Apple receives patent for “microslot antennas”, could see improvements in wireless functionality in coming years

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:01
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, wireless

applelogo_silver

Your notebook and iOS device’s wireless system could be getting that much niftier.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday won the patent rights to “microslot antenna” technology that allows micron-wide antenna assets to be integrated into the housing of a portable device, such as an iPhone, making them nearly invisible to the human eye.

As portable electronics become thinner and more compact with each successive generation, internal space is quickly becoming a limiting factor to device designers. Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,373,610 for “Microslot antennas for electronic devices,” granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, could drastically cut down on the size of at least one component needed to create products like the iPhone.

While the patent refers to implementations in a laptop computer, the antenna tech can be used in other portable electronics like smartphones and tablets.

With Apple’s current technology as seen in the iPhone 5, two internal radio antennas dynamically switch between multiple frequency bands, including those carrying fast LTE data. In order to fit the units within the handset’s slim body, Apple had to design a window for radio waves, while keeping the unit small enough to leave room for other important structures like the logic board and battery.

Tuesday’s patent focuses on so-called “microslot antenna” technology, or “dielectric-filled microslots that are formed in a ground plane element.” According to the invention, the ground plane can be a device’s housing as long as it is conductive, meaning the slots would be integrated on the outer hull of a product. The system can also support multiple communications bands, meaning functionality would not be compromised for size enhancements.

As for the size of the microslots, the patent language states that the widths of the slots are usually significantly less than their lengths. For example, widths can range from microns to hundreds of microns, while a microslot’s length can be on the order of millimeters or centimeters.

Filling the slots is a dielectric such as epoxy, plastic, air or other suitable substance that prevents foreign matter from entering. Antenna feeds can be located at or between the functional microslots, and operate on common communication bands that support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G cellular, among others.

The ’601 property was first filed for in December 2007, less than six months after the original iPhone debuted, and credits Bing Chiang, Gregory Allen Springer, Douglas B. Kough, Enrique Ayala and Matthew Ian McDonald as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 4S users

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 12:32
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Well, that was quick.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday released iOS 6.1.1 to address a number of bugs for iPhone 4S owners who recently ran into a handful of issues following the release of iOS 6.1 for all of Apple’s mobile devices.

The release is currently available as a direct download here (968MB) or as an over-the-air download (weighing in at about 23 megabytes). It’s available only to iPhone 4S users. No release was issued for iPhone 5 or other models of the handset at this time, despite claims from iPhone 5 owners that they were also negatively impacted by the iOS 6.1 update.

Two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone 4S users began reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the update. British wireless carrier Vodafone UK even sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version because the carrier determined it to cause 3G performance problems.

For instance, Apple’s Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after applying the iOS 6.1 update.

In particular, the carrier noted that iOS 6.1 was creating intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handsets to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The reports on Apple’s support forums, however, suggested that the problems may not be limited to just iPhone 4S users and may also affect iPhone 5 users to some extent.

One iPhone 5 owner saw their battery drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life. It’s unclear whether Apple is separately preparing an iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 5 owners.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried iOS 6.1.1 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Vodafone UK, some users warn about overheating issues between iPhone 3GS handset and iOS 6.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 08:11
Category: iOS, News, Software

If there’s one constant in the IT world, it’s that no update will make everyone happy…

Per AppleInsider, a little over two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone users are reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the newest update, while Vodafone UK sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version as it has been found to cause 3G performance.

While the extent of the 3G problems Vodafone reported is unknown, multiple posts,%20as%20noted%20by%20The%20Next%20Web,%20reveal%20a%20multitude%20of%20iPhone%20owners%20are%20experiencing%20Apple Support Community threads exist regarding battery drain and overheating issues, which appear to be affecting a number of iPhone models.

The Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after updating to iOS 6.1. Reports are conflicting, however, as one iPhone 5 owner saw a drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life.

In Vodafone’s warning, the British carrier noted that iOS 6.1 is causing intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handset to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The telecom said Apple is working on a fix, but failed to elaborate further on the matter.

From Vodafone’s release regarding iOS 6.1:
“Hi everyone,

We’re aware of an issue caused by Apple iPhone 4s handsets that have been upgraded to iOS 6.1 which impacts performance on 3G.

Some customers may occasionally experience difficulty in connecting to the network to make or receive calls or texts or to connect to the Internet. Apple is working on a solution to their software issue. These connection problems are intermittent.”

While Apple’s investigations continue, we would recommend that anyone who has not yet installed iOS 6.1 on their iPhone 4s should delay doing so until Apple has confirmed that their problem has been fixed.
Apple released iOS 6.1 on Jan. 28, bringing a host of bug fixes and feature enhancements like added LTE support to its mobile operating system.

If you’ve seen these issues on your iPhone 3GS handset after installing the iOS 6.1 update, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases first iOS 6.1.1 beta, focuses on improving Maps experience for Japanese marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 7th, 2013, 07:43
Category: iOS, News, Software

The next version of Apple’s iOS is en route, and it’ll improve the Maps app if the company has anything to say about it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released the first beta of iOS 6.1.1 with a clear focus on improving its much-criticized Maps application, specifically in regards to turn-by-turn navigation in Japan.

In a note to developers accommodating the release, Apple said iOS 6.1.1 beta 1 includes the following improvements to Maps for Japan:
- Improved pronunciation of roads during turn-by-turn navigation
.

- Optimized directions to more strongly prefer highways over narrower roads.

- Now indicates upcoming toll roads during turn-by-turn navigation
.

- Added labels for junctions, interchanges, on-ramps, off-ramps, and intersections
.

- Added indicators for transit station buildings, subway lines, and traffic lights
.

- Updated freeway color to green
.

- Updated icons for some location categories including fire stations, hospitals, and post offices Added 3D buildings including Tokyo Station, Japan Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower.

The move comes as Apple is looking to strengthen its presence in Asia, where revenue has been on the double digit rise, particularly in China and Japan, which were up 67% and 25% year-over-year, respectively, during the company’s most recent December quarter.

The iOS 6.1.1 beta carries build number 10B311 and is available for the iPad 2 and greater, iPhone 3S and greater, iPod touch 4th-gen and greater, and the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts 10 new Maps team development positions to employment web site

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 08:33
Category: iOS, News, Software

It never hurts to have more staff to overhaul a much-criticized application…

Per AppleInsider and AppleBitch, Apple posted at least ten advertisements for positions within the iOS Maps team on its employment web site on Monday, suggesting the company is looking to make major enhancements to its proprietary mapping service.

According to multiple job listings posted on Feb. 4, Apple is seeking ten software engineers to contribute to iOS Maps, nine of whom will handle various programming duties, while one will be assigned to tackle navigation. The listings are for jobs located in Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

A closer look at the listings reveal that the company is looking to make upgrades on a number of fronts, including the iOS Maps app’s user interface, integration with other iOS services like Siri, how maps are displayed in real time, points of interest labeling and 3D flyover visuals, among others.

Most of the ads start out with the following paragraph:
“The iOS Maps team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. The Maps application is used by millions of customers and it’s the best mapping program on any mobile platform. Our team is also responsible for MapKit, the iOS framework that displays maps which is used by countless applications on the App Store.”

In an effort to bolster the iOS Maps team, Apple most recently sought new hires in September, with many of the advertised positions being identical to Monday’s listings.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Evasi0n hack arrives, allows jailbreaking of iOS 6.1 devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 07:09
Category: Hack, iOS, News, Software

The perpetual arms race between Apple and the hacker community continues.

Per AppleInsider, hackers on Monday released a long-awaited untethered software “jailbreak” of Apple’s iOS 6.

For the first time ever, iPhone 5 and iPad mini owners can jailbreak their device with the release of Evasi0n, the new jailbreak for Apple’s iOS 6 mobile operating system. The software hack is available to implement via OS X, Windows, and Linux.

The new jailbreak is untethered, which means users will not have to reconnect their device to a computer to restart it. The hack is compatible with all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models running iOS 6.0 through iOS 6.1.

Users are advised to backup their device through iTunes or iCloud before beginning the jailbreak process. It’s also recommended to disable any passcode locks on an iOS device, as they can cause issues.

Jailbreaking is a legal but a warranty-voiding process that utilizes exploits in the iOS software to allow users to run unauthorized code. By jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad, users can add features and software not allowed by Apple, such as custom themes or user interface tweaks.

Apple advises against jailbreaking iOS devices, as the unauthorized modification could lead to system instability, compromised security, shortened battery life, and other potential issues.

If you’ve tried the Evasi0n hack and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

You’ve been hankering after it for a while and it’s finally here.

On Thursday, Apple released its iOS 6.1 update. The new operating system, a several hundred megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:
- LTE support for more carriers (complete list of supported carriers).

- Purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only).

- iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud.

- New button to reset the Advertising Identifier.

iOS 6.1 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second, third or fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.1 works for you in the comments, no matter what the feedback may be.

Apple seeds fifth iOS 6.1 beta to developer community, adds new features

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 28th, 2013, 07:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

The iOS 6.1 seeds, they just keep coming.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Saturday released a fifth iOS 6.1 beta to developers, continuing the testing phase of the company’s mobile OS that will bring users a number of features, including enhanced mapping options and Siri-integration, when it launches later this year.

While rumors claimed Apple would soon rollout an iOS 6.1 Golden Master, the beta supplied to developers today is not the finalized version that traditionally heralds an imminent public release.

Apple made the first iOS 6.1 betas available to developers in November of 2012, two months after iDevice users were given access to iOS 6. The version change came with a number of all-new features like the Apple-designed maligned Maps app, built-in Facebook integration, Photo Stream and Passbook, among others.

Past beta iterations revealed that iOS 6.1 will offer an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow users to search for map-based place names and points of interest with natural language strings. In an example given by a developer with access to the beta, a search for “coffee” returned the location and corresponding information of nearby coffee shops.

Additionally, iOS 6.1 will offer Fandango movie ticket purchases through Siri and refined iCloud security steps when setting up a new device.

The latest release comes over a month after the fourth iOS 6.1 beta arrived in mid-December alongside fresh developer versions of Apple TV software and Xcode.

Developers can access the fifth iOS 6.1 beta from Apple’s developer website.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the fifth beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent shows e-wallet program with controllable accounts for children

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 18th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Patents, Software

applelogo_silver

This could be useful.

Per FreePatentsOnline, a recent patent application shows Apple’s idea for an “e-wallet” iPhone application that would allow subsidiary accounts for children, complete with customizable spending limits and restrictions.

Apple’s interest in the concept was revealed in a patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Parental Controls.” It describes ways that a user could establish rules for subsidiary financial accounts.

The proposed invention shows a hypothetical application on the iPhone home screen named “E-Wallet.” The software allows users to have a primary account tied to a credit card, allowing transactions to be conducted with an iPhone.

The key feature of the filing are the E-Wallet subsidiary accounts. By creating one, the user can allow new users, such as children, to have access to the E-Wallet app with controlled spending limits.

The customizable rules would allow a parent to set, for example, a weekly or monthly allowance for their children. The application would also enable parents to decline transactions if they are over a certain amount of money.

Parents could also restrict transactions from certain merchant categories, or even block sales to a specific merchant or location. In one example, the application is set to prevent the user from purchasing alcohol or tobacco with Apple’s iPhone e-wallet.

Illustrations included in Apple’s patent filing show that the concept for the E-Wallet application would include purchase history, bill summary, and the ability to search for specific transactions. The E-Wallet app would be driven by users’ existing credit cards, with numbers entered into the software to link them together.

The filing goes on to note that a future iPhone could have an integrated near-field communication chip to supplement the E-Wallet app. It notes that communication using the NFC component would occur in a range of 2 to 4 centimeters.

The proposed invention, published by the USPTO this week, is a continuation of a filing first made by Apple in January of 2009, and issued as U.S. Patent No. 8,127,982 in March of 2012. It is credited to Brandon J. Casey, Gary L. Wipfler, and Erik Cressall.

Not the worst idea in the world and please let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T to enable FaceTime for tiered customers with compatible iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 08:00
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

attlogo

Nothing like a little competition to get the wireless carriers to try to beat each other’s offerings.

That and the FCC yelling at you to do it sort of helps.

Per the company’s blog, AT&T announced on Wednesday it will enable FaceTime over cellular at no extra cost to any customers with a tiered data plan and compatible iOS device.

The announcement was made on the carrier’s website by Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products. The change means that iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T network.

“We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks,” Collins wrote. “Customers do not need to do anything — the update will be applied automatically over the next few months.”

FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that’s because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections — a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

Previously, AT&T had restricted FaceTime over cellular to customers who had switched to its Mobile Share plans, as well as those with an LTE device, such as the iPhone 5 or latest iPad, on a tiered plan.

AT&T came under fire for its initial decision, and the company was compelled to defend itself in a statement claiming its plan complied with Federal Communications Commissions that prohibit carriers from blocking services that compete with their own. The carrier argued that its decision was in compliance because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

AT&T began quietly activating FaceTime over cellular for more subscribers in November. At the time, some users who had grandfathered unlimited data plans said they too were able to use FaceTime. However, Wednesday’s announcement indicated the ability will only extend to customers who have tiered data plans.

If you get a chance to try FaceTime over AT&T’s cellular connections and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.