Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TheAppleBlog — Apple and iOS News, Tips and Reviews (14 сообщений)

TheAppleBlog    TheAppleBlog — Apple and iOS News, Tips and Reviews
рекомендовать друзьям >>

  • Samsung asks ITC to ban the import of Apple devices

    The back-and-forth in the patent dispute between Samsung and Apple continues, with Samsung filing a request for a U.S. import ban against the iPhone, iPad and iPod, FOSS Patents reports. The complaint was filed with the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Tuesday.

    The ITC is a government regulatory body, which acts independently of the courts. Apple seems to be gearing up for a preliminary injunction request in its legal case against Samsung in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, but it hasn’t sought any action from the ITC, unlike in previous cases against competing smartphone manufacturers such as HTC. Samsung’s move is a clever way to beat Apple to a potentially hobbling import ban, since the ITC’s decision is independent of the ongoing court case, and a final decision is reached within a fairly set time frame of 16 to 18 months, once the ITC agrees to investigate.

    Apple is likely to respond with a complaint of its own, according to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller. Mueller says that Apple has to do so, “because otherwise Samsung might obtain an import ban against Apple long before Apple wins an injunction against Samsung.” The only reason that Apple hasn’t filed with the ITC already, Mueller says, is because doing so in its initial complaint with the U.S. courts “raises legal issues that go beyond the scope of an ITC investigation.”

    Even though this action appears to raise the stakes in the ongoing patent dispute between the two companies, Mueller says it shouldn’t affect the likelihood of a settlement being reached by the two companies. It’s a common step in this kind of confrontation, and one which Apple is probably prepared for. Still, even though it isn’t very likely, there’s a small chance we could be living in a world where both Apple and Samsung smartphones aren’t available in the U.S. in a year or two. It’ll be like 2006 all over again.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • What do you use for Mac and iOS video chat?

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video will save you even more typing. There are lots of video chat options out there now for both Mac and iOS, and the field is growing more competitive. Which is your go-to client on either platform, and why?

    Apple is now putting FaceTime HD cameras in new Macs, which provides better video quality for Mac-to-Mac and Mac-to-iOS calling, but of course, FaceTime has a limited reach because it only works on Apple hardware. iChat, Apple’s IM client, supports video chat with other iChat users, and with those using the AOL Instant Messenger network, too, so it’s actually a little more flexible. Google Talk lets you make video calls from Gmail to other Google users, but it doesn’t have a native Mac app, which might be a problem for some. Skype works across different devices, but the recent Mac overhaul has left some unimpressed. Each has benefits and downsides, but which is usually your first choice?

    View This Poll
    customer surveys

    You have nearly as many options when it comes to iOS video chat. Skype has a solid iPhone client, and an iPad version is supposed to be arriving in the very near future. Fring just updated its app to allow users to make 4-way group video calls with an iPad-optimized interface, and it also offers group video calling on the iPhone. FaceTime keeps extending its reach, and has the benefit of being pre-loaded on all current generation iOS devices, and requiring very minimal setup. Which are you using to stay in touch?

    View This Poll
    survey software

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • The iPhone Effect: How Apple's phone changed everything

    Apple’s iPhone debuted four years ago, and we sometimes take for granted how much has changed since then. The phone altered the smartphone landscape and ushered in the modern era of intelligent, connected devices. Apple hasn’t cruised easily to the top; in fact, it continues to trail nemesis Google’s Android in smartphone market share. But it shook up the industry and forced changes and upheaval among many competitors.

    Here’s a look at some stats on how things have changed over that period, both for Apple and for other companies operating in the same space.

    Shifting stock fortunes

    • Apple’s stock price at the close of June 29, 2007, the day of the iPhone launch: $122.04 a share. Tuesday: $335.26 with a market cap of $310 billion.
    • Research In Motion’s stock price on June 29, 2007: $66.66. Tuesday: $28.24 per share with $14.7 billion market cap.
    • Nokia’s stock price on June 29, 2007: $23.63. Tuesday: $6.11 with $22.7 billion market cap.
    • HTC’s stock price on June 27, 2007: 361.01 Taiwan dollars ($12.49 USD), Tuesday: 1040.

    Worldwide smartphone market share shifts since 2007

    • Second quarter 2007: Symbian 65.6 percent, Windows Mobile 11.5 percent, RIM 8.9 percent, according to Gartner.
    • First quarter 2011: Android 36 percent, Symbian 27.4 percent, iOS 16.8 percent, RIM 12.9 percent.

    Apple revenues shift toward the iPhone

    • In the first quarter of this year, iPhone revenues hit $12.3 billion, 49.8 percent of Apple’s revenues, ahead of Macs at $4.9 billion and iPod at $1.6 billion.
    • In second quarter 2007, Mac revenue was $2.3 billion, 43 percent of the company’s revenue, while iPods brought in $1.7 billion, or 32 percent of revenue.
    • As of March, Apple said it has sold 108 million iPhones, 60 million iPod touches and 19 million iPads.

    Notable changes since the introduction of the iPhone

    • Google introduces the Android operating system on Oct. 21, 2008.
    • HP announces acquisition of Palm on April 28, 2010.
    • Nokia announces partnership with Microsoft  to run Windows Phone 7 on upcoming smartphones on Feb. 11, 2011.
    • Motorola spins off Motorola Mobility Holdings on Jan. 4, 2011.

    Effect on carrier competition and data use

    • In 2006, Verizon Wireless had 7.7 million new subscriber additions compared to AT&T’s 7.1 million. After the iPhone launched, AT&T outpaced Verizon in net subscribers adds for the next three years, according to FCC figures. By 2009, AT&T had 8.1 million new adds while Verizon had 5.9 million.
    • AT&T’s earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization went from 34.4 percent in fourth quarter 2006 to 40.7 percent by fourth quarter 2009, outperforming all the other major carriers.
    • AT&T’s postpaid integrated 3G devices have grown steadily since the launch of the iPhone. It went from 8.5 million in fourth quarter 2008 to 29.7 million by second quarter 2010.
    • Data revenue in 2006 for all carriers was just 7.5 percent of total revenue. By 2009, it was up to 26.8 percent.

    The rise of smartphones

    • Smartphone adoption in first quarter 2008 was 10 percent according to Nielsen. Nielsen predicts smartphones will outnumber feature phones by the end of this year.
    • Worldwide smartphone sales will hit 468 million this year and reach 1.1 billion by 2015, according to Gartner.

    Smartphones open the door for tablets

    • Apple has sold about 19.5 million iPad through the first quarter of this year.
    • Gartner estimates there will be 294 million tablets in 2015.

    App ecosystems thrive

    • Apple’s App Store now boasts 425,000 apps, with 14 billion app downloads and $2.5 billion paid to developers to date.
    • The Android Market has 200,000 apps and has had 4.5 billion downloads as of May.
    • IDC now expects 182.7 billion mobile app downloads by 2015 across all platforms.
    • Canalys estimates mobile app revenue will hit $14.1 billion next year and rise to $36.7 billion by 2015.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Apple posts a Final Cut Pro X FAQ, but why did it take so long?

    Apple has apparently decided that the poor reception of Final Cut Pro X by many professional video editors isn’t going away on its own, and has released a special FAQ page to address commonly voiced concerns about its editing software. Arguably, it’s a step Apple should have taken before the FCP X release, not once opinion is starting to galvanize against it.

    As digital media consultant and Final Cut expert Larry Jordan notes, Apple botched this launch. It did so by not recognizing that change, especially major change to a platform essential to how people make a living, often isn’t welcomed with open arms. That doesn’t mean Apple should just stick with what’s comfortable and give FCP customers a slightly tweaked version of what they already had. But it does mean it should have done a better job of anticipating sore spots for pros making the move to FCP X, and provided transition aids to make those changes less jarring — like the FAQ that arrived Wednesday, for instance.

    The FAQ also reveals where Apple missed the mark with FCP X, and where it still needs to address concerns. It addresses some complaints, like the ability to support multi-cam editing, XML export, and audio track exporting, by promising the features will arrive in future updates. If these are big enough pain points to address now, however, it likely means they would have been relatively easy to anticipate and prepare for prior to release.

    The FAQ describes other issues as things third-party add-ons should — and will — handle. It’s true that third-party developers need some time to cope with a new release, but again, it seems like Apple missed a trick by not making better use of its closed beta program to head these complaints off by working more closely with third-party devs.

    The biggest issue many editing pros will probably have with this FAQ is that Apple doesn’t plan to offer project importing from FCP 7 to FCP X. It’s the first question Apple addresses, and it’s a complaint I’ve seen often. Apple says “there is no way to ‘translate’ or bring in old projects without changing or losing data,” due to FCP X’s completely redesigned project architecture and trackless editing. This may be one of the biggest problems for editors going forward, even after other issues are addressed with updates and third-party plugins.

    I still think the strength of the reaction to FCP X has a lot to do with the shock of encountering a dramatically different program than people are used to, but there’s no doubt that Apple overestimated the willingness of users to jump on board a new way of doing things. If Apple had already identified problems like multi-cam support during the limited beta, it should have delayed the FCP X release until fixes were ready. And if it didn’t, it needs to rethink how it approached pre-release testing and who was included, since it seems like it might have been an excessively approving crowd.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • 6 ways to make Snow Leopard roar like Lion

    If you can’t wait to try out some of Lion’s new features, but don’t have access to the developer preview, I’ve got good news: You can get many of Lion’s features in Snow Leopard using third-party apps, tweaks and downloads.

    Lion theme and wallpapers

    If you want the new look of Lion, there are already several themes for Snow Leopard that mimic it. One from deviantART user Lukeedee has to be my favorite, though. To use it, you’ll need to install ThemePark, a free theme editing app for OS X. You’ll also need to download the theme itself, of course. To apply the theme, open the “Aqua Lion” file in ThemePark and hit the “Apply Theme” button, and then log out and log back in.

    To get the old look back, open ThemePark, go to “Theme “in the menu bar and choose “Revert to Aqua.”

    You can make the theme even more convincing by downloading Lion’s new wallpapers, courtesy of deviantART user lordalpha1.


    Lion’s Launchpad provides an easy way to access every app on your system. The closest thing to this on Snow Leopard is an app called QuickPick. QuickPick also has a few extra things that Launchpad doesn’t, such as the ability to launch files, and the ability to launch apps with keyboard shortcuts.


    Lion’s AirDrop integrates into the Finder and makes it easy to share files with other users on your wireless network. There’s a free app called DropCopy which provides much of the same functionality. DropCopy doesn’t integrate with the Finder like AirDrop does; instead, it places a movable “drop zone” on the user’s desktop. The user simply drags a file to the drop zone, where they can choose to share it with any Mac on their network that’s also running DropCopy.

    DropCopy has some advantages over the minimalistic AirDrop. There are DropCopy apps available for iOS, so you can share files with your mobile devices. DropCopy doesn’t require a password to transfer files, and it also has the ability to send text messages to each Mac it’s connected to, which is pretty handy.

    Indicator-less Dock

    By default, Lion’s Dock hides the indicator lights that show which apps are running, signaling a shift to the way multitasking works on iOS. Removing the indicators in Snow Leopard is fairly straightforward:

    1. Open /System/Library/Core Services/ in Finder and find the file named “Dock”.
    2. Right click on the file and choose “Show Package Contents”.
    3. Open the Contents folder, and then the Resources folder.
    4. Copy every file that has “indicator” in its name to another folder for safe keeping, then move them to the Trash. You can do a spotlight search in the Finder window to find them.
    5. Restart the Dock by opening Terminal (/Applications/Utilities) and running the command “killall Dock”. The Dock will disappear for a second, then come back up with the indicators gone.

    If you want the indicators back, select the indicator files from the backup location you copied them to, and copy them back to the location where you first found them, enter your password, and then restart the Dock with the Terminal again.

    Reverse scrolling

    In Lion, scrolling is reversed, so you push content the way you want it to go, like on iOS. There’s a free app called Scroll Reverser that reverses the scrolling on Snow Leopard, so you can get a feel for this before it arrives. Don’t worry, even if you can’t get used to it, Apple offers a way to reverse it in Lion.

    Safari 5.1

    A lot of the improvements in Safari 5.1 are Lion-only, like the new downloads manager and iOS-like gestures. However, a lot of these improvements are also coming to Snow Leopard, including Reading List and many under the hood tweaks. Fair warning, though: Once you install the Safari 5.1 beta, you can’t go back to a previous version.

    The beta is available for registered developers at Apple’s dev center, and you can register as a developer for free. Resourceful non-developers can likely find a way to download it, as well, but be forewarned that you do so at your own risk.

    Are there any other tweaks that can make our snow cat purr like the king of the jungle? Tell us about them in the comments.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Isn't it about time we did content discovery differently?

    Is anyone else a little tired of being pushed towards certain content because of mined personal information? It’s kind of like having that friend who resembles you a little too closely; eventually they become tiresome. Plus, there’s a fine line when it comes to personalized recommendations, which sometime WebWorkerDaily contributor Dave Clarke spelled out on Twitter earlier this morning:

    That’s why I was happy to see new iOS app Video Time Machine ($0.99) take a different approach to mobile content discovery. As its name suggests, Video Time Machine allows a user to take a trip back in time, to check out audio and video clips organized by year, going all the way back to 1860, with the first sound ever recorded. It’s an app-based client for the content on YTTM.TV, an archive of videos from the past that surfaces content based on the year and content type (commercials, sports, etc.) chosen by the user.

    Video Time Machine basically just pulls content from the website, and puts it in a very touch-friendly wrapper, but that’s all it took to make watching movies on my iPhone (and iPad) feel like a novel experience. Part of that is because the content I’m checking out is very rarely something I’d come across on Twitter, Facebook, or through any recommendation engines that plug into my regular daily consumption habits. I don’t want to “discover” things I already like, you see; I want to check out things I’d never come across on my own.

    In a world where finding content consists mainly of services or people saying “you like this and this, so you should also like this” or “your friend likes this and you like your friend, so you should also like this,” trying out an app where the locus for what content gets surfaced exists outside of the individual doing the searching feels like a revolution. It reintroduced one key element that few recommendation engines can claim to achieve: the ability to surprise oneself. Good surprises might require a bit of input from the user along general lines, but as highly personal recommendations narrow the scope of what they’ll offer you, they also exclude a much larger cross-section of content. Striking a balance using input from the user, and criteria that are pre-selected through other means would make for more serendipitous finds.

    I don’t think the appeal of Video Time Machine only works because of the type of content it offers, either. I’d love to see an app discovery tool that uses some other similar contextual criteria to group titles together, too. App releases organized by date would be cool, or by most frequently updated, or even by more irreverent coincidental similarities, like all apps that use a bird in their icon. It might not be as good at pigeonholing the average customer, but it would offer an alternative approach for users, who, like me, are tired of having their social graph mined for the purposes of being fed the same old content over and over again.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • 4 things the last 4 years of iPhone tell us about its future

    Apple’s iPhone is four years old today. It’s a sign of its success that I can barely remember a time when I didn’t use one, or when Apple wasn’t involved in the smartphone market, even though it wasn’t all that long ago. I don’t see the iPhone falling from prominence anytime soon, but here’s what I do see in the device’s future.

    LTE support likely in 2012

    If the history of the iPhone tells us anything, it’s that Apple prioritizes splashy tech feature additions according to consumer demand. 3G connectivity wasn’t a priority for the iPhone until 3G access became widely available in the U.S., and recent evidence suggests that a whole whack of customers still aren’t really that concerned about connection speed. LTE may have a lot of exciting potential, but a study by market research firm Morpace found that for the most part, it’s still not having a huge impact on the buying decisions of smartphone shoppers.

    That said, Verizon’s anticipated coverage map for the end of 2011 actually quite closely resembles the state of AT&T’s 3G coverage as of 2008, when the iPhone 3G was introduced. At least in terms of potential reach, Apple’s track record would then indicate that we’ll see 4G support arrive in 2012.

    NFC still likely a couple of years out

    While Google is being aggressive with its near-field communication (NFC) rollout, complete with a new Wallet product that will let users pay for real-world goods with NFC-equipped devices, Apple has yet to make any indication that it will move into that space. Like LTE, NFC will likely have to prove itself as a desirable asset for consumers before Apple gets its feet wet. It’ll let Google do the hard work of evangelizing, working out the kinks and winning over user acceptance for a technology that could set off alarm bells for security-conscious consumers, and then swoop in with a more refined product that delivers exactly what users find appealing about NFC, without any of the growing pains. I think this tech is still at least a year or two away from finding its feet, so don’t expect NFC in the iPhone’s immediate future.

    The only camera you need

    Apple’s progress with the iPhone’s camera has been remarkable. It went from being what seemed like mostly an afterthought, to a selling feature that helped propel the iPhone to the top of Flickr’s most popular cameras list . Now that the iPhone camera will be able to automatically populate galleries across devices in iOS 5, and can be used quickly and with a hardware shutter button, it should become an even better replacement for traditional point-and-shoots. I think Apple is now fully aware that having the best camera available on a smartphone is a definite selling feature, even if it took a few years to figure that out. Expect to see solid software additions and hardware updates in models to come, especially when it comes to low-light photography, where major improvements would give Apple the biggest advantage over its smartphone competitors.

    An entertainment center

    The iPhone is already an entertainment hub, but Apple has shown it can become even more of one. AirPlay is a key technology for Apple and for iOS, and I don’t think it’s even fully formed as of yet. The iPad 2′s AirPlay HD Mirroring comes close to showing off the true extent of what AirPlay is capable of, but given freer rein, developers could eventually leverage the technology to make interactive two-screen wireless viewing activities a reality. While they may start out as iPad-exclusive experiences, I have no doubt that Apple will eventually leverage faster processors and more computing power in future iPhone iterations to make it a great addition to any home entertainment center, too. Look for that to start in earnest with an A5-based iPhone that should arrive in fall.

    What else do you think is in store for the cornerstone of Apple’s mobile business?

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Apple starts selling a Thunderbolt cable, RAID systems to use it with

    Admittedly there aren’t many peripherals that use Thunderbolt, or many Macs that have Thunderbolt ports, but as Apple gears up for a whole slew of new Thunderbolt-enabled computers, a bunch of new peripherals are also in the pipeline. And in order to tap that opportunity, Apple introduced a new Thunderbolt cable today, available in the online store for $49.

    In the product description for the new cable, Apple talks about the Thunderbolt’s ability to transfer data using two channels of 10Gbit/s each, and how it lets you use peripherals like hard drives. But the $999 Promise Pegasus 4×1 TB RAID drive, also now available for sale in the Apple online store, is currently the cheapest way to start using Thunderbolt storage. Other Pegasus RAID arrays are available in configurations ranging from 6×1 TB to 6×2 TB, costing up to $2,000.

    It’s no surprise that both the cable itself and the Pegasus drives have such a high starting price point. Thunderbolt always seemed destined to appeal to professional users first, since the new technology will require more time on the market and a wider reach before it can bring production costs down. Apple seems to be working on expanding the potential pool of Thunderbolt users, however, as reports suggest that we’ll see new Mac minis, Mac Pros and MacBook Airs with Thunderbolt in the very near future.

    With all those Thunderbolt Macs around, the new cable will become even more useful, as it also provides users a simple way to establish a very high-speed connection between computers using Target Disk Mode. Plus, you can use the cable to connect a Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro to the latest iMac in order to use the iMac’s screen as a second display. Those features alone might be worth $50 to some multi-Mac consumer households.

    If you own Thunderbolt-equipped Mac, are you planning on getting one of these cables, or will you wait until there’s more third-party gear available to use it with?

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Pioneer's app-enabled receivers play nice with iOS content sources

    Almost every car stereo available today has some way to connect to your Apple devices, but Pioneer is looking at even tighter integration with Apple’s iOS devices through custom-built apps, including one that works with popular online music service Pandora. So when the factory issued radio in my car needed replacing I decided to have Pioneer’s DEH-6300UB receivers installed. Here’s how it turned out.

    Take control of iOS on the road

    The Multi Control on the DEH-6300UB is reminiscent of click-wheel iPod controls, and offers the ability to navigate through songs, albums, artists, genre and even playlists, right from your dash. Playback, however is not limited to just the iPod app; you can play the audio from any app you own. One really nice feature: during the playback of a song, if you decide you want to hear more by the same artist, from the same album, or within the same genre, you just press and hold the Multi Control button to cycle through those options. It’s like a more specific Genius function at your fingertips.

    Pandora on wheels

    Rather than adding cellular and Wi-Fi capabilities to your car stereo, Pioneer has been integrating features into its receivers that take advantage of the connection options already on your iOS device. In particular, the pioneer-developed PandoraLink App really illustrates this point. Once connected via USB, you can navigate through your custom stations, skip and bookmark songs. You can even rate a song “Thumbs-Up” or “Thumbs-Down” using the Multi Control. Audio stream quality and ability to use the service will depend on your iOS device’s connection strength, of course.

    iTunes tagging from the FM tuner

    Just as you can bookmark a song you’re listening to on Pandora, you can can also “Tag” the tracks on any FM station that supports the Radio Data System (RDS). Tagged tracks will be added to a custom “Tagged” playlist on your device that will carry over to iTunes when your device is synced next. The DEH-6300UB will even collect and store your Tags until the next time your iOS device is connected if you tag tracks while your device isn’t connected to the system. While I do not listen to FM stations too much anymore, it is nice to know that when I do, I can take note of a new song I like without having to use Shazam or SoundHound while driving.

    Pioneer is a smart company that’s taking advantage of what users already have in terms of usable entertainment sources with their iOS devices. The AppRadio is another great example, and one that takes iOS integration even further. If you’re looking for an after-market way to get your car iPhone connected, the DEH-6300UB is a good option, and Pioneer in general has a solid line of offerings.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • This is what's new in iOS 5 beta 2

    iOS 5 beta 2 arrived late last week for registered Apple developers, and the update did more than just smooth things out. It also brought some changes to the way the OS looks, feels and acts, according to reports. Here’s a breakdown of the major changes.

    Wi-Fi sync

    Wi-Fi sync was always an option in iOS 5 beta 1 and iTunes 10.5 beta 1, but you couldn’t actually do anything with it. Now, once enabled, you can wirelessly sync with your computer, so long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. This will probably be the feature that most benefits the average iOS device owner, possibly short of the new notifications system.

    OTA updates

    Apple has reportedly turned on the ability to update over the air with iOS 5. Updates will also apparently work over cellular data networks, although some major point releases will have to be done over Wi-Fi. Some are speculating the next beta may be made available as a wireless update now that the functionality is enabled, so we’ll have to wait and see how well it works.

    Backup to iCloud as a setup option

    You can now choose to backup your device to iCloud right from the initial on-device setup. Before, you had to enable this after the fact through your Settings app. It’s a small tweak, but it brings the promise of a post-PC future for iOS that much closer.

    Gevey SIM unlock blocked

    If you wanted to use the Gevey SIM card to unlock your factory-locked iPhone or iPad, it looks like Apple is finally closing that loophole. Users report that beta 2 disables the Gevey hardware unlock, which was initially left untouched in iOS 5 beta 1.

    New lock screen Notification style

    Notifications now appear in a larger font beside their relevant app icon on the lock screen, and somewhat resemble their predecessors. If you don’t respond to them, they join the other notifications, lining up in sequential order at the top of the lock screen. In my opinion, this looks like an improvement, since it gives primary focus to new alerts as they come in, while it also still keeps track of everything that you may have missed while your device is locked.

    Apple has also made a number of smaller changes, like the replacement of the iCloud icon in the Settings app with the metallic one that it has used in promo materials. SMS messages also look just a tad bit different; there’s an option to Group By Album Artist (which can differ from Artist in iTunes metadata) in the Music app; swiping up in Messages will dismiss the keyboard; the Stocks widget is turned off by default, and if your Notification Center is empty, it will display “No New Notifications” instead of nothing.

    Any other changes we may have missed that you’re aware of?

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Fring first with four-way iPad group video chat

    Just last week, we saw an early glimpse of Skype’s upcoming iPad app, but today, Fring appears to be one step ahead of the game. Fring’s free Video Calls + IM app got an update Monday that brings full iPad-optimized group video chat for up to four users, and it works with any platform where Fring has presence, and on both Wi-Fi and 3G connections.

    Skype’s yet-to-be released app will offer cross-platform support, and should work on any broadband data connection, but there hasn’t been any indication yet that it will support group video chat. Plus, group video is a paid option for Skype users, so even if it is offered, it won’t be available for free, as it is with Fring. One disadvantage Fring has is that it can’t be used with desktop clients, only smartphone platforms, like Android, Symbian, and iOS.

    Technically, users of the previous Fring app could make group calls on the iPad, but they had to run the app in compatibility mode, so quality and interface weren’t designed for the Apple tablet. The new version is much better, and worked great in a test call between me and my dog (he’s on the iPhone 4), as you can see in the images below.

    Fring is doing a great job of staying a few steps ahead of Skype in terms of features for mobile devices. It was the first with group video calling on the iPhone, and the first with free video calling between Android devices, too. It may not have the network of Skype, but it is proving that it can hang with the best of the VoIP and video chat crowd when it comes to mobile, which is fast becoming the most important and most lucrative computing market.

    I can’t help but think that Skype’s recent acquisition by Microsoft  will make it less nimble, not more so. This could mean that Fring stands a good chance of staying out ahead in the mobile space, so long as the Israel-based company can continue to successfully monetize its business through value-add purchases like FringOut credit.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Is pre-paid and mid-market the future for the iPhone?

    Analysts have begun their traditional pre-release Apple hardware predictions for the next generation of iPhone. It may have started a little later this year, but that only makes it all the more interesting, as we eagerly await Apple’s first iPhone refresh that will take substantially more than a year to arrive.

    If Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore (via Fortune ) is right, the next iPhone(s) may well be worth the wait. Whitmore says the bank’s clients should expect two iPhones this fall, one a true next-generation iPhone 5 device, and the other an “iPhone 4S” that would basically resemble the iPhone 4 in most regards, but would be sold unlocked for use with pre-paid service for $349. Whitmore points out that this would be a smart move for Apple if the company wants to continue growing in emerging markets like Africa, Asia and Latin American, where pre-paid contracts make up the vast majority of all cellular service.

    Whitmore doesn’t cite any specific sources for his prediction, and a lower-cost iPhone has long been a popular theme among Apple watchers and analysts, but this year is the first time Apple has given any indication it could have designs in that direction. Apple COO Tim Cook said in an interview with Bernstein analyst Toni Saccognaghi that Apple was indeed interested in producing cheaper hardware for customers who might have tighter budgets than the average current iPhone buyer. Apple also recently started selling the iPhone 4 unlocked in the U.S., indicating it’s at least interested in appealing more to the contract-wary customer.

    Apple is already doing well in key emerging markets, like China, where it saw 250 percent growth during the company’s second quarter. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t stand to do better by embracing a sales model in keeping with what smartphone shoppers in international markets are more familiar with. Choice is still a primary driver of smartphone sales, which is why Android’s multi-vendor licensing model has proven so successful. Pre-paid is also on the rise as a service option even in the U.S., which means Apple could capitalize both at home and abroad with a device aimed at that growing category of users.

    Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty made some predictions about the next iPhone over the weekend, reporting production of a new model should begin in the last half of August, with the intent to ship devices in late September. Such a timeline would make sense if Apple were revamping the annual iPod refresh, and instead making the iPhone the star of the show.

    If Apple does have two iPhone hardware choices on offer come fall, one with more features but a higher price and tied to a contract, and one with older tech but a lower cost of entry and fewer strings attached, which would you opt for?

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • Apple multitouch patent is all about UX lock-in

    Apple notched a significant win last week when it was awarded a key patent related to basic multitouch functionality. The patent was first called “hugely problematic” for other smartphone makers, owing to its “incredibly broad” scope by PC Magazine, but most now agree that the initial response overstated things a little. Even so, it’s a patent that provides a key advantage when it comes to touchscreen mobile computing, one which may present real and much bigger headaches for the competition.

    Defense, not hunting license

    Don’t think of this as a hunting license for Apple, or permission to launch a broad offensive against its competitors in the smartphone space. While FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller told me the patent is “excessively broad” in his own personal opinion, “it’s nowhere near the scope of a patent on anything multitouch.” UBS analyst Maynard Um said in an email to his clients that the patents held by Apple seem intended mostly “for defensive purposes,” since “collecting royalty is not Apple’s business model.”

    In other words, competitors will still have to cross specific boundaries to incur a legal response from Apple, but where those lines are drawn reveal the key to why the patent is so valuable. This patent covers the ability to navigate in apps and web pages with a one-finger flick, and two-finger scrolling for embedded elements within a frame, which are all part of what makes the iOS user experience so good.

    Um believes “Google and Microsoft may find work-around solutions in their mobile operating systems to avoid any infringement,” but Mueller points out that “staying outside that claimed territory will always come with some degradation of the user experience.” It’s that UX advantage that Apple wants to maintain with this patent.

    More buttons for competitors

    Apple’s touch interface on iOS devices has broad appeal because it works intuitively, and it has familiarity because of the broad reach of iOS (over 187 million iOS devices had been sold at last count). If you want to see more content on an iOS device, you push the screen down or pull it up, and the on-screen software responds as one would expect. According to Mueller, staying clear of Apple’s new multitouch patents would likely involve using additional icons or buttons for things like zoom and scrolling, which add a level of complexity to touch interaction. Basically, it would degrade UX on competing platforms. People new to touchscreen computing, and users used to iOS, would have trouble adjusting to these added elements, and they would also make for a cluttered interface. Apple, in other words, is better positioned to achieve a kind of user experience lock-in that would be hard for the competition to overcome.

    That’s not to say Apple will be the only handset manufacturer to implement things like two-finger scrolling. Mueller notes that since Apple is already involved in patent litigation with Motorola, Samsung and HTC, it could reach cross-licensing agreements that allow other hardware to use its multi-touch patents as part of a settlement in some of those cases.

    Ultimately, this patent is undeniably a win for Apple, and a loss for the competition, but it doesn’t mean we’ll see Apple turn into a litigating monster. It, does, however add some more legal backing to Apple’s existing UX advantage in the smartphone game, which will have long-reaching effects for the future of the market.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


  • New MacBook Airs are coming. Here is why

    The MacBook Air looks destined for a refresh very soon, and the latest sign is that Best Buy began listing existing models as “Not Available for Shipping” over the weekend (via 9t05Mac). The retailer is thought to be shifting its remaining stock to stores to make room in the distribution center for the arrival of new, updated MacBook Air models. Amazon is also showing low stock of MacBook Air models in many of its international stores.

    Stock shortages and third-party retail inventory systems have traditionally been a fairly accurate barometer of Apple’s hardware refreshes, especially when an update is close at hand. Best Buy’s website revealed new MacBook Pro SKUs ahead of their official release, for example, in February, when the notebooks got updated with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors.

    A MacBook Air refresh has been rumored for a while now, and part of the update is thought to be the inclusion of Sandy Bridge processor architecture. Intel recently unveiled new low-voltage Sandy Bridge chips, including a Core i5 1.7 GHz variety and two Core i7 versions, one at 1.7 GHz and the other at 1.8 GHz. Current MacBook Airs still use much older Intel Core 2 Duo processors, so the new Core series are a near-certainty for powering any new hardware.

    Another change likely in store for the MacBook Air includes the addition of Thunderbolt, Apple and Intel’s new high-speed I/O port. Apple has been steadily replacing the Mini DisplayPort on its new Macs with Thunderbolt. This is because Thunderbolt can handle display output as well as data transfer functions and is compatible with Mini DisplayPort cables and adapters. Other possible additions include a FaceTime HD camera, something else that both the updated MacBook Pro and iMac got this year, and a switch to an AMD graphics processor, since Apple seems to be methodically cutting NVIDIA out of that part of its business.

    An updated MacBook Air likely won’t arrive at this point before OS X Lion, which Apple has said will make its debut in July. People who purchase new Macs as of June 6 are eligible for a free upgrade to Lion, so Apple can save itself some money by just shipping new MacBook Airs with the new OS installed, instead of having to deal with the administrative costs of providing a refund. Both Lion and new Airs could ship as early as next week.

    Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req'd):


Только самое свежее о стиральных машинах

Мы расскажем что следует учитывать при выборе стиральной машины. Обсудим последние новинки, поговорим о хитах продаж и причинах их популярности. Сообщим последние новости, совершим исторический экскурс и ближе познакомимся с компаниями-производителями
Присоединиться →
Получайте новости с любимых сайтов:       отписаться:
управление подпиской:
партнерская программа: