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iOS alarm bug resolved under newer versions of iOS, Apple recommends updating if possible

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Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 12:06
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes Apple can pin things down from their end.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, a problem with iOS alarms breaking on January 1st or the 2nd appears to been solved by Apple, at least in part. In 2011 the glitch caused some iOS devices to stay silent despite alarms being toggled on in the Clock app. Most iOS 5 devices have been working normally in 2012.

Still vulnerable though are devices running iOS 4.2.1. The gap is important mainly because v4.2.1 is last version of iOS supported by the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod touch. Those devices will likely never have fully-functional alarms, since Apple has never retroactively updated iOS, unlike OS X.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know.

Developers unveil demo of MobileX hack, allow Apple TV units to run full-screen iOS apps

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Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 05:19
Category: Apple TV, Hack, News

This could prove really nifty.

Per AppleInsider, hackers have developed a workaround that enables full-screen versions of iOS apps for the iPad to run on a jailbroken Apple TV device.

Steve Troughton-Smith and a developer known as “TheMudkip” published over the weekend photos and video of the hack, dubbed MobileX, for Apple’s set-top box.

“MobileX is a window manager for iOS that replaces springboard with the added bonus of letting iPhone and iPad apps run on the Apple TV,” Troughton-Smith said in the video, adding that “any apps just run and scale up to the 720p resolution adequately.”

The hack appears to be in its early stages and has yet to be released to the public. In order to run the utility, the developers first performed the “Seas0nPass” jailbreak on the Apple TV. Apple has warned in the past that the jailbreak process, which allows users to run unauthorized code and apps on iOS, may void a device’s warranty.

Given that the Apple TV doesn’t include a full-featured input method such as a touchscreen, the pair used a combination of Virtual Network Computing (VNC), Secure Shell (SSH) and the Apple Remote to control the device. According to them, MobileX features a built-in menu that allows users to “quit apps, launch Safari, connect to Wi-Fi or show multiple apps side by side” from the Apple Remote.

Troughton-Smith demoed the iPad version of the FaceBook app and claimed that any of Apple’s own apps, such as Safari, Maps and YouTube also work well. VNC did, however, cause some sluggishness in some of the apps, though Troughton-Smith noted that a direct input method such as a remote or a mouse or keyboard would make performance “much smoother.”

Rumors of an AppleTV model that would allow access to the App Store have swirled for years, but developers appear to have taken matters into their own hands.

“If Apple isn’t going to give us a way to make real AppleTV apps, then I guess we’ll have to make one ourselves,” Troughton-Smith wrote in the video’s description on YouTube.

Apple released the latest version of the Apple TV in September 2010. The $99 set-top box runs on the company’s A4 processor and is a fourth the size of the first generation Apple TV.

The hack comes even as speculation on an upcoming Apple television set has heightened considerably. The release of late co-founder Steve Jobs’ biography set off a flurry of rumors after revealing that Jobs believed he had “cracked” the secret for a connected TV interface. Since then, reports have suggested that an Apple television will run on custom-built chips similar to those powering the iPhone and iPad and may come in three sizes.

Take a gander at the video and please let us know what you think in the comments:

Onyx 2.4.3 released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 04:46
Category: News, Software


Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.3. The new version, a 13.7 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

OnyX doesn’t relaunch anymore after restart or shut down
Deleting the Logs improved
– Enable/disable Text Selection in Quick Look.

– Enable/disable iTunes notifications.

– Choose search option by default in Safari.

– Path Bar displayed from the Home folder or root.

– Show/hide the path of background image on the Desktop.

– Enable/disable Time Machine Local Backups.

– Translations improved.

– New version integrated 3.7.9 of sqlite3.

– Info panel improved.

– Bug corrected while rebuilding the Mail Envelope Index

– Bug corrected while emptying the trash.

Onyx 2.4.3 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.

Verizon reverses decision regarding controversial $2 convenience fee

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 13:42
Category: iPhone, News


Kvetch and sometimes things will change.

Verizon has issued a press release stating that the carrier has officially backed off of the “single payment fee” that drew almost universal ire amongst subscribers and nabbed the attention of the FCC.

Says Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, “we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.”

The company offered the following press release:

Verizon Wireless Will Not Institute Single Payment Fee

Verizon Wireless has decided it will not institute the fee for online or telephone single payments that was announced earlier this week.

The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions. The company continues to encourage customers to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides.

“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.

No word yet on whether the FCC plans to investigate Sprint’s similar long-standing fee.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leak points out possible AMD graphics cards for upcoming Mac Pro models

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 08:20
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

It’s not truly mobile news, but you’ve gotta love it when the graphics card on a Mac Pro could get an ample boost.

Per Fudzilla, a detailed leak may have given out details of AMD’s mid-range Radeon HD 7000-series desktop graphics. The 7750 and 7750 would sit on the new mainstream Cape Verde Pro and XT cores and each scale back considerably from the higher-end but more expensive Radeon HD 7970. Both would drop from 384-bit to 128-bit memory interfaces and 900MHz core clock speeds.

The differences would come out of shader (visual effect) core counts, texture units, and memory. The 7750 would carry 832 shader cores and 52 texture units fed by 1.25GHz GDDR5 memory (5GHz effective), while the 7770 would up these to 896 cores, 56 texture units, and 1.38GHz GDDR5 memory (5.5GHz effective).

Little was mentioned about the 7850 and 7870 that would sit at the higher end. The two would have wider 256-bit memory buses, additional cores, and higher clock speeds. Either would share the new Pitcairn architecture sitting in between Cape Verde and the Tahiti design in the 7970.

Pricing would be close on the range, most of all in the lower end cards. The 7750 and 7750 would barely be separated at US$139 and US$149, suggesting that one is intended to only show in some retailers or in pre-assembled computers. AMD would reportedly price the 7850 and 7870 at US$249 and US$299 each to appeal to the lucrative upper mid-range gamer segment.

The chipsets wouldn’t arrive until February. If so, they would help determine when many mid-range desktop lines are updated. Apple may use one or more in the Mac Pro, since it’s already supporting the 7900 series in Mac OS X code and would likely want a lower-end graphics card for its base configurations.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent for iOS device facial recognition goes live

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 05:59
Category: iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

At least your iPad will remember who you are.

Per Free Patents Online, a recently published patent application shows how future iOS devices could use a forward-facing camera to recognize an individual user, whereupon the device could automatically customize applications, settings and features to a user’s personal preferences once they pick up the unit.

Entitled “Low Threshold Face Recognition,” the patent describes a low-computation solution for quickly and accurately recognizing a user.

The filing provides a simple way for multiple users to share a single device, like an iPad. Each user could customize their personal profile with unique wallpaper, applications and settings, and that profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user’s face.

Apple’s application notes that robust facial recognition systems that work in various lighting conditions and orientations can be taxing on an electronic device, requiring resources and draining battery life.

Its solution would reduce the impact of lighting conditions and biometric distortions on an image. The filing describes a “low-computation solution for reasonably effective (low threshold) face recognition that can be implemented on camera-equipped consumer portable appliances.”

Rather than aggressively analyzing a user’s entire face and using up time and resources, Apple’s concept would rely on a “high information portion” of a human face. Potential high information portions could include eyes, a mouth, or the tip of a user’s nose.

By recognizing the individual features on a user’s face, the system could scale the distance between someone’s eyes and their mouth. That distance could then be measured against the reference image originally captured by the user in order to confirm it is in fact the same person.

Apple’s application notes that its facial recognition capabilities could be constantly active due to lower power consumption. This means a user could simply point an iPhone or iPad at their face, without pressing a button, and have the screen automatically turn on and unlock the device.

This could be accomplished through an “orange-distance filter,” which would capture the “likely presence” of a human face in front of a camera. This filter would also be used to detect a person’s skin tone, and measure the distance of their face from the camera.

Once a user has been recognized, the facial recognition technology could not only grant them access to the device, but also customize its settings based on a unique user profile. Each user would be presented with a personalized configuration, as an iPhone or iPad would be able to “modify screen saver slide shows or other appliance non-security preferences,” the application reads.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in June of 2009. It is credited to Robert Mikio Free.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to tack on $2/month fee for users not using autopay system

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Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News


You may not like this.

Per Droid Life, a leaked memo shows that Verizon Wireless will soon be charging customers US$2 for every month they aren’t using the company’s autopay/autodraft system. The leaked memo details what has to be done with the policy change since the carrier boosted its early termination fee for “advanced devices.”

Effective January 15th, any customer that opts to pay their wireless bill online or over the phone will be charged an extra US$2 each month, and the only way to sidestep it is to sign up for AutoPay or to pay by electronic check, where there’s no credit card fee passed on to the carrier.

For those unaware, AutoPay automatically drafts the most recent amount from either a linked checking / savings account or a credit card on file.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Argentina enacts ban on iPhone, BlackBerry imports as part of effort to boost local production

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Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

If you were planning on hitting up Argentina any time soon, snagging an iPhone there just got that much harder.

In an attempt to rectify issues with Argentina’s economy, the South American country placed a temporary ban on imports of foreign-made electronics. Two of the most well-known of those electronics are the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Apple and RIM collectively account for 60 percent of Argentina’s smartphone market, so the ban is going to have a substantial impact on its mobile industry.

According to Electronista, Neither of the operating systems nor the hardware manufacturers were affected because they — Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. — have manufacturing facilities within Argentina. Android and Windows Phone will very quickly see a boost in sales, while iPhone and BlackBerry sales will drop to zero, unless of course Apple and RIM open up local plants or partner with other manufacturers.

In all actuality, the iPhone and BlackBerry markets have been struggling in Argentina for a while. A law was already in place that added a 20.48 percent tax on electronic imports on top of the standard 21 percent sales tax.

The government of Argentina says they will lift the ban on iPhones and BlackBerrys when the economy shows significant signs of stabilization, but there’s no telling just when that will happen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing specialized CPUs for HDTV units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 09:17
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

When in doubt, roll your own.

Per DigiTimes, rather than utilize off-the-shelf chips from a company such as Intel, Apple is expected to use its own custom-built chips like in the iPhone and iPad for its anticipated television set.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Siliconware Precision Industries are three companies expected to bid on orders with Apple. The companies could build custom ARM-based chips to power an Apple television, much like the A4 CPU, first released in the iPad in 2010, is found in the current Apple TV set-top box.

Apple is said to have already signed a foundry agreement with TSMC earlier this year, utilizing its 28nm and 20nm process technologies. That deal was said to be for next-generation “A6” and “A7” processors for the iPhone and iPad, but it’s possible an Apple television could also utilize the advanced chips.

In addition to featuring custom chips, the Apple television is also expected to be assembled by Foxconn Electronics, industry sources reportedly said. Foxconn already builds most of Apple’s devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

The report said Apple is expected to finalize the hardware standards for its television set at the end of the second quarter of 2012. After that, it will place orders for customized chips and other components directly with its contract manufacturers. That’s the same approach Apple uses to build its iPad and iPhone lineups.

The Taiwan electronics industry publication once again pegged the Apple television for launch by the end of 2012. On Tuesday, DigiTimes also said that suppliers are expected to begin preparing components for the anticipated HDTV in the first quarter of 2012, and that it will have screen sizes of 32 and 37 inches.

Earlier reports also claimed that Apple will buy chips from Samsung for its television set, while Sharp is expected to manufacture displays. As for content, analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said earlier Wednesday that Apple is hoping to offer Internet-based content subscriptions that will allow customers to choose their own custom channel lineups, offering an experience very different from current cable and satellite plans.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple awarded key multitouch technology patent, able to cite wider legal defense regarding oscillating signal technologies

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 05:06
Category: News, Patents


Patent: It’s good to have ’em.

According to Patently Apple, Apple won a core multitouch patent regarding oscillating signals that was alluded to when Steve Jobs first announced the original iPhone in 2007, and adds to the company’s already formidable legal arsenal.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office published on Tuesday that the Cupertino, Calif. company now owns a crucial patent that describes how touch events are recognized by a touchscreen device, and was one of the “200+ Patents for new inventions” Jobs lauded when the iPhone first debuted.

The newly granted patent focuses on the oscillator signal and circuit of a touchscreen-equipped device, an integral invention directly related to how users interact with their multitouch products.

Apple states in the filing:
“In general, multi-touch panels may be able to detect multiple touches (touch events or contact points) that occur at or about the same time, and identify and track their locations.”

Previous to the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, most touch-capable devices relied on single-touch input like resistive touchscreens. The legacy technology “senses” a touch when two electrically resistive sheets separated by a small gap are connected by the push of a finger or stylus, which in turn creates a voltage division that is detected by a device controller that records the change along the x and y axes.

Resistive displays are limited in that they can only recognize single inputs no matter how many objects are touching the screen.

One way to record multiple touches at a time is to generate an oscillating signal circuit that can power and clock inputs over a substrate as in a capacitive touchscreen display, however it is difficult to create a precise circuit-based oscillator.

Apple’s patent provides a solution to capacitive touchscreen problem by using calibration logic circuitry which compares the signal oscillation against a reference signal and tunes the clock frequency accordingly. The invention provides for an accurate capacitive display that can not only sense multiple touches, but also detect hover or near touches which are also recognized as “touch events.”

The patent wording states that the invention could apply to computing devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets or handhelds, including digital music and video players and mobile telephones. Also mentioned are public computing systems like kiosks and ATMs.

The news follows a Dec. 19 U.S. International Trade Commission decision which resulted in an import ban on HTC Android handsets that infringe on Apple’s Data Detectors patent. The injunction will take take effect on April 19, 2012, however HTC CEO Peter Chou said the Taiwanese company is already testing workarounds to bypass the ITC ruling.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.