Apple now shipping fourth-gen iPod touch units

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Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

Customers who preordered their 2010 model iPod touch after they were announced last Wednesday began to receive shipment notifications on Tuesday. Per MacRumors, assorted tech blogs have been lit up today with word that initial preorder units of the new, fourth-generation iPod touch model are now shipping, with delivery estimates between September 10th and 14th.

If you haven’t ordered your new iPod touch yet, the Apple Store still shows delivery with one week, and reports customers in other countries are also seeing estimates of five to seven business days.

Deutsche Telekom expected to lose exclusive iPhone contract in Germany this October

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Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:37
Category: iPhone, News

If it can happen in Germany, it can happen in America…

Another prominent exclusive arrangement with Apple for the iPhone is expected to conclude in a matter of months, when it is anticipated that Deutsche Telekom will lose sole access to the iPhone in Germany.

Per the Wall Street Journal, sources sources stated on Friday that Apple’s iPhone will become available on two new carriers as soon as October. Currently, the handset is exclusive to Deutsche Telekom, but the plans are reportedly for it to become available on rival carriers Vodafone and O2.

“One said that deals haven’t been finalized but added that negotiations are in an advanced stage,” the report said. “Deutsche Telekom’s exclusive rights to sell the device haven’t been extended and could end as early as october, posing a threat to growth in the company’s home market.”

Deutsche Telekom, which is also the parent company of T-Mobile in the U.S. and elsewhere, has 37 million customers in Germany, while Vodafone has 34.9 million and O2 has 16.3 million.

Elsewhere throughout Europe, the end of exclusivity has resulted in boosted sales for Apple’s iPhone. In 2009, the iPhone went multi-carrier in France after a government ruling nullified Apple’s exclusive arrangement with Orange. After that, it was estimated that the Apple’s handset rose to as high as a 40% market share of all smartphone sales in the nation.

The most largest exclusive arrangement for the iPhone is in the U.S., with AT&T. Rumors of a new CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network have persisted for years, but have not become a reality.

In August, AT&T warned that exclusivity for “a number of attractive handsets” will end, leading some to believe that the company was preparing investors for the loss of iPhone exclusivity.

While Apple has allegedly not yet brokered a deal to extend exclusivity with Deutsche Telekom in the company’s home country of Germany, there have also been rumors that the company has talked with Apple about a potential deal to bring the iPhone to carrier T-Mobile in the U.S. Of the four major carriers in America, T-mobile is the smallest, with 33.7 million customers as of July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.

Two new Apple patents emerge pertaining to cloud-based sorting, syncing

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 08:21
Category: Apple TV, News, Patents

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Two days after Apple’s media event unveiled a new cloud-based Apple TV, two patent applications from the company describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Per AppleInsider, the documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the “cloud,” and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.

One patent application, entitled “Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets,” relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named “Data Synchronization Protocol,” describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.

The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as the new Apple TV focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for US$4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.

Wednesday’s Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple’s cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. Apple has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.

The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.

The described invention includes “fast,” “slow” and “reset” sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.

The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.

It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.

The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta four to developer community

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 04:39
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Late Thursday, Apple seeded Apple on Thursday seeded its fourth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5 to developers, as the security and maintenance update continues to be tested before its public release.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build, said to be known as 10H535, indicated that it features the same focus areas as the previous build, issued exactly one week ago Developers have reportedly been asked to concentrate on 3D Graphics, Mail, iCal, QuickTime, Time Machine and USB Devices.

The latest build is also said to have the same known issue as before, in which having VMWare or Parallels installed may prevent the use of devices connected to a USB port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple previews iOS 4.2 at media event, hints at additional new features

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Date: Thursday, September 2nd, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Amidst yesterday’s announcements, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered a preview of iOS 4.2 for the iPad during the company’s special media event on Wednesday. Per the Mac Observer, the update will include wireless printing support along with multitasking.

The 4.2 update will also bring folders to iPad as well, and a new feature called AirPlay, which hinted at a new feature to be announced during the media event.

iOS 4.2 will be available in November as a free download for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Apple releases iTunes 10

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Date: Thursday, September 2nd, 2010, 04:48
Category: News, Software

Following yesterday’s announcement, Apple released iTunes 10, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 82.3 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Introducing Ping. Use Ping to follow your favorite artists and friends or connect with the world’s most passionate music fans. Discover the music everyone is talking about, listening to, and downloading.

- Rent HD TV episodes for just 99¢ each. Watch them on your Mac or PC, on-the-go with iPhone or iPod touch, or in your living room with the all new Apple TV.

- Play your favorites on the all new iPod touch, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, and Apple TV.

- Play music wirelessly with AirPlay on AirPlay-enabled speakers, home theater receivers, and iPod accessories.

- Explore many look-and-feel improvements throughout iTunes.

- Enjoy performance improvements which make iTunes faster and more responsive.

- Additional voice support with VoiceOver Kit for iPod.

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.

Apple releases second-generation Apple TV, focuses on streaming for new device

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 17:53
Category: Apple TV, News

Arguably sort of the big kahuna of the Apple media event, the Apple TV is now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Acknowledging that the Apple TV has “never been a big hit,” CEO Steve Jobs introduced the second generation of the living room device, bringing more of Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD to your home theatre.

Per Mac|Life, Apple CEO Steve Jobs laid out a list of what those buyers want from their Apple TV units: Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD, lower prices for content and no syncing with a computer, not to mention silent, cool and small.

The new Apple TV, which also incorporates the same A4 processor found in the iPhone 4 and the newly-released iPod touch, is 25% the size of the previous model which has been sold for the last four years, and has flip-flopped from white to black. In addition to the new diminutive size, the latest Apple TV does away with downloadable content purchases in favor of streaming right to the box without the need for and iTunes sync.

First-run HD movies from Hollywood are available for US$4.99 with regular SD rentals starting at US$2.99 and catalog HD rentals starting at US$3.99. As predicted, TV show rentals have been added at long last and will be 99 cents per episode as well as commercial-free. ABC and Fox are first on board and Apple hopes to have other networks on board in the near future.

In keeping with other recent rumors, Netflix streaming is now part of the Apple TV package (Netflix subscription required) as well as YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe photos. Apple’s iOS is a no-show, however and the interface remains mostly unchanged from the current Apple TV.

Other features in the new Apple TV include filmography data for actors as well as Rotten Tomatoes reviews, right on your screen. On the hardware side, the new, smaller Apple TV features HDMI, digital optical audio and an Ethernet jack, leaving out analog connections for older televisions.

The new Apple TV is centered around streaming and now everything streams wirelessly to the box for click and play simplicity. Users can fast-forward through opening credits, pause for a popcorn break or replay a scene.

Apple has also introduced AirPlay, which allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to stream their handheld content (including music, photos and video) right to the new Apple TV with the push of a button.

The new Apple TV is priced at only US$99 and will be available in six countries to start. Preorders begin today and the device ships in four weeks.

Apple announces iOS 4.1 update, new features

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 16:07
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Arguably more important that a physical new product, Apple announced Wednesday that its iOS 4.1 will fix proximity sensor and Bluetooth issues, and will add a new feature allowing users to take high dynamic range photographs that produce stunning pictures. The new software will ship Wednesday, Sept. 8th for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Per Macworld, the golden master of iOS 4.1 was issued to developers. The new iPod touch, which will be available next week, comes with iOS 4.1 and Game Center preinstalled.

During the keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Bluetooth and proximity sensor issues that currently exist with the iPhone 4 will be addressed with next week’s release of iOS 4.1. Such problems have persisted since the handset was first launched in June.

“All the bugs that we get mails on,” Jobs said. “We think we’ve nailed a lot of them, and we think you’re going to be pretty happy with it.”

Jobs showed off the HDR photo capability at Wednesday’s keynote in San Francisco, Calif. The new feature allows a device to take three rapid photos — one regular, one underexposed and one overexposed. When the pictures are combined, it creates an HDR photo.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Jobs said. When taking an HDR photo, both it and the normal photograph will show up in the user’s Photos application, so they can compare the two and choose which one they prefer.

Apple announces iTunes 10 at media event

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 16:28
Category: News, Software

Kicking off today’s Apple media event, Apple announced that iTunes 10 will be available today. The new version includes a feature called Ping, a social music discovery tool that allows users to follow friends and artists, helping customers to discover and share new music.

“It’s sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes,” Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said of the entirely new Ping service. He described it as a social network all about music, built in to the new iTunes, now available for download.

Per AppleInsider, the product is based on discovery, allowing users to see what their friends are listening to and what concerts they’re going to.

Users can choose to “follow” artists, as well as their friends, and iTunes will populate a customized top 10 list that represents what their friends are downloading. Users can also see concerts that are coming near them, and inform their friends that they will be attending.

Ping users can sign up immediately and the service will also be available to iPhone and iPod touch users through the existing iTunes Store.

Jobs also demonstrated a new “hybrid” view within iTunes 10, which automatically displays album art when there are five or more tracks from the same record.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.