Multitasking/running apps may help deplete batteries on iOS-based devices

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 29th, 2010, 04:26
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

When Apple released the iOS 4 update, people noted significantly lower battery life on a number of iOS devices. In troubleshooting the problem, it became apparent that Wi-Fi usage was in large responsible for draining the battery, and initially the recommendations were to disable Wi-Fi features.

Per CNET, users may find the device losing battery power if you keep multiple applications open when you put the device to sleep.

MacFixIt reader R.T. Taylor wrote in with a little clarification on the issue:
“Each programmer is responsible for turning on or off multitasking. And evidently they are not paying attention to that tiny detail. That is how you can have a multitasking job running in the background for a flashlight app.

To see what is running in the background, press the home key twice. You will see up to four background apps in the bottom of the display, scroll right to see what else is running. Mine had about 50 apps running.”

Having multiple applications running at the same time will obviously drain the battery to a greater extent when the device is in use, but when the device is in sleep mode, the applications should be suspended; however, people have found that quitting them all before putting the device to sleep seems to solve the low-battery-life problem.

It is possible that even though the applications are suspended, their being active when the device is put to sleep may prevent some hardware components such as the Wi-Fi adapter from being put to sleep at the same time. This may result in items like the Wi-Fi adapter staying active during sleep, and may also be a reason why when people specifically turn off Wi-Fi before sleep, that the battery level no longer drains rapidly.

Most people run applications and then press the home button to quit them and run alternative applications, but this does not fully quit the application. Instead, if you want to fully quit an application, press and hold it until the icon jiggles, and then press the X and the full application process will shut down.

As always, the peanut gallery is open for business and let us know what’s on your mind.

Teardown of late-2010 MacBook Air finds six battery cells, other new features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 22nd, 2010, 06:42
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

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Ok, now this is interesting.

True to form, the cool cats at iFixit performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest instant-on, 11.6″ MacBook Air and found now less than six separate lithium-polymer battery cells.

The internal components are slightly different from those found in the 13.3″ model, a prototype of which was spotted before the device was even revealed on Wednesday. That larger MacBook Air has four separate batteries, which are bigger and provide up to 7 hours of active battery life.



In its teardown, the solutions provider found that the onboard 64GB of flash storage easily disconnects from the logic board, but the part is completely custom, meaning an off-the shelf part cannot be used to replace it.

The unique 64GB of onboard memory is made up of six main chips (four 16GB flash memory chips and a solid state drive controller from Toshiba), and a Micron OKA17 D9HSJ DDR DRAM cache. The proprietary solid state drive is just 2.45 mm thick and weighs 10 grams, while the previous MacBook Air’s hard disk drive was 5.12 mm thick and weighed 45 grams.

The new MacBook Air also uses the same Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip found on the current MacBook Pros. However, to fit into the tiny frame of the MacBook Air, it comes in a different form factor.

All of the cooling of the new notebook is accomplished with a single, small internal fan. Ribbon cable connection points found inside were also discovered to have epoxy on them that acts as an insulator, perhaps to prevent issues if their protective plastic wears out over time.

Included on the logic board are the MacBook Air’s Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, and 2GB of Elpida J1108EFBG RAM. Just as with MacBook Air models, the RAM is soldered to the logic board, making it non-upgradable.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and have any impressions of it, let us know.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to feature longer lasting battery, upgradable RAM

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 12:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Because next-gen MacBook Air rumors and details are the hip thing today, a couple new interesting tidbits have emerged from the cool cats at Cult of Mac. Per the article, an anonymous source has stated that the refreshed MacBook Air will offer 8 to 10 hours of battery life as well as upgradeable RAM, which will arrive with 2GB onboard that can be upped later on.

The source also indicated that the notebook will be smaller, but will still offer a battery 50% larger, boosting battery life to between 8 and 10 hours, up from the current model’s 5-hour battery life.

The report also rumors that the new MacBook Air will be offered in two sizes: an 11.6″ screen, and a 13.3″ display. The source stated that the 13″ model could be priced as low as US$1,100, while the 11″ model could be just US$999.

The report also indicate that the solid state drive on the device will be upgradeable. Sources have stated that the new device will feature an “SSD Card” that lacks a traditional drive enclosure, and will instead more closely resemble NAND flash. However, it was said the storage will not be easily user replaceable and will be based off of an SATA connection.

Cult of Mac also reported that the new MacBook Air could come in two different configurations: a 2.1GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It also said that the notebook will sport Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics, a GPU first introduced this April in the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The report also included a mockup of the device, which is said to be “thinner, lighter and boxier than the current model,” according to author Leander Kahney.

Other details include the following:
- The quick boot time on the new MacBook Air is said to be “unbelievable” and “amazing.”

- The new model has an aluminum unibody design, but is “not as curvy” as the current model.

- The source indicated it is “boxier” like the iPhone 4.

- For inputs, the source indicated the device has two USB ports, an SD card slot on the right side, and a Mini DisplayPort adapter on the left side.

Here’s hoping for the best and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

iFixit posts full teardown of 2010 iPod Shuffle

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 05:56
Category: iPod shuffle, photos

Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple’s new hardware to perform a full teardown of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle.

Per AppleInsider, the new hardware carries a model number of A1373, updated from the A1271 designation of the previous generation hardware.

The updated iPod shuffle marks the return of buttons to the media player, which were absent from the previous generation. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs even conceded last week that “people clearly missed the buttons.”

The tightly packed hardware is particularly difficult to open, iFixit noted. “It took us a good half hour of prying and heat-gunning to open the little guy,” they said. This is because back clip was is press-fit and glued onto the body of the device.

Other details noted by the solutions provider in its teardown:

- The new iPod shuffle has smaller retail packaging, but the box it ships in was not particularly small. “Apple could have shipped 30 iPod shuffles in this box,” they said. “Literally.”

- The fourth-generation hardware has a height of 1.14 inches, width of 1.24 inches, depth of 0.34 inches, and weight of 0.44 ounces.

- The control ribbon cable is just 1/8 of an inch wide, and the logic board is held in place by just one screw. The battery is soldered to the logic board.

- The 3.7V lithium-ion battery has a listed capacity of .19 Whr, which is good for 15 hours of audio playback.

- The manufacture dates on the die indicate the hardware was built in late June and early August of 2010.

For additional photos and details, check out the full teardown at the iFixit web site and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new Shuffle, let us know what you make of it, for better or for worse.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.

iOS 4 upgrade offers some battery life improvements over iOS 3 for iPhone 3G, 3GS handsets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 04:30
Category: iPhone, News

With the recent release of iOS 4.0 and iOS 4.0.1, one question has needed to be answered: does the update boost your iPhone’s battery life. Per Macworld, it does, the lab downgrading an iPhone 3G that was running iOS 4 to iOS 3.1.3 and running a series of tasks. The staff then upgraded the iPhone 3G to iOS4 and ran the same set of tasks.

The iPhone 3G with iOS 4 lasted 5% longer (10 minutes) than the iOS 3-configured iPhone 3G.

In additional tests, there proved to be an even greater increase in battery life with iOS 4 on an iPhone 4GS, with the updated iPhone 3GS lasting 14% longer (35 minutes) than with iOS 3.

Take a gander at the article for specific details behind each test. And in spite of AntennaGate, the iPhone 4 and the usual complaints that come with any upgrade (“iOS 2.0 used to paint my house for me and that’s why I’ll never upgrade!!!”), it’s nice to see the battery life improve a bit.

How-To: deactivate Network Services to improve iOS device battery life

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Although the iOS 4 software update has been lauded as improving battery life for most users, some are finding the improvements lacking. Per the Apple Toolbox Blog, one source of this may be overuse of the Location Services feature which can accompany checking Push notifications, and having many open Safari windows open.

It now appears that overactive location services usage can result in poor battery life. Specifically, apps that use location services in the background can quickly drain the battery.

The post offers the following steps for resolving this and hopefully upping your iOS device’s battery life:

“To check location services usage on an app-by-app basis, navigate to Settings > General > Location Services.

Turn location services off for all applications, then turn them back on for desired apps one by one or in groups. Via this procedure, you can identify which app’s use of location services is draining battery.

Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off location services altogether and check for increased battery life.”

iFixit posts early teardown of iPhone 4 components

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 04:34
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the hardware teardowns that make technology fun and apparently a member of the fabled iFixit team planned to fly to Ginza to camp out at a Japanese Apple Store location. Instead, FedEx delivered an iPhone 4 two days early, allowing for an ahead-of schedule teardown of the handset, as posted here.

The teardown posted by iFixit of an early delivery reveals the new model’s A4 application processor with 512MB of RAM, the new Retina Display, dual front and rear cameras, a secondary mic for noise canceling, an oversized new battery, and custom gyroscope which along with the accelerometer provides full six-axis motion control.

The two rear exposed Phillips screws now release the back panel rather than the front glass, a design that “makes replacing the rear panel trivial, but unfortunately means that replacing the front glass will likely be rather challenging,” iFixit says.

Inside the back panel, the larger new 3.7V 1420 mAh Li-Polymer battery consumes all available space, while the new 5 megapixel still camera (capable of 720p, 30 fps video capture) anchors one corner and the vibration motor holds down the other.

The logic board packs Apple’s A4 application processor, a “new 3-axis gyroscope that we believe is designed and manufactured by STMicro” and not yet commercially available, STMicro’s 33DH 3-axis accelerometer, and an Apple-branded Cirrus Logic 338S0589 audio codec that is also used in iPad.

Going deeper, iFixit pulled the top mic used for noise cancelation to quiet ambient sounds, the front facing VGA camera used for FaceTime video chat, and the primary mic used in the mouthpiece.

Refreshed MacBook dissected, 10-hour battery could be transplanted into older MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 04:27
Category: MacBook, News

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You’ve got to love iFixit.

That being said, the firm has performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest low-end MacBook and noticed that only the central processing unit, the graphical processing unit and the battery have changed since the last hardware iteration.

iFixit has stated that the battery itself is of special interest given that the battery is exactly the same shape as its former and all you have to do to get an extra 350 mAh for your existing plastic MacBook is to drop in a refreshed battery.

While the new cells weigh more and it’s likely the new silicon that’s actually responsible for 10 hours of battery life, but should your Li-ion pack fail under warranty, your older MacBook might be returned with more juice than you’d bargained for.

Kind of a cool thing if you ever dreamt of your older MacBook using a 10 hour battery…

New fourth-gen iPhone prototype photos emerge, A4 processor seems likely

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 04:48
Category: iPhone, News, Pictures

Right, this may be about the time Steve Jobs totally loses it and unleashes his new eye lasers.

Per Vietnamese web forum Taoviet, a series of photos, including a teardown of the hardware, has been published showing a newer and more refined fourth-generation iPhone prototype than the one obtained by Gizmodo last month. The pictures revealing the marking APL0398, which is also on the A4 processor found inside the iPad. The rest of the markings — 339S0084, K4X2G643GE, and YN6024Z3, are different, but the system-on-a-chip does include an Apple logo.

The new model also lacks the obvious screws visible in the Gizmodo photographs on either side of the Dock Connector, and is designated as being 16 GB rather than simply “XXGB.” The back panel is also shown to be highly reflective, with a large back facing camera and LED flash.

The new model also uses the same micro-SIM as iPad, and the card now inserts into the side of the phone rather than the top end.

A video demonstrates that the device was also turned on, but was not running the iPhone OS. Instead, the screen displayed a graphic of an explosion that read “Inferno.” At the bottom, text can be read that says “Start time: Run Bonfire!,” “Duration: 0,” and “Battery: 3 percent.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.