Apple releases iOS 4.3 beta to developer community

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Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 05:20
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first beta of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV to the developer community. Per Macstories.net, the update will bring support for Personal Hotspot, new multi-touch gestures, the ability for third-party applications to use AirPlay, and a software option for changing the functionality of the iPad hardware switch.

The initial beta is available to developers in the iOS Dev Center. iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is dubbed build 8F5148b.

According to the article, iOS 4.3 brings new multi-touch gestures built specifically for the iPad, including 4- and 5-finger gestures. The new beta reportedly allows users to pinch to access the home screen, to swipe up to reveal the multitasking tray, and swipe left and right to switch between open applications.

In addition, another iOS 4.3 beta for the Apple TV was also released. It allows developers to test AirPlay functionality with iOS applications on the new Apple TV.

Update: In addition, the new update also reportedly adds the ability to change the functionality of the iPad hardware switch. When the iPad launched, the switch originally acted as an orientation lock, but with the release of iOS 4.2, the button changed to mute the device.

The download page makes no mention of the iPhone 3G or second-generation iPod touch. Supported devices currently include the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The new beta confirms rumors that Apple would add its new Personal Hotspot feature to existing GSM iPhones with iOS 4.3. The functionality allows users to share their 3G data connection with up to five devices over Wi-Fi. Those reports claimed that Apple plans to publicly release iOS 4.3 in March.

The new Wi-Fi tethering ability was first revealed on the new CDMA iPhone for Verizon when the product was announced on Tuesday. That forthcoming phone was demonstrated running a different version of iOS, 4.2.5. The latest public version of iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is 4.2.1.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may add Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T/GSM iPhone in iOS 4.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 04:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The much-hyped Personal Hotspot feature found on iOS 4.2.5 will not remain exclusive to the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4, and will arrive with the release of iOS 4.3 for existing GSM-based handsets, according to a new rumor.

Per iPhoneHellas.gr, (via Google Translate), the feature will be part of a purported update in the works known as iOS 4.3. The rumor was credited to “reliable information” obtained by the site.

The Personal Hotspot feature is included in a new version of iOS, dubbed 4.2.5, that was spotted on pre-release CDMA iPhone hardware shown off at Tuesday’s Verizon iPhone press conference. The feature is found in the Settings application on the phone, where it can be turned on or off and the Wi-Fi password can be changed.

In addition, on Tuesday iPhoneclub.nl also reported that the iOS 4.3 update will only support the mobile hotspot feature, which allows up to five devices to be connected to a 3G data connection over Wi-Fi, will only be available if a carrier offers it.

AT&T famously did not allow tethering on the iPhone in the U.S. even after Apple had added the ability to share a wireless Internet connection via USB or Bluetooth to its mobile operating system. The feature eventually arrived last June alongside new, capped data plans. Tethering with an iPhone on AT&T costs an extra US$20 per month.

When asked on Tuesday whether AT&T will offer the Personal Hotspot feature on its network, a company spokesperson said they wouldn’t “speculate” on potential future features. Apple has not made any mention of the Personal Hotspot coming to existing iPhones since the feature was first revealed on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Verizon deal could open doors for other carriers to carry iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, News

If there’s a domino effect with the iPhone coming to Verizon, this could get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook revealed on Tuesday that his company’s agreement with Verizon for the CDMA iPhone is non-exclusive, meaning the new handset could also appear on Sprint’s CDMA network.

When asked if the new CDMA iPhone is exclusive to Verizon, Cook called the deal “multi-year” and “non-exclusive.” That means the other major CDMA carrier in the U.S., Sprint, could also offer Apple’s smartphone, if it were to reach a deal with Apple.

Of course, the non-exclusive deal also leaves open the possibility of a future GSM iPhone offering compatibility with the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile.

T-Mobile’s U.S. network relies on different frequencies in the AWS 3G spectrum, supporting the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, while AT&T supports 850MHz and 1900MHz. The current iPhone hardware does not support the 1700MHz frequency, meaning a modification of the hardware would be necessary.

Another possibility could be regional wireless provider MetroPCS, the fifth-largest carrier in the U.S. Like Verizon and Sprint, it too operates a CDMA network.

Prior to Tuesday’s news, some had speculated that Verizon could pay Apple extra in their deal to keep the iPhone away from other carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint, leaving Apple’s smartphone only available from AT&T and Verizon.

Outside of the U.S., the new CDMA iPhone will likely also allow Apple to make the iPhone available on other carriers like China Telecom. Last October, it was rumored that Apple and China Telecom were already in talks to offer a CDMA variant of the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon announces iPhone, will begin selling units on February 10th

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Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 12:45
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve been hankering for it for over a year.

And now it’s less than a month away.

Per Reuters, wireless carrier Verizon will begin selling a version of the phone on February 10 at the same prices as AT&T Inc.

“I’m going to switch right away. I’m going to go back to Verizon,” said Raheem Noble, 24, a New York City rapper, who was on his way to buy the device before being told that pre-orders would not begin until February 3.

The new phone puts an end to AT&T’s three-year-old status as the exclusive U.S. provider for the iPhone — but leaves questions over how much Verizon Wireless would be able to capitalize on the deal with Apple.

For one, Verizon did not say on Tuesday what it would charge for its iPhone data and service plans when the phone goes on sale. There were expectations that it would trump AT&T by offering the device with unlimited data service plans.

Verizon likely will announce those prices before pre-orders begin on February 3, said Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Daniel Mead. He said he was prepared for “unprecedented” demand.

The phone will not work all around the world because it runs on the CDMA network, which is not supported in many big markets such as the United Kingdom and France.

In addition, Verizon’s first iPhone customers may buy a phone that is outdated only months later if Apple upgrades the iPhone on its typical early summer launch schedule.

“Some buyers may want to wait for a new iPhone that is likely coming in June. I already had people coming to me asking, ‘should I wait?’” said BGC partners analyst Colin Gillis. “On the other hand, a surprising number of people just don’t want to wait.”

Some analysts, pointing to years of pent-up demand among Verizon Wireless customers, expect it to sell 9 million to 13 million iPhone 4 units this year.

Verizon, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, said the phone would be available at 2,000 of its stores. Prices with a two-year agreement for US$199.99 for the 16-gigabyte model or US$299.99 for the 32-gigabyte model — comparable to what AT&T charges.

Still, there are some provisos to consider: A CDMA iPhone will not allow users to simultaneously support voice and data connections, the same limitation that faced users of the original iPhone connecting to AT&T’s EDGE network.

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst with Fort Pitt Capital Group, which holds shares in Verizon, said she believes there are many people who have been reluctant to buy an iPhone because of worries about the quality of AT&T’s network.

As an example she cited her home town of Pittsburgh: “A lot of people in Pittsburgh are really excited about the prospect of having a Verizon iPhone. I don’t believe they are alone. I don’t think we are a unique market,” she said.

On the other hand, AT&T is expected to face its toughest year since 2004 as a result of the Verizon deal with Apple.

AT&T, which has come under fire for patchy wireless service in some cities, nonetheless added an estimated 15 million new iPhone customers in 2010. It has tried to reduce its dependence on the iPhone by adding other devices to its service.

“For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use apps at the same time, and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T,” an AT&T spokesman said following the Verizon announcement.

One problem for Verizon Wireless may be the high cost of selling Apple products, which come at a premium to other smartphones, analysts said.

Like AT&T, Verizon Wireless will have to shoulder part of the cost of the devices to convince people to sign long-term contracts.

Verizon Wireless will have to pay a US$400 subsidy for each iPhone it sells if it keeps the price in line with AT&T’s, UBS analyst John Hodulik estimated.

Rumor: Apple may include Genius Bars, display more Macs in Best Buy locations

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Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 06:31
Category: Rumor

Retail giant Best Buy may update its Apple store-within-a-store boutiques to feature a larger display of Macs in addition to staffed Genius Bars that would mirror those found in every Apple retail store.

Per an anonymous tip received by The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the move could come as early as this spring according to a Best Buy employee who had been briefed on the matter by his official Apple representative.

If true, it would be the first time that Apple has expanded its trademark Genius Bars outside of its own brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Apple retail chief Ron Johnson has long referred to the Genius Bars as the “heart and soul” of his company’s stores. The counters currently operate on a reservation system and are staffed by specially trained and certified Apple “Geniuses.”

Customers can typically schedule a Genius Bar reservation online via their computer, iPod, iPhone or iPad, up to 72 hours in advance, or alternatively choose sign up for an open appointment once they arrive at the store.

Best Buy has worked in close partnership with Apple since 2006, when the two companies agreed to a 7-store pilot program designed to highlight Mac personal computers inside Best Buy retail stores.

The program, which has since expanded to roughly 500 Best Buy locations nationwide, has seen the placement of distinct Apple boutiques — designed to resemble mini Apple stores — inside the specialty electronics retailer’s computer departments.

Best Buy has also been the recipient of other preferred treatment from Apple. For instance, two years ago it became the first independent U.S. reseller to offer the iPhone to its customers. Last year, it was similarly the only retailer authorized to take pre-orders for the inaugural iPad alongside Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T now selling iPhone 3GS for $49 to qualified customers

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Date: Friday, January 7th, 2011, 03:18
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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Sometimes you have to do interesting things to stay in the game.

Per the cool cats at the Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T announced on Thursday that on Friday, January 7, it will start selling the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$49 to new and upgrade-eligible customers. Last month, retailers including Best Buy and Radio Shack offered temporary $49 iPhone 3GS deals, but now that price point is official, at least from AT&T: at the time this article was posted, Apple’s online store continues to offer the iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Apple released the iPhone 3GS during the summer of 2009, but it continued to be sold for US$99 after the iPhone 4 was announced last summer. Radio Shack’s holiday deal last month also knocked US$50 off the price of the iPhone 4, but prices for the current-gen smartphone seem poised to remain where they previously were for the time being.

Rumors have persistedthat the iPhone is headed to Verizon soon, which may have prompted the price change by AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple adds ‘Support Profile’ feature to web site, allows users check warranty info

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Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:21
Category: News

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It’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it could be useful.

Apple on Wednesday added a new feature to the Support section of its web site, dubbed “My Support Profile,” where users can track their repair and support activities, as well as check on the status of a warranty.

Per AppleInsider, users can now log in to the new site at supportprofile.apple.com with their Apple ID and password. From there, all Apple products registered to the person’s name are listed, and more can be added. It can even detect the serial number of a Mac being used to visit the site.

The site lets users initiate a support call with Apple, or set up a repair of a faulty device through AppleCare. It also offers the ability to add an AppleCare Protection Plan to hardware.

Products can be given a “nickname” to make them easier to identify, and information such as the device’s serial number is available. Users can also edit their personal contact information, and set up VoicePass or text message support preferences based on telephone number and time of day.

The site keeps a record of phone support calls, with a recommended list of potential fixes for the issue discussed. Users can also check the status of a repair that may be in progress, or view previous repairs or replacements of products.

The site also tracks repair activities that may have taken place in an Apple retail store, giving details of the user’s request, the service administered, and confirmation that the product was returned.

If you’ve tried the new service and have any feedback to offer, please let us know and thanks in advance!

Unconfirmed iPhone 5/Verizon iPhone photos surface

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Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The nice thing about technology: there’s always something nifty on the horizon.

Or at least pictures of the nifty thing on the horizon.

Per SmartPhone Medic, new pictures claim to show a redesigned stainless steel frame for the iPhone, with new placement of black bands on the perimeter of the handset’s frame, the metal band which also acts as the phone’s antenna.

The photos from SmartPhone Medic claim to be from a “very reliable source” and purport to show an “unreleased iPhone design.” The alleged new frame is pictured next to the existing one used in the current iPhone 4.

The photos appear to have been doctored in order to, at the very least, remove shadows and colors from the white background. While no claims about the authenticity of the photos in question, they are reposted here for interest and discussion.

SmartPhone Medic gained attention last August, when it acquired a genuine front panel for the then-unannounced fourth-generation iPod touch, complete with a spot for a forward-facing camera. But unlike that scoop, the alleged iPhone frame published Wednesday is not a hands-on look, just pictures.

Both frames look largely the same in the pictures, but the alleged new part has a few key differences found in the placement of “antenna gaps.” The current iPhone 4 has three gaps — two on the side, one on top — while the pictured part shows four — two on each side, none on top.

The antenna gap on the bottom left side of the current iPhone 4 caused a major controversy last year, when it was revealed that bridging that gap with a hand or even a fingertip could result in degradation of wireless reception. There were numerous rumors that Apple would revise the design of the iPhone 4 to address the issue, but Apple instead held a press conference to explain the situation and offered customers a free “bumper” case to fix it.

The alleged iPhone part also shows the device’s frame with a retained spot for a micro-SIM card, suggesting it could be a redesign of the current GSM handset, or could be a new “world” phone with both GSM and CDMA. Apple is rumored to release a CDMA compatible phone in the near future.

Another possibility, if the frame is legitimate, is for a CDMA phone that also has a micro-SIM slot for 4G long-term evolution connectivity. While CDMA does not use a SIM card, Verizon’s high-speed 4G network does. Finally, it’s possible the alleged part could be for a prototype “iPhone 5,” thought Apple is not expected to release a full-fledged fifth-generation device until this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.