Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3, iTunes 10.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 07:17
Category: News, Software

Late Monday Apple iOS 5 beta 3 to developers, the latest pre-release build of its forthcoming mobile operating system update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Per the Mac Observer, sources with access to the latest beta now available for download said it is dubbed Build 9A5259f and that significant changes to the software have yet to be listed, but also cited that the new build said that iMessage users on iOS 5 beta 3 will be unable to communicate with iMessage users running iOS 5 beta 1. Communication between beta 3 and beta 2 reportedly works just fine.

The new software is also said to fix an issue in which the Apple TV screen saver could degrade mirroring performance over AirPlay. iOS 5 will allow wireless mirroring when used in concert with the new Apple TV.

Also reportedly addressed in the latest build is an issue where the Reminders application did not send notifications upon the entry or exit of a location if there is no specific date associated with the location-based reminder.

The pre-release software, which is made available to members of Apple’s iOS development community, is not intended for use on end-user machines. A list of bugs that still remain in the latest build were reportedly provided to developers with beta 3.

The second iOS 5 beta was released in late June, and it brought about wireless syncing of devices. Wireless syncing with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch also requires that developers be running a beta version of Apple’s iTunes desktop client.

Accordingly, a new, third beta of iTunes 10.5 was also provided to developers on Monday.

The first beta of iOS 5 was issued to developers after it was unveiled in early June. The final software, which will become publicly available this fall, will pack more than 200 new user features including the new Notification Center.

Also released on Monday to developers was a new golden master for Xcode 4.1. It reportedly features interface builder support for auto layout, new Aqua controls, and full-screen support in the main Xcode workspace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: App Store downloads to increase by 61%, prices to jump 14% in calendar year 2011

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:12
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News

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If you remember your economics class, an old supply and demand chart should pop into your head.

Those charts are applicable.

Per AppleInsider, having recently hit the 15 billion download milestone, a new analysis has found that downloads from Apple’s iOS App Store will increase 61 percent in calendar year 2011, while the average selling price of software will be up 14 percent.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray published on Monday his latest App Store model, including average selling prices, for the official iOS digital download destination. The new numbers reflect Apple’s announcement from last week that more than 15 billion applications have been downloaded by more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users.

Munster estimates that the average iOS user will download 83 applications in calendar year 2011, up from 51 in calendar year 2010. That’s an increase of 61 percent year over year.

“We believe this trend points to the increasing importance of an app store with a broad selection of tested apps to drive device sales,” Munster wrote. “Smartphone users are showing an increasing appetite to use apps to add features to their phones, and iOS has the leading app ecosystem.”

Piper Jaffray’s App Store model also indicates that paid application average selling prices are on the rise in 2011. Munster said the data shows prices up 14 percent year-over-year in calendar year 2011, compared to the 18 percent decline seen by paid applications in 2010.

“After the initial race to the bottom in App Store pricing, we are seeing users pay up to add features and games to their iOS devices,” he said.

Using Apple’s announced figures, the App Store model suggests that 82 percent of applications on the iOS App Store are free, while 18 percent are paid. Those paid applications have an average selling price of US$1.44.

Munster attributed the increase in 2011 at least partially to more expensive iPad applications that are gaining share among App Store downloads. The average selling price of the top 10 iPad applications is US$6.32, up 36 percent from US$4.66 a year ago. Meanwhile, the top 50 iPhone applications have an average price of US$1.61.

The App Store model also shows that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users are now downloading more than 32.3 million applications per day. That’s nearly triple the 11.9 million-per-day rate of tracks downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Apple does not profit greatly from its iOS App Store, and Piper Jaffray estimates that the company’s 30 percent share of all sales amounts to just 1 percent of its total revenue. More importantly for Apple, though, the App Store drives sales of iOS devices — something that Munster admitted is hard to quantify.

“Even though our qualitative analysis does not factor in the sale of additional devices, we believe the App Store drives device sales,” he said. “We see a virtuous cycle of Apple’s robust app ecosystem adding features and functionality to the iOS devices, which drives sales, which makes the ecosystem more robust, which encourages more developers to write apps, and the cycle repeats itself.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to kill unlimited data calling plans on Thursday, offers alternatives

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Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News

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It was nifty while it lasted.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon, will not allow customers, including those who buy an iPhone, to be able to purchase the carrier’s unlimited data plan.

This Thursday, July 7, is when Verizon will begin offering its “usage-based” billing for mobile customers, spokeswoman Debra Lewis said. The change will not affect current smartphone customers of Verizon.

In addition, current smartphone customers who are upgrade-eligible will be allowed to move to another smartphone and retain their plan. But new customers or current customers who do not have a smartphone plan will only be able to buy a “usage-based” plan, Lewis told AppleInsider on Tuesday.

“We have lots of different ways for customers who may not be accustomed to this kind of stuff to check their usage in terms of data alerts, online tools, data calculators, things like that to help people decide what is the right plan for them,” she said.

New smartphone customers will be able to choose from four different capped monthly data plans: US$10 for 75MB, US$30 for 2GB, US$50 for 5GB, and US$80 for 10GB. Users who go over their monthly allotment will be charged US$10 per gigabyte, or US$10 per 75MB on the entry-level plan.

Users will also be able to add the “Mobile Hotspot” tethering feature to an iPhone or other compatible smartphone for US$20 per month. That plan will also net them an additional 2GB of data.

Tuesday’s news confirms an earlier leak that Verizon would switch to a usage-based model starting on July 7. Current smartphone customers can buy an unlimited plan from Verizon for US$29.99 per month.

Verizon’s transition comes more than a year after AT&T implemented its own tiered data plans, which retails for US$25 per month for 2GB, or US$15 a month for 200MB. AT&T customers and iPhone users also have the option of a tethering plan that offers 4GB total for US$45 per month. AT&T charges an overage of US$10 per gigabyte.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen iPhone in September, orders 15 million units from Pegatron

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Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:14
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The time to the iPhone 5′s release is apparently now two months and counting.

Per Digitimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered 15 million iPhone 5 units from Taiwanese notebook manufacturer Pegatron Technology has received orders for 15 million units from Apple. The company has declined to comment on the report.

Pegatron produced somewhere in the region of four million iPhone 4s for Apple in the first quarter of 2011, though due to a slump in iPhone 4 sales this figure was well down on the 10 million it had prepared to manufacture.

The shipping date won’t come as a surprise to industry-watchers: Apple traditionally holds a music-themed event in September and rumours that the next-generation iPhone would be announced then strengthened after no new iPhone was revealed during June’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

However, the reports do seem to contradict earlier information from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty that suggested iPhone 5 production would not begin until mid- to late August.

Digitimes reports that the iPhone 5 “does not seem to have any major update from iPhone 4″ and refers to it as the iPhone 4S at one stage in the article.

Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that production of touch sensors for the iPad 2 has reached five million a month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mophie releases updated juice pack air case for iPhone 4

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Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 07:06
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

Accessory maker Mophie recently announced the availability of a new design for their highly popular and useful juice pack air battery extender for iPhone 4. The Mophie juice pack air snap case (US$79.95) is available at Apple Stores and other retailers. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the Juice Pack Air still offers virtually double the battery capacity of the stock iPhone 4 with a new new design that makes it easier to access all of the switches and ports of the smartphone.

Where design changes are concerned, the previous model, splits near the top of the phone, meaning the case had to be remove to provide access to the Dock connector. The old design also had two openings on the left side of the phone for the ringer mute switch and the volume buttons, as well as a two openings on the top — one for the power switch and the other for the microphone and headphone jack.

The juice pack air snap is quite different. The bottom of the case snaps off, so you can leave the case on the iPhone if you need access to the Dock connector. The same four LEDs for determining charge status are still there, there’s still a micro-USB port on one side for charging the case, and the tiny slide switch for “charging” and “standby” is there as well.

The new case is available in two-tone black and silver; it was unclear from the press materials if the snap case will also come in the two-tone white/silver and red/silver models that were available for the previous model.

If you’ve had a chance to tinker around with the new juice pack air case, let us know.


Apple patent describes simpler networking, use of RFID/new proprietary technology

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Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 04:55
Category: News, Patents

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Because patents are important and show nifty things that may be down the road…

According to AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in improving device discoverability and local networking using existing technology like RFID, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or even a new proprietary wireless method.

The details come from Apple’s latest patent application, entitled “Local Device Awareness,” which describe a number of electronic devices within close proximity being able to automatically communicate with each other and share information with minimal to no user input.

Apple notes in its patent application that while networked devices can communicate with each other over great distances, communicative proximity is not equal to physical proximity.

The Mac maker’s solution would not only make device discoverability simpler, but could strip away some of the current requirements, such as the need for devices be located on the same Wi-Fi network. Devices could communicate through a unique protocol that would constantly be on the lookout for new hardware to connect to.

Networking capable devices like Macs or iPhones, as well as other hardware like specially equipped printers, could communicate with one another over existing standards like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to allow discoverability. Another technology repeatedly mentioned in Apple’s application is radio-frequency identification, or RFID, which is a short-range wireless standard that is currently found in a limited number of devices.

The application notes that Apple could also adopt a new, unique wireless technology that would allow devices to communicate without tying up services that are often used for other purposes, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The system could even use GPS to locate the exact position of a piece of hardware and display it on a map, like letting a user know where a printer or projector are located.

With this greater level of connectivity, Apple could also offer simpler interactivity. The application makes note of a unique user interface for sending tasks to certain devices. For example, using a touchscreen device like an iPad, a user could drag and drop a document onto a projector icon to have that document displayed on the device.

In addition to more practical functions like connecting to a printer, Apple’s application notes that this method could also be used for playing multiplayer games. It describes a game where users might shake an accelerometer-equipped device like an iPhone or an iPad to roll a set of virtual dice, or even use physical dice equipped with RFID.

The proposed invention is credited to Brett Bilbrey, Aleksander Pance, Nicholas King and Todd Benjamin. It was originally filed with the USPTO on Dec. 31, 2009.

Apple patent application for dock concept discusses location-based profiles

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Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 03:24
Category: News, Patents

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It’s the patent applications that make life interesting.

That or love.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in a new location-based docking system that would dynamically change the interface and settings of a portable device for different activities like working or driving a car.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Location-Based Dock for a Computing Device.” The proposed invention notes that while docking stations are typically passive devices, these described docks would take on a more active role.

“It is often left to the user to configure the computing device for use at different locations by accessing or selecting the proper software applications and security measures for the computing device…” the application reads. “However, such configuration of the device may be both time-consuming and confusing to a non-sophisticated user.”

Apple’s idea could apply to any portable device, whether it be a MacBook, an iPhone or an iPad. Each docking station would, when coupled with the appropriate portable computing device, recognize its location and allow the user to operate the device accordingly.

For example, an iPhone plugged into a moving car could automatically become optimized for use through voice control, as a user driving would not be able to operate the touchscreen.

For someone who uses the same hardware both at home and at the office, a system could automatically be reconfigured to offer the best of both worlds. For example, while at work, a docked system would access work-related e-mails and calendar entries, while at home the device would switch to personal e-mail and calendars.

Apple’s concept also extends to other docking ideas, including one meant to be used while watching television, or another that would have a device act as a digital picture frame while docked.

The location-based element could allow the settings to change based on the physical location of the hardware. In this method, if a user were to have only one docking station, they could use it both at work and at home and the appropriate settings would be implemented

And while location could play an important role in each docking station, Apple’s concept also notes that settings could be tied to a particular dock regardless of its location. For example, a user could have two or more docking stations at a single location, allowing them to use them for different computing configurations.

The patent application is credited to Nicholas Vincent King, Aleksandar Pance and Brett Bilbrey. It was first filed on New Years Eve in 2009.

Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

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Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to start assembling iPhone 5 in August

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Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 05:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Apple will begin production of fifth-generation iPhones in August ahead of a projected late third quarter launch, according to intelligence obtained by by one investment banker’s recent trip to Taiwan .

Per AppleInsider, after meetings with unnamed individuals in Taiwan last week where Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing facilities reside, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty issued a note to clients in which she confidently stated: “Apple’s next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively” into the calendar fourth quarter.

She added that, based on her intelligence, the new handset will launch and be available to consumers sometime near the end of the third calendar quarter of the year, which ends September.

As a result of the later than usual launch, Huberty shifted 2 million iPhone units from the firm’s third quarter estimates to its fourth quarter estimates, though the firm’s full year estimate of 72 million units remain unchanged. However, the analyst notes that if the next iPhone were to come out in early September, it would “drive upside” to Morgan Stanley’s lowered estimates.

Lower priced iPhones and an Apple-branded TV may also be in the works, Huberty noted. According to the analyst, Apple is forecasting a large iPhone unit increase in 2012 “on the back of new products and potentially lower price points.” Various major news outlets reported this spring that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone model, which analysts believe would help the company make gains in emerging and prepaid mobile markets.

“We also believe Apple is in the early design stages for a TV, which could add US$19 billion and US$4.50 of annual revenue and EPS longer-term,” Huberty continued. In March, the analyst reported that checks in Asia suggested Apple was working on a “Smart TV prototype.” Earlier this week, an unverified report claimed to leak Apple’s plans for iOS-powered connected TVs, citing a “former Apple executive” as the source.

In addition to Apple’s ramping up of iPhone production, Morgan Stanley sees upward pressure on iPad shipments as post-Japan earthquake product constraints have subsided. Huberty also echoed reports that improved component supply has led Apple to negotiate price cuts with some of its suppliers. Those cuts could boost margins “modestly in the June quarter and more in September,” the note read.

A recent report out of Asia said Apple has demanded 10 percent price cuts from iPad suppliers as orders increase. The report specifically cited companies supplying printed circuit boards, optical components, battery modules and touch panels as being pressured to lower prices.

Huberty sees the recent dip in Apple’s share price as a buying opportunity for investors in light of the prospect of improved shipments of the iPhone and iPad. Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating of Apple, with a price target of US$428. The company’s stock has slide more than 6 percent to US$326.35 since the beginning of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to switch to dual-LED flash for iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, June 23rd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The new iPhone 5: It may just feature an even swankier flash system.

Per DigiTimes, “recent market rumors” indicate Apple’s iPhone 5 will likely come with a dual-LED flash. Taiwan-based LED packaging firms Everlight Electronics, Edison Opto and Lite-On Technology are named as potential suppliers. Although the publication has well-placed sources within the Asian supply chain, the accuracy of its Apple predictions varies significantly.

“Everlight and Lite-On have strengthened their deployments in the smartphone market for a while, with their products already being shipped to the supply chains of brand-name handset vendors,” the reported noted industry sources as saying. Meanwhile, sources said that Edison specializes in high-power LEDs and has reportedly started shipping LED flash products to branded handset vendors, giving it a “high chance” of attracting dual-LED flash orders from Apple.

It had been reported that Apple had “greatly reduced” orders for Philips LED flash components in recent months and may go with another company for the iPhone 5, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, the source indicated that “highly unconfirmed” rumors pointed to a Taiwan-based firm as the new LED flash supplier.

Apple first began using LED flash in last year’s iPhone 4.

Last month, photos of a few purported next-generation iPhone cases and parts components emerged, showing a shift in the location of the device’s camera flash. An alleged case leak showed up on a Chinese international trade site, followed by photos of a supposed fifth-generation iPhone rear camera part without attached flash. Finally, a photo of a back panel allegedly for the so-called iPhone surfaced in late May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.