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Steve Jobs poll ends, Fall 2011 lineup poll begins

With over 1,300 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“How do you think Apple will do now that Steve Jobs has resigned?”—has ended. Readers could say that they expected it to continue as it has, continue to make great products but fall behind schedule, become more susceptible to bad ideas, or have issues with both products and timing, with a separate option for those that don’t have an opinion.

A majority of readers—61 percent—said they think Apple will continue as it has, producing great products in a timely fashion. 15 percent said they think it will be become more susceptible to bad ideas, followed by 12 percent that thought it would continue to do well on the product side but might fall behind schedule, and seven percent that thought it would have issues with both products and timing. Another five percent of readers didn’t have an opinion. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on Apple’s new Fall 2011 lineup of iPhones and iPods. We’d like to know if you were planning to buy a new iPhone or iPod, and if so, did Apple’s announcements change your mind? Our new poll—“What’s your reaction to Apple’s Fall 2011 iPhone + iPod lineup?”—lets you answer that question. As always, you can find the iLounge Poll in the left hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Cast your vote today!

Apple to bring 2011 nano features to 2010 models in update

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An internal Apple document has revealed that the company plans to bring all the new features of the 2011 iPod nano to 2010 models in a software update. The “Then and Now” document, published online by 9to5Mac, states that iPod software update version 1.2 will include the larger home screen icons, walk and run fitness features with spoken feedback, and new clock faces to the 2010 models via free download from iTunes. Notably, no release date is given for the update; however, as the 2011 models are available now, it is likely that Apple will release the update for 2010 models in the near future.

Update: iPod nano software update version 1.2 for the 2010 iPod nano is available now as a free download via iTunes’ update feature.

Apple’s 16 new iPod nano clock faces revealed

Among the few changes in Apple’s iPod nano software update version 1.2—which ships on the 2011 iPod nano—is the addition of 16 clock faces to the two originally available on the 2010 model, an apparent acknowledgment from Apple of the popularity of watch accessories for the diminutive touchscreen music player. The new assortment includes a wide variety of faces, including a Nixie tube clock-inspired face, and Disney-licensed character faces featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Kermit the Frog, and Animal. All eighteen are pictured below.

Apple rolls out iPhone Micro USB Adapter in Europe

Apple has rolled out its new iPhone Micro USB Adapter in Europe, upholding its end of a European Commission agreement aimed at standardizing all smartphone chargers. Along with Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, and Texas Instruments signed the agreement which was finalized in 2010 and allowed for just such an adapter. It does not appear that Apple will be including the adapter in iPhone packages in Europe; the iPhone Micro USB Adapter is available for order now and sells for £8, or €9.

Despite rumors, iPod shuffle + classic still available

Rumored to be discontinued amidst an increased focus on touchscreen devices, Apple’s screenless iPod shuffle and Click Wheel-based iPod classic have survived for yet another year. Oddly, while Apple’s Senior Vice-President Phil Schiller acknowledged that the fourth-generation iPod shuffle was not being updated this year—a decision now reflected in Apple’s web pages, which continue to show the same device at its prior 2GB size, $49 price, and colors—he omitted any mention of the iPod classic, which was previously left out of last year’s iPod announcement event as well.

The iPod classic has not been updated since 2009, when it became a single model with a 160GB hard disk, replacing the nearly identical 120GB model introduced in 2008. Apple.com’s web pages continue to show it as a $249 device with 160GB of hard disk capacity, with the same 2.5”, 320x240 screen and two body color options; it is offered as a high-capacity iPod given that no iPhone or iPod touch model exceeds 64GB in capacity.

Apple releases iOS 5 GM seed, SDK

Apple has released its Gold Master seed of iOS 5 to registered developers. Listed as build 9a334, the GM build is likely the last to be seeded prior to the software’s official launch on October 12, and as such can be used to submit iOS 5 applications to the App Store for review. Notably, the iOS 5 GM seed is not available as an over-the-air software update, as has been the case with past iOS 5 beta releases. iOS 5 GM seed, and the accompanying SDK, is available for download now from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple intros AppleCare+ for iPhone

Apple has introduced its new AppleCare+ for iPhone coverage. According to the service’s description, AppleCare+ “extends repair coverage and technical support to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone and adds coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage due to handling, each subject to a $49 service fee.” It also offers phone- or retail store-based troubleshooting, including questions about iOS, built-in iPhone apps, and connectivity issues. AppleCare+ for iPhone must be purchased together with new covered equipment, and is listed as delivering on October 14.

iPod nano, iPod touch updates shown as minor on Apple.com

Apple’s official web pages for the new iPod nano and iPod touch models have been intermittently online since they were announced, and suggest that the updates are as minor as they were portrayed on stage. New iPod nano pages suggest no changes to the body, screen, or colors of the new model, which continues to have a clip on the back and did not regain video camera functionality as was suggested many months ago by a rear shell leak; the most significant changes appear to be the addition of built-in Nike+ support, “Fitness Walk + Run” support, the redesigned one-plus-quarter-quarter icon interface, and the lowered $129/$149 price points. Additionally, the iPod touch does not appear to have gained any new internal functionality beyond what was offered in iOS 5-related software updates; it continues to have an A4 processor with Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities, while the iPhone 4S has gained a dual-core A5 processor with Bluetooth 4.0.

Updated: Despite having pitched the iPod nano as “new” during its presentation and in an accompanying press release, Apple will apparently offer all of the new features as a free version 1.2 software update to the sixth-generation (2010) iPod nano, to be available through the iTunes Store.

New Details on iPhone 4S emerge: weight, Bluetooth 4.0, more

As noted on Apple’s iPhone 4S specs page, the new handset offers Bluetooth 4.0 support. In addition, although Apple touted its improved battery life when talking over 3G, the device’s standby life seems to have taken a considerable 33% drop, from 300 hours on the iPhone 4 to 200 hours on the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S is also slightly heavier at 4.9 ounces than the iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, both of which weigh in at 4.8 ounces.

iPhone 4S to hit 22 more countries Oct. 28, 70 by year end

As part of its iPhone 4S unveiling, Apple today revealed that the iPhone 4S will launch in 22 additional countries on October 28. The nations receiving the phone on that date include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The device will launch in 70 countries overall by the end of the year, with over 100 carriers offering the device.

Apple unveils iPhone 4S: 8MP camera + A5 processor, coming Oct. 14

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Apple today officially announced the iPhone 4S, the fifth iteration of its trend-setting handset. As expected, the iPhone 4S retains the external design of the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4, save for the microSIM slot which is now found on the side opposite the volume buttons. The handset offers dual-mode CDMA + GSM compatibility, and uses a unique antenna system that lets it intelligently switch between two antennas to transmit and receive for improved call quality and faster data speeds—up to 14.4Mbps down. Another standout feature of the phone is the built-in Siri intelligent assistant, which “helps [users] get things done just by asking.” By holding down the Home button, users will be able to ask Siri questions and tell it to complete tasks without needing to manually enter any information. Examples include asking for weather information, directions, setting calendar appointments, composing and replying to text messages, setting reminders, and retrieving information, such as stock quotes or a list of nearby restaurants. The same technology also powers a new dictation feature, which is built into the standard keyboard.

Other new improvements include an all-new eight-megapixel, backlit sensor camera with 33 percent faster capture times, a hybrid IR filter, a five element, f/2.4 lens, and an Apple-designed Image Signal Processor for features like face detection and auto-white balance, 1080p video recording with real-time video image stabilization and real-time temporal noise reduction, a dual-core A5 processor, eight hours of battery life, and support for AirPlay Mirroring. The iPhone 4S will be available in black and white, in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities for $199, $299, and $399 on a two-year contract. The iPhone 4 will now be available in a 8GB capacity, in both black and white, for $99, while the 8GB iPhone 3GS will now be available for free on-contract. Pre-orders will begin on October 7th, with the phone to launch in the U.S.—on Sprint, as well as AT&T and Verizon—Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan on October 14.

Epic Games demos Infinity Blade 2

Epic Games today provided a demonstration of the new graphics capabilities of the iPhone 4S showing Infinity Blade 2 running on the new device. Epic Games President Mike Capps demonstrated graphics and animation that he described as beyond even what is being done on high-end consoles. The game provides a realistic and immersive world running in real-time with hundreds of customizable weapons and detailed animations such as ponds with koi swimming in them. Infinity Blade 2 is being designed to take full advantage of the new A5 dual-core graphics processor in the iPhone 4S; the game is expected to be released on December 1st.

Apple adds white iPod touch model, drops 8GB price

Apple today updated its iPod touch lineup with a white model while dropping the price on the low end unit. Described by Apple executive Phil schiller as the most popular portable game player in the world, the updated unit comes with iOS 5, and thus iCloud, pre-installed, and is priced at $199 for 8GB models—down from $229—$299 for 32GB units, and $399 for 64GB models. The updated fourth-generation iPod touch will be available October 12.

Apple announces iTunes Match for End of October

During today’s iPhone event, Apple also announced the coming general release of its iTunes Match service. Briefly touched on in the spring, iTunes Match is an extension of the company’s iCloud offerings that will allow subscribers to effectively place their entire iTunes music library “in the cloud” by matching content in their iTunes library with those songs already available on the iTunes Store, uploading those songs that don’t match. On iOS 5 devices, iTunes Match will effectively replace the synced music library with the online library, providing users with access to their entire music collection from anywhere a data connection is available.

The service will provide immediate music streaming to iOS 5 devices with the ability to download specific tracks, albums or playlists. Playlists and other iTunes metadata such as rating and play counts will also sync via the iTunes Match service. iTunes Match will initially be available in the U.S. only for $25 per year.

Apple intros “new” iPod nano: refined UI, 8GB/16GB $129/$149

Apple today announced what it described as the “new” iPod nano, a refined version of the touch-screened sixth-generation model. The new iPod nano offers a refined user interface with bigger icons and a variety of clock faces for users who want to use it as a watch. It also features an updated Fitness feature to track walks and runs, suggesting that Nike+ functionality will be offered without any external devices. The new iPod nano is available immediately in seven colors and sells for $129 for the 8GB model and $149 for the 16GB model.

Updated: This article has been updated from the original version, which followed Apple’s claim that the device was “new.” Subsequently released information suggests that all of the new features noted above will be brought to the sixth-generation (2010) iPod nano model as a free version 1.2 software update through iTunes, suggesting that no hardware changes have been made to the “new” device. Spoken feedback previously available during Nike+ runs is now available without the use of Nike+ hardware.

Apple announces iCloud coming Oct 12th

Apple today officially announced the public release of its iCloud service. Introduced in June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, iCloud is a free online service for iOS and OS X users providing support for mail, calendar, contacts, photos, documents and more. Specific features include push Contacts, Calendar and Mail similar to the company’s soon-to-be-discontinued MobileMe service along with several new features: Photostream for syncing photos between iOS devices and desktop computers, storage and synchronization of documents across multiple devices and online backups of iOS device settings and data to the cloud. iCloud requires iOS 5 or OS X 10.7.2 and will be available for sign-up on October 12th. Each iCloud account includes 5GB of free online storage; users can choose to purchase additional storage at annual rates of $20 for 10GB, $40 for 20GB or $100 for 50GB.

Apple announces Find My Friends

During today’s iPhone event Apple unveiled Find My Friends a new application that allows users to locate friends and family who are using iOS devices. The application displays either a list of friends and family who have opted in for location sharing along with approximate distance from the users’ current location or a map showing specific locations. Users will be able to choose when they wish to share their location and set schedules to stop location sharing at specific times. Find My Friends is expected to be available from the App Store on October 12th as a free download.

iOS 5: over 200 new features, arriving October 12

Apple today announced that iOS 5, the latest version of its mobile operating system, will be available as a free download for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users on October 12. The updated software brings with it over 200 new features, including a new Notifications system, Reminders app, Twitter integration, Camera enhancements, expanded iCloud support, Wi-Fi Sync, PC-less setup, and more. iOS 5 will be available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

iOS Update: 250 million devices sold, 500,000 apps

During today’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event, Apple executives Tim Cook and Scott Forstall offered several updates on the company’s iOS platform. Most notably, the company has now sold over 250 million iOS devices, and offers more than 500,000 apps in the App Store, with over 140,000 of those made specifically for the iPad. Overall, more than 18 billion apps have been downloaded from the store, with the rate accelerating to over 1 billion downloads per month. Over 100,000 developers have been seeded with the iOS 5 beta, and over $3 billion has been paid out to app developers. When all iOS devices are counted, the platform is the top mobile operating system with 43 percent of the market.

Apple announces Cards for iOS

During today’s iPhone event Apple debuted Cards, a new iOS application designed to allow users to create professional quality greeting cards on their iPhone to be printed and mailed out directly by Apple. Users will be able to choose between 21 different designs and add their own text and photos and Apple will print out a 4” x 6” letterpress card and mail it to the recipient. Cards mailed to U.S. recipients will be tracked via the U.S. Postal Service barcode and the sender will be notified of delivery status via Push Notification. Cards will be available from the App Store on October 12th. The app will be a free download with in-app purchases used to buy individual cards: $3 for U.S. destinations or $5 for international destinations, includes the card, the envelope and the mailing costs.

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