Apple announces iTunes 10 at media event

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 16:28
Category: News, Software

Kicking off today’s Apple media event, Apple announced that iTunes 10 will be available today. The new version includes a feature called Ping, a social music discovery tool that allows users to follow friends and artists, helping customers to discover and share new music.

“It’s sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes,” Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said of the entirely new Ping service. He described it as a social network all about music, built in to the new iTunes, now available for download.

Per AppleInsider, the product is based on discovery, allowing users to see what their friends are listening to and what concerts they’re going to.

Users can choose to “follow” artists, as well as their friends, and iTunes will populate a customized top 10 list that represents what their friends are downloading. Users can also see concerts that are coming near them, and inform their friends that they will be attending.

Ping users can sign up immediately and the service will also be available to iPhone and iPod touch users through the existing iTunes Store.

Jobs also demonstrated a new “hybrid” view within iTunes 10, which automatically displays album art when there are five or more tracks from the same record.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 4.1 beta points out forthcoming fixes with proximity center, Bluetooth, Game Center, etc.

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:12
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The third beta of Apple’s upcoming iOS 4.1 update points out a slew of fixes to be expected when the software releases.

iOS 4.1 is currently in its third beta, released earlier this month. Per AppleInsider, the update addresses many issues that users have experienced, including problems with Bluetooth connectivity.

The official list of fixes and enhancements does not make mention of the proximity sensor or Bluetooth functionality. However, time spent with the latest beta build shows a marked improvement with those features.

The most recent update also added new features such as a new API that allows apps to access contact thumbnail pictures.

Proximity sensor:
While not documented by Apple, experience with the iOS 4.1 beta has shown that the proximity sensor on the iPhone 4 is far more reliable. Since the device launched in June, users have reported that the handset’s touchscreen will sometimes turn on in the midst of a call, resulting in accidental button presses that can end a call or place someone on hold.

At a press conference in July, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his company was aware of the problem and working on a fix. But the first two minor updates to iOS 4, in the form of 4.0.1 and 4.0.2, did not address the problem.

Game Center:
Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major feature of iOS 4 and works much like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, making it easy for users to play and talk about games.

With Game Center, users will create an alias that represents their online persona. The community service allows players to interact with one another anonymously via their alias. When Game Center is launched later this year, users will be able to create a friends list, set “status updates” and more.

Developers access the features of Game Center through the Game Kit framework API provided by Apple. The API includes leaderboards for scores, allowing players to compare their performance in a game to friends and others.

Game Kit also allows developers to enable player-versus-player matchmaking for their titles. Through a Game Center account, players will be able to compete in online games against one another, or with a group of people.

As noted earlier this week, the latest beta also added a Game Center restriction. The feature allows the owner of an iPhone, such as a corporation or parent, to restrict access to certain functions of the device.

Other changes:
Users will have the ability to turn on or off a “Check Spelling” feature in the Keyboard section of the iPhone’s Settings application. Users can have misspelled or unrecognized words highlighted without enabling the Auto-Correction functionality.

As previously reported, the latest beta of iOS 4.1 allows users to conduct FaceTime video chat via another person’s e-mail address. This is likely how the forthcoming iPod touch refresh, widely expected to have a forward-facing camera, will allow users without a phone to engage in a FaceTime call.

Camera controls now reposition between portrait and landscape orientations. Currently in iOS 4, the flash and camera selection buttons will only rotate accordingly when the camera is physically turned. In the third beta, the buttons transition to remain atop the screen, regardless of orientation.

Developers have access to new functions to identify the BSSID or SSID of the current Wi-Fi hotspot that the user is connected to.

Developers now have new methods to save images to a user’s photo album.
iOS 4.1 also includes new capabilities that allow applications to control fonts.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve been able to play with the third beta of iOS 4.1, let us know what you made of it.

New photos surface, point towards forward-facing camera in upcoming iPod touch

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

Photos of another front panel claimed to be a component for Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, again showing a space for a front-facing camera.

According to MIC gadget from parts site taobao.com, the component pictureshows a hole above the LCD display that would allow for a forward-facing camera.

Like the last part pictured, the purported iPod touch front panel is labeled “Apple (c) 2010.” It is being sold for 650 Chinese Yuan, or US$95.

The photos provide more evidence for the assumption that the upcoming iPod touch refresh, expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual media-centric event in September, will sport two cameras like the iPhone 4. The fourth-generation iPod touch is rumored to become the second device from Apple to support the open FaceTime standard for video chat.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said earlier this summer that his company will ship tens of millions of devices compatible with FaceTime this year alone. Currently, only the iPhone 4 is capable of making FaceTime video chat calls over Wi-Fi.

While the iPod touch lacks a phone number to allow people to connect for a FaceTime call, beta releases of iOS 4.1 show that the media player will identify users by their e-mail address.

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

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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 ousts iPhone head Mark Papermaster, speculation flies as to who might be next

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Date: Monday, August 9th, 2010, 04:23
Category: iPhone, News

In November of 2008, Apple hired IBM’s Mark Papermaster to be Apple’s Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering, thereby replacing Tony Fadell as head of Apple’s iPod and iPhone divisions. A court deal later forced Papermaster to wait until April 2009 before starting at Apple.

Sixteen months later, Papermaster is out.

Per The Apple Core, speculation abounds that he’s the first casualty of the iPhone 4′s problematic antenna design, but neither Apple nor Papermaster have given a public reason for the departure, the current opinion having reasoned that he may have been asked to resign for the design flaw in Apple’s the iPhone 4.

Its suspect antenna design (dubbed “Antennagate”) has lead to rumors that its successor (the iPhone 5) is being to rushed to market and that it could come as soon as in January 2011, six months earlier than the traditional summer time frame for iPhone launches.

MacRumors chimed in with a rumor that Papermaster has been virtually invisible from Apple’s promotion of the iPhone 4, curious for the head of the department that designed it.

In retrospect, these current events should have cast a light during Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference last month. During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Papermaster, whose division designed the iPhone 4, didn’t seem to be in attendance at the event.

Even Apple’s promotional video for the iPhone 4 released at the device’s introduction in early June, which featured a number of Apple executives talking about the handset, failed to include Papermaster. Bob Mansfield is, however, featured with the job title of Senior Vice President of Hardware, dropping the “Mac” qualifier that had been part of his official job at that time. Per the New York Times, Mansfield was involved in the design of several aspects of the iPhone 4, including its A4 chip and Retina display.

Apple confirmed the shakeup at Apple’s most important devision in a statement to the New York Times stating that Papermaster is leaving the company. Apple noted that Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, who recruited Papermaster in the first place, will be assuming his responsibilities.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photo illustrations suggest camera, flash on next-gen iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

applelogo_silver

A series of leaked photo illustrations supposedly obtained from iPod case manufacturers show a new version of the iPod touch with a camera and flash.

Per a leaked image on HardMac, the English language version of France’s Macbidouille, the next generation iPod touch in shown in a clear case. The website claims the source of the image is “very reliable.” The image appears to show a rounded back with a rear-facing camera and flash.

A rounded back would be a clear departure from the design of the iPhone 4, which has a flat glass back.



According to the web site, the source has been reliable in the past, correctly confirming the inclusion of a camera on last year’s iPod nano. Technical issues have been cited as the reason for the lack of a camera on last year’s iPod touch model.

Although rumors of a camera-enabled iPod touch have persisted for several years, the June unveiling of Apple’s FaceTime video call feature for the iPhone 4 served to strengthen the rumors. At that time, CEO Steve Jobs expressed plans to make the feature an “open industry standard” that works between different devices. When speculating which devices are likely to adopt the FaceTime standard, many analysts have kept the iPod touch at the top of their lists.

Reports from “supplier” sources corroborate the iPod touch camera rumor, although the details don’t always match. In July, U.K. retailer John Lewis claimed the next iPod touch will have a 5 megapixel camera, while the Taiwanese publication Digitimes cited sources predicting a 3 megapixel camera.

Either way, this will probably be resolved upon the new iPod touch’s release, which is expected to occur sometime in September.

Rumor: Apple to update iMac, Mac Pro desktops for fall, add USB 3.0, improved FireWire

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Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 03:12
Category: iMac, Mac Desktop, Rumor

newimac.jpg

Amidst the cacophony of the iPhone 4 press conference, French website Hardmac reported Friday that Apple aims to update its iMac and Mac Pro desktops in time for its back to school sales period. The report cited one of the site’s “better sources” in relaying the information.

“On this occasion, Apple should inaugurate two great innovations, the arrival of USB 3.0 and a faster FireWire interface, 1600 or 3200,” they wrote. “Thus, FireWire will not be forgotten. Note that Apple is also interested in LightPeak technology, but they do not expect to use it or set it up before one year.”

Finally, the report also said that the new hardware will not support Blu-ray discs. That news should come as no surprise to those who have heard Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs’ assessment of the format. Jobs was recently alleged to have said that the physical medium’s days are dying, and will give way to digital download services like iTunes.

The USB 3.0 specification was in Apple’s hands over a year ago. The new standard will be ten times faster than the current Hi-Speed USB standard (USB 2.0), and also more power-efficient, leading to lower active and idle power requirements. Like its predecessor, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.

Rumors of a new Mac Pro have persisted for all of 2009, with Apple expected to adopt Intel’s Gulftown processor, the 32nm Core i7-980X with six cores. The chips have 12MB of L3 cache. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it’s possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

The last major refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Last year, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Last October, Apple updated its iMac desktop line, redesigning the hardware with a new edge-to-edge glass design and seamless all-aluminum enclosure. The LED-backlit iMacs come in screen sizes of 21.5″ and 27″.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers free bumper to iPhone 4 customers, explains antenna issue at press conference

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 10:49
Category: iPhone, News

After being hounded by weeks of complaints regarding the iPhone 4′s antenna, Apple today held a press conference to tackle the press conference head on.

While the company didn’t issue a sweeping recall, it noted that you can get a free bumper case (or a refund if you’ve already purchased one) and that since they can’t make bumpers fast enough, you’ll be able to select from a choice of cases on the Apple website starting late next week.

Per the full play-by-play over at the Apple Core, iPhone 4 customers still have the option of returning the phone for a full refund, with no restocking fee within 30 days. Apple also announced that the white iPhone is going to start shipping at the end of July and that its bringing the iPhone to 17 more countries on July 30, including:

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Denmark
Finland
Hong Kong
Ireland
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Norway
New Zealand
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to avoid iPhone 4 recall, offer details at press conference later today

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News

In spite of the press conference scheduled for today, the iOS 4.0.1 update and Apple’s well-documented problems with the iPhone 4′s antenna and reception, a new report claims that a recall of the handset won’t be among the announcements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to the story has stated the company doesn’t plan to instate a recall of the more than 2 million units it’s shipped worldwide thus far.

That same source echoed an earlier report in claiming that hardware engineers warned chief executive Steve Jobs about the risks of the phone’s new external antenna design nearly a year ago, but that Jobs “liked the design so much that Apple went ahead with its development.”

The report went on to document how Apple’s immense secrecy over new iPhone masked the problem during the company’s evaluation process with its carrier partners, as design verification units were disguised as “stealth” phones that obscured their design and some of their functions.

“Those test phones are specifically designed so the phone can’t be touched, which made it hard to catch the iPhone 4′s antenna problem,” the Journal said. The paper added, citing people familiar with the matter, that Apple afforded carriers “limited time to test the iPhone 4 before its June 24 launch” and equipped them with “fewer devices to test than other handset makers.”

Although Apple declined to comment on its development methods for the new iPhone, a company spokesperson fired back at the claim that a senior antenna expert had expressed his concern over the new design to Jobs, challenging the publication to “produce anything beyond rumors to back this up.”

“It’s simply not true,” the spokesperson said.

Concerns over the iPhone 4′s new antenna design began generating headlines ever since its June 24th launch, when some users began reporting the handset’s propensity to lose reception and sometimes drop calls when cupped in the lower left corner.

Though media coverage of the matter persisted for a couple of weeks on and on-and-off basis, it reached a boiling point earlier this week when Consumer Reports did a 180-degree turn on its stance on the iPhone 4, and announced that it could no longer recommend the device to consumers because of the antenna issues.

Since then, the matter has only escalated further up the chain, with democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday issuing an open letter to Jobs, calling Apple’s current solutions to fixing the problem “insufficient” and asking the company to provide a free fix for consumers.

So yeah, it’s been a fun three weeks…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple drops hint at iOS 4 for iPad in November, iWork for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 04:04
Category: iPad, News, Software

When iOS 4 hit, I was a little disappointed to see that it had yet to arrive for the iPad.

This may change as Apple has quietly hinted at a launch window for iOS 4 on the iPad, while the company’s website has slipped another clue that iWork is on its way to the iPhone. An AdAge report suggests that Apple has been telling marketers that the iAd platform will extend to the iPad sometime in November.

Steve Jobs initially pointed to iOS 4 availability on the iPad sometime “this fall.” The iAd platform is known to be directly integrated with iOS 4.

Many of Apple’s international online stores posted a “Learn more” link for iPhone AppleCare warranties, which includes software support for “iWork for iPhone” among other topics. The iOS 4 pages briefly included an iPhone interface image showing an option to open an attachment in Keynote, although the company quickly replaced the iWork reference with an iBooks selection.

Cool stuff either way and you have to wonder what iOS 4 will bring for the iPad.