Rumor: Next-gen iPad to be 15% thinner, 25% lighter, use smaller, more efficient battery

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Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 07:14
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could be nifty.

Per MacRumors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has on a number of occasions offered accurate information on Apple’s product plans, recently published a new research note outlining his expectations for Apple’s fifth-generation iPad. Kuo expects mass production and shipments of the new iPad to ramp up in the August-September timeframe, with the device registering roughly 15% thinner and 25% lighter than the current full-size iPad.

The new version’s expected dimensions, which are purported to be 7.5-8.0mm thick, will be 15% thinner than iPad 4. The new device will likely be about 500 grams, or some 25% lighter than iPad 4, run on an A7X processor, and sport cameras with similar specs to the iPad 4’s (front HD, rear 5MP). The casing shape and color (silver and black) and narrow bezel design will be similar to the iPad mini’s.

The prediction of a 7.5-8.0 mm thickness is in line with previous claims that the next iPad will see a roughly 2 mm reduction from the current 9.5 mm thickness.

Kuo predicts that Apple will adopt the same GF2 touch technology used in the iPad mini, enabling Apple to design a thinner display for the new full-size iPad. In addition, more efficient display and chip technologies are expected to bring down the device’s overall power consumption, allowing for a smaller and thinner battery.

The battery is expected to be 25-30% smaller, at 8,500-9,000mAh, than the iPad 4’s, and the battery’s thickness will be 15-20% smaller, at 7.5-8.0mm, and the number of cells will be reduced to two from three.

As for the chip powering the iPad 5, Kuo believes that Apple will be sticking with Samsung for a new A7X chip that will take advantage of Samsung’s 28-nanometer process node. There have been reports that Apple will be shifting its A-series chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but it appears that Kuo believes that transition has a bit further time horizon, in line with rumors that a partnership between Apple and TSMC for 20-nanometer A7 chips will not begin production until early 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Apple job postings allude to chip development effort in and around Florida

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Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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If you’re looking to design chips for Apple in sunny Florida, your dream may have come true.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple posted several job openings looking for both hardware and software engineers reveal that Apple is looking to begin its own chip development in Orlando, Florida.

Last week it was discovered that Apple is hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint technology at Authentec in Melbourne, Florida, which is about one hour south of the future site of the company’s development labs.

The job posting are interesting as Samsung, which works with Apple to develop the custom chips used in iPhones and iPads, continues to compete with Apple in the smartphone and tablet space.

Tim Cook mentioned last May that the engine that drives the iPhone was produced in Austin, Texas, which many believe pointed to Samsung’s chip development location.

The job listings range from ‘front end design management’ to ‘3D Graphics Micro-Architect’, all of which were posted in recent weeks.

Notably, the area is already populated with relevant talent as it is home to popular semiconductor company/Apple chip partner Qualcomm which may be the reason for the location.

Apple currently hosts a small office for its “Latin America General Manager” in Coral Gables, Florida, some five hours south of Orlando, Florida, illustrating the Cupertino-based company’s increasing presence in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use LED backlighting system to reduce weight of next-gen iPad

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could prove spiffy.

Per CNET, a report released on Thursday says Apple will likely use a modified LED backlight apparatus in a bid to make the 9.7-inch tablet as thin and light as possible.

NPD DisplaySearch stated that it expects Apple’s fifth-generation iPad to sport a more efficient LED array, as well as a change to film-based touch sensor technology, as the company slims down its largest tablet offering.

“It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs,” said analyst Paul Semenza.

Apple is widely expected to launch a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad with an aesthetic borrowed from the current iPad mini. Such a design was revealed in an image of a purportedly leaked next-gen iPad cover glass, which had thinner bezels and significantly modified dimensions in comparison with existing models.

Turning to display technology, Semenza said it’s too soon to tell if the next-gen iPad will make the switch to more efficient IGZO panels. Rumors dating as far back as 2011 have Apple preparing to transition to the LCD tech, though such displays have yet to be used in the company’s product lineups. Most recently, industry chatter has pointed to the inclusion of IGZO in this year’s iPhone and iPad models, with the panels coming from Apple partner supplier Sharp.

Finally, Semenza said a third-quarter debut is most likely for the upcoming iPad. Prediction regarding the iPad’s launch timeline have been highly varied, however, with some analysts claiming an October release, while other sources say the tablet could be unveiled this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad production to begin in July-August time frame

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Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

There’s gotta be a kernel of truth in here somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, sources in Taiwan-based supply companies have stated that production of the fifth-gen iPad is slated to start in a July-August window. The sources added that the display is expected to be manufactured by Sharp and LG Display, while touch panel assembly will be done by TPK, and ITO thin film will come from Nitto Denko and Teijin. Some earlier rumors had an iPad announcement taking place as soon as this month.

The DigiTimes sources repeat views that the fifth-gen tablet will be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and moreover use a slimmer bezel, similar to the one on the iPad mini. The fourth-gen iPad was little different than the third-gen model, mainly gaining a faster processor, a Lightning connector, and broader cellular support. It was also released just months later, whereas it now appears that the fifth-gen device may resume Apple’s normal annual update cycle.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Blackberry product roadmap shows potential iPad competitor on the horizon

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Date: Monday, April 1st, 2013, 06:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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You may not love and adore Blackberry, but it looks like the company intends to stick around long enough to release a tablet competitor to the iPad.

Per @BB10Leaks and TechnoBuffalo, Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry appears to be readying another go at the tablet sector, as an image purporting to be a leaked product roadmap shows a potential iPad competitor slated for a late 2013 release.

The supposed product roadmap appeared Friday in a tweet and appears to show BlackBerry’s forthcoming products through the second quarter of 2014. In addition to the already released Z10 and its hardware QWERTY keyboard sporting counterpart, the Q10, the roadmap shows a tablet, a phablet, and a phablet-esque device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard of its own.


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The iPad competitor appears to be named the B10. The roadmap gives no details on its dimensions or specifications, but it looks to be a large tablet in the vein of Google’s Nexus 10 and Apple’s full-size iPads. Should the device materialize, it would represent BlackBerry’s second attempt at breaking into the tablet segment.

The Canadian manufacturer previously released a 7-inch PlayBook tablet, meant to provide enterprise-minded customers with a more portable alternative to Apple’s iPad, which dominated the tablet segment then as it does now. Poor software implementation and developer support, though, doomed the PlayBook to sluggish sales even as Apple’s tablet moved to greater heights. Eventually, then-RIM’s inventory of unsold PlayBook units caused the company to take a US$485 million charge.

With the launch of BlackBerry 10, though, the manufacturer has seen encouraging signs. BlackBerry’s most recent financial figures revealed one million Z10’s shipped since the device’s launch in February. That, in combination with drastic cost reductions, led to BlackBerry’s first profitable quarter in some time.

A new tablet would help flesh out the range of devices BlackBerry offers, making it a more capable alternative for customers looking outside of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Speaking earlier in March, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company would have to do something “really substantial and meaningful… [and] profitable as well,” if it were to enter the tablet space again.

Should the leaked roadmap prove accurate, BlackBerry’s tablet will see release some time in either the third or fourth quarter of 2013. It would be followed shortly thereafter by a large-screened BlackBerry 10 device, apparently dubbed the U10. That device — likely a “phablet” in the vein of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II — may be the rumored Aristo device that surfaced late last year. Following the phablet’s release, another large-screened model would follow quickly thereafter, this one sporting a hardware QWERTY keyboard much like BlackBerry’s forthcoming Q10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Windows 8 certification change could hint at upcoming iPad mini competitor

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 29th, 2013, 06:02
Category: iPad mini, News

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Microsoft could have an iPad mini competitor en route.

Per AppleInsider, recent changes quietly made to the Windows 8 hardware certification guidelines suggest that Microsoft could be gearing up to debut a new, smaller “Windows Reader” tablet designed to compete with more portable devices like Apple’s iPad mini.

The company recently relaxed its hardware certification rules to allow devices with screen resolutions of 1,024 by 768 pixels at a depth of 32 bits. But the Redmond, Wash., company also warned developers that it doesn’t mean they are allowed to develop hardware with low-resolution displays.

“This doesn’t imply we’re encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution,” Microsoft said. “In fact, we see customers embracing the higher resolution screens that make a great Windows experience. We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful.”

The company has been rumored to be at work on a so-called “Windows Reader” for some time.

The new resolution allowed for Windows 8 devices happens to match the display of Apple’s iPad mini, which also sports a 1,024-by-768-pixel 7.9-inch screen. And the iPad 2, which Apple also continues to sell, features the same resolution on a larger 9.7-inch display, giving it a lower pixel density.

Windows 8 operating systems that run at Microsoft’s newly approved lower resolution will lose the operating system’s “snap” feature, which allows two Windows Store applications to be viewed simultaneously side by side. Manufacturers are required by Microsoft to disclose this loss “to avoid potential customer disappointment.”

While Microsoft looks to lower resolutions, some expect that Apple will boost the iPad mini to a Retina-caliber display with a second-generation model this year. However, others have suggested that doubling the iPad mini’s resolution on its small 7.9-inch display may be too difficult a feat to accomplish this year.

Microsoft’s current closest competitor to the full-size iPad is the Surface with Windows RT, which has a screen resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels on a 10.1-inch display. A head-to-head comparison conducted last November by Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate found that the Surface outperforms Apple’s iPad 2, but falls short of newer full-size iPad models with Retina displays.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Advertising-based trojan goes into wild on Mac OS X, Windows platforms

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Date: Thursday, March 21st, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hack, News, security, Software

The available list of Mac malware (and jerks creating it) just grew a bit.

Per MacNN, a new Mac trojan is inserting ads into Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, says a Russian security firm, Doctor Web. Nicknamed “Trojan.Yontoo.1,” the malware is so far being distributed through movie trailer pages, which prompt people to download a browser plugin, a media player, a video enhancer, or a download accelerator. When launched, the malware asks to be installed under a name such as “Free Twit Tube.”

In reality, the installer inserts a plugin into the aforementioned browsers, which transmits data about the websites a person visits to a remote server, and inserts ads into places in sites where they wouldn’t otherwise exist. Visiting the official Apple page for the iPad mini, for instance, may trigger an ad for unrealistically low iPad discounts. Doctor Web notes that the attackers could potentially swap out the plugin for different or updated code.

The malware is targeting Windows systems as well, but Doctor Web comments that hackers are increasingly targeting Mac owners, and that such ad schemes generate money regardless of the platform they’re on. The hackers likely receive money for each ad impression, and more if a person actually clicks on an ad. There doesn’t appear to be any defense against the trojan in OS X at the moment, short of rejecting the installation; Apple may, however, be able to create a safeguard by updating the OS’ blacklist.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.3 update

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Date: Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, 12:59
Category: iOS, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

I’ll say this for Apple: it’s getting speedier on its iOS updates.

On Tuesday, Apple released iOS 6.1.3, a 107 megabyte download offering the following fixes for its supported iOS devices:

– Fixes a bug that could allow someone to bypass the passcode and access the Phone app.

– Improvements to Maps in Japan.

iOS 6.1.3 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.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen, Retina Display iPad mini in 2013

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Date: Monday, March 18th, 2013, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The next-gen iPad mini could be that much spiffier as well as arrive with a Retina Display screen.

Per CNYes and Macotakara, Apple is reportedly planning to ship 55 million iPad mini units in calendar 2013.

But Apple has also reportedly cut its shipment projections for its full-size 9.7-inch iPad, the report said, from 60 million units to 33 million. In all, Apple is rumored to have revised its expected iPad shipments downward from 100 million to 88 million.

Those numbers are identical to what was reported by the NPD Group in February, which claimed that full-size iPad sales “collapsed” in January. It’s expected that the 7.9-inch iPad mini will become the market leader this year, cannibalizing sales of the 9.7-inch iPad.

Monday’s report also indicated that Apple is planning to debut a new fifth-generation iPad with a redesigned aluminum alloy metal chassis. It’s expected that the new hardware will feature the a design similar to the iPad mini, with a thinner bezel and lighter frame.

But the report suggested that Apple is likely to face yield problems with its sixth-generation full-size iPad, much like the company saw in ramping up production of the iPad mini last year.

If Apple does launch new iPads in the third quarter of this year, it would be later than recent predictions have stated.

Prior to 2012, the iPad was updated by Apple on an annual refresh cycle. But late last year, the company surprised by launching the fourth-generation iPad about six months after the third-generation model debuted. The hardware was upgraded to an A6X processor and added the new, smaller Lightning port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for Smart Cover wireless charging system

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Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Patents

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It’s sort of a weird patent application, but apparently it’s been pushed through.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Thursday published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top:

The method as recited in claim 10, the method further comprising: determining that the tablet device is positioned relative to a flat surface at a viewing angle; and enabling a second wireless power receiver circuit only when it is determined that the tablet device is in the portable mode and is positioned relative to the flat surface at the viewing angle and the tablet device is configured to present video by the display. An apparatus for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: means for determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; means for enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and means for wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

13. The apparatus as recited in claim 12, the tablet device further comprising; a battery; a display; and a sensor arranged to detect an external stimulus only when the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the display.

The system described in the patent would be similar to wireless charging systems already available on the market, something that Apple’s Phil Schiller recently described as “more complicated” than Apple’s current solution:

As for wireless charging, Schiller notes that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.