Apple to offer livestream of media event today

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

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Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!

Apple looking to replace IR sensors with sonar technology in next-gen devices

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

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Look at it this way: sonar’s been around for a while.

And it’s always been nifty.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday describes a system that may one day replace the infrared proximity sensors deployed in current iPhones with sonar-like technology.

Apple’s invention for “Passive proximity detection” negates the need for the current IR sensor, replacing it with a system that can detect and process sound waves to determine how far away an object is from a portable device.

Much like passive echolocation or a loose interpretation of passive sonar, the filing describes a system that takes two sound wave samples, a “before” and an “after,” and compares the two to determine if an external object’s proximity to the device changed. “Sampling” occurs when a transducer, such as a microphone, picks up ambient sound and sends a corresponding signal to the device’s processor for analysis.

The invention relies on basic acoustic principles as applied to modern electronics. For example, a microphone’s signal equalization curve from an audio source changes when the device moves towards or away from an object, which “variably reflect[s] elements of the sound wave.”

This effect may be noticed when sound is reflected by soft material as opposed to a hard surface. Generally, sound reflected off the soft surface will seem muted when compared to the same sound reflected off a hard surface located at the same distance and angle from an audio transducer and a sound source.

In one of the invention’s embodiments, two microphones are situated at different planes on a device, and detect the subtle changes in broad-audio-spectrum caused by interference when a sound wave interacts with an object.

To relate this to a common phenomenon, when a sea shell is held up to one’s ear a resonant cavity is formed that amplifies ambient sounds. This hi-Q filtering results in the ocean like sounds one hears.

In another example, response signals produced by two microphones located at either end of a device can be compared to determine if an object is nearer to one or the other. For example, when a user’s face is close to the top of a device, as is usual when talking on the phone, the microphone located near the ear will produce a different reactance ratio than the microphone located at the device’s base.

Basically, the signals from two transducers, or microphones, detect slight changes in ambient sound and sends corresponding signals to a processor which then compares the two to determine whether an object is in close proximity to either of the mics.

Monitoring of the microphones can be live or set to take samples at predetermined intervals, such as after a user begins to speak. Placement of the microphones can also be tweaked, and in some cases can be located next to each other.

Finally, a more active detection method is proposed, where an internal speaker generates noise, taking the place of ambient sound waves.

As portable electronic devices become increasingly smaller, the need to develop space-saving components, or to combine parts to serve a number of uses, becomes more pressing. Such is the case with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, a device that packs 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, a battery that can last for days, a 4-inch Retina display, two cameras, and a litany of other features into a chassis only 7.6 mm deep.

Space is already at a premium with the iPhone, as evidenced by the new Lightning connector, which Apple’s Worldwide Marketing chief Phil Schiller said was needed to create such a thin device. Moving forward, the company is rumored to incorporate near field communications (NFC) for e-wallet payments, which will take up even more precious room.

It remains to be seen if Apple will one day employ the passive proximity detection technology in a consumer device, however the iPhone is a platform ripe for deployment as it already boasts three mics for noise canceling and call quality purposes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Assorted Verizon customers report time-shifting issue with iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Well…this is why they invented firmware updates.

Per AppleInsider, a number of iPhone 5 owners, especially those on U.S. network Verizon, are complaining of an issue where the incorrect day and time is displayed, sometimes jumping weeks ahead or behind the actual date.

According to multiple posts on Apple’s Support Communities forum, a number of iPhone 5 users are experiencing what appears to be a problem with the handset’s automatic date and time setting feature.

It is suspected that the issue may lie in the handset’s compatibility with Verizon’s network, as most of the reports on the 21-page thread come from that carrier’s subscribership.

The bug was initially reported on Sept. 24, the iPhone 5’s first day of availability, and subsequent posts citing similar timing-related difficulties have been streaming in ever since. There have been no reports of time-shifting with other iPhone models, including those upgraded to iOS 6.

While the exact cause of problem is unknown, speculation points to a bug with how the timing code embedded in Verizon’s CDMA cell network is handled.

In order to operate properly, all CDMA cell towers transmit a time signal based on data from an on-site GPS receiver, allowing the network to stay in synchronization. It is possible that either Apple’s handset is somehow misinterpreting the time signals, or timing data from certain Verizon cell towers is faulty, though at this point the theories are mere conjecture.

Forum members say both Apple and Verizon are aware of the iPhone 5’s time-shifting issue, however no clear remedies were offered to the few who contacted the companies’ customer support staff. Some have found limited success in performing a factory reset, but the method is not a sure-fire solution.

It appears that each party is placing blame on the other, further confusing the situation. Apple forum member “dtenberge” claims to have been contacted by a “Senior iOS Advisor” who said, “I just got a response from our Engineers, at this time we cannot see anything wrong on our end, they did suggest that you contact Verizon and open up a ‘ticket’ and have them look into it.”

Another member, Janine Costanzo, said, “We just called Verizon, and they said they’ve had some reports of this problem, but it’s nothing on their end. They checked the cell towers in our area (SF Bay Area) and the time is right on them. They said it’s likely a software issue on Apple’s end, so we should call Apple and tell them the problem and hope that they release a software fix for it.”

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

Apple begins shipping Lightning adapter orders

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Date: Monday, October 8th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

With any luck, that Lightning adapter you ordered should be arriving soon.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Monday sent out emails notifying a number of Australian customers that their Lightning to 30-pin Adapter orders had shipped, with an expected arrival date coming almost four weeks after sales of the iPhone 5 went live in September.

At least one buyer of Apple’s new adapter, which is currently only compatible with the iPhone 5, told MacRumors that his shipment is due for delivery on Oct. 9, more than three weeks after the handset went up for preorder in mid-September.

According to Apple, the move away from the legacy 30-pin plug to the 80 percent-smaller proprietary Lightning connector was required to build devices as slim and compact as the iPhone 5 and products from the next-generation iPod line. To help ease the transition to the new format, which effectively renders nearly a decade’s worth of “Made for iDevice” accessories obsolete, Apple is offering the US$29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter along with a US$39 cabled version.

The reversible Lightning port dynamically assigns pins and uses only those signals required by a connected accessory, such as audio or USB data for a dock. The advanced protocol also carries authentication hardware, making it difficult for third-party manufacturers to build accessories without paying royalties to Apple.

It appears that Apple’s Lightning adapters will be indispensable for users tied to their accessories for some time, as Apple is said to have made significant changes to the “Made for iPhone” rules expected to be presented in November, allowing little to no room for accessory makers to build new products before Christmas.

If you’ve gotten your Lightning adapter and can offer any sort of feedback on it, please let us know how your experience went in the comments section.

AppleCare rep cites iPhone 5 camera “purple fringing” as normal behavior, in spite of user complaints

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

This is a tad odd, but if you’re a fan of Prince, you might just love it.

Per AppleInsider, in a reply to a customer inquiry regarding the “purple flare” some iPhone 5 users have seen when taking pictures with bright light sources in frame, an AppleCare representative says the phenomenon is considered “normal behavior” for the new handset’s camera.

The response from Apple representative Debby claims Apple’s engineering team recommended to angle the camera away from bright lights to avoid the purple flare some users have taken to calling a design defect.

The reply went as follows:

AppleCare Support response:
Dear Matt,

Our engineering team just gave me this information and we recommend that you angle the camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures. The purple flare in the image provided is considered normal behavior for iPhone 5’s camera. If you wish to reach me regarding this case number [redacted], please contact me at [redacted]. I currently work Thursday-Monday: 7:00am – 3:30pm Mountain Time. If you reach my voicemail, please leave your name, phone number, case number and the best time to reach you. Email is [redacted]@apple.com.

Sincerely,
Debby
AppleCare Support

Assorted publications reported that so-called “purple fringing” is a common issue with modern digital cameras, especially miniaturized units like those found in smartphones.

It was speculated that the “purple haze” was caused by the iPhone 5’s use of a new sapphire lens cover, new component layout or sensor issues, however more likely a cause is normal distortion of light presented in this case as chromatic aberration. In most cases, chromatic distortion skews toward shorter wavelength violet light, which is difficult to correct with larger prime lenses, let alone the minuscule versions used in the iPhone 5.

According to a thread on the Apple’s Support Communities webpage dedicated to the purple fringing issue, one user claims the company has agreed to swap out their handset for a new unit, though it is unclear if replacements will be considered for all affected customers.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or been in dialogue with Apple regarding it, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

A6 processor found to vary speeds for best possible performance

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Processors

They say the A6 processor has some cool tricks up its sleeve.

They A6 processor doesn’t have sleeves, but it does have some interesting performance variations. No sleeves, though.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, one possible reason the iPhone 5 has such great battery life is the clever way the A6 changes its clock speed. While originally thought to be clocked at 1GHz, the chip has been clocked at 1.1GHz as well as 1.3GHz by Current Editorials.

While 9to5Mac saw the chip’s speed drop as low as 550MHz, this seemed to do more with an as-yet-updated Geekbench app testing the chip (which also resulted in the 1GHz assumption). A Geekbench update seems to paint a different picture now. By all accounts it appears the chip can change “speeds,” however, resulting in better battery life and dynamically tuning itself to the demand for CPU.

Nifty stuff…now if Apple could just release a much-improved iOS 6 Maps app, most of its problems would be over and it could sit and relax with a margarita this Friday.

Non-contract, full-priced iPhone can be unlocked via iTunes

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you get your money’s worth.

Per TechCrunch, customers who paid full freight for an AT&T version of Apple’s iPhone 5 can easily unlock the device with a quick iTunes reset.

The simple unlocking procedure is said to work with iPhone 5s purchased from AT&T at full price, with the process being quite simple compared to the carrier’s traditional previous method of submitting an online form, sending a fax and waiting up to a week for a restore.

The publication was able to confirm the easy one-step process with AT&T’s technical support and successfully unlocked the device in iTunes.

“After restoring the device in iTunes, the user is prompted with the usual unlocking message: ‘Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked,'” the report said.

From that point, according to TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet, all that was needed to gain access to T-Mobile’s network was the trimming down of a compatible micro-SIM card to fit in the iPhone 5’s nano-SIM tray. The device recognized T-Mobile’s signal within seconds, allowing both calls and EDGE data to go through without issue.

Dillet explained that when an iPhone is purchased, the handset’s IMEI is added to Apple’s database, though it appears subsidized phones hold a different status than those purchased at full price without a contract.

While the publication was able to successfully unlock an iPhone 5 purchased through Apple retail, the procedure could not be confirmed on another pre-ordered unit “even though the device was purchased at full price, it was tied to an existing AT&T account during the pre-order process.”

It was previously reported that Verizon’s iPhone 5 ships unlocked for GSM networks.

If anyone out there has unlocked iPhone 5 that they’re looking to attach to an otherwise-unsupported wireless carrier and are about to try this technique, please let us know how it goes in the comments.

Apple files patent for inductive charging pad that could also offer device syncing features

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 06:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, Patents

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It’s not the newest peripheral idea in the world, but it’s still sort of nifty.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, Apple has shown interest in building an inductive charging mat that would allow users to dock, charge and sync their portable devices by simply placing them on top of the accessory.

Apple’s filing, entitled “Device Orientation Based Docking Functions,” describes a “docking device” that would allow devices to be placed on top of it.

The mat would accomplish docking functions such as charging, data transfer, syncing, diagnostic checking, or any other potential use based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

The filing notes that smartphones, like the iPhone, as well as digital cameras and media players like iPods can all be built to utilize inductive charging surfaces. Circuitry in these devices would respond to a magnetic field provided by the charging surface that would also allow data to be transferred while the device is docked.

While inductive charging surfaces are not new technology, Apple’s application brings a new twist to the concept with the idea of interpreting the device’s orientation for specific purposes. For example, a future iPhone with inductive charging capabilities could be placed face down on the mat for charging only, while placing the handset face-up on the mat could initiate syncing with a computer or iCloud as well as charging.

Once a device is placed on the mat, its current docking mode may be indicated to the user by either a sound, a graphic displayed on the device’s screen, an electronic message notification, or a vibration of the device.

Beyond a local computer for syncing, the inductive charging mat could also be connected to a host of devices throughout a person’s home. In one example, the mat is connected to speakers for audio output when docked.

Apple’s proposed invention was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2011. It is credited to Jorge S. Fino.

When the iPhone 5 was announced earlier this month, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked why the new handset does not include inductive charging capabilities. He said the perceived convenience of such technology is questionable, as charging mats must still be plugged into an outlet.

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” he explained.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: iPhone 5 shortage a result of new manufacturing techniques, in-cell displays

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Date: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

If you were wondering why it’s a bit hard to get your mitts on the new iPhone 5 you want, there’s been an update.

Per Bloomberg, Apple’s adoption of in-cell touchscreen panels for the iPhone 5 is the primary reason supplies of the new smartphone are constrained.

Analyst Ben A. Reitzes with Barlcays said in an note to investors that constraints on in-cell touch displays have been the “key issue” with iPhone 5 shipments. He said that iPhone 5 display supply is estimated to be just 10 million screens for the current, September quarter, while a “significant ramp” is expected to begin in the next, December quarter.

“We still believe Apple is facing significant production constraints due to a move toward in-cell display technology, which pushes a significant amount of units into the December and March quarters — a factor which limited sales this past weekend according to our checks,” Reitzes wrote.

When production of in-cell displays does pick up in the fourth quarter, Reitzes believes Apple will sell more than 45 million iPhones, resulting in 22 percent year over year growth.

The in-cell touch panels used in the iPhone 5 are believed to be manufactured by LG Display Co. and Japan Display Inc. Bloomberg reached out to those two companies, as well as Apple, but all of them declined to comment.

Apple announced on Monday that sales of the iPhone 5 exceeded 5 million in its first three days of availability. That represented a new record for the company, but also came in below Wall Street expectations.

In a statement, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledged that demand for the iPhone 5 is outstripping supply, and that his company is working to catch up with demand. Apple’s sales figures also do not take into consideration orders that are en route to customers, as Apple must deliver an iPhone before it can be counted as a sale.

The new iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor thanks in part to the in-cell touch display that Apple has adopted. Previous versions of the iPhone relied on glass-on-glass solutions that were thicker and heavier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Lightning cable shortage due to new production methods, change in suppliers

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Date: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 06:48
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

There might be a valid reason as to why Apple’s Lightning connector sold out so quickly last week.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes a change in supplier weighting combined with low yield rates has caused a shortage of Lightning connector supply.

Being roughly 80 percent smaller than its predecessor, Lightning is a complex component and requires new production methods, therefore decreasing the initial yield rate.

It is estimated that Cheng Uei, otherwise known as Foxlink, has been allocated 60 percent of all Lightning production, while Hon Hai, or Foxconn, retains the remaining 40 percent. However, output from supply channels indicate that only Foxlink is able to make stable shipments due to a better yield rate, meaning overall supply can’t meet crushing demand from early iPhone 5 adopters.

With previous iDevices, Hon Hai was the main supplier of the 30-pin connector and enjoyed a 50 to 60 percent share of orders while other companies picked up the slack. When the new Lightning connector was introduced alongside the iPhone 5, however, yield rates from Hon Hai’s facilities were low, allowing rival company Cheng Uei to take the lead in supplying Apple with the new part.

While the specific numbers are unknown, the change in supply weighting from Foxconn to Foxlink is seen as a definite driver in the supply shortage.

Sources say Apple has asked Cheng Uei to dedicate additional workers and production lines to Lightning production to make up for the supply gap, however the ramp up process requires time and is not expected to be solved overnight.

Despite being criticized for introducing a new dock form factor, effectively rendering a decade of 30-pin compatible accessories obsolete, Apple saw Lightning connectors and cables sell out in less than half an hour after iPhone 5 preorders went live last week. Currently, the Apple Store is showing delivery times for the adaptors and connectors pushed back into October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.