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Rumor: Apple to avoid iPhone 4 recall, offer details at press conference later today

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News

In spite of the press conference scheduled for today, the iOS 4.0.1 update and Apple’s well-documented problems with the iPhone 4’s antenna and reception, a new report claims that a recall of the handset won’t be among the announcements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to the story has stated the company doesn’t plan to instate a recall of the more than 2 million units it’s shipped worldwide thus far.

That same source echoed an earlier report in claiming that hardware engineers warned chief executive Steve Jobs about the risks of the phone’s new external antenna design nearly a year ago, but that Jobs “liked the design so much that Apple went ahead with its development.”

The report went on to document how Apple’s immense secrecy over new iPhone masked the problem during the company’s evaluation process with its carrier partners, as design verification units were disguised as “stealth” phones that obscured their design and some of their functions.

“Those test phones are specifically designed so the phone can’t be touched, which made it hard to catch the iPhone 4’s antenna problem,” the Journal said. The paper added, citing people familiar with the matter, that Apple afforded carriers “limited time to test the iPhone 4 before its June 24 launch” and equipped them with “fewer devices to test than other handset makers.”

Although Apple declined to comment on its development methods for the new iPhone, a company spokesperson fired back at the claim that a senior antenna expert had expressed his concern over the new design to Jobs, challenging the publication to “produce anything beyond rumors to back this up.”

“It’s simply not true,” the spokesperson said.

Concerns over the iPhone 4’s new antenna design began generating headlines ever since its June 24th launch, when some users began reporting the handset’s propensity to lose reception and sometimes drop calls when cupped in the lower left corner.

Though media coverage of the matter persisted for a couple of weeks on and on-and-off basis, it reached a boiling point earlier this week when Consumer Reports did a 180-degree turn on its stance on the iPhone 4, and announced that it could no longer recommend the device to consumers because of the antenna issues.

Since then, the matter has only escalated further up the chain, with democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday issuing an open letter to Jobs, calling Apple’s current solutions to fixing the problem “insufficient” and asking the company to provide a free fix for consumers.

So yeah, it’s been a fun three weeks…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Consumer Reports vouches for Apple’s Bumper as resolution to iPhone 4 antenna bug

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 15th, 2010, 04:49
Category: iPhone, News

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Apple’s iPhone 4 reception issues. On Wednesday, Consumer Reports announced that Apple iPhone 4 owners can eliminate reception problems by enclosing their phones in the “Bumper” case Apple sells.

The findings could presage a decision by Apple to offer iPhone 4 owners a free Bumper, as the publication confirmed yesterday that it has been in contact with Apple over its testing results.

Per Macworld UK, the consumer testing organization said it could not recommend the iPhone 4 because of major reception issues when users touched the external antenna, the publication’s engineers went back into their lab to retest with iPhones equipped with Bumpers.

Apple’s Bumper, which retails for US$29, represents the company’s first efforts to move into the iPhone case market.

“With the Bumper fitted, we repeated the test procedure, placing a finger on the Bumper at the point at which it covers the gap [on the lower left side of the case],” said Paul Reynolds, Consumer Reports’s electronics editor, in an entry on the magazine’s blog on Wednesday afternoon.

The publication tested only Apple’s Bumper, although another Consumer Reports editor said yesterday that it was planning on evaluating several different cases.

“The result was a negligible drop in signal strength – so slight that it would not have any effect, in our judgment.”

On Monday, Consumer Reports explained its could-not-recommend decision by describing testing of three different iPhone 4s in its radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber, where a cell tower emulator simulates real-world signals.

The magazine’s engineers also tested several other AT&T-sold phones, including the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. None of those phones showed the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and I’ll happily trade you my first born for a Bumper should the need arise…

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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

Rumor: Apple to add 5 megapixel camera, FaceTime and gyroscope to fourth-gen iPod touch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 03:02
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

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A new report from the mighty Electric Pig has alleged that Apple’s fourth-generation iPod touch, expected to arrive this September, will feature a 5 megapixel camera, capture HD video, feature FaceTime connectivity, and include a gyroscope, like the iPhone 4.

U.K. retailer John Lewis said the information is based on “noises we’re hearing from suppliers”. Though no mention was specifically made of a forward-facing camera at the company’s presentation in London, it did say that FaceTime calling over Wi-Fi would be possible “so you can communicate with friends at zero cost.”

The purported details of Apple’s new iPod touch were revealed at the John Lewis “Xmas in July” event. The retailer also claimed that the new iPod touch will include a camera flash for improved pictures in the dark, like the iPhone 4. It also said that users would be able to upload their HD videos directly to YouTube from the device, over Wi-Fi.

Finally, representatives from John Lewis also said the new iPod touch is expected to include both an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The hardware addition already found in the iPhone 4 allows a new, more precise control method for game titles on the App Store.

The company made no mention whether the iPod touch would receive some of the other additions of the iPhone 4, namely the 640-by-960 pixel Retina Display, or Apple’s custom-built A4 processor.

Apple was originally rumored to add a camera to its iPod touch at last year’s annual September iPod event, but the feature was allegedly pulled due to bad parts with the camera modules. The company later added a popular video camera component to its iPod nano media device.

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

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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

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

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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