Apple receives RFID tag reader patent, iPhone 5 possibilities seen on horizon

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Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, 07:25
Category: iPhone, Patents

If it’s not the rumors that keep things interesting, it’s the patents for stuff that might be coming down the line…

Per AppleInsider, a patent recently granted to Apple detailing a method of incorporating a Radio Frequency Identification tag reader into the screen of a portable touchscreen device in order to save space has furthered speculation that Apple plans to add RFID features to the iPhone.

The patent, entitled “Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader,” describes “the efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published the filing on Tuesday.

RFID allows devices to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without the requirement of contact or a visible line of sight.

In the filing, Apple documents a process by which the touch sensor panel of a device can be modified to double as an “RFID transponder,” thereby eliminating the need for a “space-consuming RFID antenna.”

According to the invention, loops for the antenna of the RFID circuit can be formed from “metal on the same layer as metal traces form in the borders of a substrate” without requiring a separate metal layer.

Apple’s method for employing RFID tag reader technology within a touchscreen joins a growing collection of RFID patent applications, which include the invention of a mobile “ID App” for reading RFID tags and a method of using RFID to sense and connect to WiFi networks.

The proposed “ID App” would utilize an RFID reader, camera and an IR image capture device to identify objects, such as a painting in a museum, and search a set of databases to gather more information.

Last August, rumors emerged that Apple was planning to bring near field communications technology, such as RFID, to the next-generation iPhone. Further evidence of Apple’s alleged plans for an RFID-capable iPhone came in October of last year when reports suggested that an Apple partnership with chip manufacturer Gemalto could pave the way for contactless transactions on the iPhone via RFID.

In January, Apple web site visitors discovered a job listing for an iPhone hardware engineer with RFID experience. It has been suggested that Apple will implement an e-wallet feature to take advantage of the rumored NFC-capabilities in future iOS devices.

Analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities claimed in February that the next iPhone will utilize NFC for a ‘unique’ twist that would go beyond just e-wallet functionality. After a suprising contrary report suggested that NFC would not make it into the next iPhone, Forbes reported in March that, according to a trustworthy source in the NFC market, the iPhone 5 will indeed have NFC contactless capabilities.

Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling are listed as inventors of the patent.

HBO Go to launch in early May, stream content to mobile and iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, 03:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you love the HBO Go online streaming service that allows subscribers to watch their shows as they please, you’ll like this. Per Engadget, HBO Go is slated to hit smartphones and tablets early next month. Android and iOS HBO Go apps have been teased by a new video on HBO’s YouTube channel, with promises of “instant and unlimited access” to “every episode of every season” of your favorite shows, garnished with a selection of hit movies.



The apps and streaming will be free to HBO subscribers, who’ll be able to get their content over both 3G and Wi-Fi connections. May 2nd is the date on which the teaser video ends, though it doesn’t explicitly say that the service will go live then.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts job listing focused on improving cloud services

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Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011, 03:07
Category: Mobile, Rumor, Software

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When the job listings go up, things become interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is building a small team to write software which will lay the groundwork for the company’s future Web services, which it has advertised as “the future” of its cloud-based offerings.

This week the company posted a new job listing for the position of “Cloud Systems Software Engineer.” The full-time role at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus will join a “small team” that is said to be building “the future of cloud services at Apple.”

That small team writes “software which forms the foundation” for some of Apple’s “most exciting new products and services,” the job listing reads. In keeping with Apple’s legendary secrecy, the listing does not reveal what services the company’s cloud-driven future will include.

The company is apparently looking to hire an engineer with experiencing in scalable and extensible systems. The ideal candidate will collaborate with other engineering teams at Apple to build the platform frameworks and systems that will power Apple’s next-generation Web services.

Apple has offered cloud-based services for some time with its US$99-per-year MobileMe service. According to unconfirmed rumors, Apple is expected to unveil an enhanced version of MobileMe this year, featuring a digital “locker” that would store personal files such as photos, music and videos. That content could be streamed to Internet-connected devices like iPhones, eliminating the need for a large amount of local memory on devices.

In particular, Apple is believed to be working on a cloud-based music service that would allow users to stream their music from anywhere. Such a product could be powered by Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina, expected to go online this spring.

This week’s latest job listing from Apple comes only months after the company sought to add software engineers to its iOS development team with an emphasis on remote storage for data access. Cloud support is rumored to be a major component of iOS 5, the next major version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad. One report from March said Apple plans to release iOS 5 this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 4.3.2 to feature FaceTime, Verizon iPad, WebKit fixes and changes

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Date: Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

If iOS 4.3.1 is driving you mildly nuts, there’s hope down the line.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple is rumored to issue its next mobile operating system update, iOS 4.3.2, for the iPhone and iPad in the next week, addressing problems with FaceTime and connectivity issues related to the Verizon iPad 2.

The web site allegedly obtained an early copy of the iOS 4.3.2 software and loaded it on an iPhone, but apparently didn’t notice any standout changes with the incremental software update. Even so, a tipster reportedly said that the new software will pack a fix for FaceTime, as well as security fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities, among other minor changes.

The update is also said to resolve connectivity issues with the Verizon CDMA iPad 2. Last Friday, Apple said in a statement that it is looking into connection problems users have reported with the 3G-capable Verizon iPad 2. The issues have not been reported by users of the AT&T-compatible 3G iPad 2.

Rumors of an iOS 4.3.2 update first surfaced earlier this month. It was said that the security and maintenance update would include bug fixes, but no additional details were given at the time.

iOS 5.0 is expected to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled to kick off June 6 in San Francisco, Calif. Apple has said that this year’s conference will be used to “unveil the future of iOS,” and rumors have indicated that Apple will preview iOS 5, but will not announce a new iPhone as it has done in years past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3.2 in next couple of weeks

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Date: Friday, April 8th, 2011, 04:06
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

Apple is rumored to be prepping another incremental update to its mobile operating system in the form of iOS 4.3.2 within the next few weeks, the update having been said to include bug fixes and enhancements.

Per Boy Genius Report, the company is currently working on iOS 4.3.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Tipsters allegedly indicated that the software will arrive in about two weeks.

“It’s said to include a few enhancements, address security issues, and it will also fix several bugs that have affected users,” the report said. It provided no specifics on what bugs or improvements the update might include.

The same site reported on iOS 4.3.1 in March, and said it would also arrive within two weeks. The actual software arrived just four days later, and was a minor release with fixes for cellular networks and a resolution for an occasional graphics glitch on the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Apple has already revealed that it will “unveil the future of iOS” at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, scheduled to start on June 6. It is widely believed that Apple will officially unveil the next major update for its mobile operating system, iOS 5, at that event, though rumors have suggested the company has no intention of showing off new iPhone hardware, as it has done in years past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Facebook 3.4 app released, adds “Unfriend”, geolocation features

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Date: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 08:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It may not be the best thing that Facebook pervades a bit too much of our lives, but it IS useful, especially on the iOS devices.

Per Mac|Life, Facebook released version 3.4 of its iPhone app on Monday. The new version, which still has yet to go iPad native, adds a handful of modest improvements including the ability to “unfriend” one of your friends with a couple of taps.

A “Place”s feature in the Facebook app has added a map view. Now, instead of simply seeing a list of where your friends are, you can actually see their location, even from across the country. Version 3.4 also adds the ability to check in to Facebook Events that you happen to be attending.

Last but not least, the Facebook app gets an “improved News Feed” as well as an “improved notifications UI,” but one major thing on everyone’s wish list remains MIA yet again — either a native Facebook app for the iPad, or better yet a universal upgrade so the app is optimized for both the iPhone/iPod touch as well as the iPad.

The Facebook app is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple looking to expand on voice commands in iOS 5.0

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Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, 08:49
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

Because you don’t spend enough time talking to your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to be working on a means of vastly improving voice commands on devices like the iPhone and iPad with the anticipated release of iOS 5 later this year.

Apple’s “deeply integrated” voice control feature in iOS 5 is expected to be demoed at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference. The voice control will reportedly be a combination of artificial intelligence and assistance technology, and Apple’s team is said to be putting the “finishing touches” on elements that will be demonstrated at WWDC.

The new features are said to stem from technology and personnel Apple obtained through its acquisition of Siri in 2010. Siri is the developer of a personal assistant application for the iPhone, and it allows users to speak to the device in plain conversational English to find information and automatically accomplish tasks, like booking a reservation at a restaurant.

The advanced voice control technology owned by Apple and said to be coming in iOS 5 may even be opened up to developers for use in third-party applications. However, author MG Siegler cautioned that information “isn’t quite as concrete.”

The latest rumor corroborates a report filed that went public earlier this year which claimed that Apple is working on “voice navigation” features in iOS 5. It also builds on rumors that circulated in February that Apple hopes to improve operation of the iPhone through voice commands due to some users’ dislike of using a virtual keyboard.

Apple announced on Monday that WWDC will kick off on June 6 at San Francisco’s Moscone West, where the company plans to “unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS.” The annual developers conference sold out in a record 10 hours.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may be planning iOS 5.0 around a fall release

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Date: Monday, March 28th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

Even if you’re still trying to figure out if Apple’s iOS 4.3.1 update provided any meaningful fixes, there’s still iOS 5.0 on the horizon. Per TechCrunch, iOS 5.0 may not see the light of day until this fall, the rumor mill stating that Instead of Apple possibly unveiling the latest version this spring, we may not see an official preview until summer, possibly alongside WWDC.

The current rumors have presented the following details:
-iOS 5 will launch in the fall and will be a major revamp of the OS.

-It could well be previewed at WWDC, but won’t be released then.

-The iOS 5 launch may coincide with the release of the oft talked about iPad 3.

-The new iOS would be built heavily around the cloud, and could see the launching of several new services by Apple that would take advantage of this.

-One of those said services would be a “music locker” service, which would see the aim for a fall launch, which is usually when Apple hosts their music-themed event.

-Much of the cloud information would first be covered at WWDC.

-The new cloud service element would include a location service for finding friends and family members.

-Some of the new cloud features could also make their way into OS X Lion as well.

Still, it could be interesting stuff, even if the usual timeline is thrown off a bit.

Stay tuned to PowerPage and we’ll bring you additional information as it becomes available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.1 update

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Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Apple on Friday released iOS 4.3.1, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and security patches for iOS devices.

Per Macworld, the update centers around a pair of graphics-related fixes: one for an occasional glitch on the 4th-generation iPod touch and one for flickering problems when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs. iOS 4.3.1 also resolves a problem with authenticating some enterprise Web services and some bugs experienced when activating and connecting to cellular networks.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Some users report freezes while using FaceTime on iPad 2

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

There’ll always be a few bugs to sort out, no matter how popular a new device is.

Per AppleInsider, some users have reported freezing issues with the FaceTime video chat feature, requiring a restart of the device.

A handful of users on Apple’s support forums have posted to a growing thread where they have described a problem where the image displayed by the forward-facing camera on the iPad 2 crashes in the FaceTime application. The same issue is also detailed in two other, smaller threads (1, 2).

“When I opened up FaceTime the first time, the camera was working fine, but now whenever I open it up, it just shows a still image from when I left,” user “CRK The Man” wrote. “How can I fix it?”

Most users seem to have found success in repairing FaceTime by simply restarting their iPad 2. Others have gone as far as completing a full software restore of the iPad 2 to address the problem.

One user, “dels7080,” claimed that the manager of a Verizon store in New York City revealed that the FaceTime glitch has occurred to “a lot” of demo units available for customers on the sales floor to try. They too said the problem is solved by restarting the iPad 2.

“It happens quite frequently,” user “leov36″ wrote of the issue. “Restarting the ipad fixes the problem, BUT, it happens again with in the next two to three times I go to use it.”

FaceTime is only available on iOS devices with a forward-facing camera, including the newly released iPad 2. To take advantage of the forward and rear cameras on the second-generation iPad, Apple also added devoted applications for picture and movie taking, as well as Photo Booth for taking and editing photos.

If you’ve seen this with your new iPad 2, please let us know in the comments.