Rumor: iPad 3 to retain Apple dock connector

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Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 11:10
Category: iPad, Rumor

If there’s one universal constant, it’s the Apple dock connector.

Per Macotakara, new components claimed to be from Apple’s third-generation iPad show continued use of the 30-pin dock connector, potentially dispelling rumors that it would be replaced with a smaller form factor.

The web site ordered a handful of components claimed to be from prototype builds of Apple’s anticipated third-generation iPad. The so-called “replacement parts” purport to be a microphone flex cable ribbon, power on/off flex cable, and dock connector charging port.

The dock connector is the most significant of the trio of components, because the 30-pin port still fits with Apple’s existing iPod cable used on current iPhone, iPad and iPod models. The hands-on look at the part found that the cable sticks slightly shallower into the port, and the connector is shorter than before.

An earlier rumor about the next iPad’s dock connector surfaced in October from the same website, suggesting Apple’s third-generation iPad would feature a new, smaller dock connector. It was then claimed that the port would include the same 30-pin input and electricity specification internally, but it would be redesigned and smaller on the outside.

The current 30-pin dock connector was first introduced in Apple’s iPod lineup back in April of 2003. It has been largely unchanged ever since, and Apple has even managed to squeeze the port onto its diminutive touchscreen iPod nano.

As for the other alleged third-generation iPad components, the power on/off flex cable includes a power button, rotation lock button, and volume button, suggesting all of those hardware features will be retained in the next iPad. The microphone flex cable is also said to be redesigned from the iPad 2.

The parts were obtained from reseller TVC-Mall.com, which gained attention earlier this month when it was found to be selling the microphone flex cable ribbon replacement. Because the part shows a different arrangement in internal circuitry than with the iPad 2, it led to speculation that the internal components of a so-called “iPad 3″ may feature a significant redesign.

The first purported iPad 3 part surfaced in July, and it too hinted at material design changes with the next-generation tablet, at least internally, due to different part numbers on a hardware component.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing specialized CPUs for HDTV units

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 09:17
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

When in doubt, roll your own.

Per DigiTimes, rather than utilize off-the-shelf chips from a company such as Intel, Apple is expected to use its own custom-built chips like in the iPhone and iPad for its anticipated television set.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Siliconware Precision Industries are three companies expected to bid on orders with Apple. The companies could build custom ARM-based chips to power an Apple television, much like the A4 CPU, first released in the iPad in 2010, is found in the current Apple TV set-top box.

Apple is said to have already signed a foundry agreement with TSMC earlier this year, utilizing its 28nm and 20nm process technologies. That deal was said to be for next-generation “A6″ and “A7″ processors for the iPhone and iPad, but it’s possible an Apple television could also utilize the advanced chips.

In addition to featuring custom chips, the Apple television is also expected to be assembled by Foxconn Electronics, industry sources reportedly said. Foxconn already builds most of Apple’s devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

The report said Apple is expected to finalize the hardware standards for its television set at the end of the second quarter of 2012. After that, it will place orders for customized chips and other components directly with its contract manufacturers. That’s the same approach Apple uses to build its iPad and iPhone lineups.

The Taiwan electronics industry publication once again pegged the Apple television for launch by the end of 2012. On Tuesday, DigiTimes also said that suppliers are expected to begin preparing components for the anticipated HDTV in the first quarter of 2012, and that it will have screen sizes of 32 and 37 inches.

Earlier reports also claimed that Apple will buy chips from Samsung for its television set, while Sharp is expected to manufacture displays. As for content, analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said earlier Wednesday that Apple is hoping to offer Internet-based content subscriptions that will allow customers to choose their own custom channel lineups, offering an experience very different from current cable and satellite plans.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Interference testing casts doubt on whether iPads, Kindles actually cause significant interference for air travel

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Date: Monday, December 26th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPad, News

There may be less of an actual reason to keep your devices off during a flight.

Per Electronista, both an Amazon Kindle and a Sony voice recorder tested around 30 microvolts, or well under the 100 volts per meter limit the FAA demands. While iPads weren’t measured, they too would be well under the limit.

FAA arguments that many more devices would cause dramatically more interference also didn’t hold up. CSI Telecommunications head engineer Bill Ruck noted that interference doesn’t scale directly and slows down as the number of devices goes up. If a full cabin interfered with an airplane, no one could safely enter an office building “without wearing protective gear,” EMT labs testing lead Kevin Bothmann said.

A Boeing engineer that co-authored a 2006 FAA report that enforced the device bans during takeoff and landing acknowledged that at least some devices, such as the voice recorder, didn’t cause interference. No explanation has been given directly responding to the challenges, however.

The new study isn’t definitive proof of a lack of issues. It may still point to the FAA rules being based more on stereotypes and early reactions than actual knowledge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google’s Schmidt hints at “highest quality” tablet within six months

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Date: Monday, December 19th, 2011, 10:00
Category: Hardware, News

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Where there’s money to be made, there shall be competition.

Per Electronista, Google chairman Eric Schmidt in an interview with Italy’s Corriere Della Sera raised the prospect of a Nexus tablet. The search firm planned to sell a tablet of the “highest quality” within six months’ time. He didn’t mention the Nexus label by name, but Google usually hasn’t marketed anyone else’s tablet itself, even for the reference Xoom.

The timing is such that it would nearly dovetail with plans for Google I/O in June. Google regularly gives away a free device at Google I/O to attendees of the developer-focused show, usually to showcase a new OS. Tips have hinted it might have release Jelly Bean, possibly Android 4.5 or 5.0, at or by the event.

A reference tablet would be an admission that Android tablets may be headed in the same direction as smartphones, where the stock interface becomes the rarity rather than the norm. Most Android 3 tablets launched in 2011 have used the stock interface, but later models and post-launch updates have customized the interface and both guaranteed delayed updates as well as clouded the ability to see the official Google experience.

The tablet would likely be made by a partner like HTC, Motorola, or Samsung, but it would still represent Google co-designing a direct competitor to both other Android partners and to Apple’s iPad.

In other comments, Schmidt wouldn’t comment on the rumored Majel voice command system, saying he wouldn’t comment on future, unannounced products. He insisted Google has long had the “best” voice dictation system and could use it to do things similar to Apple’s Siri. The iPhone 4S-based system has been touted as better since it understands context, follow-ups, and indirect questions where Android’s system is limited to specific syntax.

Thus far, Apple’s been able to dominate the tablet market, so the next year should prove interesting. Let us know what you make of this and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to release 7-inch iPad in 2012

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Date: Friday, December 16th, 2011, 05:38
Category: iPad, Rumor

If there’s a rumor, there must be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Asian supply chain sources are now claiming Apple will release a 7.85-inch iPad by the fourth quarter of 2012 to face off against competition from smaller tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The web site claimed on Friday that Apple is “likely” to launch a smaller iPad several months after the next-generation iPad, which is expected to arrive at the end of the first quarter.

“In order to cope with increasing market competition including the 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon and the launch of large-size smartphones from handset vendors, Apple has been persuaded into the development of 7.85-inch iPads,” the report noted sources as saying.

Apple will allegedly purchase the 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics, with makers within the company’s supply chain expected to begin production of the smaller iPad at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

The report should, however, be taken with some degree of skepticism, as the Taiwanese industry publication has a mixed track record with Apple predictions.

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad were supposedly laid to rest when late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs proclaimed such a screen to be “too small to express the software.” However, reports of the device were resurrected this fall after the announcement of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which some have touted as the first credible challenger to the iPad.

Ticonderoga securities analyst Brian White claimed in October that he had heard rumblings of a so-called “iPad mini” arriving next year, though he believed the device would be cheaper and not necessarily smaller. Also in October, DigiTimes reported that suppliers were gearing up to ship 7.85-inch screens to Apple.

For its part, Amazon may not even stick with the 7-inch size for its Kindle Fire. Recent reports have suggested that the company is looking to expand to an 8.9-inch model. The Fire does appear to be on its way to success, as Amazon revealed on Thursday that millions of the device had been sold, though it declined to provide specific figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to purchase Israeli flash memory company Anobit

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Date: Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 06:49
Category: Finance, Rumor

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When Apple ponders buying something, it’s worth paying attention to.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is planning to spend between US$400 million and US$500 million to buy Anobit, an Israel-based flash memory company, according to a new report.

Citing a Hebrew-language report, TechCrunch relayed on Tuesday that Apple plans to acquire the 200-employee Israeli fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage. If the deal comes to pass, it’s believed to be the first acquisition for Apple with Tim Cook at the helm as CEO.

“Anobit provides flash storage solutions for enterprise and mobile markets, based on its proprietary MSP (which stands for ‘Memory Signal Processing’) technology,” the report said. “Its solutions are designed to improve the speed, endurance and performance of flash systems while driving down the cost. Anobit’s technology is comprised of signal processing algorithms that compensate for physical limitations of NAND flash, the company claims.”

Apple is believed to already rely on Anobit’s solutions for its flash-based products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. Of the most interest to Apple is said to be Anobit’s MSP20xx embedded flash controllers for mobile devices.

Apple has used its massive cash hoard to strategically invest in components and acquire companies that will give it a leg up on the competition. In 2005, Apple inked a major flash memory deal with Samsung, allowing Apple to build products with NAND flash including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

The company made a similar deal earlier this year, when Cook revealed that Apple had committed US$3.9 billion to secret, long-term component contracts. Cook said the deals were a “fantastic” use of the company’s cash reserves, but declined to say what components Apple had secured, citing competitive reasons.

If Tuesday’s report is accurate, it would be a rare hardware-based acquisition for Apple. The company’s last major buyout of a hardware company came in 2008, when Apple bought P.A. Semi for US$278 million, paving the way for it to build custom ARM-based chips for the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 beta 2, incorporates Photo Stream fix

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Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 12:18
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s the betas that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday provided developers with a second beta of iOS 5.1, with the latest update granting the ability to delete individual photos synced to the iCloud Photo Stream feature.

The latest beta is now available to members of the iOS developer program. Sources familiar with beta 2 said one of the newest additions automatically deletes pictures from Photo Stream when they are deleted from the iPhone.

Currently, pictures taken on an iOS device are automatically synced with the Photo Stream feature of Apple’s iCloud. But if a user deletes a picture from their iPhone, it is not removed from iCloud. Instead, users must unsync their entire photo library in order to remove an uploaded photo.

Those same people said that the latest beta of iOS 5.1 is known as build 9B5127c. Some issues do reportedly remain with the pre-release software, including freezes related to Setup Assistant and the shake-to-shuffle feature in the iOS music player.

iOS 5.1 beta 2 is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and stands as an 801MB download. A new beta firmware for the Apple TV was also issued Monday, and allows developers to test iOS 5.1 applications with AirPlay on the set-top box.

The first beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers in late November. It included references to a next-generation iPhone, labeled “iPhone5,1,” as well as third-generation iPad models, “iPad3,2″ and “iPad3,3.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tekkeon introduces MP1580 battery pack, allows external charging of iOS, other USB-charging devices

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Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 05:39
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

This could be useful.

Per iLounge, Tekkeon has introduced its new TekCharge MP1580 battery pack for the iPod, iPhone, and other USB-charging devices. The MP1580 offers the ability to charge devices using between two and four AA batteries, and serves as a charging station for rechargeable NiMH or lithium cells. Other features include an inline voltage regulator to ensure safe charging, a built-in USB slot for connecting charging cables, and an external charge indicator.

The TekCharge MP1580 is available now and retails for US$25.

Rumor: Third-generation iPad to arrive in February

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Date: Friday, December 9th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPad, Rumor

You’ve got to admit this: The rumor mill never stops churning.

Per Business Insider, Citigroup has stated that Apple’s next-generation tablet device is on schedule for a February, 2012 launch.

In a research note released on Thursday, Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner says that Apple will be ready to debut the next iteration of the company’s hugely successful tablet as early as February.

Gardner notes that sources within Apple’s Asian supply chain have seen increased iPad parts orders for the March quarter, attributing the ramp-up to the “launch of a new iPad with double the screen resolution on the current model.”

The analyst cites several sources who have confirmed the early 2012 launch, and notes that “there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining” to meet a February release date.

Rumors have been swirling as to when an anticipated “Retina Display” iPad will break cover, with some alleging that Apple has seen technical setbacks in combining high-resolution panels with LED backlighting. Reports have claimed that the company will employ a dual-LED lighting system to overcome brightness issues seen by the high-dpi displays, which a November rumor indicated as possibly being IGZO panels sourced from Sharp.

The most recent rumors have come from an Asian supplier saying that the new tablet will sport a thicker case design than the iPad 2, but will retain the same 9.7-inch screen size allowing it to be compatible with existing Smart Covers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Third-generation iPad to be slightly thicker, retain same screen size

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Date: Thursday, December 8th, 2011, 05:47
Category: iPad, Rumor

There’s a bit of truth to every rumor.

Per Macotakara, Apple’s third-generation iPad will be slightly thicker than the iPad 2, but will have the same 9.7-inch screen size, and will continue to support the magnetic Smart Cover.

Citing an Asian supplier who is allegedly crafting components for Apple’s next iPad, Japanese blog Macotakara reported on Wednesday that the next iPad may be thicker for an “unknown reason.” That means third-party cases that cover the back side of the device will not be compatible with the next iPad.

However, Apple’s first-party magnetic Smart Covers will remain compatible with the third-generation iPad, the source reportedly said. That’s because the new iPad, despite being slightly thicker, will have the same rounded side as the iPad 2.

In addition, two back covers (1, 2) claimed to be from prototype iPad hardware are available for sale on the global commerce site Alibaba.com. The plain aluminum backs do not show an Apple logo.

One reason for a thicker frame on the third-generation iPad could be the components necessary to include a high-resolution Retina Display. Numerous rumors have pointed toward Apple increasing the screen resolution of its iPad with a new model anticipated in 2012.

Apple introduced the Retina Display branding with the iPhone 4 starting in 2010. By packing more pixels onto the same screen size, Apple has boasted that the individual pixels are so small that they cannot be distinguished by the human eye.

In order to include a Retina Display, Apple may adopt entirely new display technology. One report in November suggested Apple would use IGZO displays from Sharp to reach a 330 dots-per-inch screen resolution. But that report claimed the IGZO display would also allow for a future iPad to be thinner, not thicker.

Other reports, however, claimed that Apple would utilize a dual-LED light bar system to illuminate the Retina Display of a third-generation iPad. Apple’s apparent difficulties with the higher resolution displays and new LED backlight designs were said to have already affected the launch schedule of the next iPad.

Some of the confusion surrounding the next iPad coming from Apple’s supply chain could be explained by a report from early November, which alleged that Apple has tasked its suppliers with the development of two tablet projects, code-named “J1″ and “J2.” Both of the new models were said to have different sizes, specifications and technologies from the current-generation iPad 2.

As always, stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.