Apple distribute iOS 4.1 beta to testers, addresses iPhone 4 signal, reception issues

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 15th, 2010, 04:15
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If your software’s picky and people are complaining, there’s always the chance to fix it in the update. Per AppleInsider, Apple began widespread testing of its iOS 4.1 update on Tuesday, the beta delivering changes to the way the handset displays signal strength.

Build 8b5080c of iOS 4.1 beta 1 began making its way to developers alongside iOS SDK 4.1 build 10M2304. Beta testers who reported in stated that one visible change is the new signal bar, which presents taller bars at the low end of the scale to make it easier to read. They also report the signal bars seem to better exaggerate signal drop off, with fewer bars visible when in an area of with limited reception.

Responding to widespread criticism over reception problems with the new touch-screen handset, Apple earlier this month penned an open letter to iPhone 4 users, in which it claimed that the formula used to calculate bars of signal strength on the device is inaccurate, and would be corrected in the coming weeks through a free software fix.

“Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength,” the company said. “For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars.”

Apple added that users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone 4 in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because their handset is erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. “Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” said the company, which maintains that the iPhone 4’s wireless performance “is the best [it has] ever shipped.”

For their part, wireless experts and well-regarded product research firm Consumer Reports have disputed Apple’s claims through their own research which alleges that the iPhone 4 suffers from reception issues when held by a user in a particular manner.

In a surprise move, Consumer Reports announced on Monday that it would no longer recommend the iPhone 4 to potential buyers due to reception problems that it believes to be a result of the design of the handset. The research firm issued the statement on its official electronics blog, stating that it reached that conclusion after testing three iPhone 4 handsets that were purchased from three separate retailers in the New York area inside a controlled environment of a radio frequency isolation chamber.

While iOS 4.1 beta appears to deliver Apple’s controversial ‘fix’ to the reception issues, there’s yet to be reliable word on wether the beta also addresses inaccuracies in the phone’s proximity sensor, which have similarly helped to sour the iPhone 4 experience for many customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to revamp Genius Bar process at retail locations

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 13:29
Category: retail, Rumor

applelogo_silver

As useful as the Apple Store retail locations tend to be, there’s always a bit of a wait.

This may change as Apple is said to be prepping major changes to the Genius Bar at its brick-and-mortar retail stores, in hopes of offering customers shorter wait times and quick overnight repairs according to a story on MacRumors.

The site has stated that it has received word that Apple plans to overhaul its Genius Bars in an effort to increase customer satisfaction. The details come a day after sources close to the story reported that Apple is now drumming up excitement with its retail employees, promising something that will make a “big” impact.

Specifically, author Eric Slivka cited three new changes that will allegedly be implemented:

Active queue management: Apple’s goal is for walk-in customers headed to the Genius Bar to be served within 30 minutes. To meet this goal, the stores will reassign some employees from other areas of the store when needed.

Overnight repairs: Retail stores will reportedly place a greater focus on overnight repairs, with the goal of a faster turnaround for customers who need their Apple products fixed. however, this will come at somewhat of an expense to “While You Wait” repairs.

Multitasking: Genius Bar employees will be asked to serve multiple customers at once, rather than just focusing on one person. Employees will help another customer during downtime (such as during a computer reboot), and support staff will attempt to pair customers who have reservations for similar or identical issues.

“While Apple is pitching the changes as a significant enhancement to support services in its retail stores, others are not so sure,” the report said. “One Apple retail store employee familiar with the changes noted that the company is trying to ‘do more with less,’ pulling in less-qualified Creatives and offering less personal attention through multitasking in order to deal with customer demand rather than hiring new staff.

“The employee also expressed concern about low stocks of parts available at retail stores and how without a change in how parts are allocated and delivered many repairs will not be able to be completed overnight as planned.”

If this can happen, great. If not, well, they’ll still hand you a free bottle of water while you explain that you didn’t mean to stick your iPhone in the toaster that morning…

Analyst: Full iPhone 4 recall could cost Apple $1.5 billion, affect operating income by 1%

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:08
Category: iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Following up on the iPhone 4 antenna issue, one research investment firm has studied the numbers and determined that a recall of the iPhone 4 could cost Apple as much as US$1.5 billion.

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst for Bernstein Research, said in a note to clients on Tuesday that while a full product recall is “highly unlikely,” it could theoretically cost the company up to US$250 per phone. Sacconaghi estimates 6 million units sold or in transit, resulting in a recall price tag as high as US$1.5 billion according to CNET.

Another option is for Apple to offer an in-store hardware fix, which could cost US$75 per phone. Giving away a free bumper case, which currently retails for US$29, would be a much cheaper alternative for the Cupertino, Calif., company. Sacconaghi estimates this approach would cost just US$1 per unit.

The report arrives just a day after Consumer Reports warned that it could no longer recommend the iPhone 4. After conducting its own tests inside a radio frequency isolation chamber, the organization issued a statement on its blog reversing its previous recommendation of the phone.

For its part, Apple earlier this month released an open letter stating that the iPhone 4′s reception issues were largely due to an inaccurate formula for calculating signal strength. The company assured that a free software fix would be available in the coming weeks. Consumer Reports’ findings are in opposition to Apple’s statement.

Another Wall Street analyst, Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray, estimated Tuesday that a fix from Apple could impact its operating income by 1%. Like Sacconaghi, Munster also suggested the possibility of issuing free bumper cases. Additionally, the analyst said that since only 25 of users are affected by the issue, the company could “weather the storm” by doing nothing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Consumer Reports study recommends duct tape fix for iPhone 4 antenna issue

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:29
Category: iPhone, News

It ain’t pretty but it’s recommended by Consumer Reports and it might just be effective.

Per CNN, a sliver of duct tape may be all that’s needed to fix the iPhone 4′s dropped calls issue which has stemmed from the handset’s new antenna design. The report follows a Consumer Reports study which highlights the issue and offers test data to back its claim.

Other sources have stated that purchasing Apple’s bumper protector also helps alleviate the problem, the bumper itself retailing for about US$30.

Take a gander at the video and if you’ve seen this issue on your end or discovered your own fix, let us know.



BMW announces support for iOS 4 “iPod Out” API for upcoming car models

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

When the “iPod Out” API was mentioned at Apple’s iOS 4 preview event back in April, no one really knew what it was. Still, this didn’t stop BMW Group from mentioning that it had integrated iPod Out into its newest BMW and Mini vehicle entertainment systems.

Per Macworld, the iPod Out API allows car manufacturers to integrate the iPod Classic OS look and controls into a vehicle’s on-board entertainment system. Owners of future BMW and Mini models will be able to control their iPod or iPhone fully from the car’s interface controls. In addition, users will have access to their device’s Genius feature and be able to make custom playlists.

In its statement, BMW announced that “future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone.”

BMW Group hasn’t outlined any specific timeline for integration, but notes that support will be coming to future BMW models using BMW ConnectedDrive and Mini models using Mini Connected. Customers who wish to use the iPod Out feature in new BMW Group cars need to have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate OLED displays into future iPad models

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:03
Category: iPad, News, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make the technology business interesting and in spite of the high cost of OLED displays and Apple’s continued support of LCD screens with IPS technology, whispers of a next-generation iPad with an OLED screen continue to resurface.

Per DigiTimes, sources close to the story have indicated that Apple plans to launch a second-generation iPad as soon as the fourth quarter of 2010. The new hardware would reportedly use 5.6-inch and 7-inch OLED displays, with Compal Electronics in the running to supply Apple.

The new models would be in addition to Apple’s successful 9.7-inch iPad, which would receive “some minor changes,” the report said. The smaller 5.6″ and 7″ iPad models would “mainly target the e-book reader market, separating them from the 9.7″ model, which mainly targets multimedia entertainment,” the report said.

It noted that costs of OLED panels are expected to drop, as Samsung Electronics and LG Display have been devoting resources into the development of panels. “With Apple’s brand image and high average selling price (ASP), Apple should have no problem adopting OLED panels, which have higher price than standard panels, into its devices,” the report said.

DigiTimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo responded to the rumors and noted that Samsung cannot currently meet capacity for OLED displays on its own handsets, making it unlikely they would be able to supply Apple by the fourth quarter of 2010. In addition, Compal is “unlikely” to pursue orders with Apple, because its manufacturing gross margins are much less than what is offered by others.

Rumors of an OLED display on the iPad have been present since before Apple even formally announced the device and have continued to resurface since, with DigiTimes also reporting in April that Apple could adopt OLED displays for its second-generation iPad. At the time, the Taiwanese publication also reported the rumors, but simultaneously cast doubt on them through the analysis of Kuo.

The current iPad LCD screen uses IPS, or in-plane switching, technology. It was developed by Hitachi in 1996, and offers improved viewing angles and color reproductions on screens.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers replacement program for faulty Time Capsule units sold in 2008

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 07:30
Category: News, Time Capsule

timecapsule.jpg

You either love or hate the Time Capsule, but when the unit shuts down unexpectedly or doesn’t power on at all, you tend to land on the side of hating it a bit more.

Per Macworld and a recent Knowledge Base article, Apple is offering a replacement program on Time Capsule models sold between Feburary and June 2008. The company says affected models of its backup device may shut down unexpectedly or may no longer power on.

Apple’ss advisory is not an official recall, per se, the company is only asking for those with affected units, rather than every device within the time frame. The Knowledge Base article covers Time Capsules with serial numbers XX807XXXXXX – XX814XXXXXX.

According to the company, devices that fall into the serial number range and time frame can be brought into an Apple Store or other Authorized Retailer, where, if the problem is confirmed by the staff, Apple will repair or replace it free of charge. If you want to keep the data from the hard drive, Apple’s official word on the matter is that it will provide “options depending on where you live.” Users in the U.S. and Japan are advised to mail the device to Apple and turnaround time is estimated at “3 to 5 days”, whereas all other countries can have data transferred from the old Time Capsule to the replacement in-store. Of course, if you have the ability to transfer the data to another hard drive yourself, it might be the better option.

If you had this issue earlier, and paid for a repair or replacement Time Capsule, Apple advises you to call the company to discuss a possible refund.

Now, if your Time Capsule falls within the range of dates and serial numbers, but isn’t exhibiting any symptoms, there’s no need to rush to a Genius Bar just yet. This replacement program covers affected models three years from the original date of purchase, so if the Time Capsule you bought in February 2008 starts having power issues in a few months, you’ll have until 2011 to bring it in. And if your device falls outside the range but is exhibiting similar issues, it can’t hurt to get it checked out: Apple says it will “evaluate the service data and will provide further updates to the program if needed.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple move closer to obtaining Wi-Fi license for Chinese market iPhones

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 07:51
Category: iPhone, News

Since its inception into the Chinese marketplace, Apple’s iPhone has been restricted from incorporating a Wi-Fi capability.

That may be about to change as this week, Chinese regulators issued a network access license for an Apple iPhone that is equipped to use the China-developed wireless LAN security protocol, WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure). China’s Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center (TENAA) published photos of the phone, which appears to be an iPhone 3G, on its Website.

Per Macworld, representatives from Apple and China Telecom, the local carrier that Apple has selected as its partner, would not comment on the device’s capabilities, nor when it would go on sale.

When iPhones began officially entering the Chinese market in 2009, Apple was forced to disable their Wi-Fi capabilities to comply with Chinese laws. At the time, Chinese regulators would only allow mobile phones using the Chinese WAPI protocol for secure wireless access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts changes to MobileMe back end, apps

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 05:25
Category: News, Software

There’s always something happening on the server end and Apple’s MobileMe service is no exception. Per CNET, Apple released a new bout of changes to the MobileMe services on Thursday. The changes cover everything from iApp improvements to using the MobileMe website and working from within OS X 10.6.4:

Improvements with iOS 4.0 (for iPhone and iPod touch):
The Mail app supports MobileMe Mail aliases when composing or replying to messages.

Find My iPhone app:
The new Find My iPhone app allows you to find your device from another iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iDisk app version 1.2:
Designed for both iPhone and iPad.
Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps (such as open a PDF file in iBooks).

Gallery app version 1.1.1:
When viewing individual photos over a Wi-Fi network, higher resolution images are automatically downloaded on iPhone 4.

Improvements with Mac OS X v10.6.4:
Fixes an issue that may cause Address Book contacts to disappear when sharing is enabled.

MobileMe Control Panel 1.6:
Improves syncing of MobileMe Contacts with Microsoft Outlook. See this article for details.

Mail at me.com:
The new MobileMe Mail web application is available for all users.

Find My iPhone at me.com:
The Find My iPhone web application has a full-screen map view. Multiple devices are listed in a sidebar.

Calendar Beta at me.com:
The beta includes a new web application with support for calendar sharing and event invitations.

Me.com website:
Clicking the cloud icon brings up an application switcher.
Clicking your name allows you to access Help, Account, and sign out.

Rumor: Apple to add 5 megapixel camera, FaceTime and gyroscope to fourth-gen iPod touch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 03:02
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

applelogo_silver

A new report from the mighty Electric Pig has alleged that Apple’s fourth-generation iPod touch, expected to arrive this September, will feature a 5 megapixel camera, capture HD video, feature FaceTime connectivity, and include a gyroscope, like the iPhone 4.

U.K. retailer John Lewis said the information is based on “noises we’re hearing from suppliers”. Though no mention was specifically made of a forward-facing camera at the company’s presentation in London, it did say that FaceTime calling over Wi-Fi would be possible “so you can communicate with friends at zero cost.”

The purported details of Apple’s new iPod touch were revealed at the John Lewis “Xmas in July” event. The retailer also claimed that the new iPod touch will include a camera flash for improved pictures in the dark, like the iPhone 4. It also said that users would be able to upload their HD videos directly to YouTube from the device, over Wi-Fi.

Finally, representatives from John Lewis also said the new iPod touch is expected to include both an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The hardware addition already found in the iPhone 4 allows a new, more precise control method for game titles on the App Store.

The company made no mention whether the iPod touch would receive some of the other additions of the iPhone 4, namely the 640-by-960 pixel Retina Display, or Apple’s custom-built A4 processor.

Apple was originally rumored to add a camera to its iPod touch at last year’s annual September iPod event, but the feature was allegedly pulled due to bad parts with the camera modules. The company later added a popular video camera component to its iPod nano media device.