“iPhone 4S” device name located in iTunes beta reference, points toward possible upcoming product release

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Date: Monday, October 3rd, 2011, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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With all of one day to go prior to its much-anticipated iPhone media announcement, an iTunes beta is telling more than it should about Apple’s forthcoming product line.

Per AppleInsider, references to the much-used “iPhone 4S” moniker could be found in the Info.plist file of the MobileDevices bundle that was included with the ninth beta of iTune 10.5 released on Friday.

Specifically, device preferences for Item 7 and Item 8 in the Info.plist file describe a black and white iPhone 4S whose display icons (below) depict models that look identical to the existing black and white CDMA iPhone 4 introduced earlier this year.

The discovery can be seen as further evidence that Apple is gearing up to introduce iPhones next Tuesday, Oct. 4th that bundle an 8MP camera, 512MB of RAM, support for HSPA+ and the iPad 2′s A5 processor and dual graphics, but do so in a the current CMDA iPhone 4 design.

However, the new iPhone 4S is expected to be a dual-mode phone, meaning the same iPhone 4S can be used on either CDMA or GSM networks. Currently, Apple markets separate iPhone 4 models for CDMA and GSM networks.

Talk of Apple taking a dual-route strategy this year by releasing both an iPhone 4S and a more advanced iPhone 5 began to cool off this week, with leaked parts and casings all pointing to a product dubbed iPhone 4S.

In addition, insider Ming-Chi Kuo reported that his industry checks turned up no sign of a redesigned iPhone 5 in the pipeline. Instead, he stated that Apple was manufacturing a model that looks largely the same as the current iPhone 4, only with an improved antenna design.

Dubbed “N94,” the new iPhone model will reportedly also use the same Gorilla glass for its back panel. Kuo also said it will be available in both black and white models at launch, and 60 percent of units assembled so far have been of the black variety.

Echoing a report from earlier this month, he also said that Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing 85 percent of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone units. The other 15 percent will reportedly be assembled by Pegatron.

Each will run iOS 5, which is rumored to bundle new voice recognition technology in the form of a new application dubbed Assistant, which will allow users to speak to their iPhone and accomplish a number of tasks through natural language, like sending text messages, looking up information, or scheduling an appointment.

The functionality is believed to stem from Siri, a “personal assistant” application for the iPhone that Apple purchased in April of 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to raise iPhone insurance rates by $2/month on October 4th

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Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 10:45
Category: iPhone, News

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It never hurts to be protected…and you can take that any way you want.

Per Electronista, AT&T has confirmed that insurance costs will be going up for AT&T iPhone owners on October 4th, as rumored, a page on the carrier’s website reveals.

Come October 5th, insurance rates are scheduled to jump from US$5 to US$7, affecting new and existing customers alike. The hike is happening in conjunction with the creation of a new device tier, covering the iPhone and “other devices” for which a US$199 non-refundable deductible will apply.

The switch is clearly meant to coincide with Apple’s iPhone press event on the 4th, at which time the company will announce one or more new iPhone models. Potentially significant is that AT&T is increasing rates in tandem with the hardware’s introduction, and not at a later date when devices will presumably go on sale. It could imply that Apple is planning a rapid turnaround, opening up orders within the space of a week if not immediately.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

MobileMe users report outages prior to iCloud transition and launch

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Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 06:36
Category: iCloud, News

Regarding the iCloud…it’s en route, even if there are some transitional bumps in the road to be had.

Per AppleInsider, numerous MobileMe users reported experiencing outages of Apple’s current cloud service on Thursday, even as the fall launch of iCloud looms.

Users noted that they were unable to access MobileMe Mail. Apple’s system status page for its web service currently states that 25 percent of members may be unable to access MobileMe Mail, and some members may be unable to access www.me.com web apps and Find My iPhone. All other MobileMe services are listed as “online and fully operational.”

MacRumors noted that Apple late Thursday had cautioned on its status page that as many 75 percent of MobileMe Mail users might be experiencing problems.

MobileMe is, at this point, a ‘lame duck’ service, as it is scheduled to shut down on June 30, 2012. Apple plans to move existing members over to its upcoming iCloud service, a complete reworking of the company’s cloud-based offerings.

But, Apple has indicated that it will eliminate some of MobileMe’s less-used features, such as iDisk, MobileMe Gallery and iWeb publishing. After receiving customer complaints about lost functionality from the switch, Apple said it was open to considering adding back features “if there’s enough feedback on the subject.”

The company is expected to announce a release date for iCloud next week’s media event to unveil a new iPhone, as it’s unlikely that Apple would launch the fifth-generation iPhone without iCloud. Currently, the service is in a limited beta test.

Last week, the company released a developer build of Mac OS X 10.7.2 with iCloud integrated. Developer accounts have had their iCloud data wiped in preparation for an imminent launch of the service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5 case image surfaces from AT&T store, speculation grows

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Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 06:30
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

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It’s the leaks that make things interesting.

Per MacRumors, a picture showing iPhone 5 cases entered into the carrier’s inventory system, more evidence has emerged that AT&T has begun stocking third-party iPhone 5 cases days before Apple is expected to unveil its next handset.

An alleged store employee at an AT&T retail store sent to MacRumors photos of newly arrived silicone sleeves for the as-yet-unannounced “iPhone 5.” The product appears to be a low-end generic case, as it carries no distinguishable brand, is simply labeled “cell phone accessory” and comes in oversized packaging.

The sleeve features a tapered design with the mute switch on the right side of the device, resembling purported iPhone 5 cases that have proliferated in China for months.

However, the publication took care to note that the cases run against the “growing feeling that Apple may not be releasing such a device” because of recent evidence suggesting that Apple’s design for its next iPhone may be “nearly identical to the iPhone 4.”

Earlier on Thursday, a leaked photo allegedly of AT&T’s inventory system surfaced, showing entries for iPhone 5 hard case, soft case and skin products from Case-Mate. The case maker had previously posted its case designs on its website, but took them down shortly after they went up.

Anticipation for the next-generation iPhone reached a fever pitch after Apple sent out invitations to an event next Tuesday, Oct. 4, with the tagline “Let’s talk iPhone.” The tagline has prompted renewed speculation that Apple will include voice recognition features on its fifth-generation smartphone. The next iPhone is widely believed to feature the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera.

There has been some disagreement, however, about whether Apple will introduce a redesigned iPhone 4 in addition to a new model. It had been suggested that Apple was looking to release a cheaper iPhone 4S alongside the iPhone 5, but recent reports have poured cold water on the rumor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases 24-Inch LED Cinema Display firmware update 1.0

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Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2011, 05:49
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released its 24-Inch LED Cinema Display Firmware Update 1.0, a 962 kilobyte download which addresses an issue that may cause intermittent display flickering. This firmware will only install on the Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display when it is connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac.

Apple has also noted that this firmware update may not resolve the flickering issue if a Mini DisplayPort extender cable is used and that some USB and FireWire devices may prevent firmware updates from installing correctly; disconnect non-essential devices and use only an Apple keyboard and mouse to apply the update.

The update is available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think in the comments.

iFixit finishes teardown of Thunderbolt display, locates 2009 LG panel

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News

When in doubt, count on someone geekier than you to dissect Apple’s newest hardware.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the screen has found.

The new display, powered by Apple and Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, was disassembled this week by iFixit. They found that the LG display is model number “LM270WQ1,” matching the previous iMac as well as the screen found in Dell’s competing UltraSharp U2711 27-inch monitor.

However, Apple’s display uses LED backlights for better picture quality and lower power consumption, as opposed to the cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) found on Dell’s screen. In addition, the Dell display is matte, while Apple’s is glossy.

The solutions provider also noted that Apple’s screen has a 12 millisecond response time and 17.7 million colors, while Dell’s competing panel offers an advertised 6 millisecond response time and 1.07 billion colors.

iFixit found that the glass front of the new Thunderbolt Display can be removed with “heavy duty suction cups,” just like with Apple’s iMac lineup. The LCD screen sports a resolution of 2,560-by-1,440 pixels.

“The fan is easily removed by simply detaching a couple of connectors and unfastening a few screws,” they said. “Apple has, as usual, chosen to go with a large, brushless fan to keep the colossal Thunderbolt Display cool and quiet.”

Inside the display, iFixit found a plethora of chips, causing them to remark that “it’s hard to believe there’s no computer inside.” The screen includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, 2.1 speaker system, integrated MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Some of the chips inside powering all of those features include:

- Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller

- L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller

- Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor

- NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller

- Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter

- SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller

- Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier

- LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface

- Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller

- Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC

The teardown also discovered that the speakers inside the Thunderbolt Display are 49 watts with a miniature subwoofer. In addition, the Flextronics power supply is said to provide 250 watts of maximum continuous power.

If you’ve snagged a new Thunderbolt display and have any feedback about it, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to discontinue iPod Classic, Shuffle models this year

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 06:03
Category: iPod, Rumor

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The iPod classic and Shuffle models may not be long for this world.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple will streamline its iPod range by removing the iPod classic and iPod shuffle from its physical and online stores.

The source is apparently not an analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that the tip isn’t apparently that new.

The iPod classic still uses a traditional, spinning-disc hard drive and while Apple is making a conscious shift to flash memory it is beginning to look somewhat outdated. The iPod shuffle is at the lowest end of the iPod range and once it is discontinued, the iPod nano will take its place.

The iPod will see its 10th anniversary this October, which could make this a good time to put it to rest. Besides, iPods only account for eight percent of Apple’s total sales these days.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked video shows graphics switching feature on iPhone prototype

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 06:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaked videos that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, a new, unconfirmed video claims to show a prototype iPhone with a software-based developer setting that allows switching between graphics processing units.

While the video’s authenticity has yet to be verified, it claims to show a handset built for testing purposes that allows developers to choose between the SGX535 GPU found in the iPhone 4, and the faster SGX545, which has not yet been seen in any of Apple’s mobile devices.

The PowerVR SGX535 GPU from Imagination Technologies currently handles graphics for the A4 processor that powers the iPhone 4. But the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 has a SGX543MP2 GPU, different from the “545″ model shown in the video. The SGX543MP2 has two SGX543 cores.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, so take a gander and see what you think:



The SGX545 GPU was first unveiled in January of 2010, boasting full support for OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 with real-world performance of 40 million polygons per second at 200MHz. For comparison, the SGX535 can produce 28 million polygons per second, while the SGX543 pushes 35 million polygons per second.

But the SGX543MP2, with two SGX543 GPUs, is capable of nearly 70 million polygons per second, which would make it much more powerful than the single SGX545 claimed to be in the prototype.

While the video claims to show a prototype iPhone, the hardware displayed looks identical to the currently available iPhone 4. It’s possible that the graphics switching functionality, shown accessed through the iOS Settings application via the Developer Settings section, was enabled through a hack, or has been faked by some other method, such as a jailbreak.

As for the GPU differing from the A5 currently found in the iPad 2, it would not be a new approach for Apple to modify and improve the processor in the iPhone. For example, the A4 found in the iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, which is twice that of the A4 found in the first-generation iPad released months before the iPhone 4 was unveiled.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AT&T blocks vacation days in mid-October, hinting towards iPhone 5 release

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Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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It’s when companies stop employee vacation time that things get interesting.

Per the cool cats at Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly blocked its employees from taking vacation days in mid-October as the carrier gears up for the launch of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Employees at AT&T retail locations have allegedly been blocked from taking vacations during the first two weeks of October, BGR reported on Tuesday. Employees have reportedly been told they cannot request time off between Monday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 14.

In addition, it was said that AT&T’s internal inventory system lists a total of six new product placeholders. The entries are said to be “most likely holding space” for the iPhone models Apple is expected to announce at its event next Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Reports emerged last week that Apple has begun blacking out vacation days for retail employees at some of its stores during the second week of October. Specifically, Apple employees in some locations are said to have been barred from taking time off work Oct. 9 through 12, and Oct. 14 and 15.

Earlier this month, it was said that Sprint also began blacking out staff vacations for the first half of October. The iPhone is currently exclusive to AT&T and Verizon, but Sprint is widely expected to offer Apple’s next iPhone at launch.

As of yet there has not been any word of Verizon employees being barred from vacation time in October. Rumors have pointed toward a sale date of Friday, Oct. 14 for Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Apple’s fifth-generation handset is expected to become the first iPhone to launch on multiple carriers simultaneously in the U.S. Last June, when the iPhone 4 launched on AT&T alone in America, the carrier was forced to suspend preorders after experiencing demand ten times greater than for its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

Verizon eventually gained access to the iPhone 4 more than six months later, in February of this year. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said on Tuesday he expects that demand for the so-called “iPhone 5″ will be large at Verizon, as a recent poll conducted by his investment firm found that 74 percent of Verizon iPhone buyers said they are waiting for Apple’s next model rather than buying the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces October 4th “Let’s Talk iPhone” press event

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Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:29
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

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The rumor mill can now take a five minute breather and go grab itself a cup of coffee.

Per Ars Technica, Apple has formally announced its upcoming media event after months of rumors and speculation. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 4 at 10am Pacific Daylight Time on Apple’s campus in Cupertino—just as the latest rumors predicted—and will be led by Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook.

Apple’s invitation graphics include four iOS app icons (Calendar, Clock, Maps, and Phone) along with the quote “Let’s talk iPhone.” Apple doesn’t usually get this specific when sending out its invitations, but apparently it’s trying a new, more direct approach this time around. (As an aside, the icon choices are quite clever. The calendar says October 4, clock says 10:00, map points to Apple’s campus, and the phone icon shows one phone call.)

No specific details have been mentioned of an iPhone 5 release and there’s also been some talk of a white iPod touch—a relatively minimal detail that reminds us that the fall event was originally about iPods.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.