Rumor: Apple TV could be renamed iTV, drop 1080p support and gain apps

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:45
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

appletv

It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per a continuing rumor on Engadget, sources have stated that the Apple TV’s product name will be changed to “iTV” while also dropping support for 1080p video output to standardize on 720p HDTV.

The current articles indicates that the next generation Apple TV will move from a scaled down Mac running Front Row software to an iOS device that works like a screen-less iPod touch.

Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs originally introduced the device (a few months before it shipped) under the iTV name while noting that the company was still looking for a permanent name. Apple TV was subsequently released as Apple announced the iPhone in early 2007.

Since then, Apple has built up the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices but left Apple TV to sit in maintenance mode, collecting few features and never getting an official SDK of its own that would enable third parties to extend its features.

By converting Apple TV into an iOS device, the company could erect a third new wing of apps in iTunes. The popularity of iPad (which has collected a portfolio of over 20,000 apps in just a few months) suggests tremendous potential for a TV-oriented iOS product.

Apple’s ability to rapidly muscle into the market for portable gaming could similarly be repeated by giving existing App Store developers the ability to quickly port and optimize many of their existing games to work on HDTV sets, providing a very cheap alternative to more serious console gaming devices.

If released alongside iPod touch 4 expected next month, Apple could decisively leverage the current excitement surrounding iPad to inhale lots of HDTV users during the holiday season at a time when the growth of the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii are all maturing.

The shift toward a smaller, cheaper device that uses network streaming rather than Apple TV’s hard drive for local storage also likely necessitates using the same video output of iPhone 4 and iPad, which is 1024×768 (or perhaps the very similar 720p HDTV resolution).

Apple sells HD content in iTunes as 720p. Higher resolution 1080p is an alternative HD standard, but video experts note that the difference in resolution is not visible to users at a normal TV viewing distance unless the screen is larger than 55″.

For Apple’s mass market users, a cheaper device that streams easy to buy and view HDTV content makes far more sense than the current Apple TV, which requires syncing with a local iTunes system or downloadable storage for rentals.

Such a device would seem to necessitate HDMI output, rather than the VGA output currently offered by iPhone 4 and iPad, as few HDTV sets or video projectors still support VGA-style inputs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any predictions with what will happen with the Apple TV, feel free to share them with the rest of the class…

Apple releases iOS 3.2.2, 4.0.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:18
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple somewhat unexpectedly released iOS 3.2.2 and iOS 4.0.2, the latest versions of its operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The new version, which weighs in at over 500 megabytes, repairs a security vulnerability associated with viewing malicious PDF files.

To download and install the update, attach your iPhone or iPad to your computer, open iTunes, select the device and search for an update. The process will occur as per usual.

And if you’ve noticed any major changes or would like to offer feedback on this, let us know.

Apple promises fix for web-based jailbreak flaw in iOS-based devices, declines on specific date

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

The tug-of-war between Apple and the iPhone hacker community continues as Apple has vowed to fix a flaw that allows its iOS-based device to be jailbroken via the Safari web browser.

Per CNET an Apple spokesperson said, “We’re aware of this reported issue, we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Apple declined to say when the update would be available.

If you’ve jailbroken your iOS-based device recently and have any feedback about the experience, let us know what happened and how it went.

iOS 4.1 beta 3 rules out Game Center app for iPhone 3G, second-gen iPod touch devices

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010, 05:17
Category: News, Software

The good news: The third beta of iOS 4.1 is out and progress is being made towards the final version.

The bad news: Neither the iPhone 3G or second-generation iPod touch devices will be compatible with Apple’s Game Center application upon its release.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story stated that a pre-release build seeded to developers on Tuesday, has dropped support for Game Center for older handset models. In previous builds, the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch were capable of running Game Center.

Those familiar with the latest build said Apple’s release notes did not indicate whether this was a permanent change, or a temporary one just for this beta. It simply stated that Game Center is “no longer supported” on the older hardware.

The loss of support was reportedly one of a number of changes made to the GameKit API found in iOS 4.1. In addition to a number of bug fixes, the latest update is also said to have added support for the achievements API, which will allow gamers to receive virtual awards for completing tasks in games.

Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major new feature of iOS 4, aiming to provide a centralized experience for gamers on the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, the social gaming network will allow gamers to see what their friends are playing, challenge them to an online match, or compare scores in specific titles.

In addition, the GameKit application programming interface allows developers to integrate their titles into the Game Center social network. The service will be opt-in for developers, who will not be forced to make their software a part of Game Center. But Apple officials believe it will be beneficial for application makers to integrate their games, because the service will allow a greater experience for users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone Dev Team releases web-based hack for iPhone 4 handset

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010, 04:22
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

The iPhone Dev Team raised their hand on Sunday, releasing the first “jailbreak” for the iPhone 4, a browser-based exploit that allows users to run unauthorized code. However, some reported that the modification results in broken MMS and FaceTime functionality.

According to AppleInsider, “comex,” a member of the iPhone Dev Team, released the hack through a website, jailbreakme.com. Users can visit the site in their iPhone browser to begin the jailbreaking process.

The software modification is the first release for Apple’s latest handset hardware, the iPhone 4. Some users reported that the jailbreak managed to break FaceTime and MMS functionality on the device.

Comex announced via a Twitter post that he was able to reproduce the issues, and is working on a fix. The latest jailbreak does not work with iPads running iOS 3.2.1.

Unlike previous jailbreaks, which required users to run software on their Mac or PC and tether their iPhone to their computer, the latest hack is done entirely within the Safari browser. Users simply visit the URL to begin the process, which modifies the iOS mobile operating system found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The iPhone 4 jailbreak comes less than a week after the U.S. Library of Congress officially made it legal for users to jailbreak their iPhone to run unauthorized software. The government approved the measure as an exemption to a federal law which prevents the circumvention of technical measures that keep users from accessing and modifying copyrighted works.

The jailbreak process, which also voids Apple’s warranty of the handset allows users to run software not approved by Apple, which has no plans to allow users to install third-party applications downloaded from outside its sanctioned App Store. Hackers have created their own custom applications (many free, and some for purchase) from an alternative storefront known as Cydia.

Jailbreaking can also be used to unlock a phone, allowing it to be used on carriers that do not have access to the iPhone.

In addition to allowing access to legitimate third-party software, both free and paid, through services like Cydia, jailbreaking can also be used to pirate App Store software, one major reason why Apple has fought the practice.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you decide to jailbreak your iPhone 4, please let us know how it goes.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 2, focuses on proximity sensor fixes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released the second beta version of the pending iOS 4.1 firmware, although the company has not said when the firmware will be generally available for its iPhone and iPod touch products.

Per Cult of Mac, this beta release of the iOS 4.1 software development kit, available at Apple’s iPhone Dev Center, comes about two weeks after the first one and arrives with speculation that the 4.1 software will fix some glitches for the iPhone 4 proximity sensors and introduce Apple’s promised Game Center social service.

The initial report states that the proximity sensor issue seems to have been fixed. “Previously, the iPhone was plagued with proximity sensor issues,” writes Jose Gutierrez. “It would constantly hang up calls when I held the phone next to my cheek. But after installing the iOS 4.1 beta 2 update this afternoon, I couldn’t force the iPhone to hang up calls when lifting it up to my face, no matter how hard I tried.”

He also says the new beta release includes a baseband update, “which seems to fix HSUPA upload speed issues, which slowed video and photo uploads to a crawl.”

According to several online accounts, the newest beta still does not support the iPad touch tablet. The iPad is running an earlier version of iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Game Review: Pro Zombie Soccer

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 09:03
Category: App Store, Game, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

Pro Zombie Soccer is a game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (still a Pixel-doubled version, not native) distributed by Chillingo and developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. I’ve never been caught up in the Zombie craze, although I did enjoy Zombieland and Shawn of the Dead, so I was not really excited about this game at first, but a friend assured me that it was a lot of fun and he was right.

Some of the things that made this such a fun game was the artwork and the storyline. While not complicated, the story added enough depth to propel you from scene to scene. The artwork has a punk attitude, similar to what is associated with Gorillaz, and is pretty lively and colorful.

In the game, you are playing the role of Jax, a young, talented soccer player who freezes up while trying out for the big team. While moping about town, the zombie outbreak occurs and Jax is bitten by a zombie who happens to be the star player of the soccer team. Jax soon finds out that his zombie infection has given him super-soccer powers which he decides to use to take down the zombie apocalypse….while he still can.

The controls are simple. You thumb aims the direction that Jax kicks the soccer ball and lifting your thumb fires it off. You have a regular kick, and a super-charged kick at your disposal, but eventually you acquire other “zombie powers” which you can choose from during certain parts of the game. Doing a “head-shot” to a zombie (beheading them) is worth extra points as is several head-shots in a row. Some zombies can only be killed with the super-charged kick, which takes more time to “charge up”. Eventually you run into zombies that can only be killed in a certain way, like ricocheting off a wall, as well as avoiding obstacles like fleeing scientists which, when hit, will end the game. If you finish the game too quickly in Normal mode, you can play through again in Hardcore mode which won’t be so easy. The game’s music is pretty good and in the Extras you’ll find the Music Player which allows you to play back the game’s soundtrack, a total of 16 tracks.

The sound effects and gameplay are great, and everything looks awesome on the iPhone 4′s screen. As of this writing, the game was iOS 4 compatible, but did not take advantage of background app switching. Leaving the game means starting again from the main menu, although it should remember your progress. I didn’t try it on the iPad, but it is compatible with iOS 3.0 and up. I look forward to an HD version, but I hope it’s an Universal app.

The game uses the Crystal gaming network, which I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of, but not because it is a bad system.

I highly recommend this game. It’s fun and relatively easy to play, and the stages make it easy to play a few minutes at a time, or kill 20 minutes or so. Pro Zombie Soccer is a pretty good deal at $2.99.

Apple accepts Library of Congress decision on jailbreaking, still warns of possible warranty violations

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 05:17
Category: iPhone, Legal, News, Software

After years of debate and posturing from both sides, the verdict is in. Per Electronista, the library of Congress has legally sanctioned jailbreaking iOS-based applications under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, thereby allowing non-Apple-approved applications to be run on devices such as the iPhone. While Apple didn’t contest the legality itself, the company stated that jailbreaking would still break the warranty by going beyond what Apple can support. It also stressed that it saw the experience as hurting the experience for some by taking away the speed and reliability they may have expected.

“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone,” commented an Apple spokeswoman. “And we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience.”

The representative wouldn’t directly confront the question of whether Apple would try to sue anyone who would sell jailbreaking tools, but she emphasized Apple’s history and that it hadn’t done so before.

Monday’s Library ruling doesn’t require that Apple or other companies must allow third-party apps in their code but also prevents these firms from legally challenging any jailbreak developed for the purposes of running an app or for unlocking access to other customers. It’s unclear whether the new exemptions would allow commercial development of jailbreaking apps; such software would be designed for a profit, but it it would still be used for individual purposes in most cases.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor that Apple may charge iPad owners for iOS 4 upgrade debunked

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 04:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

A circulating rumor that Apple may charge users to upgrade the iPad to iOS 4 this fall is specifically contradicted by Apple’s own licensing agreement, which states that the next major software update will be free to iPad owners.

Citing “top secret plans” from an anonymous source, Stuff.tv reported on Tuesday that Apple currently plans to charge iPad owners for the software upgrade. The source did not provide a price, but the U.K.-based magazine suggested it would be around £5.

The source reportedly told the magazine that the plans to charge are “definite.” It reached out to Apple for a comment, and the Cupertino, Calif., company responded that it doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.

However, the company’s iPad licensing agreements specifically state that the “next major iPad OS software release” will be free for hardware owners, casting some doubt on the rumor. Releases beyond that, however, may come with a charge.

“For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release,” the licensing agreement reads. “Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.”

While it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to charge for an upgrade, as previous software releases came with a fee for iPod touch users, due to an accounting issue, Apple eventually did away with that fee, as the iOS 4 upgrade is free for iPod touch owners.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Game Review: Predators™

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 11:41
Category: Fun, Game, News, Review, Software

The Predators game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is a direct tie-in with the recently released Predators movie by Robert Rodriquez (directed by Nimrod Antal) distributed by Chillingo for Fox Mobile. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’ve been told it’s good fun and the game seems to do it’s job of getting me a little more jazzed to see it. Unlike a lot of game-movie tie-ins, this game actually has some solid play value.

One of the things appreciated about this game is that is it a Universal app, meaning the same app plays on all three “i” devices. An issue that bugs me a little is games that require you to buy a completely new app in order to play it in full resolution on the iPad. I understand that developers have to make money, and that they do have to do some extra work, but it just feels wrong to have to pay a second, higher price for a game I already paid for. I wish they would just work out a system to upgrade to a Universal app for the difference of the two. On a side note, I had a problem with the game on my iPad crashing on launch, but rebooting the iPad seems to have fixed it so far.

Off my soap box, and onto the action.

In this game, you are playing the role of the Predator which is a nice switch up. This is probably because he has all the cool gadgets. The first several “missions” teach you the essentials of mauling and beheading humans for trophies. There are also in-play tutorials for learning to use the gadgets like the wrist knives, shoulder cannon, and the cloaking device. Later, you also get other abilities like thermal vision. I really liked how the tutorials played out so you can get used to using just one weapon or combo attack, rather than just being thrown into a melee and having to figure it out.

The game isn’t strictly a shoot ‘em up either. In some scenarios, you get more points for stalking your prey in cloaked mode, and killing humans undetected. There are also human “boss” characters which represent the main characters from the film such as Royce who is played by Adrian Brody in the film. These guys are harder to beat. I haven’t gotten too far in the game, but so far the terrain has just been your basic jungle with some different environmental factors like darkness or rain (with makes you more visible in cloaked mode). I’ve been through about seven levels and it hasn’t gotten boring yet, so I hope it just keep getting better.

The game stays very true to the Predator feel and mythos. Even the crosshair for the shoulder cannon works like it did in the movie and you can shoot people behind you. The graphics can be a bit gruesome if you are worried about younger audiences. There is lots of blood and your Predator very clearly rips people in half and pulls their head off with a nice, wet, ripping sound. Obviously the graphics are very good and optimized for the iPhone 4 and iPad, and the sounds are quite good as well; probably taken directly from the movies. You will also be happy to know that the game is compatible with iOS 4′s backgrounding, so you can leave in the middle of a mission and come back in the same spot and continue. There is also a pause menu too, until the iPad gets iOS 4.

I liked the iPad version the best, but mainly because the controls cover less screen than the iPhone version. Menus are slightly different for the iPad, but the gameplay is identical to the iPhone/iPod Touch version. I liked that none of the combos were too complicated. I find that annoying about some console games because you end up concentrating too much on how many buttons to push instead of the game. The controls are pretty good and straightforward. There is a “joystick” on the left and action buttons on the right. There are also toggles for things like night vision, weapons, and cloaking. It isn’t a problem for me, but I’d like to see more games give people the option of flipping the controls. The only problems I had were the ones inherent in a touch-based system; when the action gets fast, you tend to slide your fingers off the controls and can’t center again without looking away form the action. Perhaps I have more trouble with this than most people, but I can’t really fault the game for this.

Lastly, the game uses the Crystal gaming network. The frustration I have with all the game networking systems could be a whole post in itself. I’m waiting to see how Apple’s Game Center changes things. Developers naturally have investments in tying themselves to particular systems, but I wish you could choose which system to use for each game instead of being forced to use the one the developer picks.

I highly recommend this game. If you like action games, shooters, and anything to do with Predators, this game is a steal at $2.99.