iPhone 5 supply stabilizes, units now readily available for holiday shopping season

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It took a while and there were muchos conflicts with Foxconn, but it finally happened: Apple’s iPhone 5 supply chain has stabilized.

Per AppleInsider, the popular iPhone 5 handset is now readily available in the U.S. at Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores as the company has apparently overcome supply issues experienced since the device was launched in September.

While the Apple online store still shows one-week ship-by dates, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said a poll of 20 U.S. Apple Stores reveals the iPhone 5 is readily available at physical Apple Stores for the first time since the unit was released at the end of September.

“We believe the iPhone 5 has finally reached a point where consumers can walk into an Apple Store and walk out with a phone,” Munster said in a note to investors on Thursday.

The analyst performs a nightly check with the online Apple Store for local pick-up orders half an hour after new stock arrives at 100 locations. He also noted that 20 out of 20 Apple Stores polled showed availability for Verizon models, the supply of which has been the most constrained out of the three major U.S. carriers.

“The bottom line is that AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are consistently showing 90%+ availability,” Munster wrote.

A similar report earlier this month showed that, while inventory of Sprint versions of the Phone 5 was improving, models supported by AT&T and Verizon’s networks were still seeing constraints.

Going further, Munster maintains his estimate of 45 million iPhone shipments for the fourth quarter, but warns that there may not be a significant upside as supply is only now meeting demand.

According to a recent report, the iPhone 5 helped to double Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market, pushing it ahead of worldwide leader Android.

Nokia releases “Here” map application to iOS App Store, offers alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps program

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Date: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012, 08:40
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you’re looking for an alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps, Nokia just delivered.

Per The Next Web, Nokia on Tuesday made good on a promise to bring its new “Here” mapping service to iOS as it launched a free app complete with offline caching and voice-guided walking directions.

The “Here” app comes exactly one week after Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that the app would be available for iPhones, iPads and iPods sometime in the coming weeks.

According to Nokia, the HTML5-based mapping solution includes offline capabilities and, unlike Apple’s own Maps app, voice-guided walking navigation and public transportation directions.

“Maps are hard to get right – but location is revolutionizing how we use technology to engage with the real world,” said Nokia’s Executive Vice President of Location & Commerce Michael Halbherr, who is responsible for Here. “That’s why we have been investing and will continue to invest in building the world’s most powerful location offering, one that is unlike anything in the market today.”

The Finnish company also noted that future updates will come with 3D capabilities akin to Apple and Google’s solutions, which will come from technology acquired by earthmine. Nokia is rolling out the mapping service on its Microsoft Windows Phone handsets as well as versions for Google’s Android and Mozilla’s Firefox OS.

Nokia’s app is one of the first major no-cost mapping submissions to rival Apple’s Maps app, which caused a flap with consumers and the media when it was released as part of iOS 6 in September. With Maps, Apple chose to move away from its longstanding partnership with Google Maps to a proprietary solution built completely in house. Upon launch, however, the program was fraught with problems like rendering issues and incorrect location data.

The internet search giant is said to be planning its own standalone iOS app that may see release soon as rumors claim the company is distributing near final versions of the software to outside testers. One of the major gripes with Apple’s solution is the lack of Google’s Street View option, however that feature was brought back to mobile Safari with the Google Maps web app in October with limited functionality.

Nokia’s Here is available now for iOS as a free download from the App Store.

If you’ve tried the Here app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Users report second iMessage, FaceTime outage in one week

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Date: Monday, November 19th, 2012, 07:04
Category: News, Software

Sometimes a network runs perfectly, other times it flops over and takes a prolonged nap a la Seabiscuit…

Per AppleInsider, users reported that iMessage and FaceTime experienced outages across the U.S., the second time in a week that services attached to Apple’s iCloud saw issues.

A number of users reported on Sunday that they could not send or receive iMessages from their iPhones and iPads, a problem that is becoming more common since the company’s newest iOS 6 was released in September.

According to Apple’s iCloud system status webpage, “some” users unable to use iMessage or place FaceTime calls, with the error coming less than two days after an issue appeared with iCloud storage upgrade payment transactions. Apple said service will return to normal “ASAP.”

Sunday’s downtime marks the fourth such outage in the past three months, with one incident in September and two in October affecting users of iMessage on both iOS and OS X clients. At the time, messages sent through Apple’s proprietary service were pushed through as SMS texts.

While iMessage and FaceTime appear to be the most prone to errors, iCloud’s email service has also seen problems, the latest being a September outage that affected 1.1 percent of all users.

Introduced alongside iOS 5, iMessage is Apple’s smartphone-integrated answer to online messaging services like AOL Instant Messenger and Google Chat. The service is data based, allowing iOS device users to communicate with each other and Macs running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, without racking up text fees.

The services were apparently restored as of 4:41 AM PST on Monday.

If you noticed the outage on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iBooks 3.0.2 update

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 10:59
Category: iOS, News, Software

Never knock a good update.

Late Wednesday, Apple released version 3.0.2 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– See all your iBookstore purchases in iCloud – on your bookshelf with iOS 6.

– Scroll vertically through your books using the new Scroll Theme.

– Receive free content updates to purchased book (new chapters, etc.)

– Look up definitions for words under the German, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese languages under iOS 6.

– Share thoughts about your favorite books via Facebook, Twitter, Messages or Mail.

– Resolves a crash wherein the iBooks app may unexpectedly quit in iOS 6.

iBooks 3.0.2 requires a compatible iOS device and iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Apple looking into quieter “vibrate” function for future iPhone handsets

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 07:05
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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Your iPhone might get a bit quieter soon.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple is investigating ways to make the iPhone’s “silent mode” truly silent by monitoring audible sound levels generated by a phone’s vibrator and adjusting the mechanism if it becomes too loud.

Since the earliest days of portable telecommunications, devices like pagers incorporated a silent option to the standard beeping tones that alerted a user of an incoming message or, years later, cell phone call. The system is flawed, however, in that the so-called “silent mode” is not completely silent, especially when a device vibrates on a hard surface, causing a rattling noise often times more disruptive than a normal audible tone.

The current iPhone 5, with its aluminum uni-body construction, is another candidate that may be less than discreet in some circumstances. To remedy this longstanding problem, Apple has devised a method in which a phone’s vibrations, as well as the result of said vibrations, are monitored by microphones or movement sensors. If these sensors detect conditions that may cause an unwanted disturbance, a number of mitigation methods are initiated, including tuning the vibrator and introducing feedback signals to reduce reverberation.

Apple’s solution takes into account two types of haptic devices, or vibrators, commonly used in modern smartphones, both of which present separate problems. The usual rotating vibrator used in many devices has an eccentric weight attached to a spinning drive shaft, while an oscillating linear vibrator relies on magnetic force to drive a weight back and forth.

While the rotating motor is somewhat louder than its magnetically-driven cousin, it produces an arguably more violent vibration which can be an asset for those who wear thick pants or need a stronger alert. For reference, the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 and all versions of the iPhone 4S used a linear vibrator, while the iPhone 5 marks the return of the rotating system found in legacy models.

As described in the invention, movement, sound and visual sensors begin monitoring various attributes when a vibration alert is detected. The sensors can determine If the vibration is causing the phone to move or generate a noise louder than ambient noises in the surrounding environment.

Once a movement or sound threshold has been reached, the mitigation mechanisms kick in to modify the alert or stop it altogether. In some embodiments, the action of vibrator motor is adjusted. For a rotational vibrator, the frequency of the motor can be slowed, while the motion of a linear vibrator can be dampened by an electromagnetic force.

The patent application goes on to offer alternative alert methods that can be used when a vibrator is found to be disturbing, such as visual alerts or soft audio tones which are output at level deemed to be more quiet than the sound created by the phone’s vibrations.

Such mechanisms do not exist in the current iteration of Apple’s handset, though the technology may one day make its way to a future iPhone as an enhancement to the product line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

20% Samsung price hike could affect Apple’s margins by 1-2%

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:53
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Processors, retail

The ne’er ending fight between Apple and Samsung continues.

Following up on yesterday’s story about Samsung potentially raising the cost of building mobile processors for Apple, such a change would be expected to reduce the company’s overall margins by as much as 2 percentage points.

Per AppleInsider, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray noted on Wednesday that the processors built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex., are the core component of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The chips tend to represent between 6 and 9 percent of the total component cost of a given iOS device.

A report surfaced this week that claimed Samsung has increased the price of its mobile processors for Apple as the two rival companies are driven further apart.

Munster said a 20 percent increase in chip prices would result in a hit to Apple’s margins between 1 and 2 percentage points. He also said that he would not be surprised if the price increase turns out to be accurate, “given the legal tension” between the two companies.

But he also buys in to rumors that Apple plans to move its chip production away from Samsung, and will have assembly of its custom processors like the A6 found in the iPhone 5 handed to another company, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

“We believe that if Apple were to move to another vendor in the next year or two, they may be able to negotiate better chip prices, which would roll back the impact from the Samsung price increase,” he said.

But in the meantime, Munster said it appears Apple has no choice but to continue its partnership with Samsung, even if the Korean electronics maker did put a massive price hike in place.

Piper Jaffray has projected that while Apple’s margins will dip during the December quarter in the face of a number of major product transitions, margins will quickly improve in the company’s fiscal year 2013. Munster has called for Apple to earn gross margins of 41.5 percent for calendar years 2013 and 2014.

“It does not appear that new product launches for iPhone 5 and iPad mini carry significantly different margins than prior launch margins for the same product lines,” he said.

Margins have been a major concern among investors in recent weeks, as Apple’s stock has taken a major hit. But most analysts have stood by Apple. Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank said last month that concern over Apple’s margins has been “overblown,” and that the reduction is “nearly entirely cyclical and not structural.”

Stay tuned for additional updates as to the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys as they become available.

Apple releases updated iOS 6.1 beta, Apple TV beta and Xcode 4.6 preview to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:08
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

The iOS updates, they’re en route…

Per AppleInsider, a new build of iOS 6.1 was provided to developers on Monday, less than two weeks after the first beta was issued, along with a new preview of Xcode 4.6, and new beta software for the Apple TV.

Sources familiar with the second beta of iOS 6.1 indicated it is known as build 10B510c. It’s compatible with the fourth-, third- and second-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, and fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The second beta of iOS 6.1 arrived Monday alongside a new Xcode 4.6 Developer Preview 2, said to be known as build 4H95e, as well as a new beta software release for the Apple TV set-top box.

As with the previous beta of iOS 6.1, the latest build enhances the Map Kit framework in iOS, allowing developers to search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

Relevance behavior rules have also changed with Passbook iOS 6.1 for boarding passes with both a date and location. Developers are encouraged to provide both piece of information, when appropriate, to make boarding passes relevant for a longer window of time.

Because it is beta software, a number of known issues remain with iOS 6.1. For example, Apple has notified developers that when browsing for TV shows in iTunes Store, options to view content by networks, genres and Genius recommendations are not available.

Sources who tested the first beta of iOS 6.1 indicated that the software was relatively stable, aside from some crashing issues that were present when using the camera’s panorama mode.

The last update to iOS arrived in the form of software version 6.0.1 earlier this month. It addressed a number of minor bugs with the software, including screen distortion, issues with the camera flash, and problems with Exchange.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new betas and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iPhone 5 shipping times improve, device ETA now stands at 2-3 weeks

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Maybe things are getting a little better over at the Foxconn plant…

Per AppleInsider, availability of the iPhone 5 continues to improve, as Apple’s website now advertises that all models ship within two to three weeks.

The latest estimated shipping times are an improvement from the previously advertised timeframe of three to four weeks. The shipping time applies to both the black and slate as well as the white and silver models, in all three capacities.

The improved shipping times corroborate reports from last week that revealed Apple’s supply was catching up with demand for iPhone 5 inventory at its U.S. retail stores. Gene Munster and his team at Piper Jaffray found that 54 percent of 100 Apple Stores had the AT&T iPhone 5 in stock, while 24 percent had the Verizon model, and 84 percent were stocked with the Sprint variety.

Those numbers from last week were a major improvement from the weeks prior, when supplies of the iPhone 5 were severely constrained, particularly for AT&T and Verizon customers.

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5,” Munster wrote. “We believe that if AT&T and Verizon device availability follows the same trend as Sprint, it may only be 2-3 weeks before iPhone 5s are consistently available to customers.”

Also last week, Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said his checks within Apple’s supply chain found that the company had significantly improved its production capacity of the iPhone 5 since the device launched in late September. According to Wu, the supply chain bottleneck for the iPhone 5 moved from components to the assembly of the device itself.

Earlier reports claimed that the iPhone 5’s in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis have caused quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn said in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

If you’ve gotten word as to when your iPhone 5 is expected to ship, please let us know its estimated delivery time in the comments.

Adobe offers Photoshop Lightroom 4.3 as release candidate, includes Retina Display support, other fixes

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:44
Category: News, Software

This could be nifty.

On Friday, Adobe sent version 4.3 of its Lightroom image editing software out as a candidate release via its Adobe Labs web site.

The new version, a 410 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
– Full support for HiDPI displays such as Retina Display units.

– Unable to upload a large panorama to Adobe Revel via the Revel Publish Plugin.

– Unable to add a second photo to a page layout in a Book. This only occurred when the “Show Unused Photos” filter is selected in the filmstrip.

– A photo can be flagged as both a “Pick” and “Reject” at the same time when using the Toolbar to apply flags.

– Using multiple fonts within the same text cell inside a Book can sometimes cause Lightroom to crash.

– Exposure becomes the active adjustment slider in the Basic panel (within Develop) when moving from image to image.

– Customers using Photoshop Elements 11 were unable to upgrade their catalogs in Lightroom 4.

– Custom Cell padding options in the Book Module reset in between Lightroom sessions

– 1080p video files shot on iPhone 4S flicker on replay.

– Leaving the Book Module after using multiple text colors in the same text cell can sometimes cause the book to be lost.

The latest Photoshop Lightroom 4 also expands camera support to include the following:
– Canon PowerShot S110

– Canon PowerShot G15

– Canon PowerShot SX50 HS

– Casio Exilim EX-ZR1000

– Casio Exilim EX-FC300S

– Nikon D600 (expanded to full support)

– Olympus PEN E-PL5

– Olympus PEN E-PM2

– Olympus STYLUS XZ-2 iHS

– Panasonic DMC-GH3

– Pentax K-5 II

– Pentax K-5 IIs

– Pentax Q10

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 was officially released earlier this year for OS X and PC. It’s available for purchase for US$149 for new customers, or US$79 for those upgrading from a previous version.

If you’ve tried the new build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Microsoft to release free Office app for iOS in early 2013, will charge subscription fees for document editing

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Date: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, 08:46
Category: Rumor, Software

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This is interesting.

According to The Verge, a version of Microsoft Office designed for Apple’s iPhone and iPad is now expected to arrive on the iOS App Store in early 2013, offering free document viewing, while a subscription will be needed for editing.

Details on the rumored software were revealed on Wednesday, which also obtained screenshots of the software and other details from “several sources close to Microsoft’s plans.” The “Office Mobile” application will be a free option available on the iOS App Store that will require a Microsoft Office account.

Included in Office Mobile will be Word, PowerPoint and Excel support, while those with an Office 365 subscription will be able to edit documents. Office Mobile is also expected to come to Google’s Android platform, though it will debut on Apple’s iOS first.

An Office 365 subscription will reportedly be available for purchase through the application, meaning it will comply with Apple’s in-app purchase rules for App Store content. Wednesday’s report said the subscription will allow for “basic editing” in the application, though it “won’t go very far in attempting to replace regular full use of a desktop Office application.

Those who do not purchase an Office 365 subscription will still be able to use the free Office Mobile application for iPhone and iPad for basic viewing of documents.

Last month, a Microsoft product manager in the Czech Republic indicated that the new version of Office for iOS could arrive as soon as March of 2013. A spokesperson for Microsoft declined to give a date, only saying that its Office suite would “work across Windows Phone, iOS and Android.”

Rumors of a version of Microsoft Office for iPad have swirled for the past year, and a picture claiming to show a screenshot of the iPad application surfaced this February. One report from late May pegged a specific release date of Nov. 10 for Office for iPad, but recent reports suggest that date will not be met.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.