Assorted, unmarked iPad 2 units sporting different A5 processor, offer up to 16% additional battery life

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 06:41
Category: battery, Hardware, iPad, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Per Engadget, an updated model of the US$399 iPad 2 is floating around at retail, and it might improve battery life by as much as 16 percent.

The site is reporting that the lower-cost version of the iPad 2 introduced in March has quietly introduced a new 32nm A5 processor, and that could translate to improved battery life for budget-minded buyers.

The discovery was made by AnandTech, who did an extensive review on the upgraded model, which bears the “iPad2,4” model. Instead of the 45nm process used for the A5 processor used in the original iPad 2 last year, the newer US$399 model features “special A5 chips manufactured using Samsung’s 32nm chip-making process.”



In testing, the website discovered that the 32nm iPad2,4 model boasted improved battery life of 15.8 percent, including a video playback test that lasted 15.7 hours — far better than the original iPad 2 model at 13.3 hours and even the new iPad with its larger battery, which ran for a mere 11.15 hours.

Unforunately, there’s no way to tell which iPad 2 you’re buying until you’ve opened the box and checked the system information.

“This particular iPad 2,4 sample came from Best Buy, and several attempts to find one elsewhere came up short. All indications seem to point to the iPad 2,4 being relatively rare, which makes sense considering what’s inside it,” stated the AnandTech article.

So, it’s sort of a golden ticket that’s out there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen iPhone to be thinner, incorporate 4-inch screen, utilize metal backing and new dock connector

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be some element of truth here…

Per iLounge, Apple’s next-gen iPhone will be slightly taller to accommodate a 4-inch screen with a new aspect ratio, will feature a redesigned dock connector, and will also have a new metal panel on the back side, a new report claims.

The latest rumors about Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone stated that the new iPhone will be about 10 millimeters taller, giving it dimensions of 125 millimeters tall, 5.8 millimeters wide and 7.4 millimeters thick. That’s about 2 millimeters thinner than the current iPhone 4S, with essentially the same width as the current model.

Because the new iPhone will allegedly be the same width, that would mean that new applications would need to be designed to work with the handset. The taller screen would have more pixels at the top and bottom, giving it a different aspect ratio.

“According to our source, Apple will make one major change to the rear casing, adding a metal panel to the central back of the new iPhone,” the report said. “This panel will be flat, not curved, and metal, not ceramic.”

Author Jeremy Horwitz also added that the new iPhone is expected to be partially made from Gorilla Glass 2, which offers identical strength to the original Gorilla Glass with a thinner design. At just 0.8 millimeters thick, Gorilla Glass 2 can withstand 121 pounds of pressure.

Finally, the report also claimed that the next iPhone will have a new, smaller dock connector that will be “a little larger” than the bottom speaker and microphone ports on the existing iPhone 4S. The new port was described as “a pill shape,” and is believed to have just 16 pins, compared to the current 30-pin dock connector.

“It will be used in all upcoming devices, including an update to the iPod touch that’s expected this year, and will almost certainly feature a similarly updated screen and CPU,” the report said.

In March, iLounge reported that Apple was working on a new case for the iPad that would protect not only the front screen, as the current magnetic Smart Case does, but also the aluminum back panel of the device. The site credited a “repeatedly reliable source,” but such a case has not yet been released.

The rumors come on the heels of a new component claimed to be the SIM card tray for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. A home button also purported to be from a prototype Apple handset also appeared, but no components thus far have given any concrete indication that the next iPhone’s design will be a radical departure from the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Still, there has been rampant speculation that Apple’s next iPhone will have a redesigned exterior. Rumors of unibody enclosures, larger screens and thinner form factors have all cropped up in recent months.

Early prototyping of the next iPhone is believed to be underway ahead of a launch anticipated this fall, one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S. In March it was said that Apple was reviewing potential components for the new iPhone.

Rumors surrounding the next iPhone have picked up steam in recent weeks, as one report said the handset will feature Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE 4G chip for high-speed wireless connectivity. Reports have also claimed that the next iPhone will adopt in-cell touch panel technology, which will allow Apple to make the next iPhone thinner by 0.44 millimeters, or fit in a larger battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Apple expected to grow store-within-a-store concept in Walmart, Target locations

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 05:15
Category: News, retail

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It never hurts to have your products on the shelves.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s retail presence is expected to grow within the U.S. over the next two years with store-within-a-store retail outlets set to expand at Target and Walmart.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray noted that while Apple currently has just 250 retail locations in the U.S., the company has the potential to reach many new customers by expanding its micro-store concept.

Currently, Walmart has over 3,800 locations in the U.S., and Target has 1,700 stores. Munster expects Walmart to be a significant partner for Apple in expanding the company’s presence, as Walmart has better rural distribution.

Apple is currently testing its store-within-a-store concept at two Target locations, and 23 more stores will be added before the end of the year.

In addition to Target, there is also one Apple store-within-a-store being tested at one Walmart in Lowell, Arkansas. That Walmart features a dedicated space that is distinctly separate from the rest of the big-box retailer’s other departments.

Munster visited one of Apple’s two Target micro-stores, and found it similar to Apple’s existing Best Buy locations, which are present in about 40 percent of Best Buy’s U.S. stores. However, unlike Best Buy, Target does not sell any of Apple’s Mac lineup.

“We believe the Target/Apple relationship will not expand to the full Mac lineup given Target does not sell a significant line of PCs,” Munster wrote in a note to investors on Thursday.

From his visit to Target’s micro-store, Munster found that product inventory was unsurprisingly far less than Apple would carry at its own retail stores. However, he did find that Target carried most of the company’s product lineup, with the exception of Mac hardware and software.

“The Apple micro-store was staffed by a Target employee who claimed to have received two hours of training from Apple,” he said. “Overall, the layout of the Target micro-store was more inviting compared to other Best Buy Apple micro-stores we have visited, in our opinion.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was asked about his company’s store-within-a-store initiative and its relationship with Walmart during Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call last week. Cook didn’t offer much in the way of details, but explained that Apple is “trying some things.” He said he didn’t expect Apple to be present in 10,000 Walmarts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-gen iPad shipping times drop to 3 to 5 business days

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Date: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 09:40
Category: iPad, News

It never hurts to meet demand for your product.

Per AppleInsider, estimated shipping times for the third-generation iPad have been lowered to 3 to 5 business days over in Apple’s online store.

New orders of the third-generation iPad in both black and white, in all capacities, and also in the “Wi-Fi + 4G” models are now advertised to ship in less than a week in the U.S. It’s the second time in less than a month that estimated shipping times have improved for the new iPad.

Just weeks ago, shipping times shortened to 5 to 7 days, an improvement from the previous advertised shipments of one to two weeks.

Apple revealed last week that it sold 11.8 million iPads in the March quarter, a three-months pan during which the new iPad was only available for a few weeks. During his company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed that the company faced supply constraints with the new iPad.

“The new iPad was supply constrained last quarter for the first three or so weeks that it was shipping, and it is still constrained,” Cook said. He added that he expected the company would be able to supply “a significant number of iPads” in the current June quarter.

Limited availability of the new iPad is believed to be largely caused by constraints related to the new high-resolution Retina display. The screen, the defining feature of the third-generation iPad, has primarily been built by Samsung, while LG and Sharp were said to have had trouble building Retina displays initially.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases fourth Mac OS X 10.7.4 build to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 07:32
Category: News, Software

This might not be a bad sign.

Per AppleInsider, Apple seeded the latest 11E53 builds of OS X Lion and Lion Server with no known issues on Tuesday.

The update comes one week after Apple seeded build 11E52 which itself rolled out less than two weeks after build 11E46. Because of the shrinking time between dev updates, it is thought that a final version may be pushed out to the public in the near future.

Developers have been asked to concentrate on graphics, iCal, Mail, printing and Time Machine for OS X Lion, while Calendar & Contacts Server, Profile Manager, Server App, Web Server, WebDAV Sharing and ServerAdmin DNS are focuses of the Lion Server seed.

Registered Mac developers can access the update from Apple’s Developer Center website.

The 11E53 Delta updates for OS X Lion and Lion Server weigh in at 716.91MB and 202.59MB, respectively, while the Combo updates come in at 1.43GB and 1.51GB, respectively.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent patent hints at possible near-field communication feature in upcoming iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the patents that provide the really interesting hints as to what’s to come in a product line.

According to Patently Apple, a new patent suggests that the company will be introducing a near-field communication (NFC) chip into its next-generation iPhone, which will enable users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

The story reports that the ‘Gifting’ feature will allow users to share iTunes files including Playlists, though at a cost. Users could buy, send and receive files from iTunes between multiple iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

A user could select one or more media files to share with another device, and authorize a gift charge. The gift can then be shared with a second device within close range using the NFC chip’s connection.

Gifts may also be sent via email, for those who are not in close proximity of the device they wish to send files to. This will involve sending en electronic gift certificate that can be redeemed by the recipient. These gift certificates will be capable of sharing multiple files in a single transaction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in negotiations with EPIX over possible Apple TV content

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Rumor

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If there’s nothing worth watching, then a new HDTV isn’t going to make much sense in the long run.

According to Reuters, sources claim that Apple initiated talks earlier in 2012 to incorporate movie properties owned by movie streaming service EPIX in its Apple TV, with the content possibly in line to be used by the company’s rumored HDTV.

Two unnamed sources have stated that EPIX, a three-year-old movie streaming service created by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, MGM and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, would offer streaming of much-needed premium Hollywood content to Apple’s set-top box.

One of the sources also said that the agreement would include future Apple television products as well, hinting that the computer giant is indeed planning to release a internet-connected HDTV.

Rumors about the device have been swirling for over a year, though the whispers have so far been here-say and no concrete evidence has been discovered. A recent report claims that the product will be called the “iPanel” and will launch sometime in 2012.

The deal is still in the negotiations phase and an agreement is not expected any time soon. Besides its own streaming site, EPIX is currently beholden to an exclusive US$200 million a year deal with Netflix that ends in September.

Currently on EPIX’s roster of films are “Rango” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and Netflix announced that the service will add “Thor” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches third-gen iPad in India, eight more countries

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2012, 07:06
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve got a popular item, make sure it gets in the hands of people who want it.

Per The Mac Observer, Applelaunched sales of its third generation iPad in nine more countries on Friday. The new release is part of Apple’s fastest iPad rollout so far, and includes Israel, India, and South Africa.

The other countries in Friday’s iPad launch include Columbia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, and Thailand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple updates HP, Samsung drivers for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 operating systems

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2012, 07:15
Category: News, Software

You just can’t beat a good print driver update.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 2.9 of its HP printer drivers.

The updated driver provides updated support for HP’s entire line of printers, scanners, fax machines, and multi-function machinery when connecting to a Mac running OS X 10.6 or later. The update is available as a 524.8 MB download download from Apple’s Support website.

The company also released version 2.4 of its Samsung printers drivers for Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7. The new drivers offer updated support for Samsung’s base of printers, scanners, fax machines, and multi-function peripherals and are available as a 27.6 megabyte download from Apple’s support website.

The updates can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

Recent patent application shows Apple’s interest in improving brightness controls on OLED screens

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Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 06:00
Category: News, Patents

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It’s the patent applications that show where things might be going.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple has apparently proposed a way of improving brightness control on organic light emitting diode displays.

One of the key advantages of OLED is that, unlike LCD, it does not employ a backlight to illuminate the screen. While this can lead to superior picture quality and improved battery life, it can also make adjusting the brightness of the screen more difficult, Apple notes in a newly published patent application.

The filing, entitled “OLED Driving Technique,” explains that traditional LCD brightness is adjusted by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of light emitted by a backlight. But that’s not possible with an OLED display, as each pixel on an OLED screen emits light individually.

That means device makers must adjust the amount of power supplied to each OLED pixel, making it a far more complex endeavor to adjust brightness than an LCD display with a dedicated backlight.

“While increasing or decreasing the amount of power may increase or decrease the amount of light emitted by each OLED, the precise amount of light emitted by each OLED may vary according to nonlinear function,” Apple’s filing reads. “As such, many techniques for adjusting the brightness of OLED screens have conventionally involved performing complex calculations on image data to ensure that when a brightness-adjusted image id displayed on the OLED display, each pixel displays a proper color and brightness.”

In other words, the amount of light output by an individual OLED pixel varies nonlinearly with the amount of power supplied to the OLED pixel. As a result, increasing or decreasing the brightness does not directly correlate to simply increasing or decreasing the power supplied to each pixel.

Apple goes on to explain that dimming values must be extracted from image data on a system, and that data must then be converted to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal. This complex method can consume system resources and reduce battery life, and it may also be incompatible with existing LCD brightness control mechanisms, requiring major changes to software that already drives LCD screens.

Apple’s proposed solutions aim to offer “efficient brightness control” with OLED screens. One described method would take image data and transform it into a “logarithmic domain,” from which a “dimming control value” could be subtracted.

“This resulting log-encoded dimmed image data may represent a darker version of the originally received image data,” the filing reads. “Thereafter, a pixel of the organic light emitting diode display may be driven based at least in part on the dimmed image data.”

In Apple’s method, image data could be converted in the data driver of an integrated circuit connected to the OLED screen. This data would be converted from a “framebuffer encoding” gamma-corrected color space to a logarithmic value.

“From this logarithmic value, a digital dimming control value may be subtracted rather than divided,” the filing states. “This dimmed logarithmic image data may be converted directly to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal, without first being converted to a linear digital value, via a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) programmed to convert the logarithmic digital image data to the OLED pixel brightness control signal.”

Apple’s solution would enable simplified dimming of OLED, and would convert the data associated with adjusting brightness from digital to analog. But Apple’s method would do so with fewer bits, and would be less taxing on a mobile device like an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

The illustrations accompanying the application specifically show a MacBook Pro as a potential device that could utilize an OLED screen, although the filing notes that Apple’s method of controlling OLED brightness could be used on any device, from smartphones to television sets.

Apple has shown continued interest in OLED screens through patent filings, with one proposed invention last year that aimed to improve power efficiency of OLED screens. However, some industry watchers have said that OLED technology, and the production of OLED screens, are not yet mature enough to meet Apple’s standards and requirements.

The latest OLED filing, published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was originally submitted in October of 2010. It is credited to Ulrich T. Barnhoefer and Lee Yongman.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.