Xbox One to feature improved iOS device, SmartGlass integration

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Date: Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013, 06:25
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Microsoft announced its upcoming Xbox One console yesterday.

And threw in some interesting iOS cooperation with it.

Per Mac|Life and Wired, Microsoft’s new gaming console will be “fully integrated” with Xbox’s SmartGlass application, thus allowing users of iPhones and iPads to connect seamlessly with the next generation of Microsoft’s popular console series.


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Introduced last year and allegedly downloaded by over 10 million people, SmartGlass currently allows users to interact with their Xbox 360 consoles in a number of limited ways, such as using the iPhone’s keyboard to type onscreen (a significant improvement over the hunt-and-peck nature of gamepad-based input), watching videos, and navigating menus.

Currently, it’s not too clear what Microsoft’s “fully integrated” service entails. Future versions of SmartGlass will apparently let users turn their iPhones or iPads into a “skeuomorphic remote control, able to emulate any other control device.” The Xbox One will also supposedly allow more devices to connect at once for multiplayer and shared experiences”.

Further details are expected to be revealed at this year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles from June 11-13.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

UPS for iPad app goes live, now available in App Store

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Date: Friday, May 17th, 2013, 06:05
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

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You’ve gotta admit…a UPS app for the iPad sounds attractive.

Per 9to5Mac, UPS announced on Thursday that the company is finally rolling out its native UPS for iPad app that brings the ability to track and schedule deliveries as well as access to features of UPS My Choice® and enhanced mapping features.

The app offers the following functions without having to log in:
– Track packages and freight shipments.

– Save up to 5 tracking numbers in your tracking list.

– See the current location of your package on a map.

– Find UPS service locations via GPS.

When you log in, you can also:
– Sync your recent tracks from ups.com.

– Nickname tracked shipments.

– Enroll in UPS My Choice.

– Use UPS My Choice to take action on your incoming deliveries.

– Set your delivery preferences.

The UPS for iPad app requires an iPad running iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the app and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Google to launch Maps for iPad, incorporate additional features, this summer

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Date: Thursday, May 16th, 2013, 06:33
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

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There’s some cool stuff coming out of Google I/O 2013 and this is no exception.

Per Android Central, Google has announced that new features will be coming to the Google Maps for iPhone later this summer and, what’s more, it’ll be getting an iPad-specific interface as well.

Albeit unconfirmed at this point, the new version could also incorporate Google’s new five-point rating system, integrated Google Offers, and more.

Also interesting, Google Maps in the browser will be using WebGL, which could be interesting depending on how it’s implemented.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AppleCare, AppleCare+ to undergo significant changes this fall, feature updated warranty policies, in-store iOS device repairs

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Date: Monday, May 13th, 2013, 03:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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You’re going to see some changes in AppleCare this fall.

Per AppleInsider, in a town hall session held on Thursday, Apple informed tech staff that major changes to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ service programs will be enacted starting this fall, with a broadening of current policies likely to cut costs and make the service more attractive to consumers.

The town hall session was led by Apple Vice President Tara Bunch, who revealed a set of after-sales policy shifts would soon be rolling out across the U.S., and eventually the world, with many of the changes referred to under the “One Apple” brand, said a source close to the story. While Bunch was referred to as Vice President of AppleCare, AppleInsider cannot confirm this assertion. On her LinkedIn page, Bunch lists her current job as simply “Vice President at Apple,” but it is known that she was previously vice president of Global Customer Support Operations at Hewlett-Packard prior to joining Apple in 2012.

As for the “One Apple” moniker, it is unclear if the term is an internal designation for the vast restructuring about to take place, or is intended to become a consumer mark once the new changes are in place.

“The biggest announcement, was the way repairs for iPhones will be handled soon,” the person, who asked not to be identified due to their active status as an Apple employee, told reporters. “The way it is now, if almost anything is wrong with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the entire device is exchanged for a like-new re manufactured (sic) device, whether brought into an apple store or sent in for mail in repair. Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer.”

Currently, Apple Stores have the tools to replace speakers, receivers, home buttons, the vibrator motor and battery. Come June, capabilities will be expanded to display replacement, and by July cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards will be dealt with in-store. In addition, employees will have access to advanced diagnostics tools that can remotely assess hardware issues and relay the data directly to technicians, allowing for quicker turnaround times.

The new in-house repairs are to be rolled out across the U.S., with international support coming online soon thereafter. Bunch reportedly said Apple expects to save nearly US$1 billion per year with the change in policy.

In another huge departure, Apple will reportedly reconfigure its paid AppleCare service as a subscription model, or introduce a new tier, which will be attached to a customer rather than a specific product. Under the proposed system, a customer is entitled to in-store training similar to the One to One program available to new Mac buyers, with each device owned being covered by the warranty. The new AppleCare may also include “exclusive” 24/7 support, though that has not been confirmed as a full set of features and pricing is not yet etched in stone.

Gratis after-sales coverage is also slated for an update, and will move over to a new system where phone support will persist for at least an entire year, with possible two-year support offered in the future. Apple currently offers 90 days of free phone support without buying the add-on AppleCare plan. Online support, knowledge base articles, online live chats and Genius Bar visits will continue to be free.

Apple is also looking to grow its home advisor team, which currently consists of over 4,200 technical advisors who work from home instead of an office, approximately double the number from one year ago. The program is meant to cut overhead costs and provide for a larger pool of potential employees.

Finally, the source said Apple’s online resources will see an overhaul in the coming months as the company is working to expand its current offerings to include support over iMessage and a revamp of the Support Pages website, which is expected to focus on interactive tutorials and video content. Unsurprisingly, the Web-based enhancements will be optimized for both computer and iOS device perusal.

In addition, Apple personnel will begin to take a more active role in the discussion boards, helping to answer questions, consolidating threads and performing general maintenance.

Most of the changes mentioned above will roll out by fall if all goes according to plan.

The source briefed on Apple’s upcoming changes pointed out that in-store repairs would also be a plus for those customers whose products are no longer under warranty. Instead of paying a universal “swap out” fee, out of warranty hardware issues will be fixed on a per device basis. Apple has reportedly deployed advanced in-store repairs at select locations, with customer response being largely positive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Retina Display production for iPad mini to begin in June/July, LG to be primary supplier for screens

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 06:47
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

The facts are trickling in slowly but steadily, even though we’re still in rumor territory…

Per CNET and The Mac Observer, Apple will start up production on the Retina Display version of the iPad mini in June or July, according to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim. He also said the displays for the new iPad mini will come from LG and not Samsung.

“Samsung is currently not in the iPad Mini and they won’t be in the next generation. LGD is becoming a much bigger supplier than before,” Mr. Shim told CNET.

He said the new model will sport a 2048 x 1536 resolution 7.9-inch display, which is on par with the iPhone 5’s resolution. That also puts the display at the high end of what our eye can discern for resolution improvements.

“We’re going to start to see a bunch of tablets with a pixel density over 300,” he said. “At a certain point it will be hard to discern that improved image quality.”

If so, a June production window would accommodate a September Retina Display iPad mini product launch, which probably aligns with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comment that there won’t be any big product announcements until fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Retina Display for second-gen iPad mini looking more likely, NPD DisplaySearch cited

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Date: Monday, May 6th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

It looks like the rumor is coming closer to fruition.

Per CNET, Apple’s iPad Mini will get a refresh in the third quarter with a Retina display, NPD DisplaySearch predicted late Sunday.

This is an update to information that DisplaySearch provided earlier Sunday.
“We see two refreshes coming. One in the second half of this year, then one in Q1 [first quarter] of 2014,” analyst Richard Shim stated late Sunday night.

“The Q1 [2014] device will have a Retina display plus an updated processor,” Shim added.

Earlier Sunday night, NPD stated that the first iPad Mini with a Retina display would appear in the first quarter of 2014. That will actually be the second refresh, according to NPD’s updated prediction.

It’s not clear yet which display technology will be used. One of the candidates is LTPS, or low-temperature polysilicon — the same technology used in the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 to arrive with additional power-user features, iOS elements

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 29th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Rumor, Software

The feature rumors about OS X 10.9 have begun.

Per 9to5Mac, the upcoming operating system, which is internally codenamed “Cabernet,” will focus on various “power-user” enhancements and take core features from iOS, according to sources. Unlike operating system updates such as OS X Leopard and OS X Lion, OS X 10.9 will likely not be an overhauled approach to how the operating system feels and functions.


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The new operating system is purported to include major enhancements to the Finder application such as tags and tabbed browsing modes. Those additions are notable as many pro-users have relied on third-party solutions and hacks to enable these features. Additionally, the new operating system will include a new Safari web browser with a redesigned backend for improved page loading, speed, and efficiency…

Third-party TotalFinder tool:
The ability to keep a different “Space” or full-screen app open on a different monitor (in multiple monitor setups) is another important power-user feature coming in 10.9. This feature was forecasted by Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi last year.

In October, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi became involved in an e-mail exchange in which a user complained about the lack of proper multi-monitor support in OS X Mountain Lion. The Apple executive said that Apple is “absolutely aware of [its] customers’ passion on this topic,” according to the e-mail exchange.

OS X 10.9 will also apparently see some user-interface changes, but the changes will not be drastic ones.

The upcoming operating system is said to incorporate some level of Siri functionality, but it is unclear if full Siri-support is still in the cards for OS X 10.9 or if the functionality will be glued to future hardware updates (for instance, iPhone 4 versus iPhone 4S). The shake-up at the top of Apple’s overall software group shifted around multiple iOS and OS X projects, so anything on the roadmap prior to this shakeup could have been altered, according to a person familiar with the situation.

OS X Mountain Lion added many app-based features from iOS, such as Messages, Notes/Reminders, Game Center, and AirPlay, but the additions in OS X 10.9 from iOS will focus more on system fundamentals. According to one source, Apple has been testing a new multi-tasking system for OS X that is similar to the quick-app-switcher function on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. The multitasking feature will be functional for applications in the background, according to this person. Additionally, Apple could use app-pausing technologies from iOS to pause background application processes in OS X. This is significant as full performance could be given to foreground apps, which could help optimize battery life on Apple’s notebook computers. It is unclear if this feature will make the cut for 10.9′s public release.

Apple will also likely announce Xcode 5.0 later this year. Apple’s new version of its developer app suite is said to be redesigned and include improved application testing tools. Perhaps hinting at this is Apple’s own WWDC press release:

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Apple’s last two operating systems shipped in the summer, which suggests it is likely that 10.9 will also see a summer release. OS X 10.9 was originally scheduled to be previewed earlier this year, but Apple decided to introduce the operating system alongside iOS 7 at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. Recent rumors have indicated that Apple moved resources away from OS X 10.9 development in order to focus on iOS 7. This likely contributed to Apple moving back the next OS X’s debut.

As previously noted, the operating system seems to have already been fairly widely distributed inside Apple, based on views to the 9to5Mac web site with computers running OS X 10.9.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple reports Q2 2013 profit of $9.5 billion, revenues of $34.6 billion

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 14:50
Category: Finance, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News

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It’s 18% lower than it was last year, but it’s still US$9.5 billion in the bank…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday said second quarter profits fell roughly 18% to US$9.5 billion — or US$10.09 per diluted share — despite record second quarter sales of US$43.6 billion — the first year-over-year decline in earnings for the one-time tech darling in nearly a decade.

The results for the three-month period ended March 30, 2013 compare to revenue of US$39.2 billion and net profit of US$11.6 billion, or US$12.30 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 37.5 percent, approximately 100 basis points lower than the 47.4 percent reported in the year-ago quarter, as consumers gravitated to more affordable, lower-margin products like the iPad mini.

During the quarter, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones and 19.5 million iPads, compared to 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads in the year-ago quarter. The company also said it sold just under 4 million Macs, compared to 4 million in the year-ago quarter. Overall, international sales accounted for 66 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We are pleased to report record March quarter revenue thanks to continued strong performance of iPhone and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”

Looking ahead to the current June quarter, Apple provided following guidance:
– Revenue between US$33.5 billion and US$35.5 billion.

– Gross margin between 36 percent and 37 percent.

– Operating expenses between US$3.85 billion and US$3.95 billion.

– Other income/(expense) of US$300 million

– Tax rate of 26%.

“Our cash generation remains very strong, with $12.5 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter and an ending cash balance of $145 billion,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

For Apple, Tuesday’s results mark the first year-over-year decline in profits since the first quarter of 2003 when the “early 2000s recession” began to set in stateside.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Purported images of next-gen iPhone camera leaked

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve gotta admit, Apple doesn’t let people down when it comes to its built-in cameras.

Per French Web site NoWhereElse.fr, a leaked image purporting to show off a camera component and another piece of a supposed “iPhone 5S” have hit the Internet, fanning the rumors that Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone 5 is on deck.

One of the components featured in the supposed leak is what appears to be a front-facing camera, similar in appearance to the one built in to the iPhone 5. The serial number shown on the “leaked” part is similar to the one seen on the iPhone 5 part, notes NoWhereElse.fr. The flexible portion where the component connects to a motherboard, though, is apparently quite different from the one seen on the iPhone 5 component.


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Friday’s report also brought images of another supposed component, though its function is unclear.

The same site previously leaked components that went into Apple’s new Lightning connector, and the site has shown off other parts said to be from an “iPhone 5S” or an “iPhone 6,” as well as a supposed cover glass surface from a fifth-generation iPad.

The new images appear to add to the rumors that Apple will bring a rapid follow-up to its iPhone 5, iPad, and iPad mini, and possibly introduce a lower-cost iPhone model in the near future. Currently, rumors have the Cupertino company releasing new devices some time over the summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.