Apple patent shows efforts towards expanded cloud-based syncing

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Date: Friday, October 1st, 2010, 02:40
Category: News, Patents

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A new Apple patent published this week, entitled “Configurable Offline Data Store”, shows that future mobile devices from Apple could sync and save large amounts of data over the Internet, allowing future access to information when an Internet connection is no longer available and removing the need to tether to a PC.

The invention, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 14th, 2010, would synchronize data for offline use when an Internet connection is not available.

Per AppleInsider, the patent describes a system that would allow users to access content from a remote computer or server, but also save that information locally for use when an Internet connection is not available. The application also notes that users may want to disable their Internet because constant syncing and updating may result in poor performance.

It describes individual applications that would be able to access this cloud-stored data, dubbed “savvy applications.” These are distinguished from “non-savvy applications,” which would not have access to the remote data.

The smart syncing system would predetermine which data might be “reasonably requested” when the two machines are reconnected, having it queued an ready to go immediately. The system would also allow for other “requested records,” which would occur when changes are made to lesser-used files.

Current mobile devices from Apple like the iPhone have a number of options for users to sync basic data, such as iPhone contacts, with Internet-based services. But the company is also said to be interested in offering a cloud-based streaming service for purchased iTunes content, like music and movies.

The technology described within the patent application would allow such data to be stored locally, and synced from anywhere with an Internet connection, rather than on a local network or via a USB cable.

Such a feature could also be used with Apple’s App Store, where software downloads greater than 20MB in size are not allowed over cellular data networks. When on a 3G network, the client-side machine (an iPhone or iPad) could save an intended download for later, when it can be obtained over a Wi-Fi network.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins selling refurbish Wi-Fi iPad units at $50 discount

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News

For the first time since the iPad went on sale, Apple is now offering the hardware refurbished with a US$50 discount from its online store as availability of the product continues to improve.

Currently, just refurbished Wi-Fi-only iPad models are available, though all capacities can be purchased, with a shipping time of between one and three days. The 16GB model sells for US$449, the 32GB model is US$549, and the highest capacity 64GB model is US$649.

Like other refurbished sales, the iPads come with Apple’s one-year limited warranty, and the AppleCare Protection Plan is also available for purchase. The site also notes that supplies are limited.

The popular 3G-capable refurbished iPads are not yet available for purchase via Apple’s online store. All three models are listed as out of stock, and will also sell for US$50 off, starting at US$579 for the 16GB model.

iPad to hit five Latin American countries on Friday, September 17th

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 11:55
Category: iPad, News

China won’t be the only country to get the iPad on Friday. Per Macworld, Apple announced that the iPad will also arrive in five South American countries on September 17th.

The countries that will receive the iPad on Friday are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Unlike China, however, customers in these countries will get a choice between the iPad’s Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models.

Customers can check availability and pricing at Apple’s Latin American store finder.

Apple posts first external iOS 4.2 betas, new features on the way

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:06
Category: iPad, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first external betas of iOS 4.2, which will debut features like AirPlay and AirPrint for iOS devices while also delivering a slew of long-awaited bells and whistles for the iPad, including multi-tasking, folders and threaded mail.

Per AppleInsider, a handful of more subtle refinements will ship along as well:

The biggest new feature for iPhone and iPod touch users is AirPrint, which allows wireless printing via a shared printer, or directly through some HP branded printers. The functionality is accomplished through a new Print Center application that is only available on iOS devices that can multitask, which means the iPhone 3G will not be able to print.

iOS 4.2 for the iPhone will debut a new icon for Apple’s Voice Memos application, a new version of modem firmware, and some new font additions for the Notes application, detailed later in this article in relation to the iPad. It will also add support for importing .ics files directly as a way to add events to the native Calendar application.

Multi-tasking:
iOS 4.2 introduces to the iPad many features that iPhone and iPod touch users already enjoy, including multitasking and folders. Just like on current devices that run iOS 4, users can run tasks from compatible applications in the background, and manage those applications by double-tapping the home button.

20-app Folders:
By dragging icons atop one another on the iPad homescreen, iOS 4.2 also automatically creates a folder. This will allow iPad users to have less clutter on their homescreen, and to easily sort their downloads from the App Store. The iPad’s larger screen real estate allows for a total of 20 applications per folder rather than 12.

New Spotlight Preferences:
Apple has added a new Spotlight Search preference pane under the General Settings panel with options to include or disallow search results based on the following categories: Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Mail and Events. Users can also reorder those categories to force search results to display in the order of their liking.

New Restrictions:
In addition to allowing or disallowing Multiplayer Games through Game Center, iOS 4.2 for iPad will enable users to allow or disallow changes to Location settings and Mail Account settings.

A new setting in iOS 4.2 for iPad 3G allows users to disable 3G access and revert to EDGE, trading speed for battery life.

Check Spelling:
Like iOS 4.1 for the iPhone, iOS 4.2 for iPad will deliver the option to turn Spell Checking on or off.

Accessibility: Larger Fonts:
Handicapped and elderly users will notice the addition of a “Large Text” option in the accessibility preference pane which offers the option to set font sizes for Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes in one of the following sizes: 20pt, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt, 48pt, 56pt.

New Notes Preferences:
Like iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, Apple has added a Notes preference pane that lets users choose between Chalkboard, Helvetica, and Marker Felt for their notes fonts. It also lets users set a default email account to which new notes can be tied.

Wireless Printing:
Of course one of the most highly anticipated features of iOS 4.2 is support for AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing technology. Apple is updating all of its applicable default apps to support the AirPrint feature.

Game Center:
iPad users will also gain access to Game Center, Apple’s social networking application for games on iOS devices. Game Center allows users to invite friends to play a game, compare scores and achievements with others, and more.

New Orientation Lock and Brightness Controls:
With iOS 4.2 for iPad, Apple will convert the physical orientation lock button on the right hand side of the iPad into a volume mute toggle. Orientation locking will be facilitated through the iPod widget like on the iPhone. iOS 4.2 will also add a display brightness interface slider on the left hand side of the iPod widget (to fill space?).

AirPlay:
AirPlay (formerly AirTunes), is also on its way to the iPad and iPhone via iOS 4.2. In addition to music, the technology will then allow users to stream video and photos over Wi-Fi, as can be seen in this screen capture of the new Photos application for the iPad.

Universal, Threaded Mail App:
For Mail on the iPad, iOS 4.2 will offer a universal mailbox and the option (via the Mail preference pane) to organize mails by thread. Like on the iPhone and iPod touch, messages in an inbox will automatically be combined into a threaded view where applicable, saving space and making the Mail application more efficient.

iAd:
Apple’s iAd interactive advertisements will also begin appearing in iPad applications after the release of iOS 4.2. iAds offer an “app within an app,” allowing advertisers to deliver content to users without forcing them to open a browser and leave their current application. With the iOS 4.2 beta, developers can now begin working to integrate iAds into their iPad software in time for its November release.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the iOS 4.2 beta for the iPad and can offer any comments of feedback, please let us know what you think.

iPad to arrive at U.S. Best Buy locations on September 26th, may be sold at Walmart and Target by end of 2010

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Date: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News, retail

If you’re looking for additional stores to purchase an iPad in, factor in Best Buy later this month.

Per AppleInsider, the Best Buy retail chain will begin carrying Apple’s tablet on September 26th, amounting to 1,093 of the company’s U.S. retail locations selling Apple’s device.

Best Buy announced the expansion on Tuesday, the same day that the company revealed its strong quarterly earnings. Those sales were buoyed by demand for devices like the iPad, the company said.

The iPad was available at Best Buy when the device launched earlier this year, though it was limited to 673 retail stores with Apple Shop locations. Now, All 1,093 stores in the U.S. will carry both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models on September 26th.

Best Buy officials indicated that stores experienced “constrained inventory” when the iPad launched earlier this year. But with supply issues apparently alleviated, Chief Executive Brian Dunn anticipates that the iPad, along with other tablet devices, will be “big for us during the holidays.

In addition to selling the iPad, Best Buy stores will also carry a range of accessories for Apple’s touchscreen tablet.

Apple is also rumored to make the iPad available for sale at Target in the coming weeks, as recent evidence has suggested the device could see a launch in stores on October 3rd. Earlier this year, Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., also indicated it hopes to sell the iPad by the end of 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Wi-Fi iPad to launch in China on Friday, September 17th

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Date: Tuesday, September 14th, 2010, 03:40
Category: iPad, News

Apple announced on Monday that it will be releasing the Wi-Fi models of the iPad in China on Friday, September 17th. The iPads will be available from Apple Stores and selected Apple Authorized Resellers in the country, starting at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Per Macworld, prices will start at CNY3988 (US$589) for the 16GB model, CNY4788 (US$708) for the 32GB model, and CNY5588 (US$826) for the 64GB model. Apple Stores will offer a Personal Setup service as well as hold iPad workshops to help buyers get familiarized with the device.

There is no word, however, as to when the Wi-Fi + 3G models will arrive in China. It seems that, at least for the moment, Apple has yet to reach a deal with any of the local carriers, even though it already has a deal with China Unicom to distribute and sell iPhones.

Apple also announced that the iPad is coming to more countries by the end of the year, though it didn’t specify exactly which ones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 update for iPhone, iPod touch

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Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 11:51
Category: iPhone, News, Software

After a fair amount of anticipation, Apple released its long-awaited iOS 4.1 update for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. Per iLounge, the update adds a number of bug fixes and new features, including a fix for the iPhone 4’s proximity sensor, Bluetooth issues, patches for security holes and performance problems on the iPhone 3G.

Notably, the iPhone 3G is left out amongst its iOS 4.1-capable peers in support for Apple’s new Game Center social gaming service, which is also included in the update, along with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography on the iPhone 4, HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, and support for TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. iOS 4.1 is available now as a free upgrade for all compatible devices via the update feature in iTunes and weighs in as a several hundred megabyte download.

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

iOS 4.1 hits gold master, reported to boost performance on iPhone 3G handset

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Date: Monday, September 6th, 2010, 04:38
Category: iPhone, News

Over the past few days, Apple’s iOS 4.1 update has gone from “coming soon” to “gold master”. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, user report have stated that the update resolves iOS 4.0.2′s stuttering, crashing, and generalized slowness on the iPhone 3G handset and offers better overall performance.

Specific improvements included speed, performance via the Maps app and much faster Spotlight search on the iPhone 3G wherein the app no longer searches through text messages.

Individual mileage may vary, but the iOS 4.1 update could be worth looking forward to once it’s released later this week.

Apple Store pins down iPad ship times to 24 hours

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Date: Monday, August 30th, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPad, News

Following something of a struggle to meet consumer demand for the iPad since it launched in April, estimated shipping times for new online orders have improved to within 24 hours, suggesting any production problems have been resolved.

Per AppleInsider, new orders for the Wi-Fi-only and 3G-capable iPad, in all available storage capacities, now ship within 24 hours when purchased from Apple’s official online store.

For months, customers had to wait an estimated 7 to 10 days for their order to ship. A few weeks ago, iPad shipping times quietly improved to between 3 and 5 days.

The estimated 24 hour shipping schedule would suggest that Apple has managed to catch up with consumer demand for the iPad, which has been a multi-million seller in its first few months on the market. Apple struggled to meet demand, as various component suppliers could not get orders to the company fast enough.

In its first three months of availability, the iPad sold 3.27 million units. Officials later admitted that they were caught off guard by the high demand for the product.

If you’ve seen this on your end, let us know.

Intel purchases Infineon’s wireless unit for $1.4 billion, gains access to new chipsets in deal

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Date: Monday, August 30th, 2010, 04:59
Category: News, wireless

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Processor giant Intel on Monday confirmed its plans to buy Infineon’s wireless division for US$1.4 billion in cash. The deal will see the company’s Wireless Solutions group work as a stand-alone company on Intel’s behalf and will give the company access to both 3G chipsets and a faster path to LTE-based 4G. It plans to use these not only for full-size notebooks but also Atom-based smartphones and tablets.

Per Electronista, Infineon claimed the selloff was a win as it allowed a new focus on car, industrial and security technology. The sale is widely known to be prompted by the company’s struggles with making its wireless section profitable.

The deal should be finished by early 2011.

In an attempt to head off concerns, Intel said the stand-alone nature of the wireless group would let it keep serving existing customers, including those who use ARM chips. Concerns had been raised that the buyout would be used to force Apple to seek alternate suppliers for 3G chipsets in the iPad and iPhone, although the iPhone 4 is exempt as it has switched away.

Intel’s plans are due to come together until 2011, when its Oak Trail platform for Atom chips should be efficient enough to be competitive.