May 29

9to5Mac Leaked(?) Shots of the iPhone 5

Purported iPhone and iPhone component photos are a dime a dozen – and mostly crap. But every now and again a few crop up that are difficult to dismiss.  Such is the case with new photos obtained by 9to5Mac.com, which claim to show the rear shell of the iPhone 5.

These photos are quite clear, and actually available in high resolution if you visit the post. The photos show a largely aluminum rear shell with colored sections above and below.

They also show that the new iPhone – if these photos are accurate – will continue to have antenna bands along the sides, or perhaps just at the top and bottom of the handset.  The long-rumored mini Dock Connector can also clearly be seen, flanked by redesigned speaker and mic grills.  The 3.5mm audio jack is show as having been moved to the bottom of the phone.

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May 18

An iPad the size of a Kindle Fire?  Yep.  And soon.

Since the first iPad was introduced in early 2010, there have been constant predictions of an “iPad mini,” an Apple tablet with a screen significantly smaller than 9.7-inches. 

All have been wrong.

Even before being proven so by history, the prognostications were routinely quashed by naysayers, who – like Steve Jobs – believed that smaller 7 and 8-inch tablets lacked the utility of the larger iPad; Jobs even went so far as to say that such an iPad would not be produced by Apple. After three iPad generations’ release, we haven’t seen so much as a quarter-inch change in the screen size, mostly because Jobs’ was the only opinion that counted for much the last two and a half years.

But his influence, lasting though it may be in many respects, is no longer a deciding factor at Apple.

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May 16

A 4-inch iPhone?

New reports this week from the Wall Street Journal and Reuters have bolstered persistent rumors that the next iPhone will have a 4-inch touchscreen, bringing it closer to competing smartphones with 4.3, 4.6 and 4.7 inch displays. 

Each iPhone released has featured the same 3.5-inch multi-touch display size, though resolutions have varied.  But rumors predating the current iPhone 4S’s announcement have pointed to a larger iPhone screen for 2012, with the exact size of the increase a matter of some debate. In light of these long-standing reports and two leading news sources’ confirmation, the idea that the iPhone 5 will have a larger screen – likely 4-inches – is now all but certain.

According to the stories, screen production will begin next month, with the first iPhone 5 units rolling off the assembly line in August.  It is generally accepted that the U.S. release will follow shortly thereafter, likely in September or October. There has also been a great deal of speculation that the smartphone will feature a new design, as Apple has not updated the size, shape or style of its iPhone since the summer of 2010. 

Rumors have also persisted that a smaller iPad, with a display perhaps 7-inches diagonally, will be released at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Concept image courtesy of BGR
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May 07

iOS 5.1.1 UpdateIt’s been a while since Apple has released a new iOS 5.x update, but today one has been made available.  A relatively minor update, iOS 5.1.1 addresses a 2G/3G network problem on the new 3rd Gen iPad, bugs in AirPlay video playback, and other minor issues.

On our test iPhones and iPads, the update was under 50MB when updating from the device, but you can also update via iTunes.  The update is available for compatible iPhones and iPod touch models, and all iPads.

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May 02

iHome iW2 AirPlay SpeakerAirPlay is a technology developed by Apple that allows media to be streamed wirelessly via Wi-Fi to and from various devices. The Apple TV is the most conspicuous exemplar of the technology, which allows users of iPads, iPhones, iPod touches and compatible computers to stream movies, photos and music to their TVs without a cable.

But AirPlay has another application that doesn’t get much attention: wireless speaker systems.

There is a small selection of AirPlay-enabled speaker systems that leverage this technology to create a speaker setup in a room, several rooms, or throughout the house. They’re expensive alternatives to traditional iOS speaker solutions, and not for everyone. But if you have certain needs – and a liberal budget – they fill a need few other solutions can: connected wireless speakers with excellent range and sound, with the option to expand to multiple rooms.

I’ve recently spent a few weeks with one of these systems, the iHome iW2, which is one of the more affordable AirPlay units sold. At $199 MSRP it’s not cheap, but its excellent performance and relatively low price make the iW2 a tempting choice for those looking to add AirPlay speakers to their home or office.  Sadly, though, the iW2 and other AirPlay speakers share a common usage restriction.

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