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Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 04:30 pm PT (07:30 pm ET)

iPhone redesign details; washed out MBP screens; free AT&T Wi-Fi

One site claims to have the most detailed information on the new iPhone's redesign — including an unknown sensor. Meanwhile, users are reporting washed-out screens on MacBook Pros after waking from sleep, Apple is seeking real estate for a business office in New York City, and AT&T is offering both a hard-of-hearing plan for the iPhone as well as free wireless access for iPhone owners.

Next-gen iPhone design cues outed?

While rumors are flying fast about the next-generation iPhone's appearance, one unusually specific report suggests accessory developers are being briefed on a number of changes to Apple's handset.

In an article for its Backstage section, iLounge claims that the back will drop the aluminum shell for glossy plastic, but also that the phone will have a tapered design similar to the MacBook Air with the chrome bezel considerably thinner than on the original model.

More functional changes also appear to be in store. In particular, cases made for the front must make room for an unknown third sensor. This may be as much as a front video camera or as little as an extra proximity sensor, according to the report. Microphone and speaker grilles on the back have also changed substantially, say the claimed insiders.

Apple may also use the opportunity of a redesign to introduce colors into the line, offering black or white phones and potentially a red model, those same sources allege. The rumor doesn't indicate whether this would extend the PRODUCT (Red) program to include iPhones, however.

Readers are cautioned in the report that few companies if any beyond Apple can vouch for the accuracy of the design; however, some companies are said to be certain enough to be crafting accessories around the described changes.

New MacBook Pros suffering from washed-out screens on wake

Some owners of Apple's recent, Penryn-based MacBook Pros are reporting washed-out screens on waking their systems under certain conditions, according to discussions on Apple's support forums.

Whether started fresh or woken from sleep, both 15- and 17-inch pro systems are suffering from a blue, washed out tint that remains present until users visit the Displays section of System Preferences, which invokes a color profile that automatically fixes the problem.

The issue affects only the primary display and doesn't touch external screens.

AppleInsider can vouch for the existence of the problem, which affects a 15-inch system.

Apple hasn't yet commented on the matter.

Apple close to landing NYC workspace

As much attention as it gets for its New York City retail spaces, the company is now looking to set up a business office in the heart of Manhattan, say purported real estate sources in contact with Silicon Alley Insider.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics maker is believed to be on the verge of tendering an offer for between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet of high-priced office space near its Fifth Avenue retail store, at the edge of Central Park.

Reasons for the workspace buyout are unclear other than as an attempt to broaden Apple's business presence in the US, which is dominated by its Californian offices.

AT&T supplies hard-of-hearing plan for iPhone

AT&T this week has addressed usability concerns by launching its Text Accessibility Plan for the iPhone.

Built for customers who have little to no hearing, the $40 plan serves up unlimited SMS text messages as well as the iPhone's customary unlimited data and Visual Voicemail. In exchange, all calls are metered at 40 cents per minute.

Switching to the plan requires a two-step process, the carrier says: after activating the iPhone through iTunes, users have to fill out a disability certification form before the new plan becomes active.

AT&T offering free Wi-Fi to iPhone users

Reader reports at Mac Rumors and elsewhere claim that AT&T has begun offering free Wi-Fi Internet access to iPhone owners at key hotspots.

Visitors to Barnes & Noble or Starbucks shops who attempt to connect to the access points are prompted with a request for the user's phone number. After submitting the information, iPhone owners are given unrestricted access.

AT&T recently won hotspot privileges at Starbucks from previous operator T-Mobile and promised it would support cellular customers with the rollout in the future, but hasn't discussed its plans with the public.