O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Foxconn chair cites crushing demand, possible delays for iPhone 5 units

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Date: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, 08:49
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You know that iPhone 5 you ordered?

You may have to wait a little longer for it to be manufactured and ship.

Per Reuters, Crushing demand for the iPhone 5 has proven to be too much for Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to handle, as it continues to struggle to produce the device.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou admitted on Wednesday that his company is finding it difficult to meet the significant demand for Apple’s iPhone 5. Foxconn is Apple’s primary partner for assembly of a number of its devices, including the iPhone.

“It’s not easy to make the iPhones,” Gou reportedly said. “We are falling short of meeting the huge demand.”

Sales of the iPhone 5 have been held back by limited supply since the device launched in September. Apple itself said the company has been “completely blown away” by consumer demand for the device.

In particular, the in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis featured in the new design of the iPhone 5 are said to have posed quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn revealed in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

Rumors first surfaced a month ago that Foxconn had expanded production to a subsidiary known as Foxconn International Holdings in an effort to boost production. When asked about that rumor on Wednesday, Gou declined to comment.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: ARM-based Macs “inevitable”, though still a ways off

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 09:24
Category: News, Processors

Apple’s future may be in the hands of ARM some day.

Per AppleInsider, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu has gone on record as saying it’s “inevitable” that Apple will merge its Mac and iOS devices at some point, but such a change is not expected to happen for years.

Wu said in a note to investors on Tuesday that he believes it will take Apple some time to optimize its Mac OS X operating system for the ARM processors currently found in the iPad and iPhone.

Intel processors are currently much more powerful for running intensive Mac applications, as well as for development. But he believes that ARM processors will eventually become powerful enough to replace Intel chips.

In his view, making Apple’s entire product line based on custom-built ARM-based processors would simplify the architecture of its devices, and also help to create a more seamless experience for users.

Wu also noted that the Mac represents just 14 percent to 18 percent of Apple’s total revenue. In comparison, the iPhone accounts for between 45 and 50 percent of the company’s revenue, and the iPad is 20 to 25 percent.

Wu’s take was issued in response to a report that surfaced on Monday from Bloomberg, which indicated that Apple’s engineers are confident that the company’s A-series custom chip designs will one day be powerful enough to run the company’s desktop and laptop machines. ARM-based silicon in Apple devices is currently limited to iOS devices.

Monday’s report also suggested a change to ARM processors is not likely to take place “in the next few years.” But it also portrayed a shift to proprietary chip designs as an “inevitable” transition for the company in the future.

Apple is said to have a team dedicated to the project, with engineers working to design a lineup of machines that rely on a common chip design. Apple already employs this approach with its current lineup of iPhones, iPads and iPods.

A potential switch to ARM chips would pose a challenge to Intel, Wu said. He noted that Apples’ 11-inch MacBook Air gets four to five hours of battery life under heavy use, compared to 10 hours of battery life with an ARM-based iPad.

Reports suggesting Apple could power future Macs with ARM processors are not new. One recent story issued in October also said Apple has “deliberated” moving its lineup of Mac computers away from Intel processors, though such a change was said to not be “imminent.”

Apple has made headway in designing its own custom silicon for the iPhone and iPad. Earlier this year, rumors suggested Apple was looking to use its own ARM processors in upcoming iterations of the MacBook, especially in power-critical applications like the thin-and-light MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for “ionic wind generator”, may look to replace conventional fans in upcoming devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 08:10
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could turn into something interesting.

And, hey, if it works…there might be fewer dust bunnies in your computing devices.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday a patent for a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it’s needed most.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for “Methods and apparatus for cooling electronic devices,” describes a system in which the direction of ionized air moving through a computing device is deflected by either an electric or magnetic field. Currently, mechanical fans pull in air and push it through predetermined physical paths within a computer, usually over passive heat exchangers, and out through an exhaust port.

Driving the air in Apple’s system is the ionic wind generator, basically a solid-state air mover based on “corona discharge–an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air.” The system is comprised of a corona electrode, a collector electrode and a high voltage power supply. When voltage is applied to electrodes, an electric field is created and causes particles in the surrounding air to take on a charge, or become ionized. An electric field propels the charged particles toward the collector electrode, which collide with other neutral particles as they move to create to generate “bulk air movement.”

As the ionized air moves through the device, it can be deflected or redirected by a “deflection field generator,” which can be a magnet or electromagnet. The magnitude of deflection is governed by the Lorentz force, or force on a charged particle from an electromagnetic field, which can be varied by the deflection field generator.

By employing standard issue heat sensors, the ion wind pump and deflection field generator system can direct cooling air to high temperature areas like the CPU or GPU.

The system also solves another problem associated with always-on mechanical fans, the so-called “no slip” condition at the “surface and the mean free stream velocity at the outer reaches from the surface” of a component. When such a condition arises, it creates a boundary layer of air over a component, making heat transfer more difficult. By modulating the rate of deflection, or time in which air flow passes over a component, the system creates eddy currents and turbulent flows to disturb the boundary layer.

Finally, the ionized air exits the device through a vent that is in the path of the ionic pump’s normal air flow.

Interestingly, the invention notes that the system is not limited to large desktops and laptops, but in mobile devices such as cell phones and media players as well.

Although such ion wind pump technologies are used in specialized industrial and laboratory settings, a solution has not yet been presented in a consumer device. Apple has shown that it is actively looking to solve issues related to cooling internal components, including noise reduction as seen with the asymmetrical fans in both MacBook Pro with Retina display models, however it is unknown if the company will implement the solid state generator any time soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple web site search reveals possible unlocked iPhone 5 units en route

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 10:17
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

This is kind of interesting.

With the U.S. Online Apple Store still showing carrier-specific iPhone 5 delivery dates of three to four weeks, a quick search on Apple’s website may have revealed the pricing of factory unlocked units expected to hit stores later this year.

Per AppleInsider, the alleged unlocked units are anything but official and could merely be placeholders in Apple’s database, however the prices are consistent with identical models being sold in Canada where all iPhones are unlocked.

While not listed anywhere else on the site, a query for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked” in the Apple.com search bar reveals “Apple Store Results” as seen above. The units are priced at US$649 for the 16GB version, US$749 for the 32GB model, and US$849 for the 64GB iteration. While not present in the screenshot, all prices for both GSM and CDMA models can be found by adding the storage size to the search. For example, the price of unlocked 32GB GSM and CDMA iPhone 5s are found by searching for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked 32GB.”

It is unclear how long the purported iPhone 5 search results have been on Apple’s website, but a report in September showed an Online Apple Store iPhone comparison page that revealed the prices of unlocked versions bound for the U.S. and Canada. The prices quoted in that report are in line with the search results found on Apple’s U.S. website.

Currently, Apple does not offer factory unlocked versions of its latest handset in the U.S., however the CDMA version sold by Verizon was found to be compatible with the GSM networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. A subsequent report noted that the AT&T version can be unlocked to operate on T-Mobile’s network via an iTunes reset and nano-SIM card replacement.

Apple is expected to introduce unlocked versions of the iPhone 5 when its worldwide rollout is completed and supply of the handset normalizes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple introduces Lightning to Micro USB adapter to North American customers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: Hardware, News

You can’t knock a useful adapter.

Per AppleInsider, alongside the iPad mini, Apple on Friday introduced the Lightning to micro USB adapter, a tiny dongle first available in Europe, to the U.S. market.

Initially built and released in tandem with the iPhone 5 in Europe to fulfill the European Commission’s regulation that all smartphones sold in the region be micro USB compatible, the US$19 adapter has now become available in North America.

Previously, those iPhone, iPod and now iPad users needed to buy the component through third-party resellers or directly from an Apple Store in Europe if they wanted to charge and sync their devices via micro USB. As there is no official standard in the U.S., manufacturers offer their products in a variety of charging methods, causing many consumers to build up a stockpile of various cables and chargers. The Lightning to micro USB adapter looks to do away with at least one of those cables.

Apple’s adapter is compatible with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, seventh-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. According to the company’s website, the dongle is able to both charge and sync devices, though it is unlikely that audio line out is supported as the Lightning protocol is completely digital and would require an embedded digital-to-analog converter to function.

The US$19 adapter can be purchased directly from store.apple.com, with shipments available to ship in one to three days.

If you’ve tried the adapter and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes iPad mini teardown, finds Samsung LCD, similar design elements found in iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 08:12
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, News

There’s some cool stuff inside the iPad mini and the coolest-of-cats over at iFixit performed their usual teardown magic to find what said cool stuff was.

Per the teardown, iFixit found the device has a large metal plate behind its screen held in place by 16 screws. Similar plates were found in the iPhone 5, as well as the new fifth-generation iPod touch, which led the repair experts to conclude the plate is a “new iDevice design convention.”

Upon removing the thin panel, the first exposed integrated circuit is the Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module — a component that is also found inside the iPhone 5.

The integrated circuits controlling the display reveal the LCD panel was built by Samsung. Apple is said to be looking to buy components from companies other than Samsung, which is a chief rival, but the Korean electronics maker was also the sole supplier of LCD panels for the third-generation iPad Retina display earlier this year.

The disassembly also confirmed that the iPad mini does have stereo speakers. By replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the smaller Lightning port, Apple has “just enough space” to squeeze in a second speaker.

Antennas are also found atop each speaker in the iPad mini, presumably for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The speakers are held in place by what iFixit said are some of the smallest screws they have ever seen.

The Lightning connector was also found to be soldered to the logic board in the iPad mini, a change from the dock connector in the third-generation iPad that would make repairs “very expensive.”

The full list of chips found on the logic board are:
– Apple A5 processor

– Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

– Apple 343S0593-A5

– Apple 338S1116 — an unknown chip found also found in the fifth-generation iPod touch; appears similar to Apple 338S1117 found in the iPhone 5

– Fairchild PCHPS FDMC 6676BZ

– Fairchild BC7BE F0MC 6683

If you’ve gotten your hands on an iPad mini and have any feedback, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

iFixit tears down fourth-gen iPad, finds similar design, updated processor, components

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:04
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

The fourth-gen iPad is faster with a better camera and a Lightning connector, but it’s apparently still the same beast as the third-gen iPad.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a teardown of Apple’s new tablet and found that the tablet’s internal design has remained essentially untouched when compared to the previous iteration.

Hours after iFixit tore down the iPad mini, the firm did the same with Apple’s new 9.7-inch tablet to find that the iterative component changes didn’t warrant a redesign of the chassis or internal layout.

The tablet dissected by iFixit happened to be using an LG-sourced Retina display, not a Samsung panel like those first seen with the initial rollout of the third-generation iPad. At the time, it was reported that LG Display was ramping up production of their own high-resolution displays and began shipment months later. Samsung is still thought to be one of the main suppliers for the 9.7-inch panels, though Apple has recently made moves to diversify its supply chain.

Most of the significant changes were seen in the device’s logic board, which now boasts an A6X processor clocked at 1.4GHz with quad core graphics and 1GB of memory. Components on the backside of the board, such as the Broadcom touchscreen controller, were identical to the third-generation iPad.

Full list of chips found on the logic board:
– Apple A6X SoC

– Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

– Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec

– 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC

– Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier

– QVP TI 261 A9P2

It appears that Apple chose not to utilize the space afforded by its switch to the Lightning connector, as the extra room is left unfilled. In fact, the Lightning connector is placed in a frame that is the same size as the outgoing 30-pin unit.

The other notable change is the tablet’s upgraded front-facing camera, which gets a spec bump from 0.3 megapixels to 1.2 megapixels, granting it the FaceTime HD moniker.

Unveiled alongside the iPad mini at a special event in October, the fourth-generation iPad is available today at only at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, as preorders for the device sold out on Tuesday.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6.1 beta, updated Xcode beta to developers, looks to improve iOS Maps application functionality

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:22
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s time to sort out this iOS Maps snafu in a major way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday provided developers with a prerelease version of its forthcoming iOS 6.1 update, featuring improvements to its Maps application programming interface, and also issued a beta of Xcode 4.6.

Both iOS 6.1 and Xcode 4.6 are now available to download from Apple’s developer website. People familiar with the first iOS 6.1 beta indicated it is identified as “Build 10B5095f.”

The iOS 6.1 beta is available for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS; fourth-, third- and second-generation iPads; and the fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Beta versions of iOS 6.1 compatible with the iPad mini and new fourth-generation iPad, which will become publicly available tomorrow, are not said to be offered on Apple’s developer website.

The only major new addition to iOS 6.1 is said to be “Map Kit Searches” as part of the “Map Kit” framework. It now lets developers search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

A new class labeled “MKLocalSearch” is also said to offer map-based content using a natural language string. This will allow users to enter place name information or portions of an address to return relevant information.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

The new Xcode 4.6 beta is reportedly labeled as “Build 4H90b,” and it includes the iOS 6.1 beta SDK, along with Mac OS X 10.8 SDK. The pre-release version of Xcode includes the Xcode IDE, iOS simulator, and all required tools and frameworks for building OS X and iOS applications.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new development tools and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Safari 6.0.2 update

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:37
Category: News, security, Software

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You can’t knock a timely security update.

On Thursday, Apple released Safari 6.0.2, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 40.2 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

– Safari 6.0.2 is a security update for which complete details can be found here.

Safari 6.0.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run and can also be located and downloaded via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.4.2 update

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:45
Category: News, Software

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It’s another iPhoto update.

And man, it’s sorta huge.

On Thursday, Apple released its iPhoto 9.4.2 update. The update, a 759 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
-Photos now can be added to shared streams or My Photo Stream by dragging them to “Photo Stream” in the source list.

– Multiple email addresses can now be copied and pasted in the “Shared with” field for shared streams.

– When more than five subscribers “Like” a photo in a shared stream, their names are now displayed correctly.

– Contextual menu now includes an Import command to import all the photos contained in a shared photo stream.

– Addresses the reliability of Shared Photo Streams when switching between iPhoto and Aperture with the same library.

-Fixes an issue that could prevent Microsoft Outlook from being used to email photos from within iPhoto.

– Updated national holidays are available for use in printed photo calendars.

– Includes stability improvements.

iPhoto 9.4.2 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.