Rumor: Apple to built biometric fingerprint sensor into more expensive iPhone 5S units

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

This is just about the last rumor before Apple hopefully unveils its long-awaited next-gen iPhone(s) today, so here we go.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the story last week stated that fingerprint scanners will be built into the “more expensive of two iPhones” Apple plans to announce at a media event on Tuesday, seemingly confirming a long stream of rumors regarding the feature’s inclusion.

The publication speculates that Apple’s entry into the biometric security segment will spark interest from other handset makers to find similar solution. Another source claims at least one smartphone running Google’s Android will incorporate fingerprint security, though it is unknown if the device will be marketed in the U.S.

Apple is expected to field a fingerprint sensor built by AuthenTec, a biometric security firm the Cupertino company purchased for US$356 million in 2012, and plans to place the module under the iPhone’s home button. While other handsets and computers have tried to use fingerprinting methods in the past, Apple’s solution is thought to be much more intuitive and less prone to error.

Instead of swiping a finger across a small sensor strip, the AuthenTec package uses RF field attenuation to map a user’s print. This static means of capture would allow iPhone owners to authenticate by simply pressing the home button as they would when waking the phone from sleep.

Most recently, rumors of a “silver ring” surrounding the “iPhone 5S” home button surfaced, with some claiming the part was added as an aesthetic flourish. AppleInsider, however, reported that Apple’s patent applications suggest the component likely serves a functional purpose in the fingerprint sensor’s design.

All should be revealed at today’s event, which is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 “silver ring” around Home button could be part of fingerprint reader system

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that rumored cool “silver ring” that’s been rumored for the upcoming iPhone 5S handset?

It might be part of a fingerprint sensor.

Per AppleInsider and Fox News’ This Week in Tech, reporter Clayton Morris proposed the ring is merely aesthetic, possibly added so users can easily distinguish an iPhone that has a built-in fingerprint sensor from those that do not.

However, given recent patent filings, the metallic ring may be a functional component necessary to the sensor’s operation.

There stands a variety of ways to accomplish biometric fingerprint readings, including the stereotypical “swiping” motion made famous in movies, as well as methods using optical, thermal, pressure and capacitive measurements, among others. AuthenTec, which Apple purchased in 2012 for US$356 million, uses a few different capture methods in its products, though the tech most likely to be used in the iPhone doesn’t involve swiping.

Typical methods of swipe authentication, usually direct capacitance, involve a thin “strip” sensor that captures and stitches together multiple images of a fingerprint as a user sweeps their finger across the sensing plate. With direct capacitance, an electrical field is applied to the sensor, which detects ridges and valleys — the skin structures that form fingerprint whorls — by measuring variations in capacitance at the sensor plate. Lower capacitance denotes skin that is farther from the sensor, or valleys, while higher capacitance is associated with ridges.

A more accurate and robust method of capture is called radio frequency field sensing, or AC capacitance. Like direct capacitive sensing, this technique also measures capacitance of a sort, but the similarities end there. Instead of measuring the effect on an electrical field, a low frequency RF signal is inserted into the finger and received by the sensor. In this case, RF signal strength captured by the pixel traces are measured and the corresponding data is translated to form an image of the print.

Benefits of RF field/AC capacitance sensing include static non-swipe readings, resistance to dust and capability for the sensor to operate even when covered by layers of protective material. These types of sensors are usually larger in size to allow for a wider capture area.

One patent, filed by AuthenTec cofounder Dale R. Setlak and subsequently assigned to Apple, goes into detail about a technology based on mechanics which are very similar to RF field sensing. The property also relates to the company’s “Smart Sensor” — also based on RF field sensing tech — which has been used successfully in at least one phone, the Japan-only Toshiba REGZA T-01D.

As noted in Setlak’s patent, along with other similar inventions credited to his name, electrodes need to be in contact with the finger to pump the drive signal that will ultimately be measured by pixel traces on the pixel plate.

In nearly all RF field sensors, a ring disposed around the sensor array acts as the electrode that drives the low frequency RF signal into the finger, which is attenuated by ridges and valleys in the print and finally captured by AC sensors as a high quality image.

As a type of bonus side effect, the tech can also be used as a form of input. By analyzing slight movements or changes in attenuation over time, the system can interpolate gesture behaviors like scrolling, cursor control and, when combined with a physical or virtual button, drag-and-drop operations.

Embedding this type of package in an iPhone’s home button is likely quite challenging as the part moves up and down constantly, which would put undue wear on the sensing module’s interconnects. It is possible that Apple has found a way to separate the finger ring from the sensor array in order to isolate the integral components from wear and tear. Such a system would also be less apt to fouling or misreadings due to debris.

As for utility, the sensor design wouldn’t force users to swipe the home button to authenticate, but would have the module read the print while a user presses the button to wake the phone from sleep. In other words, the security factor would take place seamlessly. No new gestures to learn, just enhanced functionality, transparent to the user.

It remains wholly unknown if Apple has incorporated this particular fingerprint technology into the next-gen iPhone, though circumstantial evidence seems to point in that very specific direction.

Further, a non-functional aesthetic bezel rimming the home button, which has seen nary a design tweak since the first iPhone launched in 2007, simply to demarcate new biometric capabilities seems to go against Apple’s design sensibilities. When the company introduced a front-facing camera with the iPhone 4, it buried the feature just above the earpiece. No special decorations or embellishments to note that the handset sported FaceTime capabilities.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and be sure to check in tomorrow for coverage of Apple’s September 10th iPhone press event.

Apple confirms September 10th media event, hints at next-gen iPhone handsets

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Date: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

applelogo_silver

It went official yesterday.

On Tuesday, Apple sent out invitations for a media event next Tuesday, Sept. 10, at which the company is expected to show off its next-generation iPhone models that will come in a new range of colors.

Per The Loop, the event will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, according to The Loop. It will be held at Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Though the invitation itself makes no mention of the iPhone, it does say that the announcement “should brighten everyone’s day” — a likely reference to the fact that Apple is expected to offer its next iPhones in an array of new colors. Specifically, leaked parts have suggested “iPhone 5S” will be available in a new “champagne” shade, while a low-cost plastic “iPhone 5C” will potentially be available in white, green, red, blue, pink, and possibly more.


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Colors featured in the invitation include yellow, green, orange, white, red, pink, and shades of dark and light blue. Apple’s forthcoming iOS 7 update is also a more vibrant and colorful update to the company’s mobile operating system.

The company may have some surprises in store for fans and observers when Chief Executive Tim Cook presumably takes the stage next Tuesday, but the event is widely expected to center on the company’s largest revenue generator: the iPhone. It will likely see the unveiling of the successor to the iPhone 5, currently thought to be named the “iPhone 5S.”

The company’s next-generation premium smartphone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. Last year, Apple purchased AuthenTec, a biometric security firm, potentially setting the stage for the defining feature of this year’s iPhone.

Integrating a fingerprint sensor — a move that would largely negate the need for passwords and lock-screen codes — could give Apple an edge that its competition could not likely soon address.

Apple’s “S” series iPhones have typically been refinements of the models immediately preceding them, and most of the rumors surrounding the “5S” have been in that vein. Leaked cases for the device have shown that it will retain the same form factor as the iPhone 5, though it may be available in a “champagne” color option, as well as the existing black and white models.

Analysts expect a 31 percent faster “A7″ chip that could be 20 percent more power efficient than the A6 seen in the iPhone 5. It may also feature a dedicated motion-tracking chip to enable a new range of user interactions.

Apple is also rumored to offer a model of the device with 128 gigabytes of storage, while the camera is expected to be upgraded with a dual-LED flash component for better low-light pictures. It’s likely that the camera itself will also see improvements.

Perhaps the most widely leaked device, though, has been the expected lower-cost plastic iPhone. That model is believed to be called the “iPhone 5C,” and recent leaks of an apparent user manual seem to confirm that name.

Observers believe that Apple will largely repackage the internals of the existing iPhone 5 into a polycarbonate shell to lower manufacturing costs. To differentiate the device, the “5C” would be available in a range of colors.

The move back to polycarbonate for the chassis would allow Apple to offer the “iPhone 5C” at a much lower price point than the premium-built iPhone 5 or anticipated “iPhone 5S.” That lower price could give Apple a better chance of picking up mid-range smartphone customers, who often choose Android phones when upgrading from feature phones simply due to price.

Most importantly, though, a lower-cost iPhone would give Apple a much better chance of competing in the world’s largest smartphone market: China. Investment firm UBS opined in August that an affordable iPhone would move more than 11 million units on China Mobile alone.

The Sept. 10 event will also mark the announcement of a release date for Apple’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 7. The new platform, revealed at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, features an almost complete visual overhaul, with many of the features of previous iOS versions giving way to a “flatter” aesthetic spun out of the leadership of Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief.

Aside from the new look, iOS 7 will also feature iTunes Radio, a new music streaming service that will take on Pandora, Spotify, and other services. It will also come with improvements to Siri, allowing Apple’s digital assistant to display more information and control phone settings, and tweaks to the Camera app, giving users access to more editing options.

The media event is likely to offer final – and long-anticipated – release dates for the next-gen iPhone handsets as well as iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile issues September employee blackout dates, signs point towards next-gen iPhone launch

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 09:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Some more definitive dates have appeared regarding the next-gen iPhone release.

Per the TmoNews blog, sources on Wednesday have claimed that the upcoming Sept. 20 to 22 employee blackout dates came with no explanation, but speculated a tie to an as-yet-unannounced Apple iPhone launch.

The report is in line with previous rumblings about a Sept. 20 debut for Apple’s “iPhone 5S” and “iPhone 5C” handsets, which are expected to be announced on Sept. 10.

The publication points out that the blackout dates may be in relation to the release of Samsung’s Galaxy Note III, as the Korean company is said to be announcing the device on Sept. 4. That scenario is unlikely, however, as a new Note model would hardly require T-Mobile to bolster its in-store staff.

Rumors surrounding Apple’s next-generation iPhone are heating up ahead of the anticipated announcement, with supposed parts “leaks” popping up on the Web in the form of videos and comparison pictures, which can be found over on JailBreak Nation.



Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to see 31% speed improvement via A7 chip, will feature motion detection

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Date: Monday, August 26th, 2013, 06:27
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Processors, Rumor

If this report’s anything close to accurate, you’re going to like the speed of the next-gen iPhone.

Per a tweet sent by Fox News and citing inside sources, Clayton Morris claims the so-called “iPhone 5S” will be powered by an Apple-designed “A7″ system on a chip that is some 31 percent faster than the current A6 silicon used in the iPhone 5. In addition, mention of a totally new chip dedicated to “motion tracking” will be used to bring another layer of user interactivity to Apple’s flagship handset.

A 31 percent bump should be noticeable to future iPhone 5S owners in day-to-day use. It is unknown what metrics were being used as a basis, an important question given an applications processor’s architecture includes both the number-crunching CPUs and graphics driving GPUs.

It is largely unknown how Apple is managing to squeeze out the extra horsepower, though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities noted in a recent report that a move to the ARMv8 architecture could yield a 20 percent increase in efficiency. In that same note to investors, Kuo speculates that Apple could offer 64-bit support in the A7, which would theoretically allow for greater speeds.

As for the motion tracking feature, Morris said in a follow-up tweet, “I’ve also heard there’s a separate chip devoted to motion tracking. Should be an interesting camera upgrade.” It would appear from the tweet’s wording that the unknown chip would be part of the iPhone’s camera package, perhaps as a special post processor.

Apple owns a number of patents regarding post processing techniques, including a few that interpolate camera sensor data for tasks other than outputting an image such as “gaze detection.” Some of these patents include a separate chip, usually disposed on the sensor module’s circuit board, to handle processing duties.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5S at a special event on Sept. 10, possibly alongside a lower cost plastic handset dubbed the “iPhone 5C.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5C footage shows informal scratch test, possible use of LiquidMetal fabrication process

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Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, 09:04
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, this could lead to some really interesting stuff.

Per Apple Daily and the Apple Core, leaked video of what is purported to be an assembled iPhone 5C, the low-cost iPhone rumored to be announced on September 10, has surfaced. The footage shows the unit surviving an informal pocket test with no visible scratches on its rear plastic shell. In it, an anonymous individual puts the 5C into a gallon Ziploc bag with coins, keys, screws, paper clips and, what appears to be a pocket flashlight, then closes and shakes the bag vigorously.



Head on over to the Apple Core for Jason’s full analysis of what’s happening with the next-gen iPhone, additional details and delicious cake.

Note: There will not actually be cake. This was a lie.

Review: Colin McRae Rally for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:37
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.14.41 AM

Review: Colin McRae Rally iOS
By Mr. S

Rally racing is a mystery to most. A marginalized sport that has a hard time in certain countries finding mass appeal. Like other european sports, it has had an especially hard time in the United States where the name “Colin McRae” is about as well known as canadian metal band Anvil.

Take a trip to Finland, Scotland or Darkur and you will see the exact opposite. Rally is king, and its master drivers are lauded as superhuman for their ability to drive with total precision through some of the most technically challenging road courses known to man. These are not well-groomed good ol’ boys taking left turns as fast as possible. These were chip-toothed men of true grit risking their lives for the sake of perfection. For those who understand rally racing, it’s the drivers who receive the most admiration, because it takes a special kind of man to take a 90 degree corner at 70 mph on a dirt road the width of a Mini Cooper surrounded by trees that could turn your car into scrap metal the moment you slip up. That’s the kind of legend Colin McRae was. He was the Flying Scot, and until his untimely death in 2007 he was one of the most exciting drivers since Ari Vatanen.


Pay in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.

Play in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.


Getting to know rally and the men who participate in it is imperative to understanding why Codemasters was smart to take extreme care in making the Colin McRae series of racing games. The equivalent would be something like putting Michael Jordan on the cover of your NBA game; players are going to be expecting perfection and anything less will be bollocks. Not even the king of simulation, Gran Tourismo, with its amazing rally mode can match what Codemasters has done with this amazing series. Racing legend Hans Stuck famously drove his cars with only a small piece of cloth on his seat. He says “Its important I have a physical connection with my vehicle, I need to feel the sliding.” It’s that same attention to “feel” that makes Colin McRae exceptional, and it’s why this iOS port is amazing. Even though it’s just a quick port of a thirteen-year-old game for the original Playstation and PC.

And this game does not try to hide its age. Tree textures pop in and out, levels are basically ugly skinny corridors with hyper-flat surfaces, and objects that you should be able to crush or roll over stop you dead. The once-fun animated menu system with a funky 90’s soundtrack cool enough to warrant its own YouTube OST video was taken out to save space. All we’re left with is a Fisher Price style main menu with a whopping three icons and one lonesome techno track looping.

All of this is forgiven, though, because they didn’t label it as a port or “HD” remake. They simply named it “Colin McRae Rally”, but more importantly they left in everything that makes the Colin McRae Rally experience fun.


Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.

Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.


Codemasters made sure every little detail is pitch-perfect from how gravel sounds in a wheel well to how your wheels screech and pick up grip when sliding sideways onto a paved road. They even included the oft-overlooked and distinctive sound of a handbrake being used. While the audio is well-designed, it’s the physics that really steal the show. Rally cars have an insane amount of power, and this game does a really good job of putting that power in the hands of the player. You can see your suspension working when you slam on the breaks or take a corner hard, you can feel the difference in handling when you change gear ratios. It all works together to solidify that you are indeed flying down a european backroad at speeds that would make most men weep.

It’s the love for rally that really shines through in the Colin McRae series, and thankfully this iOS port brings that love of the sport and the attention to detail that comes with it to the App Store. For racing fans burned out on Real Racing, it’s an absolute must.

Colin McRae Rally retails for US$2.99 on the App Store and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Apple begins graphics card program for designated iMacs, looks to replace faulty AMD Radeon HD 6970M units

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Date: Monday, August 19th, 2013, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

Check the manufacturing date on your iMac, it may be eligible for a replacement graphics card.

Per AppleInsider, addressing complaints from owners, Apple has decided to institute a replacement program for graphics cards used in specific 27-inch iMac models sold between May 2011 and October 2012.

According to a document on Apple’s Support webpage, the AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards shipped with certain 27-inch iMac desktop configurations would fail, causing the display to “appear distorted, white or blue with vertical lines.” In some cases, the screen would simply go black.

Models covered in the replacement program include high-end “mid-2011″ 27-inch iMacs with 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The all-in-ones first hit store shelves in May 2011 and remained on sale until the current ultra thin iMacs debuted in October 2012.

Apple will replace failed video cards free of charge for up to three years after the initial purchase date. In addition, people who may have paid for repair or replacement associated with the issue can seek a refund.

Those affected by the issue can take their iMac in for evaluation at the Genius Bar of a local Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If those services are unavailable, owners are instructed to call Apple Technical Support for other further options.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to include gold color, 128GB capacity

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Date: Friday, August 16th, 2013, 07:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone could hold twice as much data as the current model.

And be a classy gold color.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offers his predictions on Apple’s anticipated next-generation iPhone, including a new 128GB storage option and a gold colorway.

Kuo points out in his note investors that the so-called “iPhone 5S,” will carry over many of the features already established with the current iPhone 5, including the 4-inch screen form factor.

The analyst predicts Apple will make the usual processor buff, this time to a new A7 system-on-chip design with 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The latest chip is expected to be of Apple’s own design based on the ARMv8 architecture, suggesting efficiency may be increased by up to 20 percent. Because Apple controls both the operating system and hardware for the iPhone 5S, it can optimize the faster LPDDR3 RAM spec for the A7 SoC, keeping the amount of addressable memory to 1GB.

The phone’s rear-facing camera will also be tweaked. While the sensor unit will remain untouched, the iPhone 5S shooter will use a larger f2.0 aperture lens assembly with dual LED flashes.

As for the widely rumored fingerprint sensor, Kuo reiterated the view he expressed in a separate note last week, saying the package will likely be embedded in a sapphire glass home button.

For storage, Kuo expects Apple to add on a new option for a capacious 128GB of on-board flash memory, the same change the company made to the fourth generation iPad in February.

Finally, a new option for a gold casing is expected to be offered alongside the traditional black and, with the iPhone 5, silver colors. Gold parts purportedly bound for the 5S were leaked in June, though an accompanying chassis sporting the new color has yet to surface.

Contrary to some predictions, Kuo doesn’t see Apple implementing near-field communication (NFC) in the iPhone 5S.

Apple is rumored to be prepping for a Sept. 10 iPhone announcement, at which the company is expected to launch the iPhone 5S and possibly a less expensive handset dubbed the “iPhone 5C.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut thinner next-gen iPad, iPad mini with Retina display in 2013

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Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 06:38
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The upcoming iPad could be thinner for the full iPad and feature a Retina display for the mini version.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will launch a Retina iPad mini and a slimmed down full-size iPad by the end of 2013.

The publication cites sources familiar with Apple’s plans as saying the company will not only debut a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad in the fourth quarter, but is also looking to release a hotly anticipated iPad mini with Retina display before the year is out. It is unclear if the models will launch simultaneously.

One source stated the next-generation iPad will take its design cues from the current iPad mini, including a thinner side bezel and rounded corners. There have been a number of supposed parts leaks, as well as analyst predictions, regarding Apple’s next iPad, most of which point to a redesigned exterior and enhanced innards.

As for the next-gen iPad mini, Monday’s report was light on specifics, only mentioning that the tablet would include a high-resolution Retina display. Similar rumors have been present since June with few, if any, true specifics to be had here.

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