Apple releases, 2TB, 3TB capacity Time Capsule units

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 06:02
Category: News, Time Capsule, wireless

Apple on Tuesday quietly released new models of Time Capsule, its combination backup drive and wireless base station.The new Time Capsules are available in 2TB and 3TB capacities—previously, Time Capsule had topped out at 2TB.

Per Macworld, the new Time Capsules still use the 802.11n Wi-Fi networking standard, with dual-band operation available for 802.11b/g devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. Other than the boosted hard drive capacities, it doesn’t appear the new Time Capsules boast any new features.

The 2TB Time Capsule retails for US$299 while the 3TB model sells for US$499; those prices are unchanged from the previous 1TB and 2TB offerings, respectively.

If you’ve tried the new Time Capsule units and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Adobe releases Flex 4.5, Flash Builder 4.5, updates tools for building iOS apps

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:01
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Sometimes the Hatfields and the McCoys can put their differences aside and get along where the iOS platform is concerned.

Per the company’s official blog, Adobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple’s official App Store.

The new functionality was announced on the company’s official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created “using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers.”

The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.

Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe’s software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple’s iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.

A “Platform Settings” option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.

“When your application is ready, you don’t actually have to build the application separately for every single platform,” Jespers said. “You can actually do that in one code. It’s pretty amazing.”

Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.

Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe’s in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple’s iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.

Controversy over Apple’s decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce “sub-standard apps” for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs said in April 2010.

Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The “experimental” software called “Wallaby” allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new versions of Flash Builder or Flex, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 4 flash orders scaled back, iPhone 5 camera system undergoing redesign

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Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 06:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make technology interesting.

Per Electronista, parts supplier leaks on Wednesday supported beliefs that Apple redesigning the camera flash for the iPhone 5. The company has reportedly “greatly reduced” the number of orders from Philips for the LED flashes used in the iPhone 4 over the past one to two months. Although it couldn’t be confirmed, there’s been talk of a switch to a Taiwanese supplier but said it could be a sign Philips wasn’t being used for the next iPhone, or at least not as-is.

The rumor has been corroborated by new iPhone camera parts that separated the camera sensor from its flash. The move is likely a reflection of lessons from the iPhone 4 and general photography: moving the flash further from the sensor reduces the instances of blown-out highlights and effects like red-eye.

Changes to the sensor itself may have also necessitated the shift. Apple is rumored to be using an eight-megapixel CMOS sensor from OmniVision that would be more sensitive than in the past. While excellent for low light, it could also be overly sensitive to light from a flash that on the iPhone 4 is just a fraction of an inch away.

Apple is rumored to be starting production in July for the next iPhone and would likely be winding down the majority of its part production to make way for the new device. Old components probably won’t be phased out entirely as Apple will likely want to keep the iPhone 4 as the new entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent describes additional security/data scrambling features for lost iPhone handsets

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Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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If you’re hunting for your lost iPhone, you might have some additional features to work with before long.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in giving users the ability to scramble or delete specific data, or even record audio or visual information in the event that an iPhone is lost.

Apple’s new potential security options are detailed in a patent application made public this week. Entitled “Proactive Security for Mobile Devices,” the feature would offer extremely flexible, custom options for security measures on an iPhone.

For example, with specific data such as e-mail, contacts and stored passwords, users could selectively choose to either scramble, delete or ignore the information if the handset is reported stolen or missing.

Users could even choose to deny a potential thief access to certain features of the iPhone, including the ability to make phone calls or access Wi-Fi. Users could also prevent a security breach to a corporate network by having their iPhone automatically change VPN settings once a security risk has been detected.

But a user may also decide to continue to allow some features on a missing device, such as Wi-Fi or GPS, to help track down the handset and identify its location. Keeping that functionality active allows the rightful owner of the device to determine its place on a map.

In one example included in the application, the missing iPhone displays an alert that a secure password must be entered within 60 seconds or location data associated with the handset will be transmitted back to the owner.

If a correct password is not entered in time, the location data will be sent, and the device can also be locked and restricted only to the functionality chosen by the original owner. For example, the device could become password locked, and the only available activity would be to contact the original owner of the iPhone.

Apple’s solution could also utilize the sensors inside of an iPhone to record unusual activity, and alert users that their handset is at security risk, potentially preventing it from being lost forever. Such a system could detect suspicious activities like calls or texts to an unknown number.

If an iPhone is reported stolen, the device could record images and ambient audio. This data could be provided to investigative authorities to help track down the hardware.

These options are more powerful and flexible than the existing Find My iPhone functionality, which late last year Apple made free for all iOS devices. The current service allows users to identify the location of their device, display a message on it, set a passcode lock, or remotely wipe it.

But in its patent application, Apple notes that features like the remote wipe command are an all-or-nothing approach that can be frustrating for users. If a remote wipe is conducted, the user is forced to restore all of the deleted information, which can be inconvenient and time consuming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Imagination Technologies begins licensing process for future iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

Whatever you’re expecting from the next-gen iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, improved graphics should be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple component provider Imagination Technologies is now licensing its PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture, the next generation of the hardware found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, to six key partners — three of which remain secret.

The new processor, code-named “Rogue,” was revealed to have been licensed by ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and MediaTek. The remaining three partners are “yet to be announced,” but given the fact that Apple is a major shareholder of the company, its involvement could be considered likely.

Apple purchased a 3% stake in Imagination Technologies back in 2008, and in 2009 the iPhone maker increased its share to 9.5%.

Imagination said this week that its PowerVR Series6 GPU family offers best-in-class “GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs.” The company also touted that it has “one of the largest teams of graphics engineers in the world,” and that its chips have powered hundreds of thousands of applications created by “an extensive ecosystem of third party developers.”

“The growing commitment of the primary players to our roadmap shows that, having evaluated the options, the overall mobile and embedded market is increasingly committing to PowerVR as the de facto graphics standard,” said Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie.

More specifically, the graphics processor in the iPad 2 is the PowerVR SGX543MP2, which Apple has claimed helps to boost graphics in the A5 processor by as much as nine times. Benchmarks of just the SGX543GPU have found it to be much faster than its peers powering devices like the Motorola Xoom, or even 2010′s first-generation iPad.

With the A5 chip already in mass production for the iPad 2 and the same architecture expected to be utilized in the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone, it’s unlikely that Imagination’s new “Rogue” graphics processor could appear until at least a so-called “A6″ custom Apple processor were to become a reality. The new PowerVR Series6 GPUs are said to be “fully compatible” with Imagination’s previous Series5 and Series5XT PowerVR SGX GPUs, which the company said will ensure “a smooth migration path for developers upgrading applications.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon adds 19 cities to LTE network

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 14:55
Category: iPhone, News

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You’re hankering to get on an LTE network connection with an updated iPhone, so here’s some good news.

Per Computerworld, Verizon Wireless announced that the company will add 19 more cities that will get its faster LTE wireless network service starting Thursday, bringing the total to 74 metropolitan areas.

San Francisco and Detroit, already on Verizon LTE since last December, will also see the existing LTE network in those cities expanded, Verizon said in a statement.

The new 19 LTE cities include several state capitals such as Sacramento, Calif., Hartford, Conn., Boise, Idaho, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Ind., Salt Lake City (with Ogden), Utah; and Madison (with Milwaukee), Wis.

The announcement comes as competitor AT&T is set to launch LTE 4G service in five cities in the U.S. this summer: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Reports have also surfaced that Sprint will begin adding LTE service to its existing nationwide WiMax 4G capability, partly to support a future LTE-ready iPhone , although Sprint has not confirmed those reports.

T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest U.S. wireless carrier, has been promoting its HSPA+ network as a fast 4G technology. Meanwhile, AT&T is seeking to acquire T-Mobile but needs approvals from federal regulators.

The various 4G technologies are promoted as offering users download data speeds of up to about 10 Mbps, which is roughly 10 times what most users get over 3G downloads from the carriers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing iPhone handset with Sprint network

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 07:57
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If there’s a good network out there, Apple might just like the iPhone to be on it.

Per 9to5Mac, sources close to the story had said that a version of the iPhone for Sprint’s network is currently in advanced testing. The physical design of this device is akin to the iPhone 4 of today, so this might be the iPhone 4S device with support for all carriers that we have been dreaming up and hearing whispers about. Apple is said to have ordered Sprint-compatible cell towers for use on their campus – for testing – in late 2010. Apple similarly tested the Verizon iPhone against Verizon cell towers on their campus months before the product’s release.

In addition to being actively tested in Apple’s “black labs,” the device is making the rounds amongst Sprint’s research and development department. Sources also say that talk of a 4G varient of the iPhone for Sprint is moving along, but the first generation Sprint iPhone that is currently in testing does not feature support for 4G bands. Back in May, a job listing posted to Apple’s official jobs website revealed that Apple is looking to craft up a cellular engineering team in Kansas City, home of Sprint’s worldwide headquarters. Sources did warn that depending on negotiations regarding 4G, the project may be pushed to late 2012. If the Sprint model is this fall’s model, it likely will not carry 4G compatible radios.

Additional reports have stated that a Sprint iPhone is coming and that it will include dual-band support for T-Mobile. The report also claims that Verizon/AT&T and Sprint/T-Mobile will switch off annually as to who gets the new iPhone model. Rumors on the ground have also stated that the Sprint data plan will be spiked to US$89 a month from US$69 a month.

Keep checking back and we’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Apple releases iBooks 1.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 05:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released version 1.3 of its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.3 adds a couple of new features, including a read-aloud feature for some children’s books that isn’t working yet.

iBooks 1.3 requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple unveils iOS 5, cites 200 new features, highlights 10 for keynote

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Not that the iOS user base has done anything wrong, but there’s going to be some changes around here…

Per Mac|Life, Apple sent in Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about the 1,500 new APIs that developers will have to tap into, with 200 new features to end users/

10 of them were shown yesterday and boil down as follows:

Notification Center: This gathers information in one easy-to-use spot which is accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notifications will also be featured on the lock screen, where you can swipe across any of them to go straight to the app in question.

Newsstand: Brings all of your magazine, newspaper and other periodical subscriptions to one place. “When you purchase them they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand,” Forstall explained, showing off an integrated “newspaper stand” type graphic on the home screen.

Twitter: The rumors of deep Twitter integration into iOS 5 appear to have come true. There will be a single sign-on location in the iOS Settings and the feature will be integrated with apps such as the Camera and Photos for quick sharing.

Reader: The Reader view in desktop Safari is finally coming to Mobile Safari, which certainly poses a threat to existing services such as Readability. Reader for Mobile Safari will allow you to email the contents of a story as well as the link, and the browser will also gain the much-rumored Reading List feature similar to Instapaper. Last but not least, tabbed browsing finally comes to Mobile Safari as well. “It is lightning fast to switch between windows now,” Forstall exclaimed. Potentially putting another class of third-party developers out of business, Apple will introduce a slick new Reminders feature to iOS 5 which syncs across devices as well as to iCal.

Camera Button: iOS 5 will finally introduce a dedicated Camera button on the lock screen for quick one-tap access, and Apple has finally allowed use of the volume up button as a dedicated camera shutter. The Camera app also gains an auto exposure and auto focus lock, pinch to zoom and the ability to do basic editing such as crop, rotate and red-eye reduction without leaving the app.

iOS Mail: The app will gain rich text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses, entire content searching and the ability to mark emails as unread if you want to act on them later. Security is also getting a boost with the use of S/MIME, and there’s finally a built-in dictionary that’s now a service across the entire iOS platform as well.

PC Free: iOS will no longer require a physical connection to the computer to enable syncing. “We know we’re selling to a lot of places where the households just don’t have computers,” Forstall confesses. Now you’ll be able to take your device out of the box and setup/activate right on the device. Software updates will also now come over the air, and they will be in the form of “delta” updates with just the new bits, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes each time.

Game Center: “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet,” Forstall boasts. “There are more than 100,000 game and entertainment titles in the App Store.” Citing more than 50 million Game Center users in only nine months — eclipsing Xbox Live’s 30 million users in eight years — Forstall promises that the service will get even more social with friend and game recommendations and even the ability to purchase and download games directly from the app.

Finally, Forstall introduced the new iMessage service for iOS users, supporting all of the company’s devices. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages with delivery and read receipts as well as real-time typing notification. Start a conversation on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on the iPad, and it works over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

Among the other features coming to iOS 5 are AirPlay mirroring, wireless sync with iTunes (hooray!), multitasking gestures and much more. iOS 5 was released to developers via an updated SDK yesterday and will ship to customers in the fall alongside the free iCloud service, with support from the iPhone 3GS and up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T CEO drops hints at smaller SIM card format

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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Prior to all the Worldwide Developers Conference hubbub, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview this week with All Things D that a smaller SIM card is a “no-brainer” and his company is looking into it, but declined to make the direct connection to Apple that the France Telecom CEO made last week.

When asked by All Things D’s Ina Fried whether AT&T is interested in the smaller SIM card that Apple and France Telecom have reportedly agreed upon, de la Vega acknowledged that the carrier is “working with the industry” to look at the possibility of smaller SIM cards. “I think that probably will happen,” he said.

In late May, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview that Apple and wireless carriers had reached a compromise to use a smaller SIM card format instead of an embedded SIM chip that Apple had expressed interest in. According to Richard, the next iPhone will be “smaller and thinner,” partially due to a reduction in the SIM card footprint.

Per another executive at Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Apple in May submitted a new requirement for a smaller SIM form factor to a European standards institute. The iPhone 4 and iPad currently utilize a micro-SIM solution.

Like Richard, de la Vega expressed a preference for a smaller SIM card over an embedded SIM. “We think that making the card smaller and shrinking the size is a no-brainer and we should be able to make that happen,” he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an e-SIM.

During the interview, de la Vega expressed disappointment at Windows Phone sales. “We actually like [Windows Phone 7] very, very much,” he said. “It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to.”

Despite the lackluster sales, the AT&T CEO remained optimistic about Microsoft’s prospects. “I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good,” he said. “I think they just need to make it better… Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone–I think that is all that it needs.”

For de la Vega, the iPhone and Google’s Android have been “positive surprises,” while sales of Research in Motion’s devices have dropped off. “Android and Apple are really the hot products right now,” he added, noting that customers have been “choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries.”

The executive also challenged tablet makers to continue to raise standards in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to de la Vega, all the manufacturers who make smartphones are also offering AT&T tablets. “The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar,” he said.

Speaking at the D9 conference earlier this week, de la Vega confirmed that AT&T is working on a shared data plan that would allow users to pool minutes and data plans between devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.