Apple Files Patent for Touch-Surface Keyboard with Tactile Feedback

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Date: Thursday, December 24th, 2009, 10:55
Category: News

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Ok, this could be really interesting.

Recently, Apple filed for a patent on a touch-surface keyboard with tactile feedback. Per AppleInsider, a problem with typing on touchscreens is that users must typically look at the keys to know what is being pressed; by contrast, most physical keyboards allow people to gauge where their fingers are through bumps and ridges. Apple’s solution would pop up an “articulating frame” whenever typing is engaged, and move it out of the way when it is not.

Such a frame could be based around ridges or concave depressions, much as on a normal keyboard, or alternately on dedicated feedback mechanisms. Another proposed option is a non-articulating frame, which would provide more resistance the further a finger moves away from a key center. Activation of the frame could be triggered by placing fingers in the right place, or simply engaging in typing-like activity. A frame could be lowered when taps or slides are detected.

The technology could conceivably be used in Apple’s long-awaited tablet and a former Apple employee has suggested will surprise people in how they can interact with it. The patent filing is also not the first of its kind from the company, as a similar one was submitted as far back as 2007.

Epic Games Demonstrates Working Version of Unreal 3D Game Engine on iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009, 03:02
Category: iPhone, News

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If you wondered where the iPhone might be going as far as a gaming platform, you might be surprised.

Per AnandTech, Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games, creators of the Unreal Engine, demonstrated a working proof of concept to the web site with a playable demo of Unreal Tournament. The game ran a modified level from the popular first-person shooter and employs dual-touch controls.

The game has a virtual thumbstick on the left side of the touch screen to control character movement. Using their right thumb, users can aim and shoot at enemies on screen.

The demo employs Open GL ES 2.0, which is only available on the iPhone 3GS and new iPod touch. The PowerVR SGX GPU has been found to make the hardware, in some cases, to be twice as fast as its predecessors.

The report noted that the game ran with a smooth framerate and the controls worked well. It added, however, that the demo clearly needs polishing, but that it is “just a starting point.”

“Epic isn’t announcing any sort of iPhone engine licenses nor are they entering the iPhone game market,” the report said. “Porting UE3 to the iPhone is simply one of many projects being worked on inside a newer, more svelte and innovative Epic Games (wait till you see what’s next…).”

As Epic Games does on the PC side, the company apparently intends to license its Unreal Engine to third-party companies for use on the iPhone and iPod touch. This will allow an advanced framework for companies to build original games around. Epic, at the moment, has no plans to release any games for the platform.

Rein also told AnandTech that Unreal Engine 3 will be demoed on another mobile platform at CES 2010 in early January. The company reportedly intends to take its plans beyond the iPhone and iPod touch.

“This isn’t a platform specific thing,” the report said, “it’s about bringing Unreal Engine 3 to the entire portable market.”

Recently, Apple exhibited signs that the company may be looking to get more directly involved in game development, the company posting a job opening for a game and media software engineer for its iPhone and iPod touch team. Apple has traditionally backed off from first-hand game development, so some degree of change may be in the air.

CBS, Disney Show Interest in Apple’s iTunes-Based Subscription Proposal

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Date: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009, 08:15
Category: News

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Following up on Apple’s intention to create a subscription-based service, both CBS and Walt Disney hae expressed interest in the idea, which is slated to roll out sometime in 2010.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Walt Disney Co. and CBS Corp. are considering participating in Apple’s future plan to offer subscriptions for television shows through iTunes. CBS would offer programs from its parent network as well as CW, while Disney would offer programs from its ABC, Disney Channel, and ABC Family networks.

Apple would pay the content providers US$2 to US$4 a month per subscriber for a broadcast network like CBS or ABC, and about US$1 to US$2 a month per subscriber for a basic-cable network.

The report also stated that Apple has briefed companies on its long-anticipated tablet device, which it calls a “multimedia gadget.” The touchscreen device, which is stated to be larger than an iPhone but smaller than a laptop, is reportedly expected to arrive by the end of March 2010.

Back in November Apple reportedly pitched a US$30-a-month iTunes TV subscription plan to major networks in hope of gaining support for an “all-you-can-eat” subscription plan. At that point it was suggested that Disney would be the first to opt in. Disney was the first company to provide its programs over iTunes in 2005, and the company has close ties with Apple – CEO Steve Jobs is the company’s largest single shareholder.

It is possible that Apple has altered its strategy due to push-back from some of the larger media companies. Many of the companies in question also have cable TV interests, meaning a potential deal with Apple could result in a decrease in traditional cable revenues. With Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal earlier this month, it would be unlikely that the company would be willing to participate in a deal, and would therefore weaken a potential “all-you-can-eat” subscription plan.

Apple Releases Firmware Update for 27″ iMac Graphics Bug

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Date: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009, 06:11
Category: News

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Following up on reports of graphical errors with its best-selling 27″ iMac model, Apple recently released a firmware update to help resolve the issue. The update, a 683 kilobyte download, updates the graphics firmware on ATI Radeon HD 4670 and 4850 graphics cards to address issues that may cause image corruption or display flickering.

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

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Google Chrome 4.0.249.43 Released for Mac

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Date: Friday, December 18th, 2009, 05:50
Category: News

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 4.0.249.43 for the Mac. The new version, a 17.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes in the beta:

- Fixed several common crashes.
- Added a notification says “xxx is synched.” if you are already synced and click that button.
- Known issue: You’ll get an error when checking for updates using the About Google Chrome dialog. ‘Update server not available’ (error : 12). Regardless of the error message, the update is successful.

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple Approves iVideoCamera App, Allows Video Capture on 2G, 3G iPhone Models

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Date: Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, 06:56
Category: iPhone, News

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It may not be the video capabilities of the snazzy iPhone 3GS, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The Apple Blog is reporting that Apple has admitted the iVideoCamera app to the iTunes Store. With this app, iPhone 2G and 3G users can now legitimately record, share and save videos without having to jailbreak their handsets.

There are currently some significant limits to the app, and it is not helped by the camera installed in 2G and 3G iPhones. The app itself can only capture video at a maximum of three frames per second… far behind the 30 frames per second capacity of the 3GS. Quality is, therefore, limited as is the resolution which comes in at 160 x 213, compared to 640 x 480 on the 3GS.

On the upside, whilst there is no opportunity to share on Twitter yet, videos can be quickly uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo from within the app itself.

Development team Laan Labs, creators of the iVideoCamera app, promise improved frame rates and quality in forthcoming releases.

iVideoCamera retails for 99 cents and requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later to install and run.

Upcoming Mac Pro, Intel Core i7 Processor Details Leaked

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Date: Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, 09:55
Category: News

intellogo.jpgYou’ve got your road Mac and that’s one thing. It’s the desktops that still rule the day and function as the workhorses when it’s all said and done.

Per HardMac, Intel’s forthcoming “Gulftown” 32nm, six-core processor will be known as the Core i7-980X and could be a part of new Mac Pro systems from Apple in early 2010.

Contrary to earlier reports, the new processors will not adopt the “Core i9″ name, and will allegedly keep the “Core i7″ title, according to sources close to the story. The new processor, code-named “Gulftown” will fall under the i7 “Extreme Edition” category, the first of which will be the i7-980X.

The alleged roadmap from Intel shows that the processor will clock in at 3.33GHz. That chip is expected to arrive in March of 2010, but in the past, Apple has reached exclusive agreements with Intel to be the first to carry its new processors.

Previous reports have suggested that Apple is testing the new Xeon chip, based on the Gulftown architecture, in its Mac Pro desktop. The new processor features more horsepower and lower power consumption, and will be the first dual-socket, six-core processor for Intel.

The new 32 nanometer chips feature 12MB of L3 cache, and six cores with 12 threads for each CPU. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it’s possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads. The new hardware could be released sometime in the first quarter of 2010.

The most recent refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Earlier this month, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Toshiba Announces 64GB Flash Memory Modules, iPhone Likely Candidate for New Component

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Date: Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, 06:20
Category: iPhone, News

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Electronics manufacturer Toshiba has announced its new 64GB embedded flash memory modules (created via a 32nm process technology and featuring a dedicated controller) which should become available in the first quarter of 2010. The chips seem likely to find their way into a future model of iPhone.

The new chips are available for sample now, and mass production of them is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2010. Per AppleInsider, Toshiba said the product will be used in smartphones, mobile phones, netbooks and digital video cameras.

Likely to be a customer is Apple, which has doubled the maximum capacity of the iPhone with a new release every summer. Given the current 32GB iPhone 3GS, next year’s iPhone is likely to offer 64GB of capacity.

In addition, the new 64GB iPod touch, introduced in September, uses a pair of 32GB NAND chips to achieve its maximum capacity. Toshiba’s new chips would allow Apple to release a 128GB iPod touch sometime in 2010.

Toshiba said its new 64GB chip offers up to 1,070 hours of music at 128Kbps,8.3 hours of full-spec high definition video, and 19.2 hours of standard definition video. The chips are said to be 30 micrometers thick, giving them the highest density of NAND flash in the industry.

QuickerTek Announces Whip Antenna Upgrade for MacBook, MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Monday, December 14th, 2009, 12:31
Category: News

Accessory manufacturer QuickerTek announced the release of its 5dbi whip antenna for the latest crop of Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. Per MacMegasite, the US$49.95 antenna upgrade attaches to the internal Apple AirPort card through the ExpressCard slot or the security slot-depending on the MacBook/MacBook Pro. A detailed installation manual and all the tools required are included with the kit.

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There’s no additional software to install and the upgrade moves the antenna up and out of the MacBook/Pro case which boosts the wireless range and speed with the powerful 5dbi antenna which has a removeable antenna clips to the screen of the computer. The Whip Antenna for the MacBook/MacBook Pro upgrade is designed for the unibody MacBook/Pro 13″, 15″ and 17″ models including the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation laptops. It also works with all Apple AirPort Base Stations, all 802.11a/b/g/n wireless access points from Belkin, Cisco, DLink and most others as well. Compatibility includes wireless devices in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz ranges-which covers most any wireless network users are likely to encounter when going mobile. Like most QuickerTek products, the 5dbi Whip Antenna Upgrade is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Apple Cites, Apologizes for Delays on 27″ iMac Model

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Date: Monday, December 14th, 2009, 06:00
Category: News

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This probably isn’t the position Apple wants to be in, but it’s still what they’ve got to deal with at the moment.

Still, the fact that it’s during the holidays doesn’t help any.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has officially acknowledged that it is working to fulfill orders for its new 27″ iMac, though the company has yet to officially address reports of screen flickering for some users.

While Apple did not respond to claims of hardware issues causing the delays, numerous threads on the Apple support forums have reported screen-related issues on the new 27-inch iMac. A number of users in particular have claimed to experience screen flickering on the hardware.

When reached for comment, Apple offered an apology in a statement Sunday to Jim Dalrymple of CNet:

“The new iMac has been a huge hit and we are working hard to fulfill orders as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience or delay in delivery this may cause our customers.”

When it first launched in October, the new iMac was the best-selling desktop machine for the month. The 21.5″ iMac came in first place, while the 27″ iMac took third in overall sales. Overall Mac sales in October were up 7%, suggesting the company could sell as many as 2.9 million systems for the quarter.

But issues related to the new hardware cropped up in November, as some systems showed up with cracked screens or just did not work. Flash video playback issues were also reported soon after the systems debuted.

This weekend, authorized resellers noted that their 27″ iMac shipments had been delayed, as reports of screen flickering have grown. The resellers have been notified of delays of around two weeks.