Apple releases iOS 6.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 09:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

The wait is over.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-anticipated iOS 6.0 update. The new operating system, a 912 megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

Maps:
- Apple designed vector based maps.
- Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation).
- Real-time traffic information.
- Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metro areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation), and iPod touch (5th generation).
- Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews, and available deals.
- Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route.

Siri improvements:
- Sports: scores, player stats, game schedules, team rosters, and league standings for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey.
- Movies: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts.
- Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information.
- Send a Tweet.
- Post on Facebook.
- App launch.
- Eyes Free in supported automobiles.
- Local search available in Siri supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout).
- Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish).
- Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation).

Facebook integration:
- Single sign-on from Settings.
- Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Center and Siri.
- Add location and choose audience for any post.
- View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts.
- View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar.
- Like content and see your friends’ Likes in App Store and iTunes Store.

Shared Photo Streams
- Share selected photos with the people you choose.
- Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV.
- Friends can like and make comments on individual photos.

Passbook:
- One place for boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and other passes.
- Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into movies and other actions.
- Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location.
- Passes can be automatically updated.
- Supported on iPhone and iPod touch.

FaceTime improvements:
- FaceTime over cellular support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation).
- Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch.

Phone improvements:
- Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications.
- ‘Reply with message’ option when declining a call.
- ‘Remind me later’ option based on time or location when declining a call.

Mail improvements:
- VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people.
- Flagged email mailbox.
- Insert photos and videos when composing email.
- Open password protected Office docs.
- Pull down to refresh mailboxes.
- Per account signatures.

Safari improvements:
- iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices.
- Offline Reading List.
- Photo upload support.
- Full screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch.
- Smart app banners.
- JavaScript performance improvements.

App Store and iTunes Store improvements:
- Updated store design.
- iTunes Preview history.
- Complete my season.
- Complete my album.

Game Center improvements:
- Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements.
- Post high-scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter.
- Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends.

Accessibility improvements:
- Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.
- VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom.
- Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

- Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth.

- Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app.

- Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone.

- Clock app for iPad.

- Clock alarm with song.

- Search all fields in Contacts.

- Automatic movie mode for improved video sound quality.

- Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

- New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic.

- Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud.

- Bluetooth MAP support.

- Global network proxy for HTTP.

Features for China:
- Baidu web search.
- Sina Weibo integration.
- Share videos to Tudou.
- Share videos to Youku.
- Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin.

- Bug fixes.

iOS 6.0 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second or third-gen iPad to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.0 works for you, no matter what the feedback may be.

Samsung begins fabricating 128GB storage modules for mobile devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Hardware, News

Samsung may have a stinging legal bill after the Apple fiasco, but this isn’t to say they don’t have some damn cool stuff coming down the line.

Per Electronista, the company’s semiconductor wing has started fabricating 128GB flash storage chips and 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules for mobile devices. Currently, most high-end smartphones are shipping with a maximum of 64GB of internal storage, leaving users with media-heavy libraries unable to take their music collections with them. The introduction of the new modules should go a long way to alleviating this problem, although pricing will remain a key factor in adoption.

Its new 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules are built on Samsung’s new 30nm process, enabling 2GB modules to be made on the one package for the first time. The new chips run at 1600 Mbps, which is a 50 percent speed boost over LPDDR2 DRAM packages. Samsung claims that it will enable real-time decoding of 1080p content on smartphones and tablets.

With manufacturing ramping of both memory modules ramping up now, it could align perfectly for the rumored appearance of a Galaxy S III successor, which it is suggested may show as soon as February 2013 at the Mobile World Congress.

In short…imagine a 128GB iOS device somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple discontinues iPhone 3GS handset

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 07:12
Category: iPhone, News

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It had a good run.

On Thursday, Apple officially confirmed the discontinuation of the iPhone 3GS handset, according to All Things D.

The iPhone 3GS been since replaced by the iPhone 4 as its free on-contract handset.

Last year, with the launch of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 3GS became Apple’s first free smartphone with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. At that price, it helped Apple reach a lower end of the market that the company had previously not competed in.

But with Wednesday’s unveiling of the iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S moved down to the $99 price point, and the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, became Apple’s new free phone.

Rumors first cropped up last week that the iPhone 3GS, which was first released in 2009, would be discontinued by Apple with the launch of the iPhone 5.

While the iPhone 3GS has been discontinued, recent buyers won’t be left behind with next week’s launch of iOS 6. The new mobile software update, which will be released next Wednesday, has support for the iPhone 3GS, though not all features are available.

Apple releases iOS 6 golden master to developer community

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

It’s six days from completion and the final, gold master version just went out the door.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has just seeded the mobile operating system’s golden master to developers, showing slight tweaks and performance enhancements to its first-party Maps app.

According to sources familiar with the progression of Maps in iOS 6, the recently-seeded GM has brought a number of changes to Apple’s first in-house mapping app including Flyover support for new cities like New York and Rome. The most recent version of Maps introduced Flyover data for a number of major international metropolitan cities, however New York was omitted for unknown reasons.

A major feature that sets Maps apart from rival products is its use of custom algorithms to fill in Flyover details like shrubbery and trees. The iOS 6 GM brings further improvements in this area, as zoomed images reveal smoother borders around foliage and advanced rendering that gives the appearance of “leaf-level” detail.

Unlike Google Maps’ StreetView, which blurs out license plates and faces, Apple looks to be employing an automated masking system that will leave only a “ghost image” of vehicles behind.

Finally, a small tweak to the UI comes in the “cityscape” icon, which takes the place of the “3D” asset when viewing areas that have Flyover data. The app also said to feel more sprightly than previous builds and more detail is apparent on certain rendered structures.

Apple’s Maps app will roll out as part of iOS 6 on Sept. 19.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve had a chance to play with the iOS 6 golden master, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.7 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 06:42
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.7 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 165 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Adds support for iOS 6 running on compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models.

- Also adds support for the latest iPod nano and iPod shuffle models.

iTunes 10.7 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple announces September 19th release date for iOS 6

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Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

iOS 6 is almost here.

Just wait a week.

On Wednesday, Apple Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall announced that the next major update to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, will be available for the public to download and install in one week, on Wednesday, September 19th.

iOS 6 will be available for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch. The OS update launches two days before the iPhone 5 is set to debut.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple making changes with iCloud Notes and Reminders, adding more comprehensive Lost My iPhone feature in forthcoming updates

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Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:27
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Some upcoming iCloud features could prove incredibly useful and interesting.

Per AppleInsider, the upcoming iCloud Notes and Reminders apps are virtually identical to their iOS and OS X Mountain Lion siblings. The new Reminders web app offers a cloud-based version of events synced with iOS mobile devices and desktop Macs, although it does not support location based reminders (simply ignoring any “geofence” reminder settings triggered to go out when entering or leaving a particular location).

Notes gets a similar web treatment, although unlike its iOS and OS X counterparts, there’s no way to change the default font from Noteworthy. Notes on the web also reflects the stitched leather binding of its iOS counterpart rather than the plainer version in OS X.

In addition to the two new apps, iCloud Mail and Calendar are both getting minor updates. The new Mail adds support for VIP inboxes introduced in Mountain Lion’s Mail this summer.

Mail also uses iOS style scroll bars that are skinnier and translucent, in strange contrast to iCloud’s Calendar app, which continues to use a standard scroll bars with a full gutter and arrow buttons.

The only apparent change in Calendars is the removal of the Reminders list, which is now its own app. Similarly, the iCloud Contacts app hasn’t changed at all, so it retains the odd “bookmark” control for accessing contact groups that Apple has removed from both the OS X and iOS 6 versions of the app.

Also left apparently unchanged is Apple’s support for saving and accessing iWork documents from the web. Overall, the company’s web strategy for iCloud seems very conservative, given that both Google and now Microsoft have made web versions of their office apps a prominent part of their software strategy.

One final feature Apple has added to iCloud’s web portfolio is a new “Lost Mode” within Find My iPhone. The new feature is an enhancement over the previous version, which only offers to lock the device and optionally send it a message.

If your iOS 6 device goes missing, you can click on Lost Mode and the app prompts you to enter a phone number and message, locks the device remotely and will track the device every time it moves, reporting changes in location via email updates. It will also draw each location change on the map, showing a trail of where the device has shown up.

Devices that haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 6, along with Macs registered to use iCloud’s Find My Mac, continue to support the old Lock feature, without updates or live tracking.

Notably, Apple is still using Google Maps within iCloud rather than its own Maps that will launch with the new iOS 6 update later this week. The company may transition over to its own map services at some point.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Airlines may be preparing Passbook support ahead of iOS 6 debut

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Date: Friday, September 7th, 2012, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News, Software

No one quite knows how Apple’s upcoming Passbook feature will work in iOS 6, but it looks like the airlines are getting ready for it.

According to the Australian Business Traveler, a report on Thursday claims a Virgin Australia passenger using an iPhone running iOS 6 beta was prompted to save a digital boarding pass to Passbook, hinting that air carriers are readying support for Apple’s forthcoming organization app for coupons, membership and other barcode-based assets.

The passenger checked in to a flight using the airline’s mobile website on his iPhone, which recognized the digital boarding pass from Safari and displayed a prompt asking whether he wanted to add the digital ticket to Passbook, suggesting that Virgin Australia’s mobile site is employing Apple’s new “.pkpass” mime type.

The file type, which allows the Safari web browser and email clients to recognize boarding passes to be sent to Passbook for processing and storage, has been available to developers for some time, though before Thursday there was little evidence of a major airline using the feature.

Currently, only United Airlines has officially signed on to support the upcoming iOS 6 feature, however other carriers are sure to follow suit as many already offer barcode-based digital ticketing.

It is unclear if the traveller was able to board the plane using Passbook, however, as company protocol may not allow for the unreleased system.

Passbook is slated to debut alongside a list of new features when iOS 6 launches this fall. Apple this week sent out invitations to a Sept. 12 special event all but confirming the unveiling of its next-generation iPhone, which will run the new mobile operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent allows potential automatic skipping of commercials for radio, television devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, Patents

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This could be interesting.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent that allows users to skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials with on-device content like songs, podcasts or other media, possibly hinting at technology headed to the battle for the living room.

Apple’s aptly titled U.S. Patent No. 8,249,497 for “Seamless switching between radio and local media” describes a system in which a mobile device will automatically switch between broadcast content and stored media to offer the user a type of customized content consumption experience.

With the new patent, a device will allow a user listening to content from a radio station or “non-radio media or content sources” to skip past the sections they aren’t interested in, filling the gap with on-board media instead. Also of interest is that commercials are among the types of content which can be replaced by stored media.

Covered under the invention’s umbrella are broadcasts from a “radio stream provided over any communications network,” while the stored media can include content saved in a device’s memory or from a streaming host device.

From the patent background:
“A user, however, may not be interested in every media item provided as part of a broadcast stream. For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (e.g., the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (e.g., advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest.”

By using metadata from assets like Radio Data System (RDS) data, broadcast listings or published third-party schedules, a device can “determine when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user.” When such an event is detected, the device will seamlessly switch to stored media until the unwanted content is completed. Also included as methods of discerning what a user may or may not want to consume are analysis of audio or video from the source, akin to current iOS apps Shazam or IntoNow.

As far as calculating what a user likes or dislikes, the patent employs comparisons of media items to generate a preference profile, much like the system in place with apps like Pandora. For example, a user can “like” or “dislike” a song and the corresponding metadata will then be included in their preference profile. In another embodiment, the device can keep track of a user’s content consumption habits and make guesses as to what they would like in their preference profile. The metadata can be specific media items, such as artists, songs and genres, as well as specific types of media.

After the system identifies that an upcoming segment is outside of the preference profile’s parameters, the device can look for an appropriate replacement from stored media to play instead. The patent notes that a “relevance algorithm” can be used to keep the stored media in line with content from the broadcast stream. To keep the experience consistent, the device can either monitor the broadcast stream to choose an opportune time to switch away from stored media playback, or buffer the broadcast stream for later consumption.

Seemingly, Apple is proposing a way to not only transform radio listening, but also television broadcasts. While not specifically noted in the patent and mentioned here only for purposes of discussion, the system could be tweaked for cable which would lend itself nicely to the set-top box Apple is rumored to be shopping around to U.S. providers. Insiders say the cloud-based device is meant to blur the line between live and on-demand television.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

GameStop hopes to stop financial slide, looks to sell refurbished iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 06:09
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail

Ok, you might not walk into GameStop that often unless you’re a gamer or parent of a gamer.

This might change in the future, as the struggling retailer has announced plans to embrace the iOS as a gaming platform. Per SFGate, the company began a program last fall of buying up used iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches from consumers, then sending them to a “Refurbishment Operations Center” in Texas where the devices are cleaned up and repaired. Once they’re in nice working order, the devices are returned to GameStop stores where they’re sold at a decent markup. The items are also being sold on GameStop’s web site.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks that the Apple refurb business could be a gold mine for GameStop. Even if GameStop resells just 5 percent of the 230 million Apple devices estimated to be in the hands of U.S. consumers, it could bring in about US$1 billion in new revenue in the next few years.

Pachter also thinks GameStop could make a killing by selling prepaid phone plans with those used iPhones, “since a lot of their customers are teenagers with money to spend but no credit to get a regular phone plan.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.