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…

Rumor: Apple to incorporate OLED displays into future iPad models

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Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:03
Category: iPad, News, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make the technology business interesting and in spite of the high cost of OLED displays and Apple’s continued support of LCD screens with IPS technology, whispers of a next-generation iPad with an OLED screen continue to resurface.

Per DigiTimes, sources close to the story have indicated that Apple plans to launch a second-generation iPad as soon as the fourth quarter of 2010. The new hardware would reportedly use 5.6-inch and 7-inch OLED displays, with Compal Electronics in the running to supply Apple.

The new models would be in addition to Apple’s successful 9.7-inch iPad, which would receive “some minor changes,” the report said. The smaller 5.6″ and 7″ iPad models would “mainly target the e-book reader market, separating them from the 9.7″ model, which mainly targets multimedia entertainment,” the report said.

It noted that costs of OLED panels are expected to drop, as Samsung Electronics and LG Display have been devoting resources into the development of panels. “With Apple’s brand image and high average selling price (ASP), Apple should have no problem adopting OLED panels, which have higher price than standard panels, into its devices,” the report said.

DigiTimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo responded to the rumors and noted that Samsung cannot currently meet capacity for OLED displays on its own handsets, making it unlikely they would be able to supply Apple by the fourth quarter of 2010. In addition, Compal is “unlikely” to pursue orders with Apple, because its manufacturing gross margins are much less than what is offered by others.

Rumors of an OLED display on the iPad have been present since before Apple even formally announced the device and have continued to resurface since, with DigiTimes also reporting in April that Apple could adopt OLED displays for its second-generation iPad. At the time, the Taiwanese publication also reported the rumors, but simultaneously cast doubt on them through the analysis of Kuo.

The current iPad LCD screen uses IPS, or in-plane switching, technology. It was developed by Hitachi in 1996, and offers improved viewing angles and color reproductions on screens.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to add 5 megapixel camera, FaceTime and gyroscope to fourth-gen iPod touch

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Date: Friday, July 9th, 2010, 03:02
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

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A new report from the mighty Electric Pig has alleged that Apple’s fourth-generation iPod touch, expected to arrive this September, will feature a 5 megapixel camera, capture HD video, feature FaceTime connectivity, and include a gyroscope, like the iPhone 4.

U.K. retailer John Lewis said the information is based on “noises we’re hearing from suppliers”. Though no mention was specifically made of a forward-facing camera at the company’s presentation in London, it did say that FaceTime calling over Wi-Fi would be possible “so you can communicate with friends at zero cost.”

The purported details of Apple’s new iPod touch were revealed at the John Lewis “Xmas in July” event. The retailer also claimed that the new iPod touch will include a camera flash for improved pictures in the dark, like the iPhone 4. It also said that users would be able to upload their HD videos directly to YouTube from the device, over Wi-Fi.

Finally, representatives from John Lewis also said the new iPod touch is expected to include both an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The hardware addition already found in the iPhone 4 allows a new, more precise control method for game titles on the App Store.

The company made no mention whether the iPod touch would receive some of the other additions of the iPhone 4, namely the 640-by-960 pixel Retina Display, or Apple’s custom-built A4 processor.

Apple was originally rumored to add a camera to its iPod touch at last year’s annual September iPod event, but the feature was allegedly pulled due to bad parts with the camera modules. The company later added a popular video camera component to its iPod nano media device.

Rumor: AT&T may be capping iPhone upload speeds

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Date: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Over on the MacRumors forums, they’re comparing their recent iPhone upload speeds and they’re not happy. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, users are experiencing uploads that appear to be capped at 100 kbps rather than the 1.6mbps that was a previous norm. Users have been comparing rates captured with tools like Speedtest.net’s Speed Test to put concrete numbers on perceived performance drops and it looks like that drop is huge, compared to the way things were just a week or two ago.

According to the thread, affected cities include: New York City, Central Jersey, Boston, Orlando, Seattle, South Jersey/Philly, Columbus, Cleveland, West Houston, Phoenix, Northern Colorado, St. Paul/Minnesota, Suffolk County/Long Island, Quad Cities, South Jersey, Denver, Detroit Metro, and Cincinnati.

TUAW ran a test in Denver, using SpeedTest.net’s application as well as FCC Mobile Broadband Test and iNetQCheck and experienced similar numbers as the ones reported in the MacRumors forum, with several stray data points in iNetQCheck runs — but even those remained below 200 kbps. This stands as a huge difference from the upload speeds reported just a week or two ago where a user test demonstrated upload speeds up to 3.5 mbps.

Wireless carrier AT&T has yet to offer an official comment due to the holiday and a recent guess has stated that the hypothetical upload caps may be a consequence of holiday weekend infrastructure work, and that speeds may return to normal tomorrow.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to launch iTunes wireless streaming/sync features in September

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Date: Friday, July 2nd, 2010, 05:52
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, iTunes, Rumor

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Despite everything Apple seems to be fighting with regarding the iPhone 4′s firmware, there may be something cool around the corner.

Per a “reliable” unnamed Apple source, the Boy Genius Report web blog is reporting that Apple will launch new wireless streaming and synchronization features for iTunes at its traditional September iPod event, or possibly sooner, according to a new report.

The report claims that the new features will allow users to stream purchased music and movies from Apple’s servers directly to their devices, eliminating the need for large amounts of local storage, and also stream music and movies from their home computers to their other computers and remote devices over their own Internet connections.

Finally, the report claims that any apps purchased on an iOS device would immediately and wirelessly sync back to the user’s home computers, along with any changes to Calendar, Notes, or Contacts; it is unclear whether this latter feature would supplant or be available in addition to Apple’s paid MobileMe service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind about this.

Rumor: Verizon/CDMA-compatible iPhone in production

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Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 06:20
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Maybe it’s a “Braveheart” thing; you can’t kill a legend. Or at least a rumor.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is allegedly manufacturing a CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network, the report alleging that the handset will begin shipping to Apple in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes reported Thursday that Pegatron Technology has received orders from Apple for a CDMA iPhone 4, according to industry sources. Those orders are expected to help the company grow its revenues in 2011.

“Pegatron will also start shipping a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 to Apple in the fourth quarter and is currently using its plants in Shanghai, China to produce the products, the sources noted,” the report said. “The company is also working on gaining orders for MacBooks and iPads from Apple.”

Pegatron manufactures products in a number of markets, including notebook and desktop computers, TV set top boxes, cable modems, game consoles, LCD TVs, digital music players, handsets, tablet PCs and e-book readers.

The latest DigiTimes rumor stated that Apple was working on two new phones: the iPhone 4, to be launched next week, and a new Verizon-compatible CDMA phone that the newspaper said would go into mass production in September. The report also stated that Pegatron Technology would handle the manufacturing of the CDMA iPhone.

In May, DigiTimes reported that Pegatron had won the contract from Apple to produce a CDMA iPhone. Previous iPhones were built by Foxconn, which also assembles Apple’s Mac mini, iPods and the iPad, and is the company’s main supplier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on next-gen Apple TV device powered by iPhone OS 4.0

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Date: Friday, May 28th, 2010, 10:07
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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Details have emerged of a next-generation Apple TV set top box reportedly based on iPhone OS 4, powered by Apple’s custom-built A4 processor, and offering 1080P cloud-based streaming content with a price tag starting at US$99.

Per Engadget, editor Joshua Topolsky said the information came from a tip and was confirmed by a source “very close to Apple.” The new hardware will reportedly have just 16GB of storage, but will be capable of full 1080P HD video.

“Not only will this be priced to sell (like hotcakes), it seems that Apple is moving away from the model of local storage and will be focusing the new ATV on cloud-based storage (not unlike Amazon’s streaming scheme, though we’re talking instant-on 1080P, a la Microsoft),” the report said. “For those still interested in keeping their content close, there will be an option to utilize a Time Capsule as an external storage component, but the main course will be about streaming.”

The new hardware, said to be small with only a power plug and video out, was described as “an iPhone without a screen.” Sources could not say whether or not the new hardware would be compatible with software from the App Store, though Topolsky noted “it makes sense given the shared platform.”

It’s been reported that Apple will not announce the new hardware at the forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, but the development is currently “full steam ahead.”

The project has allegedly been in development since long before the Google TV was introduced last week. Google’s offering will run on the Android operating system, and will be integrated in set top boxes as well as on HDTV hardware itself from major manufacturers. Google TV, which will run applications from the Android Market and stream Internet video, is scheduled to be released this fall.

The current generation of Apple TV devices begin at US$229 and comes with 160GB of storage. Last September, Apple discontinued the low-end 40GB Apple TV.

The set top box software was updated last October to Apple TV 3.0. The update added a redesigned main menu that aimed to make navigating content simpler and faster. It also allowed useres to watch iTunes Extras and iTunes LP content in full screen on their TV.

However, the software update failed to boost sales for the device, and Apple executives maintained their position that the Apple TV is simply a “hobby” for the Cupertino, Calif., company. In February, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said the set top box market does not compare with the other categories in which Apple competes, particularly media players, smartphones and computers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPod Touch to include camera, video posted

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Date: Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 06:17
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

You’ve got to admit, the Vietnamese are good at getting their hands on information that’s supposed to be outside of the public sphere.

Per Macworld UK, the guys at Tinhte.com have discovered that the next-generation iPod touch may ship with a two megapixel camera and no flash.



The posted video shows the device with the code “DVT-11″ written on the back of the unit. It’s been suggested that the iPod touch is an early design verification test unit in the evolution of product testing as the device’s serial number identifies a late 2009 third generation iPod touch.

Rumor: Apple to release updated 13″ MacBook notebook

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Date: Monday, May 17th, 2010, 07:08
Category: MacBook, Rumor

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It’s the leaks that keep life interesting.

Per Vietnamese web site Tinte, Apple will soon release an updated MacBook with a 2.4 GHz processor, NVIDIA 320M mobile graphics chip and an LED backlit display.

The new MacBook was obtained by the same website that also got their hands on a prototype of Apple’s next-generation iPhone this week. The new MacBook (identified as model MacBook7,1) uses a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, up from the existing 2.26GHz model.

The new notebook will receive the same Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM as the MacBook Pro. That’s an update from the existing GeForce 9400M of the “MacBook6,1″ entry level white MacBook.

The updated model also snag the improved, streamlined MagSafe connector as the latest MacBook Pro models, which points the adapter cord backward rather than perpendicular from the body. It will retain the same 1280×800 pixel widescreen display, a 250GB 5400 RPM hard drive, and 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM from the previous MacBook update.

Apple last updated its entry level MacBook line in October of 2009, giving the US$999 machine a polycarbonate unibody design, LED-backlit display, multi-touch trackpad, and built-in battery with 7 hours of run time.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple settles on LG Innotek components for 5.0 megapixel camera sensors

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 11:43
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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If you were curious about the exact components to go into the fourth-generation iPhone, a report from The Chosun reported Wednesday that Korean electronics giant LG Innotek will supply 5-megapixel camera sensors for the upcoming handset.

Per the article, LG Innotek began “producing the sophisticated cameras at its plant in Gumi this month and will mass produce them starting in the second half of this year.”

The report contradicts a rumor issued this past December, in which it said that OmniVision, the supplier of CMOS image sensors for the current iPhone, expected to see demand for its sensors in iPhones grow as high as 45 million after it secured a deal to supply a 5-megapixel camera for the next-generation iPhone.

In addition to the camera upgrade from 3.2 megapixels to 5.0 megapixels, the fourth-generation iPhone model is also expect to gain a camera flash. Sources close to the story stated that Apple had been shopping around for LED camera flash components and may have settled on Philips’ LUXEON LED camera flash technology.

Since then, there has been substantial supporting evidence supporting those claims, such as the presence of camera flash functions in Apple’s pre-release builds of iPhone Software 4.0.

The fourth-generation iPhone, is also expected to ship with a front-facing video camera that will work with a mobile version of Apple’s iChat video conferencing software set to debut at the same time.