iOS alarm bug resolved under newer versions of iOS, Apple recommends updating if possible

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 12:06
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes Apple can pin things down from their end.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, a problem with iOS alarms breaking on January 1st or the 2nd appears to been solved by Apple, at least in part. In 2011 the glitch caused some iOS devices to stay silent despite alarms being toggled on in the Clock app. Most iOS 5 devices have been working normally in 2012.

Still vulnerable though are devices running iOS 4.2.1. The gap is important mainly because v4.2.1 is last version of iOS supported by the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod touch. Those devices will likely never have fully-functional alarms, since Apple has never retroactively updated iOS, unlike OS X.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know.

Verizon reverses decision regarding controversial $2 convenience fee

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 13:42
Category: iPhone, News

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Kvetch and sometimes things will change.

Verizon has issued a press release stating that the carrier has officially backed off of the “single payment fee” that drew almost universal ire amongst subscribers and nabbed the attention of the FCC.

Says Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, “we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.”

The company offered the following press release:

Verizon Wireless Will Not Institute Single Payment Fee

Verizon Wireless has decided it will not institute the fee for online or telephone single payments that was announced earlier this week.

The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions. The company continues to encourage customers to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides.

“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.

No word yet on whether the FCC plans to investigate Sprint’s similar long-standing fee.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent for iOS device facial recognition goes live

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 05:59
Category: iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

At least your iPad will remember who you are.

Per Free Patents Online, a recently published patent application shows how future iOS devices could use a forward-facing camera to recognize an individual user, whereupon the device could automatically customize applications, settings and features to a user’s personal preferences once they pick up the unit.

Entitled “Low Threshold Face Recognition,” the patent describes a low-computation solution for quickly and accurately recognizing a user.

The filing provides a simple way for multiple users to share a single device, like an iPad. Each user could customize their personal profile with unique wallpaper, applications and settings, and that profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user’s face.

Apple’s application notes that robust facial recognition systems that work in various lighting conditions and orientations can be taxing on an electronic device, requiring resources and draining battery life.

Its solution would reduce the impact of lighting conditions and biometric distortions on an image. The filing describes a “low-computation solution for reasonably effective (low threshold) face recognition that can be implemented on camera-equipped consumer portable appliances.”

Rather than aggressively analyzing a user’s entire face and using up time and resources, Apple’s concept would rely on a “high information portion” of a human face. Potential high information portions could include eyes, a mouth, or the tip of a user’s nose.

By recognizing the individual features on a user’s face, the system could scale the distance between someone’s eyes and their mouth. That distance could then be measured against the reference image originally captured by the user in order to confirm it is in fact the same person.

Apple’s application notes that its facial recognition capabilities could be constantly active due to lower power consumption. This means a user could simply point an iPhone or iPad at their face, without pressing a button, and have the screen automatically turn on and unlock the device.

This could be accomplished through an “orange-distance filter,” which would capture the “likely presence” of a human face in front of a camera. This filter would also be used to detect a person’s skin tone, and measure the distance of their face from the camera.

Once a user has been recognized, the facial recognition technology could not only grant them access to the device, but also customize its settings based on a unique user profile. Each user would be presented with a personalized configuration, as an iPhone or iPad would be able to “modify screen saver slide shows or other appliance non-security preferences,” the application reads.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in June of 2009. It is credited to Robert Mikio Free.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to tack on $2/month fee for users not using autopay system

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News

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You may not like this.

Per Droid Life, a leaked memo shows that Verizon Wireless will soon be charging customers US$2 for every month they aren’t using the company’s autopay/autodraft system. The leaked memo details what has to be done with the policy change since the carrier boosted its early termination fee for “advanced devices.”

Effective January 15th, any customer that opts to pay their wireless bill online or over the phone will be charged an extra US$2 each month, and the only way to sidestep it is to sign up for AutoPay or to pay by electronic check, where there’s no credit card fee passed on to the carrier.

For those unaware, AutoPay automatically drafts the most recent amount from either a linked checking / savings account or a credit card on file.

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

Argentina enacts ban on iPhone, BlackBerry imports as part of effort to boost local production

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

If you were planning on hitting up Argentina any time soon, snagging an iPhone there just got that much harder.

In an attempt to rectify issues with Argentina’s economy, the South American country placed a temporary ban on imports of foreign-made electronics. Two of the most well-known of those electronics are the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Apple and RIM collectively account for 60 percent of Argentina’s smartphone market, so the ban is going to have a substantial impact on its mobile industry.

According to Electronista, Neither of the operating systems nor the hardware manufacturers were affected because they — Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. — have manufacturing facilities within Argentina. Android and Windows Phone will very quickly see a boost in sales, while iPhone and BlackBerry sales will drop to zero, unless of course Apple and RIM open up local plants or partner with other manufacturers.

In all actuality, the iPhone and BlackBerry markets have been struggling in Argentina for a while. A law was already in place that added a 20.48 percent tax on electronic imports on top of the standard 21 percent sales tax.

The government of Argentina says they will lift the ban on iPhones and BlackBerrys when the economy shows significant signs of stabilization, but there’s no telling just when that will happen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Spire hack allows Siri to operate on jailbroken iPhones, requires proxy server

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 27th, 2011, 10:38
Category: Hack, iPhone

One day, Siri will run on everything (the toaster included).

Per The Mac Observer, pre-iPhone 4S owners that like to jailbreak can add Siri to their combo smartphone and iPod thanks to a new tool called Spire from chpwn. The hack apparently works around copyright concerns by letting users install the Siri files from Apple’s own servers instead of copying them from an iPhone 4S.

While Spire may side step some copyright issues, it doesn’t necessarily make it easy to keep Siri running on your jailbroken iPhone.

“Spire is not a complete solution. Apple still requires authorization to use Siri, so information from an iPhone 4S is still required,” chpwn said on his blog. “To insert this information, Spire allows you to enter your own proxy server address.”

The trick to keeping Siri running on a jailbroken iPhone is to set up a proxy server, and then to connect an iPhone 4S to it on a regular basis since the needed authentication keys change often.

Spire isn’t a perfect solution for hackers wanting to try Siri on an older iPhone, but it tends to be easier than previous methods. For now, however, this looks like an option for more tech savvy iPhone owners.

Spire is available as a free download through the Cydia app only on jailbroken iPhones.

If you’ve tried the Spire hack and have any feedback about the process or its results, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

iPhone 4S to arrive in mainland China come January

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 27th, 2011, 10:52
Category: iPhone, News

The iPhone 4S is en route to the easy…just wait about a month.

Per Chinese web site People’s Daily, Apple has met all of the requirements for the iPhone 4S to launch in mainland China, and the handset will reportedly debut before the Chinese New Year in late January.

The web site reported this week that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology granted China Compulsory Certification for the iPhone 4S on Dec. 22. That means Apple has met all of the requirements necessary to launch its latest smartphone in mainland China.

The report said the handset will debut “at the beginning of January 2012,” and will hit the market before the Chinese New Year. That takes place on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.

Filings with the Chinese government show a WCDMA phone manufactured by Apple was granted approval. Though it does not specifically reveal that the device is the iPhone 4S, it is listed as model number A1431, which is the same number Apple used to obtain a network entry permit for the iPhone 4S.

The approval process and anticipated release of the iPhone 4S has dragged out in China as Apple has quickly launched its latest smartphone in other major markets around the world. It’s been the fastest rollout ever for a new iPhone model.

The iPhone 4S did debut in Hong Kong in the first week of November, and sold out within minutes. Some regional branches of China Unicom in mainland China have been taking advance bookings for the iPhone 4S for weeks in anticipation of the device’s launch as it goes through China’s approval process.

One of the major selling points of the iPhone 4S is Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant application. Rumors have suggested that Siri will gain support for Mandarin, the most popular form of the Chinese language, by March of 2012.

If you have two cents to hurl in on this, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

LogMeIn iOS app now available for free on App Store

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 23rd, 2011, 07:16
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

You can’t keep a good remote app down.

Per MacNN, LogMeIn Ignition, a US$30 iOS app that allowed users to fully access and control unlimited numbers of Macs and Windows machines from their mobile device, has effectively been superceded by a new, free app simply called LogMeIn from the same company. However, Ignition users will now be automatically upgraded to the feature set of LogMeIn Pro, as well as enjoying a new HD streaming audio and video feature that is set to debut in early 2012.

The two programs allow remote access and full use of available Macs and PCs over Wi-Fi or 3G over an encrypted (AES 256-bit) connection, running applications and viewing documents just as though they were sitting in front of the target machines. Current LogMeIn Ignition customers will receive an upgraded version with the same name that now offers all the features of LogMeIn Pro, including support for Wake-On-LAN and AirPrint printing, My Cloud Bank cloud storage integration to allow moving files between iOS devices (also works with third-party cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Docs), and HD remote control and streaming video and audio to the iOS device from Windows machines (streaming from Mac machines will arrive early next year).

The price for LogMeIn Ignition has been raised from US$30 to US$100 in accordance with its increased abilities, though existing users will be upgraded without charge. LogMeIn Pro is also available as a US$40 per year in-app purchase from within LogMeIn. Users can make their Mac or Windows machines available by simply installing LogMeIn Free on their target computers. LogMeIn Ignition users (new and existing) will get the same features as the subscription upgrade, but without the subscription.

LogMeIn requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Voice updated, includes full Sprint network integration

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 21st, 2011, 12:49
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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This could be useful

Per Electronista, Google on Wednesday quietly rolled an update to its Google Voice app for iOS with a major help to Sprint users. The app now lets iPhone owners on Sprint take full advantage of Google Voice integration on the network. All Google Voice calls on Sprint now get relayed to the native phone component and make it even more a part of Google’s service.

The app catches up to the Android version on any US carrier through support for multi-recipient text messaging that now auto-completes contacts. Messaging now gets a long-expected multi-line text field that tracks characters to avoid splitting messages. Dialing gets another boost through support for single-tap copying and pasting.

The app requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

AT&T ends T-Mobile acquisition effort

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 20th, 2011, 06:32
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes you’ve just gotta throw in the towel.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has given up its efforts to buy carrier T-Mobile, citing opposition from federal regulators.

A statement by AT&T says the company will take a pretax charge of US$4 billion that was stipulated in the agreement between the two carriers if the deal were dropped before being finalized.

In addition to the payoff, T-Mobile patent company Deutsche Telekom is also entering into what AT&T described as “mutually beneficial” roaming agreements with its attempted buyer.

“The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry,” AT&T stated. “It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately. The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage. In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.”

The merger was opposed throughout the year by the US FCC and the DOJ, both of whom cited limited competition and job layoffs as reasons for opposing the deal.

AT&T’s chairman and chief executive Randall Stephenson wrote that “to meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest. However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things.

“First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC. Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation’s longer-term spectrum needs.”

It is not known if the new roaming agreement between T-Mobile and AT&T would enable Apple to sell its existing iPhone models to T-Mobile, or if it would still need to develop a unique version of the iPhone to sell on the carrier, which uses a different AWS band for 3G service than the rest of the GSM/UMTS world.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.