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Survey: Smartphone Users Love Them Some Apps



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Smartphone users are spending more time using native applications on their mobile devices to the detriment of other technology and media, but the mere availability of applications is not the primary driver of buying decisions, according to a report by Gravity Tank.

The Chicago-based consulting firm surveyed more than 1,000 iPhone and Android G1 users during April and May and found those users had downloaded an average of nearly 24 apps to their mobile devices, among which they use an average of almost 7 per day.

Nearly half (48 percent) of phone owners report shopping for apps more than once a week, while slightly more (49 percent) report using apps on their phone for more than 30 minutes a day.

Other technologies and media, such as gaming devices, GPS devices, newspapers and TV, all suffer in the light of app-enabled smartphones, as people reported the ability to consolidate multiple devices into one as one of the top two reasons they decided to buy a smartphone in the first place.

Leading the pack of reasons people buy a smartphone is the ability to check email and calendars (74 percent cited this). The availability of new games and applications figured into the buying decision for 67 percent of the survey respondents.

The survey results cast an interesting take on all the pre-launch hoopla and positive reviews garnered for the Palm Pre, which will be available to the public starting tomorrow.

Palm’s highly regarded smartphone entry is coming to market with a decided dearth of 3rd party apps available for it and Palm executives have been somewhat cagey regarding the timeline for development of apps for the Pre.

With Apple gearing up its own hype machine for plenty of noise beginning Monday at WWDC it may be some time before Palm is likely to catch up to iPhone’s lead in both the smartphone device and applications markets.

[New York Times]

Steve Jobs Much Better And Back on the Job in June — WSJ


CC-licensed Steve Jobs portrait by Charis Tsevis

Steve Jobs is recovering from his mystery illness and is set to return to Apple at the end of the month, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Jobs will not however make a surprise appearance at WWDC on Monday. Instead, he’ll host a product presentation or other special event later in June, the Journal says.

“He was one real sick guy,” added this person. “Fundamentally he was starving to death over a nine-month period. He couldn’t digest protein. [But] he took corrective action.”

The story is hidden behind the Journal‘s pay wall, but is free to read on the iPhone.

(The Journal also reports that the next-gen iPhone will be unveiled during the keynote address on Monday but won’t be available until July, to coincide with the two-year anniversary of original iPhone purchases. The iPhone will have a faster processor and a better camera with video editing, the Journal says, citing someone who’s actually seen the phone).

The story also notes that Tim Cook is doing a good job in Steve’s absence — the stock is way up.

Via Tuaw.

iPhone Rumor Round Up Chart




Kudos to Remy over at TGR for rounding up all the rumors about the next iPhone heading into WWDC with an easy-to-read infographic.

The legend lower right tells you what the probability of these changes will be from his point of view plus a source list of links for the rumors so you can decide for yourself.

We won’t know for sure until Apple’s worldwide developers conference kicks off June 8, but what do you think are the chances it’ll have a luminous logo (in this chart deemed “unlikely”),  improved camera (“very likely” ) and $199-$299 price points (“very likely”) ?

Via Device

Truphone Improves WiFi Calling on iPod Touch



Truphone, arguably the most persistent VoIP developer for Apple’s mobile products iPhone and iPod Touch, released the 3.0 iteration of its app for the iPod Touch Monday, making a very strong case for the portable gadget as an effective communication device.

Among the improvements in Truphone 3.0 are a faster, slicker UI, improved voice quality, and native support for IM communications using Skype, MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.

Users with a stable WiFi connection will assuredly enjoy being able to IM using any of those clients from within a single app, as well as make free phone calls to other Truphone users, Skype and Google Talk users. Truphone also offers excellent rates on calls to landlines and worldwide mobile phones.

The upgrade offers improvements to in-app account management that now allow users to:

  • See rates before initiating a call
  • Display recent call history, showing the exact cost of a just-ended call, how long it lasted, with the ability to see a summary of calls made month by month
  • Top up an account balance without the need to access a browser window separately
  • Top up an account balance in variety of ways, including credit card or PayPal
  • Change calling tariffs within the application.

When Apple introduced the iPod Touch few considered the possibility it might become a communication device, but with the addition of a microphone adapter and the evolution of 3rd party applications developed for the iTunes App Store over the past year, Truphone has done a great job of employing its WiFi connectivity to give iPod Touch owners the added value that comes with being able to make VoIP calls.

Receiving calls through the Truphone app still requires a user to have it open and running, but when Apple introduces a new version of the device’s operating software next week at WWDC, the push notification it will support could change even that limitation.

What Recession? Apple Retail Goes Full Speed Ahead



Apple’s Retail division has no plans to scale back its ambitions, according to a report Thursday in USA Today, and in fact sees opportunity in the recent economic contraction.

“We’re investing in the downturn,” said Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail. Apple plans to remodel 100 of its existing stores this year, adding space for customer training and room for displaying more product. The company also plans to open 25 new stores, including a fourth location in New York City, and new ones in Paris, Italy and Germany.

Stores will soon display “twice the amount” of Mac computers and other products, according to Johnson, and Genius Bars will get 50% more room to serve up free tech support for Apple products.

Beginning June 2, Apple’s One to One product training program will limit sign-ups to purchasers of new Mac computers at Apple Stores or via the company’s website, although any of the half million current One to One subscribers will be able to renew their $99 one year subscriptions .

“We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac,” Johnson said. “Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac.”

Still priced at $99, the annual subscription includes personal setup, transferring of files from an older computer (Windows or Mac) and help with projects.

Previously, sessions timed out at one hour; new policy will extend the limit to three hours, but sessions could also include up to three participants.

Even in the light of his division’s expansion plans, Johnson conceded the recession has affected in-store traffic. Apple reported a 3% decline in sales during the most recently reported quarter. Traffic remains strong, he said, but has cooled off since last summer, when long lines greeted the introduction of the second-generation iPhone.

With many expecting an update to the iPhone to be announced at next week’s WWDC in San Francisco, Apple stores could well see the return of long lines and a need for all that extra space.


White MacBook Gets Minor Update: Faster CPU and RAM, More Battery



Apple’s entry-level white MacBook received a hardware update on Wednesday, possibly foreshadowing revisions to the aluminum unibody MacBooks.

For the same $999 base price, the WhiteBook now gets:

* CPU bump from 2.0 GHz to 2.13 GHz.
* Hard drive from 120 GB to 160 GB.
* RAM boost from 667 MHz to 800 MHz.
*Battery life upped from 4.5 hours of “wireless productivity” to 5 hours. And now rated Energy Star EPEAT Gold, up from EPEAT Silver.

Thanks to the updates, the WhiteBook now has a faster processor than the entry-level aluminum MacBook, and a bigger build-to-order hard drive (500GB). And it still has a FireWire port. Updates to the unibody soon?

Apple is rumored to be offering similar upgrades to the aluminum MacBooks at WWDC, and rebranding the machines as MacBook Pros to further distinguish them from the white plastic MacBook.

White MacBook tech specs.

White MacBook at Apple’s online store.

New iPhone to Get a Snappy Performance Upgrade



With WWDC09 now just weeks away, rumors and predictions regarding what Apple may reveal at the highly-anticipated, sold-out developers conference in San Francisco are sure to spread like a California wildfire.

Anyone interested in being on the right side of such talk would do well to consider the logic and analysis out Thursday from John Gruber, the well-placed author of the blog Daring Fireball, who isn’t prone to talking about things he doesn’t know a little something about.

Citing “information from informed sources,” Gruber believes the processor in the next-generation iPhone is going to be the kind of upgrade to make people crowd around and go, “ooooh!” He looks for Apple’s processing secret-sauce to better the speed of current iPhones by 1.5 times, similar to the bump in performance experienced when Mac users got hands on machines with the first batch of PowerPCs, or PC users moved from 486 to Pentium machines.

Follow after the jump for more of what Gruber expects and how likely his expectations are to be met.

Palm Pre To Launch 2 Days Before iPhone Announcement, Cost $200



Palm’s long-awaited rival to the iPhone, the Pre, will go on sale on June 6, Palm said on Tuesday, and will cost $200 and up with a two-year contract, depending on the plan.

The Pre goes just two days before Apple’s WWDC keynote, where he company is expected to announce the third-generation iPhone.

The Pre looks like a genuine rival to the iPhone. The software looks very slick, powerful and easy to use, and the hardware includes a built-in keyboard, an important distinguishing feature.

But Palm already seems to be pulling consumer-unfriendly stunts with pricing. The $200 price tag is dependent on a $100 mail-in rebate, which is never popular. And the data plans appear to cost between $70 and $90 a month (it’s not clear on Sprint’s page which plan the Pre needs). Plus, Palm is charging an extra $70 for the innovative Touchstone charger, and $30 for a car charger.

Apple of course charges extra for an iPhone docking cradle, but Palm seems to be nickle-and-diming consumers already.

Exclusive: Steve Jobs Will Return, But Not For Long, Says Silicon Valley Psychic



Like everyone else, I’m dying to know if Steve Jobs will be returning to work at the end of June.

Since I haven’t got a clue, and neither does anyone else, I figured I’d ask someone who might know. Not the usual blowhard pundits, but Barbara Courtney, a corporate psychic known as the “Seer of Silicon Valley.”

Personally, I’m very skeptical of psychic predictions, but Courtney has a long and storied history as Silicon Valley’s leading clairvoyant. Indeed, she’s the only person on record who correctly predicted Steve Jobs’ return to Apple back in 1997.

Speaking by phone from her home in Redwood City, Courtney said Jobs will return to Apple in June as promised — but he won’t stay long.

“My feeling is he will come back,” said Courtney. “I’m not seeing June as too soon.”

Jobs took six months medical leave in January saying his ongoing medical problems were “more complex” than suspected and he needed time off work to concentrate on his health. The company has promised several times that Jobs will return in late June as planned, but many are pessimistic.

On Tuesday, hopes were further dashed when Apple said the WWDC keynote in early June will be given by a team of executives led by head marketer Phil Schiller. The slot has traditionally been Jobs’, and many hoped (and are still hoping) he’d put in a surprise appearance.

Sneak Peek of OS X Snow Leopard Features



YouTube user LeopardOctober has posted videos, screenshots and information about Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on YouTube since mid-March or so, and in the last few days has put up some interesting clips of a few things we can expect to see when the new OS debuts June 8 at WWDC.

The first video above shows that users will be able to set the default behavior of Spotlight so that performing a search can ‘search this Mac’, search the current folder or use the previous search scope.

In the video below, we see users can assign an application to a space or all spaces, quickly from within the Dock.

LeopardOctober has several additional clips on the YouTube channel with embedding disabled, so you’ll need to head over there to check ’em out.

The videos posted are from fairly late builds of the Beta (10A261 and 10A286), which has reportedly been ‘frozen’ at 10A354 for the final release software.

[Thanks Rafael!]