Recent Xcode references point towards quad-core ARM CPUs for future iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

While Apple may not always tell you what hardware features are on the horizon where its iOS devices are concerned, the development tools can spill the beans.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, a number of references found inside Apple’s Xcode developer tool point towards quad-core ARM CPUs, hinting at next-generation processors that will power Apple’s future iPhones and iPads.

The references specifically point towards the idea that Apple recently added support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.

Author Chris Foresman concluded that it’s “most probable” that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototype versions of future iPhones and iPads. The existing chip could serve as a placeholder while Apple works on its own custom-built next-generation processors.

Reports have indicated that Apple’s next anticipated ARM CPU, dubbed “A6,” will be built on a 28-nanometer process and use 3D stacking technology. There has been no mention of a quad-core ARM CPU from Apple in 2012. The A5 CPU found in the iPad 2 is a dual core processor.

It’s also possible that the Xcode references signal that Apple will begin using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air, something that Apple has been rumored to be testing in its internal labs. However, Foresman noted that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors are built on an advanced 22-nanometer process that will boost performance and reduce battery life, while ditching Intel would require developers to recompile Mac OS X software for ARM-based Macs.

Apple’s so-called “A6″ CPU is believed to be in trial production for a 2012 launch, presumably in a third-generation iPad. The company is believed to have even signed a new foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build an “A7″ CPU, which would be projected to debut in devices in 2013.

Apple began designing its own chips following the acquisition of boutique microprocessor design company P.A. Semi in 2008 for US$278 million. Then in 2010, Apple acquired Intrinsity, another chipmaker, for an estimated $121 million.

Apple’s custom chips debuted last year in the first-generation iPad, in the form of the A4 processor. That same chip later appeared in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, while the A5 debuted this March in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.2 build 11C62 to developer community, includes additional iCloud tools

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 06:05
Category: News, Software

System updates: they’re a good thing.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple has released a new beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied to developers on Thursday with no known issues.

The latest build, coined “11C62″, and weighs in at 740.2MB in its delta form. It comes less than a week after the last beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied for testing.

The latest Lion betas have included iCloud integration, while previous builds required that developers download a separate installer to test Apple’s forthcoming syncing and storage service.

The new beta comes the same day that Apple has warned developers it will reset all iCloud data. The reset is being done in preparation for the launch of the new free service.

Apple has not officially announced a specific release date for iCloud, and instead revealed in June that the service will become available this fall. It will store content such as photos, e-mail and contacts, and wirelessly push it to devices, including Macs, iPhones and iPads.

People familiar with the beta issued on Thursday said the latest build again has no known issues. The focus areas are said to remain the same as they were previously, and include Address Book, Graphics Drivers, iCal, iChat, iCloud, the Mac App Store, Mail, MobileMe, Safari, Spotlight and Time Machine.

Mac OS X 10.7.2 will likely be released when iCloud and iOS 5 are made available to the public. They are expected to be released at an event rumored to be scheduled for Oct. 4, where Apple is also expected to introduce its fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins ordering NAND Flash memory from alternate vendors, works to curb reliance on Samsung

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 03:42
Category: Finance, News, retail

applelogo_silver

When in doubt, find another supplier.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is increasing purchases of flash memory from Japanese suppliers in an effort to scale back its dependance on Samsung for components, as the two companies continue their legal dispute.

DigiTimes on Thursday cited industry sources as saying that Apple has tapped Toshiba and Elpida Memory for orders of DRAM and NAND flash.

“Apple has moved to reduce its reliance on memory supplies from Samsung Electronics, the sources claimed,” the report read. “The vendor has procured more NAND flash parts from Toshiba, and mobile RAM from Elpida, the sources indicated.”

The tipsters also suggested that the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung has been “key to encouraging” Apple to broaden its supplier base. According to the report, the Korean electronics giant has been the largest component supplier for Apple’s products in the past.

Last week, reports emerged that Apple had signed a foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to manufacture the next two generations of Apple processors. The deal has been viewed as a significant blow to Samsung, which was contracted to produce the A4 and A5 chips used to power Apple’s iOS devices.

Apple is slated to be Samsung’s largest customer this year with a projected US$7.8 billion in parts, up from US$5.7 billion in 2010. The company has become the world’s largest consumer of memory chips in recent years as it incorporated flash storage into its products.

In 2005, Apple revealed that it had reached agreements with several flash suppliers, including Samsung, to pre-pay more than US$1 billion to guarantee flash shipments through 2010. Earlier this year, then COO Tim Cook called the deal a “fantastic use of Apple’s cash.”

For its part, Samsung currently boasts a more than 40 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market and a 30 percent share of NAND flash production.

The disagreement between the two companies has heightened in recent months. According to Samsung executives speaking on condition of anonymity, the company is already planning to target the as-yet-unannounced iPhone 5 with patent infringement suits when it arrives in Korea. Another recent report said Samsung will also pursue legal action against Apple’s next-generation handset in Europe.

Recent gains made by Apple in Australia have prompted Samsung to fight back with a countersuit against the iPhone and iPad. Apple also won a permanent ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany earlier this month after a court ruled that Samsung’s tablet looks too similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel quietly mentions 4K support, could introduce higher screen resolutions under upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 06:48
Category: Hardware, News, Software

intellogo.jpg

The Retina Display: it’s never been a bad thing.

Per VR-Zone, Intel quietly revealed last week that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, with up to 4096 x 4096 pixels per monitor, potentially paving the way for Apple to introduce high-resolution “Retina Display” Macs.

The company announced the news during a technical session at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week, as noted by VR-Zone. Ivy Bridge chips will rival competing discrete GPUs by including support for the 4K resolution when they arrive next year.

The company also highlighted a Multi Format Codec (MFX) engine that is capable of playing multiple 4K videos at once. The codec is also capable of handling video processing for 4K QuadHD video, a standard that YouTube began supporting last year.

A set of performance enhancements, with special attention to graphics, should give Ivy Bridge as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current generation of Sandy Bridge chips, according to Intel.

Intel also revealed last week that Ivy Bridge chips will include support for Apple’s OpenCL standard, which should give a performance boost to next-generation MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models when they arrive in 2012.

If Apple were to introduce a 4K resolution display with the 16:9 ratio currently used in its Thunderbolt Display, iMac and MacBook Air products, the resulting resolution would be 4096 x 2304. A 27-inch display with 4K resolution would sport a pixel density of 174 pixels per inch. Assuming a working distance of 24 inches and 20/20 vision for the calculations, a 4K 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt display would count as a “Retina Display.”

Apple first began using the “Retina Display” marketing term with the iPhone 4 last year. Then CEO Steve Jobs touted the 326ppi display as being beyond the capabilities of the human retina when used at a distance of 12 or more inches from the eyes.

In September 2010, the company released a Retina Display iPod touch. Rumors have also swirled that Apple will follow suit with a high-resolution version of the third-generation iPad, doubling the resolution of the tablet to 2048 x 1536.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kazaa resurfaces in iOS form, service recrafted as subscription-based music service

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 05:04
Category: News, Software

It’s usually a better idea to run things above the board.

Per iPodNN, former filesharing service Kazaa has released an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The app allows subscribers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee. It can download songs and save playlists for offline listening. The Kazaa app also provides a social media function that shows subscribers what songs their friends are listening to or recommend.

Earlier this year, Kazaa was encouraging iPad and iPhone owners to use its browser-based service, possibly to avoid the App Store’s 30 percent royalty on purchases.

In its first incarnation, Kazaa was the largest peer-to-peer network in the world. It was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of the four major US record labels. Kazaa settled the case five years ago for US$100 million and reinvented itself as a subscription-based digital music service.

The app (free, App Store) comes with a one week free trial, then changes to a US$10 per month subscription and requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

GoPhone:
AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate thinner, lighter battery design for iPad 3

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 might be a bit lighter than you expected.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple is said to have chosen two suppliers to provide batteries that will be thinner and lighter, but also up to 30 percent more expensive, for its third-generation iPad.

Simply Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both been tapped for the next-generation batteries, according to reports. Both companies are said to currently supply batteries for Apple’s iPad and MacBook lineup.

The report said Apple’s third-generation iPad will be mass-produced in the first quarter of 2012. The device’s battery is said to have been redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

“Furthermore, the new battery pack will also be required to meet CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability, a trend that has been commonly seen nowadays, especially in the U.S.,” the report said.

The new thinner, lighter and safer battery will also reportedly come at a higher price for Apple, costing between 20 percent and 30 percent more than the battery currently found in the iPad 2.

Both Simplo and Dynapack are rumored to begin providing batteries to Apple in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011. That would put the company on track to begin production of the so-called “iPad 3″ soon after, and would also put Simplo and Dynapack in a position to earn record quarterly revenues.

Last month it was said that Apple was already near the trial production phase for its third-generation iPad. The device is expected to have a high-resolution screen, similar to the Retina Display found on the iPhone 4.

That retina display is expected to be provided by three major suppliers in order to meet growing demand for Apple’s iPad lineup. LG Display, Samsung Electronics and Sharp have all been rumored to be in the supply chain for Apple’s next iPad.

Also in August, Apple was said to have e begun trial production of the proprietary A6 mobile processor that’s expected to power the next iPad 3 and, eventually, a sixth-generation iPhone. A previous report from the Taiwan Economic News named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the new manufacturer of the chip, reportedly snagging a role formally filled by Samsung.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip, which is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

parallelslogo1.jpg

Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Rumor: Apple to add remote diagnostic tool in iOS 5.0

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s always nifty when you can get something fixed remotely.

Per the cool cats at HardMac, Apple has allegedly internally announced to its employees that the new remote diagnostic tool has been completed. Presumably, these features could arrive with this fall’s release of iOS 5, the next major upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The entirely online system will be triggered by a special URL sent via e-mail or entered manually. When a user visits the website and agrees, Mobile Safari will conduct internal checks of the system and send that data to Apple’s servers.

To ensure user privacy, the only personal data that will be sent to Apple will include its unique identifier, or UDID, as well as the name of the owner, the report said.

The list of information to be shared by the diagnostic system reportedly includes:
Battery health, including current charge level, amount of time since the last charge, minimum level to which the battery was discharged, iOS version installed and whether the handset was turned off normally the last time.

Apple’s iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is set to be released this fall. It will pack more than 200 new user features, including Notification Center, iMessage, and Newsstand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged white fifth-generation iPod touch component photos surface

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:39
Category: iPod Touch, photos

It’s the leaked parts shots that make things interesting.

Per Technobuffalo, a parts supplier has acquired white-colored parts purportedly for a fifth-generation iPod touch, providing further evidence that Apple is moving forward with a white version of the media player.

iFixDirect claims to have obtained a white front cover for a next-generation iPod touch. Other than the color difference, the alleged part does not show any major changes to the device.

In July, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPod touch would sport few, if any, distinguishable changes from the fourth-generation black models.

Kuo suggested that the iPod touch would not receive a “spec update” this year because Apple is prioritizing supplies of the A5 processor and other components for the iPhone and iPad. Supply and manufacturing constraints have left the Cupertino, Calif., company struggling to keep up with demand for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Also complicating the matter is the fact that the company has pushed the release of the next-generation iPhone past the usual summer timeframe. As such, the arrival of the iPhone 5 this fall will likely overshadow any iPod touch release. Additionally, Apple is reportedly stockpiling supplies for its next handset in anticipation of pent up demand.

Apple last updated the iPod touch in September 2010, adding a Retina Display, front- and rear-facing cameras and the A4 processor.

Evidence in Apple’s own iOS betas also appears to suggest that an iPod touch update is not viewed internally as completely new generation. Recent beta releases of the software contain references to an “iPod 4,2,” implying that the new device will be based on the fourth-generation iPod touch architecture.

A white iPod touch would fall in-line with Apple’s recent strategy of adding a white version of its iOS devices to generate renewed interest. Last year, Apple announced a white version of the iPhone 4, but was forced to delay the product after encountering manufacturing issues. 10 months after the black iPhone 4 was released, Apple finally began selling the white model.

Apple also introduced a white version of the iPad when it launched the second generation of its tablet in March. The company appeared to have resolved any manufacturing or paint issues with, as, unlike the iPhone 4, the white model shipped alongside the black iPad 2 from day one.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.