Apple files patent applications for curved battery technology, could lead to unique new devices

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

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If nothing else, the patent applications tell you what’s coming down the pipe.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a pair of patent applications (1, 2) filed by Apple reveal the company is working on unorthodox battery designs with curved cells and irregular shapes, suggesting slimmer, more shapely iOS devices could be on the horizon.

The patents filings for “Curved battery cells for portable electronic devices” and “Non-rectangular batteries for portable electronic devices,” both describe methods in which a battery can be designed and manufactured for incorporation into slim, new device chassis.

Both filed for on Oct. 28, 2011, the applications call for battery cells to be manipulated during the manufacturing phase in order to facilitate easy installation into curved and non-rectangular device designs.

For example, the invention regarding curved batteries uses industry standard production techniques, which include a set of layers, a cathode, an anode, a separator and active coatings, before manipulating the unit to a given specification. Like some batteries already on the market, Apple’s proposed design uses a flexible pouch to enclose the cell layers created by the separator.

The pouch is then exposed to pressure of “at least 0.13 kilogram-force (kgf) per square millimeter” and heat of about 85 degrees Celsius in a set of curved plates in order to set the shape. As noted, this process may take as long as four hours.

In some embodiments, the curve is held by employing a binder coating within the battery cell, which is activated during the curing process to laminate the layers together. The resulting structure would be solid and take the shape of curved plates.

From the filing’s summary:
“In some embodiments, the curve is formed to facilitate efficient use of space inside a portable electronic device. For example, the curve may be formed at one or more ends of the battery cell to allow the battery cell to occupy a curved and/or rounded space within the enclosure of a laptop computer, tablet computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), digital camera, portable media player, and/or other type of battery-powered electronic device.”

In the second application a similar method is employed, but where the former uses pressure and heat to set the shape, the “non-rectangular” property removes material from the battery before stacking the cell layers. An example is given of how a non-rectangular shape can be achieved by removing material from one or more sides of the anode and cathode to form a rounded corner. By utilizing this method, varying thicknesses can be achieved, such as those seen in the fourth-generation iPad.

Both techniques aim to shape a battery that fits snugly into a device’s housing, thereby reducing wasted internal space. While merely speculation, the battery designs could be used in an upcoming version of the iPhone or iPad, both of which are becoming increasingly slim as consumers demand thin, lightweight portables.

Also a possibility is the use of such battery design in an iPhone with a “wrap-around” display, the patent of which passed through the USPTO in late March. While it is unlikely that such a device will make it to market in the near future, if ever, the recent patent filings show Apple is continuously looking for innovative ways to save space in its iOS device lineup.

Both patent applications credit Ramesh C. Bhardwaj, John Raff, Stephen R. McClure, Erik L. Wang and Taisup Hwang as their inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s OS X 10.8.3 prompts use of discrete GPU in mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 08:42
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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There’s sort of a love/hate relationship with operating system updates, especially given the fact that you never quite know what’s going to change with your Apple hardware and how it performs after the fact.

To that end, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a terrific piece over on CNET as to Apple’s latest OS update for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks.

To this end, a number of the notebook’s owners noticed that after upgrading to OS X 10.8.3, their systems with dual graphics cards would automatically switch to using the more powerful discrete graphics chip regularly, even when using non-graphics intensive applications like Google Chrome, Dropbox, and Growl. This does not result in crashes or other interruptions in workflow, but it does increase the drain on the systems’ battery and result in a shorter working time when not connected to AC power.

The article then moves on to discuss how to ration battery power, how to drop back to OS X 10.7 if necessary and the new challenges for developers under these conditions.

It’s there, it’s good, so take a gander and let us know if you’ve seen anything like this with your mid-2010 MacBook Pro on your end.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.3 beta 2 build to developer community, looks to resolve recently-discovered lock screen security hole

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Date: Friday, February 22nd, 2013, 07:21
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

This could be useful.

Per MacNN, Apple on Thursday pushed a new beta build to the developer community of its iOS mobile operating system designed to address a bug that can allow users to get past an iPhone lock screen even when a secure passcode is enabled.

iOS 6.1.3 beta 2 is available to members of Apple’s development community for testing prior to the software’s official release. Sources familiar with the latest build indicated it addresses the security hole discovered last week that could allow anyone to bypass an iPhone lock screen.

Those with access to the new software indicated it is identified as “Build 10B318.”

The software also reportedly includes a number of improvements related to the Maps application in Japan. Specifically, they are:
- Improved pronunciation of roads during turn-by-turn navigation.

- Optimized directions to more strongly prefer highways over narrower roads.

- Now indicates upcoming toll roads during turn-by-turn navigation.

- Added labels for junctions, interchanges, on-ramps, off-ramps, and intersections.

- Added indicators for transit station buildings, subway lines, and traffic lights.

- Updated freeway color to green.

- Updated icons for some location categories including fire stations, hospitals, and post offices Added 3D buildings including Tokyo Station, Japan Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower.

The new beta comes only two days after Apple released iOS 6.1.2 to the public, addressing a bug related to Exchange calendars that could drain a device’s battery.

Apple first began testing its planned improvements for iOS Maps in Japan with the first beta of iOS 6.1.1 earlier this month. But that software number was quickly used for an update issued to iPhone 4S owners that addressed issues related to battery life and 3G connectivity.

Thursday’s beta software release was renamed iOS 6.1.3 for developers because the iOS 6.1.2 identifier was also used this week in the latest public update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.2 update

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Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 12:42
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

Never doubt the speed of a fix in the wake of bad PR…

On Tuesday, Apple released iOS 6.1.2, a 107 megabyte download offering the following fixes for its supported iOS devices:

- Fixes an Exchange calendar bug that could result in increased network activity and reduced battery life.

iOS 6.1.2 is available via iTunes or Over-The-Air updating and requires an iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, third or fourth-gen iPad, iPod Touch 4th Gen or iPad Mini to install and run.

Evasi0n hack now over 7 million downloads, updated version available for iOS 6.1.1

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Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 08:16
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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You can’t knock a good hack.

Per Redmond Pie, the Evad3rs team on Tuesday rolled out an update for the Evasi0n untethered jailbreak tool, fixing bugs found in the initial software while adding support for the Apple’s iOS 6.1.1 mobile operating system just one day after its release.

After launching last week, version 1.3 of the Evasi0n jailbreak is now available to the public, allowing iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners to liberate any device running iOS 6, 6.1 and 6.1.1.

Multiple reports noted that Evasi0n was downloaded over seven million times in four days, making the so-called liberation tool the most popular in iOS history.

Apple’s release of iOS 6.1.1 on Monday broke compatibility with the software hack, but version 1.3 brings back support for all iOS devices, including the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Apple’s iOS release targeted battery life and 3G issues seen by some iPhone 4S users, and was not meant to patch the Evasi0n exploit.

Available on OS X, Windows and Linux, the untethered hack allows users to jailbreak their devices without having to connect to a computer.

It should be noted that the process of jailbreaking is legal, but will void the supplied Apple warranty as it leverages exploits in the iOS software to run unauthorized code.

If you’ve run the Evasi0n hack on your iOS device and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Apple receives patent for “microslot antennas”, could see improvements in wireless functionality in coming years

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:01
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, wireless

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Your notebook and iOS device’s wireless system could be getting that much niftier.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday won the patent rights to “microslot antenna” technology that allows micron-wide antenna assets to be integrated into the housing of a portable device, such as an iPhone, making them nearly invisible to the human eye.

As portable electronics become thinner and more compact with each successive generation, internal space is quickly becoming a limiting factor to device designers. Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,373,610 for “Microslot antennas for electronic devices,” granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, could drastically cut down on the size of at least one component needed to create products like the iPhone.

While the patent refers to implementations in a laptop computer, the antenna tech can be used in other portable electronics like smartphones and tablets.

With Apple’s current technology as seen in the iPhone 5, two internal radio antennas dynamically switch between multiple frequency bands, including those carrying fast LTE data. In order to fit the units within the handset’s slim body, Apple had to design a window for radio waves, while keeping the unit small enough to leave room for other important structures like the logic board and battery.

Tuesday’s patent focuses on so-called “microslot antenna” technology, or “dielectric-filled microslots that are formed in a ground plane element.” According to the invention, the ground plane can be a device’s housing as long as it is conductive, meaning the slots would be integrated on the outer hull of a product. The system can also support multiple communications bands, meaning functionality would not be compromised for size enhancements.

As for the size of the microslots, the patent language states that the widths of the slots are usually significantly less than their lengths. For example, widths can range from microns to hundreds of microns, while a microslot’s length can be on the order of millimeters or centimeters.

Filling the slots is a dielectric such as epoxy, plastic, air or other suitable substance that prevents foreign matter from entering. Antenna feeds can be located at or between the functional microslots, and operate on common communication bands that support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G cellular, among others.

The ’601 property was first filed for in December 2007, less than six months after the original iPhone debuted, and credits Bing Chiang, Gregory Allen Springer, Douglas B. Kough, Enrique Ayala and Matthew Ian McDonald as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 4S users

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Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 12:32
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Well, that was quick.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday released iOS 6.1.1 to address a number of bugs for iPhone 4S owners who recently ran into a handful of issues following the release of iOS 6.1 for all of Apple’s mobile devices.

The release is currently available as a direct download here (968MB) or as an over-the-air download (weighing in at about 23 megabytes). It’s available only to iPhone 4S users. No release was issued for iPhone 5 or other models of the handset at this time, despite claims from iPhone 5 owners that they were also negatively impacted by the iOS 6.1 update.

Two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone 4S users began reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the update. British wireless carrier Vodafone UK even sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version because the carrier determined it to cause 3G performance problems.

For instance, Apple’s Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after applying the iOS 6.1 update.

In particular, the carrier noted that iOS 6.1 was creating intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handsets to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The reports on Apple’s support forums, however, suggested that the problems may not be limited to just iPhone 4S users and may also affect iPhone 5 users to some extent.

One iPhone 5 owner saw their battery drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life. It’s unclear whether Apple is separately preparing an iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 5 owners.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried iOS 6.1.1 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Vodafone UK, some users warn about overheating issues between iPhone 3GS handset and iOS 6.1 update

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Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 08:11
Category: iOS, News, Software

If there’s one constant in the IT world, it’s that no update will make everyone happy…

Per AppleInsider, a little over two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone users are reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the newest update, while Vodafone UK sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version as it has been found to cause 3G performance.

While the extent of the 3G problems Vodafone reported is unknown, multiple posts,%20as%20noted%20by%20The%20Next%20Web,%20reveal%20a%20multitude%20of%20iPhone%20owners%20are%20experiencing%20Apple Support Community threads exist regarding battery drain and overheating issues, which appear to be affecting a number of iPhone models.

The Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after updating to iOS 6.1. Reports are conflicting, however, as one iPhone 5 owner saw a drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life.

In Vodafone’s warning, the British carrier noted that iOS 6.1 is causing intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handset to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The telecom said Apple is working on a fix, but failed to elaborate further on the matter.

From Vodafone’s release regarding iOS 6.1:
“Hi everyone,

We’re aware of an issue caused by Apple iPhone 4s handsets that have been upgraded to iOS 6.1 which impacts performance on 3G.

Some customers may occasionally experience difficulty in connecting to the network to make or receive calls or texts or to connect to the Internet. Apple is working on a solution to their software issue. These connection problems are intermittent.”

While Apple’s investigations continue, we would recommend that anyone who has not yet installed iOS 6.1 on their iPhone 4s should delay doing so until Apple has confirmed that their problem has been fixed.
Apple released iOS 6.1 on Jan. 28, bringing a host of bug fixes and feature enhancements like added LTE support to its mobile operating system.

If you’ve seen these issues on your iPhone 3GS handset after installing the iOS 6.1 update, please let us know in the comments.

Some users complain of reduced battery life, new Wi-Fi issues after iOS 6.0.2 update

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Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 08:51
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Sometimes a bug fix works perfectly for everyone.

Other times it doesn’t, or opens up a whole new can of worms.

Per the Apple support forums and Ars Technica, Apple’s newly released iOS 6.0.2 update for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini may have resolved some Wi-Fi issues, but some users say it seems to have also reduced their battery life.

A number of users have expressed they have noticed poorer battery life on their iPhone after upgrading to iOS 6.0.2. Specifically, one user said they noticed their battery draining “substantially faster.”

In addition, a small number of users have created a thread at Apple’s official support forums to share their own evidence of battery problems with iOS 6.0.2.

“It is absolutely draining my battery,” user ‘atdguy’ wrote. “I can usually get through a day with about 75% of my battery power remaining. Today I’ve gone through 90% and I’ve done nothing special with it.”

Others posting at Apple’s site said that the release of iOS 6.0.2 actually introduced Wi-Fi connectivity issues for them. The software update, released on Tuesday, was intended to address previous Wi-Fi bugs for the iPhone and iPad mini.

All of the users who commented or e-mailed say they are experiencing the battery drain issues with their iPhone 5. There was no mention of iOS 6.0.2 battery problems with the iPad mini.

If you’ve seen these issues on your own devices after the iOS 6.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

How-to: How to get around “Black Screen of Death” on dual-GPU MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 10:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Ok, this could be useful.

Per the mighty Topher Kessler of CNET, a workaround has been found for MacBook users who noticed a pretty annoying black-screen bug on their systems, in which the computer would appear to be running but would not show any output on the display. To get around this issue, people were forced to restart their systems, losing any unsaved data.

The primary workaround for this problem was to use the third-party GPU manager utility gfxCardStatus to force the system to use only one of its available GPUs, to avoid the automatic switching between the graphics cards that was leading to the problem. While the increased use of the more powerful dedicated GPU drained the battery a little more, it did avoid the problem for many.

Take a gander here for the full article and if this has been driving you nuts, rest assured that it drove other MacBook Pro users up the wall as well.