Apple’s Siri Can Now Help You Shop for Electronics

Learn more about Siri

With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Apple also introduced an artificial intelligence agent called “Siri.” Siri is capable of doing many things (ex: create a task, read out loud an email), but it also is integrated with one of the most powerful search engines; Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha plus Siri allows users to find out what flights are above them, solve math problems, and much more!

Today, Wolfram Alpha has quietly announced that it is now pulling data from Best Buy’s public APIs to enable queries against the retailer’s database of 35,000 consumer products. This means that iPhone 4S Siri users have a new way to shop and compare products using their voice. Sorry Android owners, you are once again left out in the dark.

Users can search now for a general product category or a specific product model and obtain a detailed report detailing product features, prices and availability, users ratings, price comparisons with similar models. Oh, but it just doesn’t stop there!  Wolfram Alpha notes that users can even shop for products based on their specific needs, such as asking for “the lightest digital camera under $100 with a pixel resolution greater than 12MP.This is just one step forward to moving away from answer engines to search engines.

Siri Best Buy

Currently, the Best Buy  data is only available to users in the United States. Yesterday, Apple released a new ad promoting the iPhone 4S and Siri, but the ad never actually mentiones or displays the words “iPhone 4S” or “Siri.” You know your brand is strong built when you don’t have to mention a feature or the product’s name. Which other company can do that today?

[image credit: AppleInsider]

Apple Releases New iPhone 4S and Siri Ad for the Holidays

While Samsung and other companies are insulting Apple and Apple fans in their ads, Apple is keeping it classy. The latter works unlike the other approach. Today, Apple has released a beautiful ad just in time for the holidays. The new commercial is for the iPhone 4S/Siri, which shows Santa using Siri to find directions and information like upcoming appointments and weather. Genius! He also searches an email  with his “naughty or nice” list, and hears an email read out loud from Mrs. Claus reminding him to “go easy on the cookies”. You know, I had a hunch that Santa used an iPhone.

Finally,  Santa asks to check his schedule for the rest of the day. Since this part is funny, I won’t ruin it for you. Apple aired its first iPhone 4S commercial just days after the launch, and followed that with three more commercials at the end of October. I think this commercial is pure genius and it has got to be my favorite one yet.

Now, let’s take a look at Apple’s Christmas ads from previous years:



After watching them, we can conclude that Apple’s Christmas commercials get better every year!

New iOS Build Fixes “No Sim Card” Error on iPhone 4S

iOS 5 icon

Recently, Apple has been releasing updates for the iPhone 4S so they can squash all the bugs it may have. Turns out the iPhone 4S had a battery life bug, but Apple fixed it by releasing iOS 5.0.1 within just weeks of releasing the new iPhone. You know, we iOS owners get constant updates unlike *cough* Android owners. Surprisingly, yesterday Apple released a tweaked version of iOS 5.0.1 (build 9A406), but the purpose of the update was unknown and  was not being made to all users. The update was only made available to those newly updating to iOS 5.0.1.

Today, a new Apple support document suggests that the tweaked update may have been designed to deal with  some users experiencing with SIM card-related errors.  According to the support document, the “iPhone 4S may have difficulty recognizing a micro-SIM card,” and will subsequently display “Invalid SIM” and “No SIM Card installed” alerts or “No Service” and “Searching” status bar messages. Since the update may only affect a small portion of users, Apple may have chosen not to make the update available to all users.

According to Apple, if you are encountering these issues, download and install the latest build of iOS 5 by restoring the unit through iTunes, and confirm that the software version reads “5.0.1 (9A406).

French Court Denies Samsung’s Request to Ban iPhone 4S

Apple vs Samsung

News regarding the Apple vs. Samsung case is all over the place – from copy-cat Samsung suing Apple and Apple and vice-a-versa. Recently, Apple has been looking to ban sales of the revised Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 N. In addition, there is also a lawsuit between Apple and Motorola happening right now too. Today, more news about a particular lawsuit between Apple and Samsung has been revealed.

A French patent litigation has rejected Samsung’s attempt to ban the iPhone 4S, because ya’ know, Samsung is totally not copying Apple. Apparently, Samsung claims that the iPhone 4S may be infringing a few key 3G patents, which may cause Apple to see a world wide failure. This decision is a huge blow to Samsung’s patent arguments, according to Florian Mueller’s FOSS Patents.

Samsung copying Apple

The the ruling implies that the basis for Samsung’s arguments  against the iPhone 4S, so-called FRAND patents, have been exhausted. Apparently, these fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) patents have been a part of Samsung’s cases worldwide.  Originally, Samsung licensed the industry-essential patents to Qualcomm, which supplies the baseband chip in the iPhone 4S, but claims it terminated the agreement with regards to Apple’s use of the intellectual property.

Samsung’s litigation strategy has also been  under investigation  by the European Commission to determine whether it violates anti-competition laws.

Samsung Galaxy S II Ad Mimics iPhone Line-waiters

As if patent lawsuits weren’t enough for copy-cat Samsung, now they have started to mimic iPhone line waiters. I really don’t understand how a company is supposed to win existing iPhone customers overs by insulting Apple product owners, but OK. Today, a new television ad by Samsung demonstrates its on-going rivalry with Apple by taking a swing at customers waiting in line for the iPhone. To me, this seems like a sign of jealousy. Why? Because nobody ever waits in line for a Samsung phone. In fact, when was the last time Apple insulted any of its customers during an iPhone ad? If you answered never, that’s correct.

Apple vs Samsung

According to Mashable, Samsung’s Galaxy S II smartphone commercial was set to debut on Facebook on Tuesday and begin airing on TV on Thanksgiving. The ad starts off by showing groups of people    waiting in line in major cities across the U.S. in an obvious reference to the crowds that Apple traditionally draws to its iPhone product launches. Samsung also takes a stab at battery problems with the iPhone 4S. HA! Who are they kidding? Android has had power management problems since day one, but have they ever mentioned that? Nope. In addition, Apple has already fixed the battery life issue. What’s really shameful is that Samsung does not mention the drawbacks of their phone. Unlike Apple, unfortunately, they continue to lie. For example, Samsung does not mention your phone may never receive an update. In an iPhone commercial, Apple demonstrates the true  iPhone experience.

The commercial also demonstrated a complaint that appeared after the iPhone 4S was unveiled.  “If it looks the same, how will people know I upgraded?” a line-waiter asked. Why, yes, Samsung! That would explain why they are selling like hotcakes. The company ends the  ad by boasting about the screen size and 4G capabilities. Once again, the lack of those two features in the iPhone 4S would explain why the iPhone 4S is selling like hotcakes, right?  Samsung’s ad concluded with the tagline: “The next big thing is already here.” That’s what…uhh, never-mind.

I personally find this offensive since I have waited in line many times before for an Apple product launch. The way Samsung portrays people waiting in line is not true in reality. Period.

U.S. Carriers Still Struggling to Meet iPhone 4S Demand

Everyone knows by now that Apple recently released the iPhone 4S, but how well is the doomed phone exactly selling? Let’s take a look. A few days after,  Reuters  reported  that AT&T is seeing an  extraordinary demandfor the new iPhone 4S, which became available for preorder at 12:01 am Pacific time on Friday, October 7th. AT&T revealed that  they have seen over 200,000 preorders for the iPhone 4S in the first 12 hours of sale. Pretty impressive for a “non-iPhone 5″…

iPhone 4S

Then, just 24 hours after pre-orders started for the iPhone 4S, Apple pushed back expected shipping times for the device from expected delivery on October 14th to an estimate of 1-2 weeks. Just days after, Apple announced that the iPhone 4S sold one million preorders in its first 24 hours of availability, setting a new record for the company. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that  Verizon Wireless customers still need to wait for more than three weeks for their purchase to arrive. It’s an average 21-day wait at AT&T as well, whereas Sprint customers must wait up to 14 days. Hey! Wait a minute! What happened to “nobody wants this iPhone” nonsense?  You know how insane that is? (in a good way). Just imagine what the demand will be like beginning next week since it is holiday season.

Verizon Wireless customers may have to wait more than three weeks for the device, according to the carrier’s website. That compares with as much as 21 days at AT&T and up to 14 days at Sprint Nextel. While some tech blogs have suggested Apple’s manufacturing isn’t keeping pace, the carriers point to unexpectedly strong demand for the handset.

We are having some supply issues in the sense that demand’s huge,AT&T’s president of emerging devices, Glenn Lurie, said Wednesday. We have had just record-breaking sales on it.

In fact, when was the last time you read an article about an Android phone’s demand? We read about the iPhone’s demand all the time, but never about an Android phone’s. How can that be possible if Android is “winning”?

iOS 5.0.2 Coming Soon? iOS 5.1 to Bring New Siri Integration?

Learn more about Siri

A few weeks ago, we reported that  the  The Guardian  had received word from a customer that Apple had contacted him regarding poor battery life. He was asked to install a monitoring program on his phone. Using the program, Apple engineers hoped to  be able to use the diagnostics to determine what was causing shorter battery life for some users.  A senior engineer at Apple contacted the person who wrote a post online, and indicated that  the company was contacting users to resolve the problem.  Then, Apple  confirmed  that  they had found issues in iOS 5 that  are causing some iPhone owners to experience poor battery life with their iPhone running its latest software.

Last week,  Apple  released  iOS 5.0.1 to fix the battery life issue. Then, it was reported that even after the update some users still continued to experience battery life issues. I know many of you Apple haters must be laughing right now, but hey! At  least, Apple is constantly on the lookout and will get this issue fixed. They care about their customers unlike some companies. *cough* How about ’em Android software updates, eh?

Now, German site Macerkopf  (amazing on how these rumors pop up from nowhere) reports  [Google translation]  that Apple is working on two software updates for iOS 5. These updates are looking at both near-term battery fixes and longer term improvements to Siri. According to Macerkopf:

iOS 5.0.2 coming very soon, solving the battery bugs. Should arrive before the end of next week. Apple is working hard on the update. In addition Apple ist working on the first big iOS 5 Update (iOS 5.1), bringing some siri-extensions. Also the Siri hardware-control is in work “take a picture”, “make a video”, “switch on/off WiFi”, “switch on/off BT” and more.

The report claims that Apple’s internal goal is  for iOS 5.0.2 to provide iPhone 4S users 40 hours of standby with 10 hours of active use. Holy smokes! If true, this will be awesome!    It said that the update will arrive “no later than next week.” Honestly, to me these rumors seem likely.

In addition, the next major update, iOS 5.1 is rumored to feature    “many changes” related to Siri voice control, but the update is not expected to arrive by the end of 2011, as work on Siri is “very expensive.” The site claims that  Apple will add new voice commands to Siri, allowing users to initiate activities like taking photos, recording a video, turning Wi-Fi on or off, or enabling and disabling Bluetooth.

Macerkopf   has not been a consistent source of rumor regarding Apple, and thus this report should be taken with a grain of salt.

Apple Still Looking into Battery Life Issues After iOS 5.0.1 Update

Couple of weeks ago,  we  reported  that the  The Guardian  had received word from a customer that Apple had contacted him regarding poor battery life. He was asked to install a monitoring program on his phone. Using the program, Apple engineers hoped to  be able to use the diagnostics to determine what was causing shorter battery life for some users.  A senior engineer at Apple contacted the person who wrote a post online, and indicated that  the company was contacting users to resolve the problem. Then, Apple confirmed that  they had found issues in iOS 5 that  are causing some iPhone owners to experience poor battery life with their iPhone running its latest software.

iPhone 4S battery life iOS 5.0
iPhone 4S battery life on iOS 5.0

Yesterday, Apple released iOS 5.0.1 to fix the battery life issue. Since updating my iPhone 4S, I have seen a significant improvement, but I can’t speak for everyone. Apparently, even after the update some users still continue to experience battery life issues. Certain device owners might be laughing right now, but hey! At least, Apple is constantly on the lookout and will get this issue fixed. They care about their customers unlike some companies. *cough*

iPhone 4S battery life on iOS 5.0.1
iPhone 4S battery life on iOS 5.0.1

Today, in a statement to  John Paczkowski of  All Things D, Apple acknowledged there may be some issues that still need to be addressed after Thursday’s release of iOS 5.0.1.

“The recent iOS software update addressed many of the battery issues that some customers experienced on their iOS 5 devices,” the company reportedly said. “We continue to investigate a few remaining issues.”

I guess iOS will be released sometime soon…

Apple Now Taking Orders for Unlocked, Contract-free iPhone 4S

Are you a U.S. customer who’s been holding out for an unlocked iPhone 4S? Good news! Now you can order an unlocked iPhone 4S contract-free from Apple’s online store.

The 16GB unlocked iPhone 4S starts at $649, while customers can also purchase a 32GB version for $749, or 64GB for $849. Oh boy, that sure sounds expensive, but if you compare it to other unlocked smartphone prices it works out to be the same. As of right now, all three models  are estimated to ship within one to two weeks when ordered from Apple’s online store.

Unlocked iPhone 4S prices

Currently, the unlocked iPhone 4S is only supported on GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. Users can obtain a micro-SIM card to use on overseas carriers when traveling abroad. Unfortunately, customers of CDMA networks, like Verizon and Sprint, will not be able to use the unlocked iPhone 4S because it cannot be activated on their networks. Which is weird because the iPhone 4S is a “world phone” compatible  with both GSM and CDMA networks.

“If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice,” Apple’s official product description reads.

“It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.”

In addition,  as of Friday U.S. carrier Sprint is now SIM-locking all iPhone 4S handsets to its network during the activation process  according to  Sprintfeed. Nobody knows why this is the case, but I hope Sprint decides to revoke this decision.  Apple’s online store has already been warning customers with the message: “Your iPhone will work only with the carrier you choose.”

iOS 5.0.1 IPSW Direct Download Links

Apple has started rolling out the much awaited iOS 5.0.1 to all iDevices including the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4S, along with the iPod Touch line-up.

Owners of the latest generation iPhone state that they have been getting horrible battery life from their phone, and that the phone is unable to last even half a day on standby!  With the release of iOS 5.0.1, Apple aims to fix the poor battery life issues faced by a majority of iPhone 4S owners.

Along with an improvement in battery life, the update also add multitasking gestures to the original iPad, and improves voice  recognition  a.k.a Siri for Australian iPhone 4S users. There should also be some improvements in iCloud document syncing as well. iDevice owners can update to iOS 5.0.1 either via OTA, or via iTunes. The OTA update weighs in a mere 44.6MB.

Alternatively, users can directly download the IPSW file and upgrade manually. iPhone 4S owners can download the IPSW file from here, while iPhone 4 GSM and CDMA owners should head over to this and this link, respectively. iPhone 3GS owners can find the required iOS 5.0.1 IPSW file here.

Original iPad owners can download the IPSW file from here, while Wi-Fi and GSM versions of iPad 2 owners can download the IPSW file from here and here. iPad 2 CDMA owners can download the IPSW file from here. Owners of 3rd and 4th gen iPod Touch should head over to this and this link.