Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Beginning today, consumers can bring any aging Apple product to an Apple Store for free recycling. The company explained its renewed commitment to sustainability in a post on its web site, which also includes other initiatives. Before today, Apple required users to fill out an online form before accepting old gear for recycling, and only accepted certain devices. The new program covers Apple smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and accessories. Apple will provide customers with Apple Store gift cards for select products (iPhones and iPads) that are in good, working condition. Apple said it will also accept products from other companies during special, pre-announced recycling events. In addition to the recycling program, Apple said it is looking to make devices more power efficient, make devices free of toxic materials, as well as power its plants and facilities with renewable energy sources.

Apple made iOS 7.1 available to iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch. The operating system update resolves a significant bug that soft reset iOS devices when being used. iOS 7.1 also adds support for CarPlay, Apple’s recently-announced in-car software. The update tweaks the behavior of a wide range of functions, such as the ability to control Siri manually by pressing and holding the home button. Siri gains more natural-sounding voices for Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese. iTunes Radio was improved with new placement of the search bar, and the ability to buy albums directly from the Now Playing screen. The Calendar app gains the ability to display events in the month view, as well as view country-specific holidays. Accessibility has been improved with a bold font option, and the Reduce Motion function now applies to more apps, including weather and messages. iOS 7.1 also adds new HDR camera tools, improves iCloud Keychain support, automatically clears FaceTime calls, improves Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, improves performance of the iPhone 4, and provides other UI teaks. iOS 7.1 is free to download from Apple.

Apple recently published updates to its core productivity applications for the iPhone and iPad. Pages, Apple’s word processor, has a significant number of new features. The app now lets users share password-protected documents via iCloud or export them to .docx files. The app supports charts with date, time, and duration values, and makes it easier to start lists with new characters. The app also improves support for bidirectional text, ePub export, and compatibility with Microsoft Word 2013 documents. Keynote, Apple’s presentation app, includes many of the same improvements and also adds a new remote feature to control slideshows on other devices, adds new transitions, improves presenter display options, and adds custom number formats. Numbers, Apple’s spreadsheet app, now permits spreadsheets to be viewed and edited in landscape orientation, adds iCloud sharing and .xlsx file export for secure documents, and improves compatibility with Microsoft’s Excel program. Each app costs $9.99, but the update is free for customers who’ve already purchased the apps.

Apple indicated that it is working to resolve a bug that plagues the iPhone home screen. “We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” said Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller. The bug doesn’t cause full system-level crashes, but does reboot the home screen. Apple recently released a new beta version of iOS 7.1, signifying that the public release is near. Muller didn’t specifically state that iOS 7.1 would resolve the issue, though the likelihood is high. Muller indicated that the update will be available soon.

Yahoo today made a number of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show. First, the company revealed that it has purchased Aviate, which makes a launcher for Android devices. Aviate is a learning launcher that uses contextual clues to customize the content that appears on the home screen throughout the day. Yahoo said it plans to use Aviate’s user interface ideas in its own Android products later this year. Second, the company announced Yahoo News Digest, an application for the Apple iPhone that delivers news in small chunks twice per day. The app lets users customize the news items they want to receive, and delivers them to the phone automatically. The app is free to download and use, and is available starting today from the iTunes App Store. Yahoo also announced that it is adding a new Yahoo Tech section to its online news reporting, and it launched a new advertising platform for its mobile products.

On Tuesday, Apple started offering iOS 7.1 beta 3 to developers. Those who are bonafide iOS code jockeys with a developer account, can download the latest version of iOS via an OTA update to their Apple iPhone.This is the first new beta for iOS 7.1 since the middle of last month, and offers a number of bug fixes and improvements (or enhancements, in the parlance of software developers).

Among the bug fixes, the problem that prevented users from opening a new iCloud account using setup assistant with the iCloud Keychain enabled, is now fixed. Audiobooks now play as expected. And with Safari, Apple has added a way for developers to minimize the top and bottom of the iPhone screen as a program loads. Users can return to a full-screen look by tapping on the content.

Other changes include a new confirmation screen when powering down a device, and round “Call” and “End” buttons are now on the dialer. Certain app icons featuring a green color, like Phone, FaceTime, and Messages, will feature a less vibrant green color. In “Accessibility”, you can now make colors darker, increase transparency and reduce white point with the “Increase Contrast” section. And for those getting seasick viewing their device, parallax can be turned on and off while setting a new wallpaper.

A couple of other changes have been added to the UIKit. The good news here for the average iOS user is that Apple should be getting closer to the release of iOS 7.1 for iDevice users, which is expected in March. The bad news is that the dark QWERTY, an option in beta 1 and removed in beta 2, remains MIA. But there is a change to the delete key.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has written a letter to the CEOs of the country’s five largest wireless network operators requesting that they do more to help curb cell phone theft. Klobuchar points out that nearly one-third of all robberies involves a cell phone, and stolen mobile devices take a $30 billion toll on consumers each year. Lawmakers in California and New York recently attempted to convince the carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless) to add kill switches to their devices. The tool would allow consumers whose devices are lost or stolen to permanently deactivate their phone. Lawmakers believe that this will help curb the illegal resale of cell phones and eventually reduce robberies. Samsung developed such a kill switch, but carriers shot the idea down over fears of lost insurance revenue. “Your five companies [serve] more than 90 percent of the nation’s wireless subscribers,” wrote Klobuchar. “With that market share comes an obligation to do all you can to utilize technologies available to protect consumers. While I understand your companies are continuing to work with law enforcement on the stolen cell phone database, it is clear that consumers want and deserve a comprehensive strategy to prevent mobile device thefts.” Klobuchar asked the carriers to send her information about any offers made by handset makers to add kill switches, and why they didn’t adopt them; information on whether or not the carriers have considered devices with features similar to Apple’s activation lock; and details on how each company will include kill switches on future products at no cost to consumers. Klobuchar gave the carriers until January 9 to respond.