Apple, Google may be improving relations following Jobs’ passing

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 07:13
Category: News

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It’s funny how quickly things can change in the world of tech. One second, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on stage with Steve Jobs during the iPhone introduction, and the next, Jobs is threatening to destroy Android and go “thermonuclear” against Google for “slavishly copying” the look and feel of Apple’s crown jewel — iOS.

You might also recall that Jobs, during an Apple town hall meeting in 2010, didn’t mince words when asked a question about Google and, in return, replied with the following comment:

“We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake: they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them […] This don’t be evil mantra? It’s bullshit.”

All that said, it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple over the past few years has removed every Google property from the iOS home screen. You may have also noticed that Bing is now the search engine that powers Siri’s web search results in iOS 7.

Suffice it to say, Google and Apple are full-on competitors and have been for quite some time. Indeed, it almost seems like eons ago when Schmidt actually held a seat on Apple’s board of directors.

But the vitriol between the two companies, as evidenced by Jobs’ statements above, appears to have died down a bit — at least if you’re inclined to believe Schmidt.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the Allen and Co media conference, Schmidt said that relations between Apple and Google have improved and that the two companies are having “lots and lots of meetings.”

Reuters reports:

He noted that Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, who joined him at the press briefing, was leading many of the discussions. The two companies are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” Schmidt said.

That’s all well and good if it’s in fact true, but it’s easy to be skeptical when Google and Schmidt have always played it coy when it comes to publicly characterizing their relationship with Apple.

Possible low-cost iPhone mock ups surface, add to speculation

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Date: Thursday, July 11th, 2013, 06:46
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The rumor of a low-cost iPhone lives.

And occasional photos of mock ups tend to keep it alive.

Per 9to5Mac and Gizmodo, a series of mock ups of the new iPhone from Martin Hajek have surfaced. The design doesn’t stray too far from what’s been seen and heard in the past, but the color choices seem to be influenced by Apple’s recently announced iOS 7 update.


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In addition to these new concept photos, some new high-resolution photos of the back shells for the purported cheaper iPhone have leaked. While these images can’t presently be verified, they represent the thought as to what a low-cost iPhone would look like.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple considering switch to IGZO displays to boost next-gen MacBook Pro battery life

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 15:54
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

The next-gen MacBook notebooks could possess even longer lasting batteries.

Per Korea IT News, Apple is once again rumored to be considering indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) LCDs, this time for inclusion in not only upcoming versions of its iPad, but also in its forthcoming MacBook Pros. A recent report has the Cupertino company talking with Sharp and LG Display in preparation for wider manufacture.

The new MacBooks would reportedly be scheduled for release some time early in 2014, though the report gives no word on when IGZO-packing iPads would be set for release. The latest speculation surrounding the iPad does make mention of reduced backlighting and improved battery life, both of which could be outgrowths of IGZO technology.

An oxide semiconductor, IGZO is about 10 times faster in electron mobility than an amorphous silicon semiconductor. This allows the technology to consume far less power in operation. IGZO also requires smaller wiring, which also contributes to its lower power consumption.

The panels are significantly more expensive than traditional LCDs, though, so that could represent an obstacle for Apple in bringing them to market in the MacBook Pro line. Some estimates have Apple paying 1.5 to two times as much for the same panel sizes seen in current models.

A switch to IGZO could be in keeping with Apple’s already established goals for this generation of MacBooks. When introducing the 2013 MacBook Air, Apple made sure to note that the inclusion of Intel’s new Haswell processors had boosted overall battery life to 12 hours for the 13-inch model. The inclusion of less power-intensive displays could push the next generation of MacBook Pros to even greater heights.

Apple has long been rumored to have been looking at IGZO technology for future devices. Previous rumors have focused on the iPhone or iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 beta 3 shows improved “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 08:08
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Ok, this could come in handy.

Per MacRumors, one of the more subtle changes reported in Apple’s iOS 7 beta 3 released to developers yesterday is a move to leverage the Retina assets included in iPhone-only apps to improve the viewing experience in “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads such as the iPad mini and the iPad 2.

Since the launch of the iPad, Apple has supported the use of iPhone-only apps on its tablet platform, allowing users to toggle between a “1x” mode where the app appears in an iPhone-sized window in the center of the iPad screen and a “2x” mode where pixels are doubled to allow the app to fill more of the iPad’s screen. But up until iOS 6, this 2x pixel doubling has been performed on the non-Retina iPhone versions of the apps for non-Retina iPads, expanding a 480×320 app to fill a 960×640 space on the iPad display and resulting in jagged text and blurry images.

With the advent of Retina displays on the iPhone supporting apps at 960×640, Apple moved to take advantage of those higher-quality assets to provide a better viewing experience on the iPad for those apps that do not have native iPad interfaces. Since the introduction of the third-generation iPad last year, Apple’s Retina iPads have been able to tap into the Retina assets in iPhone apps to display higher-quality 2x apps, and with iOS 7 beta 3 Apple has now brought that capability to its non-Retina tablets.

Interestingly, on the latest iOS 7 beta, users are no longer even presented with a 1x/2x toggle on non-Retina devices such as the iPad mini, and iPhone apps are instead presented simply as 2x apps taking advantage of Retina assets included in the app package. The result is a much better looking 960×640 app on the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. Retina iPads have not, however, seen any changes to their handling of iPhone apps and continue to offer the 1x/2x toggle.

Apple’s move to leverage the Retina assets in iPhone apps by default is essentially identical to the strategy used by RetinaPad, a jailbreak tweak that provided owners of non-Retina iPads with the higher-quality 2x scaling. That tweak had gained new popularity with the release of the non-Retina iPad mini late last year, but with Apple now building that support directly into iOS 7, all users will be able to take advantage of the higher-quality experience.

Apple announced back in March that as of May 1, it was requiring all app submissions and updates to support both Retina displays and the iPhone 5’s taller display, pushing developers to support Apple’s latest devices. The Retina support requirement also allows more apps to take advantage of the new 2x improvements for non-Retina iPads in iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten a chance to play with the third iOS 7 beta, please let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple offers popular apps at deep discounts, for free as App Store nears fifth anniversary on July 10th

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

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With the fifth anniversary of the iOS App Store approaching, a number of high-ranking apps will become free for a period of time.

According to The Verge, an unknown number of iOS apps are now free to download for both the iPhone and iPad, with titles spanning across genres and price ranges.

Games like Badland, Infinity Blade II, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Tiny Wings, and Where’s My Water? are all complimentary, while other apps include Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, Over, and Traktor DJ for iPad. With the price slashing, users can save anywhere from US$0.99 to US$19.99.

While Apple has yet to make an official announcement regarding the free app selection, or collect them into a dedicated App Store section, it is thought that the move is in celebration of the digital storefront’s upcoming fifth anniversary on July 10.

The company sent out a poster last week detailing a timeline of major App Store milestones, including explosive growth that saw 1 billion downloads in 2009, 10 billion in 2011, and 50 billion this past May. Apple also noted that the store has generated more than US$10 billion for app developers to date.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve noticed a cool iOS app that’s free or discounted on the iOS App Store, please let us know in the comments.

Apple launches Back to School promotion, throws in $50 and $100 iTunes gift cards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:49
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, retail

Never look a back to school promotion in the mouth.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple kicked off its annual Back to School deals on Tuesday for educational buyers and includes iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore gift cards worth up to US$100 with new Mac, iPhone and iPad purchases. The special deals are available now and run through September 6, 2013.


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The offer reads as follows:
“Buy a Mac for college and get a $100 gift card to spend on apps and more — and also save with education pricing. Or buy an iPad or iPhone and get a $50 card.
Qualifying products include Macs other than the Mac mini, plus the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPad 2, fourth generation iPad, and iPad mini.”

Not a bad thing and where a US$50 or US$100 iTunes gift card are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong there.

Apple to hold Q3 earnings conference call on Tuesday, July 23rd

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 06:21
Category: Finance, News

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The numbers tell the truth.

Per MacNN, Apple will hold its next quarterly earnings call with investors on Tuesday, July 23, where it will discuss its fiscal third-quarter results. According to its own estimates, it expects to report between US$33.5 billion and US$35.5 billion, a drop from the previous quarter but a realistic figure in light of no refreshed iPad or iPhone, the two primary drivers of Apple’s income. While the latest MacBook Air revision has garnered significant praise for its various improvements, it emerged at the very tail end of the quarter and thus didn’t influence sales.

Possibly affecting sales of other Apple products is the expected drop in sales that comes ahead of new iOS device models. Apple has already said that new products will be coming this fall, which is taken to mean the latest iPhone, iPad and possibly some entirely new devices — including a long-rumored Apple television or smartwatch. Another keenly-anticipated release is the acceptance of the new iOS 7, not to mention the long-overdue Mac Pro overhaul, which will test how professional users will adapt to the re-designed machine. Primarily, however, investors will be watching to see if Apple can continue its remarkable iOS platform US sales growth in the face of competition and a lack of any new product in the quarter.

In the previous quarter, Apple saw both good news and bad: revenues were up, as were iPad and iPhone sales (above analysts’ predictions), but Mac sales were basically flat and net profit was down slightly for the first time in a decade, a trend that is expected to have continued over the past three months. Analysts have reported that Apple has ordered fewer iPhones for the upcoming quarter, signalling that it expects further erosion of iPhone sales ahead of its eventual announcement of the next model.

Margins are expected to be around 36 percent, with operating expenses bubbling just under US$4 billion. The conference call is schedule to take place at 2PM Pacific/5PM Eastern on July 23.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to incorporate LTE-Advanced support, could operate at 150 Mbps data rate

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 08:46
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s just a rumor, but it could indicate that something really cool is en route for the next-gen iPhone.

Per The Korea Times, Apple is allegedly in talks with SK Telecom about launching an LTE-Advanced phone later this year. “LTE-A” is an upgraded version of the long-term evolution wireless standard currently found in the iPhone 5.

Citing an unnamed executive with SK Telecom, the report said that Apple is in the midst of negotiations with the carrier. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only device to take advantage of the LTE-A standard with SK Telecom.

LTE-A is capable of theoretical download speeds reaching 150Mbps, which is double that of basic LTE. The executive cited in the story reportedly said there is “no reason” for Apple not to adopt LTE-A with its next iPhone.

The possibility of LTE-A functionality on the next iPhone is believed to be possible because of new chipsets from Qualcomm. A potential “global LTE” chip candidate for Apple was released in February, boasting truly global connectivity support.

The Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution would enable an iPhone that supports all 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and LTE Advanced networks. Currently, the iPhone 5 is sold in three variants — two GSM and one CDMA — to offer compatibility with various networks across the world.

But Qualcomm’s RF360 would mitigate this problem, and even add support for the obscure TD-SCDMA network used by the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile. Apple does not currently have a deal in place to offer the iPhone through China Mobile, though rumors of a deal have persisted for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 build shows new Accessibility option to control devices via head movements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 09:30
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Ok, this could be interesting.

Per MacRumors, a new feature has been pointed out for Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 operating system that, via an Accessibility menu, allows iPhone users to control their devices using head movements.

The option can be found in the Switch Control area of the Accessibility menu, which is designed for users who need assistance with physical and motor movements.

Switch Control allows you to use your iPhone by sequentially highlighting items on the screen that can be activated through an adaptive accessory.

With the feature activated, specific movements can be used to correspond with actions. For example, the setting can be programmed to allow a left head movement to activate a tap, while a right head movement can be programmed to perform to another function.

Users can also make the left or right head movement act as a home button, start Siri, open Notification Center, open the App Switcher, decrease volume, increase volume, or simply tap.

It is important to note that Switch Control head movements are a beta function and should be used with caution, as the setting disables touch input.

Apple has always had a heavy focus on accessibility, and over the years has worked to provide accessibility options for vision, hearing, motor skills, and learning, turning the iPad and the iPhone into fully featured assistive devices. iOS 7 promises to bring even more accessibility options, further increasing the utility of Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype for iOS updated to 4.9, adds free video messaging, other improvements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Software

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It’s one of those days for marquee iOS app updates.

Per iMore, Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad have been updated to version 4.9. The new version, a 29.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
– Video messaging is now free and unlimited.

– Audio and video call stability improvements.

– Share photos more readily.

– Improved accessibility for video messaging.

– General fixes and improvements.

Video clips can be up to three minutes long, and the fact that all users can now send as many as they like has lots of positive implications for continued use of the service. A call is not always convienient, but there’s something a lot more personal about seeing someone as they’re speaking to you. Like they really, actually do want to talk to you.

Skype 4.9 requires and iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions of Skype for iOS and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.