Champagne iPhone 5S on the way?

Three cases purported to be iPhone 5Ss in black, grey and champagne.This is a guest post by Will Judd.

Since the dawn of time*, the iPhone has come in two colours: black and white. This year, it looks like that trend is finally set to be broken with the release of both the colourful iPhone 5C and the flagship iPhone 5S.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the iPhone 5C that will be offered in new colours, reminiscent of Apple’s iPod lineup. The iPhone 5S will also be offered in a couple of new colours, if recent rumours are to be believed.

The first rumour is that the phone will be available in a new gold colour. Earlier rumours pointed towards a rather eye-catching full gold colouring, but as the potential announcement date of September 10th has grown near it seems that a more mature champagne colour seems more likely. Regardless, swag-bound personages are likely to welcome the new option, although makers of gold iPhone 5 cases and respray operations will likely resent the loss in business.

Sim trays in multiple coloursOur second rumour is more recent, stating that the iPhone 5S will also come in a graphite colour between the traditional white and black. The evidence for this seems a bit thinner, with only hearsay and a grey coloured sim tray being posited as proof the colour option. Regardless, if Apple are set to unveil a new colour then a second isn’t really too unbelievable.

Either way, the first time we’ll really know for sure will be when  Apple have their iPhone event. A lot of rumours have pinned this on September 10th, but with no press invitation as of yet that date can’t be relied upon. Typically invitations are sent out with a week’s notice, so we’d expect to hear about it by next week, on September 3rd.

What do you make of the new iPhone colours – would you buy one? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading the article and have a great day!

*a slight exaggeration

Apple updates developer site in wake of intrusion

Apple LogoApple developers have been contacted by the company to inform them that, last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of registered Apple developers from the developer website.

Apple assures us that sensitive personal information is held in an encrypted form, but they are unable to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses and/or email addresses may have been accessed. They aren’t advising a change of password, but rather just keeping people informed.

To prevent any similar security breached in future, Apple say they are completely overhauling their developer systems, updating their server software, and rebuilding their entire database.

While, as I mentioned above, they are not advising people to change their passwords at the moment, if you have an iTunes or Developer account it might be worth keeping a close eye on it for the next little while. It may be unrelated but, today, I received an automatic notification from Apple that someone had requested a password reset for me. If you see any strange activity on your account, a password reset is usually a good idea.

Microsoft and Apple gear up for new announcements

Xbox Announcement NoticeHonestly, news is like waiting for a bus sometimes. There’s nothing for ages, and then two come along at once. Two emails dropped into my inbox this morning about some upcoming announcements… both of which have me quite excited.

Firstly, Microsoft are preparing to unveil “a new generation” on the 21st of May. Since the email is branded Xbox, I assume this must be the revealing of the fabled Xbox 720 (name not confirmed!). There have been so many rumours and stories about this platform, it’ll be interesting to see what the real story is. My concern is whether it must always be online to play games, as there are times when I play without an Internet connection (on holiday, for instance), and I think the second-hand and rental games markets are an important part of the gaming ecosystem.

We’ll let you know what happens with the new Xbox, just as soon as we know it!

Secondly, Apple have announced the date of their World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) as 10th to 14th June. The WWDC is traditionally the time when Apple unveil new hardware and software, having seen events like the launch of the iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Air in the past. It’s an obvious time to do it – you want your developers to see the stuff they’re going to be developing for. It’s not just developers who will be interested though; the Internet will most likely be buzzing with speculation about a new iPhone, and anything else the rumour mill can dream up.

Are you looking forward to the announcements? What do you think we’ll see from Microsoft and Apple? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Is Apple working on an iOS watch?

This is a guest post by Will Judd.

While most of the internet has light up over additional details over Apple’s purported smart watch, there was also some fairly compelling news this week about one of the future’s best-selling phones: the successor to the iPhone 5.

According to rumours published by PocketNow and 9to5Mac, the iPhone 5S will indeed follow the iPhone 5. Like the iPhone 4S to the 4, the 5S will be an iterative upgrade that keeps the same external design and appearance as the iPhone 5, but will include upgraded internal components to keep the phone feeling up to date. Hopefully Apple will avoid the situation with the iPhone 4S and 4, where some models have minutely different button layouts that necessitated whole new iPhone 4S cases to be made.

The iPhone 5S will include a number of hardware improvements, but one of the most important will be the processor. The iPhone 5S will include the same A6X processor as in the iPad 4, offering a much stronger performing smartphone that should destroy most benchmarks.

The iPhone 5S is also expected to come with an improved camera. After many years at 8 megapixels, might it finally be time for Apple to make the leap to 13 megapixels? We are seeing 13 megapixel models from pretty much all Android manufacturers (except for HTC, who have daringly gone with a four megapixel sensor utilising massive pixels on the HTC One), but then again Apple has never been one to follow trends. Apple has also been rumoured to shift from an f/2.4 camera to an f/2.0 one, but that’s also unconfirmed.

One rather left-field observation that’s making a comeback is the idea that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner under the home button. This will reportedly improve security and usability, although specific use-cases (beyond the obvious touch to unlock) aren’t specified in the rumours (published, fittingly, by MacRumors).

I guess we won’t know anything for sure about the iPhone 5S until it is announced (or not) at Apple’s next big event. With a release date of August seeming likely, we’ve definitely got many more months of rumours and leaks ahead of us.

First reviews of iPhone 5 released

This is a guest post by William Judd

iPhone5With the release of the new iPhone comes the corresponding release of reviews from across the industry. Overall, the iPhone 5 has scored highly with critics across the board, who cite the improved hardware design, taller screen and faster performance as excellent reasons to upgrade. The feared lower battery life due to the larger screen and LTE seem not to have materialised, as Engadget reports that the phone lasts just as long or longer than the previous iPhone 4S even when using LTE.

Joshua Topolsky of The Verge calls it “the best iPhone yet”, but notes that the whole phone feels very safe, and that while that will appeal to the majority of the population, Apple seems to have lost its disruptive influence that it had when it debuted the first few versions of its iPhone.

iOS 6 has had a much rockier time of things, with many outlets reporting the widespread issues users have reported with the new home-grown Maps app. The new app dispenses with Google’s maps data for a home-grown solution, and in many cases the coverage is much worse than what came before, with missing details, a lack of integration with common navigation tasks and occasionally straight up wrong information.

Elsewhere, iOS is seen as a slight step forward but nothing too exciting, with the new Passbook app being well organised but lacking NFC support or use-cases for some people and not much really changing. Twitter and Facebook are now more nicely integrated into the OS, as are sharing options, but these still pale in comparison to what is possible on other platforms, noticeably Android.

Overall? It’s definitely worth an upgrade if you’ve got the cash, but the iPhone 5 isn’t the shake-up that some of us hoped it would be – unless you’re talking about the new connector demanding new iPhone 5 accessories. Hopefully with the expected release of the iPad Mini later this year we’ll see Apple really show us that it’s still capable of true innovation.

5 amazing things to do on your iPad

This is a guest post written by Simon Butler, owner of Rental Tablets, which rents iPads to trade shows, exhibitions and corporate events.

So you’ve bought the iPad, downloaded angry bids, loaded up all your music and installed the usual social networking apps like twitter and facebook. Fancy doing something truly unique with your iPad that will make all the other iPad users envious?

In this post I will highlight 5 unique and amazing things to do on your iPad.

Control robots

Rover tank, controlled via iPadWhen robots start to provide footage and other visuals back to the controller, it makes sense to use a pre-existing device like the iPad to act as the remote to display the footage and control the robot. That’s exactly what the Rover Wireless Spy Tank does, it even captures night vision so you can use it at night. Because it uses wifi technology it’s able to work up to a range of 200m. The Rover retails for £99, all you have to do is download the free app and set it up to use your robot and away you go.

If you want a bit more control over your robots and want to spend your weekends tinkering away a little bit more, you can build your own robots with Lego’s Mindstorm kit. You can even build a collection to interact with each other. You can build your own little army and control them using the free iPad app.

Build a budget prompter

If you like creating video presentations for Youtube and other online video sites, this will come in real handy. For a professional feel to your videos without stuttering and better transitions, it’s best to use a teleprompter. Normally professional teleprompters are expensive. But thanks to iPad and Android tablets, the technology is now accessible for all. With Teleprompter 2000 for Android and Teleprompt+ for iOS you can important text files and set up your own teleprompter rig for cheap. There are loads of cheap reflector systems on eBay for less than £100 which you can use for professional quality recordings. Failing that you could just use the iPad front facing camera with the app and have a pretty good teleprompter for the best part of £11.

Create a 3D model of your head.

This is perhaps one of the most narcissistic things you can do on your iPad. It’s up there with naming all your children after you or putting mirrors on your bedroom ceiling. With the Sculpteo app you can take a snapshot of your face taken from the side and create a vase out of the outline of your face.

It costs a couple of hundred dollars to get it made but it’s worth downloading the app just to have a peek. The vase are actually printed using 3D printers rather than crafted on a pottery wheel.

I suspect in a few years time when 3D printers are more affordable we’ll see more companies propping up offering some pretty interesting creations.

Turn your iPad into a car stereo system

If your car came with a substandard audio system which you’re tired of, and fancy a bit of an upgrade. Why not mount your iPad next to your centre unit. RAM mount have a range of floor mounting kits for iPad which are surprisingly stable. Connect your iPad with the audio jack connector to the line in. Or USB connection if the car supports iOS connections.

For retro effect you can download the BeatBlaster app for a hi-fi system look. While you’re at it, why not try out an iPad satnav solution which will allow you to view the road on a screen twice as big as an ordinary app at a fraction of the price. Hint: TomTom is more expensive and goes on its brand appeal, but CoPilot is cheaper and better.

Express your artistic flair

Digital art is catching up and starting to gain the same recognition as traditional painted art. British artist David Hockney creates art pieces using modern technology including clever setups with Polaroids, digital cameras and painting directly onto the iPad. So, why not take a stab at creating your own art pieces? Hockney uses the iPad with an app called Brushes to create his pieces. You can get Brushes for £5.49 in the US, or on a “freemium” model in the UK. Although you can paint with your fingers for the best effect it’s best to get an iPad compatible paintbrush which can work with the screen of your iPad/Android like the Nomad Capacitive Brush.

These are five things I’ve come up with, why don’t you share your own? Having an interesting iPad application that you want to share with the world? Write in the comments below.

Apple Education Event Details Uncovered

Apple Education Event LogoIt seems that whenever there’s an Apple event on the cards, the rumours fly fast and furious. Even for a smaller do like Apple’s education announcement, the pundits have been weighing in with what they expect to be released.

Ars Technica first reported that the event would be a showcase for Apple to release an eBook creation suite, along similar lines as GarageBand. The tools, which are expected to support the ePub 3 standard, may be partially based on the older iWeb software, which allowed Apple users to easily design and publish websites. Apple is also likely to announce that iBooks will support the standard.

The Wall Street Journal also published about the event, stating that they expect Apple will unveil new textbooks that are designed for the iPad, as part of a partnership with large American textbook publishers like McGraw Hill and Pearson PLC.

The latest word this morning comes from the WSJ again, who report that the initiative will be under the jurisdiction of Apple vice president of productivity applications Roger Rosner.

This is a fairly sensible and not particularly shocking story, but the fact it’s worthy of being published in the Wall Street Journal really speaks volumes about the influence this deal could have on the American education system – and Apple’s power to create media coverage on demand.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what Apple announces.

This post was written by William Judd. Will is a self-facilitating media node for Mobile Fun, the UK’s largest online phone accessories retailer including BlackBerry covers and a Bluetooth speaker.

Hack brings Siri to iPhone 4 and iPod Touch

Siri running on an iPhone

This article was written by William Judd. William writes for Mobile Fun, the UK’s leading online retailer of the Kindle cover, including the new Kindle cover and the Kindle cover with light.

We’ve received word that over the weekend, dedicated hackers working on the iPhone 4 were able to successfully port Siri to the device. The exploit that the hackers used has not yet been released, but a video has.

The video shows Siri running completely naturally and at 100% speed on the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Apple held back Siri from the older devices to make more money rather than Siri having problems running on the slower CPU found on the iPhone 4.

While Siri looks to work perefectly on the iPhone 4, it’s not quite as successful on the iPod Touch, due to the less sensitive microphone. The hack still loads and runs correctly, but you need to speak quite loudly and clearly in order for Siri to hear you properly; speaking at a normal tone barely raises the microphone indicator.

The hack hasn’t yet been released for public consumption, but one of the developers responsible has issued a statement, saying that he is happy to do so once the hack has been checked to ensure that it does not interfere with the operation of any other parts of the iOS system. There’s no ETA listed for this release, as the developer said he doesn’t want to “anger the hive” with broken promises.

We’ll let you know when Siri for the iPhone 4 is officially (or unofficially) available. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with watching the many hilarious Siri videos on YouTube.

Samsung to try and block iPhone 4S sales in Europe

Samsung vs AppleThis article was written by William Judd. William writes for MobileFun.co.uk, the UK’s largest online retailer of Samsung Galaxy S2 accessories.

Samsung announced today that they will be filing patent infringment claims against Apple in European courts. These claims will seek to ban the newly announced iPhone 4S from being sold in France and Italy, ahead of their planned release dates of October 14th and October 28th, respectively.

The claims are on the basis of Apple’s alleged infringement upon the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access standard, better known as W-CDMA. Samsung has announced that it will attempt to prevent the sale of the iPhone 4S in other European markets later, but has chosen France and Italy first as these countries allow bans of products before they have begun to be sold, and are also key markets for the iPhone 4s.

While Samsung has claimed that the move is because ‘Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights’, in reality it’s a response to Apple’s continuing legal attacks elsewhere – to date, Samsung and Apple have sued one another in twenty cases in ten countries this year.

Most recently, Apple was successful (at least temporarily) in blocking the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from sale in the EU, following an injunction from a German court. In that case, Apple was found to have doctored images in order to make the Tab and the iPad 2 looks more similar than they were, and the ban was restricted only to Germany.

Having the iPhone 4S being blocked from sale in Europe would be a great blow to the company, which is expected to see its shares fall further following news of the death of Steve Jobs yesterday. Shares in Samsung, on the other hand, rose 1.7% the day after the iPhone 4S announcement.

With the lacklustre announcement of the iPhone 4S, Apple will be looking to prevent their Android rivals from gaining ground, and the legal battlefield is one in which they must not lose. As Samsung and Apple continue to compete in the smartphone market and seem unwilling to settle their differences, expect more legal action between the two companies across the world.

Apple announces the iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S

People’s devotion to Apple is a strange phenomenon. It’s almost religious in its fervour sometimes, as people sift through all the available information to try and find the kernel of truth at the core. I’m not saying this as an outsider looking in, either, I’m one of those people who happily read the rumours of what shiny new piece of technology is about to be released and try to work out what is true and what isn’t.

I tried to look nonchalant as Twitter exploded with information about Apple’s media event yesterday, but I still ended up reading one of the many live blogs to try and find out what was happening.

And what was happening? Well, if the media predictions were to be believed it was the unveiling of the iPhone 5, but in a half-expected twist, it turns out that Apple were actually unveiling the iPhone 4S.

If you’ve paid attention to the iPhone’s evolution over the last few years, you’ll know that the iPhone 3G was superseded by the 3GS, then the 4… see the pattern here? I will admit I was a little disappointed at first, but having taken a little time to look over the iPhone 4S’s specs and capabilities, that feeling is fading fast. Let’s look at the 4S in more detail then.

Physically, it looks the same as the iPhone 4, which is going to be something of a shock to the many phone case makers who were given the specs for a unit with a thinner profile and larger screen. The internals, however, are completely different:

  • The processor is Apple’s A5 chip, a dual-core processor which delivers two times the processing power of the iPhone 4, and up to seven times faster graphics.
  • Battery life is now 8 hours talk time on 3G (14 hours on 2G), and 6 hours 3G browsing or 9 hours WiFi.
  • The iPhone 4S is GSM and CDMA compatible. If this doesn’t mean much to you, it means that it is able to speak to mobile phone networks worldwide and should work in any country.
  • An 8 megapixel camera will be installed in the new iPhone which, as well as taking high quality photos, can shoot video in 1080p HD. I’m a big fan of my DSLR camera, but it will be great to have a quality camera on my phone for those times when it’s not appropriate or possible to take a larger one with me.
  • An improved dual-antenna system should also prevent those annoying drops when making phone calls because, you know, it should actually work well as a phone.
Perhaps the most interesting feature, though, is Siri voice control. This allows you to do more than just dial numbers from your phonebook – you can ask your phone “What’s the weather like in London?”, or “Tell my wife I’m going to be 30 minutes late” and it will fire up the weather app or send off a text message. I particularly like the example of, “do I need an umbrella today?”, which elicits an appropriate response based on the local weather. Now, I don’t get on particularly well with voice control, possibly because of my Scottish accent, but I will be very impressed if this works.

iOS 5

The latest version of the iPhone’s operating system will be released on Wednesday 12th October, before the iPhone 4S’s launch date of the 14th. iOS 5 includes over 200 new features. Again, let’s take a look at a few:

  • iMessage – a text-based messaging service that’s “unlimited”. By unlimited, Apple mean messages will go over your data connection most of the time. They may be sent via SMS if iMessage is unavailable, however. It will allow instant messaging between iOS devices, and I’m thinking it might be something of a response to Blackberry Messenger. If you have used What’s App on your iPhone, it looks like it will be pretty similar.
  • Twitter integration – tweet straight from Safari, YouTube, Photos, Camera and Maps. Nice, but I wonder if this will herald the beginning of the end for iPhone Twitter app developers?
  • The camera will be useable straight from the lock screen – no more faffing around with trying to unlock the phone before taking a photo, only to realise the moment has passed. It will also be possible to edit and touch up your photos with the built-in photo app.
The iOS 5 update will be free for iPhone 3GS or later.

iCloud

iCloud is a wireless syncing service. When you buy something on one of your iCloud enabled devices, which will include the iPhone 4S, it will automagically be downloaded to your other devices, such as home Mac or iPad. Take a photo with the iPhone, and you will be able to access it on your Mac. No more mailing photos as attachments or plugging in the cable to download them to Aperture.

If you want your friends to be able to find you, you can broadcast your location so that you show up on their Find My Friends maps, and if you’re somewhere you don’t want others to know about, we are assured that it is a simple matter to take yourself off the grid for a while.

All of this sounds great, especially the idea of being able to access all your past iTunes purchases over the cloud (I keep forgetting to sync them to my iPhone) but there is one slight concern. This could really eat through your data usage, so I’m hoping there’s a way to limit iCloud to syncing when on WiFi or when items are under a certain file size.

Roundup

I’ll say again, I was a little disappointed not to be writing about a redesigned iPhone 5 today but, actually, the iPhone 4S looks like it’s going to be very, very good. Will I be in the queue at an Apple store for launch? No. Will I be enquiring about upgrading to a 4S when my mobile phone contract expires (very shortly)? You bet – watch this space for more information when I get my hands on one.

What do you think about the Apple announcement? Is there anything missing you think should have been included? Any features you think look particularly attractive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.