Apple releases iTunes 10.1.2 update

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:05
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 10.1.2, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 90.4 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- The update also allows for syncing with Apple’s CDMA iPhone (a.k.a., the Verizon iPhone available on February 10th).

iTunes 10.1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Verizon to offer $20/month “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

verizonlogo.jpg

Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed that it will offer iPhone 4 with a US$20 “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan similar to what it currently offers its existing smartphone subscribers.

According to Macworld, Verizon’s mobile hotspot plan allows users, for an extra US$20 option on top of their data plan, to share their mobile 3G service with up to five WiFi devices (such as an iPad, iPod touch, MacBook, or any other WiFi device).

The iPhone 4 tethering plan has its own 2GB monthly cap, according to the report, with each additional gigabyte costing another US$20/month. Previous Verizon tethering plans cost US$30/month but delivered 5GB of data, in addition to the user’s data plan. That means the unlimited plan with tethering will cost a total of US$50, with 2GB for tethering and unlimited use of mobile data.

AT&T’s US$20 tethering plan currently only supports USB or Bluetooth tethering to a single device at once, and rather than offering a separate data pool, the plan counts use against the user’s plan. That means the 2GB data plan with tethering costs US$45 total, but still only offers 2GB of data per month.

Verizon earlier announced that its new CDMA iPhone 4 would only be offered with an unlimited data plan costing US$30, with no option for a limited use data plan as the company now allows its current smartphone users to choose.

In the future, Verizon says it will phase out the unlimited data plan, following AT&T toward tiered service plans. It has not detailed when it will do this, nor how much it will charge.

AT&T also announced earlier this month that it would be simplifying its texting plans to two options: 1000 messages for US$10/month, or unlimited texts for US$20/month.

Rumor: Apple looking to incorporate Near Field Communications into next-gen iOS devices, allow for easier purchases on the fly

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Date: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, 05:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

A recent Bloomberg report claims that Apple will be incorporating NFC (Near Field Communication) hardware in the next iPhone and iPad, allowing customers to use the iPhone and iPad to make purchases:

The services are based on “Near-Field Communication,” a technology that can beam and receive information at a distance of up to 4″, due to be embedded in the next iteration of the iPhone for AT&T Inc. and the iPad 2, said Richard Doherty, director of the consulting firm Envisioneering Group. Both products are likely to be introduced this year, he said, citing engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project.

Apple could potentially tie this payment system into people’s existing iTunes accounts. The technology has been described as allowing customers to walk into a store and make payments directly from their iOS device. Apple may also incorporate loyalty rewards and credit systems into iTunes as well. Other possibilities include using location-based transactions to improve iAd targeting.

According to the source, Apple has already made created payment terminals intended for small businesses to scan NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. These terminals could be subsidized or even given away to encourage adoption.

Apple has been hiring NFC experts as well as applied for several patents on the technology. A couple of previous reports have also pegged the next generation iPhone as having NFC technology built in.

Stay tuned for any information on this as it becomes available.

Italian hacker locates Qualcomm references hidden in iTunes software

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Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 05:06
Category: News, Software

A hacker claims to have discovered evidence pointing to an upcoming Qualcomm cellular baseband inside the code for Apple’s iTunes software, possibly indicating that the iPhone maker plans to incorporate Qualcomm’s CDMA baseband into the next generation of iOS devices.

Per AppleInsider, Italian hacker Zibri published a section of code on his blog Friday that hints at Qualcomm as the baseband provider for the iPhone 5 or iPad 2 devices. Zibri obtained the code by decompiling the latest version of iTunes.

According to the post, the code is a “definitive answer” to rumors from last week that named Qualcomm as the baseband provider for the iPhone 5. As the inventor of CDMA, Qualcomm may also already provide the radios for the CDMA iPhone 4, which will arrive on the Verizon network on Feb. 10.

Per the post, the files “partition.mbn” and “AMSS.MBN,” which were discovered in the iTunes code, mean “only one thing: QUALCOMM. Those files are the building blocks of any Qualcomm baseband.”

“So I can tell you that the next wave of iProducts will be using a QUALCOMM baseband,” Zibri wrote. “Which one I don’t know… maybe the iPad2, maybe the iPhone5 most probably all of them. What is clear is that they are testing them using the same iTunes you have on your hard drives.”

However, if Qualcomm is indeed the supplier of the baseband for the upcoming Verizon iPhone, references to a Qualcomm baseband in the iTunes code may simply point to the CDMA iPhone, rather than the next-generation iPhone or iPad.

Reports of a Qualcomm baseband for future iPhone models have persisted for some time. Apple and Qualcomm reportedly met in late 2009 to discuss “future cooperation.” In August of of 2010, reporters noticed a job posting on the Qualcomm website for an “iPhone developer guru.”

Interesting things may be on the horizon so stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second iOS 4.3 beta to developer community, states multitouch gestures on iPad “just a preview”

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Date: Thursday, January 20th, 2011, 05:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released to developers the second external beta of its upcoming iOS 4.3, as well as a new pre-release copy of Apple TV software designed to support the mobile operating system’s new AirPlay feature for third-party programmers. The company also informed developers that some features present in the initial beta won’t make it into the 4.3 release.

Per AppleInsider, the new beta of iOS 4.3 carries build number 9F5135d and is available for all three of Apple’s iOS devices. At this point, it’s too early to tell what changes may come baked into the release when compared to the first beta, released exactly one week ago.

The first beta of iOS 4.3 introduced a personal hotspot control panel, new multitouch gestures for the iPad, and updated SMS alert settings. Resource files accompanying the release also provided hints at a handful of new iPad and iPhone models, as well as a potential “Find My Friends” social networking feature.

It should be noted, however, that the multi-touch gestures that made their debut in the first beta won’t be ready for prime time by the final release of iOS 4.3, according to a note to developers accompanying the release of the second beta.

“This feature will not be enabled in iOS 4.3 for customers,” the documentation reads, “but we are providing this preview to gather input on how these gestures work with your apps.”

Still, a picture’s worth a thousand words and gestures on the iPad could prove interesting:



As always, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

iBooks app changes point towards quadrupled pixels for iPad 2 screen

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Date: Monday, January 17th, 2011, 06:17
Category: iPad, Rumor

Assorted rumors have suggested Apple will give the second generation iPad a much higher resolution screen, although short of the ppi density of the Retina Display of iPhone 4. New graphics discovered within Apple’s iBook app suggest this is true.

Per AppleInsider, last summer, iPhone 4 doubled its screen resolution in both directions (from 320×480 to 640×960), resulting in four times the pixels and an industry-leading pixel per inch density of 326. Apple called the new screen the “Retina Display,” because it exceeded the typical resolution of the human eye, making individual dots all but impossible to discern.

The original iPad offered a 1024×768 resolution (at 132 ppi), leading many to guess that the next version might also get a similar Retina Display. However, a 300+ ppi display covering a 9.7 inch screen would require a fantastically high resolution.

Instead of aiming for a specific pixel density, it appears Apple will instead simply quadruple the iPad’s native resolution as it did when it introduced iPhone 4, resulting in a very high resolution display with a pixel density of around 260 ppi, short of “Retina” status but still higher than most high end smartphones.

Evenly quadrupling the resolution makes it easy for developers to ship apps that take full advantage of both existing and new screen resolutions by simply including two versions of graphic assets, one labeled (by Apple convention) file.png and and a higher resolution version named file@2x.png.

Apple has reportedly slipped multiple examples of “@2″ graphics in versions of its iBooks app, one targeted at iPhone 4 and another at a high resolution future iPad, according to tweets and a separate developer report. This includes “bookmark-ribbon-iPad@2x.png” and a “Wood Tile@2x.png” background image that covers 1536×800, rather than the standard 768×400 image used on iPad.

Stay tuned for further details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 could feature souped-up processor, Qualcomm baseband

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Date: Monday, January 17th, 2011, 06:53
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor, Software

If there’s one nifty thing about iOS beta releases to the development community, it’s that they do a great job of highlighting what may be around the corner.

Per MacRumors, the recently-released iOS 4.3 beta shows calls for the OpenCL-capable PowerVR SGX543 from Imagination Technologies.

Apple has been using Imagination Technologies’ older PowerVR SGX535 GPU since the iPhone 3GS, eventually including the GPU on the custom Apple A4 System on a Chip (SoC).

Apple currently holds a 9.5% stake in Imagination Technologies and has been using the company’s chips in some of its iOS-based devices.

According to the report, the upcoming version of iOS contains a driver bundle for the next-generation SGX543.

The SGX543 can push 35 million polygons per second at 200 Mhz and 1 billion pixels per second and is capable of handling Apple’s OpenCL standard. The GPU also supports multi-core configurations.

On Friday, Apple Daily reported that the iPhone 5 could sport a new Apple-developed processor, reportedly called the A8, and a Qualcomm baseband.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if something’s on your mind, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple may remove “Home” button from future generations of iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 05:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

An unverified report claims that Apple is planning to remove the home button on the iPad and iPhone as early as later this year, the company opting towards multitouch gestures to return to the home screen.

According to Boy Genius Report, an anonymous source has claimed that Apple is already testing iPads and iPhones without home buttons on its Cupertino, Calif., campus. However, since the report itself admits the information is “pretty wild,” readers should take it with a grain of salt.

“We are told that Apple, at some point in time, will remove the home button from the iPad’s design. Instead of button taps, you will use new multitouch gestures to navigate to the home screen and also to launch the app switcher,” the report predicted.

“It’s possible we will see this new change materialize with the next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year,” wrote author Jonathan S. Geller.

The report also cites new multitouch gestures from a beta version of iOS 4.3 released Wednesday that enable a 5-finger pinch gesture for accessing the home screen. Other gestures new to the beta include a swipe up to reveal the multitasking tray and a swipe left or right to switch between open applications.

Apple’s iLife and photo-taking application Photo Booth could also make their way onto the next iPad, the report speculated.

Right now it’s just a rumor, though anything’s possible.

Stay tuned for more information as we get it.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 beta to developer community

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Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 05:20
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first beta of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV to the developer community. Per Macstories.net, the update will bring support for Personal Hotspot, new multi-touch gestures, the ability for third-party applications to use AirPlay, and a software option for changing the functionality of the iPad hardware switch.

The initial beta is available to developers in the iOS Dev Center. iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is dubbed build 8F5148b.

According to the article, iOS 4.3 brings new multi-touch gestures built specifically for the iPad, including 4- and 5-finger gestures. The new beta reportedly allows users to pinch to access the home screen, to swipe up to reveal the multitasking tray, and swipe left and right to switch between open applications.

In addition, another iOS 4.3 beta for the Apple TV was also released. It allows developers to test AirPlay functionality with iOS applications on the new Apple TV.

Update: In addition, the new update also reportedly adds the ability to change the functionality of the iPad hardware switch. When the iPad launched, the switch originally acted as an orientation lock, but with the release of iOS 4.2, the button changed to mute the device.

The download page makes no mention of the iPhone 3G or second-generation iPod touch. Supported devices currently include the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The new beta confirms rumors that Apple would add its new Personal Hotspot feature to existing GSM iPhones with iOS 4.3. The functionality allows users to share their 3G data connection with up to five devices over Wi-Fi. Those reports claimed that Apple plans to publicly release iOS 4.3 in March.

The new Wi-Fi tethering ability was first revealed on the new CDMA iPhone for Verizon when the product was announced on Tuesday. That forthcoming phone was demonstrated running a different version of iOS, 4.2.5. The latest public version of iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is 4.2.1.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may include Genius Bars, display more Macs in Best Buy locations

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Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 06:31
Category: Rumor

Retail giant Best Buy may update its Apple store-within-a-store boutiques to feature a larger display of Macs in addition to staffed Genius Bars that would mirror those found in every Apple retail store.

Per an anonymous tip received by The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the move could come as early as this spring according to a Best Buy employee who had been briefed on the matter by his official Apple representative.

If true, it would be the first time that Apple has expanded its trademark Genius Bars outside of its own brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Apple retail chief Ron Johnson has long referred to the Genius Bars as the “heart and soul” of his company’s stores. The counters currently operate on a reservation system and are staffed by specially trained and certified Apple “Geniuses.”

Customers can typically schedule a Genius Bar reservation online via their computer, iPod, iPhone or iPad, up to 72 hours in advance, or alternatively choose sign up for an open appointment once they arrive at the store.

Best Buy has worked in close partnership with Apple since 2006, when the two companies agreed to a 7-store pilot program designed to highlight Mac personal computers inside Best Buy retail stores.

The program, which has since expanded to roughly 500 Best Buy locations nationwide, has seen the placement of distinct Apple boutiques — designed to resemble mini Apple stores — inside the specialty electronics retailer’s computer departments.

Best Buy has also been the recipient of other preferred treatment from Apple. For instance, two years ago it became the first independent U.S. reseller to offer the iPhone to its customers. Last year, it was similarly the only retailer authorized to take pre-orders for the inaugural iPad alongside Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.