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White House backs unlocking cell phones

Following an over 114,000-signature petition submitted to the White House supporting the legality of unlocking phones, the White House has released an official statement supporting consumers’ rights to unlock cell phones and other devices to use on their network of choice. In a statement titled “It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking,” R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy, writes on behalf of the Obama administration that “consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones.”

A policy update to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act recently made it illegal for owners of new cellphones to unlock devices unless authorized by carriers. Edelman writes that the Obama administration would support a number of corrective approaches to the issue, including legislative fixes, and that the Federal Communications Commission “has an important role to play” — FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released a statement today that the FCC is examining the issue, which “doesn’t pass the common sense test.”

Dev opens Lightning Digital AV Adapter, finds CPU, issues

Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter contains previously undiscovered video processing hardware, according to developer Panic, which performed a teardown of the accessory after noting video quality issues. In testing output from an application, Panic found that the video resolution was below 1080p, and noted that compression artifacts were showing up on screen. The company discovered an ARM processor inside the adapter, and suggested that Lightning iOS devices are using a protocol similar to AirPlay to encode video before sending it to the accessory for decoding. While the presence of the processor hints at the reason the Digital AV Adapter arrived at a surprisingly high $49 price, the video degradation was a disappointment, particularly considering the prior Dock Connector version’s output capabilities.

Notably, a comment posted by an anonymous Apple employee on Panic’s blog confirmed the findings above, and attempted to explain them. “We didn’t do this to screw the customer,” the commenter said. “We did this to specifically shift the complexity of the ‘adapter’ bit into the adapter itself, leaving the host hardware free of any concerns in regards to what was hanging off the other end of the Lightning cable.” The commenter also noted that the video quality limitations may only be temporary. “Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable… updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can’t say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.” [via Panic Blog]

Reports: Apple hopes for 2013 iWatch debut, 4-5 day battery

“Apple seeks to introduce [its iWatch] as soon as this year,” according to a new report from Bloomberg. The report follows comments from Corning, Apple’s glass-making partner for iOS devices, that its upcoming flexible Willow glass would likely not be used in any device released in the next three years; if both are accurate, the first-generation product could use a curved screen, but the screen would not be flexible.

Citing a person familiar with the company’s plans, Bloomberg reports that iWatch “features under consideration” include making calls, identifying incoming callers, and checking map coordinates; a pedometer and health sensor for data such as heart rate would also be included. The report notes that Apple “has filed at least 79 patent applications that include the word ‘wrist,’ including one for a device with a flexible screen, powered by kinetic energy,” and that Apple design chief Jony Ive “has long had an interest in watches,” having his team visit watch factories, and ordering boxes of a Nike sports watch in the mid-2000s.

A follow-on report from The Verge claims that Apple has decided to use iOS to power the watch, which has led to “battery life issues in development,” with prototypes running for “a couple days max.” The company reportedly hopes to get the battery “to last at least 4-5 days between charges.”

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Apple’s $1.05B award from Samsung cut by $440M

Apple’s award of $1.05 billion in damages from Samsung was reduced by more than 40 percent by Judge Lucy Koh today, according to a tweet from The Recorder reporter Vanessa Blum. Koh has reportedly ordered a new damages trial on the $440 million removed from the award. Apple was initially awarded the $1.05 billion in August after a jury found Samsung violated Apple patents. [via Apple Insider]

Kid spends $2,500 in 15 minute in-app purchase spree

Apple has offered a refund to the family of Danny Kitchen, a British boy who spent £1,700 (about $2,550) of his parents’ money on in-app purchases in an iPad game within 15 minutes. The family believed the boy was downloading “a free game,” and entered a password for the download, which was followed by a collection of huge in-app purchases. Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit regarding freemium apps aimed at children, offering refunds for claims that minors made in-app purchases without parental knowledge or permission. [via BBC]

Greenlight Capital drops Apple lawsuit

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital has withdrawn its lawsuit against Apple over a proxy proposal. The proposal, which aimed to change Apple’s ability to issue preferred stock, was withdrawn from a vote at Apple’s recent shareholder meeting after it was blocked by a court ruling. Despite the lawsuit’s success, Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to it as a “silly sideshow,” and the company suggested that it was based on a misunderstanding regarding Apple’s position on preferred stock. [via AllThingsD]

Apple seeks to block data collection class action suit

A lawsuit alleges that Apple collected data from millions of mobile devices without permission, but Apple argued at a Thursday hearing that plaintiffs have failed to prove their claims. The customers have accused Apple of collecting geographical data through apps on mobile devices, even after the users chose not to share the data. The plaintiffs’ attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to designate the suit as a class action, but Apple is seeking to stop the action, claiming that it hasn’t been proven that users actually had information collected by free apps without consent, and therefore can’t show they’ve suffered harm. [via Bloomberg]

China Mobile shows TD-LTE devices as iPhone prelude

China Mobile used the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona to unveil multi-mode, multi-band TD-LTE terminal devices, which may enable iPhones to become compatible with the world’s largest mobile carrier. The carrier plants to set up TD-LTE trial networks in more than 100 Chinese cities this year, according to a report. There has long been speculation that Apple will make its phone available for China Mobile subscribers; Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China Mobile Chairman Xi Gouhua in January. China Mobile’s TD-LTE terminals support TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA and GSM across a wide variety of radio bands. [via DigiTimes]

iTunes offers exclusive stream of new David Bowie album

David Bowie’s first album in 10 years is streaming for free exclusively on iTunes until its March 12 release. Also available for pre-order, The Next Day is Bowie’s first album since 2003’s Reality, and features 14 tracks and 3 bonus tracks. A handful of artists have exclusively used iTunes to stream a new album before release — Jack White’s Blunderbuss got the same treatment last April. The album cover, interestingly enough, is the same album cover used for Bowie’s classic Heroes album, with the old album title crossed out and the new title plastered over Bowie’s face in a big white square.

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