AT&T confirms Personal Hotspot support for iOS 4.3, iPhone

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has confirmed that it will support the 3G/WiFi hotspot features that will come to the GSM iPhone 4 on March 11. Per ars technica, the company said that the pricing would remain the same as the current tethering model—AT&T customers must subscribe to the US$25 data plan that gives them 2GB per month, plus the extra US$20 tethering charge that gives them an extra 2GB. In all, that will make it US$45 per month for 4GB of data plus hotspot sharing when the feature arrives in iOS 4.3.

The iPhone’s hotspot feature first made its debut with the Verizon (CDMA) iPhone last month. Verizon iPhone users can currently pay US$30 per month for unlimited 3G data, and US$20 extra to use the hotspot feature with a 2GB cap. So, although the iPhone itself currently has no monthly data limit, those who decide to tether or share their 3G with other devices will have a lower hotspot data limit than AT&T’s comparable plan. And, if you use the hotspot sharing feature on your AT&T iPhone, it won’t pause your Internet connection when you receive a phone call.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think about the Personal Hotspot feature in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released the gold master build of its iOS 4.3, its forthcoming operating system update for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just over a week ahead of its scheduled March 11 release.

Per AppleInsider, the download is available to developers through Apple’s official iOS developer portal. People familiar with the software say it is known as build 8F190.

Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release, though two Golden Masters of iOS 4.2 were released after the first was found to have issues.

Apple announced the mobile operating system software update’s March 11 released date on Wednesday, and also showed off new, previously unannounced features. Among them is improved JavaScript performance, which is now said to be two times faster thanks to the Nitro engine taken from Mac OS X.

Improved iTunes Home Sharing will also allow users to access all of their content directly over Wi-Fi. And enhancements to AirPlay will allow applications and websites to stream over Wi-Fi to the Apple TV set top box. Sharing of photos over AirPlay can also use the built-in slide show options of iOS.

The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets users share their 3G data connection over Wi-Fi. Personal Hotspot will work with supporting carriers and monthly data plans on the iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also adds the ability to change the purpose of the hardware switch on the right side of the iPad and iPad 2. Users can choose to have the switch mute audio from the device, or have it serve as an orientation lock, as it originally did when the iPad first shipped last year.

The iOS 4.3 update is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. iTunes 10.2 has already been publicly released, adding compatibility with devices that are running iOS 4.3

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

iOS 4.3 en route, will be delayed for CDMA iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The good news: iOS is on its way.

The bad news: You might have to wait for the CDMA version of it for your Verizon iPhone.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement of iOS 4.3′s on March 11 had Apple explicitly exclude CDMA iPhone 4 from the list of supported devices, indicating that a separate build will be provided afterward.

The new iOS 4.3 release will officially support the 2009 iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod touch, and iPad models. This leaves out the CDMA iPhone 4 as well as Apple TV (which is normally updated on its own, independent schedule).

The Verizon iPhone 4 was released using its own software build, labeled iOS 4.2.5. Other iOS devices remained at iOS 4.2.1, which was released in November. Apple subsequently updated Verizon iPhones to iOs 4.2.6 to fix a bug related to its new Personal Hotspot feature.

Apart from the brief exclusive of its Personal Hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware. Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model.

Apple hasn’t announced a date for the Verizon iPhone release version of iOS 4.3, but it is likely to follow shortly after the initial release for GSM iPhones because the new build packs a variety of features and improvements.

The general features provided to all iOS devices by iOS 4.3 include Personal Hotspot (WiFi tethering), which Verizon iPhone users already have. However, there are also a number of other significant new improvements Verizon iPhone users will want, including:
- Improved Safari JavaScript performance using the Nitro engine, which Apple says boosts JavaScript execution up to twice as fast. JavaScript powers much of the interactivity of modern web apps.

- Support for AirPlay video streaming by third party apps, as well as videos within the web browser or within the Photos app. Streamed photos also use slideshow transitions.

- The ability to locally stream (without downloading or syncing) any content from your iTunes library via Home Sharing: music, movies, TV, podcasts, or audiobooks.

New minor features in iOS 4.3
- A new Noteworthy font in Notes

- Fixes a slideshow stop after 15 image when using AirPlay

- The ability to cancel and delete an app that is downloading. It is currently only possible to delete an app that has been installed.

- A slightly redesigned keyboard; missing accented letters in European keyboard popups; increased font size for China and Pinyin inputs

- A new Parental Controls setting for the iTunes Ping social network

- A new menu for scrubbing in videos, with Fine Scrubbing by seconds/frames; Quarter Scrubbing by second; Half Speed Scrubbing by minute and Hi-Speed Scrubbing by minutes.

- A new Updates section in the App Store and new Accounts section in the Store menu.

- Location Services settings moves from General to Settings Menu, and both Location Services and Mail accounts ON/OFF button is changed to a lock symbol.

Some minor features (outside of Personal Hotspot) and bug fixes are also targeting just GSM iPhones:
- Baseband is updated to 05.16.00 (for iPhone 3GS), 04.10.01 (for GSM iPhone 4).

- Enabled Traffic Volume Indicator IE in CELL UPDATE; fixes issue with integrity protection failing after SRNS relocation and iPhone units deactivating and not activating after baseband logging is enabled.

- A control to set repeat of text tone (up to 10 times).

- Automatic refresh of information displayed in Field Test Mode (removing manual refresh).

- Slideshow options have moved to Photos app.

- New Contact photo user interface.

- Dual vibrate when receiving a text message.

A variety of minor changes and bug fixes are also addressed in iOS 4.3:
- Accessibility: Voice Over now reads the entire chart in stocks app while in landscape mode. Fixed issues that prevented controls from being dismissed, or that prevented the keyboard from returning when highlighting and swiping through search results.

- Calendar: deleting a recurring event now make the alarm go away; fixed an all-day alarm going off an hour early. Canceled recurring CalDAV calendar events now removed on the event list. Fixed Exchange calendar event duplicating when passing Israeli daylight savings time.

- Language: updates inconsistent translations in Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese; fixes auto-correction issue when switch back from Emoji to English keyboard.

- Mail: fixes orientation of Mail not following device orientation under specific conditions; fixes popover when drilling into a thread while the empty search field is focused; fixes mail message view and orientation when quickly selecting a message and hitting edit mode.

- Safari: addresses issue that caused browser to crash after loading certain websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 update

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

- Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3

iTunes 10.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Patent granted for scratch-proof nitride coating on Apple devices

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 08:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

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The good news: Your Apple device might get a bit tougher.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has been granted ownership of an invention related to scratch-proof coatings on stainless steel devices, using a nitride layer to potentially make iPhones, iPads and Macs more durable.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week granted ownership of the invention “Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products” to Apple. Known as U.S. Patent No. 7896981, it describes a cost-effective system that uses a nitride coating to prevent scratches and blemishes on the metal surface of a mobile device.

Adding a layer of nitride atop a stainless steel exterior would protect a device from damage. But the choice of material would maintain the look and feel of stainless steel, as nitride allows the color of the metal to show through.

Nitride is not to be confused with titanium nitride, a ceramic material that is also used as a coating on metal. Unlike nitride, which is clear, titanium nitride has a metallic gold color that conceals the look of the metal beneath it.

Apple’s invention notes that stainless steel, while scratch-prone, is an ideal material to craft electronic devices. Stainless steel is preferable because it is not magnetic, and it is less likely to inhibit wireless technology like a cell phone signal, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The addition of nitride could give Apple the best of both worlds: the advantages of stainless steel would remain, while a nitride coating would address the chief concern of durability.

The invention also includes specifics on how the nitride coating would be applied to a device. It describes using a salt bath nitride process to coat stainless steel with an initial layer at least 15 to 30 microns thick and with a Vickers Hardness value of at least 1,000. Another method would use a nitrogen salt bath with an average temperature of no more than 580 degrees Celsius.

After the stainless steel sits in a superheated salt bath for between 45 and 90 minutes, the material would be removed and the nitride layer would be polished to remove no more than 10 percent, resulting in a smooth exterior.

Apple first filed for the invention in April of 2010. The invention is credited to Douglas Weber.

Random House may soon bring catalog to iBookstore

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 05:16
Category: iPad, News

If you can get the big fish, the others will follow.

Per AppleInsider, Random House, the world’s largest book publisher and most high profile holdout from Apple’s eBook digital download, could soon bring its catalog of top selling novels to the electronics maker’s iOS ecosystem.

In a brief statement to the media Monday, Random House said that it has agreed to “the agency model for e‐book sales” in the U.S. effective Tuesday. That means that going forward, “Random House will set consumer prices for the e‐ books we publish, and […] will provide retailers with a commission for each sale,” the publisher said.

The concession could bring to an end a near year-long standoff between Random House and Apple’s iTunes-based iBookstore, which operates on the so called ‘agency model’ that allows the company serving the content to take a cut of sales. For its iBookstore, Apple employs the same 70-30 split that has seen renowned success on its App Store for software on the iPhone and iPod touch.

“The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms,” Random House said. “We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships.”

The statement appears to imply that the publisher could be on the verge of announcing plans to bring its catalog to Apple’s iOS devices though the iPhone and iPad maker’s iBookstore. Currently, iOS device users can only purchase and download from Random House’s digital catalog through Amazon’s Kindle app for those devices.

In the lead up to the launch of Apple’s iPad last April, Random House executives were said to be exploring the adoption of the agency model with their authors and agents before agreeing to Apple’s terms, which dictate that Apple receives a 30% cut of all sales on the iBookstore. At the time, chief executive Markus Dohle said his company hadn’t ruled out reaching a deal before the April 3rd, 2010 launch of the tablet device, but added that he was proceeding with caution.

Under the traditional business model, resellers have bought books from publishers at discount prices and then marked them up to make a profit through sales. But Apple’s agency approach has the publishers set the prices paid by consumers — something Random House executives were concerned could lead to considerably lower prices, and thus lower profits.

Word that Random House could join on the iBookstore five of its biggest competitors — HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan and Simon & Shuster — comes just two days before Apple is expected to take the wraps off its second-generation iPad in San Francisco, a device that is rapidly altering the landscape of the publishing industry.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as we get them.

Analyst: Apple may be looking into offering lower-priced/prepaid iPhone option

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 05:33
Category: iPhone, News

A series of comments from Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook indicate that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich” have fueled speculation that the company is interested in offering a cheaper iPhone.

According to Forbes, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi met last week with Cook, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer, and Vice President of Online Services Eddy Cue. The analyst came away with the impression that Apple is “likely to develop lower priced offerings” in its handset business.

Cook also reportedly said that Apple is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market. He also said that Apple is “not ceding any market,” and the company doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich.”

Cook’s comments, and the analyst’s interpretations, come soon after two prominent publications claimed that Apple is working on a new, smaller, US$200 contract-free iPhone that it could sell directly to customers and bypass wireless carrier contracts. Both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal said that Apple’s alleged plans were in an effort to compete with Google’s growing Android mobile platform.

Going against the tide, The New York Times rebuffed those two reports only days later, and said that Apple is not developing a smaller handset. However, it was reported by the Times that Apple has explored opportunities to create a less expensive iPhone.

In his meeting with Sacconaghi, cook reportedly referred to the iPhone as “the mother of all halos,” as the handset has expanded sales of Apple’s other devices, particularly in emerging markets. Apple has long referred to sales of the iPod — and later iPhone — as having a “halo effect” that drives sales of Macs.

And one emerging market where Apple has found great success in a short period of time is China. Cook reportedly acknowledged that Apple has spent “huge energy” in China, and also noted that it is a “classic prepaid market,” which would be an ideal candidate for a cheaper iPhone.

The company is also said to be looking to expand its carrier partnerships. Oppenheimer said that Apple has 175 carrier partners, while rival Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, partners with 550 carriers.

Cook also said he believes the tablet market will eventually be bigger than the PC market, and that competition for tablets will be even more intense than with smartphones. He also hinted that the company has interesting new things in its product pipeline.

Finally, Oppenheimer also said that Apple’s current capital structure is not efficient. He said the company is likely to use its cash to secure supplies of key components, much like the recent secret US$3.9 billion deal Apple recently revealed it made with component suppliers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins shipping build-to-order MacBook Pro orders, cites March 3rd delivery date

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Date: Monday, February 28th, 2011, 07:34
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Apple’s first build-to-order units for its 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks began shipping, the company promising delivery by next Thursday.

Per AppleInsider, Apple began dispatching these shipments from its Far Eastern manufacturing facilities to Fed-Ex’s Shanghai, China-based shipping hub where they’ll be mailed via air fright this weekend to the courier’s stateside hubs for delivery to customers early next week.

Apple is currently promising delivery by Thursday the 3rd through its own order status system, while FedEx is a bit more ambitious, promising delivery by 10:30 am local time on Wednesday the 2nd for this particular order.

It should be noted that the custom configured MacBook Pro shown in the order below was shipped via Apple’s US$18 2-3 day shipping method, as opposed to its standard free shipping method. This particular notebook was upgraded with a 256GB SSD drive and 8GB of memory.

Meanwhile, several of Apple’s larger authorized resellers are already reflecting stock of the company’s five standard retail configurations for the MacBook Pro. And a handful are offering considerable early discounts of up to US$150 on the new models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent support note indicates that 2011 MacBook Air, Pro units will only support Windows 7 under Boot Camp

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Date: Monday, February 28th, 2011, 06:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Per a recent Apple support note released Friday, the company’s new MacBook Pro models and the recently refreshed MacBook Air won’t support Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Note: Windows XP and Vista drivers are not supplied for these computers and are not supported.

According to the Apple Core, the note states that Book Camp will support 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate. If you’re running Window XP or Vista on an older Mac and are moving up to one the new notebooks, then you will have to put a Windows upgrade into your budget.

Window 7 running on Boot Camp requires:

-An optical drive (MacBook Air computers require an external optical disc drive to install Windows 7).

-A blank CD or USB storage device to contain the Windows Drivers created by the Boot Camp Assistant.

-For 32-bit versions of Windows, at least 16 GB of free space.

-For 64-bit versions of Windows, at least 20 GB of free space.

-Boot Camp Assistant, which is pre-installed in /Applications/Utilities/

-An authentic, 32-bit or 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate disc.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you have a new early 2011 MacBook Pro notebook and have had any experience with Boot Camp, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: iPad 2 to lack Retina Display, SD card slot

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Date: Friday, February 25th, 2011, 06:18
Category: iPad, Rumor

Although Apple is likely to show off a new iPad in San Francisco on March 2nd, the unit will reportedly arrive without a Retina Display or built-in SD card slot, contrary to previous reports that both would be included.

Per Engadget, sources have stated that “engineering issues” led Apple to make last-minute design changes on the device. That’s a change from what the site reported in January.

“It’s worth noting once again that these sources have been dead right on specific Apple plans and specifications for unannounced products in the past, and we have no reason to believe these changes are due to anything more than legitimate engineering decisions made close to launch,” editor Joshua Topolsky wrote.

The report claims that Apple will introduce a thinner iPad next week, with a screen size and resolution identical to the first-generation device. The new model will reportedly include 512MB of RAM, doubling last year’s model and matching the iPhone 4, inside of a new, faster A5 processor.

The new iPad is also widely expected to include at least one forward facing camera camera for FaceTime video chat. Some third-party cases have also shown that the iPad 2 could have a rear-facing camera as well.

Topolsky also predicted that Apple will show off a preview of iOS 5 next week and issue a software development kit for developers. And he believes the company could possibly show off an expansion of its plans to expand services in the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.