iFixIt Teardown Finds 802.11n Chip, Space for Video Camera on New iPod Touch

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 06:32
Category: iPod, iPod Touch

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You’ve gotta love iFixIt and their recent teardown of the new third generation iPod touch has revealed some interesting details pertaining to Apple’s newly-released third generation media player.

Per the report, the new iPod touch features an 802.11n chip as well as enough space to fit a video camera such as the one found in the new iPod nano. In addition, the space is in the center on the back of the device, where the camera was rumored to be located. However, there are no headers on the iPod’s board for a camera cable.

“It appears that Apple left in room for a camera in the top of the device,” the solutions provider said. “There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th generation iPod nano.”

The new iPod nano features a video-only camera and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in an interview with The New York Times this week that the iPod touch was not given a camera because the company wanted to focus on promoting the hardware as a gaming machine, and keeping the low-end model’s price under US$200.

The teardown located a Broadcom BCM4329 chip inside the new third-generation device, the chip supporting the 802.11n protocol. The iPhone 3GS features a BCM4325 chip, which only supports 802.11 a/b/g. The new iPod touch does not support 802.11n Wi-Fi out of the box.

“This reminds us of last year when we broke the news that the 2nd generation touch had Bluetooth support in hardware,” they said. “Apple didn’t enable software support until 9 months later with iPhone OS 3.0.”

The new device also features a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and and a FM receiver and transmitter. However, that does not necessarily mean that the iPod touch will be able to receive and send FM signals. The latest iPod nano, however, does have a built-in FM receiver.

“If they built in the antennas, and if Apple adds software support,” iFixit said, “you could theoretically stream music to your car stereo without any external hardware. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

“While we were all disappointed by Apple’s underwhelming iPod touch announcement, it is clear that there is more engineering effort under the surface of this device than meets the eye.”

AT&T Staggering iPhone MMS Feature Release, Some Users Report Early Activation

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News

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A number of iPhone users have reported that the long awaited MMS feature seems to have been enabled on their devices well in advance of AT&T’s declared September 25th start date according to howardforums.com.

The MMS support feature will allow iPhone OS 3.0 users to send pictures, video and audio recordings, contacts, or locations from Maps via 3G-capable iPhones.

In announcing its plans to enable the feature for iPhone users, AT&T explained, “It was important to give our customers a positive experience from day one. We support more iPhone customers than any other carrier in the world so we took the time necessary to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic. We truly appreciate our customers’ patience and hope they’ll understand our desire to get it right from the start.”

Rather than turning on MMS service for millions of American iPhone users all at once, AT&T has been selectively activating users across the country. Once activated, iPhone 3G and 3GS users should see a new “Cellular Data Network” menu item within the General/Network page of the Settings app and a new camera icon within the Messages app for sending photos.

It’s possible to install a modified carrier bundle for AT&T to activate MMS software features, but this does not necessarily result in functioning MMS. Without AT&T removing your opt out, MMS messages will queue up with a red exclamation icon as they fail to actually send.

Many users are reporting that there is no correlation between working MMS and either their installed software version, their carrier bundle version, their service or texting plan, or their geographic location. AT&T appears to turning on MMS for users at random to achieve a staggered release up to the September 25th deadline.

Apple Files Patent for iPhone Theft Prevention Technology

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Date: Friday, September 11th, 2009, 05:58
Category: iPhone 3GS, Patents, security

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A recently published patent application filed this week by Apple suggests the company is looking to use the device’s accelerometer to detect possible theft of the hardware. Per AppleInsider, in a application entitled “Acceleration-Based Theft Detection System for Portable Electronic Devices,” Apple describes a system that would analyze movement via a device’s accelerometer to determine whether a theft is present. If the system were to interpret fast movement as a theft, it would initiate an alarm.

“The drive toward miniaturization of electronics has resulted in computer-based systems that are becoming much more portable,” the application reads. “Current portable electronic devices such as laptop computers, hand-held devices such as cellular telephones and personal media devices, such as the iPod from Apple Computer, Inc., and even devices such as compact disc players, are sufficiently compact and lightweight as to make them easily movable. Unfortunately, such ease of transport also implies ease of theft. While the rightful owner of a portable electronic device may conveniently transport it almost anywhere, so can a thief. ”

The patent application goes on to state that traditional theft-prevention methods like mechanical locks are bulky and tether the device, eliminating portability and convenience. In the proposed system, the accelerometer would be used to determine whether the device is currently in a likely theft condition.

“Typically, theft or other large-scale movement of the device results in an acceleration signal having characteristics different from other events such as shock, impact, nearby machinery, etc,” the application reads. “The detected acceleration as a function of time is thus analyzed to determine whether it corresponds to such large-scale movement of the device, rather than an innocuous event such as the impact of a book dropped nearby. If so, an alarm is produced in order to alert others to the theft.”

The described system would have methods to prevent false alarms through “signal conditioning,” which could filter out events such as shock or impact associated with an iPhone being dropped. The system would also allow the phone owner to display a “visual warning” for potential would-be thieves. Such a warning would warn potential thieves that the device “has an active theft detection system protecting it.”

The patent was filed by Apple on May 20th, 2009 and is credited to Paul J. Wehrenberg of Palo Alto, Calif.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1, iTunes 9.0 at Media Event

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Date: Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, 11:14
Category: iPhone, iPod, Software

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An Apple media event is nothing without significant software releases and to this end, iTunes 9 and the long-awaited iPhone OS 3.1 update should suffice.

iTunes 9, which is available as an 82.8 megabyte download, features the following changes and fixes:
- An improved look and feel, including a new Column Browser for easily browsing your artists or albums, movies, TV shows, and more.
- iTunes Store has a brand new look, with improved navigation for quick and easy exploration.
- iTunes LP and iTunes Extras create unique experiences that feature exclusive interviews, videos, photos, and more – available with select album and movie purchases on the iTunes Store.
- Home Sharing helps you manage your family’s iTunes collection between computers in your home. iTunes can automatically transfer new purchases, or you can choose just the items you want.
- Genius Mixes are created for you by iTunes and play songs from your library that go great together.
- iPod and iPhone syncing now allows you to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens directly in iTunes. Syncing is now also more flexible, allowing you to sync individual artists, genres, or TV show and Podcast episodes.
- iTunes U items are now organized into their own section in your iTunes library.
- Sync with iPod nano (5th generation), iPod classic (Fall 2009), and iPod touch (Fall 2009)..
- iTunes 9 also includes many other improvements, such as HE-AAC encoding and playback, more flexibility with Smart Playlists rules, simpler organization of your media files inside an iTunes Media folder, and more.

iTunes 9 is also available for free via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

For iPhone and iPod touch users, iPhone OS 3.1 offers the following features and changes:
- Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos.
- iTunes U content organization.
- Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store.
- Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store.
- Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll.
- Option to “Save as new clip” when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS.
- Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on.
- Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe.
- Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets.
- Paste phone numbers into the keypad.
- Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS.
- Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing).
- Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling.
- Fixes issue that cause some app icons to display incorrectly.

Like previous iPhone OS updates, simply attach your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer, go into iTunes, select the device and click the “Check for Update” button. iTunes will then download and install the update, which requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 and iTunes 8.0 or later to run.

As always, let us know if good things happen (your terrier begins teach physics at the local high school), bad things happen (the living room is now on fire) or if things remain relatively hunky-dory per your Mac, your iTunes and your iPhone or iPod touch.

TomTom iPhone Kit Delayed Until October

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Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Right, you won’t like this, but you should know about it.

According to AppleInsider, TomTom spokesman Kevin Carter confirmed that the company’s iPhone hardware kit will not be available for its previously announced summer release deadline, though no specific reason was given. The accessory is a cradle that will interface with the iPhone and provide enhanced GPS capabilities.

“I can confirm that we have decided to take some extra weeks in order to deliver the highest quality on this innovative product,” Carter said. “So, the car kit will become available for purchase this October on www.tomtom.com.”

While the hardware is not necessary to use the software that is currently available in the iPhone App Store, it will amplify the GPS signal for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. In addition, the original iPhone and the iPod touch, both of which do not have a GPS receiver, will be able to use the hardware kit, as mentioned on the product’s FAQ page.

The TomTom kit will act as a basic suction cup mount for the dashboard or windshield, and will also support hands-free calling and music through the stereo system, as well as charge capabilities through the vehicle’s 12-volt port.

The kit’s price will vary depending on location and final system requirements have yet to be released.

AT&T to (Finally) Bring MMS to iPhone on September 25th

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Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 04:08
Category: News

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On Thursday, wireless carrier AT&T finally disclosed a firm date as to when the company would add MMS support for the iPhones on its network. According to Electronista, the carrier will activate the feature on September 25th through a software upgrade for iPhone 3G and 3GS owners. Adding the feature will let those running iPhone 3.0 or later firmware send photos, videos and general data like contact cards to any MMS-aware phone. Original iPhones won’t be eligible for the upgrade, though it’s never been fully explained as to why this is the case.

The company acknowledged that the release will be just past the official “end of summer” target announced after the iPhone 3GS unveiling at WWDC and elaborated on its reasons behind the months long delay. Officials claim the company had to prepare its network to handle the likely “record” load of data traffic.

In other news, AT&T declined to commit to a specific release window for a much-anticipated data tethering feature. Represenatives said the addition could “exponentially increase” the network load and that it only plans to offer tethering sometime “in the future.” As with MMS, the company wants to make sure its upgrades are complete before it sends a carrier update that enables tethering.

AT&T normally charges extra for tethering but hasn’t said what its pricing, if any, will be.

Rumor: Apple TV Could Receive Changes at September 9th Event

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Date: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009, 04:09
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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Altering an earlier opinion that surprise announcements weren’t to be expected at Apple’s anticipated September 9th media event, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster released a second note Tuesday suggesting an Apple TV upgrade could debut at next week’s event.

Per AppleInsider, Munster stated that he believed an appearance by Steve Jobs would be the biggest news out of the iPod-centric event. Munster has now said stated that he has reason to believe there will be an Apple TV-related announcement next Wednesday. In a note, he pointed out that Apple’s online store has a wait time of one to two weeks for the 40GB model at US$229. Munster said he has never seen a delay for the Apple TV since it debuted in March of 2007. The analyst suggests that Apple is either phasing out the 40GB model, as the 160GB offering is still available, or is selling its remaining inventory before a new product launches.

“We believe the company is most likely phasing out the 40GB model and possibly reducing the price of the 160GB model,” he said, “but a new model is possible given the hardware has been the same for 2+ years.”

Munster does not believe that a major upgrade to the Apple TV will happen next week because he expects such an announcement to coincide with a subscription service that would need to be negotiated with content providers. Weeks ago, Munster reiterated his belief that Apple is working towards a new Apple TV with iTunes show subscriptions and possibly DVR capabilities.

“It is unlikely that negotiations for new content are finished,” he said.

Given the age of the Apple TV hardware, Munster said he wouldn’t rule out a new lineup as a “wildcard” announcement at the media-centric event.

Munster went on to re-state his belief that Apple will launch a full-fledged television set in two to five years. Such a device, he said, would have DVR and home media functionality built in, and would sync content with Macs, iPhones and iPods wirelessly. He said an Apple television could also play games, with an iPhone or iPod touch acting as the wireless controller.

“Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs,” he said. “We believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers.”

Apple, China Mobile Still in Talks Over iPhone Distribution

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Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 04:43
Category: iPhone

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Following up on the story that Apple settled on wireless carrier China Unicom to distribute the iPhone in China last week, Apple is apparently still in talks with China Mobile to sort out a distribution deal with the company.

According to Macworld UK, the talks between Apple and China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers, have reached no conclusion yet, a China Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company’s three-year distribution deal with China Unicom is not exclusive, but did not say if the company is in talks with other potential partners.

China Unicom will offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, with the first handsets going on sale in the fourth quarter. The company began its talks with Apple two years ago, but China Unicom, which operates a 3G network compatible with the iPhone, became seen as the favorite for an iPhone deal in recent months.

One snag in China Mobile’s talks with Apple was the carrier’s plan for its own mobile application store, which was seen as a potential competitor with the iPhone App Store. Another was China Mobile’s use of a mobile standard for its 3G network that was domestically developed and is not compatible with current iPhone models.

The app store and 3G standard snags could remain in any talks. The China Mobile download store went online last month and supports handsets including “Ophones,” or devices that run a China Mobile operating system but have a layout very similar to an iPhone.

Some details of the iPhone launch could still pose problems for China Unicom as well, including how and whether revenue from the App Store should be shared, one analyst said.

China Unicom Announces Three Year iPhone Deal

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Date: Friday, August 28th, 2009, 03:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier China Unicom has announced that the company has signed a three year deal with Apple to launch the popular iPhone into the world’s largest mobile phone market. The phones are expected to go on sale in China later this year.

According to BBC News, China has more than 600 million mobile phone accounts and a deal to introduce the iPhone has been long-awaited. Apple said the two partners had agreed a “multi-year deal” and expected the launch to be in the fourth quarter of 2009, but gave no financial details.

“We believe China Unicom’s high-speed mobile broadband network, coupled with [the iPhone] will create new communication and different experiences for customers in China,” said Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobin.

Mark/Space Releases Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0.3 Update

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Date: Monday, August 24th, 2009, 08:07
Category: iPhone, Software

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Mark/Space on Tuesday announced the release of The Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0.1, the new version of its data synchronization utility for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets. The application allows users to synchronize data that the iPhone won’t ordinarily synchronize with the Mac, such as notes, documents, and tasks and archives text messages on the iPhone to the Mac as well as archives call histories, and features a “Migration Assistant” of its own that lets you transfer contacts and other data from another smartphone to the iPhone.

The new version, a 12 megabyte download (courtesy of MacUpdate), adds the ability to create ringtones for the iPhone by using a built-in ringtone editor. According to MacNN, users can simply select a song from the iTunes music library and place it in the editor before trimming and naming their customized ringtone, which is then automatically added to iTunes and ready for transferring onto the iPhone the next time a sync is initiated.

Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0.3 retails for US$39.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later and iPhone OS 2.1 or later to install and run.