Jordan Kahn

@JordanKahn

Senior Editor, 9to5Mac – 9to5Google – 9to5Toys

Contact Jordan with news tips and long-winded complaints at Jordan@9to5mac.com.  

Jordan writes about all things Apple as a senior editor for 9to5Mac. He also covers Google for 9to5Google.com and the latest gear and deals on 9to5Toys.com.

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April 2, 2013

T-Mobile-iPhone-5-LTE-update-Apr-5

We told you about a jailbreak tweak last week that enables LTE at 1700mhz by loading a custom carrier firmware on an existing, unlocked AT&T iPhone 5. It was good news for T-Mobile customers interested in taking advantage of the carrier’s LTE network without updating to Apple’s new T-Mobile/AT&T iPhone 5 variant set to launch April 12, but there was no word from AT&T if an official update would also be available for existing unlocked GSM iPhone 5 owners. TmoNews got its hands on an internal document today that shows the carrier will indeed enable LTE support, along with a handful of other features previously not available through software update on April 5.

“The T-Mobile Carrier Update is a minor iOS software update that enables official iPhone support by T-Mobile. When installed, the software update enables a handful of capabilities like Visual Voicemail, MMS Settings and Network/Device optimizations that customers do not have access to today. On April 5, the software update will begin being pushed via OTA to all iPhone devices on the T-Mobile network with iOS 6.1.x or higher.”

As you can see above, the update will also enable official iPhone support for T-Mobile customers bringing Visual Voicemail, MMS Settings and Network/Device optimizations to users on April 5.

In related T-Mobile news, we learned that Apple has partnered up with Barclays and T-Mobile to offer 24 months no interest when buying a new iPhone on T-Mobile at Apple Stores. Barclays will also credit customers’ accounts $70, allowing Apple Store customers to finance the T-Mobile iPhone for the same $579 price as T-Mobile offers through its 24-month plan. expand full story

Tim-cook-chinaAccording to a new report from Reuters, Apple’s decision to publicly address controversy over its warranty policies in China yesterday has already resulted in a positive reaction from the state-controlled media outlets that originally organized the smear campaign.

With its rare apology, Apple Inc went from pariah to praiseworthy in the eyes of China’s state-controlled media, a lesson for other foreign firms not to underestimate the speed and power of the government press… The Chinese newspapers that threw brickbats at Apple a few days ago have since changed their tune.

Apple attempted to appease government in China yesterday by issuing a letter from CEO Tim Cook to announce changes to its warranty policies in the country. The move followed a campaign by state-run media outlets that bashed Apple over its warranty policies compared to other countries and provided first-hand accounts from disgruntled customers. Apple initially stood its ground after the first critical reports as far back as July, but yesterday’s “rare” apology from Cook appears to be already having a positive impact in the country.

One of the media outlets that has now changed its tune is tabloid the Global Times, a newspaper published by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, while government officials are also praising Apple for its decision: expand full story

9to5toys 

April 1, 2013

Following controversy in China with state-controlled media outlets going after Apple over its warranty policies, Apple CEO Tim Cook today addressed the issue in a letter published to the company’s website in China. Within the letter (translation below), Cook apologized to customers and announced the company would implement a number of changes to “improve the level of service” for Chinese customers.

The controversy originally started after a report from state-controlled media outlets such as China Central Television criticized the company for treating consumers unfairly with its warranty and repair procedures compared to other countries. Following the initial attacks from Chinese media outlets, Apple initially responded to the criticism through a message published on its website clarifying its warranty policies and telling consumers that “Apple’s Chinese warranty is more or less the same as in the U.S. and all over the world.”

In the past two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about Apple in China repair and warranty policy. We are not only a profound reflection on these views, together with relevant departments to carefully study the “Three Guarantees”, and also look at our maintenance policy communication and combing our management specifications of Apple Authorized Service Provider. We are aware that, due to the lack of external communication in this process and lead to the speculation that Apple arrogance, do not care or do not attach importance to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers.

Today Cook announced that Apple will be implementing some changes to its warranty policies starting this month. Among the changes, Cook noted that Apple will improve its repair policy for the iPhone 4 and 4S, provide better information about warranties on its website, and improve training for staff:

  • Improved iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair policy
  • Provide a concise and clear on the website of the official Apple repair and warranty policy statement
  • Increase the intensity of the supervision and training of Apple Authorized Service Provider
  • Related issues to ensure that consumers can easily contact Apple Feedback Service

Perhaps the most significant change is the way Apple will handle repairs and replacements of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 going forward, providing new replacement devices for users on Apple’s 1-year warranty in cases where it previously only replaced parts. Many of the controversial reports in China centered around claims that Chinese consumers were provided with replacement parts during repairs, or the original back casing for their device, while consumers in other countries were given new replacements.

Cook also urged customers to reach out to Apple with feedback through its website here.

Cook’s full letter below: expand full story

If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.

Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:

Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.

In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs… expand full story

9to5google 

March 31, 2013

We’ve reviewed and enjoyed a number of TwelveSouth products over the years. We were intrigued by the hollowed out book idea with the company’s original BookBook case for the MacBook Air and since it has brought out similar hand distressed leather BookBook cases for other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad mini. While maybe not the ideal option for Apple’s anti-skeuomorphic cheerleaders, I found the stark contrast to Apple’s sometimes cold industrial design a nice juxtaposition.

I tend to not use any skins, covers or cases when using my MacBook on a day to day basis. I slide my MacBook into a laptop pouch built-into my backpack or use a standard laptop case when on the go, and rarely do I actually leave the MacBook in the case when in use. A case was necessary for protection when traveling, but for me the average soft or hard plastic laptop case never quite does the pricey, Jony Ive designed Apple hardware inside justice. BookBook is different… expand full story

March 28, 2013

Final-Cut-Pro-XFollowing reports this morning that Apple was preparing to a launch a new campaign on its website to lure skeptical professionals back to Final Cut Pro X, Apple has now pushed out updates to the app in addition to smaller updates to its Motion and Compressor apps.

Version 10.0.8 of the ‘Final Cut Pro’ Mac App Store app brings a number of new features and enhancements, many of which focus on improvements for professional users. Among the updates is support for Sony XAVC codec up to 4K, the ability to view “ProRes Log C files from ARRI ALEXA cameras with standard Rec. 709 color and contrast levels,” and a long list of editing fixes, tweaks and enhancements that have been highly requested by pro users.

Apple has now updated its website with the new Final Cut Pro campaign we mentioned earlier. It includes a feature with acclaimed director Tsui Hark and Canada’s largest newspaper The Globe and Mail. The ‘What’s New’ Final Cut Pro product page was also updated to show off some of the new features in today’s update such as support for the Sony XAVC codec.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 1.56.17 PM

Apple also updated Compressor and Motion today with minor updates that include fixes.

A full list of what’s new in Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, and Motion is below: expand full story

While Apple confirmed that purchasing a new AWS-enabled variant of the iPhone 5 was necessary to get on T-Mobile’s network, a new jaibreak hack claims to enable LTE at 1700mhz by loading a custom carrier firmware on an existing, unlocked AT&T iPhone 5 (A1428). Leimobile.com posted the full instructions:

Now that you have an unlocked AT&T model A1428 or an officially unlocked model A1428 you can proceed to follow the instructions below to load a custom carrier file onto your iPhone and enable LTE. This will only work on A1428 model iPhone 5′s.

To be clear, this enables LTE AWS support for T-Mobile. It won’t allow you to access HSPA+ 42Mbps on 1700mhz like Apple’s new A1428 variant…

T-Mobile officially unveiled on Tuesday its plans to carry the iPhone on its new no-contract, no-subsidy, monthly installment plans starting at $99 down for the iPhone 5. Following the announcement, Engadget confirmed with Apple that the existing A1428 model iPhone 5 for AT&T would not support the necessary AWS bands to access T-Mobile’s network. Apple said it would phase out the existing A1428 iPhone, meaning new devices would support both AT&T and T-Mobile, but it will be doing so through a firmware update at the factory. In other words, a software update for A1428 iPhone owners isn’t possible and existing AT&T iPhone 5 owners are out of luck when it comes to support on T-Mobile’s network.

The hack above, which we haven’t tested first hand, of course won’t work for the Verizon iPhone, as it does not support the correct LTE bands.

electrek 

Apple is beginning a campaign today to win back the video-editing community that abandoned its flagship video-editing software after the release of its controversial Final Cut Pro X. The LA Times reported that following several updates to the software over the last two years to fix some of the criticisms, Apple is launching a number new ads on its website today that feature professionals using Final Cut Pro X. The campaign is apparently timed to lined up with upcoming National Association of Broadcasters convention and aims to win over professional video editors by featuring professionals such as editors at the Globe and Mail newspaper:

Now, after updating the software seven times since its release in 2011, Apple is launching a campaign Thursday aimed at winning back skeptical professional users.

Starting Thursday, the company plans to begin posting three stories on its website, including Liurette’s, aimed at changing the minds of folks like Miller by demonstrating how sophisticated users have embraced Final Cut Pro X. The stories will also feature Tsui Hark, one of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema, and TV Azteca, which produces thousands of telenovela episodes every year.

Adobe-Premiere-Pro

From Adobe’s “Why Switch” Premiere Pro website

It’s no secret that the professional video editing community was up in arms over Apple’s decision to release what they viewed as a scaled-back, prosumer version of Final Cut Pro with the release of Final Cut Pro X almost two years ago. Despite the Mac App Store dropping the cost of FCP from almost $700 to $299, pro video editors complained Apple had stripped away some of the software’s core features to create a simple experience for the average Mac user and not professionals. It earned FCPX the nickname “iMovie Pro” and criticism in the mainstream media followed by a response from Apple and eventually even refunds of the app to unsatisfied customers. expand full story

March 27, 2013

BMW-App-integration-audible

News:

BMW iOS app integration: Following some recent Siri Eyes Free news from Chevrolet, BMW announced today that it has partnered with handful of developers to bring similar eyes free experiences for a number of third-party iOS apps to its vehicles. BMW has partnered with Audible for audio books, Glympse for location sharing services, Rhapsody for subscription music and TuneIn for internet radio, all of which will be updating their apps in the weeks to come for compatibility with the BMW Apps system.

Plants vs Zombies 2: PopCap announced today that part two of its incredibly popular Plants vs Zombies title is finally going to land on iOS in additional to all the other usual platforms “early summer.”  No clues on what might be included in the second installment, but in the meantime PopCap will launch a new version of the game on Facebook.

App Updates:

IM+ Instant Messenger version 7.7: A nice update to the very popular IM+ service today offers Beep mobile-to-mobile service as an in-app purchase, the ability to preview transferred images directly in chats, and the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements. iPad users will also now be able to capture photos and videos in the app.

StreamBoard version 5.0: The Twitter client that lets you track keywords and hashtags in real-time is updated to version 5.0 with many new features and enhancements:

For this incredible milestone, StreamBoard has been rewritten from the ground up bringing to you: – A brand new streamlined interface powered by gestures – A reimagined filter view featuring real-time graphs that you can interact with – Much improved engine for faster speed! – and many more!

Pac-Man version 3.5.0: iOS 6 support and new features for the Pac-Man iPad app.

Added support for iOS 6 Fixed Game Center issue for iOS 6 Updated More Games functionality

Deals: expand full story

Siri promo video (text message reply 001)AFP reported Apple is in court in Shanghai, China again today, but this time it’s over a lawsuit alleging the company copied components of Siri’s speech recognition software. According to the report, Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology Co. claimed in pretrial proceedings that Apple infringed its patent related to voice recognition technology via Siri. While the suit notes that development of Siri began in 2007, there is no mention of Nuance. Apple currently partners Nuance with to implement the speech recognition component in Siri, and it is also a market leader that presumably has its own arsenal of speech recognition related patents.

Zhizhen says it patented its “Xiao i Robot” software in 2004, while Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.

“The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple’s infringement is confirmed,” Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP.

“We don’t exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future,” he added.

The company is behind Siri-like software called ‘Xiao i Robot’ that it claimed was first developed before Siri in 2004. The technology is apparently available on some smart TVs and enterprise applications, but it doesn’t appear to be available as a consumer-facing app for smartphones or tablets. The video below appeared online when the company originally filed suit against Apple last year, and it shows the Xiao i Robot software running on a Lenovo smartphone:

9to5toys 

March 26, 2013

t-mobile-iphoneAs expected, T-Mobile has just officially announced it will carry the iPhone 5 as part of its ‘Uncarrier’ event today in New York City to unveil its new no-contract, no subsidy pricing plans. According to the company’s press release, the iPhone 5 will be available April 12 nationwide for $99.99 down plus an additional monthly payment of $20 per month for 24 months. Pre-orders for the device will begin on April 5 through T-Mobile’s website.

Although that will allow you to get an iPhone 5 for around $579 compared to $649 at retail, the device will be locked to T-Mobile until its paid off. However, with no contract, you’ll be able to walk away for cost of the device.

The company will also offer the iPhone 4s for $69.99 down and $20 per month for 24 months and the iPhone 4 for $14.99 down and $15 per month for 24 months in select markets.

T-Mobile announced today that qualifying customers can get an iPhone 5 for $99.99 down, plus monthly payments. T-Mobile is the only major U.S. wireless company to offer iPhone 5 with no annual service contract plus unlimited talk, text and Web on a screaming-fast nationwide 4G network. And because there are no annual contracts, customers make the decision when to upgrade their devices — not the carrier.

As for iPhone 5 plans on T-Mobile, the company will offer just one Simple Choice Plan that starts at a base $50 per month for unlimited talk and text and 500MB of data. Users can bump up to unlimited data for an extra $20 and add a second line for $30 (plus $10 per month for each additional line).

T-Mobile noted that iPhone customers would also have access to a number of free premium benefits including nationwide HD voice (the only carrier to offer the wideband audio feature), smartphone mobile hotspot, and talk and surf with truly unlimited 4G: expand full story

Logitech, a company that makes a number of well-made iOS accessories we’ve enjoyed in the past, today announced a new line up of iPad keyboard folios. Available for both the full-sized iPad and iPad mini, Logitech   said its goal with the new Keyboard Folio and Keyboard Folio mini was to bring its “award-winning typing experience” to a case that offers high quality materials, a variety of colors, and “an extra layer of protection.”

Marrying aesthetics and practicality, Logitech combined sophisticated materials with a clean industrial design, to evoke personal style while helping to minimize the risk of damage to your tablet. Taking protection and convenience to the next level, Logitech has included magnetic closures to further help minimize the risk of damage to your tablet while in transit, and a hands-free flip stand offers two comfortable viewing angles so you can enjoy your iPad or iPad mini in the perfect position. The Logitech Keyboard Folio also features instant On/Off functionality that wakes your tablet when you open the cover and puts it to sleep when you close it, helping to preserve your tablet’s battery life.

We’re big fans of Logitech’s keyboards, as you might have known from our previous reviews of its Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover, Solar Keyboard Folio, and Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad mini. 

As for colors, it looks like Logitech is offering the larger Keyboard Folio in black, yellow, blue, and pink, while the Mini variant is available to pre-order in light and dark shades of blue.

The new Logitech Keyboard Folio for the full-sized iPad is expected to land in Europe and the United States next month for $99.99, while the iPad mini version will be available in May for $89.99. Pre-orders are live on Logitech’s website now. Logitech gave a hands-on with the new cases below: expand full story

9to5google 

german-court-suspends-apple-samsung-slide-to-unlock-lawsuit-1084

Research firm IDC is out today with its latest report on the smart-connected device market, and it includes worldwide shipments of desktop PCs, notebook PCs, smartphones, and tablets. IDC predicted the market in total grew 29.1-percent year over year in 2012, crossing 1 billion units shipped and hitting a total value of $576.9 billion. According to the report, Apple significantly closed the gap on Samsung during the last quarter of the year. It jumped from 15.1-percent in Q3 to 20.3-percent of unit shipments in Q4 2012. That brings the company up right behind market leader Samsung, which dropped slightly from 21.8-percent to 21.2-percent in the fourth quarter:

Looking specifically at the results for the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), combined shipments of desktop PCs, notebook PCs, tablets, and smartphones was nearly 378 million and revenues were more than $168 billion. In terms of market share, Apple significantly closed the gap with market leader Samsung in the quarter, as the combination of Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPad Mini brought Apple up to 20.3% unit shipment share versus 21.2% for Samsung.

Not surprisingly, Apple dominated Samsung when it came to revenue share. It took in 30.7-percent of the market compared to just 20.4-percent for Samsung by revenue:

On a revenue basis for the fourth quarter, Apple continued to dominate with 30.7% share versus 20.4% share for Samsung.

Apple’s increase is likely thanks to strong iPad and iPad mini sales, as growth in the market was “largely driven by 78.4-percent year-over-year growth in tablet shipments.” IDC expected tablet shipments to outgrow desktop PCs by the end of this year, while the tablet market could surpass the portable PC market in 2014 and provide Apple with even more opportunity to outgrow Samsung for total connected smart device shipments this year and next: expand full story

March 25, 2013

t-mobile-iphone

We speculated previously that we might see Apple devices at T-Mobile’s upcoming event in New York, and a report from Cnet today claimed the company would indeed talk iPhone tomorrow at its event in New York:

Yep, T-Mobile will finally get the iPhone. Apple’s flagship device, long a gap in T-Mobile’s smartphone line-up, will play a prominent role in tomorrow’s “Uncarrier” event, according to a person familiar with the launch plans.

We knew from previous comments by T-Mobile execs that the iPhone would likely land on the carrier through its new “uncarrier” contract-free plans sometime this month or next.

It’s not certain if pricing or specific release dates would be announced tomorrow, but the device would be used to highlight the carrier’s plans of offering new no-contract, no subsidy smartphone plans. The report noted that the iPhone would not be immediately available following tomorrow’s event.

T-Mobile’s new plans offer users unlimited talk and text with tiered data options and a $70 plan that includes unlimited data, and they were previously leaked and went live on the carrier’s website over the weekend.

T-Mobile USA announced in last year that it had struck an agreement with Apple to begin supporting Apple products in 2013. The carrier’s chief executive, John Legere, later told Reuters the company planned to introduce the iPhone, eliminate cellphone subsidies, and introduce new, flexible pricing plans for customers within 3 to 4 months.

iPhone 4S launch in China (image 001)

Controversy over Apple’s warranty policies in China started up earlier this month after a report from state-controlled media outlets such as China Central Television criticized the company for treating consumers unfairly with its warranty and repair procedures compared to other countries. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Chinese government appears to be going after Apple for failing to respond to requests for interviews and providing a response to the criticisms through an article in the state-run People’s Daily newspaper:

The People’s Daily newspaper, the party’s traditional mouthpiece, in a front-page article on Monday accused the electronics maker of declining journalists’ requests for interviews and issuing an “empty and self-praising” response to a recent critical report by China’s national television broadcaster. The article was accompanied by a cartoon with a figure representing the company, saying, “Apple statement: empty.

Though it can be difficult to predict government behavior based on news coverage in China’s state-run media, analysts said the string of attacks suggested that the government is considering doing more to encourage the growth of domestic smartphone companies and eat away at dominant foreign companies, such as Apple.

The initial reports claimed Apple was providing customers in China with service that differed from other countries. For example: providing repaired phones or recycled components, while giving customers in the United States new replacement devices. It was also followed by posts online from Chinese celebrities against Apple that some think was a coordinated effort to attack the company. WSJ noted that Apple responded through a message on its Chinese website on the weekend, claiming that its warranty policies are “more or less the same” in every country: expand full story

electrek 

GM announced in November 2012 that it would bring the Siri’s Eyes Free feature to the Chevy Sonic and Spark vehicles in 2013, and it officially became the first company last month to offer the enhanced Siri integration in its vehicles. GM has today kicked off a new marketing campaign to highlight the feature that allows drivers to activate Siri through a dedicated button on the steering wheel in its 2013 Sonic.

Apple originally announced a number of automakers that would include support for the feature in future vehicles, including: BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. Honda confirmed earlier this year that Siri Eyes Free would be available in its 2013 Accord, Acura RDX, and ILX models.

Some more videos showing off Siri Eyes Free are below:

expand full story

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