Developers plow through iOS 4.3 code, find evidence of A5 processor in upcoming iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple’s iOS 4.3 update hit yesterday and within hours, developers had found further evidence that Apple plans to use its dual-core A5 processor in the next-generation iPhone.

Per iClarified, developers have found references to the A5 processor in a kernel file for a device codenamed N94AP, widely assumed to be the iPhone 5, within the code for iOS 4.3 (full picture available here).

According to the report, the A5 chip is referred to as S5L8940 in the iOS 4.3 code and, as expected, is also listed as the processor for the Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA versions of the iPad 2.

Apple released iOS 4.3 on Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s iPad 2 launch and two days earlier than originally expected. The software update improves JavaScript performance in the mobile Safari web browser, features third-party support for AirPlay wireless streaming and adds the Personal Hotspot feature first introduced on the Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 in February.

Apple took the wraps off the new A5 processor last week when it unveiled the faster, thinner and lighter iPad 2. A recent rumor suggested that Apple has turned to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to produce the A5 chip, rather than staying with Samsung, its original partner for the A4 processor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you missed it yesterday, Apple released its latest version iOS on Wednesday, the long-awaited iOS 4.3 update becoming available through iTunes and introducing the following new fixes and features:

- Personal Hotspot – Share iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to 5 devices (combination of up to 3 Wi-Fi, 3 Bluetooth, and 1 USB).

- iTunes Home Sharing – Play music, movies and TV shows from a shared iTunes library on a Mac or PC (requires iTunes 10.2).

- New Airplay features – Play videos from the Photos app including the Camera Roll album, iTunes previews, enabled third-party appsand websites on Apple TV – Play slideshows from Photos on Apple TV using transitions available on Apple TV.

- Faster Safari performance with Apple Nitro JavaScript engine.

- HD video out using the Apple Digital AV Adapter – View 720p HD videos from Videos app, iPod app, Photos, YouTube, Safari, Keynote, and enabled third-party apps on an HDMI display
Ping features.

- Push notifications for comments and follow requests.

- Post and Like songs directly from the Now Playing screen.

- Parental controls.

- New Settings.

- Messages setting for number of times to repeat an alert.

- iPad side switch setting to lock screen rotation or mute audio notifications and sound effects.

- Single tap conference call dialing with a pause to send a passcode.

- Bug fixes.

Amongst the biggest inclusions are Home Sharing (the ability to stream audio and video from iTunes on a local network to the iOS device); AirPlay (the ability to stream audio and video from the iOS device to an Apple TV or computer) for third-party developers; and the ability to create a personal WiFi hotspot from an iPhone or iPad with 3G support.

Per Macworld UK, users may need a qualifying data plan from your carrier and any necessary hotspot or tethering options to enable the much-anticipated Personal Hotspot feature. Users with an unlocked iPhone can use the feature without restriction. However, we advise users of this feature to keep a close eye on data charges as some mobile phone companies are now restricting data usage.

A couple of minor features snuck into iOS 4.3. Users can now enable Push Notifications for Ping activity, and the iPod app’s Now Playing screen offers the options to post about songs and like them on your Ping profile. Also new is a preference to specify how many times an SMS alert is repeated, as well as a conference dialing option to add a pause for entering a passcode.

Missing from iOS 4.3, however, are the new multitouch gestures that Apple asked developers to test on the iPad during the beta period. Gestures like four- and five-finger swipes could switch between apps and reveal the multitasking bar, and a pinch could exit an app and return you to the Home Screen. With the second iOS 4.3 beta, however, Apple clarified that these features were only for testing and would not ship to consumers in the final version. Obviously, they could return in a future iOS update or upgrade, but Apple hasn’t stated any plans.

iOS 4.3 is available now as a free update in iTunes for the iPad, iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. As for the Verizon iPhone 4, it runs a custom version of iOS 4.2.6 that includes some features like hotspot support. Comments from an Apple representative at the iPad 2 event suggest that it might take a little while for Verizon’s iPhone 4 to converge with the same iOS version as Apple’s other mobile devices.

If you’ve snagged the iOS 4.3 update, please let us know how it’s working on your devices, for better or for worse.

Adobe releases Wallaby preview, looking into tool to bridge Flash, HTML5 formats

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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After years of the squabble between Adobe’s Flash format and Apple’s push towards HTML5, Adobe may be developing a product to bridge the two sides. Per Macworld UK, Adobe Systems has released a preview of its Wallaby technology, which enables developers to leverage Flash development skills to build HTML files that can run on systems without the need for the Flash Player, including Apple iOS devices.

Wallaby, which will be offered for free on the Adobe Labs website, helps developers convert a Flash file created in the Flash Professional development tool to HTML. Apple’s iOS, which does not support Flash Player, is the primary use case for Wallaby. Output can also run on WebKit-based browsers like Safari and Chrome, said Tom Barclay, senior product manager for the Adobe Creative Suite business.

“It is an experimental technology that provides a glimpse of innovation that we’re doing around Flash and HTML and showing the investment that we’re making in both technologies we think are important for the long term,” Barclay said. The output of Wallaby enables use of not just HTML but also SVG and CSS, which are related technologies.

Wallaby is an AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) application for the Windows and Mac platforms. Developers can convert files to HTML5 via drag-and-drop functionality, Adobe said. Once files have been converted, developers can edit using an HTML editing tool, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, or by hand.

Wallaby was previewed last fall at the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles. At this point, Adobe cannot indicate a product road map, as the company still is inviting user feedback.

Rumor: Apple to drop glass backing, return to aluminum backing for upcoming iPhone 5 handset

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Problems with scratching, paint mixtures and weight will lead Apple to abandon the glass back introduced in the iPhone 4, according to the Macotakara website. As a result, Apple will reportedly switch back to aluminium, the material used in the original iPhone, for the back of the unit.

The glass back is not the only design element from the iPhone 4 that will be abandoned, according to recent rumours. The problematic steel outer frame, which doubles up as the iPhone 4′s antenna, will also be scrapped after well-documented issues with reception problems suffered by the handset.

Instead, Apple will reportedly use a ‘logo antenna’ design with the antenna situated on the back of the device just under the logo.

The idea behind this is that the antenna could be placed in a special cavity where it would be isolated from other electronic components and therefore protected from anything that could potentially block radio-frequency signals. Per the report, the design will also use a special resin for the logo.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be announced in June at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC). It is expected to support both CDMA and GSM technologies and use an A5 processor, similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T confirms Personal Hotspot support for iOS 4.3, iPhone

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has confirmed that it will support the 3G/WiFi hotspot features that will come to the GSM iPhone 4 on March 11. Per ars technica, the company said that the pricing would remain the same as the current tethering model—AT&T customers must subscribe to the US$25 data plan that gives them 2GB per month, plus the extra US$20 tethering charge that gives them an extra 2GB. In all, that will make it US$45 per month for 4GB of data plus hotspot sharing when the feature arrives in iOS 4.3.

The iPhone’s hotspot feature first made its debut with the Verizon (CDMA) iPhone last month. Verizon iPhone users can currently pay US$30 per month for unlimited 3G data, and US$20 extra to use the hotspot feature with a 2GB cap. So, although the iPhone itself currently has no monthly data limit, those who decide to tether or share their 3G with other devices will have a lower hotspot data limit than AT&T’s comparable plan. And, if you use the hotspot sharing feature on your AT&T iPhone, it won’t pause your Internet connection when you receive a phone call.

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

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released the gold master build of its iOS 4.3, its forthcoming operating system update for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just over a week ahead of its scheduled March 11 release.

Per AppleInsider, the download is available to developers through Apple’s official iOS developer portal. People familiar with the software say it is known as build 8F190.

Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release, though two Golden Masters of iOS 4.2 were released after the first was found to have issues.

Apple announced the mobile operating system software update’s March 11 released date on Wednesday, and also showed off new, previously unannounced features. Among them is improved JavaScript performance, which is now said to be two times faster thanks to the Nitro engine taken from Mac OS X.

Improved iTunes Home Sharing will also allow users to access all of their content directly over Wi-Fi. And enhancements to AirPlay will allow applications and websites to stream over Wi-Fi to the Apple TV set top box. Sharing of photos over AirPlay can also use the built-in slide show options of iOS.

The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets users share their 3G data connection over Wi-Fi. Personal Hotspot will work with supporting carriers and monthly data plans on the iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also adds the ability to change the purpose of the hardware switch on the right side of the iPad and iPad 2. Users can choose to have the switch mute audio from the device, or have it serve as an orientation lock, as it originally did when the iPad first shipped last year.

The iOS 4.3 update is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. iTunes 10.2 has already been publicly released, adding compatibility with devices that are running iOS 4.3

If you’ve gotten your hands on the GM and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iOS 4.3 en route, will be delayed for CDMA iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The good news: iOS is on its way.

The bad news: You might have to wait for the CDMA version of it for your Verizon iPhone.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement of iOS 4.3′s on March 11 had Apple explicitly exclude CDMA iPhone 4 from the list of supported devices, indicating that a separate build will be provided afterward.

The new iOS 4.3 release will officially support the 2009 iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod touch, and iPad models. This leaves out the CDMA iPhone 4 as well as Apple TV (which is normally updated on its own, independent schedule).

The Verizon iPhone 4 was released using its own software build, labeled iOS 4.2.5. Other iOS devices remained at iOS 4.2.1, which was released in November. Apple subsequently updated Verizon iPhones to iOs 4.2.6 to fix a bug related to its new Personal Hotspot feature.

Apart from the brief exclusive of its Personal Hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware. Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model.

Apple hasn’t announced a date for the Verizon iPhone release version of iOS 4.3, but it is likely to follow shortly after the initial release for GSM iPhones because the new build packs a variety of features and improvements.

The general features provided to all iOS devices by iOS 4.3 include Personal Hotspot (WiFi tethering), which Verizon iPhone users already have. However, there are also a number of other significant new improvements Verizon iPhone users will want, including:
- Improved Safari JavaScript performance using the Nitro engine, which Apple says boosts JavaScript execution up to twice as fast. JavaScript powers much of the interactivity of modern web apps.

- Support for AirPlay video streaming by third party apps, as well as videos within the web browser or within the Photos app. Streamed photos also use slideshow transitions.

- The ability to locally stream (without downloading or syncing) any content from your iTunes library via Home Sharing: music, movies, TV, podcasts, or audiobooks.

New minor features in iOS 4.3
- A new Noteworthy font in Notes

- Fixes a slideshow stop after 15 image when using AirPlay

- The ability to cancel and delete an app that is downloading. It is currently only possible to delete an app that has been installed.

- A slightly redesigned keyboard; missing accented letters in European keyboard popups; increased font size for China and Pinyin inputs

- A new Parental Controls setting for the iTunes Ping social network

- A new menu for scrubbing in videos, with Fine Scrubbing by seconds/frames; Quarter Scrubbing by second; Half Speed Scrubbing by minute and Hi-Speed Scrubbing by minutes.

- A new Updates section in the App Store and new Accounts section in the Store menu.

- Location Services settings moves from General to Settings Menu, and both Location Services and Mail accounts ON/OFF button is changed to a lock symbol.

Some minor features (outside of Personal Hotspot) and bug fixes are also targeting just GSM iPhones:
- Baseband is updated to 05.16.00 (for iPhone 3GS), 04.10.01 (for GSM iPhone 4).

- Enabled Traffic Volume Indicator IE in CELL UPDATE; fixes issue with integrity protection failing after SRNS relocation and iPhone units deactivating and not activating after baseband logging is enabled.

- A control to set repeat of text tone (up to 10 times).

- Automatic refresh of information displayed in Field Test Mode (removing manual refresh).

- Slideshow options have moved to Photos app.

- New Contact photo user interface.

- Dual vibrate when receiving a text message.

A variety of minor changes and bug fixes are also addressed in iOS 4.3:
- Accessibility: Voice Over now reads the entire chart in stocks app while in landscape mode. Fixed issues that prevented controls from being dismissed, or that prevented the keyboard from returning when highlighting and swiping through search results.

- Calendar: deleting a recurring event now make the alarm go away; fixed an all-day alarm going off an hour early. Canceled recurring CalDAV calendar events now removed on the event list. Fixed Exchange calendar event duplicating when passing Israeli daylight savings time.

- Language: updates inconsistent translations in Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese; fixes auto-correction issue when switch back from Emoji to English keyboard.

- Mail: fixes orientation of Mail not following device orientation under specific conditions; fixes popover when drilling into a thread while the empty search field is focused; fixes mail message view and orientation when quickly selecting a message and hitting edit mode.

- Safari: addresses issue that caused browser to crash after loading certain websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon executive indicates that company will end unlimited iPhone data plans by summer

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Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: iPhone, News

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A Verizon executive hinted Tuesday that the carrier will cease offering unlimited data plans for the iPhone handset as early as the middle of this summer, while also fueling speculation that Apple will release an updated Verizon iPhone later this year.

Per Reuters, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Francis Shammo made the remarks at an investors conference. According to Shammo, the carrier will probably transition to tiered pricing data plans in the “mid-summer time frame.”

Shammo also told investors Tuesday that Verizon had kept the unlimited plan for the iPhone launch because it “didn’t want to put up a barrier” to consumers looking to try out the handset.

Rumors emerged in early January that Verizon planned to offer unlimited data to iPhone customers. Rival AT&T began limiting its data plans last year, but quietly began offering some of its iPhone customers unlimited data again in January in an effort to keep them from switching to Verizon.

After a leaked memo revealed that new iPhone 4 customers on Verizon would be offered just a US$30 unlimited data plan, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam went on record as saying the unlimited data plan would only be a temporary offer, with tiered pricing coming in “the not too distant future.”

The report noted that shares of Verizon fell 2.4% Tuesday after Shammo warned that a new iPhone could negatively affect profit margins. “There could be some (margin) lumpiness when you launch the phone,” he said. “If there happens to be a new one that comes out, that quarter might not look so good (either).”

According to one analyst, Shammo’s remarks serve as evidence that an updated CDMA iPhone would arrive later this year. “I would take that comment as a pretty strong signal there’s an iPhone refresh coming to Verizon in the third quarter,” said Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

Last week, Verizon CEO Dan Mead hinted that an LTE-capable iPhone from Apple is in the works. The executive also reassured investors by revealing that the iPhone 4 launch had been the largest in company history, contrary to reports that had suggested a more lackluster launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Patent granted for scratch-proof nitride coating on Apple devices

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 08:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

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The good news: Your Apple device might get a bit tougher.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has been granted ownership of an invention related to scratch-proof coatings on stainless steel devices, using a nitride layer to potentially make iPhones, iPads and Macs more durable.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week granted ownership of the invention “Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products” to Apple. Known as U.S. Patent No. 7896981, it describes a cost-effective system that uses a nitride coating to prevent scratches and blemishes on the metal surface of a mobile device.

Adding a layer of nitride atop a stainless steel exterior would protect a device from damage. But the choice of material would maintain the look and feel of stainless steel, as nitride allows the color of the metal to show through.

Nitride is not to be confused with titanium nitride, a ceramic material that is also used as a coating on metal. Unlike nitride, which is clear, titanium nitride has a metallic gold color that conceals the look of the metal beneath it.

Apple’s invention notes that stainless steel, while scratch-prone, is an ideal material to craft electronic devices. Stainless steel is preferable because it is not magnetic, and it is less likely to inhibit wireless technology like a cell phone signal, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The addition of nitride could give Apple the best of both worlds: the advantages of stainless steel would remain, while a nitride coating would address the chief concern of durability.

The invention also includes specifics on how the nitride coating would be applied to a device. It describes using a salt bath nitride process to coat stainless steel with an initial layer at least 15 to 30 microns thick and with a Vickers Hardness value of at least 1,000. Another method would use a nitrogen salt bath with an average temperature of no more than 580 degrees Celsius.

After the stainless steel sits in a superheated salt bath for between 45 and 90 minutes, the material would be removed and the nitride layer would be polished to remove no more than 10 percent, resulting in a smooth exterior.

Apple first filed for the invention in April of 2010. The invention is credited to Douglas Weber.

Analyst: Apple may be looking into offering lower-priced/prepaid iPhone option

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 05:33
Category: iPhone, News

A series of comments from Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook indicate that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich” have fueled speculation that the company is interested in offering a cheaper iPhone.

According to Forbes, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi met last week with Cook, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer, and Vice President of Online Services Eddy Cue. The analyst came away with the impression that Apple is “likely to develop lower priced offerings” in its handset business.

Cook also reportedly said that Apple is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market. He also said that Apple is “not ceding any market,” and the company doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich.”

Cook’s comments, and the analyst’s interpretations, come soon after two prominent publications claimed that Apple is working on a new, smaller, US$200 contract-free iPhone that it could sell directly to customers and bypass wireless carrier contracts. Both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal said that Apple’s alleged plans were in an effort to compete with Google’s growing Android mobile platform.

Going against the tide, The New York Times rebuffed those two reports only days later, and said that Apple is not developing a smaller handset. However, it was reported by the Times that Apple has explored opportunities to create a less expensive iPhone.

In his meeting with Sacconaghi, cook reportedly referred to the iPhone as “the mother of all halos,” as the handset has expanded sales of Apple’s other devices, particularly in emerging markets. Apple has long referred to sales of the iPod — and later iPhone — as having a “halo effect” that drives sales of Macs.

And one emerging market where Apple has found great success in a short period of time is China. Cook reportedly acknowledged that Apple has spent “huge energy” in China, and also noted that it is a “classic prepaid market,” which would be an ideal candidate for a cheaper iPhone.

The company is also said to be looking to expand its carrier partnerships. Oppenheimer said that Apple has 175 carrier partners, while rival Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, partners with 550 carriers.

Cook also said he believes the tablet market will eventually be bigger than the PC market, and that competition for tablets will be even more intense than with smartphones. He also hinted that the company has interesting new things in its product pipeline.

Finally, Oppenheimer also said that Apple’s current capital structure is not efficient. He said the company is likely to use its cash to secure supplies of key components, much like the recent secret US$3.9 billion deal Apple recently revealed it made with component suppliers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.