Transportation Security Administration pursuing $3 million in Apple hardware over next three years

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:50
Category: Hardware, News

Love or hate the TSA, they’ll be using some more Apple hardware over the next three years.

Per iPodNN, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may purchase up to US$3 million in Apple hardware over the next three years. Up to a thousand Macintosh and a thousand iOS mobile devices purchases are planned. The Apple equipment has been declared to be “critical to meet a variety of operational, programmatic, and mission-specific requirements” by the TSA.

Apple hardware has traditionally made few inroads in federal agencies, mostly due to the requirement that purchasing by government organizations must specifically allow for open contracting and non-specificity of hardware. For instance, if a computer is required, generally, the request isn’t allowed to specify branding such as “Dell Computer” or “HP computer,” and it must simply say “computer.”

The TSA argues that only Apple equipment will fit the need now, and since OS X and iOS are not available on other platforms, only Apple hardware can be used for the foreseeable future. The amplifying information attached to the justification also indicates that many of the 106 government-written mobile apps are only available on Apple’s iOS.

A similar request has been made for Android equipment, but no details are available. The TSA filing has listed the entire range of Apple offerings, including iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macintosh computers, warranties such as AppleCare, and other materials needed to support Apple products in a production environment.

The equipment is primarily intended for media production, forensic information technology assessments, mobile usage, and software development. The request comes after reports from federal tipsters claiming fewer BlackBerry purchases, and employees and military personnel being allowed to use their own smartphones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently published Apple patent shows interest in developing stylus for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

applelogo_silver

It never hurts to have different options for your user interface.

Per Engadget, an Apple patent application for an optical stylus has turned up on the United States Patent Trade Office website.

Although late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had derided the stylus as an input method for the iPhone and the iPad once famously saying that ‘If you need a stylus, you’ve already failed,’ Jobs was well known for throwing the opposition a curve ball from time to time speaking out against an idea, only to have been developing a concept behind the scenes. One example was when he said that consumers liked having a separate iPod while also carrying their phone, only to reveal the ultimate convergence device in the iPhone a couple of years later.

The Apple patent application describes a stylus that incorporates image capture along with an on-board image processor, while also capable of sensing pressure. It would include an accelerometer and an antenna to help relay the relative position of the stylus in relation to the device. Apple is also known to file patents for products, or technologies, that may never see the light of day. However, creative professionals, and other users would probably welcome an Apple stylus if it was released. The aftermarket stylus ecosystem the iPad and the iPhone, along with an interesting stylus project at Kickstarter and the forthcoming Adonit Jot Touch suggests that the demand is indeed there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad version of Microsoft Office to hit this November

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:23
Category: iPad, Rumor, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

Some pretty decent stuff comes out in November (including Thanksgiving), so perhaps a long-awaited version of Microsoft Office for iOS is in order.

Per Boy Genius Report, a “reliable source” stated on Wednesday that Microsoft is planning to release the full Office suite for iPad later this year. The loading screen for the application reportedly says “Office for iOS,” which could suggest that it will also be compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch.

A version of Office for Android tablets will also reportedly debut in November alongside an iOS version. Other details on the software, such as pricing or features, remain unknown.

Word first surfaced last November that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

Rumors of Office for iPad appeared again this February, when iPad news publication The Daily shared what was said to be a version of Office for iPad in action. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and accompanying picture, portraying them as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

February’s report suggested that a version of Office for iPad would “soon” be submitted to Apple for review, suggesting it would appear on the App Store relatively quickly. However, since then, no word of an Office for iPad has surfaced.

That report also claimed that Word, Excel and PowerPoint files could be created and edited both locally and online with the iPad version of Office. It was reported as “unclear” whether Microsoft would support other Office applications, such as Outlook or Communicator.

Microsoft already offers a number of software options for iOS, including OneNote, Bing, SkyDrive, My Xbox Live, and the game Kinectimals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hulu releases version 2.5 of iOS app, adds Retina Display support, other features

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 08:42
Category: News, Software

Never mock a good software update.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Hulu released version 2.5 of its iPad app that adds support for the Retina Display of the third generation iPad. The latest version has a new look and feel as well as an enhanced video playback engine. Hulu also has improved AirPlay mirroring and HDMI support, so you can watch your content on your HDTV.

In addition to the software update, Hulu launched ten new original series that’ll help you make it throughout the summer doldrums. These new shows include basketball comedy We Got Next and Spoilers, a movie “revue” series from Kevin Smith. The ten new shows are listed in the press release below. You can download the Hulu app for free from the iOS App Store. It requires a US$7.99 monthly subscription to Hulu Plus.

Hulu 2.5 for iOS requires iOS 4.0 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.

iOS messaging hints at prospect of FaceTime over 3G connections

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 12:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

Because FaceTime should be on just about every type of connection, no matter what the throughput.

Per Romanian website iDevice, warnings contained in the latest version of iOS suggest that Apple plans to bring support for 3G wireless data connections to its FaceTime video chat feature.

When a FaceTime call is active over Wi-Fi on an iPhone running iOS 5.1.1, and a user turns off the “Enable 3G” option in the Settings application, the operating system presents users with a warning message: “Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?”

Despite the warning, FaceTime video calls will continue over Wi-Fi uninterrupted, even after 3G has been turned off or on, which has suggested to some that Apple is planning to bring 3G support to FaceTime.

Tests have confirmed that the warning message does, in fact, display when the iPhone’s 3G is disabled during a FaceTime call. In addition, iOS also displays another message when a user attempts to turn 3G back on: “Enabling 3G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 3G?” Neither enabling or disabling 3G interrupted any FaceTime calls.

Apple first introduced FaceTime video chat in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4. Since then, it has been brought to the Mac, and the addition of forward-facing cameras to the iPod touch and iPad have also allowed FaceTime with those iOS-based devices.

Since its launch, FaceTime has only been available to use over Wi-Fi. Users who attempt to connect a FaceTime call over 3G are met with an error message telling them the service is not available.

When he introduced FaceTime in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs explained that the video chat feature was not available over wireless cellular networks at the request of mobile carriers. Jobs said that Apple needed to “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of offering FaceTime over 3G.

If Apple does enable FaceTime over 3G, it’s possible that some carriers could opt to block or restrict the functionality on their own networks. For example, though tethering was enabled on the iPhone with iOS 3.0, U.S. carrier AT&T blocked the feature until a year later, with the release of iOS 4.0.

If you’ve seen the warning on your end, please let us know and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

Viacom, Time Warner Cable settle streaming/content spat for TWC TV iPad app

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 07:11
Category: iPad, Legal, News, Software

Even the worst spats, complete with attorneys, sometimes get resolved.

Per the mighty TechCrunch, Time Warner Cable and Viacom have agreed to set aside a legal dispute over an iPad app that streams television content within customers’ homes.

The two companies released a joint statement on Wednesday announcing that Viacom content would be coming back to the TWC TV app:

Viacom and Time Warner Cable have agreed to resolve their pending litigations. All of Viacom’s programming will now be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers for in-home viewing via internet protocol-enabled devices such as iPads and Time Warner Cable will continue to carry Viacom’s Country Music Television (CMT) programming. In reaching the settlement agreement, Time Warner Cable and Viacom were also able to resolve other unrelated business matters to their mutual satisfaction. Neither side is conceding its original legal position or will have further comment.

TWC pulled several channels, including MTV and FX, from its iPad app in late March after complaints from the major media companies. Viacom took the most umbrage over the app and filed a lawsuit against Time Warner, which quickly filed a countersuit.

Viacom accused TWC of trying to “unilaterally change the terms” of their contract, while TWC argued that the app simply turned the iPad into another TV screen in the home.

Rumor: Apple ordering parts for at least a 4″ screen on next-gen iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in the midst of all of this.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple has begun placing orders for a new, larger screen that will measure at least four inches diagonally, according to a new report.

The report indicated that the next iPhone is “expected” to feature a screen larger than the 3.5-inch display that has been found on the iPhone since it first launched in 2007. Production of the screens is reportedly set to begin in the next few months, and it will measure “at least 4 inches diagonally.”

Apple is said to be working with a number of screen manufacturers for the larger display on the next iPhone, including LG Display, Sharp, and a new company, Japan Display Inc., that was created last month by three Japanese companies and the government. Wednesday’s report made no mention of Samsung as a display partner.

Rumors have suggested for some time that the next iPhone will be a major redesign, overhauling the look of the handset that has remained since the launch of the iPhone 4 in mid-2010. A larger screen would be a major change for the device, and could require developers to update their applications to take advantage of the larger display.

Apple’s rumored shift comes as competitors continue to offer smartphones with larger screens. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy S II, which features a 4.8-inch display, is the new flagship device for the company.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note also features a massive 5.3-inch stylus-driven display that the company has advertised offers both the best of a smartphone and of a tablet. The device was cited by the company in its quarterly earnings in April as a strong seller.

With a 4-inch display, the iOS home screen could theoretically fit another row of icons on the home screen, bringing the total number to six. Applications written for the iPhone 4S and earlier handsets could simply feature black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, using the same aspect ratio and screen space as it would on the earlier devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google developing Chrome version for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

google-chrome-logo

It never hurts to have a choice.

Per macq.wir.jp, Google is said to be planning to compete with Apple’s own Safari by releasing a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS devices.

The launch of Chrome for iOS on the App Store could be as soon as this quarter, according to Macquarie Equities Research. Its debut is seen as igniting a modern browser war on mobile devices, similar to the “Browser Wars” of the late 1990s between Internet Explorer and Netscape.

All third-party browsers for iOS must be based on WebKit, Apple’s open source browser engine. The existing versions of Google Chrome, available for Mac, Windows and Android, are already based on the WebKit layout engine.

Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter said Chrome for PCs has been a “home run” for Google, as it has “significantly” reduced desktop traffic acquisition costs for the search giant.

He expects that Google will launch a major marketing campaign to hype the debut of Chrome for iOS. The company has run television spots promoting Chrome for desktops for some time, featuring celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, helping its advertising budget quadruple in the U.S. last year to US$213 million.

Google’s own Android operating system ships with a generic browser, but the company released a mobile version of Chrome for its Google Play application store in February. The free software remains in beta, but is well reviewed.

Third-party browsers first began appearing on the Apple-controlled iOS App Store in early 2009. Prior to that, browsers that would rival Apple’s own Safari were rejected from the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut next-gen, thinner, Retina Display-equipped MacBook Pro units at WWDC 2012

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:11
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

It’s the rumors that make things interesting.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will reportedly debut multiple new MacBook Pro models at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, each said to sport Retina Display-like screens and high-performance Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

The refreshed lineup is rumored to feature a slim design that will bring the laptop more inline with Apple’s popular MacBook Air series.

The sources also mention that flash memory will be used to decrease boot times and extend battery life, though it was not made clear if the new MacBook Pros will rely on pricey solid state drives exclusively as does the MacBook Air.

While the exact dimensions of the supposed next-generation laptop went unreported, rumors have suggested that the design will take cues from the MacBook Air and may do away with the existing optical drive in an effort to give the machine a slim, tapered appearance.

Also “confirmed” was the implementation of Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors which were recently unveiled in April. Built on “the world’s first 22nm process” and boasting new 3D transistor technology, the chips are said to be highly-efficient and powerful enough to support 4K resolutions. Intel is initially rolling out the silicon as part of the Core i5 and Core i7 families.

The inclusion of Intel’s powerful new processors could allow for screens with resolutions rivaling those seen on the current iPhone 4 and 4S as well as the new iPad, and rumors have persisted since last year claiming that Apple was working on a Retina Display laptop. Offering further evidence to a possible Retina Display MacBook are the latest OS X Lion updates which brought Hi-DPI UI assets in 10.7.3 and doubled icon resolution in 10.7.4.

Reports from upstream supply chain sources said that mass production of new MacBook Pro models would ramp up starting with the 15-inch model in April followed by a June manufacture for the smaller 13.3-inch unit. No mention of the 17-inch MacBook Pro was made and some predict that Apple will discontinue the large-screened model due to declining shipments.

Apple is also said to be showing off the “future of iOS and OS X” at WWDC 2012, alluding to a possible unveiling of iOS 6 and more Mountain Lion details. The conference will take place from June 11 through the 15 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple creating its own mapping services for iOS 6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:40
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Ok, this could be interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple will move away from Google Maps services in iOS 6, making the transition to an in-house mapping service that included 3D views. According to the report, Apple’s prior acquisitions of mapping companies Placebase and Poly9 could work with last year’s purchase of 3D mapping firm C3 Technologies rounding out the suite of services.

The most important aspect of the new Maps application is a powerful new 3D mode. The 3D mode does not come enabled by default, but users simply need to click a 3D button that is conveniently and visibly stored in the app. This 3D mode is said to essentially be technology straight from C3 Technologies: beautiful, realisitic graphics based on de-classified missile target algorithms.

Apple’s in-house mapping services will otherwise be rather similar in appearance to the current Google Maps application, although Apple’s implementation is said to be a “much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience” and will include a new icon based on the same view of the company’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino but with new colors and styling.

Apple has clearly been working for some time to reduce its reliance on Google by developing its own mapping services for iOS, as evidenced by its acquisitions of mapping expertise and job postings addressing its ambitions for mapping. The company has already moved location services in-house and revealed last year that it is building a crowd-sourced traffic database based on users’ GPS data.

With the release of iPhoto for iOS back in early March, Apple took its first big step outside of the actual Google mapping services, taking advantage of OpenStreetMap and other services to generate its own map tiles for the application’s Photo Journals feature.

Apple is expected to preview iOS 6 at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, with the operating system presumably making its public debut alongside new iPhone hardware later in the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.