Intel demonstrates Light Peak port technology for HD video streams

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 04:48
Category: News

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PC Pro is reporting that Intel has been demoing a laptop running the company’s “Light Peak” connectivity standard initially offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The company previously demonstrated the technology using a prototype Mac Pro motherboard last year, but has now reduced the required hardware to fit inside a laptop enclosure.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands.

Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. “Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions,” he said. “We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You’ll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There’s almost no limit to the bandwidth – fibers can carry trillions of bits per second”.

Intel has touted Light Peak as a possible replacement to USB, Firewire, and display connectors in the future, and notes that the hardware should become available to computer manufacturers by the end of this year.

Apple releases iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3 to developers, focuses on orientation lock and iPod features

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Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, 03:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple released the third beta of its upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 firmware to developers on Tuesday. The new build, specified as build 10M2247, closely follows the release of beta 2 just two weeks ago. Both last year’s iPhone OS 3 and the 3.2 release for iPad went through five beta cycles before being released publicly.

iPhone 4 is expected to be release to the public in June for iPhone and iPod touch users, with an iPad version due for release in the fall.

Shortly after being published on Apple’s developer site, the new update was pulled temporarily to fix an issue believed to be related to an installation problem according to Gizmodo.

The new beta makes it easier to quit apps running in the multitasking drawer by giving each icon a red quit quit button, similar to the Home screen method of uninstalling apps with a touch.

Also new is a widget controller for iPod music playback, and an orientation lock that works similar to the physical switch on iPad. However, since the iPhone’s user interface is oriented toward portrait by default, with apps supporting landscape only optionally, the lock only sets orientation in portrait.

In contrast, the iPad presents no default orientation, making the lock more important and functional in both landscape and portrait directions.

The beta 3 release still does not support push messaging features for remote location, messaging, lock, or secure wipe as Apple prioritizes its beta releases to be relevant to the issues developers face in testing their apps with the new firmware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they come in and if you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta, let us know.

Apple alters Chinese iPhone Wi-Fi protocol to adopt government standard

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Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple fought for years to break the iPhone into the Chinese marketplace and appears to be doing what it takes to stay there.

Per Macworld UK, the company appears to have tweaked its iPhone to support a Chinese security protocol for wireless networks. This follows suit as companies increasingly adopt Chinese government-backed technologies and standards to stay on the nation’s store shelves.

The move suggests Apple may soon launch a new version of the iPhone in China with Wi-Fi, a feature that regulations previously barred.

Chinese regulators last month approved the frequency ranges used by a new Apple mobile phone with 3G and wireless LAN support, as noted by China’s State Radio Monitoring Center. The device appears to be an iPhone and uses GSM and the 3G standard WCDMA, just like iPhones currently offered in China by local carrier China Unicom.

Apple removed Wi-Fi on the iPhones now sold in China because regulators there began approving mobile phones with WLAN support only last year. These units are only supported if they use a homegrown Chinese security protocol called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

The new Apple phone does support WAPI, according to the Chinese regulatory site. If an iPhone with WAPI goes on sale, Apple would be one of the highest-profile companies to offer a device using the protocol.

The new Apple phone may also support standard Wi-Fi. The Chinese security protocol is an alternative for just part of Wi-Fi, and devices can support both it and the technology it is meant to replace.

China has promoted the protocol, along with other homegrown technologies like the 3G standard TD-SCDMA, as part of a vision to produce more of its own technology and have it adopted by international companies.

Earlier this year, China Unicom chairman and CEO said the company was in talks with Apple about offering a version of the iPhone with Wi-Fi.

The new Apple device, like all mobile phones, still must obtain a network access license from regulators if its maker wants to sell it in China.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit posts results of iPad 3G teardown, finds changes to antenna structures

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Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 04:22
Category: iPad, News

If a new Apple product comes out, you tear it apart and report the findings.

The cool cats at iFixit did exactly this by performing a full teardown of Apple’s newly-released iPad 3G tablet, which went on sale in the U.S. on Friday. Per the report, the following discoveries were made:

- The immediate visible difference is the inclusion of a black plastic RF window on top of the iPad for better antenna reception.

- The black RF window significantly changes the opening procedure. You cannot start separating the display using the notches on the top (à la the Wi-Fi version), since that will undoubtedly break the RF window. You have to start from the right side and gingerly proceed to the top and bottom of the iPad.

- There are actually FIVE antennas in this iPad.

- Two antennas handle the cell reception — one is in the RF window on top, the other attaches to the LCD frame.

- A single GPS antenna is also housed in the RF window on top.

- Just like the iPad Wi-Fi, there are two antennas that handle Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity, one in the Apple logo and another to the left of the dock connector.

- Apple looks to be using the entire LCD frame as an antenna. This approach draws parallels the company’s decision to also mount a wireless antenna to the frame of the optical drive on its new MacBook Pro notebooks.

- Apple uses the same 3G baseband processor in both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 3G.

- The baseband processor in question is the Infineon 337S3754 PMB 8878 X-Gold IC. It was actually white-labeled on the production unit, but with enough sleuthing iFixIt was able to confirm its true identity.

- The iPad 3G has a Broadcom BCM4750UBG Single-Chip AGPS Solution, whereas the iPhone 3GS uses an Infineon Hammerhead II package.

- Apple did not change any major suppliers between manufacturing the pre-production unit they provided the FCC and their final production run.

Analyst: Apple reportedly sells 300,000 iPad 3G units over launch weekend

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Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 03:29
Category: iPad, News

Following checks with 50 Apple retail store locations, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray issued a note to investors on Sunday declaring that Apple had sold about 300,000 iPad 3G units, complete with preorder sales.

Checks with 50 Apple retail stores have led one prominent analyst to predict Apple sold about 300,000 iPad 3G units, including preorders, over the device’s first weekend of sales. If correct, Munster’s assumption would have the iPad 3G sell as many units in its first weekend as the Wi-Fi-only iPad sold on its first day in early April.

Per AppleInsider, Munster said supply was limited on launch weekend, with 49 of 50 stores surveyed sold out of the iPad 3G by Sunday. The analyst said he now believes Apple has sold more than 1 million iPads, which suggests his previous estimate of 1.3 million sales in the June quarter may be conservative.

The launch of the 3G-compatible iPad also helped sales of Wi-Fi-only iPads, with those models sold out at most Apple retail locations as well. Munster said he believes the sellouts are due to stronger-than-expected demand and lower-than-intended supply.

“Near-term, this may put downward pressure on launch day/weekend statistics, but long-term we see it as a positive, as consumers are definitely interested in the iPad as a new category,” Munster wrote. “In the first several quarters, we believe Apple will sell about 60% wi-fi only iPads and 40% 3G models.”

Though he admitted his estimate of 1.3 million sales for the quarter is likely conservative, Munster has not revised his estimate, citing uncertainty surrounding the 3G and international launches. Strong demand and short supply forced Apple to delay the launch of the iPad overseas until late May.

Retail checks after the Wi-Fi-only iPad’s first day of sales in early April inspired the analyst to increase his forecast of first-day sales to between 600,000 and 700,000. That estimate proved to be too aggressive, as Apple quickly announced it had sold 300,000 on the device’s first day, and topped 500,000 by the end of its first week.

Munster later conceded that he was too optimistic in his estimates, and revised his total 2010 iPad sales forecast to 4.3 million. The analyst continues to believe that Apple’s latest product will be a success with strong consumer demand.

Customers who preordered Apple’s iPad received theirs in the mail on Friday, while Apple’s U.S. retail stores began selling the device at 5 p.m. on Friday. The 3G iPad models carry a US$130 premium over their Wi-Fi-only counterparts, and offer no-contract data plans with the AT&T 3G network. The 16GB iPad 3G model retails for US$629, the 32GB capacity for US$729, and the high-end 64GB offering for US$829.

Jobs goes bananas on Adobe Flash in open letter

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Date: Friday, April 30th, 2010, 05:59
Category: News

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In the wake of several weeks of back and forth between Apple and Adobe regarding Flash, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter explaining Apple’s position on Flash, going back to his company’s long history with Adobe and expounding upon six main points of why he thinks Flash is wrong for mobile devices. HTML5 naturally comes up, along with a few reasons you might not expect.

Per Engadget, here’s the breakdown:

It’s not open: “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.” HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, on the other hand, exist as open web standards.

The “full web”: Steve responds to Adobe’s claim of Apple devices missing out on “the full web,” with an age-old argument (YouTube) aided by the numerous new sources that have started providing video to the iPhone and iPad in HTML5 or app form like CBS, Netflix, and Facebook. Regarding the games argument, he states that “50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free.” If we were keeping score we’d still call this a point for Adobe.

Reliability, security and performance: Steve states that “Flash is the number one reason Macs crash,” but adds another great point on top of this: “We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.”

Battery life: “The video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.”

Touch: Steve hits hard against one of the web’s greatest hidden evils: rollovers. Basically, Flash UIs are built around the idea of mouse input, and would need to be “rewritten” to work well on touch devices. “If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?”

The most important reason: Steve finally addresses the third party development tools situation by writing that “If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.”

Jobs concludes in saying that “Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the feedback section.

Fourth-Gen iPhone prototype locator uncovered

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Date: Friday, April 30th, 2010, 05:53
Category: iPhone, News

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The individual who found the lost fourth-generationan iPhone prototype, then reportedly held onto it for weeks and sold it for US$5,000 has been identified as Brian Hogan, a 21 year old resident of Redwood City, California.

Per Wired’s Threat Level blog, Hogan attorney Jeffrey Bornstein told Wired that Gizmodo has “emphasized” to his client that “there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press,” a restatement of events apparently intended to downplay the fact that the tech blog publicly paid Hogan for receipt of a device that clearly did not belong to him.

The blog posting stated that Hogan was only able to access Facebook on the prototype phone before it was shut down. Gizmodo reported the phone owner’s identity via that Facebook page, making it clear that Hogan had detailed knowledge of who the phone belonged to, despite Hogan’s decision to hold onto it for weeks before selling it to Gizmodo along with the identity of the engineer who had lost it.

A report by CNET noted that Hogan “had help in finding a buyer for the phone.” It identified “Sage Robert Wallower, a 27-year-old University of California at Berkeley student” as an associate of Hogan.

CNET said Wallower acted as a middleman, along with at least one other unnamed individual, who “contacted technology sites about what is believed to be Apple’s next-generation iPhone.” The report noted that Wallower “previously worked as a computer security officer at the publicly traded Securitas corporation and that he possesses ‘top-secret clearance,’” according to his LinkedIn profile.

The report also noted discovery of an Amazon suggestion list created for Wallower by a friend which included “a book co-authored by ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick titled, ‘The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers.’”

Wired’s latest blog posting sympathetically characterizes Hogan as working in a church-run community center and serving as a volunteer benefiting Chinese orphans as well as orphans in Kenya who need medical care. A previous Threat Level blog entry on the iPhone prototype story debuted the idea that “news accounts depicting the $5,000 payment as a ‘sale’ are incorrect,” setting the stage for later identifying Hogan as a hero to orphans worldwide, who simply ‘made a mistake involving sharing,’ rather than being a thief who sold stolen merchandise for thousands of dollars instead of returning it to its known owner.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 build to wider developer base for testing

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:40
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Wednesday released a widespread developer beta version of its Mac OS X 10.6.4, the fourth maintenance and security update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Until now, the future OS had been under development internally for several weeks.

According to AppleInsider, the beta, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.4 build 10F37, made its way to Apple Developer Connection (ADC) members just one day after a more elite set of testers belonging to Apple’s Apple Seed program were able to test the beta.

According to sources familiar with Wednesday distribution, Apple has asked developers to test four key areas of the system, including graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

Although the build released to ADC members on Wednesday is identical to the one issued to Apple Seed members on Tuesday, an emphasis on evaluating Time Machine backups noted in the Apple Seed distribution was not extended to the ADC version.

It’s unclear what specific issues Mac OS X 10.6.4 will target upon its release, as Apple reportedly stopped short of including a list of enhancements with either of the aforementioned distributions.

That said, the updated build could arrive sooner than later given that the Mac maker went through 36 builds internally before tapping its developer community to put its weight on the software.

Apple listed only one known issue in documentation accompanying Wednesday’s build: that iChat will require a password each time it’s launched.

AT&T holds back on data tethering for iPhone, cites potential traffic spikes

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve wanted data tethering on your iPhone for years now.

And AT&T may one day provide this.

Per MacRumors, Engadget received a comment from AT&T stating that installing data tethering could create high traffic usage that could hamper network performance:

“iPhone tethering has the potential to exponentially increase traffic, and we need to ensure that we’re able to deliver excellent performance for the feature –over and above the increases in data traffic we’re already seeing – before we will offer the feature.”

Tethering is the process of using your iPhone as a wireless internet modem for your other devices such as your laptop.

Feel free to hurl your two cents in on this one.

Legality of Chen/iPhone raid called into question

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Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, 09:13
Category: iPhone, News

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Following the police raid of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen (the editor who wrote about the now-infamous fourth-generation iPhone prototype), the examination of Chen’s seized computers has been put on hold.

Gizmodo had paid US$5,000 for an iPhone prototype that had been accidentally left behind at a Silicon Valley bar and written extensively about the device.

Per BBC News, Chen’s lawyers have argued that Chen is protected by California’s shield law and State lawyers are considering whether the raids in Fremont were legal.

The shield law states that journalists have the right to protect their unpublished material from examination.

In the meantime, San Mateo county chief deputy district attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he was considering the matter and expected to issue a legal memo later this week.

Wagstaffe cited that the computers would not be examined until then and that the laptops, hard-drive and USB memory sticks that belong to Mr Chen are currently being held by the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (React), the state’s high-tech crime taskforce that conducted the raid.

They ordered the search after Apple reported the phone stolen.

Earlier, Wagstaffe had defended the raid, saying prosecutors had considered whether reporter shield laws applied to the case but decided to proceed.

He also said that police knew the identity of the person who took the phone and that they had talked to him.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.