AT&T to buy T-Mobile’s American unit for US$39 billion

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Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has announced a definitive agreement to buy Deutsche Telekom’s American T-Mobile subsidiary in a cash and stock deal worth about US$39 billion, and giving the German carrier an 8% stake in AT&T.

Per Yahoo, the two companies issued a press release outlining the terms of the deal, which has been approved by the board of both carriers.

T-Mobile and AT&T share similar GSM and UMTS/HSPA networks, and both are working to build new next generation networks using HSPA+ and LTE. However, obtaining the rights to radio spectrum and building out these networks is both expensive and complex.

AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said the deal “provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband.”

T-Mobile had been rumored to be entering talks with Sprint, but those two companies run incomparable networks and have diverging future plans, as Sprint operates both CDMA and iDEN (from its merger with Nextel, which it plans to phase out) networks and has begun building a next generation WiMAX network with Clearwire (WiMAX competes with LTE as a next generation mobile network technology).

The release said that AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers “will see service improvements – including improved voice quality – as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure,” noting that as soon as the deal closes, AT&T “will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have taken on average five years to build without the transaction, and double that in some markets.”

Absorbing T-Mobile “will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30% in some of its most populated areas, while avoiding the need to construct additional cell towers. This transaction will increase spectrum efficiency to increase capacity and output, which not only improves service, but is also the best way to ensure competitive prices and services in a market where demand is extremely high and spectrum is in short supply,” the release says.

By bolstering its existing GSM, UMTS and HSPA+ networks, AT&T will be able to better focus on future LTE capacity, rather than struggling to get its existing network to meet today’s demand. While T-Mobile operates its 3G UMTS network on different frequencies than AT&T, its basic 2G GSM network is identical. AT&T can also use the networks and towers T-Mobile operates to strengthen its own.

The incorporation of T-Mobile’s American unit adds 33.7 million subscribers to AT&T’s network of of about 95.5 million, creating a total of about 130 million users, and becoming the largest American carrier. The deal will also expand Apple’s iPhone to three of what were the top four US carriers, as Apple has already brought it to Verizon earlier this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

How-To: View an AVI file on your iOS device

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Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 04:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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As nifty as Apple’s iOS devices are, there are some limitations. One of these hurdles is the ability to play videos in an AVI format, which isn’t supported by iTunes or the native video player in the iPhone and iPad.

The cool cats at Mac|Life have thrown together a quick guide as to how to solve this problem, the author recommending that the HandBrake program can be used to convert an AVI movie into an MP4 file that will play perfectly on our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Users can also download an iPhone or iPad app that does play these files, such as CineXPlayer for iPad (US$2.99) or the universal GoodPlayer (US$2.99), and use that to watch your videos without needing to convert them.

If you’ve played with any of these programs or have conversion tips of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may include near-field communications feature in iPhone 5

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Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 03:24
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Last week the word on the street was that the iPhone 5 would lack near-field communications which would have turned the device into a nifty, portable e-wallet.

This week the feature might be back as a report by Forbes blogger Elizabeth Woyke on Friday has countered a recent report from The Independent that denied rumors of wireless NFC technology in Apple’s next generation iPhone. The Independent claimed earlier this week that Apple had disclosed to “several” mobile operators in the U.K. its alleged decision to abandon plans to include the feature in the so-called iPhone 5.

According to Woyke, “an entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC project” cited a friend who works at Apple to assert that the iPhone 5 will have NFC contactless capabilities. The entrepreneur also told Woyke that manufacturers of NFC readers expect Apple’s next smartphone to have NFC and are gearing up for “the additional NFC traffic the iPhone 5 will bring, likely this summer.”

Woyke acknowledged The Independent’s claims, noting that many had been “surprised” by the report. The U.K. publication had cited “the lack of a clear standard” as Apple’s reason for allegedly delaying the feature.

However, Woyke affirmed her faith in the credibility of her source, in spite of the on-again, off-again nature of the report. “I trust this source and know he has connections in the NFC market because of his own project,” she wrote.

In January, Richard Doherty, director of the consulting firm Envisioneering Group claimed that Apple planned to start its own retail-based mobile payment service as early as mid-2011. It should be noted, however, that Doherty erroneously predicted that Apple would add an NFC chip to the iPad 2.

Last month, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, fueled speculation even more when it mentioned Apple during a presentation on e-wallet payment systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Owners of 2011 MacBook Pro report troubles with iTunes Home Sharing feature

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 11:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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As nifty as the 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are, there may be some debugging that needs to be done.

Per AppleInsider, a number of early 2011 MacBook Pro owners report being unable to connect devices or maintain connections through iTunes Home Sharing.

A support thread in Apple’s Discussion forums has received over 200 posts from owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros reporting issues with iTunes Home Sharing. Several readers have also contacted AppleInsider regarding the issue.

“This is turning out to be a bigger problem than I thought with many people giving up and returning their new MBP 2011 due to this conflict. Apple has yet to find a fix but it has been widely documented via phone through AppleCare and through many Apple retail stores,” wrote one reader.

According to forum user ‘themacbear,’ the new MacBook Pro was able to stream to a second-generation Apple TV at first, but then the Apple TV reported being unable to connect or would display the error message “There are no movies in this library.”

In March, Apple released iOS 4.3 with new Home Sharing features. The Mac maker also issued iTunes 10.2 and then iTunes 10.2.1 to add compatibility with iOS 4.3 and Home Sharing. In spite of the updates, a number of users continue to report being unable to connect or maintain connections with iOS devices on their early 2011 MacBook Pros.

Recent improvements to the Home Sharing feature expand iTunes library sharing from just between Macs, PCs and Apple TVs to include mobile devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads. When working properly, Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 allows an unlimited number of iOS devices to access content over Wi-Fi.

Though early 2011 MacBook Pros appear to be having the most trouble with Home Sharing, owners of older machines have also reported problems with the feature in a support thread for Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 that has reached 60 posts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Upcoming case designs show iPhone 4 to be almost identical to iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 03:51
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you like the basic shape and design of the iPhone 4, then it looks like you’ll be fond of the iPhone 5.

Per HardMac, Apple’s next-generation iPhone will sport an exterior design largely identical to the current iPhone 4, if new cases from overseas are to be believed.

The picture of case renderings, obtained by HardMac, shows identical button placement and SIM card slot. It also has the same space on the back for a camera and flash.



The report noted that the information is not “confirmed,” but dubbed the source “reliable.”

“These cases would be prototypes of the iPhone 5 cases, based on the mockup that was provided by Apple,” the report said. “There is apparently no fundamental change on the placement of the buttons and the SIM card slot.”

If accurate, the renderings would likely disprove an earlier rumor that Apple is looking to abandon the steel outer frame of the iPhone 4 following bad publicity over alleged antenna issues. That rumor also suggested the so-called “iPhone 5″ would adopt an antenna back, suggesting a major redesign.

Last week, alleged engineering sketches claimed to show off the iPhone 5 showed a device with a larger edge-to-edge display. Aside from the bigger screen, the rest of the device was shown unchanged externally from the iPhone 4.

If you have two cents to heave on this, please let us know in the comments.

White iPhone 4 icon located in iTunes 10.2 resource files

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Date: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, 10:20
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Ya know, eventually you’d give up on waiting for Godot.

But you’d still wonder if he came by 10 minutes after you left.

Per Mac Rumors, an icon depicting a white version of the CDMA iPhone 4 has been spotted in iTunes 10.2. The article, which reported that the icon is in the application’s resource files, is different from the existing GSM illustration in that it depicts the antenna break found on the top right side of the CDMA model that is not present in the GSM version. As the report notes, the icon’s appearance isn’t a guarantee that the long-awaited model will be available in a CDMA version, but instead suggests that designer responsible created it based on either a belief that the such a model exists, or as a “just-in-case” addition. Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller recently indicated that the white iPhone 4 is still on track for a spring release, adding, “it is a beauty!”



In other news, the authorities are offering a $15,000 reward to the first person who can provide authentic video evidence that they’ve tackled Bigfoot and given him an extreme makeover…

Additional iPhone/Daylight Savings Time errors reported

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Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2011, 03:05
Category: iPhone, News

If you had problems with your iPhone’s clock around daylight savings time, you’re not alone. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, this past weekend, as clocks were turned forward for Daylight Savings time in the US, some users were still having issues of varying kinds, from clocks changing when they weren’t supposed to, to alarms not going off when set up correctly. Some users are even reporting the time changing just fine, and then inexplicably switching back.

Since most of the information on the issues is anecdotal, it’s hard to pin down exactly what’s happening, but it seems to be something going on between the phone’s software and a connection to the local provider’s time information. Most of the issues are being fixed by flipping Airport Mode on and off (to re-establish the cellular connection) or even just restarting the phone. Alternately, users can set the time themselves manually, though having a phone that sets its own time is obviously a lot more convenient.

At any rate, it looks like Apple is continuing to deal with this ongoing issue. From your end, take a quick gander to make sure everything’s where it needs to be and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Yahoo repairs server-side IMAP settings, clears up e-mail issue for Windows 7, iPhone users

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Date: Friday, March 11th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News, Software

A fresh test on Thursday confirmed that Yahoo’s IMAP mail bug had been fixed. Per Electronista, Yahoo quietly upgraded its mail servers so that they now respond with only the data they were asked for, rather than the 25 times higher amount they were producing before. Rafael Rivera at Within Windows noted that it had previously sent the entire message header.

The improvement should cure a problem first discovered on Windows Phone 7 that led to a glut of data every time the devices checked mail. Later discoveries found that it also affected at least iPhone owners, but all of them carried the risk of running over bandwidth caps on carriers like AT&T.

Microsoft knew of the cause in Yahoo’s servers weeks after it was found but declined to name it, leaving customers without an idea as to which services to turn off. It instead gave them blanket instructions to turn off automatic mail checks or to disable cellular data. It wasn’t until Rivera investigated himself and confronted Microsoft that it was forced to acknowledge the source.

If you’ve seen any changes in your Yahoo mail on your iPhone, please let us know.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you missed it yesterday, Apple released its latest version iOS on Wednesday, the long-awaited iOS 4.3 update becoming available through iTunes and introducing the following new fixes and features:

- Personal Hotspot – Share iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to 5 devices (combination of up to 3 Wi-Fi, 3 Bluetooth, and 1 USB).

- iTunes Home Sharing – Play music, movies and TV shows from a shared iTunes library on a Mac or PC (requires iTunes 10.2).

- New Airplay features – Play videos from the Photos app including the Camera Roll album, iTunes previews, enabled third-party appsand websites on Apple TV – Play slideshows from Photos on Apple TV using transitions available on Apple TV.

- Faster Safari performance with Apple Nitro JavaScript engine.

- HD video out using the Apple Digital AV Adapter – View 720p HD videos from Videos app, iPod app, Photos, YouTube, Safari, Keynote, and enabled third-party apps on an HDMI display
Ping features.

- Push notifications for comments and follow requests.

- Post and Like songs directly from the Now Playing screen.

- Parental controls.

- New Settings.

- Messages setting for number of times to repeat an alert.

- iPad side switch setting to lock screen rotation or mute audio notifications and sound effects.

- Single tap conference call dialing with a pause to send a passcode.

- Bug fixes.

Amongst the biggest inclusions are Home Sharing (the ability to stream audio and video from iTunes on a local network to the iOS device); AirPlay (the ability to stream audio and video from the iOS device to an Apple TV or computer) for third-party developers; and the ability to create a personal WiFi hotspot from an iPhone or iPad with 3G support.

Per Macworld UK, users may need a qualifying data plan from your carrier and any necessary hotspot or tethering options to enable the much-anticipated Personal Hotspot feature. Users with an unlocked iPhone can use the feature without restriction. However, we advise users of this feature to keep a close eye on data charges as some mobile phone companies are now restricting data usage.

A couple of minor features snuck into iOS 4.3. Users can now enable Push Notifications for Ping activity, and the iPod app’s Now Playing screen offers the options to post about songs and like them on your Ping profile. Also new is a preference to specify how many times an SMS alert is repeated, as well as a conference dialing option to add a pause for entering a passcode.

Missing from iOS 4.3, however, are the new multitouch gestures that Apple asked developers to test on the iPad during the beta period. Gestures like four- and five-finger swipes could switch between apps and reveal the multitasking bar, and a pinch could exit an app and return you to the Home Screen. With the second iOS 4.3 beta, however, Apple clarified that these features were only for testing and would not ship to consumers in the final version. Obviously, they could return in a future iOS update or upgrade, but Apple hasn’t stated any plans.

iOS 4.3 is available now as a free update in iTunes for the iPad, iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. As for the Verizon iPhone 4, it runs a custom version of iOS 4.2.6 that includes some features like hotspot support. Comments from an Apple representative at the iPad 2 event suggest that it might take a little while for Verizon’s iPhone 4 to converge with the same iOS version as Apple’s other mobile devices.

If you’ve snagged the iOS 4.3 update, please let us know how it’s working on your devices, for better or for worse.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, 04:00
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes 10.2.1 also includes improved Home Sharing, and lets users play music from their iTunes library on any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch over Wi-Fi using iOS 4.3. Any other changes to iTunes from version 10.2 are likely minor, as Apple did not detail them.

iTunes 10.2.1 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.