Apple TV updated to 5.1, Shared Photo Streams, other features added

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 11:01
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s almost never bad to have a spiffy Apple TV update.

Apple on Monday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding the following fixes and changes to its operating system:

– Shared Photo Streams — Accept invitations for Shared Photo Streams, browse photos and comments, and receive notifications of new content.

– AirPlay — Send audio content from Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs). Also includes the ability to require an onscreen code to use AirPlay with your Apple TV.

– iTunes account switching — Save multiple iTunes accounts and switch quickly between them.

– Trailers — Search movie trailers. In the United States, see show times for local theaters.

– Screen savers — New Cascade, Shrinking Tiles, and Sliding Panels screen savers.

– Main menu— Reorder icons on the second page by holding down the select button on the remote.

– Subtitles — SDH support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as improvements to viewing and selecting subtitles.

– Network configuration — Support for setting up advanced network options using configuration profiles.

– Stability and performance — Includes general performance and stability improvements.

Users can now download Apple TV Software Update 5.1 by going into the Settings section of the device, choosing General, and then selecting Update Software.

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

Hack discovered, Verizon iPhone 5 apparently unlockable for use on GSM networks

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:58
Category: Hack, Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Hours after the iPhone 5 hit store shelves across the U.S. on Friday, it has reportedly been discovered that the CDMA Verizon version of the device can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks with a simple GSM micro SIM card modification.

Per the iDownloadBlog, it’s apparently possible to trim down and install a micro SIM card into the new Verizon iPhone 5, which was purchased under contract, and connect to AT&T’s HSPA+ “4G” network.

The publication contacted a Verizon representative who confirmed the handset is indeed unlocked, meaning it can use SIM cards from other carriers even under contract. This is encouraging to travelers who own a CDMA Verizon iPhone 5 but need to hop onto international GSM networks from time to time.

While the installation is anything but elegant, in this case requiring a paper clip and a piece of tape to hold the card in place rather than the supplied tray, AT&T and T-Mobile nano-SIMs are likely to have a better fit.

With the iPhone 5, Apple is implementing new nano-SIM cards that bring a 40 percent reduction in size compared to last-generation micro SIM cards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users reporting scuffs, scratches on new iPhone 5 handsets

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You can’t win ’em all.

Per AppleInsider, an increasing number of iPhone 5 owners are reporting scuffs and other signs of damage to their newly-purchased smartphones right out of the box, with some miffed customers taking to the web in what is being dubbed “scuffgate.”

According to complaints posted to various forums and social media sites, a limited number of launch-day iPhone 5 units are being delivered straight from the factory with scuffs and dings.

While the exact percentage of affected iPhones is unknown, the issue appears to be significant enough to warrant its own hashtag on Twitter. The tongue-in-cheek “#Scuffgate” is a callback to the iPhone 4’s “antennagate” controversy which saw the then-new handset ship with an antenna design flaw that affected cellular performance.

Most of the reports are coming from users who bought the black and slate iPhone 5, which some claim is due to the anodizing process that colors the handset’s aluminum backplate. The speculation may be unfounded, however, as a number of white and silver units have also been affected. A more likely explanation is that both versions are affected equally, but the damage is more noticeable on the black and slate model as the scratches reveal the underlying silver-colored “raw” aluminum, a stark contrast to the anodized outer layer.

The cause of the damage is unknown, however similar reports of dings and scratches surfaced when the new iPad was released in March, possibly hinting at a manufacturing process flaw.

Not to be outdone, the cool cats at iFixit posted the following video to test the scuffability of the new handset:



Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen scuffs on your new iPhone 5, please let us know in the comments.

Apple posts multiple job openings for iOS 6 Maps team

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 07:49
Category: iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, bring in the new hires to make version 2.0 that much better.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has recently posted multiple job openings to help bolster its newly-released Maps app, which has been almost universally panned since iOS 6 launched on Wednesday.

Over the course of the past week, Apple has posted multiple listings for software engineers who will handle development, real-time rendering and overall upgrades to the fledgling mapping service, among others.

According to one job description, Apple’s iOS Maps team is “responsible for MapKit, the iOS framework that displays maps which is used by countless applications on the App Store.”

Apple is seeking to fill positions for developing 3D flyover models, including “mesh generation of terrain” and “road rendering” in a C++ environment. Another engineer is being sought to work on both the client and server to develop “advanced dynamic label layout of road labels, points of interest and other labels on the map.”

Three Map Display team listings points to work on real-time rendering techniques, creating “new and innovative” features and general systems maintenance. Another Map Display team engineer is needed to find and fix what Apple calls “performance bottlenecks” by creating specialized testing tools.

Apple’s Maps app is the company’s first foray into the mapping service business, having previously implemented Google’s finely tuned Google Maps in its iDevices since the first iPhone was launched in 2007. In reviewing the new iPhone 5, critics naturally turned to comparing the two services, and while iOS Maps did garner some acclaim, most found the lack of features and usual Apple polish troubling.

The company responded to complaints on Thursday, saying, “We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it.” Apple noted that Maps is a cloud-based service and said, “the more people use it, the better it will get.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re hunting for work, take a gander at the jobs site.

iFixit, iLab Factory post initial iPhone 5 teardown reports

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Once again, the lunatics over at iFixit got their mitts on the new iPhone, got to work dissecting it and posted the results faster than anyone could believe it.

And, once again, they found some really cool stuff inside Apple’s newest handset.

Per iFixit’s full teardown report, the repair firm managed to snag a “black and slate” copy of the device in Australia, the first country to see official iPhone 5 availability, within the first hour of sales and proceeded to disassemble the device for its usual comprehensive teardown.

The first steps of revealing the innards of Apple’s most advanced smartphone include removing the small proprietary pentalobe screws that attach the unit’s 4-inch display to the aluminum “uni-body” back casing. A suction cup was used to easily lift the screen assembly away from the rear housing, a departure from the involved removal procedure seen with the iPhone 4 and 4S.

“Compare this to the iPhone 4s, where it took 38 steps to isolate the display assembly, and this iPhone may be the most repairable iPhone we’ve seen in a while,” iFixit wrote.

Next to be removed was the larger 3.8V, 5.45WH battery, which holds slightly more juice than the 3.7V, 5.3Wh part found in the iPhone 4S. In comparison, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III uses a 3.8V, 7.98Wh battery.

To the right of the larger power cell is the the logic board, which contains the high-performance A6 chip, baseband system, storage and a litany of other essential components.

With help from Chipworks, the logic board’s packages were identified:
– Skyworks 77352-15 GSM/GPRS/EDGE power amplifier module

– SWUA 147 228 is an RF antenna switch module

– Avago AFEM-7813 dual-band LTE B1/B3 PA+FBAR duplexer module

– Skyworks 77491-158 CDMA power amplifier module

– Avago A5613 ACPM-5613 LTE band 13 power amplifier

– Triquint 666083-1229 WCDMA / HSUPA power amplifier / duplexer module for the UMTS band

– STMicroelectronics LIS331DLH (2233/DSH/GFGHA) ultra low-power, high performance, three-axis linear accelerometer

– Texas Instruments 27C245I touch screen SoC

– Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controller

– Apple A6 Application processor

– Qualcomm MDM9615M LTE modem

– RTR8600 Multi-band/mode RF transceiver

According to iFixit, “many of the components that came out with the logic board are held in place with screws and brackets.”

Apparently Apple is very concerned with making sure that all the connectors are firmly seated and won’t rattle lose over time.

On the reverse is Apple’s A6 processor, which is said to be twice as fast as its A5 predecessor. A recent test using the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarking tool confirmed Apple’s new SoC is utilizing a different memory interface than normal ARM Cortex A9 chips as it outperformed identical processors based on the same ARM-patented technology.

The A6 is also though to be Apple’s first attempt at designing an ARM core in-house, however the internal architecture has yet to be investigated.

Wrapping up the teardown is a look at Apple’s new Lightning connector. There has been mixed emotions with the new plug, as the move away from Apple’s 30-pin design means the iPhone 5 may not work with legacy aftermarket accessories without an adapter. The company claims there was no way to make such a thin handset without the new connector, however, and said the standard is expected to be used for foreseeable future.

Overall, iFixit gives the iPhone 5 a “7 out of 10” score for repairability.

Since a video’s worth more than a thousand words, take a gander at what iFixit had to say:



Over on the Asian end of things, iLab Factory (via Mac Otakara) posted the following iPhone 5 teardown video:



Stay tuned for additional details and please let us know what you make of the iPhone 5 in the comments.

Analyst: Apple’s new Lightning connector should have product lifespan of 5-10 years

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

If you’re irked about having to buy a new Lightning adapter for your iPhone 5 or updated iPod, at least it’ll be around for a while.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s new Lightning connector, introduced alongside the iPhone 5 last week, is thought to be a key longterm investment for the company, and will possibly have a lifetime of ten years.

In a research note shared with clients, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo broke down the cost of components used in the iPhone 5, and found the Lightning’s ASP (average sales price) to have risen the most compared to parts in the iPhone 4S.

Kuo notes the new Lightning connector’s cost of US$3.50 represents a huge 775 percent rise in ASP compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector’s last price of US$0.40. Concurrently, the Lightning cable’s US$6.00 ASP is a 233 percent jump from the previous standard’s US$1.80 model.

The spike is to be expected as Lightning is a new technology, replacing the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector first introduced with the third-generation iPod.

While Apple’s new plug is similar in size to the Micro USB standard, Kuo believes the Lightning’s specs are higher, making the connector more difficult to manufacture. Included in the new high-tech part is a unique design which the analyst says is likely to feature a pin-out with four contacts dedicated to data, two for accessories, one for power and a ground. Two of the data transmission pins may be reserved for future input/output technology like USB 3.0 or perhaps even Thunderbolt, though this is merely speculation.

As for Lightning’s expected lifespan, the format is estimated to be in use for the next five to ten years, almost identical to the now-defunct 30-pin standard.

While ASP may be high in the first one to two years following deployment, the cost is acceptable as Apple will likely make back its investment in royalties from accessory sales. Apple is thought to be using a Texas Instruments chip for accessory authorization, making it difficult for third party manufacturers to build and sell Lightning-compatible products without paying royalties.

Looking at other critical parts in the iPhone 5, Kuo notes Apple’s quest to make high-quality products has boosted the ASP of other components as well, including the sapphire camera lens cover, upgraded baseband system, the A6 processor and the 4-inch in-cell touch panel. The second-highest ASP rise comes from the iPhone 5’s all-aluminum back casing’s $17 price which represents a 240 percent increase from the US$5 “metal band” design seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some iOS 6 users reporting Wi-Fi issues, Apple may have fixed bug

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:01
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Whenever you release a major new operating system for millions of active devices, there might be a few bugs to sort out…

Per AppleInsider, just hours after Apple released iOS 6 to the public on Wednesday, users are already complaining of Wi-FI connectivity issues on the company’s Support Communities website, possibly stemming from a network verification system flaw.

A number of users reported a “page not found” error when trying to browse in Safari on iOS 6. While the exact cause of the connectivity issues is unknown, it seems the problem started sometime after Apple rolled out the new mobile OS, as multiple reports poured in at nearly the same time.

It appears the problem is rooted in how iOS 6 handles network verification. In order to test whether an accessible Wi-Fi connection is present, Safari is led to a special page, which apparently has gone down.

Currently, Apple’s Support Communities site has a 6-page thread discussing the matter, and with every passing minute a new user seems to confirm that they too are having difficulties. One forum member claims his iPhone was working fine when he first downloaded iOS 6, only to find hours later that his handset was unable to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Both iPhone and iPad users who upgraded to the new OS have reported experiencing the same issue.

Based on the claims, the issue has arisen from a network verification process baked into the software, wherein the OS attempts to load a dummy page on Apple.com to detect if a users is connected to a paywalled network. Unfortunately, however, the verification page seems to lead to a 404 error, resulting in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi for many users.

Apple has been contacted regarding the alleged issue and may have resolved the issue by reactivating the webpage iOS 6 uses for network verification purposes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.4 update

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:29
Category: News, Software

eliphoto

Late Thursday, Apple released its anticipated iPhoto 9.4 update. The update, a 794 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Adds support for Shared Photo Streams on OS X Mountain Lion.

– Comments can now be added to photos after publishing them to Facebook.

– New card and calendar themes have been added.

– A new File menu command can be used to open the current photo library in Aperture (if installed).

– Includes performance and stability improvements.

iPhoto 9.4 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple Security Update 2012-004 out the door for Mac OS X 10.6.x operating systems

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:07
Category: News, security, Software

applelogo_silver

You can’t go wrong with a timely security update.

Late Wednesday, Apple released Security Update 2012-004, the company’s most recent security update for its Mac OS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) operating systems.

The update, a 2.36 megabyte download, offers a series of fixes and changes detailed here.

Security Update 2012-004 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple releases firmware updates for late-2010 MacBook Air, mid-2012 MacBook Air, mid-2012 MacBook Pro and mid-2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:06
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Pretty much everything in the known universe was updated on Wednesday.

And assorted firmware updates for your MacBook…those tend to be important, so let’s go through them.

On Wednesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.9 for its mid-2012 MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 4 megabyte download, resolves an issue which can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads and requires an Intel-based mid-2012 MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

The company also released MacBook Air SMC Update 1.7 for its late-2010 MacBook Air notebook. The update, a 668 kilobyte download, enables Power Nap support on MacBook Air (Late 2010) computers, is recommended for all users running OS X v10.8.2 or later and requires an Intel-based late-2010 MacBook Air running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

Second to last, the company also released MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.0 for its mid-2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook. The update, a 5.2 megabyte download, resolves an issue which can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter and requires an Intel-based MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

Finally, the company also released MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.5 for its mid-2012 MacBook Air notebook. The update, a 5 megabyte download, fixes an issue where Turbo Boost does not activate when using Boot Camp, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter and requires an Intel-based mid-2012 MacBook Air running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

As always, these updates can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. Be sure your computer is plugged in while the firmware updates take place and you should be home free.

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