Rumor: Apple testing larger-screen versions of upcoming iPhone, iPad devices

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

Maybe there’s money to be made in the larger display market.

Per the Wall Street Journal and 9to5Mac, Apple and its suppliers are reportedly testing versions of the iPad and iPhone with larger displays.

Apple and its Asian component makers are testing larger screens for iPhones and tablets, officials at the company’s suppliers say.

Due to mounting competition from hardware competitors like Samsung, a larger-screened iPhone has long been expected and rumored. However, this is one of the first specific claims for a larger sized iPad. In March of this year, an unverified claim emerged for a 12.9-inch iPad model being in the works with a rather unlikely name. The report pointed to a display “measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally.”

A June report claimed that Apple and its suppliers are testing versions of the iPhone with both 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch screens. With Apple likely releasing a new iPhone with the same design as the iPhone 5 later this year, it seems likely that Apple’s 2014 iPhone will include significant design changes. The WSJ report does not specify screen sizes for the future iPhones.

The 2013 iPhone update, likely known as the “iPhone 5S”, will include an improved camera system, better chip, and potentially a slow-motion camera mode and fingerprint sensor.

As for today’s larger iPad claims, as Apple moves forward in its post-PC initiative, and as Mac sales dwindle, larger iPads that could replace more Mac features seem plausible.

In 2012, Apple slightly enlarged the iPhone display size by increasing the screen to 4-inches diagonally. Apple also shrunk the iPad by debuting a 7.9-inch model called the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases HopStop, could focus on public transit and navigation updates for upcoming versions of Maps

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:47
Category: News, Software

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Apple has snagged HopStop.

Per AppleInsider and AllThingsD, Apple on Friday purchased transit navigation service HopStop, which also has an iPhone app of the same name, in a possible bid to bolster its own in-house mapping solution.

Citing sources with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg reports that Apple has just purchased HopStop, a localized public transit navigation service that could potentially be folded into the company’s Maps iOS app, and the upcoming OS X Mavericks version.

If the report is accurate, HopStop’s technology could be used by Apple to build out its Maps app, offering users directions for bus, train, subway and other transit options. The current version of Maps does not include such functionality, and instead points users searching for public transit routes toward third-party apps that can handle such tasks. Along with supporting transit information for over 300 major cities, HopStop also includes walking, car and bicycle routing.

News of the reported purchase comes just hours after Apple announced it had acquired Locationary, a tech startup that uses crowd-sourced data to offer accurate and up-to-date listings of local businesses.

Apple’s Maps has been the source of much debate since it was launched with iOS 6 in 2012. Incorrect data, graphical glitches and navigation issues plagued the app during its first few months in the wild. The company is still working hard to bring the mapping solution up to snuff, as evidenced by the acquisitions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iWork for iCloud beta invitations beyond developer community, asks ordinary users for feedback

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Date: Friday, July 19th, 2013, 06:28
Category: News, Software

It’s kind of nifty when you get an invite for something typically accessible to the developer community.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has apparently begun inviting non-developers to the online document editing program. Tipsters have stated that the company asked them to try out the services and send in feedback.

In order to try the new beta, all you have to do is sign in to iCloud on a Mac or a PC using the current version of Safari, Chrome or Internet Explorer. Then just click on Pages, Numbers, or Keynote and you’re off.


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Users that have received the invitation don’t need to visit beta.icloud.com – they can just use the regular icloud.com address.

The free status hints at the possibility of iWork for the Mac/iOS going free in the near future. The current version of iLife is included with the purchase of a new Mac, but the iWork apps are sold for US$19.99 in the Mac App Store. Going free would probably reduce the number of Office for Mac purchases, but many argue that it could lead users to expect even more free apps.

If you’ve received the beta invitation or tried iWork for iCloud out and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air Mid 2013 Software Update 1.0, homes in on reported bugs

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Date: Friday, July 19th, 2013, 05:28
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

If you bought a mid-2013 MacBook Air, the firmware update you’ve been waiting for has arrived.

Apple on Thursday released an update to its recently released MacBook Air models, addressing issues affecting Wi-Fi connectivity, screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop and volume fluctuation during video playback.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s “MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0” is the first for the company’s thin-and-light lineup that was in June, and fixes a number of bugs users have complained about over the past few weeks.

Among the initial problems cited by users was intermittent loss of Wi-Fi signals, a problem Apple partially addressed in a separate AirPort Utility software update earlier this month.

Another problem cropped up last week when MacBook Air owners complained of uncontrollable volume fluctuations while playing video content in both first-party and third-party applications. This too has reportedly been solved with the latest Software Update 1.0.

Finally, the release fixes an issue that would occasionally cause screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop.

The MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update is available as a 3.55 megabyte download and can also be retrieved via the OS X Software Update feature on qualifying MacBook Air notebooks.

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

Apple releases fifth OS X 10.8.5 build to developer community

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 08:53
Category: News, Software

OS X 10.8.5 is on its way.

Per MacNN, Apple is now seeding a fifth beta of OS X 10.8.5 to developers. The latest build, 12F23, is just a few version numbers advanced since the previous one, 12F20. That could mean that v10.8.5 will reach the public by the end of the month.

There are no known issues with 12F23. Apple is asking developers to continue testing components like graphics, Wi-Fi, wake-from-sleep functions, mobile device management, and PDF viewing and accessibility.

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

Rumor: Apple hiring personnel from health sensor field to help with iWatch project, product group structure revealed

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 08:45
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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The new hires are coming to help work on the iWatch.

And some of them have medical sensor backgrounds.

Per MacRumors, Apple is apparently hiring from the health sensor field. Based on new hires, it seems that Apple’s interest in sensors focuses on the ability to measure glucose and other body level information. With this data, the product could inform users of vital information in a non-invasive way. These sensors could also pick up more data to give a user a snapshot of their health, which would be ideal for fitness applications.

To assist with the development of these sensors, Apple has hired several scientists and executives from multiple sensor developers. Some notable firms who lost employees to Apple are AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics.
C8 MediSensors had been pursuing non-invasive monitoring of glucose and other substances, and Apple had reportedly considered an acquisition of the company. Ultimately, C8 MediSensors ceased operations and Apple was able to hire a number of the company’s employees earlier this year.

According to 9to5Mac, the structure of Apple’s “iWatch” group, which is reportedly led by Senior Vice President of Technologies Bob Mansfield, as well as former Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch and engineering senior director James Foster.

Given what sources have had to say, Lynch’s side of the team is focused on overall software vision, and Foster’s group is developing the technologies and mechanics that will shape the features of the device. While Lynch and Foster run two different groups that are part of the bigger project, sources say that the groups are closely knit.

Other Apple teams, such as Dan Riccio’s Hardware Engineering group, Jony Ive’s Industrial Design team, and Craig Federighi’s software developers, are likely collaborating closely to develop the user-facing hardware and software.
Apple has also reportedly tapped some of the original iPhone engineers with expertise in miniaturization, as well as some of the company’s Mac engineers with expertise in battery technology. In addition, some members of Apple’s AuthenTec fingerprint sensor team are said to be working on other types of sensors for the iWatch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the topic of smart watches and other wearables at the D11 conference back in May, calling the market “incredibly interesting” and “ripe for exploration”. Apple has been rumored for some time to be bringing a smart watch to the market, but while the company has begun filing for “iWatch” trademarks, the latest rumors have suggested the device may not launch until late next year as Apple works to solve numerous technical challenges.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple purchasing 55 and 65-inch 4K display panels from LG for Apple TV project

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 07:36
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When Apple goes buying components, it at least drops a hint as to what’s coming up in the product line.

Per 9to5Mac and DigiTimes, Apple has apparently been purchasing 55 and 65-inch Ultra HD TV panels from LG.

Apple has been rumored several times to be building a full fledged HDTV to go along with the much expected revamped AppleTV service coming in the the near future. The latest from the usual lineup of analysts points to a launch as early as the end of this year or early 2014. LG and Sharp – two of Apple’s regular display suppliers – would be obvious choices to source panels, but there’s no proof at this point that Apple is beyond the experimenting stage and we’ve heard rumors from more reliable sources ranging from 40-inch to 60-inch in the past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon follows trend, announces Edge smartphone upgrade program

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Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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If you’re a Verizon aficionado, this isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Per AppleInsider, in response to similar offerings from rivals AT&T and T-Mobile, Verizon on Thursday unveiled its new Edge smartphone upgrade program, offering subscribers the ability to upgrade to a new handset after six months.

Verizon Edge is pitched as a “flexible equipment payment plan,” allowing customers to spread the retail price of a new phone over a 24-month period. If users pay 50 percent of the retail cost of their smartphone, they can upgrade to a new phone in as soon as six months.

The new program is available for any smartphone that Verizon offers, including Apple’s iPhone lineup. Customers choose the phone they want along with a month-to-month service plan.

The full retail price of the handset is then divided over two years. Customers pay the first month of that plan at the time of purchase.

When a customer upgrades to a new phone after six months, the 24-month payment period starts over again. Verizon Edge, which launches for Share Everything customers on August 25, does not include any service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees.

The announcement comes only a few days after Verizon’s main rival, AT&T, announced its own similar plan, dubbed Next. With AT&T Next, customers can upgrade their smartphone or tablet every 12 months with no down payment and no activation or upgrade fees.

Starting July 26, AT&T will allow customers to spread the cost of a new smartphone or tablet over a 20-month period as part of their monthly wireless bill. Subscribers will have the option to trade in their device and upgrade to a new model after one year.

Both AT&T and Verizon followed in the steps of T-Mobile, which unveiled its own program called Jump last week. That service allows customers to upgrade their smartphone as often as two times per year at an added cost of US$10 per month.

T-Mobile Jump allows customers to pay the same subsidized price for a new smartphone as a new customer. Subscribers are required to wait at least six months after enrollment, after which they will be able to trade in their phone and upgrade to a new model twice a year.

Verizon’s announcement on Thursday leaves out only Sprint as the only carrier among the “big four” wireless providers in the U.S. that does not offer an early upgrade subscription program.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Top three Russian wireless providers drop iPhone over subsidies, other costs

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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If you’re headed to Russia and need to pick up an iPhone, your options may have become a bit more limited, comrade.

According to Fortune, three major Russian wireless providers have stopped carrying Apple’s iPhone, with the largest telecom, MTS, dropping the handset due to the high subsidy costs associated with being an Apple partner carrier.

As reported last week, Russia’s largest provider by subscribership, MTS, announced that it would be dropping the iPhone from its lineup, saying subsidies and marketing costs were to blame.

“Apple wants operators to pay them huge money, subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia,” said MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov. “Now it’s not beneficial for us. It’s good we stopped selling the iPhone as these sales would’ve brought us a negative margin.”

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt speculates three factors played a part in the “big three’s” decision to ditch Apple’s handset. First, Russian carriers are limited by the federal agency Rospechat, which does not allow subsidies on the same level as seen in the U.S. For example, MTS is not able to offer an iPhone 5 for US$199.

Duties and taxes are also higher than normal for Europe, with an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 selling for roughly US$925 on on the just-opened Russian Online Apple Store, or US$276 more than an identical U.S. variant. Apple says US$140 goes to Russian VAT, while the remaining US$129 is for foreign exchange rates, import duties, and channel mark-up.

Finally, Apple’s contract requirements, specifically those pertaining to marketing, are said to be extremely stringent. Because the contract terms are unknown, it is impossible to tell whether Russian carriers are subject to any special clauses.

The future of the iPhone in Russia is unclear, though estimates from IDC suggest that demand for the handset was already on the decline, dropping to 8.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013, down from 9 percent in 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple considering purchase of Israeli-based PrimeSense, creators of the Xbox Kinect

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:19
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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It’s speculation, but it could lead to something interesting.

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il and 9to5Mac claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the US$280-US$300M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for US$400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in that country.

It’s been rumored that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At US$280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.