Rumor: Apple prepping iOS 6.1 beta, build expected to go Golden Master

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 07:51
Category: iOS, News, Software

Just the term, “golden master”, it pretty much sounds awesome.

Per German web site iFun, Apple is said to be internally testing a new beta of iOS 6.1 that is expected to be the golden master build, suggesting the software is nearly ready to be released to the public.

Citing a “reliable source,” the web site reported Friday that the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 is about to be released to developers. The software is said to have gone through “extensive internal testing,” and if all goes well it will be the golden master of the software.

The software is expected to be released to developers either on Friday or potentially on Monday.

Apple began supplying beta builds of iOS 6.1 to its development community in early November. To date, there have been four betas seeded, the most recent arriving in mid-December.

Changes in iOS 6.1 are mostly minor, with the most significant user-facing additions including the ability to purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri, and a new prompt that asks users to enter security questions for iCloud when setting up their device for the first time.

For developers, iOS 6.1 includes an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow third-party applications to search for map-based addresses based on points of interest. For example, a user could search the term “coffee” and the new framework would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

iOS 6.1 builds released to date have been compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS; fourth-, third-, and second-generation iPad; iPad mini; and fifth-and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.0.2 update, includes fixes for Wi-Fi, security features iPhone 5, iPad mini

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iTunes, News, Software

Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Apple released iOS 6.0.2, the latest version of its iOS operating system for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini devices.

The update, a 626 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a bug that could impact Wi-Fi.

– Assorted security fixes detailed here.

The iOS 6.0.2 update requires the following devices:

– iPhone 3GS / 4 / 4S / 5

– iPad 2 and new iPad

– iPod Touch 4th Gen

– iPad Mini

As always, the update can be acquired via iTunes or the Over The Air software update feature built into iOS 5 or later.

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

Apple launches iPhone in China, 32 additional countries

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Date: Monday, December 17th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The iPhone 5 world introduction tour continues.

Per The Next Web, Apple kicked off sales of the massively popular iPhone 5 handset in China and 31 other countries on Friday, fending off supply constraints as the company continues its fastest rollout ever.

Concerning the China launch, the usual long lines seen at past Apple product launches in China were staunched, largely in thanks to the combination of a snow storm and the preorder system instituted by the country’s two official partner carriers.

The Sanlitun Apple Store, the company’s first retail outlet in China, saw workers milling about waiting to greet customers that never came. The lack of walk-in purchases is in stark contrast to reports of strong pre-sale number that had cellular carrier China Unicom sitting at over 300,000 preorders days before Friday’s launch.

China is now Apple’s second-largest market, and holds the world’s biggest base of mobile subscribers. While the Cupertino, Calif., company has been able to broker deals with China Unicon and China Telecom, Apple has yet to tap into the vast pool of the world’s largest carrier China Mobile. An arrangement has been rumored to be in the works for years and China Mobile’s president recently acknowledged that the two companies are in talks, but chances are slim that a partnership will be reached in the near future.

Along with China, the iPhone 5 also launched in the following countries on Friday:
Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

The smartphone will debut in over 50 countries in December with the next wave of releases scheduled for a week from today.

Google releases updated iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

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Date: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 06:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

Remember how you liked a native iOS version of the YouTube app?

It’s back.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Tuesday released its native YouTube app for Apple’s iDevices, bringing an optimized user experience for iPad and the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen as well as other enhancements.

When Google launched the first standalone YouTube for iOS app in September, the effort was largely considered to be a stopgap until the company was able to build a universal version that would work on both the iPad and iPhone, including the then-unreleased iPhone 5.

Until now, iPad users wanting access to YouTube were forced to download third-party apps or use the ubiquitous web video service’s web client through Safari. With Tuesday’s update, YouTube is now native on all iOS devices, including the Retina display-toting iPad. The app also supports the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display, meaning the app no longer has black “handlebars” when viewing videos in landscape mode, a major gripe some had with the original version released before iOS 6.

The new version offers the following fixes and changes:
– Optimized for iPad and iPhone 5.

– Stream videos with AirPlay.

– Tap logo to open your Guide of channels.

– Add and remove videos from your playlists.

– Clickable links in video descriptions.

– Improved accessibility with VoiceOver.

YouTube for iOS weighs in at 11.6 MB, requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run and can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

iPhone 5 supply stabilizes, units now readily available for holiday shopping season

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It took a while and there were muchos conflicts with Foxconn, but it finally happened: Apple’s iPhone 5 supply chain has stabilized.

Per AppleInsider, the popular iPhone 5 handset is now readily available in the U.S. at Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores as the company has apparently overcome supply issues experienced since the device was launched in September.

While the Apple online store still shows one-week ship-by dates, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said a poll of 20 U.S. Apple Stores reveals the iPhone 5 is readily available at physical Apple Stores for the first time since the unit was released at the end of September.

“We believe the iPhone 5 has finally reached a point where consumers can walk into an Apple Store and walk out with a phone,” Munster said in a note to investors on Thursday.

The analyst performs a nightly check with the online Apple Store for local pick-up orders half an hour after new stock arrives at 100 locations. He also noted that 20 out of 20 Apple Stores polled showed availability for Verizon models, the supply of which has been the most constrained out of the three major U.S. carriers.

“The bottom line is that AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are consistently showing 90%+ availability,” Munster wrote.

A similar report earlier this month showed that, while inventory of Sprint versions of the Phone 5 was improving, models supported by AT&T and Verizon’s networks were still seeing constraints.

Going further, Munster maintains his estimate of 45 million iPhone shipments for the fourth quarter, but warns that there may not be a significant upside as supply is only now meeting demand.

According to a recent report, the iPhone 5 helped to double Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market, pushing it ahead of worldwide leader Android.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard install DVDs surface in Apple online store, available for $19.99

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Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012, 08:45
Category: News, retail, Software

snowleopard

In as much as it’s useful to keep operating systems on thumb drives and recovery partitions, there are times where you miss having an emergency DVD on hand.

That being said, this should be useful.

Discovered by French web site MacGeneration and the mighty Mac Observer, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has returned to Apple’s Online Store as a physical disc purchase after being removed upon the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in July.

Snow Leopard, released in August of 2009, was the first Apple operating system to run exclusively on Intel processors. It was also the last version of OS X to include Rosetta, Apple’s translation software that allowed applications written for PowerPC-based Macs to run seamlessly on Intel-powered machines.

Most importantly for owners of older Macs, Snow Leopard represented a crucial transition point for Apple. The Mac App Store, which launched in early January 2011 exclusively on Snow Leopard 10.6.6, inaugurated a new era of digital software distribution. Starting with the launch of OS X 10.7 Lion in July 2011 and continuing with Mountain Lion in July 2012, the primary method for Mac owners to receive new versions of OS X became the Mac App Store (there were indeed other methods of acquiring a new version of OS X, such as the short-lived official USB installer or by making your own, but these were limited options for relatively advanced users).

For users who had already upgraded their eligible Macs to Snow Leopard, the upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion was simple: purchase and download it from the Mac App Store. But if users were still on OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.4 Tiger, they would first have to install Snow Leopard to gain access to the Mac App Store, and then purchase and download Lion or Mountain Lion.

As a result, Apple kept OS X Snow Leopard for sale in its online store until the launch of Mountain Lion when, for reasons unknown, the company removed it. Now, thankfully, the Snow Leopard installation DVD is back for US$19.99, and is currently in stock with free shipping.

While it is true that most Mac owners who are eligible to upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion have already done so (or have at least upgraded to Snow Leopard), for the remaining holdouts who want to try a newer version of OS X, or for current users who want a copy of Snow Leopard in case they ever need to run a PowerPC app via Rosetta, now is the time to snag it while it’s still available.

Apple releases iBooks 3.0.2 update

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 10:59
Category: iOS, News, Software

Never knock a good update.

Late Wednesday, Apple released version 3.0.2 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– See all your iBookstore purchases in iCloud – on your bookshelf with iOS 6.

– Scroll vertically through your books using the new Scroll Theme.

– Receive free content updates to purchased book (new chapters, etc.)

– Look up definitions for words under the German, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese languages under iOS 6.

– Share thoughts about your favorite books via Facebook, Twitter, Messages or Mail.

– Resolves a crash wherein the iBooks app may unexpectedly quit in iOS 6.

iBooks 3.0.2 requires a compatible iOS device and iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Apple looking into quieter “vibrate” function for future iPhone handsets

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 07:05
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

Your iPhone might get a bit quieter soon.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple is investigating ways to make the iPhone’s “silent mode” truly silent by monitoring audible sound levels generated by a phone’s vibrator and adjusting the mechanism if it becomes too loud.

Since the earliest days of portable telecommunications, devices like pagers incorporated a silent option to the standard beeping tones that alerted a user of an incoming message or, years later, cell phone call. The system is flawed, however, in that the so-called “silent mode” is not completely silent, especially when a device vibrates on a hard surface, causing a rattling noise often times more disruptive than a normal audible tone.

The current iPhone 5, with its aluminum uni-body construction, is another candidate that may be less than discreet in some circumstances. To remedy this longstanding problem, Apple has devised a method in which a phone’s vibrations, as well as the result of said vibrations, are monitored by microphones or movement sensors. If these sensors detect conditions that may cause an unwanted disturbance, a number of mitigation methods are initiated, including tuning the vibrator and introducing feedback signals to reduce reverberation.

Apple’s solution takes into account two types of haptic devices, or vibrators, commonly used in modern smartphones, both of which present separate problems. The usual rotating vibrator used in many devices has an eccentric weight attached to a spinning drive shaft, while an oscillating linear vibrator relies on magnetic force to drive a weight back and forth.

While the rotating motor is somewhat louder than its magnetically-driven cousin, it produces an arguably more violent vibration which can be an asset for those who wear thick pants or need a stronger alert. For reference, the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 and all versions of the iPhone 4S used a linear vibrator, while the iPhone 5 marks the return of the rotating system found in legacy models.

As described in the invention, movement, sound and visual sensors begin monitoring various attributes when a vibration alert is detected. The sensors can determine If the vibration is causing the phone to move or generate a noise louder than ambient noises in the surrounding environment.

Once a movement or sound threshold has been reached, the mitigation mechanisms kick in to modify the alert or stop it altogether. In some embodiments, the action of vibrator motor is adjusted. For a rotational vibrator, the frequency of the motor can be slowed, while the motion of a linear vibrator can be dampened by an electromagnetic force.

The patent application goes on to offer alternative alert methods that can be used when a vibrator is found to be disturbing, such as visual alerts or soft audio tones which are output at level deemed to be more quiet than the sound created by the phone’s vibrations.

Such mechanisms do not exist in the current iteration of Apple’s handset, though the technology may one day make its way to a future iPhone as an enhancement to the product line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

20% Samsung price hike could affect Apple’s margins by 1-2%

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:53
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Processors, retail

The ne’er ending fight between Apple and Samsung continues.

Following up on yesterday’s story about Samsung potentially raising the cost of building mobile processors for Apple, such a change would be expected to reduce the company’s overall margins by as much as 2 percentage points.

Per AppleInsider, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray noted on Wednesday that the processors built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex., are the core component of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The chips tend to represent between 6 and 9 percent of the total component cost of a given iOS device.

A report surfaced this week that claimed Samsung has increased the price of its mobile processors for Apple as the two rival companies are driven further apart.

Munster said a 20 percent increase in chip prices would result in a hit to Apple’s margins between 1 and 2 percentage points. He also said that he would not be surprised if the price increase turns out to be accurate, “given the legal tension” between the two companies.

But he also buys in to rumors that Apple plans to move its chip production away from Samsung, and will have assembly of its custom processors like the A6 found in the iPhone 5 handed to another company, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

“We believe that if Apple were to move to another vendor in the next year or two, they may be able to negotiate better chip prices, which would roll back the impact from the Samsung price increase,” he said.

But in the meantime, Munster said it appears Apple has no choice but to continue its partnership with Samsung, even if the Korean electronics maker did put a massive price hike in place.

Piper Jaffray has projected that while Apple’s margins will dip during the December quarter in the face of a number of major product transitions, margins will quickly improve in the company’s fiscal year 2013. Munster has called for Apple to earn gross margins of 41.5 percent for calendar years 2013 and 2014.

“It does not appear that new product launches for iPhone 5 and iPad mini carry significantly different margins than prior launch margins for the same product lines,” he said.

Margins have been a major concern among investors in recent weeks, as Apple’s stock has taken a major hit. But most analysts have stood by Apple. Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank said last month that concern over Apple’s margins has been “overblown,” and that the reduction is “nearly entirely cyclical and not structural.”

Stay tuned for additional updates as to the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys as they become available.

Apple releases updated iOS 6.1 beta, Apple TV beta and Xcode 4.6 preview to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:08
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

The iOS updates, they’re en route…

Per AppleInsider, a new build of iOS 6.1 was provided to developers on Monday, less than two weeks after the first beta was issued, along with a new preview of Xcode 4.6, and new beta software for the Apple TV.

Sources familiar with the second beta of iOS 6.1 indicated it is known as build 10B510c. It’s compatible with the fourth-, third- and second-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, and fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The second beta of iOS 6.1 arrived Monday alongside a new Xcode 4.6 Developer Preview 2, said to be known as build 4H95e, as well as a new beta software release for the Apple TV set-top box.

As with the previous beta of iOS 6.1, the latest build enhances the Map Kit framework in iOS, allowing developers to search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

Relevance behavior rules have also changed with Passbook iOS 6.1 for boarding passes with both a date and location. Developers are encouraged to provide both piece of information, when appropriate, to make boarding passes relevant for a longer window of time.

Because it is beta software, a number of known issues remain with iOS 6.1. For example, Apple has notified developers that when browsing for TV shows in iTunes Store, options to view content by networks, genres and Genius recommendations are not available.

Sources who tested the first beta of iOS 6.1 indicated that the software was relatively stable, aside from some crashing issues that were present when using the camera’s panorama mode.

The last update to iOS arrived in the form of software version 6.0.1 earlier this month. It addressed a number of minor bugs with the software, including screen distortion, issues with the camera flash, and problems with Exchange.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new betas and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.