AT&T, Verizon Drop Calling Plan Rates, Unlimited iPhone Plan Reduced by $30 Per Month

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Date: Monday, January 18th, 2010, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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The pot shots between wireless carriers Veizon and AT&T continue with Verizon Wireless on Friday cutting the prices of its unlimited talk and text plans and AT&T immediately following suit. The end result benefits iPhone customers, who can now opt for an unlimited voice and data plan that costs US$30 less per month.

Per Macworld, iPhone users paid US$100 per month for unlimited voice plan plus another US$30 for unlimited data. Starting Monday, however, AT&T is charging US$100 a month for unlimited voice and data. Family Talk plans feature unlimited voice and data for US$180 (assuming two iPhones). Texting prices remain unchanged, at US$20 for unlimited plans and US$30 for Family Talk Plans.

An AT&T spokesman stated that the pricing changes only affect unlimited voice and data plans. Full details as to the new pricing structures can be found here for reference.

For users looking to move over to the new plan, they can make the move starting today without penalty or contract extension using AT&T’s online account management tool.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to Go Into Production Earlier, Feature Magic Mouse-Like Casing

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Date: Friday, January 15th, 2010, 07:26
Category: News

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If it wasn’t for rumors, things would be factually accurate.

And sort of boring.

Per Bloomberg News, Apple will introduce a new iPhone in 2010 that will employ a touch-sensitive plastic back casing similar to the one used on the company’s new Magic Mouse, one analyst has said.

In a recent interview, Robert Chen with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the new iPhone will go into production as early as April, and will be available to customers in June or July. Chen said the plastic back panel of the phone could have a touch-sensitive solid shell, much like on the Magic Mouse.

The new hardware could also include an updated version of the iPhone operating system, Chen said.

“Apple’s going to put a lot of innovation, not just on the hardware, but also on the software of the new iPhone,” he told Bloomberg.

Chen’s predictions are more in line with conventional thinking than a report from earlier this week, in which executives at a South Korean wireless provider claimed a fourth-generation iPhone could see a limited debut in April with a dual-core processor and potentially a removable battery.

Contrary to that rumor, Apple typically announces new iPhone hardware at its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference. It is believed Apple could hold that event starting June 28, coinciding with Chen’s claims of a June or July debut for the new iPhone.

The Magic Mouse, which was introduced in October, lacks any physical buttons on its solid acrylic surface. It allows multi-touch controls that are closer to that of a MacBook trackpad, allowing secondary clicks and finger-based gestures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes out of the scheduled Yerba Buena media event on January 27th.

Apple Now Holds 7.4% of U.S. Market Share in Recent IDC Report

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2010, 06:28
Category: News

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In spite of a lagging economy, Apple was able to keep its domestic market share above 7% in a 31% year-over-year comparison to 1.5 million units sold.

Per AppleInsider, Apple outpaced the rest of the U.S. PC market, which also grew an impressive 24% in year-over-year during the fourth quarter (the three-month period ending December), according to preliminary data released Wednesday by market research firm IDC. Apple’s sales were enough to keep its placement as the fifth-largest domestic PC maker, behind HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba, respectively.

In total, Apple sold an estimated 5.6 million computers in the U.S. in during the 2009 calendar year, good for an overall 8% share. This was up slightly from the 5.2 million units and 7.9% share the company held in 2008, representing 8.2% year-over-year growth. Apple was the fourth-largest U.S. PC maker in all of 2009.

While Apple is growing, sales data shows that its slice of the market is not. That can be attributed to the booming market for low-end netbooks, which sell for a few hundred dollars and earn manufacturers razor-thin profit margins. By comparison, Apple’s believed to retain some of the highest margins in the industry, often hovering above 30%.

“Low-cost notebooks and mini-notebooks were the biggest contributors to the successful fourth quarter,” said David Daoud, research manager with IDC’s U.S. Quarterly PC tracker.

Overall PC growth during the fourth quarter was bolstered by the launch of Windows 7, which pushed the industry to a record quarter of 20.7 million units for the three-month period. IDC said that consumer confidence was a key factor in these advances, though business spending has lagged behind and is likely to take some more time to take hold.

“The U.S. market exploded in the 4th quarter driven by a series of factors contributing to the unexpected 24% year-on-year growth,” Daoud said. “First is the rubber-band effect and recovery from the year-ago quarter, which suffered from buyer contraction when the economic crisis was confirmed. Then vendors responded with new low price points to stimulate demand and face competition.”

Global sales were also strong, with the market seeing a 15.8% yearly gain. Overall, the fourth quarter of 2009 represented the first double-digit growth in PC shipments since the third quarter of 2008, IDC said.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to Include OLED Screen, Dual Core Processor, Other New Features

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Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, 06:27
Category: News

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What’s life without rumors?

Aside from, you know, accurate and filled with information that’s been solidly confirmed by sources and publications.

Per the Korea Times, high-ranking executives at wireless carrier KT, Apple’s exclusive carrier in South Korea, have commented that the next-generation iPhone will include an OLED screen, support video chat and – perhaps most surprisingly – have a removable battery.

The unit will reportedly feature a dual-core processor, more powerful graphics and an improved camera. The officials say that KT’s corporate clients will get the new phones in April as a “litmus test” before they’re provided to local distributors in June.

International availability isn’t specified in the report, but an upgraded iPhone in June would fall in line with Apple’s history.

Following the feature-by-feature breakdown, an OLED screens seems likely. This feature was rumored for the iPhone 3GS and never came to fruition. Competitor Google’s Nexus One handset has just arrived with an OLED screen, thereby perhaps pushing Apple to include one as well.

The removable battery on the other hand seems less likely, as Apple has a history of non-removable batteries in its iPhone and current notebook lineups. Last February, The Register dug up a few battery-related Apple patents, one of which describes a method for removing batteries from mobile devices and charging them in a host computer, so Apple might have a trick up its sleeve.

Video chat could arrive in the next iPhone, but prove to be a double edged sword, as wireless carrier AT&T might express concern about potential bandwidth use. This feature would also require a front-facing camera, which could be valuable even without video conferencing.

Korea Times says the 4G iPhone is being pushed out early to quell rising interest in Android phones, though this has yet to be confirmed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Adobe Releases Acrobat, Acrobate Reader 9.3 Updates

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Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News

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Last Friday, Adobe released version 9.3 of Acrobat and Acrobat Reader, the company’s Portable Document Format reader and creation utility.

Adobe Systems has updated Acrobat and Reader to version 9.3. Both updates are available through the Adobe Updater application or for download through Adobe’s Web site.

The new versions address a number of customer workflow issues, security vulnerabilities, and offer additional stability.

Both Adobe Reader 9.3 and Adobe Acrobat 9.3 require Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run. Adobe Reader 9.3 is available for free while Adobe Acrobat 9.3 retails for US$299.

USB 3.0 Demoed at CES, Initial Peripherals en Route

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Date: Monday, January 11th, 2010, 06:50
Category: News

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Over at CES, Jeff Ravencroft, the president of the USB Implementers Forum discussed the arrival of USB 3.0 and gave a brief demonstration of transfer speeds on a Hewlett-Packard.

The demo proved one thing: USB 3.0 is much faster than the current USB 2.0 protocol, a nearby display showing the one minute four second time necessary to move a 2.1 GB file from a notebook to an external hard drive under USB 3.0 as opposed to two minutes and seven seconds under USB 2.0.

Per CNET, the USB 3.0 standard is more power efficient than USB 2.0 “This uses one-third of the power it would take on USB 2.0,” said Ravencraft, in an interview at CES. “And it’s backward compatible,” he said, meaning it can also handle peripherals that use older USB standards.

On the peripherals friend, hard drive maker Western Digital has announced a new WD My Book based on the USB 3.0 specification with an adapter card, which will make an existing desktop PC USB 3.0-compatible.

Also, cards that go into a laptop’s ExpressCard slot are available, Ravencraft said. This allows an existing laptop to be upgraded to 3.0.

No official word has been made available as to when USB 3.0 ports and peripherals will arrive on Apple’s products.

Greenpeace Cites Cleaner, Greener Apple in Recent Report, Still Points Out Company’s Flaws

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Date: Friday, January 8th, 2010, 07:27
Category: News

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The relationship between Apple and environmental group Greenpeace hasn’t exactly been the most charmed in recent years. Greenpeace’s actions have included creating a mock Apple website, had fig-leaf clad representatives visit the first Apple Store in continental Europe, and “greened” the flagship Apple Store in San Francisco. Radical representatives of the group had been ejected from MacExpo London in 2006 for being disruptive, and Greenpeace had assigned Apple low scores in a 2006 e-waste report.

Per Jim “The Beard” Dalrymple over at LoopInsight, Apple was recently ranked #1 in the top 18 consumer electronics company in terms of reduction or elimination of hazardous chemicals in the manufacture of its products. Making amends, Apple was squeaky-clean across its product line, including desktop and laptop computers, phones, and monitors:

However, Greenpeace is still criticizing Apple to a certain degree. Overall, Apple was in the middle of the pack of companies in terms of overall “greenness.” The organization cited Apple for reducing the number of web pages dedicated to information about its supply chain and future plans for toxic chemical phase-outs.

Apple Updates Knowledge Base Articles to Address iPhone, iDisk Issues

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Date: Friday, January 8th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News

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A recent set of Apple Knowledge Base updates include some useful tips for iPhone and iDisk users alike. The tips, per CNET, focus on users who are managing their SIM cards, connecting to data networks, and managing applications purchased from the App store. Apple also has a tip for iDisk users trying to share large numbers of files.

Without further ado, here we go:

Troubleshooting applications purchased from the App store:
iPhone applications may sometimes either not open, or you may have problems synchronizing them to your iPhone. In these cases there are several things you can try, including reauthorizing iTunes and reinstalling the iPhone application.

Removing SIM card prior to iPhone repair:
Apple has a SIM eject tool for the iPhone, but a standard paper-clip or similar device can also be used. This article covers how to eject the SIM.

iPhone: Troubleshooting Tesco connectivity issues:
UK users have the option of using a Tesco SIM card, and Apple’s suggestion is to review their support documentation for troubleshooting problems.

iPhone: Error message when trying to use a custom Access Point Name (APN):
This article covers an issue where long access point usernames and passwords may prevent the iPhone from connecting, resulting in a “PDP authentication failure” message.

iPod touch: Appears in iTunes but not in Finder or Windows Explorer:
This is standard behavior, because by default “Disk Mode” is not enabled for the iPod. If the iPod cannot be recognized in iTunes at all, see this Apple KB article: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2050

iPod shuffle (3rd generation): Enabling and updating VoiceOver:
This article shows you how to enable voiceover on the latest iPod shuffle, which needs to be done through iTunes. Apple also has provided updates to voiceover, and covers how to install them from here.

iDisk: Sharing more than 500 files with the iDisk web app does not work:
Apple’s iDisk web sharing does not support more than 500 items. If you have more than this you will need to reduce the number, otherwise the number of files you have available will be truncated. The article includes tips on how to better manage large numbers of files so they can be accessed.

It’s not the be all and end all, but it can be useful stuff when you need it.

Analyst Claims That Apple Tablet Will Feature Verizon 3G Support

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Date: Thursday, January 7th, 2010, 07:16
Category: News

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Apple’s long-awaited tablet device will reportedly incorporate access to Verizon’s 3G network to connect to the Internet if a WiFi network is unavailable according to Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall in a recent ComputerWorld article. The analyst went on to state that the “tablet will have both WiFi and wireless connectivity and will be available at multiple wireless carriers, including Verizon.”

His assessment is based in part to unnamed sources familiar with the device.

Marshall then went on to concur with recent reports that content will be key for Apple, and the device will be an Ebook reader, a TV viewer, “and more.”

If Apple offers the device through multiple carriers for 3G data, it would be a departure from the strategy the company has heretofore employed for the iPhone, which is limited to one carrier in most markets around the globe. A partnership with Verizon would lend significant credence to reports that Apple and Verizon were in negotiations for an iPhone deal, with the tablet subbing out for the iPhone.

Until then, we’ve got 20 more days until the January 27th media event where the tablet will hopefully be introduced. And if you can’t wait that long, we’ll just pull the car over at the next rest stop so you can get yourself together.

Notebook Users Report Battery Errors Under Snow Leopard, Workarounds/Fixes Suggested

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Date: Thursday, January 7th, 2010, 06:43
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Since installing it, I have to admit that I like Snow Leopard and it has yet to kick my pets or burn my apartment to the very ground.

These are good things.

Even so, per CNET, a large number of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have noticed a problem with the computer frequently displaying a “Service Battery” warning in the battery system menu. This also seems to be coupled with relatively short battery life, either with the battery discharging rapidly or with the computer going to sleep but still reporting high percentage of charge left in the battery. As of the Mac OS 10.6.2 update, affected users are still experiencing the problem.

This problem appears to be an issue with Snow Leopard’s handling of the battery hardware, where the services that are supposed to detect battery problems are incorrectly reporting the battery status, and subsequently triggering the system to go into a precautionary sleep mode or claiming the battery is draining. This theory is backed up by the fact that affected people who have downgraded back to Leopard either by reinstalling, restoring from backup, or even booting off the 10.5 Leopard DVD have not had the problem occur on the same hardware.

A recent TUAW article suggests this behavior stems from Snow Leopard being fine-tuned to reveal existing battery problems that Leopard was not aware of. While this may be the case for some people, the sheer number of people reporting the problem indicates there may be errors in the software. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to discern those with pre-existing battery problems from those with healthy batteries.

In order to address the issue, the article offers the following tips to help sort things out via the mighty Apple Knowledge Base:

- Calibrating the battery

- Resetting the PRAM

- Resetting the SMC

Strangely, the battery issues have cleared for a few users who have just shut down and restarted their systems on a regular basis. While keeping the power supply plugged in to prevent any issued with the battery, they’ve turned off the machine and rebooted to see the battery being normally recognized. This suggests the problem may be with a setting more than a specific bug, that hopefully can be reset by a full restart. MacBook owners may tend to sleep their systems instead of restarting them, which will keep various settings from being refreshed.

Further supporting the claim of software issues in Snow Leopard is that some users have cleared the problem by booting into 64-bit mode. If you do not have any software that requires a 32-bit kernel and system extensions, try booting into 64-bit mode by restarting and holding down the “6″ and “4″ keys simultaneously. For some the problem has returned when booted back into 32-bit mode, but for others the switch to 64-bit mode has fixed it even when booted into 32-bit mode.

Another suggestion to address this problem is to remove the power management system preferences, which contains parameters that determine how the system will behave when running on either AC power, battery, or a UPS. This file is called “com.apple.PowerManagement.plist” and is located in the /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ folder, and can be removed without harming anything. This isn’t a fix, however, and those who have done this have found it only seems to temporarily remove the warning in the battery system menu, and does not address the underlying issue.

Lastly, the issue may lie with the upgrade process itself, where settings for Leopard are not working with Snow Leopard. The temporary successes with removal of the Power Management property list suggests this may be a possibility. As a result, try booting off a clean OS installation of Snow Leopard to test the hardware.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end of have found a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.