Apple Systematically Pulling Google Voice, Similar Applications

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:24
Category: News

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Apple is apparently systematically yanking iPhone applications from the App Store that use Google Voice to simplify and reduce the costs of making phone calls, though it’s suspected Apple isn’t the one making the actual judgment call.

According to AppleInsider, developer Sean Kovacs, was surprised on Monday to discover that his GV Mobile client for Google Voice was to be pulled from the App Store as it was allegedly duplicating the iPhone’s calling and text messaging features. Apple representative Richard Chipman contacted him personally but not only wasn’t specific about what could be fixed but wouldn’t provide e-mail to confirm the takedown.

Although individual removals aren’t uncommon, later reports have surfaced that Apple had pulled VoiceCentral, another competitor, and had even denied Google when it tried to quietly submit a Google Voice app six weeks ago in spite of its corporate partnerships with Apple.

The systematic disappearances don’t currently have a larger official explanation but, given the common thread of their using the same service, is now thought less to a matter of Apple guarding its built-in features and more cellular carriers pushing it to keep the service out. Google Voice not only allows users one virtual phone number to call multiple real phones but greatly reduces the cost of outbound long-distance and messaging, all of which potentially deprive AT&T and eventually other carriers of possible extra revenue.

Such an unspoken ban would also go a step beyond normal restrictions on which apps are allowed and what they can do. In the past, carriers have argued against allowing voice over IP apps such as Fring and Skype on the cellular network for technical reasons, such as latency; the lag on even a 3G network is high enough that holding a regular conversation isn’t really feasible, for example. In restricting Google Voice, which still uses the regular voice network for much of its activity, the primary advantage is to eliminate competition.

Neither Apple nor AT&T have offered official comments on the issue.

Apple, China Mobile Apparently Reach Terms Regarding Chinese iPhone Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After about two years of negotiation, wireless carrier has allegedly landed a three-year contract for the exclusive rights to local iPhone distribution, according to MacNN and a Shanghai Securities News report. The deal, described by unnamed sources, is said to extend for three years and guarantees annual sales of 1 million to 2 million units.
Apple recently acknowledged that bringing the iPhone into the Chinese market held a top priority. The recent report suggests the potential carriers could not come to agree on revenue sharing terms. Soon after the first iPhone was released, sources claimed AT&T was paying between US$150 to US$200 per purchased phone and an additional US$9 for each month of the standard two-year duration of a customer subscription.

Beijing reportedly objected to the idea of revenue sharing, although the carrier has agreed to purchase the devices for 3,000 yuan (~US$439 USD) each. The terms also mandate a minimum overall revenue of at least 5 billion yuan (~US$732 million USD) every year.

China Mobile, with a much larger subscriber base than China Unicom, was also involved in negotiations for the iPhone.

The Chinese iPhone is expected to be customized for the local market, although specific details remain unconfirmed. An anonymous source recently claimed that component provider Foxconn has already begun mass production. The device is said to keep 3G and Bluetooth, while omitting Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations.

Finally, Agence France-Presse has quoted a Unicom spokesman as saying that while the carrier is close to a deal, there are still problems to be negotiated. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations,” according to the spokesman. He adds that proper negotiations with Apple began in January, when the Chinese government began issuing 3G licenses.

PowerPage Podcast Episode 115

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Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 07:50
Category: News

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Episode 115 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (27.6 MB, MP3).

Panel: Jason O’Grady and Rob Parker.

Topics: AAPL Q3’09 earnings, Apple tablet redux, is the App Store busted?, fiery iPods and we wrap it up with “What’s on your Mac?”

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

Rob

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The PowerPage Podcast RSS feed is created using Feeder 2.0 from Reinvented Software and our theme music is generously provided by The Tragically Hip whose new release “We Are The Same” is available on iTunes.

Palm Releases webOS 1.1, Restores Pre’s Ability to Sync with iTunes

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Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 03:12
Category: News, Software

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One week after Apple disabled the Palm Pre’s capacity to sync with iTunes, Palm has responded by releasing webOS 1.1, an update that again enables Palm’s phone to access media from the current version of iTunes.

Per the company’s blog, Pre users can expect the new software to arrive via an over-the-air update.

“Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync,” the post reads. “That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).”

Last week, Apple released iTunes 8.2.1. In accompanying release notes, the company was vague about what the upgrade actually did, stating only that the update provided “a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.”

Soon after the new version of iTunes was released, Pre users realized that the update had broken their ability to sync music with the software.

The webOS 1.1 update brings a number of changes focused on business users, including remote wipe, inactivity timeout, improved certificate handling and more for Exchange ActiveSync. The update also provides emoticons in the messaging app.

When Palm initially unveiled the handset, the company boasted about the the handset’s ability to transfer media from iTunes. According to AppleInsider, the feature worked by identifying the Pre in its hardware ID as an iPod — a trick Apple warned might not work for long.

Last month, Apple warned Pre users that future software updates may kill sync capability with the device.

“Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store,” Apple warned a document released in June. “Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players.”

In its blog post, Palm declined to elaborate on how they circumvented the changes presented in iTunes 8.2.1.

Apple Apparently Delaying iPod Fire Incident Report

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Date: Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPod, News

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When one of your best selling products sort of starts catching fire, you might be hesitant to investigate it.

According to KIRO 7, a Seattle-based reporter says that Apple actively prevented her and others from learning the true scope of the safety hazard.

KIRO 7′s Amy Clancy claims that her seven-month search for data was repeatedly frustrated as Apple asked for Consumer Product Safety Commission reports to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, hiding them from public view.

The investigation began in November after one iPod shuffle owner was burned when the battery ignited during a run, burning her where the iPod was clipped on. The victim, Jamie Balderas, said she contacted Apple and provided photos as evidence but was purportedly dismissed by an AppleCare agent as encountering an “isolated incident” and that access to proof of previous incidents wasn’t an option. The mother of a child given a mild burn also says Apple phone representatives didn’t appear responsive to the problem.

Clancy searched on her own but submitted the FIA request after discovering the already widespread reports of iPod battery fires, which among other responses had prompted a Japanese government investigation.

When she finally received the requested information, Clancy was surprised at just how long Apple and the CPSC had been aware of problems: fires had been reported as long ago as 2005 and have been noted periodically ever since. The 800-page report had even already pinpointed the lithium-ion battery packs as the likely causes because of their occasional tendency to overheat, but despite the evidence, hadn’t led to a mandatory recall. Commission officials had determined that the the scarcity of incidents (just a handful compared to the 175 million iPods sold at the time) had made the risk of any injury, let alone any serious injuries, “very low.”

It also believed that newer batteries weren’t shown to be vulnerable to the same sort of overheating.

In the past, Apple began a voluntary replacement program last year for owners of first-generation iPod nanos, some of whose batteries were known to be defective, it hasn’t given recourse to owners of other iPod models affected by the problem, whether Balderas or a Cincinnati woman who just in March sued Apple for negligence in the wake of a second-generation iPod touch fire exhibiting similar symptoms.

MacBook Sales Jump 25% in June Year-Over-Year Comparison

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Date: Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, 04:02
Category: News

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Apple’s sales of the MacBook saw a 25% jump in the June year-over-year comparison according to NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker. The growth is attributed to Apple’s revised MacBook Pro line, which has not only changed specifications but absorbed some basic MacBooks, and fallen in price. “The Apple marketing machine is firing on all cylinders,” says Baker. “With almost every launch of new machines, sales get a boost.”

According to MacNN, the U.S. desktop sales grew 16% in the same month, in spite of slumping quarterly performance. Apple has not refreshed its desktop computers since March, when it updated its iMac, Mac Pro and Mac mini lines simultaneously. That event triggered a brief rise in sales, only to be followed by a now-common 30% decline.

Apple COO Tim Cook Defends Company’s Lack of Netbooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009, 04:00
Category: News

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During yesterday’s conference call to release Apple’s Q3 numbers, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook stood by his previous assertion that Apple’s not in the market to make a netbook. At the same time, he noted that Apple’s recent laptop price cuts have helped move inventory.

According to Macworld, while many industry analysts expect that it’s only a matter of time before Apple competes in this segment of the market, Cook stated that he doesn’t see it happening any time soon.

“Our goal is not to build the most computers, it’s to build the best,” Cook told an analyst with RBC Capital. “At this point, we don’t see the way to build a great product for this US$399, US$499, this kind of price point unit.”

Pressed by a Morgan Stanley analyst for more details on a possible Apple netbook or iPhone-based tablet computer, Cook said, “I never want to discount anything in the future, and never want to specifically discuss new products.”

But Cook said that customers who buy such hardware are often disappointed with their purchases, and that Apple is focused on products with the best value.

“We’re only going to play in things where we can deliver things that are very innovative that we’re proud of,” said Cook.

During the third quarter, Apple sold 1.75 million notebooks, up 13% from the 1.553 million it sold last year during the same quarter. The strong laptop sales were boosted in part by an overhaul of the company’s laptop lineup at WWDC in June that included price drops.

Cook conceded that the average selling price (ASP) of Macs did fall somewhat in the quarter, but added that, “now you can buy a MacBook Pro for US$800 less than last year,” and that customers are happy with that strategy and pricing.

Some Mail.app Users Reporting Difficulties with Cox Cable Provider

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Date: Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, 08:20
Category: How-To, News

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A number of Cox internet service members have been having trouble accessing their e-mail accounts through Apple’s Mail program. Per MacFixIt, the connection seems to be fine and log-in works, but while Mail will show downloaded messages in the “Activity” window, they will not show up in an in-box. Additionally, a message of “mail cannot verify the identity of pop.central.cox.net” may appear.

The issue may have arisen from a recent update of the Cox e-mail servers that is contributing to this problem, since it seems to have cropped up in the past few days. Other (such as those discussing the issue in this Apple discussion thread) have claimed this happening for a few weeks. According to Cox, its e-mail servers seem to be fine, but the problem persists for affected members.

Some users have found that turning off SSL authentication for their e-mail accounts has helped the problem, which can be done in the “Advanced” section of the accounts settings in the preferences. To have Mail work continually you may need to toggle the SSL setting periodically, but this has helped a few people experiencing problems.

One workaround to at least accessing your mail is to use the Cox Web mail program, which can be found at http://webmail.cox.net.

Apple to Release Q3 Financial Results Today

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Date: Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, 05:34
Category: Finance, News

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It’s that time again and Apple has released a media advisory stating that the company will be releasing the financial results for the third fiscal quarter and second calendar quarter of 2009. The results will cover sales from March 28th, 2009 through June 26th, 2009, and will be released at the close of trading (4:00 PM Eastern / 1:00 PM Pacific) on Tuesday.

The conference call discussing the results will follow at 2:00 PM Pacific and will be available via an audio webcast.

Stay tuned to PowerPage throughout the day for updates galore.

Skype 2.8.0.659 Update Released

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Date: Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, 04:37
Category: News

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On Monday, Skype released version 2.8.0.659 of its popular Voice over Internet Protocol communications program.
The new version, a 42.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

  • An incorrect notification message appeared “This Wi-Fi hotspot does not support Skype Access” when users tried to connect to Skype Access when Airport was set to off.
  • Text was not visible within the chat input field that contained a certain Unicode character.
  • Platform specific – Skype for Mac OXS 10.3 (Panther); Skype froze after deleting unread missed events.
  • Mood message appeared blank after playing iTunes.
  • Contacts were still visible in the “Manage Contact Groups” after deleting them from the Contact List.
  • Video appeared blank between Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac.
  • A video error message appeared at the beginning of a video call.
  • Video and screen sharing functionality did not work after a multiÃ?¢?? chat
  • Recipients screen remained black after screen sharing was resumed.
  • A green line appeared when screen sharing between Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac OXS 10.4 (Tiger). Screen sharing
  • Skype froze when screen sharing between Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac.
  • An incorrect informative message appeared when entering more than 20 characters for a password.
  • The Show in Finder option was not available after cancelling a file transfer.
  • Platform specific – OSX 10.3 (Panther); Skype could not connect to the network.
  • Skype froze when selecting “Quit Skype”.
  • The typing indicator appeared within a Multi-chat even though no one was typing.
  • An incorrect informative message appeared when trying to call an emergency number.
  • Commas were not visible in mood messages.
  • A users name and password field appeared blank after selecting the option “Remember my name and password on this computer”.
  • An error message appeared when dragging and dropping a participant to an SMS group.
  • An error message appeared when closing the SMS window after sending to multiple recipients.
  • SMS functionality did not recognize newly updated telephone numbers associated to Skype Out contacts.
  • Ringing sound was not available on incoming calls.

Skype 2.8.0.659 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to install and run.