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Apple to price match retailers’ discounts, offer $49 iPhone 4, $149 price points on iPhone 4S models

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 14:23
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t knock a decent deal…

Per MacRumors, Apple has instructed its retail stores to match the iPhone discounts being offered by major retailers including AT&T, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, Sprint and Verizon when customers present competitive offers.

Apple’s publicly advertised prices for the iPhone 4 and 4S are US$49.01 higher than a variety of retailers and carriers are currently offering, as the entire retail channel prepares to sell off existing models to make way for the upcoming iPhone 5.

Now, Apple Retail stores are authorized to match prices when customers request the discount and indicate where they saw it.

Apart form the already “free with contract” iPhone 3GS, this makes the 8GB iPhone 4 just US$49.99 rather than US$99, and drops the iPhone 4S price range from US$199, US$299 and US$399 for the 16, 32 and 64GB models to US$149, US$249 and US$349.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Best Buy now offering iPhone 4 for $50 with 2-year contract

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with a cheap price.

Per AppleInsider, Best Buy is now selling Apple’s 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49.99 with a new two-year contract.

The new price is half that of the regular US$99 price for the iPhone 4 with a new service contract. Reseller Best Buy is offering the US$49.99 upgrade price on both the GSM iPhone 4 model, compatible with AT&T, as well as the CDMA variants, available for both Verizon and Sprint.

Best Buy’s website does not identify the new price as a temporary sale. The new price is the same that Best Buy charges for a refurbished iPhone 4, and the discount is available in both black and white models.

The price cut comes only days after Apple announced it sold 26 million iPhones in the June quarter, representing 28 percent growth over the same period a year prior. Investors viewed that number as disappointing, and AAPL stock took a hit as a result.

Apple executives said during their quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that they believe the growth slowdown, particularly with respect to iPhone sales, was at least somewhat attributable to rumors of new products. The company is widely expected to launch its next-generation iPhone with a slightly larger 4-inch display later this year.

The iPhone 4 was first released in mid-2010 and marked the debut of the high-resolution Retina display, as well as the forward-facing FaceTime camera. It is currently Apple’s mid-range handset, resting between the newest model, the iPhone 4S, and the low-end iPhone 3GS, available for free with a two-year contract. Verizon and Sprint do not offer the iPhone 3GS, which means the iPhone 4 is Apple’s entry-level handset with those two carriers.

So, yeah…an iPhone 4 for 50 clams. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened…

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 2 to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update in the world, but it moves things a bit closer to iOS 6’s release date.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued its second beta of iOS 6 for developer testing, including a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance.

Developers began receiving word that an update was available from “AppleInternal” on Monday afternoon. The “operating system 6.0” update is a 322-megabyte download for iPhone 4S users.

People familiar with iOS 6 beta 2 said it is identified as build “10A5338d.” When updating to the new software version in the Settings application, the icon with gears is animated and actually moves.

The release notes that accompany the update reportedly indicate that Apple fixed an issue where key clicking sounds could be skipped during fast typing. Apple also indicated it addressed an issue in which the keyboard would be wrongly positioned when switching from landscape to portrait orientation.

Apple also reportedly fixed an issue where the iOS SpringBoard may crash during a phone call if the screen would fade to black when using a speakerphone or headphones. It also addressed a crash that would occur if a new iCloud account was created during initial setup of the iOS device.

The latest iOS 6 beta also adds the podcasts section back into the iTunes application. That was missing from the first beta, and there have been rumors that Apple plans to introduce a standalone podcast application when iOS 6 officially launches this fall.

iOS 6 beta 2 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Also released on Monday were Xcode 4.5 Developer Preview 2, as well as a second beta of the next software update for the Apple TV set-top box.

iOS 6 was formally announced earlier this month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

If you’ve gotten a chance to tinker with the new beta, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple to include U.S. government warning alert feature in iOS 6

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 06:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Under iOS 6, when the zombie apocalypse occurs, you’ll be among the first to know.

Apple devices running iOS 6 will be able to receive U.S. government alerts during an emergency or disaster, in compliance with a National Alerting Program.

Per Emergency Management, the new feature, labeled by Apple as “Government Alerts,” will be a part of the iOS 6 operating system when it launches for iPhone and iPad this fall, as first noticed by Emergency Management (via CNet) on Friday. That means that Wireless Emergency Alerts can be provided to Apple mobile device users.

The feature is expected to be available on all devices that can run iOS 6, including the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009, and the iPhone 4, which became available in 2010.

Author Rick Wimberley said Apple’s adoption of Wireless Emergency Alerts is “big news” for those who work in the emergency management industry. The new feature means that users can receive alerts from local, state and federal officials through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

The National Weather service also intends to start issuing Wireless Emergency Alerts by the end of June, meaning iPhone and iPad users will be able to receive weather warnings once their device runs iOS 6. There is also an option to opt out of warnings in the Settings menu represented by the usual on/off iOS toggle button.

Further details on the new emergency alert system in iOS 6 are unknown as Apple did not detail the new feature at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote this week.

The U.S. government’s Wireless Emergency Alert system went live just last month. Carriers already offer users the ability to receive alerts to customers via text message, without the need for support from mobile operating systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple outlines iOS 6 at WWDC, highlights Facebook integration

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Over at WWDC, Apple began to lay out the basics as to what to expect from its upcoming iOS 6 operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iOS software chief, Scott Forstall, showed off some of the new features at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, including the ability to query Siri for sports scores, dinner reservations with OpenTable, and movie times via RottenTomatoes.

Siri can now also be used to launch Applications. Forstall demonstrated onstage asking the voice control software to play the game “Temple Run,” and it opened on the iPhone. Users can also post messages to Twitter by using their phone.

Language support for Siri has also been improved with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and more.

When it launches this fall, iOS 6 will be compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads; the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; and the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Facebook integration will also go system-wide with iOS 6. Much like with the existing Twitter integration, users simply log in to their Facebook account in the iOS settings application, and users can quickly post to their account or share music, applications or photos with their friends.

Facebook events and birthdays will also appear in the iOS calendar. Users will also be able to “like” applications on the App Store.

Enhancements have also been made to the native phone application in iOS. When declining a call, users are given the option to send a quick message to the person calling, or ask to be reminded later of the call. Quick messages are available to select such as “I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.”

Another addition called “Do Not Disturb” allows users to choose a set time range where notifications and alerts are silenced completely. This feature is customizable to allow calls from certain people to come through during those hours.

With iOS 6, users will also be able to make FaceTime video calls over cellular data networks, and are no longer required to be connected to Wi-Fi. The phone number and Apple ID have also been unified, so if someone sends a FaceTime request to a phone number, it can still be answered on an iPad or Mac.

Enhancements for Safari in iOS 6 include iCloud Tabs, which allows users to view and sync websites across a range of devices, as well as the ability to upload photos from directly within Safari on popular websites. Safari will also gain fullscreen support in landscape mode.

PhotoStream has also been enhanced with new sharing features that allow users to share specific pictures or entire albums with others. The social networking style serve will also let users comment on and like photos shared via PhotoStream.

And Mail for iOS will receive a new feature called VIPs, which allows users to specify people whose e-mails are of high priority. These flagged messages will show up in their own separate inbox.

Mail in iOS 6 also adds the ability to easily insert pictures and videos when composing a message, and users can also pull down on the app to refresh and check for messages.

The company also announced that its iOS 6 developer preview was now available as a 186 megabyte download, albeit this requires a developer account to log in and access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Virgin Mobile to offer iPhone calling plans starting at $30/month beginning June 29th

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 13:56
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a cheap calling plan, even if you do have to buy the handset at the unsubsidized price…

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as US$30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That’s different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about US$150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a US$5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with “unlimited” data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for US$30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for US$50 per month. Though data is advertised as “unlimited,” all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4 for US$549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile’s website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin’s voice and data service relies on Sprint’s “Nationwide Network.” The sale of iPhones through Sprint’s Virgin mobile could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple signs iPhone 4, 4S, deals with three additional regional U.S. carriers, announces May 18th launch date

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 12:21
Category: iPhone, News

If you were hoping for additional regional suppliers for the iPhone 4S, you’re in luck.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has finished several deals with smaller regional carriers in the U.S., as Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless will begin offering the iPhone 4S on May 18.

The iPhone 4S will be available starting at US$149 for the 16-gigabyte model, US$249 for the 32-gigabyte model, and US$349 for the 64-gigabyte capacity. Those prices are US$50 cheaper than with the three major carriers in the U.S.

In addition, all three carriers will also offer Apple’s previous-generation 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49. Customers can pre-register for their purchase today.

The three carriers’ networks are based on the same CDMA wireless standard used by major U.S. carriers Verizon and Sprint. Bluegrass Cellular is headquartered in Elizabethtown, Ken., Golden State Cellular is based out of Jamestown, Calif., and Nex-Tech operates out of Hays, Kan.

A month ago, a total of five carriers announced they had signed a deal with Apple. Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos all began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on April 20.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Only one of the four major U.S. carriers — T-Mobile — does not currently offer the iPhone, because of technical limitations. But that could change as soon as the end of this year, as the carrier plans to modify its network to allow compatibility with the iPhone’s HSPA+ wireless antenna for high-speed data.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Australian iPhone 4 glowing/fire incident found to be caused by failed screen replacement, not battery

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 11:52
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, remember the Australian glowing/fire/iPhone 4 plane thing from this past November? It wasn’t the battery.

Per AppleInsider, an investigation into the cause of an iPhone 4 that began glowing and emitting “dense smoke” on a flight landing in Sydney, Australia last fall has traced the problem to a battery punctured by a screw misplaced during a botched attempt to replace the device’s screen.



The incident, which occured last November, initially stoked concerns about the safety of high powered lithium batteries in general, given other isolated cases of battery failure including a batch of Sony batteries used in Apple’s iBook and PowerBook G4 notebooks in 2006, and an separate problem with first generation iPod nano units from 2005 and 2006.

However, rather than being a manufacturing defect, a report by ZDnet notes that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the overheating iPhone was caused by a screw left behind during a screen replacement performed by an unauthorized repair center.

The relatively large screw, “from the bottom of the unit, adjacent to the 30-pin connector,” was discovered inside the body of the device in an X-ray, where it punctured the battery pack, resulting in its overheating.

Referencing the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s recommendations, the ATSB’s chief commissioner Martin Dolan stated that “when traveling with mobile phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices — or just their batteries — passengers should, wherever possible, carry them in the cabin, and not in checked-in baggage.”

Dolan also noted that the incident “highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorised repair agents.”