O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Purported screenshots show possible new mapping functions in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:46
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

They’re not the most elegant pictures and they’re even a bit blurry, but they ARE interesting.

Per Boy Genius Report, a collection of blurry photos claim to reveal Apple’s redesigned Maps application, expected to be a major component of the anticipated iOS 6 update for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The five pictures claiming to show the new iOS 6 Maps application were credited to a “trusted source,” and hint at a redesigned user interface with a silver color scheme, rather than the current blue.



The new Maps application will reportedly feature a button in the bottom left corner with two options: a “locate me” feature,” and quick access to a new 3D mode. Apple’s 3D mapping solution is expected to be driven by the acquisition of C3 Technologies in 2011.

The 3D mapping functionality is said to be near complete, and is being tested in a build of iOS 6 reportedly labeled “10A3XX.”

Details on the anticipated revamped iOS Maps application first surfaced earlier this month, claiming that the 3D mapping functionality will be a key component of Apple’s new in-house solution. The new Maps application is expected to be shown off as part of an iOS 6 demonstration at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 11 through 15 in San Francisco, Calif.

Apple’s plan to move away from Google and develop its own proprietary mapping solution has been a long time in the making. The company’s plans were first signaled in 2009, when it purchased Placebase, a competitor to Google Maps.

And in 2010, Apple bought Poly9, another mapping company, and began using its own location databases for the Maps application with the launch of iOS 3.2 for the first-generation iPad. Another key acquisition came in 2011, when Apple bought C3 Technologies, a Sweden-based 3D mapping company.

Another key component of the anticipated Maps overhaul in iOS 6 could be traffic. Apple publicly announced last April that it was “collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database,” for an “improved traffic service” that would launch in “the next couple of years.”

In addition to a 3D mapping button, the purported iOS 6 Maps pictures revealed on Tuesday also include a button for “Directions,” which could include Apple’s in-the-works traffic service to aid in turn-by-turn driving directions. The pictures also show a different look for the mapping data that is similar to the OpenStreetMap data Apple began using with the release of iPhoto for iOS in March.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Production effort towards 2012 MacBooks creating labor shortage in/around China

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The good news is that Apple’s 2012 notebooks seem to be under construction.

The bad news is that this doesn’t really help the regional labor markets.

Per DigiTimes, anticipated demand for Apple’s redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company’s Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker’s production lines.

The publication added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the “strong orders from Apple” for the new notebooks, due “in the near future.”

“Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry’s traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple’s new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand.”

Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company’s new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks’ new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a ‘possible launch’ of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple’s total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 — a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

The report did not mention anything regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Transportation Security Administration pursuing $3 million in Apple hardware over next three years

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:50
Category: Hardware, News

Love or hate the TSA, they’ll be using some more Apple hardware over the next three years.

Per iPodNN, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may purchase up to US$3 million in Apple hardware over the next three years. Up to a thousand Macintosh and a thousand iOS mobile devices purchases are planned. The Apple equipment has been declared to be “critical to meet a variety of operational, programmatic, and mission-specific requirements” by the TSA.

Apple hardware has traditionally made few inroads in federal agencies, mostly due to the requirement that purchasing by government organizations must specifically allow for open contracting and non-specificity of hardware. For instance, if a computer is required, generally, the request isn’t allowed to specify branding such as “Dell Computer” or “HP computer,” and it must simply say “computer.”

The TSA argues that only Apple equipment will fit the need now, and since OS X and iOS are not available on other platforms, only Apple hardware can be used for the foreseeable future. The amplifying information attached to the justification also indicates that many of the 106 government-written mobile apps are only available on Apple’s iOS.

A similar request has been made for Android equipment, but no details are available. The TSA filing has listed the entire range of Apple offerings, including iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macintosh computers, warranties such as AppleCare, and other materials needed to support Apple products in a production environment.

The equipment is primarily intended for media production, forensic information technology assessments, mobile usage, and software development. The request comes after reports from federal tipsters claiming fewer BlackBerry purchases, and employees and military personnel being allowed to use their own smartphones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“We Want a New Mac Pro” group page gaining traction/support

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:00
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

Apple’s Mac Pro line really hasn’t been updated in a while.

Which is growing disconcerting to some users.

Per AppleInsider, a group of users has begun a “We Want a New Macpro” group page on the social networking site had garnered over 4,000 likes as of late Thursday and a number of comments from group members calling for either a Mac Pro update or concrete information from Apple about its plans for the high-end machine.

According to the page, the petition was started by Lou Borella, a self-described “professional editor and graphic animator” in the New York City area, earlier in May.

On May 9, Borella posted an open letter to Apple asking for “a little clarity” about the Mac Pro.

“Its been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we’re really happy with our new toys,” he wrote. “But unfortunately many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living.”

The letter went on to say that professional software applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite 6, AVID, Pro Tools and Smoke, require “the most powerful hardware available.” In addition, creative professionals need configurable systems for their business.

“The iMac is not the answer for these situations,” he said.

Borella is seeking for a “timeframe” for a new Mac Pro update or official confirmation as to whether the line is “dead.”

“It’s not too much to ask. We cannot wait any longer and it’s really not fair to string us along like this,” Borella concluded, also signing the letter on behalf of the “Creative Community.”

According to an informal poll posted to the page last week, 267 people are willing to wait until “shortly after” the Worldwide Developers Conference in mid-June, while 47 people said they would wait until the end of this year. 143 respondents said they would wait until the Mac Pro was “officially discontinued” before taking the next step.

A second poll found that 197 people are willing to wait because their “current computer still works fine.” 131 others said they would build a “Hackintosh,” a custom-built computer running an unauthorized copy of OS X. Finally, 47 people said they would switch back to Microsoft Windows.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both the petition and its plans for the Mac Pro.

Apple’s neglect of the Mac Pro was especially felt last year as all of the other Mac models received upgrades adding Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors. Some have even suggested that Thunderbolt is Apple’s alternative to high-end workstations.

The Mac Pro’s important to Apple’s bottom line has diminished as the company’s profits have increasingly skewed toward mobile devices and the iPhone has come to account for the bulk of its revenue. Apple sold 1.2 million desktops in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 2.82 million notebooks during the period. Mac revenue for the quarter amounted to US$5.1 billion, much less than the US$22.7 billion in revenue from the iPhone and related products.

Though Apple has in the past been known as a niche hardware and software maker catering to creative professionals, the company has shown a willingness to adapt to better serve its mainstream customers. For instance, it announced plans to discontinue its Xserve server in 2010. Though the company redirected customers to its Mac Pro as a Mac-based server alternative, it has curiously not updated the Mac Pro since July 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Aperture 3.2.4 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 12:07
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released version 3.2.4 of Aperture, its pro-grade image editing application. The new version, which is available as a direct download or via Mac OS X’s Software update feature, is a 635 megabyte download and offers the following fixes and changes:

– Improves stability on Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

– Addresses an issue that could prevent the Viewer from updating correctly after editing a photo using an external editor.

Aperture 3.2.4 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

Recently published Apple patent shows interest in developing stylus for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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It never hurts to have different options for your user interface.

Per Engadget, an Apple patent application for an optical stylus has turned up on the United States Patent Trade Office website.

Although late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had derided the stylus as an input method for the iPhone and the iPad once famously saying that ‘If you need a stylus, you’ve already failed,’ Jobs was well known for throwing the opposition a curve ball from time to time speaking out against an idea, only to have been developing a concept behind the scenes. One example was when he said that consumers liked having a separate iPod while also carrying their phone, only to reveal the ultimate convergence device in the iPhone a couple of years later.

The Apple patent application describes a stylus that incorporates image capture along with an on-board image processor, while also capable of sensing pressure. It would include an accelerometer and an antenna to help relay the relative position of the stylus in relation to the device. Apple is also known to file patents for products, or technologies, that may never see the light of day. However, creative professionals, and other users would probably welcome an Apple stylus if it was released. The aftermarket stylus ecosystem the iPad and the iPhone, along with an interesting stylus project at Kickstarter and the forthcoming Adonit Jot Touch suggests that the demand is indeed there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to include Automatic Downloads alert feature to recent Mountain Lion betas

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Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 08:56
Category: News, Software

Apple is going to make sure you’re up to date, no matter what.

Per a tweet by the mighty Zach Kahn, Apple’s previously announced Automatic Downloads feature is slowly coming together in the latest developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which features a new Notification Center alert for Mac App Store purchases.

Automatic app installs were touted earlier this year as one of the many new features coming to Mountain Lion. Like on iOS devices, it allows users to have App Store software automatically installed on iCloud-registered Macs.

Automatic Downloads are not yet fully functional in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, but when users purchase content from the Mac App Store, the OS X Notification Center posts an alert to “Turn on Automatic Downloads to always install new purchases.”

The alert features an “Enable” button, which will allow users to quickly turn on the Automatic Downloads feature of Mountain Lion. However, in the current pre-release build, the feature is not yet operating properly, as software does not automatically install.

Apple debuted the “Apps in the Cloud” feature on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the release of iOS 5 late last year. It allows users to shop for apps on one machine and have the same titles automatically download on the rest of their devices with the same iCloud account.

Similar functionality is already available in OS X 10.7 Lion with the latest version of iTunes. Apple’s “iTunes in the Cloud” gives users the ability to automatically download iTunes Store content to their machine when it is purchased through their account on another device.

Previously, the option to turn on “Auto Download Purchases from Other Macs” was available in developer preview builds of Mountain Lion. But with last week’s release of a new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, users are now prompted with a notification when App Store content has been purchased through their account.

The latest pre-release build of the Mac operating system update hit the Mac App Store last Wednesday, identified as build “12A206J.” The final release of Mountain Lion is scheduled to go on sale to the public this summer.

Apple has promised to offer a closer look at Mountain Lion at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, which kicks off June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. WWDC 2012 is also expected to feature the introduction of iOS 6, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS messaging hints at prospect of FaceTime over 3G connections

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 12:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

Because FaceTime should be on just about every type of connection, no matter what the throughput.

Per Romanian website iDevice, warnings contained in the latest version of iOS suggest that Apple plans to bring support for 3G wireless data connections to its FaceTime video chat feature.

When a FaceTime call is active over Wi-Fi on an iPhone running iOS 5.1.1, and a user turns off the “Enable 3G” option in the Settings application, the operating system presents users with a warning message: “Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?”

Despite the warning, FaceTime video calls will continue over Wi-Fi uninterrupted, even after 3G has been turned off or on, which has suggested to some that Apple is planning to bring 3G support to FaceTime.

Tests have confirmed that the warning message does, in fact, display when the iPhone’s 3G is disabled during a FaceTime call. In addition, iOS also displays another message when a user attempts to turn 3G back on: “Enabling 3G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 3G?” Neither enabling or disabling 3G interrupted any FaceTime calls.

Apple first introduced FaceTime video chat in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4. Since then, it has been brought to the Mac, and the addition of forward-facing cameras to the iPod touch and iPad have also allowed FaceTime with those iOS-based devices.

Since its launch, FaceTime has only been available to use over Wi-Fi. Users who attempt to connect a FaceTime call over 3G are met with an error message telling them the service is not available.

When he introduced FaceTime in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs explained that the video chat feature was not available over wireless cellular networks at the request of mobile carriers. Jobs said that Apple needed to “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of offering FaceTime over 3G.

If Apple does enable FaceTime over 3G, it’s possible that some carriers could opt to block or restrict the functionality on their own networks. For example, though tethering was enabled on the iPhone with iOS 3.0, U.S. carrier AT&T blocked the feature until a year later, with the release of iOS 4.0.

If you’ve seen the warning on your end, please let us know and we’ll have additional details as they become available.