All posts by Parth Dhebar

Parth Dhebar is a 18 year-old entrepreneur. He is the founder of Simple Reviews, a blog focused on reviewing iPhone and iPad applications. Parth is a recognized name in the industry, known for covering Apple news. He is an editor at Techie-Buzz covering news on Apple. You can follow him on Twitter @pdparticle.

Apple Store App for iOS Updated

Today, Apple has updated its Apple Store app [App Store] for iOS to version 2.1. This new update adds several new features and makes the app available in Netherlands for the first time to support the Amsterdam store opening this week.

Apple Store update 2.1

The most interesting addition brought via the update is the new “Account” section where users can update their billing information and addresses as well as shipping addresses right from the app. Before this update, users had to log into their accounts through the Apple website in order to update payment methods.

What’s New in Version 2.1

– Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only)
– Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.
– The Apple Store app is now available in the Netherlands.
– Requires iOS 4.3.3 or higher.

This is interesting because the previous update introduced “EasyPay”, which allows users of the app to scan product barcodes in-store, read reviews on their iPhone and then charge the items directly to the credit card associated with their iTunes account. I guess this is even more evidence that Apple is testing the waters with mobile payments.

Mercedes Benz to Integrate Apple’s Siri

Mercedes Benz has announced that it will integrate Apple’s Siri in its new A-Class line of vehicles. Also, the car manufacturer will add even better support for Apple’s iPhone. Siri is the virtual assistant found in the iPhone 4S.

Parent company Daimler recently revealed an in-house-developed “Digital DriveStyle App” that will combine with a Drive Kit Plus for iPhone to incorporate the smartphone with the car’s multimedia system. According to Mercedes Benz, all of the iPhone’s integration functions can be used with Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level Audio 20 system.

Mercedes Benz Siri

In addition, the app will allow access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and will be available for download free of charge” from Apple’s iTunes Store. Other features that were announced were personalized Internet radio, navigation software from Garmin, a “Car Finder” and access to Siri. Sounds amazing! I think over the next few years, we will see car systems becoming more integrated with our devices.

Mercedes Benz says it is the  “first automotive manufacturer” to bring Apple’s Siri to a vehicle through its custom “Digital DriveStyle App.” The iPhone will be connected via an interface that was developed by the company’s accessories division. This accessory will output the iPhone’s display to the vehicle’s display while simultaneously powering and charging the device.

The car manufacturer says that the A-Class will make its world premiere at the Geneva Auto Show next month. In addition, this advanced iPhone integration will be made available in the automaker’s B-, C-, and E-Class this fall.

Apple Stalls Apple TV Shipments Ahead of iPad 3 Announcement

Recently, rumors of a new Apple TV being announced on March 7th have appeared and part numbers indicating an update alongside the iPad 3 next week have been revealed.

AppleInsider now reports that Apple has specifically been stalling in delivering promised shipments of the device to resellers. In addition, Apple’s own stores are starting to see shortages of the Apple TV as the company reduces the supply ahead of the refresh. Even though the online store is still showing an “in stock” status, the customers that select the in-store pickup option will find that many Apple retail stores are currently out of stock. For locations that are currently out of stock of the Apple TV, the company can still ship orders to the stores for pickup, but even those shipments are starting to see extended timeframes.

Just yesterday, Apple sent out invites for its iPad 3 event on March 7th, and it appears that the updated Apple TV will be making an appearance at that time. If you are looking to purchase an Apple TV, I’d wait until next week.

Apple Is Now Worth $500,000,000,000

Wow, just a couple of weeks ago, I reported that Apple’s share price has soared past $500. At that time the share price was at $468, and had begun to soar past $470, $480, and $490. Following today’s release of invitations to the company’s March 7th event for iPad 3, Apple’s share price had closed the day up  $9.65, or 1.84 percent, which made Apple’s market cap very close to $500 billion. Market cap is  the value of a company.

AAPL 500 billion

To put that in perspective, the company that used to be the world’s valuable company (Exxon), was worth $411 billion as of Tuesday afternoon, or $90 billion less than Apple. Better yet, Apple is now worth as much Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and GM combined! The share price has been rising ever since they reported blowout earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2012. In fact, just three months ago, Apple’s share price was nearly $200 less.

I’d also like to once again point out Google’s share price growth, but wait! It isn’t seeing a significant increase at all. In the past three months, GOOG has seen an increase of only 5%, while AAPL has seen an increase of 42%! If marketshare meant everything, why is GOOG struggling to see growth, while AAPL is seeing phenomenal growth?

AAPL GOOG three 2012Clearly, Apple’s doomed and is just a fad.

Sprint Committed to $15.5B iPhone Contract in 2011

Earlier this month, Sprint revealed that it sold 1.8 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2011. Now according to Sprint’s 10-K report for the 2011 fiscal year, the carrier revealed that it is betting on subscriber dues to offset an expected 2012 deficit agreement with Apple. Apparently, this called for a minimum order of around $15.5 billion worth of iPhones, according to Barron’s.

What’s interesting is that even though the carrier saw a decline in wireless profits due to the high subsidy cost of carrying the iPhone, the carrier still agreed to purchase $15.5 billion worth of iPhones. By doing so, Sprint looks to make up for the profit loss with the subscriber revenue.

Carriers pay large subsidies to carry the iPhone, and Sprint is currently paying $450 for every unit sold with a two-year contract. In addition to this, the carrier offers “instant savings” by offering unlimited data for any iPhone model. The carrier plans to take a hit in profits early by purchasing and subsidizing the iPhone. Even though this might sound crazy, there might be evidence that their strategy maybe working because last quarter the carrier sold 1.8 million iPhones.

 

Best Buy Cuts Price of iPad 2 by $50 as iPad 3 Nears

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the iPad 3 will be announced on March 7th. I’m excited, are you? The report that came out claimed that the iPad 3 will include a 2048×1536 Retina display as well as a quad-core A6 processor and “possibly” 4G LTE networking. My thoughts regarding what we can expect with the iPad 3 can be read here.

Today, it has been discovered that Best Buy is now offering  $50 discounts across the entire line of iPad 2 models, which would further signal that an iPad 3 launch is imminent. Now the price of an iPad 2 starts at $449.99 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model.

In addition,  Engadget reports that Best Buy has begun updating its internal inventory management systems to reflect a “deleted” status for iPad 2 models. However, it should be noted that Best Buy does not have advance notice of new Apple products, especially those that appear to be part of a major media event. MacRumors also points out that Best Buy isn’t the only one reducing iPad 2 prices.  Grocery and retail store chain Meijer earlier this month offered the entry-level iPad for $429, a $70 discount from the regular retail prices.

Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad 2 Released

Adobe has officially launched Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad 2, which was pulled yesterday since it was scheduled for a Monday, February 27th launch. Last October, Adobe had first announced the product, alongside 5 other upcoming tablet applications. This app is the flagship app from the company.

Photoshop for iPad 2

The app is described as a tool to “let you quickly combine images, apply professional effects, share the results with friends and family through social networking sites like Facebook, and more”. Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad 2 is available for $9.99 in the US and is only compatible with the iPad 2. Adobe Photoshop for Touch can be download via the App Store here.

Adobe has been exploring the tablet market by entering onto the iPad and other tablets with a series of applications. However, they have yet to match the capabilities of the desktop version of Adobe’s key software products. The company’s initial goal for the iPad was to explore how the device might be used as an auxiliary input for the desktop version at first, but now the company has expanded to including some image editing features from Photoshop. MacStories has a fantastic review of the app.

Clearly, the iPad is just for “content consumption” and not content creation.

Apple Suspends iCloud Push Email in Germany Due to Lawsuit

While Apple has been suing other companies for IP and patent infringement, the company is also being sued by its competitors. Today, Apple has announced that it has to shut down iCloud push services in Germany. The reason for this is the successful Motorola bid for an injunction against the cloud syncing service over data pushing technology.

Apple published the news in the support section of its German website, and gave a brief summary of the injunction. Also, the company has listed out temporary solutions that iCloud users can follow while it tries to get the issue resolved by appealing against the decision, reports  iPhone-ticker.de.

In addition, the suspension of Apple’s push services will stop the syncing of calendars and contacts for MobileMe until users change certain device settings. iCloud users will not be affected. The document also notes that iCloud and existing MobileMe users within the borders of Germany will not be able to receive push email at this time. All received messages will be still accesible via iCloud’s website or by changing an iOS’s device’s settings. However, all non-mobile products, such as Macs, are not affected.

Apple also states in the support that in the support document that they believe Motorola’s patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.

Apple Acquires Chomp

Chomp

Today, TechCrunch reports that Apple is acquiring three-year old startup Chomp. Chomp is a search engine that helps people discover apps for their devices. Apple plans to use the company’s technology and expertise to improve the App Store’s search and app discover technology.

We first covered Chomp in November 2009 to announce their seed funding. Since then, they’ve grown their scope to include not only iPhone apps, but Android apps as well. In fact, Chomp currently has a deal with Verizon to power all of their Android-based app searches. That relationship, obviously, is going to get a bit awkward with this acquisition.

My understanding is that such deals will remain intact for now but are likely to end once the Chomp team and product transitions over to Apple. The same is likely true for Chomp’s stand-alone products.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but according to the report, Apple’s acquisition isn’t specifically related to talent — Apple also wants Chomp’s technology as well. Chomp has raised more than $2.5 million in funding and all investors are pleased with the outcome. Since Apple has over a $100 billion in cash, you can expect that the company paid quite a bit for Chomp. Chomp’s 20-something employees will reportedly will start working for Apple.

Apple usually prefers to make small to medium size acquisitions of talent and technology, instead of spending a lot of its $100 billion cash pile. Earlier this year, Apple acquired an Israeli flash memory company, Anobit. It should also be noted that with every acquisition the company makes, they make full use of it (ex: Siri).

Update: Apple has confirmed the purchase to AllThingsD.

Update 2: Apple “paid about $50 million” for Chomp, according to Bloomberg.

T-Mobile USA Blames Lack of iPhone for Customer Loss

You know what’s funny? A carrier blaming customer loss due to the lack of iPhone. I thought the iPhone was harmful for carriers? Last year, T-Mobile revealed that  it had over a million iPhones running on its network. Then earlier this year, T-Mobile started to offer official support for unlocked iPhones. Today, T-Mobile USA announced its earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2011, which revealed a net loss of over 800,000 contract subscribers during the quarter (4Q 2011).

T-Mobile is the only one of the four major U.S. carriers that doesn’t carry the iPhone, which blamed the launch of the iPhone 4S for loss of subscribers. In fact, the carrier mentioned the iPhone by name seven times in its release. Do I sense desperation?

This follows the T-Mobile/AT&T deal not going through. The carrier is now seeking to reposition itself with a “challenger strategy” and start rolling out 4G LTE services more aggressively beginning next year. Apple’s iPhone is not offered on T-Mobile USA because its network’s frequency band is incompatible with current versions of the iPhone. Even though the iPhone can connect to the carrier’s network, it cannot connect to the carrier’s high-speed 3G frequency.

Apple Considered Switching to AMD in 2011 MacBook Air

A new report regarding the 2011 MacBook Air reveals an interesting tidbit. An upcoming article regarding AMD by Forbes reveals that the company’s Llano family of Fusion combination CPU-GPU systems was under consideration by Apple to be used in the MacBook Air for its 2011 refresh. However, AMD lost the company’s business to Intel, since the necessary parts were late in being delivered to Apple and had high failure rates.

It is also reported that AMD also offered Apple on using its Brazos family of Fusion systems in the Apple TV, but Apple was uninterested in the offer. Ouch! Must have been a significant loss to the company business wise. Forbes’ Brian Caulfield revealed more regarding AMD’s efforts to gain Apple as a customer  in a separate article. In that article, he also went into more detail regarding the issues on Fusion chips planned for the MacBook Air.

MacRumors points out that this reflects back to a report from November from SemiAccurate, which suggested that AMD’s Fusion platform was Apple’s “Plan A” for the 2011 MacBook Air and that such machines were “on the verge of production” before Apple decided to stick with Intel.

Apple Agrees to New Privacy Policy Notification Standards

Today, the California Attorney General’s office has announced an agreement with Apple and five other tech companies including Google, Amazon, HP, RIM, and Microsoft which will ensure that these companies implement new standards for notifying users of privacy policies associated with apps offered in their stores. The new requirements will require developers of apps, that collect personal information to include privacy policies with their app that can be viewed directly from the store before downloading the apps themselves.

In addition, links to privacy policies will be in consistent places within the App Store and other marketplaces. This will offer the users the ability to view the privacy polices briefly. Developers who do not agree with the new requirements can be charged under California law. Apple and other companies signed the agreement and have pledged to inform developers about the privacy policy requirements and help them to meet the standards.

Also, the agreement requires that the companies provide simple methods for users to report apps that do not comply with privacy requirements, as well as systems for dealing with those reports. Thanks to these new rules, it sounds like these companies have a lot of work on their hands!

Apple’s First Amsterdam Retail Store Set to Open March 3

Last year, Apple rapidly expanded its stores. Last August, it was reported that the company is working on a store that will consist of a gorgeous glass roof in Santa Monica, CA. Just a month or two after, rumors of a store in Manhattan’s Grand Central started to appear, which finally became a reality earlier this month. It is gorgeous! Apple also redesigned its iconic Fifth Avenue store’s glass cube last year. In December, it was reported that Apple is working on a “prototype” store in Palo Alto, CA. Then in January, it was reported that Apple had started to work on new retail stores in France and Switzerland.

Apple Amsterdam Store

Today, ifoAppleStore.com reports that the grand opening of the new Apple Store in the Netherlands will occur next Saturday, March 3 at 10 a.m., which will make it the thirteenth country where Apple has retail presence. The new location in Amsterdam will be on the ground floor and lower floor of the city’s historic Hirsch Building in Leidseplein Square. Also, both the levels will be connected by a glass spiral staircase, which can be found at many of Apple’s retail locations. In addition, the second floor will be covered by a glass pyramid. Apple’s new store looks stunning!

Earlier this month, the company began hyping that the store was opening “soon”, but did not give a specific date.

Review: Das Keyboard Model S Professional for Mac

Currently, I’m using an Apple Wireless Keyboard to type on a daily basis, but recently the folks at Das Keyboard sent me their brand new “Model S Professional for Mac”. So, I used that one for a few weeks instead. Here’s my review:

Setup:

Within seconds after unboxing the keyboard, it was ready to use! There was no installation required. My MacBook Air, running OS X Lion, detected everything instantly. The keyboard has two USB cables, one enables the keyboard component and the other for the USB hub. Das Keyboard has two USB ports on the side, which is neat. The two ports on the right side are easy to access and great for connecting your USB devices.

Das Keyboard for MacDesign and Look:

This particular model has a minimalistic look. In addition, it doesn’t have any extra text, icons, or stickers other than the company’s name. I really like this because it provides the user with a distraction free typing experience. Unlike my Apple Bluetooth Wireless keyboard, this keyboard weighs a lot so it won’t move around on your desk at all. Also, the keys have a glossy look to it, which makes the keyboard look extremely nice. Das Keyboard claims that each key can handle about 50 million strokes before it wears out. Another thing I really like about the keyboard is the noise it makes while typing, but it should be mentioned that it is extremely loud.

I found the keyboard easy to type on, but it did take awhile to get used to it. Also, it should be noted that they keyboard is extremely loud.

Media keys:

A particular addition that I really like in the keyboard are the media keys. They are easily accessible by pressing the “Fn” key in combination with the corresponding Function key.  On the keyboard, there are keys for lowering the volume, increasing the volume, mute, play/pause, stop, previous track, and next track. They worked great with iTunes and Rdio (a music streaming service). It should also be mentioned that no additional software was required to use these buttons, which was great.

Bottom Line:

If you can justify $130 for a keyboard, then I’d highly suggest checking this keyboard out.  You can purchase one here.

Safari User Sues Google over Claimed Privacy Violation

Last week, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal  that Google had used code that allowed them to bypass the standard Safari privacy settings, which then allowed them to insert advertising cookies on an affected device. Did somebody say evil? Now, Bloomberg reports that a user of Apple’s Safari, the default web browser of every Mac and iOS device, is suing Google Inc. after their sneaky tactics were revealed.

Attorneys for Matthew Soble filed the complaint on Tuesday in Delaware’s federal court and are seeking class-action status for the suit which suggests that Google bypassed certain Safari privacy settings in order to track users’ web habits. Apple’s Safari browser is set by default to blocks cookies or small bits of code to identify users when they return to a previously visited site. In the past, Apple has been criticized for not caring about their customers’ privacy, but this is just further evidence that they do. While on the other hand, Google tracks Android users without them knowing.

Google, the hypocrites, have denied this by stating that: “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.” Give me a break! If this were true, that would justify the number of times Google has been caught doing something wrong in the past year, right? In fact, just after being contacted by WSJ, Google disabled the code and later removed information from a company site. Yup, doesn’t sound fishy to me at all. “Don’t be evil” indeed.