O'Grady's PowerPage » iPad

Apple Store app hits 2.0, adds in-store pickup, Easy Pay features

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 07:37
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail, Software


Apple may not make all aspects of your life easier at all times, but they do try to streamline buying more of their products…

Per AppleInsider, Apple has updated its official Apple Store application for iOS, adding the new “Personal Pickup” option, as well as an “Easy Pay” feature, which allows customers to pay for an item on their own, direct from an iPhone, while in a retail store.

The Apple Store application was updated on Tuesday to version 2.0. The free application is a 4.0MB download that requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The most significant new features in the update are EasyPay and Personal Pickup. With EasyPay, an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S the user can scan the barcode of an accessory while in a store, and complete the transaction using the same credit card information tied to their Apple ID.

Word of the self-checkout option first surfaced last week, and accurately revealed that the option would only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf. Users cannot complete a self-checkout with more expensive items that are kept in Apple’s retail stockrooms, including the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs.

The updated Apple Store application also features a built-in Personal Pickup feature. With the software, users can buy an item on their iOS device, and then pick it up in a store in less than an hour if it is in stock.

Apple began offering an in-store pickup option on its website last month with a trial that began in San Francisco, Calif., and quickly spread to New York City stores. The in-store pickup option is currently available in the U.S. only.

The full list of new features included in version 2.0 of the Apple Store iOS application are included below:

Personal Pickup: Buy in the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple Retail Store. Most in-stock orders are available for pickup within an hour. (U.S. only)

EasyPay: Purchase select accessories in store quickly by scanning the barcode and completing your transaction right in the app. (U.S. only, requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)

Track your stuff: View the status of current and previous orders from the order status section in the More tab.

If you’ve tried the new app and its features and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may incorporate dual-LED light bars for iPad 3’s boosted screen resolution

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 7th, 2011, 08:11
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3: It could be nifty.

Per DigiTimes, with Apple’s next-generation iPad expected to adopt much higher resolution displays, the electronics maker and its component suppliers are reportedly challenged with designing new backlight solutions capable of maintaining the tablet’s existing level of brightness with the higher density panels.

Citing sources within Apple’s Taiwanese supply chain, DigiTimes claims that the single LED back-light bar designed for the iPad 2’s 1024 x 768 resolution display is insufficient for maintaining and strengthening the brightness of the iPad 3’s planned upgraded to a double pixel density “Retina Display” long rumored to be in the ballpark of 2048 by 1536 pixels.

As such, LED back-light unit (BLU) vendors have reportedly pitched two alternative solutions to the Cupertino-based company, including a new design that maintains a single-bar form factor but with two LED chips nestled inside.

Apple, however, is said to be leading towards a second option that proposes using dual-LED light bars inside the iPad 3 — one on the left and one on the right — now that the BLU makers have reportedly conquered initial design glitches that created heat dissipation and battery consumption problems earlier in their development.

Difficulty with the higher resolution displays and new LED backlight design is already reported to have “affected the launch schedule” of the iPad 3. Still, necessary components for the tablet’s production have been arriving at Apple’s overseas manufacturing facilities since the end of October, as Apple reportedly aspires to pre-construct roughly 2 million of the new tablets by the end of December in anticipation of a launch in March of 2012.

In addition to the higher resolution displays, the next iPad is also rumored to adopt a quad-core A6 processor based on either Samsung’s or TSMC’s 28-nanometer processing technology. Other rumored enhancements include a redesigned, smaller dock connector that will allow Apple to continue to shave down the tablet’s thickness, and a thinner, lighter battery pack meeting CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability that will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

If sources are to be believed, the company as of last week had still yet to sign off on a finalized design for the new tablet that will ultimately be sent to mass production. Instead, it’s reportedly been developing two next-generation designs — code-named “J1” and “J2” — that each sport slightly different sizes, specifications and technologies.

According to one report, the J2 project is a more ambitious upgraded to the iPad 2 than the J1 project and Apple will “likely to make the final decision” on which model to mass produce based on “its needs” and intelligence on what rival tablet makers will be capable of producing come early next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent points towards improved OLED displays in future iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, 08:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Patents


Uncertain about what’s coming down the pipe? Just check the recent patent applications.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in improving the technology behind organic light emitting diodes, or OLED displays, to provide even better battery life for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s pursuit of better OLED technology was revealed this week in a new patent application that went public. Entitled “Power Efficient Organic Light Emitting Diode Display,” it describes ways in which an OLED screen could offer improved battery life, particularly when displaying the color white.

The filing notes that OLED screens can operate at lower voltages than traditional displays, like the LCD screens currently found on the iPhone and iPad. This is possible because OLED technology is light emissive rather than light transmissive.

But while OLED can offer some advantages over LCD — including darker blacks, higher contrast ratios, and improved power efficiency — those perks are diminished when an OLED display is used to generate large amounts of white display area.

In order to display a screen that is largely the color white, an OLED panel has to utilize a range of color channels for every pixel on the display. Doing this can be power intensive and make the device inefficient.

“The relative power inefficiency in display white spaces using an OLED display may be particularly problematic in certain contexts,” the filing notes. “For example, certain applications, such as word processing, spreadsheet design and use, database design and use, e-mail, and other business or productivity applications, typically utilize dark or black alphanumeric characters on a white background, such as to simulate writing or printing on a sheet of paper.

“As a result, these applications may cause the display of large expanses of white background with relatively little area devoted to the non-white alphanumeric characters. Such applications, therefore, may make the use of OLED displays unsuitable or undesirably power intensive for battery powered and/or portable electronic devices, such as handheld devices.”

Apple’s proposed solution to this problem would include a transparent OLED display panel positioned in front of a solid white background layer, like a white transflective sheet. The display would also feature an opacity switchable layer located between the OLED panel and the background layer.

“The switchable layer may be switched, in whole or in part, from an opaque or semi-opaque state to a transparent or semi-transparent state,” the application reads. “For example, in one embodiment, the switchable layer may be opaque, e.g. black, in the absence of a current. However, upon application of a current all or part of the switchable layer may be come transparent so that the underlying background layer is visible.”

The combination of a solid white background and an opaque layer that could be made transparent would allow a transparent OLED panel to avoid displaying the color white. By instead utilizing the white background, this could produce the color when appropriate, such as when reading black text on a white background, without consuming battery life to turn the individual OLED pixels white.

The white background could even be used for smaller elements on a screen, and applied even in situations where the entire background isn’t white. In one illustration, Apple shows a list of calendar events on an iPhone, with one tiny element — the selected “List” view — displayed against a white background.

Apple’s proposed invention, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Daniel William Jarvis, Albert John Golko, and Felix Jose Alvarez Rivera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PlugBug accessory simultaneously charges current Apple notebooks, iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:30
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod

This could be nifty.

Per Electronica, accessory developer Twelve South on Tuesday Tuesday unveiled a unique add-on to help Apple fans that travel with more than one device. PlugBug takes advantage of the changeable connector on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro AC adapter to add a 10W USB charger. The add-on can charge anything up to the power levels of an iPad and is seen as a way to charge any iOS device or other USB hardware without having to remember all the cables or charge through the MacBook.

The adapter doesn’t have to slot into the AC brick to work and has a cap to cover the exposed area. Twelve South imagines it as a substitute for those outside of North America who want a converter.

The PlugBug is already on sale and ships for US$35 through the company’s own online store.

If you’ve snagged one or have a favorite charger of choice, please let us know and thanks.

Rumor: Google to releases native Gmail app for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 05:00
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

More than three years since Apple launched the App Store, Google is rumored to be on the verge of releasing a native iOS app for its Gmail service, according to a new report.

According to M.G. Siegler of parislemon, “multiple sources” have stated that the launch of the application is imminent.

“I believe it has already been submitted to Apple for review. If it gets approved, it should be out soon,” he wrote, adding that he believes it will get approved.

Siegler went on to note that tipsters have said the app looks “pretty fantastic…perhaps even surprisingly so.” A key feature of the app is expected to be the addition of push notifications for the popular email service. Other likely feature additions include Priority Inbox and one-click starring of messages, according to him.

The author also speculated that upcoming Gmail features such as “contact icons, better threading, deep searching functionality,” and even Google+ integration could make their way into the iOS application.

Despite the arrival of Apple’s App Store in 2008, Google has preferred to use a Web interface for Gmail on iOS. Apple’s native Mail app on iOS has included support for Gmail accounts for years, though it lacks a number of the features that Google offers via the Web app.

Numerous reasons have been put forth for the delay in a Gmail app. Originally, some suggested that Apple was blocking third-party mail apps to avoid confusion with its own Mail program as well as Google’s tendency to favor Web apps for its services. More recently, friction between Apple and Google over the Android operating system has been cited as another cause of the delay.

According to a recently released biography, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed to “destroy Android” after handset maker HTC released an Android smartphone that he felt stole his company’s innovations.

“I don’t want your money. If you offer me US$5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want,” Jobs reportedly told Schmidt during a meeting in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to update iOS retail store app, allow for self-checkout feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 08:19
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail, Software


As nice as the Apple retail store employees can be, sometimes you just want to grab your merchandise and go.

Per MacRumors, Apple is working on plans to give retail customers the ability to finalize their own in-store purchases via its iOS application for the iPhone, according to a new report.

Perhaps arriving even sooner than expected, the new functionality is expected to arrive as soon as this week.

An update to the official “Apple Store” application for iOS is said to allow users to charge purchases to their iTunes Store account, linked to an Apple ID and credit card just as App Store purchases are authorized. The anticipated option will only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf.

The new ability will not apply to more expensive items like the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs. Those devices will remain kept in the stockroom at Apple’s retail stores, and will require assistance from a salesperson in order to purchase.

But for accessories sold in stores, including cases for products like the iPhone and iPad, users will be able to complete the transaction on their own with an iOS device. An automated e-mailed receipt will serve as confirmation of the transaction, allowing customers to show employees that an item has been paid for.

The new self-checkout option is rumored to arrive soon after Apple launched an in-store pickup program via its online store. Customers in San Francisco can now order a product online and pick it up at a local Apple retail store, and that ability is expected to expand to other U.S. stores in the near future.

Another change is also said to be coming to Apple’s online store, allowing customers to place a single order with multiple items, and have those items shipped to different addresses. The enhanced functionality is expected to debut in time for the holiday shopping season.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in talks with studios to begin streaming movies to iCloud

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 06:23
Category: Apple TV, iCloud, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor


Additional movies: They’re never a bad thing.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood movie studios in an effort to give customers the ability to stream movies they own to devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Citing sources close to the story, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Apple wants to give its customers the ability to stream movies they have purchased through iTunes without the need to manually transfer the files. The talks come as Apple has launched its iCloud product, and movie studios have rolled out their own cloud-based movie streaming service, dubbed UltraViolet.

UltraViolet movies can be streamed to an iPhone or iPad using the Flixster application available on the iOS App Store, however an UltraViolet account does not include any movies that may have been purchased through iTunes. The new UltraViolet format lets people stream a film they have purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, and is seen as a way to help boost slumping sales of movies.

Rumors that Apple wants to give users the ability to stream and re-download movies they have purchased are not new. Apple has already secured deals for iTunes customers, allowing them to re-download songs and TV shows they own, but Hollywood movies cannot be re-downloaded.

Previous reports have claimed that the so-called “HBO window” has been a sticking point in negotiations. The window is a deal in which three of the top six film studios have distribution deals with premium network HBO, and under the terms of that deal, outlets must halt sales or distribution of a film when it premieres on HBO.

As recently as August, Apple was still said to be pursuing a cloud-based streaming and re-downloading service, though such a deal with Hollywood studios was said to not be imminent.

The studios’ UltraViolet service launched this week, giving customers access to “digital lockers” that let customers stream or download a digital copy of physical purchases on a wide variety of devices. The service requires customers to create an account that serves as a hub for all of their purchased media, and passcodes that ship with physical discs allow users to access those movies online from remote servers.

All of the major movie studios except for Walt Disney Co. are backing UltraViolet, while it is planning its own proprietary service called KeyChest. Neither Disney nor Apple were part of the consortium that formed UltraViolet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

– Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

– New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

– View notifications from lock screen

– Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

– Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

– Track messages with delivery and read receipts

– Group messaging and secure encryption

– Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

– Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

– Displays the cover of the latest issue

– Background downloads of new issues

– Reminders for managing to do lists

– Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

– Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
– Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

– Add location to any tweet

– View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
– Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

– Volume Up button to take a picture

– Optional grid lines to line up shots

– Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

– Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

– Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

– Photo improvements for devices with cameras

– Crop and rotate

– Red eye removal

– One tap enhance

– Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
– Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

– Indentation control

– Drag to rearrange names in address fields

– Flag messages

– Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

– Customize mail alert sounds


Calendar improvements:
– Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

– Tap to create an event

– View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
– Use personal photos for your Game Center account

– Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

– Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

– Discover new games with custom game recommendations

– AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
– Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

– Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

– Swipe left or right to switch between apps

– On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

– Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
– iTunes in the Cloud

– Photo Stream

– Documents in the Cloud

– Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

– Backup

– Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

– Find My iPhone

– Redesigned Music app for iPad

– Hourly weather forecast

– Real-time stock quotes

– Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
– Split keyboard for iPad

– Improved autocorrection accuracy

– Improved Chinese and Japanese input

– New Emoji keyboard

– Personal dictionary for autocorrection

– Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
– Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

– Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

– New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

– Option to speak a selection of text

– Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

– Exchange ActiveSync improvements

– Wirelessly sync tasks

– Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

– Improved offline support

– Save a new contact from a GAL service

– More than 1,500 new developer APIs

– Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new iOS update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple shifts iPad 2 battery orders from Simplo to Dynapack after leak-prone units discovered

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, switch a component supplier.

Per DigiTimes, part supplier sources maintained Wednesday that Apple had recently been pushed into switching battery supply for the iPad 2. Apple moved some of its orders from Simplo to Dynapack at the end of September after Simplo’s eastern China plant produced some leak-prone lithium-polymer packs according to the story. Apple’s use of safer lithium-polymer batteries kept them from showstopper fires, but the recharging problems were enough to require better.

Normally, Simplo would supply about 60 percent of iPad 2 batteries with Dynapack providing the rest. That ratio would have shifted more towards neutral with a part swap.

The issue hasn’t been independently confirmed. Both Dynapack and Simplo are widely known as Apple’s battery suppliers, and Simplo handles the batteries for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Companies like Apple are known to change orders for other components to keep supply up, such as a well known diversification away from LG for iPad 2 displays until it resolved display issues.

A successful swap could minimize any disruption in Apple’s manufacturing, although it still comes just as Apple is likely seeing a peak in shipments as it goes into the holidays. As such, it might be more sensitive to unplanned switches.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opinion: Per Your iOS Devices, Be Careful Out There

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 05:23
Category: Announcement, iPad, Opinion

I should have seen this coming.

Last night, as I’d done half a dozen times before without incident, I sat outside the BloomBars art space in Washington, D.C. replying to email on my iPad 2, listening to an ancient Guns ‘n Roses song off the “Appetite for Destruction” album and feeling like everything was right with the world.

This morning, I just got off the phone with my insurance company and have now learned that my deductible is US$250 before they start covering anything that was stolen.

Which brings up what happened in between last night and today, wherein the person who snagged my iPad 2 directly out of my hands, quickly tore the headphones out of the jack, sprinted down a nearby alleyway and had a good 20-30 yards on me before I could stop looking surprised/silly and begin chasing after him.

Like anyone who’s been in this situation, I feel like an idiot. Yes, I’d hung out at this art space before and been surrounded by naught by kind-hearted hipsters looking to get stage time to work on a new song, poem, rap or stand up set and felt like I had no reason to worry. The iPad 2, which I’d worked hard for and spent part of my tax refund on, seemed secure in my hands, the earbuds in my ears only solidifying my sense of connection to the device.

Within seconds, the thing you love has been torn out of your hands by someone who seems to be really, really good at stealing things and getting an insurmountable head start on you as he sprints away with the item in question.

If there’s any advice to offer, it’s this: Be careful out there. iOS devices are hip, simple to walk away with, easy to reset, a cinch to resell and the only thing the person who snagged my iPad 2 needs to buy to make it completely functional is an iOS attachment capable (roughly US$19 from the Apple Store or Best Buy or less than US$10 from an Internet-based supplier depending on where he looks) and nothing else.

As far as things you can actually do in this situation, the following are never bad ideas:

– MobileMe may still be US$99 per year, but I’m beginning to see the attraction of it, especially if it allows the iPad to either have its location tracked or its memory wiped remotely. Look into this and it may be a good investment.

– I’ve just been informed that Find My iPhone is free and doesn’t require a MobileMe account (which is out of vogue given the iCloud transition). It’s free, Apple stands behind it and from now on, I’m installing this on every iOS device I’ll ever own and a killer setup video to answer your questions is available here.

– Change your critical passwords once you get home. Yes, you should probably feed the cat if you’ve been out all day, but change your Amazon, Netflix, Gmail, Yahoo and other passwords just to play it safe. Your iOS device was just stolen and you probably don’t feel great about yourself or what happened, but you never know who your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will be handed off to and whether they’ll simply wipe it or jailbreak it to retrieve all the data/passwords/banking information they can find off of it. Change your passwords and watch your credit card statements over the next few days no matter what.

– Finally, give the cops all the information you can think of as to who you think stole your advice, their description and the moments leading up to the theft. In spite of everything that happened last night, I was able to flag down a cop within moments of the theft last night and they were able to find a person that had been in the thief’s group of friends only moments before my iPad 2 was stolen. Once the friend was identified, they brought in enough additional cops and a detective to compose the department’s softball team, so there’s something there and the situation doesn’t look as hopeless as it did an hour before.

The moral of the story: Enjoy your iOS devices, make the most of them and be careful, especially if you use an iPad 2 out in the open. A person should never have to live in fear, but exercise some caution (and some common sense, which seems to be lacking from my part) and you’ll probably be fine.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this homemade superhero costume won’t finish making itself…