Apple patent reveals consolidated headphone jacks for upcoming devices

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Date: Monday, August 30th, 2010, 05:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

Per Patently Apple, Apple is looking to develop a new audio input port configuration for the iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. The effort seems to indicate that Apple is working to limit the amount of holes in its devices, because each ”breaches the barrier that protects components inside the housing.”

Apple’s answer is to reduce the hole count by making them multifunctional. It proposes removing the need for a separate microphone aperture by making it part of the socket the headphone jack plugs into. This adds only a couple of milllimetres to the socket length – the mic fits behind the tip of the jack plug. The result: “A microphone can be added to a mobile telephone without the need for an external aperture.”

According to the Apple Core, Apple appears to be considering combining multiple jacks into one smarter jack. It makes sense too. For starters, less holes mean less physical parts to manufacture (and potentially fail) and Apple is already heading down this road with the iPhone 4 which features two microphones and noise cancellation.

The first mic is for phone calls, voice commands and memos. The second mic is for FaceTime calls and for making your calls better.

The other potential direction could take is to use the new port for beamforming — where the audio input of the two microphones is used as an amiable directional input. Patently Apple thinks this could be advantageous for the iPhone in speakerphone mode or video camera mode when projecting or recording a sound source at some distance from the device.

Apple could even do away with invasive “breach” type ports altogether and convert its audio/microphone ports into surface contact ports that attach via a magnet — like the popular MagSafe power adapter found on its MacBook Pro notebooks. I just hope that Apple retains backward compatibility with the millions of 3.5mm stereo headsets that are out there, changing to a new jack entirely would alienate too many customers in one fell swoop.

The patent is credited to Apple employees Shaohai Chen, Phillip Tamchina, Richard Dinh, Jae Lee, Michelle Yu and Adam Mittleman as the inventors of patent application 20100216526.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel purchases Infineon’s wireless unit for $1.4 billion, gains access to new chipsets in deal

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Date: Monday, August 30th, 2010, 04:59
Category: News, wireless

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Processor giant Intel on Monday confirmed its plans to buy Infineon’s wireless division for US$1.4 billion in cash. The deal will see the company’s Wireless Solutions group work as a stand-alone company on Intel’s behalf and will give the company access to both 3G chipsets and a faster path to LTE-based 4G. It plans to use these not only for full-size notebooks but also Atom-based smartphones and tablets.

Per Electronista, Infineon claimed the selloff was a win as it allowed a new focus on car, industrial and security technology. The sale is widely known to be prompted by the company’s struggles with making its wireless section profitable.

The deal should be finished by early 2011.

In an attempt to head off concerns, Intel said the stand-alone nature of the wireless group would let it keep serving existing customers, including those who use ARM chips. Concerns had been raised that the buyout would be used to force Apple to seek alternate suppliers for 3G chipsets in the iPad and iPhone, although the iPhone 4 is exempt as it has switched away.

Intel’s plans are due to come together until 2011, when its Oak Trail platform for Atom chips should be efficient enough to be competitive.

Analyst divulges details as to upcoming Apple TV successor

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

Like the iPhone 4 and iPad, the new Apple TV will run the iOS operating system and be powered by a processor with ARM architecture, and will also have access to the App Store, according to one prominent analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. issued a note to investors Wednesday in which he revealed that sources indicated the “biggest potential change” to the forthcoming Apple TV refresh is the move to an ARM architecture processor running the same iOS software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The current Apple TV hardware relies on an Intel x86-based chip, running a “light” version of Mac OS X and its Front Row software.

Wu also said that the new Apple TV, which some have said will be called the “iTV”, will have access to the App Store, Apple’s digital software download storefront. Like the iPad, the new Apple TV could have access to the iPhone App Store, which offers about a quarter-million options for users, though such functionality is apparently not guaranteed.

“Our sources indicate there is some debate within Apple whether to allow this or not, or to have it run only Apple TV-specific apps,” Wu said. “We believe the ability to run the same apps makes a lot of sense and believe this feature could be enough to drive significantly more volume for Apple TV. We find the potential to run video game apps on a TV set most intriguing, as it has been proven in the marketplace that there is (a) large market for casual gaming at inexpensive prices.”

Wu did not indicate, however, how iPhone or iPad applications would run on a TV set, as those that rely on the touchscreen interface require users to interact with the images on screen. But games that rely on the accelerometer in Apple’s mobile devices would likely be suited for the allegedly forthcoming set top box.

As for reports that Apple is negotiating with networks to offer 99 cent TV show rentals (reaffirmed this week by The New York Times), Wu said such an offering would benefit not only the Apple TV, but the company’s entire ecosystem, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac lineup.

“From our checks with supply chain and industry sources, we believe potential changes could turn Apple TV into a bigger hobby and a multi-million unit seller,” the analyst wrote. “And perhaps be a precursor to a bigger effort to address the home entertainment space down the road.”

This should sort itself out on September 1st, so stay tuned until then and we’ll feed you the details as soon as they become available.

China Unicom expected to offer free cases with iPhone 4 launch

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:49
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, provide a useful free gift.

Per Caixin, when the iPhone 4 launches in China on September 16th, carrier China Unicom is expected to give every customer a free case as a preemptive strike against the antenna concerns that caused a stir in the U.S.

In July, after reports of antenna issues with the iPhone 4 reached a deafening buzz in the tech community, Apple announced it would give away free cases to all iPhone 4 purchases made through Sept. 30. Customers can order their free case through the iPhone 4 Case Program App Store software.

The report did not indicate whether China Unicom’s complimentary case will be mailed after the purchase, or made available to the customer when they buy their iPhone 4.

Earlier this month, a Wi-Fi-enabled 8GB iPhone 3GS was released by China Unicom. Apple’s previous phones sold legitimately in the nation of over one billion did not have Wi-Fi, because the Chinese government had temporarily banned the technology.

Following the launch of the iPhone 4, China Unicom is expected to soon offer Apple’s iPad for sale.

Apple files patent for iOS device “kill switch” technology

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

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An Apple patent application filed earlier this year could allow the company to more directly interact with jailbroken iOS-based devices such as iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

Per CNET, Apple’s patent ‘Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,’ includes a remote “kill switch” that could quickly restore an iPhone, iPod or iPad to its factory settings.

Along with the potential to restore factory settings, Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via email or text message when such activity as “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card.” is detected CNET adds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, magazine publishers reach accord on subscription pricing through iPad

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:58
Category: iPad, News

On Thursday, People became the first print magazine to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application Thursday, apparently paving the way for others to follow.

Per Fortune, Time Inc. broke the impasse that has existed for months between publishers and Apple. He said that Time’s other publications are expected to follow the same path as People in the next 30 days, including Fortune, Time, and Sports Illustrated.

“It’s not clear what took so long,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt wrote. “Publishers who were encouraged to build iPad apps by Steve Jobs himself say they were ready from the start to make them free to subscribers. Until now, however, Apple would neither give them the tools they needed, nor explain what was holding them up.”

He added: “The publishers still can’t sell subscriptions through the App Store, which is how they would prefer to do it.”

Last month, it was noted that Time and other magazine publishers were frustrated as they were blocked from allowing subscribing customers the ability to access a digital version of the magazine on the iPad. Publishers said that Apple had rejected the option without explaining its policy.

Users, instead, were left only to pay the US$4.99-per-issue newsstand price of publications like Sports Illustrated, which led to extremely negative reviews on the App Store.

Magazine officials were surprised by Apple’s rejection, as the company made a major effort to reach out to them and others. Officials were reportedly under the impression that subscription plans were acceptable to Apple.

Some iPad App Store software, such as Amazon’s Kindle, or The Wall Street Journal’s application, allow for customers to be charged directly instead of buying an application. But other content providers, like The New York Times, have yet to offer digital subscriptions.

Patent describes how future iPhones could recognize, adjust for individual users

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPhone, Patents

Since patents make life interesting, a recently published patent describes a technology that could rely on a user’s picture or the sound of their voice which future portable devices from Apple could recognize and use as login information.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week revealed a patent application from Apple entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device.” The security-centric invention describes methods to identify users through a picture, the sound of their voice, or even their unique heartbeat.

“The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match,” the application reads. “If they do not match, the current user can be detected as an unauthorized user.”

If an unauthorized user were to attempt to access an iPhone or another device, the owner of the handset could be notified in a variety of manners, including a phone call, text message or e-mail. The technology could also send the owner or the police a picture of the unauthorized user, or other information specific to the potential thief, such as the current location.

The handset could also recognize an unauthorized user if they do certain uncharacteristic activities with the phone. Specifically named are hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removing a SIM card.

But beyond security, such technology could also be used to identify individual users and allow users who share a product, like an iPad, to customize it to their liking. Apple has shown interest in such capabilities for some time.

Prior to the iPad’s release, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family. Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up.

One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Apple’s security-centric patent application was first filed on Feb. 19, 2009. It is credited to Taido Nakajima, Pareet Rahul and Gloria Lin.

The invention is also not the first time Apple has explored recognizing users by their heartbeat. One patent application revealed in May dealt specifically with that technology, describing a heart rate monitor seamlessly built in to the exterior of an iPhone. Reading a user’s unique biometric data, the iPhone could then recognize them.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to offer live FiOS TV streaming app over Wi-Fi for iPad

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, News

An upcoming iPad app from Verizon will enable subscribers of Verizon’s FiOS service to stream live TV over their home Wi-Fi networks.

Per NewTeeVee, Verizon released an announcement regarding several new video applications for its TV and video services. The upcoming iPad app, which is due out early next year, will utilize what Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir called “cloud TV.” Usage will initially be limited to within FiOS subscribers’ own homes.

According to Verizon, the technical aspects for the app already in place, and the last hurdle is the company’s ongoing talks with content partners to work out the legality of streaming to the device. Verizon claimed it should already have streaming rights, since the iPad is “just another screen in the home.”

Kheradpir showed the nearly finished app streaming a live CNN video. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, has been working together with Verizon to develop the app. While several other content providers are also working on their own iPad apps, Verizon’s efforts stand out because it hopes to offer streaming content rather than offer remote control features.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO announces iPad version of streaming video service

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:34
Category: iPad, News, Software

Premium cable network HBO has announced that the company will offer a new iPad application that will allow subscribers to stream the network’s content on the go.

Per Bloomberg, the HBO Go service will be extended to paying subscribers at no additional cost, co-president of HBO Eric Kellser told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The streaming service will be available on Apple’s iPad, as well as other mobile devices and through all major cable systems.

HBO’s decision to push its own streaming service comes as the cable network has refused a deal with video rental service Netflix, which has pushed hard to broker a deal. Kessler said he finds “value in exclusivity,” and believes consumers “are willing to pay a premium for high quality, exclusive content.”

HBO, owned by Time Warner, is home to such popular, original shows as “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” and “Sex and the City.”

The HBO Go service is currently a Web-based streaming offering. Kessler did not elaborate as to whether its extension to the iPad would be in the form of an HTML5-based website, or a unique application written specifically for the iPad.

A final launch date for the iPad version of the HBO Go service has yet to be announced.

Rumor: Apple planning CDMA iPhone, smaller iPad tablets, AMD-powered Apple TV devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 06:02
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, overseas component suppliers have started rumors of a number of new products coming from Apple in the next year, including a new Apple TV running iOS and powered by an AMD Fusion processor, a 7″ iPad, a CDMA iPhone, and a new 9.7″ iPad with a Cortex-A9 processor and 512MB of RAM in 2011.

DigiTimes went somewhat overboard on Monday, reporting a lengthy list of potential future hardware from Apple. The site made mention of a Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone expected to start production in December, piggybacking on rumors that resurfaced over the weekend, claiming the iPhone 4 will debut on the Verizon network in the U.S. in January 2011.

“Pegatron is expected to start mass production in December and will supply to both US-based Verizon Wireless and China-based China Telecom,” the report said. “The CDMA iPhone’s back plate will be forged from metal materials and will feature an integrated antenna.”

Sources also indicated to the publication that Apple will upgrade its 9.7″ iPad to an ARM Cortex-A9-based processor, and also add 512MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011. The current model has 256MB or RAM and a custom A4 processor based on the Cortex-A8 design.

The report also rekindled rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7″ screen. The report claimed that the hardware will also sport a Cortex-A9-based processor, and like the 9.7-inch model, will have an LCD panel with in-plane switching technology and a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.

Finally, the report also claimed that the Cupertino, Calif., company is working on a new Apple TV powered by AMD’s Fusion package, dubbed an “accelerated processing unit,” or APU. AMD’s yet-to-be-released hybrid processor combines the CPU and GPU functions into one package. The ARM-based chips found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad already accomplish similar functions with low power consumption.

AMD touts that its forthcoming Fusion product will offer strong HD, 3D and data-intensive performance on the single-die processor. “APUs combine high-performance serial and parallel processing cores with other special-purpose hardware accelerators, enabling breakthroughs in visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor,” the company said.

DigiTimes claimed that the new Apple TV will switch to “a user interface similar to the iPhone with support for social networking websites, network multimedia and the App Store. Mass production of the device will start in December.”

Aside from the inclusion of an AMD processor, the rumors largely reiterate what was stated in May by assorted web sites. That report indicated that Apple would release a new product that would offer 1080P cloud-based content streaming for just US$99. However, it indicated that the device would run on a custom-built A4 processor, just like the iPad and iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.