Rumor: Fifth-gen iPhone to support GSM, CDMA, will forego 4G for the time being

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Date: Tuesday, October 12th, 2010, 04:44
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s some nifty stuff en route for the fifth generation iPhone, even if it doesn’t encapsulate everything at once.

Per TechCrunch. the upcoming iPhone will be capable of running on networks based on both of the world’s most popular 3G wireless standards but will forgo support for the faster 4G networks that are just now coming online.

Following rumors up to 11 months old, the article claims that Apple’s next major iPhone revision will run on both GSM and CDMA networks (presumably via a dual-mode Qualcomm baseband chip) but won’t support the next-generation of faster, Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, more communally referred to as 4G networks.

The handset will reportedly take a less aggressive approach that will see it delay the iPhone’s support of 4G networks until some time in 2012, allowing it to bypass the first generation of power-hungry and potentially problematic LTE baseband controllers in favor of boosting its efforts around proprietary technologies like FaceTime.

Such an approach would be in the vein of more traditional efforts such as the launch of the original iPhone, which only supported AT&T’s robust 2.5G EDGE network despite broad availability of the faster 3G technology around the same time.

“Apple simply doesn’t want to be the guinea pig on new LTE networks that aren’t ready for primetime, and Steve Jobs knows not to trust the hype that’s spewed by the carriers on 4G,” the report says. “The truth is that 3G networks have many more years of life, and the transition to LTE will be much slower than the carriers want you to believe (LTE doesn’t even have its voice standard fleshed out yet).”

It’s for these reasons, the report adds, that AT&T has been upgrading its network for broader support of the faster HSPA+ (or the so-called 3.5G) standard while Verizon has been working to implement an enhancement to the CDMA standard that will let future devices transmit both data and voice communications simultaneously.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple investigating potential iPhone 4 scratching issue

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 04:37
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Apple is reportedly in “something of a panic” concerning an issue with the state of the glass on its best-selling iPhone 4 handset. Per MacNN, sources internal and external to the company have commented that engineers have discovered an issue related to the rear glass. If dirt or debris gets trapped in a slide-on case covering the phone’s back, this may potentially scratch the device. Whereas it would only ruin the look of an older iPhone, on the iPhone 4, the damage is thought to carry the risk of eventually cracking or outright fracturing the glass.

As a response, the company is said to have blocked sales of most iPhone 4 cases from Apple Stores. Only the online storefront is believed to have reversed the policy, and then just this week. The iPhone team is currently said to be running a lab with a large, dedicated test program, although there is no indication of a solution on the horizon.

The issue may be even more critical for case makers than it is for Apple. While the latter has the reputation of the iPhone at stake, as well as income reaped from accessory licensing, case manufacturers are significantly smaller and can generate much of their revenue from the high foot traffic at Apple outlets. These companies may have have been relegated to selling at third-party stores or from their own websites.

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

Rumor: Current MacBook Air supplies being depleted, next-gen model said to be forthcoming

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Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:19
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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With current supplies of Apple’s MacBook Air notebook drying up through the company’s indirect sales channels, rumors are spreading that a next generation model is on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, all but one of the Apple Authorized Resellers that the web site tracks tracks as part of its Mac Price Guide have run out of low-end 1.83GHz MacBook Air, including Amazon.com, MacConnection, MacMall and J&R. In addition, at least two of those resellers are also reflecting no stock of the high-end 2.13GHz configuration.

This marks the first time the web site has witnessed this abnormal trend in regards to the Air since it began tracking availability of Apple’s Mac line on a daily basis over two years ago. For weeks now, the websites of certain resellers have indicated that inventory of the low-end MacBook Air was on the verge of depletion, urging shoppers to “order soon,” as only a handful of units remained in stock.

Sources familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com say that Apple has indicted to them that it will not replenish supply of the notebooks until October 12th through October 16th at the earliest. Such expansive delays on low volume products like the MacBook Air are common only when Mac maker is preparing to overhaul the product line, these people say.

Mid-October hardware updates have become something of an annual tradition for Apple, who last year unveiled a redesigned line of iMacs and unibody MacBook on October 20th, 2009. Though last year’s products were introduced without a formal event, in 2008 the company held a special gathering for the media on October 14th to introduce new MacBooks. Back in 2005, the company similarly held two events in mid-October to introduce a new iPod, iMac, and a lineup of PowerBook notebooks.

All these signs seem to support persistent rumors out of the Far East that Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display this fall, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. It’s reported that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6″ display first surfaced in July. The rumored hardware was anticipated to be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6-inch Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction, though this and defined technical specifications have yet to be confirmed on any level.

The introduction of a new MacBook Air would likely come alongside an update to Apple’s iLife suite, a product that has also become long in the tooth. The last update, iLife ’09, was launched in January of 2009.

Recent rumors have suggested that a presumed iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be available for iOS-based devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor points to touchscreen displays for next-gen iMacs

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Date: Monday, October 4th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iMac, Rumor

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With rumors of a new generation of iMac on the horizon, one of the more interesting details has pointed to a potential new touchscreen display for the upcoming desktop.

Per DigiTimes, component supplier Sintek Photronics has sent samples of capacitive touch panels to Apple for a new touchsreen all-in-one iMac desktop computer. The report claimed that the new hardware will have screen sizes of 20″ and greater.

“The new iMac is rumored to have a good vertical and horizontal viewing angle, and its projected capacitive touch panel will adopt a one-glass solution, which integrates the touch sensor and cover glass, to reduce thickness and weight,” the report said.

It noted that most touch panels are made by placing the sensor over the panel, and are then covered with glass. But it is said this method is costly, complex, and results in a dimmer screen.

It was said that Sintek Photronics “has a good chance” of becoming a supplier for the alleged new line of iMacs. No projected release date for the rumored hardware was given.

In January of this year, rumors indicated that a 22″ touchscreen iMac would launch this year. But the claims in Friday’s report that Apple is still testing touch panels would suggest that a 2010 launch is not likely.

A number of patent applications from Apple this year show touch-capable iMac-style desktop computers. One interesting filing shows a machine that could operate in a traditional format, but with a hinge on the back that would allow it to be tilted for easier access for a user’s fingertips.

Another application described a desktop screen that could detect shapes and objects pressed against it. It described a machine that would allow new types of input, such as a security system that required a physical key to be pressed against the screen and detected.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple prepping smaller, lighter MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Things may be about to change for Apple’s MacBook Air, the super-slim notebook perhaps receiving an LED-backlit display nearly two inches smaller than the current model.

Per DigiTimes, Apple has watched sales of its ultra-portable trickle off to levels believed to be immaterial to its bottom line. As such, the product line has received little attention from the company, undergoing just two minor revisions in a 29-month span — the latter of which took place well over a year ago.

At just 0.76″ at its thickest point, the MacBook Air is undoubtedly slim enough for its target audience of business travelers and those consistently on the go. However, sales of the device suggest that its 13.3″ footprint and 3 pound carrying weight may be a bit more than that class of customers would prefer, especially given the resounding success of Apple’s more compact and lighter 9.7″ iPad.

In an effort to make the design of the Air more appealing and further differentiate the notebook from the company’s mainstream 13.3″ MacBook, Apple in 2008 reportedly began experimenting with a partial carbon fiber enclosure that would shave upwards of a 100 grams off its weight.

With plans for such a design failing to materialize over the last two years, it’s believed that Apple returned to the drawing board at some point and began crafting a makeover that would deliver both size and weight reductions, further pushing the envelop of ultra-portable notebook computing.

The first evidence to this end arrived earlier this year when an analyst citing sources in Apple’s Taiwanese component supply chain revealed that the company was placing orders for parts to fit a slimmer and lighter MacBook Air based around an 11.6″ LED-lit display and Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

On Friday, a new report appears to further corroborate such claims, alleging that Apple’s primary notebook manufacturer Quanta has landed orders to produce the first 400,000-500,000 11.6″ “MacBooks” for delivery to the Mac maker before the end of the 2010 calendar year.

No further details were available from the report. Apple last updated the 13.3″ MacBook Air back in June of 2009 when it dropped the entry-level price to US$1,499 from US$1,799 for a model with a 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. A $1,799 offering based around a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid state drive was also introduced.

Stay tuned for details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple purchased Polar Rose facial recognition company for $29 million

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 04:17
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the stuff Apple buys out that makes future technology speculation kind of fun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company Polar Rose. The company has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.

Though neither party has officially confirmed the purchase, Polar Rose offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.

One of the company’s products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone’s video camera.

Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.

Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.

“The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology,” Polar Rose’s Thijs Stalenhoef said. “This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated.”

Apple has its own “Faces” technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.

In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.

Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple digital newsstand app in planning phases, talks being held with content providers

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, Rumor

While it’s hard to say if Apple can help save the overall publishing industry, it appears to be doing its part to try. Per Bloomberg, the company is rumored to be creating a new digital storefront for newspapers and magazines that, like iBooks does for print books, will serve as a standalone iPad app for purchasing repurposed print content.

The new store has been described as standing apart from the established App Store and iBooks applications. The product is said to be in the early planning stages, as negotiations with major content providers are reportedly ongoing.

“Apple’s effort is aimed at luring more consumers to the iPad and helping publishers sell subscriptions, rather than single issues,” the report said. “The main hang-ups between Apple and publishers including Time Warner Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp. and News Corp. are who controls data about users and how to split subscription revenue, the people said. Pricing for subscriptions also hasn’t been worked out.”

People involved in the discussions reportedly said the digital newsstand could open as soon as in a few months, or the talks could fall apart altogether. It was also suggested that Apple could wait until it launches its next-generation iPad in early 2011 before unveiling the new store.

The plans are said to be part of Apple’s ongoing talks with print publishers who want to offer subscription plans for customers to access content from the iPad. This week, it was reported that Apple has agreed to allow an opt-in function which would let subscribers share their personal information with publications. The print business relies on demographic information to share data with advertisers.

The new application will reportedly “make it easier and cheaper to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with extras such as high-resolution videos integrated with stories.” The storefront will aim to simplify the process, in order to attract publishers.

Before the iPad was released earlier this year, publishers and Apple were said to have struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. But advertisers and publishers consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Rumor: Apple crafting newspaper subscription plan for iPad

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:26
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s hard to say whether the iPad will save the newspaper industry, but it looks like Apple might try.

Per the San Jose Mercury News, Apple will soon announce a newspaper subscription plan for the iPad, introducing a revenue sharing model similar to the one that has been employed for applications sold on the App Store, according to a new rumor.

Per sources close to the story, Apple has agreed to implement an opt-in function to allow subscribers to share their personal information with publications. Print publications rely on that information to share demographic data with advertisers.

Earlier this year, before the iPad was even released, publishers and Apple apparently struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. Advertisers and publishers, on the other hand, consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Author John Boudreau spoke with Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo., who said that the anticipated plan will likely resemble the current App Store model, which would give Apple a 30% cut of all subscriptions sold through the digital download service. In addition, Apple could take as much as 40% of the advertising revenue from those applications.

Fidler also indicated that publishers are not pleased with the deal, as they would rather pay Apple a fee than a cut of their subscription and advertising revenue.

“They had hoped to offer app editions as part of subscription bundles that include print versions of the paper,” the report said. “Instead, they must use Apple as an intermediary with subscribers.”

Publishers have struggled with Apple in bringing their content to the iPad. At first, Apple did not allow subscriptions to magazines through the App Store. This impasse was broken in August, when People magazine became the first publication to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst divulges details as to upcoming Apple TV successor

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

Like the iPhone 4 and iPad, the new Apple TV will run the iOS operating system and be powered by a processor with ARM architecture, and will also have access to the App Store, according to one prominent analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. issued a note to investors Wednesday in which he revealed that sources indicated the “biggest potential change” to the forthcoming Apple TV refresh is the move to an ARM architecture processor running the same iOS software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The current Apple TV hardware relies on an Intel x86-based chip, running a “light” version of Mac OS X and its Front Row software.

Wu also said that the new Apple TV, which some have said will be called the “iTV”, will have access to the App Store, Apple’s digital software download storefront. Like the iPad, the new Apple TV could have access to the iPhone App Store, which offers about a quarter-million options for users, though such functionality is apparently not guaranteed.

“Our sources indicate there is some debate within Apple whether to allow this or not, or to have it run only Apple TV-specific apps,” Wu said. “We believe the ability to run the same apps makes a lot of sense and believe this feature could be enough to drive significantly more volume for Apple TV. We find the potential to run video game apps on a TV set most intriguing, as it has been proven in the marketplace that there is (a) large market for casual gaming at inexpensive prices.”

Wu did not indicate, however, how iPhone or iPad applications would run on a TV set, as those that rely on the touchscreen interface require users to interact with the images on screen. But games that rely on the accelerometer in Apple’s mobile devices would likely be suited for the allegedly forthcoming set top box.

As for reports that Apple is negotiating with networks to offer 99 cent TV show rentals (reaffirmed this week by The New York Times), Wu said such an offering would benefit not only the Apple TV, but the company’s entire ecosystem, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac lineup.

“From our checks with supply chain and industry sources, we believe potential changes could turn Apple TV into a bigger hobby and a multi-million unit seller,” the analyst wrote. “And perhaps be a precursor to a bigger effort to address the home entertainment space down the road.”

This should sort itself out on September 1st, so stay tuned until then and we’ll feed you the details as soon as they become available.

Rumor: Apple negotiating 99 cent rentals ahead of next-gen Apple TV release

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

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Well, at least there’ll be more stuff to rent.

Per a Bloomberg article, Apple is allegedly in negotiations with content providers, and is in “advanced talks” with News Corp., to offer 99 cent TV show rentals ahead of an anticipated Apple TV update.

The new service would purportedly allow customers to rent shows through iTunes for 48 hours. News Corp. is the owner of the Fox network.

Author Peter Burrows said Apple’s talks coincide with a new iPod touch with a higher-resolution screen, as well as a new cloud-centric Apple TV with less internal storage starting at US$99.

In addition to Fox, CBS and ABC could also become an option in the streaming service, the report said, as the parent companies of both networks are also a part of the discussions. Apple and Disney, the owner of ABC, have a close relationship, as Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is the single largest shareholder of stock in the Walt Disney Co.

Rumors of a 99 cent TV show rental deal previously surfaced earlier this summer. That report claimed that the offer would work just like existing iTunes movie rentals: users would have 30 days to start watching the rental, and would then have 24 hours to finish it. But unlike the movie rentals, the TV shows would be streamed instead of downloaded.

Apple has allegedly attempted to broker a deal with TV networks for months to offer a subscription TV plan, but has had no luck.

Apple’s 99 cent TV show rentals could be a backup plan of sorts for the company, which is rumored to release a new set top box dubbed iTV as soon as September. Numerous reports have alleged that the device will run Apple’s iOS operating system and be capable of running software from the App Store.

Reports have also suggested that the new iTV will have limited internal storage in order to keep the cost of the device down. The new set top box with a small form factor is rumored to have a starting price of just US$99. The device would apparently make up for its alleged lack of storage by placing an emphasis on streaming media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.