Verizon launches ad showcasing iPad, Verizon MiFi unit

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPad, News

In a fairly uncharacteristic move, Apple has allowed its new carrier partner, Verizon, to create its own commercial for the iPad, advertising that the touchscreen tablet can now be bought with a MiFi for on-the-go connectivity.

The new commercial, entitled “Breakaway,” debuted on national TV this week. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. began selling the Wi-Fi-only iPad, bundled with a 3G MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, late last month.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander:



According to AppleInsider, the commercial could be a sign of things to come: Verizon is widely expected to begin carrying a CDMA version of Apple’s iPhone starting in January of 2011. That information has been independently confirmed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fortune.

It has been reported that control over the iPhone, including its advertising, was a major point of contention between Verizon and Apple in 2005. The carrier and Apple could not come to a deal, and the device debuted on AT&T’s network in 2007.

But in order to bring the iPhone to Verizon, Apple may be compromising — as evidenced by the iPad commercial. Fortune also reported in October that Verizon’s iPhone is expected to offer special features, like live TV for customers of Verizon’s FiOS cable service.

If you have two cents to throw in on this, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple internal memo surfaces, cites dead pixel/replacement policies for hardware

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Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, retail

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A leaked memo dictating Apple’s internal policy on replacing devices with dead LCD pixels surfaced last week, revealing that the company will replace an iPhone if it has just one dead pixel, while an iPad must have at least three to qualify.

Per Boy Genius Report, the loose guidelines employees must follow when a customer attempts to return a device with bad pixels on its display state that one dead pixel is good enough for a replacement on a device with a screen size of between 1″ and 3.5″.

Apple’s 9.7″ iPad display must have three or more dead pixels for the unit to qualify for a replacement. Things get a bit more complicated with larger screens and devices such as notebooks, iMacs and the company’s Cinema Display demand that a distinction is made between “bright” and “dark” faulty pixels.

Apple Store Geniuses are, however, given some leeway. The internal document states that authorized service providers must explain to the customer that they can replace the product, but that replacement may have even more dead pixels or other issues. Apple will not replace the product again if the replacement product is within the written guidelines.

Members of Apple’s retail team also contacted The Unofficial Apple Weblog to clarify the company’s policy even further:

“If you ask for a first replacement product due to bad pixels, you should always get it, with no arguments and no restock charges (if this isn’t your first experience, ask to discuss it with a supervisor),” the report said. “However, if the replacement unit is still within spec — which for anything other than an iPhone or iPod touch, may mean more pixels depending on how bad the first unit was — a second replacement is ruled out.”

If you’ve seen this on your end or had a similar Apple retail experience, let us know.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.