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.

New Apple TV Update Brings TV to iCloud

Apple TV

In addition to the new Apple TV software update, the update also introduced the ability for users to stream TV episodes they had previously purchased through iTunes. Also, Apple expanded the “Purchased” section of the iTunes to the Mac, PC, and iOS app to include  re-downloads of purchased TV content.

This new feature adds TV shows to iCloud, bringing the TV content to work the same way as music purchases have been since the update back in June following the iCloud announcement at WWDC 2011. Due to the update, users now have the the option to download purchased TV shows at will and for free as long as they are linked to the same iTunes Store account.  Also, the iTunes Store terms and conditions have been updated with new text covering the changes.

Notification of an additional type of previously-purchased content that may be subsequently downloaded to certain computers and devices as an accommodation to you, subject to existing association rules; and that such content may be played back on certain devices that are not subject to existing association rules, with limitations.

MacRumors notes that the changes have been covered under the section “Automatic Delivery and Downloading Previous Purchases Beta” which covers the two classes of downloadable content. One of the classes is “iTunes Auto-Delievery Content” which covers music and music videos which can be automatically downloaded to associated devices. The other clause being “iTunes Eligible Content” which covers  TV shows that must be downloaded manually.

Such a change usually requires licensing deals with content providers to be renegotiated, and thus probably why Apple has taken time to offer re-downloads for each media type and in each market.

Apple Finally Acquires iPods.com

The iPod was first introduced in 2001, and a few months after someone registered the iPods.com domain name. Even though somebody squatted the domain and wasn’t putting it to use, Apple hadn’t shown interest to acquire the domain until recently. A month ago, TechCrunch reported that finally after 9 years Apple was interested in acquiring iPods.com. In order to do so, they filed a complaint for the domain with ICANN in June. Now, it seems that Apple has finally won the dispute over iPods.com with a World Intellectual Property Organization ruling granting Apple control of the domain. WIPO’s David Cairns has ordered the previous holder MP3Gold.com to hand the domain over.

iPods

In the past, Apple has used legal measures to acquire a domain name. Their recent acquisition was iCloud.com, but Apple usually prefers buying the addresses instead. Shortly after the original’s iPhone launch, Apple acquired iPhone.com and also managed to acquire iPhone4.com and WhiteiPhone.com days before.

Currently, Apple does not own several domains. For example, iPad.com, iPhone5.com, Macs.com, and many other domains that aren’t being used. Judging by Apple’s recent actions, it seems that they will plan to acquire these unused domains at some point. As of today, iPods.com still redirects to MP3Gold.com.

Apple Releases New Software Update For Apple TV

Apple TV

Today, Apple has released a new iOS software update for the second-generation Apple TV. This update brings support for several new features including streaming access to purchased TV shows and support for Vimeo. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber explains the new TV show feature:

You can buy — not just rent but buy — new episodes directly from your Apple TV, and access and stream any TV show episodes you’ve previously purchased using your iTunes account. (I’m not quite sure if it has all episodes — but it’s showing me all the TV shows I can remember buying from iTunes.)

However, reports have suggested that this feature may be US only for the time being.  In addition, the update adds support for video content service called Vimeo and YouTube playlists. Apple has also added TV shows to the “Purchased” section of iTunes in the iOS app and Mac/PC apps. This new feature allows users to re-download previously purchased TV shows in the same way that Apple allows you to for music since the introduction of iCloud.

The update for the Apple TV shows as a software version of iOS 4.3, but Apple’s servers refer to the update as Build 8F455 of iOS 4.3. Apple’s support document for the Apple TV has also been updated with the new features included in the new update.

–  TV show purchases: Purchase TV shows on Apple TV. Shows purchased on Apple TV can be re-downloaded on other iOS devices. Shows purchased on other iOS devices or with iTunes automatically show up as available to play on Apple TV.
–  Vimeo: Browse and watch millions of user-uploaded videos found on the Vimeo service, for free.

Apple Enables iTunes Previews to 90 Seconds For International Users

Since the iTunes store launch in April 2003, users of the store have been requesting a longer preview windows for songs. Earlier this year, Apple finally started offering iTunes previews that were 90-second long (up from the previous 30-seconds) for US customers. Now, it seems that Apple has quietly expanded its 90-seconds iTunes previews outside of the US to other countries.

According to numerous reports, the 90-second previews have been expanded to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, and some parts of Europe. The extended previews includes local labels as well as the ones that already had rights in the US. However, not all songs will have 90 second previews at this time.

In the US, Apple made the change by emailing music labels telling them that they would automatically extend the previews to 90 seconds. The decision to expand 90-second preview to international users may have been made by Apple and not directly by negotiating with music labels. Both the labels and publishers may have had objected to the terms but might not have had a legal stance. The reason for the delay in expansion to international markets is unknown.

 

Qualcomm Releases Augmented Reality SDK for iOS

TechCrunch reports that Qualcomm’s has recently released Augmented Reality Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS. When the SDK first launched, it was only available for Android though Qualcomm had promised a version for iOS in the  near future. The SDK makes it much easier for developers to integrate virtual content with real content like images captured by cameras. Currently, iOS’s SDK supports the iPhone 4, iPad 2, and the fourth generation iPod touch. This move is certainly surprising because Qualcomm had previously only expressed interest in an iOS port since their main focus was building for devices running their Snapdragon chips.

iPhone Augmented Reality

Augmentation reality apps like Layar  and Word Lens already exist for iOS and Android so they are nothing new for the platforms, however there was no easy for developers to integrate the technology cross-platform. Qualcomm’s SDK makes it easier for developers to integrate augmented reality data across platforms which could increase developer interest in augmented reality apps. It will be interesting to see what developers come up with these tools.  In my opinion, if developers start adopting this SDK quickly, we will start seeing a rapid increase in the number of users for augmented reality apps.

Photos Of Possible Next-Gen iPhone Case Appear

This week has been another crazy week of next-gen iPhone rumors. Yesterday, a rumored case design for the next-gen iPhone appeared revealing tapered edges and resembled pre-iPhone 4 designs. Also, the design showed a possible larger screen and a gesture area around the home button.

Green silicone iPhone 5 case

Green Silicone iPhone 5 Case

Today, 9to5Mac reports that they have received photos of an actual case based on that design. According to a report, the design has been shared with manufactures.

The new leaked case does not represent a thinner design if it is for the next-gen iPhone. and doesn’t address the rumors regarding a larger screen or gesture area due to a lack of covering on the front. It turns out that placement of hardware buttons are nearly identical to the current iPhone. However, the mute switch has been moved to the opposite side. Power and volume buttons are present, but difficult to see in the photos since the case is using small numbs of silicon to cover button. In addition, the volume buttons on the case appear more like to be the current iPod touch.

The leaked case isn’t the first design to be claimed for the next-gen iPhone, however this design does suggest a nearly identical design to the iPhone 4.

 

Microsoft Stores Can Suck It! Apple’s New Grand Central Store Might Generate Half-A-Billion In Sales A Year

Apple Store Grand CentralIt has been confirmed that Apple is opening a new store in New York’s Grand Central soon, and it looks absolutely  stunning.  The store is expected to be 23,000 feet (crazy!), but how much revenue will it actually generate?

Needham & Co  did some  research and reports  that Apple’s new store in Grand Central could churn up $4,406 per square foot. However, it must be noted that this number is an average of all of Apple’s stores worldwide so revenue per square foot maybe higher.

In addition,  Business Insider’s Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has pointed out a few interesting facts about the Grand Terminal itself. According to the terminal’s website, commuters’ household income is over $100,00, and 20% over $200,000 (did I just hear a cash register go KA-CHING!?). In addition, he points out that the foot traffic is tremendous.

  • First of all,  the store is in New York, which is full of tourists who want to buy things and people who on average make more money than elsewhere. According to the Terminal’s  website, 50% of commuters’ household incomes are over $100,000, and 20% are over $200,000
  • Just the sheer amount of foot traffic.  An iron rule of the retail industry is that sales grow with foot traffic, always. And Grand Central Terminal certainly gets a lot of traffic: 750,000 people daily and 1,000,000 over the holidays, they say.

Currently, Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue store is generating $350 million in revenue per year, or $35,000 per square foot. For a 23,000 foot store, the number would work out to $460 million in revenue, or $20,000 per square foot. That translates into revenue of nearly half a billion dollars!

At first, these numbers may sound surreal but going by Apple’s recent track record, these numbers may become believable soon.

HTC Looking To Strike Deal With Apple Regarding Patent Dispute

Apple vs. HTC

Over the past few weeks, a patent dispute had been going on between Apple and HTC. The judge found that HTC had indeed been infringing upon two of Apple’s patents, and initially has ruled in Apple’s favor. Today, Bloomberg reports that HTC is interested in striking a deal with Apple for the patent dispute between the companies. FOSS Patents points out that these two patent infringement could put Android in serious trouble.

We have to sit down and figure it out,Winston Yung, chief financial officer of the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company, said by phone today. We’re open to having discussions.

HTC on July 6 announced a $300 million deal to buy S3 Graphics Co., less than a week after that company won an ITC ruling against Apple over two patents. In a July 15 initial determination, the same commission ruled in Apple’s favor on two other patents.

We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable,Yung said. On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out.

In addition, Bloomberg says that in a separate report the battle between Apple and Google has started to heat up. Apple’s contribution to a consortium of $2.6 billion towards the acquisition of Nortel’s patents outbid Google with a total of $4.5 billion. The report reveals that Google and Apple are both considering bidding for patents from the mobile technology company InterDigital. These patents may cost a 50% premium over its already high sale price.

InterDigital currently holds 8,800 patents related to wireless technology with 15% of them being rumored to being related to mobile phone technologies. Also, some of these patents haven’t been licensed to companies yet. According to analysts, these patents maybe worth more than Nortel’s 4G LTE patents sold to Apple’s consortium.

It will be in interesting to see how all these patents disputes turn out over the next few years. In conclusion, how could a company that claims to be innovating and not stealing be this desperate for patents?

Revealed: Beautiful Renderings Of Apple’s Grand Central Store

Apple Store Grand Central

This week Apple’s future Grand Central store has been getting a lot of attention. From rumors about Apple bidding for space in the Grand Central terminal to a rumor stating that their bid had been approved. Today, The Wall Street Journal has posted some gorgeous renderings of what the Apple Store in the Grand Central would look like.

In addition, more details have emerged about Apple’s future store in the Grand Central terminal. Their bid should be approved on Wednesday and Apple will begin construction immediately. A construction time of 4 months is estimated. Also, Apple is paying $5 million to Charlie Palmzer’s Metrazur restaurant to vacate its space on the terminal’s east balcony more than eight years before their lease expires. Crazy, but I guess that’s type of power an insanely large cash pile will offer a company!

Apple is paying Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur restaurant $5 million to vacate its space on the terminal’s east balcony more than eight years before its lease expires. The MTA will get significantly higher annual rent: $1.1 million from Apple vs. $263,997 from Metrazur.

The Apple Store will be located adjacent from the current vacant balcony on the northeast side of the terminal. Not only did the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) mention an upcoming Apple Store, but also announced that a Shack Shack was going to open in the Grand Central terminal. The MTA is very excited about the Apple Store and Shack Shack.

In addition to the space currently occupied by Metrazur, Apple will move into an adjacent, currently vacant balcony on the northeast side of the terminal.

I can’t imagine why any kid in Westchester would want to do anything other than go into Grand Central and shop at Apple and eat at Shake Shack,Rosen said.

I can’t even imagine the impact this store will have on Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue store. In four months, this store will probably leave the Fifth Avenue eating its own dust.

 

Facebook’s iPad App Leaked

Facebook for iPad

Holy smokes! It is about time more info regarding the Facebook for iPad app leaked. Today, TechCrunch has discovered Facebook’s iPad native app within the Facebook for iPhone app. In addition, TechCrunch has posted an extensive gallery of the leaked iPad app. Apparently, the latest update to the Facebook for iPhone app not only included bug fixes, but also included the code for the iPad app.

 @AeroEchelon first discovered that by changing the changing the UIDeviceFamilyfrom 1 to 2 in the  info.plist  of the iPhone app will enable you to use the Facebook for iPad app. He then posted the first screenshots of the app to Twitter. I think this suggests that the app will be universal.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has confirmed the app is real and found the app to be quite good even though its a non-public release version.  Siegler also noticed that much of the code is written in HTML5 and feels like a native app.

The app also makes great use of the pop-overs (overlay menus) found in other iPad apps. When you flip the iPad horizontally, the list of your online friends appears and you can chat with them as you do other things on Facebook. The photo-viewer aspect looks great — similar to the iPad’s own native Photos app. Places exists with a nice big map to show you all your friends around you. Etc.

Rumors have suggested that Facebook will be launching their iPad app shortly. Even though there’s been a huge demand for such an app, the company has not released an iPad version of their app.

Apple Releases iOS 4.3.5

iOS 4.3.5

Unlike Google, Apple protects its customers from malware and other viruses which may affect iOS. Also, Apple dislikes security flaws popping up in iOS, and they do whatever it takes to offer quick fixes. Just 10 days after the release of iOS 4.3.4 (fixed a PDF exploit), they have released a new version of iOS: iOS 4.3.5.

This update is a minor update and fixes another security exploit. iOS 4.3.5 offers a a fix for a  security flaw which might allow attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS. To keep things simple, it means that a hacker on the same network could store or change traffic that would instead be encrypted.  iOS 4.3.4 did affect the JailbreakMe method, but this has no affect on jailbreakers. RedmondPie reports that the jailbreak method that worked with 4.3.4 will work here also.

Direct download links:

After updating my iOS devices (iPhone 4/iPad 2), I have noticed that my devices are a lot snappier and it seems that with every update Apple offers battery life is improved. Anyone notice anything new? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Voice-Controlled Virtual “Assistant” Coming to iOS

Apple Nuance

A new discovery by 9to5Mac, suggests that Apple will offer a feature-rich  voice recognition service in a future version of iOS called “Assistant”. Since the acquisition of Siri and partnership with Nuance, it has been rumored that Apple was planning to offer voice-related features in iOS. However, at WWDC 2011 Apple didn’t mention any such features during the iOS 5 demo.

Assistant in iOS

The screenshot above reveals a new feature called “Assistant” in iOS 5. “Assistant” is supposed to take voice data and user specific information to provide an amazing service to the user. The voice data is supposed to be crowd-sourced and users will have the option to securely send their data to Apple.  Currently, the feature is being developed and tested by Apple and may not be finished by the time the next-iPhone ships.

We can imagine a user asking their iPhone Assistantto setup a movie with one of their friends. The user might say setup movie with Markand based on Mark’s contact info and the user’s location data, will be able to offer tickets to a local theater and send Mark the information.

In addition to voice data being used to bring results, “Assistant” is supposed to use information such as the device’s location, contact information, and music data. Also, 9to5Mac reports that there is a mention of “Assistant” hidden in the iOS SDK.

“ASSISTANT_ENABLE_WARNING” = “Assistant uses your voice input and other information like your contact names, song names, and location to understand your requests. This data will be sent to Apple to process your request and to improve Apple products and services.”

All signs are pointing towards what Siri might have been before its acquisition. Siri’s iOS app hasn’t been removed from the App Store  and is still available for download. Rumors have suggested that Apple is working closely with Nuance to offer a similar service to iOS users.

[image credit 9to5Mac]

Apple Scores 10-year Grand Central Terminal Store Deal

Grand Central

Earlier this week, a report suggested that Apple’s bid for space in the Grand Central would be approved soon. The NY Post  reports  that Apple has signed a ten year deal with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) to open a store inside Grand Central. If true, this would be Apple’s largest store yet.

Tech giant Apple has inked a 10-year deal with the  MTA  to open its largest store in the world in Grand Central Terminal.

The store was originally rumored to be 16,000 square feet, but now the report suggests that Apple will open a 23,000 square foot store in Grand Central Terminal. Usually, Apple Stores are between 3,000 to 6,000 square feet. In addition, Apple will pay  the MTA $800,000 in rent annually for the station’s north and northwest balconies and  will go up to a million dollars annually. Apple will also pay for getting the space refurbished, and will have to cooperate with New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to get any changes made to the interior approved.

MTA officials predict the store bringing in a $5 million profit for itself yearly through shoppers visiting the Grand Central. Apple’s deal with the MTA is set for  a financial committee approval on Monday, and if it is approved the MTA’s board of directors will issue a final approval vote on Wednesday.

 

Apple Becomes World’s Leading Smartphone Manufacturer

Apple vs. Nokia

Nokia for many years had been the world’s leading smartphone manufacture, but now Apple has surpassed them. Apple now has sold more smartphone units and brings in more revenue,  with Apple shipping more iPhones than Nokia this last quarter.

A year ago, IDC reported that  Apple had come in second for the number of global worldwide smartphone shipments against other smartphone manufactures and achieved a 16.1% of global market share. Nokia, on the other hand, dominated with 28% of the market. However, over the last few years Nokia has seen a decrease in market share. Apple’s most recent numbers not only puts them ahead of Nokia, but every other smartphone manufacture!

The Financial Times reports that Apple’s last earnings call,  during which 20+ million iPhones had been shipped during the Q3 of 2011 was announced. In comparison, Nokia reported a 34% decrease in handset sales  to only 16.7 million devices sold in Q3.

Shipments of Nokia smartphones declined by 34 percent to 16.7m units, compared with the 20.3m iPhones shipped by Apple in its second quarter. Apple was already the biggest smartphone maker by revenue and profits, but the April-June period marked the first time it had surpassed Nokia in volume.

The drop in sales caused Nokia’s rank to drop to third place, behind Apple and Samsung. Before 2007, Apple had no existence in the smartphone industry. Now, they have become the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer in less than 5 years. Yup, looks like iPhone is definitely “dead in the water“.

 

T-Mobile Targets iPhone Owners By Offering Micro-SIMs

T-Mobile USA Micro SIM

T-Mobile revealed a month ago that  it had over one million iPhones running on its network. A surprising annoucement because the iPhone officially didn’t support T-Mobile’s network and the phone wasn’t able to take advantage of 3G data speeds due to differences in the carrier’s network standard. Before today’s announcement, T-Mobile customers who wanted to use the iPhone on the network had to trim their T-Mobile SIM cards to fit into the iPhone’s micro-SIM slot because the carrier wasn’t offering smaller cards.

First spotted by App Advice  , T-Mobile USA has officially started to sell micro-SIMs which are compatible with the iPhone. T-Mobile USA is specifically targeting iPhone owners on its page promoting the new cards.

Already have a GSM phone or iPhone that you need to activate—or have an unlocked GSM phone you want to use on the T-Mobile network? Just get a Micro SIM card and choose a plan. Slip the ready-to-use Micro SIM Card into your phone and you’re ready to go.

The micro-SIM is free through T-Mobile’s website if purchased with a two year contract via the website or $9.99 without a contract. However, even if you decide to use the iPhone with a official micro-SIM from T-Mobile, it will still not be compatible with T-Mobile’s 3G network.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is testing a T-Mobile USA compatible iPhone, and will offer it to the public at some point. In addition, a T-Mobile compatible iPhone is even more likely since AT&T and T-Mobile are currently in the process of merging.