Skype for iPhone 2.1 released, background multitasking feature added

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Skype for iPhone 2.1 went live yesterday and albeit the update was relatively minor, users running iOIS 4 can now run Skype in the background on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS4. As a result, Skype users can now receive Skype calls and instant messages while other apps are running or the iPhone is locked. As with the iPhone’s Phone app, you can continue your call while you switch to another application.

Both Skype for iPhone and the update are free.

Skype for iPhone requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Apple cites $15.7 billion in sales, $3.25 billion profit for 2010 Q3 financial report

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Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 04:37
Category: Finance, News

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Apple generated its best quarter to date, reporting US$15.7 billion in sales and a profit of US$3.25 billion yesterday with shares accelerating US$3.51 per share, up 75% in the year over year from the same period in 2009. The company’s results beat analyst expectations of $3.10 a share and $14.74 billion in revenue according to Macworld.

The company sold a record 3.47 million Macs during the three-month period ended June 26, 2010, another quarterly record for the company that topped the previous high sales mark by 100,000 units. Mac sales increased 33% over the 2.6 million units Apple sold in the third quarter of 2009. Oppenheimer noted that Apple’s 33% sales growth topped the 22% growth rate market research firm IDC projects for the overall computer market.

As expected, portables drove Mac sales for the three months ending in June. Of the 3.47 million Macs sold, 71% were laptops.

The third quarter also marked the first full quarter of sales for the iPad, Apple’s new tablet. Apple said it sold 3.27 million iPads during the quarter with the company seeing US$2.17 billion in recognized revenue from iPad sales during the quarter. The tablet is currently shipping in 10 countries, and Apple plans to introduce the iPad to 9 more countries on July 23rd. The company also stated that it’s selling iPads just as fast as it’s making them, while attempting to increase manufacturing capacity.

Apple sold 8.4 million iPhones in the third quarter, a 61% jump over last year’s figures. The iPhone 4, which debuted in the waning days of the third quarter, made up about 20% of those sales—or more than 1.7 million units. Apple called the iPhone 4 launch the most successful product launch in its history.

Consumer demand for the new phone has been so great, in fact, that Apple has had trouble filling orders. Last month, the company announced that it would delay the release of the white iPhone 4—it’s expected to ship by the end of July. iPhone 4 orders placed through Apple’s online store list a three-week shipping wait as of this writing. (In contrast, the 8GB iPhone 3GS ships within 24 hours.)

Apple saw recognized revenue from its handsets of US$5.33 billion during the quarter, up 74% from last year’s figures. Apple says the iPhone has a sales value of US$5 billion, for an average selling price of US$595.

Combining the sales of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Apple sales there are now 100 million devices running its iOS mobile operating system.

iPod sales fell during the third quarter of 2010. Though the company sold 9.41 million iPods, the figure represented an 8% drop from the 10.2 million music players Apple sold in the year-ago quarter. The iPod segment has seen declining growth for some time now, particularly outside of the holiday shopping season. During the fiscal second quarter, iPod sales dipped by 1% while the 2009 third quarter saw a 7% decline in sales.

Despite the decline, the music device remains the top-selling MP3 player internationally and continues to command a 70% market share in the U.S. More significantly to Apple, the iPod touch continues to grow with Apple stating that sales of that product were up 48% from the year-ago quarter, leading to a 12% increase year-over-year in average selling price for the music player. Apple’s iPod segment saw quarterly revenue of US$1.5 million, a 4% increase from last year.

With regard to the iTunes Store, Apple cited more than $1 billion in revenue, a growth rate of 25% year over year. The mobile app segment of the store has grown to 225,000 apps, with 11,000 specifically built for the iPad. Users have download more than 5 billion apps from the App Store, Apple says.

Apple ended the third quarter with 293 Apple Store locations, the company opening seven more during the three-month period. Four of those new stores were opened in the U.S., while two opened in Australia; the remaining new store was in Canada.

Retail stores generated US$2.58 billion in revenue during the quarter, jumping 73% from the year-ago numbers. Apple sold 677,000 Macs via its retail stores, compared to 492,000 last year; half of the Macs sold at Apple Store were to customers new to the platform, Apple says.

Apple plans to open 24 stores during the fourth quarter. In addition to an outlet in Shanghai, China, that opened earlier this month, noteworthy store openings include ones in Paris, London, and Apple’s first two stores in Spain.

Apple ended its fiscal third quarter with US$45.8 billion in cash and short-term investments, up from US$41.7 billion at the end of last quarter.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending in September, Apple expects revenue of US$18 billion and earnings per share to come in around US$3.44. Analysts were predicting sales of US$17.03 billion and earnings of US$3.82 per share in advance of Apple’s announcement on Tuesday.

Apple said it would defer revenue during the quarter as a result of its decision to offer free cases to iPhone 4 customers. Last week, the company made its free case offer after reports of reception problems related to the placement of antennas in the iPhone 4. Oppenheimer put the cost of the case giveaway at US$175 million; Apple will recognize the cost of those cases as they’re delivered to customers.

Rumor that Apple may charge iPad owners for iOS 4 upgrade debunked

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Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 04:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

A circulating rumor that Apple may charge users to upgrade the iPad to iOS 4 this fall is specifically contradicted by Apple’s own licensing agreement, which states that the next major software update will be free to iPad owners.

Citing “top secret plans” from an anonymous source, Stuff.tv reported on Tuesday that Apple currently plans to charge iPad owners for the software upgrade. The source did not provide a price, but the U.K.-based magazine suggested it would be around £5.

The source reportedly told the magazine that the plans to charge are “definite.” It reached out to Apple for a comment, and the Cupertino, Calif., company responded that it doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.

However, the company’s iPad licensing agreements specifically state that the “next major iPad OS software release” will be free for hardware owners, casting some doubt on the rumor. Releases beyond that, however, may come with a charge.

“For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release,” the licensing agreement reads. “Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.”

While it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to charge for an upgrade, as previous software releases came with a fee for iPod touch users, due to an accounting issue, Apple eventually did away with that fee, as the iOS 4 upgrade is free for iPod touch owners.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to avoid iPhone 4 recall, offer details at press conference later today

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News

In spite of the press conference scheduled for today, the iOS 4.0.1 update and Apple’s well-documented problems with the iPhone 4′s antenna and reception, a new report claims that a recall of the handset won’t be among the announcements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to the story has stated the company doesn’t plan to instate a recall of the more than 2 million units it’s shipped worldwide thus far.

That same source echoed an earlier report in claiming that hardware engineers warned chief executive Steve Jobs about the risks of the phone’s new external antenna design nearly a year ago, but that Jobs “liked the design so much that Apple went ahead with its development.”

The report went on to document how Apple’s immense secrecy over new iPhone masked the problem during the company’s evaluation process with its carrier partners, as design verification units were disguised as “stealth” phones that obscured their design and some of their functions.

“Those test phones are specifically designed so the phone can’t be touched, which made it hard to catch the iPhone 4′s antenna problem,” the Journal said. The paper added, citing people familiar with the matter, that Apple afforded carriers “limited time to test the iPhone 4 before its June 24 launch” and equipped them with “fewer devices to test than other handset makers.”

Although Apple declined to comment on its development methods for the new iPhone, a company spokesperson fired back at the claim that a senior antenna expert had expressed his concern over the new design to Jobs, challenging the publication to “produce anything beyond rumors to back this up.”

“It’s simply not true,” the spokesperson said.

Concerns over the iPhone 4′s new antenna design began generating headlines ever since its June 24th launch, when some users began reporting the handset’s propensity to lose reception and sometimes drop calls when cupped in the lower left corner.

Though media coverage of the matter persisted for a couple of weeks on and on-and-off basis, it reached a boiling point earlier this week when Consumer Reports did a 180-degree turn on its stance on the iPhone 4, and announced that it could no longer recommend the device to consumers because of the antenna issues.

Since then, the matter has only escalated further up the chain, with democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday issuing an open letter to Jobs, calling Apple’s current solutions to fixing the problem “insufficient” and asking the company to provide a free fix for consumers.

So yeah, it’s been a fun three weeks…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.0.1 for iPhone, iOS 3.2.1 for iPad, hunts down long-standing bugs

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 04:03
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

Following up on rumors, Apple has released iOS 4.0.1 via iTunes. Per MacNN, the update makes just a single major change, that being improved accuracy in iPhone signal display. The company recently promised a software fix in light of reception issues, though it’s now believed the problem is traceable to hardware. The download is only available for the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4.

For iPad owners, Apple has meanwhile posted iOS 3.2.1. The firmware solves several issues, most notably trouble with Wi-Fi connections. It also corrects a glitch with PDF attachments in Mail, and two video bugs: one causing videos to freeze, and another hampering the official iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter. The one feature addition is Bing support for Safari search.

To download and install the updates, which each weigh in at over 300 megabytes, 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.

Apple is scheduled to hold a full iPhone 4 press conference today. Stay tuned to the PowerPage for additional details as they become available.

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

Apple distribute iOS 4.1 beta to testers, addresses iPhone 4 signal, reception issues

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Date: Thursday, July 15th, 2010, 04:15
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If your software’s picky and people are complaining, there’s always the chance to fix it in the update. Per AppleInsider, Apple began widespread testing of its iOS 4.1 update on Tuesday, the beta delivering changes to the way the handset displays signal strength.

Build 8b5080c of iOS 4.1 beta 1 began making its way to developers alongside iOS SDK 4.1 build 10M2304. Beta testers who reported in stated that one visible change is the new signal bar, which presents taller bars at the low end of the scale to make it easier to read. They also report the signal bars seem to better exaggerate signal drop off, with fewer bars visible when in an area of with limited reception.

Responding to widespread criticism over reception problems with the new touch-screen handset, Apple earlier this month penned an open letter to iPhone 4 users, in which it claimed that the formula used to calculate bars of signal strength on the device is inaccurate, and would be corrected in the coming weeks through a free software fix.

“Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength,” the company said. “For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars.”

Apple added that users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone 4 in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because their handset is erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. “Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” said the company, which maintains that the iPhone 4’s wireless performance “is the best [it has] ever shipped.”

For their part, wireless experts and well-regarded product research firm Consumer Reports have disputed Apple’s claims through their own research which alleges that the iPhone 4 suffers from reception issues when held by a user in a particular manner.

In a surprise move, Consumer Reports announced on Monday that it would no longer recommend the iPhone 4 to potential buyers due to reception problems that it believes to be a result of the design of the handset. The research firm issued the statement on its official electronics blog, stating that it reached that conclusion after testing three iPhone 4 handsets that were purchased from three separate retailers in the New York area inside a controlled environment of a radio frequency isolation chamber.

While iOS 4.1 beta appears to deliver Apple’s controversial ‘fix’ to the reception issues, there’s yet to be reliable word on wether the beta also addresses inaccuracies in the phone’s proximity sensor, which have similarly helped to sour the iPhone 4 experience for many customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

BMW announces support for iOS 4 “iPod Out” API for upcoming car models

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Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

When the “iPod Out” API was mentioned at Apple’s iOS 4 preview event back in April, no one really knew what it was. Still, this didn’t stop BMW Group from mentioning that it had integrated iPod Out into its newest BMW and Mini vehicle entertainment systems.

Per Macworld, the iPod Out API allows car manufacturers to integrate the iPod Classic OS look and controls into a vehicle’s on-board entertainment system. Owners of future BMW and Mini models will be able to control their iPod or iPhone fully from the car’s interface controls. In addition, users will have access to their device’s Genius feature and be able to make custom playlists.

In its statement, BMW announced that “future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone.”

BMW Group hasn’t outlined any specific timeline for integration, but notes that support will be coming to future BMW models using BMW ConnectedDrive and Mini models using Mini Connected. Customers who wish to use the iPod Out feature in new BMW Group cars need to have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

We Have a Winner: Outlet Charging Proves Faster for iPhone 4

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Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

Among the great debates of computer technology (along with whether or not to shut your computer down for the night or put it to sleep and how this affects the hardware) is the question as to whether or not to charge an iPhone or similar device via an outlet or USB port. Even in the case of charging an iPad, where the user receives a “not charging” message near the battery indicator, the device is charging, but slowly.

The guys over at When Will Apple? took the time to do a pretty decent job of comparing charging times on the iPhone 4, comparing USB to AC outlet. The conclusion: USB charging takes 23% longer to charge an iPhone 4 than charging via an AC outlet. If you’re in a rush to charge your phone, that’s a pretty significant difference.

The little flaw in this test is not knowing the amount of charge coming from the USB port used, as not all USB ports are created equal.

If you’ve found a different result on your end, please let us know.

Apple posts changes to MobileMe back end, apps

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Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 05:25
Category: News, Software

There’s always something happening on the server end and Apple’s MobileMe service is no exception. Per CNET, Apple released a new bout of changes to the MobileMe services on Thursday. The changes cover everything from iApp improvements to using the MobileMe website and working from within OS X 10.6.4:

Improvements with iOS 4.0 (for iPhone and iPod touch):
The Mail app supports MobileMe Mail aliases when composing or replying to messages.

Find My iPhone app:
The new Find My iPhone app allows you to find your device from another iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iDisk app version 1.2:
Designed for both iPhone and iPad.
Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps (such as open a PDF file in iBooks).

Gallery app version 1.1.1:
When viewing individual photos over a Wi-Fi network, higher resolution images are automatically downloaded on iPhone 4.

Improvements with Mac OS X v10.6.4:
Fixes an issue that may cause Address Book contacts to disappear when sharing is enabled.

MobileMe Control Panel 1.6:
Improves syncing of MobileMe Contacts with Microsoft Outlook. See this article for details.

Mail at me.com:
The new MobileMe Mail web application is available for all users.

Find My iPhone at me.com:
The Find My iPhone web application has a full-screen map view. Multiple devices are listed in a sidebar.

Calendar Beta at me.com:
The beta includes a new web application with support for calendar sharing and event invitations.

Me.com website:
Clicking the cloud icon brings up an application switcher.
Clicking your name allows you to access Help, Account, and sign out.

How-To: deactivate Network Services to improve iOS device battery life

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Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Although the iOS 4 software update has been lauded as improving battery life for most users, some are finding the improvements lacking. Per the Apple Toolbox Blog, one source of this may be overuse of the Location Services feature which can accompany checking Push notifications, and having many open Safari windows open.

It now appears that overactive location services usage can result in poor battery life. Specifically, apps that use location services in the background can quickly drain the battery.

The post offers the following steps for resolving this and hopefully upping your iOS device’s battery life:

“To check location services usage on an app-by-app basis, navigate to Settings > General > Location Services.

Turn location services off for all applications, then turn them back on for desired apps one by one or in groups. Via this procedure, you can identify which app’s use of location services is draining battery.

Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off location services altogether and check for increased battery life.”