Rumor: Apple to drop glass backing, return to aluminum backing for upcoming iPhone 5 handset

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Problems with scratching, paint mixtures and weight will lead Apple to abandon the glass back introduced in the iPhone 4, according to the Macotakara website. As a result, Apple will reportedly switch back to aluminium, the material used in the original iPhone, for the back of the unit.

The glass back is not the only design element from the iPhone 4 that will be abandoned, according to recent rumours. The problematic steel outer frame, which doubles up as the iPhone 4′s antenna, will also be scrapped after well-documented issues with reception problems suffered by the handset.

Instead, Apple will reportedly use a ‘logo antenna’ design with the antenna situated on the back of the device just under the logo.

The idea behind this is that the antenna could be placed in a special cavity where it would be isolated from other electronic components and therefore protected from anything that could potentially block radio-frequency signals. Per the report, the design will also use a special resin for the logo.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be announced in June at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC). It is expected to support both CDMA and GSM technologies and use an A5 processor, similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released the gold master build of its iOS 4.3, its forthcoming operating system update for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just over a week ahead of its scheduled March 11 release.

Per AppleInsider, the download is available to developers through Apple’s official iOS developer portal. People familiar with the software say it is known as build 8F190.

Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release, though two Golden Masters of iOS 4.2 were released after the first was found to have issues.

Apple announced the mobile operating system software update’s March 11 released date on Wednesday, and also showed off new, previously unannounced features. Among them is improved JavaScript performance, which is now said to be two times faster thanks to the Nitro engine taken from Mac OS X.

Improved iTunes Home Sharing will also allow users to access all of their content directly over Wi-Fi. And enhancements to AirPlay will allow applications and websites to stream over Wi-Fi to the Apple TV set top box. Sharing of photos over AirPlay can also use the built-in slide show options of iOS.

The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets users share their 3G data connection over Wi-Fi. Personal Hotspot will work with supporting carriers and monthly data plans on the iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also adds the ability to change the purpose of the hardware switch on the right side of the iPad and iPad 2. Users can choose to have the switch mute audio from the device, or have it serve as an orientation lock, as it originally did when the iPad first shipped last year.

The iOS 4.3 update is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. iTunes 10.2 has already been publicly released, adding compatibility with devices that are running iOS 4.3

If you’ve gotten your hands on the GM and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iOS 4.3 en route, will be delayed for CDMA iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The good news: iOS is on its way.

The bad news: You might have to wait for the CDMA version of it for your Verizon iPhone.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement of iOS 4.3′s on March 11 had Apple explicitly exclude CDMA iPhone 4 from the list of supported devices, indicating that a separate build will be provided afterward.

The new iOS 4.3 release will officially support the 2009 iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod touch, and iPad models. This leaves out the CDMA iPhone 4 as well as Apple TV (which is normally updated on its own, independent schedule).

The Verizon iPhone 4 was released using its own software build, labeled iOS 4.2.5. Other iOS devices remained at iOS 4.2.1, which was released in November. Apple subsequently updated Verizon iPhones to iOs 4.2.6 to fix a bug related to its new Personal Hotspot feature.

Apart from the brief exclusive of its Personal Hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware. Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model.

Apple hasn’t announced a date for the Verizon iPhone release version of iOS 4.3, but it is likely to follow shortly after the initial release for GSM iPhones because the new build packs a variety of features and improvements.

The general features provided to all iOS devices by iOS 4.3 include Personal Hotspot (WiFi tethering), which Verizon iPhone users already have. However, there are also a number of other significant new improvements Verizon iPhone users will want, including:
- Improved Safari JavaScript performance using the Nitro engine, which Apple says boosts JavaScript execution up to twice as fast. JavaScript powers much of the interactivity of modern web apps.

- Support for AirPlay video streaming by third party apps, as well as videos within the web browser or within the Photos app. Streamed photos also use slideshow transitions.

- The ability to locally stream (without downloading or syncing) any content from your iTunes library via Home Sharing: music, movies, TV, podcasts, or audiobooks.

New minor features in iOS 4.3
- A new Noteworthy font in Notes

- Fixes a slideshow stop after 15 image when using AirPlay

- The ability to cancel and delete an app that is downloading. It is currently only possible to delete an app that has been installed.

- A slightly redesigned keyboard; missing accented letters in European keyboard popups; increased font size for China and Pinyin inputs

- A new Parental Controls setting for the iTunes Ping social network

- A new menu for scrubbing in videos, with Fine Scrubbing by seconds/frames; Quarter Scrubbing by second; Half Speed Scrubbing by minute and Hi-Speed Scrubbing by minutes.

- A new Updates section in the App Store and new Accounts section in the Store menu.

- Location Services settings moves from General to Settings Menu, and both Location Services and Mail accounts ON/OFF button is changed to a lock symbol.

Some minor features (outside of Personal Hotspot) and bug fixes are also targeting just GSM iPhones:
- Baseband is updated to 05.16.00 (for iPhone 3GS), 04.10.01 (for GSM iPhone 4).

- Enabled Traffic Volume Indicator IE in CELL UPDATE; fixes issue with integrity protection failing after SRNS relocation and iPhone units deactivating and not activating after baseband logging is enabled.

- A control to set repeat of text tone (up to 10 times).

- Automatic refresh of information displayed in Field Test Mode (removing manual refresh).

- Slideshow options have moved to Photos app.

- New Contact photo user interface.

- Dual vibrate when receiving a text message.

A variety of minor changes and bug fixes are also addressed in iOS 4.3:
- Accessibility: Voice Over now reads the entire chart in stocks app while in landscape mode. Fixed issues that prevented controls from being dismissed, or that prevented the keyboard from returning when highlighting and swiping through search results.

- Calendar: deleting a recurring event now make the alarm go away; fixed an all-day alarm going off an hour early. Canceled recurring CalDAV calendar events now removed on the event list. Fixed Exchange calendar event duplicating when passing Israeli daylight savings time.

- Language: updates inconsistent translations in Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese; fixes auto-correction issue when switch back from Emoji to English keyboard.

- Mail: fixes orientation of Mail not following device orientation under specific conditions; fixes popover when drilling into a thread while the empty search field is focused; fixes mail message view and orientation when quickly selecting a message and hitting edit mode.

- Safari: addresses issue that caused browser to crash after loading certain websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 update

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

- Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3

iTunes 10.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Verizon executive indicates that company will end unlimited iPhone data plans by summer

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Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: iPhone, News

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A Verizon executive hinted Tuesday that the carrier will cease offering unlimited data plans for the iPhone handset as early as the middle of this summer, while also fueling speculation that Apple will release an updated Verizon iPhone later this year.

Per Reuters, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Francis Shammo made the remarks at an investors conference. According to Shammo, the carrier will probably transition to tiered pricing data plans in the “mid-summer time frame.”

Shammo also told investors Tuesday that Verizon had kept the unlimited plan for the iPhone launch because it “didn’t want to put up a barrier” to consumers looking to try out the handset.

Rumors emerged in early January that Verizon planned to offer unlimited data to iPhone customers. Rival AT&T began limiting its data plans last year, but quietly began offering some of its iPhone customers unlimited data again in January in an effort to keep them from switching to Verizon.

After a leaked memo revealed that new iPhone 4 customers on Verizon would be offered just a US$30 unlimited data plan, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam went on record as saying the unlimited data plan would only be a temporary offer, with tiered pricing coming in “the not too distant future.”

The report noted that shares of Verizon fell 2.4% Tuesday after Shammo warned that a new iPhone could negatively affect profit margins. “There could be some (margin) lumpiness when you launch the phone,” he said. “If there happens to be a new one that comes out, that quarter might not look so good (either).”

According to one analyst, Shammo’s remarks serve as evidence that an updated CDMA iPhone would arrive later this year. “I would take that comment as a pretty strong signal there’s an iPhone refresh coming to Verizon in the third quarter,” said Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

Last week, Verizon CEO Dan Mead hinted that an LTE-capable iPhone from Apple is in the works. The executive also reassured investors by revealing that the iPhone 4 launch had been the largest in company history, contrary to reports that had suggested a more lackluster launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Anonymous Apple exec casts shadow on iPhone nano development, reveals other developments

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Date: Friday, February 18th, 2011, 05:02
Category: iPhone, Rumor

While various media outlets seemed confident that Apple was certain to release an iPhone nano, an anonymous source has told the New York Times that “Apple is not currently developing a smaller iPhone,” and that the company is “not planning to introduce a smaller iPhone anytime soon.” Per Engadget, the Times doesn’t outright deny the existence of such a device at any point in the story, it does quote an anonymous Apple executive as saying that it doesn’t make sense for the company to create multiple iPhone form factors at any given time, and an anonymous Apple engineer as saying that cheaper components, not a smaller size, would make for a cheaper overall price.

One thing’s for sure: either Apple’s making one, or it’s not.

In related news, the Times’ sources corroborate the idea that Apple will make MobileMe free, and say that the next full-sized iPhone is nearly complete.

iPhone 5 could feature 4″ screen, A5 processor

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Date: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 05:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone may be getting a bit bigger.

Per Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, upstream component suppliers report that Apple will expand the screen size of the fifth-generation iPhone to 4 inches in order to compete with a growing class of ‘super phones’ in the 4- to 7-inch range. By comparison, the iPhone 4 sports a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels.

The screen bump could also serve to push the iPhone toward the smaller end of the tablet market. “The component suppliers noted that the production lines for Apple’s next generation iPhone have begun testing, and Apple is interesting in expanding the screen size to 4-inches to support the tablet PC market as the vendor only has a 9.7-inch iPad in the market,” said the report.

If accurate, the report could dovetail with recent rumors of an “iPhone nano,” as Apple may be looking to differentiate its iPhone lineup with bigger and smaller displays. Though rumors of a smaller version of the iPhone have persisted for years, recent reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal of an upcoming cheaper, smaller iPhone have lent credence to the rumors.

A second report from DigiTimes claims that Apple is hoping to outsource the production of its A4 processor and the next-generation A5 processor, which will likely utilize the ARM Cortex A9 design, to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company due to concerns over increased competition between Samsung and Apple. At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung has shown a number of new products, such as the Galaxy S II smartphone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, that will directly compete with Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Though Apple’s A4 processor is currently exclusively produced by Samsung Electronics, Apple has tapped TSMC for help producing the A4 in the past when Samsung’s capacity was unable to meet demand for Apple’s devices. Sources indicated to DigiTimes that “the move at that time was perhaps to test TSMC’s capability.”

“According to Digitimes Research,” the report continued, “the iPad 2 will support an enhanced version of the A4 and the A5 will power the iPhone 5. TSMC will initially produce the improved A4, and could likely become the exclusive manufacturer of the A5.”

The report echoes rumors from January suggesting that the next iPhone will run atop “Apple’s new A5 CPU (a Cortex A9-based, multi-core chip).”

It’s speculation at this point but it’s still interesting.

If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone mini could drop internal storage, rely extensively on MobileMe streaming

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Date: Monday, February 14th, 2011, 10:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep technology interesting.

With that in mind, the iPhone mini is making the rounds with the cool cats at Cult of Mac stating that the smaller iPod smartphone combo may rely on the also rumored MobileMe cloud-based iTunes storage server for streaming content from user’s media libraries.

Access to music, video and photos on the iPhone mini “would be a mostly cloud-based iOS,” according to Cult of Mac’s anonymous sources.

The rumored changes to Apple’s MobileMe service include a new Internet-based iTunes library storage system for iPhone users. Since content would be pushed wirelessly to them, the need for large amounts of RAM for local data storage would go away.

The notion that users would be able to stream their entire iTunes library may not, however, go over well with cell service providers. Relying on 3G data connections instead of Wi-Fi networks at least some of the time would push up iPhone user’s wireless data usage dramatically, and carriers may not want to deal with the extra network traffic per the Mac Observer.

Streaming content libraries would also a problem in places where data connections aren’t available, such as many flights. Unless the iPhone mini includes at least some local storage for media, users won’t be able to listen to music or watch movies when they can’t get an Internet connection.

It’s been presumed that an iPhone mini would have at least some built-in storage so users could load apps and store their contacts and appointments on the device.

As of now, Apple has yet to offer any comment, leaving the rest of this up to speculation…

Samsung may supply advanced display for iPad 2 tablet

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Date: Monday, February 14th, 2011, 05:41
Category: iPad, News

The iPad 2, it could smack of the niftiness.

Per the Korea Times, the second-generation ipad could trade its “In-Plane Switching” (IPS) display for a new “Super Plane to Line Switching” (PLS) display for improved viewing angles.

Citing industry sources, the report from The Korea Times claims that Samsung Mobile Display will supply LCD panels for Apple’s anticipated “iPad 2.” Apple currently buys LCD panels from a number of companies, including LG Display and others, but that is “expected to change because of the LCD panel’s unit price,” the report said.

Last November, Samsung first unveiled its new “Super PLS” displays, and the panels have reportedly gained the attention of Apple. The report said that Apple has shown interest in Super PLS LCDs, which are geared toward smartphones and tablets, and allow for even more improved viewing angles than the IPS display found in the first-generation iPad.

However, the report stopped short of stating that Apple is interested in using a Super PLS display in its second-generation touchscreen tablet. It only said that Apple has shown interest in the new technology.

The second-generation iPad display, widely expected to be released in the coming months, has been the subject of a great deal of discussions as rumors about the still-unannounced device grow. In January it was suggested that Apple could quadruple the pixels from the current iPad to a 2,048-by-1,536 display, giving the device a “Retina Display” like the iPhone 4.

But other reports have cast doubt on those rumors, suggesting that the power required to run a display at that high of a resolution would result in too poor a battery life for the device. It has been suggested that the next-generation iPad will instead retain its 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Modest lines reported for Verizon iPhone 4 launch

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Date: Thursday, February 10th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After months of anticipation and years of speculation, both Apple and Verizon itself today marked the launch of the Verizon iPhone 4. Initial reports suggest mixed lines at both locations. Regardless of whether it’s an Apple, Best Buy or Verizon store, some report very few in line, even at Apple’s 5th Avenue flagship, where others are seeing significant queues. Staff have been on hand to guide launches where queues existed.

Per Electronista, the modest turnout is roughly in step with past Verizon launches but may be affected both by Apple’s own launch strategy. Many if not most existing Verizon customers already bought the phone through online reservations and led to the carrier’s best-ever first day sales just by themselves. Early adopters have the option of getting the phone at Best Buy and Walmart today as well, where past launches have often removed one or both of these chains as options.

Timing is also likely to have guided many buyers’ decisions. Apple’s choice to launch at 7AM, mid-week in February has deterred some from standing in line in the cold. The knowledge that a CDMA iPhone 5 is likely to ship in four to five months’ time is known to have stopped technology enthusiasts or more patient buyers from signing up.

Even so, the sales have been enough that they triggered a slowdown in Motorola sales at Verizon as a significant number of customers held off on Android phones. An unusually large number of buyers are moving from the original Droid and the Droid X as well as BlackBerry devices, especially the touchscreen BlackBerry Storm.

If you have any Verizon iPhone 4 line stories to share, send them along.

Also, this whole “choice of carriers” thing…you could get used to it.