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Author Archives: kduggan

Moshi for iPad

  • An update to Apple’s iOS 6.0 is now available for download from iTunes or over your wireless connection. Apple’s iOS 6.0.1 fixes some of the bugs that have already appeared and also provides the iPhone 5 with wireless update capability.


    To download the new OS version wirelessly, go to the “Settings” menu and bring up “Software Update,” If you’re updating your iPhone 5, you’ll be asked to first download an updater for iPhone 5. This enables the wireless updates to be installed.


     



    For older iPhone models, the iPod Touch and iPads with iOS 6 already installed, you can get the 6.0.1 update at “Settings”, “General”, “Software Update.”


    Your phone’s “Learn More” gives you a screen with the information below that tells you what bugs have been fixed:


    “This update contains improvements and bug fixes, including:


    • Fixes a bug that prevents iPhone 5 from installing software updates wirelessly over the air
    • Fixes a bug where horizontal lines may be displayed across the keyboard
    • Fixes an issue that could cause camera flash to not go off
    • Improves reliability of iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation) when connected to encrypted WPA2 Wi-Fi networks
    • Resolves an issue that prevents iPhone from using the cellular network in some instances
    • Consolidated the Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match
    • Fixes a Passcode Lock bug which sometimes allowed access to Passbook pass details from lock screen
    • Fixes a bug affecting Exchange meetings”


    If you’re ready to start the download, you click on a quick user agreement confirmation, and the update begins. Your phone will give you instructions for the rest.


    One of the bugs that the update is supposed to fix is the one that causes static and horizontal lines on the screen when you’re downloading a new app. So, if you thought you’d caused the problem because your new iPhone 5 has already hit the concrete a couple of times, the update will offer some comfort. Add a little insurance for future whoopsies and improve you device’s bounce factor with a good case.




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  • U.S. wireless carriers and the Federal Communications Commission have joined together to create a national database that locks stolen cellphones out of carrier networks.


    Smartphones and other mobile devices are so easy to snatch. They’re small and portable. They’re worth a lot of money. They’re easy to pirate with just a swap of a SIM card. The FCC's database of stolen phones is designed to limit theft to the plastic and electronics and not the information contained inside.


    The database works by blocking a stolen cellphone’s IMEI number, making it impossible to get service for that phone. AT&T and T-Mobile have teamed up, and their joint database is online now. Verizon and Sprint are supposed to have their joint effort up and running soon. In the next year, the four major carriers are planning to merge their databases. Smaller carriers will join in along the way.


    Eventually the FCC and the U.S. carriers will expand the database to cell providers all over the world. “The goal is to not only protect the consumer by cancelling the service, but by ultimately protecting the consumer by drying up the aftermarket for stolen phones,” said CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe.



    While we can’t stop ourselves from leaving our phones in the coffee shop or having it picked out our pocket, there are things we can do to protect our privacy. Use PINs or passwords, and make sure you know how to use your phone’s remote-wiping capabilities. It might seem like closing the barn door after the horse has left, but at least a thief has only stolen your high-buck smartphone and not your identity.




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  • Nuance Communications just released the beta version of their Dragon Mobile Assistant software for Android.


    Dragon is the name of a line of speech recognition software products that can do things like make calls, keep your calendar and send texts just by giving your phone a command. The English version of the app is available on Google Play for free right now. It works on the Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 OS or later.


    Nuance dominates the market for speech recognition. They’ve been working with Apple on their voice control technology, the most famous being Siri (available on iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.)


    Here's how the voice recognition software works on your phone.



    Start the app with the greeting, “Hi Dragon”, and then give it a command like:


    “Tell Lori, ‘I’ll come find her when I get to the restaurant.” or
    “Schedule a meeting for 2 p.m. tomorrow.” or
    “Give me directions to the Statue of Liberty” or
    “What’s the weather in Chicago?”


    As long as Dragon can interpret what you said, you'll get an answer.


    Nuance’s press release says it’s plan is to expand availability and debut new features by year end. “We’re at a transition point where voice and natural-language understanding are suddenly at the forefront,” said Vlad Sejnoha, chief technology officer at Nuance Communications. “I think speech recognition is really going to upend the current [computer] interface.”


    If you've ever tried to call about a complaint or order a prescription over the phone, you've experienced Nuance's voice technology. It's been used in places like calls centers for awhile.


    Now the rapid rise of powerful mobile devices is spreading the use of voice interfaces. One reason for the stunning advancements in voice recognition technology is that smartphones have so much processing capability. They can access high-bandwidth data connections that exist on massive servers in the cloud. The combination of more data and more computing power means sophisticated programs like voice recognition will fit into smartphones.


    Apple’s Siri was the first to bring voice-recognition technology to mobile devices, and (finally!) Nuance has now brought Android a little closer to having its own voice functionality. Others like the Windows Phone platform, other mobile systems, and a lot of apps won’t be far behind. The interfaces still have to be refined, but the good news is that the capability of talking to our devices is already built in to the hardware.


    Nuance doesn’t plan on stopping at cellphones. Inspired by their success, the company is working on putting speech interfaces in many more places like televisions and vehicles.




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  • Apple’s determination to remain different may finally have backfired. It seems the Lightning connector has brought back to life an old argument over universal standards.


    Back in 2009, 10 major cellphone manufacturers agreed with the European Union that there needed to be one standard design for the connectors that charge cellphone batteries. A universal connector would give a much longer shelf life to chargers if the ones purchased today would still work with the devices designed down the road.


    These manufacturers agreed to use the micro-USB charger design that is used with almost every type of mobile device – except Apple products. While Apple was one of the 10 manufacturers to agree to the universal standard, it decided to show compliance through the use of an adapter. While everyone else designed their equipment for the micro-USB connector, Apple kept their 30-pin connector as the standard for all their devices.


    Now, Apple has shown their continuing commitment to their own design with the introduction of the Lightning charger. But now Apple’s competitors aren’t the only ones irritated by the company’s ongoing rebellion. By redesigning their connector (which definitely was long overdue), they’ve forced all their current customers to buy new hardware in order for their equipment like docking stations and chargers to work with the next and future generations of iPhones, iPads, iPods, iMacs… you get the idea. We’ll give Apple a (very) small bit of credit for the Lightning adapter, but still, it’s another few bucks out of your pocket.



    Apple no doubt is a believer in the “wow” factor. They don’t want to just make consumers happy. They want to knock us off our feet with style, innovation and technology. Apple may have seen their loyalty to a proprietary connector as necessary to maintain the Apple aura.


    Apple’s connectors do more than charge and sync. From a single port all Apple equipment can be connected to every other one, and with an adapter, that same port can also output these devices to non-Apple equipment like an HDMI television. With most of the other micro-USB compatible equipment out there, you need separate ports – one for charging and one for connecting (and a lots of other functions.) More ports add bulk and can make Ironman’s suit look like the Incredible Hulk is wearing it.


    Apple is going to always behave like they own the sandbox, and as long as they’re making more money than anyone else, they can. Maybe we don’t want to stop them, either. Even now, none of their competition has truly matched the style and quality inherent in most Apple products. It’s good for us that they keep trying, though.



    This post was posted in Apple and was tagged with 30-pin connector, Apple connectors, Lightning connector, Lightning adapter

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  • If you haven’t pre-ordered your Apple iPad Mini or your iPad with Retina display by the time you’ve read this, your window of opportunity has passed. Within 36 hours, the Apple online store sold out of all the new iPad options.


    In case you still want to be ready to click “Buy” as soon as iPad pre-orders are taken again, here are your choices. Also take note of those shipping and delivery dates. A few of them are the vague “Available to ship: 2 weeks” or “Available to ship: mid-November.”


    Note: your choices for all iPad Mini models are black & slate and white & silver.


    iPad Mini Wi-Fi only:


    16GB for $329, Available to ship: 2 weeks
    32GB for $429, delivery 11/2
    64GB for $529, delivery 11/2


    iPad Mini Wi-Fi + Cellular for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint:


    16GB for $459,
    32GB for $559
    64GB for $659


    All are “Available to ship: mid-November.”



    Note: your choices for iPad Retina are white and black


    iPad with Retina Wi-Fi only:


    16GB for $499
    32GB for $599
    64GB for $629


    All “Deliver 11/2”


    iPad with Retina Wi-Fi + Cellular for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint


    16GB for $629,
    32GB for $729
    64GB for $829


    All show “Available to ship: mid-November.”


    Do your research, make up your mind now and keep www.apple.com open on your browser.




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  •  



    Samsung has been promoting the "Next Big Thing", and this time it’s the Galaxy Note 2. The phone was launched yesterday at Samsung's Galaxy Note II World Tour 2012 press event. T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon will all be carrying it. Just considering cost, timing and coverage, which service provider should get your business?


    Here’s the lowdown on cost and timing:


    Verizon
    Pre-order date: Oct. 25
    Available: Nov. 27
    Price: $299.99 with a 2-year plan, $699.99 off-contract


    AT&T
    Pre-sale date: Oct. 25
    Available: Nov. 9
    Price: $299.99 with a 2-year plan, $649.99 off-contract


    Sprint
    Available: Now
    Price: $299.99 with a 2-year plan, $699.99 off-contract


    T-Mobile
    Available: Now
    Price: $369.99 with a 2-year plan, $699.99 off-contract


    The Galaxy Note 2 has 4G LTE capability, and you don’t want it to go to waste. While Verizon beats all the competition for nationwide 4G LTE coverage (370+ markets), AT&T is rapidly expanding their 4G LTE network and is adding to their network all the time (approximately 65 markets.) Sprint basically covers Atlanta and big cities in Texas (15 markets) with their 4G LTE, the rest is 3G. T-Mobile doesn’t yet have 4G LTE connectivity, but they advertise their network as “4G”, which is really a supercharged 3G (HSPA+ 42) network.


    For those buying an unlocked Galaxy Note 2, here’s a heads-up. The unlocked version isn’t compatible with CDMA carriers and LTE networks.


    There’s no doubt that the Galaxy Note 2 is a fine smartphone. Its 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display is the big reason it’s being called a “phablet” – part phone, part tablet. In a nod to its tablet-ness, the Note 2 is the only smartphone that comes with a stylus that Samsung calls the” S Pen.” For those of us with big fingers or who are touchscreen accuracy-challenged, a stylus sure comes in handy.


    Inside the Galaxy Note 2, you’ll find a quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos processor, up to 16GB of storage space (with expansion up to 64GB), and 2GB of RAM. On the back is a high-quality 8MP camera with an LED flash, and on the front a 1.9MP camera for video calls. The camera can record video in 1080p, and has a 4x zoom. It’s rated for up to 15 hours of talk time and 12.5 days of standby time.




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  • Now that the launch of the Surface tablet is history and the Windows 8 hoopla will be behind them today, Microsoft is revving up for their next event: release of the new devices that will run on Windows Phone 8. Lucky for all of us, Microsoft will live stream the event to be held in San Francisco on Monday, October 29th. Get ready for a broadcast at 10am PST.


    Microsoft will also show off more Windows Phone 8 features like Xbox Music, new competition for Spotify and iTunes. “There are a whole series of…new capabilities and features that will come that we haven’t talked about and there’s integration with Windows 8 that we’ll demo closer to the date,” promises Greg Sullivan, Microsoft’s Windows Phone senior product manager.


    Both product manufacturers and wireless providers have been announcing they'll be showing off a range of Windows Phone 8 devices at the event. The lineup includes HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and 8S, Samsung’s ATIV S, Nokia’s Lumia 820 and 920, and Verizon’s exclusive Nokia Lumia 822 (aka the Atlas). There’s also an outside possibility that ZTE will be there with a Windows Phone 8 device, too.


    Hopefully Microsoft will be specific about shipment dates for Windows Phone 8 devices. So far, we've only heard that they will begin shipping in November.


    In the meantime, Microsoft is showing its new Windows 8 to the world today.




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  • The big Apple announcements have been made, and Apple had a very busy day. In case you weren’t in San Jose yesterday (or glued to Twitter), here is what was revealed about Apple’s new releases: the iPad Mini, the new MacBook Pro, the new version of the Mac Mini and redesigned iMacs. Apple even handed over a fourth generation iPad.


    iPad Mini


    The iPad Mini is a 7-inch version of the new iPad.


    • A screen that measures 7.9 inches diagonally with 4:3 aspect ratio that makes it looks like it has a bigger viewing area than it really does
    • Total screen area of 29.6 square inches
    • 23% thinner than the third generation iPad
    • The same resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2, at 1,024 x 768 (this allows use of current apps since the smaller screen size will shrink them with no app redesign required)
    • 163 pixels per inch
    • A5 chip – the same processor used in the iPad 2 and the new iPod Touch.
    • Front-facing FaceTime 720p camera, with a 5-megapixel camera in back
    • A weight of 10.9 ounces (less than half the weight of the full-size iPad)
    • 0.28 of an inch thickness
    • The new Lightning connector that first appeared with the iPhone 5
    • Color choices of black and white
    • Smart covers shrunk to fit and in multiple colors including blue, green, pink and black

    iPad mini pricing starts at $329 for the Wi-Fi-only version with 16GB capacity. Wi-Fi-only with more capacity are $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. Cellular versions run $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32 GB and $659 64GB. Higher capacities and 4G LTE options are also available.


    Pre-orders begin Oct. 26. Wi-Fi devices ship Nov. 2. Cellular models arrive two weeks later. Reports say Apple has ordered 10 million iPad Minis from its suppliers to meet demand between now and the holiday season.


    New MacBook Pro



    The new MacBook Pro computer surprised many with its size.


    • A 13-inch retina display
    • Three-quarters of an inch thick
    • Weighs in a full pound less than the 13″ MacBook Pro
    • Screen resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 (higher resolution than the 27″ iMac)
    • No optical drive, USB 3.0 and a full HDMI output
    • Two Thunderbolt ports

    Here are the three basic models of the new 13″ MacBook Pro Retina:


    • 2.5 Ghz i5 with 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, $1699
    • 2.5 Ghz i5 with 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, $1999
    • 2.9 Ghz i7 with 512 SSD and 8GB of RAM, $2199

    The MacBook Pro has already begun to ship.


    iPad 4



    Apple also surprised many with the announcement of a slightly updated fourth-generation, full-sized iPad with a new, twice-as-fast processor.The design is basically the same with a few exceptions.


    • The Lightning connector
    • A6X system-on-a-chip
    • Improved LTE support (adding Sprint to the Verizon and AT&T providers)

    The iPad 4 pricing matches that of the new iPad.


    Updated Mac Mini computer



    Apple modernized its Mac Mini computer with new features and upgrades.


    • Hardwear choices are dual or quad-core i5 or i7 processor, with up to 16GB of RAM
    • Intel HD graphics 4000
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • Either a 1TB HDD or 256GB SSD

    The basic Mac Mini model starts at $599 for a 2.5Ghz dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB HDD. The updated Mac mini has already started to ship.


    Updated iMac configuration



    The iMac was last given a substantial update in 2009. The new version has some of the latest hardware in an unbelievably thin package.


    • Configurations include the quad-core i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge processors and up to 32GB of RAM
    • Ivy Bridge that provides connectivity with USB 3
    • Drive choices - traditional hard drive, an SSD or Apple’s new Fusion Drive (Apple technology that gives a hybrid SSD/traditional HD experience. The most used and disk-intensive apps load from the SSD but your media, movies and music can still exist on a traditional hard drive.)

    Here is the pricing for the new iMac models:


    • The 21.5″ iMac starts at $1299 for a 2.7 quad-core i5 with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
    • The 27″ iMac starts at $1799 for a quad core i5 with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
    • The SSD or Apple’s new Fusion Drive are additional upgrades.

    The 21.5″ iMac will go on sale in November. The 27″ iMac will go on sale in December.




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  • Have you ever lost your car in the parking lot? Do you live in fear of forgetting to lock it? Does starting it from inside the house on a cold winter’s morning sound like a magnificent start to the day? The SmartStart app can do all of this with a push of a button on your mobile phone.


    SmartStart is an app that connects your car to the cloud. It’s a component of a system offered by Directed – one of the biggest car alarm and remote starter manufacturers in North America.


    To use most of the SmartStart system’s features you’ll need the hardware installed in your vehicle (called Viper SmartStart) and a subscription to a Directed service plan. But, the company offers a free SmartStart app that you can use to operate many of the system's features without the equipment. Some like SmartPark (car locator) and Parking Meter (tells you when it’s time to refill the parking meter) don't require the hardware.


    The main purpose of SmartStart is to remotely lock, unlock and start your car. It will send you texts whenever there is activity to report – like if multiple people use the car you’ll get notified when anyone starts it. If you have the hardware that can operate GPS, you’ll even be able to tell where the car is going. You can also control multiple vehicles and assign more than one user to control a vehicle.


    Right now, the only app version that is fully integrated with the Viper SmartStart system is an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 running on iOS 6. With the Siri function you can just say “SmartStart” and the app will open. You can preset a defined command, so when Siri launches the app, the car will automatically start and the doors can be set to lock or unlock. The app also brings in controls for SMS and email notifications.


    SmartStart app versions are available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.



    This post was posted in Odd And Interesting and was tagged with Directed, SmartStart app, Viper SmartStart

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  • Reddit hosted an “ask me almost anything” (AMAA) session with the Microsoft Surface development team last Tuesday (Oct. 16th), the same day the Surface tablet was available for pre-order. Mashable did a great job of summarizing the Q&A and posted a few details about the tablet that were heard from the developers for the first time. Some of their comments are summarized below.


    Why would someone using an iPad want to change to the Surface tablet. What makes the Surface so amazing?


    The Surface team said they have a vision for Surface. On it you can get “a ton of stuff done.” It has a full Windows operating system and can run the Office suite. The “seamless transitioning” from one user state to another with the touch cover, the ability to use it all day, and a USB port that creates endless connectivity possibilities all add up to a fully functional pc in a tablet form.


    With Windows RT installed, how much many GBs of free space will be left?


    After the OS, OfficeRT and a few apps are installed, they claimed that more than 20GB remains. Adding an SD card would also add space for music, movies and photos (though not apps.)


    No 3G/4G option for the Surface


    Even without 3G/4G, the team’s position is that the tablet design is still “world-class Wi-Fi connectivity.” They looked at specific elements of 3G/4G that they needed to include. Since the Surface would probably be used most often at home, their tablet sales data showed connectivity there would be one-third Wi-Fi and one-third mobile broadband. They also considered frequent usage at hotspots as part of the decision.


    Using USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0


    The full size USB 2.0 port on Surface supports hundreds of millions of devices that are already being used so the network is already in place. Timing was factor, too. They chose USB 2.0 based on capability of the ARM SoCs during their development time frame.


    Surface resolution that’s significantly less than new iPad’s


    With the ClearType Display technology they’ve taken what they call a three-pronged approach to maximizing resolution while optimizing the device for battery life, weight, and thickness.


    1. First, they believe Microsoft’s Cleartype 1.0 and 2.0 is the best pixel rendering technology in the industry because it smoothes text regardless of pixel count. The technology is exclusive and unique to Windows. Unofficially, the amount of light reflected off the display screen allowed by Cleartype is approximately 5.5% - 6.2%. The iPad's is a more glaring 9.9%
    2. Second, the custom design of the 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle screen LCD screen enhances resolution.
    3. Third, the optically-bonded screen that has “the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market - something which is more commonly done on phones but not on a tablet.

     


    Surface RT pricing


    The 10.6-inch Microsoft Surface Tablet will cost $499 for the 32GB model, up to $699 for the 64GB tablet. The Touch Cover keypad is an extra $119. If you want the Type Cover with real keys, add $129 to your budget.


    Apple may have something to worry about. The Surface tablet has sold out of pre-orders in the U.S.




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