Apple distribute iOS 4.1 beta to testers, addresses iPhone 4 signal, reception issues

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 15th, 2010, 04:15
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If your software’s picky and people are complaining, there’s always the chance to fix it in the update. Per AppleInsider, Apple began widespread testing of its iOS 4.1 update on Tuesday, the beta delivering changes to the way the handset displays signal strength.

Build 8b5080c of iOS 4.1 beta 1 began making its way to developers alongside iOS SDK 4.1 build 10M2304. Beta testers who reported in stated that one visible change is the new signal bar, which presents taller bars at the low end of the scale to make it easier to read. They also report the signal bars seem to better exaggerate signal drop off, with fewer bars visible when in an area of with limited reception.

Responding to widespread criticism over reception problems with the new touch-screen handset, Apple earlier this month penned an open letter to iPhone 4 users, in which it claimed that the formula used to calculate bars of signal strength on the device is inaccurate, and would be corrected in the coming weeks through a free software fix.

“Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength,” the company said. “For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars.”

Apple added that users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone 4 in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because their handset is erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. “Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” said the company, which maintains that the iPhone 4’s wireless performance “is the best [it has] ever shipped.”

For their part, wireless experts and well-regarded product research firm Consumer Reports have disputed Apple’s claims through their own research which alleges that the iPhone 4 suffers from reception issues when held by a user in a particular manner.

In a surprise move, Consumer Reports announced on Monday that it would no longer recommend the iPhone 4 to potential buyers due to reception problems that it believes to be a result of the design of the handset. The research firm issued the statement on its official electronics blog, stating that it reached that conclusion after testing three iPhone 4 handsets that were purchased from three separate retailers in the New York area inside a controlled environment of a radio frequency isolation chamber.

While iOS 4.1 beta appears to deliver Apple’s controversial ‘fix’ to the reception issues, there’s yet to be reliable word on wether the beta also addresses inaccuracies in the phone’s proximity sensor, which have similarly helped to sour the iPhone 4 experience for many customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Full iPhone 4 recall could cost Apple $1.5 billion, affect operating income by 1%

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:08
Category: iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Following up on the iPhone 4 antenna issue, one research investment firm has studied the numbers and determined that a recall of the iPhone 4 could cost Apple as much as US$1.5 billion.

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst for Bernstein Research, said in a note to clients on Tuesday that while a full product recall is “highly unlikely,” it could theoretically cost the company up to US$250 per phone. Sacconaghi estimates 6 million units sold or in transit, resulting in a recall price tag as high as US$1.5 billion according to CNET.

Another option is for Apple to offer an in-store hardware fix, which could cost US$75 per phone. Giving away a free bumper case, which currently retails for US$29, would be a much cheaper alternative for the Cupertino, Calif., company. Sacconaghi estimates this approach would cost just US$1 per unit.

The report arrives just a day after Consumer Reports warned that it could no longer recommend the iPhone 4. After conducting its own tests inside a radio frequency isolation chamber, the organization issued a statement on its blog reversing its previous recommendation of the phone.

For its part, Apple earlier this month released an open letter stating that the iPhone 4′s reception issues were largely due to an inaccurate formula for calculating signal strength. The company assured that a free software fix would be available in the coming weeks. Consumer Reports’ findings are in opposition to Apple’s statement.

Another Wall Street analyst, Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray, estimated Tuesday that a fix from Apple could impact its operating income by 1%. Like Sacconaghi, Munster also suggested the possibility of issuing free bumper cases. Additionally, the analyst said that since only 25 of users are affected by the issue, the company could “weather the storm” by doing nothing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Consumer Reports study recommends duct tape fix for iPhone 4 antenna issue

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:29
Category: iPhone, News

It ain’t pretty but it’s recommended by Consumer Reports and it might just be effective.

Per CNN, a sliver of duct tape may be all that’s needed to fix the iPhone 4′s dropped calls issue which has stemmed from the handset’s new antenna design. The report follows a Consumer Reports study which highlights the issue and offers test data to back its claim.

Other sources have stated that purchasing Apple’s bumper protector also helps alleviate the problem, the bumper itself retailing for about US$30.

Take a gander at the video and if you’ve seen this issue on your end or discovered your own fix, let us know.



BMW announces support for iOS 4 “iPod Out” API for upcoming car models

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

When the “iPod Out” API was mentioned at Apple’s iOS 4 preview event back in April, no one really knew what it was. Still, this didn’t stop BMW Group from mentioning that it had integrated iPod Out into its newest BMW and Mini vehicle entertainment systems.

Per Macworld, the iPod Out API allows car manufacturers to integrate the iPod Classic OS look and controls into a vehicle’s on-board entertainment system. Owners of future BMW and Mini models will be able to control their iPod or iPhone fully from the car’s interface controls. In addition, users will have access to their device’s Genius feature and be able to make custom playlists.

In its statement, BMW announced that “future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone.”

BMW Group hasn’t outlined any specific timeline for integration, but notes that support will be coming to future BMW models using BMW ConnectedDrive and Mini models using Mini Connected. Customers who wish to use the iPod Out feature in new BMW Group cars need to have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple move closer to obtaining Wi-Fi license for Chinese market iPhones

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 07:51
Category: iPhone, News

Since its inception into the Chinese marketplace, Apple’s iPhone has been restricted from incorporating a Wi-Fi capability.

That may be about to change as this week, Chinese regulators issued a network access license for an Apple iPhone that is equipped to use the China-developed wireless LAN security protocol, WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure). China’s Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center (TENAA) published photos of the phone, which appears to be an iPhone 3G, on its Website.

Per Macworld, representatives from Apple and China Telecom, the local carrier that Apple has selected as its partner, would not comment on the device’s capabilities, nor when it would go on sale.

When iPhones began officially entering the Chinese market in 2009, Apple was forced to disable their Wi-Fi capabilities to comply with Chinese laws. At the time, Chinese regulators would only allow mobile phones using the Chinese WAPI protocol for secure wireless access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

We Have a Winner: Outlet Charging Proves Faster for iPhone 4

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

Among the great debates of computer technology (along with whether or not to shut your computer down for the night or put it to sleep and how this affects the hardware) is the question as to whether or not to charge an iPhone or similar device via an outlet or USB port. Even in the case of charging an iPad, where the user receives a “not charging” message near the battery indicator, the device is charging, but slowly.

The guys over at When Will Apple? took the time to do a pretty decent job of comparing charging times on the iPhone 4, comparing USB to AC outlet. The conclusion: USB charging takes 23% longer to charge an iPhone 4 than charging via an AC outlet. If you’re in a rush to charge your phone, that’s a pretty significant difference.

The little flaw in this test is not knowing the amount of charge coming from the USB port used, as not all USB ports are created equal.

If you’ve found a different result on your end, please let us know.

Apple posts changes to MobileMe back end, apps

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 05:25
Category: News, Software

There’s always something happening on the server end and Apple’s MobileMe service is no exception. Per CNET, Apple released a new bout of changes to the MobileMe services on Thursday. The changes cover everything from iApp improvements to using the MobileMe website and working from within OS X 10.6.4:

Improvements with iOS 4.0 (for iPhone and iPod touch):
The Mail app supports MobileMe Mail aliases when composing or replying to messages.

Find My iPhone app:
The new Find My iPhone app allows you to find your device from another iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iDisk app version 1.2:
Designed for both iPhone and iPad.
Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps (such as open a PDF file in iBooks).

Gallery app version 1.1.1:
When viewing individual photos over a Wi-Fi network, higher resolution images are automatically downloaded on iPhone 4.

Improvements with Mac OS X v10.6.4:
Fixes an issue that may cause Address Book contacts to disappear when sharing is enabled.

MobileMe Control Panel 1.6:
Improves syncing of MobileMe Contacts with Microsoft Outlook. See this article for details.

Mail at me.com:
The new MobileMe Mail web application is available for all users.

Find My iPhone at me.com:
The Find My iPhone web application has a full-screen map view. Multiple devices are listed in a sidebar.

Calendar Beta at me.com:
The beta includes a new web application with support for calendar sharing and event invitations.

Me.com website:
Clicking the cloud icon brings up an application switcher.
Clicking your name allows you to access Help, Account, and sign out.

Fring adds video conferencing feature to app, handles videoconferencing over 3G networks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 03:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you hankering for a third-party video calling app for the iPhone 4, the new version of the Fring social networking app has now added support for video calling.



The bonus: It appears to work adequately over 3G as well.

This opens the door for services that could have potentially broader implications than FaceTime itself, since Apple’s service is limited to WiFi and currently only works between iPhone 4 handsets.

Fring is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

How-To: deactivate Network Services to improve iOS device battery life

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Although the iOS 4 software update has been lauded as improving battery life for most users, some are finding the improvements lacking. Per the Apple Toolbox Blog, one source of this may be overuse of the Location Services feature which can accompany checking Push notifications, and having many open Safari windows open.

It now appears that overactive location services usage can result in poor battery life. Specifically, apps that use location services in the background can quickly drain the battery.

The post offers the following steps for resolving this and hopefully upping your iOS device’s battery life:

“To check location services usage on an app-by-app basis, navigate to Settings > General > Location Services.

Turn location services off for all applications, then turn them back on for desired apps one by one or in groups. Via this procedure, you can identify which app’s use of location services is draining battery.

Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off location services altogether and check for increased battery life.”

Mozilla releases Firefox 4, beta 1 for public testing

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:05
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

For the brave and the bold, Mozilla has released the first public beta of its upcoming Firefox 4 web browser. The new browser, a 20.2 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), incorporates the following fixes and changes:

- Tabs are now on top by default on Windows only – Mac OS X and Linux will be changing when the theme has been modified to support the change.

- On Windows Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar has been replaced with the Firefox button.

- You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar

- New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)
Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions.

- The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac and Linux.

- The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like).

- Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins.

- CSS Transitions are partially supported.

- Full WebGL support is included but disabled by default at this time.

- Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently.

- Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format.

- An experimental Direct2D rendering backend is available on Windows, turned off by default.

- Web developers can use Websockets for a low complexity, low latency, bidirectional communications API.

- Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs.

- More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction.

- Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload.

- CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user’s browsing history.

- New HTML5 parser.

- Support for more HTML5 form controls.

The Firefox 4 beta is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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