O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Glowing iPhone 4 causes scare on Australian airline flight

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Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 08:58
Category: battery, iPhone, News

You’d probably remember seeing this if you were there.

Per PC Mag, an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting “dense smoke” on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset’s battery safety.

Regional Express (REX), the country’s largest independent regional airline, said last Friday that a passenger’s iPhone was emitting a “red glow” and smoke on a flight from Lismore to Sydney. A flight attendant extinguished the smoking smartphone and no one was injured during the incident.

Judging by the model number of the device, the handset in question is the GSM version of the iPhone 4.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have both been notified of the matter. Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is “very rare,” though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting lithium batteries used in consumer electronics from proposed limitations that would classify the batteries as hazardous materials. According to an analysis commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would have cost electronics makers US$1.13 billion alone in the first year.

One of the biggest consumer electronic battery scares in recent years occurred in 2006. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries that year after microscopic metal particles were detected inside the batteries. The incident affected Apple, which had to recall 1.8 million iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Sony had also supplied the defective batteries to Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 SDK beta, Xcode 4.3 preview, references upcoming iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 03:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

The next major iOS update: it’s usually a pretty cool thing.

Per Electronista, Apple has released a new iOS 5.1 beta for developer testing on all iPad, iPod touch and iPhone models that support iOS 5.0. The beta contains references to next-generation iPhone and iPad models with references to a next-generation iPhone, “iPhone5,1,” as well as third-generation iPad models, “iPad3,2” and “iPad3,3” located via Twitter user Filippo Bigarella.

References to an apparent unreleased iPad 2 model, labeled “iPad2,4” have also been discovered in the beta release. Current second-generation iPad models range from “iPad2,1” to “iPad2,3.” It has been suggested that the unreleased version may have been developed for an additional carrier partner, such as Sprint.

The new build, designated as 9B5117b, must be downloaded from Apple as it is not yet available through over the air updates as previous developer builds have been.

The 5.1 software includes enhanced dictation support during text input “on supported devices,” something that has currently been limited to iPhone 4S, the only iOS device that supports Siri. Nothing in Apple’s notes to developers suggests that Sir will be expanded to other devices, but the phrasing leaves open the possibility that at least the speech recognition portion of Siri’s technology could be added to iPod touch, iPad and earlier iPhone models.

Adding basic speech recognition features across all iOS 5 devices would bring Apple’s offering into parity with Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, both of which include basic speech recognition features, although reviewers note that Apple’s Siri performs both more accurate recognition and far more sophisticated actions based on recognized speech.

Apple warns developers that the new build, once installed on a device, cannot be rolled back to previous versions of iOS, likely due to baseband firmware changes. The company also warns that unauthorized use of the developer beta could result (for the same reasons) in an unstable device, possibly necessitating repairs that are not covered under any iOS device warranty.

The latest version of iOS requires the use of the newest Xcode 4.3 developer preview toolset for building third party apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new builds please let us know what you make of them in the comments.

Apple announces free shipping, free gift wrapping for online orders

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 13:11
Category: News, retail


You can’t argue with Cyber Monday.

Or free shipping.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday announced that all orders for any product placed at its U.S. online store through Dec. 22 will ship for free, while customers in other countries can also receive free shipping for one day only.

The announcement was made on Apple’s online store on Monday, also known as “Cyber Monday,” or the first Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Apple does not have any Cyber Monday deals, though it did participate in Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year, last week.

Apple’s free shipping promotion through Dec. 22 applies only to the U.S., but customers in other countries — including Canada, the U.K., France, and Spain — receive free standard shipping on all orders placed Monday. The free shipping offer in those countries does not extend beyond Monday.

Monday’s free shipping offer does not extend to all other countries. For example, Apple’s official online store in Australia simply advertises that customers can receive free gift wrapping on iPod and iPad purchases through Christmas, on Dec. 25.

Assorted resellers of Apple products also offer Macs and other products at discounted prices with free shipping, including MacMall, MacConnection, B&H, Amazon, Best Buy and DataVision.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 15-inch MacBook Air notebook in early 2012

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 10:50
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If this is true, it could become something nifty.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to be preparing an update to its MacBook Air series in the first quarter of 2012 with the addition of a new 15-inch thin-and-light model.

The new 15-inch MacBook Air would join the existing 11.6- and 13.3-inch ultraportable notebooks offered by Apples. Citing industry sources in the upstream supply chain, the publication reported on Monday that pilot production of the new MacBook Air models has already begun.

“Commenting on Apple’s move, sources from retail channels pointed out that Apple will start dropping the price of its existing MacBook Airs before launching its series and the promotion could further boost Apple’s share in the global notebook market,” the report said.

The move is said to be a strategy to counter the growing lineup of Windows-based PCs built on the Ultrabook specification from Intel. Though Ultrabooks have gotten off to a slow start, PC makers hope they will be able to capitalize on the popularity of Apple’s MacBook Air lineup with their own thin-and-light unibody notebooks.

Rumors of a new 15-inch notebook from Apple are not new, with one report from earlier this month claiming that such a device could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012. That report, however, did not make a distinction as to whether the notebook would be an extension of the MacBook Air lineup or a redesigned MacBook Pro.

Monday’s report, however, claims that new product will in fact be a MacBook Air, and provides a sooner release date of the first quarter of 2012.

The MacBook Air has become an important part of Apple’s lineup, with one report from earlier this month revealing that the product lineup now represents 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments. That’s well up from just 8 percent in the first half of 2011.

Apple last updated its 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs in July with backlit keyboards, its new high-speed Thunderbolt port, and the latest Sandy Bridge processors from Intel.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Hitachi and Sony collaborating on unknown Apple iOS device, iPad 4 to receive new display connector technology

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 03:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor


It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per Macotakara.jp, Hitachi and Sony are reported to have teamed up to supply Apple with 4-inch LCD displays for an unspecified iOS device that will hit the market in 2012.

Citing sources within Apple’s Far Eastern supply chain, macotakara.jp claims that Hitachi Displays, Ltd. and Sony Mobile Display Corporation have begun shipments of 4-inch LCD panels to Apple for unspecified iOS device due next year.

The two companies are further reported to merge their business with Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd. to form “Japan Display” in 2012 spring.

The report arrives on the heels of claims last week that Sharp will also produce panels for the iPad 3 at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan; Apple typically sources its components from multiple partners.

A person familiar with the matter further claimed Apple has invested an unspecified amount in Sharp’s factories. The investment is believed to help support Sharp’s production capacity for IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) LCD panels for the next iPhone and iPad that will allow for thinner designs and improved battery performance.

The web site also cites the same sources as saying that an unspecified Taiwanese company will soon be “providing LCD technology faces” to Apple for a “fundamentally changed” iPad 4 that will be manufactured by a new process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Intel documents present ideas for Thunderbolt-based docking components

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Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 12:39
Category: Hardware, News


This could turn into something nifty.

Per VR-Zone, Intel is hoping to formalize a standard for docking on ultrabooks with Thunderbolt ports, leaked internal notes demonstrate. The implementation would combine the Thunderbolt port with a wider companion dock connector to handle other forms of data, such as Ethernet or USB, VR-Zone said. To keep the Ethernet connection alive for Intel’s vPro remote management or for Windows 8’s Connected Standby mode, however, the docking port would need to have direct access to the Ethernet chipset inside.

Intel also had suggestions for what the dock itself could have, including HDMI or Mini DisplayPort for video out, a USB hub, or even eSATA for fast external drives. Thunderbolt’s support for daisy chaining a total of six Thudnerbolt devices is an option, although it would require the widest bandwidth versions of Thunderbolt and may be rare.

Intel’s strategy would be primarily intended for business, where it’s expected that workers would dock the ultrabook at their desks and get an external display and desktop-like expansion with just one cable. It notably tries to downplay the use of USB 3.0, saying that the standard isn’t ideal for displays or certain kinds of links. Intel might have an economic incentive to discourage USB 3.0, however, since it can profit from its exclusivity on Thunderbolt controller chips where USB 3.0 is generic and won’t see Intel make much if any profit, even when its own hardware is in use.

Apple already has a form of Thunderbolt docking through its Thunderbolt Display and may end up having the superior option for simplicity: its lack of vPro lets it route audio, the display, Ethernet, FireWire, and USB through one cable. Intel’s approach would bring more of that experience to Windows users as well as provide some extras for the pro audience. Non-Mac systems with standard Thunderbolt aren’t due to show until at least early 2012, however, or roughly a year after Apple went first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft looking towards digital delivery system for Windows 8 upgrades/installs

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 14:11
Category: News, Software


You may not be in love with Windows, but it does become handy from time to time.

Per the MSDN blog, Microsoft looks to be gearing up to release its next-generation Windows 8 operating system via digital release. In a post to the company’s official blog this week, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, detailed the setup experience users will see with Windows 8.

Sinofsky explained that Microsoft aims to satisfy two distinct types of customers in the install process: those who want to install with minimum hassle, and those who want to do a clean install with more options, control and customization. Microsoft’s simpler solution will allow users to simply launch a file that can be delivered via the Web, not unlike Apple’s Lion, which is available for purchase and install through the Mac App Store.

“In the past, if you wanted to buy an upgrade for Windows, it involved purchasing a boxed product from a retail outlet, taking it home, (sometimes being infuriated while trying to open the box,) and inserting a DVD,” Sinofsky explained. “However, buying boxed software is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule, with more and more software being purchased online as broadband penetration increases and large-size media downloads become more common.

“While we will continue to offer boxed DVDs, we are also making it easier than ever to purchase and install online. This includes starting the setup experience online as well, and having one continuous integrated experience from beginning to end.”

Microsoft’s Web setup will allow the company to “pre-key” the setup image that is downloaded to a unique user. This means users won’t need to enter the 25-digit product key that is currently necessary to install existing versions of Windows.

Sinofsky stopped short of saying that the Web install method will be the preferred way for users to install Windows 8, though the simplified process will likely make it ideal for most users. Through one application, Microsoft will scan a user’s system for compatibility, download Windows 8, and then install the operating system.

Apple has made it clear that the Mac App Store is the preferred way for users to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, though the company has made Lion also available on a USB thumb drive. But while Lion costs US$29.99 on the Mac App Store, its US$69 price tag when bought on a USB drive is more than double the price of the digital download.

Of course, Microsoft’s digital delivery method for Windows 8 is very different from Apple’s approach, in that Microsoft does not have a centralized software storefront akin to Apple’s Mac App Store. Users will have to load the dedicated Windows 8 Setup application to make the upgrade on their system, while the Mac App Store is available on all up-to-date systems running Apple’s previous-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Beyond digital delivery, Microsoft has made a number of other changes to help simplify and speed up the Windows 8 install process. Through a number of modifications to the upgrade engine, Microsoft says it has reduced a clean install time from 32 minutes for Windows 7 to 21 minutes with Windows 8.

The greatest improvement will be seen for power users who complete a “super upgrade,” which, in Microsoft’s tests, includes 1.44 million files and 120 installed applications. While a Windows 7 upgrade under that scenario would have taken 513 minutes, Windows 8’s advertised upgrade time is just 52 minutes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple television expected in mid-2012, initial production slated for February

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 13:00
Category: Rumor


Apple didn’t do the “Inc.” and “lifestyle company” change for nothing.

Per AppleInsider, commercial production of Apple’s anticipated television set is expected to begin in February at a Sharp plant in Japan, while competing HDTV makers are reportedly desperate to find out just what Apple plans to sell.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note to investors this week that Apple is expected to partner with Sharp for TFT-LCD panels for its so-called “iTV.” Production is expected to begin in February at the company’s Gen 10 Sakai facility in Osaka, Japan, placing the television set in position for a mid-2012 launch.

Apple’s expected entrance into the television market is said to have sent other TV makers “scrambling” to identify what the features of the product may be.

“They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple,” Misek wrote. “Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario.”

TV makers are said to be looking at Android as a potential option to counter Apple’s anticipated television set. In that scenario, the television market would act much like the current smartphone landscape, with manufacturers making the hardware and Google providing the operating system.

TV makers are said to be looking to Android because they lack the software and cloud capabilities Apple already offers. Earlier reports have also suggested that Apple will implement its proprietary voice recognition service, Siri, to allow controller-free navigation and further differentiate itself from current products on the market.

Rumors of an Apple television set picked up considerable steam with the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. To biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs hinted at a completely new product that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

In an interview published last week, Isaacson revealed that before he died, Jobs had three products he wanted to reinvent, with the television being first among them, followed by textbooks and photography. Jobs reportedly felt there was “no reason” for televisions to be as difficult to use as they currently are.

Misek’s timeframe for a mid-2012 Apple television launch is slightly more aggressive than some other rumors have suggested. For example, last month The New York Times forecast Apple to announce the product by late 2012, with it going on sale to consumers by 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail


As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts Black Friday savings teaser, leaves iPhone out of potential deals to be had

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Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, News, retail


Come Friday, there shall be savings.

And probably shoving to get to those savings.

So, look, try to be polite and don’t shove other people for the savings, all right?

Per MacStories, Apple has placed a teaser on its web site, saying that it will be holding a “special one-day Apple shopping event” on Friday. Apple plans to offer discounts on iPad, iPod, and Mac lines. It made no mention of iPhone deals.

The teaser appears to show Apple offering the deals worldwide. As of this writing, the Black Friday deal teaser is being displayed on Apple’s Australia, Italy, and U.K. online stores.

However, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind. For one, Apple says that the deals will be available on its “Online Store,” seeming to indicate it might not offer the same discounts in its retail outlets. The company is also waiting until Friday to unveil the deals it will offer customers that day.

Apple has been holding special Black Friday events for years. But its offers haven’t always been so exciting. In 2009, for example, it took just US$101 off its MacBook Pro models and US$31 off its iPod Touch.

Apple product discounts don’t come along too often and those who want to save a few bucks might want to head back over to the Apple online store later this week to see what’s offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.