Kazaa resurfaces in iOS form, service recrafted as subscription-based music service

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 05:04
Category: News, Software

It’s usually a better idea to run things above the board.

Per iPodNN, former filesharing service Kazaa has released an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The app allows subscribers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee. It can download songs and save playlists for offline listening. The Kazaa app also provides a social media function that shows subscribers what songs their friends are listening to or recommend.

Earlier this year, Kazaa was encouraging iPad and iPhone owners to use its browser-based service, possibly to avoid the App Store’s 30 percent royalty on purchases.

In its first incarnation, Kazaa was the largest peer-to-peer network in the world. It was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of the four major US record labels. Kazaa settled the case five years ago for US$100 million and reinvented itself as a subscription-based digital music service.

The app (free, App Store) comes with a one week free trial, then changes to a US$10 per month subscription and requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

GoPhone:
AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate thinner, lighter battery design for iPad 3

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 might be a bit lighter than you expected.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple is said to have chosen two suppliers to provide batteries that will be thinner and lighter, but also up to 30 percent more expensive, for its third-generation iPad.

Simply Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both been tapped for the next-generation batteries, according to reports. Both companies are said to currently supply batteries for Apple’s iPad and MacBook lineup.

The report said Apple’s third-generation iPad will be mass-produced in the first quarter of 2012. The device’s battery is said to have been redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

“Furthermore, the new battery pack will also be required to meet CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability, a trend that has been commonly seen nowadays, especially in the U.S.,” the report said.

The new thinner, lighter and safer battery will also reportedly come at a higher price for Apple, costing between 20 percent and 30 percent more than the battery currently found in the iPad 2.

Both Simplo and Dynapack are rumored to begin providing batteries to Apple in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011. That would put the company on track to begin production of the so-called “iPad 3″ soon after, and would also put Simplo and Dynapack in a position to earn record quarterly revenues.

Last month it was said that Apple was already near the trial production phase for its third-generation iPad. The device is expected to have a high-resolution screen, similar to the Retina Display found on the iPhone 4.

That retina display is expected to be provided by three major suppliers in order to meet growing demand for Apple’s iPad lineup. LG Display, Samsung Electronics and Sharp have all been rumored to be in the supply chain for Apple’s next iPad.

Also in August, Apple was said to have e begun trial production of the proprietary A6 mobile processor that’s expected to power the next iPad 3 and, eventually, a sixth-generation iPhone. A previous report from the Taiwan Economic News named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the new manufacturer of the chip, reportedly snagging a role formally filled by Samsung.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip, which is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Rumor: Apple to add remote diagnostic tool in iOS 5.0

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s always nifty when you can get something fixed remotely.

Per the cool cats at HardMac, Apple has allegedly internally announced to its employees that the new remote diagnostic tool has been completed. Presumably, these features could arrive with this fall’s release of iOS 5, the next major upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The entirely online system will be triggered by a special URL sent via e-mail or entered manually. When a user visits the website and agrees, Mobile Safari will conduct internal checks of the system and send that data to Apple’s servers.

To ensure user privacy, the only personal data that will be sent to Apple will include its unique identifier, or UDID, as well as the name of the owner, the report said.

The list of information to be shared by the diagnostic system reportedly includes:
Battery health, including current charge level, amount of time since the last charge, minimum level to which the battery was discharged, iOS version installed and whether the handset was turned off normally the last time.

Apple’s iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is set to be released this fall. It will pack more than 200 new user features, including Notification Center, iMessage, and Newsstand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged white fifth-generation iPod touch component photos surface

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:39
Category: iPod Touch, photos

It’s the leaked parts shots that make things interesting.

Per Technobuffalo, a parts supplier has acquired white-colored parts purportedly for a fifth-generation iPod touch, providing further evidence that Apple is moving forward with a white version of the media player.

iFixDirect claims to have obtained a white front cover for a next-generation iPod touch. Other than the color difference, the alleged part does not show any major changes to the device.

In July, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPod touch would sport few, if any, distinguishable changes from the fourth-generation black models.

Kuo suggested that the iPod touch would not receive a “spec update” this year because Apple is prioritizing supplies of the A5 processor and other components for the iPhone and iPad. Supply and manufacturing constraints have left the Cupertino, Calif., company struggling to keep up with demand for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Also complicating the matter is the fact that the company has pushed the release of the next-generation iPhone past the usual summer timeframe. As such, the arrival of the iPhone 5 this fall will likely overshadow any iPod touch release. Additionally, Apple is reportedly stockpiling supplies for its next handset in anticipation of pent up demand.

Apple last updated the iPod touch in September 2010, adding a Retina Display, front- and rear-facing cameras and the A4 processor.

Evidence in Apple’s own iOS betas also appears to suggest that an iPod touch update is not viewed internally as completely new generation. Recent beta releases of the software contain references to an “iPod 4,2,” implying that the new device will be based on the fourth-generation iPod touch architecture.

A white iPod touch would fall in-line with Apple’s recent strategy of adding a white version of its iOS devices to generate renewed interest. Last year, Apple announced a white version of the iPhone 4, but was forced to delay the product after encountering manufacturing issues. 10 months after the black iPhone 4 was released, Apple finally began selling the white model.

Apple also introduced a white version of the iPad when it launched the second generation of its tablet in March. The company appeared to have resolved any manufacturing or paint issues with, as, unlike the iPhone 4, the white model shipped alongside the black iPad 2 from day one.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent application points to voice recognition/voice command technology in future versions of iOS

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Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 13:18
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’ve gotta love forthcoming versions of iOS.

Per freepatentsonline, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone’s voice to identify the person themselves, allowing the system to enact custom-tailored settings and access to personal content.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “User Profiling for Voice Input Processing,” it describes a system that would identify individual users when they speak aloud.

Apple’s application notes that voice control already exists in some forms on a number of portable devices. These systems are accompanied by word libraries, which offer a range of options for users to speak aloud and interact with the device.

But these libraries can become so large that they can be prohibitive to processing voice inputs. In particular, long voice inputs can be time prohibitive for users, and resource taxing for a device.

Apple proposes to resolve these issues with a system that would identify users by the sound of their voice, and identify corresponding instructions based on that user’s identity. By identifying the user of a device, an iPhone would be able to allow that user to more efficiently navigate handsfree and accomplish tasks.

The application includes examples of highly specific voice commands that a complex system might be able to interpret. Saying aloud, “call John’s cell phone,” includes the keyword “call,” as well as the variables “John” and “cell phone,” for example.

In a more detailed example, a lengthy command is cited as a possibility: “Find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed.” Also included is natural language voice input, with the command: “Pick a good song to add to a party mix.”

“The voice input provided to the electronic device can therefore be complex, and require significant processing to first identify the individual words of input before extracting an instruction from the input and executing a corresponding device operation,” the application reads.

To simplify this, an iPhone would have words that relate specifically to the user of a device. For example, certain media or contacts could be made specific to a particular user of a device, allowing two individuals to share an iPhone or iPad with distinct personal settings and content.

In recognizing a user’s voice, the system could also become dynamically tailored to their needs and interests. In one example, a user’s musical preferences would be tracked, and simply asking the system aloud to recommend a song would identify the user and their interests.

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed in February of 2010. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay.

HP to end webOS development, spin off computer business and focus on software/services

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 03:13
Category: News

Even the mightiest can fall.

Or be forced to radically restructure.

According to Bloomberg, Hewlett Packard, the world’s largest PC maker, has announced plans to spin off its PC business and scrap its recently acquired webOS smartphone and TouchPad tablet business to focus on software and services.

Per the report, HP “has been aiming to lessen its dependence on lower-margin PCs, where growth has stalled as consumers flock to tablet-style computers like those made by Apple.”

Recent reports have documented HP’s slide, along with most other top PC makers, in shipments of new computers as Apple continues to grow its sales of Macs and particularly iPads.

Apple was the only maker in the top 5 PC vendors of Western Europe to experience growth in computer shipments, and the company just surpassed HP in mobile PC sales, largely due to booming sales of iPads.

HP has been unable to gain traction for its own iPad alternative, despite a campaign launched last year to buy Palm for US$1.2 billion and use its webOS to power a new generation of mobile devices.

HP is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings after the market closes today, and is expected to detail its US$10 billion plan to acquire Autonomy Corporation, the second largest UK software maker, headquartered in Cambridge, as it spins off its PC hardware unit.

Autonomy develops enterprise search and data processing technologies that look for meaning in text, voice and video data, whether in a database, files or streams. Much of its technology has origins in research conducted at the University of Cambridge.

Following a series of mergers and acquisitions, HP represents a combination of Apollo, DEC, Compaq, 3Com and Palm, but is now valued at just US$62 billion, compared to Apple’s current market cap of US$338 billion.

Apple acquired HP’s vacated “Executive Briefing Center” Pruneridge campus in Cupertino, California, and has plans to develop the site, along with adjacent land it already owned, into a futuristic new “Apple Campus 2″ site, located one freeway exit away from its current Infinite Loop headquarters.

Skype WiFi out the door, focuses on offering cheap Internet access abroad

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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You asked for a cheap way to communicate on the road and Skype seems to have something to offer…

Per AppleInsider, Skype on Wednesday released a new iOS application that will offer iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users access to over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the globe for a nominal pay-as-you-go basis.

The Skype WiFi application offers those on the go an alternative to pricey international data plans, which can fetch around US$25 for just 20MB worth of downloads, by allowing them to connect to locally available WiFi hotspots for as little as 6 cents per minute.

Skype says it is working with a third party WiFi operators to provide access to “over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centers, bars and restaurants,” thus eliminating extra data roaming costs or other WiFi voucher purchases.

The application itself — previously known as Skype Access — is available as a free download from the App Store, but requires that users purchase Skype Credits in order to connect to one of the supported hotspots.

Prices for access to Skype WiFi hotspots start at US$0.06/4p/€0,05 (inclusive of VAT) and there is no data cap in place, which means iPhone, iPod and iPod touch users can use the same hotspot connection without worrying about any traffic limitations.

In order to promote the app’s launch, Skype said it plans to offer up to 60 minutes (or four 15-minute sessions) of free internet access for each unique Skype ID starting Saturday, August 20, 00:00 BST until Sunday, August 21, 23:59BST.

Skype WiFi requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried the new app and have any feedback to offer, let us know what you think in the comments.

Delta to begin testing iPad units in “electronic flight bag” capacity for crew members

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, News

Have iPad, will travel.

Per Flightglobal, Delta Airlines has started testing iPads as electronic flight bags domestically, in order to evaluate the viability of replacing printed on-board manuals and other information with digital versions and custom iOS applications.

The airline is interested in “digitizing on-board flight information that has typically been printed out,” Flightglobal has found out, and the company will start using Apple’s iPad as an electronic flight bag (EFB) in a limited testing phase that includes 22 devices.

The iPads will be preloaded with manuals, charts, and specific iOS applications that would help pilots receive updated information or compute various calculations otherwise done by hand.

“We’re loading Jeppesen Mobile TC charting software, a GoodReader document viewer that contains all of our manuals in an electronic format, and the Journey browser, which allows access to iCrew,” Delta Senior Vice President Steve Dickson said. “A Delta Meteorology app provides access to pilot-tailored graphical weather information and real-time looped Delta radar. Each pilot will have access to their Delta e-mail account and calendar.”

Other preloaded tools include a writing app, a web browser, a PDF viewer, a Wi-Fi finder app as well as “crew rest and cruise rest period calculators.” Although all 22 iPads will have the same suite of Delta apps installed, the pilots will have the opportunity to install any additional aviation applications as required during the test period.

Delta aims to bring instant wireless communications capabilities to its flights and a tablet like the iPad could provide such capabilities to current crews and even take part in changing the training process for Delta’s pilots. During this process the company will use both Wi-Fi and 3G+Wi-Fi iPad models.

The test will check whether the iPad solution works for users who are less familiar with technology. “Roughly a quarter of our testers rated themselves as ‘tech un-savvy,’” Delta said. “We need to make sure a solution is user friendly to any pilot, no matter their IT skill level while providing us a top of the line product that gives us long term expansion capabilities.”

Domestic passengers on the airline already have access, for a fee, to Gogo Wi-Fi in-flight connectivity, and the company is also exploring adding such capabilities to its international flights.

Once the iPad testing is complete, the airline will swap Apple’s tablet with Android Honeycomb devices. 16 Motorola Xooms will then be used as EFBs in a new trial run starting with mid-September.

The FAA has already authorized the use of Apple’s iPad as EFBs. Both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have started to replace paper manuals, which weigh as much as 40 pounds, with iPads preloaded with all the information required by pilots during flights in a similar endeavor to remove all on-board paper and use tablets containing all the required flight data instead.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve used in-air Wi-Fi before and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.