Japanese earthquake/tsunami may be leading to lithium supply problems for iPod components

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Date: Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 08:46
Category: iPod, News

Ya know, they say natural disasters are never good things.

And I believe them.

Apple is reportedly running short of lithium-ion batteries for its iPods as Japanese chemical maker Kureha stuggles to deal with the aftermath of the recent natural disasters to strike the country.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Kureha has a 70% share of the global market for a particular polymer, said to be crucial in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries used by the iPod.

Kureha was forced to shut its factory in Iwaki, close to the epicentre of the recent quake, and is looking to move its production line overseas.

The plant in Kureha is the only place that the polymer is made. The polymer, which is made from resin called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), binds components of the battery together. It is vital to the construction of batteries that are pliable rather than rigid, as they need to be to fit into the small spaces dictated by modern, small designs.

Kureha is reportedly looking to move PVDF production to its existing factories in China or the US, while keeping its research and development plant in Japan. Meanwhile, analysts warned that any mobile gadgets using lithium-ion batteries, including Apple’s iPod, could be affected by the production stoppage.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to expand on voice commands in iOS 5.0

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Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, 08:49
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

Because you don’t spend enough time talking to your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to be working on a means of vastly improving voice commands on devices like the iPhone and iPad with the anticipated release of iOS 5 later this year.

Apple’s “deeply integrated” voice control feature in iOS 5 is expected to be demoed at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference. The voice control will reportedly be a combination of artificial intelligence and assistance technology, and Apple’s team is said to be putting the “finishing touches” on elements that will be demonstrated at WWDC.

The new features are said to stem from technology and personnel Apple obtained through its acquisition of Siri in 2010. Siri is the developer of a personal assistant application for the iPhone, and it allows users to speak to the device in plain conversational English to find information and automatically accomplish tasks, like booking a reservation at a restaurant.

The advanced voice control technology owned by Apple and said to be coming in iOS 5 may even be opened up to developers for use in third-party applications. However, author MG Siegler cautioned that information “isn’t quite as concrete.”

The latest rumor corroborates a report filed that went public earlier this year which claimed that Apple is working on “voice navigation” features in iOS 5. It also builds on rumors that circulated in February that Apple hopes to improve operation of the iPhone through voice commands due to some users’ dislike of using a virtual keyboard.

Apple announced on Monday that WWDC will kick off on June 6 at San Francisco’s Moscone West, where the company plans to “unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS.” The annual developers conference sold out in a record 10 hours.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to add alternate payment methods for MobileMe services

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Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, 04:44
Category: MobileMe, Rumor, Software

You like your MobileMe account.

And there may be new ways to pay for it.

Per MacNews.de, Apple may be coming up with plans to implement alternative payment methods for MobileMe in the near future. Currently, users without credit cards are caught in a dilemma — they can’t renew their subscriptions electronically, but neither can they buy a retail “box” with the MobileMe activation or renewal code from a retail store (Apple has removed the MobileMe box from its retail stores, though some dealers may still have older stock available).

Rumors have swirled for months that the service is due to undergo a major revamp, spurred by an e-mail from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to a customer promising the service “will get better in 2011.”

The rumors have taken various forms, from making at least some version of the service available for free to adding a cloud-based “media locker” for a small fee — or changing, dropping or revamping existing services (which include website hosting, photo and video galleries, ad-free IMAP e-mail, account syncing, limited backup, equipment tracking, personal storage space and other features).

Last month, Apple made MobileMe only available as a free online trial offer, and the only way to buy or renew a subscription required a credit card — leading to speculation that the revamp could come soon (now currently believed to be in April).

The report that Apple is working on alternate payment methods would indicate that the company is still planning on charging for at least some of the services in an overhauled MobileMe offering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.

iPad 2 to arrive at 500 RadioShack locations today

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Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPad, News

I have a love-hate relationship with RadioShack.

Still, this gives me another reason to like it.

Starting Tuesday, some of the most heavily trafficked RadioShack stores in the U.S. will begin selling the iPad 2, as Apple continues to expand the retail availability of its hot-selling touchscreen tablet.

Per AppleInsider+, the iPad 2 will be available at 500 RadioShack stores Tuesday. A corporate memo scarce on details only reveals that the chosen stores have already been informed they will receive the device for sale.

Sources close to the story have stated that the deal to sell the iPad 2 at RadioShack was only finalized within the last few days.

The continued retail expansion comes only a few days after Apple launched the iPad 2 overseas in 25 countries. The second-generation iPad first went on sale in the U.S. earlier this month.

Signs of improving iPad 2 inventory came last week, when estimated shipping times from Apple’s online store improved to three to four weeks. Previously, new orders were estimated to wait at least a month before shipment.

The iPad 2 has seen strong demand and regular sellouts at stores since it first became available. Apple’s launch strategy has also been significantly more aggressive than with the first-generation iPad, which debuted only at Apple’s stores and select Best Buy locations.

RadioShack’s partnership with Apple expanded last March, when the company began selling the iPhone. The retailer also made waves late last year when it offered discounts on the iPhone, something rarely seen with Apple’s rigidly priced handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you run across an iPad 2 at a RadioShack in your area today, let us know.

Rumor: Apple could release Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” in early summer

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Date: Monday, March 28th, 2011, 04:25
Category: Rumor, Software

Following the release of the Mac OS X 10.6.7 update, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 release could see the light of day a bit earlier than expected. Per TechCrunch, Apple could release the new operating system in the early part of this summer. If a new rumor is to be believed, it would appear that Apple should have no troubles meeting this deadline, as it appears the latest and greatest OS X could already be nearing “Golden Master” status.

Apple has continued to work through many OS X Lion bugs and other performance issues as the stated summer release date draws ever closer. Just the same, if GM candidates are already nigh, then there should not be any cause to worry.

By comparison, with OS X Snow Leopard, Apple had released the GM edition to developers a few weeks for the actual public release. If there are no bugs in the first GM version, then Apple could see a similar timeframe with Lion. To give benefit of the doubt to Apple though, it would seem an early summer release may be likely and could be found at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a Mac OS X 10.7 build, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may be planning iOS 5.0 around a fall release

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Date: Monday, March 28th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

Even if you’re still trying to figure out if Apple’s iOS 4.3.1 update provided any meaningful fixes, there’s still iOS 5.0 on the horizon. Per TechCrunch, iOS 5.0 may not see the light of day until this fall, the rumor mill stating that Instead of Apple possibly unveiling the latest version this spring, we may not see an official preview until summer, possibly alongside WWDC.

The current rumors have presented the following details:
-iOS 5 will launch in the fall and will be a major revamp of the OS.

-It could well be previewed at WWDC, but won’t be released then.

-The iOS 5 launch may coincide with the release of the oft talked about iPad 3.

-The new iOS would be built heavily around the cloud, and could see the launching of several new services by Apple that would take advantage of this.

-One of those said services would be a “music locker” service, which would see the aim for a fall launch, which is usually when Apple hosts their music-themed event.

-Much of the cloud information would first be covered at WWDC.

-The new cloud service element would include a location service for finding friends and family members.

-Some of the new cloud features could also make their way into OS X Lion as well.

Still, it could be interesting stuff, even if the usual timeline is thrown off a bit.

Stay tuned to PowerPage and we’ll bring you additional information as it becomes available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.1 update

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Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Apple on Friday released iOS 4.3.1, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and security patches for iOS devices.

Per Macworld, the update centers around a pair of graphics-related fixes: one for an occasional glitch on the 4th-generation iPod touch and one for flickering problems when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs. iOS 4.3.1 also resolves a problem with authenticating some enterprise Web services and some bugs experienced when activating and connecting to cellular networks.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.6.7 internal references point to widening graphics card support for future Mac hardware

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Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 04:13
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Dig around inside an update’s code and you’ll find all sorts of interesting stuff.

Per the tonymacx86 Blog, the Mac OS X 10.6.7 update for early 2011 Mac Book Pro models features native graphics acceleration for some Radeon HD 5000- and 6000-series cards. The supported cards are off-the-shelf graphics processing units, not Mac-only cards as have been in the past.

It’s likely that at least some of the cards will be part of the new iMac refresh expected from Apple in the near future. A new rumor this week claimed that Apple plans to ship a refresh of its all-in-one desktop by early May, with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and a high-speed Thunderbolt port.

But the number of graphics cards natively supported by Mac OS X 10.6.7 has led “tonymacx86″ to suggest that it could signal “the end of the Mac-only graphics card.”

“Could Apple be opening up the platform more?” he asked. “What happens to NVIDIA? Why support for cards that aren’t in Macs yet? Will the 2011 Sandy Bridge iMacs contain one or more of these new 6xxx cards?”

The Mac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard build unique to early 2011 Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro models apparently contains native support for the following graphics cards:

- ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D9

- ATI Radeon HD 5670 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5730 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5770 Device ID 0x68B8

- ATI Radeon HD 5850 Device ID 0×6899

- ATI Radeon HD 5870 Device ID 0×6898

- AMD Radeon HD 6850 Device ID 0×6739

- AMD Radeon HD 6870 Device ID 0×6738

- AMD Radeon HD 6970 Device ID 0×6718

Apple also released a special build unique to the new MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt also addresses performance issues with FaceTime. It also improves graphics stability and external display compatibility with the new notebooks released in February.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

U.S. Apple Store iPad 2 order times improve to 3-4 weeks

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Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 03:02
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve been hankering for a new iPad 2, there’s good news for you.

Availability of the iPad 2 has begun to improve, as Apple has eased the estimated ship time to between three and four weeks for new orders through its online store in the U.S.

Per AppleInsider, the new estimated shipping times for U.S. customers are an improvement from the previous estimate of between four and five weeks. But the wait is a little longer than some international orders, which are estimated to ship in two to three weeks.

The shipping improvement is only a week, but it’s a sign that Apple is beginning to catch up with strong demand it has faced since the iPad 2 first launched in the U.S. earlier this month. It’s also a good sign for the international launch, as there had been some concern that sales in 25 new countries would only exacerbate the problem.

The iPad 2 completely sold out at all retail outlets in the U.S. in its first weekend of availability, and stock has continued to trickle in over the following weeks. But there has also been concern about Apple’s stock going forward, following the earthquake disaster in Japan and its potential effect on iPad components.

Last week, a report from the Far East indicated that Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn had stockpiled enough components to continue to assemble iPad 2 units for at least another two to three weeks. It was said that if the situation in Japan did not improve, Apple could face a stockout of the iPad 2.

For now those concerns appear to be unfounded, as availability appears to be improving with quicker shipping estimates.

Stay tuned for additional details and if your iPad 2′s ship time appears to have improved, please let us know.

Some users report freezes while using FaceTime on iPad 2

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

There’ll always be a few bugs to sort out, no matter how popular a new device is.

Per AppleInsider, some users have reported freezing issues with the FaceTime video chat feature, requiring a restart of the device.

A handful of users on Apple’s support forums have posted to a growing thread where they have described a problem where the image displayed by the forward-facing camera on the iPad 2 crashes in the FaceTime application. The same issue is also detailed in two other, smaller threads (1, 2).

“When I opened up FaceTime the first time, the camera was working fine, but now whenever I open it up, it just shows a still image from when I left,” user “CRK The Man” wrote. “How can I fix it?”

Most users seem to have found success in repairing FaceTime by simply restarting their iPad 2. Others have gone as far as completing a full software restore of the iPad 2 to address the problem.

One user, “dels7080,” claimed that the manager of a Verizon store in New York City revealed that the FaceTime glitch has occurred to “a lot” of demo units available for customers on the sales floor to try. They too said the problem is solved by restarting the iPad 2.

“It happens quite frequently,” user “leov36″ wrote of the issue. “Restarting the ipad fixes the problem, BUT, it happens again with in the next two to three times I go to use it.”

FaceTime is only available on iOS devices with a forward-facing camera, including the newly released iPad 2. To take advantage of the forward and rear cameras on the second-generation iPad, Apple also added devoted applications for picture and movie taking, as well as Photo Booth for taking and editing photos.

If you’ve seen this with your new iPad 2, please let us know in the comments.