Rumor: Apple testing larger-screen versions of upcoming iPhone, iPad devices

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

Maybe there’s money to be made in the larger display market.

Per the Wall Street Journal and 9to5Mac, Apple and its suppliers are reportedly testing versions of the iPad and iPhone with larger displays.

Apple and its Asian component makers are testing larger screens for iPhones and tablets, officials at the company’s suppliers say.

Due to mounting competition from hardware competitors like Samsung, a larger-screened iPhone has long been expected and rumored. However, this is one of the first specific claims for a larger sized iPad. In March of this year, an unverified claim emerged for a 12.9-inch iPad model being in the works with a rather unlikely name. The report pointed to a display “measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally.”

A June report claimed that Apple and its suppliers are testing versions of the iPhone with both 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch screens. With Apple likely releasing a new iPhone with the same design as the iPhone 5 later this year, it seems likely that Apple’s 2014 iPhone will include significant design changes. The WSJ report does not specify screen sizes for the future iPhones.

The 2013 iPhone update, likely known as the “iPhone 5S”, will include an improved camera system, better chip, and potentially a slow-motion camera mode and fingerprint sensor.

As for today’s larger iPad claims, as Apple moves forward in its post-PC initiative, and as Mac sales dwindle, larger iPads that could replace more Mac features seem plausible.

In 2012, Apple slightly enlarged the iPhone display size by increasing the screen to 4-inches diagonally. Apple also shrunk the iPad by debuting a 7.9-inch model called the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple hiring personnel from health sensor field to help with iWatch project, product group structure revealed

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 08:45
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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The new hires are coming to help work on the iWatch.

And some of them have medical sensor backgrounds.

Per MacRumors, Apple is apparently hiring from the health sensor field. Based on new hires, it seems that Apple’s interest in sensors focuses on the ability to measure glucose and other body level information. With this data, the product could inform users of vital information in a non-invasive way. These sensors could also pick up more data to give a user a snapshot of their health, which would be ideal for fitness applications.

To assist with the development of these sensors, Apple has hired several scientists and executives from multiple sensor developers. Some notable firms who lost employees to Apple are AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics.
C8 MediSensors had been pursuing non-invasive monitoring of glucose and other substances, and Apple had reportedly considered an acquisition of the company. Ultimately, C8 MediSensors ceased operations and Apple was able to hire a number of the company’s employees earlier this year.

According to 9to5Mac, the structure of Apple’s “iWatch” group, which is reportedly led by Senior Vice President of Technologies Bob Mansfield, as well as former Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch and engineering senior director James Foster.

Given what sources have had to say, Lynch’s side of the team is focused on overall software vision, and Foster’s group is developing the technologies and mechanics that will shape the features of the device. While Lynch and Foster run two different groups that are part of the bigger project, sources say that the groups are closely knit.

Other Apple teams, such as Dan Riccio’s Hardware Engineering group, Jony Ive’s Industrial Design team, and Craig Federighi’s software developers, are likely collaborating closely to develop the user-facing hardware and software.
Apple has also reportedly tapped some of the original iPhone engineers with expertise in miniaturization, as well as some of the company’s Mac engineers with expertise in battery technology. In addition, some members of Apple’s AuthenTec fingerprint sensor team are said to be working on other types of sensors for the iWatch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the topic of smart watches and other wearables at the D11 conference back in May, calling the market “incredibly interesting” and “ripe for exploration”. Apple has been rumored for some time to be bringing a smart watch to the market, but while the company has begun filing for “iWatch” trademarks, the latest rumors have suggested the device may not launch until late next year as Apple works to solve numerous technical challenges.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple purchasing 55 and 65-inch 4K display panels from LG for Apple TV project

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 07:36
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When Apple goes buying components, it at least drops a hint as to what’s coming up in the product line.

Per 9to5Mac and DigiTimes, Apple has apparently been purchasing 55 and 65-inch Ultra HD TV panels from LG.

Apple has been rumored several times to be building a full fledged HDTV to go along with the much expected revamped AppleTV service coming in the the near future. The latest from the usual lineup of analysts points to a launch as early as the end of this year or early 2014. LG and Sharp – two of Apple’s regular display suppliers – would be obvious choices to source panels, but there’s no proof at this point that Apple is beyond the experimenting stage and we’ve heard rumors from more reliable sources ranging from 40-inch to 60-inch in the past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T announces Jump device upgrade/payment plan for smartphone/tablet early adopters

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:44
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, retail

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If you’re in the habit of snagging the new stuff as it comes out, this might come in handy.

Per Mac|Life, wireless carrier AT&T announced Tuesday a new initiative called AT&T Next, which allows consumers to buy a new smartphone or tablet each and every year with no downpayment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.

The move is seen as a response to T-Mobile’s recent attacks against the traditional subsidy business model, AT&T Next allows customers to buy a new device and agree to pay monthly installments. After 12 payments, the device can be traded in for a new one, or the customer can own it outright after making 20 payments.

While rival T-Mobile US offers a plan that allows up to two upgrades per year, their Jump! offer requires a US$10 per month payment just for the privilege of doing so. By comparison, AT&T Next requires no additional payments, and drops the usual US$36 activation and upgrade fees, which may be incentive enough for customers to stick with the carrier.

Beginning nationwide on July 26, AT&T Next will be available for both new AT&T customers as well as existing customers currently eligible for an upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple considering purchase of Israeli-based PrimeSense, creators of the Xbox Kinect

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:19
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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It’s speculation, but it could lead to something interesting.

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il and 9to5Mac claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the US$280-US$300M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for US$400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in that country.

It’s been rumored that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At US$280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple vows to aid investigation surrounding electrocution of 23-year-old woman using charging iPhone 5

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News

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It’s hard to say where this will go.

Per Reuters, Apple has said it will aid in the investigation of the death of a Chinese woman who was allegedly electrocuted when she answered a charging iPhone 5.

Apple announced the company is “deeply saddened” by the “tragic incident” that killed 23-year-old Xinjiang woman Ma Ailun. Apple vowed to “fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.”

Police say Ma was killed when she answered a call on her charging iPhone 5. The story gained traction when her sister wrote on the microblog Sina Weibo to warn other users to be careful.

Prior to the incident in China, there have been no widespread claims about faulty charging with the iPhone 5. Apple did recall iPhone 3G power adapters back in 2008 over a shocking risk that affected just a “very small” number of adapters.

Negative publicity in China regarding warranty policies prompted Apple to issue a formal apology in April. Since then, the company has been more aggressive in publicly responding to negative reports from the Chinese media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Apple apparently ramping up hiring for iWatch design, device could see late 2014 launch

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:03
Category: Hardware, News

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Apple looks to be staffing up to build the iWatch.

Per The Mac Observer and the Financial Times, Apple is apparently hiring more employees for its wearable technology efforts to address issues that will likely push the rumored iWatch launch out to the end of 2014. Sources said Apple has been aggressively hiring new employees for its smartwatch project over the past few weeks, adding to its already growing pool of wearable tech engineers.

Sources close to the story said Apple went on the hunt for new talent to help overcome “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve.”

The idea that the iWatch won’t ship until later in 2014 has already cropped up thanks to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He noted in May that the company needed to update iOS as well as the iPhone and iPad to take advantage of the iWatch’s features, and that required more people.

Kuo recently offered the following comment:

“Apple may not have adequate resources to develop an iWatch version of iOS because it may require big changes to iPhone and iPad iOS this year. For these reasons, we think mass production of the iWatch is more likely to begin in 2014, not 2013 as the market speculates.”

Adding to the notion that a smartwatch is coming, Apple recently filed for a trademark on the iWatch name in Japan and other countries. Company CEO Tim Cook has also said that Apple has some “amazing new hardware” to introduce throughout the rest of 2013 and 2014, leading to further speculation that the iWatch is on the way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple, Samsung sign deal for Samsung to build A9 chips for 2015 iOS devices

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 07:21
Category: Hardware, iOS, Processors, Rumor

From friends to litigants to partners again…

Per MacRumors and the Korea Economic Daily, Apple and Samsung on Sunday officially signed an agreement that will see the two companies working together on future A-series chips for Apple’s iOS devices, with the deal specifically covering A9 chips based on a 14-nanometer process node starting in 2015. The claim comes just weeks after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) confirmed a deal with Apple to begin producing A-series chips in 2014.

Samsung Electronics had supplied the AP [application processor] to Apple since 2007 but lost the contract to supply 20 nano AP A8 chips to Apple to Taiwan’s TSMC last year when it was engaged in patent disputes with Apple. Samsung Electronics developed state-of-the-art nanometer models ahead of its rival TSMC, regaining the order from Apple.

A previous report about Apple’s agreement with TSMC had indicated that it was a three-year deal covering not only Apple’s future A8 chip but also A9/A9X chips. Reports had indicated that Samsung would remain Apple’s primary supplier through next year as TSMC began ramping up its production.

As a result, it is unclear whether today’s deal will see both TSMC and Samsung producing A9 chips for Apple or if Apple has already shifted gears to return to Samsung as its primary supplier as part of its long-term roadmap.

Apple has reportedly been seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier as the two companies have become fierce rivals in both the mobile marketplace and in the courtroom. The two companies have, however, continued working together in several areas, particularly where Samsung’s competitors in the component market are unable to match its technology, production capacity, or pricing.

The shift to TSMC for production of the high-profile main chips for Apple’s iOS devices had been viewed as breaking one of the most significant remaining ties between Apple and Samsung, but it appears that Samsung has been able to bring Apple back into the fold by leading the charge to 14-nm chips. With partnerships with both Samsung and TSMC, it appears that Apple should be well-positioned to take advantage of whichever company takes the lead in developing the latest technologies.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to ship Retina display-equipped iPad mini in early 2014

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 14:05
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

There’s gotta be a nugget of truth in here somewhere.

Per the Economic Daily News and AppleInsider, Apple’s iPad mini may not gain a high-resolution Retina display until early next year, if the latest rumor about the second-generation 7.9-inch tablet proves accurate.

The claim was published on Friday which said that though Apple originally planned to launch a Retina iPad mini this fall, it may be delayed until the first quarter of 2014. As such, the rumor suggests that a second-generation iPad mini will not launch this year.

It’s expected that a Retina display on the iPad mini would follow the same double-resolution approach used by Apple in existing devices like the iPhone and full-size iPad. That would mean the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch display would need to pack in the same 3.1 million pixels into a panel nearly two inches smaller in diameter.

The latest report comes on the heels of a separate rumor out of the Far East from earlier this week which claimed Apple plans to launch a new fifth-generation, full-size iPad in September. That report claimed that the features of a second-generation iPad mini, such as a Retina display, remain in flux at Apple.

Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in April that Apple was experiencing yield issues in manufacturing high-resolution screens for its next iPad mini. He suggested that production issues would push back the launch of the second-generation tablet, but at the time he believed it would still launch this October.

The first-generation iPad mini debuted last October with a screen resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. That matches the resolution of the first-generation iPad and iPad 2, but packs the pixels into a smaller space, giving the display a higher pixel density.

Still, the iPad mini display squeezes in only 163 pixels per inch — an improvement on the 132 pixels per inch found on the first two iPad releases, but still well below the 264-pixel-per-inch density of the third- and fourth-generation iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.