Skype 3.0 now available for iOS, allows video chat over 3G, Wi-Fi protocols

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Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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As expected, Skype has added a new video calling feature to version 3.0 of its iPhone app, giving users an alternate service from Apple’s own FaceTime video chat standard.

Per Engadget, reports emerged last week that Skype was planning to make “a series of video-related announcements” at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. A support document detailing how to make video calls via iPhone served as further evidence of the imminent release of a video-capable Skype iPhone app.

An update to the Skype for iOS app Thursday allows users to make Skype to Skype video calls over WiFi and 3G with other iOS Skype users or Skype desktop users, Engadget reports. Two-way video calls are only supported on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch, while iPad and third-generation iPod touch users can receive video calls. Video calling on Skype 3.0 requires iOS 4.0 or above.

Skype’s launch of video chat on the iPhone and iPod touch will challenge Apple’s efforts to get its FaceTime video conferencing standard to catch on. With over 500 million user accounts, Skype has the user base needed to promote rapid adoption of its video call features over Apple’s FaceTime.

Skype 3.0 is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new video chat feature on Skype and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple could release Verizon iPhone on or prior to February 14th, 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Apple is expected to hold an event “very soon,” perhaps by Valentine’s Day on February 14th 2011, to unveil a new CDMA version of the iPhone compatible with U.S. carrier Verizon’s network.

Per Bloomberg Businessweek, the alleged debut of the iPhone on Verizon is portrayed as an “enormous problem” for AT&T, the current exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S. While AT&T has had sole access to the iPhone since 2007, problems with its network have caused bad press, including a recent reader poll from Consumer Reports ranking AT&T the worst carrier in America.

“Verizon enjoys a reputation for reliability,” author Peter Burrows wrote. “AT&T is notorious for dropping calls, especially in densely populated places like New York and San Francisco where iPhones are most common and cell towers get loaded.”

The report said that Apple would hold one of its own “splashy product introductions to announce a new version of the iPhone that work’s on Verizon’s network,” and said that event would “maybe” come by Valentine’s Day.

Some have speculated that Apple would instead allow Verizon to announce the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, an uncharacteristic move for the typically controlling iPhone maker. But the report specifically stated that a CES unveiling is not in the plans.

“Apple’s introduction of an iPhone for use on Verizon’s network will come sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, according to a person familiar with Apple’s plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly,” Burrows wrote.

But while the apparently loss of exclusivity on the iPhone is cause for concern for AT&T, the report also suggested that Verizon could experience its own growing pains when Apple’s smartphone arrives on its network.

“At least initially, Verizon’s iPhone may have weaknesses compared to AT&T’s,” the report said. “The expense and hassle of changing carriers could also work to AT&T’s advantage.”

It also noted that iPhone customers may be less likely to switch from AT&T if they are still under contract, as the carrier upped its termination fee to US$325 in May of this year. The carrier also offered early upgrades for some iPhone 4 buyers whose contracts had not expired, locking them in to another two full years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if a Verizon iPhone is in your heart, please let us know what’s on your mind.

Apple looking to hire two software engineers to expand iOS’ “cloud-based” features

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Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, 04:05
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

When in doubt, there’s always cloud-based services to makes things nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is looking to expand its iOS development team with new employees who will enhance the company’s cloud-based services for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Just before Christmas, Apple posted two new job listings (1, 2) for the title of “iOS Software Engineer.” While the two full-time positions have different job descriptions, both describe an emphasis on remote storage for data access.

“Apple is hiring outstanding operations engineers to deliver and manage the next generation of hosted infrastructure serving Apple products and services,” one of the listings reads. The other says, “Apple is hiring experienced software engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access.”

One of the positions also seeks a candidate who has “experience developing large-scale offline or online storage systems.” Both positions are based at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus.

Some may view the hirings as further evidence of a cloud-based iTunes or other MobileMe-style services from Apple. The hirings could also be an effort by the company to bolster its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a device that also runs a version of the lightweight iOS operating system.

Numerous reports have indicated that Apple is interested in creating its own cloud-based iTunes service, which could allow users to stream their own music library from any Internet-connected device. It is believed that some of the functionality could come from Apple’s acquisition of Lala.

There’s also an e-mail allegedly sent by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs earlier this month, in which he purportedly said that his company’s MobileMe service would “get a lot better in 2011.” The US$99-per-year Internet-based service is an existing cloud venture from Apple, but a major portion of it, Find My iPhone, became free with the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple’s massive data center in North Carolina was set to launch this year, though Apple has not yet made any announcements for its potential use. But many have speculated that it will be used for cloud computing, perhaps via MobileMe, and streaming services, likely through iTunes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple could produce second-gen iPad with HSPA, EVDO models slated for March release date

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Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 06:16
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the second generations of a device where things get really interesting.

Per Electronista, Apple is looking to ship three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65% of shipments and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.

The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give the unit away for free.

Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.

Apple might also be eager to advance the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30% of which would be Wi-Fi, 40% HSPA and 30% EVDO. Additional shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn’t have to push it back to a previously cited April target.

The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly taking hold of as much as 65% to 75% of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google’s partners a much stronger platform.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Apple to release Q1 financial results on January 18, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 05:00
Category: Finance, News

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Apple has revealed that it will publish the financial results of its first fiscal quarter of 2011 on Tuesday, January 18, with a conference call to discuss the results following immediately after.

Per AppleInsider, the news was posted to Apple’s investor website along with the notice that a link to the conference call webcast “will be provided at a later date.” Apple will make the results public at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, 2:00 p.m. Pacific, following the close of the stock market.

The results, which will include the holiday season, are largely expected to be record-breaking.

Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter of 2010 results impressed Wall Street analysts, though limited supply of the iPad resulted in disappointing sales figures for the tablet device. The company’s profits soared 70% year-over-year to $4.31 billion, driven by record sales of iPhones, Macs and iPads.

The iPhone maker projected in October that it will earn US$23 billion in revenue and post diluted earnings per share of about US$4.80 for the upcoming first fiscal quarter.

Analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. predicts that Apple will sell 4.2 million Macs, 6.1 million iPads, 16 million iPhones and 17 million iPods in its first fiscal quarter of 2011.

Stay tuned on the 18th for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.6.6 update to include beginnings of Mac App Store integration

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Date: Friday, December 24th, 2010, 11:03
Category: News, Software

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This could be interesting.

Per MacGeneration, Apple plans to include some rudimentary integration between its upcoming Mac App Store and the next maintenance release of Mac OS X 10.6, according to discoveries made a MacGeneration forum member.

Mac OS X 10.6.6, due for release in the next few weeks, will offer users the option of searching the Mac App Store for applications when it runs into an unsupported file type for which no application has previously been assigned.

The Mac App Store — due to launch on January 6th — would return applications capable of opening the specific file.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts about the Mac App Store, please let us know.

Apple “Logo Antenna” patent unveiled

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Date: Friday, December 24th, 2010, 06:05
Category: News, Patents

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While embedding an antenna in the external body of an iPhone may not have been Apple’s best idea, hiding it behind the logo may be a little better thought out.

Per PatentlyApple, that’s the idea Apple wrote up in a patent application dated June 17th, 2009, back before we knew antennas and gates could be so wickedly conjoined.

This idea was also used for iMacs, which also have antennas peering through an apple-shaped hole to avoid any reception issues caused by an aluminum chassis. It looks to be a good solution, but not exactly a novel one. The idea was also incorporated in a similar 2003 patent from Dell also called “Logo Antenna,” the big difference being that while Apple’s logo forms a window for the antenna the logo in Dell’s patent actually is the antenna.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to receive iPod touch-like back, wide-ranger speaker system

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Date: Thursday, December 23rd, 2010, 03:21
Category: iPad, Rumor

The second-generation iPad may have a smaller bezel, a flat back panel and a wide-range speaker, a new unverified report claims.

Per Japanese Mac blog MacOtakara, an “anonymous Chinese source” has stated that the LCD screen on the next-generation iPad will stay the same size, while the new tablet will be 3mm smaller, reportedly measuring 239mm by 186mm. The current iPad, which measures 242.8 mm by 189.7 mm, was criticized for its wide bezel when it was first unveiled in January.

Apple will reportedly change the back of the new iPad to be “flat like an iPod touch,” which would also resolve criticisms that the iPad’s curved back is impractical. According to the report, the Ambient Light Sensor has been moved to the “upper center of the rear panel” and has a new 3mm slim hole.

The rumor also suggested that a slot on the bottom of the device, which was spotted in early case designs, is actually a “large wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh.”

Production of the new iPad has allegedly already begun, with a tentative shipping date of mid to late January, the report noted. Recent reports have suggested that Foxconn will begin shipping the iPad 2 to Apple in January or February. Apple could ramp up production capacity of the iPad to as much as 6 million per month.

A second rumor that the next iPad will have two cameras–a front camera for FaceTime and a rear camera equipped for recording video, was labeled as “unreliable information” by the blog.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Apple updates Remote app to version 2.1, includes AirPlay features

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Date: Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010, 13:25
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes it’s the little software updates that prove the coolest.

Per Macworld, Apple has released version 2.1 of the Remote application for its iOS-based devices.

The new version, which can be snagged via the App Store, includes the following fixes and changes:

- AirPlay video support to control iTunes on your computer to stream videos to an Apple TV.

- Internet radio control to play thousands of internet radio streams in iTunes on your computer.

- The ability to control iTunes on your computer to play Movies and TV shows that are rented from the iTunes Store.

- Addresses issues connecting to an iTunes library or Apple TV.

- Includes stability and performance improvements.

Remote 2.1 requires iOS 3.1.2 or later to install and run and is available for free.

Apple to shut down Mac OS X Downloads web site on January 6th, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, December 21st, 2010, 14:06
Category: News, Software

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The Mac App Store is en route and things are changing in preparation for its launch.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has revealed to developers that it will be shutting down its Downloads page for Mac OS X on Jan. 6, the day of the Mac App Store launch, as it focuses on the Mac App Store as “the best destination” for Mac OS X apps.

The company announced last week that the Mac App Store will debut in 90 countries on Jan. 6. Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the store at the October “Back to the Mac” media event, promising that the store would open within 90 days.

In an email to developers, Apple revealed its plans to remove downloadable apps from the company’s Mac OS X Downloads site, instead redirecting users to the Mac App Store.

“Thank you for making the Mac OS X Download site a great destination with apps that offer users new ways to work, play, learn, and create on their Mac.

We recently announced that on January 6, 2011, the Mac App Store will open to users around the world, presenting you with an exciting, new opportunity to reach millions of customers. Since the introduction of the App Store in 2008, we’ve been thrilled with the incredible support from developers and the enthusiastic response from users. Now we’re bringing the revolutionary experience of the App Store to Mac OS X.

Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site. Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store.

We appreciate your support of the Mac platform and hope you’ll take advantage of this new opportunity to showcase your apps to even more users. To learn how you can offer your apps on the Mac App Store, visit the Apple Developer website at http://developer.apple.com/programs/mac.”

For years, Apple’s Mac OS X Downloads site has served as a repository for Mac OS X apps. Though the site promotes a number of third-party applications, Apple also uses the page to feature several of its own Mac OS X applications, such as iTunes, Safari and iWork.

Like the App Store on iOS devices, developers will receive a 70% share of sales through the Mac App Store, with Apple keeping 30%. Unlike iOS, the Mac App Store will not be a “walled garden,” leaving developers free to offer their apps through other avenues. Developers have been encouraged to use their own websites for demos, trial versions, or betas of their software, since the Mac App Store will only accept “fully functional, retail versions” of apps.

Evidence of Mac App Store support has been found in developer builds of Mac OS X 10.6.6. The store will be available to Mac OS X Snow Leopard users as a free download through Software Update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.