O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Apple releases Safari 5.1.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.5, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 44.7 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Contains a fix for an issue that could affect website usability when running Safari in 32-bit mode.

Safari 5.1.5 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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.

Apple backs royalty-free licensing of “nano-SIM” cards, looks to incorporate the technology in future iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:55
Category: Hardware, News

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It never hurts to play nice every so often.

Per Foss Patents, Apple will reportedly offer to license a new, ultra-compact SIM card technology to rival mobile devices makers if they agree back the format as the new industry standard for subscriber identification modules (SIM), a move which could pave the way for more compact and efficiently-designed iOS devices.

The pledge, said to have been outlined earlier this month in a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) penned by a senior member of Apple’s legal council, comes just days before the iPhone maker is expected to square off against opponents of the design at the organization’s Smart Card Platform Plenary in southern France.

Sized roughly a third smaller than existing MicroSIM cards found inside current iPads and iPhones, the proposed nano-SIM design — which is also noticeably thinner than that of MicroSIM — has already garnered the support of most European wireless carriers as part of their own proposals to the ETSI.

However, rival mobile device makers Nokia, RIM and Motorola have each voiced concerns in opposing standardization of nano-SIM — mainly out of fears Apple could eventually claim ownership of the patents behind the format, placing the company in a position of powered where it could command royalties from the broader industry.

The March 19th letter to the ETSI stands to invalidate these concerns, according to independent intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller, through “an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

“This shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard rather than seeking to cash in on it,” he said. “Apple is a company that values its intellectual property and rarely gives it away for free. But as far as the evolution of SIM cards is concerned, Apple is clearly being generous and absolutely pro-competitive.”

In 2010, Apple was said to be working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset the wireless operators, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move. As such, the Cupertino-based company compromised and began talking with carriers about designing a smaller SIM card that eventually emerged as the existing MicroSIM.

Apple’s continued push towards further miniaturization of SIM cards aims to reduce the space required to house the identification cards inside its future mobile devices, paving the way for devices that are either more compact or free up additional space for other components, such as larger batteries.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-generation iPad may be displaying inaccurate battery readings, researcher finds

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:52
Category: iPad, News

A firmware update is never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, findings that have surfaced from a follow-up test by DisplayMate President Dr. Raymond Soneira, who conducted an in-depth analysis of the new iPad’s Retina Display earlier this week, and claims that a mathematical charge rate model may be the cause of false on-screen battery indicator readings reported on the iPad 3.

Soneira’s findings have not been corroborated and thus may not reflect all third-generation iPads, though it seems that the problem is not hardware related and instead has to do with the device’s programmed charge rate.

In his investigation, Soneira found that the iPad continued to draw 10 watts of electricity for two hours after indicating 100% charge, then began to reduce power for an additional ten minutes until a precipitous decline in power draw signaled the termination of the charging cycle.

Soneira offers this explanation:
“The charge indicator on all mobile devices is based on a mathematical model of the charge rates, discharge rates, and recent discharge history of the battery. It uses this information to estimate how much running time is left. It’s actually rather difficult to do because most batteries degrade slowly as they discharge and then tend to surprise with a precipitous decline near the end.”

He goes on to say that there may be a fault in the battery charge mathematical model in the new iPad as the indicator should not read 100% until it’s power draw switches from 10 watts to a trickle charge of about 1 watt.

It is unclear whether the iPad’s battery level indicator shows an inaccurate level throughout the entire charging process or if the issue is limited to the final stages directly before the power management chip initiates a trickle charge.

While Apple boasts that in spite of its power hungry components like the high-resolution Retina Display and A5X processor, the third-generation iPad’s battery life is similar to that of the iPad 2. These claims are no doubt based on a fully charged unit, and the newly-discovered indicator issue could confuse some customers into thinking their device is not performing up to advertised standards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple’s use of double-resolution icons in Mac OS X 10.8 previews hint at Retina Display-equipped Macs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 09:59
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When in doubt, go with the Retina Display.

Additional evidence has surfaced that high-resolution Retina display Macs are in Apple’s near future has been discovered in an early developer build of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Per Ars Technica, double-resolution icons were found in “unexpected places” of Mountain Lion according to sources who wished to remain anonymous. Their inclusion was interpreted to suggest Apple could release Retina display MacBooks as soon as this summer.

One double-resolution icon was found in the new Messages application. In the second developer preview of Mountain Lion, released a week ago, some icons are incorrectly displaying at twice their normal size.

Their appearance in the latest build of Mountain Lion led the source to suggest that new MacBooks equipped with Retina displays could appear as soon as this summer, to coincide with the release of OS X 10.8.

Evidence of Retina display Macs cropped up in February when Apple released OS X 10.7.3 with new high-DPI user interface elements. Specifically, a number of cursors in the operating system were updated to scale to larger sizes on higher resolution screens.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but they were previously only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the UI resolution doubling that Apple does with its Retina display iPhones, the iPod touch and the new iPad.

Rumors began to crop up late last year that Apple is preparing new versions of its MacBook Pro lineup with double-resolution displays. The resulting display for a 15-inch MacBook Pro would be 2,880 by 1,800 pixels.

Support for higher resolution Macs will come with Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors. Those chips will support up to the 4K resolution, which allows 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.11

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:06
Category: News, Software

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Early Friday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.11, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, a 7.6 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:

- Nikon D800

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Recently-released Apple patent discusses touch-based screen featuring haptic feedback

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:13
Category: News, Patents

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When in doubt, make your touchscreens better.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, in an effort to make touchscreens less static, Apple has proposed that future iPhones and iPads could feature actuators that would provide haptic feedback to users, and also include sensors that would measure the force at which a user touches the screen.

The concept was unveiled this week in a patent application entitled “Touch-Based User Interface with Haptic Feedback.” The use of actuators underneath a touchscreen could allow users to actually feel elements on the screen, such as buttons or controls.

The timing of the application being made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is interesting because one rumor from earlier this month incorrectly suggested Apple would introduce new haptic feedback technology in its third-generation iPad. That rumor was based on technology from the company Senseg, which creates an electric field on the surface of a touchscreen, allowing users to feel complex, context-sensitive textures, such as making a surface feel smooth or rough to the touch.

The concept described in Apple’s new patent application is quite different, relying on actuators to physically provide haptic feedback on a touchscreen, rather than giving sensations through an electric field. But it demonstrates Apple’s continued pursuit of providing users with some sort of physical feedback when using a touchscreen device.

“The user can typically only feel the rigid surface of the touch screen, making it difficult to find icons, hyperlinks, textboxes, or other user-selectable elements that are being displayed,” Apple’s filing reads. “A touch-based user interface may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen by incorporating haptic feedback.”

Rather than simply vibrating the device when a button is tapped, as some touchscreen devices do, Apple’s solution could utilize piezoelectric actuators for “localized haptic feedback.” This would allow the user to feel a virtual button on their fingertips.

Specifically named as products that could benefit from haptic feedback in the application are the iPhone and iPad, as well as the Magic Mouse and Apple’s notebook trackpads.

The application describes a touchscreen with a “haptic feedback layer” that could include piezoelectric actuators aligned in a grid pattern. These actuators could be located below an external protective layer that the user would touch to interact with the device, or the haptic layer itself could be the outermost layer.

The actuators could be used to replace the mechanical “click” of a mouse, or would allow users to “feel” selectable buttons or icons displayed on a touchscreen device.

Another element described in the application is the use of “force sensors” in a touchscreen device. With these, an iPhone or iPad could determine how much force a user is applying to the touch-based user interface, and respond to just how hard the user is tapping the screen.

To allow this, the outer screen of the device would “flex minimally,” but enough that the force sensors would be able to detect any pushing or squeezing of the device by the user.

The application, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in September of 2010. The proposed invention is credited to Paul G. Puskarich and Michael Pilliod.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Colorado woman’s iPhone 4 allegedly combusts while charging, exact causes unknown

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Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 07:21
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures

On the down side, an Apple iPhone 4 in Colorado apparently caught fire.

Still…SOMETHING had to catch fire.

Per Mashable, a Colorado woman alleges that her iPhone 4 caught fire while charging overnight and wants Apple to warn customers of the device’s possible combustion issues.

The woman, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said she released her story in order to spread public awareness over the reported issue, claiming that Apple has been reticent to acknowledge the alleged incident.

The unnamed source claims that she awoke in the early morning during a recent trip to the east coast to find her year-old white iPhone 4 making “sizzling” and “popping” noises. After an unspecified amount of time there was “not quite an explosion, but an immense crackling,” and smoke plumed from the device creating “an awful, putrid smell, almost like you were ingesting plastic of some kind.”

Inspection of the provided pictures yields no clues as to which components were heated to the point of creating smoke, though it a bulging battery is clearly seen to have expanded enough to force apart the iPhone’s casing.

According to the report, the iPhone was connected via an Apple-branded charger to a power outlet that was later inspected and found to be working normally.

The woman goes on to say that when she asked Apple to be upgraded to a replacement iPhone 4S, the company furnished her with another iPhone 4.

“I would have liked to have seen them say they understand this might not be something that affects everyone,” the Colorado woman said. “But, because it happened here, [they should] put up a precautionary statement to make people aware that if their battery becomes too hot to be wary.”

The alleged incident is reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S., though there has been at least one similar instance in Australia involving the iPhone 4.

This is not the first time Apple has seen problems with overheating batteries as it extended a replacement program for its first-generation iPod nano in 2011 due to a defect that caused the device’s battery to overheat. The Cupertino, Calif., company first acknowledged the problem in a 2008 press release that stemmed from an investigation by the Japanese government.

There have been no reports of severe overheating issues with the iPhone 4S or any other products in Apple’s current lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Barclays report hints at components for next-gen iPhone, highlights 4G LTE elements

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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There’s always a next generation of a product.

And there’s always speculation as to what components will be used in it.

The next-generation iPhone is no different.

Per AppleInsider, investment firm Barclays reported Wednesday in a research note that among the parts Apple is expected to utilize are Qualcomm’s “MDM9615″ LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G networks.

That chip would be a change from the new iPad, which features Qualcomm’s “MDM9600″ modem. But that hardware only offers data connections over 4G LTE, not voice.

Like the iPhone 4S, the next iPhone is expected to be a “world” device compatible with a variety of 4G LTE networks. That’s different from the new iPad, which comes in two different models compatible with Verizon and AT&T wireless networks in the U.S.

In addition to Qualcomm, companies that are said to be supplying potential components to Apple are chipmakers Skyworks Solutions, TriQuint Semiconductor, and Avago Technologies.

Barclays sees Skyworks Solutions emerging as a likely winner with Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone, which it expects will launch this September. For Apple, the addition of a 4G LTE radio is expected to cost between US$3 and US$10 extra versus the 3G radio in the iPhone 4S.

The timeframe presented by Barclays aligns with a report from last month which indicated that the next iPhone will arrive in September or October of this year. That would be about one year after the arrival of the iPhone 4S, which marked the change of Apple’s typical iPhone launches in June or July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users complaining about Wi-Fi signal strength on third-generation iPad units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:54
Category: iPad, News

A firmware update or two may be in order for the iPad 3.

Per the Apple Support Communities forum, a number of users have reported that wireless reception with their new iPad is notably inferior than with Apple’s previous iPad models.

In a growing thread, dozens of users have posted about their troubles with Wi-Fi connectivity on the new iPad. Reports claim that areas that previously achieved strong Wi-Fi signals are now weak, or have no reception at all.

Some users have also compared the reception of their new iPad to their iPhone or MacBook Pro. While the other Apple devices might receive a strong signal in a particular location, they say the new iPad has weak or no connectivity.

“MacBook Pro as well as iPhone 4S show ‘Full Fan’ — new iPad (16GB WIFI) shows ‘one dot’ or just flat drops the wifi connection (and is often unable to search and find it),” user ‘aka_srp’ wrote in a post over the weekend.

Another user, ‘gdtobm,’ said they bought a new iPad from Best Buy on last Friday’s launch and experienced Wi-Fi connectivity issues. The iPad was returned later that day, and the new model they received did not have any problems.

Still another person who posted to Apple’s forums, ‘Andrew Mclaughlin2,’ compared the performance of the new iPad to a first-generation iPad and an iPhone 4S. The tests conducted at Speedtest.net reportedly found that the third-generation iPad has half the throughput of the other devices.

Some of those posting in Apple’s forums have attempted to resolve their issues with AppleCare representatives, while others have talked to personnel at the company’s retail stores. One user, ‘HealthClif,’ said they switched back to a previous-generation iPad 2 after experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity issues with multiple replacements of the new iPad.

Complaints of Wi-Fi-related issues also cropped up with the launch of the first iPad in 2010. Two years ago, some users said they experienced weak Wi-Fi reception, dropped signals, and difficulty connecting to a network.

Apple eventually resolved those issues with an iPad software update. The company acknowledged that a “very small number of iPad users” had experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity on the first-generation iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional third-generation iPad thermal testing continues with some reports indicating temperatures as high as 97 degrees Fahrenheit

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:48
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

There’s a plus side to the iPad 3: you’ll always be able to reheat your favorite foods with it.

Per AppleInsider, a new analysis has found the A5X chip in the new device runs as much as 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the A5 chip in the iPad 2.

According to a series of tests conducted by Repair Labs, the A5X chip registered temperatures up to 36 degrees celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to A5 readings of 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F). The experiment involved opening up the tablets in order to directly measure the temperatures of the chips.

Technicians measured multiple components inside the new iPad in order to verify that the A5X was the part putting out the most heat. The report speculated that a difference in materials between the A5 and the A5X may be a contributing factor, as the A5 is believed to be ceramic, while the A5X is “obviously metallic.”

An external test involved having the two iPads to play movies on Netflix. The third-generation iPad started at 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F) and warmed up to 32-33 degrees C (89.6-91.4 degrees F), while the iPad 2 started at 24 degrees C (75.2 degrees F) and only climbed to 25-26 degrees C (77-78.8 degrees F).

Repair Labs said it was was unable to reproduce the 116 degree F temperatures that Consumer Reports noted earlier on Tuesday, though it did note that holding the new iPad 3 “could be noticeably warmer after only a few minutes use,” especially if held where the A5X is located.

Writing for Consumer Reports, Donna L. Tapellini said that the new iPad felt “very warm” when at its hottest, but not “especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.” The story was quickly picked up by other outlets, some of which dubiously claimed that Apple’s new tablet could cause burns.

Consumer Reports is no stranger to controversy with Apple’s devices. The consumer advocacy group retracted its recommendation of the iPhone 4 in 2010 because it was able to reproduce a signal-loss problem in the device. With the release of the iPhone 4S last year, the group announced that Apple had resolved the issue.”

Separate tests conducted by Tested found a maximum temperature of 82 degrees F on the third-generation iPad when playing “Infinity Blade II,” the same app used by Consumer Reports in its tests.

Display expert Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate attributes the new iPad’s extra warmth to the fact that the device has approximately twice as many LEDs as its predecessor. “The LEDs give off 2.5 times as much heat as the iPad 2 and so will the battery and power electronics on the new iPad compared to the iPad 2,” he said.

An infrared test conducted earlier this week by a Dutch site found the new iPad to have reached 92.5 degrees F during a GLBenchmark test, almost 10 degrees hotter than the 83 degrees F measured on the iPad 2 during the same test.

For its part, Apple issued a statement on Tuesday that the new iPad operates “well within [its] thermal specifications” and urged customers with concerns to contact its support service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.