Apple unveils iPhone 5, previews revamped iTunes & showcases new iPod family

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on September 13th, 2012

On Wednesday Apple unveiled the next-generation iPhone and it’s called the iPhone 5. They also used their stage time to discuss iTunes+iPod, showing off a redesigned iTunes Store for iOS, a simplified version of iTunes for desktop, and showcasing the next-generation iPod nano and touch. We begin with the top story…

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is a beautiful piece of hardware made entirely of glass and aluminum. It’s the thinnest and lightest iPhone to date, measuring at 7.6mm thin (that’s 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S) and weighing 112 grams (20% lighter than the 4S). Apple’s calling it “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” The screen has grown for the first time to 4-inches, boasting a Retina display with 326 pixels per inch and a resolution of 1136×640. The additional screen real estate allows for a fifth row of apps in the home screen, and all of Apple’s apps take advantage of it. Third party apps will see the letterbox effect, but developers can easily tweak their apps to also fill up the screen properly. The iPhone 5 also features 44% more color saturation than it’s predecessor and integrated touch sensors in the screen make it 30% thinner than before outputting a sharper image and less glare in sunlight.

The bigger screen is just the tip of the iceberg. The new iPhone packs ultrafast wireless with built-in GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and, yes, LTE. In the U.S., LTE will be provided by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. A single chip does voice and data; also inside is a single radio chip and a dynamic antenna. 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi is there as well.

The newly designed-by-Apple A6 chip features a CPU that’s 2x faster than before, with 2x faster graphics as well. The chip itself is 22% smaller than the previous A5 processor. Apple managed to make battery life better, too. It goes like this: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 3G browsing, and LTE browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and video playback; 40 hours of music playback; and 225 hours of standby time.

Both the back-facing iSight camera and the front-facing FaceTime camera have been upgraded. The iSight cam features an 8 megapixel sensor (3264×2448) with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and fast f/2.4 aperture. The 25% smaller design also boasts a dynamic low light mode, spatial noise reduction, a smart filter for improved color matching, better low-light performance, and faster photo capture (40% faster than the 4S). 1080p HD video recording is still here with improved video stabilization, face detection, and the ability to take photos while recording video. The back-facing camera can also take panoramic shots now thanks to a simple enhancement in the Camera app in iOS 6. Moving to the front side, the FaceTime camera takes 1.2 megapixel photos, shoots 720p HD video, and features backside illumination, face detection, and FaceTime over cellular (with Verizon and Sprint only).

Audio is better with three built-in microphones located in the front, back, and bottom of the phone. The improved speaker design is 20% smaller than before and features a five magnet transducer, a noise-canceling earpiece, and wideband audio for better phone call performance.

Say goodbye to the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector. Apple announced the new Lightning connector that is found in the iPhone 5. It’s 80% smaller than its predecessor, it’s all-digital with an 8-signal design and adaptive interface with improved durability and get this–it’s reversible, meaning you can plug it into the bottom of your device face up or down. Apple will sell a 30-pin to Lightning adapter for those who own accessories like sound docks that were strictly designed with the 30-pin connector in mind.

Apple spent time detailing the next version of their mobile OS, and you can read all about iOS 6 right here. It brings Apple-designed Maps, the new app Passbook, and enhancements to Notification Center, Safari, Mail, Photos, and Siri (among over 250 new features) to the iPhone and its brethren. It’s available as a free upgrade to iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, 3rd-gen iPad, iPad 2, and 4th-gen iPod touch owners on September 19.

Now it’s time to talk pricing and availability. The iPhone 5 features a two-tone exterior and will come in two hues: black/slate and white/silver. It’s priced exactly like the 4S was: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). It’s available for preorder starting Friday, September 14 and ships one week later on September 21 in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A week after that it releases in 20 more countries, and by December it will ship in 100 countries with 240 carriers around the world. In other news, the iPhone 4 (8GB) is free and the iPhone 4S (16GB) is dropping to $99 effective immediately.


(Click here for more…)

iOS 4.3 out now; Apple TV receives new content and enhancements

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 10th, 2011

Today Apple released the latest version of their mobile operating system–that is, iOS 4.3–one day earlier than expected. Just about coinciding with the launch of iPad 2, iOS 4.3 brings with it all kinds of goodies including significantly increased Safari performance, iTunes Home Sharing, AirPlay improvements, iPad side switch behaviors, and personal hotspot functionality for iPhone 4; it’s all detailed right here. Bug fixes and the like are bundled in too; hop after the break to find a rundown of what’s included. iOS 4.3 is a free download for all GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and third and fourth-gen iPod touch owners. Connect your iOS device to a computer, fire up iTunes, and you’ll be notified to download and install the update.

In related Apple news, their hobby puck has also received a welcome system update. ATV owners will now be able to stream baseball and basketball games through the ether straight to their TVs thanks to MLB.tv and a NBA League Pass Broadband support. These services require pay subscriptions. In addition, Netflix has received 5.1 audio support. Cheers to that!

[Via Engadget 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

Nostalgia alert: iPod nano gets crammed into a Dreamcast VMU

Posted in Design,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 2nd, 2010

Remember the old Visual Memory Unit, the Sega Dreamcast accessory that doubled as a memory card to save games and an auxiliary display during gameplay?  Well here it is with an new iPod nano stuffed inside.  Though it certainly took some effort power to properly align the 1.5 inch nano display and headphone port, doesn’t it look like the VMU was always destined to house an iPod?

[Via Engadget]

Apple September event roundup: New iPods, iTunes 10, refreshed Apple TV, iOS4 updates

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on September 1st, 2010

Today Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage to announce a new lineup of iPods, the next version of iTunes, and a refreshed Apple TV.  He also talked about the next two iOS4 software updates.  Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

iPod shuffle: The redesigned fourth generation iPod shuffle brings back the clickable front-facing ring buttons (play/pause, previous, next, volume up, volume down) and keeps VoiceOver control (it speaks artist and song name, multiple playlists, and battery status in 25 different languages) and the back clip.  It now supports playlists and Genius Mixes.  The tiny sqaure casing includes the on/off/play in order/shuffle switch, a VoiceOver button, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio and USB charging.  The battery holds up to 15 hours of audio playback.  The shuffle will be available in 5 different colors (grey, blue, green, orange, and pink).  A 2GB model will start shipping in one week for $49.

iPod nano: The redesigned sixth generation iPod nano does away with the click wheel and adds a 1.54 inch (240×240) multitouch display.  It adopts the tiny iPod shuffle aesthetic; it’s even got the built-in back clip.  It is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than the previous nano model.  To navigate around the iOS-like touch interface, swipe left and right to access different pages of icons, up and down to scroll through lists, double tap to zoom in on photos (there is no pinch-to-zoom), and tap to access other areas.  Any time you want to go back to the home screen simply tap and hold anywhere on the screen (there is no home button).  You can even rotate the screen using two fingers.  You can customize the pages of icons by touching and holding an icon down until it jiggles then dragging it to the desired position.  Everything here should be very familiar to iPhone and iPod touch users; it’s all just miniturized.  The home screen gives you access to playlists, now playing, artists, and Genius Mixes.  Also available is an FM radio, Nike+, a clock, Voice Memo, and access to Photos, Podcasts, Settings, and music categorized by song, album, genre, and composer.  The small enclosure includes a sleep/wake switch and volume up and down buttons on top and the 30-pin dock connector and 3.5mm headphone jack on bottom.  It also has a built-in accelerometer and supports VoiceOver in 29 different languages.  The battery holds up to 24 hours of audio playback.  The nano will be available in 7 different colors (grey, blue, green, orange, pink, charcoal, and Product (RED)).  8GB ($149) and 16GB ($179) models will start shipping in one week.

iPod touch: The fourth generation iPod touch gets even closer in design and functionality to its iPhone cousin.  The new touch features the same 3.5 inch (960×640) Retina Display, Apple A4 processor, back camera, and  front-facing camera, and three-axis gyro sensor as the iPhone 4.  The back camera shoots HD (720p, up to 30fps) video that can be edited on the device with simple trimming (included) or with more advanced editing (the $4.99 iMovie app now supports the iPod touch); it can also shoot stills.  The front-facing camera can shoot stills and supports FaceTime chats over WiFi with other iPod touches and iPhone 4s.  The external buttons and input/output holes remain the same: sleep/wake switch, volume up and volume down, the home button, 30-pin dock connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, build-in speaker and microphone.  802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, Nike+, accelerometer, ambient light sensor are still there as well.  The battery holds up to 40 hours of audio and 7 hours of video playback.  The touch will be available in polished aluminium on black only.  8GB ($229), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399) will start shipping in one week.

iTunes 10, Apple TV, iOS4 after the break ::   (Click here for more…)

Apple reports 2010 Q1 earnings: $3.38b profit, Macs up 33%, iPods down 8%, iPhone sales double

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on January 27th, 2010

Apple recently announced their first quarter financial results and per usual, they made quite a hefty profit.  $3.38 billion to be exact (or $3.67 profit per share).  They brought in revenues of $15.68 billion.  Note that these numbers are up from last quarter’s profit of $2.26 billion on $11.88 billion in revenue.  More to the point, this is the best quarter they have ever had.  Let’s break it down by product: Apple sold 3.36 million Macs (representing a 33 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter), 8.7 million iPhones (representing 100 percent unit growth), and 21 million iPods (representing an eight percent unit decline).  No surprise there; iPod sales have been declining for some time now.  Note that this decline factors general iPod sales; iPod touch sales were up 55 percent.

According to the earnings PR, “The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about.”  *Cough–Apple Tablet–cough.*  Sorry, I was just clearing my throat.  Might as well throw in a possibility of seeing the next iLife, iPhone OS 4.0, and maybe even witness AT&T’s iPhone exclusitivity fall by the wayside to Verizon.  Remember to check back here tomorrow night for all Apple announcements.

Every quarter seems to surpass the last financially for Apple.  With Steve Jobs at the helm, what else more could you expect?  The man is an inspiration, and his company is his vision.  “Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”  Watch as Steve Jobs (in shorts!) motivates the industry in a video captured about ten years ago when he returned to Apple.

[Via Apple; Engadget; Gizmodo]

Apple Keynote [September 2009] roundup

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on September 11th, 2009

Guess who’s back, back again?  Steve Jobs graciously owned the stage in San Fransisco on Thursday during the latest Apple keynote presentation.  There was lots of discussion and reveals on the iTunes and iPod front.  Let’s not waste any time and get right to it.  Read on for all the juicy details of the keynote.

  • iPhone OS 3.1
    • Genius will now “automatically make recommendations from the App Store based on the applications you own.”  Think of it as iTunes Genius for your music, but now for your purchased apps.
    • Ringtones – over 30,000 ringtones available to purchase at $1.29 each.  All four major record labels are on-board.
    • 3.1 firmware update is a free download available now for iPhone and iPod touch owners (there is a $5 upgrade price for those iPod touch users who have not upgraded to 3.0)
  •  iTunes 9
    • Features a cleaner, easier-to-navigate UI with a redesigned store
    • Genius Mixes – Think of this as your own personal DJ spinning your favorite songs continuously.  Genius Mixes takes your current music library and groups songs/artists/genres together for you to listen to; it’s like listening to your preferred radio station.
    • Improved syncing – Now you have the option to manually sync exactly what you want (for example, you can sync specific artists, genres, albums, etc.)
    • App organization – You can arrange your apps in iTunes.  Plug in your iPhone or iPod touch and you get a visual copy of your home screen and your multiple pages; you simply drag and drop 1 or more apps at a time.  This couldn’t be any simpler.
    • Home Sharing – Allows you to “manage your family’s iTunes collection between computers in your home.”  You can copy songs, movies, TV shows, etc. with up to 5 computers.  For example, say you have 5 family members each with their own computer and iTunes accounts.  Now you can all easily share your iTunes content by dragging and dropping other family members’ songs into your library.  The files copy right over and viola–you now have songs in your library that originally resided in your brother’s music library.
    • iTunes LP – Tools are now given to record labels and artists to create and distribute  many album extras in their digital music albums.  These extras include behind-the-scenes videos, photos, liner notes, lyrics, chronology of albums, credits, animations, and more.  Although digital downloads will never be the same as buying a physical CD or record in a retail store, iTunes LP is a step in the right direction for those who have switched to digital music and who miss receiving the entire “album experience” you get when you purchase your favorite artist’s latest album.
    • iTunes Extras (for movies) – Think of the extras you would find on a DVD; they will now be included when you purchase a movie from the iTunes Store
    • Facebook and Twitter integration – You now have the option to share your favorite songs and artists with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  There is an embedded option that allows you to link a song, artist, or album information to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
    • iTunes 9 is available today as a free download
  • iPod
    • iPod touch
      • Lineup: $199 (8GB); $299 (32GB); $399 (64GB)
      • cheaper and new storage capacity
      • up to 50% faster; OpenGL|ES Version 2.0 (adds more realism in games)
      • Publishers discuss upcoming games for the App Store – Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II Discovery; Tapulous’s Riddim Ribbon (an awesome music game that incorporates racing and DJ control); Gameloft’s Nova; EA’s Madden NFL 10
    • iPod classic
      • Lineup: $250 (160GB) (holds 40,000 songs)
      • Same price, capacity upgrade from 120GB
    • iPod shuffle
      • Lineup: $59 (2GB); $79 (4GB); $99 (4GB Special Edition in stainless steel, Apple Store exclusive)
      • all new shiny colors: black, silver, pink, green, blue
      • expand range of headphones with an adapter that will allow you to change volume/tracks
      • new VoiceOver features ( reads statuses, like battery level)
    • iPod nano
      • Lineup: $149 (8GB) and $179 (16GB)
      • all new colors in polished anodized aluminium: green, blue, purple, black, silver, pink, red, orange, yellow
      • larger 2.2 inch display
      • new included apps: FM radio, Voice Recorder, pedometer (syncs with Nike +)
      • VIDEO CAMERA (the one more thing) – Integrated video camera; only shoots videos (no picture stills); VGA resolution (640×480); includes microphone and speaker

Note:  When asked why Apple did not include a video camera in the new iPod touch, Jobs responded: “Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine.  We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don’t need to add new stuff. We need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.”

Check out the gallery below for some official press shots of the new products and services.

[Gallery images via Apple]

Apple rumor roundup, predictions

Posted in News,Roundup,Technology by Scott Meisner on September 8th, 2009

Let’s do this, bullet-point style.

  • New iPods:  It is very likely that new iPod touches and nanos will be announced.  This is a “music event,” afterall.  Both the touch and the nano will have 3.2MP cameras, and the touch will receive a built-in mic.  Also, both devices will receive a storage upgrade, possibly to 64GB or higher.  Overall design should remain the same.  Due to the recent rumor that claims Apple is having technical difficultieswith the camera mechanisms with the iPod touch there is a chance the product release may not be instantaneous with the announcement.  Also, the death of the iPod classic may be imminent.
  • iTunes 9: Last we heard about iTunes 9 was a BGR source stirring up the rumor mill with these claims: Blu-Ray support; Facebook, Twitter, last.fm integration; and the ability to organize purchases apps.  Blu-Ray support only makes sense if Apple plans on releasing iMacs and Macbooks with Blu-Ray drives.  Also on the table is “Project Cocktail.”  Sources say that albums sold in the iTunes Store will not only come with digital PDF booklets; they will also come with “interactive album material.”  The point of this is to entice customers to purchase entire albums instead of only the 99 cent singles.
  • THE BEATLES: According to Yoko Ono herself the entire Beatles collection will finally be digitally distributed on the iTunes Store.  EMI, the record company, told The Financial Times that this will not be announced tomorrow, though. [Via Engadget]
  • Apple TV: Ah yes, the “hobby” that is the Apple TV.  Jobs announced this product three years ago, and not much has changed since its release (besides a UI upgrade via a software upgrade).  The latest rumors predict a new Apple TV device that supports DVR and CableCARD functionality.  Today, though, these exact rumors were shot down by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.  He said such capability does not match Apple’s service scheme.  And this makes sense; why would Apple allow its customers to freely record TV shows or movies when they have the iTunes Store for those needs.  I do not see an upgrade to the aging Apple TV at this event. [Via Engadget]
  • Apple tablet:  The tablet will not be announced at this event.  The most recent rumors point to a 2010 (or beyond) release.
  • Steve Jobs appearance:  It has been way too long since we’ve seen Jobs appear on stage at the helm of an Apple event.  Now that his health has rebounded and he is back at work on the Apple campus in Cupertino, I expect him to at least make an appearence if not host the event.

Be sure to check back here for all the Apple news once it is announced.  It takes place tomorrow at 10AM PDT (1PM ET).  Get pumped!

iTunes 9 rumors, Blu-Ray support on the way?

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 9th, 2009

Boy Genius Report has received information from “a pretty reliable source” spilling the beans on some of the upcoming iTunes 9 capabilities.  First up is Blu-Ray support.  Rumors spreading from Apple Insider are pointing to the next lineup of iMacs packing Blu-Ray disc drives, making this lastest tidbit of news all the more convincing.  However, we cannot forget Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ “bag of hurt” comment from the notebook event in 2008: “Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It’s great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we’re waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace.”

According to the same source, there were mentions of some sort of Facebook/Twitter/Last.fm integration with iTunes.  No details about this were shared.  Perhaps “…broadcasting what song you’re playing to your friends” is in the pipes.  The last grain of news states that iTunes users will gain the ability to “visually orgainize and arrange” their purchased apps.  It is likely we won’t have to wait long to find out if all of this is fact or fiction; Apple’s September iPod+iTunes event is right around the corner.

[Via BGR; Engadget, here & here]

Netflix ‘Watch Instantly’ coming to the iPhone?

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 4th, 2009

Rumor alert: According to “an industry executive familiar with Netflix’s plans,” said company is planning on releasing an app for the iPhone and iPod touch that will allow users to bring their Watch Instantly queues on the go.  The feature will most likely be limited to WiFi-use only.  Attemping to stream full length movies or TV shows to your iPhone over an unstable 3G connection could be risky.  Although this rumor feels shaky at best, it is something to cross your fingers and hope for; imagine a world where you could watch your favorite movies and TV shows on your computer, Xbox, and on the go with iPhone/iPod, granted you have a Netflix account!

[Via Engadget (image, too)]

Camera, microphone coming to iPod touches (or is it iPods touch?)

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on July 21st, 2009

Hot on the heels of Apple’s third quarter conference call comes yet another rumor concerning the third-gen iPod touch.  According to Wired, “a well-connected source tells us…that Apple’s factories in China are already manufacturing iPod Touch models with integrated cameras and microphones.”  The source adds that these new models will be available to purchase “in two to three months.”  That timeframe falls right after the back-to-school sales season when Apple usually drops its updates to its iPod and Mac desktop/laptop product lines.  If these rumors are indeed true, the iPod touch will evolve even more into an iPhone clone device.  In fact, with built-in Wi-Fi and a microphone, users will simply have to download an app like Skype to make phone calls.  Also, suggested by Wired commentors, “one could combine a microphone-equipped iPod Touch with the Verizon MiFi personal hotspot creator to enable the iPhone experience on Verizon’s network!  I can definitely see this heavily supported iPod rumor coming true.  Only time will tell.

[Via Wired]

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Apple: What recession?

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on July 21st, 2009

Today Apple held their fiscal 2009 thrid quarter conference call with investers and analysts.  Apparently Apple had the “best non-holiday quarter [in terms of] revenue and earnings.”  From their official press release:

The Company posted revenue of $8.34 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.23 billion, or $1.35 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $7.46 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.07 billion, or $1.19 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 36.3 percent, up from 34.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 44 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple admitted that “we expect traditional MP3 players (read: iPod classic, nano, and shuffle) to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves.”  Basically, Apple points out here that all iPod models (except for the touch) are “walking dinosaurs.”  Apple sees the iPod touch and iPhone continuing to dominate the market well into next year, while the traditional iPods will continue to decline in sales.  More from the offiicial press release:

The Company sold 10.2 million iPods during the quarter, representing a seven percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhones sold were 5.2 million, representing 626 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.

If you’re wondering about Mac sales: Apple sold 2.6 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing a four percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.

Other notable mentions include…Apple on its relationship with AT&T: “I think it’s an excellent relationship and we’re very happy with it.” …Apple on the netbook rumors: “At this point we don’t see a way to build a great product for this $399, $499…for this kind of pricepoint unit. Some customers, maybe many customers buying these become disappointed and disenchanted buying these.”  …Apple on the recent tablet rumors: “…without discounting anything for the future, I think most customers buying a portable want a full-featured notebook.”  And “many people won’t be happy” with the crappy experience of a netbook, so Apple is “only going to play in something that’s very innovative that we’re very proud of.”

The title of the official press release summarizes it best: Apple Reports Third Quarter Results – Best Non-Holiday Quarter Revenue and Earnings in Apple History.  Way to go, Apple!

[Via Apple; Engadget; quotes from Gizmodo]