Apple Applies for Wireless License in China

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple may have finally cleared a major hurdle in bringing its iPhone handset to China, as the company has reportedly applied for a Network Access License in the Asian country. The moves could put a release just a few months away, albeit without Wi-Fi.

According to AppleInsider, Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison claims that the application was filed on Friday, July 10th, but doesn’t make any mention of onboard Wi-Fi. Rumors have repeatedly hinted that Apple may be forced to remove Wi-Fi to appease the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which would prefer that iPhone owners use local networks.

Apple has supposedly been “hellbent” on shipping the iPhone to China with Wi-Fi but appears to have relented in order to get the phone into the populous nation.

If the process moves along as usual, this revised iPhone would take between four to six months to receive the green light and go on sale. This would put a launch no later than January, and Mathison seemed confident that the device would arrive before the Chinese New Year, which in 2010 will start in mid-February. Mathison stated that he views the licensing as partly a negotiation tactic that would help bring Apple closer to a deal with China Unicom, the carrier recently pegged as the most likely candidate for an iPhone due to its inherent compatibility with the iPhone’s existing 3G standards.

While it’s rare to have an estimate that narrows the release window for an iPhone in China, whether or not this latest prediction is accurate remains debatable. Local carriers have been in talks with Apple since at least late 2007, and one-time favorite China Mobile has often tried making multiple special requests that have likely stalled hopes for a quick agreement, such as demanding that the American company either use the government-backed TD-SCDMA standard for 3G or cede control of the App Store.

Apple has so far only stated that it wants to have the iPhone in China within the next year and has been silent on the progress of negotiations.

iPhone OS 3.0 Users Reporting Difficulties with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Connections

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 04:46
Category: iPhone, Software

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As nifty as iPhone OS 3.0 may be, there may be some issues to sort out. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS handsets are reported to have wireless connectivity issues that, in over fourteen Apple Discussion threads and over six hundred messages, have placed the blame for this issue on iPhone OS 3.0.

The problem, verified by many, states that when updating to the new software, Wi-Fi connectivity on the iPhone 3G either decreased or vanished entirely. Those who were used to getting full bars of Wi-Fi connectivity now experience markedly less bars. Worse, even if some signal strength bars are displayed, often there is no Internet connectivity.

Many solutions have been proposed including resetting the router, changing settings (seemingly at random), and even putting the 3G in the freezer:

“Also i might note, I turned off wifi, turned off the phone, put it in the freezer (in a bag) for 10 mins, turned the phone back on, put the phone right next to my wifi antenna and then turned on wifi and it joined, it JUST joined and I couldnt believe it,” says one forum poster. Several others report similar results, but this fix did not last long. In fact, blog posts have been written about possible solutions, but none of them seemed to pan out after using Wi-Fi for a short period of time.

Replacement iPhones have been circulated through Apple Stores, though this didn’t seem to fix the problem either.

A lesser yet still present problem reported in the Discussions is a lack of Bluetooth connectivity in conjunction with the lack of Wi-Fi. It seems that losing Bluetooth for those affected is a package deal with Wi-Fi.

Apple is reported to be well aware of this problem and as time goes on and the number affected increases, Apple Stores are acknowledging the problem and replacing phones, albeit without a solid set of solutions at the moment.

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

Recent Apple Patents Suggest Upcoming Facial Recognition, Improved Videoconferencing Systems

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 04:28
Category: Apple, Patents

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Recently-released filings from the United States Patent and Trademark Office reveal that Apple may be planning face-detection components for its Mac and iPhone operating systems, in addition to working on ways to netter the quality of video conferences conducted via iChat.

According to MacRumors, a current filing builds upon ways in which users may be able to passively interface with their Macs in the near future.

Apple notes that one problem with existing personal computing devices is that they’re not able to determine whether a non-active or passive user is present and, subsequently, unable to perform certain operations to accommodate the passive user.

“For example, a PC may automatically activate a screen saver every five minutes regardless of whether a user is viewing the PC’s display screen,” Apple wrote. “Thus, a passive user is often inconveniently required to actively perform an interaction with the PC at least every five minutes to prevent the initiation of the screen saver or to deactivate the screen save after it is initiated.”

Another problem is that conventional systems cannot efficiently determine whether certain users have the authority to perform certain functions without first forcing them to manually enter a password.

Remedies to both these problems may lie in face-detection software, according to the document. Using a Mac’s built-in iSight camera, face detection software may be based on a pattern recognition algorithm that includes a statistical model, the company says. The software that detects faces in the captured images could then associate them with an authorized, as well as inform the system that a user is present in situations when manual interaction has stopped for an extended period.

The document noted that in addition to a Mac, face detection can be applied a cellular telephone, a wireless communications device, a media player, an MP3 player, a video player, and a PDA.

Another filing proposes solutions to many common imaging problems, such as unevenly distributed illumination, shadows, white balance adjustment, colored ambient light and high dynamic range imaging. A recent Apple filing states that systems and methods can be provided through a Mac can take advantage of the computer’s processing power to provide functionality that goes beyond a typical camera.

In one odd example apparently aimed at improving video conferencing, the company proposes an iMac with embedded lights that retract into the system’s housing. The filing states that a processor in the iMac would be able to control the deployment and operation of the lights in combination with other sensors to provide the ideal lighting setting.

iPhone 3GS Upload Speeds Peak at 384 Kbps

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 03:23
Category: iPhone 3GS

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The cat may be out of the bag as a recent Macworld article points out that while Apple’s recently-released iPhone 3GS is capable of much faster download speeds than the previous generations, its upload speeds could stand to see some improvement. While the handset boasts a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA downstream, which is twice the iPhone 3G’s 3.6 Mbps HSDPA speed, it was assumed that Apple would also be increasing upstream speeds by finally adding HSUPA, bringing upload speeds to either 1.4 or 1.9 Mbps.

A recent RapidRepair teardown revealed this not to be the case. When the group cracked open their iPhone 3GS, they found that it still only had a UMTS/HSDPA chip. While it had increased HSDPA speeds, it only supported UMTS, the earliest 3G upload protocol in the U.S., which is only capable of peak speeds of 384 Kbps.

While download speeds with the 3GS are quite a bit faster (or will be in the U.S. when AT&T finishes their 7.2 network), upload speeds remain comparatively slow.

Mark/Space Releases The Missing Sync for Palm Pre 1.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 9th, 2009, 05:44
Category: Software

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Software developer Mark/Space released The Missing Sync for Palm Pre 1.0, a software package that allows the Mac to sync data with Palm’s Pre smartphone on Wednesday.

Per Macworld, the software allows users to sync data such as music, ringtones, photos, contacts, calendar data and other content between the Mac and the Pre. The software works with Address Book, Entourage, iCal, iTunes, iPhoto and other familiar software.

The Missing Sync for Palm Pre 1.0′s “Proximity Sync” technology enables the two device to synchronize data over Wi-Fi, removing the need to physically tether the Pre to the Mac via a USB cable. Users can customize what data gets synced and can also convert video to be played on the Pre.

The Missing Sync for Palm Pre 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later, iTunes 7.4 or later and a Palm Pre running ROM 1.0.2 or later to install and run. The software retails for US$39.95.

Some MacBook Pro Owners Reporting Strange Noises, Errors with 7200 RPM Hard Drives

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Date: Thursday, July 9th, 2009, 03:33
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro

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Some owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros with faster 7200RPM hard drives are reporting strange clicking and beeping noises along with performance issues. According to MacNN, though the cause of the problem is unclear, an Apple Support forum thread has many users suggesting that it is caused by an incompatibility between the Seagate hard drive’s G-Force protection system and MacBook hardware. Some users have called Apple Support or taken their computers to an Apple Genius Bar both of which have tried fixing the problem by running a “capture” or resetting the computer’s “PRAM” during start up — neither of these solutions seem to have resolved the issue fully according to users in Apple’s support forum.

The issue could possibly affect users editing video, or those whose computer use requires sequential reading and writing. Users are also disputing where the sound is coming from within the computer with each user suggesting the sound comes from opposite sides of the computer, thereby making the rumor all the more uncertain.

The problem seems to only affect users with 7200RPM drives as users with 5400RPM drives are not reporting any similar problems.

Apple has yet to acknowledge any factory defects and has not made any comment regarding the sound and performance issues.

Apple Releases Safari 4.0.2 Update

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Date: Thursday, July 9th, 2009, 03:26
Category: Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released an update to the Safari 4 browser.

The Safari 4.0.2 Update is recommended for all Safari users and improves the stability of the Nitro JavaScript engine and includes the latest compatibility and security fixes.

Safari 4.0.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and can be downloaded via the Software Update control panel on your Mac.

iPhone 3GS Users Noticing Poor Battery Life on Handset

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Date: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, 04:36
Category: iPhone 3GS

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In spite of Apple’s claims that the iPhone 3GS boasts “longer battery life”, some users are complaining that the new handset actually has less battery life than the previous model.

Per The Apple Core and a recent iFixIt teardown, the company noticed the the 3GS battery is 6% larger than the iPhone 3G battery, leading many to suspect that iPhone OS 3.0 may be the culprit.

ComputerWorld followed up on this by noting that users have been reporting worse battery life on all iPhones since the day the iPhone OS 3.0 was released:

“After updating to [iPhone] 3.0 the battery life is very short. It consumes 5%-10% an hour,” claimed an original iPhone user identified as “ukfasthands” in a message posted on Apple’s support forum June 17.

If you’re afflicted you’ll most likely have to wait until Apple releases iPhone OS 3.1, or if we’re lucky, some battery improvement could come with the security update that’s been promised for the end of July. In the mean time, try implementing some of the following iPhone battery savings tips, including:

1. Minimize use of location services
2. Turn off push notifications
3. Fetch new data less frequently
4. Turn off push mail
5. Auto-check fewer email accounts
6. Minimize use of third-party applications
7. Turn off Wi-Fi
8. Turn off Bluetooth
9. Use Airplane Mode in low- or no-coverage areas
10. Adjust brightness
11. Turn off EQ
12. Turn off 3G

How-To: Creating a Flash for Your iPhone 3GS Camera

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPhone 3GS

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Despite the dramatic improvement in the iPhone 3GS’s new 3 megapixel camera, there are still complaints as to the lack of a built-in flash on the handset. Over on The Channel Project, Ryan decided to make his own flash out of a Mophie JuicePack.

The result was him cutting open the JuicePack, connecting a white LED and a tiny switch to the iPhone and being able to take a picture by holding down a button on the case.

It’s not for the brave of heart, but if you can pull it off, you’ve got an easy flash for your 3GS…

VLC Reaches Version 1.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009, 06:41
Category: Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), has recently been updated to version 1.0. The new version, a 29 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

Mac OS X Interface:
* Completely reworked user interface (based upon works from GSoC 2008)

Playlist:
* WPL playlist support
* ZPL playlist support

Audio filters:
* Chorus/Flanger audio filter

VLC 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run and is available as a free download.