Rumor: Apple negotiating 99 cent rentals ahead of next-gen Apple TV release

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

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Well, at least there’ll be more stuff to rent.

Per a Bloomberg article, Apple is allegedly in negotiations with content providers, and is in “advanced talks” with News Corp., to offer 99 cent TV show rentals ahead of an anticipated Apple TV update.

The new service would purportedly allow customers to rent shows through iTunes for 48 hours. News Corp. is the owner of the Fox network.

Author Peter Burrows said Apple’s talks coincide with a new iPod touch with a higher-resolution screen, as well as a new cloud-centric Apple TV with less internal storage starting at US$99.

In addition to Fox, CBS and ABC could also become an option in the streaming service, the report said, as the parent companies of both networks are also a part of the discussions. Apple and Disney, the owner of ABC, have a close relationship, as Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is the single largest shareholder of stock in the Walt Disney Co.

Rumors of a 99 cent TV show rental deal previously surfaced earlier this summer. That report claimed that the offer would work just like existing iTunes movie rentals: users would have 30 days to start watching the rental, and would then have 24 hours to finish it. But unlike the movie rentals, the TV shows would be streamed instead of downloaded.

Apple has allegedly attempted to broker a deal with TV networks for months to offer a subscription TV plan, but has had no luck.

Apple’s 99 cent TV show rentals could be a backup plan of sorts for the company, which is rumored to release a new set top box dubbed iTV as soon as September. Numerous reports have alleged that the device will run Apple’s iOS operating system and be capable of running software from the App Store.

Reports have also suggested that the new iTV will have limited internal storage in order to keep the cost of the device down. The new set top box with a small form factor is rumored to have a starting price of just US$99. The device would apparently make up for its alleged lack of storage by placing an emphasis on streaming media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 4.1 beta points out forthcoming fixes with proximity center, Bluetooth, Game Center, etc.

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:12
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The third beta of Apple’s upcoming iOS 4.1 update points out a slew of fixes to be expected when the software releases.

iOS 4.1 is currently in its third beta, released earlier this month. Per AppleInsider, the update addresses many issues that users have experienced, including problems with Bluetooth connectivity.

The official list of fixes and enhancements does not make mention of the proximity sensor or Bluetooth functionality. However, time spent with the latest beta build shows a marked improvement with those features.

The most recent update also added new features such as a new API that allows apps to access contact thumbnail pictures.

Proximity sensor:
While not documented by Apple, experience with the iOS 4.1 beta has shown that the proximity sensor on the iPhone 4 is far more reliable. Since the device launched in June, users have reported that the handset’s touchscreen will sometimes turn on in the midst of a call, resulting in accidental button presses that can end a call or place someone on hold.

At a press conference in July, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his company was aware of the problem and working on a fix. But the first two minor updates to iOS 4, in the form of 4.0.1 and 4.0.2, did not address the problem.

Game Center:
Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major feature of iOS 4 and works much like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, making it easy for users to play and talk about games.

With Game Center, users will create an alias that represents their online persona. The community service allows players to interact with one another anonymously via their alias. When Game Center is launched later this year, users will be able to create a friends list, set “status updates” and more.

Developers access the features of Game Center through the Game Kit framework API provided by Apple. The API includes leaderboards for scores, allowing players to compare their performance in a game to friends and others.

Game Kit also allows developers to enable player-versus-player matchmaking for their titles. Through a Game Center account, players will be able to compete in online games against one another, or with a group of people.

As noted earlier this week, the latest beta also added a Game Center restriction. The feature allows the owner of an iPhone, such as a corporation or parent, to restrict access to certain functions of the device.

Other changes:
Users will have the ability to turn on or off a “Check Spelling” feature in the Keyboard section of the iPhone’s Settings application. Users can have misspelled or unrecognized words highlighted without enabling the Auto-Correction functionality.

As previously reported, the latest beta of iOS 4.1 allows users to conduct FaceTime video chat via another person’s e-mail address. This is likely how the forthcoming iPod touch refresh, widely expected to have a forward-facing camera, will allow users without a phone to engage in a FaceTime call.

Camera controls now reposition between portrait and landscape orientations. Currently in iOS 4, the flash and camera selection buttons will only rotate accordingly when the camera is physically turned. In the third beta, the buttons transition to remain atop the screen, regardless of orientation.

Developers have access to new functions to identify the BSSID or SSID of the current Wi-Fi hotspot that the user is connected to.

Developers now have new methods to save images to a user’s photo album.
iOS 4.1 also includes new capabilities that allow applications to control fonts.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve been able to play with the third beta of iOS 4.1, let us know what you made of it.

New photos surface, point towards forward-facing camera in upcoming iPod touch

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

Photos of another front panel claimed to be a component for Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, again showing a space for a front-facing camera.

According to MIC gadget from parts site taobao.com, the component pictureshows a hole above the LCD display that would allow for a forward-facing camera.

Like the last part pictured, the purported iPod touch front panel is labeled “Apple (c) 2010.” It is being sold for 650 Chinese Yuan, or US$95.

The photos provide more evidence for the assumption that the upcoming iPod touch refresh, expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual media-centric event in September, will sport two cameras like the iPhone 4. The fourth-generation iPod touch is rumored to become the second device from Apple to support the open FaceTime standard for video chat.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said earlier this summer that his company will ship tens of millions of devices compatible with FaceTime this year alone. Currently, only the iPhone 4 is capable of making FaceTime video chat calls over Wi-Fi.

While the iPod touch lacks a phone number to allow people to connect for a FaceTime call, beta releases of iOS 4.1 show that the media player will identify users by their e-mail address.

Apple files patent for iOS device “kill switch” technology

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

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An Apple patent application filed earlier this year could allow the company to more directly interact with jailbroken iOS-based devices such as iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

Per CNET, Apple’s patent ‘Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,’ includes a remote “kill switch” that could quickly restore an iPhone, iPod or iPad to its factory settings.

Along with the potential to restore factory settings, Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via email or text message when such activity as “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card.” is detected CNET adds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple TV could be renamed iTV, drop 1080p support and gain apps

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Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:45
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per a continuing rumor on Engadget, sources have stated that the Apple TV’s product name will be changed to “iTV” while also dropping support for 1080p video output to standardize on 720p HDTV.

The current articles indicates that the next generation Apple TV will move from a scaled down Mac running Front Row software to an iOS device that works like a screen-less iPod touch.

Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs originally introduced the device (a few months before it shipped) under the iTV name while noting that the company was still looking for a permanent name. Apple TV was subsequently released as Apple announced the iPhone in early 2007.

Since then, Apple has built up the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices but left Apple TV to sit in maintenance mode, collecting few features and never getting an official SDK of its own that would enable third parties to extend its features.

By converting Apple TV into an iOS device, the company could erect a third new wing of apps in iTunes. The popularity of iPad (which has collected a portfolio of over 20,000 apps in just a few months) suggests tremendous potential for a TV-oriented iOS product.

Apple’s ability to rapidly muscle into the market for portable gaming could similarly be repeated by giving existing App Store developers the ability to quickly port and optimize many of their existing games to work on HDTV sets, providing a very cheap alternative to more serious console gaming devices.

If released alongside iPod touch 4 expected next month, Apple could decisively leverage the current excitement surrounding iPad to inhale lots of HDTV users during the holiday season at a time when the growth of the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii are all maturing.

The shift toward a smaller, cheaper device that uses network streaming rather than Apple TV’s hard drive for local storage also likely necessitates using the same video output of iPhone 4 and iPad, which is 1024×768 (or perhaps the very similar 720p HDTV resolution).

Apple sells HD content in iTunes as 720p. Higher resolution 1080p is an alternative HD standard, but video experts note that the difference in resolution is not visible to users at a normal TV viewing distance unless the screen is larger than 55″.

For Apple’s mass market users, a cheaper device that streams easy to buy and view HDTV content makes far more sense than the current Apple TV, which requires syncing with a local iTunes system or downloadable storage for rentals.

Such a device would seem to necessitate HDMI output, rather than the VGA output currently offered by iPhone 4 and iPad, as few HDTV sets or video projectors still support VGA-style inputs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any predictions with what will happen with the Apple TV, feel free to share them with the rest of the class…

Apple releases iOS 3.2.2, 4.0.2 update

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Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:18
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple somewhat unexpectedly released iOS 3.2.2 and iOS 4.0.2, the latest versions of its operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The new version, which weighs in at over 500 megabytes, repairs a security vulnerability associated with viewing malicious PDF files.

To download and install the update, attach your iPhone or iPad to your computer, open iTunes, select the device and search for an update. The process will occur as per usual.

And if you’ve noticed any major changes or would like to offer feedback on this, let us know.

Apple promises fix for web-based jailbreak flaw in iOS-based devices, declines on specific date

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

The tug-of-war between Apple and the iPhone hacker community continues as Apple has vowed to fix a flaw that allows its iOS-based device to be jailbroken via the Safari web browser.

Per CNET an Apple spokesperson said, “We’re aware of this reported issue, we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Apple declined to say when the update would be available.

If you’ve jailbroken your iOS-based device recently and have any feedback about the experience, let us know what happened and how it went.

iOS 4.1 beta 3 rules out Game Center app for iPhone 3G, second-gen iPod touch devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010, 05:17
Category: News, Software

The good news: The third beta of iOS 4.1 is out and progress is being made towards the final version.

The bad news: Neither the iPhone 3G or second-generation iPod touch devices will be compatible with Apple’s Game Center application upon its release.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story stated that a pre-release build seeded to developers on Tuesday, has dropped support for Game Center for older handset models. In previous builds, the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch were capable of running Game Center.

Those familiar with the latest build said Apple’s release notes did not indicate whether this was a permanent change, or a temporary one just for this beta. It simply stated that Game Center is “no longer supported” on the older hardware.

The loss of support was reportedly one of a number of changes made to the GameKit API found in iOS 4.1. In addition to a number of bug fixes, the latest update is also said to have added support for the achievements API, which will allow gamers to receive virtual awards for completing tasks in games.

Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major new feature of iOS 4, aiming to provide a centralized experience for gamers on the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, the social gaming network will allow gamers to see what their friends are playing, challenge them to an online match, or compare scores in specific titles.

In addition, the GameKit application programming interface allows developers to integrate their titles into the Game Center social network. The service will be opt-in for developers, who will not be forced to make their software a part of Game Center. But Apple officials believe it will be beneficial for application makers to integrate their games, because the service will allow a greater experience for users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into cause of iOS 4 slowness on iPhone 3G

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Date: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 05:23
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple is reportedly investigating complaints from users that iOS 4 runs very slow on its iPhone 3G handset.

Per the Wall Street Journal, complaints from iPhone 3G users began to surface soon after iOS 4 was released, but those complaints were quickly overshadowed by the iPhone 4′s antenna woes. With the antenna crisis behind them, Apple is now investigating how iOS 4 runs on the iPhone 3G.

User complaints have ranged from slowdowns to having the iPhone 3G almost unusable after upgrading to iOS 4. A number of users have commented that they’re also tried a complete restore of the iPhone 3G, with varying results.

The problems with iOS 4 do not appear to affect the faster iPhone 3GS or the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 2, focuses on proximity sensor fixes

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Date: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released the second beta version of the pending iOS 4.1 firmware, although the company has not said when the firmware will be generally available for its iPhone and iPod touch products.

Per Cult of Mac, this beta release of the iOS 4.1 software development kit, available at Apple’s iPhone Dev Center, comes about two weeks after the first one and arrives with speculation that the 4.1 software will fix some glitches for the iPhone 4 proximity sensors and introduce Apple’s promised Game Center social service.

The initial report states that the proximity sensor issue seems to have been fixed. “Previously, the iPhone was plagued with proximity sensor issues,” writes Jose Gutierrez. “It would constantly hang up calls when I held the phone next to my cheek. But after installing the iOS 4.1 beta 2 update this afternoon, I couldn’t force the iPhone to hang up calls when lifting it up to my face, no matter how hard I tried.”

He also says the new beta release includes a baseband update, “which seems to fix HSUPA upload speed issues, which slowed video and photo uploads to a crawl.”

According to several online accounts, the newest beta still does not support the iPad touch tablet. The iPad is running an earlier version of iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.