Rumor: Apple developing wearable, Siri-controlled computing devices

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Date: Monday, December 19th, 2011, 09:12
Category: Hardware, Rumor

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per the New York Times, Apple has reportedly begun work on new, tiny, wearable devices that could be controlled with Siri, or used to input information to devices like the iPhone.

One of the prototype products developed by Apple, according to the article, is a “curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist.” Users could interact with this device by using their voice, like with Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Another experimental idea from Apple has been small, wearable devices that could be used to input information on another, more powerful device like an iPhone. These accessories could also wirelessly display information on other devices, like iPods.

Apple’s interest in wearable electronics has reportedly been spearheaded by a very small group of employees at the company. But prototypes of some wearable devices have allegedly been built by the company.

Author Nick Bilton said Apple is not alone in its pursuit of these devices: Google, too, is said to have been working on wearable computers that could connect to Android smartphones. Calling the smartphone the “first wearable computer,” Bilton said smartphones will eventually become the “hub” for all information, “transmitting power and Internet access to sensors and screens that are tacked on to our clothing.”

Of course, Apple has produced wearable version of the iPod for years, and currently sells the iPod shuffle and iPod nano, both of which include a clip so it can be attached to clothing. The iPod nano, which includes a multi-touch display, can also be worn as a watch with available accessories.

Though the tiny iPod nano includes a standard 30-pin iPod dock connector, it does not include any wireless functionality that would allow it to wirelessly communicate with an iPhone. As it stands, the iPod nano is a standalone media playback device.

But Bilton’s report envisions a future where all devices are connected, and wearable electronics could include glasses or even contact lenses with built-in screens, capable of displaying information to users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to release 7-inch iPad in 2012

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Date: Friday, December 16th, 2011, 05:38
Category: iPad, Rumor

If there’s a rumor, there must be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Asian supply chain sources are now claiming Apple will release a 7.85-inch iPad by the fourth quarter of 2012 to face off against competition from smaller tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The web site claimed on Friday that Apple is “likely” to launch a smaller iPad several months after the next-generation iPad, which is expected to arrive at the end of the first quarter.

“In order to cope with increasing market competition including the 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon and the launch of large-size smartphones from handset vendors, Apple has been persuaded into the development of 7.85-inch iPads,” the report noted sources as saying.

Apple will allegedly purchase the 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics, with makers within the company’s supply chain expected to begin production of the smaller iPad at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

The report should, however, be taken with some degree of skepticism, as the Taiwanese industry publication has a mixed track record with Apple predictions.

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad were supposedly laid to rest when late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs proclaimed such a screen to be “too small to express the software.” However, reports of the device were resurrected this fall after the announcement of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which some have touted as the first credible challenger to the iPad.

Ticonderoga securities analyst Brian White claimed in October that he had heard rumblings of a so-called “iPad mini” arriving next year, though he believed the device would be cheaper and not necessarily smaller. Also in October, DigiTimes reported that suppliers were gearing up to ship 7.85-inch screens to Apple.

For its part, Amazon may not even stick with the 7-inch size for its Kindle Fire. Recent reports have suggested that the company is looking to expand to an 8.9-inch model. The Fire does appear to be on its way to success, as Amazon revealed on Thursday that millions of the device had been sold, though it declined to provide specific figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple may be paving way for Siri to be used by other devices, says hacker

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Date: Friday, December 16th, 2011, 05:59
Category: News, Software

This is kind of interesting.

Following yesterday’s update to iOS 5.0.1 for the iPhone 4S handset and its apparent lack of specific changes, Cult Of Mac and well-known jailbreak hacker MuscleNerd revealed on Thursday that the update allowed a user to collect the files needed for a Siri port without having to break Apple’s copyright, the report noted.

“It’s the first public 4S ipsw where the main filesystem keys are obtainable (due to non-encrypted ramdisks),” said MuscleNerd.

But, given that Siri requires communication with Apple’s servers to function, it’s not immediately clear whether a port of the virtual voice assistant would fit within all applicable terms of service and license agreements for the device in question.

A number of members of the jailbreak community have been hard at work trying to port Siri to other devices. In late October, two hackers claimed to have gotten a limited functionality version of Siri working on a jailbroken iPhone 4 and iPod touch. Doing so, however, required custom information from an iPhone 4S device. Also, Apple has warned that jailbreaking an iOS device may void its warranty.

Apple released Siri as an exclusive feature for the iPhone 4S after acquiring the app last April. The Siri team has since grown to become one of the largest development teams at the company.

Full Siri functionality may also require minor hardware modifications. A teardown of the iPhone 4S revealed that the proximity sensor on the handset has a new infrared component built to work with Siri’s raise-to-speak feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 4.4.4, iOS 5.0.1 update for iPhone 4S model

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Date: Thursday, December 15th, 2011, 12:57
Category: Apple TV, iPhone, News, Software

Firmware: It’s nifty and it makes a difference.

Per MacNN, Apple has released two minor firmware updates for iOS devices. The first is v4.4.4 for the Apple TV, which implements what Apple terms as “general performance and stability improvements, including a fix for an issue that displayed an error when playing some video content.” The update can be installed automatically via an Apple TV’s normal update functions, or manually by technically savvy users with access to the IPSW file.

Unusually, Apple has also published a slightly different version of iOS 5.0.1 for the iPhone 4S. The new build is listed as 9A406. Why Apple would push out such an update is unknown, although any changes are likely to be extremely small given the same version number, and the need for compatibility with apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen any changes in your device(s) after installing the updates, please let us know in the comments.

Microsoft adds XMPP support for Messenger, allows connectivity with iChat, other IM clients

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Date: Thursday, December 15th, 2011, 07:48
Category: News, Software

As tempting as it might be to be snarky towards Microsoft, perhaps they’re opening things up a bit more to the Mac side of things.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft has opened up public access to its Messenger IM network via XMPP, enabling Apple and others to build open clients capable of interacting with Microsoft users.

Recently, the company has announced “public availability of access to the Messenger network via XMPP,” a step that finally brings Microsoft into the fold using eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol.

Unlike email, which has long used Internet standards to exchange messages between servers, IM providers each created their own proprietary protocols for sending IM, making it difficult or impossible for users on AIM, Yahoo, MSN and other IM services to connect with each other.

Apple initially partnered with AIM to launch iChat in 2002, but by 2004 had introduced a new iChat 3 version that supported XMPP, allowing users to seamlessly connect with Google Talk. In this summer’s release of Mac OS X Lion, Apple also added support for Yahoo IM, enabling the chat client to connect to three different chat networks (AIM, Yahoo and open Jabber/XMPP servers like Google Talk, Facebook chat and Apple’s own iChat Server).

Conspicuously absent was any support for Microsoft’s MSM/Windows Live IM network, which is extremely popular in some areas, particularly in Europe. Microsoft’s move to support the open XMPP may explain why Apple didn’t build in support for Microsoft’s previous, proprietary Messenger network. Apple has separately worked with Microsoft to support its Exchange Server protocols, so it was likely privy to Microsoft’s Messenger plans.

Apple and XMPP :
Apple has invested significantly in the open XMPP, not only using it to support Bonjour local chat in iChat, but also adding support in Mac OS X Server to allow companies to set up their own XMPP IM services, just as easily as setting up local email services.

Additionally, Apple has used XMPP to power push notifications in iOS and Mac OS X, enabling an energy efficient mechanism for supporting third party app notifications and support for FaceTime and iMessage.

Now that Microsoft Messenger enables open XMPP access, iChat users should be able to add Messenger accounts and directly interact with Messenger users without needing to configure a gateway, use a multi-protocol chat client, or use Microsoft’s own chat application.

iOS Messages app flirts with IM functionality :
Apple appears to be headed toward adding direct IM support to iOS devices through its Messages app. The company has already released direct iPhone to iPad to iPod touch support for iMessage, which automatically connects via XMPP when it detects a connection with an iOS client (using a direct XMPP message rather than SMS, a telephony protocol that requires a mobile connection).

With Microsoft adding 300 million Messenger users to the open XMPP world, Apple appears capable of supporting direct chat functionality with Messenger, Facebook and Google Talk users to its iOS Messages app, as seamlessly as it has added iMessages support alongside SMS/MMS.

Last month, a developer reported that Apple’s iOS 5.0 includes IMService code that makes mention of AIM and Jabber (XMPP) alongside iMessage and FaceTime, indicating that it plans to incorporate external IM features on a system wide level.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 2880 x 1800 resolution MacBook Pro with Retina Display in Q2 2012

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011, 05:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


This could be amazing.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to be preparing a new MacBook Pro for launch in the second quarter of 2012 with a Retina Display resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels.

Citing sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain, the publication reported on Wednesday that Apple’s new Retina Display MacBook Pro lineup is expected to set off “a new round of competition for panel specifications in the notebook industry.” A resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 would be exactly twice that of the 1,440-by-900 display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

“While the prevailing MacBook Models have display resolutions from 1680 by 1050 to 1280 by 800, the ultra-high resolution for the new MacBook Pro will further differentiate Apple’s products from other brands,” the report said.

Only the 2,880-by-1,800 display was specifically cited in the report in reference to a new MacBook Pro “lineup.” Given that Apple’s different MacBook Pro screen sizes sport different resolutions, it’s likely that the 13- and 17-inch models would sport double-pixel resolutions of 2,560 by 1600 and 3,840 by 2,400, respectively.

Rumors of Retina Display MacBook Pros from Apple in 2012 have reportedly already spurred the competition to work on their own higher resolution displays for notebooks. Acer and Asustek are said to be preparing high-end Ultrabook models with display resolutions of 1,920 by 1,080, an improvement from the 1,366-by-768-pixel displays found on current models.

More evidence of Macs potentially gaining Retina Displays came in September, when Intel revealed that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, at up to 4,096 by 4,096 pixels per monitor. A 4K resolution with a 16-by-9 ratio would be screen resolution of 4,096 by 2,304, or a pixel density of 174 pixels-per-inch.

Apple introduced its Retina Display branding with the iPhone 4 in 2010, featuring a resolution of 960-by-640, packing 326 pixels-per-inch. Recent reports have suggested that Apple also plans to increase the resolution of its next-generation iPad in early 2012.

Not a bad thing if it’s true and 2012 will be interesting to watch.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple releases Lexmark Printer Driver 2.7, Brother Printer Drivers 2.8

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011, 05:19
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple released updated printer drivers for the Mac OS X 10.6 and Mac OS X 10.7 operating systems. Lexmark Printer Driver 2.7, a 182 megabyte download, adds the most recent drivers for the company’s printers and multi-function peripherals. Brother Printer Driver 2.8, a 150 megabyte download, does the same.

Both updates can be located, snagged and installed via the built-in Mac OS X Software Update feature and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to purchase Israeli flash memory company Anobit

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Date: Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 06:49
Category: Finance, Rumor


When Apple ponders buying something, it’s worth paying attention to.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is planning to spend between US$400 million and US$500 million to buy Anobit, an Israel-based flash memory company, according to a new report.

Citing a Hebrew-language report, TechCrunch relayed on Tuesday that Apple plans to acquire the 200-employee Israeli fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage. If the deal comes to pass, it’s believed to be the first acquisition for Apple with Tim Cook at the helm as CEO.

“Anobit provides flash storage solutions for enterprise and mobile markets, based on its proprietary MSP (which stands for ‘Memory Signal Processing’) technology,” the report said. “Its solutions are designed to improve the speed, endurance and performance of flash systems while driving down the cost. Anobit’s technology is comprised of signal processing algorithms that compensate for physical limitations of NAND flash, the company claims.”

Apple is believed to already rely on Anobit’s solutions for its flash-based products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. Of the most interest to Apple is said to be Anobit’s MSP20xx embedded flash controllers for mobile devices.

Apple has used its massive cash hoard to strategically invest in components and acquire companies that will give it a leg up on the competition. In 2005, Apple inked a major flash memory deal with Samsung, allowing Apple to build products with NAND flash including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

The company made a similar deal earlier this year, when Cook revealed that Apple had committed US$3.9 billion to secret, long-term component contracts. Cook said the deals were a “fantastic” use of the company’s cash reserves, but declined to say what components Apple had secured, citing competitive reasons.

If Tuesday’s report is accurate, it would be a rare hardware-based acquisition for Apple. The company’s last major buyout of a hardware company came in 2008, when Apple bought P.A. Semi for US$278 million, paving the way for it to build custom ARM-based chips for the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Display firmware 1.1

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Date: Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 06:58
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Released alongside the iTunes update is a new version of the Thunderbolt Display’s firmware, bringing it up to version 1.1.

Per AppleInsider, the update addresses fan noise issues some users have been experiencing as well as overall stability improvements.

The download comes in at 942 KB and requires either Mac OS X 10.6.8 or OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.2 update

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Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 17:55
Category: News, Software


On Monday, Apple released iTunes 10.5.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Several improvements for iTunes Match and fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs.

iTunes 10.5.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.