United States Treasury Department clears way for iPhones to be sold in Iran

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 07:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Iran-Flag

At long last, the iPhone is finally coming to Iran.

Per the cool cats over at The Mac Observer, the United States Treasury Department has lifted some sanctions on selling communication devices mobile phones in Iran, which means Apple can finally begin selling its popular iPhone in the country. The decision will make it easier for people in Iran to legitimately buy iPhones, iPads, and other electronics, and is a move on the part of the U.S. to help push for political freedom in the country.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranians deserve access to information and to communicate with each other without fear of government retribution.

The agency released the following statement:

“To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications. This license allows U.S. persons to provide the Iranian people with safer, more sophisticated personal communications equipment to communicate with each other and with the outside world. This General License aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information.”

While the policy change is good news for some people in Iran, it isn’t good news for everyone in the country. The U.S. isn’t allowing companies to export products to Iran’s government, or to people or organizations on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

The policy change will hopefully help curb incidents where companies in the U.S. refuse to sell products to people they think are Iranian nationals. Apple came under fire in 2012 when the National Iranian American Council accused the company of racial profiling over retail store employees refusing to sell iPhones to customers that spoke Farsi or appeared to be of Iranian descent.

The incidents didn’t appeared to be widespread, but did underscore the confusion that comes with government-imposed sales sanctions.

The U.S. reversal on the Iranian sanctions comes a few weeks ahead of elections in the country. Apple may not be able to ramp up sales in Iran quickly enough to get iPhones and iPads into people’s hands, but the door is now open for the company to move forward into a new market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 7 to include long-awaited AirDrop file sharing feature

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:57
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Granted, no one has ANY REAL IDEA as to what iOS 7′s interface will look like, but there’s some cool new and improved features rumored to be coming down the pipe.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is currently testing versions of iOS 7 internally that include the AirDrop WiFi-direct file sharing tool from the Mac, according to sources close to the story.

Like the rumored Flickr and Vimeo integration that’s been making the rounds, it is very simple for Apple to remove any single feature from the new operating system ahead of the mid-June unveiling.

Additionally, Apple has scrapped AirDrop late in software development from iOS before. Last year, we reported that Apple was developing an AirDrop tool to take advantage of the new WiFi hardware inside of Apple’s latest iOS devices. Because Apple has postponed the feature before, we believe it is possible that the feature could be pushed back again…

Sources say that the AirDrop functionality is currently integrated into the standard iOS share menu. AirDrop will work between two iOS devices and potentially between an iOS device and a Mac. The feature will make it easier than ever to transfer, for example, a photograph or document from one person’s iPhone to another person’s iPad.

While iCloud synchronization works well for sharing photos and documents between two iOS devices owned by the same person, the AirDrop feature will allow seamless individual file exchanges between iOS devices belonging to different people. Apple launched this functionality between Mac computers in 2011 with OS X Lion.

Notably, this potential addition will increase feature parity between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Android has included peer-to-peer file sharing for multiple releases of the software, but the implementation can be confusing due to fragmentation. For example, Samsung has its own unique fork of peer-to-peer file sharing while Google’s stock Android builds include its own implementation. AirDrop for iOS will be seamless in that it will work the same way on all of Apple’s supported products.

Finally, rumors have also pointed towards improved in-car-integration for Maps and Siri – something I think most iOS users can appreciate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon runs out of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, rumors hint at new model to be announced at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

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When the inventories run low, there’s generally some cool stuff around the corner.

Or the retailer REALLY needs to order some more stock.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after new details surfaced suggesting that Apple could introduce a slimmed-down version of its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display next week, one of the company’s largest resellers — Amazon.com — is sold out of the current entry-level model.

The high-profile stockout comes just a week before Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote presentation — a stage frequently used to unveil new products and innovations. This year, the company is expected to showcase its new next-generation operating system software for the Mac and iOS devices — OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 — in addition to highlighting some new Mac notebooks powered by Intel’s new Haswell processors

Well-connected industry watch Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Sunday that Apple plans to launch a slimmed-down 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at WWDC. He said the tweaked design will feature a thinner chassis, giving the professional-grade notebook a more portable form factor.

In addition, it’s said that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will sport an improved FaceTime HD camera, which could move from a current resolution of 720p to 1080p, or “full HD.” For his part in attempting to predict Apple’s future product plans through insight into the company’s operations out East, Ming-Chi Kuo sports one of the industry’s most respectable track records in recent years.

Amazon’s stockout applies to Apple’s entry-level 13-inch model, sporting a 2.5-gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor and 128 gigabytes of flash storage. Low inventory levels at authorized resellers are often one of the first signs of new hardware on the horizon, as Apple draws down its available inventory ahead of a new product launch.

While the entry-level model is sold out, Amazon still has remaining inventory of the higher end models with 256 gigabytes of flash storage, at processor speeds of 2.5 gigahertz and 2.6-gigahertz.

In addition, other resellers still have inventory of the two default configurations of Apple’s larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which are the 2.4-gigahertz model with 256 gigabytes of storage and 8 gigabytes of RAM, and the 2.7-gigahertz variety with 512 gigabytes of storage and 16 gigabytes of RAM. The latest rumors have not offered any indication that Apple plans to update the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro next week, suggesting that a refresh to add Intel’s Haswell processors may come at a later date.

However, Apple is expected to bring Haswell to its MacBook Air lineup at WWDC next week, with new models sporting dual microphones for better voice recognition. AppleInsider was first to report on widespread stockouts of MacBook Air models at resellers in recent weeks leading up to WWDC.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop corroborated rumors of new Macs at WWDC last week when he signaled that updated hardware will likely be unveiled. The company is also planning to show off new versions of iOS and OS X, but is not expected to launch any new iPhone or iPad models.

Stay tuned for up to the minute coverage come WWDC next week.

Leaked iPad 5 component image points toward thinner, lighter design

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 31st, 2013, 08:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, Pictures

It’s a leaked component shot, but it might say something about the design of the next-gen iPad.

Per AppleInsider and Apple.pro, a new image has emerged that shows what looks to be a full-size fifth-generation iPad’s front panel, again showing design cues taken from the iPad mini.


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The image shows the rear side of what appears to be the front casing for an as-yet-unreleased iPad 5. The panel bears all of the holes and markings that typify Apple’s tablets — including a hole for the Home button and FaceTime camera — and the connector for the touchscreen component.

The panel bears the same thin bezel seen with Apple’s iPad mini, which observers expect will serve as the design guidepost for the next full-size iPad. Images and video of potential iPad 5 cases have borne the same design cues, with a thinner overall body.

The next full-size iPad is expected to retain the screen size of its predecessors, if only to application development for the device easy. Recent rumors suggest that Apple may add a centered rear microphone to the device to help in audio recording.

The rumored new iPad’s thinner bezels are said to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner. The new iPad, new iPad mini, and the next generation of iPhones and iPods are all expected to arrive some time in the fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple building GPU team from former AMD engineers according to LinkedIn profile spot checks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 07:24
Category: Hardware, News

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per MacRumors, Apple has hired at least a dozen former AMD graphics engineers for its Orlando offices in recent months, according to a spot check of employees’ LinkedIn profiles.

The majority of hires, which include a graphics architect, hardware engineer and others, occurred in January of this year.

AMD laid off a number of employees last year in a corporate reorganization, and fired more in January. It seems likely that Apple hired a number of the laid off Orlando AMD engineers for a new team it’s building in the region.

The company has also posted new job listings for Site Managers to head GPU teams in both Orlando and Cupertino.

These hires and new listings are in addition to job listings posted last month for chip engineers for its Orlando Design Center.

Apple’s interest in GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPUs coincides with an effort to develop more of its technology in-house. Apple is a licensee for ARM and Imagination Technology, which power the company’s iPhones and iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone screen to feature “doubled” pixel count

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Date: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that pixel count you love on your iPhone 5?

It could double with the next generation of the iPhone.

Per Weiphone and Unwired View, Apple is planning to increase the resolution of a future iPhone model to 1.5 million pixels — double that of the pixel count on the current iPhone 5.

The details come from a report by Chinese-language Weiphone, which claims that the next-generation Retina display will be featured on Apple’s next-generation handset, whether it be known as the “iPhone 5S” or “iPhone 6.” The report claimed that the next iPhone will continue to have the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5.

In addition, the report claimed that the iPhone 5 will have an even thinner bezel than its current design, suggesting Apple will borrow design elements from its popular iPad mini. Finally, it was claimed that Apple’s next iPhone will begin shipping in September.

The current iPhone 5 has a pixel count of nearly 730,000 thanks to its screen resolution of 1,136 by 640 pixels. That works out to 326 pixels per inch on the 4-inch display.

Apple introduced the “Retina display” branding for its screens with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. That handset featured a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels, double that of its predecessors.

At the time, Apple’s Retina display was a market-leading feature for the iPhone. But since then, devices like the HTC One, with a 468-pixel-per-inch display, have provided intense competition.

The HTC One crams a 1080p-resolution screen, the equivalent of a full-fledged high-resolution television, into a 4.7-inch space. That’s more than 2 million pixels, putting it at a density substantially higher than Apple’s iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad to receive rear-facing mic, thinner, lighter design

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Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

A rear-facing mic might be in the next-gen iPad’s future.

Per Macotakara and AppleInsider, the fifth-generation iPad is expected to ship after Apple’s anticipated “iPhone 5S.” Reports have pegged Apple’s next iPhone for launch around September, which would be around a year after the iPhone 5 went on sale.

According to author Danbo’s sources, the next 9.7-inch iPad will gain a rear microphone next to the camera, much like Apple added to the iPhone 5 in 2012. The report noted that prototypes of the iPad mini also included rear microphones, but were not included in the final shipping product introduced last October.

While Apple apparently opted to remove the rear mic from the iPad mini in late stages of development, thus far it appears the microphone will remain on the next 9.7-inch iPad.

Earlier reports have claimed that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad will adopt many of the same design elements Apple adopted with the iPad mini, including a thinner bezel around the screen and more rounded edges. Those changes are expected to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Among the internal changes expected is a “GF2″ touch panel, which would make the touchscreen component of the iPad thinner. And improved power efficiency could also allow Apple to reduce the size of the iPad’s internal battery, which currently accounts for most of the device’s weight.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Repair costs for iPhone repairs on the rise, component prices cited

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, now this is interesting.

An article over on MarketWatch points out that Apple’s repair costs to fix an iPhone 5 with a broken screen have jumped to US$229 – more than the US$200 price of the device with a two-year contract, and more than a third of the US$650 cost of the phone without a contract. Select Apple stores offer the option of a US$149 repair. And for those who paid US$99 for AppleCare insurance, the replacement is just US$49.

The piece then cites that the replacement components for the iPhone 5 are much more expensive than similar parts for prior models — so expensive in fact that many independent repair services cannot compete. “Due to the high cost of replacement parts, we are not yet offering iPhone 5 repairs,” according to a statement on ComputerOverhauls.com, an online repair shop. “Currently, the Apple Store is the least expensive option for repairing damaged iPhone 5s.” Other services charge as much as US$250 for the repair.

Given current numbers, nearly one-third of iPhone users damaged their devices during 2012, according to a recent study by gadget insurer SquareTrade. Repairs have cost consumers nearly US$6 billion since the iPhone was launched in 2007 and apparently iPhones get abused more than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged, per the survey.

Despite this, iCracked — an independent firm that has technicians across the U.S. — charges half as much to fix an iPhone 4S screen (US$79 to US$99) as to fix an iPhone 5 (US$169 to US$199) thanks to tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”

“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says. “Apple is trying to get people to sign up for Apple Care for US$99 and to rely on their services at the Apple store,” he says, “If you don’t, that cracked screen could cost you at least US$230.”

Thanks to do-it-yourself kits, it’s possible to replace the screen on an iPhone 4 for less than a quarter of that price. Adam Carey, a New York-based mobile development consultant, bought a DIY kit on Amazon.com for US$25 and followed instructions on iFixit.com, an online repair manual. The procedure took him two hours. “It’s not like snapping on a cover,” he says. “It’s like performing surgery. You need pretty steady hands.”

If you’ve been repairing iPhones and noticed a jump in component prices, please let us know about your experience in the comments section.

Google to incorporate voice search feature into iOS Chrome app

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:34
Category: iOS, News, Software

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This could turn into something pretty nifty.

Per 9to5Mac, Google announced on Wednesday via its Chrome blog that a new update will soon be rolling out to its Chrome app for iPhone and iPad that will allow users to access voice search features previously limited to the Google Search app. Using the same omnibox currently included in the app, Google will soon allow users to tap a microphone icon to search using only their voice with a UI similar to the recently redesigned voice search on Mac.

Google said the updated Chrome app should be landing on the App Store in the coming days.

Google also noted that the updated iOS app would provide faster reloading of web pages and an option for third-party apps “to open links in Chrome and then return to the app with just one tap.”

Earlier today Google began rolling out revamped voice search functionality in the Chrome app for Mac users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Xbox One to feature improved iOS device, SmartGlass integration

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Date: Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013, 06:25
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Microsoft announced its upcoming Xbox One console yesterday.

And threw in some interesting iOS cooperation with it.

Per Mac|Life and Wired, Microsoft’s new gaming console will be “fully integrated” with Xbox’s SmartGlass application, thus allowing users of iPhones and iPads to connect seamlessly with the next generation of Microsoft’s popular console series.


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Introduced last year and allegedly downloaded by over 10 million people, SmartGlass currently allows users to interact with their Xbox 360 consoles in a number of limited ways, such as using the iPhone’s keyboard to type onscreen (a significant improvement over the hunt-and-peck nature of gamepad-based input), watching videos, and navigating menus.

Currently, it’s not too clear what Microsoft’s “fully integrated” service entails. Future versions of SmartGlass will apparently let users turn their iPhones or iPads into a “skeuomorphic remote control, able to emulate any other control device.” The Xbox One will also supposedly allow more devices to connect at once for multiplayer and shared experiences”.

Further details are expected to be revealed at this year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles from June 11-13.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.