Comcast releases Xfinity TV app, offers basic remote control features through iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:21
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

This could be nifty.

Back in May, Comcast teased its subscribers with an iOS app that would turn the iPhone and iPad into a remote and possibly a one-stop entertainment center. Comcast has finally released the Xfinity TV app for iOS devices—right now, though, it’s largely a remote that lets you search for content, change channels, and program your DVR.

Per Macworld, the browsing and search functions allow you to scroll through listings, tap on a show, and watch it on your TV; you can also sort content by genre or search by keyword. In addition, the app lets you browse Comcast’s On Demand programming and bring it up on your TV.

At this point, the app seems to be a glorified TV guide, though Comcast is promising additional features. The company says it will release a series of app updates so that you’ll soon be able to stream video content to your iOS device. Other promised features include a personalized watch-list and integration with social networking sites. Comcast also plans to release apps for other platforms like Android and Blackberry.

The Xfinity TV app is available now for free in the App Store, but it won’t do much if you’re not a Comcast cable subscriber or don’t have one of the compatible set-top boxes. You’ll need an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 3.2 or later.

If you’ve tried the app and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1 update

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 07:56
Category: News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released iTunes 10.1, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 84 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- Provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.

iTunes 10 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.2 update on Tuesday, November 16th

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

Since Mac OS X 10.6.5 hit, I’ve been playing with the new operating system update. Still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been hankering for Apple to finally release its iOS 4.2 upgrade.

Per iPhoneHellas, Apple is “mostly likely” to release the update on Tuesday, November 16th. The same site previously had accurate reports indicating the release time of Apple’s iOS software updates.

In addition, references to a November 12th launch that were allegedly found in previous builds of iOS 4.2 carrier bundles have been removed, providing more evidence that the update may not be issued until next week at the earliest.

The Friday launch was rumored earlier this week, in a report that also said that Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 would arrive on Wednesday. That turned out to be half true, as Apple released its latest update to the Snow Leopard operating system, but did not issue an update for iTunes.

iOS 4.2 is Apple’s eagerly awaited software update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It will mark the debut of iOS 4 on the iPad, bringing features like folders and multitasking that iPhone and iPod touch owners have enjoyed for months.

The update will also bring AirPrint and AirPlay to the mobile devices, though support for shared printers in Mac OS X 10.6.5 was axed at the last minute for still-unknown reasons. The ability to stream video from an iOS 4.2 device to an Apple TV through AirPlay will also require a software update for the Apple TV.

For iPhone users, iOS 4.2 will also bring the ability to create custom text message tones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.2 golden master build to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Monday, Apple released its golden master build of iOS 4.2 for its entire line of iOS-based devices including the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

Per AppleInsider, the new OS will sport features such as as AirPlay wireless streaming of audio, video and photos to the new Apple TV or other AirPlay-compliant devices and its AirPrint wireless printing architecture, designed to enable users to create hard copies of web pages, emails and photos managed through a new Print Center app.

The new update will also finally bring multitasking features and iOS Folders to the iPad, along with a variety of other features currently only available on the iPhone and iPod touch, such as support for multiple email aliases, a unified inbox, and messages organized by threads in Mail, and the ability to open attachments in third party apps.

New multitasking features will also incorporate the software orientation lock and music playback controls available on the iPhone running iOS 4, which are accessed via swiping to the left from the list of currently running apps. The iPad also presents a brightness control in this section (as depicted below).

The iPad will also lose its hardware toggle assigned to locking the screen orientation; the button will instead work to mute audio, just like the iPhone. This move has generated some controversy because Apple not only refuses to offer customers a choice of how their hardware buttons work, but has also duplicated mute functionality, as the audio down button already works as to rapidly mute audio playback.

The update will also bring Game Center to the iPad, allowing players to invite friends or find new opponents online to play against, as well as track their own achievements and high scores.

Apple has also outlined enhanced enterprise support features in iOS 4.2, including new device management capabilities, the ability to lock down email account settings, and stronger security enhancements.

iOS 4.2 will also include support for more than 30 new languages in keyboards and dictionaries, including Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.

It also strengthens accessibility features including support for navigating VoiceOver using a wireless keyboard and a wide range of refreshable braille output displays in more than 25 languages. On the iPad, larger text options up to 56 point fonts can also be specified for use in Contacts, Mail, Messages and Notes.

Other major changes include support for Google’s revised YouTube voting, a direct link to launching a FaceTime video call from within the SMS messages interface, and new CoreMIDI music APIs for music-related apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to include front, rear cameras

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Date: Monday, November 1st, 2010, 04:32
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple’s second-generation iPad, set to appear in the first quarter of 2011, will include a forward-facing camera for FaceTime video chat as well as a second rear camera, according to an unconfirmed rumor from an investment firm.

Per Barrons, a note issued from Detwiler Fenton & Co. claims that OmniVision will supply CMOS image sensors for the second-generation iPad. The report alleges that the next iPad will have a forward-facing VGA camera for FaceTime video chat, like the iPhone 4 and latest iPod touch.

The firm also claims that OmniVision will supply a second, 5 megapixel camera, presumably to be placed on the rear of the new iPad. One competing touchscreen tablet, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, sports two cameras, with the rear lens highlighted for use in augmented reality applications.

Detwiler said that Apple is expected to build 2.5 million units of the next-generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011. OmniVision also supplies sensors for Apple’s iPhone.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans have stated that a version of Apple’s iPad with a built-in video camera and FaceTime support had already progressed to advanced testing stages by September. It was indicated that a FaceTime-equipped iPad would be introduced no later than the first quarter of 2011.

Apple launches updated MobileMe calendar, removes membership requirements

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Date: Friday, October 15th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, Software

Apple announced Thursday that its new web-based calendar application for MobileMe subscribers has officially exited the beta stages and is now available to all members.

Users looking to become new calendar members simply need to sign in to me.com/calendar, click “Upgrade now” in the lower left corner of the Calendar web application, and follow the instructions. Current members who’ve been using the Calendar since it was a beta product don’t need to do anything.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has stated the new MobileMe Calendar was designed to integrate more fluently with the built-in calendar app on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches by always keeping it in sync with a Mac or PC. New events or changes are automatically pushed to iOS 4 devices so the calendar stays up to date. Users who schedule a meeting on their iOS devices will also see that meeting pushed everywhere too.

The new version also makes it easier for users to share calendars with one or more MobileMe members to keep everyone on the same page. For example, users can create a shared calendar called “Family” for weekend activities, then allow family members to edit events, and then receive email notifications informing them of those changes.


Another new features lets users share a read-only public calendar, which Apple says is ideal for publishing an events calendar such as a child’s sports team schedule. Once set up, a link to view the calendar can be sent to other team members for viewing on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC.


Users can also invite guests to an event by adding their email address to the event (they don’t have to be a MobileMe member) and guests will get an invitation email they can respond to directly by clicking a link. The event then automatically updates, making it easy to track RSVPs right in the calendar.

These features tie into new web application at me.com with redesigned day, week, and month views, as well as a new list view to make scanning events easier.

Apple says the new web application works best with the Safari 5, Firefox 3.6, and Internet Explorer 8 web browsers. Compatibility with iPhone or iPod touch requires iOS 4.1, while iPad users must be running either version 3.2 or 4.2 (due this November). Mac users must have Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later installed and PC users will need MobileMe Control Panel version 1.6.3 and Outlook 2007 or 2010.

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

Second-gen Apple TV teardown posted, 8GB flash drive, 256MB of RAM located

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Date: Thursday, September 30th, 2010, 03:33
Category: Apple TV, News

The second-generation Apple TV is almost here and the cool cats at iFixit have posted a complete teardown of the device, which apparently includes a small 8GB of onboard storage and the same 256MB of RAM found in the iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Per the report, the new Apple TV uses a Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND Flash chip, which is the same part found during the site’s iPad teardown. The memory is likely used to cache content that is being streamed.

“This is a pretty remarkable amount of storage for a US$99 device,” the solutions provider wrote.

Interestingly, logic board on the hardware shows solder pads that would fit an iPod 30-pin dock connector, perhaps implying what could come in future versions of the hardware.

“This Apple TV seems to be a couple of connectors shy of a full-on computer,” they wrote. “Perhaps this logic board will be used in future iPads?”

Other findings noted that the A4 processor is marked K4X2G643GE, which is identical to the processor found in the first-generation iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch. The iPhone 4, however, has a different chip with 512MB of onboard RAM.

The internal Wi-Fi board is from Panasonic, which might be the first time the company has supplied a Wi-Fi board for an Apple device. Panasonic is, however, usually responsible for optical drives in the Mac maker’s notebooks.

The Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip is the same part found inside the iPad: BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n. It also includes an FM radio, which is not used by the device.

iFixit graded the new Apple TV with a score of 8 out of possible 10 for ease of repairability. The one mark against it is that the electronics are housed on one singular board.

If your new Apple TV has arrived recently, let us know what you make of the device, for better or for worse.

Apple releases updated iOS 4.2, iTunes 10.1 betas to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, September 29th, 2010, 03:44
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released new betas of two major upcoming software releases, the upcoming versions of iOS 4.2 and iTunes 10.1.

Per AppleInsider, Tuesday’s release of iOS 4.2 marks the second beta of the software update, due for a public release in November. It is available for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and second-, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

People familiar with the latest iOS beta said it is known as 8C5101C.

The first beta of iOS 4.2 was released earlier this month, and marked the debut of AirPrint, Apple’s new wireless printing standard for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. AirPrint will allow iOS device users to print to a shared printer connected to a PC or Mac, or directly to some printers that are compatible with the format.

The previous beta also packed a number of small fixes, including improvements to YouTube and FaceTime. Its release in November will also be the first time iPad owners have had access to the iOS 4 features iPhone and iPod touch users already enjoy, including multitasking and home screen folders.

A beta of iTunes 10.1 was also issued for testing Tuesday, and people familiar with the build said it also supports printing. Just this past weekend, iTunes 10.0.1 was publicly released, bringing improvements to Ping.

If you’ve had a chance to play with either beta, let us know and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple leaves out vibration feature on fourth-gen iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, September 9th, 2010, 06:45
Category: iPod Touch, News

In spite of earlier references on the Apple website to a “vibrating alert” for the fourth-generation iPod touch, the new device lacks a vibration motor.

Per AppleInsider, Apple originally promoted the vibrator feature on the accessibility page for the iPod touch, but has since removed the reference.

“If somebody wants to start a video call with you, you’ll receive an invitation — along with a vibrating alert — on your iPod touch asking you to join,” the page used to read.

Teardown specialists at iFixit confirmed the lack of a vibration motor when they took apart the new iPod touch.

“Contrary to Apple’s initial claims on their FaceTime marketing page, the iPod Touch does not have a vibrator,” reported the site.

The part from the FCC teardown originally believed to be a vibration motor was discovered by iFixit to be a microphone.