Apple releases version 1.2 of MobileMe iDisk app, adds iPad support

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Date: Wednesday, July 7th, 2010, 04:58
Category: iPad, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday released version 1.2 of its MobileMe iDisk application, bringing support for multitasking within iOS 4 for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as native support for the iPad.

The 3.4MB update is available from the App Store or through iTunes. New features in version 1.2, according to Apple, include:

- Designed for both iPhone and iPad.

- Multitasking support for iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS (iOS 4 required).

- Quickly switch to another app and back using iDisk.

- Play audio from your iDisk while using another app.

- When app is opened, the last file or directory viewed is displayed.

- Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps such as iBooks.

- When sharing a file, an email can be sent from any configured email account.

- The URL for a shared filed can be copied and pasted.

- Various stability improvements.

The iDisk application was first released for the iPhone and iPod touch in July of 2009. It allows users to remotely access files saved online via the MobileMe service.

Rumor: AT&T may be capping iPhone upload speeds

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Date: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Over on the MacRumors forums, they’re comparing their recent iPhone upload speeds and they’re not happy. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, users are experiencing uploads that appear to be capped at 100 kbps rather than the 1.6mbps that was a previous norm. Users have been comparing rates captured with tools like Speedtest.net’s Speed Test to put concrete numbers on perceived performance drops and it looks like that drop is huge, compared to the way things were just a week or two ago.

According to the thread, affected cities include: New York City, Central Jersey, Boston, Orlando, Seattle, South Jersey/Philly, Columbus, Cleveland, West Houston, Phoenix, Northern Colorado, St. Paul/Minnesota, Suffolk County/Long Island, Quad Cities, South Jersey, Denver, Detroit Metro, and Cincinnati.

TUAW ran a test in Denver, using SpeedTest.net’s application as well as FCC Mobile Broadband Test and iNetQCheck and experienced similar numbers as the ones reported in the MacRumors forum, with several stray data points in iNetQCheck runs — but even those remained below 200 kbps. This stands as a huge difference from the upload speeds reported just a week or two ago where a user test demonstrated upload speeds up to 3.5 mbps.

Wireless carrier AT&T has yet to offer an official comment due to the holiday and a recent guess has stated that the hypothetical upload caps may be a consequence of holiday weekend infrastructure work, and that speeds may return to normal tomorrow.

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

iPhone 4 “Death Grip” analyzed, iOS 4.0.1 update expected this week to resolve issue

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Date: Monday, June 28th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

Following reports of reception issues observed by new iPhone 4 owners (tagged the “Death Grip” across the Internet), additional insight reveals that this may actually be a software issue that could be cleared up in the near future.

In terms of identifying the problem, clear observations of mobile signal strength and how they are affected by the placement of users’ hands are difficult to perform in part because there are multiple factors involved in receiving a mobile radio link, including outside interference and the conductivity or mass of different people’s hands.

Additionally, cellphones in general (and in particular the iPhone) have always only presented a very rough approximation of signal strength in the signal bar display, averaged over time. It appears that iOS 4, more so than previous iPhone software, presents a less accurate signal meter, showing less signal at times than an iPhone 3GS while still being able to achieve the same or better call quality.

Per AppleInsider, this has led some to jump to the conclusion that the reception problems noted by some iPhone 4 users are the sign of a hardware design flaw related to its stainless steel band antenna design. Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs stoked a whiplash of blogger frenzy when he reportedly responded that users “were holding it the wrong way,” blocking the signal with their hands.

A variety of people have demonstrated identical problems with other phones, from the Android based Nexus One to the iPhone 3GS. However, the fact that problems observed in the iPhone 3GS are much more pronounced when the device is upgraded to iOS 4 indicate that there is also a software issue involved in the matter. iPhone 4 users can’t downgrade to earlier versions of the core software, making it impossible to compare its relative performance.

According to the article, several messages have arrived from Apple’s tech support forums confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday).

The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

The core software problem is likely augmented by hand placement, as Jobs noted in pointing out that holding the new phone (or any mobile device) in such a way that attenuates the signal should simply be avoided.

If you’ve seen the “Death Grip” issue on your end or have anything to add, let us know.

Apple releases iOS 4 update for iPhone 3G, 3GS and third-generation iPod touch units

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Date: Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 05:33
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, News

After months of waiting, Apple finally released its iOS 4 operating system for the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, the third-generation iPod touch and the iPhone 4. The new version of the operating system, which weighs in at a hefty 579 megabyte download, is available through iTunes boasts the following changes and fixes:

Multitasking: Now you can run your favorite third-party apps —- and switch between them instantly —- without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily.

Folders: Organize apps into folders with drag-and-drop simplicity. Get faster access to your favorites and browse and manage up to 2160 apps.

Even better Mail: See messages from all your accounts in a unified inbox, organize messages by threads, open attachments in third-party apps, and more.

iBooks: More than a great ebook reader, iBooks is also an amazing place to browse and shop for books, day or night.

Create playlists: Create custom playlists right on your iPhone.

5x digital zoom: Get closer to your subjects by zooming in up to 5x.

Tap to focus video: While shooting video, tap the display to choose where to focus.

Faces and Places in Photos: View photos based on who’s in them and where they were taken.

Home screen wallpaper: Change the background wallpaper on your Home screen.

Gift apps: Send apps as gifts to your friends or family.

Spell checking: A built-in spell checker works in Mail, Notes, and other apps.

Wireless keyboard support: Pair a keyboard based on Bluetooth wireless technology with your iPhone.

Like similar iPhone OS (now iOS) updates, simply connect your iPhone or iPod touch to your Mac or PC, select the device and tell it to check for an update. This will find the new version of the iOS and should begin the several-minute update process.

If you’ve tried the new iOS and have any feedback, positive or negative, to offer, please let us know what you think.

iPhone 4 preorders rescheduled to arrive on July 2nd

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

Following yesterday’s interesting events in which Apple sold out of launch day preorders for the upcoming iPhone 4 handset, new orders from the company’s website are now said to ship by July 2, more than a week after the handset’s launch date.

Per AppleInsider, the delay for those who didn’t get in on the first round of preorders applies to both the 16GB and 32GB capacities of iPhone 4. Customers can only preorder the black model, as the white iPhone 4 is currently unavailable for any reservation.

As this is happening, the iPhone 3GS is still marked for delivery on the June 24th launch date.

Apple’s update follows news on Tuesday from AT&T, the exclusive wireless provider of the iPhone in the U.S., which also sold out of its launch day allotment. New orders placed directly through AT&T will not arrive until June 25th or later, “depending on when the order is placed,” the company said.

AT&T revealed that the first day of preorders for iPhone 4 was the busiest online sales day in the company’s history. The company’s systems had difficulty authorizing existing customers for upgrades, and Apple also began rejecting callers from its 800-MY-APPLE number.

AT&T reveals customer protection plan for recent iPhone 3GS buyers

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Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 08:42
Category: iPhone, News

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For those of you who recently snagged an iPhone 3GS at the old price of US$199 for the 16GB model or US$299 for the 32GB model (the two models having been lowered to US$149 and US$199, respectively with a US$99 8GB model being the last to go), AT&T is said to be offering a “one-time Customer Price Protection” plan, giving credit for the difference.

Per modmyi.com, customers who purchased a 3GS between May 7th and the 14th are said to have until June 14th to visit their AT&T store and claim US$50 off the cost of a 16GB phone, or $100 off of a 32GB model. For those who made a purchase between May 15th and June 7th, a 30-day window should be in effect. Alternately, customers within either timeframe (including buyers of the iPhone 3G) can go without a discount and trade in towards an iPhone 4.

A new flyer reveals that AT&T plans to open its retail locations at 7AM on June 24th iPhone 4 launch. Some restrictions apply, namely that new AT&T customers will only be able to buy one phone and activate one line on that day. Existing subscribers will be able to buy one phone per active number.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional details surface about iPhone 4′s Retina display

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 07:35
Category: iPhone, News

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone 4, the Retina display, was introduced at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday.

To answer the question of what a Retina display is, Chris Branderick of PC World offered the following tidbits:

“To put it simply, Apple’s figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches—a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it’s easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this “magic number,” when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4’s screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi), the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

Apple’s retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn’t the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google’s Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re attending the WWDC and can offer any hands-on feedback of the iPhone 4, please let us know in the comments.

Security researchers locate additional iPhone security hole, publish findings

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Date: Thursday, May 27th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iPhone, News, security

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Even if you feel absolutely secure in entering your PIN every time you unlock your iPhone, there may still be some security shortfalls. Per a blog post by Bernd Marienfeldt, Marienfeldt and fellow security wonk Jim Herbeck have discovered that plugging even a fully up-to-date, non-jailbroken iPhone 3GS into a computer running Ubuntu Lucid Lynx allows nearly full read access to the phone’s storage even when it’s locked.

The belief is that they’re just a buffer overflow away from full write access as well, which would surely open the door to making calls. Bernd believes the iPhone’s lack of data encryption for content is a real problem, and also cites the inability to digitally sign e-mails as reasons why the iPhone is still not ready for prime time in the enterprise.

Still, better that these guys found it and put the evidence in front of Apple than another party locate the security hole.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Walmart drops 16GB iPhone 3GS price to $97 with contract

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Date: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, 03:47
Category: iPhone, News

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Retail giant Walmart on Monday announced that the chain would be selling Apple’s 16GB iPhone 3GS model for US$97.

Per The ToyBox, the new price, which becomes effective on Tuesday, May 25th, is for new phones purchased with a two-year contract.

Walmart chalks the price reduction up to its “ongoing aggressive savings announcements,” although a fourth generation iPhone to be released next month. That model was accidentally leaked in April after an engineer for the company left a disguised prototype in a bar.

It’s possible that the price will stick after the official announcement by Apple, which has previously reduced the price of the previous model to $99. (Currently, the iPhone 3GS retails for US$199; the 2008 iPhone 3G sells for US$99.)

Moreover, reports have come in suggesting that Apple is no longer accepting orders for the iPhone 3G, a move that typically paves the way for a new model.

Next-Gen iPhone to see upped screen resolution, other improvements

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Date: Monday, May 17th, 2010, 07:19
Category: iPhone, News

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Per DigiTimes, Apple’s next-gen iPhone should see significant display improvements and carry an upped resolution of 960 x 640 pixels.

Despite the appearance of several prototype iPhones in recent weeks, the only confirmation of the higher resolution display has been a qualitative comparison with the current iPhone suggesting that it is the case. DigiTimes’ report today again suggests that the new iPhone will in fact carry a 960 x 640 screen.

The next-generation iPhone’s display will also reportedly adopt fringe-field switching (FFS), a technology that should improve viewing angles and performance in bright sunlight.
By incorporating FFS technology, users should have a wider viewing angle and clearer visual quality under in sunlight, Apple is aiming to improve the handset’s e-book reader features and promote its iBooks Store. HTC’s Hero smartphone has already adopted this technology.

The report also notes that the panel on the new iPhone is 33% thinner than in current models, allowing for increased battery size.

In addressing the brains behind the forthcoming iPhone, the report claims that users can expect an ARM Cortex A8 processor, of which the Apple A4 processor used in the iPad and observed in one of the prototypes is an implementation. The report claims, however, that it will also offer 512 MB of RAM.

The iPhone 4G is currently specced as running on the ARM Cortex A8 processor and a 512MB memory module from Samsung Electronics, doubling the memory capacity seen in the iPhone 3GS to take advantage of the multi-tasking capability of the iPhone OS 4.0 platform.

Apple is widely expected to introduce the new iPhone on June 7th at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.