O'Grady's PowerPage » iPhone

Corning unveils Gorilla Glass 2 at CES, material now 0.8mm thick and withstands 121 pounds of pressure

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Date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, 09:13
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

Because you always wanted your iPhone to be nigh-on-invincible.

Per Gizmodo, Corning unveiled its new Gorilla Glass 2 at CES this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the original Gorilla Glass was about 1 millimeter thick, the new material is 20 percent thinner at just 0.8mm.

Corning said Gorilla Glass 2 will enable device makers to build thinner and sleeker devices with brighter images and greater touch sensitivity. Gorilla Glass is widely believed to be used in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, though the company has not revealed its suppliers for recent products like the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

Product qualification and design implementation for Corning Gorilla Glass 2 is said to be underway with Corning’s customers. Devices featuring Gorilla Glass 2 will reportedly be unveiled over the coming months. While the new glass is just 0.8mm, it can withstand 121 pounds of pressure without cracking.

Corning’s special glass is 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, thanks to a chemically strengthened alkali-aluminosilicate material. It is the most widely used cover glass, featured in more than 30 major brands and 575 different product models, with more than 500 million units sold worldwide.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4S approved by China’s Radio Management Agency, moves closer to market

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Date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, 05:53
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re over in the orient, you might appreciate this.

Per the Wall Street Journal, an iPhone 4S model compatible with China Telecom’s network has been approved by regulators.

The newspaper reported that an Apple device, model number A1387 — the same number as current iPhone 4S models — was approved by the national telecom regulator’s China Radio Management agency, and is listed as being compatible with CDMA-2000, the same 3G network technology used by China Telecom.

The device must still receive other certifications, including a network access license, before it can be sold in the country, but the approval does signal that the handset should be available on China Telecom in the near future. Currently, China Unicom is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in China; it will launch the iPhone 4S this coming Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 beta 3, areas of improvement still hazy

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Date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, 04:42
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s not as specific as you might like it to be, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday supplied developers with a new pre-release build of its mobile operating system in the form of iOS 5.1 beta 3.

Little is known so far about the latest beta, which was issued to test devices as an over-the-air update. iOS 5.1 beta 1 is not yet available to developers as a direct download from Apple, and as such, there aren’t yet any release notes.

The second beta of iOS 5.1 came a month ago, and gave developers the ability to delete individual Photo Stream pictures. In current, public versions of iOS, users cannot delete individual Photo Stream pictures, and must turn off the Photo Stream feature entirely if they do not want a picture to be stored on Apple’s servers.

iOS 5.1 beta 3 is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The first beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers in late November. It included references to a next-generation iPhone, labeled “iPhone5,1,” as well as third-generation iPad models, “iPad3,2” and “iPad3,3.”

If you’ve received the new beta and have any feedback to offer, let us know what you think in the comments.

Liquipel offers iPhone waterproofing without the need for a case

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Date: Monday, January 9th, 2012, 04:06
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

This could be nifty.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, accessory outfitter Liquipel claims to make your smartphone water resistant by bonding it inside and out with a “nano” coating which repels water.

The downside (for now) is that you’ll have to send your device off to Liquipel for a few days for them to coat it. A rep has stated that the company is hoping to work directly with manufacturers to integrate their coating before you buy a phone. In that case, you’d buy a water resistant phone automatically, eliminating the need for a LifeProof case or OtterBox if you’re just going to have your phone by the pool.

Currently the Liquipel coating costs US$59 for a 1-2 day turnaround for coating your phone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple may leave iPhone 4S call drop bug in final build of iOS 5.1

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Date: Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, 04:16
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes the bugs tend to stick around.

Per GigaOM and a 109-page thread on the Apple Support Communites forum, the problem cropped up when the iPhone 4S was launched in November 2011 only to remain unfixed when iOS 5.0.1 was released a month later to deal with battery life complaints, and a look at the new build of an update seeded to developers shows that the audio issues will likely remain unresolved.

The issue was first identified when a number of Apple Community forum members began to complain that the audio on their iPhone 4S was intermittently failing when placing calls, forcing them to hang up and dial again. Interestingly, recipients on the other end were unaffected and could reportedly hear the iPhone user who originated the call.

The reports are fairly widespread as the Apple forum thread alone is still very active and now has well over 1,600 replies. Some are reporting a 1 in 10 audio failure rate, while others are seeing multiple back-to-back calls experiencing the problem.

It is unclear what is to blame for the audio failure, and although most calls go through without a problem, some users have reported the issue becoming bad enough that they needed to reboot their device.

Some forum members posit that the iOS software is to blame as the problem is not exclusive to the 4S and has been seen on previous generation iPhone 4 models running iOS 5. Others suggest the issue arises from new hardware in the 4S and its inability to communicate with carriers’ networks.

Affected users were hoping that the issue would be resolved when iOS 5.0.1 was released, though it seems that the problem remains. The newest build of the iOS, now in the hands of developers, also reportedly doesn’t address the situation.

Although no conclusive solution has been found for “Audiogate,” as some forum members have taken to calling it, workarounds have been found and include using a bluetooth headset, placing the call through Siri and completing a full restore of handset software.

Apple has yet to make any official statement regarding the matter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS alarm bug resolved under newer versions of iOS, Apple recommends updating if possible

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Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 12:06
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes Apple can pin things down from their end.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, a problem with iOS alarms breaking on January 1st or the 2nd appears to been solved by Apple, at least in part. In 2011 the glitch caused some iOS devices to stay silent despite alarms being toggled on in the Clock app. Most iOS 5 devices have been working normally in 2012.

Still vulnerable though are devices running iOS 4.2.1. The gap is important mainly because v4.2.1 is last version of iOS supported by the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod touch. Those devices will likely never have fully-functional alarms, since Apple has never retroactively updated iOS, unlike OS X.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know.

Apple patent for iOS device facial recognition goes live

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 05:59
Category: iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

At least your iPad will remember who you are.

Per Free Patents Online, a recently published patent application shows how future iOS devices could use a forward-facing camera to recognize an individual user, whereupon the device could automatically customize applications, settings and features to a user’s personal preferences once they pick up the unit.

Entitled “Low Threshold Face Recognition,” the patent describes a low-computation solution for quickly and accurately recognizing a user.

The filing provides a simple way for multiple users to share a single device, like an iPad. Each user could customize their personal profile with unique wallpaper, applications and settings, and that profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user’s face.

Apple’s application notes that robust facial recognition systems that work in various lighting conditions and orientations can be taxing on an electronic device, requiring resources and draining battery life.

Its solution would reduce the impact of lighting conditions and biometric distortions on an image. The filing describes a “low-computation solution for reasonably effective (low threshold) face recognition that can be implemented on camera-equipped consumer portable appliances.”

Rather than aggressively analyzing a user’s entire face and using up time and resources, Apple’s concept would rely on a “high information portion” of a human face. Potential high information portions could include eyes, a mouth, or the tip of a user’s nose.

By recognizing the individual features on a user’s face, the system could scale the distance between someone’s eyes and their mouth. That distance could then be measured against the reference image originally captured by the user in order to confirm it is in fact the same person.

Apple’s application notes that its facial recognition capabilities could be constantly active due to lower power consumption. This means a user could simply point an iPhone or iPad at their face, without pressing a button, and have the screen automatically turn on and unlock the device.

This could be accomplished through an “orange-distance filter,” which would capture the “likely presence” of a human face in front of a camera. This filter would also be used to detect a person’s skin tone, and measure the distance of their face from the camera.

Once a user has been recognized, the facial recognition technology could not only grant them access to the device, but also customize its settings based on a unique user profile. Each user would be presented with a personalized configuration, as an iPhone or iPad would be able to “modify screen saver slide shows or other appliance non-security preferences,” the application reads.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in June of 2009. It is credited to Robert Mikio Free.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Argentina enacts ban on iPhone, BlackBerry imports as part of effort to boost local production

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Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

If you were planning on hitting up Argentina any time soon, snagging an iPhone there just got that much harder.

In an attempt to rectify issues with Argentina’s economy, the South American country placed a temporary ban on imports of foreign-made electronics. Two of the most well-known of those electronics are the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Apple and RIM collectively account for 60 percent of Argentina’s smartphone market, so the ban is going to have a substantial impact on its mobile industry.

According to Electronista, Neither of the operating systems nor the hardware manufacturers were affected because they — Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. — have manufacturing facilities within Argentina. Android and Windows Phone will very quickly see a boost in sales, while iPhone and BlackBerry sales will drop to zero, unless of course Apple and RIM open up local plants or partner with other manufacturers.

In all actuality, the iPhone and BlackBerry markets have been struggling in Argentina for a while. A law was already in place that added a 20.48 percent tax on electronic imports on top of the standard 21 percent sales tax.

The government of Argentina says they will lift the ban on iPhones and BlackBerrys when the economy shows significant signs of stabilization, but there’s no telling just when that will happen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing specialized CPUs for HDTV units

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 09:17
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

When in doubt, roll your own.

Per DigiTimes, rather than utilize off-the-shelf chips from a company such as Intel, Apple is expected to use its own custom-built chips like in the iPhone and iPad for its anticipated television set.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Siliconware Precision Industries are three companies expected to bid on orders with Apple. The companies could build custom ARM-based chips to power an Apple television, much like the A4 CPU, first released in the iPad in 2010, is found in the current Apple TV set-top box.

Apple is said to have already signed a foundry agreement with TSMC earlier this year, utilizing its 28nm and 20nm process technologies. That deal was said to be for next-generation “A6” and “A7” processors for the iPhone and iPad, but it’s possible an Apple television could also utilize the advanced chips.

In addition to featuring custom chips, the Apple television is also expected to be assembled by Foxconn Electronics, industry sources reportedly said. Foxconn already builds most of Apple’s devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

The report said Apple is expected to finalize the hardware standards for its television set at the end of the second quarter of 2012. After that, it will place orders for customized chips and other components directly with its contract manufacturers. That’s the same approach Apple uses to build its iPad and iPhone lineups.

The Taiwan electronics industry publication once again pegged the Apple television for launch by the end of 2012. On Tuesday, DigiTimes also said that suppliers are expected to begin preparing components for the anticipated HDTV in the first quarter of 2012, and that it will have screen sizes of 32 and 37 inches.

Earlier reports also claimed that Apple will buy chips from Samsung for its television set, while Sharp is expected to manufacture displays. As for content, analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said earlier Wednesday that Apple is hoping to offer Internet-based content subscriptions that will allow customers to choose their own custom channel lineups, offering an experience very different from current cable and satellite plans.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple awarded key multitouch technology patent, able to cite wider legal defense regarding oscillating signal technologies

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 05:06
Category: News, Patents


Patent: It’s good to have ’em.

According to Patently Apple, Apple won a core multitouch patent regarding oscillating signals that was alluded to when Steve Jobs first announced the original iPhone in 2007, and adds to the company’s already formidable legal arsenal.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office published on Tuesday that the Cupertino, Calif. company now owns a crucial patent that describes how touch events are recognized by a touchscreen device, and was one of the “200+ Patents for new inventions” Jobs lauded when the iPhone first debuted.

The newly granted patent focuses on the oscillator signal and circuit of a touchscreen-equipped device, an integral invention directly related to how users interact with their multitouch products.

Apple states in the filing:
“In general, multi-touch panels may be able to detect multiple touches (touch events or contact points) that occur at or about the same time, and identify and track their locations.”

Previous to the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, most touch-capable devices relied on single-touch input like resistive touchscreens. The legacy technology “senses” a touch when two electrically resistive sheets separated by a small gap are connected by the push of a finger or stylus, which in turn creates a voltage division that is detected by a device controller that records the change along the x and y axes.

Resistive displays are limited in that they can only recognize single inputs no matter how many objects are touching the screen.

One way to record multiple touches at a time is to generate an oscillating signal circuit that can power and clock inputs over a substrate as in a capacitive touchscreen display, however it is difficult to create a precise circuit-based oscillator.

Apple’s patent provides a solution to capacitive touchscreen problem by using calibration logic circuitry which compares the signal oscillation against a reference signal and tunes the clock frequency accordingly. The invention provides for an accurate capacitive display that can not only sense multiple touches, but also detect hover or near touches which are also recognized as “touch events.”

The patent wording states that the invention could apply to computing devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets or handhelds, including digital music and video players and mobile telephones. Also mentioned are public computing systems like kiosks and ATMs.

The news follows a Dec. 19 U.S. International Trade Commission decision which resulted in an import ban on HTC Android handsets that infringe on Apple’s Data Detectors patent. The injunction will take take effect on April 19, 2012, however HTC CEO Peter Chou said the Taiwanese company is already testing workarounds to bypass the ITC ruling.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.