Patent reveals Apple’s exploration of emergency services app for iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 08:16
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’re never far from help with an iPhone in hand.

Per FreePatentsOnline, Apple has shown continued interest in offering easy access to local emergency services when traveling through the iPhone.

The concept is detailed in a patent continuation published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “Location-Based Emergency Information,” the proposed invention is credited in part to Scott Forstall, Apple’s former chief of iOS who was chased from the company late last year.

“When a person travels abroad, emergencies can occur,” the filing states. “For example, the person can become injured in an accident, be a victim of a crime, or lose their travel documents. In those situations, having knowledge of contact information for local emergency services or the pertinent consular services can be beneficial.”

Apple notes that the process of gathering local emergency service information before traveling can be time consuming, particularly if a person plans to stop in multiple cities or countries. It’s also likely that a traveler would neglect to gather this information entirely, potentially placing them in a bad situation.

To resolve this issue, Apple’s concept includes an “Emergency” Application for iOS that would give users quick access to local medical, police or fire assistance, based on the current location of their iPhone.

The information could allow users to quickly contact emergency authorities in foreign countries, where users may not know the proper emergency number. Or in the U.S., it might provide direct numbers for non-emergency calls to authorities, preventing unnecessary calls to 9-1-1.

In one illustration, the iPhone app is shown with a unique application “drawer” that Apple said could slide out when selected. This would allow users to then tap on which emergency response service they wish to contact.

In addition to Forstall, the application is also credited to inventors Gregory N. Christie, Robert E. Borchers, and Imran A. Chaudhri. The continuation filing, made in September of 2012, stems from a patent originally filed in June 2007, around the time that the first-generation iPhone went on sale in the U.S.

Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with China Mobile representatives

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Date: Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 08:26
Category: iPhone, News

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Mr. Smith went to Washington, so it’s only logical that Tim Cook go to China.

Per Sina Tech, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook gave an interview with local media, in which he revealed that he met with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier.

Cook declined to say in his interview with Sina Tech what came of his meeting. Rumors of the iPhone becoming available on China Mobile have persisted for years, but no deal has been struck yet.

A spokesman for China Mobile confirmed that the talks took place, and said the two sides discussed “matters of cooperation.” No further details were given, as a confidentiality agreement was reportedly signed.

Currently, the iPhone is available on carriers China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile’s president confirmed a month ago that talks with Apple were ongoing, but a deal had not been reached.

Analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets believes Apple could earn 13 percent of China Mobile’s 75.6 million high-speed 3G subscribers. That doesn’t include the nearly 700 million total subscribers the carrier has, some of which could switch to smartphone plans for the iPhone.

Daryanani predicted in November that a potential deal with China Mobile could add about US$3 to Apple’s annual earnings per share, and US$45 to the company’s stock price.

The number of 3G subscribers in China grew 88 percent year over year in 2012 to 222 million. China Mobile is the only major carrier in the country that does not have a deal for Apple’s iPhone, which market watchers believe has helped to stifle the carrier’s smartphone adoption rates.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may start building lower cost iPhone in second half of 2013

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Date: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013, 08:03
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you were waiting for the iPhone to become cheaper in the face of increased competition, this might be the year for it.

Per the Wall Street Journal and DigiTimes, Apple is currently working on a cheaper iPhone that could hit the market as soon as this year.

According to people briefed on the matter, Apple is reportedly looking to a new audience with the less expensive iPhone, a move the WSJ claims is in response to slipping smartphone supremacy.

While Apple has supposedly tossed around the idea of building a more affordable iPhone “for years,” the plan is progressing toward a release in the second half of 2013.

The new device could be unveiled later this year and be marketed as an entry-level model to Apple’s flagship iPhone. Sources say the cheaper unit may take on the form factor and design of the current iPhone with a chassis made from less exotic materials like polycarbonate. Other parts could “remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 could be en route to next-gen iOS devices

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Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 07:54
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Glassmaker Corning on Thursday announced Gorilla Glass 3, a stronger, more scratch resistant version of the current substrate used in the display of Apple’s iPhone and iPad lines of mobile devices.

Per Engadget, Corning unveiled its latest glass technologies including Gorilla Glass 3 and optical cables for use in fiber-supported protocols like Thunderbolt.



As for the next-generation Gorilla Glass 3, Corning claims the material is three times more scratch resistant than the previous version thanks to “Native Damage Resistance” technology. The company also claims that of the scratches that do occur on the glass, 40 percent fewer will be visible to the naked eye.

Not much information was provided pertaining to the optical cables, but the fiber format promises enhanced speeds and longer cable runs compared to current copper-based solutions. When Apple first launched Thunderbolt-compatible Macs and the Thunderbolt display, the company promised increased performance when optical cables hit the market. Thus far, production of the expensive components has been non-existent, but that is expected to change in 2013.

Corning Glass Technologies President James P. Clappin is scheduled to be a panelist on in the “Disruptive Technologies Impacting the Future of Games and Video” session at 11 a.m. PST on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and will discuss the role of specialized glass in consumer electronics like high-resolution 3D, HD video, internet-connected TVs and tablets, among other devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in negotiations to purchase Waze map service

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Date: Thursday, January 3rd, 2013, 10:16
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

When in doubt about your own technologies, maybe it’s time to go shopping.

Per TechCrunch and The Mac Observer, Apple is apparently deep in negotiations to buy the online map service Waze. Sources say the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is willing to pay upwards of US$500 million for the company, although Waze is said to be holding out for US$750 million.

Waze’s twist on the online map and navigation market is social networking. The company gathers map data through users as they drive, and is seen as generally more accurate than some other online map services since users are contributing information daily. In contrast, Google’s Maps relies primarily on its own cars to gather data and street view photos.

Apple found itself with a marketing black eye after the release of iOS 6 in fall 2012 when it replaced Google’s Maps for its own service — a service that suffered from accuracy issues and missing location data. Apple responded with a public apology and a promise to “throw its weight” behind improving its Maps service.

The company also recently approved Google’s own mapping app for the iPhone, which brought back features missing from Apple’s own app such as public transportation information. With Google Maps available, competition in the navigation space ramped up a little, although Waze is apparently the only navigation app that gained serious traction after Apple released its own Maps app.

Apple also already has a working relationship with Waze since the company is providing some of the location data iOS 6 users rely on.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to feature next-gen iPhone models in different sizes, colors

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Date: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, 09:53
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A rumor’s a rumor and perhaps there’s some truth within it…

Per AppleInsider, Apple is said to be planning to offer customers more choices with the launch of its next-generation iPhone, including multiple colors and sizes, with an earlier-than-expected debut in the May-June timeframe.

Analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets said in a note to investors Wednesday that his checks within the industry have indicated the so-called “iPhone 5S” will come in a variety of colors beyond the current black and white. He expects that the next iPhone will be available in a total of eight colors: the pink, yellow, blue, green, purple, silver and slate shades currently found on the iPod nano, and a (Product)Red model with proceeds benefiting AIDS research.

Beyond the new colors, White also said his industry checks found that a new model could become available in multiple screen sizes. Apple currently sells the 4-inch iPhone 5 alongside the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, but the company has never offered multiple screen sizes for a single model.

“We believe this is about to change with the next iPhone offering different screen sizes that we believe will allow Apple to better bifurcate the market and expand its reach,” White said. “This eventually opens up the possibility for a lower-priced iPhone (i.e., iPhone mini) with a smaller screen size that could allow Apple to further penetrate markets such as China and open up opportunities in India.”

The possibility of different iPhone screen sizes also opens up the opportunity for Apple to build a handset with a larger display. Apple’s chief rival, Samsung, has found some success in the market with its Galaxy Note series, which features a 5.5-inch screen with its latest model.

The launch of the iPhone 5 in September marked the first time that Apple has changed the screen size of the iPhone. The new 4-inch screen is slightly taller than the previous 3.5-inch screen, but remains the same width, allowing the handset to be operated with one hand.

As for new colors, White expects that expanded options will also eventually come to the iPad lineup, though no timeframe was given. The iPad mini launched in late October with design cues borrowed from the redesigned iPhone 5 and iPod touch, including an anodized aluminum back, but the device lacks the array of color options found in the iPod touch lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple inks deal with Broadcom, will bring 802.11ac functionality to 2013 Macs

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Date: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, 09:30
Category: Hardware, Rumor, wireless

This could lead to something nifty.

Per The Next Web, Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Broadcom that will place superfast 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips in its 2013 Mac lineup.

Sources familiar with the deal indicated that the forthcoming industry standard for Wi-Fi will appear in Apple’s lineup this year. The so-called “5G Wi-Fi” offers up to 1.3Gbps data with a three-antenna design.

Apple has reportedly shown interest in the past of being an early adopter of 801.11ac technology, but the “Gigabit Wi-Fi” technology has yet to appear in any Macs. The new standard achieves much faster wireless networking speeds than 802.11n, which featured in current Macs, by using more frequency bandwidth, more efficient data transfers, and more antennas.

Apple’s current Macs use up to three antennas to achieve 802.11n speeds of up to 450Mbps. But the 802.11ac standard starts at 450Mbps with just one antenna, while a triple-antenna design boosts wireless speeds to 1.3Gbps.

While Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Broadcom, the chips the company will use are not yet available and remain in development.

“We have been told that if work goes according to schedule, they should be part of the new line of Mac computers,” author Matt Brian wrote on Wednesday. “There is no word on whether Apple will introduce similar chipsets in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Time Capsule or other products.”

Presumably Apple’s networking products would receive the necessary upgrade to provide 802.11ac connectivity to the rumored 2013 Macs. That would include the AirPort Extreme Base Station router and AirPort Express portable Wi-Fi base station and AirPlay streaming device.

Apple was among the first companies to bring Wi-Fi to the masses in 1999 when company co-founder Steve Jobs debuted a wireless iBook notebook onstage as his trademark “one more thing” at the July Macworld Expo.

The company also snuck in support for the 802.11n wireless standard in some of its devices in 2006. Support for the “draft n” specification was later added to devices through an available software update. The 802.11n standard was formally ratified in October of 2009 — nearly three years after Apple began rolling it out.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

TSMC to replace Samsung as A6X chip manufacturer for upcoming iPad devices

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Date: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, 08:14
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Processors

The company may not have the prettiest logo in the world, but they DO have a killer Apple contract that a lot of people in their industry would love to have.

Per channelnewsasia.com, after years of rumors, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is said to finally begin trial production of A6X chips for Apple’s fourth-generation iPad this quarter, further marginalizing Samsung’s role in Apple’s supply chain.

TSMC has been contracted to manufacture the A6X chip found in the latest iPad. A report published on Wednesday said trial production of the mobile chips will begin in the first quarter of the year.

Apple has long been rumored to be interested in switching its mobile chip manufacturing from Samsung to TSMC. The iPad maker, which was once Samsung’s biggest customer, has been looking to remove Samsung from its supply chain as the two companies are engaged in a number of patent infringement lawsuits around the world.

Recent reports had indicated that Apple planned to have TSMC begin producing mobile chips in 2013. But some reports pegged a late 2013 start date as more likely.

With the latest rumor pegging TSMC’s deal as only for trial production of the A6X, it’s still unclear exactly when TSMC-produced chips could begin appearing in Apple’s iOS devices. Currently, all of the mobile processors used in the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV are built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex.

Switching its chip manufacturing from Samsung to TSMC is expected to be a complex transition that could take Apple as long as 18 months to complete.

Rumors that surfaced last month pegged TSMC has the most likely company behind a mysterious “Project Azalea” that numerous states are competing to win. The secretive project involves an unnamed semiconductor manufacturing company considering a new chip fabrication plant in four potential states: New York, California, Texas and Oregon.

The chip manufacturer behind the “Azalea” project is said to have ties to Apple, which has led numerous reports to suggest TSMC as the most likely company behind the mystery project. The states bidding for the contract have signed nondisclosure agreements, making the company unknown.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Metropolitan Transit Authority releases train-locating app for iOS devices

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 08:10
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

If you live in the greatest city in the world, this can only help.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transit Authority on Friday released an iOS app that will let riders of seven train lines plan their trips to the minute, a first for the largest subway system in the U.S.



The official MTA Subway Time app uses train location data to provide iPhone and iPod touch owners with up-to-the-minute arrival times for seven of the system’s 24 lines.

The MTA spent 11 years and over US$228 million to install digital train-tracking sensors and relevant equipment required to serve up real-time location data. The iOS app taps into the system and feeds commuters with arrival times, though the service is available mostly aboveground as cellular extension networks planned for underground stations have yet to be completed. A large portion of the subway’s train location sensors date back fifty years, just before the proliferation of microprocessors and digital communications.

Among the first lines to get support for the new free service are Nos. 1 through 6 and the 42nd Street Shuttle. Two more lines, the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan’s 14th Street and the No. 7 line between Queens and Midtown Manhattan, are currently being upgraded to be compatible with the new system. Updates to the L line are expected to be completed in six months to a year, while the No. 7 won’t be ready until at least 2016.

According to the app’s description, users will also be notified of service delays and reroutes prior to fare payment, a useful tool for on-the-go commuters.

Android and Windows Phone versions of the app are in the works, but unlike the iOS app, those will be built by third-party companies. The agency is also allowing developers access to the sensor data feeds, allowing app makers to build real-time tracking programs with more robust features than those offered by the official app.

MTA Subway Time for iOS is available now as a free download through the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple may switch to IGZO displays for next-gen iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, December 27th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, Rumor

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Next year could be interesting where iOS devices are concerned.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is reportedly in talks with Sharp to use the company’s IGZO display technology in next-generation iPhones and iPads, but low yield rates have prompted the Cupertino tech giant to look at other Asian display makers in efforts to bolster its supply chain.

According to sources close to the story, Apple is said to be further evaluating Sharp’s IGZO panel production capacity for 2013 ahead of rolling out the technology in upcoming iPhone, iPad and iPad mini models. Rumors of Apple’s interest in using IGZO, or indium, gallium and zinc oxide, displays first surfaced in late 2011.

While the Sharp-developed screens are thinner and more efficient than those found in current iDevices, Apple was unable to take advantage of the technology as the struggling Japanese electronics firm saw setbacks with initial yields. Only recently has the company introduced the first IGZO panels with its own mobile offerings limited to the Japanese domestic market.

It appears that supply constraints are a continuing concern, as Apple is said to also be evaluating whether display partner AU Optronics’ “L5C” line can be used to produce the cutting edge panels. In addition, Innolux was reportedly granted a license to make IGZO displays, suggesting that the Taiwanese company may become an Apple display supplier.

The most recent rumors surrounding an IGZO-toting Apple product came in July when sources in China claimed the tech would be one of the standout features of the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.