Rumor: Apple to release iOS 7.0.3 update, tackle assorted bugs, next week

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Date: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, 13:05
Category: iOS, iPhone, Rumor, Software

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To quote the classic “Aliens”: “Is this going to be a stand up fight, sir, or just another bug hunt?”

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple is rumored to roll out another minor update to iOS 7 next week, addressing several small and lingering issues in the company’s latest mobile operating system.

The iOS 7.0.3 update has been released to employees and select external partners for testing according to the article. The new version is said to be made available in advance of iOS 7.1′s expected reveal alongside new iPads at Apple’s rumored October event.

The new build may address performance issues that have lingered since iOS 7′s debut last month as well as new lock screen bypass security concerns that have surfaced since last week’s iOS 7.0.2 release. For comparison, iOS 7.0.2 carries build number 11A501.

The same site incorrectly claimed that Apple would release a seventh beta of iOS 7 in August. Apple instead skipped from iOS beta 6 to iOS 7 Golden Master on Sept. 10.

Apple released iOS 7.0.1 with “bug fixes and improvements” as an over-the-air update for the iPhone 5s and 5c on the handsets’ launch day, with iOS 7.0.2 following just six days later to address bugs related to lockscreen passcode security.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked promotional art points to iPhone 5s, 5c en route to Boost Mobile network

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Date: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, 06:16
Category: iPhone, retail, Rumor

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It’s a rumor but it’s interesting.

And it’s got some leaked art behind it.

Per Electronista and a Twitter leak, Boost Mobile is preparing to launch the iPhone 5s and 5c on its network, leaked promotional art indicates. The art doesn’t suggest when Boost will start selling the phones, but that could happen in the near future, given a series of rollouts at US carriers beginning October 1st. Prices are also missing from the advertising.


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If the leak is accurate, the 5s and 5c will be the very first iPhones on Boost, even though the carrier is owned by Sprint. Sprint-branded iPhones have been available since 2011, including through the US branch of Virgin Mobile, which Sprint controls. A number of rival prepaid carriers have also been selling the iPhone for some time, such as Cricket and Straight Talk.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iHS iSupply support states Retina Display “iPad Mini 2″ may not ship in 2013

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Date: Friday, September 27th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, News, Rumor

The next-gen iPad mini may not possess the fabled Retina display, or at least the yield numbers on production may not be quite high enough yet.

Per AppleInsider, and CNET, a report published on Thursday claims Apple may not be planning to release a Retina display iPad mini alongside an expected next-generation “iPad 5″ next month, citing low manufacturing volumes unsuitable for mass shipments.

According to IHS iSuppli’s supply chain checks, the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad is on track for an October launch, but production of a high-resolution iPad mini is “>not yet at levels that would indicative of a simultaneous release, reports CNET.

“The Retina Mini looks less certain for that time,” said IHS iSuppli’s director of Tablet and Monitor Research, Rhoda Alexander. “Manufacturing volumes on that would match better with a Q114 [first quarter 2014] launch.”

Alexander qualified the statement by noting Apple may introduce such a device in October with the fifth-generation iPad, but could choose to ship it at a later date.

The publication notes that, while analysts have discussed Retina panel yields, they claim mass production could be less than optimal for a 2013 launch. In either case, it appears that Apple will likely be face with supply constraints, a situation that has become increasingly familiar for the company.

Earlier this year, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Retina display yield issues would push back Retina iPad mini production until October. In a more recent report, the analyst predicted the “iPad 5″ and “iPad mini 2″ would both see release in the fourth quarter of 2013, with Apple pushing up the mini’s launch date due to increased competition in the sector.

All should be revealed in the coming weeks, as Apple is rumored to be planning a special event next month to introduce a revamped tablet lineup.

Stay tuned for additional coverage and, as always, let us know what you think in the comments section.

Rumor: Staples to begin selling iPad, additional Apple products starting in October

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Date: Friday, September 27th, 2013, 06:15
Category: iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, retail, Rumor

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If you’re hankering for a more convenient source for Apple’s products, Staples could finally be in line to offer a decent selection.

Per 9to5Mac, an anonymous source close to the story has stated that office retail chain Staples is looking to start sales of various iPad and iPod configurations as soon as Oct. 1, bringing the company’s U.S. online store in line with its Canadian counterpart.

The source went on to say that an existing deal to distribute Apple products was meant to test the water for future agreements. Currently, Staples sells the Apple TV, AirPort models, iPad Smart Covers, the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, Time Capsule, and EarPods.

Staples first started selling Apple products through its U.S. online store in February, and initiated in-store sales a month later.

The company is looking to do much the same with the iPad and wants brick-and-mortar availability to begin in early 2014. Apple is reportedly stipulating weekly performance numbers for that to happen, however, with the source saying each physical store must refer one iPad sale per week in October, two per week in November and fiver per week in December.

If the conditions are met, Apple will supposedly allow in-store kiosks to be erected in various Staples locations. It is unclear how large these kiosks will be, though they are unlikely to be the “store-within-a-store” arrangement enjoyed by other retailers like Target and Walmart.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to built biometric fingerprint sensor into more expensive iPhone 5S units

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

This is just about the last rumor before Apple hopefully unveils its long-awaited next-gen iPhone(s) today, so here we go.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the story last week stated that fingerprint scanners will be built into the “more expensive of two iPhones” Apple plans to announce at a media event on Tuesday, seemingly confirming a long stream of rumors regarding the feature’s inclusion.

The publication speculates that Apple’s entry into the biometric security segment will spark interest from other handset makers to find similar solution. Another source claims at least one smartphone running Google’s Android will incorporate fingerprint security, though it is unknown if the device will be marketed in the U.S.

Apple is expected to field a fingerprint sensor built by AuthenTec, a biometric security firm the Cupertino company purchased for US$356 million in 2012, and plans to place the module under the iPhone’s home button. While other handsets and computers have tried to use fingerprinting methods in the past, Apple’s solution is thought to be much more intuitive and less prone to error.

Instead of swiping a finger across a small sensor strip, the AuthenTec package uses RF field attenuation to map a user’s print. This static means of capture would allow iPhone owners to authenticate by simply pressing the home button as they would when waking the phone from sleep.

Most recently, rumors of a “silver ring” surrounding the “iPhone 5S” home button surfaced, with some claiming the part was added as an aesthetic flourish. AppleInsider, however, reported that Apple’s patent applications suggest the component likely serves a functional purpose in the fingerprint sensor’s design.

All should be revealed at today’s event, which is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 “silver ring” around Home button could be part of fingerprint reader system

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that rumored cool “silver ring” that’s been rumored for the upcoming iPhone 5S handset?

It might be part of a fingerprint sensor.

Per AppleInsider and Fox News’ This Week in Tech, reporter Clayton Morris proposed the ring is merely aesthetic, possibly added so users can easily distinguish an iPhone that has a built-in fingerprint sensor from those that do not.

However, given recent patent filings, the metallic ring may be a functional component necessary to the sensor’s operation.

There stands a variety of ways to accomplish biometric fingerprint readings, including the stereotypical “swiping” motion made famous in movies, as well as methods using optical, thermal, pressure and capacitive measurements, among others. AuthenTec, which Apple purchased in 2012 for US$356 million, uses a few different capture methods in its products, though the tech most likely to be used in the iPhone doesn’t involve swiping.

Typical methods of swipe authentication, usually direct capacitance, involve a thin “strip” sensor that captures and stitches together multiple images of a fingerprint as a user sweeps their finger across the sensing plate. With direct capacitance, an electrical field is applied to the sensor, which detects ridges and valleys — the skin structures that form fingerprint whorls — by measuring variations in capacitance at the sensor plate. Lower capacitance denotes skin that is farther from the sensor, or valleys, while higher capacitance is associated with ridges.

A more accurate and robust method of capture is called radio frequency field sensing, or AC capacitance. Like direct capacitive sensing, this technique also measures capacitance of a sort, but the similarities end there. Instead of measuring the effect on an electrical field, a low frequency RF signal is inserted into the finger and received by the sensor. In this case, RF signal strength captured by the pixel traces are measured and the corresponding data is translated to form an image of the print.

Benefits of RF field/AC capacitance sensing include static non-swipe readings, resistance to dust and capability for the sensor to operate even when covered by layers of protective material. These types of sensors are usually larger in size to allow for a wider capture area.

One patent, filed by AuthenTec cofounder Dale R. Setlak and subsequently assigned to Apple, goes into detail about a technology based on mechanics which are very similar to RF field sensing. The property also relates to the company’s “Smart Sensor” — also based on RF field sensing tech — which has been used successfully in at least one phone, the Japan-only Toshiba REGZA T-01D.

As noted in Setlak’s patent, along with other similar inventions credited to his name, electrodes need to be in contact with the finger to pump the drive signal that will ultimately be measured by pixel traces on the pixel plate.

In nearly all RF field sensors, a ring disposed around the sensor array acts as the electrode that drives the low frequency RF signal into the finger, which is attenuated by ridges and valleys in the print and finally captured by AC sensors as a high quality image.

As a type of bonus side effect, the tech can also be used as a form of input. By analyzing slight movements or changes in attenuation over time, the system can interpolate gesture behaviors like scrolling, cursor control and, when combined with a physical or virtual button, drag-and-drop operations.

Embedding this type of package in an iPhone’s home button is likely quite challenging as the part moves up and down constantly, which would put undue wear on the sensing module’s interconnects. It is possible that Apple has found a way to separate the finger ring from the sensor array in order to isolate the integral components from wear and tear. Such a system would also be less apt to fouling or misreadings due to debris.

As for utility, the sensor design wouldn’t force users to swipe the home button to authenticate, but would have the module read the print while a user presses the button to wake the phone from sleep. In other words, the security factor would take place seamlessly. No new gestures to learn, just enhanced functionality, transparent to the user.

It remains wholly unknown if Apple has incorporated this particular fingerprint technology into the next-gen iPhone, though circumstantial evidence seems to point in that very specific direction.

Further, a non-functional aesthetic bezel rimming the home button, which has seen nary a design tweak since the first iPhone launched in 2007, simply to demarcate new biometric capabilities seems to go against Apple’s design sensibilities. When the company introduced a front-facing camera with the iPhone 4, it buried the feature just above the earpiece. No special decorations or embellishments to note that the handset sported FaceTime capabilities.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and be sure to check in tomorrow for coverage of Apple’s September 10th iPhone press event.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 Mavericks to arrive in late October

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Rumor, Software

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You might have to wait until the end of next month to get your mitts on Mavericks.

Per 9to5Mac, despite being announced in early June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the next major Mac update, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, may not arrive until late October.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s alleged launch plans, the web site reported on Friday that the debut for Mavericks is nearly two months away. In addition, the site also cited apparent “chatter” that iOS 7 for iPad won’t be available until October as well.

Last year, Apple surprised when it unveiled OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in February with little fanfare, outside of a typical keynote address. The software then became available in the Mac App Store in late July, or about five months later.

That means this year’s time between announcement and launch of OS X 10.9 Mavericks would actually be shorter than the same window for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was in 2012. Still, some had expected that next Mac operating system might launch in the near future, perhaps as soon as Apple’s iPhone media event next week.

Just this week, developers were supplied with the seventh preview build of Mavericks. The latest developer preview includes performance enhancements but still isn’t ready for the public, with features like iCloud Keychain remaining a work in progress.

Apple hasn’t given a specific launch window for Mavericks beyond this fall. When it does launch, it will pack in new features such as iBooks for Mac, Finder Tabs, Apple Maps, App Nap, Compressed Memory, and more.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Inventory shortfalls hint at updated iMacs, 802.11ac Airport Express units

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Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013, 07:01
Category: iMac, retail, Rumor, wireless

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When the inventory runs low, there’s cool new stuff around the corner.

Or it just means you need to order more inventory.

Per MacRumors and 9to5Mac, low retail stocks of Airport Express base stations are suggesting that a faster 802.11ac model is expected soon to match the capabilities of the latest Macs. This would offer Wi-Fi speeds almost three times faster than current 802.11n models, a capability that has already been incorporated into the current Airport Extreme and Time Capsule models.

That said, an 802.11ac Airport Express and a Haswell-powered iMac is a no-brainer, the question being “when” rather than “if”. The new iMac is unlikely to see much of a design change, so neither would be big announcements, suggesting they could be passing mentions in the iPhone-focused event on 10th September. If not, the new units could be announced alongside the iPad 5, rumored to be around October, perhaps with the long-awaited Thunderbolt Display update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AT&T to black out employee holidays around September 20th for next-gen iPhone launch

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 07:19
Category: iPhone, retail, Rumor

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When companies begin penning in blackout dates for their employees, a product launch tends to be imminent.

Per Boy Genius Report, citing sources close to the story, the web site claims that AT&T has blacked out vacation dates for the second half of September, a move supposedly meant to handle an expected deluge of customers looking to get their hands on Apple’s next-gen iPhone. The telecom did the same last year ahead of the iPhone 5 launch.

The publication also notes that the nation’s second largest mobile carrier will not be releasing any other major handsets during the period, suggesting the no-vacation days are being set for the

While somewhat vague, the report comes just one day after T-Mobile purportedly issued its own employee blackout dates set to start on Sept. 20.

Apple is expected to announce the next-generation “iPhone 5S” at a special event on Sept. 10, possibly alongside a lower-cost plastic composite handset many have taken to calling the “iPhone 5C.”

The iPhone 5 successor is rumored to sport a fingerprint sensor embedded in its home button, a 31 percent faster A7 processor, motion tracking and upgraded camera components. Numerous parts “leaks” have also pointed to a new “champagne” color option for the handset.

The iPhone 5C is rumored to carry a plastic composite shell to be offered in a variety of colors, though not much is known regarding its internals. Some claim the unit will use the same 4-inch form factor of the iPhone 5, but with older components to keep costs down.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to see 31% speed improvement via A7 chip, will feature motion detection

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Date: Monday, August 26th, 2013, 06:27
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Processors, Rumor

If this report’s anything close to accurate, you’re going to like the speed of the next-gen iPhone.

Per a tweet sent by Fox News and citing inside sources, Clayton Morris claims the so-called “iPhone 5S” will be powered by an Apple-designed “A7″ system on a chip that is some 31 percent faster than the current A6 silicon used in the iPhone 5. In addition, mention of a totally new chip dedicated to “motion tracking” will be used to bring another layer of user interactivity to Apple’s flagship handset.

A 31 percent bump should be noticeable to future iPhone 5S owners in day-to-day use. It is unknown what metrics were being used as a basis, an important question given an applications processor’s architecture includes both the number-crunching CPUs and graphics driving GPUs.

It is largely unknown how Apple is managing to squeeze out the extra horsepower, though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities noted in a recent report that a move to the ARMv8 architecture could yield a 20 percent increase in efficiency. In that same note to investors, Kuo speculates that Apple could offer 64-bit support in the A7, which would theoretically allow for greater speeds.

As for the motion tracking feature, Morris said in a follow-up tweet, “I’ve also heard there’s a separate chip devoted to motion tracking. Should be an interesting camera upgrade.” It would appear from the tweet’s wording that the unknown chip would be part of the iPhone’s camera package, perhaps as a special post processor.

Apple owns a number of patents regarding post processing techniques, including a few that interpolate camera sensor data for tasks other than outputting an image such as “gaze detection.” Some of these patents include a separate chip, usually disposed on the sensor module’s circuit board, to handle processing duties.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5S at a special event on Sept. 10, possibly alongside a lower cost plastic handset dubbed the “iPhone 5C.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.