Apple, Google ink deal to have Google remain default search engine on iOS-based devices

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Date: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News, Software

Internet search giant Google recently extended its contract with Apple, making the outfit the default option on devices running iOS, including the iPhone.

Per BusinessWeek, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt talked about his company’s relationship with Apple. Rose asked about tension between Google and Apple since Google began partnering with smartphone makers for the Android mobile operating system.

“Apple is a company we both partner and compete with,” Schmidt said. “We do a search deal with them, recently extended, and we’re doing all sorts of things in maps and things like that.”

He continued: “So the sum of all this is that two large corporations, both of which are important, both of which I care a lot about, will [remain] pretty close. But Android was around earlier than iPhone.”

Schmidt also characterized the iPhone as a “closed” model controlled by Apple. He portrayed Android as a “turnkey solution with similar capabilities” to the iPhone, but one that gives vendors the “alternative” they seek.

Early this year, rumors suggested that Apple was in talks with Microsoft to make Bing the default search engine for the iPhone. Though that never came to be, the option to utilize Bing search was added to iOS 4.

However, Google has remained the default search provider for iOS devices, and Schmidt’s recent comments would suggest that the company will remain the standard search provider for some time to come.

Official Google Voice app approved, should arrive in App Store in a few weeks

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Date: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010, 04:34
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The official Google Voice application for iPhone has finally been granted acceptance into the App Store by Apple.

Per TechCrunch, a source stated that the application will be released in the next few weeks. Apple reportedly accepted the application submitted in mid-2009, though Google plans to update it to support the iPhone 4 and multitasking capabilities in iOS 4.

Last week, applications that access the Google Voice service began appearing in the App Store, after being banished for more than a year. The first two that became available were GV Mobile + and GV Connect.

The opportunity for Google Voice applications to return to the App Store came after Apple revised and published its own App Store Review Guidelines, giving developers an idea of what kind of software will or will not be allowed for iOS devices.

Google Voice applications were previously available in the App Store, but were pulled in July of 2009 after Google submitted its official application. Apple refused to accept the official Google Voice app into the App Store, which prompted an investigation from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In a letter to the FCC, Apple claimed it was reviewing the Google Voice application, but had not outright rejected it. Google, on the other hand, said the software was rejected. Over a year passed, however, with no word on its official acceptance or rejection.

Instead, Google opted to release a Web-based application for Google Voice, which allows users to access the service from the Mobile Safari browser on the iPhone. Unlike the App Store, where Apple controls what content is available, basic Web content is not filtered or restricted.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple purchased Polar Rose facial recognition company for $29 million

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 04:17
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the stuff Apple buys out that makes future technology speculation kind of fun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company Polar Rose. The company has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.

Though neither party has officially confirmed the purchase, Polar Rose offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.

One of the company’s products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone’s video camera.

Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.

Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.

“The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology,” Polar Rose’s Thijs Stalenhoef said. “This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated.”

Apple has its own “Faces” technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.

In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.

Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to launch LTE 4G network in 2011, expand HPSA+ services

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Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T appears to be planning to launch its fourth-generation high-speed wireless network by mid-2011, and will continue to expand its speedy HPSA+ 3G network this year.

Per FierceWireless, the company is currently conducting trials of its 4G long-term evolution network in Baltimore, Maryland and Dallas, Texas, the company’s operations chief executive, John Stankey, said Thursday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. He also said the company is on track to launch its LTE network by mid-2011.

The timing of AT&T’s launch could allow for the next-generation iPhone, likely to be unveiled in June as it is every year, to connect to the high-speed 4G wireless network. Apple in the past sought to hire experts on LTE, presumably for a forthcoming handset.

AT&T will reportedly spend US$700 million on its LTE network this year, and plans to “go far beyond that” in 2011, Stankey reportedly said. His news comes as competing carrier Verizon said it will launch its own LTE network in 30 National Football League cities by the end of 2010.

Stankey also said AT&T is preparing a nationwide HSPA+ upgrade for this year, which will allow for real-time download speeds of 7Mbps. Earlier this year, the company vowed that its high-speed upgrade will reach 250 million Americans in 2010.

AT&T has partnered with Alcatel and Lucent to build out its LTE network, which will deliver higher broadband throughput and lower latency than the company’s existing 3G network, including the HPSA+ upgrades.

Stankey also revealed that AT&T has seen a 5,000% increase in wireless data traffic over the last three years, since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. The company’s wireless data revenue is also up 27%.

Spiffy news if it comes true. And per dropped calls, there’s always the iPhone 4 bumper on hand…

Apple posts first external iOS 4.2 betas, new features on the way

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:06
Category: iPad, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first external betas of iOS 4.2, which will debut features like AirPlay and AirPrint for iOS devices while also delivering a slew of long-awaited bells and whistles for the iPad, including multi-tasking, folders and threaded mail.

Per AppleInsider, a handful of more subtle refinements will ship along as well:

The biggest new feature for iPhone and iPod touch users is AirPrint, which allows wireless printing via a shared printer, or directly through some HP branded printers. The functionality is accomplished through a new Print Center application that is only available on iOS devices that can multitask, which means the iPhone 3G will not be able to print.

iOS 4.2 for the iPhone will debut a new icon for Apple’s Voice Memos application, a new version of modem firmware, and some new font additions for the Notes application, detailed later in this article in relation to the iPad. It will also add support for importing .ics files directly as a way to add events to the native Calendar application.

Multi-tasking:
iOS 4.2 introduces to the iPad many features that iPhone and iPod touch users already enjoy, including multitasking and folders. Just like on current devices that run iOS 4, users can run tasks from compatible applications in the background, and manage those applications by double-tapping the home button.

20-app Folders:
By dragging icons atop one another on the iPad homescreen, iOS 4.2 also automatically creates a folder. This will allow iPad users to have less clutter on their homescreen, and to easily sort their downloads from the App Store. The iPad’s larger screen real estate allows for a total of 20 applications per folder rather than 12.

New Spotlight Preferences:
Apple has added a new Spotlight Search preference pane under the General Settings panel with options to include or disallow search results based on the following categories: Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Mail and Events. Users can also reorder those categories to force search results to display in the order of their liking.

New Restrictions:
In addition to allowing or disallowing Multiplayer Games through Game Center, iOS 4.2 for iPad will enable users to allow or disallow changes to Location settings and Mail Account settings.

A new setting in iOS 4.2 for iPad 3G allows users to disable 3G access and revert to EDGE, trading speed for battery life.

Check Spelling:
Like iOS 4.1 for the iPhone, iOS 4.2 for iPad will deliver the option to turn Spell Checking on or off.

Accessibility: Larger Fonts:
Handicapped and elderly users will notice the addition of a “Large Text” option in the accessibility preference pane which offers the option to set font sizes for Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes in one of the following sizes: 20pt, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt, 48pt, 56pt.

New Notes Preferences:
Like iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, Apple has added a Notes preference pane that lets users choose between Chalkboard, Helvetica, and Marker Felt for their notes fonts. It also lets users set a default email account to which new notes can be tied.

Wireless Printing:
Of course one of the most highly anticipated features of iOS 4.2 is support for AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing technology. Apple is updating all of its applicable default apps to support the AirPrint feature.

Game Center:
iPad users will also gain access to Game Center, Apple’s social networking application for games on iOS devices. Game Center allows users to invite friends to play a game, compare scores and achievements with others, and more.

New Orientation Lock and Brightness Controls:
With iOS 4.2 for iPad, Apple will convert the physical orientation lock button on the right hand side of the iPad into a volume mute toggle. Orientation locking will be facilitated through the iPod widget like on the iPhone. iOS 4.2 will also add a display brightness interface slider on the left hand side of the iPod widget (to fill space?).

AirPlay:
AirPlay (formerly AirTunes), is also on its way to the iPad and iPhone via iOS 4.2. In addition to music, the technology will then allow users to stream video and photos over Wi-Fi, as can be seen in this screen capture of the new Photos application for the iPad.

Universal, Threaded Mail App:
For Mail on the iPad, iOS 4.2 will offer a universal mailbox and the option (via the Mail preference pane) to organize mails by thread. Like on the iPhone and iPod touch, messages in an inbox will automatically be combined into a threaded view where applicable, saving space and making the Mail application more efficient.

iAd:
Apple’s iAd interactive advertisements will also begin appearing in iPad applications after the release of iOS 4.2. iAds offer an “app within an app,” allowing advertisers to deliver content to users without forcing them to open a browser and leave their current application. With the iOS 4.2 beta, developers can now begin working to integrate iAds into their iPad software in time for its November release.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the iOS 4.2 beta for the iPad and can offer any comments of feedback, please let us know what you think.

Fifth-gen iPhone may swap Infineon baseband chip for Qualcomm model

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Date: Monday, September 13th, 2010, 06:47
Category: iPhone, News

The fifth-generation iPhone may forgo an Infineon baseband chip in favor of one from Qualcomm, according to an unconfirmed report.

Per the Commercial Times report, Infineon will not provide the baseband chip for the fifth-generation iPhone. Infineon’s wireless unit was sold to Intel for US$1.4 billion in August.

According to the report, the next-generation Apple smartphone, which is expected next year, will still be manufactured by the Hon Hai Group and Foxconn, and will include a Qualcomm baseband chip this time around.

A move away from Infineon would break with precedent. Infineon has supplied Apple with the baseband chip for the iPad 3G and all of the Cupertino, Calif., company’s iPhone models since the smartphone was first released in 2007.

There has been little indication of trouble in the relationship between Infineon and Apple. After the Intel-Infineon deal, Intel CEO Paul Otellini told Fox Business that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was “very happy” with it.

On the other hand, relations between Apple and Intel have been tense as of late. Otellini made comments earlier this week criticizing the newly released Apple TV as a “step backward,” especially when compared to the Intel-powered Google TV products set to be released this month.

A Qualcomm broadband chip would match rumors that Apple is developing a CDMA iPhone. Qualcomm invented the now widely-used CDMA technology. A cryptic “iPhone developer guru” job posting on the Qualcomm website in August claimed that respondents would work on “the most challenging product” of their lives.

Several analysts see a switch to Qualcomm by Apple as the right move. In light of the Intel-Infineon deal, “Apple may want to diversify its supplier base to reduce dependency on a single supplier,” said Manikandan Raman with the Motley Fool.

With a 69% share of the CDMA mobile phone chipset market, Qualcomm would be the “logical choice” to help Apple expand to other networks, said Barclays Capital analyst Andrew Gardiner. “Infineon’s wireless unit doesn’t offer chips for CDMA technology.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 update for iPhone, iPod touch

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Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 11:51
Category: iPhone, News, Software

After a fair amount of anticipation, Apple released its long-awaited iOS 4.1 update for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. Per iLounge, the update adds a number of bug fixes and new features, including a fix for the iPhone 4’s proximity sensor, Bluetooth issues, patches for security holes and performance problems on the iPhone 3G.

Notably, the iPhone 3G is left out amongst its iOS 4.1-capable peers in support for Apple’s new Game Center social gaming service, which is also included in the update, along with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography on the iPhone 4, HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, and support for TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. iOS 4.1 is available now as a free upgrade for all compatible devices via the update feature in iTunes and weighs in as a several hundred megabyte download.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Deutsche Telekom expected to lose exclusive iPhone contract in Germany this October

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Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:37
Category: iPhone, News

If it can happen in Germany, it can happen in America…

Another prominent exclusive arrangement with Apple for the iPhone is expected to conclude in a matter of months, when it is anticipated that Deutsche Telekom will lose sole access to the iPhone in Germany.

Per the Wall Street Journal, sources sources stated on Friday that Apple’s iPhone will become available on two new carriers as soon as October. Currently, the handset is exclusive to Deutsche Telekom, but the plans are reportedly for it to become available on rival carriers Vodafone and O2.

“One said that deals haven’t been finalized but added that negotiations are in an advanced stage,” the report said. “Deutsche Telekom’s exclusive rights to sell the device haven’t been extended and could end as early as october, posing a threat to growth in the company’s home market.”

Deutsche Telekom, which is also the parent company of T-Mobile in the U.S. and elsewhere, has 37 million customers in Germany, while Vodafone has 34.9 million and O2 has 16.3 million.

Elsewhere throughout Europe, the end of exclusivity has resulted in boosted sales for Apple’s iPhone. In 2009, the iPhone went multi-carrier in France after a government ruling nullified Apple’s exclusive arrangement with Orange. After that, it was estimated that the Apple’s handset rose to as high as a 40% market share of all smartphone sales in the nation.

The most largest exclusive arrangement for the iPhone is in the U.S., with AT&T. Rumors of a new CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network have persisted for years, but have not become a reality.

In August, AT&T warned that exclusivity for “a number of attractive handsets” will end, leading some to believe that the company was preparing investors for the loss of iPhone exclusivity.

While Apple has allegedly not yet brokered a deal to extend exclusivity with Deutsche Telekom in the company’s home country of Germany, there have also been rumors that the company has talked with Apple about a potential deal to bring the iPhone to carrier T-Mobile in the U.S. Of the four major carriers in America, T-mobile is the smallest, with 33.7 million customers as of July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 4.1 hits gold master, reported to boost performance on iPhone 3G handset

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Date: Monday, September 6th, 2010, 04:38
Category: iPhone, News

Over the past few days, Apple’s iOS 4.1 update has gone from “coming soon” to “gold master”. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, user report have stated that the update resolves iOS 4.0.2′s stuttering, crashing, and generalized slowness on the iPhone 3G handset and offers better overall performance.

Specific improvements included speed, performance via the Maps app and much faster Spotlight search on the iPhone 3G wherein the app no longer searches through text messages.

Individual mileage may vary, but the iOS 4.1 update could be worth looking forward to once it’s released later this week.

Apple previews iOS 4.2 at media event, hints at additional new features

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Date: Thursday, September 2nd, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Amidst yesterday’s announcements, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered a preview of iOS 4.2 for the iPad during the company’s special media event on Wednesday. Per the Mac Observer, the update will include wireless printing support along with multitasking.

The 4.2 update will also bring folders to iPad as well, and a new feature called AirPlay, which hinted at a new feature to be announced during the media event.

iOS 4.2 will be available in November as a free download for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.