Siri to arrive on wider array of devices, gain additional features in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Even if Siri can be a bit flummoxing at times, Apple believes in it.

Per Macworld, company representatives stated during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday that Siri will have a starring role in iOS 6, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Representatives also cited that the technology will move just the iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple’s iPad.

During his demonstration, Apple’s Scott Forstall pointed out how Siri on iOS 6 can launch apps. Forstall demonstrated by launching Temple Run with a voice command.

Siri’s integration with iOS 6’s overhauled Maps app runs deep. Ask Siri how to get somewhere, and you immediately get turn-by-turn directions—even from the lock screen. Then you can ask Siri to repeat herself, where gas stations are along the way, what the traffic is like, how long until you get there, and every traveling kid’s favorite question: “Are we there yet?”

Forstall also mentioned a new feature called Eyes Free. He said Apple is working together with car manufacturers to integrate a button for triggering Siri from your steering wheel; among the companies looking to integrate that feature in the next twelve months are GM, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda.

Siri’s also getting more international, with support for Canadian French and English; Italian; Spanish (for Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.); Swiss Italian, French, and German; Mandarin for Taiwan; Cantonese for Hong Kong; and Mandarin and Cantonese for mainland China.

And soon another iOS device will find its voice, too: Forstall said the third-generation iPad will get Siri support as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Virgin Mobile to offer iPhone calling plans starting at $30/month beginning June 29th

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 13:56
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a cheap calling plan, even if you do have to buy the handset at the unsubsidized price…

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as US$30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That’s different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about US$150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a US$5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with “unlimited” data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for US$30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for US$50 per month. Though data is advertised as “unlimited,” all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4 for US$549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile’s website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin’s voice and data service relies on Sprint’s “Nationwide Network.” The sale of iPhones through Sprint’s Virgin mobile could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google unveils new 3D mapping feature for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You can’t knock a kickass 3D mapping system, especially when it’s on your iPhone or iPad.

Google on Wednesday unveiled what it has promoted as the “next dimension” of its Maps service, with new full 3D renderings that were demonstrated live on an Apple iPad.

Google has been using automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by airplanes owned by the company. With planes flying overhead in tightly controlled patterns snapping pictures, Google can use the imagery and data to create three-dimensional mapping imagery.



Images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions. The whole process allows 3D maps to be built without human interaction, unlike with previous 3D imagery in Google Earth.

In a live event on Wednesday, Google demonstrated 3D models of individual buildings and entire cities. The new features were shown off to members of the press on an Apple iPad, rather than an Android-based tablet.

The company promised that its new 3D imagery will be coming to both iOS and Android devices “in the coming weeks.” The technology will be part of both the Google Maps service, as well as its Google Earth application.

By the end of the year, Google expects to have communities home to about 300 million people mapped in its new space.

Google also revealed that it will bring an offline version of its Maps software to Android devices. The company said it is “working very hard” to bring offline Maps to iOS as well, but did not offer any more information.

Wednesday’s media event comes just five days before Apple is set to hold its own keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There, Apple is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Maps software for iOS that will ditch Google Maps.

Apple’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to slim down to 7.9 mm, could feature front-facing HD camera

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to knock an interesting rumor.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo said in a note to investors that in addition to the move to HD, he believes Apple will also employ a flip-chip (FC) solution for the front-facing camera on the upcoming iPhone. The camera’s position would be moved to the middle, he said.

Kuo noted that an HD front camera would better suit the 4-inch display that he expects Apple’s sixth-generation handset to have. Currently, the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4S is capable of VGA resolution.

As for the rear-facing camera, Kuo said Apple will likely retain the 8-megapixel camera while improving the aperture range to go up to f/2.2. The iPhone 4S has a maximum aperture of f/2.4. The analyst also predicted that the rear camera on the next iPhone will be noticeable thinner, “making it the most challenging iPhone design yet.”

According to his analysis, the new iPhone’s rear camera will have a CCM of 5.55mm and a lens TTL of 4mm, down from 6mm and 4.8mm on the iPhone 4S. Apple’s suppliers will reportedly face “unprecedented challenges” producing the rear camera component because of the changes to the design.

Kuo issued a report in April claiming that Apple will slim down the iPhone to 7.9mm or less. The iPhone 4S has a depth of 9.3mm. The use of an in-cell touchscreen display is expected to shave as much as 0.4mm off the phone.

Sony, which provides the CMOS for the iPhone 4S, announced this January that it had developed a thinner next-generation CMOS. Last month, camera parts allegedly bound for the next iPhone surfaced online. If the parts were indeed authentic, they would suggest that Apple plans to redesign the cameras for its sixth-generation handset.

Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone this fall in either September or October. Some reports have claimed that the device will feature a redesigned form factor and 4G LTE connectivity.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone schematics surface, show possible 4″ display, repositioned FaceTime camera

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 08:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to build something, you probably need a schematic.

Per 9to5 Mac, a set of black and white schematics of what are purported to be the next-generation iPhone have been discovered. The schematics show assorted new features of the device such as the redesigned speaker grills, and repositioned earphone jack and FaceTime camera, exact display dimensions are still unknown. The plans show what appears to be the next-generation iPhone front glass with enough room for the much rumored, roughly 4-inch display.

On Wednesday, new schematics have surfaced via Cydia Blog that show a diagonal opening of just slightly over 4-inches. The designs also show the repositioned FaceTime camera above the earpiece.



Although calculations of the display show an opening less than .1 of an inch over 4-inches, the display could likely measure a flat 4-inches diagonally as the front panel is typically slightly larger than the display itself.

All this is up in the air right now, but hey…schematics!!!

Purported screenshots show possible new mapping functions in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:46
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

They’re not the most elegant pictures and they’re even a bit blurry, but they ARE interesting.

Per Boy Genius Report, a collection of blurry photos claim to reveal Apple’s redesigned Maps application, expected to be a major component of the anticipated iOS 6 update for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The five pictures claiming to show the new iOS 6 Maps application were credited to a “trusted source,” and hint at a redesigned user interface with a silver color scheme, rather than the current blue.



The new Maps application will reportedly feature a button in the bottom left corner with two options: a “locate me” feature,” and quick access to a new 3D mode. Apple’s 3D mapping solution is expected to be driven by the acquisition of C3 Technologies in 2011.

The 3D mapping functionality is said to be near complete, and is being tested in a build of iOS 6 reportedly labeled “10A3XX.”

Details on the anticipated revamped iOS Maps application first surfaced earlier this month, claiming that the 3D mapping functionality will be a key component of Apple’s new in-house solution. The new Maps application is expected to be shown off as part of an iOS 6 demonstration at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 11 through 15 in San Francisco, Calif.

Apple’s plan to move away from Google and develop its own proprietary mapping solution has been a long time in the making. The company’s plans were first signaled in 2009, when it purchased Placebase, a competitor to Google Maps.

And in 2010, Apple bought Poly9, another mapping company, and began using its own location databases for the Maps application with the launch of iOS 3.2 for the first-generation iPad. Another key acquisition came in 2011, when Apple bought C3 Technologies, a Sweden-based 3D mapping company.

Another key component of the anticipated Maps overhaul in iOS 6 could be traffic. Apple publicly announced last April that it was “collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database,” for an “improved traffic service” that would launch in “the next couple of years.”

In addition to a 3D mapping button, the purported iOS 6 Maps pictures revealed on Tuesday also include a button for “Directions,” which could include Apple’s in-the-works traffic service to aid in turn-by-turn driving directions. The pictures also show a different look for the mapping data that is similar to the OpenStreetMap data Apple began using with the release of iPhoto for iOS in March.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

GreenPois0n Absinthe 2.0 jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 goes live, allows for untethered jailbreaking

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Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 06:10
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, security

Per Boy Genius Report, the GreenPois0n Absinthe 2.0 jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 has been released.

Absinthe works on A4-powered devices and A5 ones, like the iPhone 4S and new iPad. It won’t work on the iPad 2, however and the JailbreakUntethered site has explanations on how to get this going on your device.

If you’ve tried the jailbreak and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Transportation Security Administration pursuing $3 million in Apple hardware over next three years

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Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:50
Category: Hardware, News

Love or hate the TSA, they’ll be using some more Apple hardware over the next three years.

Per iPodNN, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may purchase up to US$3 million in Apple hardware over the next three years. Up to a thousand Macintosh and a thousand iOS mobile devices purchases are planned. The Apple equipment has been declared to be “critical to meet a variety of operational, programmatic, and mission-specific requirements” by the TSA.

Apple hardware has traditionally made few inroads in federal agencies, mostly due to the requirement that purchasing by government organizations must specifically allow for open contracting and non-specificity of hardware. For instance, if a computer is required, generally, the request isn’t allowed to specify branding such as “Dell Computer” or “HP computer,” and it must simply say “computer.”

The TSA argues that only Apple equipment will fit the need now, and since OS X and iOS are not available on other platforms, only Apple hardware can be used for the foreseeable future. The amplifying information attached to the justification also indicates that many of the 106 government-written mobile apps are only available on Apple’s iOS.

A similar request has been made for Android equipment, but no details are available. The TSA filing has listed the entire range of Apple offerings, including iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macintosh computers, warranties such as AppleCare, and other materials needed to support Apple products in a production environment.

The equipment is primarily intended for media production, forensic information technology assessments, mobile usage, and software development. The request comes after reports from federal tipsters claiming fewer BlackBerry purchases, and employees and military personnel being allowed to use their own smartphones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint now offering $100 trade-in credit for iPhones from competing carriers

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to offer an incentive.

In an effort to drum up subscribership and advertise its unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, Sprint revealed on Friday that it will begin offering a US$100 credit to any customer who trades in an iPhone from another carrier.

Per AppleInsider, the carrier said that it would be offering non-Sprint users at least US$100 for their iPhone to be used towards a new iPhone 4S if they start a line of service with a minimum two-year contract.

Sprint’s announcement comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that revealed Verizon would be pushing to end unlimited data usage for its smartphone users come this summer when the company rolls out new shared data plans. The top U.S. wireless company issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that only subscribers upgrading to a subsidized handset would no longer be able to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat service.

Both Verizon and AT&T have come under fire for slowly squeezing grandfathered customers out of their unlimited plans, represented by Verizon’s upgrade policy and AT&T’s March decision to throttle heavy data users after they pass a 3GB per month threshold.

When it became the last of the big-three telecoms to offer the iPhone, Sprint announced plans to offer unlimited data to new customers when the top two wireless providers killed off their respective uncapped services in a move toward more profitable tiered solutions. AT&T was the first to axe unlimited iPhone data in June 2010, and recently CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that he wished the company had never offered the option. Verizon followed AT&T’s lead in July 2011, a mere six months after the device launched on its network.

In a move to stand out from the competition, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced in April that his company will continue to offer unlimited data for the next generation iPhone sight-unseen, which means that users can utilize uncapped bandwidth even if the handset supports 4G LTE.

Earlier this week Hesse said that Sprint wouldn’t make a profit from the iPhone until 2015, but has no regreets in making a bet-the-company move to ink an agreement to sell the handset that was later revealed to be worth US$15.5 billion over the next four years.

“We believe in the long term,” Hesse said. “And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers.”

To take advantage of the offer, interested parties must activate a new line by July 3 and trade-in their non-Sprint iPhone before Aug. 14.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.