Rumor: Apple to Release iPhone OS 4.0 at Jan. 27th Media Event, Details Leaked

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Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, 09:08
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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You’ve got to admit, it’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Boy Genius Report has reportedly received information from a source close to the story claiming iPhone OS 4.0 will be introduced at Apple’s press event next week at the Yerba Buena on January 27th. Per the source, iPhone OS 4.0 will be limited to the iPhone 3G and 3GS (presumably including at least more recent iPod touch models and omitting the original iPhone) and will incorporate solutions for multitasking by running applications in the background and a revamped user interface for easier navigation.

Other changes will include the following:

- There will be multi-touch gestures OS-wide.

- “A few new ways” to run applications in the background — multitasking.

- Many graphical and UI changes to make navigating through the OS easier and more efficient.

- The update will supposedly be available for only the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but will “put them ahead in the smartphone market because it will make them more like full-fledged computers” more than any other phone to date. Everyone is “really excited.”

- A brand new syncing ability for the contacts and calendar applications.

The ability to run iPhone applications in the background has been near the top of many users’ wish lists, but Apple has yet to implement full backgrounding and multitasking due to its effect on performance and battery life, instead opting to deploy push notifications as a means for closed applications to serve data to users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple Releases EFI Firmware 1.4 for Early 2009 Mac Pro

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Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, 06:43
Category: Software

Albeit mobile devices are important, never forget your home desktop machines.

Late Monday, Apple released EFI Firmware 1.4 for the early 2009 Mac Pro desktop workstations. The update, a 1.9 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves compatibility with virtualization products utilizing VT-d.
- Improves storage performance under Windows XP for Boot Camp users.
- Improves system reliability during the boot process.

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Once downloaded, please follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/MacPro EFI Firmware Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the installation is complete.

The update requires an Intel-based early 2009 Mac Pro and Mac OS X 10.5 to install and run. The update can also be located and snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update utility.

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

Rumor: Apple Holding Talks with HarperCollins Over Potential Tablet Content

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Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, 06:50
Category: Rumor

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I’d like to think that the upcoming Apple tablet could save both the publishing and journalism industries as well as paint your house on the weekend if need be.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple and publisher HarperCollins are reportedly conducting talks over possible e-book offerings for Apple’s new tablet device, with pricing that would follow the current App Store model.

The deal could offer enhanced e-books containing video, author interviews, and social-networking applications. These releases could command a higher price than the current e-book standard of US$9.99 for a typical bestseller.

It is unknown as of now if the e-books would be offered though the existing iTunes store or if a specialized e-book storefront would be created.

“Amazon created the e-book market by making the US$9.99 price for best sellers an integral part of its introduction of the Kindle e-book reader in November 2007,” the report said. “But the Kindle lacks color and video capabilities, two elements that are likely to be crucial to the future of enhanced e-books.

“Amazon could be shut out of enhanced e-books until the Kindle offers those features. The standard Kindle costs US$259, however, while analysts expect Apple’s tablet to cost about US$1,000.”

Back in early December, it was reported that Apple was offering publishers a deal that would allow them to release their content on other online stores, such as Amazon’s Kindle or the forthcoming multi-publisher digital storefront that would offer content from Conde Nast, Hearst, News Corp., Time, and Meredith for use on portable digital devices. It was reported then that Apple was planning on splitting the revenue 30/70 (Apple/publisher), compared to the 50/50 split offered by Amazon for publishing to its Kindle e-reader.

Apple is expected to announce a long-awaited tablet device at its upcoming January 27th media event at the Yerba Buena in San Francisco. Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone Developer Hints at “Imminent” iPhone OS 4.0 Release

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Date: Monday, January 18th, 2010, 05:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Additional evidence of iPhone OS 4.0′s release being just on the horizon emerged Friday when Rick Broid of CNET’s iPhone Atlas stated that he received an e-mail from a “prominent app developer” regarding an update to the iPhone operating system. “Just wanted to give you a heads up that we’ve submitted an updated app for the new iPhone OS 4.0 software,” the e-mail allegedly said. Additional details on the supposed software were not given.

Earlier this month, it was alleged that Apple’s rumored January 27th media event at the Yerba Buena could include the introduction of iPhone OS 4.0. One report claimed the new software developer kit includes a “simulator” that makes it easy for developers to adapt to different screen resolutions.

Apple is widely expected to introduce its long-rumored tablet device at the event. This week, one rumor claimed that Apple has not issued any updates for the iPhone in some time because the next version has many tablet-related references that the company did not want to leak in advance of its planned unveiling.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to Go Into Production Earlier, Feature Magic Mouse-Like Casing

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Date: Friday, January 15th, 2010, 07:26
Category: News

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If it wasn’t for rumors, things would be factually accurate.

And sort of boring.

Per Bloomberg News, Apple will introduce a new iPhone in 2010 that will employ a touch-sensitive plastic back casing similar to the one used on the company’s new Magic Mouse, one analyst has said.

In a recent interview, Robert Chen with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the new iPhone will go into production as early as April, and will be available to customers in June or July. Chen said the plastic back panel of the phone could have a touch-sensitive solid shell, much like on the Magic Mouse.

The new hardware could also include an updated version of the iPhone operating system, Chen said.

“Appleā€™s going to put a lot of innovation, not just on the hardware, but also on the software of the new iPhone,” he told Bloomberg.

Chen’s predictions are more in line with conventional thinking than a report from earlier this week, in which executives at a South Korean wireless provider claimed a fourth-generation iPhone could see a limited debut in April with a dual-core processor and potentially a removable battery.

Contrary to that rumor, Apple typically announces new iPhone hardware at its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference. It is believed Apple could hold that event starting June 28, coinciding with Chen’s claims of a June or July debut for the new iPhone.

The Magic Mouse, which was introduced in October, lacks any physical buttons on its solid acrylic surface. It allows multi-touch controls that are closer to that of a MacBook trackpad, allowing secondary clicks and finger-based gestures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes out of the scheduled Yerba Buena media event on January 27th.

Apple Releases MobileMe Gallery App for iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Friday, January 15th, 2010, 07:19
Category: iPhone, Software

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On Thursday, Apple released its MobileMe Gallery app, an application which allows users to view photos and videos from the cloud-based service on their iPhone or iPod touch.

Per AppleInsider, the MobileMe Gallery app allows users to select an album with a tap and flick back and forth through photos, pinch to zoom, or rotate into landscape view. The software also automatically stores photos that have been viewed, so they can be accessed again even without a network connection.

Users can access publicly shared content by choosing names from contacts or entering their MobileMe member name. The application also includes a scrolling sampler at the top that gives users access to recent photos.

Users must enter their MobileMe member name and password to see their list of published movies and photos. A MobileMe subscription is required.

The application is available for free and requires iPhone OS version 3.1 or later.

Apple Patent Applications Discovered for iPhone Stylus, Contextual User Interfaces

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2010, 06:03
Category: Patents

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A series of recently published patent applications shows that Apple has been looking into creating a stylus for use on a touch-sensitive panel like the iPhone, and creating dynamic user interfaces for mobile devices that would adapt to location and use.

Per AppleInsider, the first patent application addresses the idea of a conductive tip for a stylus that would be recognized by such a screen.

“A metallic or otherwise conductive disk may be attached to one end of the stylus,” the application reads. “The disk may be sized so as to guarantee sufficient electrical interaction with at least one sensory element of the touch sensor panel.”

The application also presents the option of a powered stylus that would provide the stimulus signal required by a capacitive touch screen. A powered stylus could also include sensors that would measure elements like force and angle that would transmit additional information to the device.

“This additional data can be used for selecting various features in an application executing on the host device (e.g., selecting various colors, brushes, shading, line widths, etc.),” the application reads.

The invention is credited to John G. Elias, an Apple employee and co-founder of FingerWorks, the firm acquired by Apple during the development of the original iPhone. The application is titled “Stylus Adapted For Low Resolution Touch Sensor Panels.” It was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 11th, 2008.

The other application focuses on the idea that future portable devices could have different input methods and user interfaces depending on where they are located.

For example, using the device in the car or in the gym could show a different design on the screen. Devices could also be controlled in different fashions when they are docked and less portable, and a different design and input method might make more sense.

“Each mode may define different features and content that are customized for a particular mode,” the application reads. “Based a selected mode, the media player may provide access to only content, features, hardware, user interface elements, and the like that the user wishes to have access to when the mode is enabled. The media player may provide the user different experiences, looks, and feels for each mode.”

Users would be able to customize each of the different GUIs available. The goal, the application states, is to create a “cleaner, more focused user experience.”

Custom layouts and playlists could be created for use at the gym or while driving, which would automatically be reconfigured when a particular mode is enabled.

“The mode may further specify how applications relevant to the mode may be displayed, such as backgrounds, icons, style information, themes, or other information that provides a visual indicator of the active mode,” the document reads.

The application, entitled “Multi-Model Modes of One Device,” is credited to William Bull and Ben Rottler. It was submitted on Sept. 9th, 2008.

Users Report Window Rendering Bug on MacBooks Under Mac OS X 10.6.X

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2010, 06:18
Category: MacBook, Software

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As much as you may like Mac OS X, there may still be some bugs to hash out. Per CNET, several MacBook users have reported experiencing a problem in OS X where the system shows areas of graphics corruption around windows. The corruption appears to be a black area of blocky lines in no particular pattern, and seems to be in the area of the window’s shaded region, moving with the window when it is moved.

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The behavior seems to be specific for computers that are running Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipsets. It started occurring with Mac OS X 10.6 for some people, though for others the 10.6.1 update spurred the problem, and as of the latest 10.6.2 release this problem has not been addressed. The issue seems to happen most when multimedia files are being played, especially with beta versions of Adobe flash are being used. From user descriptions, the problem seems to stem from a bug waiting to be fixed in the Mac OS X 10.6 operating system.

Recent reports suggest Apple is working on significantly improving support for more OpenGL 3.0 functions and extensions in OS X 10.6.3, which implies Apple will be updating the graphics drivers in the next update. Hopefully the bug that is causing this problem will be addressed then.

In the meantime, you can try the following fixes and workarounds:

- Reset PRAM and SMC.

- Boot into safe mode and clear caches with OnyX or other maintenance utility.

- Try a different user account.

- Try different graphics settings (bit depth, resolution).

This glitch won’t hurt anything and only affects the MacBook’s rendering of window shadows, which can still be interacted with normally. If you’ve seen this issue on your end and found your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

Apple Now Holds 7.4% of U.S. Market Share in Recent IDC Report

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2010, 06:28
Category: News

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In spite of a lagging economy, Apple was able to keep its domestic market share above 7% in a 31% year-over-year comparison to 1.5 million units sold.

Per AppleInsider, Apple outpaced the rest of the U.S. PC market, which also grew an impressive 24% in year-over-year during the fourth quarter (the three-month period ending December), according to preliminary data released Wednesday by market research firm IDC. Apple’s sales were enough to keep its placement as the fifth-largest domestic PC maker, behind HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba, respectively.

In total, Apple sold an estimated 5.6 million computers in the U.S. in during the 2009 calendar year, good for an overall 8% share. This was up slightly from the 5.2 million units and 7.9% share the company held in 2008, representing 8.2% year-over-year growth. Apple was the fourth-largest U.S. PC maker in all of 2009.

While Apple is growing, sales data shows that its slice of the market is not. That can be attributed to the booming market for low-end netbooks, which sell for a few hundred dollars and earn manufacturers razor-thin profit margins. By comparison, Apple’s believed to retain some of the highest margins in the industry, often hovering above 30%.

“Low-cost notebooks and mini-notebooks were the biggest contributors to the successful fourth quarter,” said David Daoud, research manager with IDC’s U.S. Quarterly PC tracker.

Overall PC growth during the fourth quarter was bolstered by the launch of Windows 7, which pushed the industry to a record quarter of 20.7 million units for the three-month period. IDC said that consumer confidence was a key factor in these advances, though business spending has lagged behind and is likely to take some more time to take hold.

“The U.S. market exploded in the 4th quarter driven by a series of factors contributing to the unexpected 24% year-on-year growth,” Daoud said. “First is the rubber-band effect and recovery from the year-ago quarter, which suffered from buyer contraction when the economic crisis was confirmed. Then vendors responded with new low price points to stimulate demand and face competition.”

Global sales were also strong, with the market seeing a 15.8% yearly gain. Overall, the fourth quarter of 2009 represented the first double-digit growth in PC shipments since the third quarter of 2008, IDC said.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to Include OLED Screen, Dual Core Processor, Other New Features

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Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, 06:27
Category: News

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What’s life without rumors?

Aside from, you know, accurate and filled with information that’s been solidly confirmed by sources and publications.

Per the Korea Times, high-ranking executives at wireless carrier KT, Apple’s exclusive carrier in South Korea, have commented that the next-generation iPhone will include an OLED screen, support video chat and – perhaps most surprisingly – have a removable battery.

The unit will reportedly feature a dual-core processor, more powerful graphics and an improved camera. The officials say that KT’s corporate clients will get the new phones in April as a “litmus test” before they’re provided to local distributors in June.

International availability isn’t specified in the report, but an upgraded iPhone in June would fall in line with Apple’s history.

Following the feature-by-feature breakdown, an OLED screens seems likely. This feature was rumored for the iPhone 3GS and never came to fruition. Competitor Google’s Nexus One handset has just arrived with an OLED screen, thereby perhaps pushing Apple to include one as well.

The removable battery on the other hand seems less likely, as Apple has a history of non-removable batteries in its iPhone and current notebook lineups. Last February, The Register dug up a few battery-related Apple patents, one of which describes a method for removing batteries from mobile devices and charging them in a host computer, so Apple might have a trick up its sleeve.

Video chat could arrive in the next iPhone, but prove to be a double edged sword, as wireless carrier AT&T might express concern about potential bandwidth use. This feature would also require a front-facing camera, which could be valuable even without video conferencing.

Korea Times says the 4G iPhone is being pushed out early to quell rising interest in Android phones, though this has yet to be confirmed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.