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13Jan/120

Valencia Apple Store opening forces reseller to close

An authorized Apple Premium Reseller in Valencia, Spain -- Illa Digital -- closed its doors four weeks after an Apple Store opened just four blocks away. ifoAppleStore reports that competition from the Apple Store caused Illa Digital to start losing revenues almost immediately after the official Apple outlet opened for business, and finally laid off four employees before closing up shop earlier this week.

There's a second reseller in Valencia, K-Tuin, located further away from the city center where the Calle Colón Apple Store and Illa Digital locations are, and it's apparently still in operation.

ifoAppleStore notes that Apple executives have claimed for years that business for nearby resellers actually improves, but that resellers have "generally disputed that claim." To survive, they need to adjust their customer focus to remain relevant -- for instance, putting an emphasis on out-of-warranty repairs, selling used equipment, and so on.

For Illa Digital, it looks like it's too late to change the focus and try a slightly different business plan.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogValencia Apple Store opening forces reseller to close originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 13 Jan 2012 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13Jan/120

Dear Aunt TUAW: How do I silence my iPhone?

Dear Aunt TUAW,

There is an article in the WSJ about how an iPhone disrupted a performance of the New York Philharmonic. I have experienced the same problem where it is impossible to turn the alarm off once it goes on.

If you set up a calendar alert and change your reminder sounds with the Alarm sound, when the alarm goes off there is no way to silence it. If you turn the phone to silence mode, it still makes noise. If you close the event, it still makes noise. I believe the only way to shut off the sound is to completely turn off the device.

This has been so annoying that I stopped using iPhone's calendar reminder alerts. This article reminded me of the problem. Can you explain how this all works?

Your loving nephew,

Brian

Dear Brian,

iPhone alarms aren't affected by any of the normal system volume settings. This ensures that you'll still be woken up in the morning, a major design touch point for iPhone users who'd prefer to get to work on time. In fact, the iPhone supports numerous independent volume controls.

For example, the mute toggle on the side of the phone controls the ringer without affecting audio playback. The iPod functions built into the unit have independent speaker and headphone levels. Siri audio has its own volume levels as well -- plus lowering Siri speaker audio doesn't change the volume for when you pick up the phone to your ear.

Apple designed these multiple controls to work in the most flexible yet reliable ways possible, ensuring that the phone responds as the user expects it to. A single system-wide volume setting wouldn't be able to handle these day-to-day nuances.

If you mute your phone for the movie theater at night, you should still be able to wake up the next morning. If you lower the speaker volume for your music, it shouldn't keep you from using Siri to call hands-free. Please note that adding headphones does not re-route alarm audio.

That means if you take your phone into a quiet event -- a meeting, concert, or other -- you should probably power off the device completely for the duration. Press the sleep/wake button for about 5 seconds, and then slide to power down.

If this is not possible, you'll want to set the ringer to mute, set the system audio to zero, launch Siri and lower the volume to zero, disable all alarms, and review the Settings > Notifications items in the Notification Center to switch off audio. There's probably some items Auntie is missing here, but she trusts her nieces and nephews will refine this list in the comments.

In the end, Auntie thinks Apple did a great job in designing the various iPhone audio systems. For those rare occasions where you really need to bypass these design choices, powering the iPhone down will keep it from embarrassing faux pas.

Hugs,

Auntie T.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogDear Aunt TUAW: How do I silence my iPhone? originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 13 Jan 2012 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13Jan/120

Will the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 be Priced to Succeed?

CES 2012 has drawn to a close, and if you’d said twelve months ago that Nokia would leave the show having introduced one of the stand-out products, the industry would’ve laughed you out of Vegas. Sure enough, though, the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 is on everyone’s lips, delivering the slick style of the first Lumia 800 with the sort of big screen and capable camera dominating the smartphone market today. Rumors suggest it’ll drop in March, but is Nokia ready to price the LTE Lumia to succeed?

Neither A&T nor Nokia would be drawn on exactly how much the Lumia 900 will cost when it eventually goes on sale. Going by previous LTE smartphones, however, $199.99 with a new, two-year agreement and mandatory 4G data plan would on the fact of it seem most likely.

Still, AT&T is working hard to push LTE down through the price range. The Pantech Burst and Samsung Exhilarate didn’t exactly grab attention like the Lumia did, but AT&T has promised them for $50 apiece (again, with contract). 2012 may well end up being the year for relatively affordable LTE devices after all.

Will any of those be bearing the Nokia logo, however? The Finnish company has been ambitious with its Lumia 800 pricing in Europe, undercutting Android and iOS rivals and negotiating decent subsidies with networks to make the Windows Phone more affordable. As an exclusive on AT&T, however – something both companies have repeated ad-nauseum – there’s always the suspicion that the carrier will use that rarity to milk subscribers of a little extra cash.

"Nokia may still be number one worldwide, but in the US it’s embryonic at best"

That would potentially be death to Nokia’s chances in the US market, however. It may still be the number one mobile phone company in the world, but Nokia’s standing in the US is embryonic at best; if AT&T slaps a $200 tag on the Lumia 900 it’ll lose a huge chunk of potential audience who might be willing to give Windows Phone a punt. Offer it for $100, however, and all of a sudden there’s a lot more appeal. Do the unthinkable and opt for free-on-contract – just as the 800 is sold in many European countries – and you could have a real success on your hands.

Nokia has long made a point of highlighting its supply chain and experience in producing hardware, which combine to help the company drive down prices. Stephen Elop has even recently namechecked that as a reason why selling off its smartphone division to Microsoft simply wouldn’t make sense.

Now it’s time for Nokia to put its potency to work. It has one chance to storm the US market and convince analysts, investors, geeks and consumers that it has caught up with its rivals, and a bulging marketing budget isn’t enough, on its own, to do that. Price the AT&T Lumia 900 right, and Nokia could take its first step on a comeback campaign it’s been paying lip-service to for months.

Nokia Lumia 900 hands-on:

Will the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 be Priced to Succeed? is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

Sony Google TV second generation hands-on

Smart TVs were a running theme of CES this year, but the Google TV platform didn’t get a lot of love. Aside from a chipset demonstration from Marvell and some lip service from LG, only Sony showed off real progress for the the Android-based integrated TV service. The second generation of Sony’s Google TV hardware comes in integrated TV, Blu-ray and stand-alone models, and we took some time to check them out on the CES show floor.

Physically, the new stand-alone and Blu-ray versions (NSZ-GP7 and NSZ-GP9, respectively) aren’t all that distinctive. The Blu-ray player is a large white box, and the stand-alone is a dimpled grey. It’s a shift from the original version, but by no means a radical one. The real news is the newly-redesigned remote, which takes some ques from HTPC remotes and the Boxee Box remote. One side looks like a standard TV/cable remote with thew addition of a touchpad, and the full QWERTY keyboard is moved to the other side. Both sides have backlit keys for easy access in a theater-style setup, and an integrated microphone lets you use Voice Search and Voice actions from the couch. Demonstrations of voice functions were very convincing.

The Blu-ray player is a pretty impressive specimen, cramming all of Google TV’s functions into a case not much bigger than standard models on retail shelves today. It includes full 3D support at 1080p, so it’s worth a look even if you want the latest 3D tech. The Blu-ray player also includes the remote, and as far as functions and interface goes, it’s nearly identical to the stand-alone and integrated units.

Speaking of the interface, it’s refreshingly spare on manufacturer customization. Aside from a few links to Sony’ music and media stores, it’s pure Google TV (Android) 3.2, with the new Android Market GTV section well-integrated. Sony’s Google TV hardware was the first to receive the major update, and after hearing that LG plans to do some heavy modification of the open-source hardware, we’re thrilled to see that Sony is keeping it simple.

There was no detailed specification information for the new Google TV units, so we don’t know if it’s running on the older x86 hardware or the newer ARM systems coming from Marvell and MediaTek. Since these models aren’t due to hit the market for a few months at least, we’d guess the latter. No pricing information was offered.

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Sony Google TV second generation hands-on is written by Michael Crider & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

CES 2012 comes to a close as SlashGear exits Las Vegas

We’ve had one whole heck of a lot of fun this past week at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, but all good things must come to a close, and so too must we exit Las Vegas Nevada. What we’ve seen has been wrapped up a bit by Chris Davies in a set of posts listed later in this post, but we’ve got plenty of content left to go – stacks of hands-on video and photos of oddities, hidden treasures, and items that require just a bit more in-depth processing than your average feature from across the show floor for you to peek at throughout the weekend. That said, we’d like to thank everyone at CES for all your hard work and for making such an event of massive size take place for the pleasure of us and our readers.

For those of you interested in following the entirety of our CES 2012 content, both at the event and outside of the event but relating to the timeline, head to our tag [CES 2012]. Everyone interested in exploring what we’ve scooped up here live at the events in Las Vegas as they unfolded and in-person, head to our portal by the name of [CES Live]. Both tags will continue to be filled out over the weekend and, if you’re lucky, into the oncoming week. As with all events that have so many products in them that there’s no physical way for everyone to cover them all, so too do we want to give you all we’ve got.

We’ve also got additional comprehensive wrap-up posts on the way, including our favorite picks, the best-of for the entirety of CES 2012 separated by category, and opinion columns both here and over at Android Community regarding what we’ve seen over the last week. This very moment I must leave you with one question:

What was YOUR favorite device, product, or moment from CES 2012 that you’ve happened upon thus far?

CES 2012 comes to a close as SlashGear exits Las Vegas is written by Chris Burns & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

Apple details supply chain in annual responsibility report

Apple‘s supply chain is one of the more closely guarded secrets in the tech world; even simply confirming you have the Cupertino company in your order book has been enough to see some companies lose contracts. However Apple itself has spilled the beans on the rolodex it flips through when it needs a new iPhone screen or iPad radio, detailing the firms [pdf link] which together account for 97-percent of procurement expenditures for materials, manufacturing and assembly of products worldwide.

The disclosure is part of Apple’s annual Supplier Responsibility Program, with the company releasing today its progress report for 2011. Apparently supply chain 229 audits took place last year – 80-percent more than in 2010 – and 100 of which were first-time investigations. These also included new environmental checks, focused on specific Chinese suppliers, working alongside independent engineering experts to look into 14 facilities.

“We uncovered some violations” Apple says, “and worked with our suppliers to correct the issues.” That environmental aspect is only going to get more intense in 2012, Apple claims.

Meanwhile, Apple found no underage workers, at its final assembly suppliers at least, and has apparently enrolled over 60,000 workers in business and entrepreneurship classes, lessons to improve computer skills, or to learn English. Common issues discovered among suppliers include not paying overtime or using salary penalties as disciplinary measures, some “accidental” hiring of underage labor where checks were insufficient, and various safety problems with equipment and training, which resulted in one facility being shut down until problems were addressed.

The full progress report can be read here [pdf link].

As for suppliers, some expected names are on the list, including Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Quanta, though we can’t spot TSMC, the independent chip foundry which at one point was tipped to be replacing Samsung as an Apple A6 supplier.

[via Chronic]

Apple details supply chain in annual responsibility report is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

Samsung weighing Olympus partnership

Samsung may swoop in and rescue ailing manufacturer Olympus, though its superhero moves will be in the shape of a partnership not an acquisition. “We are open to the possibility of an alliance with Olympus” an internal source at Samsung tells Reuters, though the interest is not in the company’s camera business but its healthcare division. The Korean company joins other rumored curious parties Sony and Panasonic, who are also believed to be sniffing around.

Olympus is in need of $1.7bn in capital, having been rocked by an accounting scandal that has seen half of its board of directors actually being sued by the company itself. The board plans to dissolve and make room for a fresh batch of execs by the end of April, but still remains under investigation for its part in hiding over a decade’s worth of losses.

According to previous leaks, Olympus had already drawn up a shortlist of possible minority stakeholders that management believed would be a good fit. The list – believed to consist of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Terumo Corp (a medical equipment firm and an existing minority stakeholder) and Fujifilm Holdings.

Samsung has already revealed it has a new taste for healthcare specialists, with the Korean firm looking to diversify its footprint beyond its existing segments – the company has said a similar thing about its software competitiveness in IT - though a company spokesperson has said no formal offer from Olympus has been received. What might happen to the Olympus camera business, which launched several new models including superzooms and point-and-shoots this past week at CES, is unclear.

Story Timeline

[via 43 Rumors]

Samsung weighing Olympus partnership is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

Canon’s new ELPH saves you from photobombs

Canon’s new ELPH series point-and-shoots had already impressed us with their ability to recognize up to twelve faces and prioritize babies in-frame, but apparently the tech can also help avoid random photobombs too. The system – once taught what your friends and family look like – can automatically lock focus on them, rather than any strangers in view, as Digital Trends‘ video demonstrates after the cut.

Programming the camera with different identities basically involves shooting a frame of them and then adding them to the ELPH’s register. You can name them, as well as give them a date of birth – used to ID babies and young children – and in future shots the camera automatically identifies their face and floats their name underneath

You can apparently store up to six angles or expressions of any one person, too, so as to improve the ELPH’s ability to accurately spot the right person. It’s an impressive system, considering the new ELPH cameras come in at under $300 apiece.

More on the Canon ELPH 520HS in our hands-on.

[via Gizmodo]

Canon’s new ELPH saves you from photobombs is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

i’m circle modular computer lets phone, tablet and PC share Android quadcore

The team behind the Android-powered i’m watch have returned with i’m circle, a modular wireless, multi-device, single processor system intended to offer ubiquitous data access across a variety of platforms. Hub of the system is “i’m core”, a matchbox-scale 45 x 45 mm clip on processing unit packing a quadcore chipset; running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, it will connect wirelessly with multiple peripherals including a smartphone-scale touchscreen, a tablet, a 21-inch desktop display and more.

In fact, the company has four peripheral ideas at the moment, with the possibility of more in the pipeline. “i’m screen” turns the system into a 4.27-inch smartphone measuring 125 x 55 mm, albeit one where the components are split between two devices, and packing an accelerometer and magnetometer. For times when you want a larger desktop, there’s “i’m view”, a 10.1-inch tablet-scale slate.

“i’m vision” is the desktop equivalent, putting Ice Cream Sandwich on 21-inches of touchscreen real-estate – though supposedly only 10mm thick – with an inductive charger base that can rejuice the “i’m core”, “i’m screen” and “i’m view.” The smartphone screen can also be used as a wireless trackpad with the display, with the tablet turning into a QWERTY keyboard.

Finally, the “i’m cinema” will both bridge the core unit with an HDTV – for times when 21-inches just isn’t enough – as well as working as an inductive charger for it. Seven color options will be available, and the various components can send voice, video and text messages and make use of a “high speed connection protocol property” that’s technically unspecified.

Availability is ambitiously pegged for late 2012, with no word on pricing at this stage and little in the way of hardware details. The modular computing idea is one which has resurfaced numerous times over the past few years, but problems with battery life, sufficiently speedy wireless links and overall cost have always made it infeasible. Whether the i’m circle team can beat the odds remains to be seen.

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[via RegHardware]

i’m circle modular computer lets phone, tablet and PC share Android quadcore is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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13Jan/120

US Air Force Special Ops Command changes iPad purchase plans

Back in December of 2011, the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) announced that only iPads met the requirements to provide tablet computers to 2,861 crew members. AFSOC had done a three-month test last year with the result that the iPad "outmatched all peer competitors -- not only meeting but exceeding AFSOC mission specifications." Well, the specter of defense budget cuts must be staring AFSOC in the eye, since the command is now reneging on its plans to exclusively purchase iPads as electronic flight bags.

AFSOC spokeswoman Major Kristi Beckman says that the command is now going to take an open approach to tablet procurement. Quoted on Nextgov, Beckman said that "During our initial evaluation, the iPad was the best available commercial off-the-shelf product for our needs. We are, however, platform agnostic and fully expect improvements across the commercial market to develop in a variety of areas that will increase our capabilities."

The electronic flight bags will be used in a manner similar to those carried by commercial airline pilots, since the command has concerns about the security of data. That means that the devices would carry digital navigation charts and flight information publications that are publicly available.

As usual, what is good enough for the commercial market -- in this case the thousands of airline pilots flying for United/Continental, Alaska, American, and other airlines who are using iPads in the cockpit -- apparently isn't good enough for the military. Anybody up for an overly expensive Android-powered toilet seat?

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogUS Air Force Special Ops Command changes iPad purchase plans originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 13 Jan 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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