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

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

googlelogo.jpg

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

Posted by:
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

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

applelogo_silver

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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.

Rumor: Upcoming Apple television sets to arrive in three sizes, including 32″ and 55″

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:06
Category: Hardware, Rumor

applelogo_silver

It’s the rumors that help make life interesting.

Per Australian web blog SmartHouse, Apple’s full-fledged television set will arrive at the end of 2012 in three screen sizes, maxing out at 55 inches, a new rumor claims.

Citing sources in Japan, the web site reported this week that the new Apple television will also come in an entry-level size of 32 inches. It did not indicate exactly what screen size the third model would feature, falling somewhere between the low end with 32 inches and maximum size of 55 inches.

The report said it’s a “major Japanese company” that’s involved in manufacturing Apple’s rumored television set. Echoing previous claims, the report said that the Apple television will feature Siri integration, allowing users to control the TV set with their voice.

Powering the rumored television will be a new processor expected to debut in Apple’s third-generation iPad, which the publication said will arrive “midway through 2012.” Presumably that processor will be an “A6″ custom-built ARM-based CPU.

Apple’s anticipated high-end 55-inch model is expected to compete with “smart TVs” from established television makers like Samsung and LG. Those companies’ next-generation TV sets are expected to have new features like faster processors, a “combination of OLED display,” and “Super HD” from LG, the report said.

Rumors of an Apple television set have picked up steam since the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. In that book, Jobs hinted to biographer Walter Isaacson that Apple was at work on a completely new device that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Reports have suggested that Apple’s anticipated television set could arrive as early as mid 2012, while others have seen Apple announcing it in late 2012 for an early 2013 sale date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cox TV Connect streaming app goes live in App Store

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 5th, 2011, 11:13
Category: iPad, News, Software

You’re fond of your cable service and you’re fond of your iPad, so maybe it’s time for the two of them to finally tie the knot.

Per Electronista, Cox on Monday rolled out its Live TV streaming app in the form of its free Cox TV Connect for the iPad. As with those from most other cable providers, it lets those with the Apple tablet watch live TV as long as they’re on Wi-Fi paired up with a Cox Internet connection and the right level of TV service. The app has a full programming guide and lets viewers watch through an inset while they check the full guide, or else launches a pop-over to show other currently running shows while minimizing the effect on the full-screen view.

The access isn’t a full range of channels but includes 35 more frequently watched channels, such as AMC, Bravo, History, and Spike.

Anyone who uses the app can get away with watching through at least a Cox TV Essential bundle, but they also need a Preferred, Premier, or Ultimate Internet connection. The app itself requires any iPad that can run at least iOS 4.3. No mention has been made of Android or iPhone ports.

As with most such services, the in-home requirement is likely to appease TV producers that see tablet TV as a second use, even if it’s the same feed. Viacom has tried suing providers like Cablevision, even for service within the home.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve tried the app on your end, please let us know how it went in the comments.

Rumor: Microsoft may ship Windows 8 public beta in late February

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2011, 05:27
Category: Rumor, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

Windows 8: It’s on its way, though it might take a little while to get here.

Per TNW, Microsoft’s Windows 8 public beta might have been moved further into the year. A rumor from “sources close to Microsoft” has the release tentatively slated for late February, more than a month after the CES expo intro hinted earlier. It’s not known if this was a delay or always part of the schedule.

The developer preview version released in September was in a rough state, missing e-mail and otherwise being in a state only really suitable for third-party app testing. A beta is defined as feature-complete, however, and it’s likely that any delays might be to polish the release for regular users.

A public beta so late would rule out an April release to manufacturing. Microsoft always produces at least one release candidate build and rarely turns so quickly. Talk of a June or later completion date and a second-half 2012 release are more likely.

If true, the timing could create problems for Windows 8 and Microsoft’s attempts to reclaim the tablet space. The first truly touch-native Windows tablets may not be on the market until 2.5 years after the iPad, and possibly months after the iPad 3 appears.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.