Rumor: White iPod touch en route for 2011, minor spec updates expected

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 07:51
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

An update next month to Apple’s flagship digital media player may outfit the device in an additional color but may otherwise represent a rather modest refresh when compared to years past according to AppleInsider.

The iPod, which struck a resurgence that helped place Apple back on the map in 2001, may for the first time take a back seat to the company’s more lucrative and influential devices — such as the iPhone and iPad — when the electronics maker unveils its holiday lineup of iOS devices sometime between mid-August and mid-September.

For years the iPod lifted Apple as its bread-and-butter product but now accounts for a paltry 5% of the company’s revenue, according to data released as part of its fiscal third quarter earnings report this week. The majority of that revenue now comes from the higher-ASP iPod touch, which accounted for more than half of the 7.54 million iPods shipped during the quarter.

Adding a bit more color to the matter are a series of recent industry checks by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPod touch is the only one of Apple’s four iPod product lines that continues to show any semblance of unit growth heading into the second half of the year.

Looking into the current third calendar quarter, Kuo said checks indicate Apple has placed orders for white iPod touch models that are expected to go into mass production sometime in late August, but he added that the build plans for those models reflect few, if any, distinguishable changes from the existing black models introduced last fall.

“It means no spec update of iPod touch this year,” he said.

And while such claims may or may not pan out, it’s worth noting that the same round of checks by the analyst revealed earlier this week that Apple’s production roadmap for its legacy white MacBook appeared to drop off in August, and that no future updates were expected. Within days of those checks, Apple formally discontinued sales of the white MacBook to consumers, relegating the notebook to an education-only product.

Asked why he believes his checks into this year’s iPod touch update will similarly prove accurate, Kuo said it’s all about a priority shift towards the market-leading iPhone and the iPad, which now combine for a whopping 68% of Apple’s sales. Unlike years past when Apple updated the iPhone in the summer, met initial demand, and only then began sharing components with the iPod touch in the fall, this year’s iPhone refresh has been pushed inline with that of the iPod touch.

“[The] iPhone and iPad have higher priority to get shared components of iOS devices when the supply chain is tight (especially after the Japan quake),” Kuo said, suggesting that Apple has such high expectations for the fifth-generation iPhone that it may not be confident it could secure enough components to introduce a similarly-equipped iPod touch around the same time.

For perspective, Apple shipped at least 33 million iOS devices last quarter, struggling to build enough iPads the entire stretch. That quarter included 20 million iPhones, and it wasn’t a new iPhone quarter. The iPhone 4 actually celebrated its first birthday near the end of the 3-month span.

Apple has proven that it can beat at a pace that is sometimes beyond the scalability of its suppliers, and is now pouring billions into those companies to make sure they catch up so it doesn’t have to slow down. In addition to mass production of the iPhone 5 in September, Kuo says Apple has an ambitious but, for those reasons, tentative plan that could see a new iPad enter production only a few months later.

Although the “plan might change,” the analyst’s current checks have a new iPad hitting the manufacturing lines sometime in the fourth quarter. He says, however, that it’s unclear when Apple plans to introduce it to market.

“Component suppliers will start to ship for next iPad in mid 3Q11 and MP date will be in 4Q,” he wrote in a communication to AppleInsider. “The demand forecast is strong and Apple prefers to allocate shared components to iPhone and iPad.” Kuo added that TPK currently acts as the sole source for touch-screens for white iPads but that Wintek will start sharing those duties in September.

The analyst’s checks aside, there’s been little to no evidence thus far to suggest a material update to the iPod touch is near production. No reports have surfaced with talk of parts or supplier contracts for a new model, and even Apple’s own iOS betas are already dropping hints at two versions of an iPad 3 but haven’t turned up mention of a fifth-gen iPod touch. Instead, the last few releases included references (above) to an unreleased “iPod4,2,” which identifies it as a player based on the existing, fourth-gen iPod touch architecture.

Should Apple indeed forgo an architectural revamp of the iPod this year, the advent of a white model could serve to re-energize sales in a move similar to the one that played out a few months ago with the arrival of the white iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 9 via Mac App Store

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 04:15
Category: News, Software

Amid all the hubbub about the arrival of Mac OS X Lion, Adobe has released a version of Photoshop Elements 9 for the Mac App Store.

Per MacCentral, the offering is Adobe’s first foray onto the Mac App Store, which many of Apple’s competitors have chosen to avoid.

The US$79.99 consumer-focused photo editor lacks the Adobe Elements Organizer that the version on Adobe’s website has, but otherwise has the same features. The 1.02GB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 and is available only in English.

According to Adobe, Photoshop Elements 9 is meant to “complement iPhoto” by offering more advanced photo editing tools, such as Group Shot, Panorama and Style Match Photomerge.

The software giant recently brought some of its Photoshop tools to iOS with a series of iPad apps. In addition to the Photoshop Express tool, Adobe offers Eazel, Color Lava and Nav apps for integrating with Adobe CS5.5.

For its part, Apple opened the Mac App Store for business in January with the release of Mac OS X 10.6.6. The company has moved aggressively to make the digital storefront the primary source for Mac software, as evidenced by Wednesday’s Mac App Store-exclusive launch of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

If you’ve snagged the new version of Photoshop Elements and have any feedback about it, let us know.

Apple posts $7.31 billion profit for third quarter

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 13:44
Category: Finance, News

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A combination of record iPhone and iPad sales combined with continued growth of its Mac business pushed Apple to reported sales of US$28.57 billion and net profit of US$7.31 billion for the three-month period ended June 25, 2011.

Per Macworld, the sales and profit figures—both quarterly records—increased last year’s third-quarter performance by 82 percent and 125 percent, respectively. Apple reported earnings of US$7.79 per share, which beat analyst estimates of $5.85. Analysts had also been looking for Apple to reach US$24.92 billion in sales for the quarter—a figure the company topped by nearly US$4 billion.

“We are extremely pleased with the momentum of our business,” chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts during a conference call to discuss the earnings report on Tuesday. Oppenheimer noted that during its 2011 fiscal year, Apple has recorded US$35 billion in year-over-year revenue growth and US$9.5 billion in year-over-year earnings growth—increases of 78 percent and 99 percent, respectively.

Apple says it sold 20.34 million iPhones during the just-completed quarter, a 142 percent increase from the phones it sold during the same period last year. That’s also the most phones Apple has ever sold during a quarter, topping the 18.65 million mark set just three months ago.

The iPhone racked up strong sales despite Apple skipping its customary summer introduction of a new model, after releasing the iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010 and the iPhone 3GS the summer before that. The last new iPhone released by Apple was a CDMA version of the smartphone compatible with Verizon’s wireless network; that model came out in February. The long-awaited white version of the iPhone also shipped in April.

Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the third quarter, the first full quarter of sales for the iPad 2, which arrived in March. Apple says its iPad sales topped last year’s figures by 183 percent. It also set a new record for quarterly iPad sales, besting the previous mark of 7.3 million during the 2010 holiday shopping season.

Mac sales rose 14 percent from last year, with Apple selling 3.95 million computers. That’s a record for the third quarter, Oppenheimer said. Growth of Mac sales also outpaced market-research firm IDC’s forecasted PC market growth by more than four times, Apple pointed out.

The quarter saw Apple introduce new iMacs with quad-core processors, improved graphics, and Thunderbolt connectivity. All told, Apple sold 1.15 million desktops, accounting for about 30 percent of the Macs sold during the quater. The company sold 2.79 million portable Macs during the quarter, with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air driving those sales, according to Oppenheimer.

iPod sales continued to decline from the heights of previous years. Apple says it sold 7.54 million iPods, a 20 percent drop from last year, though Oppenheimer said that was above the company’s expectations. The iPod touch accounts for about half of all iPods sold, according to Apple’s figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 2 ship times drop to 1-3 days

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Date: Monday, July 18th, 2011, 06:54
Category: iPad, News

After more than fourth months on the market, Apple’s iPad 2 appears to have nearly caught up with the staggering demand for the product, as estimated shipping times on the company’s U.S. online store have improved to just one to three business days.

Per Electronista, Apple reached near immediate availability for all models of its popular touchscreen tablet on Saturday. The lead times are an improvement upon last week’s drop to three to five days.

Shortly after the device’s launch in March, Apple was quoting shipping estimates of over a month. In April, the iPad 2 began shipping within one to two weeks, with Apple holding that timeframe steady until early July.

Analysts have viewed the improvements to availability as evidence that Apple has overcome supply constraints, rather than viewing the news as indicating slackening demand for the device. J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz believes the resulting increase in iPad sales should help allay investor concerns that have contributed to recent volatility in shares of Apple.

Despite the fact that Apple sold “every iPad [it] could make,” analysts were disappointed in April when the company announced sales of just 4.69 million units last quarter. Wall Street had expected sales of 6.2 million.

“Demand has been staggering, and I’m not going to predict when supply and demand will come into balance, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said during the earnings call, adding that the iPad 2 is “the mother of all backlogs.”

Apple releases iOS 4.3.4 update, addresses PDF security issues

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Date: Friday, July 15th, 2011, 10:54
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.4, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates, which somewhat function as a response to the German government’s regarding PDF-related security vulnerabilities in MobileSafari fix the same three vulnerabilities, the patch arriving in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.4 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.9.

Per Macworld, the issues addressed in the updates include the aforementioned PDF problem within Apple’s CoreGraphics framework, which exploits FreeType’s TrueType and Type 1 fonts to execute malicious code, and a conversion problem within the IOMobileFrameBuffer framework, which could allow code to inadvertently gain system privileges by posing as the user.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3, iTunes 10.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 07:17
Category: News, Software

Late Monday Apple iOS 5 beta 3 to developers, the latest pre-release build of its forthcoming mobile operating system update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Per the Mac Observer, sources with access to the latest beta now available for download said it is dubbed Build 9A5259f and that significant changes to the software have yet to be listed, but also cited that the new build said that iMessage users on iOS 5 beta 3 will be unable to communicate with iMessage users running iOS 5 beta 1. Communication between beta 3 and beta 2 reportedly works just fine.

The new software is also said to fix an issue in which the Apple TV screen saver could degrade mirroring performance over AirPlay. iOS 5 will allow wireless mirroring when used in concert with the new Apple TV.

Also reportedly addressed in the latest build is an issue where the Reminders application did not send notifications upon the entry or exit of a location if there is no specific date associated with the location-based reminder.

The pre-release software, which is made available to members of Apple’s iOS development community, is not intended for use on end-user machines. A list of bugs that still remain in the latest build were reportedly provided to developers with beta 3.

The second iOS 5 beta was released in late June, and it brought about wireless syncing of devices. Wireless syncing with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch also requires that developers be running a beta version of Apple’s iTunes desktop client.

Accordingly, a new, third beta of iTunes 10.5 was also provided to developers on Monday.

The first beta of iOS 5 was issued to developers after it was unveiled in early June. The final software, which will become publicly available this fall, will pack more than 200 new user features including the new Notification Center.

Also released on Monday to developers was a new golden master for Xcode 4.1. It reportedly features interface builder support for auto layout, new Aqua controls, and full-screen support in the main Xcode workspace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple working on fixes for posted iOS security holes

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 10:25
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, security

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This probably won’t make you feel safer about the security on your iOS device…

Per Macworld,

Apple said on Thursday that it is developing a fix for vulnerabilities that affect its iPhone, iPad and some iPod touch models, a problem that the German government warned could be used to steal confidential data.

The vulnerabilities became publicized with a new release on Wednesday of JailbreakMe 3.0, a framework that allows unauthorized applications to be installed in devices such as the iPhone.

Apple prohibits the installation of applications that have not been approved for distribution in its App Store. But hackers have used vulnerabilities in the iOS operating system that allow the phones to be “jailbroken,” allowing applications not vetted by Apple to be used that are obtained through alternative application markets such as Cydia.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, issued an alert on Wednesday about the vulnerabilities, which it said could be exploited if a user opened a specially crafted PDF document. The issue involves how the iOS parses fronts within the mobile version of the Safari browser.

There is also a second vulnerability that circumvents ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), a security feature which mixes up how programs are loaded into memory and makes it more difficult for an attacker.

BSI noted that it would be possible for an attacker using the flaws to steal passwords, banking data and e-mails as well as have access to built-in cameras, intercept telephone calls and obtain the GPS coordinates of a user.

Apple rarely comments on security issues. But on Thursday, Alan Hely senior director for corporate communications in London, said in a statement that “Apple takes security very seriously, we’re aware of this reported issue and developing a fix that will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

The BSI wrote that the devices affected are the iPhone 3G and devices running iOS versions up to 4.3.3. Also affected are both iPad models and iPod Touch models running iOS versions up to 4.3.3.

One of the hackers behind JailbreakMe, Comex, published a fix for the vulnerability called PDF Patcher 2, which is now in the Cydia app store. It will only work if people install JailbreakMe, which Apple discourages.

“Until Apple releases an update, jailbreaking will ironically be the best way to remain secure,” according to a note on the JailbreakMe website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon announces new plans, unlimited space with Cloud Drive offerings

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 03:10
Category: News, Software

It’s the competition that keeps things interesting.

Amazon announced Wednesday a promotion offering unlimited music storage to users who purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan, heating up competition before Apple’s fall launch of its iCloud and iTunes Match services.

Per AppleInsider, the online retailer revealed three enhancements to its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in a statement Wednesday: storage plans that include unlimited space for music, free storage for all Amazon MP3 purchases and an iPad version of Cloud Player for Web.

“Customers are already enjoying Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and now for just US$20 a year, customers can get unlimited space for music,” said Craig Pape, Director of Amazon Music. “Additionally, we are adding free storage for all MP3s purchased from Amazon MP3, and support for the iPad. Our customers love Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and we’re excited to innovate these services on their behalf.”

The unlimited music storage applies to all premium Cloud Drive accounts, which start at US$20 a year for 20GB. Users who qualified for 20GB of free storage from an earlier promotion will automatically receive the unlimited space for music. Amazon offers 5GB of free space to all Cloud Drive users.

The addition of an iPad-friendly Amazon Cloud Player is a step back in Apple’s direction, though no mention is made of iPhone or iPod touch compatibility. Cloud Player originally launched for the Web and Google’s Android mobile OS, without direct support for iOS and Mobile Safari. In May, iOS users reported being able to access the Cloud Player, despite the fact that full compatibility had yet to be officially announced.

Whereas only new Amazon MP3 store purchases were automatically added to Cloud Drive when the service first launched in March, now all digital music purchased from Amazon will be added to the drive. The retroactive support for previously purchased music appears to indicate that Amazon has resolved any conflicts with the music industry of its service.

Apple is planning a similar move with its iCloud service, and offered the first taste of its cloud strategy last month with the release of iTunes 10.3, which allows re-downloading of music, apps and books purchased on iTunes and the App Store. When iCloud arrives in the fall, the service will provide complimentary storage of music, apps and books purchased from Apple. However, unlike Amazon’s Cloud Drive, iCloud does not stream music.

Amazon reportedly opted for an ‘ask forgiveness, not permission’ strategy with Cloud Drive, surprising music labels with the announcement of the service. Music industry sources said Amazon only addressed the issue of negotiating licenses after launching the service, leaving some industry members to view the service as illegal.

Google launched a beta of its own music service in May. However, the search giant was unsuccessful in negotiating new licenses with major music labels and has yet to open a full music store as originally planned.

Amazon and Apple will likely compete for subscribers with their respective Cloud Drive and iTunes Match services. Amazon’s cloud offerings require manual uploading of non-Amazon music files, but also offer streaming, and start at a lower price of US$20 a year. On the other hand, iTunes Match runs US$25 a year and will scan and match users’ iTunes libraries with songs available in the iTunes Music Store. Matched songs will then automatically be available for download in iCloud, and the small portion of unmatched musical will be uploaded. Like Amazon, Apple will offer 5GB of free storage for iCloud users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Facebook announces Skype video chat integration, other changes to social networking site

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Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:11
Category: News, Software

If there’s a major tech news story of the day, this might be it.

Per Electronista, Facebook at its special event Wednesday brought out Skype-based video chat. The approach lets Facebook members hold one-to-one video calls between each other without having to load a separate app; complete newcomers should be talking in 30 seconds, Facebook says. The platform should also work tightly with an updated desktop app and, eventually, mobile versions.

Skype 5.3 on Windows already lets users bring in a Facebook news feed, post status updates, and make calls directly to Facebook users from Skype. A 5.5 beta release also builds in Facebook chat with live status as an option. Mac versions are expected to come in the future.

Text chat got its own update at the event. Ad-hoc group chats are now possible and don’t need users to jump into a group chat. Regular chat also has a new, simplified design that adapts to the browser size and rolls in a sidebar that allows almost immediate text chat. The reworking is also intended to accommodate “future announcements,” Facebook hinted.

Facebook was shy on whether its own mobile apps would get video chat or whether group video chat was coming. The social network and Skype did cast the video chat as a starting point and hinted groups might come along in the future.

No mention has been made of Facebook’s native iPad app. Some had anticipated it coming with the Facebook event, but it’s now seen as more likely coming in the next several weeks. In the nearer future, Facebook is also expected to show Project Spartan and bring HTML5-native, Flash-free games to iOS and Android devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Review: Adonit Writer2

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:28
Category: Accessory, Hardware, iPad, Review

By Pierce Case

For over a year now, iPad users have wanted an alternative to their virtual keyboard.

Now there is because Adonit just announced the release of the new Writer 2 for the iPad 2. The Adonit, an idea brought to reality by two guys who were from Apple and Microsoft, was presented to the venture capital gurus at Kickstarter.com, who provided the funds to make this idea a reality.

Now all those people who have wanted such a option (and do a lot of writing for blogs) can breathe a sigh of relief — the Writer2 for the iPad 2 is now available.

The only difference between Adonit’s Writer and the Writer 2 is in its size. Still, I’ve been testing for the last three days and there are some great things about it. The keyboard is amazing to type on and the device is easy enough to set up (users must configure their iPad 2 to use the wireless Bluetooth). Simply throw in three triple AAA batteries (you need to insert them in the top right hand side by unscrewing the special bolt, tighten it up with a penny or nickel, press the top left hand round button and you’re ready to go.

During the testing period I got to really admire the time these guys put into designing this. There is a custom lever to raise the keyboard up and down so your typing needs can be met. I brought the Writer2 out to a restaurant to test it out and people were just blown away with it. You basically now have the ability to really get some serious work done with the Writer 2.

A slew of keyboard shortcuts allow you to get what you want out of your apps. A square button on the top left of the keyboard allows you to use the virtual keyboard if you want. I was also impressed with the comfort and design of this Writer 2 which also wins brownie points for being made out of environmentally responsible material.

The Writer 2 retails for US$99.00 and from my firsthand experiences, has turned out to be an amazing product that many iPad2 users out there will enjoy.

Its time has come.

In fact, this review was done on the Adonit Writer2. Now that is what I
call amazing.

Pros:
- Keyboard can be adjusted to the way you type. This translates to a
better experience for each person.

- Smart pad cover built into it protects the front screen.

- Goes to sleep automatically if you close it completely.

- Keyboard shortcuts allow you to get in and out of your apps.

- Well made enough to feel comfortable carrying it around, despite its light weight.

Cons:
- Runs on AAA batteries but lasted for three days of testing given off-and-on use.

- Ran into problems with locking the battery port, but eventually got the hang of
it.

- If you don’t completely cover the case the screen will stay on.