Rumor: Apple switching from 30-pin to 19-pin dock connector in 2012

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Date: Friday, June 22nd, 2012, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

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It’s the rumor that just won’t die.

Per TechCrunch, multiple manufacturers have independently indicated that Apple is planning to shrink its 30-pin dock connector to a 19-pin port in the next iPhone.

Though rumors of an upcoming “mini dock” connector for Apple’s next-generation iOS devices have swirled for some time now, although the Wednesday report offered the most confident claim yet about Apple’s plans for it by stating it had “independently verified” and “confirmed” the company is prepping a smaller 19-pin port for inclusion on its next iPhone.

According to the report, three independent manufacturers said Apple was working on the connector, adding that accessory makers are currently in limbo as they wait for Apple to officially announce the new standard, which will presumably be incompatible with current accessories. The new port would reportedly come close in size to the Thunderbolt port found on Apple’s newest Macs, but it is not expected to have the same “pin-out.”

Author John Biggs added that a purported video of the next-generation iPhone that surfaced earlier this month partially showed the new connector. That video appeared to show a sixth-generation iPhone metal back plate component with a smaller dock port.

The main reason for the new port is believed to be Apple’s continual quest to free up space in its mobile devices. The dock connector was first introduced in 2003 in the third-generation iPod. The advent of iCloud and wireless syncing has also reduced user reliance on the dock connector.

In addition to this, Apple is hiring engineers to work on new iPod connectors. Late last month, the company posted job listings for design engineers who would help manage “multiple connector designs and developments.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to include U.S. government warning alert feature in iOS 6

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 06:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Under iOS 6, when the zombie apocalypse occurs, you’ll be among the first to know.

Apple devices running iOS 6 will be able to receive U.S. government alerts during an emergency or disaster, in compliance with a National Alerting Program.

Per Emergency Management, the new feature, labeled by Apple as “Government Alerts,” will be a part of the iOS 6 operating system when it launches for iPhone and iPad this fall, as first noticed by Emergency Management (via CNet) on Friday. That means that Wireless Emergency Alerts can be provided to Apple mobile device users.

The feature is expected to be available on all devices that can run iOS 6, including the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009, and the iPhone 4, which became available in 2010.

Author Rick Wimberley said Apple’s adoption of Wireless Emergency Alerts is “big news” for those who work in the emergency management industry. The new feature means that users can receive alerts from local, state and federal officials through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

The National Weather service also intends to start issuing Wireless Emergency Alerts by the end of June, meaning iPhone and iPad users will be able to receive weather warnings once their device runs iOS 6. There is also an option to opt out of warnings in the Settings menu represented by the usual on/off iOS toggle button.

Further details on the new emergency alert system in iOS 6 are unknown as Apple did not detail the new feature at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote this week.

The U.S. government’s Wireless Emergency Alert system went live just last month. Carriers already offer users the ability to receive alerts to customers via text message, without the need for support from mobile operating systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Qualcomm getting ready to prepare 4G LTE chips for next-gen iPhone handset

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Date: Friday, June 15th, 2012, 11:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You’re probably going to need components if you’re going to build a snazzy new thing.

Per DigiTimes, Taiwanese chip maker Qualcomm is said to be providing high-speed 4G long-term evolution chips produced using a 28-nanometer process.

The company is expected to build its 4G LTE chips at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, supply chain sources shared with DigiTimes. Qualcomm will need about 10,000 28-nanometer 12-inch wafers, representing one-third of the 28-nanometer capacity at TSMC, just to produce 4G chips for the next iPhone, the report said.

Also relying on TSMC’s 28-nanometer process for the next iPhone will be Broadcom, which is expected to provide Wi-Fi chips to Apple. And OmniVision is also said to be looking to get in on TSMC’s 12-inch fabrication process.

The report noted that TSMC’s “tight production capacity” for its 28-nanometer process will also have customers Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Altera, Xilinx and others. It’s expected that it will be difficult for TSMC to meet market demand for the 28-nanometer process until it can produce 50,000 units a month around the fourth quarter of 2012.

With supply constraints in mind, STMicroelectronics is said to be ramping up output of MEMS devices for Apple’s next iPhone. Similarly, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments are reportedly stockpiling inventory of analog integrated circuits to meet Apple’s demand.

In March it was said that Apple was in the process of reviewing potential components for the company’s next-generation LTE 4G iPhone. Among the parts Apple was expected to utilize by Barclays was Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G networks.

Analysts at Barclays also said at the end of May that Apple had “locked down” suppliers of important radio chips for the sixth-generation iPhone. Companies said to have been selected by Apple included Skyworks, Avago Technologies, and TriQuint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to begin shared data plans starting June 28th

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Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News

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Maybe shared data plans will come into vogue this year.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon has announced that it will be initiating shared data plans later this month, making it the first of the “big-three” U.S. telecoms to offer such a program.

The company announced the new “Share Everything” option on Tuesday, which includes unlimited talk, text and tiered shared data plans for both smartphones and tablets as well as data-only plans, is slated to start on June 28.

Up to ten devices can share data under the new plan with varying pricing for device type. For example, line access for a smartphone like Apple’s iPhone is US$40 per month while a tablet adds on US$10. Mobile hotspots are also included in the Share Anything plan and can be added for an additional US$20 per month.

The carrier is introducing a number of new data tiers to its existing one-line offerings, and shared data users can now select one of six levels ranging from US$50 per month for 1GB of bandwidth to US$100 per month for 10GB. Data overage is still in place and looks to be US$15 per gigabyte across the board but users can opt to up their data plans in 2GB intervals before reaching their limit.

As an example, Verizon offers a US$180 access plan that includes two smartphones at US$40 each, one feature phone at US$30 and 4GB worth of shared data which carries a cost of US$70 per month.

Data-only customers have four tiers to work with starting at US$30 per month for 4GB and topping out at US$60 per month for 10GB. Mobile hotspots and tablets with mobile hotspot functionality are included in this pricing model.

The new Share Anything plan is a step in the direction of what many believe is the future of wireless in the U.S. In an early June report, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said that his company was also working on rolling out a shared data plan, though that plan has been in the works for over a year.

Verizon was recently the target of a media blitz when CFO Fran Shammo said “when [customers] migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share,” which caused a fracas because many thought the company would forcibly move unlimited data users to more profitable tiered pricing. The issue was quickly clarified in a Verizon statement that said only customers who choose to take carrier subsidies when upgrading to another smartphone will be forced out of out of their unlimited plans. In either case, it is clear that the telecom is pushing for tiered pricing, a trend that has become increasingly popular as wireless providers acknowledge the profitability of soaring data use.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Siri to arrive on wider array of devices, gain additional features in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Even if Siri can be a bit flummoxing at times, Apple believes in it.

Per Macworld, company representatives stated during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday that Siri will have a starring role in iOS 6, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Representatives also cited that the technology will move just the iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple’s iPad.

During his demonstration, Apple’s Scott Forstall pointed out how Siri on iOS 6 can launch apps. Forstall demonstrated by launching Temple Run with a voice command.

Siri’s integration with iOS 6’s overhauled Maps app runs deep. Ask Siri how to get somewhere, and you immediately get turn-by-turn directions—even from the lock screen. Then you can ask Siri to repeat herself, where gas stations are along the way, what the traffic is like, how long until you get there, and every traveling kid’s favorite question: “Are we there yet?”

Forstall also mentioned a new feature called Eyes Free. He said Apple is working together with car manufacturers to integrate a button for triggering Siri from your steering wheel; among the companies looking to integrate that feature in the next twelve months are GM, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda.

Siri’s also getting more international, with support for Canadian French and English; Italian; Spanish (for Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.); Swiss Italian, French, and German; Mandarin for Taiwan; Cantonese for Hong Kong; and Mandarin and Cantonese for mainland China.

And soon another iOS device will find its voice, too: Forstall said the third-generation iPad will get Siri support as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Virgin Mobile to offer iPhone calling plans starting at $30/month beginning June 29th

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 13:56
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a cheap calling plan, even if you do have to buy the handset at the unsubsidized price…

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as US$30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That’s different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about US$150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a US$5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with “unlimited” data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for US$30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for US$50 per month. Though data is advertised as “unlimited,” all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4 for US$549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile’s website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin’s voice and data service relies on Sprint’s “Nationwide Network.” The sale of iPhones through Sprint’s Virgin mobile could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google unveils new 3D mapping feature for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You can’t knock a kickass 3D mapping system, especially when it’s on your iPhone or iPad.

Google on Wednesday unveiled what it has promoted as the “next dimension” of its Maps service, with new full 3D renderings that were demonstrated live on an Apple iPad.

Google has been using automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by airplanes owned by the company. With planes flying overhead in tightly controlled patterns snapping pictures, Google can use the imagery and data to create three-dimensional mapping imagery.



Images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions. The whole process allows 3D maps to be built without human interaction, unlike with previous 3D imagery in Google Earth.

In a live event on Wednesday, Google demonstrated 3D models of individual buildings and entire cities. The new features were shown off to members of the press on an Apple iPad, rather than an Android-based tablet.

The company promised that its new 3D imagery will be coming to both iOS and Android devices “in the coming weeks.” The technology will be part of both the Google Maps service, as well as its Google Earth application.

By the end of the year, Google expects to have communities home to about 300 million people mapped in its new space.

Google also revealed that it will bring an offline version of its Maps software to Android devices. The company said it is “working very hard” to bring offline Maps to iOS as well, but did not offer any more information.

Wednesday’s media event comes just five days before Apple is set to hold its own keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There, Apple is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Maps software for iOS that will ditch Google Maps.

Apple’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to slim down to 7.9 mm, could feature front-facing HD camera

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to knock an interesting rumor.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo said in a note to investors that in addition to the move to HD, he believes Apple will also employ a flip-chip (FC) solution for the front-facing camera on the upcoming iPhone. The camera’s position would be moved to the middle, he said.

Kuo noted that an HD front camera would better suit the 4-inch display that he expects Apple’s sixth-generation handset to have. Currently, the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4S is capable of VGA resolution.

As for the rear-facing camera, Kuo said Apple will likely retain the 8-megapixel camera while improving the aperture range to go up to f/2.2. The iPhone 4S has a maximum aperture of f/2.4. The analyst also predicted that the rear camera on the next iPhone will be noticeable thinner, “making it the most challenging iPhone design yet.”

According to his analysis, the new iPhone’s rear camera will have a CCM of 5.55mm and a lens TTL of 4mm, down from 6mm and 4.8mm on the iPhone 4S. Apple’s suppliers will reportedly face “unprecedented challenges” producing the rear camera component because of the changes to the design.

Kuo issued a report in April claiming that Apple will slim down the iPhone to 7.9mm or less. The iPhone 4S has a depth of 9.3mm. The use of an in-cell touchscreen display is expected to shave as much as 0.4mm off the phone.

Sony, which provides the CMOS for the iPhone 4S, announced this January that it had developed a thinner next-generation CMOS. Last month, camera parts allegedly bound for the next iPhone surfaced online. If the parts were indeed authentic, they would suggest that Apple plans to redesign the cameras for its sixth-generation handset.

Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone this fall in either September or October. Some reports have claimed that the device will feature a redesigned form factor and 4G LTE connectivity.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Virgin Mobile to offer prepaid wireless plan for iPhone in July

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:16
Category: iPhone, News

No one ever said that prepaid was out of vogue.

Per MarketWatch, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile USA will become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract, according to a new report.

Virgin Mobile’s addition of the iPhone to its product lineup will be announced later this week. The iPhone will debut on Virgin Mobile as soon as July 1.

The deal could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones Sprint has committed to sell over a four-year span. The company pledged to buy the iPhones last year in a deal that brought the iPhone to Sprint, which is the third-largest carrier in the U.S.

Last week, it was announced that Cricket Wireless would become the first prepaid carrier to sell a contract-free iPhone in the U.S. on June 22. Cricket will offer the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500 along with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

But Cricket will only sell the iPhone in smaller markets where the brand is available, while Virgin would make the iPhone more widely available to prepaid customers. The Virgin service, which uses Sprint’s network, covers 278 million people.

The price for a prepaid iPhone through Virgin was not revealed, but the carrier has prepaid plans that begin at US$35 a month for “unlimited” capped data. Tuesday’s report said it was “unclear” whether the iPhone would be compatible with those plans.

Apple began expanding the iPhone to regional carriers last October with C Spire wireless, while more were added in April and again in May of this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to transition from Google Maps to its own solution for iOS later this year

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

You’ll get from point A to point B, just via Apple’s way of doing it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has made plans to break from Google Maps and use its own technology for the native Maps app on iOS later this year and could announce the feature at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Present and former Apple employees revealed to The Wall Street Journal that the Cupertino, Calif., company is set to bump Google’s maps service from its mobile OS. Apple would instead “release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology,” the report said.

One source suggested that Apple may show off the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next week. The company is reportedly looking to convince third-party application developers to implement its technology into their offerings.

The report went on to note that, according to tipsters at Apple, the plan to oust Google Maps has been in motion for years. The rapid rise of Android sales is believed to have quickened the pace of Apple’s plans.

The iPhone maker’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

The company also revealed last April that it was collecting data for a crowd-sourced “improved traffic service” for iPhone users. Given that the revelation came as a result of a location data controversy, Apple’s comments have been taken as referring to street traffic, though the company declined to provide further details.

Small steps have been taken to gradually wean iOS off Google Maps. In 2010, Apple notified U.S. senators that, beginning with iOS 3.2, it had begun relying on “its own databases” for location-based services and diagnostic purposes. In March, it was discovered that Apple had switched to OpenStreetMaps for the maps in its iPhoto iOS app.

Apple’s reported switch comes as location services are quickly attracting a significant percentage of advertising dollars. According to the Journal, Opus Research projects map- or location-related ads will comprise 25 percent of the estimated US$2.5 billion that will be spent on mobile ads this year. However, the report suggested that Apple’s move isn’t just about the money.

“But more than ad revenue, Apple is going after the map market to have more control over a key asset in the widening smartphone war,” the report read, noting that 90 percent of American iPhone owners use Google Maps. “So Apple believes controlling the mapping experience and offering features that Google doesn’t have can help sell more devices and entice developers to build unique apps for iPhone users.”

The maps issue has taken on greater importance as the relationship between Apple and Google has become increasingly complicated. The two companies were close partners for years, but have grown apart as they have become fierce competitors in several key markets, such as smartphones, tablets and advertising.

According to the report, Apple became concerned in 2008 that Google may have been compromising user privacy with its map program. Google executives, on the other hand, reportedly felt Apple was being too controlling. The Mountain View, Calif., search company is believed to have angered Apple leaders by withholding the Street View and turn-by-turn navigation features. Its demands were for better branding within the app and incorporation of its Latitude service, which Apple was unwilling to integrate.

The disagreement served as the impetus for Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ search for acquisitions to build out the company’s own mapping team, the report noted. The group from Poly9 allegedly became a secretive “geo” team within Apple. The employees were said to have built a new geocoder to replace Google’s own and began using it last fall.

Google hasn’t been sitting still either, though. Last week, the company sent out invites for an event that will show off the “next dimension of Google Maps.” The wording of the invite has prompted speculation that the company will announce new 3D features for its mapping service. The event comes just days before Apple kicks off its WWDC confab on June 11.

A bevy of reports have claimed that Apple will take the wraps off a new 3D mapping technology at WWDC. Last month, one report cited sources as saying the solution would “blow your head off.”

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said last week that his research points to the unveiling of a “greatly enhanced” Maps application with 3D capability next week. The new service has reportedly been developed in-house.

“We hear the key reason why AAPL decided to do this is that it believes it can deliver a much better use experience in Maps, not to mention provide further differentiation for its mobile devices business,” Wu said.

Apple is also expected to showcase new Macs, iOS 6 and new camera and photo apps at the conference.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.