Imagination Technologies begins licensing process for future iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

Whatever you’re expecting from the next-gen iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, improved graphics should be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple component provider Imagination Technologies is now licensing its PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture, the next generation of the hardware found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, to six key partners — three of which remain secret.

The new processor, code-named “Rogue,” was revealed to have been licensed by ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and MediaTek. The remaining three partners are “yet to be announced,” but given the fact that Apple is a major shareholder of the company, its involvement could be considered likely.

Apple purchased a 3% stake in Imagination Technologies back in 2008, and in 2009 the iPhone maker increased its share to 9.5%.

Imagination said this week that its PowerVR Series6 GPU family offers best-in-class “GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs.” The company also touted that it has “one of the largest teams of graphics engineers in the world,” and that its chips have powered hundreds of thousands of applications created by “an extensive ecosystem of third party developers.”

“The growing commitment of the primary players to our roadmap shows that, having evaluated the options, the overall mobile and embedded market is increasingly committing to PowerVR as the de facto graphics standard,” said Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie.

More specifically, the graphics processor in the iPad 2 is the PowerVR SGX543MP2, which Apple has claimed helps to boost graphics in the A5 processor by as much as nine times. Benchmarks of just the SGX543GPU have found it to be much faster than its peers powering devices like the Motorola Xoom, or even 2010′s first-generation iPad.

With the A5 chip already in mass production for the iPad 2 and the same architecture expected to be utilized in the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone, it’s unlikely that Imagination’s new “Rogue” graphics processor could appear until at least a so-called “A6″ custom Apple processor were to become a reality. The new PowerVR Series6 GPUs are said to be “fully compatible” with Imagination’s previous Series5 and Series5XT PowerVR SGX GPUs, which the company said will ensure “a smooth migration path for developers upgrading applications.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon adds 19 cities to LTE network

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 14:55
Category: iPhone, News

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You’re hankering to get on an LTE network connection with an updated iPhone, so here’s some good news.

Per Computerworld, Verizon Wireless announced that the company will add 19 more cities that will get its faster LTE wireless network service starting Thursday, bringing the total to 74 metropolitan areas.

San Francisco and Detroit, already on Verizon LTE since last December, will also see the existing LTE network in those cities expanded, Verizon said in a statement.

The new 19 LTE cities include several state capitals such as Sacramento, Calif., Hartford, Conn., Boise, Idaho, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Ind., Salt Lake City (with Ogden), Utah; and Madison (with Milwaukee), Wis.

The announcement comes as competitor AT&T is set to launch LTE 4G service in five cities in the U.S. this summer: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Reports have also surfaced that Sprint will begin adding LTE service to its existing nationwide WiMax 4G capability, partly to support a future LTE-ready iPhone , although Sprint has not confirmed those reports.

T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest U.S. wireless carrier, has been promoting its HSPA+ network as a fast 4G technology. Meanwhile, AT&T is seeking to acquire T-Mobile but needs approvals from federal regulators.

The various 4G technologies are promoted as offering users download data speeds of up to about 10 Mbps, which is roughly 10 times what most users get over 3G downloads from the carriers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing iPhone handset with Sprint network

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 07:57
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If there’s a good network out there, Apple might just like the iPhone to be on it.

Per 9to5Mac, sources close to the story had said that a version of the iPhone for Sprint’s network is currently in advanced testing. The physical design of this device is akin to the iPhone 4 of today, so this might be the iPhone 4S device with support for all carriers that we have been dreaming up and hearing whispers about. Apple is said to have ordered Sprint-compatible cell towers for use on their campus – for testing – in late 2010. Apple similarly tested the Verizon iPhone against Verizon cell towers on their campus months before the product’s release.

In addition to being actively tested in Apple’s “black labs,” the device is making the rounds amongst Sprint’s research and development department. Sources also say that talk of a 4G varient of the iPhone for Sprint is moving along, but the first generation Sprint iPhone that is currently in testing does not feature support for 4G bands. Back in May, a job listing posted to Apple’s official jobs website revealed that Apple is looking to craft up a cellular engineering team in Kansas City, home of Sprint’s worldwide headquarters. Sources did warn that depending on negotiations regarding 4G, the project may be pushed to late 2012. If the Sprint model is this fall’s model, it likely will not carry 4G compatible radios.

Additional reports have stated that a Sprint iPhone is coming and that it will include dual-band support for T-Mobile. The report also claims that Verizon/AT&T and Sprint/T-Mobile will switch off annually as to who gets the new iPhone model. Rumors on the ground have also stated that the Sprint data plan will be spiked to US$89 a month from US$69 a month.

Keep checking back and we’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Apple releases iBooks 1.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 05:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released version 1.3 of its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.3 adds a couple of new features, including a read-aloud feature for some children’s books that isn’t working yet.

iBooks 1.3 requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple unveils iOS 5, cites 200 new features, highlights 10 for keynote

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Not that the iOS user base has done anything wrong, but there’s going to be some changes around here…

Per Mac|Life, Apple sent in Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about the 1,500 new APIs that developers will have to tap into, with 200 new features to end users/

10 of them were shown yesterday and boil down as follows:

Notification Center: This gathers information in one easy-to-use spot which is accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notifications will also be featured on the lock screen, where you can swipe across any of them to go straight to the app in question.

Newsstand: Brings all of your magazine, newspaper and other periodical subscriptions to one place. “When you purchase them they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand,” Forstall explained, showing off an integrated “newspaper stand” type graphic on the home screen.

Twitter: The rumors of deep Twitter integration into iOS 5 appear to have come true. There will be a single sign-on location in the iOS Settings and the feature will be integrated with apps such as the Camera and Photos for quick sharing.

Reader: The Reader view in desktop Safari is finally coming to Mobile Safari, which certainly poses a threat to existing services such as Readability. Reader for Mobile Safari will allow you to email the contents of a story as well as the link, and the browser will also gain the much-rumored Reading List feature similar to Instapaper. Last but not least, tabbed browsing finally comes to Mobile Safari as well. “It is lightning fast to switch between windows now,” Forstall exclaimed. Potentially putting another class of third-party developers out of business, Apple will introduce a slick new Reminders feature to iOS 5 which syncs across devices as well as to iCal.

Camera Button: iOS 5 will finally introduce a dedicated Camera button on the lock screen for quick one-tap access, and Apple has finally allowed use of the volume up button as a dedicated camera shutter. The Camera app also gains an auto exposure and auto focus lock, pinch to zoom and the ability to do basic editing such as crop, rotate and red-eye reduction without leaving the app.

iOS Mail: The app will gain rich text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses, entire content searching and the ability to mark emails as unread if you want to act on them later. Security is also getting a boost with the use of S/MIME, and there’s finally a built-in dictionary that’s now a service across the entire iOS platform as well.

PC Free: iOS will no longer require a physical connection to the computer to enable syncing. “We know we’re selling to a lot of places where the households just don’t have computers,” Forstall confesses. Now you’ll be able to take your device out of the box and setup/activate right on the device. Software updates will also now come over the air, and they will be in the form of “delta” updates with just the new bits, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes each time.

Game Center: “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet,” Forstall boasts. “There are more than 100,000 game and entertainment titles in the App Store.” Citing more than 50 million Game Center users in only nine months — eclipsing Xbox Live’s 30 million users in eight years — Forstall promises that the service will get even more social with friend and game recommendations and even the ability to purchase and download games directly from the app.

Finally, Forstall introduced the new iMessage service for iOS users, supporting all of the company’s devices. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages with delivery and read receipts as well as real-time typing notification. Start a conversation on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on the iPad, and it works over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

Among the other features coming to iOS 5 are AirPlay mirroring, wireless sync with iTunes (hooray!), multitasking gestures and much more. iOS 5 was released to developers via an updated SDK yesterday and will ship to customers in the fall alongside the free iCloud service, with support from the iPhone 3GS and up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T CEO drops hints at smaller SIM card format

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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Prior to all the Worldwide Developers Conference hubbub, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview this week with All Things D that a smaller SIM card is a “no-brainer” and his company is looking into it, but declined to make the direct connection to Apple that the France Telecom CEO made last week.

When asked by All Things D’s Ina Fried whether AT&T is interested in the smaller SIM card that Apple and France Telecom have reportedly agreed upon, de la Vega acknowledged that the carrier is “working with the industry” to look at the possibility of smaller SIM cards. “I think that probably will happen,” he said.

In late May, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview that Apple and wireless carriers had reached a compromise to use a smaller SIM card format instead of an embedded SIM chip that Apple had expressed interest in. According to Richard, the next iPhone will be “smaller and thinner,” partially due to a reduction in the SIM card footprint.

Per another executive at Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Apple in May submitted a new requirement for a smaller SIM form factor to a European standards institute. The iPhone 4 and iPad currently utilize a micro-SIM solution.

Like Richard, de la Vega expressed a preference for a smaller SIM card over an embedded SIM. “We think that making the card smaller and shrinking the size is a no-brainer and we should be able to make that happen,” he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an e-SIM.

During the interview, de la Vega expressed disappointment at Windows Phone sales. “We actually like [Windows Phone 7] very, very much,” he said. “It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to.”

Despite the lackluster sales, the AT&T CEO remained optimistic about Microsoft’s prospects. “I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good,” he said. “I think they just need to make it better… Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone–I think that is all that it needs.”

For de la Vega, the iPhone and Google’s Android have been “positive surprises,” while sales of Research in Motion’s devices have dropped off. “Android and Apple are really the hot products right now,” he added, noting that customers have been “choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries.”

The executive also challenged tablet makers to continue to raise standards in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to de la Vega, all the manufacturers who make smartphones are also offering AT&T tablets. “The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar,” he said.

Speaking at the D9 conference earlier this week, de la Vega confirmed that AT&T is working on a shared data plan that would allow users to pool minutes and data plans between devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

WHO study finds AT&T iPhone 4 emits “medium” amount of radiation

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:25
Category: iPhone, News

I’m not sure if this is comforting or otherwise.

In the wake of the World Health Organization’s report on cell phones and radiation, the Environmental Working Group has released a database of cell phone models with the highest and lowest rates of radiofrequency energy according to a CNN report. Per the report, Apple’s iPhone 4 (the AT&T version; the Verizon model wasn’t tested) falls in the middle range of emissions, which are measured using a Specific Absorption Rate of energy by the body written as “watts per kilogram.”

Cell phones sold in the U.S. cannot exceed a measure of 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiofrequency energy, but there is no study that shows an increased risk — or any risk — in using phones that emit higher or lower amounts. The WHO announcement, which was a change from their previous, more neutral position, comprised a review of hundreds of other peer-review studies — a compilation of known data — and concluded that cell phone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Often omitted from reports of the meta-study is that its principle recommendation was that the issue needed further study.

The database of phone radiation showed that Motorola had the model emitting the most energy per kilogram of energy, AT&T’s Bravo at 1.59 W/kg — just under the legal limit. The phone with the least amount of exposure was AT&T’s LG Quantum at 0.35 W/kg. Apple’s iPhone 4 tested at 1.17 W/kg, which ranks it about average. Samsung had a number of phones that were among the 10 lowest, while Motorola had the most phones in the top 10 highest, along with the Palm Pixi, the Blackberry Bold and the HTC Magic also ranking very high in energy absorbed by the body.

Cell phones, by their nature, emit and receive small amounts of microwave energy at all times while they are on — communicating with cell towers, updating GPS coordinates and of course being used for communication. Studies have been unsuccessful at establishing a clear link between cell phones and specific medical issues, even when the unit is held next to the head for prolonged periods. Radiation is naturally present in the atmosphere and from other sources, but how much the human body can absorb on a low-but-constant level without ill effects remains unclear.

Stay tuned for more on this as we get it.

Microsoft looking to ARM processors, HTML5 for Windows 8 mobile strategy

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Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

There may be something to this whole HTML5 thing…

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft has provided a look at how it plans to bring Windows to more mobile devices in the future, leveraging ARM processors and using HTML5 as the basis of a new app platform.

As demonstrated at the D9 conference, Windows 8 will deliver a touch-centric new interface for apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that runs on top of the existing, conventional Windows platform.

The company showed off a new Start screen patterned after the tiled home page of Windows Phone 7. The company says the new tiled interface “replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.”

Microsoft’s mobile Windows CE core operating system differs dramatically from its desktop Windows operating system, but the two will grow closer together in appearance as Windows 8 adopts a similar, top level interface to Windows Phone 7 and the Zune.

In contrast, Apple’s desktop Mac OS X and mobile iOS share the same core operating system and use optimized versions of the company’s proprietary Cocoa development platform to deliver native apps, but differ in the interface they present, with Mac OS X retaining a mouse-based windowing environment while iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad present a completely rethought, touch-based interface.

Microsoft’s own efforts to build a cohesive development environment for both the Windows CE-based Windows Mobile 6 and its desktop Windows XP/Vista/7 platform initially revolved around the company’s .Net APIs before shifting Windows Phone 7 to use Microsoft’s Adobe Flash-like Silverlight as its mobile app platform.

Now, Microsoft is announcing a new shift that leverages the interest in HTML5 to deliver “web-connected and web-powered” apps (similar to HP’s webOS platform acquired from Palm) that will run alongside legacy Windows apps on the forthcoming Windows 8. Microsoft says this approach “is designed and optimized for touch,” although the company also says “it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard.”

Ironically, the new HTML5 layer of Windows 8 works like the Dashboard layer of Mac OS X, although rather than only supplying quick assess to simple widgets, the new “Windows 8 apps” are intended to supply a layer of highly animated, full screen, touch-based apps capable of competing with native apps running on Apple’s iPad.

Like Apple’s iOS, Windows 8 is intended to be deployed on highly mobile devices such as ARM-based tablets in addition to the conventional PCs Windows has powered in the past. Unlike Apple’s iOS, which became instantly popular on the iPhone before expanding to the iPod touch and iPad, Microsoft’s tile-based Zune interface hasn’t yet found a significant, sustainable audience. After the Zune failed, Microsoft KIN and Windows Phone 7 have both found little interest among consumers.

Microsoft’s radical experimentation with Windows Vista in 2007 caused a negative backlash from Windows PC users, which has only settled down with the more conservative release of Windows 7. Sales of PCs have yet to rebound to levels prior to the release of Vista, and new mobile devices, in particular Apple’s iPad, have siphoned off a significant amount of demand among generic PCs.

Microsoft does have considerable clout among its developers and hardware makers however, and describes the new Windows 8 as its biggest risk yet, hoping the new release, due sometime over the next couple years, will bring it back into relevance among new generations of consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Google retain deal for map, search functionalities on iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011, 03:34
Category: News, Software

The good news: The Google functionality on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad device isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt revealed Tuesday that his company had reached a deal with Apple to continue providing its maps and search technology for the iPhone.

Per Reuters, Schmidt, while speaking at the D9 conference organized by All Things D, said that Google’s relationship with Apple had gotten “rough” as competition between Android and iOS heated up, but they remained good partners in certain businesses.

Schmidt put to rest rumors that Apple planned to abandon Google’s maps and search technology in the iPhone. According to the executive, the two companies recently renewed their partnership to continue to provide services for the iPhone. “We just renewed our map and search agreements with Apple, and we hope those continue for a long time,” he said. Last year, it was suggested that Google pays Apple as much as US$100 million a year in a revenue sharing deal for searches made on the iPhone.

Schmidt also talked candidly about his company’s rivalry with Facebook. “We tried very hard to partner with Facebook ,” he noted. “They were unwilling to do the deal.” In hindsight, Schmidt said he would have pushed harder to compete with Facebook. “I screwed up,” he admitted.

Google co-founder Larry Page took over for Schmidt as CEO in April. Schmidt formerly served on Apple’s board of directors before stepping down due to a conflict of interest.

Apple does, however, appear to still be working on building out its own Maps team. In March, an Apple job listing was discovered for an iOS Maps Application Developer that would help “radically improve” Apple’s location-based services. Last year, Apple began using its own Maps location databases, though it still relies on Google for the maps themselves.

Last month, Apple revealed that it is collecting anonymous traffic data in order to build a “crowd-sourced traffic database,” though it was not immediately clear whether the use of the word “traffic” referred to network data or transportation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces iCloud name, Steve Jobs keynote, other presentations for WWDC

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Date: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011, 05:43
Category: News

Apple announced on Tuesday that company CEO Steve Jobs will return to the stage, along with a team of company executives, to present Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iOS 5 as well as introduce its new iCloud service.

Per AppleInsider, The Worldwide Developers Conference keynote will begin Monday, June 6 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple confirmed that it will show off the now-officially-named iCloud, dubbed “Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.” No additional details were given.

Also set to be revealed by Jobs and Apple executives are Mac OS X 10.7, (a.k.a., “Lion”), the eighth major release of Mac OS X, and iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

The conference will feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers. Mac developers will see and learn how to develop world-class Mac OS X Lion applications using its latest technologies and capabilities. Mobile developers will be able to explore the latest innovations and capabilities of iOS and learn how to greatly enhance the functionality, performance and design of their apps. All developers can bring their code to the labs and work with Apple engineers.

Though Tuesday marks the first official confirmation of the iCloud service, its existence was hardly a secret. The company acquired the iCloud.com domain name for an estimated US$4.5 million in April.

The iCloud service is expected to replace the existing MobileMe cloud service, which offers e-mail and syncing of contacts and calendars.

A major new component of iCloud is expected to be a music streaming service that will allow users to access their music library from any Internet-connected device, like an iPhone, without the need to save music files locally on the device. It is expected that the product will scan users’ iTunes libraries and then mirror them with Apple’s own high-quality audio files stored in the cloud.

The picture for Lion is slightly more clear, as Apple first showed off the Mac software update last October and preview releases of the software have been provided to developers. Lion will bring iOS features “back to the Mac,” including home screens, tighter integration with the Mac App Store, new multi-touch gestures, and full-screen applications that auto-save and auto-resume.

As for iOS 5, both it and Mac OS X Lion are rumored to have deep connectivity with the new iCloud service. Numerous reports have claimed that iOS 5 will offer improved voice commands, but the software is not expected to be unveiled alongside new iPhone hardware. Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone is expected to show up sometime later this year, and not at WWDC.

A more recent iOS 5 rumor from last week suggested that Apple also plans to add widgets to its mobile operating system. It was also said that Apple plans to revamp its notification system, a part of the operating system that has been heavily criticized when compared to competing platforms like Google Android and HP’s Palm webOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.