O'Grady's PowerPage » iPad

Sprint reduces iPhone 4S price to $149, rumors of next-gen iPhone release, Apple special event fly

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to love competition, price cuts and the promise of a next-gen iPhone on the horizon.

Per All Things D, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has cut the price of Apple’s current iPhone 4S to US$149 and is waiving activation fees for the handset ahead of a rumored Apple special event that may see the launch of a next-generation iPhone.

The new $149 price tag showed up on Sprint’s website over the weekend and represents a US$50 savings not including the US$36 activation fee waiver.

The new pricing comes ahead of a rumored special event Apple is said to be planning for Sept. 12, where many expect the company to launch the sixth-generation iPhone and possibly a smaller 7-inch iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Recent Apple patent shows iPad Smart Cover with embedded display built in

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 06:30
Category: Accessory, iPod, Patents

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This is kind of interesting.

Per the United States Patent Trademark Office, Apple has applied for a patent in which a Smart Cover unit would take power from a connector on the side of the iPad to drive a flexible display in one of the cover segments for adding extra icons, controlling media playback, or displaying notifications.

The unit would show the entire surface of the cover being used as a keyboard, while another turns it into a drawing digitizer.



Not to say that this is a guarantee as to the future of the iPad’s Smart Cover, but it could be a cool idea.

Let us know what you think in the comments and welcome to Friday.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on modified cases for next-gen iPhone model

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 10:27
Category: News, Rumor

It’s the cases that give it away sometimes.

Per iLounge, third party accessory companies are apparently creating a larger “Bumper” case to accommodate a taller iPhone screen, the second case will feature a new, different design. Citing a “highly reliable source,” the site reported on Monday that though the new case will affect third-party case makers, the design will be “not hugely surprising,” which led author Jeremy Horowitz to speculate the case could include a stand.

Apple stepped into the iPhone case accessory business with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Its first-party “Bumpers” wrap around the outside edges of both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which feature the same external design.

Monday’s report follows up on an earlier rumor that claimed Apple will launch its next-generation iPhone at a media event on September 12. Corroborating some of those details, Horowitz said the new iPhone will be ready to ship in mid-September.

Also rumored to arrive in September is a new iPod touch, which will presumably also feature a larger 4-inch display to bring it in line with the new iPhone. iLounge, however, disagreed with an earlier rumor that suggested a new iPod nano will also be unveiled at an alleged September event.

Rumors of Apple’s next-generation products have picked up steam, as both photos and a video of parts claimed to be from Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone have also appeared online.

Earlier this month, pictures of alleged “iPad mini” engineering samples also surfaced, showing a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display and a shrunken dock connector also expected to appear in the next iPhone. Numerous reports from mainstream media outlets have indicated that Apple plans to expand the iPad lineup with a new, smaller, less expensive model this fall.

As for Apple’s full-size iPad, iLounge was told that Apple currently plans for its fourth-generation model to have a “relatively modest body tweak.” The device is expected to keep largely the same shape while adopting a smaller 19-pin dock connector, a new rear-facing microphone, and design tweaks to reduce heat.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on Mac App Store

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Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 07:27
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it.

And it’s here.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-awaited OS X Mountain Lion upgrade through the Mac App Store. The download is 4.05GB, and retails for US$20.

The software incorporates a number of apps previously exclusive to iOS, including Notes, Reminders, Game Center, and the Notification Center. It also more deeply integrates iCloud, and introduces Gatekeeper, a new security system designed to prevent malware from being installed. In all, Apple claims that over 200 new features have been added including the following:

Messages:
– Send messages from your Mac to friends with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

– With iMessage, you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone or iPad.

– Messages also supports traditional instant messaging services like AIM, Yahoo! Google Talk and Jabber.

iCloud:
– Documents in the Cloud lets you create and edit your documents on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

– The new Reminders app makes managing tasks easy. Jot down your thoughts with the new Notes app. And iCloud keeps your Reminders and Notes up to date across all your devices.

Safari:
– Type both searches and web addresses in the new Smart Search Field.

– Pinch to see tabs with Tab View and swipe to switch between them.

– iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.*

Notification Center:
– New notifications appear in the top right corner of your screen.

– Open Notification Center from anywhere in OS X to see recent notifications.

– Configure your notifications to receive just the ones you want.

Sharing:
– Share links, photos, videos, and other files right from the app you’re in.

– Share with Mail, Messages, and AirDrop.

– Sign in to Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo once to start sharing.

– Tweet right from your apps with the Tweet sheet.

Game Center:
– Play live multiplayer and turn-based games against friends on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.

– Log in to the Game Center app to see friends in your gaming network.

– Check out leaderboards and achievements.

– See what games your friends play and track your progress against them.

Other Mountain Lion features:
– Dictation lets you talk anywhere you can type–no setup or training required.

– AirPlay Mirroring shows your Mac screen on your HDTV with Apple TV.

– Power Nap keeps your Mac up to date while it sleeps so it’s instantly ready to go.

– Gatekeeper makes it safer to download apps from the Internet by giving you control over which apps can be installed on your Mac.

– New features for Chinese users include improved text input, leading search engine Baidu as an option in Safari, sharing to microblogging service Sina Weibo and video websites Youku and Tudou, eight new fonts, and a new Chinese dictionary.

OS X 10.8 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 and access to the Mac App Store to download and install.

If you guys have downloaded, installed and played with OS X 10.8, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple posts $8.8 billion profit, $35 billion in sales for Q3 2012 returns

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Finance, News

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There’s a nice ring to the words “US$8.8 billion quarterly profit”…

Per Macworld, Apple announced its returns for the third quarter of 2012 yesterday, the company’s sales hitting US$35 billion, up 22 percent from US$28.6 billion last year while profits rose 20.5 percent to US$8.8 billion from US$7.3 billion. Earnings for the quarter were US$9.32 a share, up 20 percent from last year. Reported earnings topped Apple’s forecast, but fell short of Wall Street expectations of US$10.35 per share on projected revenue of US$37 billion.

Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, the most the company has ever sold during a quarter. The company tallied June quarter records for both Mac and iPhone sales—the latter figure coming even as customers have held off on purchasing a new iPhone in anticipation of a new model coming out later this year.

Despite the sales records, the third quarter saw the slowest growth rate for profit since 2009. Still, Apple finds itself better positioned than most tech companies. Sales of Macs, for example, rose during the quarter while the rest of the PC market saw a 1 percent decline, according to figures from market-research firm IDC.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, told analysts during a conference call that the company was “pleased” with its quarterly results.

The number that probably pleased Apple the most came from its surging iPad business, where Apple saw sales of its tablet grow 84 percent from the year-ago quarter. This was the first full quarter of sales for Apple’s third-generation iPad, which debuted on March 16. Apple is currently selling iPads in 97 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPad lineup hit US$9.2 billion for the quarter, up 53 percent from the US$6 billion in revenue Apple recorded last year. Apple says it sold twice as many iPad as Macs to its education customers—and Apple just happened to set a record for Mac sales to U.S. educational institutions for the quarter.

As for its Mac business, Apple sold 4 million computers, up slightly from the 3.9 million Macs it sold in the year-ago quarter. Even with slight 2 percent gain, Apple still sold more Macs in this three-month period than in any June quarter before.

Those sales were largely driven by the revamped MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models Apple released, even though those notebooks came out less than three weeks before the end of the June quarter. According to Cook, prior to the release of those models at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple’s Mac sales were off last year’s pace. Once the updated MacBooks hit the market, though, Apple’s weekly sell-through increased, allowing it to beat last year’s figure and outpace PC industry growth for a 25th straight quarter.

In particular, Cook noted that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has been “incredibly well-received. We still have not caught up with demand, but we anticipate doing so next month.”

Mac sales are usually dominated by portables, and this quarter was no exception. Notebooks accounted for three-fourths of the Macs Apple sold.

In addition to the June record for overall Mac sales, Apple executives noted that the quarter was the best ever for Mac sales to U.S. education institutions.

Apple sold 26 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 20.3 million last year—another June quarter record for the company. The 28 percent growth in iPhone sales was also ahead of the amount Apple factored into its quarter guidance, Oppenheimer noted.

While Apple hasn’t made any iPhone hardware changes since it rolled out the iPhone 4S last year, it has been expanding the reach of its smartphone. During the June quarter, for example, the company added a number of regional carriers in the U.S. More than 250 carriers now provide service for the iPhone in 100 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPhone rose 23 percent from last year to US$16.2 billion.

Despite the record sales, this quarter’s iPhone figures represent something of a blip for Apple. Both unit sales and iPhone revenue were down sequential in the third quarter; in 2011, unit sales and revenue rose from the second quarter to the third quarter. That’s largely a sign that customers may be holding off on iPhone purchases in anticipation of a new smartphone from Apple.

Pressed by analysts about the impact iPhone rumors might have on Apple’s bottom line, Cook said that while the company goes to great lengths to keep its product road map under wraps, he doesn’t put any value in clamping down on speculation about product releases.

“That’s just the environment we’re in,” Cook said. “I’m glad that people want the next thing. I’m super happy about it.”

Apple may have less reason to happy with its iPod sales, which saw another dip. The company sold 6.8 million music players, down from 7.5 million iPods in the year-ago quarter. Average selling price for iPods was also down for the quarter. Still, Apple notes that the iPod continues to hold a 70 percent share of the music-player market.

Combining iPod touch numbers with iPhone and iPad figures, Apple says that cumulative iOS device sales have reached 410 million units.

Revenue from the iTunes Store topped US$1.8 billion for the quarter; Apple brought its online music, movie, TV, and app store to 12 more countries.

Cook said that Apple sold 1.3 million Apple TVs during the quarter, bringing total sales for the fiscal year to 4 million units. The set-top box is “still at a level that we would call it a hobby, but we’ll continue to pull the string to see where it takes us,” Cook added.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Apple also unveiled the details of the stock dividend plan it first announced in March. The company will pay out US$2.65 per share on August 16, 2012 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on August 13. Subsequent dividends will be announced at the same time as the company’s results, with future payouts subject to declaration by the board of directors. Apple will begin buying back stock starting in its 2013 fiscal year, which starts September 30, 2012.

Both the dividend and the stock buyback program are part of Apple’s efforts to dispense with the massive amounts of cash the company has on hand. Apple ended the June quarter with US$117.2 billion in cash and short- and long-term securities, up from US$110 billion the previous quarter.

In terms of future performance, Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter and earnings of US$7.65 a share. That compares to 2011 fourth-quarter revenues of US$28.27 billion and earnings per share of US$7.02.

Apple offers final notice, warns users of July 31st iWork.com closure

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Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2012, 11:46
Category: News, Software

Ok, it’s time to stop procrastinating…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday issued what it called a “final reminder” to users that they must save their iWork.com documents before July 31 or lose them forever.

The iWork.com beta website will close in one week’s time, after which users will no longer be able to access their documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the web.

Apple has recommended once again that users immediately sign in to iWork.com to download documents and ensure tehy are not lost. An accompanying support article also details how users can save a copy of their documents onto their computer.

“Moving forward, you can use iCloud to store your documents and make them available across your computer and your iPHone, iPad or iPod touch,” the e-mail sent out on Tuesday by Apple reads.

Apple has sent out numerous reminders, including one earlier this month, encouraging users to back up their documents. Apple first notified customers in March of its intent to shutter the iWork.com website by the end of July.

The iWork.com service first launched as a beta in early 2009, offering iWork users on the Mac the ability to more easily collaborate with others using Windows and Microsoft Office. Now, the iWork suite of applications is become available on iOS, with Pages, Numbers and Keynote among the most popular downloads on the iPad App Store.

So, yeah, snag those files, put them somewhere else and perhaps head out and grab a really good bagel between now and the 31st, because Apple has decided to move on.

Analyst pegs Apple to release 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, updated iMac this fall

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Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2012, 06:13
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News

Just hang on a few months and that Retina Display goodness should find its way to the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Per AppleInsider, a Retina display-toting 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to join the recently-released 15-inch model sometime this September and may be accompanied by an iMac refresh, writes analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note shared with investors.

Rounding out the KGI analyst’s forecast for the second half of 2012, Kuo expects Apple to bring a Retina display-resolution display to its 13-inch MacBook Pro line in September though demand may outweigh supply as components for the high-pixel density display are limited.

The reports is in line with two previous findings, both from online computer benchmarking sites that pointed to an unknown MacBook Pro fitting the description of a 13-inch Retina display model.

Kuo believes the device will be an attractive option to consumers looking to purchase the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro or MacBook Air due to the Retina display’s high-quality image reproduction. The analyst also claims customers will be drawn to the balance of power consumption and form factor as well as the unit’s price which should be somewhat similar to Apple’s non-Retina MacBook Pro.

While the laptop is expected to do well at launch, Kuo thinks sales growth won’t be meaningful as many consumers will gravitate toward iOS devices, especially so if Apple debuts a smaller, more affordable iPad in September. He goes on to say supply of the smaller high-resolution MacBook Pro will likely be constrained due to panel and assembly yield rates, a problem Apple is only now beginning to overcome with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

As for the iMac, Kuo believes a refreshed model could debut close to the end of September but qualifies the statement by saying indicators from the supply chain point to a later release. Shipments of Apple’s desktop products will dip in July due to inventory adjustments but are expected to dramatically rise in August as the new iMac starts shipping out from factories.

Regarding Apple’s overall financial outlook, Kuo sees zero growth across the line for Apple in the second quarter of 2012 on smartphone competition from Samsung, slow MacBook sales, a weakened global economy and the iPad’s late entry into China. Quarter three of the calendar year will likely pick up, however, as new product launches are expected to lead moderate growth ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple hires chip former AMD engineer John Bruno, looks to be expanding mobile devices

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Date: Friday, July 20th, 2012, 05:29
Category: Hardware, News

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Give the man a chance and he’ll probably invent something truly cool.

Per SemiAccurate, former AMD chip architect John Bruno, known for his contribution to the chip maker’s Trinity Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), now lists himself as a “System Architect at Apple” via his LinkedIn profile.

While Bruno’s new position has not been officially announced, the profile change is thought to reflect Apple’s ongoing efforts to design high-performance, energy-sipping mobile processors for use in its iDevice line of products.

Bruno’s management of AMD’s second-generation APU project, dubbed Trinity, is well known and it is speculated that he may take a similar role at Apple. As a side note, Apple was rumored to be using the original AMD Fusion APU in its Apple TV in 2010, but the final product ended leveraged the proprietary ARM-based A4 processor.

Originally an employee of ATI, Bruno joined AMD in 2006 when the company acquired the graphics card manufacturer in 2006. He was ultimately axed amid wide-ranging job cuts last year that saw the departure of other high-level SoC engineers. Since being let go, Bruno has been “off the radar” and wasn’t reported to be attached to any major tech companies until Wednesday’s report.

Apple has long been rumored to be looking into moving its entire portable product line, including laptops, to the ARM platform but Apple leadership remains mum on the prospect. The tech giant was reported to be testing an ARM-based MacBook Air model in 2011, though the machine has yet to materialize. Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned in February that the need for ARM-based thin-and-lights was not part of the company’s “post-PC” strategy and said the niche would soon be filled by the iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.