AT&T Exec Defends Company Decision to Remain with 3G Until Next Year

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Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010, 04:47
Category: iPhone, News

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In a conference call hosted by the GSM Association Thursday, Kris Rinne, AT&T senior vice president of architecture and planning, said the company is content to sit back and wait until 2011 to start offering LTE. The reason, she said, is because the carrier wants to wait until there are more LTE-capable devices on the market. LTE is the GSM-based wireless data standard that has been adopted by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as their choice for 4G wireless technology.

Per Macworld, Rinne also said that AT&T’s 3G network, which the carrier has been aggressively upgrading over the past year, would be strong enough to handle data demand until it was ready to roll out 4G next year.

“Our underlying GSM and HSPA networks will be able to upgrade their capabilities… while laying the groundwork for LTE,” she said. “By improving our current HSPA capabilities, we can add more devices to our 3G portfolio while also growing our LTE portfolio.”

Over the past year AT&T has been upgrading its 3G network to the HSPA 7.2 protocol which the company expects will cover 90% of the 3G network by the end of 2011. HSPA 7.2 is a variation of the GSM-based HSPA technology that has a peak speed of 7.2Mbps, although AT&T cautions that most users are unlikely to see data rates approaching theoretical peak speeds.

Rinne said that users can initially expect that AT&T LTE services will deliver the same applications that AT&T 3G customers currently enjoy and that the applications delivered over 4G will be faster and more reliable. In particular users would see significant differences for enhanced video and mobile gaming systems, as well as eventually voice services.

Both the GSMA and several mobile carriers are working on finalizing a voice standard for LTE that can be used in mobile devices released next year. Earlier this year, the GSMA decided to adopt a profile for voice-over-LTE in an effort to avoid fragmentation of LTE voice standards before the technology becomes more widely deployed. The association said that it embraced the VoLTE Initiative’s IMS-based approach since IMS “supports all voice call service features such as call waiting, call hold and call barring.”

Recent Apple Patent Filing Discusses Walkie-Talkie Features for iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 18th, 2010, 04:10
Category: iPhone, Patents

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Apple has been looking into a new feature that could allow iPhone users to transmit data such as simple text messages to each other over voice channels, forgoing a reliance wireless carriers’ backend servers, in a manner similar to Nextel’s classic walkie-talkie feature.

According to AppleInsider, the concept is detailed in a company patent filing made this past November. As Apple explains, conventional text messaging systems require the use of what is referred to as a backend server that may be limited in the amount of information that can be handled at a particular time and is therefore capacity limited.

Furthermore, the company notes that reading of text messages can be troublesome due to in part to the small size of the typical display screen on a handheld device, especially in situations where the recipient is impaired or preoccupied with another task, such as driving.

“With the rapid deployment, proliferation, and technical advancement of mobile personal communication devices, such as cell phones, a user of these devices is presented with any number of ways to communicate with another user,” Apple wrote in the filing.

“For example, a user can send type a text message using, for example, Short Message Service-Point to Point (SMS-PP) protocol as defined in GSM recommendation 03.40 where messages are sent via a store-and forward mechanism to a Short Message Service Center (SMSC), which will attempt to send the message to the recipient and possibly retry if the user is not reachable at a given moment. Therefore, SMS-PP requires the use of a backend server to provide the necessary support for transmission of data between sender and receiver.”

As such, the iPhone maker calls for a new mechanism whereby data is passed between a sender and receiver unit by way of voice channel only, bypassing use of the data channel used in conventional arrangements.

“In this way, a sender can select that data which he/she desires to send to a receiver unit using by first converting the data into an appropriate vocal/voice format which is then forwarded to a receiver unit by way of the voice channel,” Apple said. “Once received at the receiver unit, the vocalized data can be converted to an audio signal, which is then output by way of an audio output device (such as a speaker, earphone, etc.).”

The filing suggests that a sender would be able to vocalize any textual data on their display screen (such as a phone number) in order to pass it by way of a voice channel to another iPhone or any number of other iPhones or compatible personal communication devices. Once received by the recipient, processing of the vocalized data would be performed based upon a prompted user request or based upon a pre-selected protocol.

“For example, once received [by an iPhone], the vocalized phone number can be passed to an audio output device that (in the case of a speaker) generates an audible rendition of the vocalized phone number,” Apple wrote. “In another case, the vocalized phone number is forwarded to a voice mail server where the receiver records the vocalized phone number as a voice mail message for subsequent playback.”

In the latter case, Apple notes that the user can pre-select the option that forces the generated audio message to stored in the receiver’s voice mail server. Alternatively, the company said additional processing can be performed whereby any vocalized multimedia data received is automatically converted back to text and displayed and/or converted to an audible message.

The filing, made November 23, 2009 is credited to iPod grandfather and former Apple vice president Anthony Fadell.

Twitter Leak Shows Apple Adding Scheduling Options for Developers in App Store

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Date: Thursday, March 18th, 2010, 04:39
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to admit, Twitter leaks make life interesting.

On Wednesday, developer Amro Mousa from Return7 posted to his Twitter account that Apple has now added the ability for developers to schedule a sale window for their iPhone applications, allowing them to temporarily schedule a different price. According to Macworld UK, this new feature has been independently confirmed.

App Store developers can and already do offer discounts on their apps for specific periods of time, but the process of doing so had been entirely manual to date. With the addition of advance scheduling, it’ll be easier for developers to plan their sale periods and spread the word accordingly. This can also help eliminate the chances of human error resulting in sale windows starting and ending sooner or later than planned.

This isn’t the biggest change in the world for the App Store, but it might make things a little friendlier for the developers who contribute to it.

Apple Releases iPhone OS SDK 3.2 Beta 5 for the iPad

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Date: Thursday, March 18th, 2010, 04:24
Category: iPad, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released beta 5 of its iPhone OS 3.2 SDK for the iPad via the iPhone Dev Center. According to MacNN, the release comes on the heels just over a week since the launch of beta 4 of the SDK and shows Apple accelerating its efforts prior to the iPad’s April 3rd release.

Specific changes in beta 5 are still unknown, but the company is generally understood to be focusing on bug fixes over new features. Some of the earliest betas made mention of camera-related features, but these have mostly been pruned out from beta 4 onwards, in part because the current iPad lacks any cameras. Despite allusions to multitasking, it isn’t expected until at least iPhone OS 4.0, if not later.

iPhone OS 3.2 primarily enables the UI elements needed for the iPad but also adds features that are likely to spill into the iPhone and iPod touch, such as background images that persist on the home screen and four-way screen rotation that also extends to the home screen’s icons.

If you’ve downloaded the new beta and have any feedback about it, let us know in the comments.

Apple Releases Updated Samsung, Brother Printer Drivers for Snow Leopard

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Date: Wednesday, March 17th, 2010, 03:29
Category: Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its Samsung Printer Drivers 2.1 and Brother Printer Drivers 2.3 package for Mac OS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard). The Samsung Printer Drivers 2.1 package, a 23.2 megabyte download, offers support for assorted Samsung printers that have shipped since Mac OS X 10.6′s introduction.

The Brother Printer Drivers 2.3 package, a 100 megabyte download, includes the latest printer drivers and scanning software for Brother’s units.

Both packages can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.6 to install and run.

Apple Consuming Lion’s Share of NAND Memory, Hesitant to Negotiate with Suppliers This Quarter

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Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, 09:53
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

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Even as time goes by, tech parts don’t always get cheaper.

Per DigiTimes, Apple, which already consumes the lion’s share of the global NAND flash memory supply, is apparently reluctant to negotiate with suppliers in 2010 due to high prices.

Although the demand for NAND memory in devices such as memory cards and flash drives has been soft, this hasn’t significantly pushed down chip prices. Major chip suppliers like Samsung have given priority to profitable partnerships over shipment volume, which doesn’t work to the advantage of major buyers like Apple.

In addition to the lower demand, the situation has become even more volatile given that tight foundry capacity is expected to disrupt shipments and have an effect on NAND flash pricing, industry sources reportedly said.

“Some NAND flash controller suppliers,” the report said, “have indicated that their supply may not be able to satisfy customer demand in the second quarter if their foundry partners continue to see tight capacity, the sources said. This supply disruption is likely to impact NAND flash prices for the quarter.”

Industry sources expect the situation to improve in the second quarter of 2010, when they believe Apple may start negotiating long-term supply contracts for NAND flash. The report noted that Apple’s consumption of flash memory will “continue to play a significant role” in the industry this year.

Earlier this month, a rumor came out that the possible success of Apple’s iPad could increase prices of solid state drives. Apple consumes nearly one-third of total NAND flash memory supplies, and its share is expected to grow even more with the launch of the iPad on April 3.

Apple was noted multiple times in 2009 as causing a flash memory shortage due to its iPod and iPhone products consuming the largest share of NAND flash. Industry sources expect the price of NAND flash to continue to rise in 2010.

In addition to most of the iPod lineup and the iPhone, in early 2008, Apple embraced the solid state drive by offering it as an option in its MacBook Air notebook.

Apple Aperture SlideShow Support Update 1.1 Released

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Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, 03:53
Category: Software

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On Monday, Apple released its Aperture SlideShow Support Update 1.1 patch, a 3.3 megabyte download which addresses an issue affecting the playback of HD video clips used in Aperture 3 slideshows on Mac OS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard). Audio and video tracks now remain properly synced in video clips that have been trimmed.

The update can be directly downloaded or located and snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

The Aperture SlideShow Support Update 1.1 file requires Mac OS X 10.5 and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve tried the fix and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know.

Full iPhone Third-Party App Multitasking References Located in Latest SDK Build

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Date: Friday, March 12th, 2010, 06:41
Category: iPhone, Software

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Although rumors that Apple will include a third-party multitasking capability in the iPhone are as old as the hills themselves, a reference has emerged regarding a “multitasking dialog box” buried in the new iPhone OS SDK 3.2 beta 4 that apparently didn’t exist in iPhone OS 3.1.3.

Per 9 to 5 Mac, this could be the very first by-product of a new multitasking system for developers that’s being developed for the platform, presumably destined for an appearance in OS 4.0 when it’s introduced along with new hardware this summer. Still, it’s just as likely that Apple will continue to keep the iPhone’s multitasking capability to itself, a function it uses liberally among the phone and music apps, just to name a couple.

AppleInsider is currently citing a tipster claiming that Apple’s got a “full-on solution” to multitasking that would properly address its main concern (battery life issues) for release this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Releases Safari 4.0.5 Update

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Date: Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 16:34
Category: Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple Safari 4.0.5, the latest version of the company’s web browser.

The new version, which which can be downloaded here, includes the following fixes and features:

- Performance improvements for Top Sites.
- Stability improvements for 3rd-party plug-ins.
- Stability improvements for websites with online forms and Scalable Vector Graphics.
- Fixes an issue that prevented Safari from changing settings on some Linksys routers.

The update can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later to install and run.

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

EFF Publishes Full Apple iPhone Developer Agreement, Blasts Apple Over Key Points

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Date: Wednesday, March 10th, 2010, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation both posted a recent version of Apple’s confidential license agreement to which all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch developers must agree as well as took a critical stance against the document.

Per AppleInsider, the foundation came to the conclusion that by controlling the App Store and preventing rival competition by blocking competing options, Apple’s “future of computing” is headed towards an era that could stifle innovation. It suggested the Cupertino, Calif., company’s actions have been that of a “jealous and arbitrary feudal lord.”

“Overall, the Agreement is a very one-sided contract, favoring Apple at every turn,” the EFF wrote. “That’s not unusual where end-user license agreements are concerned (and not all the terms may ultimately be enforceable), but it’s a bit of a surprise as applied to the more than 100,000 developers for the iPhone, including many large public companies.

“How can Apple get away with it? Because it is the sole gateway to the more than 40 million iPhones that have been sold. In other words, it’s only because Apple still “owns” the customer, long after each iPhone (and soon, iPad) is sold, that it is able to push these contractual terms on the entire universe of software developers for the platform.”

The EFF noted that public copies of the license agreement are “scarce,” in part because the agreement itself prohibits its release. The foundation managed to obtain a copy by making a request to NASA under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, and presented what it felt were “a few troubling highlights.” They include:

- Developers, including government agencies such as NASA, cannot make public statements about the iPhone OS developer agreement.

- Applications created through the development kit can be sold on the App Store only.

- The iPhone OS cannot be reverse engineered, and the foundation asserts this even applies to methods that courts have recognized as fair use.
- Apple can remove an application at any time. In 2008, a researcher discovered a “kill switch” in the iPhone software that would allow the company to remotely deactivate an application.

- No matter what, Apple is never liable to a developer for more than $50 in damages. “That’s pretty remarkable,” the foundation said, “considering that Apple holds a developer’s reputational and commercial value in its hands — it’s not as though the developer can reach its existing customers anywhere else.”

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available and if you have something to offer on this, please let us know.