Warranty firm performs “drop tests” on iPad mini, third-gen iPad, Nexus 7, comes up with winner

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:35
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You can feel confident dropping your brand new iPad mini.

But you probably shouldn’t go dropping your iPad mini.

Per a series of informal tests performed by third-party electronics warranty firm Square Trade, Apple’s new iPad mini outperformed both Google’s Nexus 7 and the third-generation iPad.

A total of three tests were performed by protection plan provider Square Trade, two using a specialized apparatus that dropped the three tablets from a height of four feet, and one where the devices were simply dunked in a container of water for ten seconds.

Unlike other tests, the iPad mini experiment utilized a machine to drop the tablets at the same time under similar conditions. In the two tests, the devices were dropped on their corners and front faceplate. The iPad mini fared the best out of the three for the corner drop, suffering only minor aesthetic damage with no screen cracks, while the edge of the Nexus 7′s display showed some trauma and the full-size iPad suffered major cracks from the point of impact.

Up next was the face-down test, in which the Nexus saw slight fissures in its display glass, while the screens of the iPad mini and third-gen iPad were significantly fractured. The test did not attempt to turn the devices on after they were dropped.

Finally, the tablets were turned on and submerged in water for ten seconds, after which they were taken out and inspected. The iPad mini appeared to function normally, while the 9.7-inch iPad’s home button malfunctioned and seemed to respond sluggishly to touch input. It is unclear how the Nexus performed as the device was quickly glossed over as it had started a reboot during the process, and was declared “unresponsive” by the tester.

Taking all three drops into consideration, the firm gave the nod to the iPad mini.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, let us know what you make of the video:



Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 Update for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, late 2012 21.5″ iMac and Mac mini models

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Where new hardware is released, the software updates will follow.

Per AppleInsider, only one day following the announcement of new iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, Apple on Wednesday released an OS X Mountain Lion update built specifically for those devices.

While the download is called OS X 10.8.2, just like the most recent update to Apple’s current operating system for all other Macs, Wednesday’s release is “for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012)Mac mini (Late 2012).”

A quick look at the release notes doesn’t yield much in the way of new information, possibly pointing to issues the new 2012 units are facing with some features in 10.8.2. Of note is the update’s compatibility with the 21.5-inch iMac, a model that has yet to be released, though the no mention was made of the 27-inch version.

The update, a 654 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
- Single sign on for Facebook.
- Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
- Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
- Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Game Center:
- Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
- Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
- Facebook Like button for games.
- Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
- Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
- iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
- From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.
- New shared Reminders lists.
- FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number.
- New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
- Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
- The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary.
- Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:
- An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
- Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail.
- Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
- URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
- Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
- SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
- New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
- Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
- USB 3.0 reliability enhancements

As always, the update can be located and installed via the Mac App Store or OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Rumor: Leaked “iPad mini” display component to feature same aspect ratio as traditional iPad

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Whatever comes out at the media event next Tuesday, it should be interesting.

Per Etrade Supply and Nowhereelse.fr, new photos claiming to show a display panel for Apple’s so-called “iPad mini,” with an aspect ratio identical to the screen on Apple’s traditional iPad.

Pictures of the component were published on Wednesday with the display panel measuring nearly 8 inches across diagonally, and is 162 millimeters long, 124 millimeters wide.

While the resolution of the screen cannot be determined from the component, earlier rumors had suggested the display will be 1,024 by 768 pixels. That’s the same resolution as the iPad 2, which would allow applications designed for the iPad to run natively on the iPad mini without modification.

Some recent iPad mini mockups had prompted speculation that the device could have a 16-to-9 ratio closer to that of the newly released iPhone 5. But the panel pictured on Wednesday has a 4-to-3 aspect ratio, matching that of the 9.7-inch iPad.

iPad mini mockups may appear to have a slightly longer display because they show a device with a thinner bezel to the left and right of the screen when held in portrait mode. It’s expected that Apple’s new iPad will have a thinner bezel to allow it to be held more easily with one hand.

Also included among the pictures is a battery claimed to be from Apple’s iPad mini. The model number listed is “A1445,” and it’s rated as 3.72V, 16.7Whr, and 4490mAh.

The latest battery picture is joined by a previous leak that surfaced over the weekend, showing the same 16.7 watt-hour battery. The purported iPad mini part suggests Apple’s battery will offer more energy than the cells found in Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Apple is set to hold an event next Tuesday, Oct. 23, where it is expected to unveil the iPad mini. Invitations sent to members of the press this week promised that the company has “a little more to show you.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 22.0.1229.92

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, 06:49
Category: News, Software

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You’ve got to hand it to Google: they’re consistent with their updates.

Late Monday, Google released a beta of version 22.0.1229.92 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 44 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Contains a number of stability fixes, including an issue with multiple profiles on Mac OS X 10.8.2.

- It also contains a fix for text display on the Mac.

Security updates listed below:
- [$1000] [138208] High CVE-2012-2900: Crash in Skia text rendering. Credit to Atte Kettunen of OUSPG.

- [$3133.7] [147499] Critical CVE-2012-5108: Race condition in audio device handling. Credit to Atte Kettunen of OUSPG.

- [$500] [148692] Medium CVE-2012-5109: OOB read in ICU regex. Credit to Arthur Gerkis.

- [151449] Medium CVE-2012-5110: Out-of-bounds read in compositor. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Inferno).

- [151895] Low CVE-2012-5111: Plug-in crash monitoring was missing for Pepper plug-ins. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Chris Evans).

Google Chrome 22.0.1229.92 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google launches Street View for Google Maps web app, begins location-based rollouts

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

If you loved the Street View feature in Google Maps, it’s here for web-based and assorted iOS users.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Thursday began to integrate Street View data into the web app version of Google Maps, bringing the feature back to iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users, however the rollout appears limited to certain locations.

The service brings back interactive 360-degree street-level photographs to iOS after Apple replaced the native Google Maps-powered Maps app with its own solution in iOS 6.

As of this writing, it seems Google hasn’t completely integrated the Street View dataset into its iOS-compatible web app, as some locations supported by the full-fledged version built for desktop browsers aren’t yet offered in the mobile variant.

To use the feature, an iOS 6 user can either navigate to maps.google.com and search from there, or use Safari’s search built-in search function to locate a specific address or building.

In the following example, the “Flatiron Building” was entered into Safari’s search bar, which yielded the address and simple line map for the Origins store located at the base of the iconic Manhattan building.

Selecting the map image brings up a satellite view of the area and the usual location marker, with barebones map controls located at the top and bottom of the window. New to this view, however, is the small stick figure at the bottom right of the screen which, when pressed, opens a new window with a stripped-down Street View interface.

While panning and scrolling operations are smooth, there is no option to zoom in on an object and the image has not been corrected for pincushion distortion. As expected, the experience is not as rich as using a desktop browser, however the image quality is high and the controls are intuitive.

At the moment, the service is not completely stable, as returning to the search window to query additional locations sometimes causes the map to go blank. A simple closing and reopening of the window is enough to reset the webpage.

The internet search giant looks to be implementing a staggered release, starting with major metropolitan cities like New York, and it is not yet known when the service will be fully functional.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

App Store highlights third-party mapping applications in latest Apple response to iOS 6 Maps complaints

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 10:13
Category: News, Software

This couldn’t have been easy to fess up to and post.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has posted a new featured link on the iOS App Store that invites users to “Find maps for your iPhone,” and lists a number of paid and free alternatives to Apple’s own Maps application in iOS 6.

The new link appeared on the App Store on Friday, after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook himself highlighted competing options in an apology to customers. Since the launch of iOS 6 with Apple’s all-new mapping solution, users have complained that the software is substandard.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app,” Cook wrote.

In addition to the public apology, the new “Find maps for your iPhone” is the first featured link on the iOS App Store curated by Apple. It offers a list of 13 alternative mapping applications available for download. They are:
- MotionX GPS Drive

- Waze social GPS traffic & gas

- MapQuest

- GPS by Telenav

- Garmin USA

- Gokivo GPS Navigator

- Navigon USA

- CoPilot Live Premium USA — offline GPS navigation

- CoPilot GPS — Plan & Explore with on-board maps & directions

- Bing

- Magellan RoadMate North America

- AT&T Navigator: GPS navigation subscription fee appears on AT&T bill

Most notably absent from the list is Google Maps, because a dedicated application from the search company is not yet available on the App Store. Google is said to be working on a standalone application, but in the meantime users can still visit the Google Maps website, as Cook suggested, to access the service. The popular Street View functionality is not available, but is expected to launch within the next two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google begins adding CardDAV support for iOS calendar users

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Google has added support for the open CardDAV contact syncing protocol used by Apple in OS X and iOS, enabling Google Contacts users to directly sync just like Yahoo and iCloud.

Google’s Gmail product manager Jeff Ellingson noted the new support for CardDAV on the company’s blog today.

The new support requires iOS 5 or higher, and currently requires users to manually set up an “other” CardDAV account, as Apple’s automated setup for Google accounts on both OS X and iOS only configure Gmail & Notes (via IMAP), Calendar & Reminders (via CalDAV), and Messages (via XMPP).

In the future, Apple will likely add support for simply checking a box for Contacts sync to simplify CardDAV account configuration, just as it does for Yahoo and Facebook accounts that already support CardDAV.

Apple pioneered support for the CalDAV and CardDAV open specifications in its efforts to build open Calendar and Contact sharing services in OS X Server as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server, which uses proprietary protocols to sync such data between clients and servers.

The company first added CalDAV and CardDAV support to its mobile devices in iOS 4 two years ago.

Apple has aggressively pushed both open standards for calendar and contact sync, enabling users to seamlessly use Macs and iOS devices with not just its own OS X Server and iCloud offerings, but also third party services from AOL, Google, Yahoo and any other systems that support them.

CalDAV and CardDAV are based upon the WebDAV specification for building web servers capable of both reading and writing information, so implementing the protocols is relatively simple for third parties.

If you’ve tried the new Google CalDAV and CardDAV support features in iOS, please let us know how your experience went in the comments.

Apple releases second public apology regarding iOS 6 Maps app issues

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

Once again…this is awkward.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday published an open letter to customers on behalf of CEO Tim Cook, who formally apologized for Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 and “the frustration this has caused our customers.”

Cook vowed that his company is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.” In the meantime, he said, users can download third-party mapping tools from the App Store such as Bing, MapQuest or Waze, or use Web-based options like Google Maps or Nokia’s product.

The comments from Cook also corroborate a recent report that indicated Apple’s switch to its own mapping solution in iOS 6 was driven primarily by the company’s interest in providing turn-by-turn directions. Under its previous agreement with Google Maps, voice-guided navigation was not available in the iOS Maps application.

“We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS,” Cook wrote. “As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

Upon its debut with iOS 6, Apple’s new Maps application was met with a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Apple’s new mapping solution is generally seen as inferior to the product it replaced, which was powered by Google Maps.

Friday’s letter by Cook is the second time Apple has commented publicly on the Maps controversy. The company first issued a statement soon after the release of iOS 6 to say it was “working hard” to fix the Maps application, and that the company appreciates customer feedback.

Apple’s mapping team was said to be “under lockdown,” attempting to quickly fix some of the larger issues with iOS 6 Maps. And the company was also reported to have been luring ex-Google Maps engineers to work on its new application. Apple also began advertising for new positions available for mapping developers on its website.

One of the most-cited features missed by users with iOS 6 Maps is Google’s Street View functionality. That feature is reportedly coming to the Web-based version of Google Maps within two weeks.

Cook’s full letter is included below:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google contract waived for one year while iOS 6 Maps app introduced

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

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Well, this is a bit awkward.

Per the New York Times and The Verge, a report on Tuesday claims Apple had over one year left on its contract with Google Maps when it made the decision to replace the app with a proprietary solution, leaving the internet search giant with little time to develop a standalone version capable of running on iOS 6.

The newspaper has confirmed with its own sources that Google is indeed building a maps app, however the software will likely not be available for months as the company was “caught off guard” when Apple announced iOS Maps. Google Maps for iOS will possibly be released by the end of the year.

According to two separate sources familiar with the matter, the decision to replace Google Maps came shortly before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, meaning Google had a short window with which to build a new iOS app. The sources go on to say the standalone Google Maps is largely incomplete and will not ship for “several months,” according to the story on The Verge.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said as much in a short interview on Tuesday, revealing that the company has “not done anything yet” in terms of submitting an standalone app to Apple.

As for Apple’s decision to ditch Google’s mapping service, Schmidt said, “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Apple’s proprietary mapping solution was introduced at WWDC, with iOS chief Scott Forstall touting the app’s turn-by-turn directions, crowd-sourced traffic data, Siri integration and 3D Flyover capabilities. The company was also said to be handling the cartography in house in its bid to replace Google Maps, a bold undertaking given Google’s service has been continuously fine-tuned over the past decade.

The move to introduce a totally new mapping system with iOS 6 and the new iPhone 5 was reportedly a result of the disparity of features between the Android and iOS versions of Google Maps. One key feature was free turn-by-turn directions, something that Google has been including in its Android OS for years.

In a bid to upstage Apple’s announcement, Google announced the “next dimension” of Google Maps a few days prior to WWDC. The new feature turned out to be similar to Apple’s Flyover and offers 3D renderings of certain large metropolitan areas.

When it was released last week alongside iOS 6, Apple’s new iOS Maps met a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Perhaps most troubling was the lack of features users had become accustomed to with Google Maps, such as Street View, highly-detailed map data and public transit routes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.