Apple Privacy Caused Death or Is It a Conspiracy?

I was reading the article, Chinese Worker & Apple iPhone 4G, from VentureBeat yesterday and it made me think that we are getting too much pressure at work.

According to the story from Chinese sources [Chinese], last Thursday (July 16th) an employee of Foxconn, who is responsible for shipping prototypes from the factory in Shenzhen to Apple in Cupertino, committed suicide after being questioned for loosing one of the 16 prototype next generation (4th generation) iPhones. Is there a conspiracy?

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Prices of iPhone 3GS in Hong Kong [Updated]

iPhone3GSThis afternoon 3 HK, Apple’s official carrier partner in Hong Kong released details of their iPhone 3GS tariff plans.

From the prices of these plans, it indicates that the “contract-free” version to be sold at Apple Online Store Hong Kong and other Authorized Apple Resellers will be around the same HKD5400.00 and HKD6200.00 prices respectively; as with the iPhone 3G, for the 16GB abd 32GB models.

These phones and tariff plans will be available to all starting tomorrow, July 10th, along with a 2-year contract. For existing 3 HK customers there will be 12-month contract at special upgrade prices. Details of which will most likely depends on the number of months into and the tariff plan of the existing contract.
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What Will Be In iPhone Firmware 3.0

iPhone 3G imageTomorrow morning (Tuesday, March 17, 10:00 US Pacific Standard Time) Apple will hold a special media event in Cupertino to announce the new iPhone firmware 3.0.

In the past, iPhone firmware upgrades did not garner such fanfare. Especially when considering Apple’s recent trend of not holding special events to announce new products, like the new Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro and iPod Shuffle, makes this event tomorrow that much more special. It also shows the significance Apple has placed on this upcoming announcement.

As always there are no definite information on the features that will be announced at the event. Of course, this had not stopped the rumor mill from generating lists of possible features for the yet to release iPhone firmware:

  • Cut, Copy & Paste
  • Enhanced Bluetooth functionalities
  • Improved camera software
  • A feature to allow layout management of application icons within iTunes
  • Multitasking

The less likely features are:

  • Tattering
  • MMS

I personally think that Multitasking may be built into the new firmware, but we will not see it enabled until the next version of the iPhone hardware.

Improvements in the camera software is welcome, but there are already several 3rd party applications, which had done a good job at improving the iPhone camera’s ability to take better photos. One such program is “Darkroom” by Stepcase, which I use almost every day.

Having additional Bluetooth functionalities will also be welcome, particularly the ability to preform file exchange. I really miss the ability to send contact cards to any mobile phone with Bluetooth capability. This had been a feature I used on other mobile phones for years.

What do you think? Please feel free to add your opinions in the comments.

Apple Is Shuffling Its Way Into Our Lives

iPod Shuffle 3GWhat is Apple doing?

They released a new generation iPod Shuffle tonight (morning US PST) that is ultimate in minimalist.

Like the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle it had no display, which when the 2G was released back in September 2006, people thought Apple was crazy to release a MP3 player without a display. So much so, that the imitators (in China) created versions of the iPod Shuffle (2G) look-a-like that had a display and radio tuners.

Now with the 3rd generation iPod Shuffle Apple went further to remove over 50% of the controls from the previous model and achieve to deliver the rest of the controls with just one (3-way) switch.

Of course, Apple did not do this minimalistic approach hastily, they replaced the removed 50% controls with a multi-positions switch on the headphone. This is the same headphone that was shipped with the iPod Touch (2G).

To satisfy the critics who complain that the original iPod Shuffle did not have a display, Apple included voice over in the new Shuffle to announce the details of the currently playing track and playlists.

A flaw I see with this latest minimalist design, is for people who do not want to use Apple’s headphones, they will have lost the ability to control the skipping, pause and play of the shuffle. Apple could have solve this by sliding the headphone control down the headphone cord and then made the cord a two pieces detectable. With one piece housing the pair of headphone and the other piece becomes an extension cord with the single switch control. So users with 3rd party headphone can easily plug their own headphone into Apple’s extension cord with the control switch. Of course, this is not my original design, many manufactures (ie. Sony, LG, etc.) have this design.

Aside from a minimalist design of the new iPod, did Apple marketing also adopted a new approach? There was no fan fare to announce the new iPod, nor did they make any rumble when they released the new Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro last week. They also did the release on a Wednesday (US PST time) rather than the normal Tuesday release date.

Is this the new Apple, or is it just while Steve Jobs is absence? How many more product announcement are we to expect before Jobs’ return? Given that almost all the hardware had been upgraded, they are only left with Apple applications and OS X, that latter which everyone have been expecting at this year’s WWDC.

iPhone 3G Photos Leaked

As we draw ever closer to the June 9th Steve Jobs’ keynote at the opening of the WWDC in San Francisco, there are more any more allege photos of the next generation iPhone.
Allege iPhone 3G Photo

I had always expected Apple to transform the iPhone over time. This is obvious, when we remember that the current iPhone is the first version of the “platform” that Apple has created. Remember what the iPod looked liked five years ago? Over the years Apple improved and introduced new features and functions for the iPod, then releasing the 3rd generation iPod nano and the iPod Touch in 2007. Can you imagine what the iPhone or the “Touch platform” may be like five years from now?

I anticipate there will be some hint of this “Touch platform” to be announced at Jobs’ keynote on Monday, June 9th. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Vodafone releasing iPhone Press Release

Vodafone logoThe reaction to the Vodafone announcement that it has strike a deal with Apple to release the iPhone in 10 countries: Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, was a mix bag of haters, be-littler and fan-boy.

The iPhone arriving in Asia had been anticipated for some time. The latest is definitely good news for all the countries mentioned in the Vodafone press release.

As we all know, Vodafone has one of the largest worldwide mobile network, and has 3G coverage in many of them.

Whether Vodafone waited for the 3G version of the iPhone before signing the deal with Apple, no one really knows for sure accept the parties in these talks. Whether Apple will retire the 2.5G version of the iPhone is also a speculation.

No matter which country you’re in, there are consumers who are happy with the speed and capabilities of a 2.5G network iPhone, and there are ones who need and want to pay for a 3G network iPhone. Ironically, the only exception being the United States, as 3G coverage is not that prevalent in North America.

Critics; particularly the Americans, should step back and recognize that Apple is aiming at the global mobile phone market and not just United States.

As for the original rumors about the iPhone’s Asian launch, the stages are:
India –> Australia/New Zealand –> Taiwan –> Hong Kong –> China.

Personally living in Hong Kong, should make me feel like a second class citizen; in this case 3rd or even 4th. But I am not disappointed, because like the thousands of iPhone users in Hong Kong, we are happily using our jailbroken/unlocked iPhone on every local carrier network since June 2007. Like most early adopters, will continue to do so until the 3G network version comes out, which I will upgrade to… anyone likes to buy an used iPhone?

iPod Touch Making Its Appearance

iPod Touch
Have been in New York City for the past 3 days.

Today, while going into the Apple Store on 5th Ave. for a friend of mine who wants me to help them purchase an iPod nano in Red.

I notice something very odd. There were a table of iPod Touch set up for people to play with. They sat among the a bunch of iPod Classic (aka. 6G iPod) and there was no fan fare or poster advertising the fact that they had arrived.

According to Apple’s original information the iPod Touch was not to be available until September 28th in United States. I wonder if they have also arrived early else where around the world.

Will this mean that the iPhone v1.0.3 firmware upgrade, that rumors to enable the WiFi iTunes Store on the iPhone is also imminent?

If you are located else where other than United States, please comment to this post to share your findings.

Choosing a New iMac (August 2007)

iMac 2007As many of your may have heard Apple Inc. released new versions of the iMac line last night (HK time).

It had been an upgrade that was anticipated and over due for the past 12 months. In my opinion, they did not disappoint.

They changed the industrial design of the machine but kept the machines the same thickness as the previous versions. There are 4 standard models to choose from, plus Built-to-order (BTO) versions, where you can choose different internal hard drive capacities and memory combinations; with the 24″ model able to upgrade the default processor also. You can see the chart below and click on it to see an enlarged version.

As I always say, one should always choose a computer based on what they intend (plan) to use the computer for, rather than choosing based on price and MHz. Having said that I will start off by describing three hypothetical users.

A. A first time computer or Macintosh user

This user will use his computer for general Internet surfing, visiting information sites, online banking sites and photo album repositories. They will have a web based email account. He will download photos from his digital camera and manage his collection of audio CDs on his computer.

B. A user who may have used the Macintosh before but definitely a computer

This user has the same requirements as user A, with the following additions. He will upload and share photos on online repositories (ie. Flickr), he will download and edit videos that he had taken with his DV (digital video) camera.

C. A user who had used the Macintosh before

Like user B, will have the same requirements as A and B, with the desire to use the computer as a primary video viewing platform.

Now based on these three hypothetical users I will now recommend the appropriate iMac (August 2007) for each. In all cases, I would suggest a minimum of 2GB of memory. Depending on where you purchase the new iMac, you can probably find cheaper memory upgrade from reseller other than Apple. If you do choose that route, make sure these memory chips (RAM) come from reliable sources and a respectable manufacture. If you have faulty RAMs that’s more problems than you will ever want to deal with.

Let’s jump into the recommendations. For User A I suggest the basic model for him. The reason is because he does not have a great need for video and hence quick redraw of the screen for images. As a result the entry level iMac (August 2007) with 2GB of total memory will be sufficient.

For User B I suggest the minimum the 2nd “standard Apple model” of the iMac (August 2007) (aka. “the 20″ model with the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor”, since I do not want to emphasis the MHz differences of the models). This is not because of the slightly faster processor, it is mainly due to the much faster (almost twice) video card in this model. Due to this user’s need for editing and processing his home videos on his new Mac, this is the minimum configuration I would recommend.

Finally, for User C I recommend he purchase the 3rd “standard Apple model” of the iMac (August 2007) (aka. “the 24″ model with the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor”). This is because his need for using the computer as the primary video viewing device. With the 24″ it has the screen pixel resolutions to support full HD (High Definition) video content.

Speaking of HD video content, the new line of iMacs all have video capabilities to playback protected HD video (HDCP).

I am sure your needs and computing requirements will be different than User A, B or C, but I hope you find this useful and if you need, please feel free to contact me with your specific “computing requirements” and I am happy to brainstorm the perfect Mac for you.

iMac 2007 SpecsiMac (August 2007) hardware specifications