O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Apple initiates first-gen iPod nano replacement program, cites occasional battery overheating concerns

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Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:53
Category: iPod Nano, News

Sometimes you just have to make amends.

Per MacRumors, Apple has initiated a replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to issues with the device’s battery overheating.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker first acknowledged the issue in 2008, offering replacements to customers who experienced overheating. The defect prompted investigations from several international government agencies, including South Korea, Japan and Europe.

In 2010, the trade ministry in Japan ordered Apple to publicize the replacement offer on its Japanese website.

According to the article, Apple began sending out emails to purchasers of the first-generation iPod nano on Friday, notifying them of the replacement program.

“Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006,” the company wrote. “This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.”

The company now recommends that users stop using their first-generation iPod nanos and order a replacement. Customers can bring their iPod nanos an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for help securing a replacement. They can also order a new unit via the web. Replacements will take approximately six weeks to arrive.

The fact that the likelihood of overheating increases over time explains why Apple chose to publicize the program now, more than six years after the first affected devices hit the market. iPod-related fire incidents have been reported since as early as 2005, though the Consumer Product Safety Commission ruled several years ago the the incidences weren’t common enough to warrant a full recall.

Apple had previously said that less than 0.001 percent of first-generation iPod nanos experienced the overheating issue, but it has yet to indicate how much that percentage has increased over time.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or have engaged in the replacement program, please let us know.

Apple releases third iTunes 10.5.1 beta, focuses on iTunes Match feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:23
Category: iTunes, News, Software

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After erasing developers’ iTunes Match accounts, Apple has supplied its developers with a third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 to test the new US$24.99-per-year service.

Per AppleInsider, the third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 is now available to members of Apple’s developer program. The company said it includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match.”

All who are testing the iTunes Match service, which also remains in beta, must update to the latest iTunes 10.5.1 beta in order to continue using the subscription service. The last beta was supplied earlier this month, and brought iTunes Match testing to the Apple TV.

The first beta of iTunes 10.5.1 was supplied to developers in October, soon after the public release of iTunes 10.5. Apple originally promised that iTunes Match would become publicly available by the end of October, but that deadline came and went without comment from the company.

As Apple continues to attempt to work out kinks with iTunes Match, the company once again erased accounts Saturday morning. Developers were notified on Friday that their iTunes Match beta libraries would be erased as Apple continues to prepare for the forthcoming launch of the service.

When it is eventually publicly available, iTunes Match will support music collections of up to 25,000 songs for US$24.99 per year. The service will scan users’ personal music libraries, including songs obtained from ripped CDs or other locations, and match them up with tracks sold on the iTunes Store.

iTunes Match subscribers will be able to re-download any of their matched songs on other enabled devices, including iPhones and iPads. Those downloads will be 256Kbps AAC files, even if the original user-owned files are of lower quality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple now offering unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S units via online store to U.S. customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 10:40
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve wanted it since 2007 and it’s finally here.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has begun offering its unlocked iPhone 4S contract-free from the online store.

The unlocked iPhone 4S starts at US$649 for the 16GB model, while customers can also get a 32GB option for US$749, or 64GB for US$849. All three models are estimated to ship within one to two weeks when ordered from Apple’s online store.

The unlocked iPhone 4S is only supported on GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. Users can also obtain a micro-SIM card to use on overseas carriers when traveling abroad.

Customers of CDMA networks, like Verizon and Sprint, should not buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, because it cannot be activated on their networks, even though the iPhone 4S is a “world phone” compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks.

“If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice,” Apple’s official product description reads.

“It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.”

The company warns that a credit check may be required for customers to buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, and the handset is only available to buy for customers who are 18 or older.

Apple first revealed that the new iPhone 4S would be sold unlocked and contract-free in October. The sale of the unlocked iPhone 4S at Apple’s online store in the U.S. means the company met is previously promised deadline of November.

The unlocked iPhone 4S arrives five months after Apple began selling the GSM iPhone 4 unlocked in June. The contract-free iPhone 4 also carried a starting price of $649 for 16GB.

Stay tuned for additional details and while it may be pricey, it’s the unlocked, contract-free freedom you’ve been hankering for.

Apple releases MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5 for unspecified MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 05:37
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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In addition to the AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule firmware updates, Apple on Friday also released MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5, which reportedly “resolves an issue where a MacBook Pro being used with a power adapter may unexpectedly shut down under heavy workload if the battery charge level is near empty.”

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, it’s not entirely clear which models of MacBook Pro are covered by this firmware update.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and requires a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later on the Mac OS X 10.6 end and Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later for the Mac OS X 10.7 end to install and run.

This one’s still sort of up in the air, so if you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any major changes, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Bases Station, Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 05:07
Category: News, Software, Time Capsule, wireless

Early Friday, Apple released AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6 for its AirPort Express, 802.11n AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models.

The update, a 4.6 megabyte download, provides fixes for the following:
– An issue with performance on overlapping wireless networks.

– An issue with AirPlay audio streaming.

– An issue with configuring multiple entries for DNS servers.

To install the update, use the following steps:
– Open AirPort Utility (in your /Applications/Utilities folder). If there are no other important issues displayed, the base station in need of an update will be selected and the version information will be displayed).

– Click “Update Firmware”.

– Follow the prompts.

The update takes about two minutes to install and reboot the device from there and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any major changes, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 5.0.1 update, offer battery, security, document, speech recognition fixes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 12:23
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it and it’s here.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple released iOS 5.0.1, the latest version of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:
– Fixes bugs affecting battery life.

– Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.

– Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud.

– Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation.

iOS 5.0.1 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

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

Apple patent points towards clip-on iPod nano, iPod shuffle devices with integrated speakers

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iPod, News, Patents

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It’s the patents that make tech interesting.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in building a clip-on iPod with the same wearable form factor as the current iPod nano or iPod shuffle, but with a new integrated speaker built directly into the rear clip.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled, “Speaker Clip.”

The text of the proposed invention makes no specific mention of the iPod nano, or even the similarly shaped iPod shuffle. In fact, it doesn’t even include Apple’s iPod brand name. But the accompanying images show a device that looks like the current clip-on iPod nano and iPod shuffle, only with the new inclusion of an integrated speaker.

The new iPod would feature the same clip on the back that is found on the current wearable models, but that new clip would have a cavity in the middle. Filling that hole would be an “acoustical device,” or speaker.

That speaker could simply be used for user-interface feedback, providing simple sounds such as clicks to create a more intuitive experience for users when utilizing the multi-touch screen on the front of an iPod nano. Or it could also be used as a more full-featured — albeit tiny — speaker to listen to music tracks, or perhaps even do something new, like play games.

The speaker located on the attachment clip would be wired back to the main housing of the device through a “conduit” in the spring-loaded hinge that attaches the clip to the device. The speaker could also be protected by a cover that could shield the speaker from the elements, but also allow sound to pass through.

The filing notes that any kind of acoustic speaker could be used in this device, but one example given is a piezoelectric speaker. The conduit that connects the speaker to the main housing and processor could be a coaxial cable, flex microstrip, or fine gauge wire.

The protective cover layer could be a solid surface with numerous perforations, allowing sound to pass through. A mesh layer atop the speaker, woven from either plastic, metal or natural fibers, could be attached with an adhesive to the protective cover layer.

The iPod nano gained its touchscreen-driven design in September 2010 with its sixth-generation hardware revision. The small, wearable device is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than its predecessor, yet it still manages to include up to 16GB of storage, a 30-pin dock connector, hardware volume buttons and a lock button, an FM radio, and even Nike+ integration with a pedometer.

There has been some previous evidence that Apple plans to expand the functionality of its diminutive iPod nano even further while retaining its current form factor. One alleged prototype reveled in a picture this May claimed to show a rear-facing camera placed on the device. But this week’s filing is the first suggestion of an integrated speaker.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in May of 2010. It is credited to John Benjamin Filson, Eugene Whang, and Matthew Rohrbach.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon counters against Siri, purchases Yap voice recognition startup

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 06:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

When in doubt about the competition, roll your own version and see what happens.

As competition between Amazon and Apple in the mobile devices market continues to grow, the online retailer has purchased a voice-to-text company called Yap.

Per The Atlantic, a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that Amazon’s acquisition of Yap was completed in September. The filing does not specifically name Amazon, but lists “Dion Acquisition Sub,” headquartered out of an Amazon-owned building in Seattle, Wash.

Yap offered a consumer-level voicemail-to-text service in private beta, but it was the company’s proprietary intellectual property that helped it raise US$6.5 million in venture capital in 2008. Yap is based out of Charlotte, N.C., and the service was discontinued in October following the apparent acquisition by Amazon.

Apple acquired Siri, which previously made an iPhone application, in April of 2010 for a rumored US$200 million. Now found on the iPhone 4S, Siri allows users to speak to it in natural language to gather information or accomplish complex tasks, like composing an e-mail or creating a calendar event.

While the Siri feature is driven by technology acquired by Apple, the iPhone 4S-exclusive voice recognition software is also believed to incorporate intellectual property from Nuance Communications, makers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Neither Apple nor Nuance have confirmed that Nuance technology is utilized in Siri.

Amazon’s interest in voice recognition technology comes as the company is prepared to launch its own color touchscreen tablet, the Kindle Fire, which will go on sale next week at a price of US$199, or less than half of Apple’s entry-level US$499 iPad.

While Apple sells devices like the iPhone and iPad with high margins and supports them with an ecosystem of content through iTunes and the App Store, Amazon’s entrance into the portable hardware business with devices like the Kindle Fire employs a very different approach. Instead of making money on hardware sales, Amazon aims to tie customers into its own ecosystem of buying products through its online storefront.

Amazon admitted to investors late last month that the impending launch of the Kindle Fire could pose a threat to its future profits. One estimate issued in September suggested that Amazon is poised to lose US$50 for each Kindle Fire it sells.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Adobe to announce cancelation of Flash Player for mobile platforms

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Date: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

It’s had a good run, but maybe it’s time to move on to something else.

Per ZDNet, Adobe has briefed its employees on the company’s plans to abandon development of Flash player for mobile browsers in a blow to Google Android and Research in Motion PlayBook tablets, according to a new report.

Citing “sources close to Adobe” late Tuesday, ZDNet went on to claim that the company will soon make the following announcement, possibly as early as Wednesday:
“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.”

Adobe’s partners will reportedly receive an email briefing them on the fact that it is “stopping development on Flash Player for browsers on mobile,” the report continued. The company will instead focus its efforts on mobile applications, desktop content “in and out of browser,” and investments in HTML5.

The rumored announcement can largely be seen as a win for Apple and a loss for Android tablets and the Playbook. Competitors to the iPad and iPhone had originally touted Adobe Flash as a major selling point for their devices over Apple’s mobile offerings, which have eschewed Flash. RIM had highlighted in videos the fact that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was Flash-capable.

Making the resource-intensive Flash work for low-power mobile situations has long been a thorn in Adobe’s side. The company has encountered delays as it struggled to streamline Flash to run on mobile processors. Earlier this year, Motorola bragged that its Xoom tablet would come “fully Flash-enabled,” but then went ahead and launched the device without initial Flash support, promising to add it later.

The end of mobile Flash could also be seen as a vindication of Apple’s decision to steer clear of it. The late Steve Jobs famously called out Adobe for its struggles with Flash.

“Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it,” Jobs said in an open letter last April.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

In recent months, Adobe has moved towards HTML5. For instance, in September, the company announced that its Flash Media Server product would support the delivery of HTML5 video to Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Adobe also unveiled this summer work on an Edge web development tool that will enable creation of Flash-style animations through HTML5.

Adobe’s decision to drop development of mobile Flash comes as the company has initiated a round of layoffs due to restructuring. According to a press release on Tuesday, the software maker is aiming to focus more on “Digital Media and Digital Marketing” and will cut 750 full-time positions in North America and Europe as a result.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Java updates for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 operating systems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, 04:27
Category: News, Software

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The fixes, they tend to help.

Late Tuesday, Apple released Java update for Mac OS X 10.6 brings Java SE 5 to 1.6.0_29, providing “improved compatibility, security, and reliability.” The 75.45MB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 to install and run.

The company also released Java for OS X Lion Update 1, which updates Java SE 6 to 1.6.0_29 with improved compatibility security and reliability. The download comes in at 62.53MB and requires OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Apple has said that the version of Java “that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X,” is deprecated. As Apple phases out support, Oracle is expected to step in to maintain Java, which it obtained when it acquired Sun.

The updates can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. If you’ve tried the new versions and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.