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Month September 2010

iPhone 4 free case program ends September 30

iPhone 4 antenna issues got you down? There’s an app for that — but only until September 30. Apple has reevaluated the program, and has decided to discontinue it stating that ‘the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought.’ I have to agree, although it is a very real, easily reproducible phenomenon. In practice, I have yet to experience any dropped calls or diminished data speeds in using the iPhone 4 as is. I’ve also noticed that the majority of people I have seen with the phone don’t use a case — and seem perfectly happy with it.

Even still, I’m not one to turn down a free Bumper and neither should you. Other options exist if Apple’s ‘uncase’ is not to your liking. If you’re interested, you can download Apple’s case program app in the App Store, but come October 1, you’ll have to direct antenna-related inquiries to AppleCare — they’ll still be providing free cases for those with issues. The return policy reverts to normal on the first as well.

Source: Apple via Gizmodo

Windows Phone 7 set for October 11 launch?

Chalk this up as probable rumor, but Pocket-lint has confirmed with multiple reliable sources that Microsoft will officially kick off its global launch of Windows Phone 7 on Monday October 11, 2010 at an event in New York City. Windows Phone 7, which recently went Gold Master and has had numerous handsets leak online, is Microsoft’s bid to recapture the smartphone market it once dominated with Windows Mobile.

With the paradigm shift in mobile computing led by Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and its iPhone OS — now iOS — and continued by Google’s open-source entrant Android, Windows Mobile has slipped to near oblivion in mobile OS market share. Microsoft is betting big on its complete do-over having built Windows Phone 7 from scratch to better compete in an increasingly consumer-oriented phone economy, hoping its unique blend of services can alleviate its tardiness to market. With a portfolio that boasts the likes of Zune, Xbox, Office, Exchange, and Silverlight — all ready to seamlessly integrate into the Windows Phone 7 experience — Microsoft may be late to the party, but still has a viable chance of becoming the belle of the ball.

Source: Pocket-lint via Engadget

Apple lifts ban on third-party dev tools, publishes App Store review guidelines

Unreal Engine 3 demo

In a surprising turn of events, Apple announced today in a press release that they are now allowing developers the freedom to use third-party tools to create iOS apps ‘as long as the resulting apps do not download any code.’ Apple claims that this will give developers ‘the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.’

Previously, Apple’s developer agreement had explicitly stated that ‘only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).’ The new terms allow developers the liberty to use third-party tools like Appcelerator and Adobe Flash CS5, interpreters like Lua, and ported engines like Unreal — used to create the stunning Epic Citadel demo pictured above — to further innovate in app space.

In the same press release, Apple revealed that it was publishing its App Store review guidelines in an effort to bring as much transparency to the App Store review process for developers as possible — a step that should be welcomed by any developer who has had an app rejected or relegated to limbo with little reason as to why. The guidelines — described as a ‘living document’ presumably open to evolutionary change — are written in a surprisingly candid, even informal tone. ‘We don’t need any more Fart apps’ the introduction proclaims. Apple is right on the mark there, and hopefully, its actions today will encourage and enable developers to produce less iCrap and more Epic Citadel.

For a copy of the press release and App Store review guidelines, hop on after the break. Continuing coverage and analysis is also provided in the source links at the end of the article.

iOS 4.1 ready for download, adds Game Center, HDR photos

iOS 4.1 is up on iTunes. Enjoy!

Google Instant now live — Search button on notice

Wonder what that kinetic logo Google showed off on their homepage yesterday was meant to symbolize? Besides being the 12 year anniversary that marks the founding of the now ubiquitous search giant, it looks like it was a hint of what’s to come, namely, instant search. Now, when you search in Google, you will be greeted with predictive search results as you type. The feature should roll out to everyone within the next few days, so go ahead and just type to search. RIP Search button.

Source: Google

Samsung introduces Orion, 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor

And you thought Hummingbird was all that? Orion will be leading the charge of A9 Cortex processors that include Tegra 2, OMAP 4, Snapdragon 2, and the mythical Apple A5. Expect to see actual handsets powered by The Hunter in the first half of 2011.

Press Release:

Samsung Introduces High Performance, Low Power Dual CORTEXTM – A9 Application Processor for Mobile Devices

TAIPEI, Taiwan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in advanced semiconductor solutions, today introduced its new 1GHz ARM® CORTEXTM A9-based dual-core application processor, codenamed Orion, for advanced mobile applications. Device OEM developers now have a powerful dual processor chip platform designed specifically to meet the needs of high-performance, low-power mobile applications including tablets, netbooks and smartphones. Samsung’s new processor will be demonstrated at the seventh annual Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum held here in Taiwan at the Westin Taipei Hotel.

“Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go,” said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. “Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung’s newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life.”

Designed using Samsung’s 45 nanometer low-power process technology, Orion features a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores, each comes with a 32KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache. Samsung also included a 1MB L2 cache to optimize CPU processing performance and provide fast context switching in a multi-tasking environment. In addition, the memory interface and bus architecture of Orion supports data intensive multimedia applications including full HD video playback and high speed 3D action games.

Samsung’s new application processor incorporates a rich portfolio of advanced multimedia features implemented by hardware accelerators, such as video encoder/decoder that supports 30fps video playback and recording at 1080P full HD resolution. Using an enhanced graphics processing unit (GPU), the new processors are capable of delivering 5 times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung.

For design flexibility and system BOM cost reduction, Orion integrates a set of interfaces commonly used in mobile devices to configure various peripheral functionalities. For example, with this processor, customers have the choice to use different types of storage including NAND flash, moviNANDTM, SSD or HDD providing both SATA, and eMMC interfaces. Customers can also choose their appropriate memory options including low power LPDDR2 or DDR3, which is commonly used for high performance. In addition, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver baseband processor is embedded in the processor to seamlessly support location based services (LBS), which is critical in many emerging mobile applications.

Orion features an onboard native triple display controller architecture that compliments multi-tasking operations in a multiple display environment. A mobile device using the Orion processor can simultaneously support two on-device display screens, while driving a third external display such as a TV or a monitor, via an on-chip HDMI 1.3a interface.

Orion is designed to support package-on-package (POP) with memory stacking to reduce the footprint. A derivative of Orion, which is housed in a standalone package with a 0.8mm ball pitch, is also available.

Samsung’s new dual-core application processor, Orion, will be available to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2010 and is scheduled for mass production in the first half of 2011.

Source: Samsung via Engadget

iOS ousts Linux to become 3rd most popular Web platform

A recent study by Net Applications has found that iOS now has 1.13% of global internet market share compared to 0.85% for Linux and 0.20% for Android as of the end of August 2010. That makes iOS the third most popular Web platform on the planet only three years after its debut. Microsoft Windows is still top dog with a commanding 91.34% while Mac OS is second at a respectable but declining 5.00%.

I’d love to see these numbers again a few years from now. With mobile internet use set to overtake desktop use within the next five years, I would not be surprised to see iOS and Android firmly entrenched in the top three.

Source: Net Applications via TiPb

Larry Ellison hires Mark Hurd as co-president of Oracle

Despite an impressive track record at Hewlett-Packard, I am not a big fan of former HP CEO Mark Hurd who was ousted from his position after an investigation by the company board into an inappropriate relationship with an independent contractor revealed fudged expense reports. Larry Ellison, CEO and founder of Oracle — and close friend of Mark Hurd — begs to differ, going so far is to say HP’s dismissal of Hurd was “the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”

Although I tend to believe Mr. Ellison says some pretty controversial things, many with which I do not agree, I do admire that he took the initiative to hire a man whom he holds in such high professional esteem. At the very least, his actions are in line with his words — however off tangent they may seem to be.

Source: New York Times via Daring Fireball

Samsung Galaxy Tab officially outed at IFA, September release, price TBA

With the holidays fast approaching — and its tablet already making some teasing appearances online —  it was only a matter of time before Samsung officially introduced its first direct competitor to Apple’s iPad. On Thursday, before its press conference at IFA 2010, Samsung went public with the Galaxy Tab.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will run Android 2.2, aka Froyo, with a TouchWiz 3.0 overlay on a 7″ Super TFT capacitive touchscreen with 1024 x 600 resolution (WSVGA). The Tab will be powered by Samsung’s own 1GHz Hummingbird SoC that it introduced in its Galaxy S line of phones — an ARM Cortex A8 chip very similar to Apple’s A4. It will boast a PowerVR SGX540 GPU for graphics applications.

As far as connectivity, the Galaxy Tab that was revealed will have quad-band GSM/EDGE and tri-band 3G. Although not officially announced, expect a CDMA version to debut on Verizon before the year is out. The Tab will also sport 5GHz dual-band 802.11n WiFi, A-GPS, and Bluetooth 3.0. Additional features include a 3.5mm headphone jack, an integrated speaker, a 3 megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video equipped with an LED flash, and a VGA webcam on the front for video calls. The Galaxy tab will be available with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in flash memory with a microSD slot allowing for up to 32GB of additional storage.

Unlike the iPad, the Galaxy Tab will be able to make voice calls, although it lacks a dedicated earpiece. The Tab will also be capable of playing full 1080p HD video as well as Adobe Flash content. Along with Flash Player 10.1, Swype, Google Navigation, and ThinkFree are a few more killer apps preloaded onto the device. The 4000mAh battery should be capable of 7 hours of video watching or 1000 minutes of talk time.

Samsung plans to launch the tablet some time in September — first in Europe, then Korea, the US, and Asia in the following months. There has been no official word on pricing, although don’t be surprised to see the Galaxy Tab commanding a price tag of over $1000 overseas completely unlocked. Here in the States, I would expect the price to be between $300 to $500 after carrier subsidies to be competitive with Apple’s iPad. It will be interesting to see how the Galaxy Tab will fare with consumers if it requires them to sign another contract. Having said that, it certainly seems like a distinct, viable alternative to the iPad that should attract a loyal following.

Continue on to see Samsung’s Galaxy Tab YouTube commercial and to read their official press release.

Verizon Wireless set to offer prepaid smartphones

I’m surprised that it has taken this long for a US carrier to do this — and shocked that it was Big Red who took the lead — but with the recent success of prepaid cellular services here in the States, it was inevitable. Starting on September 28, Verizon Wireless prepay customers can sign up for an unlimited prepaid 3G data package for $30 per month. What makes this truly remarkable, though, is that you are not limited to the usual paltry selection of lackluster phones. All of Verizon’s Android phones, Palm’s Pre and Pixi Plus, and select BlackBerry models are available with the new plan. Sure, you still have to pay full retail price for the phone and add in minutes and text messages as needed, but that isn’t different from any other prepaid service. That you are getting a top-notch smartphone with prepaid service and no contract on the nation’s most reliable network is the game-changer here. Regardless of how you feel about Verizon, there is no question that this move fills a niche that can only net Big Red more green. Now, if only there were a prepaid data-only plan. Can you hear me now, Verizon?

Source: Engadget