Rumor: Apple begins canceling vacation days for second week of October, iOS 5/iPhone 5 rumors fly

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Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

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It’s when Apple starts reworking vacation days that things get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is quietly denying requests for employee vacations during the second week of October, hinting that the company currently anticipates an influx of customers to its stores around that time related to availability of its new iOS 5 and fifth-generation iPhone products.

More specifically, the company has blacked out vacation time for employees in certain locations from October 9th through 12th and October 14th through 15th, according to sources close to the story.

The first block of dates — the 9th through the 12 — could pertain to the release of iOS 5 for existing iOS device owners on Monday the 10th. As discovered and reported last week, certain segments of the company’s AppleCare divisions have been told to prepare for an influx of iOS-related inquiries on that same day.

Twitter has also scheduled a developer event and a pair of “Developer Teatimes” for Oct. 10 and Oct. 12 with a “heavy focus” on the social service’s tight integration with iOS 5, further suggesting that Apple’s non-disclosure terms covering the new mobile OS will have been lifted by then via a public release of the software.

Issuing a major iOS release a few days prior to launching new iPhone that will also leverage the software is not unexpected. For instance, last year Apple released iOS 4.0 on June 21st and then rolled out the iPhone 4 on June 24th. And a year earlier it launched iOS 3.0 (then dubbed iPhone Software 3.0) on June 17th and then followed up with the iPhone 3GS on the 21st.

Assuming hints of an iOS 5.0 release around Monday, October 10th prove accurate, the second block of retail blackout dates — October 14th and 15th — could signal availability of the fifth-generation iPhone hardware by that Friday.

With Apple rumored to hold a media event to first unveil its fifth-generation iPhone plans on October 4th, that would give the Cupertino-based company roughly 10 days to field pre-orders ahead of an official launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to add KDDI as Japanese iPhone carrier, end Softbank monopoly

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Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A monopoly can’t last forever.

Per The Nikkei, Japanese carrier KDDI will break up rival Softbank’s exclusive hold on Apple’s iPhone in the country early next year, when it will reportedly begin selling the iPhone 5.

The business newspaper said on Thursday it had learned that the company will offer Apple’s next-generation iPhone through its “au” service in the first quarter of 2012.

The report noted that Apple plans to released the device worldwide in “mid-October,” adding that KDDI will begin selling the device next year because “it will take time for preparations. The carrier’s flat rate for iPhone data services is said to cost 4000 yen (US$52), roughly comparable to Softbank’s pricing.

Softbank, the third-largest cellular provider in Japan, has enjoyed boosted profitability because of its exclusive deal with Apple. But, being limited to just one carrier has curbed Apple’s ability to compete with rival Android devices, which are available on first-place NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

Shares of Softbank tumbled 10 percent on the rumor. One analyst said the increased competition could result in a wave of price cuts. “I’m bracing myself for a huge shake-up in the sector for the next six to 12 months,” remarked Michito Kimura, a senior market analyst at IDC Japan.

The iPhone 5 is expected to include the A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera, while additional rumors have buzzed that Apple will release a retooled iPhone 4 to target the midrange market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPhone 5 media event on October 4th, Tim Cook to be main speaker

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Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:01
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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It’s not confirmed yet, but there’s a date for it.

Per All Things Digital, Apple will hold its next big media event will be held on October 4th, where freshly minted CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the iPhone 5. Sources close to the situation say Cook will be the main presenter at the event, with execs Phil Schiller, Scott Forstall and Eddy Cue playing supporting roles.

This would mark the first time that Cook has actually led an Apple event, adding an extra wrinkle of significance to an already highly anticipated occasion. The site’s sources went on to say that the next-gen iPhone will be available for purchase “within a few weeks” of the announcement.

The article acknowledges that the exact date of its unveiling is still subject to change.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel working on Ivy Bridge chipset for next-gen MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 06:52
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The next generation of something: it’ll always be a bit niftier than the thing you have now.

Per CNET, Apple next-gen MacBook Air may see an additional performance boost next year with Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which, according to a new report, will add support for the OpenCL technology.

Apple is currently billing its Open Computing Language standard as a technology that “dramatically accelerates” applications by unlocking the “amazing parallel computing power of the GPU.” OpenCL especially offers improvements to financial applications, games and media applications by offloading non-graphics related tasks to the GPU.

Intel is expected to add support for the technology in its line of Ivy Bridge processors due out next year. Intel boasts as much as a 60 percent performance boost over current Sandy Bridge chips, with special attention being paid to graphics performance enhancements.

The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro would stand the most to gain from Intel support for OpenCL. GPUs from AMD and Nvidia already support the technology, but Apple’s ultra-thin notebook and entry-level MacBook Pro currently sport a graphics processor from Intel.

Apple’s MacBook Air update in July made the notebook up to twice as fast as the previous generation, which made use of Intel’s aging Core 2 Duo chips. The company has had some trouble keeping the the diminutive notebooks in stock due to the resulting popularity of the models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon listing points to next-gen AirPort Express router in the works

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:47
Category: News, Rumor, wireless

Sometimes Amazon reveals a bit more than Apple would like it to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will soon begin shipping a new version of its AirPort Express portable 802.11n base station, capping a recent series of refreshes to the company’s line of WiFi routers ahead of this fall’s iCloud launch.

Although Apple’s online store still reflects availability of “AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes,” authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next “2 to 5 weeks.”

Additionally, a person familiar with the matter says Apple is wrapping up the release of AirPort Utility 5.6, makes reference to a second-generation 802.11n AirPort Express in its developer notes:
“Adds support for the AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) base station”

The current version of Airport Utility, 5.5.3, was released in June, resolving an issue that caused the tool to unexpectedly quit during setup.

The update would round out tune-ups across Apple’s AirPort device family. In June, the company quietly updated both its Time Capsule and Airport Extreme base stations. Though no specific changes were detailed in product specifications, FCC filings revealed that the new devices had received a power boost of as much as 2.8 times the original signal.

Subsequent tests revealed dramatic performance and reliability improvements to the base stations, especially when accessed from more remote locations. A teardown of the AirPort Extreme also showed that Apple has switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331.

But, given that FCC filings for a new Airport Express have yet to turn up, it remains unknown whether the diminutive base station will also see a signal boost when it is updated.

Apple released the first generation of 802.11n-capable AirPort Express routers in March 2008, billing the device as the world’s smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station.

As Apple has been hard at work prepping its iCloud service, rumors have swirled that the company may transition its AirPort base stations to use iOS, with some reports speculating that software updates could be delivered wirelessly via an AirPort router.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may unveil updated MacBook Pro notebooks before end of 2011

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:15
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Just when you’d recently bought a 2011, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and were feeling somewhat cool.

Per AppleInsider, Apple may be preparing a refresh of its professional notebook line ahead of the holiday shopping season to better bridge the gap.

According to sources close to the story, the late-2011 MacBook Pro refresh will deliver marginal speed bumps to the notebooks’ Core i-Series of Sandy Bridge processors but will otherwise introduce no material changes over the existing models.

While precise timing for the update may change, those same people say the Mac maker currently anticipates an introduction of the refreshed line before the end of the month, possible following the close of the company’s Back-to-School promotion, which ends on September 20th.

Word of the new models comes just one week after Intel quietly refreshed its Sandy Bridge lineup of processors, adding four new Core i7 chips suited for adoption by the MacBook Pro in addition to slashing prices on some other chips, while phasing out a handful of others.

In particular, Intel introduced new 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7 processors that could replace the 2.0GHz, 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz versions offered in the current 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, in addition to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 that could serve as an upgrade path for the current 2.7GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro.

As for the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, Intel continues to list a couple of Core i5 chips at speeds of 2.5GHz to 2.6GHz that Apple could elect to use to bump 2.3GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro for little to no cost increase.

In addition to these chips, Apple may have discounted access to a handful of older Core i5 and Core i7 chips that were introduced early this year, such as the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 models.

Although the new models may come as somewhat of a surprise for industry watchers given that there has been no indication that Apple is drawing down inventories of existing models, the refresh is likely geared towards assuring the Mac maker’s top-selling notebook family remains competitive in the market until Intel releases its next-generation Ivy Bridge platform at some point in 2012.

The Ivy Bridge architecture was originally slated to debut in late 2011, but leaked documents from Intel surfaced in May and revealed that the next-generation processors are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. The Ivy Bridge chips are now scheduled to become available at some point in March or April of next year.

The MacBook Pro remains the bread and butter of Apple’s mostly mobile Mac business, even as the newer, thin-and-light MacBook Air gains in sales. Apple’s MacBook Pros are the only notebooks offered by the company that still offer discrete graphics, making them the only option for video professionals and power users on the go.

In addition, the MacBook Pro remains the only Apple notebook with screen sizes larger than 13-inches. While the MacBook Air (and now defunct white MacBook) max out at 13-inches, the MacBook Pro still comes in 15- and 17-inch screen sizes, with faster CPUs and graphics to accompany the greater screen real estate.

Apple last updated its MacBook Pro lineup in February, giving its entry-level 13-inch models dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 chips at speeds of 2.3GHz and 2.7Ghz. The higher-end 15- and 17-inch models gained quad-core Sandy Bridge Core i7 chips at speeds of up to 2.3Ghz.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Foxconn currently assembling 150,000 iPhone 5 units per day

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Date: Thursday, September 8th, 2011, 06:42
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The iPhone 5: it’s probably on the way.

Per DigiTimes, Foxconn Electronics has ramped up production of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone to 150,000 units per day, with shipments expected to reach 5-6 million in September.

The report released on Thursday states that Apple’s iPhone 5 suppliers have geared up production and will soon begin volume shipments of the new device. Industry sources provided the publication with the 150,000 unit per day production figure for OEM Foxconn.

Meanwhile, sources also said lens maker Largan Precision, touch panel maker TPK Holding, reinforced glass supplier G-Tech Optoelectronics and battery vendors Simplo and Dynapack “are all operating at full swing currently,” according to the report.

iPhone 5 shipments are expected to be in the range of 5-6 million this month and top 22 million in the fourth quarter as Apple reduces shipments of the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4.

The report also echoed an earlier claim reportedly from a Chinese source that Pegatron has received orders to produce a 15 percent share of Apple’s new smartphone. However, DigiTimes’ sources said the company may not begin shipping until 2012.

Apple is now believed to be planning to launch the iPhone 5 in October. Recent leaks from retailer Best Buy point to next month, though there is some disagreement about the specific timing of the release.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported 8 megapixel image taken with iPhone 5 surfaces

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 08:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5′s camera, it might be looking forward to.

Per PocketNow, a picture has surfaced online that is alleged to have been taken by an Apple engineer with an 8-megapixel camera from the still-unannounced fifth-generation iPhone.

The data associated with the so-called “test photo” states that it was shot with an iPhone 4, but also reveals that the picture, cropped to a size of 5 megapixels, was originally a much-higher resolution just shy of 8 megapixels.

“What’s more, the lens was recorded as a 4.3mm f/2.4, which is closer to that of a point-and-shoot than the iPhone 4′s actual 3.85mm f/28,” the report said.

However, the data could also be bogus, as the site noted it was recently duped by an image taken with an iPhone, then uploaded to an iPad using software that altered the EXIF data associated with the image.

“We suppose that a similar scenario is also possible here,” author Evan Blass wrote, “but there’s one compelling piece of evidence which suggests that this is indeed a genuine iPhone 5 photo: it was supposedly shot by an Apple engineer eating his lunch at work.”

The purported iPhone 5 photo is bolstered by numerous rumors that Apple’s next-generation handset will sport an 8-megapixel camera. This week, a new report claimed that Apple had tapped both Largan Precision and genius Electronic Optical to supply those lenses for the next iPhone.

In fact, the supposed 8-megapixel shooter has been perhaps the only relatively consistent element in rumors leading up to the unveiling of the so-called “iPhone 5.” Reports claiming Apple will adopt an 8-megapixel camera began surfacing earlier this year.

Apple is widely expected to publicly unveil its next iPhone in the coming weeks at a press event. Numerous reports have pointed toward an October launch of the fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate thinner, lighter battery design for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 might be a bit lighter than you expected.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple is said to have chosen two suppliers to provide batteries that will be thinner and lighter, but also up to 30 percent more expensive, for its third-generation iPad.

Simply Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both been tapped for the next-generation batteries, according to reports. Both companies are said to currently supply batteries for Apple’s iPad and MacBook lineup.

The report said Apple’s third-generation iPad will be mass-produced in the first quarter of 2012. The device’s battery is said to have been redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

“Furthermore, the new battery pack will also be required to meet CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability, a trend that has been commonly seen nowadays, especially in the U.S.,” the report said.

The new thinner, lighter and safer battery will also reportedly come at a higher price for Apple, costing between 20 percent and 30 percent more than the battery currently found in the iPad 2.

Both Simplo and Dynapack are rumored to begin providing batteries to Apple in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011. That would put the company on track to begin production of the so-called “iPad 3″ soon after, and would also put Simplo and Dynapack in a position to earn record quarterly revenues.

Last month it was said that Apple was already near the trial production phase for its third-generation iPad. The device is expected to have a high-resolution screen, similar to the Retina Display found on the iPhone 4.

That retina display is expected to be provided by three major suppliers in order to meet growing demand for Apple’s iPad lineup. LG Display, Samsung Electronics and Sharp have all been rumored to be in the supply chain for Apple’s next iPad.

Also in August, Apple was said to have e begun trial production of the proprietary A6 mobile processor that’s expected to power the next iPad 3 and, eventually, a sixth-generation iPhone. A previous report from the Taiwan Economic News named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the new manufacturer of the chip, reportedly snagging a role formally filled by Samsung.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip, which is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.