Rumor: Next-gen iPad to be 15% thinner, 25% lighter, use smaller, more efficient battery

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 07:14
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could be nifty.

Per MacRumors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has on a number of occasions offered accurate information on Apple’s product plans, recently published a new research note outlining his expectations for Apple’s fifth-generation iPad. Kuo expects mass production and shipments of the new iPad to ramp up in the August-September timeframe, with the device registering roughly 15% thinner and 25% lighter than the current full-size iPad.

The new version’s expected dimensions, which are purported to be 7.5-8.0mm thick, will be 15% thinner than iPad 4. The new device will likely be about 500 grams, or some 25% lighter than iPad 4, run on an A7X processor, and sport cameras with similar specs to the iPad 4’s (front HD, rear 5MP). The casing shape and color (silver and black) and narrow bezel design will be similar to the iPad mini’s.

The prediction of a 7.5-8.0 mm thickness is in line with previous claims that the next iPad will see a roughly 2 mm reduction from the current 9.5 mm thickness.

Kuo predicts that Apple will adopt the same GF2 touch technology used in the iPad mini, enabling Apple to design a thinner display for the new full-size iPad. In addition, more efficient display and chip technologies are expected to bring down the device’s overall power consumption, allowing for a smaller and thinner battery.

The battery is expected to be 25-30% smaller, at 8,500-9,000mAh, than the iPad 4’s, and the battery’s thickness will be 15-20% smaller, at 7.5-8.0mm, and the number of cells will be reduced to two from three.

As for the chip powering the iPad 5, Kuo believes that Apple will be sticking with Samsung for a new A7X chip that will take advantage of Samsung’s 28-nanometer process node. There have been reports that Apple will be shifting its A-series chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but it appears that Kuo believes that transition has a bit further time horizon, in line with rumors that a partnership between Apple and TSMC for 20-nanometer A7 chips will not begin production until early 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft planning boot-to-desktop mode for Windows 8.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013, 07:33
Category: Rumor, Software

windows-8-logo-large2

If you’re using a Windows 8 partition, then there’s a fairly decent chance you want to strangle whoever created the Metro interface, as great as Microsoft seems to think it is.

Per The Verge, in an apparent attempt to have its latest operating system better appeal to business customers, Microsoft reportedly plans to add a “boot to desktop” mode to its Windows 8.1 update, allowing users to bypass the Metro Start Screen.

In current test builds of Windows 8.1, codenamed “Windows Blue”, the operating system includes an option to boot directly to the traditional Windows desktop, sources familiar with the company’s plans indicated to reporters. That’s a major change from the current version of Windows 8, which automatically boots to the new Start Screen which features the tiled “Metro” user interface.

Windows 8 currently boots to the new Start Screen, requiring an extra step to reach the desktop.

The new Start Screen has been criticized by PC users who feel the interface is not ideal with a traditional keyboard and mouse setup. Some believe the Metro user interface is better suited for touchscreen devices, like tablets and phones.

While Microsoft reportedly plans to make the desktop view a default option when booting a system, the company is said to be keeping the invisible “hot corners” it introduced with Windows 8. That function allows users to bring up the operating system’s “Charms” or the Metro Start Screen by touching or dragging their PC mouse to the corner of the screen.

Windows 8 launched last fall with a great deal of hype from the Redmond, Wash., company, which claimed the new operating system was a revolutionary upgrade from its predecessor, Windows 7. But Windows 8 got off to a soft start, and failed to turn around sales in the sagging PC hardware market.

Continuing woes in the PC market have been generally blamed on the popularity of Apple’s iPad, which reached a new, lower entry price of US$329 last fall with the debut of the iPad mini. In comparison, many new touchscreen Ultrabooks running Windows 8 cost over a thousand dollars.

The struggles seen by PC makers have led market watchers to predict that the industry could see a major shakeup in the coming years. Some believe that remaining companies could merge, leading to fewer options, while others see gross margins shrinking in an effort to cut prices and boost sales.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft working on “iWatch” device of its own

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Hardware, Rumor

microsoftlogo.jpg

You know that rumor about Apple working on an iWatch of sorts?

Microsoft may be working on its own.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is apparently working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple Inc. in working on a new class of computing products.

Earlier this year, Microsoft asked suppliers in Asia to ship components for a potential watch-style device, the executives said. One executive said he met with Microsoft’s research and development team at the software company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it’s unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch, they said.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in wearable, computerized devices built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect body temperature, geographic location and voice commands of people on the go.

Some of the new wearable gadgets, like Nike Inc.’s FuelBand, measure physical activity, while others are intended to supplement functions of a smartphone, such as receiving text messages, taking photos or checking the weather. Apple has also experimented with designs for a wristwatch-style device.

Startup Pebble Technology Corp. is selling a watch that syncs wirelessly with smartphones and vibrates to alert wearers to incoming phone calls, Twitter posts and emails. Google Inc. is testing with consumers a device it calls Google Glass, an eyeglass-style gadget that displays certain computerized information in a user’s field of vision.

“We see growing demand for wearable gadgets as the size of the smartphone has become too big to carry around,” said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. “A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers.”

Research firm Gartner expects the market for wearable smart electronics to be a $10 billion industry by 2016.

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has shown an interest in wearable gadgets. Microsoft a decade ago unveiled a “Smart Watch” powered by the company’s software. For a subscription fee, Smart Watch wearers could have news headlines, sports scores and instant messages beamed over FM radio to their wrists. But sales stopped in 2008.

For its potential new watch prototype, Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers, said an executive at a component supplier.

The tests of a computerized watch also underscore Microsoft’s ambitions in expanding its hardware offerings. Last October, Microsoft launched the Surface tablet-style computer, and the company is prepping more homegrown computing devices including a smaller, 7-inch version of a tablet to compete with popular gadgets like Apple’s iPad Mini, people familiar with the matter have said.

Microsoft also is continuing to test its own smartphone, although it isn’t clear whether it will bring such a device to market, component suppliers said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2″ faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use LED backlighting system to reduce weight of next-gen iPad

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could prove spiffy.

Per CNET, a report released on Thursday says Apple will likely use a modified LED backlight apparatus in a bid to make the 9.7-inch tablet as thin and light as possible.

NPD DisplaySearch stated that it expects Apple’s fifth-generation iPad to sport a more efficient LED array, as well as a change to film-based touch sensor technology, as the company slims down its largest tablet offering.

“It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs,” said analyst Paul Semenza.

Apple is widely expected to launch a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad with an aesthetic borrowed from the current iPad mini. Such a design was revealed in an image of a purportedly leaked next-gen iPad cover glass, which had thinner bezels and significantly modified dimensions in comparison with existing models.

Turning to display technology, Semenza said it’s too soon to tell if the next-gen iPad will make the switch to more efficient IGZO panels. Rumors dating as far back as 2011 have Apple preparing to transition to the LCD tech, though such displays have yet to be used in the company’s product lineups. Most recently, industry chatter has pointed to the inclusion of IGZO in this year’s iPhone and iPad models, with the panels coming from Apple partner supplier Sharp.

Finally, Semenza said a third-quarter debut is most likely for the upcoming iPad. Prediction regarding the iPad’s launch timeline have been highly varied, however, with some analysts claiming an October release, while other sources say the tablet could be unveiled this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple close to finalizing iRadio content agreements, service to launch in a dozen markets in mid0to-late 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:05
Category: Rumor, Software

applelogo_silver

You know that iRadio/content deal Apple was wrangling through with major studios and content providers? It may be about sorted out and have an actual delivery date.

According to The Verge, the Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.

Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have stated. Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.

Per CNET, sources have apparently also indicated Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:

The press has dubbed the service “iRadio”, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song. Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked Microsoft roadmap points towards Office for iOS/Android in 2014

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:22
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

A rumor’s a rumor, but there’s got to be something valid in there.

Per ZDNet, the outfit claims to have gotten its mitts on a Microsoft roadmap for next year and says on it is “iOS/Android support for Office”.

Also on the roadmap for fall 2014 is what’s listed as iOS/Android support for Office. While this could point to the rumored iOS release of Office, the most recent rumors/expectations have been that Microsoft may be making these mobile iOS/Android versions of Office available as part of an Office 365 subscription of some kind. The alleged roadmap makes no mention of an Office 365/subscription tie-in. It only mentions “iOS/Android” as a Gemini Fall 2014 deliverable.

Microsoft itself has dropped a couple hints at mobile support for Office including assorted job listings and references to Excel and Powerpoint on iPhone from last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad production to begin in July-August time frame

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

There’s gotta be a kernel of truth in here somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, sources in Taiwan-based supply companies have stated that production of the fifth-gen iPad is slated to start in a July-August window. The sources added that the display is expected to be manufactured by Sharp and LG Display, while touch panel assembly will be done by TPK, and ITO thin film will come from Nitto Denko and Teijin. Some earlier rumors had an iPad announcement taking place as soon as this month.

The DigiTimes sources repeat views that the fifth-gen tablet will be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and moreover use a slimmer bezel, similar to the one on the iPad mini. The fourth-gen iPad was little different than the third-gen model, mainly gaining a faster processor, a Lightning connector, and broader cellular support. It was also released just months later, whereas it now appears that the fifth-gen device may resume Apple’s normal annual update cycle.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 user interface rumors fly, concept animation surfaces

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 8th, 2013, 06:38
Category: iOS, Rumor

And now comes the rumor mill and concept art.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple’s Jony Ive seems to be focusing iOS 7′s user interface on widgets and lock screen enhancements.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, designer F. Bianco certainly gives us a taste of the possibilities constructed the following movie which shows concepts such as widgets, app switching, media controls and more.

Take a gander:

As always, let us know what you think or what you’re hoping to see in iOS 7 in the comments.

Rumor: Apple negotiating with content providers, could launch streaming radio service this summer

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Rumor, Software

applelogo_silver

There could be some nifty stuff coming down the pipe this summer.

Per CNET, Apple is working to strike deals with both the Warner and Universal Music groups within the week to help add content to its upcoming streaming radio service. Sony would still be one of the major holdouts.

Apple could sign deals with both Warner Music and Universal Music Group within the next week, according to the sources. Both sources cautioned that the deals have not yet been made and could still fall apart. In addition, Apple still needs to get Sony Music Group on board, as well as the music publishers. Even so, Apple has told the labels it’s determined to get all its deals signed in time for a summer rollout. In addition to the U.S., Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

While recent reports have pinned the service’s launch for late 2013, CNET said Apple still wants to have a summer launch take place.

The report indicated that Apple is working on functionality such as quick-button-based access to restart a song and new payment terms for record labels. It also alluded to the upcoming service being more Pandora-like than Rdio, suggesting true, radio-like randomization versus play-on-demand audio content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.