Rumor: Apple may remove “Home” button from future generations of iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 05:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

An unverified report claims that Apple is planning to remove the home button on the iPad and iPhone as early as later this year, the company opting towards multitouch gestures to return to the home screen.

According to Boy Genius Report, an anonymous source has claimed that Apple is already testing iPads and iPhones without home buttons on its Cupertino, Calif., campus. However, since the report itself admits the information is “pretty wild,” readers should take it with a grain of salt.

“We are told that Apple, at some point in time, will remove the home button from the iPad’s design. Instead of button taps, you will use new multitouch gestures to navigate to the home screen and also to launch the app switcher,” the report predicted.

“It’s possible we will see this new change materialize with the next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year,” wrote author Jonathan S. Geller.

The report also cites new multitouch gestures from a beta version of iOS 4.3 released Wednesday that enable a 5-finger pinch gesture for accessing the home screen. Other gestures new to the beta include a swipe up to reveal the multitasking tray and a swipe left or right to switch between open applications.

Apple’s iLife and photo-taking application Photo Booth could also make their way onto the next iPad, the report speculated.

Right now it’s just a rumor, though anything’s possible.

Stay tuned for more information as we get it.

Rumor: Apple may add Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T/GSM iPhone in iOS 4.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 04:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The much-hyped Personal Hotspot feature found on iOS 4.2.5 will not remain exclusive to the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4, and will arrive with the release of iOS 4.3 for existing GSM-based handsets, according to a new rumor.

Per iPhoneHellas.gr, (via Google Translate), the feature will be part of a purported update in the works known as iOS 4.3. The rumor was credited to “reliable information” obtained by the site.

The Personal Hotspot feature is included in a new version of iOS, dubbed 4.2.5, that was spotted on pre-release CDMA iPhone hardware shown off at Tuesday’s Verizon iPhone press conference. The feature is found in the Settings application on the phone, where it can be turned on or off and the Wi-Fi password can be changed.

In addition, on Tuesday iPhoneclub.nl also reported that the iOS 4.3 update will only support the mobile hotspot feature, which allows up to five devices to be connected to a 3G data connection over Wi-Fi, will only be available if a carrier offers it.

AT&T famously did not allow tethering on the iPhone in the U.S. even after Apple had added the ability to share a wireless Internet connection via USB or Bluetooth to its mobile operating system. The feature eventually arrived last June alongside new, capped data plans. Tethering with an iPhone on AT&T costs an extra US$20 per month.

When asked on Tuesday whether AT&T will offer the Personal Hotspot feature on its network, a company spokesperson said they wouldn’t “speculate” on potential future features. Apple has not made any mention of the Personal Hotspot coming to existing iPhones since the feature was first revealed on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Rumor: Apple may include Genius Bars, display more Macs in Best Buy locations

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Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 06:31
Category: Rumor

Retail giant Best Buy may update its Apple store-within-a-store boutiques to feature a larger display of Macs in addition to staffed Genius Bars that would mirror those found in every Apple retail store.

Per an anonymous tip received by The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the move could come as early as this spring according to a Best Buy employee who had been briefed on the matter by his official Apple representative.

If true, it would be the first time that Apple has expanded its trademark Genius Bars outside of its own brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Apple retail chief Ron Johnson has long referred to the Genius Bars as the “heart and soul” of his company’s stores. The counters currently operate on a reservation system and are staffed by specially trained and certified Apple “Geniuses.”

Customers can typically schedule a Genius Bar reservation online via their computer, iPod, iPhone or iPad, up to 72 hours in advance, or alternatively choose sign up for an open appointment once they arrive at the store.

Best Buy has worked in close partnership with Apple since 2006, when the two companies agreed to a 7-store pilot program designed to highlight Mac personal computers inside Best Buy retail stores.

The program, which has since expanded to roughly 500 Best Buy locations nationwide, has seen the placement of distinct Apple boutiques — designed to resemble mini Apple stores — inside the specialty electronics retailer’s computer departments.

Best Buy has also been the recipient of other preferred treatment from Apple. For instance, two years ago it became the first independent U.S. reseller to offer the iPhone to its customers. Last year, it was similarly the only retailer authorized to take pre-orders for the inaugural iPad alongside Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Unconfirmed iPhone 5/Verizon iPhone photos surface

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Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The nice thing about technology: there’s always something nifty on the horizon.

Or at least pictures of the nifty thing on the horizon.

Per SmartPhone Medic, new pictures claim to show a redesigned stainless steel frame for the iPhone, with new placement of black bands on the perimeter of the handset’s frame, the metal band which also acts as the phone’s antenna.

The photos from SmartPhone Medic claim to be from a “very reliable source” and purport to show an “unreleased iPhone design.” The alleged new frame is pictured next to the existing one used in the current iPhone 4.

The photos appear to have been doctored in order to, at the very least, remove shadows and colors from the white background. While no claims about the authenticity of the photos in question, they are reposted here for interest and discussion.

SmartPhone Medic gained attention last August, when it acquired a genuine front panel for the then-unannounced fourth-generation iPod touch, complete with a spot for a forward-facing camera. But unlike that scoop, the alleged iPhone frame published Wednesday is not a hands-on look, just pictures.

Both frames look largely the same in the pictures, but the alleged new part has a few key differences found in the placement of “antenna gaps.” The current iPhone 4 has three gaps — two on the side, one on top — while the pictured part shows four — two on each side, none on top.

The antenna gap on the bottom left side of the current iPhone 4 caused a major controversy last year, when it was revealed that bridging that gap with a hand or even a fingertip could result in degradation of wireless reception. There were numerous rumors that Apple would revise the design of the iPhone 4 to address the issue, but Apple instead held a press conference to explain the situation and offered customers a free “bumper” case to fix it.

The alleged iPhone part also shows the device’s frame with a retained spot for a micro-SIM card, suggesting it could be a redesign of the current GSM handset, or could be a new “world” phone with both GSM and CDMA. Apple is rumored to release a CDMA compatible phone in the near future.

Another possibility, if the frame is legitimate, is for a CDMA phone that also has a micro-SIM slot for 4G long-term evolution connectivity. While CDMA does not use a SIM card, Verizon’s high-speed 4G network does. Finally, it’s possible the alleged part could be for a prototype “iPhone 5,” thought Apple is not expected to release a full-fledged fifth-generation device until this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple could release Verizon iPhone on or prior to February 14th, 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Apple is expected to hold an event “very soon,” perhaps by Valentine’s Day on February 14th 2011, to unveil a new CDMA version of the iPhone compatible with U.S. carrier Verizon’s network.

Per Bloomberg Businessweek, the alleged debut of the iPhone on Verizon is portrayed as an “enormous problem” for AT&T, the current exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S. While AT&T has had sole access to the iPhone since 2007, problems with its network have caused bad press, including a recent reader poll from Consumer Reports ranking AT&T the worst carrier in America.

“Verizon enjoys a reputation for reliability,” author Peter Burrows wrote. “AT&T is notorious for dropping calls, especially in densely populated places like New York and San Francisco where iPhones are most common and cell towers get loaded.”

The report said that Apple would hold one of its own “splashy product introductions to announce a new version of the iPhone that work’s on Verizon’s network,” and said that event would “maybe” come by Valentine’s Day.

Some have speculated that Apple would instead allow Verizon to announce the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, an uncharacteristic move for the typically controlling iPhone maker. But the report specifically stated that a CES unveiling is not in the plans.

“Apple’s introduction of an iPhone for use on Verizon’s network will come sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, according to a person familiar with Apple’s plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly,” Burrows wrote.

But while the apparently loss of exclusivity on the iPhone is cause for concern for AT&T, the report also suggested that Verizon could experience its own growing pains when Apple’s smartphone arrives on its network.

“At least initially, Verizon’s iPhone may have weaknesses compared to AT&T’s,” the report said. “The expense and hassle of changing carriers could also work to AT&T’s advantage.”

It also noted that iPhone customers may be less likely to switch from AT&T if they are still under contract, as the carrier upped its termination fee to US$325 in May of this year. The carrier also offered early upgrades for some iPhone 4 buyers whose contracts had not expired, locking them in to another two full years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if a Verizon iPhone is in your heart, please let us know what’s on your mind.

Rumor: Apple could produce second-gen iPad with HSPA, EVDO models slated for March release date

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Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 06:16
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the second generations of a device where things get really interesting.

Per Electronista, Apple is looking to ship three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65% of shipments and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.

The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give the unit away for free.

Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.

Apple might also be eager to advance the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30% of which would be Wi-Fi, 40% HSPA and 30% EVDO. Additional shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn’t have to push it back to a previously cited April target.

The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly taking hold of as much as 65% to 75% of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google’s partners a much stronger platform.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to receive iPod touch-like back, wide-ranger speaker system

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Date: Thursday, December 23rd, 2010, 03:21
Category: iPad, Rumor

The second-generation iPad may have a smaller bezel, a flat back panel and a wide-range speaker, a new unverified report claims.

Per Japanese Mac blog MacOtakara, an “anonymous Chinese source” has stated that the LCD screen on the next-generation iPad will stay the same size, while the new tablet will be 3mm smaller, reportedly measuring 239mm by 186mm. The current iPad, which measures 242.8 mm by 189.7 mm, was criticized for its wide bezel when it was first unveiled in January.

Apple will reportedly change the back of the new iPad to be “flat like an iPod touch,” which would also resolve criticisms that the iPad’s curved back is impractical. According to the report, the Ambient Light Sensor has been moved to the “upper center of the rear panel” and has a new 3mm slim hole.

The rumor also suggested that a slot on the bottom of the device, which was spotted in early case designs, is actually a “large wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh.”

Production of the new iPad has allegedly already begun, with a tentative shipping date of mid to late January, the report noted. Recent reports have suggested that Foxconn will begin shipping the iPad 2 to Apple in January or February. Apple could ramp up production capacity of the iPad to as much as 6 million per month.

A second rumor that the next iPad will have two cameras–a front camera for FaceTime and a rear camera equipped for recording video, was labeled as “unreliable information” by the blog.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Rumor: Apple to release redesigned MacBook Pro, iMac units in first half of 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:44
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Since it’s the rumors that keep you hankering for new technology, here we go:

Per Taiwanese technology industry publication Digitimes, sources from “upstream component makers” indicate that Apple will introduce the upgraded models in the first half of next year.

The Mac maker reportedly plans to launch “at least four upgraded MacBook Pros” with a “slight change” in chassis design and an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The upgraded iMac is expected to feature “a new panel size and a price point for the mainstream market,” according to the report.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at the “Back to the Mac” event in October. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will incorporate features brought back to the Mac from iOS, such as App Home Screens, full-screen apps, and expanded multi-touch gestures. According to Jobs, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the summer of 2011.

The first day of summer in 2011 is June 22, which would fit within the first half of 2011 timeframe from Digitimes’ most recent report. The report’s sources believe that the MacBook Pro upgrades will help Apple’s notebook shipments grow 30-40 percent year over year in 2011.

Other details were sparse in the report, however, next year’s Macs are generally expected to utilize Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel reportedly plans to formally unveil the new processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5th, 2011.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in July that the company had decided to accelerate production in response to the “very strong reception” of Sandy Bridge CPUs by the chipmaker’s customers.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to surface in early 2011, feature both front and rear cameras, SD card slot

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPad, Rumor

Component suppliers for Apple’s iPad are planning to begin a new round of iPad production in the first quarter of 2011, with one source saying that the next-generation iPad will have front- and back-mounted cameras, a new report claims.

According to a Reuters report published on Friday, sources claim the next-gen iPad will sport dual cameras, and could begin production as early as the first quarter of 2011.

The report further confirms the likelihood of a FaceTime-capable iPad. Additionally, on Thursday, new iPad cases were spotted with cutouts for a rear-facing camera and space for what could be an SD card slot.

Reuters’ sources pegged touchscreen chip designer Wintek Corp, battery maker Simplo Technology and AVY Precision, “an unlisted maker of covers for electronic products,” as suppliers for the next batch of iPads.

Camera component suppliers Genius Electronic Optical CO and Largan Precision Co were also reportedly starting new “supply deals” with Apple, though sources were unable to confirm for which products.

The report lined up with what RBS analyst Steven Tseng has been hearing. “It makes sense for these suppliers to begin delivering their goods in February,” he said. “I think Steve Jobs will announce the new product in January, and we should see the new product hitting shops in about April.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.