Apple receives patent for solar multitouch panels, could harvest additional energy for iOS devices from sunlight

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Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 08:08
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could turn into something very, very spiffy.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, on Tuesday Apple a patent for an invention that integrates a touch sensor array with a solar panel, allowing for portable device to be both power-efficient and compact.

Apple’s newly-granted U.S. Patent No. 8,368,654 for an “Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly” points directly to the system’s use in portable electronic devices like a media player or phone. The technology is arguably most useful in these types of products as consumer demand for larger, power-hungry screens is pushing the limit of battery design.

Instead of merely layering solar cells within the touchscreen’s array, the ‘654 patent calls for true integration, meaning the solar panel can operate as both an energy harvesting component as well as an optical sensor. To accomplish this feat, the touch panel’s electrodes are used for both capacitive sensing and collecting solar energy. Further, because the proposed component includes electrodes that offer the same “coverage” as a typical solar panel, it provides “far more quadrants or pixels” to be used as touch sensors.

Unlike capacitive touch panels, such as those used in Apple’s iPhone, the hybrid system’s solar panels can be used to simultaneously provide optical-based sensing while capturing and converting energy.

The patent offers a number of examples to illustrate the benefits of having a dual-mode touch panel. In one case, when an approaching object such a finger is detected, the panel may switch to a “capacitive sensing mode” for precise input, increasing the number of capacitive cycles within a given time period. In other situations, the panel may cycle between “solar power/optical sensing mode” and “capacitive sensing mode” depending on whether an object is near the screen. If no object is detected, the number of capacitive cycles is reduced, giving the electrodes more time to facilitate energy production from the solar cells.

Behind the scenes, a so-called “traffic control” unit, which can be either a hardware or software solution, decides whether generated energy should be allocated to running the device or sent to the battery for storage.

Physically, the capacitive touch sensors and solar cells are separated using isolation trenches, though both are routed through multiplexer circuitry. The MUX is fed either touch signals or power from the solar cells and delivers them to the CPU or power management unit, respectively.

While the technology may not be incorporated into the next iPhone Apple releases, the patent could help in cutting valuable space from the handset. With the most recent iPhone 5, Apple used in-cell touch panel technology to bring the phone’s depth down to 7.6 millimeters.

Apple first filed for the ‘654 patent in September 2008 and credits Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt, Benjamin Lyon, John Benjamin Filson, Steve Porter Hotelling, Gordon Cameron and Cameron Frazier as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

128 gigabyte fourth-gen iPad now available for purchase

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Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You know that enormous fourth-gen iPad you’ve been hankering for?

It’s here.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday updated its online store to reflect availability of the new high-capacity 128-gigabyte iPad with Retina display.

The new high-end iPad model retails for US$799 for the Wi-Fi-only model, or US$929 with cellular connectivity. It’s available in both black and white, just like every other capacity, and is advertised to ship in one to three business days.

Apple first announced the product, which doubles the previous maximum capacity of 64 gigabytes, a week ago. Prior to the announcement, evidence of a larger capacity iOS device had just been discovered in the newly released iOS 6.1 software update.

In announcing the 128-gigabyte iPad, Apple suggested the expanded storage would be particularly appealing to enterprise users, educators, and artists. The company also noted that virtually all Fortune 500 and more than 85 percent of the Global 500 are currently deploying or testing the iPad.

Aside from the increased storage capacity, the 128-gigabyte iPad with Retina display is unchanged from the previous fourth-generation models. It includes the Apple-designed A6X processor, a 9.7-inch Retina display, and a forward facing FaceTime HD camera.

If you’ve snagged the 128-gigabyte fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Evasi0n hack arrives, allows jailbreaking of iOS 6.1 devices

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Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 07:09
Category: Hack, iOS, News, Software

The perpetual arms race between Apple and the hacker community continues.

Per AppleInsider, hackers on Monday released a long-awaited untethered software “jailbreak” of Apple’s iOS 6.

For the first time ever, iPhone 5 and iPad mini owners can jailbreak their device with the release of Evasi0n, the new jailbreak for Apple’s iOS 6 mobile operating system. The software hack is available to implement via OS X, Windows, and Linux.

The new jailbreak is untethered, which means users will not have to reconnect their device to a computer to restart it. The hack is compatible with all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models running iOS 6.0 through iOS 6.1.

Users are advised to backup their device through iTunes or iCloud before beginning the jailbreak process. It’s also recommended to disable any passcode locks on an iOS device, as they can cause issues.

Jailbreaking is a legal but a warranty-voiding process that utilizes exploits in the iOS software to allow users to run unauthorized code. By jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad, users can add features and software not allowed by Apple, such as custom themes or user interface tweaks.

Apple advises against jailbreaking iOS devices, as the unauthorized modification could lead to system instability, compromised security, shortened battery life, and other potential issues.

If you’ve tried the Evasi0n hack and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

iMac ship times hold for U.S., see delays in European markets

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Date: Monday, February 4th, 2013, 08:32
Category: iMac, News, retail

Look at it this way: Europe may not have the greatest of iMac ship times, but it’s still pretty damn beautiful and the food’s amazing.

Per MacGeneration, estimated shipping times for Apple’s thinner iMac continue to slip, as the 27-inch model is now advertised to arrive in Europe in 4 to 6 weeks, while the 21.5-inch model has been delayed to between 3 and 4 weeks.

The delays apply to both iMac models, as the 21.5-inch variety was previously advertised to ship in 2 to 3 weeks, while the 27-inch model was available in 3 to 4 weeks.

The delays do not yet affect Apple’s U.S. online store, though if recent trends are any indication, the new estimated shipping times will be reflected in the company’s American store in due time.

Shipping times for the smaller 21.5-inch model also began slipping late last month to between 2 and 3 weeks. The updates to Apple’s European online stores on Monday suggest that the company continues to see production problems with its redesigned iMac.

Those problems have persisted since the new iMacs first went on sale in December. In the holiday quarter, Apple’s Mac sales dropped 17 percent, a decrease the company attributed to severe constraints on the new, thinner iMacs.

Continued setbacks for the iMac also cast into doubt a recent rumor that claimed Apple’s suppliers had solved their production problems. However, some 21.5- and 27-inch iMac units did begin trickling into Apple’s reseller channels last week.

That trend has continued in the U.S., as reseller MacConnection reflects availability of all 4 standard retail configurations as of Monday with an instant US$20 discount per model. A handful of other custom configurations are also popping in and out of stock at other retailers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad mini supply improves, shipment times now 1-3 days from online Apple Store

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Date: Monday, February 4th, 2013, 08:50
Category: iPad mini, News, retail

The iPad mini you just ordered, it should be at your doorstep a little sooner.

In an update to its U.S. online storefront on Sunday, Apple is now showing ship times of the popular iPad mini stand at 1-3 business days, down from the 3-5 days quoted late last month.

Per AppleInsider, the new ship-by times suggest Apple may finally be overcoming the severe supply constraints seen shortly after the 7.9-inch tablet launched in November and continued throughout the lucrative holiday quarter.

Apple saw high demand for the device when pre-orders went live at the end of October, with the U.S. store selling out of the White & Silver model in a matter of hours. The company later announced that the iPad mini sold three million units over its first weekend on sale.

Chief executive Tim Cook said in the company’s quarterly earnings conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013 that suppliers were having trouble meeting demand, but estimated a balance could be reached by the end of the March quarter. Sunday’s new shipment estimates suggest supply is catching up to demand.

At the end of January, the ship-by time for all models, including the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions, was quoted at 3-5 days, which itself was an improvement from the one-week estimates seen in December.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 12

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Date: Monday, February 4th, 2013, 08:04
Category: News, security, Software

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This sort of came out of left field, but if you’re running Mac OS X 10.6, you should probably install it.

Late Friday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 12, a Java update for its Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) operating system.

The update, a 72.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 12 delivers improved security, reliability, and compatibility by updating Java SE 6 to 1.6.0_39.

As always, the update can also be located and installed via the built-in “Software Update” feature in Mac OS X.

The Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 11 fix requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install.

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

Apple reportedly in negotiations to bring HBO Go app to Apple TV services

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Date: Friday, February 1st, 2013, 08:01
Category: Apple TV, Rumor, Software

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This could lead to something cool.

Per Bloomberg, Apple is reportedly “in negotiations” with HBO to bring HBO Go to the Apple TV in app form during the first half of 2013.

Not a bad prospect, even though users would probably still need a cable account and HBO subscription to take advantage of such an app.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to stop selling Mac Pro desktop in Europe following March 1st due to regulatory requirements

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Date: Friday, February 1st, 2013, 08:42
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News, retail

Well, this is a bit awkward.

Per MacRumors, sales of Apple’s Mac Pro desktop will stop in Europe on March 1 because of new regulatory requirements in the region.

Apple announced that sales will halt in a month in a letter the company sent to resellers on Thursday. The company cited Amendment 1 of Regulation IEC 60950-1, but did not explain what in particular about the Mac Pro desktop is in violation.

Halting sales of the Mac Pro won’t have much of an effect on Apple’s bottom line, as the high-end professional desktop is largely a niche product for the company.

In fact, it’s possible that the situation may have no effect at all on customers in Europe, as Apple has already revealed it’s planning to update the Mac Pro this year. It’s possible that Apple could update its aging desktop — and subsequently comply with European regulations — before sales are halted.

However, no timetable has been given for the Mac Pro update, with Apple only indicating that it will arrive sometime this year. Even analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who detailed Apple’s planned product roadmap earlier this month, offered no indication as to when the new Mac Pro may arrive.

Apple’s full letter provided to resellers on Thursday is included below:

As of March 1, 2013, Apple will no longer sell Mac Pro in EU, EU candidate and EFTA countries because these systems are not compliant with Amendment 1 of regulation IEC 60950-1, Second Edition which becomes effective on this date. Apple resellers can continue to sell any remaining inventory of Mac Pro after March 1.

Apple will take final orders for Mac Pro from resellers up until February 18th for shipment before March 1, 2013.

Countries outside of the EU are not impacted and Mac Pro will continue to be available in those areas.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Honda, Acura, other car makers to offer Siri-based Eyes Free support on some 2013 models

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 08:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Soon you will talk to your car.

And it might actually do some of the things you ask of it.

Per AppleInsider, the American division of carmaker Honda announced on Wednesday it will integrate support for Apple’s voice-driven Siri personal assistant into its 2013 Honda Accord and Acura RDX and ILX models.

The 2013 Honda Accord will offer Siri Eyes Free integration as a dealer upgrade option.

The feature will be a dealer-installed option for customers who buy the latest model of the vehicles. Using a compatible iPhone running iOS 6, users will be able to direct Siri to perform specific tasks while keeping their eyes on the road.

Honda was already announced last June as one of nine auto makers that planned to support Siri’s Eyes Free mode. However, prior to Wednesday’s announcement, it was not known which vehicles Honda planned to offer with Siri integration, or when those vehicles would become available.

Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai also announced it would include Eyes Free support for Siri in its next-generation infotainment systems. Hyundai did not give any specific vehicle models.

General Motors did, however, announce support for its Chevy Spark and Sonic vehicles last November.

Hands Free allows the iPhone screen to stay off and help prevent the driver from being distracted by their device. The Siri personal assistant software talks to a user out loud, allowing them to pay attention to the road.

The other companies that have announced plans to support Siri Eyes Free are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Chrysler.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly disables Oracle’s Java 7 Update 11 fix via XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, security, Software

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When it comes to Java, there’s always an argument to be had between Apple and Oracle.

Per MacGeneration, the recently released Java 7 Update 11 has been blocked by Apple through its XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X.

Oracle issued the latest update to Java earlier this month to fix a serious zero-day security flaw. The threat was so serious that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had recommended that all Java 7 users disable or uninstall the software until a patch was issued.

Apple took action on its own and quietly disabled the plugin through its OS X anti-malware system. As noted by the article, Apple has again updated its OS X XProtect list, this time to block Java 7 Update 11.

Because Oracle has yet to issue a newer version of Java that addresses any outstanding issues, Mac users are prevented from running Java on their system.

Over the last few years, Apple has moved to gradually remove Java from OS X. The company dropped the Java runtime from the default installation for OS X 10.7 Lion when the operating system update launched in 2010. Java vulnerabilities have been a common exploit used by malicious hackers looking to exploit the OS X platform.

Most notably, the “Flashback” trojan that spread last year was said to have infected as many as 600,000 Macs worldwide at its peak. Apple addressed the issue by releasing a removal tool specifically tailored for the malware, and also disabled the Java runtime in its Safari web browser starting with version 5.1.7.