Amazon May Launch Smartphone with 3D Capabilities in September

amazon_logo_2Amazon is gearing up to release its long-rumored smartphone later this year to directly compete with offerings from Apple and Samsung, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, the company has been showing off prototypes of its handsets to developers in San Francisco and Seattle in recent weeks, with Amazon likely announcing the phone by the end of June and launching it by the end of September.

The people said Amazon hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses, these people said. They said the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram, the people said.

Rumors of the phone first surfaced in July of 2012, where it was reported that the company was working with Foxconn on the device. Last May, another report noted that the smartphone would join other products to complement Amazon’s popular line of Kindle tablets and E-readers.

The news comes as Apple is expected to ship its next-generation iPhone later this year, which may come in two different sizes: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Recent reports have noted that the 4.7 inch version will ship in the third quarter of 2014, while the larger version may ship later due to production issues.

Along with a larger screen, both models of the iPhone 6 are expected to include a faster A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 1GB of RAM, and camera improvements in the form of optical image stabilization.




Apple Blocks Bloom.fm iAd Advertising Ahead of U.K. iTunes Radio Launch

London-based streaming-music service Bloom.fm says it has been blocked from advertising on Apple’s iAd network because it is a threat to the Cupertino company’s iTunes radio, reports CNET. Similar to iTunes Radio, Bloom.fm offers genre and artist-based streaming radio stations with a library of over 22 million tracks.

“We were surprised at Apple’s decision to ban us from their iAd network as their iTunes Radio service isn’t even available in the UK,” the spokesman told CNET. “Bloom.fm gives you 22 million tracks for £1 a month — the price of a single download on iTunes — so I can see why they’d want to protect their business.”

Apple may be blocking Bloom.fm as it prepares to launch its iTunes Radio service in the U.K. The service debuted in the U.S. alongside the release of iOS 7 last fall and was recently extended to Australia. It is expected to debut in the U.K. sometime in early 2014.

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Over the past several months, some iPhone owners in the U.K. have reported intermittent connections to the iTunes Radio service, suggesting Apple is in the final stages of preparing the product for an imminent launch. Bringing iTunes Radio to countries worldwide is a top priority for Apple, says senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue, who confirmed the company plans to offer the service “in more than 100 countries.”




Apple’s Former Safari Chief Don Melton Reflects on Steve Jobs

jobs_poseDon Melton has a long history with Steve Jobs and Apple, working at NeXT and then moving to Apple where he is known for his work on Safari and WebKit. To commemorate Steve Jobs’ birthday earlier this year, Melton recounted his memorable encounters with Jobs in a post he recently published on his blog.

Melton was not a confidant of Jobs, just an employee who had the opportunity to be around the Apple co-founder on occasion. Jobs likely thought of Melton as the “Safari Guy” and knew Melton’s real name, which was considered an honor.

Melton recounts the first time he met Steve Jobs at a NeXT presentation in the late 80s that unfortunately was scheduled during everyone’s lunch break. Like many encounters with Jobs, Melton remembered Jobs’ demeanor, but not a word of what he said.

Obviously he wanted us to quiet down. You could tell because he paused several times for us to hush ourselves. And out of respect, awe, and probably some fear, we all tried our best to do so. But, dammit, the room was now packed and that many people just swallowing food makes a lot of noise. Sitting so close, I felt especially self-conscious.

Who the hell scheduled him to speak at that time? Knucklehead. It’s entirely possible that person was taken out later and shot.

Anyway, I do remember Steve’s seriousness and apparent impatience that day. But not a thing he said.

Melton paints Jobs not as a “mercurial ogre or cartoon autocrat,” but as a very busy CEO with little time for “yes men,” timid employees or those who didn’t know what they were doing.

Steve expected excellence. Which is why he so often got it.

He knew when something was right, but he didn’t always tell you what he wanted when it wasn’t. And he was very clear when he didn’t like it. Some misinterpreted this behavior as being overly critical, but it was actually time-saving clarity, albeit uncomfortable on occasion.

Melton has several interesting tidbits about his work on Safari, including Jobs’ distaste for the stand-alone bookmarks window in the web browser and the decision to add a page load indication into Safari’s address bar, a design decision that eventually hurt Safari’s reputation because the “in-your-face progress bar made it seem slower to the user.”

Beyond his work persona, Melton also shares some stories about the personal side of Jobs, the real man who has children and, at one point, a cranky new puppy. Melton ends his story with his somber memories of Steve in his final years, dealing with a disease that “had ravaged him.” Melton’s piece is long, but worth a read for his insight into a corporate leader who was intense, but also real.





Apple Confirms ‘Heartbleed’ Security Issue Did Not Affect Apple Software and ‘Key Services’

heartbleed_200Apple today released a statement to Re/code confirming that iOS, OS X and “key web services” were unaffected by the widely publicized security flaw known as Heartbleed which was disclosed earlier this week.

“Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson told Re/code.

Heartbleed was a security flaw in the popular open-source software OpenSSL which helps provide secure connections between clients and servers. Due the ubiquity of OpenSSL, Heartbleed is believed to have affected approximately 66% of the internet.

Security blogger Bruce Schneier describes the issue as “catastrophic” and on “the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.” The flaw allowed servers to leak server memory to a malicious attacker, allowing hackers to extract login/password and other private data from a server. Users are recommended to change their passwords on all services that may have been affected. Mashable provides a list of services where you should change your password. Fortunately, MacRumors Forums were unaffected by the security flaw.




High Definition iTunes Music Downloads May Be on the Horizon

ituneslogo.jpgEarlier this week, a report suggested Apple was planning a “dramatic overhaul” of its iTunes Music store to combat declining music downloads, which could include an on-demand streaming music service and an Android version of iTunes.

Apple may also be planning to add high resolution audio downloads to iTunes as part of the revamp, allowing users to download lossless 24-bit audio files. According to music blogger Robert Hutton, who cites an unspecified source, Apple is going to roll out hi-res iTunes music downloads in early June, possibly at WWDC.

For several years, Apple have been insisting that labels provide files for iTunes in 24 bit format – preferably 96k or 192k sampling rate. So they have undeniably the biggest catalog of hi-res audio in the world.

And the Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event – to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes – and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices.

That’s right – Apple will launch hi-res iTunes in two months.

Apple has been working on offering music in a 24-bit format for several years, with a 2011 report suggesting the company was in talks with record labels to increase the quality of iTunes Music. Currently, Apple sells audio files on iTunes in 16-bit lossy AAC format encoded at 256 kbps to minimize file size.

High-definition 24-bit downloads are said to offer better detail, greater depth, and a deeper bass response compared to traditional 16-bit music downloads, but the file sizes are much larger.

Though Apple only offers 16-bit audio files at present, the company does encourage artists to submit music in a 24-bit 96kHz resolution, which it uses to “create more accurate encodes.” Apple accepts the audio files as part of its Mastered for iTunes program, an initiative that has produced higher quality music for the iTunes Store. Because Apple has already accepted 24-bit files for years, it does, presumably, have a large catalog of high quality audio files that could be offered for sale, reportedly at a premium of $1 over traditional iTunes tracks.

Hi-res audio has been gaining popularity in recent years, with music sites such as HDtracks securing deals with multiple major record labels. Recently, musician and song writer Neil Young launched a Kickstarter project for the PonoPlayer, a $399 digital music player designed to play high resolution audio files.

Thus far, the project has earned over $5.7 million, suggesting there is indeed a sizable demand for hi-res audio. Should Apple choose to begin selling 24-bit audio tracks, it could quickly dominate competing sites given its existing user base and boost its digital downloads by appealing to audiophiles unhappy with the current quality of iTunes tracks.

Thanks Phil





T-Mobile Targets Tablets: LTE Models for Price of Wi-Fi, Bonus Free Data Through 2014

T-Mobile US, which has been shaking up the cellular industry in the United States with a series of promotions and policy changes, today made several announcements intended to attract tablet customers to the carrier. There are two key pieces to the initiative:

LTE tablets for the price of Wi-Fi: Under Apple’s standard pricing, LTE iPad models are priced $130 higher than their Wi-Fi equivalents, but T-Mobile’s limited time promotion will allow customers to purchase an LTE iPad from the carrier at Wi-Fi pricing.

If you’re stuck on Wi-Fi, you can now come to T-Mobile and upgrade to a 4G LTE-enabled model for nothing down and pay no more than you’d pay for the cheaper Wi-Fi-only model, with any postpaid activation on a 1GB or more mobile internet plan with no annual service contract. For example, pay the Wi-Fi price of $499 instead of $630 for the 4G LTE-enabled 16GB iPad Air.

24-month interest-free financing with zero money down is also available for qualified customers.

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Bonus 1GB of free data per month through 2014: T-Mobile already offers a free 200 MB data package for tablet owners, and with today’s announcement, T-Mobile voice customers can receive an additional 1 GB of free data per month through the end of the year.

And, for both new and existing customers, T-Mobile is offering $10 off its most popular internet data plans starting April 12th through the end of 2014. For voice customers, what that means is you can get up to 1GB of 4G LTE data free every month through the end of the year. Combined with the 200 MB of free data you already automatically get every month with T-Mobile’s previously announced “Free Data for Life” offer that comes to nearly 1.2GB of free 4G LTE data every month through the end of 2014. If you love living beyond the Wi-Fi zone – and want to keep enjoying that tablet freedom beyond 2014 – you can get it starting at just $10 a month with voice service next year.

T-Mobile also continues to offer its ETF buyouts, allowing customers stuck on service contracts with another carrier to trade-in their devices and receive credits for the termination fees paid to the other carrier.