Latest Apple TV beta allows for iOS device pairing, NFC-like setup

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s been proven time and time again: the beta versions show the cool stuff that’s en route.

Per 9to5Mac, the latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. The new beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 beta 4 code strings point towards forthcoming fingerprint recognition feature

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 12:44
Category: News, Software

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It’s the beta code that tells you where things are going.

Per Electronista, code strings buried in iOS 7 beta 4 suggests that one or more next-generation iOS devices will indeed have fingerprint sensors. An unused folder in the firmware, discovered by Hamza Sood, is titled “BiometricKitUI.axb.” Accompanying code strings moreover make reference to a “Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb,” a percentage completion meter for fingerprint recognition, and “a fingerprint that changes colour [sic] during the setup process.”

Apple has been expected to add a fingerprint sensor to iOS devices ever since it bought out AuthenTec last year. It was unclear if Apple would have the technology ready for this year however, and indeed Apple could simply be laying the groundwork for 2014 devices. At the same time, rumors have sometimes pointed to an iPhone 5S getting fingerprint recognition, and there would be competitive advantages.

On a basic level, the feature could let people unlock an iPhone or iPad without having to enter a passcode. It could also enable multiple user accounts however, since iOS would be able to automatically differentiate users. If Apple brings NFC to the iPhone, if might permit an upgraded Passbook app to make transactions, instead of just store coupons, tickets, and passes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

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Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint partners with Raketu Communications, works to bring caption calling feature to iOS devices via app

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Sprint on Tuesday announced the availability of a new accessibility feature aimed at helping iPad and iPhone owners on that network with hearing loss better use their devices.

Partnering with Raketu Communications, Sprint has developed Wireless CapTel for installation on the phones and tablets of the hearing-impaired. Wireless CapTel allows users to read conversations with real-time word-for-word captions displayed on the screen of their phone.

Users download the Wireless CapTel app from the iTunes App Store. The app is free with an Everything Data plan on Sprint.

After installation of the app, calls to the device will automatically connect to the CapTel service when an outgoing call is made. The service listens to what the caller on the other end says and automatically transcribes that into text the user can read.

The service does require that users give out the special number that routes calls through CapTel in order to have all calls transcribed.

Wireless CapTel is a Sprint-exclusive feature, and the carrier is rolling it out for some Android devices as well.

The CapTel app requires an iOS device running iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new Wireless CapTel service on your iPhone and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple purchases HopStop, could focus on public transit and navigation updates for upcoming versions of Maps

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:47
Category: News, Software

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Apple has snagged HopStop.

Per AppleInsider and AllThingsD, Apple on Friday purchased transit navigation service HopStop, which also has an iPhone app of the same name, in a possible bid to bolster its own in-house mapping solution.

Citing sources with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg reports that Apple has just purchased HopStop, a localized public transit navigation service that could potentially be folded into the company’s Maps iOS app, and the upcoming OS X Mavericks version.

If the report is accurate, HopStop’s technology could be used by Apple to build out its Maps app, offering users directions for bus, train, subway and other transit options. The current version of Maps does not include such functionality, and instead points users searching for public transit routes toward third-party apps that can handle such tasks. Along with supporting transit information for over 300 major cities, HopStop also includes walking, car and bicycle routing.

News of the reported purchase comes just hours after Apple announced it had acquired Locationary, a tech startup that uses crowd-sourced data to offer accurate and up-to-date listings of local businesses.

Apple’s Maps has been the source of much debate since it was launched with iOS 6 in 2012. Incorrect data, graphical glitches and navigation issues plagued the app during its first few months in the wild. The company is still working hard to bring the mapping solution up to snuff, as evidenced by the acquisitions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases native Outlook Web Application for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 08:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

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You may not love it, but your workplace does and Microsoft finally released a native version for iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released two different native versions of its Outlook Web Application for iOS, one for iPhone and one for iPad. OWA for iOS connects to the email, calendar, and contacts of Office 365 of business subscribers giving them complete access to their Outlook on the go. Beyond those basic tools the app features push notifications and a powerful voice search that can access your contacts or bring up your calendar.

iOS for iPhone and iPad requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Google Maps app for iOS hits version 2.0, adds slew of new features

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:44
Category: iOS, News, Software

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The new version tends to offer something cool.

Per 9to5Mac, Google began rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS on Wednesday. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Additionally, like with the recent update to the Android version, enhanced navigation with incident reports and live traffic updates are included.

Also new is an “Explore” function to browse popular places such as restaurants, shopping, playing, and sleeping. This feature is integrated with Zagat ratings and deals via Google Offers.

The 2.0 update also includes indoor mapping functionality for malls, transit stations, and airports, according to Google. The new update has begun rolling out to some countries in Asia, but is not yet available in the United States. In fact, Google Maps is currently unavailable to download in the App Store for many countries until this update is released.

Google Maps ia available for free and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple, Samsung sign deal for Samsung to build A9 chips for 2015 iOS devices

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:21
Category: Hardware, iOS, Processors, Rumor

From friends to litigants to partners again…

Per MacRumors and the Korea Economic Daily, Apple and Samsung on Sunday officially signed an agreement that will see the two companies working together on future A-series chips for Apple’s iOS devices, with the deal specifically covering A9 chips based on a 14-nanometer process node starting in 2015. The claim comes just weeks after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) confirmed a deal with Apple to begin producing A-series chips in 2014.

Samsung Electronics had supplied the AP [application processor] to Apple since 2007 but lost the contract to supply 20 nano AP A8 chips to Apple to Taiwan’s TSMC last year when it was engaged in patent disputes with Apple. Samsung Electronics developed state-of-the-art nanometer models ahead of its rival TSMC, regaining the order from Apple.

A previous report about Apple’s agreement with TSMC had indicated that it was a three-year deal covering not only Apple’s future A8 chip but also A9/A9X chips. Reports had indicated that Samsung would remain Apple’s primary supplier through next year as TSMC began ramping up its production.

As a result, it is unclear whether today’s deal will see both TSMC and Samsung producing A9 chips for Apple or if Apple has already shifted gears to return to Samsung as its primary supplier as part of its long-term roadmap.

Apple has reportedly been seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier as the two companies have become fierce rivals in both the mobile marketplace and in the courtroom. The two companies have, however, continued working together in several areas, particularly where Samsung’s competitors in the component market are unable to match its technology, production capacity, or pricing.

The shift to TSMC for production of the high-profile main chips for Apple’s iOS devices had been viewed as breaking one of the most significant remaining ties between Apple and Samsung, but it appears that Samsung has been able to bring Apple back into the fold by leading the charge to 14-nm chips. With partnerships with both Samsung and TSMC, it appears that Apple should be well-positioned to take advantage of whichever company takes the lead in developing the latest technologies.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Google may be improving relations following Jobs’ passing

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 07:13
Category: News

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It’s funny how quickly things can change in the world of tech. One second, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on stage with Steve Jobs during the iPhone introduction, and the next, Jobs is threatening to destroy Android and go “thermonuclear” against Google for “slavishly copying” the look and feel of Apple’s crown jewel — iOS.

You might also recall that Jobs, during an Apple town hall meeting in 2010, didn’t mince words when asked a question about Google and, in return, replied with the following comment:

“We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake: they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them [...] This don’t be evil mantra? It’s bullshit.”

All that said, it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple over the past few years has removed every Google property from the iOS home screen. You may have also noticed that Bing is now the search engine that powers Siri’s web search results in iOS 7.

Suffice it to say, Google and Apple are full-on competitors and have been for quite some time. Indeed, it almost seems like eons ago when Schmidt actually held a seat on Apple’s board of directors.

But the vitriol between the two companies, as evidenced by Jobs’ statements above, appears to have died down a bit — at least if you’re inclined to believe Schmidt.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the Allen and Co media conference, Schmidt said that relations between Apple and Google have improved and that the two companies are having “lots and lots of meetings.”

Reuters reports:

He noted that Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, who joined him at the press briefing, was leading many of the discussions. The two companies are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” Schmidt said.

That’s all well and good if it’s in fact true, but it’s easy to be skeptical when Google and Schmidt have always played it coy when it comes to publicly characterizing their relationship with Apple.

Best Buy begins offering trade-ins for older iPads, deal to run Friday and Saturday

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 06:50
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News, retail

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Hey, a deal’s a deal and this is why a competitive marketplace is a good thing.

Per Electronista, just a few days after Target began offering gift cards of up to US$50 for buying various iOS devices, competitor Best Buy has begun offering a trade-in program where buyers can trade their older iPads (iPad 2 and third-generation models) for up to US$200 in gift cards that can be used for anything the retailer offers, including the latest iPad and iPad mini.
The trade-in offer is only good for two days — Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 — but the resulting gift cards can be used at the company’s online site or in-store. The company said that particularly pristine trade-ins may receive even more than US$200.

To qualify, customers must visit a brick-and-mortar Best Buy or Best Buy Mobile store that is accepting trade-ins. If put towards the current fourth-generation iPad, the US$200 minimum gift card would lower the price of a 16GB Wi-Fi model to US$300. If applied towards a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini, traders would pay only US$129 (plus applicable taxes). For some models in exceptionally good condition, the retailer says it will over more than the US$200 minimum card as a reward for trading in.

The company says it will recycle the iPads it receives in trade. While the program is a good way to upgrade an older iPad to the latest models, potential buyers are reminded that Apple is expected to produce new versions of the iconic tablets sometime in the fall.

Both the older iPads and the current fourth-generation ones will be able to run iOS 7 when it comes out later this year, leaving behind only the original 2010 iPad. However, only the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch will have access to all the new features in iOS 7. The current iPad and iPad mini cannot access the Camera app’s panorama or live filter features, the third-gen iPad doesn’t get AirDrop, and the iPad 2 will lack both AirDrop and all the camera changes.

If you’ve taken Best Buy up on this deal and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.