Voice Recognition Feature Seems Likely for iPhone OS 3.0

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Date: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009, 08:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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As the iPhone OS 3.0 beta software has been picked apart, some interesting new discoveries have emerged for consideration. The latest one, which centers around voice recognition and voice synthesis, may take the cake, though.
According to Ars Technica, the software, nicknamed “Jabbler”, will be built into the SpringBoard application (the software component that controls the home screen, launches other applications and will be the basis of the upcoming Spotlight search feature).
Jabbler will likely have voice functionality similar to the software bundled with the latest iPod Shuffle, i.e. a computerized voice reading off playlists and other textually-based content.
Sources close to the story have mentioned the upcoming feature, which has yet to be confirmed by official Apple sources. The ability to control voice features via the iPhone headset has also been mentioned.
Voice control features could bring the iPhone up to speed with many other phones that come with voice-dialing, and will broaden the playing field with a voice search function like the Google app as well as be useful for turn-by-turn GPS navigation, eBook reading capabilities, and on-the-spot note-taking.

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Updates Rumored for Pro Apps and MacBooks at WWDC

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Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 23:05
Category: Rumor

According to 9to5 Mac, Apple plans to introduce minor updates to the MacBook line as well as some significant updates to Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic, and Shake.

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There has been some speculation in the last few months, fueled by rumors, that AT&T may be subsidizing MacBooks in much the same way as the iPhone due to built-in 3G connectivity. I am putting this rumor into the “unlikely” column, but 9to5 Mac’s sources suggest the laptop updates may be more than just speed-bumps. This could include changes to the battery, such as making it non-removable. I will want to be out of town if that announcement hits the floor to avoid the rioting.

I for one don’t see Apple handing over any control of the sale of their computers, but stranger things have happened. There are almost 2 more months before WWDC kicks off, so plenty of time for more rumors to bounce around the internet. I think we all agree that a new iPhone (or 3) will be announced, but how about a netbook? Send us your thoughts in the forums!

Additional Perks, Features Emerge in iPhone OS 3.0 Firmware Betas

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Date: Monday, April 20th, 2009, 08:00
Category: iPhone, iPod shuffle, Rumor, Software

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Developers working with recent betas of Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 software have uncovered some impressive new features such as changes to Safari’s user interface, new battery status indicators and notification preferences, as well as the advent of data detectors in certain apps.
According to AppleInsider, the following changes have been the most prominent:
Safari:
Safari now allows the user to close out and clear all your open browser windows without having to first create a new blank page to get rid of the contents of the last active window.
The iPhone OS 3.0 beta apparently allows the user to close out the lone remaining page. Once the “x” icon is triggered, the page disappears and a new blank page quickly slides into view.
Battery Indicators:
Improvements have apparently been made to the battery indicators, showing the remaining battery life left on your iPhone or iPod touch as a numerical percentage.
Resource files contained within the new version of the device’s Springboard application include 22 new PNG files to facilitate this option. Half are numerical characters (and a “%” sign) in black typeface for representing healthy battery level percentages while the other half are in red typeface for when battery life falls bellow a certain threshold.
Though this has yet to be confirmed, users will have the option of selecting how their battery status indicator appears in the menubar — such as an icon-only view (per current versions of the software), an icon + numerical view, or a numerical-view only.
Push Notification preferences:
A new Push Notifications preference pane allows users to enable or disable any of the three types of notifications that third party applications can push to your handset: Sounds, Alerts and Badges. Alternatively, notifications can be disabled as a whole.
Data Detectors:
Apple has enabled Data Detectors for several new applications. Data Detectors automatically detect text fragments like email addresses, phone numbers, and street addresses and allow users to execute actions on those fragments via touch selections — like dialing a phone number automatically by clicking on it or adding it to your address book.
Finally, the iPhone OS 3.0 beta firmware apparently also allows users to change scrubbing speeds in the iPod application.
“You press and hold on the little dot to scrub and slide your finger down the screen to get finer scrubbing speeds,” a person familiar with the software said. “There are four options: Hi-Speed Scrubbing (normal slide position), Half Speed Scrubbing, Quarter Speed Scrubbing and Fine Scrubbing (furthest down the screen).”

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Tweetie for Mac Coming Soon!

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Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 18:15
Category: Software

Who would have thought such a simple thing would become such a huge phenomenon? In a matter of months, it seems like Twitter has become a household name and “the next big thing”? You know it must be big, even Oprah is on Twitter now. News even broke that Ashton Kutcher beat out CNN to be the first to reach 1 million followers, as reported by PCWorld. Twitter is even being used to report the news, gaining popular exposure earlier this year for being used to document a Denver plane crash.
As an avid Twitter user myself (I have four accounts), it took me a while to find the perfect Twitter client on the iPhone for my needs. After trying out several, the winner, hands-down, turned out to be Tweetie.
Lately, I have been faced with the same dilemma for managing Twitter on the Desktop. There are variations for every workflow, from the simplicity of Twangle and Twitterific, to more full-featured clients that manage several different types of social networks such as Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck. I’ve been trying them all. A recent favorite is Nambu.
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About a week ago from behind a curtain came the announcement from Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie for the iPhone, that a Desktop client for the Mac was in development. Yesterday, a preview of the new software was showcased in a screencast.
WOW! I expected something good since I am a cheerleader for the iPhone version, but Tweetie for Mac pulls out all the stops. From the features, to the cool, GUI animations, this looks like a real Mac application that is as much fun to watch as to use. I really hope it has multiple account support and hooks into some other social networks, but I already can’t wait for it’s release on Monday to try it out. I may have found my default desktop Twitter app.

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Mac Hacker Charlie Miller Locations Additional Security Hole in iPhone

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Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:33
Category: iPod, security

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Mac hacker Charlie Miller, a principal security analyst at Independent Security Evaluators and the winner of the the CanSecWest security conference hacking contest two years straight, has detailed his latest find wherein he was able to run shellcode on an iPhone.
According to Macworld UK, it was widely believed by many security researchers that it wasn’t possible to run shellcode on an iPhone. Shellcode is code that can run from a command line, but the iPhone was thought not to allow it for security reasons.
If pulled off correctly, shellcode allows users to perform malicious actions such as gaining access to a users text messages or call history from a remote location.
Earlier versions of the iPhone OS firmware didn’t have many protections to prevent people from tampering with its memory to run other commands, Miller said. But the latest version of the iPhone’s software strengthened the overall security of the phone, Miller said.
In his report, Miller detailed how he was able to trick the iPhone into running code which then enabled shellcode. To pull this off, Miller said he needed to have a working exploit for an iPhone and a means of targeting a vulnerability in the software such as the Safari web browser or the iPhone’s operating system.
Miller said he doesn’t have one now but stated that if someone did, “this would allow you to run whatever code you want,” Miller said in an interview after his presentation.
In 2007 Miller and some of his colleagues did find a vulnerability in mobile Safari that would allow an attacker to control the iPhone. Apple was immediately notified and later issued a patch for the problem.
Miller said he isn’t sure if Apple is aware of the latest issue and stopped short of calling the problem a vulnerability, saying instead that Apple engineers may have overlooked the issue. Apple also has never come out publicly and said it is impossible to run shellcode on an iPhone, he said.

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AT&T Pushing for Exclusive iPhone Rights Through 2011

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Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 08:35
Category: iPhone

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After three years of holding exclusive rights to the iPhone, AT&T is looking to take one more shot at an exclusive deal for the Apple handset and may keep it away from competitors until 2011.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” have stated that AT&T has a deal to keep the iPhone in its stable until 2010 and that negotiations are underway to have the device onboard for one more year.
Though there has been no specific commentary from AT&T regarding this, an Apple spokeswoman would only say that the two companies have a “great relationship.”
The commentary follows a report from last year that also said AT&T had struck a deal to keep the iPhone until 2010 and may provide insight into current talks. At the time, the cellular carrier reportedly agreed to allow iPhone 3G subsidies in exchange for a one-year extension of the iPhone’s US exclusivity. Although the cost of discounting those phones has been severe — as much as US$1.3 billion to date, according to an estimate — the agreement renewed interest in AT&T and gave it millions of users paying at least US$60 per month (on grandfathered plans) for service.
Should AT&T be allowed to keep exclusive rights to the iPhone, it would be able to help prevent customers from jumping ship to Verizon or an alternate carrier at a time when the market is saturated and customers are more likely to have switched than sign up for the first time. The company added 1.9 million iPhone users just in the fall 2008 quarter alone.

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Apple Stores May Switch To iPhone Software for In-store Purchases

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 13:16
Category: Apple, Retail Store

With the release of iPhone 3.0 enabled hardware and software, Apple may be planning a switch from its EasyPay handheld devices to iPhones for checking out customers at their retail stores.

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An AppleInsider report speculates that Apple may be planning to move away from the current Windows Mobile-based PDAs in favor of iPhones or iPod Touches using credit card scanners enabled by the new 3.0 software which allows devices connected to the 30-pin dock connector to finally talk to applications.

Apple has reportedly had issues with the EasyPay system in the past, resulting in checkout delays and frustrated customers. Overall, however, the mobile checkout system has worked out well for the retail stores which were reported to average 3.6 million visits per week during Apple’s December financial conference call. Developing its own point of sale system around the iPhone could be costly, but would allow Apple Stores to show off the versatility of their mobile hardware.

It is interesting to note that in the current batch of Apple’s iPhone commercials, one of the highlighted apps is CCTerminal which allows you to process credit card transactions online using an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to Chuck Freedman for bringing this to my attention, although I’ve actually been musing about this possibility since the 3.0 sneak peek. Yes, I do spend too much time at the Apple Store.

Rumor: Apple May Have Ordered Four Million Additional iPhones for Chinese Marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 08:40
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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This is a bit strange but there may be something to it.
According to ChinaTimes, component suppliers have stated that Apple has placed orders for shipments of four million iPhone units expected to be ready by the end of the quarter.
The units will allegedly be a combination of three new models, consisting of an EDGE-only device, a 3G-capable model and a model made for the market in China, possibly on TD-SCDMA.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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Jobs Apparently Still “Closely Involved” in “Key Aspects” of Apple

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Date: Monday, April 13th, 2009, 06:04
Category: News

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According to “people familiar with the matter,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs remains “closely involved” with “key aspects” of running Apple according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Though currently on medical leave since January, the paper is reporting that Jobs is working hard from home and is still involved in both strategy and key products, including details surrounding the new interface elements in iPhone 3.0.
Apple’s comment on the situation is a blanket statement that “Steve continues to look forward to returning to Apple at the end of June.”
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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Review: Beach Buoy

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Review

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By Robert Kaneko
It’s spring! At least, it’s spring in the northern hemisphere. If, like me, you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may have despaired of spring ever arriving. However, as I type this, it’s sunny and 65°, so there is hope. With spring in mind, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor activities. However, many of our beloved gadgets don’t really like our outdoor activities. Sand, dirt and water seem to be particular problems. That’s where the Beach Buoy comes in.
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The Beach Buoy is a product available from Proporta. It is essentially a very rugged, very nice looking ziplock bag with a cord so you can wear it around your neck. It is rated to keep your iPhone, iPod Touch, or other expensive electronic gadget safe from water at depths of up to 5 meters/16 feet. The top of the Beach Buoy contains two double ziplocks.
The idea is, you place your device inside the Beach Buoy, seal both ziplocks, and then fold the ziplocks over, securing the folds with a Velcro flap.
The result is a very watertight (and sand-proof) container.
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Click the jump for the full review…

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