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Apple receives patent for dock connector with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt elements built in

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Date: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, 03:02
Category: News, Patents

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A patent recently granted to Apple reveals that the company is looking into a modified dock connector compatible with newer high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and a “dual-lane DisplayPort,” or Thunderbolt, connector.

Per AppleInsider, the invention, entitled “Reduced Size Multi-Pin Male Plug Connector,” was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday and describes a smaller 30-pin dock connector with updated connection standards.

“Some embodiments of the present invention can provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards,” the filing read, citing USB 3.0 and DisplayPort as examples of these standards.

The device depicted in the application’s drawings is an iPod, but the invention extends to other mobile devices and laptop and desktop computers.

According to the patent, the multi-purpose connector could carry power, data, video and audio signals. One embodiment includes two legacy USB2 contacts, four USB3 contacts, USB power and a ground. The DisplayPort standard would transfer data at 1.3MP with one lane, 1.8MP with two lanes and 4.1MP when all four lanes are selected.

The patent does not indicate whether the new connector would be backward compatible with Apple’s current dock connector.

The invention is credited to Stephen Paul Zadesky, Brian S. Lynch and Jason Sloey. It was filed for on Sept. 29, 2009.

Though the patent was revealed by the USPTO last year, Intel’s Thunderbolt implementation, which couples a DisplayPort with high-speed interconnect, had yet to be announced.

Intel announced the Thunderbolt interconnect technology in February alongside Apple’s release of new MacBook Pros, the first to take advantage of the new specification.

Formerly codenamed ‘Light Peak,’ the technology provides PCI Express interconnect speeds of up to 10Gbps and utilizes the Apple-developed Mini DisplayPort. Intel had originally hoped to use fiber-optic cabling for the technology, but initial implementations utilize copper wiring due to cost constraints.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

ChangeWave poll reports fewer dropped iPhone calls on Verizon network, slightly higher level of satisfaction

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, 02:30
Category: iPhone, News

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There may have been a reason for your waiting for the iPhone to come to Verizon’s network.

Per research firm ChangeWave’s report, owners of Apple’s iPhone 4 on the AT&T network are more than twice as likely to report dropped calls than Verizon customers, a new survey has found.

ChangeWave on Tuesday released the results of its latest survey, comparing AT&T iPhone 4 owners and Verizon iPhone 4 owners. The 4,068 respondents showed that 4.8% of AT&T iPhone 4 owners experienced a dropped call on their handset over the past 90 days, compared with 1.8% of Verizon subscribers.

Those results are similar to an industry-wide, non-iPhone-specific poll conducted separately by ChangeWave. In that poll, 4.6% of AT&T subscribers reported dropped calls, compared with 1.4% of Verizon customers.

Also surveyed were prospective future iPhone 4 buyers, most of which indicated they are likely to buy the handset on Verizon’s network while 46% of respondents said they are likely to choose Verizon, 27% said they would sign with AT&T. 27% said they are unsure or did not choose AT&T or Verizon.

“Verizon is still in the very early stages of its iPhone 4 offering to consumers,” ChangeWave said, noting that the CDMA iPhone 4 just launched in February “It remains to be seen how well the Verizon network performs as the number of Verizon iPhone 4 owners ramps up and inevitably puts more pressure on their system.”

Finally, the survey also asked customers about their satisfaction with the iPhone 4, and the results showed near-identical happiness on the part of both Verizon and AT&T customers. Verizon customers were slightly more satisfied, with 82% choosing “very satisfied,” compared to 80% of AT&T iPhone 4 users.

16% of Verizon customers identified themselves as “somewhat satisfied,” while 18% of AT&T customers were of the same opinion. That means that 98% of both AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4 users consider themselves “satisfied” at some level with their handset.

If you have any feedback on this or are reclassifying your iPhone as a fairly expensive paperweight today, let us know in the comments.

Facebook 3.4 app released, adds “Unfriend”, geolocation features

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 08:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It may not be the best thing that Facebook pervades a bit too much of our lives, but it IS useful, especially on the iOS devices.

Per Mac|Life, Facebook released version 3.4 of its iPhone app on Monday. The new version, which still has yet to go iPad native, adds a handful of modest improvements including the ability to “unfriend” one of your friends with a couple of taps.

A “Place”s feature in the Facebook app has added a map view. Now, instead of simply seeing a list of where your friends are, you can actually see their location, even from across the country. Version 3.4 also adds the ability to check in to Facebook Events that you happen to be attending.

Last but not least, the Facebook app gets an “improved News Feed” as well as an “improved notifications UI,” but one major thing on everyone’s wish list remains MIA yet again — either a native Facebook app for the iPad, or better yet a universal upgrade so the app is optimized for both the iPhone/iPod touch as well as the iPad.

The Facebook app is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

AT&T quietly raises upgrade prices, non-iPhone handset purchase prices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPhone, News

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Ok, you’re not going to be happy about this one.

According to AndroidCentral, wireless carrier AT&T has quietly raised early and exception upgrade pricing for iPhones and other smartphones. A notice to store staff has warned that, as of Sunday, users are paying US$50 more. The move would change the premature upgrade price from US$249 for an iPhone 3GS to US$299, and up to US$449 or US$549 for an iPhone 4 before normal eligibility comes up.

A separate memo both confirms the price hikes and showed across-the-board pricing increases. With the exception of the iPhone, pricing will go up sharply for anyone buying a phone contract-free or a shortened one-year contract. Those without a contract will pay at least US$50 more, AndroidCentral saw, while one-year buyers will spend US$150 more.

Basic messaging phones are also going up by US$20 off-contract or US$10 on a one-year deal.

AT&T has yet to officially confirm the rate hikes, though they will ultimately have the largest impact on non-Apple hardware. Pricing for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 devices will now mostly be competitive on a two-year plan where the iPhone may be the more reasonable deal on shortened terms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Onyx 2.2.6 released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 04:30
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.2.6. The new version, a 15.8 megabyte download (courtesy of MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

- Deleting Internet Cache improved.

- Deleting the Applications Cache improved.

- Deleting the Diagnostic Reports improved.

- New Safari option: “Enable/disable Safari’s image cache”.

- New Dock option: “Enable/disable the single application mode”.

Onyx 2.2.6 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Samsung ramps up iPad 2 components to meet orders

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 1st, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

Your neighbor has an iPad 2.

Your pets somehow managed to get their own.

And, ya know, it’d be nice to get your hands on the one you ordered…

Per EETimes, electronics giant Samsung will hire 300 engineers and technicians for a semiconductor plant in Austin, Tex., in the company’s latest round of expansion largely driven by increased demand for the iPad and iPhone, while AU Optronics has denied rumors that it received orders for flat panel screens bound for the iPad 2.

The web site reports that Samsung Austin Semiconductor plans to create 300 more engineering jobs this spring as part of a US$3.6 billion expansion. According to sources, most of the production at the 300-mm fab is commissioned by Apple.

The 300 new employees will join a large batch of employees from last year’s growth. “In 2010, we hired more than 600 employees as part of the current expansion, bringing total employment to approximately 1,700,” said Charmaine Winters, senior human resources manager at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, in a statement.

Though rumors had suggested that Apple had inked a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for production of the A5 chip for the iPad 2, due to concerns of increased competition with Samsung, X-ray analysis of Apple’s A5 CPU in the iPad 2 confirmed that the chip was still manufactured by the Korean electronics giant.

All told, Apple is projected to purchase US$7.8 billion worth of components from Samsung this year, including liquid crystal displays, mobile application processors and NAND flash memory chips, making Apple Samsung’s largest customer.

In assorted updates, component manufacturer AU Optronics executive vice president Paul Peng has denied rumors that the company received display orders from Apple and no further additional comment was offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail 4.9 (Snow Leopard Edition) released

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 10:30
Category: News

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Late Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.9 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added ability to purge inactive memory and optimize virtual memory usage.

- Added ability to disable virtual memory swapping.

- Improvements on the clear system caches procedure.

- Added ability to prevent Help Viewer window from floating on top of other applications.

- Updated Automator actions.

- Updated Help files.

Cocktail 4.9 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Mac OS X Supplemental Update to resolve MacBook Air/iTunes issue under Mac OS X 10.6.7

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:43
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

Just over a week after releasing Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple has issued a subsequent patch aimed at users of the new Late 2010, 13 inch MacBook Air to fix a system crash related to iTunes.

“This update addresses an issue that makes the system unresponsive when using iTunes,” Apple notes on its support page.

Per AppleInsider, the patch is just a 461 KB download and requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 Build 10J869 to be installed first. Both are available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The system lockup problem on new 13″ Air models appeared in Apple’s discussion forums after the release of Mac OS X 10.6.7 as an easy to replicate issue that resulted in having to force reset affected systems, indicating that the problem was inadvertently introduced with last week’s larger update.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Google Earth 6.0.2.2074 released

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:33
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version 6.0.2.2074 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 23.8 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

- Fixed a problem where we were over fetching certain kml layer data and running into issuing of using large amounts of memory and slowness during zooming in.

- Fixed an issue of ruler tool disappearing. In 6.0 beta, when measuring using the path tool, if you break to add a place-mark then you go back to the path and click “save” the path and ruler tool disappears all together.

- Fixed an issue with incorrectly measuring long distances. Improved navigation in Street View inside buildings.

- Fixed a crash with elevation profile if there was empty gx:value node in KML.

- Optimized amount of terrain and imagery data fetched while viewing photo overlays.

- Fixed an occasional crash while viewing 3D buildings. Fixed broken fly-to links within local kml files.

- Fixed an issue where new place-marks added were with absolute altitude instead of being clamped to ground.

- Fixed an issue where the title for panoramio pictures no longer appeared when hovering over panoramic icons with your mouse if scale legend was enabled.

- Fixed an issue when there was occasionally a missing wall in 3D buildings.

- Optimized amount of data fetched in Street View.

- Fixed an issue where tilt by holding “shift” and moving the scroll wheel only worked in one direction on Mac.

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

iFixit performs full iPad 2 3G teardown, finds antennas similar to iPhone 4 units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 08:14
Category: iPad, News

I think we all have a certain fondness in our hearts for iFixit, as they follow the habit we all had when we were six and took everything apart to see how things worked, even if it meant that our parents invariably wound up screaming at us for the destruction involved.

On the plus side, iFixit is staffed by adults and releases some interesting finds.

And they’re nice enough to clean up the things that they destroy.

The latest iFixit teardown of the iPad 2 3G the differences between Apple’s different versions of the iPad 2, comparing the components of the Wi-Fi-only, GSM and CDMA models and discovering similarities with the iPhone 4.

The comparison shows design decisions similar to the differences between the GSM and CDMA iPhone 4 models. For example, the CDMA version of the iPad 2 has one more antenna than the GSM model, just like the Verizon iPhone 4.

Also like the Verizon iPhone 4, the CDMA iPad 2 features an integrated GPS receiver. On the GSM model, GPS is a separate chip from Broadcom, like with the GSM iPhone 4.

The other major difference between the GSM and CDMA iPad 2 models is the inclusion of a Micro-SIM card slot on the GSM model. Located in the upper left corner of the device, the slot’s inclusion gives that model a unique design.

The Micro-SIM tray is integrated into the headphone jack assembly for the GSM iPad 2. Since the CDMA iPad 2 does not have a space for a SIM card, it uses the exact same headphone jack assembly as the Wi-Fi-only model.

Chips providing 3G connectivity for the CDMA iPad 2 include a Qualcomm MDM6600 Baseband/RF Transceiver, Qualcomm PM8028 Power Management IC, Toshiba Y890A111222KA, Skyworks 77710 Power Amplifier Module, and Skyworks 77711 Power Amplifier Module. All of these are also found in the Verizon iPhone 4.

The GSM iPad 2′s 3G radio has an Intel 36My1EF with 128MB of Numonyx NOR flash and Elpida Mobile DDR SDRAM, Infineon 337Se833 Baseband Processor, Skyworks & TriQuint Transmit Modules, and Infineon 338S0626 GSM/W-CDMA Transceiver. It also includes a Broadcom BCM4751 Integrated Monolithic GPS Receiver, which is an update from the BCM4750 found in the GSM iPhone 4.