Recently published patent hints at deeper iPhone/Facebook integration

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 18th, 2010, 03:06
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

3gs.jpg

A newly published Apple patent hints at the company’s plans for including improved Facebook integration into the iPhone at the device level.

The document, discovered by Patently Apple, was approved until April 1st, 2010 and filed in September 2008 and focuses on creating device-to-device workflows.

Apple has essentially patented the ability to sync actions between two or more devices. This could be something as simple as adding a to-do on your Mac’s calendar application and having it automatically sent to the iPhone.

The patent also includes provisions in the patent for device proximity. For instance, an iPhone and iMac set to synchronize a schedule could be activated by Bluetooth connections on both devices that will automatically initiate a calendar synchronization once the devices are within a certain range of each other.

The Facebook element of the patent comes into play with contact syncing. For example, say you meet a colleague or friend out somewhere and realize you haven’t friended her or him on Facebook. When you initiate an “add contact” on your phone, it can first pull in all the vCard information from your friend’s phone, send your info back (if you are exchanging information), offer to take a photo of your friend to add to your address book and then, if you so choose, add your friend to Facebook.

Your friend will then get a notification on her device of the pending friend request and can then approve or ignore it.

There are some third-party solutions available for the iPhone (like Bump) and for Android and BlackBerry devices that can do similar things, but having a scripting workflow engine built into the device itself is a unique idea unto itself.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly releases updated 13″ MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 18th, 2010, 03:35
Category: MacBook, News

143393-09macbook386_original

Confirming yesterday’s post, Apple quietly released a refreshed MacBook notebook, the new model incorporating a new faster 2.4GHz processor, and NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics processor.

These changes bring it into line with recently released MacBook Pro model.

Apple is claiming that the new MacBook provides 80% faster performance, largely due to the the improved graphics NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics processor.

Like the NVIDIA 9400m graphics chip it replaces, the 320m shares its memory (256MB) from the main system RAM, rather than possessing the discrete graphics memory found on the NVIDIA 330m (used by the MacBook Pro).

Per Macworld UK, the NVIDIA 320m is 40% more efficient than the 9400m chip it replaces. Apple is also claiming a fairly hefty 10 hours of wireless productivity from the new MacBook.

Another new feature (albeit a small one) is that the DVI socket now supports the DVI to HDMI adaptor, enabling users to connect the older monitors to the laptop.

The 2.4 GHz MacBook retails for US$999 and is immediately available.

Next-Gen iPhone to see upped screen resolution, other improvements

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 17th, 2010, 07:19
Category: iPhone, News

3gs.jpg

Per DigiTimes, Apple’s next-gen iPhone should see significant display improvements and carry an upped resolution of 960 x 640 pixels.

Despite the appearance of several prototype iPhones in recent weeks, the only confirmation of the higher resolution display has been a qualitative comparison with the current iPhone suggesting that it is the case. DigiTimes’ report today again suggests that the new iPhone will in fact carry a 960 x 640 screen.

The next-generation iPhone’s display will also reportedly adopt fringe-field switching (FFS), a technology that should improve viewing angles and performance in bright sunlight.
By incorporating FFS technology, users should have a wider viewing angle and clearer visual quality under in sunlight, Apple is aiming to improve the handset’s e-book reader features and promote its iBooks Store. HTC’s Hero smartphone has already adopted this technology.

The report also notes that the panel on the new iPhone is 33% thinner than in current models, allowing for increased battery size.

In addressing the brains behind the forthcoming iPhone, the report claims that users can expect an ARM Cortex A8 processor, of which the Apple A4 processor used in the iPad and observed in one of the prototypes is an implementation. The report claims, however, that it will also offer 512 MB of RAM.

The iPhone 4G is currently specced as running on the ARM Cortex A8 processor and a 512MB memory module from Samsung Electronics, doubling the memory capacity seen in the iPhone 3GS to take advantage of the multi-tasking capability of the iPhone OS 4.0 platform.

Apple is widely expected to introduce the new iPhone on June 7th at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple awards CDMA iPhone contract to Pegatron

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 13th, 2010, 04:19
Category: iPhone, News

3gs.jpg

Apple has apparently awarded a contract for building a CDMA iPhone to Pegatron Technologies.

The news arrives from Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes, which back in February announced that the company had won the contract for building the expected next generation UMTS iPhone 4. Previous iPhones have been built by Foxconn, which also builds Apple’s Mac mini, iPods and the iPad, and is the company’s main supplier.

Rumors surrounding the possibly of a CDMA iPhone model that Apple could sell through Verizon and Sprint have regularly surfaced throughout the iPhone’s entire history, and have recently blossomed as speculation about the end of AT&T’s exclusive contract in the U.S. has reached a fevered pitch.

Pegatron is a three year old Taiwanese company formed during a restructuring of Asustek, which resulted in a split between Asustek’s own Asus-branded products, its PC-related manufacturing performed under the Unihan name, and contract manufacturing under the Pegatron name.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T advances upgrade dates for some iPhone customers in anticipation of fourth-gen handset

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 10:58
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

AT&T wants to sell some iPhones.

And they’re taking steps to do so.

Per MobileCrunch, AT&T has begun modifying some customers’ upgrade dates, shortening them in some cases by months to allow customers to buy a new, subsidized, fourth-generation handset in June.

This week, a reader contacted MobileCrunch to say that his upgrade date was moved from Nov. 21st, 2010, to June 21st, 2010. The reader said they bought an iPhone 3GS in 2009 on the device’s launch day.

“As a valued AT&T customer, we can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price, along with a 2-year commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” the customer’s account profile reads. “Please proceed with the online upgrade process for pricing details. You may qualify for a full discount on a standard iPhone upgrade on 6/21/2010.”

The same changes have appeared for some other customers as well. AT&T has revealed in the past that generally speaking, the more a customer spends with AT&T, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than US$99-a-month per line are generally eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.

The revised dates will likely pave the way for AT&T to offer some customers reduced prices on Apple’s fourth-gen iPhone, expected to be announced in June. AT&T also took the same approach last year when the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same US$199 and US$299 price points as new customers.

In years past, Apple has introduced its annual iPhone upgrade at the Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, WWDC 2010 will be held June 7th through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Tickets for the event sold out just eight days after Apple announced the dates.

Another rumor has suggested Apple could sell the next-generation iPhone as soon as it is announced on June 7th. That approach would be a change from years prior, when a new handset was announced a few weeks before its sale date. AT&T has also blacked out the month of June for its employees, preventing them from taking vacation days.

Recent support document points to forthcoming iPad Wi-Fi fix

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 08:24
Category: iPad, News, Software

iPad users who’ve been tormented by Wi-Fi connectivity issues could see a forthcoming fix from Apple in the near future.

Per AppleInsider, a newly updated support document from Apple explicitly states that the iPad maker will issue a software update to address the issues. The document does not, however, provide a timeline for the planned fix.

“A very small number of iPad users have experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity,” the document reads. “This article outlines workarounds for these issues. Apple will also address remaining Wi-Fi connectivity issues with a future iPad software update.”

In the interim, Apple offers a number of potential fixes for the issue:

-Verify your Wi-Fi router firmware is up to date

- If your router’s security encryption is WEP, try WPA or WPA2, as WEP can cause intermittent disconnects with the iPad which requires retyping a password.

- Make sure the iPad screen brightness is not at the lowest level.

- Obtain a new IP address by going into Settings, Wi-Fi, accessing the settings of the current network, and choosing “Renew Lease.”

- Finally, if these steps do not work, users are recommended to try turning Wi-Fi off and back on.

If none of the above methods address connectivity issues, users are asked to contact Apple support.

Just days after the iPad launched, AppleInsider noted the Wi-Fi issues reported by numerous users. Problems have occurred with a variety of routers, including Apple’s own AirPort Extreme, and range from a weak signal to an inability to connect to a network.

Apple quickly set up a support document for users who have problems getting their iPad to rejoin known Wi-Fi networks after a restart or waking from sleep. The company said issues were known to occur with some third-party Wi-Fi routers that are dual-band capable. Apple recommended creating separate Wi-Fi network names to identify each band, such as adding ‘G’ to the 802.11g network name, and ‘N’ to the 802.11n network. It also recommended using the same security type, such as WPA, for both bands.

The iPad’s Wi-Fi issues were pegged as a software problem by Princeton University last month. The school’s Office of Information Technology reported that a software glitch in the device causes it to use a network-assigned IP address after its lease has expired.

Princeton suggested that the problem comes from within iPhone OS 3.2, as the iPad will incorrectly continue using an IP address without renewing its lease, usually for hours. The issue is resolved when the iPad asks for a new DHCP lease, or the device disconnects from the network. The university found that more than half of all iPads on the campus demonstrated the malfunction.

The university offered the following temporary workaround until Apple issues a software update: reconfigure the iPad’s settings so that the screen never locks. This can be done by going to Settings, General, Auto-Lock and choosing “Never.” Users must also turn off Wi-Fi before they manually lock the screen. Other options were to turn the iPad completely off, rather than just locking it, or to simply leave the iPad on without locking the screen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

gfxCardStatus utility allows dynamic switching between MacBook Pro graphics cards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 06:33
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

el17.jpg

Although Apple’s current MacBook Pro notebooks allow you to switch between graphics processing units in order to optimize performance and battery life, Apple doesn’t really provide an easy way to manage the different GPUs on the system, and if you like to tinker you may find the utility gfxCardStatus useful, both for newer and older machines.

Per CNET, Cody Krieger’s gfxCardStatus is a small shareware application that displays which graphics card is the active one. When the system’s computing demands change and the GPU is switched, the utility shows the switches in real-time, either by displaying an “n” (GeForce 330M) or a “i” (Intel HD) in the menu. If you have the Growl notification system installed, gfxCardStatus will inform you in real-time whenever the graphics processor is changed.

In addition to notifications and alerts, gfxCardStatus will list any processes that are using the current graphics processor, and allow you to manually switch the active GPUs on the system.

Despite this, the program does offer a unique advantage to users of the older MacBook Pro models, in that the GPU switching feature does allow for you to switch GPUs without logging out and closing down your applications. The screen will go blue and then black, but will then reappear and the secondary GPU will be used. This may be convenient for some users; however, it is still an experimental feature so try or use it with caution.

gfxCardStatus 1.6.1 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Court documents confirm Apple/AT&T exclusive five year deal, questions surface over contract renegotiations

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 05:51
Category: iPhone, News

3gs.jpg

With additional chatter surrounding the idea of Apple extending the iPhone to Verizon this year, the exact specifics of Apple’s five-year exclusive contract with AT&T have never really been published. Fortunately, the cool cats at Engadget managed to uncover the following:

An ongoing California class-action lawsuit filed in 2007 claims that Apple and AT&T illegally exerted a monopoly over iPhone service by telling customers the iPhone’s required service contract was two years long when the Apple / AT&T exclusivity deal was actually for five years. Per the case, this required buyers to re-up with AT&T for three years if they wanted to keep using the iPhone. Within Apple’s response to these allegations, and in addition to arguing that no one was ever promised an unlocked iPhone after two years, the company’s lawyers repeatedly confirm the existence of the five-year agreement while noting it was publicly reported in USA Today.

Select quotes include the following:
“The duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not ‘secret’ either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone’s release – stating, “AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world.”

“[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T's] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years… Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power…”

Since this case occurred in October of 2008 and has gone relatively off the record, the real question is whether or not the exclusivity deal is still on the books. Even given that the case is ongoing and many of its relevant bits have been under seal since 2009, contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached in many ways, especially given AT&T’s track record and the explosion of the iPhone market. In addition, the two companies obviously hit the negotiating table again to hammer out the iPad’s pricing plans, and there’s no way of knowing whether that deal involves the iPhone as well.

Apple developing its own alternative to Flash via Gianduia

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News, Software

applelogo_silver

When in doubt, roll your own.

As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.

Gianduia, named after an Italian hazelnut chocolate, is “essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters,” according to a tweet by developer Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch. “Jaw dropped.”

After watching the NDA demo Apple gave for the new framework at WOWODC last year, Rentzch also tweeted, “Blown away by Gianduia. Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious.”

Per AppleInsider, SproutCore is the JavaScript framework Apple uses to build the web interface for its desktop-like MobileMe web apps. Cappuccino is another third party JavaScript framework that works as a Cocoa-like API for web apps; it was used to deliver 280Slides, a web app designed to provide most of the functionality of Apple’s Keynote desktop application. JavascriptMVC is also an independent open source project used to develop rich apps within JavaScript for web deployment.

Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.

While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.

Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.

While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release updated MacBook Air on Tuesday

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 04:17
Category: MacBook Air, News

mba2

Following the recent refresh to its MacBook Pro line of notebooks last month, the same source who correctly predicted the new MacBook Pro notebook arrival date has stated that an updated MacBook Air could arrive as early as Tuesday.

Per AppleInsider, the same source has stated to Macworld UK that a new product will arrive Tuesday with the model MC516LL/A K87 BETTER BTR-USA. The “better” distinction reportedly means it is likely to be a Mac product, leading the tipster to suggest the refresh is a MacBook Air.

The report noted that there is “some potential” the listing could instead refer to a new 27″ Cinema Display. But the source said there are several thousand of the product headed to Australia, “which suggests a major new product.”

Further evidence for the MacBook Air refresh has been noted with current inventory levels of the ultra-light notebook apparently running low. The MacBook Air, starting at US$1,499, still ships within 24 hours from Apple’s online store.

In January, it was suggested that the MacBook Air refresh might have seen a delay due to limited availability of Intel’s Core i5 ultramobile processors. Those reports suggested Apple could adopt the ultra-thin 18W TDP processor. The Core i5-520UM has a maximum processor speed of 1.86GHz, and an integrated GPU with 500MHz of processing power. The 32nm dual-core chip also includes 3MB of L3 cache.

Apple last updated the MacBook Air in June of 2009, dropping its entry price to US$1,499 for a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based system. Apple’s full line of MacBook Pros are also based on the Core 2 Duo processor.

In April, Apple updated its MacBook Pro line of notebook computers, with the high-end systems receiving Intel’s latest Core i7 and Core i5 mobile processors and new automated graphics switching technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.