Apple expands Maps application’s 3D flyover coverage, accuracy to parts of California

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Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s a slow process, but it’s hopefully getting better and more accurate.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple’s iOS 6 Maps application apparently now offers improved support for San Bernardino, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and Moreno Valley and other areas in California. With the additions, Maps offers nearly unbroken Flyover coverage of cities from San Bernardino to the Pacific Ocean…

As with the previous expansion of the flyover feature in Paris and surrounding areas of France, the update was a silent one, so it’s possible that other areas have been added too – please let us know if you spot any. The flyover feature is supported only in iOS 6.

Apple has been working hard on developing its Maps product after widespread disappointment in the accuracy of the launch version.

If you’ve noticed any changes in the Maps application’s accuracy in your area, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad to receive rear-facing mic, thinner, lighter design

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Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

A rear-facing mic might be in the next-gen iPad’s future.

Per Macotakara and AppleInsider, the fifth-generation iPad is expected to ship after Apple’s anticipated “iPhone 5S.” Reports have pegged Apple’s next iPhone for launch around September, which would be around a year after the iPhone 5 went on sale.

According to author Danbo’s sources, the next 9.7-inch iPad will gain a rear microphone next to the camera, much like Apple added to the iPhone 5 in 2012. The report noted that prototypes of the iPad mini also included rear microphones, but were not included in the final shipping product introduced last October.

While Apple apparently opted to remove the rear mic from the iPad mini in late stages of development, thus far it appears the microphone will remain on the next 9.7-inch iPad.

Earlier reports have claimed that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad will adopt many of the same design elements Apple adopted with the iPad mini, including a thinner bezel around the screen and more rounded edges. Those changes are expected to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Among the internal changes expected is a “GF2” touch panel, which would make the touchscreen component of the iPad thinner. And improved power efficiency could also allow Apple to reduce the size of the iPad’s internal battery, which currently accounts for most of the device’s weight.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patents for push-to-talk, double-sided touch panel features

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 11:30
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

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If you’re hankering for new hardware features on a next-gen iPhone, the patent office is on your side.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently published 26 newly granted patents for Apple, and among them were the Cupertino company’s take on a push-to-talk feature and a double-sided touch-sensitive panel, both of which could possibly appear in future iPhones.

No current models of Apple’s bestselling iPhone support the Push-to-Talk (PTT) feature that many carriers have made available for years now. Users do have access to a number of apps in the iTunes App Store that can reproduce PTT, but U.S. Patent No. 8,447,341 indicates that Apple has at least considered integrating it into a model of its phone.

The patent notes that telecommunications networks exist that enable devices to directly access each other through a digital two-way radio feature.

Apple’s invention, though, describes “a method and system to provide push-to-talk from one user to another in a wireless packet data telecommunications network.” It includes a packet data network with at least one mobile station, a radio access network, a location server, registrar, database server, and PTT server that connects PTT users across the network.

Given the company’s secrecy about forthcoming products, it’s difficult to gauge how likely PTT is to show up in a future iPhone model. In 2010, the company was revealed to be exploring PTT capabilities, but such features haven’t emerged in any models to date.

The filing lists the patent as a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/028,086, filed on December 21, 2001. That patent application, entitled “Push-to-Talk Telecommunications System Utilizing a Voice-Over-IP Network,” was originally filed by Nortel Networks. The patent granted on Tuesday was likely a part of the portfolio Apple and other companies bought in 2011 for US$4.5 billion.

Included among the 26 patents granted on Tuesday is one for a “double-sided touch sensitive panel and flex circuit bonding.” The patent — U.S. Patent No. 8,446,386 — relates to the creation of a multi-touch sensor using a substrate with column and row traces on either side. The process bonds printed flex circuits to directly opposing attachment areas of a substrate.

The patent cites the desirability of keeping “the overall size of the sensor panel as small as possible” as a reason to “have two flex circuits connect to directly opposing sides of the sensor panel.” It’s therefore likely that this technology would go toward Apple’s continual push to make each of its devices thinner than the previous generation.

Other patents granted on Tuesday include ones for “gesture control of multimedia editing applications,” “methods and apparatus for decreasing power consumption and bus activity,” “techniques for versioning file systems,” “technique for visually compositing a group of graphical objects,” a “system for optimizing graphics operations,” and a “touch pad for handheld device.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to build Vimeo, Flickr integration into iOS 7

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:11
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

This could become useful.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has been making efforts to offer deep social network integration in its mobile operating system, first offering Twitter integration in iOS 5 and then Facebook integration in iOS 6. Apparently, Apple will expand its social network integration even further with iOS 7, including support for both photo sharing site Flickr and video sharing site Vimeo.

As with Facebook and Twitter integration, Vimeo and Flickr integration will allow users to be able to sign in to the social networks in the Settings menu. Those one-time sign-in credentials will be usable across iOS, providing comprehensive sharing options and easy integration with other downloaded apps.

With Flickr integration, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch customers will have the ability to share photos stored and/or taken on their devices to Flickr with a single tap from the system-wide share menu. Flickr has been integrated into the paid iPhoto iOS App Store app and OS X Mountain Lion since 2012, but iOS 7 will represent the first time in which the photo sharing service has been integrated deeply into the entire iOS operating system.

While Apple continues to allow direct video uploads to YouTube from its camera app, Vimeo integration will give iOS 7 users an additional option for video uploads. As with Yahoo, Apple has an existing relationship with Vimeo, having offered integration with the service in OS X Mountain Lion.

As noted by an unnamed source, though Flickr and Vimeo integration is currently in the works, as with all beta software, there is a risk that it could be removed before the public release of iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Repair costs for iPhone repairs on the rise, component prices cited

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, now this is interesting.

An article over on MarketWatch points out that Apple’s repair costs to fix an iPhone 5 with a broken screen have jumped to US$229 – more than the US$200 price of the device with a two-year contract, and more than a third of the US$650 cost of the phone without a contract. Select Apple stores offer the option of a US$149 repair. And for those who paid US$99 for AppleCare insurance, the replacement is just US$49.

The piece then cites that the replacement components for the iPhone 5 are much more expensive than similar parts for prior models — so expensive in fact that many independent repair services cannot compete. “Due to the high cost of replacement parts, we are not yet offering iPhone 5 repairs,” according to a statement on ComputerOverhauls.com, an online repair shop. “Currently, the Apple Store is the least expensive option for repairing damaged iPhone 5s.” Other services charge as much as US$250 for the repair.

Given current numbers, nearly one-third of iPhone users damaged their devices during 2012, according to a recent study by gadget insurer SquareTrade. Repairs have cost consumers nearly US$6 billion since the iPhone was launched in 2007 and apparently iPhones get abused more than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged, per the survey.

Despite this, iCracked — an independent firm that has technicians across the U.S. — charges half as much to fix an iPhone 4S screen (US$79 to US$99) as to fix an iPhone 5 (US$169 to US$199) thanks to tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”

“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says. “Apple is trying to get people to sign up for Apple Care for US$99 and to rely on their services at the Apple store,” he says, “If you don’t, that cracked screen could cost you at least US$230.”

Thanks to do-it-yourself kits, it’s possible to replace the screen on an iPhone 4 for less than a quarter of that price. Adam Carey, a New York-based mobile development consultant, bought a DIY kit on Amazon.com for US$25 and followed instructions on iFixit.com, an online repair manual. The procedure took him two hours. “It’s not like snapping on a cover,” he says. “It’s like performing surgery. You need pretty steady hands.”

If you’ve been repairing iPhones and noticed a jump in component prices, please let us know about your experience in the comments section.

Possible Broadcom 802.11ac Wi-Fi card spotted, currently supported in OS X 10.8.4 betas

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Date: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013, 07:37
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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Your Wi-Fi is about to get faster.

Which is never a bad thing.

Per 9to5Mac, additional evidence has surfaced indicating that Apple’s incoming next round of MacBook Air/Pros would contain 802.11AC Gigabit wifi chips, not the least of which was code we found referencing ’802.11AC‘ in 10.8.4 Betas.

Reader TonyMacx86, found some interesting parts on Chinese VR-Zone that could be the next 802.11AC boards in Macs, widely expected to be announced at WWDC next month. The Broadcom BCM94360CD PCI-E mini custom combo WLAN+Bluetooth card supports IEEE 802.11ac, the next standard in wireless computer networking. Interestingly, it also looks like it may fit in current MacBooks which could mean aftermarket updates could be possible.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to offer FaceTime connections over cellular for all LTE-compatible iPhones by end of 2013

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Date: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013, 06:59
Category: iPhone, News

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This could prove useful.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and The Verge, wireless carrier AT&T has indicated that all iPhone subscribers will be able to use FaceTime via a cellular connection by the end of 2013, as stated below:

“For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers. Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end. Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the internet, such as Skype.”

AT&T was initially reluctant to enable FaceTime over cellular connection due to bandwidth concerns.

This past January, AT&T announced that it was enabling FaceTime over cellular to subscribers of its tiered data plans. Now, with its most recent announcement, iPhone users on AT&T who have grandfathered-in unlimited data plans will also be able to FaceTime to their hearts content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple, suppliers testing 1.5-inch displays for upcoming “iWatch”

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Date: Monday, May 20th, 2013, 06:25
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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It’s in the rumor mill, so part of it must be true.

Per ” target=”_blank”>Macotakara and AppleInsider, development of Apple’s rumored smart watch is allegedly gaining momentum, as a pair of new reports claim the company is testing 1.5-inch OLED screens for a wrist-worn device, and that Foxconn has been contracted to build a trial batch.

The latest rumors on Apple’s so-called “iWatch” were highlighted on Monday by Macotakara. The publication spotted pair of reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News which, like other publications that print unattributed rumors stemming from Apple’s supply chain, has a hit-or-miss track record.

In the first report, the publication claims that Apple is testing organic light emitting diode displays for its anticipated smart watch. The company allegedly tested 1.8-inch panels, but felt they were too big, prompting development to go smaller with 1.5-inch displays.

According to the report, Apple is exploring 1.5-inch OLED touchscreens manufactured by RiTdisplay of Taiwan that use one-glass-solution touch sensors. This would allow the display component to be as thin as possible for the wearable accessory.

It should be noted that rumors for years have claimed that Apple is interested in OLED displays, but to date the company has never used the display technology in any of its devices. OLED screens could, however, be an optimal choice for wearable technology because of their low power consumption levels.

In a second report, Foxconn, Apple’s longtime manufacturing partner, has already received orders for an “iWatch.” However, the initial production run is said to be for no more than a thousand units, as Foxconn is allegedly running a “small-scale trial production.”

With “iWatch” rumors heating up, one survey from last month found that 19 percent of consumers are interested in buying such a device from Apple. That exceeds pre-announcement interest in both the iPad and Intel-based Mac hardware.

Rumors of an Apple smart watch began growing earlier this year, when a number of reports claimed that the company is developing a wearable wrist accessory. One such report claimed that the company has a 100-person team working on the project.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

13-inch MacBook Air inventory beginning to come up short, new models expected around WWDC

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Date: Monday, May 20th, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, News, retail

When the inventory numbers trend downwards, the cool new stuff tends to be around the corner.

Per AppleInsider, availability of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air had apparently begun to dry up at major authorized resellers.

The popular 13-inch MacBook Air with a 1.8-gigahertz processor and 256-gigabyte solid-state drive is currently out of stock at resellers Amazon, B&H, MacConnection, and MacMall. In addition, J&R is currently advertising that the thin-and-light notebook is only available for purchase in its brick-and-mortar stores.

In fact, one of the few resellers that is currently advertising available inventory of that 13-inch MacBook Air configuration is Best Buy.

Constrained availability of existing models is often one of the first signs of an impending product refresh, as Apple draws down inventory in anticipation of the release of new hardware. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled for June 10 through 14, would be an opportune time for the company to introduce newly updated MacBook Airs.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated last month that Apple apparently plans to introduce new MacBook Airs featuring Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors at WWDC. The new ultraportable notebooks are expected to go on sale before the end of June.

Intel Haswell chips are scheduled to launch the first week of June, boasting more capable processors that will consume less power, leading to longer battery life on notebooks. The chips will also feature next-generation Intel HD 5000 integrated graphics that will offer a 50 percent in improvement over the previous 4000-class.

Kuo also said that Apple will likely introduce Haswell-powered MacBook Pro models at WWDC 2013. He expects that updated versions of the legacy, optical-drive-equipped MacBook Pro will launch alongside new MacBook Airs before the end of June, while a refresh of the premium Retina display MacBook Pro models will become available at a later date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5S component photos leaked, could indicate more colors to choose from

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Date: Friday, May 17th, 2013, 06:18
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

A couple pictures may indicate a lot about the next-gen iPhone.

Over on Boy Genius Report, a number of leaked high-resolution photos of assorted components may indicate that Apple is looking to expand the color scheme the next-gen iPhone handset will be available in.

Earlier rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5S will include several internal changes such as a faster processor, a better camera and possibly even a fingerprint scanner that makes use of Apple’s AuthenTec acquisition. Nothing has been confirmed at this point, but leaked photos of redesigned internal components suggest that Apple is indeed planning an internal overhaul to improve various iPhone features and likely to make room for new components as well.


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BGR has obtained high-quality images of several internal iPhone 5S components from a source that asked not to be identified. The parts include the loud-speaker bracket, ear speaker bracket, vibrating motor assembly, Wi-Fi flex cable ribbon and SIM card tray from Apple’s upcoming seventh-generation iPhone.

The next-generation iPhone is also rumored to include a redesigned ear speaker bracket and a new loud-speaker bracket, which can be seen in BGR’s gallery.

Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5S is expected to launch this fall alongside iOS 7, which will reportedly feature a substantial user interface overhaul that does away with most textures in favor of flatter design elements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.