New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PayPal addresses security hole via iPhone app update

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If you’re in iTunes, this is one more reason to snag the updates for your iOS-based apps…

Per the Wall Street Journal, PayPal has released an update to its popular iPhone app. The fix came into place after the company had become aware of a significant security vulnerability in which the previous version reportedly failed to confirm the authenticity of PayPal’s website, leaving a loophole that could have been exploited to gain unauthorized access to users’ accounts.

Spokeswoman Amanda Pires claims the company verified the vulnerability on Tuesday night and rushed to release an update for the app. The company suggests no users have come forward with reports of fraudulent activity, although any affected users will receive 100% reimbursement.

“To my knowledge it has not affected anybody,” Pires told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve never had an issue with our app until now.”

The update app, PayPal 3.0.1, is now available as a free download from the App Store.

Apple ends Personal Shopping service for retail store locations

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:29
Category: News, retail

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Apple has brought an end to its Personal Shopping program in its retail stores, removing all mention of the service online and within its Apple Store iOS app.

Per ifoAppleStore, the elimination of Personal Shopping “became effective yesterday and stems from the belief that every customer should receive the same attention and amount of service.”

Originally set up in 2007 as a way for individuals to reserve an appointment with an Apple retail store employee, the company once described the program as “a whole new way to shop at the Apple Store.”

As a free service “where you and a dedicated Mac Specialist explore and test-drive products to find out which ones are best for you,” the program was intended to foster an environment of personal attention within the company’s retail outlets.

“We know the store can be busy, so when you’re ready to talk, Personal Shopping is a way for us to give you our undivided attention.”

However, as stores got busier, the premise of Personal Shopping became more difficult to deliver. At the launch of iPhone 3G in 2008, Apple suspended the program for iPhone-related visits.

“It is critical that all stores follow the same process to ensure every customer has an equal and fair opportunity to purchase a phone,” the company told its store managers.

Since I went out to the Apple Store yesterday during the middle of a weekday and it was basically overrun, there might be something to be said for this.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Target to begin selling iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 handsets and accessories on November 7th

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 04:17
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It’s not the most exciting news in the world, but it’s useful in a pinch.

Per Engadget, the Minneapolis-based Target retail chain will begin offering Apple’s iPhone 3GS and black iPhone 4 handsets at various Target Mobile locations nestled within some 846 Targets across the country starting on November 7th.

Pricing for the handsets and accessories will be the same as everywhere else in the Apple/iPhone retail chain.

Still, it’s another place to buy an iPhone-based item if you need one in a pinch and that’s never a bad thing.

Apple releases iOS 4.2 golden master build to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Monday, Apple released its golden master build of iOS 4.2 for its entire line of iOS-based devices including the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

Per AppleInsider, the new OS will sport features such as as AirPlay wireless streaming of audio, video and photos to the new Apple TV or other AirPlay-compliant devices and its AirPrint wireless printing architecture, designed to enable users to create hard copies of web pages, emails and photos managed through a new Print Center app.

The new update will also finally bring multitasking features and iOS Folders to the iPad, along with a variety of other features currently only available on the iPhone and iPod touch, such as support for multiple email aliases, a unified inbox, and messages organized by threads in Mail, and the ability to open attachments in third party apps.

New multitasking features will also incorporate the software orientation lock and music playback controls available on the iPhone running iOS 4, which are accessed via swiping to the left from the list of currently running apps. The iPad also presents a brightness control in this section (as depicted below).

The iPad will also lose its hardware toggle assigned to locking the screen orientation; the button will instead work to mute audio, just like the iPhone. This move has generated some controversy because Apple not only refuses to offer customers a choice of how their hardware buttons work, but has also duplicated mute functionality, as the audio down button already works as to rapidly mute audio playback.

The update will also bring Game Center to the iPad, allowing players to invite friends or find new opponents online to play against, as well as track their own achievements and high scores.

Apple has also outlined enhanced enterprise support features in iOS 4.2, including new device management capabilities, the ability to lock down email account settings, and stronger security enhancements.

iOS 4.2 will also include support for more than 30 new languages in keyboards and dictionaries, including Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.

It also strengthens accessibility features including support for navigating VoiceOver using a wireless keyboard and a wide range of refreshable braille output displays in more than 25 languages. On the iPad, larger text options up to 56 point fonts can also be specified for use in Contacts, Mail, Messages and Notes.

Other major changes include support for Google’s revised YouTube voting, a direct link to launching a FaceTime video call from within the SMS messages interface, and new CoreMIDI music APIs for music-related apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working to include RFID, near-field computing functions into next-gen iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 1st, 2010, 10:37
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Ok, this could be interesting.

Citing an anonymous source, Mac web site Cult of Mac has reported that Apple is working on adding a near-field communication chip to Apple’s next-generation iPhone would add not only “e-wallet” transactions, but also the ability to securely turn a nearby Mac into your own computer, complete with custom settings and personal passwords.

Citing an anonymous source, Cult of Mac reported Monday that Apple is working on near-field communication technology for both its smartphone and future Macs. The functionality is rumored to appear in Apple’s next iPhone, expected to launch in June 2011.

The source said an iPhone with near-field communications like an RFID chip could be used within proximity of a Mac, allowing users to load applications, settings and data on the Mac from the phone. When the iPhone is taken away from the proximity of the computer, the data would disappear with it.

“The Mac authenticates with the iPhone, which contains a lot of the information the computer needs, such as bookmarks, passwords and other data,” the source reportedly said. “The system would essentially turn any Apple computer into your own — like you’re actually working on your own computer. Same settings, look, bookmarks, preferences. It would all be invisible. Your iPhone would be all you needed to unlock your Mac.”

The information contained on the phone would reportedly include contacts, desktop picture, mouse and keyboard settings, website passwords, and even software licenses. Taking the iPhone away from the proximity of the computer would then restore the Mac to its original state.

The source indicated that Apple is interested in making it easy for users to carry all of their information with them, but that task has become difficult as file sizes and the amount of data continues to grow. They said it’s possible that Apple could store larger files in the cloud, while the basics like passwords and documents would be contained on the phone.

Last week, a report alleged that Apple is developing a new open SIM for its next-generation iPhone, which would allow one handset to work with multiple carriers. It was also speculated that the technology from a partnership with Gemalto could also enable contactless transactions through an integrated RFID chip.

Rumors of an RFID-enabled iPhone have existed for some time, though the product has yet to come to fruition. Apple has also filed patents related to near-field communications, including an application in July that described a system allowing users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.

The company has also hired experts on near-field communications, and was even rumored to be testing iPhone models with RFID chips as recently as August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

White iPhone 4 yanked from Apple Store web sites

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Date: Thursday, October 28th, 2010, 04:46
Category: iPhone, News

Apple today quietly pulled the white iPhone 4 from the online Apple Store, the web site’s international versions that offer the iPhone online now only show the black iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS. The white hue is still visible in the store’s image gallery and in the regular product page.

Per Electronista, Apple had maintained the white iPhone 4 on the store and had simply said it was “currently unavailable” to buy despite multiple delays. The decision to delay white iPhones to the spring has given the company little incentive to keep the unavailable color scheme in its store.

Unconfirmed rumors have suggested that Apple has cancelled the white iPhone 4 altogether and that the spring date amounted to a white version for the next-generation model instead. Blame has shifted alternately between the difficulty of getting consistently colored phones in high production numbers and the unintentional effect of the white, reflective glass on the camera flash.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Verizon hiring call center workers for possible AT&T launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 25th, 2010, 17:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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If you’re fed up with your iPhone on AT&T’s network, you might just like this.

Per CNET, Verizon is reportedly hiring hundreds of call center staff through third-party hiring companies, adding to speculation that the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. is preparing to launch the iPhone.

Customer service call center staffing companies Teleperformance and Ryla are looking for thousands of customer service representatives to field calls for a “major wireless cell phone service retailer,” per the article. Posts to the Careerbuilder website as well as the companies’ own websites reveal that the positions will be dedicated to “either a wireless, cell phone, or communications company,” with additional positions offering technical support for “personal computers and portable devices like MP3 players and smartphones.”

One Teleperformance call center in Augusta, Georgia, will double its employees through the hiring campaign. “It is for a major wireless company that we have secured a new line of business, one of our existing clients,” Marcie Ballard, vice president of recruiting for Teleperformance, told the Augusta Chronicle, although she declined to say which provider.

Both companies have prior experience supporting Verizon. Teleperformance also works with Apple, in addition to Verizon Wireless and the other major cell phone carriers in the past, the report notes. Ryla has worked with Verizon for over 10 years, a source told CNET.

While the connection between a flurry of call center recruiting and a Verizon iPhone remains tenuous, the rumor was bolstered by Friday’s news that Verizon had lost more ground to rival AT&T than expected in the third quarter. Third-quarter earnings reports from Verizon and AT&T this week show that Verizon netted 584,000 new monthly-bill paying customers during the quarter, compared to AT&T’s 745,000 additions according to Reuters.

Verizon CFO John Killian told Reuters that Verizon expects to add 550,000 to 600,000 new monthly-bill paying customers in the fourth quarter, less than half of last years’ number. Killian also stressed the importance of converting standard users into smartphone users in order to increase revenue through sales of data plans.

Though Verizon Wireless still holds the No. 1 spot as the largest telecommunications network in the U.S. with 93.2 million subscribers as of October, AT&T is close to overtaking the provider with 92.8 million subscribers of its own.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple field-testing iPhone 4 revision with CDMA support

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 07:16
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s a rumor but it’s an interesting one.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple has begun field testing a new version of the iPhone, prompting continued speculation of an early 2011 launch of a CDMA-compatible iPhone.

Citing a “solid Apple source,” the publication claimed Monday that iPhone model 3,2 has reached the field test phase, while the next-generation “iPhone 5″ has advanced to the Engineering Verification Test stage of the development cycle.

“We have been told that iPhone model 3,2 — what everyone is assuming to be the Verizon (or at least CDMA-compatible) phone — just hit the “AP” testing stage. This is the very last stage before retail release; final hardware, almost final software,” the report noted.

Since Apple uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions and the second number to refer to minor revisions, iPhone model 3,2 should be an updated iPhone 4 rather than a next-generation model. The report speculates that the 3,2 revision could also include a fix for the widely publicized iPhone 4 antenna issue.

BGR’s source asserts that iPhone version 3,2 will contain a SIM card slot, which is generally used only by GSM devices. However, earlier this month, rumors surrounding a Verizon CDMA iPhone implied that Qualcomm could provide Apple with a dual-mode baseband chip that would support both GSM and CDMA networks. In the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile run GSM networks, while Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA standard. China Telecom is also reportedly in talks with Apple over a CDMA iPhone.

The story adds to articles published by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times from early October that a Verizon iPhone is in the works for next year, the much-talked-about rumors of Apple going multi-carrier in the U.S. have gained momentum.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts over $20 billion in sales, $4.31 billion profit for fourth quarter

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 06:56
Category: Finance, News

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Apple on Monday reported a “great fiscal quarter,” citing a quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, compared to US$2.53 billion for the same period last year. Over the quarter, Apple recored US$20.34 billion in revenue, an increase of nearly 67 percent from the year-ago quarter’s sales figure of US$12.21 billion.

Apple’s earnings of US$4.64 per diluted share handily beat estimates by Wall Street analysts who were expecting the company to report earnings of US$4.06 a share on $18.86 billion in revenue for September quarter.

“We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of the calendar year,” said CEO Steve Jobs in a statement accompanying the earnings. Apple has scheduled a press event for this Wednesday where the company is expected to focus on the Mac.

Per Macworld, Apple executive Peter Oppenheimer credited record iPhone sales, enthusiasm for the iPad, and a new quarterly sales record for Mac sales as the drivers behind Apple’s strong quarterly performance. In particular, Apple sold 4.19 million iPads during the first full quarter of sales for the tablet; all told, the company sold 7.5 million iPads during its 2010 fiscal year.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple recorded US$2.8 billion in sales of iPads and related accessories, with the iPad accounting for US$2.7 billion of that figure. That translates to an average selling price of around US$645 for the tablet, Oppenheimer said.

iPad sales may disappoint some analysts, who were expecting Apple to sell close to 5 million tablets. One of the issues may be with inventory—Apple says it has three-to-four weeks worth of channel inventory, which is below its target range of four-to-six weeks. The company plans to expand its iPad distribution efforts, adding retailers like Verizon, Walmart, Target, and AT&T into the mix as well as launching in additional countries.

As for the iPhone, Apple managed to sell 14.1 million units during the quarter. This marks a 91% increase over the 7.4 million phones sold during the year-ago quarter and a new quarterly record for smartphone sales for the company.

For the 2010 fiscal year, Apple sold 40 million phones, a 93 percent jump over 2009. During September, the company says it passed the 125 million mark for cumulative iOS sales of its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch offerings.

Apple also saw a record quarter for its Mac business. The company sold 3.89 million computers, up 27% from its year-ago sales. Fourth-quarter Mac sales topped the previous high-water mark of 3.47 million mark set during the June quarter. Year-over-year sales growth was more than double the growth rate projected for the overall PC market by research firm IDC, according to Oppenheimer.

Notebooks continue to drive Mac sales, with portable products, accounting for 71% of the Macs sold during the September quarter. However, sales of desktops rose nearly 28% to a little more than 1 million units, on the strength of the company’s iMac and Mac Pro updates over the summer.

Despite the largely positive news, the iPod segment continues to shrink, with Apple selling 9.05 million music players during the quarter (an 11% drop from last year’s figures). Apple updated its iPod line in September, though the company usually sees the fruits of those efforts during the holiday quarter.

While iPod sales growth stalled throughout 2010, Apple opted to focus on the positive Monday. It noted that the iPod’s share of the MP3 player market in the U.S. continues to top 70% according to research firm NPD’s figures. And Apple says its music player gained market share internationally from the year-ago quarter. The company also reported that its iTune Store brought in more than US$1 billion in revenue for the September quarter.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a minute during the conference call to comment on the company’s “hobby” product, the Apple TV, announcing that it had moved more than 250,000 units since the device went on sale. That’s the first time the company has ever revealed sales information for the device, which has gone through a number of iterations since its original introduction in 2007. Jobs confirmed that Apple had moved to an all-streaming model for content for the device, which will allow streaming of media from iOS devices in November when Apple ships iOS 4.2.

Apple’s retail segment had what Oppenheimer called a “record-breaking quarter,” with revenue rising 75% to US$3.57 billion. Apple sold 874,000 Macs through its retail arm, an increase of 30% from the year-ago quarter. The company sales that half of the Macs sold through its brick-and-mortar outlets continue to be to customers who are new to the platform.

Apple ended the fourth quarter with 317 stores, 84 of which were outside the U.S. The company opened 24 new stores during the quarter, with 16 of those opening outside of U.S. borders. In fact, with new store openings in Spain, Apple now has retail outlets in 11 countries.

The company also stated that it plans to open 40 to 50 stores during the coming fiscal year, with half of those slated for outside the U.S. The company also plans to start renovating several of its U.S. stores during 2011.

Monday’s earnings report closes the book on Apple’s 2010 fiscal year, which saw the company record US$65.2 billion in sales, a 52% increase from the US$42.9 billion in revenue recorded in 2009. Apple turned a US$14 billion profit in 2010, an increase of 72% from the previous year.

“The September quarter was the culmination of a monumental year for Apple,” Oppenheimer said.