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

Posted by:
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

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

javaicon

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.

Apple comments on upcoming Apple TV unit, says smaller form factor won’t affect performance

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 07:33
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

Sometimes Apple drops some interesting hints about its unreleased stuff.

According to The Verge, despite details from a new FCC filing suggesting an updated Apple TV would feature a smaller form factor, Apple has indicated that the slightly tweaked hardware will look and function just like the current model.

Apple provided a statement on Wednesday in which the company downplayed speculation that a new Apple TV with a new look and experience may be forthcoming. Instead, Apple said the newly approved model is just a minor upgrade to the existing hardware.

“We sometimes make component changes which require an updated model number for regulatory approval,” the company said. “The component changes we made don’t affect product features and Apple TV customers will continue to have the same great user experience.”

The statement comes less than a day after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission revealed an unannounced Apple TV model identified as “A1469.” The filing suggested the unit’s design would be slightly smaller, shrinking from 98 millimeters to 93.78 millimeters square.

The filing also revealed that the new hardware would feature a low-power 40-nanometer Broadcom wireless chip identified as BCM4334. That’s the same chip already found in Apple’s iPhone 5, offering both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

But the comments from Apple reveal any changes to the hardware will not be noticeable to end users. Evidence has suggested the new Apple TV will feature a faster A5X chip, similar to the one the company used in its third-generation iPad.

It’s possible that Apple could be making the silent switch to an A5X chip in an effort to gradually ramp up production of the processor for another, more popular device. A strong candidate would be the iPad mini, which rumors have suggested will receive a high-resolution Retina display with a second-generation update later this year.

Apple used a similar approach last year when it launched the current Apple TV, a product update that added 1080p video support thanks to a shrunken A5 chip that uses the 32-nanometer manufacturing process. That same 32-nanometer chip was also placed inside the US$399 iPad 2 — a device that was previously powered by a 45-nanometer A5 chip. The new hardware, identified as “iPad2,4”, saw battery life improved by as much as 16 percent thanks to the design change.

This week Apple also issued a software update for an unannounced Apple TV model. The name “AppleTV3,2” implied that the updated hardware would be a minor revision from the current 1080p-capable set-top box, which is identified in software as “AppleTV3,1”.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple secures 48 assorted patents, including inductive charging, integrating portable electronics with bicycles

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

It never hurts to have a patent for something.

Much less 48 of ’em.

Per AppleInsider , the United States Patent and Trademark office published 48 newly granted Apple patents on Tuesday, covering technologies ranging from inductive charging to bike-integrated iPods, as well as one property covering the touchscreen technology that enables the latest iOS devices to achieve their current slimness.

The patents granted on Wednesday involve components and design elements for virtually all of Apple’s product offerings.

Inductive charging using printed coils:
This patent, filed for in June of 2012, describes systems “for harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils.” Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,362,751 calls for one or more moveable magnets that, when traveling along the path of the printed coils, can power a device.

The technology is akin to shake-to-charge flashlights that use induction to produce electric current which is stored in capacitors for later use. This type of system eschews the need for bulky batteries that must be plugged in for charging or replaced when depleted.

A similar technology is used in rival devices — including the Google-LG-produced Nexus 4 and Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phone 8 handsets — which integrate inductive charging systems that use a wall charger to recharge built-in batteries, thus doing away with pesky electrical cords. Apple has yet to bring a competing technology to market. Prior to the release of the iPhone 5, rumors circulated that Apple would bring wireless charging to bear in that handset, but Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said after the unveiling that the perceived convenience of such systems was questionable, since charging mats would still need to be plugged into an outlet.

In September, an Apple patent application emerged demonstrating a “realistic and practical approach to wireless power, providing over-the-air electricity to low-power devices within a distance of one meter.

Integrated touchscreen:
Apple also was granted a patent on a design for “displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup.” This is a continuation of the in-cell touchscreen patent, granted in July of 2012, which made an appearance in the iPhone 5. The in-cell touch panel technology allows Apple to make its devices noticeably thinner, but initial yield rates for the panels were problematic, and Apple is said to be evaluating a newer technology using “touch-on” displays, averting some of the problems that came with in-cell touch panels.

Notably, the patent granted today gives a mobile phone, a media player, and a notebook computer as examples of where the technology could be implemented. Tim Cook famously dismissed touch-enabled PC form factors, saying they were like “[converging] a toaster and a refrigerator.”

Integrating a portable electronic device with a bicycle:
Also among the patents Apple secured today was a design for interfacing an electronic device with a bicycle. In the filing, the device receives output from sensors coupled to the bicycle, displaying riding characteristics and even communicating with other devices in order to allow cyclists to ride as a team and assist each other.

The application for the patent originally emerged in 2010. Technology such as that seen in the patent has yet to materialize in any Apple products, but it is in keeping with other fitness-related offerings, such as the Nike+ compatibility seen in iPods and iPhones.

Tuesday’s patent haul covers many other technologies, including motion-based payment confirmation, beamforming antenna systems, device cooling mechanisms, and more. Among companies worldwide, Apple in 2012 ranked 21st for the total number of patents granted in 2012. Last year saw the Cupertino company granted 1,135 patents, just behind Google, which secured 1,151 patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases fourth-gen 128 gigabyte Retina Display iPad

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:02
Category: iPad, News

This came out of nowhere, but it’s appreciated.

Following up on a series of software updates, Apple on Tuesday announced it has launched a new 128-gigabyte model of the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display, doubling the previous maximum capacity offered.

The 128-gigabyte version of the fourth-generation iPad are available starting Tuesday, Feb. 5 in black or white. They will have a suggested retail price of US$799 for the Wi-Fi-only model, while the cellular-capable model will sell for US$929.

Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad lineup now extends to four different capacities, starting at 16 gigabytes for the entry-level model. The smaller iPad mini still tops off with a 64-gigabyte model.

The announcement of the new iPad model comes only a few days after it was discovered in the newly released iOS 6.1 software update that Apple had included references to a new iOS device with a storage capacity of 128 gigabytes. Previously, the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad lineups all maxed out at 64 gigabytes.

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

If you get your mitts on the 128 gigabyte iPad in the next few days, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple TV updated to 5.2, Bluetooth keyboard support, other features added

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

This smacks of the nifty.

The Apple TV set-top box was updated to software version 5.2 on Monday, adding enhanced support for iTunes in the Cloud and the ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard, while also hinting at a minor hardware refresh.

Per AppleInsider, users can download the update directly to their device by choosing the Settings application on the Apple TV, then choosing “General,” and “Software Update.” The update adds the following fixes and changes:
– iTunes in the Cloud: Brows and play your purchased iTunes music directly from iCloud.

– Up Next: See upcoming songs when playing music, and easily choose what plays next.

– Bluetooth Keyboard: Use your Apple Wireless Keyboard to control your Apple TV.

The company also strangely released three versions of the software update on Monday, including one intended for a previously unknown hardware revision referred to as “AppleTV3,2.” Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed earlier this month that the Apple TV would receive a refresh this quarter, but details on the rumored hardware were not provided.

The Apple TV was last updated a year ago with a single-core A5 processor. The faster chip allows the device to output 1080p video, while its predecessor was limited to 720p.

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

Apple releases iOS 6.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

You’ve been hankering after it for a while and it’s finally here.

On Thursday, Apple released its iOS 6.1 update. The new operating system, a several hundred megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:
– LTE support for more carriers (complete list of supported carriers).

– Purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only).

– iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud.

– New button to reset the Advertising Identifier.

iOS 6.1 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second, third or fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.1 works for you in the comments, no matter what the feedback may be.

Apple seeds fifth iOS 6.1 beta to developer community, adds new features

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 28th, 2013, 07:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

The iOS 6.1 seeds, they just keep coming.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Saturday released a fifth iOS 6.1 beta to developers, continuing the testing phase of the company’s mobile OS that will bring users a number of features, including enhanced mapping options and Siri-integration, when it launches later this year.

While rumors claimed Apple would soon rollout an iOS 6.1 Golden Master, the beta supplied to developers today is not the finalized version that traditionally heralds an imminent public release.

Apple made the first iOS 6.1 betas available to developers in November of 2012, two months after iDevice users were given access to iOS 6. The version change came with a number of all-new features like the Apple-designed maligned Maps app, built-in Facebook integration, Photo Stream and Passbook, among others.

Past beta iterations revealed that iOS 6.1 will offer an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow users to search for map-based place names and points of interest with natural language strings. In an example given by a developer with access to the beta, a search for “coffee” returned the location and corresponding information of nearby coffee shops.

Additionally, iOS 6.1 will offer Fandango movie ticket purchases through Siri and refined iCloud security steps when setting up a new device.

The latest release comes over a month after the fourth iOS 6.1 beta arrived in mid-December alongside fresh developer versions of Apple TV software and Xcode.

Developers can access the fifth iOS 6.1 beta from Apple’s developer website.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the fifth beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iPad mini supply improves, shipment times now 3-5 days from online Apple Store

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 28th, 2013, 07:19
Category: iPad mini, News, retail

Give it time and eventually the supply channels even out.

Per AppleInsider, despite severe constraints throughout the holiday quarter, supply of Apple’s iPad mini is finally catching up with demand as the Online Apple Store is now quoting ship-by dates of 3-5 business days.

The change comes one week after Apple kicked off sales of cellular-enabled versions of the iPad mini in China, a market thought to be a major player in the company’s future growth. At the time of launch, availability stood at two weeks for the Chinese market and one week for the U.S.

Supply of the hot-selling 7.9-inch tablet has been constrained since the device went on sale in October, with brisk sales amounting to quick stockouts on Apple’s online store. The company announced that the iPad mini sold three million units over its first weekend on sale.

In early December, iPad mini availability improved as quoted Online Apple Store shipment estimates fell to one week for the first time since launch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the company’s quarterly earnings conference call in October that he thought the smaller iPad, along with the fourth-gen iPad and iPad 2, would be “extremely attractive” stand-ins for PCs. During Apple’s most recent conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013, Cook said suppliers were having difficulty meeting high demand, but a balance could be reached by the end of the upcoming quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may incorporate fingerprint sensor into iPhone “Home” button for next-gen models

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 25th, 2013, 08:34
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, Rumor

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone this year with a fingerprint sensor hidden beneath the home button — an intuitive design that could be difficult for competing Android and Windows Phone devices to copy.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec to pay off this year with the so-called “iPhone 5S,” the company’s anticipated next-generation handset. He believes Apple will find a way to integrate the fingerprint sensor into the home button, allowing Apple to retain its “minimalist design.”

In contrast, many Android and Windows Phone devices have more than one button below the display, and those buttons frequently lack the mechanical push of Apple’s home button. As a result, attempts to integrate fingerprint scanning on competing devices would be less intuitive, and could frustrate users, Kuo said.

He believes that with the addition of a fingerprint sensor below the iPhone’s home button, Apple will be able to replace the use of usernames and passwords, allowing users to authenticate in a more efficient manner. He also expects that the fingerprint scanner will integrate with applications such as Passbook to enhance their functionality.

Kuo has a particularly strong track record in predicting Apple’s future product pipeline. Last year, the analyst accurately forecast the company’s entire fall lineup, including the taller design of the iPhone 5 and iPod touch, thinner iMacs, the iPad mini, and the fourth-generation iPad with Lightning connector.

Beyond the “iPhone 5S,” Kuo expects a new handset based on the iPhone 5 design will also launch this year. Kuo’s comments are in line with recent rumors, that have pegged Apple as planning to release a more affordable iPhone model this year targeted at emerging markets.

Kuo believes the less expensive iPhone 5 will feature a new design, including a plastic casing, to cut costs and expand Apple’s iPhone lineup.

The analyst has also predicted that the iPad mini will gain a Retina display in 2013, while the full-size iPad will sport a lighter and thinner design with a smaller bezel. He also expects new Retina MacBook Pros with cheaper prices, the discontinuation of the legacy MacBook Pros, and a refresh to the Apple TV set-top box — but no full-fledged television set this year.