The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also, this is your last chance to enter our November giveaways for a Geneva Sound System Gold Model S Speaker, iBattz Mojo Battstation Tough Dual Pro battery packs, uNu Ecopak Battery Cases, and the Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 and Signature Stylus. All four giveaways will end tonight—November 30, 2012—at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Four iLounge giveaways end at 11:59 p.m. Pacific tonight—now’s your last chance to enter giveaways for a Geneva Sound System Gold Model S Speaker, iBattz Mojo Battstation Tough Dual Pro battery packs, uNu Ecopak Battery Cases, and the Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 and Signature Stylus. Click the individual links to fill out the forms for each giveaway. Good luck!
Although the iPhone 5 ships by default with 4G/LTE cellular capabilities, Apple only lets mobile operators use the LTE functionality if the carrier passes Apple’s own tests for LTE performance, according to Telecoms.com. A Swisscom spokesperson said, “Apple only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator’s live network.” Unless the tests are passed, an operator is limited to 3G network access. The Apple testing may have been in response to international regulatory attention drawn by the third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G, which was renamed to “Wi-Fi + Cellular” after complaints that the device was not universally achieving 4G/LTE speeds. Apple has not commented on the matter as of yet.
Apple is introducing new denomination-free iTunes retail gift cards that allow customers to purchase iTunes credit ranging from $15 to $500, 9to5Mac reports. Unlike past iTunes gift cards that were pre-printed with $15, $25, $50, or $100 denominations, the new cards rely on the store’s cashier to put the desired amount on the card; a few stores could begin stocking the cards today.
Starbucks has announced a split digital gift card in conjunction with Apple, the Starbucks iTunes (RED) eGift basket. A $30 purchase gets two eGifts — $15 to Starbucks and $15 to iTunes. For every gift sold, Starbucks and iTunes will contribute 5 percent of the purchase price to the Global Fund, which is working to eradicate AIDS in Africa.
In another piece of iTunes gift card news, iTunes 11 now allows gift cards to be redeemed using your computer’s camera. When pressing the “Redeem” button in the iTunes Store, the camera can snap a photo, and iTunes will automatically read the code from the back of the gift card, so the user doesn’t have to enter it manually.
Confirming speculation, Apple has officially announced that the iPhone 5 will be released on Dec. 14 in China, after recently receiving network access approval in China. Notably, no carrier details were announced in the press release, which mentions that sales in China will be restricted to online orders, pre-reserved units at physical Apple Stores, and through select Apple Authorized Resellers—most likely a response to overwhelming and unruly crowds that formed for the prior iPhone launch in China. The company also announced that the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will become available for sale in China on Dec. 7.
JayBird has announced BlueBuds X ($170), a new pair of sport Bluetooth earphones. BlueBuds X are secure-fit, micro-sized earphones, offering eight hours of battery playtime. Listeners benefit from in-ear white noise reduction and Shift, a “custom implementation of the native Bluetooth SBC codec,” a feature that JayBird claims will enable BlueBuds X to rival top-notch wired headphones for purity and sound.
The X-Fit option allows users to wear BlueBuds X over or under ears. Voice prompting, a microphone for calls, and integrated controls are also notable features. BlueBuds X comes with three pairs of ear tips and ear cushions, a standard micro USB cable for charging, and a carrying case. It is available now in black or white.
Known for its iconic clean speaker designs, Geneva has announced a substantially new product called WorldRadio ($300), an audio system with a Bluetooth receiver and digital FM tuner. WorldRadio is Geneva’s take on the classic world receiver, a radio that can receive FM, long- and shortwave radio signals — it can receive FM as well as streaming Internet radio stations from any Bluetooth device. The European DAB+ version can receive digital radio stations, as well.
Featuring an amplifier and full-range loudspeaker, WorldRadio uses a rechargeable battery that offers six hours of music playback. A digital color display with touch controls and alarm clock are also notable features, as is a 3.5 mm input for other audio sources. Geneva WorldRadio will be available in December, in metallic finishes of silver, red, or black.
Apple will sell an unlocked version of the iPhone 5 through its online store, possibly as soon as 9 p.m. tonight, according to a 9to5Mac report. The price range is likely to be $649, $749, and $849 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively. Apple’s retail stores will also sell the unlocked iPhone 5 soon, as the devices have started to arrive at stores. Also noted in the report is an expansion of the Apple Store Personal Pickup program, as customers will be able to reserve devices at any time.
Updated Nov. 30: Apple is now offering the unlocked iPhone 5 at its online store. It only works on GSM networks, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The current limit is two per customer, and shipping time is currently one week, same as all iPhone 5s.
Griffin Technology has announced the first standalone third-party charge/sync Lightning cables. Four cables have been introduced, including the 4’ coiled USB to Lightning Cable ($25), which provides a slightly longer alternative to Apple’s official Lightning to USB Cable, as well as the 3 meter USB to Lightning Cable ($30), which is nearly 10 feet long.
Also announced were the 3’ USB to Lightning Cable ($19), and 2’ USB to Lightning Cable ($17), both sold at roughly the same price as Apple’s version. The cables will be available from Griffin directly on the first week of December.
Alongside iTunes 11, Apple has released a new version of the Remote iOS app for iTunes. Remote version 3.0 is redesigned, featuring an iPad interface that more closely resembles the look of iTunes 11, plus a more powerful search feature that delivers real-time results as you type.
Up Next, which offers a simpler way of seeing the next songs in a playlist, is included, as is an Expanded view that shows all songs on an album. The app is also optimized for the iPhone 5. Remote 3.0 also features new icons for both itself and connected iTunes libraries, now with gray accents rather than black ones.
Alongside iTunes 11 and an updated iOS Remote app, Apple today released Apple TV software version 5.1.1 for the second- and third- generation streaming media boxes.
It initially appears that this update is for compatibility purposes only. As with all Apple TV software, version 5.1.1 can be downloaded directly from the Apple TV’s Settings > General menu.
Apple has officially released iTunes 11. The new iTunes features a simplified player, redesigned Store, and new iCloud features. A considerably redesigned interface focuses on edge-to-edge designs for albums, movies, and TV shows in the iTunes library, and personal recommendations are available when users click In the Store, which has similarly been simplified visually. Purchases in iCloud now appear inside your iTunes library, and can be played directly from iCloud or downloaded as a copy to sync to a device or play offline. Playback syncing is also a possibility with iCloud, which remembers where you left off in a movie or TV show; iTunes will now continue playing right where you left off, no matter what device you use.
iTunes 11 features Up Next, a simple way to see which songs are playing next. Up Next enables users to reorder, add, or skip songs at any point. The new, smaller MiniPlayer includes album art, adds Up Next, and makes searching easier. Apple is also boasting improved search within iTunes, as instant results from your library pop up as you type in the search field. For Mac, iTunes 11 is being updated through the Mac App Store, an iTunes first. Expect some initial downloading time to be followed by behind-the-scenes hard drive grinding as your library is updated in the background after installation.
Notably, the Mac requirements for iTunes 11 are a computer with an Intel Core processor and 512MB of RAM, OS X version 10.6.8 or later, 400MB of available disk space, and a broadband Internet connection; Safari is no longer listed as a required item for iTunes. Windows system requirements are a PC with a 1 GHz Intel or AMD processor and 512 MB of RAM, Windows XP SP2/Vista/7/8, 400 MB of available disk space, and a broadband Internet connection, up from 250MB required for the prior PC version.
A new patent application from Apple reveals the company’s interest in a smarter approach to wireless charging, as the application outlines charging low-power devices from a near-field magnetic resonant (MFMR) power supply. A few watts of electricity could be transferred wirelessly from a NFMR power source, operating about a meter away from the receiving device rather than making physical contact. The filing notes that “a realistic and practical approach to wireless transferring useable amounts of power over distances suitable for limited applications can be realized.”
More than one device could be charged using this technology, as peripheral devices — “when tuned to the appropriate frequency” — could join a circuit to draw power from the NFMR power supply. A dongle could also be used as a range extender. Considering the current watt limitations, it’s possible such a technology could be useful for charging an Pod, iPhone, or possibly even an iPad mini, but likely not a full-sized iPad — at least not for a full-speed charge. However, the fact that charging could take place without the need for wired connections would make this a very viable alternative solution to current chargers. [via Apple Insider]
Satechi has announced the Universal Remote dongle ($25) and RemoteBean app for iOS devices, targeting an already-served market with a more aggressively priced solution. The Universal Remote dongle connects to the 3.5mm ports of Apple’s devices, rather than relying on the discontinued Dock Connector standard. Using the RemoteBean app, the device can then control a number of electronics, including TVs, DVD players, DVRs, and more.
The RemoteBean app comes with a database of thousands of electronic products, but users can teach the app to control other devices, as well. Satechi’s Universal Remote is available now.
New Potato Technologies has announced Classic Match Foosball ($100), a new accessory for the first-, second-, and third-generation iPad. Classic Match Foosball is a miniature foosball table powered by the Dock Connector-based iPads, and can be used to play the free, downloadable Classic Match Foosball app. Eight control rods — four on each side — control the game action on screen.
Scoring markers are included at each end of the table, which includes removable legs with rubber feet. A USB-B connector allows the iPad to charge while docked in the table. Classic Match Football is available now.
The iPhone 5 launch appears to be imminent in China, as an Apple device resembling the headset has been approved for a “network access” license, The Wall Street Journal reports. It appears that the iPhone 5 is on track for a December release, as the phone is compatible with China Telecom’s network standard, and as previously reported, China Telecom has already started taking preorders for the phone. China Unicom might launch the iPhone 5 around the same time, but the regulatory website hasn’t addressed Unicom’s mobile standard as of yet. Speculation that the world’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile, could sell the phone, has yet to be verified. Apple has yet to make an official statement on the iPhone 5’s Chinese release date.
Apple’s iTunes 11 is “expected as soon as” today, according to The Wall Street Journal. A profile of Apple’s Senior VP Eddy Cue also mentions the launch of the new iTunes, which “has been delayed a month by engineering issues that required parts to be rebuilt, according to people who have seen it.” A recent report expected the launch of iTunes 11 shortly, and Apple has said the media player and organizational tool would appear by the end of November after missing its original October launch date.
Following reports that Apple plans to shift away from Samsung for chip production, concerns over a chief rival’s CPU production capacity have been raised by a new report at Digitimes. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company may start producing chips for Apple’s next iOS devices as soon as next year, according to “industry observers,” but it’s unclear if the company will be able to provide proper capacity for Apple’s massive and growing needs given its existing contracts. TSMC still serves other major clients, such as Altera, Qualcomm, and Nvidia, so the company will be challenged to keep up production for those companies while taking on Apple’s massive production demands; it may also see profits decline due to tight Apple margins. A previous report noted TSMC would use 28nm and 20nm process technologies to produce CPUs for Apple; the new report notes that TSMC plans to open a new 20nm factory in Taiwan, increasing its production capacity.
A Dutch court has banned certain Samsung Galaxy products that infringe on an Apple patent, reports IDG. The patent involves scrolling through photo galleries on a touchscreen, and the ban applies to Galaxy products that run Android 2.2.1 or newer versions, and don’t use Samsung’s proprietary photo gallery software. Specifically, Apple has “patented a way to scroll past the edge of a zoomed-in photo and see a glimpse of the next in a series of images, after which the initial photo bounces back onto the screen, a technique that Samsung has used in its Galaxy products. Samsung’s proprietary photo gallery software replaces that bounce-back feature with a ‘blue flash’ that illuminates the edge of the image.” Samsung must pay Apple $129,000 each day it violates the ban. This follows a recent Dutch court ruling that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent involving the use of two fingers on a touchscreen.
Apple started a trial as a defendant on Tuesday, as Multimedia Patent Trust — a subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent — is suing the company for alleged infringement of three video-compression technology patents. Bloomberg reports that multiple versions of the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and MacBook are targeted in the trial, which stems from a 2010 lawsuit against Apple and LG Electronics. Multimedia Patent Trust won a 2007 case against Microsoft for $1.5 billion, but the jury verdict was later overturned, and the two companies settled in January. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff said the trial could take about two weeks.
Apple has also been granted 36 new patents, according to a recent Patently Apple report. Included are patents for the Siri microphone icon, sports equipment writing data to a portable media player — which includes uploading workout data to a computer or website—as well as enhanced echo cancellation, audio status information for a portable media device, and a cavity antenna for an electronic device, among many others.