O'Grady's PowerPage » iPad mini

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.

iPad mini supply improves, shipment times now 1-3 days from online Apple Store

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 4th, 2013, 08:50
Category: iPad mini, News, retail

The iPad mini you just ordered, it should be at your doorstep a little sooner.

In an update to its U.S. online storefront on Sunday, Apple is now showing ship times of the popular iPad mini stand at 1-3 business days, down from the 3-5 days quoted late last month.

Per AppleInsider, the new ship-by times suggest Apple may finally be overcoming the severe supply constraints seen shortly after the 7.9-inch tablet launched in November and continued throughout the lucrative holiday quarter.

Apple saw high demand for the device when pre-orders went live at the end of October, with the U.S. store selling out of the White & Silver model in a matter of hours. The company later announced that the iPad mini sold three million units over its first weekend on sale.

Chief executive Tim Cook said in the company’s quarterly earnings conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013 that suppliers were having trouble meeting demand, but estimated a balance could be reached by the end of the March quarter. Sunday’s new shipment estimates suggest supply is catching up to demand.

At the end of January, the ship-by time for all models, including the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions, was quoted at 3-5 days, which itself was an improvement from the one-week estimates seen in December.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

iPad mini supply improves, shipment times now 3-5 days from online Apple Store

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 28th, 2013, 07:19
Category: iPad mini, News, retail

Give it time and eventually the supply channels even out.

Per AppleInsider, despite severe constraints throughout the holiday quarter, supply of Apple’s iPad mini is finally catching up with demand as the Online Apple Store is now quoting ship-by dates of 3-5 business days.

The change comes one week after Apple kicked off sales of cellular-enabled versions of the iPad mini in China, a market thought to be a major player in the company’s future growth. At the time of launch, availability stood at two weeks for the Chinese market and one week for the U.S.

Supply of the hot-selling 7.9-inch tablet has been constrained since the device went on sale in October, with brisk sales amounting to quick stockouts on Apple’s online store. The company announced that the iPad mini sold three million units over its first weekend on sale.

In early December, iPad mini availability improved as quoted Online Apple Store shipment estimates fell to one week for the first time since launch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the company’s quarterly earnings conference call in October that he thought the smaller iPad, along with the fourth-gen iPad and iPad 2, would be “extremely attractive” stand-ins for PCs. During Apple’s most recent conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013, Cook said suppliers were having difficulty meeting high demand, but a balance could be reached by the end of the upcoming quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may incorporate fingerprint sensor into iPhone “Home” button for next-gen models

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 25th, 2013, 08:34
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, Rumor

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone this year with a fingerprint sensor hidden beneath the home button — an intuitive design that could be difficult for competing Android and Windows Phone devices to copy.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec to pay off this year with the so-called “iPhone 5S,” the company’s anticipated next-generation handset. He believes Apple will find a way to integrate the fingerprint sensor into the home button, allowing Apple to retain its “minimalist design.”

In contrast, many Android and Windows Phone devices have more than one button below the display, and those buttons frequently lack the mechanical push of Apple’s home button. As a result, attempts to integrate fingerprint scanning on competing devices would be less intuitive, and could frustrate users, Kuo said.

He believes that with the addition of a fingerprint sensor below the iPhone’s home button, Apple will be able to replace the use of usernames and passwords, allowing users to authenticate in a more efficient manner. He also expects that the fingerprint scanner will integrate with applications such as Passbook to enhance their functionality.

Kuo has a particularly strong track record in predicting Apple’s future product pipeline. Last year, the analyst accurately forecast the company’s entire fall lineup, including the taller design of the iPhone 5 and iPod touch, thinner iMacs, the iPad mini, and the fourth-generation iPad with Lightning connector.

Beyond the “iPhone 5S,” Kuo expects a new handset based on the iPhone 5 design will also launch this year. Kuo’s comments are in line with recent rumors, that have pegged Apple as planning to release a more affordable iPhone model this year targeted at emerging markets.

Kuo believes the less expensive iPhone 5 will feature a new design, including a plastic casing, to cut costs and expand Apple’s iPhone lineup.

The analyst has also predicted that the iPad mini will gain a Retina display in 2013, while the full-size iPad will sport a lighter and thinner design with a smaller bezel. He also expects new Retina MacBook Pros with cheaper prices, the discontinuation of the legacy MacBook Pros, and a refresh to the Apple TV set-top box — but no full-fledged television set this year.

Rumor: Apple to release all-Retina iPad, MacBook Pro lineups in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013, 08:09
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, MacBook Pro, Rumor

Even though it’s a rumor, there’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has made his Apple hardware predictions for the upcoming year, and expects a bevy of new iOS and Mac product releases will help the iPhone maker address a wider swath of the market

Kuo, who has seen previous success in predicting future Apple products, says the company will introduce a number of new iOS devices in 2013, including an inexpensive iPhone 5, upgraded iPhone 5S, Retina display-toting second-gen iPad mini and a redesigned fifth-generation iPad, among others. He goes on to say that Apple will retire the non-Retina MacBook Pro line and replace it with an all-Retina lineup at a lower price.

Kuo is quick to note that none of the product forecasts are expected in the first quarter of 2013 and says “many” will be introduced in the second half of the year.

According to the analyst, Apple will release both an iPhone 5S with updated internals as well as an inexpensive version of the current iPhone 5 design with a thicker plastic chassis available in six colors. The iPhone 5S, which Kuo believes will launch sometime in June or July, will have largely the same aesthetic as the existing model, but will boast a built-in fingerprint sensor, improved camera and more powerful A7 SoC. A slightly revamped “new design” iPhone 5 is expected to go on sale as a less-expensive alternative to Apple’s flagship handset at around the same time, with the affordable price tag attributed to a plastic exterior that will be available in multiple colorways.

Kuo believes a new fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad will launch with lighter frame and a more refined look, borrowing the narrow bezels seen on the iPad mini. In turn, the smaller tablet will move to generation two and get a Retina display that sports the same 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen resolution as the existing full-size iPad. By using an identical resolution, app makers won’t have to make software changes to fit a new native format. The same thinking was used when the iPad mini was released with a resolution identical to the iPad 2.

As for Apple’s MacBook, the analyst sees an end of life for non-Retina MacBook Pros, which will be replaced by an all-Retina lineup that eschews optical drives. Pricing should be reduced to help move units. The MacBook Air will see little change besides a bump in internal specs as sizing down the high-resolution Retina display is seen as too steep a challenge at this time. Because the Air will not see a significant design change, the tweaked models are expected to arrive earlier in the year, with the all-Retina MacBook Pro line coming in quarter three.

In respect to the iPod product line, Kuo isn’t expecting much in the way of revolutionary changes. With the fifth-gen iPod touch released, Apple will likely introduce a cheaper variant of the current design without a camera and less built-in memory to reach a target price of US$199.

Finally, 2013 is expected to be the last year in which the Apple TV is considered a “hobby,” but Kuo doesn’t believe the company will introduce a full-fledged television set in the next 12 months. The existing media streamer is likely to morph into a serious business — possibly a full-fledged HDTV — in 2014, as Apple already has the infrastructure to support such a device with iTunes, the App Store and iCloud services. What the company lacks, however, is experience in the industry, especially concerning the establishment of a reliable supply chain. Kuo looks to the much-rumored “iTV” as a source of growth in the coming years.

Rumor: Apple may switch to IGZO displays for next-gen iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 27th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, Rumor

applelogo_silver

Next year could be interesting where iOS devices are concerned.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is reportedly in talks with Sharp to use the company’s IGZO display technology in next-generation iPhones and iPads, but low yield rates have prompted the Cupertino tech giant to look at other Asian display makers in efforts to bolster its supply chain.

According to sources close to the story, Apple is said to be further evaluating Sharp’s IGZO panel production capacity for 2013 ahead of rolling out the technology in upcoming iPhone, iPad and iPad mini models. Rumors of Apple’s interest in using IGZO, or indium, gallium and zinc oxide, displays first surfaced in late 2011.

While the Sharp-developed screens are thinner and more efficient than those found in current iDevices, Apple was unable to take advantage of the technology as the struggling Japanese electronics firm saw setbacks with initial yields. Only recently has the company introduced the first IGZO panels with its own mobile offerings limited to the Japanese domestic market.

It appears that supply constraints are a continuing concern, as Apple is said to also be evaluating whether display partner AU Optronics’ “L5C” line can be used to produce the cutting edge panels. In addition, Innolux was reportedly granted a license to make IGZO displays, suggesting that the Taiwanese company may become an Apple display supplier.

The most recent rumors surrounding an IGZO-toting Apple product came in July when sources in China claimed the tech would be one of the standout features of the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users complain of reduced battery life, new Wi-Fi issues after iOS 6.0.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 08:51
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Sometimes a bug fix works perfectly for everyone.

Other times it doesn’t, or opens up a whole new can of worms.

Per the Apple support forums and Ars Technica, Apple’s newly released iOS 6.0.2 update for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini may have resolved some Wi-Fi issues, but some users say it seems to have also reduced their battery life.

A number of users have expressed they have noticed poorer battery life on their iPhone after upgrading to iOS 6.0.2. Specifically, one user said they noticed their battery draining “substantially faster.”

In addition, a small number of users have created a thread at Apple’s official support forums to share their own evidence of battery problems with iOS 6.0.2.

“It is absolutely draining my battery,” user ‘atdguy’ wrote. “I can usually get through a day with about 75% of my battery power remaining. Today I’ve gone through 90% and I’ve done nothing special with it.”

Others posting at Apple’s site said that the release of iOS 6.0.2 actually introduced Wi-Fi connectivity issues for them. The software update, released on Tuesday, was intended to address previous Wi-Fi bugs for the iPhone and iPad mini.

All of the users who commented or e-mailed say they are experiencing the battery drain issues with their iPhone 5. There was no mention of iOS 6.0.2 battery problems with the iPad mini.

If you’ve seen these issues on your own devices after the iOS 6.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T activates additional 4G LTE networks in 24 U.S. cities

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 08:51
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News

attlogo

Some speedy new 4G LTE networks are in place around the U.S.

Which is never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T this week announced that its high-speed 4G LTE network — compatible with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, iPad and iPad mini — has launched in 15 new markets, and also expanded coverage in a handful of other locations.

A total of 10 new locations with 4G LTE reception were announced by AT&T on Friday:
- Boise, Idaho

- Boulder, Colo.

- Bowling Green, Ky.

- Harrisburg, Pa.

- Hartford, Conn.

- Lancaster, Pa.

- Lexington, Ken.

- New Haven, Conn.

- Ogden, Utah

- Providence, R.I.

Those 10 are joined by five other markets that AT&T announced have LTE connectivity on Tuesday of this week:
- Green Bay, Wis.

- Melbourne, Fla.

- Oxford, Miss.

- Springfield, Mass.

- Tucson, Ariz.

Finally, AT&T also announced this week that its existing 4G LTE network has expanded in a handful of markets. They are:
- Middlesex County, N.J.

- Phoenix, Ariz.

- Salt Lake City, Utah

- Los Angeles, Calif.

The latest expansions are the most significant update to AT&T’s network since mid-November, when the company’s 4G LTE coverage was extended to 24 new markets, including Denver, Colo., and Columbus, Ohio.

In all, AT&T’s 4G LTE network has been launched in 124 markets. The company plans to reach 250 million people by the end of 2013, and 300 million by the end of 2014.

As always, let us know how AT&T’s 4G LTE network is working out for you (and if it’s worth the fairly heady price tag you pay each and every month)…

Apple gets regulatory clearance to sell cellular-enabled iPad mini, fourth-gen iPad in Chinese marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:32
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News

It never hurts to get all your telecom and regulatory ducks in a row.

Per Techweb, a filing with China’s telecommunications regulation body discovered on Tuesday reveals that Apple has acquired the network licenses needed to start sales of its cellular-enabled iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad.

The Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center (TENAA) granted Apple two licenses on Dec. 13 for devices carrying the model numbers A1455 and A1460, which are noted on the company’s website as being the iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular and fourth-generation iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular, respectively.

Per the article, the licenses allow the two iPad models to run on China Unicom’s WCDMA network as well as China Telecom’s CDMA2000 bands.

After announcing a Dec. 7 rollout date for the Chinese market, Apple debuted Wi-Fi only versions of the tablets to uncharacteristically small crowds. The company followed up the iPad release with the iPhone 5 on Dec. 14, which saw over two million sales over its first weekend of availability.

So, if you’re headed to the Chinese frontier in the near future and were hoping to snag a cellular-enabled iPad mini or fourth-gen iPad, you should be in luck in the near future.