Rumor: Apple to release iPhone 5 in late June

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Date: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 04:37
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It isn’t the strongest rumor but it’s still a rumor.

Per Korean web site etnews, Apple will be releasing the iPhone 5 arriving in June after all. The device would still miss WWDC but could have a special event with Steve Jobs weeks later. ETNews claimed to know that both KT and SK Telecom would have the new model along with or soon after other countries.

Despite suspicions, the iPhone 5 wasn’t necessarily delayed, according to tips. The unnamed sources didn’t have an explanation for Sony’s Howard Stringer warning that iPhone cameras might be delayed due to the Japanese earthquake.

The assertions are contradict Apple’s usual pattern of Korean iPhone launches, which usually have the device ships to Korea months after everyone else and only just shipped the iPhone 4 to SK Telecom. Even with a July ship date, it would give the current iPhone just over three months on the market.

Apple also rarely has an event so close after WWDC. If a release is close to the event, it usually prefers to mention the new hardware at the event itself and time the release accordingly.

If not at WWDC, the unveil’s actual release date is still a mystery. Although both the initial tip and follow-up rumors have presumed the September media event would be the most likely candidate, they didn’t know for certain and didn’t rule out an in-between event. Apple might want the iPhone 5 to ship as quickly as possible to hedge against Android and could be unwilling to wait any longer than necessary.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

AT&T quietly raises upgrade prices, non-iPhone handset purchase prices

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Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPhone, News

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Ok, you’re not going to be happy about this one.

According to AndroidCentral, wireless carrier AT&T has quietly raised early and exception upgrade pricing for iPhones and other smartphones. A notice to store staff has warned that, as of Sunday, users are paying US$50 more. The move would change the premature upgrade price from US$249 for an iPhone 3GS to US$299, and up to US$449 or US$549 for an iPhone 4 before normal eligibility comes up.

A separate memo both confirms the price hikes and showed across-the-board pricing increases. With the exception of the iPhone, pricing will go up sharply for anyone buying a phone contract-free or a shortened one-year contract. Those without a contract will pay at least US$50 more, AndroidCentral saw, while one-year buyers will spend US$150 more.

Basic messaging phones are also going up by US$20 off-contract or US$10 on a one-year deal.

AT&T has yet to officially confirm the rate hikes, though they will ultimately have the largest impact on non-Apple hardware. Pricing for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 devices will now mostly be competitive on a two-year plan where the iPhone may be the more reasonable deal on shortened terms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Rumor: Apple may include 8 megapixel camera in iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 05:59
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s rumors that make technology interesting.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Sony CEO Howard Stringer has sparked speculation that the iPhone 5 will have an 8-megapixel camera after making some unguarded comments in an interview.

In the interview, Stringer said that Sony’s camera sensor plant in Sendai had been affected by the recent earthquake and that shipments of sensors to Apple would be delayed.

However, Sony isn’t Apple’s regular camera sensor supplier (this task generally falls to Omnivision).

In February this year it had been suggested that Omnivision might not be able to make 8MP sensors in large enough volumes in time for the iPhone 5′s launch and that Apple may turn to Sony instead. Sony makes 8MP sensors for smartphones such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo.

Apple-watchers are expecting an iPhone 5 announcement at the WorldWide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early June, though it isn’t clear if the next-generation iPhone will actually be available to buy at the time.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple may be looking into creating external “quick charge” battery packs for devices

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Date: Friday, April 1st, 2011, 03:26
Category: Patents

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Apple has apparently shown an interest in developing an integrated external battery pack into its standard charging cable, providing extra power for devices like a MacBook or iPhone when a power outlet isn’t available.

Per AppleInsider, the potential future accessory was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filing for “Power Adapter with Internal Battery” describes a wall charger with an integrated battery pack, allowing users to charge a device at home and give that device extra juice when on the go.

Apple’s application acknowledges that rechargeable external battery accessories do already exist. However, it notes that such accessories are not as advantageous as one that might be integrated with a standard charging cable.

“Such external batteries are generally cumbersome to use, at least because they must be unpacked for use and then repacked for storage,” Apple’s filing states of current options available on the market. “In addition, many users forget to bring the external battery in addition to the adapter while in transit.

“What is needed is a way to combine a power adapter and a battery so that a user does not have to carry an additional battery while traveling with a portable electronic device.”

Apple’s solution would include a “smart” charger with an integrated processor. This would allow the charger to intelligently determine how to distribute charge between the integrated adapter battery, and the battery on a device like a MacBook.

The hardware would also include the ability to share the status of the battery with the device it is charging. This way, users would be able to check the status of the external adapter battery and how much power it has left.

Such a device could be augmented by a “trickle source” for power, such as solar. And it could also include a USB port for charging a device like an iPhone or iPod. The accessory could also include a wireless adapter, allowing a MacBook or other device to access the power adapter even when it is not physically connected.

Apple’s application also notes that its external battery solution could employ current power adapter features, such as its patented MagSafe connector.

The need for such third-party external battery makers could be significantly lessened if Apple were to follow through on its pursuit of power adapters with integrated rechargeable batteries.

Apple first filed the patent application made public this week in September of 2009, and the proposed invention is credited to Duncan Kerr, David Robbins Falkenburg and Michael Nugent.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.1 update

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Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Apple on Friday released iOS 4.3.1, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and security patches for iOS devices.

Per Macworld, the update centers around a pair of graphics-related fixes: one for an occasional glitch on the 4th-generation iPod touch and one for flickering problems when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs. iOS 4.3.1 also resolves a problem with authenticating some enterprise Web services and some bugs experienced when activating and connecting to cellular networks.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

AT&T/T-Mobile USA deal could take up to one year for federal approval

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Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 07:00
Category: iPhone, News

Even if AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA for US$39 billion may come as good news, it might be a while before T-Mobile can offer an iPhone.

Per T-Mobile, U.S. customers of T-Mobile likely will not have access to Apple’s iPhone for at least one year, assuming a proposed acquisition from AT&T is granted federal approval.

Following the announcement on Sunday that AT&T plans to buy T-Mobile to create the largest wireless provider in the U.S., a list of frequently asked questions were posted on the official T-Mobile website. In that list, one question is specifically devoted to the iPhone, which is currently only available to AT&T and Verizon customers.

“T-Mobile USA remains an independent company,” the FAQ reads. “The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.”

T-Mobile cannot yet offer the iPhone because its wireless network is not compatible with the 3G radio found in the GSM version of Apple’s best-selling smartphone. And that won’t change until AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile is approved by federal regulators — a milestone that is by no means guaranteed.

The merging of customer bases from AT&T and T-Mobile would create a total of about 130 million users, making AT&T the largest carrier in the U.S. AT&T has touted that the acquisition of T-Mobile will help to speed up its own existing nationwide network.

Though they operate on different radio frequencies, the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile have a common technology base with 3G UMTS. That will make it easier for AT&T to merge the two networks and ensure that handsets from both companies will be compatible on the same network.

T-Mobile’s FAQ also notes that the acquisition will offer “significant benefits” for customers, improving network quality and boosting speeds.

“The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G LTE network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company would achieve on its own,” it reads. “Also, because of our compatible networks and spectrum, the customers of T-Mobile USA and AT&T will experience improved voice and data service almost immediately after the networks are integrated.”

Customers were also advised that they should not wait to sign up with T-Mobile or upgrade their handset, as the company remains independent until the deal is approved. The company will also honor all contracted plans that are entered into before the change of ownership.

AT&T announced on Sunday its plans to acquire T-Mobile for US$39 billion. The cash and stock deal, if approved, would give Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile USA, an 8% stake in AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the deal, please let us know in the comments.

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

Posted by:
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.