Monday, August 22, 2011

Apple issues iTunes 10.4.1 update with responsiveness fixes

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iTunes icon by Louie Mantia

Apple has posted the iTunes 10.4.1 incremental update on its servers. The update, which is available via Software Update from the Apple menu, contains several improvements that make the program more nimble in certain situations, in addition to fixes for known issues such as adding artwork to songs and videos. Standalone iTunes 10.4.1 installers for Mac and Windows are available from the iTunes download page. Full changelog below.

What’s new in iTunes 10.4.1
iTunes 10.4.1 provides a number of improvements, including:

• Fixes a problem where the media keys on some third-party keyboards work inconsistently with iTunes
• Addresses issues with adding artwork to songs and videos
• Resolves an issue which may cause iTunes to become unresponsive when purchasing an HD movie
• Fixes a problem where iTunes may take longer than expected to open after waking your Mac from sleep
• Addresses issues with VoiceOver support




*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Intel not dismissing rumors of Apple’s notebook transition to ARM chips

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Earlier today my colleague Jordan Kahn told you about a story ran by the Japanese hit-and-miss blog, Macotakara, which in a nutshell calls for a brand new Mac product family. It is being described as radically “different from current products”, so much different in fact that Apple might market the mysterious products under a new product name. Well, Intel’s hearing those rumors as well! Their Ultrabook director Greg Welch specifically told CNET they’re very well aware of the reports involving MacBook prototypes rocking Apple’s own silicon based on ARM’s processor blueprints:

We hear the same rumors and it would be remiss of us to be dismissive. We endeavor to innovate so they’ll continue to look to us as a supplier.
We wouldn’t bet on the “continue to look to us as a supplier” part. So thought IBM until Apple ditched the PowerPC architecture and made a bold switch to Intel processors in 2005. So, is 2012 going to be like 2005? Only time will tell, but it’s intriguing that an Intel executive would actually comment on the rumors, don’t you think?

That, in and of itself, is significant enough to warrant a post for the sake of the discussion. If you do believe your rumors, Apple’s testing ultra-thin MacBook prototypes that sport ARM chips and might not contain Intel’s Ivy Bridge platform at all. The benefits?

Think thin, really thin, and power-savvy. ARM Holdings, a UK-based fables silicon firm, is known for power-efficient CPU designs they license to other companies. The vast majority of today’s mobile devices are based on ARM blueprints rather than Intel’s inefficient mobile processors. The world’s largest processor maker is very well aware that it fell behind in the mobile race. The company has not anticipated an explosive growth of smartphones and missed out on an opportunity to make up for lost ground with tablet chips. Today, if you’re building a tablet or a smartphone, you’re either Apple and therefore use in-house designed processors, or buy your chips from Nvidia, Samsung, Qualcomm or Texas Instruments. All those suppliers share one thing in common: The CPU part of their system-on-a-chip package is based on ARM’s blueprints. Apple, an early investor in ARM in the late 1980s, has a lot of experience incorporating those designs into their products, from the Newton PDA which was based around the ARM6-based ARM 610 architecture to the A4 and A5 chips. The A4 chip sports a single-core ARM Cortex-A8 CPU core paired with a PowerVR SGX 535 graphics processor built on Samsung’s 45-nanometer silicon chip fabrication process. The A5 has a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with Neon SIMD accelerator and a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics unit. Both chips are believed to benefit from performance enhancements developed by chip designer Intrinsity, acquired by Apple in 2010.


*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Square Card Case app lands: Say goodbye to dead tree receipts and shop with style

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After teasing a big Apple hookup and delivering on the promise with the announcement of the brand new Square Register for iPad and hinting at Card Case, the latter app finally went live on the App Store. The 12.9MB download is provided free of charge and is “the easiest way to pay at your favorite local merchants”. Use it to browse daily menus integrated with merchants, store digital receipts and pay with your name. It’s sure the closest thing to a rumored NFC-enabled iPhone thus far and with iPhone owners most open to mobile payments, it should be off to a nice start.

Additionally, paired with the Square Card Reader dongle and this app, your iPhone becomes a powerful mobile payment terminal letting you accept credit cards for a 2.75 percent commission on each swipe. By jumping into the game early, Square could profit big from booming mobile payments, especially with Google muscling its way into the market with Wallet. Check out a video tour embedded below and go past the fold for more pretty screenies. Note that Square, the company, is also the new home of the man that designed your Apple icons.



*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

NPD: Google, Apple gaining ground as RIM continues on a downward spiral

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In the battle for mobile supremacy, Apple and Google are winning as competitors continue to lose ground, finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the strong iOS and Android ecosystems (can you say ‘duopoly’?), per latest survey from the NPD Group. The results came by tracking U.S. consumers aged 18+ who reported purchasing a mobile phone and exclude corporate purchases. In the June quarter, iOS grabbed 29 percent of the U.S. smartphone share versus Google’s 52 percent share. Both tech behemoths have grown their platform share at the expense of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

RIM’s been on a serious decline amid poor sales and delays related to their QNX-based superphones. Their BlackBerry OS software share fell to just eleven percent in the U.S. Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard’s webOS is in a state of limbo as the world’s leading computer maker announced intentions to exit the hardware business. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile grabbed five percent of the market each.

The emerging prepaid market is the next battelground for iOS and Android. Google, however, has the first mover advantage here…

NPD’s Ross Rubin argues Google’s deal with Motorola could result in “closer ties to the heart of Android that can help inspire new paths to differentiation”. Think the booming prepaid smartphone market, where one in five new handsets acquired in the June quarter was on a prepaid plan. “In Q2 2010 just eight percent of prepaid phones were smartphones, but in Q2 2011 that number jumped to 22 percent”, NPD warns. Apple, of course, has been locked in the persistent rumors calling for an inexpensive iPhone. The device has been portrayed as anything from the so-called iPhone nano featuring a tiny form factor to the low-priced iPhone 4 to even a recycled iPod touch with 3G networking capabilities.

The market for prepaid handsets presents Apple and Google with a major growth opportunity. Whether or not Google uses its ownership of Motorola to enter the hardware game remains to be seen. What’s certain is Motorola’s steady decline as the company has seen its market share shrink due to competition from Samsung and LG. The company lost three percentage points of the handset market in the past twelve months and experienced the same drop in smartphones.

Their annual Android unit share halved from 44 percent in the second quarter of last year to just 22 percent in the June 2011 quarter. Quarterly sales for June topped 4.4 million Android handsets, in stark contrast to the 20.34 million iPhones. NPD previously reported that Verizon iPhone stopped Android’s market share march and was among the first to report that Android overtook the iPhone in sales back in May of 2010.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster theorized that Android’s market share could drop below iOS by 2013 should Google close Android and keep it proprietary to Motorola. The speculative scenario has Google sell one in five handsets in 2015, with Windows Phone devices accounting for half of the market and iOS ranking #2.


*thanks 9to5mac*

Cross posted on 24/7Droid.com

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

No OLED Apple devices until “three or four more years”, market sources warn

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A report from July by notoriously unreliable Smarthouse that Apple may be partnering with LG on a rumored 55-inch Apple television has been debunked by LG Display CEO Kwon Young-Soo. The exeuctive denied the alleged partnership as “Apple is still pessimistic about using OLED displays”, per an OLED-Display.net story.

Likewise, a Korea Times article from this morning cited market sources underscoring “currently very low” chances of Apple tapping OLED displays over cost concerns. The source argues:

It’s true that Apple has keen interest in TV, allowing users to stream music, videos and TV shows via iTunes, though that needs some iPhone and iPad integration, however, Apple is still pessimistic about using OLED displays. Because Apple is worried over higher costs and technology-related issues linking to large-sized OLED displays, it is groundless that Apple has asked LG Display to supply its OLED screens for its upcoming televisions.
Instead, the California-based gadget maker is understood to keep favoring the evolved LCD displays as big screen OLEDs suffer from screen burn-ins, limited life span, color balance woes and issues related to an efficiency of blue OLED. Plus, this reasoning from “a high-ranked industry executive”:

Apple has a track record of sticking to proven technology in its products and it’s unlikely that Apple will change the years-long stance for televisions.
So when will Apple devices finally get OLED screens?

As OLED yield rates improve and production prices drop, Apple will eventually switch its digital gear to OLED tech. However, this won’t happen until “three or four more years” as the company has no interest in pricing itself out of the market, a top-level executive from one of Apple’s suppliers told the paper. The story jives well with what panel makers told DigiTimes, that large-sized OLED panels are “not mature yet” for big screen TVs, with yield rates low and production costs high. Apple, which scoops the best screens for its mobile gadgets, is still relying on traditional LCD technology for its iPad and iPhone. Those devices couple LCD panels with in-plane switching, a premium picture-enhancing technology allowing for wide viewing angles and colors that pop. Apple is understood to be quality-testing very high-resolution 2048-by-1536 LCD displays from LG and Samsung for a third-generation iPad.

*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

iPhone 5 might lack dual LED flash, leaked parts would have you believe

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Multiple leaks of various parts purported to belong to a fifth-generation iPhone, which we’ve been hearing is up for launch October 7, are a norm that late in the game. Today, MacRumors points (here and here) to several components allegedly sourced from suppliers. These parts might have been used in the design of iPhone 5. The back camera module, picture above next to its iPhone 4 counterpart, reveals the familiar compact design calling for the LED flash embedded closely to the CMOS sensor.

Surprisingly, the iPhone 5′s back camera appears to lack dual LED flash. Of course, you never know with those leaks. For all we know, this part could just as easily have been used in one of early iPhone 5 design prototypes. It could also be the case of a repair shop looking for some free coverage. As 9to5mac reported back in April, Apple is likely to keep iPhone 5 ahead of other smartphones in the camera department by using Sony’s eight-megapixel camera.

The company also might keep its current supplier, OmniVision. That company unveiled in May a 1080p camera sensor that could lend itself well to a thinner designs, said to be one of the iPhone 5′s treats. Asian trade publication DigiTimes followed-up with a report that both Sony and OmniVision cut a deal to supply Apple with eight-megapixel cameras for iPhone 5s. The other leaked parts reveal little new information, but are nevertheless interesting…



Take a prototype iPhone 5 battery provided by UK repair shop iPatchiPods said to be sourced “from their contacts”. Seen above, it is labeled “DVT_B3″, as in Device Verification Testing, which is the final prototyping phase preceding the actual production. The battery looks largely the same compared to iPhone 4′s and apparently sports the same power delivery. “Of course, we’re not sure how old the battery shown in the photo is, so the iPhone 5 very well could be in the final production stage”, MacRumors writes. You should also consider the possibility that this is simply an old prototype iPhone 4 battery. That leak corroborates another battery module leak from TVC Mall, also the source of other iPhone 5 replacement parts that include back camera lens and headphone audio jack flex cable. TVC Mall’s battery pack for iPhone 5 shows the rotated connector as opposed to its iPhone 4 counterpart. A recent leak involving audio jacks all but confirmed that iPhone 5, like its predecessor, will likely be offered in both black and white.


*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4