Recent support document points to forthcoming iPad Wi-Fi fix

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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.

Leaked iPhone document show contactless payment technology in the works

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve got to love the occasional press leak, as they yield some interesting things on the horizon.

NFC World recently spotted a release from Visa and DeviceFidelity on the MarketWatch website, which revealed that the companies have developed a protective iPhone case that will allow users to pay for goods and services “by simply waving their iPhone in front of a contactless payment terminal”.

The release has since been removed from MarketWatch, but not before NFC World pasted the full text on its site.

The technology, developed by DeviceFidelity and certified by Apple, includes an iPhone case that holds a secure MicroSD card hosting Visa’s contactless payment application, Visa payWave. The release said that market trials of the “payment-enabled” iPhone are scheduled to start this summer.

The release said that the technology will also work with smart phones that have a suitable memory card slot.

Visa and DeviceFidelity announced plans to trial the technology in smart phones with memory card slots back in February. However, at the time, the iPhone was excluded from the trial because it did not have the required card slot.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Apple releases iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3 to developers, focuses on orientation lock and iPod features

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Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, 03:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple released the third beta of its upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 firmware to developers on Tuesday. The new build, specified as build 10M2247, closely follows the release of beta 2 just two weeks ago. Both last year’s iPhone OS 3 and the 3.2 release for iPad went through five beta cycles before being released publicly.

iPhone 4 is expected to be release to the public in June for iPhone and iPod touch users, with an iPad version due for release in the fall.

Shortly after being published on Apple’s developer site, the new update was pulled temporarily to fix an issue believed to be related to an installation problem according to Gizmodo.

The new beta makes it easier to quit apps running in the multitasking drawer by giving each icon a red quit quit button, similar to the Home screen method of uninstalling apps with a touch.

Also new is a widget controller for iPod music playback, and an orientation lock that works similar to the physical switch on iPad. However, since the iPhone’s user interface is oriented toward portrait by default, with apps supporting landscape only optionally, the lock only sets orientation in portrait.

In contrast, the iPad presents no default orientation, making the lock more important and functional in both landscape and portrait directions.

The beta 3 release still does not support push messaging features for remote location, messaging, lock, or secure wipe as Apple prioritizes its beta releases to be relevant to the issues developers face in testing their apps with the new firmware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they come in and if you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta, let us know.

Apple releases Epson 2.3.1 printer drivers update for Snow Leopard

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Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 06:32
Category: Software

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Late Monday, Apple released an updated version of the Epson printer drivers for its Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system. The update, a 688.2 megabyte download, includes the latest Epson printing and scanning software for the operating system.

The Epson 2.3.1 printer drivers require Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new drivers and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple alters Chinese iPhone Wi-Fi protocol to adopt government standard

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Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple fought for years to break the iPhone into the Chinese marketplace and appears to be doing what it takes to stay there.

Per Macworld UK, the company appears to have tweaked its iPhone to support a Chinese security protocol for wireless networks. This follows suit as companies increasingly adopt Chinese government-backed technologies and standards to stay on the nation’s store shelves.

The move suggests Apple may soon launch a new version of the iPhone in China with Wi-Fi, a feature that regulations previously barred.

Chinese regulators last month approved the frequency ranges used by a new Apple mobile phone with 3G and wireless LAN support, as noted by China’s State Radio Monitoring Center. The device appears to be an iPhone and uses GSM and the 3G standard WCDMA, just like iPhones currently offered in China by local carrier China Unicom.

Apple removed Wi-Fi on the iPhones now sold in China because regulators there began approving mobile phones with WLAN support only last year. These units are only supported if they use a homegrown Chinese security protocol called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

The new Apple phone does support WAPI, according to the Chinese regulatory site. If an iPhone with WAPI goes on sale, Apple would be one of the highest-profile companies to offer a device using the protocol.

The new Apple phone may also support standard Wi-Fi. The Chinese security protocol is an alternative for just part of Wi-Fi, and devices can support both it and the technology it is meant to replace.

China has promoted the protocol, along with other homegrown technologies like the 3G standard TD-SCDMA, as part of a vision to produce more of its own technology and have it adopted by international companies.

Earlier this year, China Unicom chairman and CEO said the company was in talks with Apple about offering a version of the iPhone with Wi-Fi.

The new Apple device, like all mobile phones, still must obtain a network access license from regulators if its maker wants to sell it in China.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.