Apple Talk Weekly 8/6: iCloud.com makes debut
We break down the week's Apple-related news into bite-size chunks, along with a healthy dose of some of this week's high-profile (and low-profile) rumors.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Apple Talk Weekly, where we take a step back and bring together some of the big news, along with rumors big and small from the past week.
This week was a busy one on the road to Apple's big cloud revamp, and if you weren't paying close attention it was easy to miss. Ahead of the official launch of iCloud, Apple's new Web site for it went live, but only to developers. The company also unearthed how much it would be charging for extra iCloud storage.
And with the rumor mill monster nearly about to run out of saliva for any morsels on Apple's next iPhone, reports this week continued to wager on when when Apple will ship it. The bad news is that original September date that was being kicked around so much just a few months ago got some cold water thrown on it, suggesting a new model could land in October. There was also yet another report that Apple's cooking not just one, but two new iPhones this year. Read on for more.
News of the week
Even though Apple's iCloud is officially going live in the "fall," the company launched the Web site for the service to developers to kick the tires on. The Web version is nearly identical to the existing apps for MobileMe, with mail, a calendar, a contact form and the Find My iPhone tool. iCloud.com adds a Web app that lets users view documents saved to the iOS versions of iWork. The version of the site that will be open to everyone is expected with the service's official launch.
The most interesting part of the new iCloud site? The error screens you see when your browser isn't supported, or you're missing a plug-in. The Next Web posted a small gallery of them here.
Along with the iCloud.com launch, Apple quietly updated its iCloud information page with the details on renting extra storage on its servers. Here's the gist:
• $20 a year gets you an extra 10GB of storage (totaling 15GB)
• $40 a year gets you an extra 20GB of storage (totaling 25GB)
• $100 a year gets you an extra 50GB of storage (totaling 55GB)
The good news: There are more plans to pick from than were available for MobileMe, letting you buy into slightly less storage at a lower price if that's your thing.
The bad news: It costs slightly more than the storage options offered up for MobileMe, the service Apple is replacing.
Apple says the 5GB that comes free with the service is "plenty of room" because purchased music, apps, books, TV shows, and photos don't count against the free amount. We'll have a better idea of how much the average person ends up needing when the service goes live later this year.
At the beginning of this week Apple quietly updated its Apple TV software, along with making some back-end changes to iTunes on the desktop and iOS devices, to let users re-download purchased TV shows. Before yawning off the page, let's explain why this is a big deal:
• Apple TV buyers can now stream shows on the box. This isn't just for rentals, this is for content they've already purchased, negating some of the utility that was taken out of the AppleTV dropping its internal storage for downloads in its second-generation design.
• Users who may have lost a copy of a TV show they bought a few years ago can now get it once again. Previously Apple required that users keep a backup copy themselves. Now you don't even need to keep around a copy if you're OK waiting for it to stream.
Related: Apple extended the preview time for listening to music tracks to 90 seconds internationally. That luxury was given to U.S. users in December, bumping up from the original 30-second length.
A research report by IDC yesterday noted that Apple's sales of 20.3 million iPhones in the second quarter of 2011 pushed its share up to 19.1 percent, leading the worldwide smartphone market. Coming up just behind it is Samsung, which Apple beat out in shipments, but lost out to in terms of growth since last year.
IDC's findings mimic the ones releasedby research firm Strategy Analytics, which gave Apple a more modest 18.5 percent leading share, once again followed by Samsung, a company Apple is engaged in numerous legal battles with.
Those wanting an iPad from Apple.com can now get it shipped to them in a day's time if they're in the U.S. or Canada. That's down from the four- to five-week wait time potential buyers faced just days after the gadget's release earlier this year. As we noted in our story about the shipping change, it took Apple slightly less time to meet the same order turnaround time with the original iPad, which faced similar supply constraints after release, but shipped to a smaller number of places initially.
The U.S. International Trade Commission this week announced that its members have voted to begin an investigation on Apple's behalf into whether Samsung infringes on Apple's intellectual property with its mobile phones, tablets, and other hardware. Apple first filed its complaint last month following its April lawsuit calling Samsung a copycat. Samsung has an ITC complaint against Apple of its own, saying Apple's infringing on its patents. As a frame of reference, these investigations take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete.
Related: The judge presiding over Kodak's ITC complaint against Apple and Research In Motion. Now it's unclear how his replacement might come down on whether the two companies are infringing on Kodak's patent.
Rumors of the week
Apple's follow-up of the now more than year-old iPhone 4 continues to be of keen interest to would-be buyers, and rumors about the exact time continue to shuffle. This week was no different except that the September time frame that had been mentioned in numerous rumors was pushed back.
Citing a person "with knowledge of the plans," an AllThingsD report said Apple would instead be offering its phone in October. That timing's of special interest given a vague hint during Apple's most recent earnings call that a " " would be going down in Apple's current quarter, which ends in September.
A report by China-based Sohu.com this week said Apple and China Telecom reached a "preliminary agreement" to start selling the iPhone before the end of October. And it's not just any iPhone, it's rumored to be the iPhone 5 alongside a "simplified" iPhone 4.
What makes this one especially interesting is a supposed photo and description of a plastic white iPhone 4, aimed at low-cost buyers, whichfrom the same Vietnam-based site that got its hands on the iPhone 4 ahead of its official unveiling.
The death of the Mac mouse?
A rumor posted by Cult of Mac on Thursday claimed Apple had plans to shelve its Mighty Mouse in favor of the slightly younger (and thinner) Magic Trackpad. The blog later recanted the claim, saying the source behind the rumor had looked into it further, and found Apple was instead using a new part number for its Magic Mouse. Apple currently offers new iMac buyers a choice between the Magic Mouse or the Magic Trackpad, something it began doing in early May .
The long-rumored service from Apple that would let users grab movies and TV shows from the cloud as opposed to relying on downloaded files was said to be on the verge of launching. Blog AppAdvice this week said Apple's "on the edge" of rolling out iTunes Replay, a feature that was originally expected to as a way to stream movies and TV shows, negating the need to fill up local storage with those files. As mentioned earlier, Apple began offering streaming and re-downloading of TV show content just this week.
Movies (and originally TV shows) continue to be a big missing piece in the iCloud puzzle. While the service can sync videos taken on an iOS device, or in a camera through iPhoto, you're out of luck when it comes to movies you purchase from iTunes.
Patent filing of the week
A patent application filed early last year, and published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office details a system for wrapping your gadget's headphones around a small cylinder to charge the gadget they're attached to. Not exactly as convenient as simply dropping it in a charging dock, or as sci-fi as using the inductive charging dock the company detailed in a patent that it was granted earlier this year, but a heck of a lot more interesting than another patent filing this week detailing the snap on security locks for keeping iPods and other gadgets from being pocketed in Apple Stores.
This week in Apple history
This week in 2000, Apple filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court for Santa Clara County, Calif., against a then-unknown individual for posting digital images of its dual-processor PowerMac and new mouse ahead of their public release. Using subpoenas to make Yahoo turn over information on GeoCities members, Apple later ended up identifying the leaker as an ex-contractor who went by the psuedonym "worker bee." The two parties ended up settling a little more than a year after the suit was filed.
CNET reader question of the week
William M. writes:
As I have a number of applications that are 32-bit and not 64-bit, and also I have Rosetta for Office 2004, I am wondering--as I am very very pleased with Snow Leopard--would it be possible for me to download Lion before August 19th, but not install it until some time in the future? I purchased my iMac June 23, 2011, so I am entitled to the free Lion download.
Yes, you'd be wise to get your Lion upgrade while it's still free. The Lion download is done through the Mac App Store, and shows up as an app in your Mac's dock. After redeeming your code, the installer sits there until you click on it and go through with the installation, meaning you can grab it and forget about it until you need it. Also, as per the Mac App Store licensing rules, you can download and install Lion onto up to five machines.
Regarding the Microsoft Office 2004 upgrade issue, you're in a tight spot. Rosetta, which let Intel-based Macs run applications written for the older PowerPC architecture, is not included in Lion, in part to push application makers to writing more up-to-date applications. Likewise, Microsoft is not upgrading that older software just for Lion users. If you want to keep using Microsoft Office, you're going to have to upgrade to the 2008 or 2011 version for Mac, which will work on your Intel machine.
Note: If you have any of your own questions that you'd like to see answered in this weekly column, use the e-mail link right below this article. If I can't get to your question, I might pass it on to my colleagues over at MacFixIt who run.
And to close this week's edition of Apple Talk Weekly, we'll end with a photo. This one comes courtesy of Macrumors forum member guigsh, who claims the below is a photo of Apple's next iPhone taken "in the office of a French operator." The fingertips have supposedly been pixelated to protect the handler from being identified, not say hide any Photoshopping (via BGR).