Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 5.1 beta 3 points towards additional Facebook, Twitter integration

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 13:00
Category: iOS, Rumor

What might you expect out of iOS 5.1? More Facebook.

Per iMore, evidence has been found indicating that Apple could add deep Facebook integration into a future operating system update. In one screenshot shown for the iOS Contacts application, there is an option to enter a person’s Facebook user name right below their Twitter account.

System-wide Twitter integration was one of the most-touted features of iOS 5, which was publicly released last October. After its release, signups for Twitter grew by 25 percent.

Deep integration with the social networking service allows users to quickly post Web links from Safari or pictures saved in the iPhoto application to Twitter. Presumably, future iOS integration with Facebook would offer similar functionality, making it easier for users to share information with their friends on the popular website.

The pre-release build of iOS 5.1 also reportedly includes references to new iPad models named “J1AP” and “J2AP.” The references corroborate with rumored code-names of “J1″ and “J2″ that were first reported last November, when it was said Apple was secretly working on two new iPad models.

The third beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers last week. It is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and fourth- and third-generation iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 beta 3, areas of improvement still hazy

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Date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, 04:42
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s not as specific as you might like it to be, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday supplied developers with a new pre-release build of its mobile operating system in the form of iOS 5.1 beta 3.

Little is known so far about the latest beta, which was issued to test devices as an over-the-air update. iOS 5.1 beta 1 is not yet available to developers as a direct download from Apple, and as such, there aren’t yet any release notes.

The second beta of iOS 5.1 came a month ago, and gave developers the ability to delete individual Photo Stream pictures. In current, public versions of iOS, users cannot delete individual Photo Stream pictures, and must turn off the Photo Stream feature entirely if they do not want a picture to be stored on Apple’s servers.

iOS 5.1 beta 3 is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The first beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers in late November. It included references to a next-generation iPhone, labeled “iPhone5,1,” as well as third-generation iPad models, “iPad3,2″ and “iPad3,3.”

If you’ve received the new beta and have any feedback to offer, let us know what you think in the comments.

China Unicom customers can snag free iPhone 4S handset after signing multi-year contract

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Date: Friday, January 6th, 2012, 09:11
Category: iPhone, News

Incentives are always a good thing.

Apple’s carrier partner in China is offering an aggressive promotion in which customers can get a brand new iPhone 4S for free if they sign a multi-year service contract.

Per Bloomberg, customers can pay as little as 286 yuan, or US$45 per month, for the plan to get a free iPhone 4S. The promotion will begin Friday, Jan. 13, which is the day the iPhone 4S will go on sale in mainland China and 21 other countries.

China Unicom subscribers can get a free 32-gigabyte iPhone 4S with a three-year service contract. And the 16GB model is available free for those who agree to a two-year contract.

The iPhone has already proven to be costly for China Unicom, as the carrier saw its 3G-related cost increase nearly fourfold in the first half of 2011. Some analysts believe the carrier’s heavy iPhone 4S subsidy will only accelerate those costs.

China Unicom’s 3G business has been a money-losing operation for the carrier through the first six months of 2011. Subsidies of smartphones reportedly accounted for 45 percent of the 3G service costs.

The subsidies being offered by China Unicom are much more aggressive than other carriers across the world. For example, in the U.S., customers on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon can get a 16GB iPhone 4S for US$199 with a new two-year plan, while the 32GB model is US$299 and 64GB is US$399.

Customers in the U.S. and some other countries to have an option for a free handset in the form of the iPhone 3GS, which was first released in 2009. That promotion started with the release of the iPhone 4S in October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 beta 2, incorporates Photo Stream fix

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Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 12:18
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s the betas that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday provided developers with a second beta of iOS 5.1, with the latest update granting the ability to delete individual photos synced to the iCloud Photo Stream feature.

The latest beta is now available to members of the iOS developer program. Sources familiar with beta 2 said one of the newest additions automatically deletes pictures from Photo Stream when they are deleted from the iPhone.

Currently, pictures taken on an iOS device are automatically synced with the Photo Stream feature of Apple’s iCloud. But if a user deletes a picture from their iPhone, it is not removed from iCloud. Instead, users must unsync their entire photo library in order to remove an uploaded photo.

Those same people said that the latest beta of iOS 5.1 is known as build 9B5127c. Some issues do reportedly remain with the pre-release software, including freezes related to Setup Assistant and the shake-to-shuffle feature in the iOS music player.

iOS 5.1 beta 2 is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and stands as an 801MB download. A new beta firmware for the Apple TV was also issued Monday, and allows developers to test iOS 5.1 applications with AirPlay on the set-top box.

The first beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers in late November. It included references to a next-generation iPhone, labeled “iPhone5,1,” as well as third-generation iPad models, “iPad3,2″ and “iPad3,3.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Users report losing Wi-Fi signal strength after updating to iOS 5.0, 5.0.1

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Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Because software updates are either a great thing or a terrible thing.

Per Engadget, a number of users have reported losing Wi-Fi after updating to iOS 5.0 and beyond in the Apple discussion boards.The majority of replies mention intermittent connectivity and/or a significant loss in signal strength. The issue remains unconfirmed by Apple, but it appears to span across a number of devices, including the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, along with the iPad (and possibly, the iPod Touch).

Through troubleshooting, one user was able to resolve the problem by reverting to iOS 4.3, then cause it to manifest — once again — by upgrading to iOS 5. The recent iOS 5.0.1 update failed to fix the matter as well.

Apple has yet to offer an official reply regarding this issue.

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

AT&T adjusts iPhone 3GS price to $0.99

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Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:08
Category: iPhone, News

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Wait long enough and things will get, well, unbelievably cheap.

Per Electronista, after making the iPhone 3GS free with contract last month, wireless AT&T has now raised the price of Apple’s two-year-old smartphone to US$0.99.

The iPhone 3GS was originally announced as free with a two-year contract during Apple’s iPhone 4S unveiling in October. It was reported Friday that AT&T has now bumped up that price to 99 cents.

“iPhone 3GS is still available at an incredibly low price and we’re confident consumers will agree that this remains one of the best deals for a leading smartphone,” the company said in a statement.

The second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. has been the exclusive seller of the iPhone 3GS since it arrived in 2009. Sales of the handset have remained surprisingly brisk even after more than two years on the market. According to the NPD Group, the iPhone 3GS was the second-best-selling smartphone in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year, behind only its successor, the iPhone 4.

The reason for AT&T’s minor price hike remains unclear. In the past, Apple has, however, asked its partners not to advertise its products as “free” during promotions in order to prevent its brand from being diluted. It’s possible that the iPhone maker had a change of heart about the iPhone 3GS deal and asked for a nominal fee to be put in place.

Another explanation could be the existence of an obscure accounting rule that would require a token payment for the device. For example, Apple in the past had to adjust its accounting of the iPhone to a subscription method in order to steer clear of laws and policies put into place after the Enron scandal. There’s no indication that this is the case for the iPhone 3GS, however, and offers of free phones on contract have long been a practice among wireless carriers.

It has also been suggested that the new price is meant to curb overwhelming demand, but it seems unlikely that the extra US$1 would deter many prospective customers.

So, yeah…maybe you SHOULD be listening to your ancient/pragmatic relatives when they tell you to wait two years for the smartphone you’re interested in.

Apple reaching out to users for iPhone 4S battery life data, firmware update may be in the works

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:17
Category: battery, iPhone, News

With any luck, a firmware update will fix the issue.

Per The Guardian, responding to complaints of battery life issues with the iPhone 4S, engineers from Apple are said to have contacted customers directly in an effort to solve any issues.

One user who spoke with the newspaper said that he was contacted by Apple, and was asked to install a monitoring program on his phone. Apple’s engineers hope to be able to use the diagnostics to determine what is causing shorter battery life for some users, though the report said the problems are thus far “unexplained.”

The person said they were contacted by a senior engineer at Apple who read a post they made online, and indicated that the company was contacting users to resolve the problem. The Apple representative also allegedly admitted that the company isn’t “close to finding a fix.”

“(He) asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file… and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info,” the person wrote. “I extracted the file from my Mac after a sync and mailed it to him. He was incredibly helpful and apologetic in the typical Apple way!”

Experiences of reduced battery life are supported by a growing thread on the Apple Support Communities website, where numerous users have found they experience significantly less uptime with the iPhone 4S. As of Friday afternoon, the thread as nearly 100,000 views and 1,300 replies.

“Glad to see people are talking about this,” user ‘telarium’ wrote. “My 4S battery life is terrible… even worse than my 3GS, even though all the settings are the same.”

Another user, ‘Frenzi,’ said they found some success by turning off many of the features on the phone, and only gradually re-enabling them as needed. Among the features disabled included sending of diagnostic data to Apple, automatically searching for Wi-Fi connections, automatic date and time, iTunes Ping, and even the Siri “raise to speak” feature. “The improvement has been nothing short of miraculous,” they wrote.

Still another user on the Apple Support Communities website, “Snowwolfwarrior,” said they spoke with an Apple technician who also gave them special software to install on their iPhone 4S. The software logs all of the usage from the handset over a 24-hour period, after which the user obtains the data and sends it back to the Apple technician.

When it was unveiled earlier this month, Apple claimed that the iPhone 4S had an increased battery talk time of eight hours. But standby battery time, when compared to the previous-generation iPhone 4, is advertised at 100 hours less.

In spite of this, the iPhone 4S does have a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 4, and includes an extra .05WHrs when compared to its predecessor. Apple also limited the amount of RAM in the iPhone 4S to 512MB, in an effort to conserve battery life.

The iPhone 4S includes the same A5 processor found earlier this year in the iPad 2. It is a dual-core chip that runs up to twice as fast as the A4, and includes graphics processing up to seven times faster with the SGX 543MP2 GPU.

If you’ve seen battery issues with your new iPhone 4S and want to throw your two cents in, let us know what’s on your mind via the comments.

Apple confirms C Spire Wireless as fourth U.S. iPhone carrier

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 09:39
Category: iPhone, News

The south shall rise again.

This time, with its own wireless carrier for the iPhone.

Per Macworld, C Spire Wireless will join Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T as the fourth U.S iPhone carrier. The company, which functions as the largest privately-held cellular carrier in the country, announced on Wednesday that it will begin offering the iPhone 4S “in the coming weeks.”

C Spire is a regional carrier; until last month, it did business as Cellular South. The company accepts customers primarily in the southeast, focusing on Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. Dave Miller, C Spire’s Media Relations Manager, stated that he couldn’t yet comment on whether the company would also carry the iPhone 4 or 3GS, though he did say “more details will be coming out soon about all the Apple devices we will offer.” C Spire is a CDMA carrier, like Sprint and Verizon.

Like Sprint, C Spire currently offers plans that include unlimited data. Miller indicated that he couldn’t yet confirm what plans the company would offer for the iPhone 4S, but declared that C Spire offers “what we consider the best plan in the industry, the 80/40 plan.” That plan offers unlimited minutes, text, and data for US$80 per month for your first line, and US$40 for additional lines.

An Apple spokesperson also confirmed that C Spire will carry the iPhone 4S soon.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you have any feedback from your experience with C Spire, please let us know in the comments.

Live Blog: Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” media event

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Date: Tuesday, October 4th, 2011, 09:46
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

applelogo_silver

Ok, here are the touch points so far, as noted via the cool cats at Mac|Life:

- iOS 5 will be released on October 12th and continue to be free.

- iOS 5 will function on the iPhone 3GS, 4, iPad, iPad 2, and the two recent generation iPod touches.

- Contacts, calendar items and events will all be backed up with iCloud.

- Users will be able to turn location finding on and find friends with a “Find My Friend” feature.

- The iPod app is gone in iOS 5 and has been replaced with the iPod touch’s Music app icon.

- iCloud will debut on October 25th.

- Apple has apparently announced an updated iPod nano with FM radio, pedometer and larger buttons.

- The updated iPod nano will be available at the following price points: 8GB US$129 and 16GB for US$149.

- The updated iPod touch will be available at the following price points: 8GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64GB for US$399.

- The iPhone 5 will be available in both black and white upon release.

- The iPhone 4S will be powered by the A5 processor.

- The iPhone 4S will feature dual-core graphics, be 2x faster and function as a much better gaming device.

- Apple is citing eight hours of 3G talk time with the iPhone 4S.

- 50 hours of listening to your favorite tunes on the new battery…

- A new antenna system will switch between transmitting and receiving functions, Apple citing this as more reliable than the current iPhone 4 antenna.

- Apple is citing 2X faster downloads with the iPhone 4S.

- The iPhone 4S will function on both GSM and CDMA networks.

- A new 8 megapixel camera will offer a 3264 x 2448 resolution (Apple is stating that this is 60% more pixels than the current camera resolution).

- Camera: f/2.4 aperture, 30% more sharpness due in part to five element lenses.

- Better white balance and facial detection on the iPhone 4S camera.

- The A5 processor allows for speedier shots, Apple citing that the camera can go from the first shot to the next shot in half of a second.

- The new camera will feature 1080p HD recording, temporal noise reduction and video image stabilization.

- AirPlay mirroring will allow your iOS’s apps to be mirrored to a larger monitor via your AppleTV.

- The iPhone 4S looks exactly the same as the current iPhone 4.

- A “Siri” feature will allow you to give spoken commands (such as “What will the weather be like today?” to the device).

- Siri will allow you to reply to texts while the device is in a pocket and will allow for a reply text with a Bluetooth headset.

- Siri’s interface is both onscreen as well as audio, the feature being hardware-dependent and running on the iPhone 4S only.

- Siri will apparently read a text message to you and ask you questions as to how you’d like to reply.

- Siri can do dictations for emails too, the app placing a microphone next to the space bar in the keyboard. The app will start as a beta in the U.S., U.K., Australia, French and German with more languages and services coming.

- The iPhone 4S apparently features an identical screen size to the current iPhone 4.

- And now, your long-awaited pricing and capacities for the iPhone 4S: 16GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64 GB for US$399.

- The iPhone 3G can now be purchased new for US$49.

- Sprint has now been added to the list of iPhone wireless carriers along with AT&T and Verizon.

- Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin Friday, October 7th.

- The iPhone 4S will be released on Friday, October 14th.

- The iPhone 4S will be available in 22 additional countries on October 28th and reach 70 countries by the end of 2011.

That’s all for now and let us know what you think via the comments.