Rumor: iPhone 5 might be ‘larger than expected’, could sport 4G-LTE features

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 05:45
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5 will inevitably get here.

It’s a question of how large the unit will be when it does.

Per AppleInsider, sources in Apple’s overseas supply chain have reportedly indicated that the company’s forthcoming fifth-generation iPhone could be a more significant upgrade than previous rumors have suggested, sporting a larger display and thinner design.

Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said he has consistently received one question from investors regarding the upcoming iPhone: Why would a customer consider buying a so-called “iPhone 5″ without 4G if Apple plans to release a 4G long-term evolution handset in the future?

“Well, it turns out that we are picking up that this interim iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected,” Wu wrote. “We believe this keeps the iPhone fresh and competitive and helps maintain its leadership position.”

He said that supply chain sources have indicated that the new iPhone will feature a slightly larger display than the current 3.5-inch screen found on the iPhone 4. The fifth-generation iPhone is also expected to feature the same dual-core A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

In addition, those same sources reportedly said that the new iPhone will feature a similar form factor and size to the iPhone 4, but will sport a thinner bezel.

“We believe this makes sense to improve the iPhone experience without making it too bulky as we have seen with models from competitors,” he wrote.

While Wu expects the new iPhone to have a bigger screen and thinner profile, checks within the supply chain have said that the fifth-generation iPhone is not expected to have 4G-LTE high-speed wireless data connectivity. The new technology still has issues with battery life and network coverage, problems that Wu believes Apple will fix at some point in the future.

Rumors of an iPhone with a larger screen are not new, with a number of reports over the last year claiming that Apple’s next handset will feature an edge-to-edge display that would allow the iPhone to retain the same size. Such reports stand in contrast to other claims that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases pricing details for iCloud storage

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 04:34
Category: News, Software

Apple on Monday unveiled more details about its forthcoming iCloud syncing service, including details on pricing. Per Macworld, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had previously declared that Apple device users would get 5GB of iCloud storage for free with the option to add an additional 10GB (a total of 15GB) for US$20 per year, 25GB for US$40 per year, or 55GB for US$100 per year.

In comparison, cloud-storage service Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, 50GB for US$120 per year and 100GB for US$240 per year.

Also on Monday, Apple launched a developer beta of iCloud.com, which gives registered developers an early preview of the company’s iOS-like Web apps for iCloud-synced email, contacts, calendars, iWork, and Find My iPhone.

Apple still hasn’t said precisely when iCloud will become available to the masses, but the service is strongly tied to iOS 5, which the company promises will arrive “this fall.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 4.3.3 update out the door, adds functionality for playing purchased videos, Vimeo content

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 13:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: updates are nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released iOS 4.3.3 for its second-generation Apple TV set top device. Up until now, you could stream any TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store housed on a computer using Apple’s Home Sharing feature or via AirPlay. Both, however, require that the computer be turned on and accessible on your network—and that the files themselves are still on your hard drive. With this latest update, any TV shows you’ve purchased (or downloaded, in the case of free TV show episodes) are instantly available to stream over the Internet as what appears to be an extension of Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud functionality.

Under the TV Shows menu on the Apple TV’s home screen, you’ll now find a Purchased item at the top.

The update also adds support for playing videos from Vimeo, a popular video-sharing website that offers HD hosting.

Apple now includes directly Vimeo upload support in both its iMovie and Final Cut Pro X video-editing applications, so including a viewing option on the Apple TV is both natural and welcome.

To update your Apple TV to the latest software, go to Settings -> General -> Update Software and follow the directions.

At the same time, Apple added the ability to re-download TV shows in iTunes and on iOS devices, as it already does with music, books, and apps.

If you’ve tried the new update on your second-generation Apple TV, let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to enter HDTV market in March of 2012, offer three initial models

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 04:20
Category: Rumor

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A few years ago, Apple announced it would add the word “Inc.” to its title and become more of a lifestyle company.

Creating high-definition television sets sort of fits into that framework.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Trip Chowdhry with Global Equities Research issued a note to investors on Sunday in which he shared his “converged view” on an anticipated Apple HDTV, with information based on details culled from a number of developer events he attended.

Chowdhry said the product that is most similar to Apple’s rumored HDTV is the Bose VideoWave, a 46-inch LCD HDTV with an integrated surround-sound speaker system. The VideoWave aims to simplify HDTVs by reducing clutter, and to improve picture and sound quality.

The Bose VideoWave gives the greatest sense of where Apple’s alleged HDTV may be heading, Chowdhry claimed. He said his “converged view” of data from various developers is “probably” 75 percent accurate, and that it will “probably” be launched in March of 2012, with developer sessions at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Apple’s rumored HDTV is apparently being benchmarked against the VideoWave because it has reduced its number of cables to just three. Chowdhry believes that any television set from Apple would have just one cable.

The VideoWave also sports a thickness of six inches, packing in 16 speakers. Chowdhry said that Apple’s purported HDTV will be a third as thick and will also have 16 speakers.

“These 16 built-in speakers gives a complete surround sound experience, without the need for any external speakers,” he said.

Bose’s HDTV product comes in just one screen size and price point: 46 inches for US$5,200. Chowdhry said that an HDTV from Apple will have three screen sizes and three price points.

“The DSP chip in Apple HDTV is a brand new chip based on Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi,” he added. “As of now, this new chip is not in mass production.”

Claims of a forthcoming Apple-branded Internet-connected HDTV are not new, and one report from April even suggested that Apple could release its own television set this year. One analysis issued earlier this month found that Apple’s market capitalization could grow by US$100 billion if it were to enter the HDTV market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to launch next-gen iPhone in October

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 03:17
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per All Things D, Apple’s next iPhone may arrive even later than expected, with a new rumor claiming the handset will not go on sale until the month of October according to sources close to the story.

The latest rumor contradicts recent reports which have claimed the so-called “iPhone 5″ will debut in September. In addition, AT&T employees have allegedly been prohibited from taking vacation during the last two weeks of September, which has suggested to some that a new iPhone could launch in that timeframe.

“Sources with knowledge of the situation say reports claiming AT&T has blacked out employee vacations during the last two weeks of September in preparation for the retail debut of the next iPhone are misinformed,” Paczkowski wrote.

In recent days, cases claiming to show the new design of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone have been appearing in large numbers in China. The proliferation of those cases has fueled speculation that the launch of a new iPhone could happen soon.

An October launch would be later than most expect, and much later than the typical June-July timeframe that Apple has used to launch new iPhone models in years past.

At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple did not unveil any new hardware. Instead, the company showed off iOS 5, a software update it promised is coming this fall, presumably alongside the next-generation iPhone.

In early July, one report claimed that Apple’s component suppliers in Taiwan were gearing up and preparing materials for production of a fifth-generation iPhone in October. Most rumors have suggested that the upgrade will include an improved 8 megapixel camera, along with the speedy A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV units moving briskly, no signs of updated models for Q3

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 10:42
Category: Apple TV, News

Albeit not as popular as some of its other products, the Apple TV unit seems to be achieving moderate success, selling roughly 500,000 units per quarter as the 2011 holiday shopping season approaches.

The latest update to Apple’s US$99 streaming media box arrived last fall and within just a few months went on to sell a million units. Even so, Apple has provided no update on sales of the device. Per AppleInsider, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tells has stated that his industry checks indicate the company shipped 480,000 units during the second calendar quarter of the year, representing more than 70% year-over-year growth.

Although Apple continues to see Internet television devices as a nascent category, frequently referring to the Apple TV as a “hobby,” when sales of the device are pit against its peers, the Apple TV appears to be a runaway success.

For instance, Logitech said this week that “very modest sales” of its US$249 Google TV-based Revue set-top-box were exceeded by returns of the product from unhappy customers, prompting the company to slash pricing by 66% to match Apple TV’s US$99 price point.

The move will reportedly cost the device maker some US$34 million in one-time charges as it hopes to “remove price as a barrier to broad consumer adoption.” The failed partnership with Google also contributed to a US$29.6 million loss for Logitech during its fiscal first quarter, prompting the exist of chief executive Gerald P. Quindlen.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, Kuo said his industry checks have turned up no evidence that Apple plans push a hardware revision to the Apple TV into production during the third quarter. Instead, the Cupertino-based company will reportedly take a more measured approach to advancing the platform in 2011, relying instead on an Apple TV Software Update this fall that will allow devices such as the iPad 2 and upcoming iPhone 5 to beam their content to the big-screen.

The technology, dubbed AirPlay, essentially allows devices equipped with Apple’s A5 processor and the forthcoming iOS 5.0 update to mirror their video content from supporting applications to HDTVs hooked up to an Apple TV. While ideal for sharing video with friends and family, the feature is even more significant for Apple’s encroachment on the gaming market, as it will allow any iOS game developer to offer console-style gaming (demos below) by which the the iPhone or iPad transforms into a wireless controller, equipped with gyro sensors and touch-screen controls.

Even so, Apple continues to struggle with the second prong of its Apple TV strategy: HD video content. Unlike the inaugural Apple TV that offered a trove of archived television content priced between US$2 and US$3 an episode, the company continues to face opposition from networks who feel the new Apple TV’s US$0.99 per episode HD rental model devalues their content, according to people familiar with the matter.

Over the past year, Apple has failed to reach licensing agreements with content producers that would have them join Fox and partner Disney, for which Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is a director and largest individual shareholder, in providing their television content to Apple TV users. As such, Apple is now reportedly in talks to grow its streaming video business through a potential acquisition of Hulu, an ad-supported streaming service that offers video content from NBC, ABC, USA, Bravo, FX, A&E, and numerous other television networks.

“[W]e love the product. It’s clear that customers love the product,” Apple chief operating office Tim Cook said this month of the Apple TV. “We really guided right when we went to the new Apple TV just last fall. But right now, it’s still a hobby status that we’re continuing to invest in it because we think that there is something there.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

MacBook Air examined, found to be using scaled-down Thunderbolt controller

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 06:28
Category: MacBook Air, News

The new MacBook Air is getting positive feedback and being regarded as nifty.

And the cool nerds at AnandTech found out why.

Per AnandTech, Apple is using a scaled-down “Eagle Ridge” controller chip from Intel instead of the “Light Ridge” chip found in larger Thunderbolt-enabled machines.

Eagle Ridge is available in two form factors (normal and SFF [small form factor]) and is effectively half of a Light Ridge chip. That means you only get two Thunderbolt channels and one DP output. Apple used the small form factor version of Eagle Ridge in its new MacBook Air to cut cost and save on motherboard real estate.

With Eagle Ridge only supporting a single DisplayPort output, MacBook Air users are only able to drive a single external display via the Thunderbolt port, although the machine’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 would also preclude the use of two external monitors on the MacBook Air as it does on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt adoption has thus far been limited to high-end devices in part due to high costs associated with inclusion of the technology. Use of the scaled-down Eagle Ridge controller could help push Thunderbolt into lower-end products, presuming that the smaller chip carries some cost savings for manufacturers.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a brand new MacBook Air, let us know what you make of it via the comments.

Analyst: Apple unlikely to purchase Barnes & Noble retail chain

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 06:44
Category: Finance, Rumor

With the recent closing of Borders, the rumor mill’s been in full force with regard to competitor Barnes and Noble.

Responding to a new rumor that Apple is considering a purchase of bookseller Barnes & Noble, one Wall Street analyst has said he doesn’t think such a deal would make much sense for the iPhone maker.

According to AppleInsider, Brian Marshall with Gleacher & Company said in a note to investors on Thursday that he doesn’t think Barnes & Noble is a likely acquisition target for Apple and its US$76 billion cash hoard.

In fact, if Apple’s sole goal was to obtain brick-and-mortar locations, the company would have been better suited to purchase another bookseller, Borders, which has about 400 stores in liquidation.

Marshall said that Barnes & Noble’s real estate footprint is “impressive,” with more than 700 stores totaling 18.4 million square feet of space from an average store footprint of 26,000 square feet. But he also says a potential US$1.5 billion vestment would not be a wise use of Apple’s money.

Apple is currently making an aggressive push in the retail space, and plans to add 30 stores in the September 2011 quarter. Most of Apple’s planned expansion, though, is set to take place internationally, and the vast majority of Barnes & Noble’s retail space is in the U.S.

“We would much prefer to see AAPL use cash for strategic purposes and balance sheet optimization (e.g., acquisition of content rights, dividend initiation, share repurchases, etc.),” Marshall wrote.

The analysis came in response to a story published earlier on Thursday, in which an “unproven source” claimed to have knowledge of negotiations between Apple and Barnes & Noble.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Forthcoming Microsoft Office 2011 update to add support for Mac OS X 10.7 feature base

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Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 12:25
Category: News, Software

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The good news: Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) is out.

The bad news: Not all of Microsoft’s products support all of the Mac OS X 10.7 feature base.

Still, there may be hope on the horizon.

Per the Office for Mac blog, Microsoft has revealed that a forthcoming update for Office for Mac 2011 will add support for new features in Mac OS X 10.7, including versions, auto-save and full-screen.

Pat Fox of the Office for Mac team wrote on the company’s official blog this week that inquiries about those features have been the “most common question” for users of late. The Microsoft team is said to be “working hard with Apple” to enable the features.

“I know your next question will be ‘when?’, and unfortunately I can’t answer that — but it’s likely measured in months not days — just to set expectations,” the post reads.

The news came alongside the release of an update to Communicator for Mac, which addresses an issue related to crashing in Lion. The download is available through Microsoft AutoUpdate.

The company also reiterated that Office for Mac 2004 will not ever work on Lion, because the software was a PowerPC-based product, and Lion no longer includes Rosetta.

“Now would be a great time to upgrade to Office for Mac 2011 if you’re upgrading to Lion!” Fox said.

Office for Mac 2011, the industry’s most popular productivity suite, was released last October, delivering better compatibility with the Windows version of Office and corporate server products. It also features a revised user interface that’s similar to the “ribbon” interface used in Windows.

Those user interface elements are built on Cocoa, the development layer of Mac OS X. And the all-new version of Outlook that shipped with Office for Mac 2011 was also built from the ground-up with Cocoa for the Mac.

File versions, auto-save and full-screen are major features touted as part of the newly released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion operating system. With support for Lion, documents are automatically saved, and multiple versions of the file are stored allowing for Time Machine-like recovery of previous iterations of a file.

The new full-screen support in Lion will bring an iPad-like feel to the operating system, allowing users to concentrate on one task at a time and quickly swipe between full-screen applications with a multi-touch gesture.

Apple’s own competing productivity suite, iLife, was already updated for Lion earlier this month. iWork Update 6 adds support for full-screen mode, resume, auto-save and versions to Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple files patent for flat keyboard technology that would rely on acoustic pulses rather than physical key taps

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Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 02:19
Category: News, Patents

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This could be weird.

But also spiffy.

Per a patent application files with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has looked into a flat keyboard that would detect acoustic pulses from users’ taps instead of relying on physical key presses.

The patent, entitled “Piezo-based acoustic and capacitive detection,” was published last week and describes an effort solve an issue with touch-sensitive input devices.

“In general, touch-sensitive surface or related input devices may be less reliable in determining a pressed command or intended input when compared with a traditional mechanical keyboard,” the filing read. “For example, some touch screens often require that a user tap on the screen several times before detecting the command.

The Mac maker’s proposed solution is to couple a capacitive touch sensor with a piezoelectric sensor that can detect an “acoustic signature” from user input. That acoustic signature would then be compared to a database of reference acoustic signatures in order to determine where the input occurred.

One embodiment of the invention would entail multiple piezoelectric sensors to track more than one acoustic pulse. Apple also proposes that “tuning features,” such as openings on the surface of the keyboard, could help distinguish various keys by distorting or altering the acoustic signature of taps.

According to the filing, pressure switches and proximity devices could also be utilized to help ensure accurate detection.

Apple suggests that “it may be useful to provide an input device that is flat and has few to no moving pieces, as this may yield a more robust product.” The company also noted that the invention could “take any form of a input-surface input device for a computing system, not just a traditional keyboard layout.

The filing provides for several materials for the keys, such as metal, glass and plastic. In the case of metal or plastic, the keys could be “machined, stamped or micro-perforated” into the surface. For a glass solution, keys can be painted on the surface or “provided as graphics on a display screen located below the glass surface.”

Additionally, keys could be indented or have textural differences that would help users distinguish between keys. Apple suggests that the flat keyboard could include a “haptic or tactile feedback mechanism” that would provide “force, vibration and/or motion” to a user’s fingers or hands in response to pressing on the keyboard surface. The company has, in the past, expressed interest in haptic feedback for touch screens.

Apple filed for the patent on Jan. 20, 2010.

Mushtaq A. Sarwar, Omar Sze Leung, Aleksandar Pance, Brett Bilbrey and Andew Ross Richardson are credited as the inventors.