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Samsung requests source code in effort to ban iPhone 4S in Australia

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Samsung recently asked Apple to provide it with source code for the the firmware used in its iPhone 4S, ZDNET reported on Tuesday. The South Korea-based phone maker also asked for details on Apple's subsidy agreements with Australian carriers Vodafone, Optus and Telstra. The moves were part of an ongoing lawsuit in which Samsung has accused Apple of infringing on three of its patents. Apple believes Samsung has no need to access the information, but Samsung's lawyer argued that there are fewer subsidies available for Samsung's products if subsidies are given for the iPhone 4S. Additionally, the source code may be just as important in proving that Apple is infringing on patents. Read on for more.

“Based on the accompanying firmware, can tell how the chips are working in the phones,” Samsung counsel Cynthia Cochrane explained to the court. “To form a final view on whether patent 621 is infringed, needs to see the documents that set out the source code for that firmware.” Earlier this year Apple accused Samsung of creating “copycat” devices and successfully banned Samsung's Australian subsidiaries from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Similar lawsuits are ongoing around the world, including in Japan, the Netherlands, France and the United States.

Siri said to be driving force behind huge iPhone 4S sales

Strong sales of Apple's new iPhone 4S smartphone can be attributed in large part to Siri, Apple's new virtual personal assistant, one analyst believes. The Cupertino, California-based company launched the iPhone 4S in just seven markets on October 14th, and it later reported that sales of the new model surpassed 4 million units during the device's opening weekend alone. In the U.S., Sprint said the iPhone launch brought the carrier its "best ever day of sales," and AT&T confirmed that it activated more than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets in less than a week. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu claims Apple's success with the handset is due in large part to Siri. Read on for more.

Siri raised eyebrows and piqued interest when Apple first revealed the new feature during a press conference last month, and many wondered if Siri was enough to distinguish the iPhone 4S from Apple's previous-generation iPhone 4. According to a research note from Wu, the answer is yes.

“Despite global macroeconomic headwinds, Apple continues to defy conventional wisdom with a higher-end product mix,” Wu wrote in a note to investors. “Talking to industry sources, what's driving the 4S is better than expected reception of its new Siri software.”

The Sterne analyst says Siri separates itself from similar solutions on competing devices by working more reliably and by allowing users to speak conversationally. ”What makes Siri unique and different is that its voice recognition works well (unlike competing solutions which are unreliable) and also offers artificial intelligence (AI) in helping interpret user commands and answer questions.”

Wu reiterated his Buy rating on Apple stock, and he believes Apple will sell 26 million iPhone handsets in the December quarter.

Czech carrier refuses iPhone 4S, dumps earlier iPhones citing Apple's business terms

Czech carrier Telefonica Czech Republic will not sell Apple's new iPhone 4S smartphone, one of the fastest-selling consumer electronics devices to launch in recent history. According to a recent report from local Czech newspaper Hospodarske Noviny, the carrier will also stop selling all prior iPhone models. Details are limited, but a spokesperson for the carrier cited Apple's business terms as the reason for the decision. Telefonica Czech Republic's Hany Farghali did not elaborate, though Apple's iPhone reportedly commands a much higher carrier subsidy than competing smartphone models - as much as 40% higher, reports claim - and that could be a factor. Telefonica Czech Republic's local competition, operated by Vodafone and T-Mobile, began selling the iPhone 4S late last month.

Square updates Card Case, enables hands-free payment on the iPhone

Those of you living in a city graced by Square's Card Case have been gleefully opening tabs and making plastic-free payments at select merchants since May. Starting today, iPhone users will now save precious seconds of shopping time as opening tabs has been automated - as soon as you're close enough to designated establishments, tabs open themselves courtesy of new geo-fencing APIs exposed in iOS 5. For those who are unfamiliar, the previous iPhone and Android apps required users to manually open those tabs from within the vicinity of a Square-approved merchant. After that, users complete purchases as before by simply confirming their name to a store clerk. That's one more step in society's never-ending quest for frictionless payments, but those with an evil twin or a stalking doppelgänger might want to think twice before joining the Square revolution.

Gmail app on iPad and iPhone hands-on

We've been clamoring for a dedicated Gmail app on iOS for so long that, now that there's one available, we couldn't help but take it for a test drive. Once installed the thing differentiates itself from the previous, HTML5-based app by using a darker, more mysterious black background for the app icon. Otherwise it's the same white and red envelope. Open that up and the app inside looks mighty familiar too. Join us after the break for some quick impressions.

On either the iPhone or the iPad the experience is much like the HTML5-based apps we've used before. On the phone (or iPod touch) the main view is a simple list of messages within the current label. Tap "menu" and a black bar pops in from the left, enabling your selection of other labels. We haven't yet found a way to specify which of those is kept in sync for offline viewing, but hopefully that's something coming in a future release.

Composing new emails does allow for attachments, but otherwise this offers little more functionality than we had before, and less than is found on the Android version - most notably, if you have multiple accounts fed into your Gmail account, you can't choose which of those to send a message from.

On the iPad it's the same functionality just presented with a three-column view: list of labels, list of emails within the current label and a view of the current email on the far right. It's clean and workable but sadly a bit buggy. We had to reboot our iPad before it would let us sign in and we got notification-related errors upon launching both apps for the first time. We also had issues with content falling off the right side of the screen, partially obscured from view.

But, the good news is the apps do now support notifications, so you'll always know when someone wants a reply. Ultimately the apps don't rock the boat, but they're a start and an encouraging step toward proper Gmail platform independence.

The official Gmail app for iPhone, iPad is officially official

Well, it's about bloody time. Google has finally taken wraps off of its official iOS Gmail app. It's live now in the iTunes App Store for use with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The new app offers a number of "time-saving features," including push notifications for new message alerts, quick message search and email address auto-complete from your Apple device's address book. The iPad version also offers up a split view, to read messages and check out your inbox at the same time. On the efficiency side, the Priority Inbox shows your important messages first, and the app also lets your sort messages via labels and stars. Swiping down will refresh the messages and swiping right gives you a quick view of your labels. Gmail will work with devices running iOS 4 and higher

iPhone 4S Battery Life Woes: Details and Solutions

A growing number of iPhone 4S owners are reporting battery problems with Apple's newest handheld. The device seems to be draining unusually quickly during both regular use and when on standby.

Users in Apple forums are describing battery life drops of up to 20 percent in the span of a single hour of light usage. Others report losing 10 to 15 percent of their battery life while they're sleeping — something very troubling if you rely on your iPhone as an alarm clock.

“My battery life is terrible,” one person in the forum wrote. “I was iMessaging my friend about it (on Wi-Fi) and over the course of 12-15 minutes I lost 10 percent battery life.”

Another said he was issued a new phone after reporting the issue.

The problem is primarily affecting 4S owners, but some iPad and iPhone 4 owners are reporting similar battery problems since upgrading to iOS 5. (We in the Gadget Lab, however, haven't had any problems since making the OS leap.)

Although Apple hasn't yet officially commented on the issue, according to The Guardian, some of those affected by battery life problems have been contacted by Apple's engineers. One individual said that Apple called and, after asking a number of questions about his usage habits, asked him to install a monitoring program so that they could better diagnose the problem.

The iPhone 4S has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It's supposed to provide up to 8 hours of 3G talk time (14 hours of 2G), and standby time of up to 200 hours. For more power-intensive activities, battery life suffers accordingly. Heavy Internet use drops total battery life to 6 hours on 3G, and 9 hours on WiFi. Interestingly, watching video will give you 10 hours of battery life on the 4S — two more hours than continuous phone usage.

Although the 4S has a slightly larger capacity battery than what you'll find in an iPhone 4, the iPhone 4 is supposed to get 100 more hours of standby time. The battery-draining culprit? More demanding hardware. The iPhone 4S has a beefed up A5 processor and several other hardware upgrades. And this isn't the first time an “S” version has vexed iPhone users. When the iPhone 3GS debuted, it also suffered from battery life complaints.

Despite a growing reputation for battery life problems, iPhone 4S sales continue to be strong. The device debuted in more than 20 European countries last week, and on November 11 will begin launching in a slew of other spots around the globe, including potentially big markets like Hong Kong and South Korea. And in case you're wondering: No, the battery life issues have not been pinpointed to one particular service area or geographical location.

If you're suffering from iPhone 4S battery drain, there are a few solutions you can try. Many users have reported improved battery life after draining the device completely (or rather, until the almost-spent device powers off itself), and then letting it fully charge back up, uninterrupted.

Another user in Apple's forums found that disabling the calendar in his Exchange mail account, and then enabling it again, dramatically improved battery life.

If neither of those fixes seem to help, try adjusting your settings. In addition to normal battery-saving techniques like lowering screen brightness, turning off Wi-Fi, and switching to Airplane Mode (if you can handle being off the grid), you can turn off all location-based services, or just those on specific apps. You can also switch off push updating for email, and manually fetch mail instead. Check out this article on Gizmodo for more details and additional tips.

Are you experiencing iPhone 4S battery drain? Share your problems (or lack thereof) in the comments.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired

C-Spire Releases iPhone 4S With Unlimited Data

C-Spire is ready to release the iPhone 4S on November 11, 2011 via its online store. The network carrier will offer the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions of the iPhone 4S, as well as an 8GB version of iPhone 4. Pricing starts at $99 on-contract for the 8GB iPhone 4, and going up to $399 for the 64GB iPhone 4S. [Ubergizmo]

GarageBand for iPhone: First Hands-On Impressions

Get ready, street musicians: Today Apple released its popular music-making app GarageBand for the iPhone. Now you can jam away on a set of onscreen drums, or strum a touch-based Smart Guitar, to compose musical masterpieces wherever you may be.

The slimmed down iPhone app has all the features of the iPad app: a multi-touch interface with Smart Instruments (to piece together pre-assembled musical bits) and Touch Instruments (for those who want to play and record their own instrumental tracks). You can also record vocal tracks using the device's built-in mic, and (with the help of an adapter) plug an electric guitar directly into your iDevice and record tunes through GarageBand's amp and stompbox effects.

In total, GarageBand helps you knock out impromptu jam sessions, all without having to lug around a bunch of equipment.

Naturally, the iPhone-version of GarageBand is shrunk down for a 3.5-inch screen.  My app experience on an iPhone 4 was smooth, without any force quits or stutters. And, not surprisingly, it was fun to tap away at the onscreen keyboard and drum set using only my thumbs. I made a complete (albeit heinous-sounding) song in a matter of minutes. So, if you're looking for a solid music-making app to jot down song ideas or even create passable tunes while you're wiling away time on your evening commute, GarageBand is the answer.

GarageBand was first launched as a Mac application, and later ported to the iPad with the launch of the iPad 2 in March 2011. "This is no toy," Steve Jobs said of GarageBand on the iPad. "This is something you can use for real work." Since then, a number of enterprising companies have released capacitive touch tools, such as guitar picks and drum sticks, that you can use with the app.

The iPhone-version of Garage Band is, like the iPad counterpart, a big download. At over 501MB, it took me at least five minutes over a Wi-Fi connection to complete the installation.

The app opens quickly, and operates only in landscape mode. Navigation is intuitive, and will be familiar to anyone who's ever used similar music-making and recording software.

You select an instrument to play, adjust settings like reverb and echo if you're not happy with the app's defaults, and then tap away at a virtual instrument interface, hitting the record button if you're ready to commit your work to, er, memory. Most of the instruments and tools look identical to their iPad counterparts, but there are a few small variations, such as in the piano, which has only eight keys instead of 15.

In the upper right-hand corner of the app, you'll find an icon that lets you make adjustments to a single track, section or song. In the upper left-hand corner, you can click for a pop-over menu that will take you back to the songs or instruments panel, or let you swap between different forms of your current instrument (like for the piano, you can choose between options like Grand Piano, Smooth Clav, Classic Rock Organ, or Electric Piano).

Next to that, there's an icon that lets you switch from instrument view to song editing view. The editing view shows each of your recorded tracks so far, with opportunities to adjust, edit and loop sections.

Using Smart Instruments is a sure-fire way to create a song that doesn't sound like it was hacked out by a team of rabid baboons. In this respect, GarageBand succeeds as a music-making device for people with no musical training whatsoever.

But what if you have musical experience — is GarageBand for iPhone a legitimate composition device? Not necessarily, as the app's puny user interface is quite cramped. Still, this is an iPhone app, after all, and anyone using it to create music should be well aware that the premium music-making experience will be found on an iPad.

As with the iPad version, you can record and combine up to eight tracks, and then export to GarageBand or Logic Pro on the Mac for a bit more polishing. You can also share your iPhone-made masterpieces via iTunes or email.

The app is a welcome addition to any mildly creative person's iPhone or iPod touch. GarageBand is $5 and is now available for iPhone 3GS and up, 3rd and 4th gen iPod touches, and iPads.

Images: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

iPhone 4S to storm 15 new countries, come November 11

As promised, Apple is expanding the iPhone 4S availability. Their latest and greatest was released on October 14 in seven countries, followed by 22 new countries on October 28.

Currently, the iPhone 4S is already available in USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The iPhone 4S gang is now being expanded throughout Hong Kong, South Korea, Bulgaria, Albania, Armenia, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal and Romania. The official launch in these countries will be on November 11, while the pre-order campaign will start on November 4 (not available in Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro and Panama).

According to Apple the iPhone 4S will become available in more than 70 countries until the end of 2011, which means at least 26 more countries are going to start offering it via official channels.


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