Latest iPhone OS 3.1 Beta Cites Unknown Device

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Date: Wednesday, August 5th, 2009, 04:44
Category: News

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Once again, a mystery device in the latest iPhone OS 3.1 firmware beta is being referred to, the device featuring a new model number and fueling speculation that Apple has a new touchscreen device based on its mobile operating system coming soon.

According to ArsTechnica, a device called “iProd 0,1″ was first discovered in March in the iPhone 3.0 OS beta firmware. The latest beta update also includes a reference to iProd, but this time the USBConfiguration.plist file gives the product the “1,1″ distinction — something Apple typically uses to refer to its first-generation products.

The information has led to speculation that a new, unannounced piece of hardware running the iPhone OS could be nearing launch.

The reference to iProd 1,1 has a product ID of 4762, while the original iProd 0,1 was model 4757. The new model also features references to Ethernet configurations, leading the report to suspect the supposed new device could have “gained high-speed networking capabilities” since the 0,1 hardware incarnation.

“What we are willing to bet on is that with a 1,1 moniker the product will see public release soon—perhaps as early as September, when Apple typically unveils new iPods,” the report concludes.

Apple always uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions, the naming schemes allude to a second major reworking of the iPhone in testing at Apple as well as a minor revision of the current iPod touch and a third-generation overhaul. The original iPhone is seen as iPhone 1,1, while the iPhone 3G appears as iPhone 1,2 — a minor upgrade to an existing design. The first- and second-generation iPod touch show as 1,1 and 2,1 respectively.

Rumor: Netflix May Bring Streaming Service to iPhone, Other Handsets

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Date: Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, 05:16
Category: iPhone 3GS, Rumor

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Citing an unnamed source described as “an industry executive familiar with Netflix’s plans,” an article in Multichannel News is claiming that Netflix will soon offer its Watch Instantly streaming video service on the iPhone, iPod touch and the Nintendo Wii.

The brief reportdescribes the move as the next step for Netflix’ content, which currently streams to Windows PCs, Macs, the Xbox 360, TiVo DVRs, the Roku, and certain TV and Blu-Ray players built to support video downloads.

Unlike its DVDs-by-mail service, Netflix’ Watch Instantly library offers much less variety, with limited popular content such as recent movies and TV series. Older titles and oddball independent films are also available for immediate viewing and the Watch Instantly service is also included for viewing at no extra cost over the base Netflix subscription, in contrast to iTunes’ pay per view pricing.

Unlike media purchased or rented from iTunes, Netflix’ streaming content plays back directly with no download. This requires no local storage on the playback device, but results in playback quality that is dependent upon the available network bandwidth. With iTunes and the Apple TV, content is progressively downloaded, enabling users to obtain HD content even with a slower connection, albeit with a longer wait.

The advantage of Netflix’ instantly streaming video is that little or no storage is required. If the iPhone and Wii are powerful enough to decode the live stream, this could add a new customer segment for Netflix, the users not having to worry about their devices storing the downloaded content.

Whether the iPhone or Wii could decode quality video only using software may be an issue, as Netflix playback on the more powerful Apple TV has been cited by some as not practical due to its lack of any Windows Media codec hardware acceleration.

Video playback over AT&T’s mobile network would likely also be prohibited by any Netflix streaming player app, making any iPhone version Wi-Fi only, in line with other video streaming apps such as SlingPlayer Mobile.

As a workaround to the iPhone’s intentionally missing support for Windows DRM, Netflix could also take a page from Google and utilize the native support in iPhone OS 3.0 for HTTP Live Streaming, which plays streaming video to the iPhone and iPod Touch using standard MPEG AAC/H.264 codecs over familiar web-based protocols.

At the launch of the iPhone, Google shifted its Flash-based YouTube service to also support H.264 at Apple’s behest, allowing the iPhone to work around the need for Flash playback while also delivering hardware accelerated video playback using open protocols.

Support for HTTP Live Streaming will also be built into QuickTime X playback for Snow Leopard, and appears to be slated for adoption in the next revision of Apple TV. Third parties will also be able to implement HTTP Live Streaming on their own devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some Users Reporting Hard Drive Lag with 17″ MacBook Pro Notebook

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Date: Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, 04:31
Category: News

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Over on the Apple Discussion Boards, multiple users are contributing to a thread discussing hard drive lag on Apple’s current 17″ MacBook Pro notebook. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, several users report hearing the hard drive park itself, but at inappropriate times, causing the rainbow spinning wheel to appear and bringing all tasks to a halt. This comes a short time after other users have reported a strange beep.

One user reported no red flags while running Activity Monitor while another went so far as to swap the hard drive to no avail. Still another user reportedly fixed the problem by creating a secondnd user account.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or arrived at your own fix, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.5.2 Update

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Date: Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, 04:00
Category: Software

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Early Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.5.2 of its Firefox web browser.
The new version, a 17.5 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:
* Several security issues.
* Images with ICC profiles now render properly on all monitors.

Firefox 3.5.2 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

If you’ve snagged the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

Apple Attempts to Silence Family of Exploding iPod with Gag Order

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Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 04:51
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

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Recently, Apple Inc. attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gag order after the child’s iPod exploded and the family sought a refund from the company.

According to The Times, the company offered the family a full refund only on the condition that they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement.

The case mimics previous instances in which Apple attempted to hush up incidents when its devices overheated.

Ken Stanborough, 47, of Liverpool, dropped his 11-year-old daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch last month. “It made a hissing noise,” he said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough said he threw the device out of his back door, where “within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air”.

Mr. Stanborough then contacted Apple and Argos, where he had bought the device for £162. After being passed around several departments, he spoke to an Apple executive on the telephone. As a result of the conversation, Apple sent a letter to Mr Stanborough denying liability but offering a refund.

The letter also stated that, in accepting the money, Mr Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

“I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” said Mr Stanborough, who is self-employed and works in electronic security. He refused to sign it.

“They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.

“We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,” he added.

Last week, reports surfaced that Apple had tried to keep a number of cases where its iPod digital music players had started to smoke, burst into flames and even burned their owners, out of the public eye.

An American reporter obtained 800 pages of documentation on the cases from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) following a Freedom of Information Act request in that country. However, she was unable to get hold of the documents for months after “Apple’s lawyers filed exemption after exemption”.

In those cases, CPSC investigators suggested that the iPods’ lithium ion batteries could be the source of the problem.

In 2006, Apple and Dell recalled millions of lithium ion batteries due to overheating problems in laptop computers causing fires. As of September last year, 173,000,000 iPods have been sold worldwide.

An Apple spokesman said that, as the company had not looked at the Stanboroughs’ damaged iPod, it could not comment. Representatives from Argos also refused to comment.

Atlona to Ship Mini DisplayPort Converter for Older MacBooks

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Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 03:51
Category: Hardware, News

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Third party provider Atlona announced the released of the AT-DP200, a converter box that will let owners of older MacBooks with DVI or mini-DVI ports connect to the new Apple 24″ display, which uses a Mini DisplayPort. The device will ship in early September per the announcement.

Per the Apple Core, the unit boasts the following features:

* Compatible with All Mac and PC computers with DVI output.
* Supports High Resolutions up to 1,920×1,200.
* Full EDID management allows storing EDID information on the converter to make sure there is always a connection in between the computer and display.
* Re-Clocking technology will insure that signal stays the same quality as it was before entering the converter.
* Video Pass-Though, no scaling.

The AT-DP200 is expected to retail for a US$179 price tag.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.0.1 to Close SMS-Based Security Hole

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 10:29
Category: iPhone

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Responding to a dangerous security exploit unveiled this week, Apple released an update to its iPhone operating system Thursday to patch the security hole.

iPhone OS has just become available for the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS handsets. The update is between 230 and 300 megabytes and appears to exclusively fix the reported SMS exploit.

According to AppleInsider, security researcher Charlie Miller, co-author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, demonstrated the hack Thursday at the Black Hat 2009 conference in Las Vegas. The attack takes advantage of a vulnerability in the phone’s short messaging service, or SMS, feature, allowing an outside party into the phone’s root access without the owner’s knowledge.

The exploit takes advantage of the fact that SMS can send binary code to a phone which is then automatically processed without user interaction, and can be compiled from multiple messages, allowing larger programs to be sent to a phone. The exploit supposedly exposes the iPhone completely, allowing access to the camera, dialer, messaging and Safari. It occurs regardless of hardware revision or which version of the iPhone OS is running.

The technique involves sending only one unusual text character or else a series of “invisible” messages that confuse the phone and open the door to attack. Given that users won’t know which messages to block in advance, there’s little iPhone owners can do but to shut off the phone immediately if they suspect they’re at risk. Once exploited, the trick could also be used to make an iPhone send additional messages of its own, thereby spreading the problem.

To install the new iPhone OS firmware, simply connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC, open iTunes, select the iPhone in the device window and tell it to check for an update. The process will complete on its own.

If you’ve tried the new firmware, let us know what you make of it in the comments or forums.

Apple Updates Knowledge Base/Troubleshooting Articles for iPhone, Notebook Optical Drives

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 05:20
Category: iPhone, News

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If you’re in a pinch, the Apple Knowledge Base has generally been a useful place to go. Per MacFixIt, the company has just updated Knowledge Base articles for both its iPhone hardware as well as the slot-loading optical drives found on various Macs and notebooks.

For the iPhone hardware article, click here.

For help with slot-loading optical drives, click here.

Head on over, take a gander and let us know what you think.

Chinese iPhone Gains State Approval

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 04:00
Category: iPhone

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Over on the China State Regulatory Commission web site (basically the Chinese version of the FCC), the government has apparently approved a GSM/WCDMA cell phone complete with Bluetooth, an internal model number A1324 by Apple Inc. According to Engadget, the device was approved on May 7th, 2009 with the approval certificate set to expire in five years.

That being said, China Unicom should have plenty of time to capitalize on its reported three-year deal to offer the phone in mainland China.

And to sweeten the deal, an image of what may be the Chinese iPhone…

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Apple Releases 2TB Time Capsule Router

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Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2009, 05:29
Category: Time Capsule

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Apple released an anticipated Time Capsule router router with an integrated two terabyte hard drive on Thursday, the new unit selling for US$499 while the previous generation one terabyte model is now available for US$299, per AppleInsider.

Earlier this year, Apple introduced new AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules with dual-band support. The new models allow simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz dual-band networking. With dual-band, base stations can simultaneously support iPhones and other 802.11b/g devices operating at 2.4 GHz, while also broadcasting 802.11n wide signals in the 5GHz band to maximize throughput for notebooks and devices such as Apple TV.

Time Capsule pairs the existing AirPort Extreme with a hard drive to serve as a backup appliance for Leopard machines running Time Machine, in addition to acting as a simple file and print server. It is offered for both Mac and Windows users, although Windows PCs (or Macs not running Leopard) won’t have Time Machine and therefore will access it only as a regular file and print server.