ARM lays out specs for 64-bit Cortex-A50 mobile processors, sets release date for 2014

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Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, 06:15
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

No matter how nifty your devices are, it’s the next-gen stuff that smacks of awesome promises.

Per AppleInsider, processor company ARM on Tuesday unveiled new its next-generation of high-performance, power sipping 64-bit chips — CPUs that could power future devices from companies like Apple as soon as 2014.

ARM’s new Cortex-A50 processor series is based on the ARMv8 architecture. The series will initially include the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors with new energy-efficient 64-bit processing technology.

ARM said its new system-on-chips will be available for use in products ranging from smartphones to servers. The new chips will be 64-bit-capable, but will also support 32-bit software.

ARM said the addition of 64-bit execution to its A50 chip line will “enable new opportunities in networking, server, and high-performance computing.” The new chips are expected to boost smartphone and tablet speeds while also reducing power consumption.

The Cortex-A57 will be the most advanced high-performance applications processor, while the Cortex-A53 has the distinction of being the world’s smallest 64-bit processor, and ARM’s most power-efficient application processor.

Currently, Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV are all powered by custom chips based on ARM’s reference designs. Apple’s work in this area has grown over the years, as the new A6 chip in the iPhone 5 represents Apple’s first custom-designed CPU core.

The A6 chip is based on Apple’s own ARMv7-based processor design, and is not based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 or Cortex-A15 designs. The chip features a gigabyte of RAM with two CPU and three GPU cores, and Apple’s first-ever control of the design allowed the company to customize the performance as they chose.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Forstall’s refusal to sign iOS Maps apology letter may have been the last straw

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:19
Category: News

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There may be a few pretty valid reasons as to why Scott Forstall is leaving Apple.

Per the Mac Observer, sources have indicated that Forstall’s ouster was due to his refusal to sign a letter of apology over Apple Maps in September. The New York Times, Fortune, and The Verge all claim sources saying as much, suggesting that this could have played a role in his departure from Apple.

At issue was the rollout of Apple Maps as a replacement for Google Maps on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple Maps is a beautiful service that brings all manner of performance enhancements to Apple’s iOS devices, but it was rolled out with significant flaws, none of which were mentioned by Scott Forstall when he introduced the service at Apple media events.

Pushback and criticism of the service by customers, critics, fans, and Apple-haters alike led to Apple pulling back on its claim that Apple Maps was the, “most beautiful, powerful mapping service.” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter apologizing for the rollout and promising that Apple Maps would improve over time.

On Monday, Apple announced that Mr. Forstall would depart Apple and that his various fields of responsibility would be split up among Apple’s other top executives. In coverage of that shakeup, The New York Times and Fortune both included minor notes that Scott Forstall had refused to put his name on the letter published by Tim Cook.

The Times specified that Mr. Forstall dismissed the criticism that was being heaped on Apple as exaggerated. Fortune said that it “sealed his fate” at Apple, a sentiment echoed at The Verge, which said the reports were backed up by its own sources.

This, in addition to recurring reports that Mr. Forstall’s management style had angered Apple’s other executives and was causing friction with those ranks, seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.

iPad 2 left without Siri support after iPad mini launch

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

As nifty as the iPad 2 is, it’s getting left behind where some features are concerned.

Per AppleInsider, while it was announced on Tuesday that the new iPad mini is compatible with Apple’s Siri voice recognizing assistant, however owners of the now long-in-the-tooth iPad 2 still won’t be able to access the feature.

With the announcement, it appears that Siri will never make it to the iPad 2, as the tablet was only mentioned in passing in a brief a comparison to the new iPad mini.

Looking at the technical specifications, the iPad mini boasts a number of improvements over the iPad 2, including upgraded cameras, extended wireless capabilities, and perhaps most important to some, a lower price tag.

What is identical, however, is the A5-series chip found in both tablets, a version of which is also used in the fifth-generation iPod touch. Unlike the iPad 2, however, the iPad mini and iPod touch sport Siri functionality.

It is unclear why Apple decided to once again pass over the iPad 2, though it could portend the inevitable axing of the product from the tablet line as it is more expensive and less capable than its newly-released sibling. The tablet is likely to be kept on as a “budget” model to the fourth-generation iPad, and could be phased out when the next full-size tablet is launched sometime next year.

The only feature trumped by the second-generation iPad is the size of its display, though as Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out, the mini’s screen resolution is identical to the 9.7-inch iPad 2′s, except condensed into a 7.9-inch format. According to those on hand at the event, the higher pixel density is noticeable, though not quite up to par with the full-size iPad’s Retina display.

Given that almost every new device coming out of Cupertino being Siri-capable, the iPad 2 stands out as a lonely carry-over product that is past its prime.

Apple releases version 1.0.1 firmware update for seventh-generation iPod nano

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Date: Friday, October 12th, 2012, 08:02
Category: iPod Nano, News, Software

You’ve had your spiffy new seventh-generation iPod nano for a day or two.

Now let’s update that sucker.

Per iLounge, Apple released version 1.0.1 of the new iPod nano’s software.

The new software only mentions “Support for iPod nano (7th generation)” in its release notes, offering little information as to what issues, if any, are addressed with version 1.0.1. Speculation points to tweaks to make the device compatible with the most current version of iTunes, however the specific problems regarding the device’s interoperability with Apple’s media management software is unknown.

Users will be able to update their new iPod nanos upon delivery by simply plugging the unit into their computer, which should automatically recognize the device and bring up the “Download and Update” new iPod software prompt.

Apple announced the seventh-generation media player in September alongside the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch and newly-designed EarPods headphones. The most recent nano ditches the last-generation’s small square form factor for a more iPod touch-esque layout, complete with 2.5-inch mutli-touch display, integrated Bluetooth connectivity and the reversible Lightning connector.

If you’ve tried the iPod nano with its updated firmware and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Microsoft Office to arrive for iOS, Android in March of 2013

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Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012, 08:33
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

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The plus side: This is cool and interesting and, if true, could be outstanding.

The negative side: Someone’s probably getting fired over this leak.

Per Czech web site IHNED (translated by The Verge), Petr Bobek, a Microsoft product manager in the Czech Republish, reportedly indicated that native versions of Office for iOS and Android will arrive next year [updated]

Bobek stated that his company’s market leading productivity suite will make its way to Apple’s devices, as well as those running Google Android, sometime after March of 2013. The details came from a press release issued by Microsoft’s Czech Republic Team.

“In addition to Windows, Office will also be available on other operating systems: Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian,” the company’s statement said.

The press release separately noted that a new version of Office Web Apps will also be available. In a statement, Microsoft’s U.S. arm noted that the company previously indicated Office Mobile will be available on iOS and Android, in addition to Windows Phone.

Rumors of a version of Microsoft Office for iPad have swirled for the past year, and tablet publication The Daily even showed a screenshot of the rumored application. One report from late May pegged a specific release date for Office for iPad: Nov. 10, 2012.

However, Wednesday’s statements from Microsoft’s Czech team would suggest that date will not be met, with a launch instead coming in early 2013.

It was also reported earlier this year that Microsoft was working on a new native iOS application for Outlook Web App, called “OWA Mobile Client for iOS,” that will offer compatibility with Exchange 2012 mailboxes. It, along with a new version of the Lync application for iOS, will reportedly feature Microsoft’s Metro interface, just like Office for iPad is expected to do.

Rumors have said that Office for iPad will allow users to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Dedicated Outlook functionality is not expected to be included in Office for iPad.

While earlier reports focused on Office support for the iPad, the mention of iOS in the overseas Microsoft press release suggests that the productivity suite could also be coming to Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s own iWork suite, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, offers universal support across portable iOS devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some iOS 6 users reporting Wi-Fi issues, Apple may have fixed bug

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:01
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Whenever you release a major new operating system for millions of active devices, there might be a few bugs to sort out…

Per AppleInsider, just hours after Apple released iOS 6 to the public on Wednesday, users are already complaining of Wi-FI connectivity issues on the company’s Support Communities website, possibly stemming from a network verification system flaw.

A number of users reported a “page not found” error when trying to browse in Safari on iOS 6. While the exact cause of the connectivity issues is unknown, it seems the problem started sometime after Apple rolled out the new mobile OS, as multiple reports poured in at nearly the same time.

It appears the problem is rooted in how iOS 6 handles network verification. In order to test whether an accessible Wi-Fi connection is present, Safari is led to a special page, which apparently has gone down.

Currently, Apple’s Support Communities site has a 6-page thread discussing the matter, and with every passing minute a new user seems to confirm that they too are having difficulties. One forum member claims his iPhone was working fine when he first downloaded iOS 6, only to find hours later that his handset was unable to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Both iPhone and iPad users who upgraded to the new OS have reported experiencing the same issue.

Based on the claims, the issue has arisen from a network verification process baked into the software, wherein the OS attempts to load a dummy page on Apple.com to detect if a users is connected to a paywalled network. Unfortunately, however, the verification page seems to lead to a 404 error, resulting in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi for many users.

Apple has been contacted regarding the alleged issue and may have resolved the issue by reactivating the webpage iOS 6 uses for network verification purposes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 09:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

The wait is over.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-anticipated iOS 6.0 update. The new operating system, a 912 megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

Maps:
- Apple designed vector based maps.
- Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation).
- Real-time traffic information.
- Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metro areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation), and iPod touch (5th generation).
- Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews, and available deals.
- Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route.

Siri improvements:
- Sports: scores, player stats, game schedules, team rosters, and league standings for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey.
- Movies: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts.
- Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information.
- Send a Tweet.
- Post on Facebook.
- App launch.
- Eyes Free in supported automobiles.
- Local search available in Siri supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout).
- Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish).
- Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation).

Facebook integration:
- Single sign-on from Settings.
- Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Center and Siri.
- Add location and choose audience for any post.
- View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts.
- View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar.
- Like content and see your friends’ Likes in App Store and iTunes Store.

Shared Photo Streams
- Share selected photos with the people you choose.
- Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV.
- Friends can like and make comments on individual photos.

Passbook:
- One place for boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and other passes.
- Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into movies and other actions.
- Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location.
- Passes can be automatically updated.
- Supported on iPhone and iPod touch.

FaceTime improvements:
- FaceTime over cellular support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation).
- Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch.

Phone improvements:
- Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications.
- ‘Reply with message’ option when declining a call.
- ‘Remind me later’ option based on time or location when declining a call.

Mail improvements:
- VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people.
- Flagged email mailbox.
- Insert photos and videos when composing email.
- Open password protected Office docs.
- Pull down to refresh mailboxes.
- Per account signatures.

Safari improvements:
- iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices.
- Offline Reading List.
- Photo upload support.
- Full screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch.
- Smart app banners.
- JavaScript performance improvements.

App Store and iTunes Store improvements:
- Updated store design.
- iTunes Preview history.
- Complete my season.
- Complete my album.

Game Center improvements:
- Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements.
- Post high-scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter.
- Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends.

Accessibility improvements:
- Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.
- VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom.
- Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

- Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth.

- Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app.

- Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone.

- Clock app for iPad.

- Clock alarm with song.

- Search all fields in Contacts.

- Automatic movie mode for improved video sound quality.

- Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

- New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic.

- Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud.

- Bluetooth MAP support.

- Global network proxy for HTTP.

Features for China:
- Baidu web search.
- Sina Weibo integration.
- Share videos to Tudou.
- Share videos to Youku.
- Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin.

- Bug fixes.

iOS 6.0 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second or third-gen iPad to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.0 works for you, no matter what the feedback may be.

Apple releases iTunes 10.7 update

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 06:42
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.7 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 165 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Adds support for iOS 6 running on compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models.

- Also adds support for the latest iPod nano and iPod shuffle models.

iTunes 10.7 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple announces September 19th release date for iOS 6

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Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

iOS 6 is almost here.

Just wait a week.

On Wednesday, Apple Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall announced that the next major update to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, will be available for the public to download and install in one week, on Wednesday, September 19th.

iOS 6 will be available for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch. The OS update launches two days before the iPhone 5 is set to debut.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.