Apple releases iOS 5.0.1 update, offer battery, security, document, speech recognition fixes

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 12:23
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it and it’s here.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple released iOS 5.0.1, the latest version of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:
- Fixes bugs affecting battery life.

- Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.

- Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud.

- Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation.

iOS 5.0.1 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new iOS update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple Store app hits 2.0, adds in-store pickup, Easy Pay features

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Date: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 07:37
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail, Software

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Apple may not make all aspects of your life easier at all times, but they do try to streamline buying more of their products…

Per AppleInsider, Apple has updated its official Apple Store application for iOS, adding the new “Personal Pickup” option, as well as an “Easy Pay” feature, which allows customers to pay for an item on their own, direct from an iPhone, while in a retail store.

The Apple Store application was updated on Tuesday to version 2.0. The free application is a 4.0MB download that requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The most significant new features in the update are EasyPay and Personal Pickup. With EasyPay, an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S the user can scan the barcode of an accessory while in a store, and complete the transaction using the same credit card information tied to their Apple ID.

Word of the self-checkout option first surfaced last week, and accurately revealed that the option would only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf. Users cannot complete a self-checkout with more expensive items that are kept in Apple’s retail stockrooms, including the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs.

The updated Apple Store application also features a built-in Personal Pickup feature. With the software, users can buy an item on their iOS device, and then pick it up in a store in less than an hour if it is in stock.

Apple began offering an in-store pickup option on its website last month with a trial that began in San Francisco, Calif., and quickly spread to New York City stores. The in-store pickup option is currently available in the U.S. only.

The full list of new features included in version 2.0 of the Apple Store iOS application are included below:

Personal Pickup: Buy in the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple Retail Store. Most in-stock orders are available for pickup within an hour. (U.S. only)

EasyPay: Purchase select accessories in store quickly by scanning the barcode and completing your transaction right in the app. (U.S. only, requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)

Track your stuff: View the status of current and previous orders from the order status section in the More tab.

If you’ve tried the new app and its features and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent points towards improved OLED displays in future iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, 08:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

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Uncertain about what’s coming down the pipe? Just check the recent patent applications.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in improving the technology behind organic light emitting diodes, or OLED displays, to provide even better battery life for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s pursuit of better OLED technology was revealed this week in a new patent application that went public. Entitled “Power Efficient Organic Light Emitting Diode Display,” it describes ways in which an OLED screen could offer improved battery life, particularly when displaying the color white.

The filing notes that OLED screens can operate at lower voltages than traditional displays, like the LCD screens currently found on the iPhone and iPad. This is possible because OLED technology is light emissive rather than light transmissive.

But while OLED can offer some advantages over LCD — including darker blacks, higher contrast ratios, and improved power efficiency — those perks are diminished when an OLED display is used to generate large amounts of white display area.

In order to display a screen that is largely the color white, an OLED panel has to utilize a range of color channels for every pixel on the display. Doing this can be power intensive and make the device inefficient.

“The relative power inefficiency in display white spaces using an OLED display may be particularly problematic in certain contexts,” the filing notes. “For example, certain applications, such as word processing, spreadsheet design and use, database design and use, e-mail, and other business or productivity applications, typically utilize dark or black alphanumeric characters on a white background, such as to simulate writing or printing on a sheet of paper.

“As a result, these applications may cause the display of large expanses of white background with relatively little area devoted to the non-white alphanumeric characters. Such applications, therefore, may make the use of OLED displays unsuitable or undesirably power intensive for battery powered and/or portable electronic devices, such as handheld devices.”

Apple’s proposed solution to this problem would include a transparent OLED display panel positioned in front of a solid white background layer, like a white transflective sheet. The display would also feature an opacity switchable layer located between the OLED panel and the background layer.

“The switchable layer may be switched, in whole or in part, from an opaque or semi-opaque state to a transparent or semi-transparent state,” the application reads. “For example, in one embodiment, the switchable layer may be opaque, e.g. black, in the absence of a current. However, upon application of a current all or part of the switchable layer may be come transparent so that the underlying background layer is visible.”

The combination of a solid white background and an opaque layer that could be made transparent would allow a transparent OLED panel to avoid displaying the color white. By instead utilizing the white background, this could produce the color when appropriate, such as when reading black text on a white background, without consuming battery life to turn the individual OLED pixels white.

The white background could even be used for smaller elements on a screen, and applied even in situations where the entire background isn’t white. In one illustration, Apple shows a list of calendar events on an iPhone, with one tiny element — the selected “List” view — displayed against a white background.

Apple’s proposed invention, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Daniel William Jarvis, Albert John Golko, and Felix Jose Alvarez Rivera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PlugBug accessory simultaneously charges current Apple notebooks, iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:30
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod

This could be nifty.

Per Electronica, accessory developer Twelve South on Tuesday Tuesday unveiled a unique add-on to help Apple fans that travel with more than one device. PlugBug takes advantage of the changeable connector on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro AC adapter to add a 10W USB charger. The add-on can charge anything up to the power levels of an iPad and is seen as a way to charge any iOS device or other USB hardware without having to remember all the cables or charge through the MacBook.

The adapter doesn’t have to slot into the AC brick to work and has a cap to cover the exposed area. Twelve South imagines it as a substitute for those outside of North America who want a converter.

The PlugBug is already on sale and ships for US$35 through the company’s own online store.

If you’ve snagged one or have a favorite charger of choice, please let us know and thanks.

Rumor: Apple to update iOS retail store app, allow for self-checkout feature

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 08:19
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail, Software

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As nice as the Apple retail store employees can be, sometimes you just want to grab your merchandise and go.

Per MacRumors, Apple is working on plans to give retail customers the ability to finalize their own in-store purchases via its iOS application for the iPhone, according to a new report.

Perhaps arriving even sooner than expected, the new functionality is expected to arrive as soon as this week.

An update to the official “Apple Store” application for iOS is said to allow users to charge purchases to their iTunes Store account, linked to an Apple ID and credit card just as App Store purchases are authorized. The anticipated option will only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf.

The new ability will not apply to more expensive items like the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs. Those devices will remain kept in the stockroom at Apple’s retail stores, and will require assistance from a salesperson in order to purchase.

But for accessories sold in stores, including cases for products like the iPhone and iPad, users will be able to complete the transaction on their own with an iOS device. An automated e-mailed receipt will serve as confirmation of the transaction, allowing customers to show employees that an item has been paid for.

The new self-checkout option is rumored to arrive soon after Apple launched an in-store pickup program via its online store. Customers in San Francisco can now order a product online and pick it up at a local Apple retail store, and that ability is expected to expand to other U.S. stores in the near future.

Another change is also said to be coming to Apple’s online store, allowing customers to place a single order with multiple items, and have those items shipped to different addresses. The enhanced functionality is expected to debut in time for the holiday shopping season.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent points out company’s exploration of 3D gestures/input controls for devices

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Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 06:15
Category: News, Patents

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Per the cool cats at Free Patents Online, Apple is apparently investigating new ways of interacting with devices, such as using hand gestures to navigate and control a video recording system without touching anything.

Apple’s interest in hands-off control of a device like an iPhone, iPad or Mac was revealed this week in a new patent application made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “Real Time Video Process Control Using Gestures,” the filing, discovered by AppleInsider, is related to remotely controlling and editing video recordings on a mobile device.

Such editing could be done with gestures on a touchscreen, much like is already available on the iPhone and iPad. But within the application, Apple also makes mention of hand gestures that can be performed without touching the device.

The filing notes that a device could be controlled with hand gestures accomplished in either two or three dimensions, and these could be interpreted through infrared sensors, optical sensors, or other methods. These gestures could be used as a replacement for, or even in concert with, traditional touchscreen-based gestures.

“As with the touch based gestures applied on or near the touch sensitive input device, the hand gestures can be interpreted to provide instructions for real time processing of the video by the video capture device,” the filing reads.

Apple’s goal is to simplify and minimize the need for user input partially because the size of recording devices, like an iPhone or iPad, has become so small. The filing notes that placing a finger on a touch-sensitive display can cause a video capture device to move, and that movement is then translated to the video recording.

With Apple’s method, a remote camera could be controlled wirelessly from a second, separate device. An iPhone or iPad are specifically mentioned in the filing as potential options for a “control device.”

One image accompanying the application shows a video being recorded on an iPhone. That video is then transmitted wirelessly, via Bluetooth, to an iPad, where the user can view the video in real-time and make adjustments.

Given the volume of data that must be wirelessly transmitted, Apple’s solution is to automate real-time video processing as much as possible, identifying objects and individual people’s faces captured in a video. The filing even states that a system could help to determine how entities captured in the video relate to one other.

In one example provided, a video of two tennis players playing against each other could be analyzed to have a “negative correlation,” as one player is hitting the ball while the other is not.

“Therefore, by determining the relative correlation between these two players, an implicit association can be assigned to each,” the application reads.

Using this kind of data, the image could be framed according to user specifications. For example, after recognizing a specific face, a video capture device could zoom in and track that individual in real time, with minimal or no input from the user.

Apple’s proposed invention, published this week by the USPTO, was originally filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Benjamin A. Rottler and Michael Ingrassia Jr. I.

MobileMe users vent frustrations about iCloud transition issues

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Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 11:02
Category: iCloud, News, Software

If you’re going to give birth to something (overarching cloud services included), you’re going to have some labor pains…

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have vented their frustrations as they have attempted to migrate from MobileMe to iCloud. One person explained in an e-mail that they have called AppleCare, used online support, and even asked for help at a local retail store.

“I bought a MobileMe subscription when they came out,” the user wrote in their e-mail. “Until Wednesday I didn’t (realize) this created a new (Apple ID). I asked (iTunes) support to add this MobileMe address to my current (iTunes Apple ID) as this was to become my primary email address.

“On Wednesday when iCloud came out it became apparent that this MobileMe email address could not be verified on the MobileMe account as it was in use by my old (iTunes Apple ID). So (I) went to appleid.apple.com to try to change the Primary email address to something different in my iTunes AppleID but it wouldn’t let me.” Calls made to AppleCare couldn’t resolve the problem, they said.

It’s a similar story for another user, who has one Apple ID used to purchase applications and music, which is separate from the e-mail address used for their MobileMe account. The person is in a position where they must choose between the e-mail address associated with their MobileMe account, or the Apple ID that they have used to purchase applications and music.

Another person said that upon setting up their iOS device, they were asked to create a me.com e-mail address, but they were unable to do this on an iOS device or a MacBook Air.

The users stated that after speaking with a senior technical support representative at Apple, they were told that Apple is “not allowing new me.com e-mail addresses,” but only allowing MobileMe accounts to be converted to iCloud. The representative allegedly indicated that Apple has been receiving many calls about the issue, but they do not know when a fix will be available.

A similar list of headaches for MobileMe users making the move to iCloud was also detailed Monday by Chris Foresman of Ars Technica. He noted that the issues can also apply to users who have shared an Apple ID with family members, allowing purchases like software from the App Store to be installed on multiple devices — a practice allowed with Apple’s terms of service.

“Unless all devices are going to be synced to the same data store — with everyone sharing contacts, calendars, and other information — other users who were previously dependent on that account may have to re-purchase apps or music,” he said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook allegedly indicated in an e-mail in September that Apple is working to allow users to merge multiple Apple IDs. But that ability has not yet arrived.

Apple launched its free iCloud service last Wednesday, along with the release of iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and an update for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion adding iCloud support. iCloud will back up users’ personal data on their iOS device to Apple’s remote servers in the cloud, and also keeps data, documents, calendars and contacts synced across a number of devices with the use of an Apple ID.

If you’ve had any issues in your own MobileMe to iCloud transition, please let us know in the comments.

PocketMac unveils BerryMover, helps with BlackBerry-to-iPhone migration

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Date: Friday, October 14th, 2011, 10:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per the cool cats at the Apple Core, Information Appliance Associates on Tuesday released BerryMover, an app capable of bringing Blackberry data files over to an iOS-based device.

BerryMover allows you to open the Blackberry backup file and can recover calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, email messages and text messages for the iPhone. The company said owners can “import as many backup files as you want.”

Developer and PocketMac co-founder Tim Goggin stated there was increasing demand for this Blackberry-to-iPhone migration utility. His company previously created the Mac-Blackberry sync software.

“We developed the app because a lot of people are moving away from the BlackBerry to their iPhone,” he said. “Overall, I think it shows how seriously business takes the iPhone that so many people are migrating from BlackBerry to it.”

He described the development process as tough, especially getting the iPhone to work with BlackBerry backups, he added.

BerryMover retails for $9.99 and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

Notifications:
- Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

- New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

- View notifications from lock screen

- Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

iMessage:
- Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

- Track messages with delivery and read receipts

- Group messaging and secure encryption

- Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

Newsstand:
- Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

- Displays the cover of the latest issue

- Background downloads of new issues

- Reminders for managing to do lists

- Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

- Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
- Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

- Add location to any tweet

- View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
- Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

- Volume Up button to take a picture

- Optional grid lines to line up shots

- Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

- Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

- Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

- Photo improvements for devices with cameras

- Crop and rotate

- Red eye removal

- One tap enhance

- Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
- Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

- Indentation control

- Drag to rearrange names in address fields

- Flag messages

- Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Customize mail alert sounds

- S/MIME

Calendar improvements:
- Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

- Tap to create an event

- View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
- Use personal photos for your Game Center account

- Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

- Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

- Discover new games with custom game recommendations

- AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
- Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

- Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

- Swipe left or right to switch between apps

- On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

- Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
- iTunes in the Cloud

- Photo Stream

- Documents in the Cloud

- Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

- Backup

- Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

- Find My iPhone

- Redesigned Music app for iPad

- Hourly weather forecast

- Real-time stock quotes

- Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
- Split keyboard for iPad

- Improved autocorrection accuracy

- Improved Chinese and Japanese input

- New Emoji keyboard

- Personal dictionary for autocorrection

- Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
- Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

- Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

- New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

- Option to speak a selection of text

- Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

- Exchange ActiveSync improvements

- Wirelessly sync tasks

- Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Improved offline support

- Save a new contact from a GAL service

- More than 1,500 new developer APIs

- Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new iOS update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Opinion: Per Your iOS Devices, Be Careful Out There

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Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 05:23
Category: Announcement, iPad, Opinion

I should have seen this coming.

Last night, as I’d done half a dozen times before without incident, I sat outside the BloomBars art space in Washington, D.C. replying to email on my iPad 2, listening to an ancient Guns ‘n Roses song off the “Appetite for Destruction” album and feeling like everything was right with the world.

This morning, I just got off the phone with my insurance company and have now learned that my deductible is US$250 before they start covering anything that was stolen.



Which brings up what happened in between last night and today, wherein the person who snagged my iPad 2 directly out of my hands, quickly tore the headphones out of the jack, sprinted down a nearby alleyway and had a good 20-30 yards on me before I could stop looking surprised/silly and begin chasing after him.

Like anyone who’s been in this situation, I feel like an idiot. Yes, I’d hung out at this art space before and been surrounded by naught by kind-hearted hipsters looking to get stage time to work on a new song, poem, rap or stand up set and felt like I had no reason to worry. The iPad 2, which I’d worked hard for and spent part of my tax refund on, seemed secure in my hands, the earbuds in my ears only solidifying my sense of connection to the device.

Within seconds, the thing you love has been torn out of your hands by someone who seems to be really, really good at stealing things and getting an insurmountable head start on you as he sprints away with the item in question.

If there’s any advice to offer, it’s this: Be careful out there. iOS devices are hip, simple to walk away with, easy to reset, a cinch to resell and the only thing the person who snagged my iPad 2 needs to buy to make it completely functional is an iOS attachment capable (roughly US$19 from the Apple Store or Best Buy or less than US$10 from an Internet-based supplier depending on where he looks) and nothing else.

As far as things you can actually do in this situation, the following are never bad ideas:

- MobileMe may still be US$99 per year, but I’m beginning to see the attraction of it, especially if it allows the iPad to either have its location tracked or its memory wiped remotely. Look into this and it may be a good investment.

- I’ve just been informed that Find My iPhone is free and doesn’t require a MobileMe account (which is out of vogue given the iCloud transition). It’s free, Apple stands behind it and from now on, I’m installing this on every iOS device I’ll ever own and a killer setup video to answer your questions is available here.

- Change your critical passwords once you get home. Yes, you should probably feed the cat if you’ve been out all day, but change your Amazon, Netflix, Gmail, Yahoo and other passwords just to play it safe. Your iOS device was just stolen and you probably don’t feel great about yourself or what happened, but you never know who your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will be handed off to and whether they’ll simply wipe it or jailbreak it to retrieve all the data/passwords/banking information they can find off of it. Change your passwords and watch your credit card statements over the next few days no matter what.

- Finally, give the cops all the information you can think of as to who you think stole your advice, their description and the moments leading up to the theft. In spite of everything that happened last night, I was able to flag down a cop within moments of the theft last night and they were able to find a person that had been in the thief’s group of friends only moments before my iPad 2 was stolen. Once the friend was identified, they brought in enough additional cops and a detective to compose the department’s softball team, so there’s something there and the situation doesn’t look as hopeless as it did an hour before.

The moral of the story: Enjoy your iOS devices, make the most of them and be careful, especially if you use an iPad 2 out in the open. A person should never have to live in fear, but exercise some caution (and some common sense, which seems to be lacking from my part) and you’ll probably be fine.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this homemade superhero costume won’t finish making itself…