Apple publishes patent for practically-bulletproof composite laminate

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 9th, 2010, 07:00
Category: News, Patents

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If you ever dropped your Apple device and rued gravity, this might help.

Per the mighty Patently Apple, Apple appears to be working on an improved composite laminate that could someday make future devices practically bulletproof.

The company has recently won the patent for an improved composite laminate, which the website claims “could consist of a wide range of materials including glass, synthetics, metals (such as aluminum or titanium) or even epoxy.” The patent doesn’t reveal exactly what Apple plans to do, but the website notes that such material is commonly used in “real-world products ranging from an iPad cover to all manner of sporting equipment such as golf clubs, baseball bats, canoes, bikes, skateboards and more.”

According to Wikipedia, the use of such materials could even be used to make a portable device literally bulletproof.

The article theorizes that “Apple could also be rethinking their use of polycarbonates in their MacBook for a much lighter material and using the sandwich method as shown above,” they propose. “Hmm, who knows — maybe the new Apple TV is already using one of the material variants. I haven’t been able to find out exactly what they’re using. Is it a thermosetting plastic as mentioned in this patent?”

As is often the case with patents such as this, only time will tell.

Apple opens iOS development to third-party tools, introduces Review Board

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 9th, 2010, 06:30
Category: News

Apple on Thursday announced that the company would no longer ban intermediary development tools for iOS as long as App Store software does not download any code, potentially paving the way for third-party software to convert applications from other formats like Adobe Flash.

Per Macworld, the company revealed that it had made “important changes” to sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 of its iOS Developer Program license, relaxing some of the restrictions that were put in place earlier this year. The company has also published the approval guidelines for its tightly controlled App Store, in which all software must be reviewed before it is released.

The changes come just weeks after evidence surfaced that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was looking into a complaint from Adobe over Apple’s banning of Flash from iOS devices. The FTC denied a public records request related to the case, stating that the release of such documents could interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Earlier this year, Apple updated its iOS 4 SDK to ban intermediary tools that would allow the porting of applications from Adobe’s Flash, Sun’s Java, or Microsoft’s Silverlight/Mono.

The change was made after Adobe announced that its Creative Suite 5 would include an application that would allow developers to port their applications to the iPhone from Flash. Adobe eventually abandoned further development of the application following Apple’s announcement. That was also when the company filed a complaint with the FTC.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs publicly commented on the matter in an open letter published in late April, in which he slammed Adobe Flash as a Web tool that is unfit for the modern, mobile era of computing. He also said that an intermediary tool for converting Flash applications to the iPhone would produce “sub-standard apps,” and would hinder the progress of the platform.

At the time, Jobs said he knew from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on a third-party tool, such as Adobe Flash, rather than writing natively for the iPhone is restrictive. “We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs wrote.

As for the publication of App Store approval guidelines, Apple has repeatedly come under fire for not being open enough with developers. Some who write for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch have complained that it is unclear what software is acceptable.

The most high-profile App Store review incident came in 2009, when Apple refused to approve the Google Voice application, a telephony service from the search giant. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and Apple at the time denied that it had rejected the Google Voice app, but said it was continuing to “study it.”

The full statement from Thursday is included in its entirety:

“The App Store has revolutionized the way mobile applications are developed and distributed. With over 250,000 apps and 6.5 billion downloads, the App Store has become the world’s largest mobile application platform and App Store developers have earned over one billion dollars from the sales of their apps.

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.

In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.

The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.”

Finally, Apple also revealed the formation of an App Review Board, with the goal of giving developers “the opportunity to appeal the rejection of an application if [they] believe that the functionality or technical implementation was misunderstood.”

This new board should help address the accusations often made about the arbitrariness of the app approval process by providing developers with a way to formally ask Apple to review a rejection, based on criteria that may not have been anticipated by the approval guidelines; that’s often been the source of embarrassment for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple leaves out vibration feature on fourth-gen iPod touch

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 9th, 2010, 06:45
Category: iPod Touch, News

In spite of earlier references on the Apple website to a “vibrating alert” for the fourth-generation iPod touch, the new device lacks a vibration motor.

Per AppleInsider, Apple originally promoted the vibrator feature on the accessibility page for the iPod touch, but has since removed the reference.

“If somebody wants to start a video call with you, you’ll receive an invitation — along with a vibrating alert — on your iPod touch asking you to join,” the page used to read.

Teardown specialists at iFixit confirmed the lack of a vibration motor when they took apart the new iPod touch.

“Contrary to Apple’s initial claims on their FaceTime marketing page, the iPod Touch does not have a vibrator,” reported the site.

The part from the FCC teardown originally believed to be a vibration motor was discovered by iFixit to be a microphone.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 update for iPhone, iPod touch

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 11:51
Category: iPhone, News, Software

After a fair amount of anticipation, Apple released its long-awaited iOS 4.1 update for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. Per iLounge, the update adds a number of bug fixes and new features, including a fix for the iPhone 4’s proximity sensor, Bluetooth issues, patches for security holes and performance problems on the iPhone 3G.

Notably, the iPhone 3G is left out amongst its iOS 4.1-capable peers in support for Apple’s new Game Center social gaming service, which is also included in the update, along with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography on the iPhone 4, HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, and support for TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. iOS 4.1 is available now as a free upgrade for all compatible devices via the update feature in iTunes and weighs in as a several hundred megabyte download.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

iFixit posts full teardown of 2010 iPod Shuffle

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 05:56
Category: iPod shuffle, photos

Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple’s new hardware to perform a full teardown of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle.

Per AppleInsider, the new hardware carries a model number of A1373, updated from the A1271 designation of the previous generation hardware.

The updated iPod shuffle marks the return of buttons to the media player, which were absent from the previous generation. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs even conceded last week that “people clearly missed the buttons.”

The tightly packed hardware is particularly difficult to open, iFixit noted. “It took us a good half hour of prying and heat-gunning to open the little guy,” they said. This is because back clip was is press-fit and glued onto the body of the device.

Other details noted by the solutions provider in its teardown:

- The new iPod shuffle has smaller retail packaging, but the box it ships in was not particularly small. “Apple could have shipped 30 iPod shuffles in this box,” they said. “Literally.”

- The fourth-generation hardware has a height of 1.14 inches, width of 1.24 inches, depth of 0.34 inches, and weight of 0.44 ounces.

- The control ribbon cable is just 1/8 of an inch wide, and the logic board is held in place by just one screw. The battery is soldered to the logic board.

- The 3.7V lithium-ion battery has a listed capacity of .19 Whr, which is good for 15 hours of audio playback.

- The manufacture dates on the die indicate the hardware was built in late June and early August of 2010.

For additional photos and details, check out the full teardown at the iFixit web site and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new Shuffle, let us know what you make of it, for better or for worse.

Apple releases Safari 5.0.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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Amidst yesterday’s updates and product releases, Apple released Safari 5.0.2, the newest version of its web browser. The new version, available here (or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature), sports the following fixes and changes:

- Fixes an issue that could prevent users from submitting web forms.

- Fixes an issue that could cause web content to display incorrectly when viewing a Google Image result with Flash 10.1 installed.

- Establishes an encrypted, authenticated connection to the Safari Extensions Gallery.

Safari 5.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 (under Mac OS X 10.6) or later to install and run and is available for free.

Apple outlines forthcoming iOS 4.2 features, ups iPad production to 3 million units per month

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Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 05:58
Category: iPad, News, Software

For those curious about what’s on the horizon, Apple has created a dedicated page on its web site outlining some of the features in the anticipated iOS 4.2 update that will unify the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad operating systems. Per CNET, the page highlights some of the most coveted features of iOS 4 (currently only running on iPhone and iPod touch) that will finally debut on iPad, including:

Multitasking: A simple double-tap of the home button brings up a quick-switch interface allowing users to easily jump back to recently used Apps. Multitasking also allows for Apps to run in the background while you surf, e-mail, or catch up on the news.

Folders: Just drag one App on top of another and iOS automatically creates a folder. You can even store it in your dock for quick access to your favorite Apps.

Printing: One of the most exciting aspects of the iOS 4.2 update is the inclusion of wireless printing. The ability to create documents, spreadsheets, and other material on the go is one of iPad’s greatest assets.

AirPlay: This feature AirPlay allows you to stream your video content to the new Apple TV and your audio content to any AirPlay speakers, including your AirPort Express.

Other features of iOS 4.2 include Apple’s social network for gaming, Game Center, unified Inboxes and threaded messages in the Mail App, the ability to find and highlight text in Safari, better support for enterprise through stronger security, upgraded accessibility features including VoiceOver control with wireless keyboards, and keyboard support for over 30 new languages including Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew.

The announcement of iOS 4.2 at this week’s media event also led Apple to encourage its production partners to up iPad production (currently at 2 million per month) to 3 million per month for the holiday season. The updated number comes from a report by Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty who states:

“Apple recently indicated to its suppliers a desire to move to 3 million per month in C4Q10. This implies a run rate of 36 million in CY11, close to the current 40 million supply chain forecast.”

Recently Apple’s shipping times for iPad have dropped sharply, from 2-4 weeks about a month ago to under 24 hours currently, suggesting any production problems they may have had early on have been solved. With the new operating system update to be available in November, expect iPad to be one of the top-selling tech toys of this holiday season.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple now shipping fourth-gen iPod touch units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

Customers who preordered their 2010 model iPod touch after they were announced last Wednesday began to receive shipment notifications on Tuesday. Per MacRumors, assorted tech blogs have been lit up today with word that initial preorder units of the new, fourth-generation iPod touch model are now shipping, with delivery estimates between September 10th and 14th.

If you haven’t ordered your new iPod touch yet, the Apple Store still shows delivery with one week, and reports customers in other countries are also seeing estimates of five to seven business days.

Deutsche Telekom expected to lose exclusive iPhone contract in Germany this October

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010, 04:37
Category: iPhone, News

If it can happen in Germany, it can happen in America…

Another prominent exclusive arrangement with Apple for the iPhone is expected to conclude in a matter of months, when it is anticipated that Deutsche Telekom will lose sole access to the iPhone in Germany.

Per the Wall Street Journal, sources sources stated on Friday that Apple’s iPhone will become available on two new carriers as soon as October. Currently, the handset is exclusive to Deutsche Telekom, but the plans are reportedly for it to become available on rival carriers Vodafone and O2.

“One said that deals haven’t been finalized but added that negotiations are in an advanced stage,” the report said. “Deutsche Telekom’s exclusive rights to sell the device haven’t been extended and could end as early as october, posing a threat to growth in the company’s home market.”

Deutsche Telekom, which is also the parent company of T-Mobile in the U.S. and elsewhere, has 37 million customers in Germany, while Vodafone has 34.9 million and O2 has 16.3 million.

Elsewhere throughout Europe, the end of exclusivity has resulted in boosted sales for Apple’s iPhone. In 2009, the iPhone went multi-carrier in France after a government ruling nullified Apple’s exclusive arrangement with Orange. After that, it was estimated that the Apple’s handset rose to as high as a 40% market share of all smartphone sales in the nation.

The most largest exclusive arrangement for the iPhone is in the U.S., with AT&T. Rumors of a new CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network have persisted for years, but have not become a reality.

In August, AT&T warned that exclusivity for “a number of attractive handsets” will end, leading some to believe that the company was preparing investors for the loss of iPhone exclusivity.

While Apple has allegedly not yet brokered a deal to extend exclusivity with Deutsche Telekom in the company’s home country of Germany, there have also been rumors that the company has talked with Apple about a potential deal to bring the iPhone to carrier T-Mobile in the U.S. Of the four major carriers in America, T-mobile is the smallest, with 33.7 million customers as of July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.