Random FaceTime calls reported, iOS 4.2.1 bug suspected

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 14:50
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

As cool as the idea of FaceTime and videoconferencing can be, you really don’t want to be receiving these calls without expecting them.

Per iPodNN, some of Apple’s various FaceTime-compatible devices made a series of random calls to each other overnight between the 27th and the 28th, according to reports and complaints on Apple’s support forums. While the iPhone 4 was predominantly affected, the issue is also said to have hit the fourth-generation iPod touch, and even the Mac beta client. The calls are often described as showing mutual requests, even though no one actually dialed, and in some cases one of the devices was off.



The incidents are moreover said to have occurred at about the same time: approximately 6:30PM Pacific, 9:30PM Eastern and 3:30AM in central Europe. The exact cause is unclear, but could involve a problem on Apple servers handling the FaceTime system. Because of the involvement of Macs, the glitch is unlikely to be related to iOS 4.2.1, which was made public just last Monday.

Me, I’m of the opinion that this is a preemptive (and lame) initial attack by a SkyNet-esque computer that simply wants to terrify you by having to conduct a FaceTime call with relatives this close after Thanksgiving…

Cyber Monday deals continue on U.S. Apple Store web site

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 07:37
Category: News, retail

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The savings continue and you won’t need to be trampled at a mega-store to get them…

Per the Mac Observer, Apple is offering Cyber Monday deals on items such as the Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox iPod and iPhone speaker dock for US$359.95, iPhone and iPad cases by Michael Kors, Panasonic’s HM-TA1 HD video camera for $152.95, the G-Technology Mobile Hard Drive for $89.95, Twelve South’s Compass portable iPad stand for $35.95, and more.

The deals are available on November 29 and only through Apple’s U.S. Web-based store.

If you’ve found a good deal elsewhere, please let us know and thanks!

Black Friday prices appear for Apple iOS-based devices

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:16
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, retail

It’s begun.

Per the mighty AppleInsider and its iOS price guide, Apple is offering savings for the shopping holiday, though the company has sold out of its US$79.99 Apple TV deal and may be running low on its US$199 8GB iPod touch inventory.

iPods:
Meanwhile, Amazon.com is offering US$29 off the 8GB iPod touch. The online big-box reseller on Thursday held the best prices on the remained of Apple’s iPod line but has since raised its prices. As such, Apple’s Black Friday sale is extending the best discounts the rest of the iPod touches (up to US$51 off), as well as the iPod nano (up to US$21 off).

iPads:
Unfortunately, supply concerns have prompted Apple not to authorized resellers to take orders for the iPad online, so the product is not yet included in the price guide. Although iPads are listed on Amazon, they are priced above MSRP and sold online through other parties. Therefore, the best deals on iPads (US$41 off) come from Apple, in addition to the MiFi bundle deals offered by Verizon.

Stay tuned for additional Black Friday details as they become available and if you’ve heard of any good deals on your end, please let us know.

Apple may be relaxing liquid/spill-damage repair policies

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Date: Thursday, November 11th, 2010, 05:41
Category: Hardware, News

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A series of internal policy documents leaked to Boy Genius Report shows that Apple may be amending its liquid damage repair policy. Apple’s mobile devices, which currently come with small Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) patches that react and change color when in contact with water, uses the color change to determine whether a device has been submerged in water before honoring warranty claims for the devices. This policy has resulted in some controversy, with some people claiming the LCIs are changing color in conditions of high humidity or are otherwise changing color without having been in contact with liquids.

Though previously Apple employees would just inspect the patches, the new policies apparently will grant more leeway and also require the employees to look for additional signs of liquid damage before determining that liquid contact was the cause for the device malfunction. This change does relax some of the return and replacement rules for iPods, and may make it easier for Apple employees to swap out devices for users; however, the document does note that the final determination of damage is still up to the Apple Store employees.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs crushes 7″ iPad rumor at Q4 financial announcement

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 06:35
Category: iPad, News

It’s the in-between things during Apple’s financial announcements that make things interesting.

During yesterday’s Q4 earnings conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday took a moment to extinguish rumors that the company is working on a smaller iPad based around a 7″ screen according to AppleInsider.

“The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit that price point, it’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software,” Jobs said on Monday’s quarterly earnings conference call. “As a software driven company we think about the software strategies first.”

“We know developers aren’t going to deal well with these different sizes and they have to change their software every time the screen size changes,” he added. “When we make decisions on 7″ tablets it’s not about cost, it’s about the value of the product when you factor in the software.”

You see what I’m getting at?,” Jobs continued. “So we’re all about making the best products at aggressive prices and that’s what we do, and that’s what we will do with the iPad and iPod.”

Asked by an analyst how he would respond and whether Apple would lose share if the market suddenly moves to a lower price point with fewer features, Jobs said “You’re looking at it wrong, […] looking at it as a hardware manufacturer who doesn’t know much about software who assumes the software will take care of itself.”

“Hm, how can we make this cheaper? Well let’s put a smaller screen, slower processor, less memory, and you just assume the software will somehow come alive on this product but it won’t,” Jobs quipped. “Developers have taken advantage of faster processors and bigger screens to make better apps for customers.”

“It’s a hard one,” the Apple co-found said of such a strategy, “because it throws you in the chicken-and-egg question to change assumptions on developers.” Most developers won’t follow that lead, he suggest. Instead, they’re more likely to say, “Sorry, I’m not going to write a watered down version of my app just because you can sell this version of your phone for US$50 less.”

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad have come from numerous sources, several alleging that Apple is working on a smaller version of the iPad.

Those reports suggested that the current iPad is too heavy for users, and that a smaller form factor and lighter weight would be more ideal for reading.

Jobs’ comments on Monday come as a number of competitors are embracing the 7″ form factor with their own touchscreen tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is set to launch this year with all four major U.S. wireless carriers, while BlackBerry plans to release its own PlayBook in early 2011.

Earlier this month, it was suggested that Apple developed a 7″ iPad alongside the current model, but eventually opted just to release the current 9.7″ model. Jobs’ comments Monday would support that rumor, as the CEO noted that his company has done extensive research on touchscreen interfaces and what works best for users.

“We really understand this stuff,” Jobs said.

As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say about this.

Apple posts over $20 billion in sales, $4.31 billion profit for fourth quarter

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 06:56
Category: Finance, News

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Apple on Monday reported a “great fiscal quarter,” citing a quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, compared to US$2.53 billion for the same period last year. Over the quarter, Apple recored US$20.34 billion in revenue, an increase of nearly 67 percent from the year-ago quarter’s sales figure of US$12.21 billion.

Apple’s earnings of US$4.64 per diluted share handily beat estimates by Wall Street analysts who were expecting the company to report earnings of US$4.06 a share on $18.86 billion in revenue for September quarter.

“We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of the calendar year,” said CEO Steve Jobs in a statement accompanying the earnings. Apple has scheduled a press event for this Wednesday where the company is expected to focus on the Mac.

Per Macworld, Apple executive Peter Oppenheimer credited record iPhone sales, enthusiasm for the iPad, and a new quarterly sales record for Mac sales as the drivers behind Apple’s strong quarterly performance. In particular, Apple sold 4.19 million iPads during the first full quarter of sales for the tablet; all told, the company sold 7.5 million iPads during its 2010 fiscal year.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple recorded US$2.8 billion in sales of iPads and related accessories, with the iPad accounting for US$2.7 billion of that figure. That translates to an average selling price of around US$645 for the tablet, Oppenheimer said.

iPad sales may disappoint some analysts, who were expecting Apple to sell close to 5 million tablets. One of the issues may be with inventory—Apple says it has three-to-four weeks worth of channel inventory, which is below its target range of four-to-six weeks. The company plans to expand its iPad distribution efforts, adding retailers like Verizon, Walmart, Target, and AT&T into the mix as well as launching in additional countries.

As for the iPhone, Apple managed to sell 14.1 million units during the quarter. This marks a 91% increase over the 7.4 million phones sold during the year-ago quarter and a new quarterly record for smartphone sales for the company.

For the 2010 fiscal year, Apple sold 40 million phones, a 93 percent jump over 2009. During September, the company says it passed the 125 million mark for cumulative iOS sales of its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch offerings.

Apple also saw a record quarter for its Mac business. The company sold 3.89 million computers, up 27% from its year-ago sales. Fourth-quarter Mac sales topped the previous high-water mark of 3.47 million mark set during the June quarter. Year-over-year sales growth was more than double the growth rate projected for the overall PC market by research firm IDC, according to Oppenheimer.

Notebooks continue to drive Mac sales, with portable products, accounting for 71% of the Macs sold during the September quarter. However, sales of desktops rose nearly 28% to a little more than 1 million units, on the strength of the company’s iMac and Mac Pro updates over the summer.

Despite the largely positive news, the iPod segment continues to shrink, with Apple selling 9.05 million music players during the quarter (an 11% drop from last year’s figures). Apple updated its iPod line in September, though the company usually sees the fruits of those efforts during the holiday quarter.

While iPod sales growth stalled throughout 2010, Apple opted to focus on the positive Monday. It noted that the iPod’s share of the MP3 player market in the U.S. continues to top 70% according to research firm NPD’s figures. And Apple says its music player gained market share internationally from the year-ago quarter. The company also reported that its iTune Store brought in more than US$1 billion in revenue for the September quarter.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a minute during the conference call to comment on the company’s “hobby” product, the Apple TV, announcing that it had moved more than 250,000 units since the device went on sale. That’s the first time the company has ever revealed sales information for the device, which has gone through a number of iterations since its original introduction in 2007. Jobs confirmed that Apple had moved to an all-streaming model for content for the device, which will allow streaming of media from iOS devices in November when Apple ships iOS 4.2.

Apple’s retail segment had what Oppenheimer called a “record-breaking quarter,” with revenue rising 75% to US$3.57 billion. Apple sold 874,000 Macs through its retail arm, an increase of 30% from the year-ago quarter. The company sales that half of the Macs sold through its brick-and-mortar outlets continue to be to customers who are new to the platform.

Apple ended the fourth quarter with 317 stores, 84 of which were outside the U.S. The company opened 24 new stores during the quarter, with 16 of those opening outside of U.S. borders. In fact, with new store openings in Spain, Apple now has retail outlets in 11 countries.

The company also stated that it plans to open 40 to 50 stores during the coming fiscal year, with half of those slated for outside the U.S. The company also plans to start renovating several of its U.S. stores during 2011.

Monday’s earnings report closes the book on Apple’s 2010 fiscal year, which saw the company record US$65.2 billion in sales, a 52% increase from the US$42.9 billion in revenue recorded in 2009. Apple turned a US$14 billion profit in 2010, an increase of 72% from the previous year.

“The September quarter was the culmination of a monumental year for Apple,” Oppenheimer said.

iPad to hit Walmart shelves Friday, October 15th

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Date: Tuesday, October 12th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPad, News, retail

Retail giant Walmart has announced that hundreds of its stores will begin selling the iPad on Friday, October 15th. This number will eventually expand to 2,300 stores throughout November.

Per Electronista, Walmart revealed the news Monday evening, confirming last week’s rumor that the Bentonville, Arkansas mega-retailer would start carrying Apple’s iPad this week. The chain’s stores will offer all six models of the tablet device.

The iPad can be ordered online from the Walmart web site but must be picked up in store. Retail stores will feature the device as part of a “separate showcase of Apple hardware,” the report noted.

According to sources, some Walmart stores have already placed the iPad on the shelves alongside Apple’s iPods in advance of Friday’s official launch.

If you’ve seen the iPad at your local Walmart prior to the Friday launch, let us know.

Apple strips AirPrint support for second-gen iPod touch devices

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Date: Monday, October 4th, 2010, 10:42
Category: iPod Touch, News, Software

Per 9 to 5 Mac, Apple has revised its original AirPrint announcement, removing promised support for the second-generation iPod touch device. Still in development, AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks that can print text, photos, and graphics wirelessly over Wi-Fi networks without the need for additional drivers or software.

Apple’s original documents stated that printing would only be supported on iOS devices that support multitasking, yet listed the second-generation iPod touch as compatible. The second-generation iPod touch has since been removed from the compatible device list.

This marks the second incident in the last few months where Apple has revised its list of supported devices before a software update’s official launch, as it removed Game Center support for the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G while it was still in beta testing, only to once again include support for the second-gen touch shortly before the feature’s debut in iOS 4.1.

Apple files suit against Sanho-owned HyperMac regarding MagSafe, iPod connector patent infringements

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Date: Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010, 04:00
Category: Legal, News

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If you’re going to be in the market with the 800 pound gorilla, it’s advisable not to infringe on said 800 pound gorilla’s patents.

Or at least try to be subtle about it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of accessories, alleging violation of patents it owns related to the MagSafe charger and cables that use the iPod 30-pin connection.

The lawsuit filed this month accuses Sanho, based out of Sunnyvale, Calif., of infringing on six MagSafe- and iPod-related patents, covering a variety of products sold under the HyperMac brand name. Among the products named in the suit are its magnetic power connectors, known as MBP-PRO and MBP-AIR, as well as a MacBook car charger, MBP-CAR.

Instead of mimicking Apple’s patented MagSafe connectors, Sanho’s products actually rely on recycled official MagSafe products made by Apple. “Our charging cables use original Apple MagSafe connectors for maximum compatibility,” the company’s website reads.

The suit also focuses on charging and data cables that rely on the 30-pin dock connector compatible with Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad ecosystem of devices. Named in the suit are the “HyperMac Nano,” “HyperMac Micro” and “HyperMac Mini” products.

Sanho sells a number of small, portable external batteries that can provide extra power to portable devices on the go. Using the iPod 30-pin dock connector, products like the HyperMac Micro come in a variety of colors and are compatible with Apple products like the iPhone 4 and iPad.

In the suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, Apple says it notified Sanho of its infringement via official letters on April 26th, May 19th and June 20th of 2010.

“Defendants manufacture, distribute, and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connectors used to connect power adapters and other products to Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook,” the suit reads. “Defendants also manufacture, distribute and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s 30-pin connectors and receptacles , used to connect cables to Apple iPod, iPhone and/or iPad products.”

“Defendants’ infringing conduct has damaged Apple and inflicted irreparable harm for which Apple seeks, among other remedies, an award of its actual damages, disgorgement of Defendants’ profits from the sale of infringing devices and injunctive relief.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit posts full teardown of 2010 iPod Shuffle

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Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 05:56
Category: iPod shuffle, photos

Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple’s new hardware to perform a full teardown of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle.

Per AppleInsider, the new hardware carries a model number of A1373, updated from the A1271 designation of the previous generation hardware.

The updated iPod shuffle marks the return of buttons to the media player, which were absent from the previous generation. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs even conceded last week that “people clearly missed the buttons.”

The tightly packed hardware is particularly difficult to open, iFixit noted. “It took us a good half hour of prying and heat-gunning to open the little guy,” they said. This is because back clip was is press-fit and glued onto the body of the device.

Other details noted by the solutions provider in its teardown:

- The new iPod shuffle has smaller retail packaging, but the box it ships in was not particularly small. “Apple could have shipped 30 iPod shuffles in this box,” they said. “Literally.”

- The fourth-generation hardware has a height of 1.14 inches, width of 1.24 inches, depth of 0.34 inches, and weight of 0.44 ounces.

- The control ribbon cable is just 1/8 of an inch wide, and the logic board is held in place by just one screw. The battery is soldered to the logic board.

- The 3.7V lithium-ion battery has a listed capacity of .19 Whr, which is good for 15 hours of audio playback.

- The manufacture dates on the die indicate the hardware was built in late June and early August of 2010.

For additional photos and details, check out the full teardown at the iFixit web site and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new Shuffle, let us know what you make of it, for better or for worse.