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Apple patent points towards improved OLED displays in future iOS devices

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

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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.

Apple confirms iOS 5 firmware update geared towards addressing iPhone 4S battery life, other issues in the works

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Date: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, 06:43
Category: iPhone, News, Software

When in doubt, work on a firmware update.

Per All Things D, Apple has announced that it has found specific flaws in iOS 5 that can be patched to address the battery life issues some iPhone users have experienced with the new software, noting that an update is planned to address the problem in the next few weeks.

Recently, Apple noted, “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices,” adding, “We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.”

Apple has released an initial beta iOS 5.0.1 build 9a402 to developers to begin testing the new update on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The company says the new build “contains improvements and other bug fixes including:

- Fixes bugs affecting battery life.

- Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.

- Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud.

- Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation.

- Contains security improvements.

- iOS 5.0.1 beta introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.

Since the release of iOS 5 and the new iPhone 4S, specific users have complained about serious battery life issues, although the problems appear to be tied to different settings, carriers, and usage patterns, making the core problems difficult to diagnose and address.

Apple had reportedly been actively investigating the issues with specific users to determine what fixes could be rolled out to general audiences to broadly resolve the problems.

Some users have discovered specific settings that seemed to be actively consuming battery life, including the automatic date and time setting, iTunes Ping, per-app notification settings, and even the “raise to speak” feature in Siri.

Apple’s latest iPhone 4S uses a much faster A5 processor with twice the graphics cores and a higher clock speed, but the company notes that average talk time, WiFi browsing and audio and video playback should be roughly the same as the previous A4-based iPhone 4, thanks to new technologies including a slightly larger battery.

Apple has historically released between six to ten free updates for iOS between annual major updates, rolling them out to users rapidly as soon as they are available, making it unique among competing mobile platforms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail 5.0.2 (Lion Edition) released

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Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 11:20
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.0 of Cocktail (Lion Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Addresses compatibility issues with the latest versions of Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome.

- Added clearing of the Revir, Imuler and Flashback trojans.

- Miscellaneous bug fixes and overall improvements.

- Added OS X 10.7.2 compatibility.

- Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 5.0.2 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15050

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Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 05:50
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15050 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 304 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Download and install Windows 8 Developer Preview right from the Parallels Wizard.

- Install Mac OS X 10.7 Lion using Install Mac OS X Lion.app.

- Support for Ubuntu 11.10.

- Improved full screen experience with a new option allowing to scale the virtual machine screen to fit the visible screen area while keeping the resolution.

- Improved support for non-English keyboard layouts.

- Resolves an issue with the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter disconnecting from Mac OS.

- Improved migration of the recent Linux versions from a PC to a virtual machine on your Mac.

- Many other fixes and improvements.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

iPhone 4S to hit C Spire wireless on Friday, November 11th

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:43
Category: iPhone, News

In nine days, the little guy gets the iPhone 4S.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s debut on regional carriers in the U.S. will occur on Friday, Nov. 11, when the iPhone 4S becomes available to customers of C Spire Wireless.

C Spire’s official page has been updated to reflect the forthcoming launch date of the iPhone 4S, and also allows customers to pre-register to reserve Apple’s latest smartphone. The website also features a “Why C Spire?” section, listing some of the attributes of the smaller, regional carrier versus the “big four” wireless providers in the U.S.

C Spire’s individual plans include an unlimited plan with “infinite” minutes, data, messaging and streaming. Those who don’t pay for a streaming plan are given 30 minutes per month of free streaming of online content like music and videos, while two hours of streaming runs US$5, 5 hours is US$10, and unlimited is US$30.

The carrier has advertised that its unlimited plan with streaming is US$100, compared to 2GB of data and unlimited calling for US$114.99 and US$119.99 at AT&T and Verizon, respectively.

An individual plan with 500 minutes and unlimited data with free streaming until 2012, for example, carries a base price of US$50 a month. For those who don’t want a data plan, C Spire also offers entry-level plans starting at 250 minutes with “infinite” messaging for US$25 per month.

Those who don’t buy a data plan can pay for data as they go, with a Web usage rate of one penny per five kilobytes.

Last month it was revealed that Apple was expanding availability of its iPhone to smaller, regional U.S. carriers starting with C Spire, which has about 900,000 customers. C Spire is based in Ridgeland, Miss., and serves customers in Mississippi, Memphis, the Florida Panhandle, as well as parts of Alabama and Georgia.

The new iPhone 4S is also available in America on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. The only major carrier that does not offer Apple’s smartphone is T-Mobile, which has a 3G service that relies on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands not supported by the iPhone. Users who unlock an iPhone and use it on T-Mobile’s U.S. network are restricted to much slower 2G EDGE speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re already a C Spire user, please let us know what you make of the company’s service.

Rumor: Google to releases native Gmail app for iOS

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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.

DevilRobber trojan horse for Mac OS X discovered, controls GPU, steals user data

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Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 04:42
Category: News, security, Software

While there may not be that many viruses out there for the Mac, there are still Trojan horse apps to make life a little bit harder.

Here’s another.

Per AppleInsider, a new Trojan horse hidden in a Mac OS X application can steal sensitive user data and take control of the computer’s GPU to generate Bitcoins, a form of currency used online.

In a report released on Saturday, security firm Sophos reported that DevilRobber, a Trojan horse that can steal sensitive user data, was found hidden inside copies of Graphic Converter 7.4 downloaded from bit-torrent file-sharing sites.

DevilRobber, also known as “OSX/Miner-D,” can steal usernames and passwords and is capable of spying on users by taking screenshots of their activity and sending the images online. In addition, the Trojan is able to run scripts that can copy information “regarding truecrypt data, Vidalia (TOR plugin for Firefox), your Safari browsing history, and .bash_history” to a dump.txt file.

The malware has also been found to search for “pthc” files, a term that is used to describe pre-teen hardcore pornography. It is not known at this time whether one of the secondary features of DevilRobber is to find traces of child abuse on affected computers.

Another unusual feature for the new Trojan is its capability of taking over a Mac’s GPU in order to generate Bitcoins, a digital currency that can be used to perform online instant payments without the oversight of a banking authority.

Users generate Bitcoins on personal computers after installing Bitcoin Miner, an application that’s compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux systems. Once obtained, Bitcoins are stored in the user’s digital wallet and can be used for future online payments. Bitcoins can also be exchanged for actual currency with the current exchange rate reportedly valuing one Bitcoin at US$3.20.

In addition to harnessing the power of the GPU to generate more Bitcoins, DevilRobber can also steal the user’s existing Bitcoin wallet if it finds the appropriate files.

Sophos suggests users be aware of signs that point to a malware attack. For example, a malware attack can result in the slowdown of overall computing performance, with affected users reporting sluggishness as the Trojan steals GPU resources for mining purposes.

In order to avoid unwanted DevilRobber installations, Mac users are advised to refrain from downloading software via untrusted sources, even if they appear to be legitimate. It is not known at this time whether other Mac applications available on torrent sites come bundled with the new Trojan horse.

Apple has yet to acknowledge the new threat, though common anti-virus programs are able to detect DevilRobber.

The new malware is the most recent in a wave of programs targeting an increasing number of Mac owners. Apple recently cleared a threat from a non-functional Chinese Trojan horse that disguised itself as a PDF download.

Recently various instances of a different, more advanced malware program emerged. “Flashback” posed as an Adobe Flash installer, with a later upgraded version programmed to disable the default OS X anti-malware protection thus leaving systems vulnerable to subsequent attacks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx 2.4.2 released

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Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 04:12
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.2. The new version, a 12.9 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

- Show/hide QuickTime Player 7 Movie Inspector at launch.

- Force enabling AirDrop.

- Bugs corrected in the Parameters > iTunes panel.

- Bugs corrected in the Infos panel.

- Xcode isn’t required anymore to install the Network Link Conditioner Preferences Pane.

- If the Spotlight icon is hidden, it remains after repairing permissions from OnyX.

- New replacement icons.

- Help corrected, improved and reindexed.

- Localizations…

Onyx 2.4.2 requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

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

Hackers manage to port Siri functionality to previous-generation iOS devices

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 12:15
Category: Hacks, iPhone, News, Software

Only a few weeks after the iPhone 4S was announced, hackers began trying to fully jailbreak the new smartphone and to also port the new voice assistant system, Siri, to previous generation iOS devices.

According to 9to5mac, developer Steven Troughton-Smith was the first person to port Siri to the iPhone 4, but the system was not functional since it required authentication with Apple servers, only the user interface was working.

Smith and Grant Paul, another hacker based in San Francisco, have now confirmed that they’ve found a workaround to the server side authentication issue, in the processes being the first to fully port Siri to the previous generation iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G.

The hackers say more versions are being developed to support other iOS devices, like the iPad.

Smith also said Siri would not be available for download on unapproved app stores, like in Cydia, citing legal issues. But, that is not to say other repositories available through Cydia won’t package the necessary files and make them available free of charge, illegally.

When asked how long it took Smith to find a workaround, he said, “It literally took no longer than 10 minutes to put all the pieces in place and perform our first test on my iPhone 4 [jailbroken], and it was an instant success.”

Thanks to Siri exclusivity, a new dual-core A5 processor, a full HD 1080p camera, availability with more carriers, among other features, iPhone 4S sales have been better than expected, selling more than four million units in the first weekend alone, according to Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been able to hack Siri to your iOS device, please let us know.

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

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

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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.