Friday, March 18, 2011

iPhone 5 will feature NFC after all, says Forbes’ source

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In January, Bloomberg claimed the next-generation iPhone will include NFC (near-field-communication) technology with a “wave-to-pay” system. This last week The Indepedent shot down these claims saying that if NFC appears at all, it won’t be until 2012 alongside the sixth-generation iPhone.

Now, Elizabeth Woyke from Forbes is claiming (via SAI) that according to an Apple employee, the iPhone 5 will in fact feature NFC capabilities.

Just met with an entrepreneur who says the iPhone 5 *will* have NFC…according to his friend, who works at Apple. Huh.
At this point it’s difficult to pinpoint which rumors are true and which are false with so many differences flying around the rumor mill lately. If it means anything Elizabeth Woyke was a bit spotty on her Best Buy gives iPads to all employees post. An NFC capable iPhone also popped up in a T-Mobile presentation slide.




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iPhone ranks highest in J.D. Power 2011 customer smartphone satisfaction survey

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J.D. Power and Associates announced that Apple’s iPhone is once again the smartphone that customers are most satisfied with. This is the fifth consecutive year in which Apple has attained the award and the iPhone earned a score of 795/1000.

Even though this is 5 points shy of Apple’s 800/1000 score from 2010, Apple still came out over competitors Motorola (763) and HTC (762). The J.D. Power survey judges the following categories:

Operation (30%); physical design (30%); features (20%); and battery function (20%). For smartphones, the key factors are: ease of operation (26%); operating system (24%); physical design (23%); features (19%); and battery function (8%).
According to the survey results, the iPhone performs “particularly well” in physical design, ease of use, and the operating system (iOS). Apple’s latest iPhone – iPhone 4 – has been the site of much controversy, mostly having to due with antenna issues.

Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone – “iPhone 5″ in June, for a June/July launch, with faster internals and a similar design to the iPhone 4.


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GPU-accelerated Firefox 4 arriving next Tuesday, first Firefox 5 nightly build available now (UPDATED: March 22 confirmed)

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An engineer with Mozilla hinted that the final Firefox 4 build will be ready for public consumption the following Tuesday, March 22. It’s set to ship on multiple platforms, including Windows XP. Following up on a recent Release Candidate build, Damon Sicore, Mozilla’s senior director of engineering, mentioned the March 22 release date in a Mozilla Development discussion on Google Groups.


He wrote that powers that be “have indicated that March 22nd is an acceptable final launch date,” but warned that another release candidate is possible should the team encounter last minute setbacks. Firefox 4 is a catch up compared to Chrome 10 and Safari 5, but it does bring several interesting new features.

For example, the browser supports multitouch and packs in a brand new add-ons manager and optimized Javascript interpreter called TraceMonkey, in addition to enhanced HTML5 support. It also conforms to the latest trends by placing the tabs bar above the address bar.

ConceivablyTech reports that “several bugs” have been discovered in the final build that won’t, however, spoil the release plans. Instead, the site writes, these issues will be addressed in a subsequent Firefox 4.0.1 release. Also, Firefox 5 nightly builds are now available for testing purposes here.


UPDATE [March 17, 2011 7:35pm Eastern]

Mozilla’s new CEO Gary Kovacs chimed in, posting this message on the discussion forum:

We set a goal in December, we stressed toward the goal. At times, many thought we, I, us, were crazy, or too aggressive…but in the end, we were able to get it done in March. There is nothing sweeter to observer than brilliant minds focussed on a clear task!




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Inconclusive tests paint Android browser 52 percent faster than iPhone’s, but what about Safari’s Nitro engine? **UPDATED: the testing is flawed**

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According to a Blaze study stemming from 45,000 Android and iOS tests, the Android browser on average loads web pages 52 percent faster than mobile Safari. The results are inconclusive, however, because it’s unclear whether Blaze’s measurements take into account the new Nitro JavaScript engine that comes with iOS 4.3. The report was completed before this complaint was made public and Blaze is arguing that the lack of Nitro boost can “slightly” skew the results given that “JavaScript only accounts for a small percentage of the total load time.”



The devices used for testing include a Nexus One running Android 2.3 and an iPhone 4 with, presumably, iOS 4.3. Both operating systems sport WebKit-based browsers.

On average, Android came in 52 percent faster with an average page load time of 2.144 second versus 3.254 seconds for the iPhone. Android apparently outperformed Apple’s handset on 84 of the tested websites, including those that are not optimized for mobile access. On mobile sites, however, Android’s lead dropped to just three percent.




Regarding that Nitro issue, a follow-up note on Blaze’s site says the following:

Some wonder whether the new Nitro JavaScript engine was used in our measurements. We’re still investigating this issue, as the report was completed before it was made known. So far we’ve seen indications in both directions, so we can’t say for sure it’s being applied. That said, the results from measuring Android show that JavaScript only accounts for a small percentage of the total load time, about 15% on average. This implies that even if Nitro is not in use, it likely can only slightly narrow the gap. We’ll follow up with any additional info.

UPDATE [March 17, 2011 7:30pm Eastern]

A spokesperson for Apple confirmed that “the embedded web viewer does not take advantage of Safari’s web performance optimizations.” Put simply, the new Nitro engine only kicks in the Safari app, not when viewing web pages in third-party apps that use the embedded web viewer. Meanwhile, the blogosphere exposed the Blaze survey as flawed because they actually tested the web controls of each platform using custom apps rather than actual browsers. Plus, Blaze technology chief Guy Podjarny admitted to operating under flawed assumptions:

This test leveraged the embedded browser which is the only available option for iPhone applications. Blaze was under the assumption that Apple would apply the same updates to their embedded browser as they would their regular browser. If this is not the case and according to Apple’s response, it’s certainly possible the embedded browser might produce different results. If Apple decides to apply their optimizations across their embedded browser as well, then we would be more than willing to create a new report with the new performance results.
Topping it all off , Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris told The Loop:

Their testing is flawed because they didn’t actually test the Safari web browser on the iPhone. Instead they only tested their own proprietary app which uses an embedded web viewer that doesn’t take advantage of Safari’s web performance optimizations. Despite this fundamental testing flaw, they still only found an average of a second difference in loading web pages.


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Easter-themed Doodle Jump movie tie-in game hits the App Store

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The Pusetic brothers, the brains behind the stupendously addictive platform jumper Doodle Jump that has amassed ten million paid downloads, have just released a brand new game that introduces an interesting twist to the original formula. It’s called Doodle Jump: Hop the Movie and is available free for the iPhone and iPad.


As the name suggests, it’s a movie tie-in with Universal Pictures’ upcoming live action/CG comedy entitled HopT (trailer below). The game has you train the Easter Bunny’s son in jumping across 25 levels set in a candy factory by racing against the familiar Doodle the Doodler character.

The game boasts the same tap to shoot and tilt to steer simplicity found in its predecessor, with all the right ingredients like moving, disappearing, exploding and breakable platforms. Doodle Jump: Hop the Movie comes with eight levels unlocked, but the remaining levels unlock one level each day in the run-up to the movie’s release on April 1.

It’s a Doodle Jump and it’s free so grab it now, especially if you’ve been wondering why spend a buck for the original Doodle Jump game.





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WiFi iPad 2 records “markedly cleaner” audio than 3G model

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3G and GPS are supposedly the only notable differences between WiFi and 3G models of iPad 2. Alas, the WiFi model records higher-quality audio than its 3G counterpart. Mind you, it’s a design deficiency rather than a feature. iLounge did some testing and discovered that WiFi units evidently record better-sounding audio. Blame it on the plastic antenna strip on the back of the 3G model, the site explains. It’s probably nothing to complain about unless you’re a heavy FaceTime user, on-the-go audio podcaster or mobile musician.


See, Apple’s engineers decided to put iPad 2′s built-in microphone above the forward-facing FaceTime camera, right in the middle of the plastic antenna strip that improves radio reception. The microphone hole on the original iPad is found beside the headphone port to the middle of the device. The plastic strip most likely degrades sonic qualities of the microphone, iLounge writes:

Perhaps due to this change in materials, the Wi-Fi model offers markedly cleaner audio than that of the 3G, which sounds slightly muffled and echo-prone as a result. Curiously, we found the GSM 3G model’s audio to be slightly preferable to that of the CDMA model, which seemed to suffer the issues more severely.
Worse, the issue is especially evident when you hold the device in front of you. Like, during a FaceTime call – when need the mic the most.




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Angry Birds HD Adds 15 New Levels

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Angry Birds HD, a popular iPad game, has been updated with 15 new levels and a new golden egg.

The survival of the Angry Birds is at stake. Dish out revenge on the green pigs who stole the Birds’ eggs. Use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Birds to lay waste to the pigs’ fortified castles. Angry Birds features hours of gameplay, challenging physics-based castle demolition, and lots of replay value. Each of the 240 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy.

What's New In This Version:
- ADVENTURES IN THE FRONTIER BADLANDS COME TO A CLOSE
- 15 NEW LEVELS – EACH MORE CHALLENGING THAN THE NEXT
- A NEW GOLDEN EGG THAT IS GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

You can purchase Angry Birds HD from the App Store for $4.99.








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Speed Tracker 2.2 Adds GPS Course

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Mother Tucker has announced the release of Speed Tracker 2.2, an update to their popular realtime GPS sharing and monitoring App for iOS. Speed Tracker allows users to monitor the location, heading and speed of their device and other iOS devices on the internet at the same time on a Google Map. Designed originally for Game Center equipped iOS devices, Speed Tracker allows you to track, report and share your speed when you're not connected to another player. Offering Universal iOS device support, version 2.2 adds the GPS course and In-App Friend Requests.

Feature Highlights:
* Realtime GPS monitoring of other IOS devices over 3G and WiFi
* Google Map view of your device and the player you're connected to with speedometers
* Full-screen speedometer view of your device or the player you're connected to
* Can be used as a standalone Speedometer
* Continues executing for up to 10 minutes when backgrounded while connected (requires multitasking support)
* Voice Chat (requires headphones and both players to be on WiFi)
* Detailed view of your speed, top speed, average speed, course, distance traveled, location, timestamp
* Post your Top Speeds to the following Leaderboards: Foot; Skateboard; Bicycle; Motorcycle; Car; Train; Boat; AirPlane
* Track, report and share your speed when you're not connected to another player
* Share speedometer snapshots on Facebook or via In-App Mail
* In-App Friend Requests
* Copy&Save speedometer snapshots
* MPH or km/h Units settings option
* GPS Accuracy settings option
* Map Type settings option ("Street", "Satellite)
* Background Location Updates settings option (requires multitasking support)
* Full Portrait and Landscape orientation support
* Top Speeds reported to Game Center from within the app are not editable
* Speedometer images posted to Facebook from within the app are not editable

Pricing and Availability:
Speed Tracker 2.2 is only $0.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Navigation category.




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