Apple responds to carriers’ demands, drops embedded SIM technology from iPhones

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Date: Monday, November 22nd, 2010, 06:44
Category: iPhone, News

This sort of proves that neither side can really have their cake and eat it to.

According to The Telegraph, assorted carriers threatened to stop offering subsidies for the iPhone, reportedly pushing Apple to abandon its plans to create an embedded SIM card that would allow users to choose and switch carriers more easily.

Per one source, Apple was “sent back to the drawing board with their tails between their legs.”

While Apple has reportedly abandoned its plans for embedded SIM cards in the iPhone, it will allegedly push ahead with that technology for the iPad. The publication claimed that Apple could offer a new iPad with an integrated SIM card before Christmas, or early next year.

However, the report also incorrectly stated that a “new version” of the iPad will be released within a few weeks, and will turn the orientation lock switch on the right side of the device into a mute switch. This change will not be done with a “new” device, but rather the forthcoming iOS 4.2 software update for existing first-generation iPads.

In October, it was reported that Apple was developing an open SIM card that would allow users to shop for mobile carriers directly from the Apple Store. The integrated card would allegedly allow iPhone buyers to activate their service without having to call or visit a mobile carrier.

In addition to allowing users to select a carrier right from their phone, a programmable integrated SIM would also enable users to travel the globe and initiate service without having to obtain a unique SIM card for each carrier in a different country.

Last week reports surfaced that European carriers were threatening Apple that they would cut subsidies if a new iPhone with an embedded SIM card were released. Carriers accused Apple of trying to gain control of customers, essentially marginalizing the role carriers play with iPhone users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to launch iPad to several European countries in near-term, iOS 4.2 beta error messages hint at free MobileMe accounts

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Date: Monday, November 22nd, 2010, 06:18
Category: iPad, News, Software

This is going to be an interesting week as Apple plans to release the iPad in several northern European countries soon while a slew of error messages in the most recent iOS 4.2 golden master suggest the possibility of free MobileMe accounts for iOS users.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is set to continue the global rollout of its highly successful tablet device in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Alongside the launch, several Nordic telecom operators will soon offer 3G data packages for the iPad, the Journal reports. European carriers Tre, TeliaSonera AB and Tele2 AB all announced Friday that they will provide data subscriptions for iPad users, though they declined to give details on when exactly the plans will launch and prices for the subscriptions.

TeliaSonera did confirm, however, that it will not sell the iPad. “As things look right now, we will only offer subscription packages for the iPad,” said Bengt Olsson, TeliaSonera’s head of communications. “The iPad launch is imminent and we plan to release our subscription offer in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Demark simultaneously,” he said.

Early demand for the iPad after its initial U.S. release in April surprised Apple, forcing the company to delay the international launch of the tablet until May.

During Apple’s second fiscal quarter 2010 conference call, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said that sales “far exceeded” Apple’s expectations. “It has shocked us, the level of demand, at least initially,” Cook said.

Earlier in November, Apple released a golden master of iOS 4.2. Within the beta, it was discovered that the MobileMe settings now asked for Apple ID account info, rather than MobileMe account info. Apple has since released two more golden masters of iOS 4.2, including one build labeled iOS 4.2.1.

On Friday, MacRumors uncovered in the latest iOS 4.2 betas a “new private framework” with error messages referencing free MobileMe accounts. The errors include: “The maximum number of free accounts have been activated on this iPhone” and “This iPad is not qualified for free MobileMe service.” Though Apple currently offers a 60-day free trial of its US$99 a year MobileMe service, it remains unclear how an iOS device would “qualify” for the rumored free service.

Analysts have speculated that MobileMe will play a pivotal role in Apple’s continued expansion into cloud-based services, pointing to the company’s US$1 billion data center in Maiden, N. C. as potential evidence. MobileMe currently offers calendar, email and contact syncing, as well as file sharing and a “Find My iPhone” remote tracking feature.

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

Apple releases firmware updates for mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 04:39
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released two EFI firmware updates for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebook line. The MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.0, available for the 13″ MacBooks and MacBook Pros released earlier this year, resolve an issue that had caused purple discoloration when some systems were connected to an external display.

The EFI firmware downloads are available directly from Apple’s support site or via Software Update and are also available as a 1.98 megabyte download.

If you’ve tried the new updates, please let us know how they went and if anything caught fire.

Apple releases Boot Camp 3.2 update

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Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its Boot Camp 3.2 update (a 280 megabyte download for the 32-bit version of Windows and a 121 megabyte download for the 64-bit version of Windows), a package that added the following changes and fixes for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 under Boot Camp:

- Adds support for the ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card.

- Adds support for the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter.

- Adds support for the MacBook Air SuperDrive.

- Addresses critical bug fixes.

This update is highly recommended for all Boot Camp 3.1 users and can be located and snagged on the Windows side via the Apple Software Update application.

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

Apple releases Safari 4.1.3, 5.0.3 updates

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Date: Thursday, November 18th, 2010, 15:04
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Thursday released versions 4.1.3 and 5.0.3, respectively, for Windows, Mac OS X Tiger, Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard operating systems.

Safari 5.0.3 is available direct from Apple for Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later and Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Tiger users must be running Mac oS X 10.4.11 for Safari 4.1.2.

For both Mac and Windows users, the update fixes an issue that could prevent users from submitting web forms. It also establishes an encrypted, authenticated connection to the Safari Extensions Gallery.

The latest version of Safari 5 for Mac also fixes an issue that could cause Web content to display incorrectly when viewing a Google Image result with Flash 10.1 installed.

Other fixes and changes include the following:
- More accurate Top Hit results in the Address Field

- More accurate results in Top Sites

- More reliable pop-up blocking

- Improved stability when typing into search and text input fields on www.netflix.com and www.facebook.com

- Improved stability when using JavaScript-intensive extensions

- Improved stability when using VoiceOver with Safari

The updates, as usual, can be snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update utility. If you’ve tried the new versions and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Adobe looking to settle battery life argument, currently testing MacBook Air-specific version of Flash

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Date: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, 20:27
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Following a brief period of controversy regarding Flash and its relationship with specific hardware, Adobe’s chief executive revealed this week that his company is currently testing an optimized version of Flash built specifically for Apple’s newly released MacBook Air.

Per Engadget, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that Adobe is looking to improve battery life on the MacBook Air with a new custom build of Adobe Flash, currently in beta testing in the company’s labs. According to Engadget, he noted that battery life performance depends on hardware acceleration.

“When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform,” he said.

His comments come after testing of the new MacBook Air found that ditching Flash improved battery life by two hours. The new notebook gets six hours of uptime loading pages in the Safari browser, but that dips to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed.

Apple caused a stir in October, when it released its newly redesigned MacBook Air models, but shipped them without the Flash plugin preinstalled. Apple portrayed the change as an advantage to consumers, as leaving the user to install Flash ensures they have the latest version.

Apple and Adobe have been at odds in 2010, in a feud that gained considerable steam after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs published an open letter criticizing Flash as old technology that is unfit for the modern era of mobile computers. Apple does not allow Flash onto its iOS-powered devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

Jobs also revealed that Flash is the number one reason for crashes on the Mac platform. For its part, Adobe fired back and said that any crashes of Flash in Mac OS X are not related to its software, but are instead the fault of Apple’s operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Entire Beatles catalog now available via iTunes Store

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 08:41
Category: iPod, iTunes Music Store, News

On Tuesday, Apple announced that the entire Beatles catalog is now available via the iTunes Store. Per Macworld, the group’s complete box set is now available for US$149 with many individual tracks selling for $1.29 apiece. Single albums cost $13 each, with double albums such as the Past Masters compilation going for $20.

Each of the 13 remastered albums also sport iTunes LP features, including a mini-documentary on the making of the album. The complete box set also features an exclusive: the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” film of the Beatles’s first U.S. concert. However, if you’re not ready to pony up the full cost of the complete discography, don’t worry: everybody will be able to stream the video from iTunes for free for the rest of 2010.

The appearance of the Beatles on iTunes is the culmination of years of rumors, half-starts, and legal disputes between Apple and the Beatles’s Apple Corps. In a day and age where most new music is released online, the Beatles have long been the most prominent holdout from digital downloads. The closest the lads from Liverpool got was last year, when a limited edition of the band’s remastered discography was released on a USB flash drive with high quality digital tracks.

Despite Jobs’s well known love of the Beatles, Apple and Apple Corps have had a tortuous legal history spanning more than three decades. The companies first met in 1978, shortly after Apple’s inception, when Apple Corps sued the nascent computer company for trademark infringement; the two settled a few years later, with Apple agreeing to stay out of the music business. That lasted until 1989, when Apple started selling a Mac that could synthesize music; Apple Corps sued , saying that the move violated the earlier deal.

The two companies settled for a second time in 1991. That lasted until 2003, when Apple launched the iTunes Store, over which Apple Corps launched a new suit, once again pointing to Apple’s entry into the music business as a clear violation of the two companies’ settlement. That court case dragged on for several years until 2007, when the two companies struck a new deal to settle the breach. By the terms of the new deal, Apple would own all rights related to Apple trademarks and would in turn license those rights back to Apple Corps.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor line to launch during CES

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News, Processors

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Microprocessor giant Intel has confirmed the launch of its Sandy Bridge next-generation processors during its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5th, a new report claims.

Per Electronista, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the “world’s fastest processor,” at CES. The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple’s Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros.

“Desktop chips will range from dual 2.5 GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4 GHz Core i7s. Regular notebooks will get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors, and desktop replacements will get quad 2.2GHz through to 2.5GHz Core i7s,” the report noted. Taiwanese industry publication Digitimes reported Monday that low-power Sandy Bridge processors will be coming to Intel’s Huron River platform, which is also due for a Q1 2011 release.

During an earnings call in July, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he was “more excited by Sandy Bridge” than any product that the company has launched “in a number of years.” “Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32-nanometer factory ramp and have raised our capex guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand,” continued Otellini.

At the time, Intel was expected to release the processors at the end of this year, with Apple then incorporating them into its Mac lineup in early 2011. In 2009, Apple was the first PC maker to release a Nehalem-based system.

In a company memo in October, Otellini admitted that Intel is losing the mobile race to Apple, which has gained a massive head start with the success of the iPhone and iPad, but he reassured employees that Intel was running a “marathon” and would catch up eventually.

Otellini cited Intel’s come from behind to capture 90 percent of the server market as a prior example. “I am also very optimistic about our opportunity in tablets and smartphones, even though we are not first to market with a solution,” Otellini said. “Ultimately, we can and will lead.”

Apple has reportedly been dissatisfied with the drop in battery life that comes with using Intel’s Atom chips. Early rumors suggested that an Apple tablet would sport an Atom chip, but Apple eventually went with a custom System on a Chip that used ARM reference designs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second iOS 4.2 gold master to developer community

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Date: Monday, November 15th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released a second gold master of iOS 4.2, its forthcoming software update, which may address Wi-Fi connectivity issues some have reported with the iPad.

Per AppleInsider, the new build, dubbed 8C134b, has replaced the previous gold master released to developers on November 1st. Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release.

It is unknown what changes have been made in the second gold master, though it’s possible the latest version could be to address Wi-Fi issues that some users experienced with the pre-release build. Recent reports have claimed that Apple hoped to release iOS 4.2 sooner, but was forced to push back the launch to address issues with the software.

Regardless of whether the software has actually been “delayed” from Apple’s own internal launch goals, it has become increasingly apparent that there are issues with iOS 4.2. In addition to the Wi-Fi problems reported by testers of the first golden master, Apple has also cut features from AirPrint — specifically, the ability to print to a shared printer through a Mac or Windows machine.

Printer sharing was supposed to be a part of Mac OS X 10.6.5, but the software was released Wednesday without any official support for sharing a printer with iOS devices. The recently released iTunes 10.1 update was supposed to allow shared printers for Windows users, but the update arrived Friday also without mention of AirPrint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1 update

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 07:56
Category: News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released iTunes 10.1, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 84 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- Provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.

iTunes 10 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.