once, AT&T has been selectively activating users across the country. Once activated, iPhone 3G and 3GS users should see a new “Cellular Data Network” menu item within the General/Network page of the Settings app and a new camera icon within the Messages app for sending photos.

It’s possible to install a modified carrier bundle for AT&T to activate MMS software features, but this does not necessarily result in functioning MMS. Without AT&T removing your opt out, MMS messages will queue up with a red exclamation icon as they fail to actually send.

Many users are reporting that there is no correlation between working MMS and either their installed software version, their carrier bundle version, their service or texting plan, or their geographic location. AT&T appears to turning on MMS for users at random to achieve a staggered release up to the September 25th deadline.