Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sandy Bridge iMacs Due Next Week

AppleInsider confirms the early reports that iMacs are due to be refreshed this week.

More specifically, people familiar with the matter say Apple plans to introduce the new models on Tuesday, May 3, swapping out the systems' first-gen Core i processors and miniDisplay ports for second-generation Core i chips and the company's new high-speed Thunderbolt port.
May 3rd is believed to be scheduled as a day for promotional materials at Apple stores to be changed out, likely marking the release of a new product.

Apple is widely expected to adopt Thunderbolt across their product line from here on out. They first introduced Thunderbolt on the MacBook Pros released in February. Thunderbolt promises a faster connector technology to drive external displays, hard drives and more.

Apple's Upcoming 'Reading List' for Safari to Compete with Instapaper and ReadItLater

Apple is working on a new feature for Safari in Apple's Mac OS X Lion that will bring a different kind of bookmarking functionality to the browser. Apple calls it "Reading List" and is meant to offer users a way to save pages for later reading. The new feature is described by Apple here:

Reading List lets you collect webpages and links for you to read later. To add the current page to your Reading List, click Add Page. You can also Shift-click a link to quickly add it to the list. To hide and show Reading List, click the Reading List icon (eyeglasses) in the bookmarks bar.

And the accompanying eyeglasses icon:
This feature is currently inactive and hidden within the latest Mac OS X Lion builds. Apple has not yet made any mention of the feature in any of their Mac OS X Lion documentation. The basic functionality would pit the feature directly against popular services such as Instapaper and ReadItLater. Apple's implementation appears to be partly based on HTML/js but it's not yet clear how robust a solution it will be. For example, one compelling feature of Instapaper and ReadItLater is the ability the synchronization of bookmarks across devices.

Apple Tweaks Mac OS X Lion UI In Response to Criticism

With Apple having pushed out a new update to the Mac OS X Lion developer preview program, those with access to the new build have been looking for changes in an attempt to see what Apple has been working on over the past few weeks.

One minor point that caught our eye is a change in the user interface elements for selecting subpanes within System Preferences. In this latest build, the active subpane is denoted by a sunken, darker button that appears as if it has been pushed, as shown in the Exposé & Spaces preference pane.
 Current "button" style subpane selector with Exposé active

Earlier builds of Mac OS X Lion had used a sort of slider animation where the active subpane was represented by a lighter colored button that confused many users when simply glancing at the pane without attempting to move the slider and thus having the animation to key on.
Earlier "slider" style subpane selector with Spaces active

In the face of that criticism, Apple appears to have rethought its mechanism for switching between subpanes and reverted back to a button style that appears more intuitive.

A similar change has been made in iCal, where an earlier slider-style navigator was rolled out to select among day/week/month/year views but has now been replaced by more traditional button-style selectors.
iCal selector buttons in latest Mac OS X Lion build

Amazon Undercuts iTunes With 69-Cent Pricing on New Release MP3s

As noted by the Los Angeles Times, Amazon has taken Apple's iTunes Store head-on in the digital music marketplace with its new feature of 69-cent on popular new release tracks. The new, lower price marks a substantial discount from iTunes, which typically charges $1.29 for current hits.

The Seattle online company is now pricing select top-selling tunes for 69 cents, down from 89 cents previously. Many of the songs in Amazon's 69-cent store sell for $1.29 on iTunes, including Katy Perry's "E.T.", Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
The report notes that Amazon has been stuck at about 10% of the digital music download market for several years, finding itself unable to eat further into Apple's dominant position with iTunes.

Apple initially used a standard $0.99 price point for iTunes Store music content, but shifted to a tiered pricing model in April 2009, with much of the store's content remaining at the original $0.99 price point but certain popular content bumped up to $1.29 while older back catalog material in some cases dropped to $0.69. Amazon and Wal-Mart quickly followed suit with their own tiered pricing models.

Apple's shift to tiered pricing was made at the request of major record labels seeking more control over content pricing and was part of the negotiations that led Apple to be able to offer its entire iTunes Store music catalog free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Apple Seeds New Version of Mac OS X Lion (11A444d) to Developers

Apple has seeded a new update to Mac OS X Lion to developers. The new version is build 11A444d. No word yet on any new features that are found in the latest release. The update can be found in Mac OS X Lion's Software Update control pane.

Apple will be launching Mac OS X Lion to customers this summer. We will likely hear more details about it during this year's WWDC held in June. Apple's website gives an overview of several of the publicly announced features coming to Mac OS X Lion. 

Apple Making Internal Use of 'iCloud' Name With Beta Software Builds?

Amid mounting claims that Apple has acquired the domain, AppleInsider now reports that Apple is indeed using the "iCloud" name internally as it builds new versions of iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion that will integrate with the service.

Apple has begun adopting the "iCloud" name within several products currently under development, suggesting the appropriately labeled moniker is indeed the frontrunner for the company's soon-to-debut Internet cloud service, which will span beyond streaming music, AppleInsider has learned.

According to people familiar with the matter, Apple is prepping beta versions of both iOS 5.0 and Mac OS X Lion ahead of its annual developers conference that integrate with a service dubbed "iCloud," enabling users to sync and store much of the same information they currently can with the company's existing MobileMe service, such as bookmarks, email, contacts and iCal events.
And while much of the recent discussion regarding Apple's cloud-based service has revolved around its negotiations with music labels to allow users to store music content on Apple's servers, the report also indicates that the service is in fact intended to go beyond music to include a full suite of services potentially including photo and video storage.

That disclosure is certainly not new, with reports dating back over a year pointing to a potential video component, with explicit mention of a MobileMe overhaul to support cloud-based storage of various media types coming in February. It is, however, reassuring to see renewed mention of capabilities beyond the music storage function that has received so much attention in recent weeks.

Apple and Google to Testify at Congressional Hearings on Privacy

Computerworld reports that U.S. senators have confirmed that representatives from Apple and Google will participate in Senate hearings on privacy spurred by questions over location databases stored by the companies' smartphone operating systems.

"I'm pleased that Apple and Google have confirmed that they'll be sending representatives to testify at my upcoming hearing on mobile technology and privacy," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said in a statement issued today.

Franken, who chairs a new Senate privacy panel, added that the hearing was a "first step" in Congressional inquiries whether federal laws have kept up with the surge in mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Franken was the first federal legislator to lodge a formal inquiry with Apple about its practices, seeking information on what data the company is collecting and what it is doing with it.

Franken's hearing, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET on May 10, will also take testimony from officials with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as from Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Apple officially responded to the controversy earlier this week after it had investigated exactly what was going on and determined how best to explain the situation. Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted in an interview on Wednesday that he expected that Apple would testify for governmental representatives, calling it "great" that they were interested in the topic.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Apple's Share of Global Mobile Phone Market Hits 5%

Research firm IDC today released results for global mobile phone sales for the first quarter of 2011, showing Apple hitting a 5% share of the overall market for the first time. The data also shows Apple regaining the fourth-place position it lost to ZTE last quarter.

Apple maintained its number 4 spot on IDC's Top 5 list thanks to a record quarter for unit shipments. The company posted the highest growth rate of the worldwide leaders. Apple's results were buoyed by strong sales on Verizon Wireless and additional carrier deals; the company is now on 186 carriers operating in 90 countries. The iPhone once again sold particularly well in developed economic regions of the world, such as North America and Western Europe.
Apple's 114.9% year-over-growth easily led the major mobile phone manufacturers and enabled the company to grow its share of the market from 2.8% to 5.0%.

Apple's initial goal when it launched the iPhone in 2007 was to capture 1% of the global mobile phone market, a figure met with some skepticism by the company's competitors. Apple of course quickly reached that goal and has continued to post strong unit sales growth as consumers have increasingly turned to smartphones for their mobile device needs.

In support of IDC's numbers, Strategy Analytics released a similar report today showing Apple with 5.3% of the overall worldwide mobile phone market for the quarter. The primary difference between the two reports comes from IDC counting approximately 20 million more handsets in the "Others" category than Strategy Analytics.

A report released just yesterday by NPD showed Apple taking 14% of the total mobile market in the United States, but the company of course holds a lower share of the worldwide market due in part to the premium pricing its devices carry in many countries where consumers are more likely to purchase low-end phones on prepaid plans.

Sources Confirm Apple's Purchase of

Earlier this week, a source reported to GigaOM that Apple has purchased the domain name for the sum of $4.5 million, presumably preparing to roll out its forthcoming cloud-based music service under that name.

All Things Digital now briefly notes that it has confirmed that Apple has in fact purchased the domain, although sources declined to confirm the purchase price.

Apple has indeed acquired the domain name from Sweden-based hybrid cloud computing outfit Xcerion. Sources in position to know confirm that Apple bought the domain as GigaOm first reported Thursday, though they declined to say whether its rumored $4.5 million price tag was accurate. continues to redirect to the rebranded service, and Whois databases continue to list Xcerion as the owner of the domain.

Samsung Brings Patent Lawsuit Against Apple to U.S.

Foss Patents and Bloomberg report that Samsung has broadened its patent lawsuit against Apple to include the U.S.

In the U.S. complaint, Samsung accuses Apple of violating patents that "relate to fundamental innovations that increase mobile device reliability, efficiency, and quality, and improve user interface in mobile handsets and other products."
The 10 patents that Samsung is alleging that Apple has infringed upon are detailed on the Foss Patents blog. Seven of the patents are related to communications standards and the others with user interface.

The Samsung counter-suit is in response to Apple's original lawsuit against Samsung over the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Apple has accused Samsung of "blatant copying" of the iPhone. 

White iPhone 4 Slightly Thicker Than Black iPhone 4 [Updated]

Earlier today, a MacRumors reader notified us that the white iPhone 4 is ever so slightly thicker than the black iPhone 4. It's a small difference, but enough that the white iPhone 4 wouldn't fit in his Incase slider case:

Just picked up the white iPhone 4 and realized it doesn't fit into my Incase slider case. It appears that Apple has increased the size of the plastic that borders the glass on both sides by about 1mm.

Ryan Cash of Marketcircle discovered the same and noticed it just by picking it up.

A colleague of mine just picked up a 16 GB iPhone 4 in white. I was a bit surprised when I picked it up off his desk (I had my black 32 GB in my other hand at the same time) – it immediately felt thicker.
Cash offers some comparison photos (one embedded above) between the white and black iPhone 4 showing the slight difference. The small difference may be enough to affect tight fitting slider cases as evidenced by our reader's experience.

Update: Tipb quantifies the difference at 0.2mm. They tested some cases which seemed fine on both, though only had one slider-design to test.

Apple Beats Microsoft in First Quarter Profit

Six months ago, Apple surpassed Microsoft in quarterly revenue for the first time in nearly 15 years, marking a milestone on Apple's tremendous performance in recent years. But despite being passed by Apple in the revenue metric, Microsoft continued to hold off Apple in quarterly profits due to the high profit margins achievable with its software business.

That finally changed this past quarter, with Microsoft today announcing net profit of $5.23 billion for the first calendar quarter (third fiscal quarter) of 2011. Apple last week reported profits of $5.99 billion over the same period, which corresponded to the company's second fiscal quarter of 2011.

Apple has passed its longtime rival Microsoft in a number of metrics over the past year, beginning with market capitalization back in late May 2010. Apple's market cap is now nearly $100 billion higher than Microsoft's. 

Apple Potentially Developing Fitness Center Application for iOS

As noted by AppleInsider and Patently Apple, the U.S. Patent and Trademark today published a patent application from Apple describing an iOS application designed to support fitness and personal training functionalities.

The integrated application can provide a full fitness center experience by introducing potential new customer to a fitness center and then motivating them to return to the fitness center as active members. For example, the integrated application can provide functions to introduce new customers to a fitness center, can provide functions to motivate customers to join and actively visit the fitness center, can provide in-gym motivation, and can provide post-workout motivation.
Apple breaks the application down into four categories: introducing users to fitness facilities in their areas, encouraging them to join and participate, motivating them while using the facilities, and post-workout motivation to return and continue their fitness program.

Verizon iPhone Surge Yields First Slip in Android U.S. Sales Share in Two Years

Market research firm NPD today announced the results of its "Mobile Phone Track" survey for the first quarter of 2011, covering U.S. mobile phone sales. According to the study, Apple rode the strength of the CDMA iPhone launch on Verizon to eat into Android's share of the smartphone market for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. Android does, however, continue to hold a strong lead in market share.

The Android OS lost ground for the first time since Q2 2009, falling to 50 percent of smartphone unit sales in Q1 2011 compared to 53 percent in the prior quarter. Apple iOS share rose 9 percentage points to comprise 28 percent of smartphone unit sales. BlackBerry OS also lost ground, falling 5 points, to 14 percent.
The iPhone surge comes even as Apple has reportedly sliced CDMA iPhone 4 production to half of its initial 2011 projections.

Looking at all mobile phones, Apple ranked third among manufacturers with 14% of the market, behind Samsung at 23% and LG at 18%. And with continued strong growth from the iPhone and Android, smartphones for the first time represented the majority of U.S. mobile phone sales at 54%.

Apple's iPhone 4 ranked as the top-selling mobile phone in the U.S. during the quarter, and perhaps most surprisingly, the iPhone 3GS took second place in the rankings. Despite essentially being a nearly two-year-old device, the iPhone 3GS almost certainly received a strong boost during the first quarter after AT&T and Apple dropped the price to $49 on a two-year contract. The iPhone 3GS is not available on Verizon.

Three Foxconn Employees Charged With Leaking iPad 2 Design

 DigiTimes reports on an article [Google translation] from Chinese site claiming that three Foxconn employees have been charged with leaking the design of the iPad 2 to accessory manufacturers well ahead of the device's launch.

Several online shopping retailers in China were able to sell iPad 2's protective case products before the iPad 2 was even launched, leading Foxconn to suspect that there might have been some employees leaking the design of iPad 2 which it reported to the local police.

The local police on December 26, 2010, arrested three employees that were suspected of leaking the design, and officially charged the three employees for violating the company's trade secrets on March 23, 2011, the reported added.
Cases for the second-generation iPad began appearing in early December, four months ahead of Apple's official unveiling in early March. Details on some of the physical changes in the new models, such as a larger speaker opening were detailed by late December, although not all of the features accommodated by the second-generation cases were positively identified until the device's introduction. 

Apple Slips to Fourth in Worldwide PC Sales With iPad Included

Research firm Canalys today reported its data for worldwide first quarter PC shipments, pegging Apple in fourth place with 9.5% of the market when tablets such as the iPad are included in the calculation. Apple slipped one notch from its third-place finish in the fourth quarter of 2010 as the company shipped fewer-than-expected iPads to begin the year as it cleared existing inventory of the first-generation models and sought to ramp up production on second-generation models.

With the iPad being added to the mix, Canalys calculates Apple's year-over-year growth for the quarter at nearly 188%, but down 31% from the previous quarter.

Apple continued with its strategy to dominate the pad market, with the iPad or iPad 2 available in 59 markets by the end of Q1. A combination of strong Q4 sales and the announcement of the iPad 2's launch across major markets at the end of March contributed to Apple's iPad shipments being down 31% sequentially. The full impact of the iPad 2 launch will not register until subsequent quarters, as Apple gets the product into the hands of consumers. While pad sales continued to lift Apple's results, PC vendors with a focus on the consumer netbook and notebook market, such as Acer and Asus, did not fare so well.
Canalys reports that a total of 6.4 million "pad" devices were shipped during the quarter, with Apple accounting for 74% of the total. 

CDMA iPhone 4 Sales Below Apple's Expectations?


In an article about Pegatron's net losses for the first quarter of 2011, DigiTimes reveals that the iPhone 4 manufacturer is said to be lowering their production of CDMA (Verizon-compatible) iPhone 4s in 2011 from the originally expected 10 million units down to only 5 million units.

Meanwhile, Pegatron originally expected to ship 10 million CDMA iPhone 4s in 2011, but sources from upstream component makers pointed out that Apple's orders already saw a significant reduction and the volume is estimated to drop to only five million units.
CDMA refers to the radio technology used by Verizon for their mobile phones. The CDMA iPhone (aka Verizon iPhone) was launched in February of this year and saw 2.2 million activations in the partial first quarter of its launch. Despite the years of speculation about a Verizon-compatible iPhone, its reception may have been ultimately tempered by the late introduction in the iPhone 4's lifecycle as well as many customers still being locked into existing contracts.

Apple is widely expected to introduce a new iPhone later this year. That new iPhone will likely be a global device, incorporating both CDMA and GSM technologies into a single design.

Apple Store, AT&T, and Verizon Online Stores Updated with White iPhone

 After several hours of downtime, Apple's online store has returned with the white iPhone 4 available for order. In the U.S., Verizon and AT&T have also updated their sites overnight now offering the white iPhone 4 for sale. Local carriers in international regions should also have availability.

Internationally, the white iPhone 4 is available in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and UK.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apple Purchases for $4.5 Million?

GigaOM reports that it has received word that Apple has purchased the domain name for a sum of $4.5 million. The domain had been used until recently by an online storage firm of the same, but the company recently rebranded its service as CloudMe.

My source, who is familiar with the company, says that Xcerion has sold the domain to Apple for about $4.5 million. Xcerion hasn't responded to my queries as yet. At the time of writing, the Whois database showed Xcerion as the owner of iCloud.
For the time being, redirects visitors to, but presumably Apple will take over the domain when needed if the claim is in fact true.

We had received a heads-up about the iCloud-to-CloudMe rebranding last week, but were unable to dig up any information specifically linking the change to a purchase by Apple at that time. Obviously, specific rumors of Apple acquiring the domain with a specific purchase price lend credence to the original speculation, but we'll still be watching for the domain to officially change hands, presumably to MarkMonitor, the brand management firm that handles Apple's domain registrations (along with those of many other high-profile companies).

Apple of course is said to have completed work on a new cloud-based storage system for media, and appears to be in the final stages of securing deals with record labels before launching the service. 

White iPhone 4 Sales Officially Begin [Updated]

As announced, Apple has begun selling the white iPhone 4 in Eastern Hemisphere and European countries as those markets roll around to April 28th. The U.S. and Canada should follow suit in just a few hours as clocks tick over to the new day. While the company is advertising availability on the front pages of its sites in countries where the clock has past midnight, online orders do not yet appear to be available, although third-party retail outlets appear to be free to open their doors.

Even prior to the official release, the white iPhone 4 was making its way into the hands of select customers as certain retail stores initiated early sales of the device.

Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller also conducted a telephone interview with All Things Digital earlier today in which they touched on some of the challenges the company faced in bringing the white iPhone 4 market a full ten months behind schedule.

Update: Video of the white iPhone 4 officially going on sale in Hong Kong.


Transcript of Interview With Apple Executives on iOS Location Tracking

Phil Schiller, Steve Jobs, and Scott Forstall at iOS 4 introduction (Source: CNET)

Earlier today, All Things Digital conducted a telephone interview with Steve Jobs and other Apple senior executives, covering the location tracking controversy and white iPhone 4 delays. All Things Digital has now followed with a full, edited transcript of the portion of the interview covering the location tracking issue.

In the full interview, Jobs discusses why it took Apple nearly a week to respond to the issue, noting that the company needed to take the time to investigate the situation and figure out how best to relate the information to the public.

"We're an engineering-driven company," Jobs said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "When people accuse us of things, the first thing we want to do is find out the truth. That took a certain amount of time to track all of these things down. And the accusations were coming day by day. By the time we had figured this all out, it took a few days. Then writing it up and trying to make it intelligible when this is a very high-tech topic took a few days. And here we are less than a week later."
Most of the other points of the interview were covered in the earlier highlight piece, but the full transcript also includes new details about how the location database works and about Apple's views on user control over location services.

When pressed on what services Apple might be developing using location information, Jobs referred only to the potential traffic service disclosed in the official Q&A, declining to expand on that with additional information or possibilities.

Developer Sees First Crash Report From iOS 5.0

iPhone developer FutureTap today noted today that it has received its first crash report from a device running iOS 5.0, suggesting that Apple is testing the operating system with third-party applications.

Just received the first iOS 5.0 crash report. MKUserLocationBreadCrumb sounds interesting.
Future Tap also posted a screenshot of the crash report.

As noted by 9 to 5 Mac, the "MKUserLocationBreadCrumb" API is unsurprisingly related to mapping and location functions, a primary component of FutureTap's Where To? application.

FutureTap and Apple have a bit of an interesting history, with some controversy having arisen last year when an Apple patent application containing a figure that was essentially an uncredited duplication of the Where To? interface surfaced. Apple later clarified that it was not seeking to patent anything related to Where To? and that the figure was for illustrative purposes only, but noted that it would investigate updating the patent application with proper attribution.

Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller on White iPhone 4 Delays

In a companion piece to the earlier article highlighting Apple CEO Steve Jobs' interview regarding location tracking issues, All Things Digital turns the spotlight to the white iPhone 4, sharing comments from Jobs and Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller regarding the difficulties in bringing the product to market.

"It was challenging," Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said during a joint interview with CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday. "It's not as simple as making something white. There's a lot more that goes into both the material science of it - how it holds up over time... but also in how it all works with the sensors."
Schiller noted that the company thought it had all of the issues in hand when it introduced the iPhone 4 last year, but it obviously took a lot more work than expected to obtain the quality finished product the company demanded.

Jobs reported that the company's experience with the white iPhone 4 has benefited the company in a number of ways, most obviously bringing some of the lessons learned during the development process to other product lines such as the iPad, where the second-generation device shipped in both black and white from day one.

The white iPhone 4 finally goes on sale tomorrow, although some retail outlets around the world have been letting units out to customers early.

Steve Jobs Interviewed on Location Tracking Issues

Earlier today, Apple officially responded to recent concerns regarding significant amounts of location information being stored on users' iPhone and in system backups, noting that the information is actually a database of nearby Wi-Fi and cellular access points used to provide quick location fixes when needed.

While we noted earlier this week a claimed brief email response from Apple CEO Steve Jobs regarding the issue, he has now spoken more thoroughly about the issue in a new telephone interview with All Things Digital. In the interview, Jobs reiterated many of the same statements made in Apple's official Q&A on the issue, but offers a bit more perspective on things.

Jobs said that the tech industry hasn't done a good job of educating users on what has been a fairly complicated issue.

"As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education," Jobs said. "We haven't as an industry done a very good job educating people I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week."
Jobs declined to comment on the practices of other companies such as Google that have also been included in the controversy, noting only that Apple intends to participate in discussions with federal legislators and regulatory agencies to reassure them about Apple's practices.

"I think Apple will be testifying," Jobs said. "They have asked us to come and we will honor their request of course."

Jobs also said it will be interesting to see how aggressively the press tracks the issue and looks at what other players in the industry do.

"Some of them don't do what we do," Jobs said. "That's for sure."
Jobs was joined on the call by Apple executives Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall, and All Things Digital will be posting a more thorough recap of the interview shortly. 

White iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor and 'Death Grip' Tested

Italian site iSpazio has been able to get its hands on a white iPhone 4 as several European outlets have begun selling the device ahead of tomorrow's official launch. With the new iPhone in hand, the site has put together a handful of videos [Google translation] testing out a few of the areas of concern users have had with the black models, most notably the proximity sensor performance and signal loss caused by "death grip".

The proximity sensor has been one of the most interesting features given Apple's redesign of the area surrounding the sensor on the front of the device above the earpiece slot. Early white iPhone 4 samples and images showed a grille of small holes, but that design has been replaced in the shipping version with a lozenge-shaped black window covering the sensor. The sensor covering is essentially invisible in the black iPhone 4 given that device's coloration.

According to iSpazio, the white iPhone 4 exhibits excellent proximity sensor performance, responding immediately to turn off the device's display when covered but then also keeping the display off until a finger or head is a "relatively large distance" away. The black iPhone 4s initially exhibited problems with displays coming back on while on phone calls, resulting in unintentional touch input. The issue was largely fixed in an iOS update, but it is reassuring to see that the white models exhibit solid performance from the get-go.

iSpazio also tested the "death grip", attempting to generate signal loss by covering portions of the stainless steel band that serves as the antenna for the device. As with black iPhone 4s equipped with iOS versions released since Apple addressed early issues, the white iPhone 4 exhibits a slight drop in signal strength, but the drop does not appear to have a significant effect on connectivity.

Anecdotally, the site reports that the white iPhone 4 may have slightly better reception than the black model, although it is difficult to say if there is any material difference.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Follow MacRumors on Twitter, Facebook topright German Carriers Report White iPhone 4 Actually Due April 28th reports that they have received confirmation from Germany's 3 carriers that the white iPhone will launch there on April 28th, just like Japan. That leaves us wondering if the rest of the world will also need to wait until Thursday. Signs had pointed to today (April 27th) as the launch date for the white iPhone.

It's still a bit early in the day, but there's been no peep from Apple or its U.S. carrier partners about the launch. Typically, Apple's store will go down in order to update. At this point, it seems likely the worldwide launch is indeed April 28th, so one more day of White iPhone 4 anticipation.

iPad 2 and White iPhone 4 Launching in Japan on Thursday

Nikkei reports that the iPad 2 will finally debut in Japan on Thursday, April 28th. The launch comes a month later than originally planned due to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated significant parts of the country. The news comes by way of CNNGo:
That veritable font of all knowledge, the “Nikkei Shimbun” newspaper, says the shiny lust-bauble will hit Japanese stores in stealth mode, more than a month after the scheduled March 25 launch-date.
Beyond the original announcement of delay, Apple has not officially announced the ship date for the iPad 2 in Japan.

This week should be a busy week for Apple as they are believed to be launching the white iPhone 4 to multiple countries on Wednesday.

Update: The White iPhone 4 is apparently also making its way to Japan on the same date, April 28th. A reader sent in this picture taken at a Softbank store, which lists the 4/28 date as the start of sales:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Android Jumps Past iOS in Overall U.S. Smartphone Usage

Earlier this year, we pointed to a report from media research firm Nielsen indicating that Apple's iOS was just barely holding off Android in smartphone usage in the United States. But continued strong growth from Android that saw the platform easily leading the pack among the most recent smartphone acquirers left little doubt that Android would quickly pass iOS in total penetration.

New Nielsen data from March but released today shows just that, with Android now taking the overall lead with 37% of the market in the U.S., ahead of iOS which continues to hold steady at 27%. Research in Motion's BlackBerry platform has continued its slide and is now down to 22%.

Just looking at those who acquired smartphones in the six months leading up to the March survey, Android's lead is even stronger with a full 50% of users opting for the platform. Apple polled in second place at 25% while Research in Motion dropped to 15%.

Nielsen also took a look at future buying plans, assessing those consumers planning to purchase a smartphone sometime within the following year from the date of the survey. According to the latest data, Android now edges out iOS, 31% to 30%, a significant change from the July-September 2010 period when iOS held a 33%-26% lead over Android among future smartphone purchasers.

Amazon Responds to Apple's Trademark Lawsuit Over 'App Store'

Just over a month ago, Apple filed a trademark lawsuit against Amazon over the company's use of the term "Appstore" for its own Android application marketplace. According to the suit, Apple is seeking an injunction to prevent Amazon from using the name, which Apple believes infringes upon its own "App Store" mark.

GeekWire reports that Amazon has now filed an official response (PDF) to Apple's suit, calling the claim baseless and asserting the generic nature of term.
The Seattle-based online retailer asked a federal judge in San Francisco to throw out Apple's trademark suit, calling the phrase "app store" generic and not something that Apple can claim for its exclusive use. Amazon's filing echoed Microsoft's arguments in a separate dispute at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office opposing Apple's attempt to register the trademark.
Using a similar tactic to that employed by Microsoft in its attempts to have Apple's "App Store" trademark application denied, Amazon has cited comments by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in which he refers to app stores in the generic sense rather than specifically in relation to Apple's marketplace.

Amazon has also filed a counterclaim seeking dismissal of Apple's suit, a declaratory judgment that use of the term "app store" does not infringe upon Apple's trademark rights, and reimbursement of attorney's fees and other costs.

Apple has asked that the courts address the trademark lawsuit on an accelerated timetable in order to head off the rapidly increasing number of entities using "App Store" and related terms, but the court has yet to issue a decision regarding that request.

Another White iPhone 4 Sold in Belgium [Updated]

While we noted earlier today that preparations are moving full speed ahead for a debut of the white iPhone 4 within the next day or two and shipments making their way to retail stores, some retailers have jumped the gun and begun selling units to customers. Once such case popped up late last week in the UK through Vodafone, although the carrier apparently quickly clamped down on the rogue sale. But with more shipments now on location at retail stores, the premature sales are likely to occur with greater frequency.

One MacRumors reader wrote in today to say that he had just purchased a white iPhone 4 through a Mobistar retail shop in Antwerp, Belgium. According to the reader, the white iPhones are already available for general sale to all customers.

As in other recent photos, the final version of the white iPhone 4 carries a redesigned proximity sensor area on the front panel, utilizing a relatively large, lozenge-shaped area above the earpiece as opposed to the grille of small holes seen in early designs.

Update: iSpazio reports that yet another white iPhone 4 has been sold to a customer in Italy.

Update 2: The customer in Belgium has sent us another photo showing the "About" screen of the new white iPhone 4, revealing that the units are shipping with iOS 4.3.1 Build 8G4, the same build of iOS 4.3.1 released to GSM iPhone 4 users in late March. Apple has, however, since released iOS 4.3.2 for existing devices.

Apple Expected to Charge for Cloud-Based Music Storage Service

CNET reports that Apple is expected to charge customers a fee in order to use its forthcoming cloud-based music storage service, a new product said to be rapidly approaching completion. The company could, however, offer a free introductory period to give customers a chance to test out the new service and gather a user base.
Music industry insiders told me that Apple has indicated it could offer the service free of charge initially but that company will eventually require a fee. Google is also expected to charge for a similar service.
The report points to claims that Apple may charge a $20 annual fee for the service, although that information remains unconfirmed with many sources apparently not being privy to those details.

Apple's cloud-based plans have been said to be linked to a MobileMe revamp that could see certain aspects of cloud storage become free, even if the music storage component requires a modest annual fee.

Apple is not the only significant player looking to move to cloud-based music storage. Amazon late last month rolled out its Cloud Drive service with limited free storage augmented by various levels of paid storage. The company has, however, received some push back from record labels who were not included in discussions with Amazon. For its part, Google has been taking the Apple route and trying to work with record labels on a cloud-based music storage service, but the search and advertising giant has reportedly been "going backwards" in its talks with no signs of a resolution in the near future.

Preparations for White iPhone 4 Launch Continue

As we've been noting, Apple is gearing up to finally release the white iPhone 4, with all signs pointing to a release over the next few days, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Engadget posts photos of a shipment of white iPhone 4s that have reportedly arrived at a Belgian retailer just ahead of the launch, indicating that Apple's distribution channels now have stock in position for immediate availability as soon as the launch occurs.

Meanwhile, German sites Macerkopf and have noted the existence of promotional banners already in place on T-Mobile's site indicating a launch of the white iPhone 4 in that country on April 28th. The images have, however, already been removed from T-Mobile's site as the carrier has no doubt already reacted to the publicity of these reports.

Macerkopf also indicates that Apple's own retail stores in the U.S. have received promotional materials for the white iPhone 4, preparing to roll out the new signage in support of the device's release.

Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Apple's Location Tracking in iOS [Updated]

According to a report [Google translation] from Japanese newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (via AppleInsider), Sharp has been tabbed as a manufacturer for next-generation poly-silicon (p-Si) display technology for the sixth-generation iPhone due in 2012. The technology, which permits electrical components to be integrated directly into the glass surface, is said to allow for thinner and lighter screens that consume less power than currently-used technologies.
Sharp will begin manufacturing of the displays in the spring of next year according to Japanese newspaper Nikkan. The company is said to have already begun preparing equipment at its Kameyama Plant No. 1, which is primarily used for building LCD TVs.
The article also contains an apology for last week's report claiming that Sharp had been cut out of the supply chain for future iPhones by a deal between Apple and Toshiba to push forward on a new plant for displays, a claim that Sharp had publicly refuted and for which the company had requested an apology and retraction. Consequently, today's report has led to speculation that Sharp may have intentionally leaked information about the new p-Si displays in order to counteract the earlier report about Toshiba.

Introducing the Google Translate app for iPhone

Back in August 2008, we launched a Google Translate HTML5 web app for iPhone users. Today, the official Google Translate for iPhone app is available for download from the App Store. The new app has all of the features of the web app, plus some significant new additions designed to improve your overall translation experience.

Speak to translate
The new app accepts voice input for 15 languages, and—just like the web app—you can translate a word or phrase into one of more than 50 languages. For voice input, just press the microphone icon next to the text box and say what you want to translate.

Listen to your translations
You can also listen to your translations spoken out loud in one of 23 different languages. This feature uses the same new speech synthesizer voices as the desktop version of Google Translate we introduced last month.

Full-screen mode
Another feature that might come in handy is the ability to easily enlarge the translated text to full-screen size. This way, it’s much easier to read the text on the screen, or show the translation to the person you are communicating with. Just tap on the zoom icon to quickly zoom in.

And the app also includes all of the major features of the web app, including the ability to view dictionary results for single words, access your starred translations and translation history even when offline, and support romanized text like Pinyin and Romaji.

You can download Google Translate now from the App Store globally. The app is available in all iOS supported languages, but you’ll need an iPhone or iPod touch iOS version 3 or later.