New photos surface, point towards forward-facing camera in upcoming iPod touch

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

Photos of another front panel claimed to be a component for Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, again showing a space for a front-facing camera.

According to MIC gadget from parts site taobao.com, the component pictureshows a hole above the LCD display that would allow for a forward-facing camera.

Like the last part pictured, the purported iPod touch front panel is labeled “Apple (c) 2010.” It is being sold for 650 Chinese Yuan, or US$95.

The photos provide more evidence for the assumption that the upcoming iPod touch refresh, expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual media-centric event in September, will sport two cameras like the iPhone 4. The fourth-generation iPod touch is rumored to become the second device from Apple to support the open FaceTime standard for video chat.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said earlier this summer that his company will ship tens of millions of devices compatible with FaceTime this year alone. Currently, only the iPhone 4 is capable of making FaceTime video chat calls over Wi-Fi.

While the iPod touch lacks a phone number to allow people to connect for a FaceTime call, beta releases of iOS 4.1 show that the media player will identify users by their e-mail address.

Rumor: Apple testing NFC-enabled iPhones to use as mobile payment devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Following news that Apple recently hired an expert on near field communications, a new rumor suggests that the company is already testing a prototype iPhone that could be used for short-range wireless activities such as making in-store transactions.

Citing anonymous sources close to the store, web site TechCrunch reported Tuesdsay that Apple has already built NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor. The report alleged that Apple is already testing mobile payments for use in a future iPhone.

“The existence of prototypes would almost surely suggest that Apple will include NFC in iPhone 5, or whatever Apple decides to call its next iPhone,” author Steve Cheney wrote. The report also speculates that NFC could be used for high-speed wireless data transfers and proximity-based features between compatible Apple devices.

On Monday, it was revealed that Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, who has been working with NFC technology since 2004. His previous role was project manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry, a company that specializes in mobile payments.

Support for RFID or a number of other NFC technologies could allow a variety of “touchless” technologies, ranging from swipe payments where an iPhone could be used to pay for items at checkout, or sensing of information from kiosks and objects.

Apple’s interest in NFC is well established and has turned up in numerous patent applications filed by the company. A recent filing from July described a system that would allow users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.

Last year, reports suggested that Apple had tested Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, in prototype iPhones. The technology allows a device to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without making direct contact or without using visible light, like a barcode reader.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple TV could be renamed iTV, drop 1080p support and gain apps

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Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:45
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per a continuing rumor on Engadget, sources have stated that the Apple TV’s product name will be changed to “iTV” while also dropping support for 1080p video output to standardize on 720p HDTV.

The current articles indicates that the next generation Apple TV will move from a scaled down Mac running Front Row software to an iOS device that works like a screen-less iPod touch.

Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs originally introduced the device (a few months before it shipped) under the iTV name while noting that the company was still looking for a permanent name. Apple TV was subsequently released as Apple announced the iPhone in early 2007.

Since then, Apple has built up the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices but left Apple TV to sit in maintenance mode, collecting few features and never getting an official SDK of its own that would enable third parties to extend its features.

By converting Apple TV into an iOS device, the company could erect a third new wing of apps in iTunes. The popularity of iPad (which has collected a portfolio of over 20,000 apps in just a few months) suggests tremendous potential for a TV-oriented iOS product.

Apple’s ability to rapidly muscle into the market for portable gaming could similarly be repeated by giving existing App Store developers the ability to quickly port and optimize many of their existing games to work on HDTV sets, providing a very cheap alternative to more serious console gaming devices.

If released alongside iPod touch 4 expected next month, Apple could decisively leverage the current excitement surrounding iPad to inhale lots of HDTV users during the holiday season at a time when the growth of the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii are all maturing.

The shift toward a smaller, cheaper device that uses network streaming rather than Apple TV’s hard drive for local storage also likely necessitates using the same video output of iPhone 4 and iPad, which is 1024×768 (or perhaps the very similar 720p HDTV resolution).

Apple sells HD content in iTunes as 720p. Higher resolution 1080p is an alternative HD standard, but video experts note that the difference in resolution is not visible to users at a normal TV viewing distance unless the screen is larger than 55″.

For Apple’s mass market users, a cheaper device that streams easy to buy and view HDTV content makes far more sense than the current Apple TV, which requires syncing with a local iTunes system or downloadable storage for rentals.

Such a device would seem to necessitate HDMI output, rather than the VGA output currently offered by iPhone 4 and iPad, as few HDTV sets or video projectors still support VGA-style inputs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any predictions with what will happen with the Apple TV, feel free to share them with the rest of the class…

Rumor: Apple planning CDMA iPhone, smaller iPad tablets, AMD-powered Apple TV devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 06:02
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, overseas component suppliers have started rumors of a number of new products coming from Apple in the next year, including a new Apple TV running iOS and powered by an AMD Fusion processor, a 7″ iPad, a CDMA iPhone, and a new 9.7″ iPad with a Cortex-A9 processor and 512MB of RAM in 2011.

DigiTimes went somewhat overboard on Monday, reporting a lengthy list of potential future hardware from Apple. The site made mention of a Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone expected to start production in December, piggybacking on rumors that resurfaced over the weekend, claiming the iPhone 4 will debut on the Verizon network in the U.S. in January 2011.

“Pegatron is expected to start mass production in December and will supply to both US-based Verizon Wireless and China-based China Telecom,” the report said. “The CDMA iPhone’s back plate will be forged from metal materials and will feature an integrated antenna.”

Sources also indicated to the publication that Apple will upgrade its 9.7″ iPad to an ARM Cortex-A9-based processor, and also add 512MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011. The current model has 256MB or RAM and a custom A4 processor based on the Cortex-A8 design.

The report also rekindled rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7″ screen. The report claimed that the hardware will also sport a Cortex-A9-based processor, and like the 9.7-inch model, will have an LCD panel with in-plane switching technology and a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.

Finally, the report also claimed that the Cupertino, Calif., company is working on a new Apple TV powered by AMD’s Fusion package, dubbed an “accelerated processing unit,” or APU. AMD’s yet-to-be-released hybrid processor combines the CPU and GPU functions into one package. The ARM-based chips found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad already accomplish similar functions with low power consumption.

AMD touts that its forthcoming Fusion product will offer strong HD, 3D and data-intensive performance on the single-die processor. “APUs combine high-performance serial and parallel processing cores with other special-purpose hardware accelerators, enabling breakthroughs in visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor,” the company said.

DigiTimes claimed that the new Apple TV will switch to “a user interface similar to the iPhone with support for social networking websites, network multimedia and the App Store. Mass production of the device will start in December.”

Aside from the inclusion of an AMD processor, the rumors largely reiterate what was stated in May by assorted web sites. That report indicated that Apple would release a new product that would offer 1080P cloud-based content streaming for just US$99. However, it indicated that the device would run on a custom-built A4 processor, just like the iPad and iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T report to SEC hints at end of carrier exclusivity, possible Verizon CDMA iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:33
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumor that won’t die, but it’s picking up some interesting evidence that might make it that much more valid.

Per the Wall Street Journal and Macworld, wireless carrier AT&T AT&T discussed its exclusivity arrangements at great length in its recent quarterly filing with the Securities Exchange Commission. The filing has sparked speculation not so much for what it said about the iPhone, but what it didn’t say.

When discussing its wireless business, the carrier said it offered a wide range of devices including 18 smartphones. The reason for offering so many phones, the company said, was to reduce “dependence on any single handset.” The reference to the “single handset” has been seen as pointing towards the iPhone, currently the most popular device AT&T offers for sale.

After declaring the company doesn’t depend on one handset, AT&T’s report gets even more suggestive. “As these exclusivity arrangements end,” the report says, “we expect to continue to offer such handsets…[and] do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our Wireless [sic] segment income.”

Taken together, the comments about dependence on one device and the end of exclusivity sure sound like AT&T may be preparing its investors for a soft landing once the carrier loses control of the iPhone.

While AT&T may be preparing for the end of iPhone exclusivity, Apple is reportedly ramping up production of CDMA chipsets for the iPhone, according to TechCrunch. CDMA is the cellular network standard used by Verizon, while current versions of the iPhone are made for GSM networks. So Apple would to produce a modified iPhone for Verizon, and that could take as long as six months.

Per TechCrunch, anonymous sources that purportedly have deep knowledge of Apple’s supply chain. The report contends that Apple has ordered “millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets” to produce Verizon-compatible iPhones. The handsets would reportedly be finished by December in time for a January launch.

It’s an old rumor by this point but there may be a nugget of truth to be found here.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple iPod event could occur in August, not September, new features expected

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Date: Monday, August 9th, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, Rumor

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A new line of iPods could arrive a bit sooner than expected with a current rumor pointing towards an event rumored to take place on either August 16th or August 17th.

Citing a “reliable source within Apple,” MacMagazine reported Friday (via Google Translate) that Apple will hold an event either August 16th or 17th, a Monday or Tuesday. That would be sooner than the September timeframe in which many have expected that Apple will introduce its new iPod lineup.

The publication said that the music and media-centric event will be used to introduce a new iPod touch with a front-facing camera for FaceTime, as well as a rear camera with flash for taking pictures. It also said that Apple will add a gyroscope to the next-generation iPod touch.

The alleged August event would coincide with a recent rumor that suggested Apple would launch an updated version of its iLife suite this month. That report alleged that all of the current applications would be upgraded to 64 bits, and that a new “mystery” application would be a part of the package. It also claimed that iDVD would not be included, and instead would be made available for download like iMovie HD.

Last year’s media event, where the iPod nano with a video camera and FM tuner was announced, was held on a Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photo illustrations suggest camera, flash on next-gen iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

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A series of leaked photo illustrations supposedly obtained from iPod case manufacturers show a new version of the iPod touch with a camera and flash.

Per a leaked image on HardMac, the English language version of France’s Macbidouille, the next generation iPod touch in shown in a clear case. The website claims the source of the image is “very reliable.” The image appears to show a rounded back with a rear-facing camera and flash.

A rounded back would be a clear departure from the design of the iPhone 4, which has a flat glass back.



According to the web site, the source has been reliable in the past, correctly confirming the inclusion of a camera on last year’s iPod nano. Technical issues have been cited as the reason for the lack of a camera on last year’s iPod touch model.

Although rumors of a camera-enabled iPod touch have persisted for several years, the June unveiling of Apple’s FaceTime video call feature for the iPhone 4 served to strengthen the rumors. At that time, CEO Steve Jobs expressed plans to make the feature an “open industry standard” that works between different devices. When speculating which devices are likely to adopt the FaceTime standard, many analysts have kept the iPod touch at the top of their lists.

Reports from “supplier” sources corroborate the iPod touch camera rumor, although the details don’t always match. In July, U.K. retailer John Lewis claimed the next iPod touch will have a 5 megapixel camera, while the Taiwanese publication Digitimes cited sources predicting a 3 megapixel camera.

Either way, this will probably be resolved upon the new iPod touch’s release, which is expected to occur sometime in September.

Rumor: Apple in talks with T-Mobile to function as additional U.S. carrier

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 03:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Wireless carrier T-Mobile USA is said to be in discussions with Apple to bring the iPhone to the wireless carrier this fall, ending AT&T’s exclusive hold on the handset, according to a new rumor.

Per Cult of Mac, a “highly placed source” at T-Mobile, the wireless carrier and Apple are in “advanced talks.” The report placed an 80% likelihood that the iPhone will become available on T-Mobile’s network this fall.

Apple became interested because of the influence of T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, the source indicated. T-Mobile is the smallest of the four carriers in the U.S., with 33.7 million customers.

As it currently is, the iPhone 4 is not compatible with T-Mobile’s high-speed 3G network in the U.S., as the carrier uses the unique 1700MHz spectrum. The iPhone is compatible with UMTS/HSDPA 3G connections at the frequencies 850MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz. In other words, the handset would need a new internal radio to work with T-Mobile’s network.

Apple and AT&T originally agreed to an exclusive deal through 2012, though it’s believed the terms of that contract likely changed over the years.

The latest rumor comes as most expected the iPhone to first head to Verizon, as reports have indicated that Apple is working on a CDMA iPhone that would be compatible with Verizon’s network. Unlike T-Mobile’s network, which uses the same technology but operates on a different frequency, Verizon is a completely different technology, which would require a more drastic redesign of the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to update iMac, Mac Pro desktops for fall, add USB 3.0, improved FireWire

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Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 03:12
Category: iMac, Mac Desktop, Rumor

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Amidst the cacophony of the iPhone 4 press conference, French website Hardmac reported Friday that Apple aims to update its iMac and Mac Pro desktops in time for its back to school sales period. The report cited one of the site’s “better sources” in relaying the information.

“On this occasion, Apple should inaugurate two great innovations, the arrival of USB 3.0 and a faster FireWire interface, 1600 or 3200,” they wrote. “Thus, FireWire will not be forgotten. Note that Apple is also interested in LightPeak technology, but they do not expect to use it or set it up before one year.”

Finally, the report also said that the new hardware will not support Blu-ray discs. That news should come as no surprise to those who have heard Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs’ assessment of the format. Jobs was recently alleged to have said that the physical medium’s days are dying, and will give way to digital download services like iTunes.

The USB 3.0 specification was in Apple’s hands over a year ago. The new standard will be ten times faster than the current Hi-Speed USB standard (USB 2.0), and also more power-efficient, leading to lower active and idle power requirements. Like its predecessor, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.

Rumors of a new Mac Pro have persisted for all of 2009, with Apple expected to adopt Intel’s Gulftown processor, the 32nm Core i7-980X with six cores. The chips have 12MB of L3 cache. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it’s possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

The last major refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Last year, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Last October, Apple updated its iMac desktop line, redesigning the hardware with a new edge-to-edge glass design and seamless all-aluminum enclosure. The LED-backlit iMacs come in screen sizes of 21.5″ and 27″.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to revamp Genius Bar process at retail locations

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Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 13:29
Category: retail, Rumor

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As useful as the Apple Store retail locations tend to be, there’s always a bit of a wait.

This may change as Apple is said to be prepping major changes to the Genius Bar at its brick-and-mortar retail stores, in hopes of offering customers shorter wait times and quick overnight repairs according to a story on MacRumors.

The site has stated that it has received word that Apple plans to overhaul its Genius Bars in an effort to increase customer satisfaction. The details come a day after sources close to the story reported that Apple is now drumming up excitement with its retail employees, promising something that will make a “big” impact.

Specifically, author Eric Slivka cited three new changes that will allegedly be implemented:

Active queue management: Apple’s goal is for walk-in customers headed to the Genius Bar to be served within 30 minutes. To meet this goal, the stores will reassign some employees from other areas of the store when needed.

Overnight repairs: Retail stores will reportedly place a greater focus on overnight repairs, with the goal of a faster turnaround for customers who need their Apple products fixed. however, this will come at somewhat of an expense to “While You Wait” repairs.

Multitasking: Genius Bar employees will be asked to serve multiple customers at once, rather than just focusing on one person. Employees will help another customer during downtime (such as during a computer reboot), and support staff will attempt to pair customers who have reservations for similar or identical issues.

“While Apple is pitching the changes as a significant enhancement to support services in its retail stores, others are not so sure,” the report said. “One Apple retail store employee familiar with the changes noted that the company is trying to ‘do more with less,’ pulling in less-qualified Creatives and offering less personal attention through multitasking in order to deal with customer demand rather than hiring new staff.

“The employee also expressed concern about low stocks of parts available at retail stores and how without a change in how parts are allocated and delivered many repairs will not be able to be completed overnight as planned.”

If this can happen, great. If not, well, they’ll still hand you a free bottle of water while you explain that you didn’t mean to stick your iPhone in the toaster that morning…