iOS 5 battery fix gets mixed reviews--plus more fuel for Apple rumor mill

CNET's Josh Lowensohn talks about the fix Apple issued this week for the iPhone battery-life issue. He also gives you the rest of the big Apple news and rumors in this edition of Apple Talk Weekly.

Apple Talk Weekly

Apple surprised users this week by delivering its battery-life-fixing update to iOS 5 sooner than expected. But complaints about the problem continued.

The update arrived a little more than a week after Apple first acknowledged that some users were, in fact, running into problems with battery life after upgrading to the newer version of iOS. Apple then promised to deliver a software update to fix the issue, which the company said would be here "in a few weeks."

Instead, the update came just eight days later, on both iTunes and as the first over-the-air update on devices--a feature that was added as part of iOS 5.

But the update doesn't seem to be a fix-all for the problem. Yesterday, numerous users complained that the issue still existed , and some even said it was worse. Apple responded by saying the fix had addressed most aspects of the problem but that the company was continuing to investigate "a few remaining issues."

Besides attempting to tackle the battery-life situation, iOS 5.0.1 brings multitasking gestures to owners of the original iPad, fixes a security issue for iPad 2 users with a Smart Cover, and brings an improved iPhone 4S dictation feature to Australian users.

Read on for a rundown of everything else that happened this week in Apple land.

Apple Talk Weekly rounds up of some of the top Apple-related news and rumors. It appears every Saturday morning and is curated by CNET's Apple reporter, Josh Lowensohn.

News

Apple settles split cord MagSafe lawsuit
Apple this week reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit targeting older models of its MagSafe power adapters that had a nasty habit of splitting near where the cord met the magnetic housing. Those who bought a replacement may now be entitled to a full or partial refund. Apple has also listed information on what the problem looks like and what users should do with their damaged adapters.

Apple's Apple Store now lets you buy some things with your phone.
Apple's Apple Store now lets you buy some things with your phone. Apple

Apple begins selling unlocked iPhone 4S in the U.S.
Without much ado, Apple began selling the unlocked version of the iPhone 4S in the U.S. through its online store yesterday. The phone can be purchased by users on GSM networks without signing a new contract with their carrier. That luxury comes at a price however, with the 16GB model running $649, the 32GB version at $749, and the 64GB model for $849. Worth noting is that this version does not work with CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint. Apple sold unlocked versions of the iPhone 4S in other countries from the get-go.

Apple's iOS Store app adds pay with phone
Apple updated its Apple Store app this week with a rather neat trick. The new feature lets you buy items within stores using the company's EasyPay system. The feature doesn't work for big ticket items like iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. Instead it's for the small stuff, like accessories, which can be bought after being scanned with the iPhone's camera. The other new option that came with the update was the addition of in-store pickup, letting you buy an item from home for later retrieval in one of Apple's stores--something Apple recently added to its normal online store.

Hidden features spotted in iOS 5
A pair of hidden iOS 5 features were unearthed this week, the first being the much-rumored but hidden panorama mode in Apple's iOS camera application. That was dug out by developer Conrad Kramer, who posted instructions on how you can turn it on by tweaking a preferences file then resyncing your phone. The other feature is an autocorrect tweak that adds a list of autocorrect suggestions on top of the keyboard, similar to what's on Google's Android keyboard. Just like the panorama mode, that takes some tweaking in preferences files to get things working.

iPhone 4S preorders in Hong Kong sell out in 10 minutes
Apple's iPhone 4S went on sale in the U.S. and a number of other countries last month, but Hong Kong got the gadget only this week. The phone sold out of preorders in 10 minutes, later leading to lines some 3,000 people long.

Here's news agency AFP's video of the line forming:


Voice behind British Siri goes public
Siri may be known by most in the U.S. as a sassy female, but in the U.K. it's voiced by former technology journalist Jon Briggs. In an interview with the U.K.'s Telegraph this week, Briggs outed himself as the voice of "Daniel," the male voice used in the U.K. localization of the personal voice assistant. In the interview, Briggs said he was told by Apple not to tell anyone he was the voice behind it, despite having done the voice recordings six years ago for a company called Scansoft that turned his 5,000 sentences into enough tones to say any word.

Developer ports Siri to iPhone 3GS
Never mind the fact that it doesn't seem to run that well, developer Ryan Petrich this week managed to get Apple's Siri software working on an iPhone 3GS. Among other things, Petrich's software--which he hasn't released publicly--requires a jailbroken iPhone, and a very quiet environment, owing to improvements in voice cancellation technology that came in later-generation iPhone models.

Siri running on an iPhone 4S.
Siri running on an iPhone 4S. Apple

Steve Jobs nominated for Time Person of the Year
Steve Jobs got a nod from Time Magazine's 2011 Person of the Year committee this week. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was the one who nominated Jobs, saying he "changed the world." If Jobs ends up getting the award, he'd be the first person in the magazine's history to get it posthumously.

"Lost" interview with Steve Jobs coming to theaters
Landmark Theaters plans to screen a 70-minute interview with Steve Jobs, conducted in 1995. The screenings, which take place November 16 and 17 in select theaters around the U.S., are of an interview conducted by writer and producer Rober Cringely for his 1996 PBS miniseries "Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of the Accidental Empires." Some 10 minutes of the whole interview ended up in the program, with the original copy later being lost. The screening is of a VHS duplicate that was recently discovered.

iPad used for voting in Oregon election
No, this didn't involve outright replacement of voting machines--instead, Apple donated five iPads to the state of Oregon to help disabled voters cast their ballots. Those iPads featured a specially made application and were taken around to nursing homes and community centers.

iOS 5 on almost 40 percent of iPhones
Online ad network Chitika said this week that 38 percent of iPhone users on its network were running Apple's latest mobile operating system. Not surprisingly, the majority of users are still on iOS 4.

Rumors

Siri not headed to older iPhones, devices
Have you been hoping that rumor about Apple testing Siri on older devices meant the sassy personal assistant would be coming to your iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4? Alas, the rumor is looking properly debunked after a report from developer Michael Steeber this week. In it, he shared a purported e-mail reply from Apple after having requested the feature. "Siri only works on iPhone 4S and we currently have no plans to support older devices," the company replied.

China Mobile to Apple: iPhone deal will cost you
In a report this week, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu claimed that China Mobile, a carrier in the region with more than 628 million wireless subscribers, was looking to get a piece of the App Store action if it were to carry Apple's device. Wu said China Mobile wants in on the revenues Apple generates from the App Store, which goes around carriers to split profits between Apple and developers.

Grand Central terminal in New York.
Grand Central terminal in New York. MTA

Apple may open Grand Central store this month
Apple is reportedly on a tear to get its Grand Central terminal store up and running ahead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., which is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The new store is in a position to get considerable foot traffic over the next few months with travelers going back and forth to holiday destinations.

iPhone 4S demand slowing? Not so fast.
A report out of the Commercial Times made waves this week after claiming that Apple was scaling back its parts orders for the iPhone 4S. Analysts were quick to offer their dismissal of the claims, pointing to Apple's continuing difficulties in keeping units on shelves, with a 1-2 backlog on new orders, and Apple's own stores running out of stock.

Dual light bars in iPad 3?
A report this week suggested that for its next generation of the iPad, Apple is going with additional oompf in the back-lighting technology it uses. DigiTimes said Apple is eyeing a move to two separate back-lighting bars, or one that uses twice the LED chips. The idea is to get more light through a display that will have a higher resolution than that found on existing first- and second-generation models.

 

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