Tech wrap: Apple’s iOS 5 debuts
Apple rolled out its iOS 5 mobile operating system, one week after pancreatic cancer claimed the life of its former CEO and visionary Steve Jobs. The update adds voice recognition software called “Siri”, instant messaging and support for Apple’s iCloud service, although the inclusion of Siri is limited to the iPhone 4S. MacWorld’s Dan Moren says the free update is “ambitious” and that “there’s hardly a part of Apple’s mobile operating system that isn’t altered in some way”. Engadget’s Dante Cesa says that “other than turn-by-turn navigation, more multitasking APIs and some delectable widgets, there isn’t much, headline-wise, left on Apple’s hit list for iOS 6“.
Despite Jobs’s death, investors still like what they see at Apple and want the company to start giving up some cash, according to a Reuters Poll. Apple has a cash hoard of $75 billion and record demand for the iPhone 4S has pushed its stock price near an all-time high. Six of the 11 money managers polled by Reuters called for a dividend payout as a reward for their loyalty.
A three-day disruption of BlackBerry services spread to North America, frustrating millions of users of RIM smartphones and putting more pressure on the company for sweeping changes. RIM advised clients of an outage in the Americas and said it was working to restore services as customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India continued to experience patchy email delivery and no access to browsing and messaging. RIM said the root cause of the failure was the malfunction of a core router switch and the subsequent failure of a back-up system to kick in. It then experienced a severe backlog of unrouted messages that is taking time to deliver.
South Korea’s Samsung said it will soon release upgraded versions of three Galaxy smartphones in Europe to get around temporary sales bans on earlier versions of products that violated an Apple patent.
Samsung ambushed the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S in Sydney, Australia, offering $2 smartphones to the first 10 customers per day in a temporary store, a stone’s throw from the official Sydney Apple store. Accustomed to long lineups leading up to and even after the release of its products, at one point Apple took second place to those waiting for their chance to snap-up a Galaxy S2 phone.
Facebook executive and eBay board member Katie Mitic unveiled a partnership between the two companies designed to create a new crop of e-commerce applications with social networking features. Mitic said that Facebook’s Open Graph — the map of connections that Facebook users create with friends and online content — will be integrated “seamlessly” into applications developed with certain eBay services and technologies. EBay is trying to encourage outside developers to create applications for its e-commerce platforms and is making a particularly strong push in mobile commerce.
Sony said that a third party had tried to sign in to 93,000 active accounts on its PlayStation and other networks this month. The company said it had frozen the accounts and informed affected customers by e-mail, adding that it believed only a few of the accounts were actually accessed.