Comcast releases Xfinity TV app, offers basic remote control features through iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:21
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

This could be nifty.

Back in May, Comcast teased its subscribers with an iOS app that would turn the iPhone and iPad into a remote and possibly a one-stop entertainment center. Comcast has finally released the Xfinity TV app for iOS devices—right now, though, it’s largely a remote that lets you search for content, change channels, and program your DVR.

Per Macworld, the browsing and search functions allow you to scroll through listings, tap on a show, and watch it on your TV; you can also sort content by genre or search by keyword. In addition, the app lets you browse Comcast’s On Demand programming and bring it up on your TV.

At this point, the app seems to be a glorified TV guide, though Comcast is promising additional features. The company says it will release a series of app updates so that you’ll soon be able to stream video content to your iOS device. Other promised features include a personalized watch-list and integration with social networking sites. Comcast also plans to release apps for other platforms like Android and Blackberry.

The Xfinity TV app is available now for free in the App Store, but it won’t do much if you’re not a Comcast cable subscriber or don’t have one of the compatible set-top boxes. You’ll need an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 3.2 or later.

If you’ve tried the app and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor line to launch during CES

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News, Processors

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Microprocessor giant Intel has confirmed the launch of its Sandy Bridge next-generation processors during its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5th, a new report claims.

Per Electronista, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the “world’s fastest processor,” at CES. The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple’s Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros.

“Desktop chips will range from dual 2.5 GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4 GHz Core i7s. Regular notebooks will get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors, and desktop replacements will get quad 2.2GHz through to 2.5GHz Core i7s,” the report noted. Taiwanese industry publication Digitimes reported Monday that low-power Sandy Bridge processors will be coming to Intel’s Huron River platform, which is also due for a Q1 2011 release.

During an earnings call in July, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he was “more excited by Sandy Bridge” than any product that the company has launched “in a number of years.” “Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32-nanometer factory ramp and have raised our capex guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand,” continued Otellini.

At the time, Intel was expected to release the processors at the end of this year, with Apple then incorporating them into its Mac lineup in early 2011. In 2009, Apple was the first PC maker to release a Nehalem-based system.

In a company memo in October, Otellini admitted that Intel is losing the mobile race to Apple, which has gained a massive head start with the success of the iPhone and iPad, but he reassured employees that Intel was running a “marathon” and would catch up eventually.

Otellini cited Intel’s come from behind to capture 90 percent of the server market as a prior example. “I am also very optimistic about our opportunity in tablets and smartphones, even though we are not first to market with a solution,” Otellini said. “Ultimately, we can and will lead.”

Apple has reportedly been dissatisfied with the drop in battery life that comes with using Intel’s Atom chips. Early rumors suggested that an Apple tablet would sport an Atom chip, but Apple eventually went with a custom System on a Chip that used ARM reference designs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second iOS 4.2 gold master to developer community

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Date: Monday, November 15th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released a second gold master of iOS 4.2, its forthcoming software update, which may address Wi-Fi connectivity issues some have reported with the iPad.

Per AppleInsider, the new build, dubbed 8C134b, has replaced the previous gold master released to developers on November 1st. Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release.

It is unknown what changes have been made in the second gold master, though it’s possible the latest version could be to address Wi-Fi issues that some users experienced with the pre-release build. Recent reports have claimed that Apple hoped to release iOS 4.2 sooner, but was forced to push back the launch to address issues with the software.

Regardless of whether the software has actually been “delayed” from Apple’s own internal launch goals, it has become increasingly apparent that there are issues with iOS 4.2. In addition to the Wi-Fi problems reported by testers of the first golden master, Apple has also cut features from AirPrint — specifically, the ability to print to a shared printer through a Mac or Windows machine.

Printer sharing was supposed to be a part of Mac OS X 10.6.5, but the software was released Wednesday without any official support for sharing a printer with iOS devices. The recently released iTunes 10.1 update was supposed to allow shared printers for Windows users, but the update arrived Friday also without mention of AirPrint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1 update

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 07:56
Category: News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released iTunes 10.1, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 84 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.

- Provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.

iTunes 10 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 launches ad showcasing iPad, Verizon MiFi unit

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPad, News

In a fairly uncharacteristic move, Apple has allowed its new carrier partner, Verizon, to create its own commercial for the iPad, advertising that the touchscreen tablet can now be bought with a MiFi for on-the-go connectivity.

The new commercial, entitled “Breakaway,” debuted on national TV this week. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. began selling the Wi-Fi-only iPad, bundled with a 3G MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, late last month.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander:



According to AppleInsider, the commercial could be a sign of things to come: Verizon is widely expected to begin carrying a CDMA version of Apple’s iPhone starting in January of 2011. That information has been independently confirmed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fortune.

It has been reported that control over the iPhone, including its advertising, was a major point of contention between Verizon and Apple in 2005. The carrier and Apple could not come to a deal, and the device debuted on AT&T’s network in 2007.

But in order to bring the iPhone to Verizon, Apple may be compromising — as evidenced by the iPad commercial. Fortune also reported in October that Verizon’s iPhone is expected to offer special features, like live TV for customers of Verizon’s FiOS cable service.

If you have two cents to throw in on this, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple internal memo surfaces, cites dead pixel/replacement policies for hardware

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Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, retail

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A leaked memo dictating Apple’s internal policy on replacing devices with dead LCD pixels surfaced last week, revealing that the company will replace an iPhone if it has just one dead pixel, while an iPad must have at least three to qualify.

Per Boy Genius Report, the loose guidelines employees must follow when a customer attempts to return a device with bad pixels on its display state that one dead pixel is good enough for a replacement on a device with a screen size of between 1″ and 3.5″.

Apple’s 9.7″ iPad display must have three or more dead pixels for the unit to qualify for a replacement. Things get a bit more complicated with larger screens and devices such as notebooks, iMacs and the company’s Cinema Display demand that a distinction is made between “bright” and “dark” faulty pixels.

Apple Store Geniuses are, however, given some leeway. The internal document states that authorized service providers must explain to the customer that they can replace the product, but that replacement may have even more dead pixels or other issues. Apple will not replace the product again if the replacement product is within the written guidelines.

Members of Apple’s retail team also contacted The Unofficial Apple Weblog to clarify the company’s policy even further:

“If you ask for a first replacement product due to bad pixels, you should always get it, with no arguments and no restock charges (if this isn’t your first experience, ask to discuss it with a supervisor),” the report said. “However, if the replacement unit is still within spec — which for anything other than an iPhone or iPod touch, may mean more pixels depending on how bad the first unit was — a second replacement is ruled out.”

If you’ve seen this on your end or had a similar Apple retail experience, let us know.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.2 golden master build to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Monday, Apple released its golden master build of iOS 4.2 for its entire line of iOS-based devices including the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

Per AppleInsider, the new OS will sport features such as as AirPlay wireless streaming of audio, video and photos to the new Apple TV or other AirPlay-compliant devices and its AirPrint wireless printing architecture, designed to enable users to create hard copies of web pages, emails and photos managed through a new Print Center app.

The new update will also finally bring multitasking features and iOS Folders to the iPad, along with a variety of other features currently only available on the iPhone and iPod touch, such as support for multiple email aliases, a unified inbox, and messages organized by threads in Mail, and the ability to open attachments in third party apps.

New multitasking features will also incorporate the software orientation lock and music playback controls available on the iPhone running iOS 4, which are accessed via swiping to the left from the list of currently running apps. The iPad also presents a brightness control in this section (as depicted below).

The iPad will also lose its hardware toggle assigned to locking the screen orientation; the button will instead work to mute audio, just like the iPhone. This move has generated some controversy because Apple not only refuses to offer customers a choice of how their hardware buttons work, but has also duplicated mute functionality, as the audio down button already works as to rapidly mute audio playback.

The update will also bring Game Center to the iPad, allowing players to invite friends or find new opponents online to play against, as well as track their own achievements and high scores.

Apple has also outlined enhanced enterprise support features in iOS 4.2, including new device management capabilities, the ability to lock down email account settings, and stronger security enhancements.

iOS 4.2 will also include support for more than 30 new languages in keyboards and dictionaries, including Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.

It also strengthens accessibility features including support for navigating VoiceOver using a wireless keyboard and a wide range of refreshable braille output displays in more than 25 languages. On the iPad, larger text options up to 56 point fonts can also be specified for use in Contacts, Mail, Messages and Notes.

Other major changes include support for Google’s revised YouTube voting, a direct link to launching a FaceTime video call from within the SMS messages interface, and new CoreMIDI music APIs for music-related apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to include front, rear cameras

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Date: Monday, November 1st, 2010, 04:32
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple’s second-generation iPad, set to appear in the first quarter of 2011, will include a forward-facing camera for FaceTime video chat as well as a second rear camera, according to an unconfirmed rumor from an investment firm.

Per Barrons, a note issued from Detwiler Fenton & Co. claims that OmniVision will supply CMOS image sensors for the second-generation iPad. The report alleges that the next iPad will have a forward-facing VGA camera for FaceTime video chat, like the iPhone 4 and latest iPod touch.

The firm also claims that OmniVision will supply a second, 5 megapixel camera, presumably to be placed on the rear of the new iPad. One competing touchscreen tablet, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, sports two cameras, with the rear lens highlighted for use in augmented reality applications.

Detwiler said that Apple is expected to build 2.5 million units of the next-generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011. OmniVision also supplies sensors for Apple’s iPhone.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans have stated that a version of Apple’s iPad with a built-in video camera and FaceTime support had already progressed to advanced testing stages by September. It was indicated that a FaceTime-equipped iPad would be introduced no later than the first quarter of 2011.

Apple now offering free laser engraving on iPads sold through apple.com for the holidays

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Date: Tuesday, October 26th, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, News

With the holiday shopping season coming up, Apple is now offering free iPad engraving for its online store orders.

Per AppleInsider, the company will allow up to 2 lines of free engraved text on the back of an iPad purchased from Apple.com as an “Apple Online Store exclusive,” confirming a July rumor that Apple would extend its free laser-engraving option from the iPod to the iPad this fall. Custom engraved iPods have been available from the Apple online store for several years.

Customers are given the option to engrave their iPad after selecting an iPad model and any desired accessories from the online store. Engraved iPads are non-returnable, so prospective buyers are cautioned to double-check their spelling.

Also, customers should take note that adding the engraving option currently lengthens the shipping time from “Within 24hrs” to “1-3 business days.”

In preparation for the holiday season, Apple has greatly broadened the retail availability of the iPad. The device will be available for sale at Walmart, Target, AT&T and Verizon stores.