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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.

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.

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 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 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.

iPad ‘undisputed’ #1 tablet, 74% market share

Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments regarding the iPad and its success. According to Cook, the iPad has a 74 percent share of the tablet market, making it the “undisputed” number one tablet in the world. He went on to reveal that over 80 percent of US hospitals are now piloting or testing the device, 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPad, and that every state in the U.S. has a school with an iPad deployment program either in place or in pilot, with over 1,000 schools offering a 1:1 program.

Apple: Over 300 million iPods sold, 16 billion songs downloaded

In his opening remarks at Apple’s “Let’s talk iPhone” media event today, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company has now sold over 300 million iPods. Cook stated that the iPod holds a 78 percent share of the MP3 market, that the company sold 45 million iPods from July 2010 to June 2011, that nearly half of iPod customers are purchasing their first iPod, and that the iPod still represents a “large and important” market for Apple. He also revealed that the company has now seen over 16 billion song downloads from iTunes, calling the Store’s success “mind boggling.”

Let’s Talk iPhone Event: The Big Picture

Apple’s “Let’s talk iPhone” media event is being held today at the company’s campus Town Hall auditorium. As there are plenty of announcements expected to come from the event, we’re providing this story as a starting point—we’ll be linking to all the major news from the event right here, so check back periodically throughout the afternoon for more updates.

So far:

iPhone 4S to launch October 14, iPod nano to see update

Apple introduces Cards, a new free app that lets you create and send cards directly from your iPhone. It will mail printed cards through the mail after you design them, then provide tracking notifications to your iPhone. Cards will be $3 each when mailed within the U.S. Available October 12.

iOS 5 is coming October 12. As is iCloud.

Apple announces Find My Friends application for iCloud, enabling you to locate your friends and family if they’re using Apple’s devices.

“New” iPod nano announced - new user interface, 16 new clock faces, Nike+ without the need for shoe-based sensors. $129/$149, available today. Seven colors like the previous ones. Updated! Originally claimed to be a “new” iPod nano, this appears to be little more than a price change with a minor software update. Following the event, it was discovered that the software will be released for the 2010 iPod nano as well.

Updated iPod touch: black and white, $199 8GB, $299 32GB, $399 64GB. Available October 12. Nothing mentioned about under-the-hood changes of any sort. Updated! Apart from the color addition, there does not appear to be any change to the iPod touch hardware at all this year.

iPhone 4S officially announced with A5 processor, dual-core graphics chip that’s up to 7x faster than prior iPhone (down from 9x in prior iPad). Yet now gets eight hours of talk time, six hours of 3G browsing, 9 of Wi-Fi browsing. Now can switch between two antennas for improved call quality. Data speeds now doubled for downloading—now up to nearly 14.4Mbps downloading speed. Apple is not calling this 4G, but saying that the performance is 4G-caliber. It’s a dual-band world phone with both GSM + CDMA. Improved camera sports an 8-Megapixel sensor with backside illumination, gathering 73% more light than before, with a hybrid IR filter and 1/3 faster performance. The lens now has 5 elements and is f/2.4—really wide angle with 30% greater sharpness, macro photo feature, plus 1080p video recording.

iPhone 4S also gets AirPlay mirroring. And expanded voice controls thanks to an integrated Siri assistant. “What’s the weather like today?” can be answered by the iPhone 4S with a forecast. “Find me a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto,” and it returns a bunch of results sorted by rating. The interface is a mix of prior Siri and the linen backdrop of OS X and iOS, tying into iOS applications to look up calendar information, messages, and other things stored on the device. It can read to you, and understand what you’re saying. It will initially be available in English, German, and French support, with other languages to follow. 16GB, 32GB, 64GB $199/$299/$399. 3GS and 4 will still be sold, 3GS free on contract, iPhone 4 is $99 for 8GB. Preorder on 7th, available October 14, Verizon AT+T and Sprint. First countries: U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., France, Germany, and Japan, with more to follow on the 28th, then more through end of the year.

A summary of the presentation thus far is available after the break.

Apple rejects Samsung settlement offer in Australia

Apple has rejected an offer from Samsung that would see the patent dispute between the two companies in Australia come to an end. Reuters reports that the offer, made by Samsung last week, would have seen the South Korean company help ensure an expedited court hearing in return for the ability to immediately launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1—currently barred from sale thanks to a preliminary injunction—in the country. Both companies have since made it clear that no such bargain will be reached. “It is one we don’t accept and there is no surprise. The main reason we are here is to prevent the launch (of the Galaxy 10.1) and maintain the status quo,” Apple lawyer Steven Burley told the court. Samsung agreed to withdraw two allegedly infringing features of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, reducing the dispute to a single patent covering touchscreen technology.

Apple iPhone event begins at 10am PT/1pm ET

Apple’s special “Let’s talk iPhone” media event will begin later today at 1:00 pm Eastern Time/10:00 am Pacific Time. At the event, Apple is widely expected to introduce at least one new iPhone model, announce Sprint as a carrier partner in the U.S., provide an update on iOS 5 as well as a release date, and potentially offer an update on its iPod lineup, specifically the iPod touch and iPod shuffle. We will be posting regular updates throughout the course of the event; check back later to catch all the latest news as it happens.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5 beta 9 to developers

Apple has released another update to its beta version of iTunes 10.5 for registered iOS developers. The update appears to be primarily targeted at developers testing the iTunes Match service, with iTunes 10.5 beta 7 also remaining available as a separate download for registered iOS developers. This latest release follows reports of iTunes Match data being reset earlier this week for developers testing the service. iTunes 10.5 beta 9 is available for download now for registered developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Click Wheel Games disappear from iTunes Store

Apple appears to have quietly removed Click Wheel iPod Games from the iTunes Store, prompting further speculation that the company is planning to discontinue the iPod classic. A link to the Click Wheel Games section previously appeared on the App Store drop down menu, however that option has recently vanished and attempts to search for or even link from existing Click Wheel iPod Games now returns a response that the item requested is “not currently available.”

Downloadable iPod games were introduced in the fall of 2006 when Apple released the enhanced fifth-generation iPod alongside a firmware update adding support to the prior year’s model. Game support was also added to the third-generation iPod nano when it was released the following year, although the 2007 release of the iPod classic and iPod nano controversially rendered all previous games incompatible, requiring users to repurchase the same titles for the new devices. The selection of games remained relatively limited since Apple never released an open SDK, instead hand-picking select developers to participate, and handling some of the coding on its own. During Apple’s Fall 2010 event, the company released the sixth-generation iPod nano with a revised touchscreen interface and no iPod game support; the company also conspicuously omitted any direct mention of the iPod classic at that event, leaving many to conclude that the older traditional iPods are no longer a priority for Apple. [via AppleInsider]

Next-generation iPhone to support 21Mbps HSPA+

A new report from Japanese Blog Macotakara notes a presentation from a China Unicom executive at Macworld Asia this week where it was indicated that the coming iPhone will include support for HSPA+ technology. Sometimes referred to as “4G” HSPA+ is actually an enhancement to existing 3G technologies that increase the maximum theoretical data throughput to 21Mbps from the standard HSPA speeds of 7.2 Mbps supported by the current iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models. Japanese site PC Watch also captured a slide from the presentation showing a reference to the “iPhone 5” listed with HSPA+ support indicated.

While not the LTE device that many had hoped for, the increase to HSPA+ speeds theoretically provides a significant performance increase on supported carriers without the additional power consumption required by current LTE chipsets. It is also worth noting that while carriers have only just begun rolling out LTE, HSPA+ has already been in place on many networks for over a year, with AT&T rolling out the intermediary technology in mid-2010 and referring to it as “4G” in its marketing. The iPhone 3GS introduced a similar speed bump when it was released two years ago with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA technology; a moderate but noticeable upgrade from the original 3.6 Mbps speeds found in the iPhone 3G. [via MacRumors]

Apple launches iTunes Store in 12 remaining EU countries

Following a report yesterday that Apple was making plans to expand the iTunes Store in additional European Union countries, the company has now launched in all 12 of the remaining EU countries where the iTunes Store was previously not available. As of today, users can now download and purchase music via iTunes in Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. [via AppleInsider]

Apple expanding iTunes content availability in Europe

Apple appears to be expanding the iTunes Store in Europe, with reports indicating plans to bring the Store to 10 new European Union countries and movie and iBookstore content becoming available for purchase and rent in the existing European iTunes Stores. A report from Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita indicates that Apple is preparing to launch the iTunes Music Store in ten new EU countries, possibly as soon as next month. The report specifies Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, but does not name the other countries although at this time there are only twelve EU member states where the iTunes Store is not available.

In a separate report, MacRumors notes that Apple now appears to be rolling out iTunes movie sales and rentals in existing European iTunes Stores, with readers reporting movies now available in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden and paid iBookstore content in Switzerland. Dedicated content sections have reportedly not yet appeared in these countries, however the content is available via the iTunes Store search function.

Apple confirms October 4 iPhone event

Apple today has invited select members of the press to a special “Let’s talk iPhone” event for the next-generation iPhone. As previously reported, the event will be held on Tuesday, October 4 at Apple’s Town Hall Auditorium on its corporate campus in Cupertino, CA. The invitation includes four classic iPhone icons, showing the Tuesday date, 10:00 (AM/Pacific) event start time, Infinite Loop location, and Phone app with the number “1” next to it.

Apple is widely expected to introduce at least one new iPhone at the event, and will also likely announce a release date for iOS 5, as well as one or more new iPod models, although no specific reports related to the latter have surfaced in recent months. As the company occasionally hides hints in the icons and text of its invitations, it’s possible that the event may focus solely on a single new iPhone model, rather than the two that have been rumored for some time.

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