Rumor: Facebook revamping iOS app for July, aiming for significant speed/performance boosts

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Date: Thursday, June 28th, 2012, 06:26
Category: News, Rumor, Software

You might not be proud to admit how much you use it, but it could prove useful.

Per the New York Times, Facebook is working on a new application for iOS that has been completely rebuilt to address its current, “painfully slow” performance.

Two unnamed engineers working on the project shared the details of the updated application with Nick Bilton of The New York Times. He reported on Wednesday that the rebuilt application will focus on speed and performance.

“One of the Facebook engineers said the new application has been built primarily using Objective-C, the programming language used to build applications for iOS,” Bilton wrote. “Many of the components of the current version of the Facebook app are built using HTML5, a Web-based programming language.”

Bilton tested the unreleased iPhone application and said it delivers “blazing fast” performance. He said the application is being tested by developers and should be released this summer, indicating that it is expected to launch “next month.”

Though it will be rewritten, the application “looks exactly like the old one,” he said. All of the changes have been made behind the scenes to improve performance.

The Facebook application has been available on iPhone for years, but the social networking site released its official iPad application last fall. The iOS software is universal, meaning it has built-in support for both the iPhone and the iPad.

Facebook will also play a major role in the release of iOS 6 this fall. With iOS 6, Apple will add system-wide Facebook integration, allowing users to log in to their account in the iOS Settings application in order to quickly post to their Facebook account and share music, applications and photos with their friends.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 2 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update in the world, but it moves things a bit closer to iOS 6’s release date.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued its second beta of iOS 6 for developer testing, including a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance.

Developers began receiving word that an update was available from “AppleInternal” on Monday afternoon. The “operating system 6.0” update is a 322-megabyte download for iPhone 4S users.

People familiar with iOS 6 beta 2 said it is identified as build “10A5338d.” When updating to the new software version in the Settings application, the icon with gears is animated and actually moves.

The release notes that accompany the update reportedly indicate that Apple fixed an issue where key clicking sounds could be skipped during fast typing. Apple also indicated it addressed an issue in which the keyboard would be wrongly positioned when switching from landscape to portrait orientation.

Apple also reportedly fixed an issue where the iOS SpringBoard may crash during a phone call if the screen would fade to black when using a speakerphone or headphones. It also addressed a crash that would occur if a new iCloud account was created during initial setup of the iOS device.

The latest iOS 6 beta also adds the podcasts section back into the iTunes application. That was missing from the first beta, and there have been rumors that Apple plans to introduce a standalone podcast application when iOS 6 officially launches this fall.

iOS 6 beta 2 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Also released on Monday were Xcode 4.5 Developer Preview 2, as well as a second beta of the next software update for the Apple TV set-top box.

iOS 6 was formally announced earlier this month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

If you’ve gotten a chance to tinker with the new beta, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple switching from 30-pin to 19-pin dock connector in 2012

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Date: Friday, June 22nd, 2012, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor


It’s the rumor that just won’t die.

Per TechCrunch, multiple manufacturers have independently indicated that Apple is planning to shrink its 30-pin dock connector to a 19-pin port in the next iPhone.

Though rumors of an upcoming “mini dock” connector for Apple’s next-generation iOS devices have swirled for some time now, although the Wednesday report offered the most confident claim yet about Apple’s plans for it by stating it had “independently verified” and “confirmed” the company is prepping a smaller 19-pin port for inclusion on its next iPhone.

According to the report, three independent manufacturers said Apple was working on the connector, adding that accessory makers are currently in limbo as they wait for Apple to officially announce the new standard, which will presumably be incompatible with current accessories. The new port would reportedly come close in size to the Thunderbolt port found on Apple’s newest Macs, but it is not expected to have the same “pin-out.”

Author John Biggs added that a purported video of the next-generation iPhone that surfaced earlier this month partially showed the new connector. That video appeared to show a sixth-generation iPhone metal back plate component with a smaller dock port.

The main reason for the new port is believed to be Apple’s continual quest to free up space in its mobile devices. The dock connector was first introduced in 2003 in the third-generation iPod. The advent of iCloud and wireless syncing has also reduced user reliance on the dock connector.

In addition to this, Apple is hiring engineers to work on new iPod connectors. Late last month, the company posted job listings for design engineers who would help manage “multiple connector designs and developments.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

LG pinpointed as supplier for MacBook Pro Retina Display

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Per a tweet by iFixit, electronics maker LG was identified as one of the parties responsible for the new Retina Display in the recently-released 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook.

Particular interest has been paid to who supplies components to Apple since its largest supplier, Samsung, has become a fierce rival and legal opponent. Over the last year, Apple has shown signs that it would like to move away from relying on Samsung for components, but the company is believed to have been the only partner who could produce Retina displays for the third-generation iPad at launch earlier this year.

The wedge between the two companies has been driven by competition in the smartphone and tablet markets. Last April, Apple was first to sue, when it accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, and the two companies are now involved in a number of lawsuits that span around the world.

LG has been a major supplier of LCD displays to Apple over the years, and in 2009 the two companies reached a US$500 million deal for the supply of flat-panel displays through the year 2013. But the relationship between the two companies may have strained late last year, when LG was said to have lost its status as the leading display maker for Apple’s iPad 2, when a batch of LCD shipments were reportedly plagued with quality issues.

Going forward, Sharp is also expected to be a major partner with Apple for screen production. Last year, reports indicated Apple had invested in a Sharp plant in Japan, while this year Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn bought a 10 percent stake in Sharp to help boost its LCD business.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to include U.S. government warning alert feature in iOS 6

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 06:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Under iOS 6, when the zombie apocalypse occurs, you’ll be among the first to know.

Apple devices running iOS 6 will be able to receive U.S. government alerts during an emergency or disaster, in compliance with a National Alerting Program.

Per Emergency Management, the new feature, labeled by Apple as “Government Alerts,” will be a part of the iOS 6 operating system when it launches for iPhone and iPad this fall, as first noticed by Emergency Management (via CNet) on Friday. That means that Wireless Emergency Alerts can be provided to Apple mobile device users.

The feature is expected to be available on all devices that can run iOS 6, including the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009, and the iPhone 4, which became available in 2010.

Author Rick Wimberley said Apple’s adoption of Wireless Emergency Alerts is “big news” for those who work in the emergency management industry. The new feature means that users can receive alerts from local, state and federal officials through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

The National Weather service also intends to start issuing Wireless Emergency Alerts by the end of June, meaning iPhone and iPad users will be able to receive weather warnings once their device runs iOS 6. There is also an option to opt out of warnings in the Settings menu represented by the usual on/off iOS toggle button.

Further details on the new emergency alert system in iOS 6 are unknown as Apple did not detail the new feature at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote this week.

The U.S. government’s Wireless Emergency Alert system went live just last month. Carriers already offer users the ability to receive alerts to customers via text message, without the need for support from mobile operating systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to begin shared data plans starting June 28th

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Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News


Maybe shared data plans will come into vogue this year.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon has announced that it will be initiating shared data plans later this month, making it the first of the “big-three” U.S. telecoms to offer such a program.

The company announced the new “Share Everything” option on Tuesday, which includes unlimited talk, text and tiered shared data plans for both smartphones and tablets as well as data-only plans, is slated to start on June 28.

Up to ten devices can share data under the new plan with varying pricing for device type. For example, line access for a smartphone like Apple’s iPhone is US$40 per month while a tablet adds on US$10. Mobile hotspots are also included in the Share Anything plan and can be added for an additional US$20 per month.

The carrier is introducing a number of new data tiers to its existing one-line offerings, and shared data users can now select one of six levels ranging from US$50 per month for 1GB of bandwidth to US$100 per month for 10GB. Data overage is still in place and looks to be US$15 per gigabyte across the board but users can opt to up their data plans in 2GB intervals before reaching their limit.

As an example, Verizon offers a US$180 access plan that includes two smartphones at US$40 each, one feature phone at US$30 and 4GB worth of shared data which carries a cost of US$70 per month.

Data-only customers have four tiers to work with starting at US$30 per month for 4GB and topping out at US$60 per month for 10GB. Mobile hotspots and tablets with mobile hotspot functionality are included in this pricing model.

The new Share Anything plan is a step in the direction of what many believe is the future of wireless in the U.S. In an early June report, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said that his company was also working on rolling out a shared data plan, though that plan has been in the works for over a year.

Verizon was recently the target of a media blitz when CFO Fran Shammo said “when [customers] migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share,” which caused a fracas because many thought the company would forcibly move unlimited data users to more profitable tiered pricing. The issue was quickly clarified in a Verizon statement that said only customers who choose to take carrier subsidies when upgrading to another smartphone will be forced out of out of their unlimited plans. In either case, it is clear that the telecom is pushing for tiered pricing, a trend that has become increasingly popular as wireless providers acknowledge the profitability of soaring data use.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple outlines iOS 6 at WWDC, highlights Facebook integration

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Over at WWDC, Apple began to lay out the basics as to what to expect from its upcoming iOS 6 operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iOS software chief, Scott Forstall, showed off some of the new features at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, including the ability to query Siri for sports scores, dinner reservations with OpenTable, and movie times via RottenTomatoes.

Siri can now also be used to launch Applications. Forstall demonstrated onstage asking the voice control software to play the game “Temple Run,” and it opened on the iPhone. Users can also post messages to Twitter by using their phone.

Language support for Siri has also been improved with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and more.

When it launches this fall, iOS 6 will be compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads; the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; and the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Facebook integration will also go system-wide with iOS 6. Much like with the existing Twitter integration, users simply log in to their Facebook account in the iOS settings application, and users can quickly post to their account or share music, applications or photos with their friends.

Facebook events and birthdays will also appear in the iOS calendar. Users will also be able to “like” applications on the App Store.

Enhancements have also been made to the native phone application in iOS. When declining a call, users are given the option to send a quick message to the person calling, or ask to be reminded later of the call. Quick messages are available to select such as “I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.”

Another addition called “Do Not Disturb” allows users to choose a set time range where notifications and alerts are silenced completely. This feature is customizable to allow calls from certain people to come through during those hours.

With iOS 6, users will also be able to make FaceTime video calls over cellular data networks, and are no longer required to be connected to Wi-Fi. The phone number and Apple ID have also been unified, so if someone sends a FaceTime request to a phone number, it can still be answered on an iPad or Mac.

Enhancements for Safari in iOS 6 include iCloud Tabs, which allows users to view and sync websites across a range of devices, as well as the ability to upload photos from directly within Safari on popular websites. Safari will also gain fullscreen support in landscape mode.

PhotoStream has also been enhanced with new sharing features that allow users to share specific pictures or entire albums with others. The social networking style serve will also let users comment on and like photos shared via PhotoStream.

And Mail for iOS will receive a new feature called VIPs, which allows users to specify people whose e-mails are of high priority. These flagged messages will show up in their own separate inbox.

Mail in iOS 6 also adds the ability to easily insert pictures and videos when composing a message, and users can also pull down on the app to refresh and check for messages.

The company also announced that its iOS 6 developer preview was now available as a 186 megabyte download, albeit this requires a developer account to log in and access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Siri to arrive on wider array of devices, gain additional features in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Even if Siri can be a bit flummoxing at times, Apple believes in it.

Per Macworld, company representatives stated during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday that Siri will have a starring role in iOS 6, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Representatives also cited that the technology will move just the iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple’s iPad.

During his demonstration, Apple’s Scott Forstall pointed out how Siri on iOS 6 can launch apps. Forstall demonstrated by launching Temple Run with a voice command.

Siri’s integration with iOS 6’s overhauled Maps app runs deep. Ask Siri how to get somewhere, and you immediately get turn-by-turn directions—even from the lock screen. Then you can ask Siri to repeat herself, where gas stations are along the way, what the traffic is like, how long until you get there, and every traveling kid’s favorite question: “Are we there yet?”

Forstall also mentioned a new feature called Eyes Free. He said Apple is working together with car manufacturers to integrate a button for triggering Siri from your steering wheel; among the companies looking to integrate that feature in the next twelve months are GM, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda.

Siri’s also getting more international, with support for Canadian French and English; Italian; Spanish (for Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.); Swiss Italian, French, and German; Mandarin for Taiwan; Cantonese for Hong Kong; and Mandarin and Cantonese for mainland China.

And soon another iOS device will find its voice, too: Forstall said the third-generation iPad will get Siri support as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Virgin Mobile to offer iPhone calling plans starting at $30/month beginning June 29th

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 13:56
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a cheap calling plan, even if you do have to buy the handset at the unsubsidized price…

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as US$30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That’s different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about US$150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a US$5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with “unlimited” data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for US$30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for US$50 per month. Though data is advertised as “unlimited,” all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4 for US$549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile’s website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin’s voice and data service relies on Sprint’s “Nationwide Network.” The sale of iPhones through Sprint’s Virgin mobile could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google unveils new 3D mapping feature for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You can’t knock a kickass 3D mapping system, especially when it’s on your iPhone or iPad.

Google on Wednesday unveiled what it has promoted as the “next dimension” of its Maps service, with new full 3D renderings that were demonstrated live on an Apple iPad.

Google has been using automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by airplanes owned by the company. With planes flying overhead in tightly controlled patterns snapping pictures, Google can use the imagery and data to create three-dimensional mapping imagery.

Images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions. The whole process allows 3D maps to be built without human interaction, unlike with previous 3D imagery in Google Earth.

In a live event on Wednesday, Google demonstrated 3D models of individual buildings and entire cities. The new features were shown off to members of the press on an Apple iPad, rather than an Android-based tablet.

The company promised that its new 3D imagery will be coming to both iOS and Android devices “in the coming weeks.” The technology will be part of both the Google Maps service, as well as its Google Earth application.

By the end of the year, Google expects to have communities home to about 300 million people mapped in its new space.

Google also revealed that it will bring an offline version of its Maps software to Android devices. The company said it is “working very hard” to bring offline Maps to iOS as well, but did not offer any more information.

Wednesday’s media event comes just five days before Apple is set to hold its own keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There, Apple is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Maps software for iOS that will ditch Google Maps.

Apple’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.