Samsung Releases 1GHz Hummingbird Processor for Future Smartphones

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 07:41
Category: Processors

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Electronics giant Samsung unveiled a new ARM processor intended for future smartphones. Per MacNN, the processor, nicknamed “Hummingbird”, uses the same Cortex-A8 architecture as the chip in the iPhone 3GS but clocks at 1GHz, significantly higher than the 833MHz of its previous best. The feat is accomplished both by a smaller, more energy-efficient 45 nanometer process as well as partly customized circuits designed to handle the load.

Samsung has stated the processor can handle up to 2 billion instructions per second but will consume only 640mW of power and doesn’t need more than 1V of voltage. As a Cortex-A8 chip, Hummingbird is a dual-issue (two instructions at a time) processor with special media extensions, known as Neon, that can speed up common audio or video tasks.

Specific customers haven’t been named for the processor, although Samsung makes it clear it sees Hummingbird reaching “advanced mobile devices” once it’s turned into standard system-on-chip processors. Apple has been one of Samsung’s larger customers for ARM processors, although it has typically underclocked the processor for the iPhone to accommodate the heat concerns in the tight enclosure.

iPhone 3GS Hardware Encryption Cracked in Two Minutes

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 05:35
Category: iPhone 3GS, security

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As cool as the recently-released iPhone 3GS may be, there may be room for improvement. According to a blog entry over on Wired’s Gadget Lab, iPhone Forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski describes how the hardware encryption of the iPhone 3Gs can be worked around and demonstrates how both the passcode and backup encryption can be bypassed in about two minutes.

Zdziarski goes on to comment that all data on the iPhone, including deleted data, is automatically decrypted by the iPhone when it’s copied, allowing users and law enforcement agencies alike access the device’s raw disk as if no encryption were present. A second demonstration features the recovery of the iPhone’s entire disk while the device is still passcode-locked.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve heard anything about this, let us know in the comments.

iPhone OS 3.1 to Support Augmented Reality Applications, New Snow Leopard Seed Distributed

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 04:16
Category: Software

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Recently, Apple released word that its upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 firmware will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS’ camera. Such programs would allow for more extended use of the iPhone 3GS’ improved camera and overlay information and controls on top of real-world objects seen through a camera.

Per AppleInsider, iPhone OS 3.1 has so far only been known to expose some video camera controls for developers, third-party producer Acrossair was told by Apple that the future release would be needed for its Nearest Tube and future Nearest Subway apps to work properly.

These applications are already highly dependent on the built-in compass and autofocusing camera of the iPhone 3GS, both of which are needed to alternately recognize the direction the iPhone is facing as well as to get a detailed enough look at a subject to tag it with information. As a demonstration of the technology, Acrossair’s software can show the subway stops visible in a particular direction and their distance relative to the user.

iPhone OS 3.1 is anticipated to be ready by early September, just in time for Apple’s by now yearly iPod updates. The release could also dovetail with the seemingly probable release of an iPod touch with a camera that could take advantage of augmented reality when using Wi-Fi.

On Friday, Apple distributed Mac OS X Snow Leopard build 10A421. The update comes just ten days after 10A411 and is said by people familiar with the changes to be very modest on the surface, including general compatibility, security and stability fixes.

Apple’s increased frequency in providing updated Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) builds is expected with just weeks left before the revision is due to reach stores, as the company will now be looking to isolate and fix the remaining obvious bugs instead of changing functionality.

Apple Facing Constrained iPhone Supplies, Could Delay Some Overseas Launches

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Date: Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, 04:10
Category: iPhone 3GS

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After selling 5.2 million iPhones in fiscal Q3, including a million units that sold in the first three days, Apple has announced being “unable to make enough 3GSs to meet demand.”

According to AppleInsider, voracious demand for the latest iPhone has helped restrict it to 18 launch countries out of the 80 where Apple currently sells iPhones. With demand for the new iPhone 3GS far outpacing supply, Apple COO Tim Cook admitted that limited stock could briefly delay the planned launch of the new iPhone in more countries overseas.

Cook said Apple expects to have the iPhone 3GS available in most nations where the iPhone 3G is currently available by the end of the September quarter and said channel iPhone inventory was flat sequentially in comparison with the last quarter and that the “channel is not loaded.” He then went on to admit that with demand for the iPhone 3GS currently very high, it’s possible that some overseas launches could be delayed. “In terms of affecting the country rollout, I believe the vast majority of the countries that we are selling the 3G in we will be selling the 3GS I think by the end of the fiscal quarter,” he said. “It may move a date by a few weeks here or there.”

The company also hopes to continue to expand its reach. “The world has more than 80 countries,” Cook said. During a question and answer session, Cook was asked about Apple’s plans to enter China with the iPhone. “Nothing to add today specifically,” Cook answered, “other than it continues to be a priority project and we hope to be there within a year.”

Cook also said wireless carriers worldwide are thrilled by the lower churn rate the iPhone delivers, helping them to retain loyal customers. When asked about other products Apple might tie to providers’ wireless contracts, such as notebook and netbook sales, Cook said the company was currently focused on working with carriers on the iPhone and had nothing else to announce.

With regards to AT&T specifically, Cook said Apple has an excellent relationship with the mobile provider and is very happy with it. When asked about phone sales being constrained by AT&T’s network capacity, Cook deferred the question to AT&T itself, but noted that providers were making more investments in their networks to meet consumer demand.

Cook also said that Apple had initially studied the wireless market and determined that “what we could do really well is build hardware” with features that were “revolutionary,” leaving the service side to companies with more skills in networks. “that’s their business and they’re quite good at it,” Cook said.

Apple Releases iMovie 8.0.4 Update

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Date: Friday, July 17th, 2009, 01:48
Category: Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released iMovie 8.0.4, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 35.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Fixed a problem with incorrect rotation when working with video created by iPhone 3GS.
  • Resolved instability when adding multiple beat markers in some languages.
  • Corrected an issue where iMovie could become unresponsive after using fine-tuning controls beyond the stabilized portions of a clip.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be snagged manually or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

T-Mobile, Orange May be Arranging to Sell iPhones to UK Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 14th, 2009, 04:56
Category: News

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Across the pond, wireless carrier O2′s exclusivity deal within the UK marketplace may be coming to an end within the next few months. According to MacNN, competitor T-Mobile stated that it’s already in negotiation with Apple and could begin carrying the iPhone 3G within a matter of months. The iPhone 3GS has not been mentioned by T-Mobile so far, nor is it said to have been brought up by Orange, also rumored to be pushing for UK sales.

Like the United States, the UK has had only one official iPhone carrier since 2007, in spite of an increasing number of foreign countries hosting multiple carriers. The existence of competitive iPhone providers is thought to be beneficial to both Apple and the public, driving down prices and forcing carriers to bend to Apple’s restrictions. For carriers however the open market can hurt profit margins, and invalidate millions in currency paid to secure exclusive rights.

Multiple US carriers may not arrive until at least 2011, when LTE (4G) networks are slated to go live through AT&T and Verizon.

iPhone 3GS Upload Speeds Peak at 384 Kbps

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Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 03:23
Category: iPhone 3GS

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The cat may be out of the bag as a recent Macworld article points out that while Apple’s recently-released iPhone 3GS is capable of much faster download speeds than the previous generations, its upload speeds could stand to see some improvement. While the handset boasts a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA downstream, which is twice the iPhone 3G’s 3.6 Mbps HSDPA speed, it was assumed that Apple would also be increasing upstream speeds by finally adding HSUPA, bringing upload speeds to either 1.4 or 1.9 Mbps.

A recent RapidRepair teardown revealed this not to be the case. When the group cracked open their iPhone 3GS, they found that it still only had a UMTS/HSDPA chip. While it had increased HSDPA speeds, it only supported UMTS, the earliest 3G upload protocol in the U.S., which is only capable of peak speeds of 384 Kbps.

While download speeds with the 3GS are quite a bit faster (or will be in the U.S. when AT&T finishes their 7.2 network), upload speeds remain comparatively slow.

iPhone 3GS Users Noticing Poor Battery Life on Handset

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Date: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, 04:36
Category: iPhone 3GS

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In spite of Apple’s claims that the iPhone 3GS boasts “longer battery life”, some users are complaining that the new handset actually has less battery life than the previous model.

Per The Apple Core and a recent iFixIt teardown, the company noticed the the 3GS battery is 6% larger than the iPhone 3G battery, leading many to suspect that iPhone OS 3.0 may be the culprit.

ComputerWorld followed up on this by noting that users have been reporting worse battery life on all iPhones since the day the iPhone OS 3.0 was released:

“After updating to [iPhone] 3.0 the battery life is very short. It consumes 5%-10% an hour,” claimed an original iPhone user identified as “ukfasthands” in a message posted on Apple’s support forum June 17.

If you’re afflicted you’ll most likely have to wait until Apple releases iPhone OS 3.1, or if we’re lucky, some battery improvement could come with the security update that’s been promised for the end of July. In the mean time, try implementing some of the following iPhone battery savings tips, including:

1. Minimize use of location services
2. Turn off push notifications
3. Fetch new data less frequently
4. Turn off push mail
5. Auto-check fewer email accounts
6. Minimize use of third-party applications
7. Turn off Wi-Fi
8. Turn off Bluetooth
9. Use Airplane Mode in low- or no-coverage areas
10. Adjust brightness
11. Turn off EQ
12. Turn off 3G

How-To: Creating a Flash for Your iPhone 3GS Camera

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Date: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPhone 3GS

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Despite the dramatic improvement in the iPhone 3GS’s new 3 megapixel camera, there are still complaints as to the lack of a built-in flash on the handset. Over on The Channel Project, Ryan decided to make his own flash out of a Mophie JuicePack.

The result was him cutting open the JuicePack, connecting a white LED and a tiny switch to the iPhone and being able to take a picture by holding down a button on the case.

It’s not for the brave of heart, but if you can pull it off, you’ve got an easy flash for your 3GS…

Wireless Carrier China Unicom Apparently Leading Race to Bring iPhone to China

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Date: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPhone

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In the ongoing (and sometimes epic) struggle to bring the iPhone to China, wireless carrier is purportedly closest to reach a deal but still faces an attack from dominant carrier China Mobile.

According to AppleInsider, analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. claims to have sources aware of Apple’s leanings and gives China Unicom the nod as Apple favors the finances, hardware compatibility and degree of control it would get through an agreement. China Unicom is reportedly more willing to heavily subsidize the iPhone to its creator’s satisfaction and to let Apple have its usual say over the device and its software, both of which are doubtful through China Mobile. Rumors have long swirled that China Mobile is insisting on controlling the local App Store, a practice that Apple hasn’t allowed once in the history of its cellphones.

The smaller of the two Chinese carriers boasts 133 million carriers compared to China Mobile’s 488 million but is in the middle of deploying a 3G cellular network that uses UMTS and WCDMA, both standards that are already supported by the iPhone 3G and 3GS. Should Apple go with China Unicom, the deal would let Apple keep selling the same iPhone in China as it does elsewhere while also getting more reach: the faster network should reach 284 cities within several months.

In comparison, China Mobile’s government-supported TD-SCDMA standard for 3G would require that Apple incorporate a custom chipset just for the one carrier and would come with growth limitations of its own. Despite having over three times as many customers, the larger carrier will reach nearly 50 fewer cities with its 3G and doesn’t anticipate the network reaching complete coverage until three years from now, or well after China Unicom’s network is ready.

Wu’s contacts, however, maintain that Apple doesn’t entirely consider China Mobile “out of the running” both through its sheer influence and its interest in the iPhone, which would be a victory even in a country well-known for grey market imports.

Wu has indicated that he doesn’t see a deal with either carrier as close enough to force a change in predicted iPhone numbers for now and the year ahead. About 20 million iPhones should ship in 2009 and 26 million in 2010. All the same, he notes that Chinese shouldn’t necessarily be disappointed without an official deal thanks to the nation’s thriving bootleg community.

“Our sources indicate that iPhones will likely continue to flow into China,” Wu says. “There are an estimated 1 million-1.5 million iPhones in use despite lack of an official carrier relationship.”