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Starbucks and Apple Partnership Results in Free iPhone Apps

Apple has partnered up with coffee superstar Starbucks to include giveaways of paid iPhone applications as part of the “Pick of the Week” promotional program. This program, as many of you may remember, offered iTunes songs to in-store customers at Starbucks. Starbucks has tag-teamed with...

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Fanhattan Adds HBO, Cinemax, NBC and The CW to Offerings for iOS Users

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 31-07-2012

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FanhattanApple’s iPad has become a popular device for watching things like Netflix and streaming television shows through various apps and services. However, the iPad isn’t particularly great at the discovery of the streaming shows, which have a tendency to be scattered about. But fear not, because the latest version of the Fanhattan app takes a small, albeit needed, step toward helping iPad users find and stream their favorite television shows.

The one thing devices like the iPad are missing is a better centralized search-and-discovery dashboard. The Xbox 360 realized that when it added Bing, which allows shows to be found through any of the console’s available video apps. Fanhattan on iOS has been offering a similar functionality with the its database of movie and TV show information, along with a launchpad for video on different services like Netflix, iTunes and Hulu Plus. The only downside is that the selection of video apps that Fanhattan has access to isn’t quite as extensive.

Fanhattan’s latest installment, available on the Apple App Store, adds HBO, Cinemax, NBC and The CW to its repertoire, displaying show availability in searches along with launching the apps from within Fanhattan. While the change is small, it is still important and helps make the app a better catch-all video search tool. In addition to that, the app update adds a personal Watch List feature that tracks show and movie availability.

With this update the total number of video services that Fanhattan can discover increases to 12 and includes: Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, PBS, YouTube, ABC/ABC Family, Cinemax, NBC, Lifetime, Crackle and The CW. However, users are upset at the lack of other services, like EPIX, Adult Swim, Vudu, and Amazon Instant Video.

Bing on the Xbox 360 is still an all-around better service for finding all your favorite television shows and movies, though you need an Xbox 360 for that. If you like to watch your favorite movies and television shows on your iPad then Fanhattan is an app you should definitely look into. The app itself is far from perfect but it is the best offering for iOS devices currently available.

Source: CNET – Fanhattan for iOS adds HBO and Cinemax, still trying to be iPad’s perfect video app

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Apple Prepping for Newer, Smaller iPad?

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 03-07-2012

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new iPadIt appears as if Apple’s component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September of a tablet with a smaller screen than the current generation iPad. This news comes from anonymous people who are “familiar” with the situation, suggesting that a launch for the device is also in the near future.

Two of the sources stated that the tablet’s screen will likely be smaller than 8″, 1.7″ shorter then the current 9.7″ screen of the current iPad, a size that has remained unchanged since the very first model launched back in 2010. Officials at the component supplier, who spoke under anonymity, stated that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet.

Earlier in the year it was reported that Apple was testing a smaller version of the iPad but had yet to decide whether or not to proceed with production of the device. Many consumers would probably flock to a smaller iPad with a reduced price as it would allow them to have most of the benefits of the current iPad without the steep price tag.

One source stated that Apple is working with multiple screen manufacturers, including LG in South Korea and AU Optronics in Taiwan. Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), an Apple spokeswoman out of Cupertino declined to comment on any such allegations.

Analysts also believe that a smaller iPad could help Apple maintain the dominance it has on the tablet market, especially with stiff  competition coming from other manufacturers like Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, all of which having recently unveiled tablets of their own.

The iPad held a 62% share of the world-wide tablet market last year with tablet sales all around expected to increase 85% this year to a total of 126.6 million units. As the tablet market expands, the choices for consumers increase as well with more options and variations to choose from.

Google began accepting pre-orders for the Nexus 7, which is expected to sell for $199 and is in direct competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. In addition to that, Microsoft’s Surface tablet, which is expected to drop this fall with a 10.6″ display, is said to be the biggest new competition for the iPad.

Source: The Wall Street Journal – Apple Preps for Smaller Tablet

 

Could Microsoft’s Newly Announced Surface Tablet Finally Dethrone Apple’s iPad?

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 19-06-2012

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Microsoft Surface Tablet
Well it’s happened, Microsoft has officially pulled the curtain on its much rumored tablet. Known as the Microsoft Surface, this tablet is already being seen as an iPad killer and it doesn’t even have a confirmed release date or pricing scheme yet. What it does have, however, is a full list of specs that make it easy to compare to Apple’s tablet juggernaut iPad.
 
So here we go on a spec war between both variations of Microsoft’s Surface tablet and the most recent Apple iPad:

 

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • Windows 8 Pro OS
  • 10.6″ HD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
  • Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor
  • microSDXC, USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort Video ports
  • 42 watt-hour battery
  • 32GB, 64GB and 128GB variations
  • 13.5mm thick
  • 903 grams

Surface for Windows RT

  • Windows RT OS
  • 10.6″ HD display
  • Nvidia Tegra processor
  • microsSD, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video ports
  • 31.5 watt-hour battery
  • 32GB and 64GB variations
  • 9.3mm thick
  • 676 grams

Third-Generation iPad

  • iOS 5.1.1 OS
  • 9.7″ display with 2,048 x 1,536 pixel density
  • Apple dual-core A5 ARM processor with quad-core graphics
  • Micro-SIM card tray
  • 42.5 watt-hour battery
  • 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variations
  • 9.4mm thick
  • 652 grams

Take away from the specs what you will, but one thing that the Surface tablet has over the iPad is the 3mm Touch Cover. The Touch Cover utilizes pressure-sensitive technology to sense keystrokes as gestures, allowing for faster touch typing than what is possible with an on-screen keyboard.

The Touch Cover attaches to the tablet with a built-in magnetic connector, which forms a “natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover,” Microsoft stated. In addition to that there is an option for a slightly thicker 5mm Type Cover that adds actual moving keys to give you a more traditional typing experience. Apple doesn’t have anything like that.

It is obvious that Microsoft is trying to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets with the Surface, something that Apple isn’t trying to do at all. When you boil it all down, the Touch Cover looks to be one of the best efforts to date to bridge this gap, especially when you pair it with the the high-performance Intel-based Windows * Surface tablet.

It sucks that we don’t have any information on pricing or availability yet but at least we have a confirmation of something that most people have been speculating on for the past couple of weeks. I am interested in seeing if the rumors about streaming Xbox Live is true.  If so, I will definitely be swayed in favor of the Surface whenever I decide to buy a tablet.

Source: CNET – Microsoft Surface tablet, iPad spec check

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New 3D Google Maps Coming to iOS

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 05-06-2012

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3D Google Maps on iPadGoogle recently unveiled what it is calling the “next dimension” of its Google Maps service with new full 3D renderings for Google Earth that were demonstrated live on Apple’s iPad. Google has been utilizing automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by planes owned by Google. Google uses the imagery from these planes to create 3D mapping imagery.

Images of the ground are taken at 45 degrees from four different angles. Those pics and data can then be combined to recreate maps in 3D. The entire process allows 3D maps to be created without human interaction, which was necessary with previous iterations of 3D imagery in Google Earth.

Google first demonstrated the technology by showing off individual buildings and cities on Apple’s iPad instead of an Android device. However, Google did announce that the service would be coming to both iOS devices and Android devices and that the technology would be part of both the Google Maps service and the company’s Google Earth application.

Google also hopes that it will have communities of nearly 300 million people mapped out in its new space. In addition to that, the company revealed that it will bring an offline version for its Maps software to Android devices and is working “very hard” to bring offline maps to iOS as well, though it hasn’t offered up a time table for that.

This reveal comes just days before Apple is supposed to hold its own keynote address at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. At the conference Apple is expected to unveil an all new version of the Maps software for iOS, which will get rid of Google Maps.

It has already been reported that Apple’s new mapping technology will reach iOS later on this year and is expected to be a part of iOS 6, the much anticipated next-gen operating system from the company. The mapping intentions of Apple have also been clear since 2009 when the company started acquiring mapping technology companies. In that year Apple purchased Placebase, Poly9 in 2010 and C3 in 2011.

Source: Apple Insider – Google unveils new 3D maps coming to iOS and Android

 

Apple Officially Debuts the iPad 3/The New iPad

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 12-03-2012

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The New iPadIt’s official, the iPad 3 has been officially announced. Well, technically it’s called “The New iPad” but everybody is referring to it as the iPad 3 so, whatever. Regardless of whether you call it the iPad 3 or the new iPad, Apple’s latest tablet is breaking tremendous ground with its new innovations, technologies and popularity.

The iPad 3 boasts a lot of improvements and advancements over the iPad 2, one of which is an improved retina display. The iPad 3 claims to have four times as many pixels than the iPad 2 along with razor-sharp text and richer colors.

In addition to that, the new display is said to make everything look and feel more lifelike and detailed.While the actual screen isn’t any bigger, it has an increased resolution. The iPad 3 boasts a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution screen with 44% greater color saturation and an incredible 3.1 million pixels, all in the same 9.7″ screen.

The increase in graphics performance can be attributed to the iPad 3’s new dual-core A5X chip with quad-core graphics. Flash storage allows you to have instant on as well. No matter how long you need to use it, whether it’s a few minutes or a few hours, as soon as you hit the Home button or open the Smart Cover, your iPad 3 is ready to go.

With the increased graphics output, the quad-core graphics processors and the new A5X chipset, many people feared that the battery life of the iPad 3 would suffer. Quite the contrary, actually. Apple boasts that the iPad 3 still maintains a 10-hour battery life, just like the iPad 2.

The iPad 3 also comes equipped with a 5MP iSight camera, which features a backside illumination sensor capable of capturing high quality pictures no matter what your lighting situation is. The iSight camera also features autofocus, tap to focus and tap to set exposure functionality. Built-in face detection also automatically balances focus and exposure for as many as 10 individual faces.

Aside from taking crisp pictures, the iPad 3’s cameras are also capable of recording in full 1080p HD. You also get high video quality thanks to the iPad 3’s automatic video stabilization, meaning you never have to worry about remaining perfectly still for your entire video shoot.

What is probably one of the most impressive features is the iPad 3’s wireless capabilities. The new iPad incorporates cellular antennas that are capable of connecting to a larger frequency spectrum. This means that the iPad 3 is capable of connecting to WiFi as well as the 3G and 4G LTE connections provided by AT&T and Verizon.

However, lots of people are talking about the iPad 3’s Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities. This makes the iPad 3 the very first tablet in existence to incorporate Bluetooth 4.0 straight out of box, something that a lot of tech professionals are raving about.

Popularity for the device isn’t lacking either as the iPad 3 has already sold out of its first shipment with pre-orders racking up so fast that they are on a two to three week back order delay. The biggest thing I’m curious about is the name. Is it the iPad 3 or the new iPad? Apple’s website classifies it as the latter and it’s unclear what that could mean in the future.

There are currently six different versions of the iPad 3/The New iPad. You can get a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB WiFi only version for $499, $599 or $699, respectively, or a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB WiFi + 4G LTE version for $629, $729 or $829, respectively. The WiFi + 4G LTE versions, however, require a data plan from either Verizon or AT&T with prices for those plans starting at $30 per month. Both versions also come in either white or black colors.

Quad-Core 4G LTE iPad 3 Rumored to Debut Next Week at New York City Event

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 28-02-2012

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iPad 3Want some more iPad 3 rumors? Of course you do, you’re on the internet! The onslaught of iPad 3 rumors hasn’t slowed one bit but this newest one may be the best one yet. According to anonymous sources, the iPad 3 will make its official debut at an event set to take place next week, which concurs with earlier rumors of a March 7 debut.CNBC was first with the story when they noted that the sources were very brief with their information and only stated that the iPad 3 will indeed have 4G LTE and be revealed next week. There are still quite a few things being kept under wraps, however. In addition to that, the sources mentioned that the device would have a quad-core processor, not a dual-core, and that Apple is reportedly giving hands-on time with the device at a New York event.

It was originally thought that the iPad 3 would ship with Apple’s quad-core A6 processor, though more recent information suggests that Apple may still go with a dual-core processor. Other details made their way to the internet about an Apple A5X chipset, which indicates a faster dual CPU core and upgraded GPU. However, evidence of both chips have been found in iOS 5.1 beta code.

Regardless, an upgraded GPU seems perfect for powering the new Retina Display screen and for the increased resolution. Even though the iPad 3 (for some reason) is still going to be the same 9.7″ size as its predecessor, it is believed to have a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution that should allow for smoother on-screen graphics and Full HD video.

Apple, naturally, has yet to confirm any of these speculations and rumors about the iPad 3 and its debut. However, almost everything “leaked” about the device is pointing to a debut date around March 7, which is next week, so keep your fingers crossed. Whether it’s in New York or San Francisco, the iPad 3 debut is sure to blow up the tech industry.

Source: Slash Gear – Quadcore iPad 3 LTE at NYC event next week tip sources

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Recycling Program for Old Apple Devices Launched in the UK

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 15-01-2012

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recycled iPhoneApple has just launched an all-new recycling plan that is designed to help you actually make money from your old iPhone, iPad, Mac or, surprisingly, your old Windows PC. Known as the Reuse and Recycling Programme, (no, that’s not a spelling error, that’s actually how Apple spells it), this scheme will be operated by Dataserv GmbH and will allow you to recycle your old or unwanted technology, if you live in the UK that is.

According to a message poster on Apple’s website, “Apple’s commitment to the environment includes finding the most efficient ways to reuse or recycle electronic equipment at the end of its useful life, including iPHone, iPad, Mac or PC computers, and displays from any manufacturer. You may even get some money for your old equipment.”

Getting started with the program is easy. All you have to do is go to the Reuse and Recycling Programme website and answer a small series of questions about the device you want to recycle. Once that is done, you will be given an estimate of the overall value of the device as well as a prepaid shipping label, compliments of Dataserv.

The message on the site also reads, “Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC computer, working or not, we’ll take it and determine if it qualifies for reuse and has a monetary value. If it does, the amount will be credited directly into your bank account. If it doesn’t, you can recycle it responsibly through one of our free recycling programmes.”

After your device has been valued, you can send Dataserv the device, where it will be verified upon receipt. Once that happens, the value you were given for the recycled device will be directly deposited into your bank account. In addition to the aforementioned devices, you can also recycle old iPods and mobile phones via Apple.

Source: PC World – Apple Launches Recycling Program for iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs in the UK

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Turning Off In-App Purchases on Your iOS Device

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 07-12-2011

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In-App PurchasesI don’t think I have to remind you just how many apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (over 500,000). If you are an iOS user, you have undoubtedly purchased or downloaded at least one app from the App Store and, in doing so, you have probably noticed that some of them offer the option of purchasing additional content. These apps usually come in the form of apps that have multiple levels, like Angry Birds.

This type of content can be anything, like more levels, character designs in games or added functionality and expansions. However, not all (but a lot) of apps with additional content for purchase allow you to buy from directly inside the application itself.

Unfortunately, not every app that allows in-app purchasing is as up front about the fact that they do this and, sometimes make it extremely easy to “accidentally” purchase in-app content. One of the more controversial apps of late to pull a stunt like this was Smurfs’ Village. Children played the game on their parent’s phone and unknowingly purchased a whole lot of undesired content.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution that makes sure something like this doesn’t happen to you. Just follow these quick and easy steps and you will have in-app purchasing disabled until you say otherwise, making sure your child doesn’t accidentally rack up a huge phone bill with in-app purchases.

STEP 1: Turn on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and from the home screen select the Settings application. From here, select “General”.

STEP 2: Scroll about halfway down the page and find “Restrictions”. Select it and then select “Enable Restrictions”.

STEP 3: Once enabled, you will be asked to create a password. The password locks certain functions on your iOS device. After you enter it twice, you’re on to the next step.

STEP 4: After creating your password, scroll down to the “Allowed Content” section and select it.

STEP 5: Slide the bar next to “In-App Purchases” from “ON” to “OFF” and that’s that! No more accidental in-app purchases will rack up on your phone bill.

Source: Digital Trends – How To: Turn off in-app purchases on Apple products

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New Size Rumors for Upcoming Apple Devices

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 18-11-2011

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iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro

If there is one thing that the internet loves to talk about it’s tech rumors, specifically ones involving Apple and its slew of mobile devices. And while the next few weeks will have the internet swimming in rumors about the iPad 3, iPhone 5, iPod 37 and everything else Apple, I think it is ok to talk about some potential changes designated for next year.

iLounge is spewing some information from what they call their “most reliable source”, who claims to have the inside dish on all the upcoming revisions Apple is planning. While there is nothing mind-blowing here, it might be enough to make you start saving up for that new piece of Apple tech.

First up is the MacBook Pro redesign. Some say it is coming in March, which is debatable, though the flatter design similar to the Air is most likely a certainty. The question on everyone’s mind, however, is the details, primarily on the device’s storage, processor, ports and optical drive.

Another report is that the next generation iPad (presumably the iPad 3) will be a bit thicker than the previous one, in order to allow for extra lighting necessitated by the high-res screen that is also supposed to be coming. Many people are drooling over the idea of an HD screen and the increased thickness is only said to be about 0.7mm, which still makes it thinner than the original device.

In terms of size, it is also reported that the iPhone will get an increase in size to a 4″ screen, which will in turn make the entire device 8mm longer. In addition to that, it is rumored that the device will hit next summer. Steve Jobs was always passionate that 3.5″ (iPhone) and 9.7″ (iPad) were always the ideal sizes for the devices, though the company may be acknowledging changes in the market if these rumors end up being true.

There is also a report of the next iPhone coming in a metal case, presumably aluminum. The original iPhone was a wonder to behold, both visually, technically and physically and many people think that Apple should bring back that design. Plus, Apple is probably tired of answering calls about shattered iPhones about now.

These rumors will be determined true or false in the coming months, no doubt about it, even though reveals of these devices are not even going to happen for a while. Regardless, there are many more rumors out there than these so if you are looking for a way to spend your Thanksgiving weekend, you could always compare and contrast different rumors, given you have a couple hundred hours to spare.

Source: Tech Crunch – Apple Rumors: The MacBook Pro Shrinks, iPad And iPhone Grow

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Apple Bans iOS Cracker from Developer Program

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 08-11-2011

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Charlie MillerApple is cracking the whip as the company has just banned security researcher Charlie Miller from its iOS developer program. Mr. Miller’s offense? He publicly demonstrated a proof-of-concept attack that would enable an app developer to execute arbitrary code on any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that is running version 4.3 of iOS or later.

For this Miller has been suspended from the developer program for one year. According to a recent tweet from Miller, “First they give researcher’s (sic) access to developer programs, (although I paid for mine) then they kick them out.. for doing research. Me angry.” Apple broke the news to Miller via a letter that the company was kicking him out of the program for breaking its terms of service.

Before getting an app to the Apple App Store, Apple first vets the app. If approved, the company then signs the code to ensure that the app cannot be changed. However, the flaw that Miller discovered essentially breaks the iOS application security walled garden, allowing malware attacks to be launched.

According to a statement from Miller in his unlisted YouTube video that demonstrates the attack, Miller said, “The flaw I found is in the way that Apple handles code-signing. Code-signing is important because that’s the way that Apple protects you from malware.” Here is a link to Miller’s video because unlisted videos can only be viewed by someone who already has a link to the video itself.

In order to test the vulnerability he had discovered, Miller created Instastock, a fake stock market app that Apple accepted. “It doesn’t do anything weird or funny, it just checks the stocks,” said Miller in the video. At least, that’s what it appears to do. After being  downloaded from the Apple App Store and first run, the app contacted an attacker’s server.

For the purpose of the test, the server (in this case) was located at Miller’s home in St. Louis and he didn’t have to push in any code to the app while it was being reviewed by Apple. However, after it was approved, Miller was able to open a shell with the device and issue remote commands, making the iPhone do everything from listing directories and processes to making the phone vibrate or download the user’s address book for the attacker.

Miller added, “You can imagine downloading a nice app like Angry Birds, but instead of just being Angry Birds, it actually could download and do anything it wants, and Apple would have no idea that had happened.” In addition to that Miller disclosed the code-signing vulnerability to Apple several weeks ago, although he did fail to mention the proof-of-concept app that he’d uploaded to the App Store, the same app Apple approved and made available in September.

Miller also demonstrated the exploit in his video, which was also posted in September. However, Apple apparently did not hear about the proof-of-concept attack demonstration until Monday, the same day Miller detailed the flaw and provided a link to his YouTube video to Andy Greenberg at Forbes.com. A mere hours after the story hit the web, Apple canceled Miller’s iOS developer account.

By day Miller is a simple principal consultant at the security research firm Accuvant. However, it appears as if Miller is now best known for “hacking” Apple wares. At the Black Hat Conference over the summer, Miller demonstrated how to hack Apple laptop batteries by reprogramming the firmware. This would allow a hacker to brick the battery or even make it serve malware.

Miller isn’t letting this ban phase him, however, as he intends to demonstrate his code-signing attack next week at the SyScan Conference in Taiwan and then again at the Infiltrate Conference in Florida in January. Is Apple’s reaction a bit extreme? Especially considering the fact that Miller found a major fault in Apple’s programming and then proceeded to tell the company about it? This writer thinks so, but what do you think? Sound off in the comments.

Source: Information Week – Apple Excommunicates iOS Cracker

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