Apple offers replacement program for certain third-gen Apple TV units, cites Wi-Fi issues

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Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 06:59
Category: Apple TV, News

Well, this is why they invented recall and replacement programs in the first place.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has informed its official retail stores, AppleCare employees, and authorized resellers that a small number of third-generation Apple TV units have Wi-Fi issues. These issues surround not being able to locate a Wi-Fi network, unable to join a network, and dropped or intermittent connections.

Apple has determined that a very small number of Apple TV (3rd generation) products might experience one of these Wi-Fi related connectivity issues: Cannot locate network, Unable to join network, Dropped or intermittent connection.

If an Apple technician determines that an applicable Apple TV has these issues, the unit can be replaced as part of a replacement program that Apple has begun because of these WiFi issues. Apple says that replacements can be offered free of charge up to two years after the device’s purchase date.

Here are the serial number pairs that are eligible:


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Earlier this year, Apple silently began shipping a tweaked version of its third-generation Apple TV. This new model, as revealed in FCC filings, features new Broadcom wireless chips. It is plausible, we speculate, that the change in WiFi parts could have been in response to these Wi-Fi issues in some third-generation models.

If you’ve seen these issues with your third-gen Apple TV unit or have looked into the replacement program, let us know about your experience in the comments.

Foxconn ends hiring freeze, hires additional workers to build next-gen iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 07:03
Category: iPhone, News

Not to worry, Foxconn will have enough people on board to construct the next-gen iPhone.

Per Bloomberg, after a brief freeze on hiring, Foxconn has allegedly begun adding employees again at one of its Chinese factories — a move said to be made in anticipation of Apple’s next iPhone.

Foxconn is in the process of gearing up to build Apple’s 2013 iPhone, a source stated to Bloomberg. The handset is commonly referred to as a so-called “iPhone 5S,” though the actual name for the unannounced product remains unknown.

A hiring freeze was instituted by Foxconn in February after more workers returned from the Chinese New Year break than did last year. Some had speculated the freeze may have been related to weaker-than-expected demand for the iPhone 5.

The new hires at Foxconn were reportedly requested by Apple to boost capacity in anticipation of its next flagship smartphone. In addition to assembling the “iPhone 5S,” the employees are also expected to handle existing models, such as the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

Rumors as to when Apple plans to launch its next iPhone have been varied, with some expecting a new handset to be unveiled as soon as June, which would mark less than a full year after the launch of the iPhone 5. In contrast, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said last week that he expects Apple to face a number of technical challenges in assembling the “iPhone 5S.”

According to Kuo, Apple is planning to include a fingerprint scanner underneath the home button of its next iPhone. This feature would allow users to bypass password entry and could potentially open the door to e-wallet functionality, but the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner is expected by Kuo to cause the “iPhone 5S” to launch later than some expect.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” Kuo said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft working on “iWatch” device of its own

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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You know that rumor about Apple working on an iWatch of sorts?

Microsoft may be working on its own.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is apparently working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple Inc. in working on a new class of computing products.

Earlier this year, Microsoft asked suppliers in Asia to ship components for a potential watch-style device, the executives said. One executive said he met with Microsoft’s research and development team at the software company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it’s unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch, they said.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in wearable, computerized devices built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect body temperature, geographic location and voice commands of people on the go.

Some of the new wearable gadgets, like Nike Inc.’s FuelBand, measure physical activity, while others are intended to supplement functions of a smartphone, such as receiving text messages, taking photos or checking the weather. Apple has also experimented with designs for a wristwatch-style device.

Startup Pebble Technology Corp. is selling a watch that syncs wirelessly with smartphones and vibrates to alert wearers to incoming phone calls, Twitter posts and emails. Google Inc. is testing with consumers a device it calls Google Glass, an eyeglass-style gadget that displays certain computerized information in a user’s field of vision.

“We see growing demand for wearable gadgets as the size of the smartphone has become too big to carry around,” said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. “A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers.”

Research firm Gartner expects the market for wearable smart electronics to be a $10 billion industry by 2016.

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has shown an interest in wearable gadgets. Microsoft a decade ago unveiled a “Smart Watch” powered by the company’s software. For a subscription fee, Smart Watch wearers could have news headlines, sports scores and instant messages beamed over FM radio to their wrists. But sales stopped in 2008.

For its potential new watch prototype, Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers, said an executive at a component supplier.

The tests of a computerized watch also underscore Microsoft’s ambitions in expanding its hardware offerings. Last October, Microsoft launched the Surface tablet-style computer, and the company is prepping more homegrown computing devices including a smaller, 7-inch version of a tablet to compete with popular gadgets like Apple’s iPad Mini, people familiar with the matter have said.

Microsoft also is continuing to test its own smartphone, although it isn’t clear whether it will bring such a device to market, component suppliers said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2” faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use LED backlighting system to reduce weight of next-gen iPad

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could prove spiffy.

Per CNET, a report released on Thursday says Apple will likely use a modified LED backlight apparatus in a bid to make the 9.7-inch tablet as thin and light as possible.

NPD DisplaySearch stated that it expects Apple’s fifth-generation iPad to sport a more efficient LED array, as well as a change to film-based touch sensor technology, as the company slims down its largest tablet offering.

“It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs,” said analyst Paul Semenza.

Apple is widely expected to launch a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad with an aesthetic borrowed from the current iPad mini. Such a design was revealed in an image of a purportedly leaked next-gen iPad cover glass, which had thinner bezels and significantly modified dimensions in comparison with existing models.

Turning to display technology, Semenza said it’s too soon to tell if the next-gen iPad will make the switch to more efficient IGZO panels. Rumors dating as far back as 2011 have Apple preparing to transition to the LCD tech, though such displays have yet to be used in the company’s product lineups. Most recently, industry chatter has pointed to the inclusion of IGZO in this year’s iPhone and iPad models, with the panels coming from Apple partner supplier Sharp.

Finally, Semenza said a third-quarter debut is most likely for the upcoming iPad. Prediction regarding the iPad’s launch timeline have been highly varied, however, with some analysts claiming an October release, while other sources say the tablet could be unveiled this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple close to finalizing iRadio content agreements, service to launch in a dozen markets in mid0to-late 2013

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:05
Category: Rumor, Software

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You know that iRadio/content deal Apple was wrangling through with major studios and content providers? It may be about sorted out and have an actual delivery date.

According to The Verge, the Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.

Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have stated. Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.

Per CNET, sources have apparently also indicated Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:

The press has dubbed the service “iRadio”, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song. Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts, pulls job posting for engineer with “flexible display” experience, could link to rumored “iWatch” on horizon

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Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:23
Category: Hardware, News

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Your next Mac display could be bendy/squishy/flexible.

Or not.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday took down a job listing it posted in early April looking for a hardware engineer with experience in flexible displays, suggesting that the company is actively researching the advanced technology only now emerging in the consumer marketplace.

The listing, originally posted on April 1 at the company’s Jobs at Apple webpage, sought a “Senior Optical Engineer” who has experience with emerging technologies, including flexible displays. Apple’s post corresponds to recent rumors that a so-called “iWatch” would soon be brought to market, with the wristwatch-like device thought to sport a “curved display.”

According to the now pulled post, Apple is actively recruiting for “a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible displays.”

Judging by the job summary and required duties, Apple appears to be researching how to best build a device with a high-quality flexible display. On the other hand, the company could merely be looking to study its options in how to best deploy such a product should the need arise.

Rumors regarding the iWatch have been making the rounds over the past few months, with rumblings pointing to an ergonomic wearable device featuring a curved screen. In February, users discovered a patent detailing a wrist-worn unit with a flexible display, providing concrete evidence that Apple is at least investigating such a device.

It is not clear why Apple pulled the job listing, though it could be that the company has found a suitable candidate for the position.

802.11ac support noted in OS X 10.8.4 beta

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Date: Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 07:00
Category: News, Software

Never doubt the power of an operating system upgrade.

Per AppleInsider, code found in the just released Mountain Lion 10.8.4 beta build references the next-generation 802.11ac wireless protocol, hinting that Apple may soon introduce the technology in its Mac lineup.

The string was discovered in the OS X 10.8.4 beta build 12E30, which was seeded to developers earlier on Tuesday, and suggests Apple is planning on releasing a lineup of Macs compatible with the 802.11ac wireless draft.

While 802.11ac has yet to be ratified as a wireless standard by the IEEE, a number of OEMs have already started rolling out routers based on the draft. Although Apple has yet to adopt the protocol, other manufacturers began shipping products last year, meaning the Cupertino company shouldn’t be far behind.

As the fifth-generation wireless standard, 802.11ac promises to deliver data speeds of 1 gigabits per second over two channels, each carrying single link speeds of 500 megabits per second. In theory, the draft can reach speed of up to 1.3Gbps, which improves upon the existing 802.11n spec that tops out at a theoretical maximum of 900Mbps (450Mbps per channel). In addition, 802.11ac can accommodate up to 8 MIMO streams and extends effective range over previous technologies.

In January, Apple posted job listings for Gigabit Wi-Fi engineers, and the company was rumored to have struck a deal with Broadcom to use the chipmaker’s “5G Wi-Fi” silicon in as-yet-unannounced products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad production to begin in July-August time frame

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Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

There’s gotta be a kernel of truth in here somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, sources in Taiwan-based supply companies have stated that production of the fifth-gen iPad is slated to start in a July-August window. The sources added that the display is expected to be manufactured by Sharp and LG Display, while touch panel assembly will be done by TPK, and ITO thin film will come from Nitto Denko and Teijin. Some earlier rumors had an iPad announcement taking place as soon as this month.

The DigiTimes sources repeat views that the fifth-gen tablet will be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and moreover use a slimmer bezel, similar to the one on the iPad mini. The fourth-gen iPad was little different than the third-gen model, mainly gaining a faster processor, a Lightning connector, and broader cellular support. It was also released just months later, whereas it now appears that the fifth-gen device may resume Apple’s normal annual update cycle.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for offline purchasing system

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Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iOS, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Patents, Software

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Ok, this is interesting.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday was awarded a patent for an offline purchasing system that would allow iTunes users to buy music, movies and other media when not connected to the internet.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,417,575 for “On-device offline purchases using credits,” which describes a system involving the purchase of offline credits stored on a given device that can be put toward media in the iTunes store even when not connected to the online marketplace.

Currently, iTunes users must be logged in or have an internet connection to successfully purchase and download content from the online storefront, but Tuesday’s patent lays the groundwork for a type of “pre-loaded” payment system. Beyond the obvious applications for on-the-go iPod touch users and perhaps frequent travelers, the patent could be a harbinger of new never before seen iTunes functionality.

According to Apple, the proposed service involves media stored on an electronic device, like an iPhone or iPod touch, that is not part of the user’s owned library. If a user wants to buy a track, but cannot connect to the Internet to provide a means of payment, they can use pre-paid credits previously purchased through the store and subsequently loaded onto the device. Once a data network is accessed, the appropriate deductions are made to a user’s on-board credit allotment.

Users can add credits to their device accounts either through the device itself or what appears to be a specialized portal on the desktop version of iTunes, along with other options. Multiple forms of payment are accepted, including credit cards, bank accounts and other digitally connected assets a user links to their online profile.

As noted by the patent, in order to play back a purchased song or movie, a device must first have a copy of said media item, as well as authorization to play back the content. The device can retrieve copies of “unauthorized” media in any number of ways, including recommendations downloaded from the media store. Carrying on with the recommendation example, the device can restrict access to the content in any number of ways until authorization, or a purchase, has been detected. In some instances, the media might be played back at a lower quality, or there could be a limit to how many times a track is played.

The locally-stored media can be displayed in a variety of arrangements, including a layout similar to the existing iTunes iOS app, making browsing and buying new content easy. Once a user makes a selection, they can purchase the locally stored media with the credits they bought in advance, which will remove the restrictions previously imposed on the content. In other words, the authorization and playback transaction would be fully completed offline.

The property could be a boon for iTunes users who don’t have ready access to the Internet and, if made real, would likely drive sales for the digital music giant. Specific implementations were not thoroughly discussed, though Apple already has iTunes Match, which allows users iCloud access to their entire music collection, even tracks imported from CDs, for a yearly fee. While mere speculation, further cloud computing integration could bring even more tie-ins with the offline purchasing service, such as music sharing or gifting.

It remains unknown if and when Apple plans to roll out the offline crediting functionality, but the device-specific solution could theoretically be implemented with a firmware update as no hardware limitations were described in the patent.

Apple’s offline purchasing patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Taido Nakajima, Tyler Mincey, Gloria Lin and Joey Darragh as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.