Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
– Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

– Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

– Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

– Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

– iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

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

Rumor: iPad 3 might include Retina Display at $80 premium

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPad, Rumor

You’ve been hankering over the idea of an iPad 3 with a Retina Display for a while now.

Unfortunately, it might cost a bit extra.

Per MacRumors, a document that has surfaced out of the Far East claims that Apple’s third-generation iPad will cost US$80 more, starting at US$579 instead of US$499.

The leaked comparison chart shows a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only iPad priced at US$579, with the 32-gigabyte model for US$679 and 64-gigabyte for US$779. 3G-capable models are also shown with a price hike, though slightly less at US$70 for each model.

If the rumored prices prove accurate, the increases could be as a result of higher costs associated with the Retina Display Apple’s next iPad is expected to feature. Reports have pointed toward the new iPad screen having a resolution of 2,047 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice that of the current 1,024-by-768-pixel screen on the iPad 2.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.

A price increase for the next iPad would be a rare move for Apple, which has generally maintained price points for its iOS products with each annual upgrade. One of the biggest surprises with the first iPad when it was announced in 2010 was its US$499 starting price, which some analysts expected would cost over US$1,000.

There have also been suggestions that Apple could continue to offer the current iPad 2 at a lower price, much like the company currently does with previous-generation iPhone models. Some have seen a hypothetical US$399 iPad 2 as a way Apple could take away sales from Amazon’s US$199 Kindle Fire.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iOS 5.1 image shows off possible permanent lock-screen camera button image

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Date: Friday, February 17th, 2012, 05:45
Category: iOS, Rumor

An alleged leak of Apple’s upcoming iOS 5.1 update appears to show the addition of a permanent camera button on the lock screen and Japanese support for Siri.

Brazilian iPhone blog blogdoiPhone claimed on Thursday to have a obtained a “pre-GM” version of iOS 5.1 with a few minor changes from current beta versions. The GM version is the final candidate that is used in a software release.

The publication reported that the leaked software featured a fixed camera icon on the lock screen, whereas the current version of iOS 5 adds the camera button when users double tap on the home button. According to the report, sliding a finger up on the icon pulls up the camera screen.

The publication also appeared to show the addition of Japanese to the language options for Siri, the new voice-activated assistant on the iPhone 4S. Siri itself already claims to speak Japanese, as was discovered earlier this week.

Apple has promised to add Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish to Siri this year. One recent rumor claimed Chinese, Japanese and Russian support could arrive as early as next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Time Warner Cable streaming arrives for Macs, PCs

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

Additional content is never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Time Warner Cable’s streaming cable services are no longer exclusive to iOS devices. Now, Mac and PC users can now watch live TV from the cable provider through their Web browsers via the companys TWC TV Web app, available now in beta, works in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Users will also need to install Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in, version 4 or higher.

As with Time Warner’s iPad and iPhone app, restrictions apply: Subscribers can only watch live video at home, where their cable TV is set up. And although up to 200 channels are available depending on the user’s subscription package, Viacom content such as Comedy Central and MTV are absent. (Viacom forced Time Warner to stop streaming its content last year, and the companies have yet to reach an agreement to make the content available.)

In addition to live TV streaming, Time Warner’s Web app includes a guide with up to seven days of data and filter options for favorites, HD programming, and streaming channels. Users can also set their DVRs with the app, or change channels on a television set-top box. Search, parental controls, and closed captioning options are also available through the app. The DVR and channel guide features will work from anywhere, not just in the home.

If you’re interested, give it a go and let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hints at Apple TV opportunities during Goldman Sachs speech

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

Sometimes Apple CEO Tim Cook gets coy and drops hints as to cool new Apple products coming down the road.

And that’s generally a good thing.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity.

Such a suggestion points towards Apple creating a more stand-alone device than a tethered solution such as the current Apple TV units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to go with NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware for next-gen Mac Pro computers

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 12:25
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

You may love your Apple notebook or iOS device, but at the end of the day, it’s the Mac Pro that gets the most number-crunching done.

Per MIC Gadget, Apple’s long-rumored Mac Pro update could signal a return to NVIDIA for graphics based on claims about production progress on Tuesday. The company had reportedly been soured based on is experience with drivers and hardware failures. Instead, it would use NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware, although which exact parts weren’t mentioned.

Apart from possibly better behavior, the graphics switch might also be to improve overall speed for creative pros. Adobe’s Creative Suite still primarily depends on NVIDIA’s CUDA general-purpose computing rather than OpenCL.

Kepler is expected to be about three times more efficient in performance than NVIDIA’s existing technology and may help it leapfrog AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series.

The same tip had Apple just getting test samples of Ivy Bridge-based Xeon processors. The 22-nanometer chips have reportedly overcome overheating issues and are in high-enough production volumes. Apple would be using eight-core chips with 20MB cache, according to the tip, supporting its own early, inadvertent slip of 16-core Mac Pros that would use two processors.

The finished hardware, if accurate, might not ship until later into the summer, or about two years after the last update. Apple is known to have skipped a 2011 update after Intel’s Xeon E5 missed the market for all but a handful of specially-picked customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cautions against “Beta test iPhone 5″ scam, tells users to be wary of unsolicited offer

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPhone, News

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Per the Apple discussion boards and iPodNN, a recent scam spam has spread from email and forums to Twitter, Facebook and now text messaging. Users have reported seeing unsolicited texts and social-network posts claiming that “Apple” is seeking 1,000 testers for text messaging on the iPhone 5. The links go to the websites celltestnkeep.com or cellphonetesters.com and ask for email or a text message “code” to sign up.

The notoriously secretive Apple would not, of course, openly solicit for public testers of a forthcoming product (it rarely even acknowledges a forthcoming product at all), nor use a third-party company to do so. Users who “sign up” will be asked for additional information. The “promotion” is a scam operation that sells the data collected to spammers and other criminal organizations. The text messages have appeared for users of other phone platforms as well as iOS users.

Scams promoting free “iPhone 5″ units were popular on social-networking and forum sites up until the announcement of the iPhone 4S. Speculation that Apple may introduce a new model sometime later this year has apparently reached a sufficient level of mainstream consciousness that spammers are seeking to attract gullible consumers who want to get the jump on the next version of Apple’s most popular product.

The call to “test text messaging” is particularly ironic since iOS 5 introduced a new iOS service called iMessage that bypasses normal SMS traffic, circumventing a source of carrier income. Apple mobile devices that register their phone numbers or email addresses in iOS 5 can send and receive SMS-like text, image or video messages to and from other iOS devices or groups at no charge. The system works over Wi-Fi or 3G (and in the latter case does use 3G data).

AT&T is advising users to contact Apple when they receive such a text message. The company cannot block users from receiving the unsolicited text message, though Canada has recently introduced anti-spam laws that require mandatory opt-in before unsolicited electronic messages can be sent.

In other news, if you’ve already fallen for the iPhone 5 tester scam, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you just a few blocks away…

Rumor: Apple gearing up “iPad 3-ready” apps for iPad 3 event on-stage demos, ads

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Date: Friday, February 10th, 2012, 06:56
Category: iPad, Rumor

There shall be either an iPad 3 announcement or something geared towards the wider use of a Retina Display.

Per The Next Web, evidence continues to point toward an early March launch for the next-generation iPad, a new report claims that Apple is now in “crunch mode” as it prepares for on-stage demonstrations and television commercials highlighting apps for the device.

Sources have indicated that Apple’s selection process is proceeding at an “increased rate.” Of course, it is to be expected that Apple would be under more pressure as the event approaches, but the report does triangulate other recent reports that have pegged a Retina Display-equipped third-generation iPad for an early March launch.

Apple has traditionally showcased some of its own apps, such as GarageBand and iMovie, as well as exemplary third-party apps at its media events for new iOS devices. According to the report, the company is placing an emphasis on “graphics-oriented applications with high-definition assets” to spotlight the rumored Retina Display on the device.

The iPad maker is also reportedly forwarding some apps to its advertising partner TWBA/Chiat/Day as the agency readies commercials for the third-generation tablet. Author Matthew Panzarino noted that the process is entering its “final phase” and is on a tight deadline for the presentation and subsequent television broadcast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.