Recent Apple job postings allude to chip development effort in and around Florida

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Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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If you’re looking to design chips for Apple in sunny Florida, your dream may have come true.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple posted several job openings looking for both hardware and software engineers reveal that Apple is looking to begin its own chip development in Orlando, Florida.

Last week it was discovered that Apple is hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint technology at Authentec in Melbourne, Florida, which is about one hour south of the future site of the company’s development labs.

The job posting are interesting as Samsung, which works with Apple to develop the custom chips used in iPhones and iPads, continues to compete with Apple in the smartphone and tablet space.

Tim Cook mentioned last May that the engine that drives the iPhone was produced in Austin, Texas, which many believe pointed to Samsung’s chip development location.

The job listings range from ‘front end design management’ to ‘3D Graphics Micro-Architect’, all of which were posted in recent weeks.

Notably, the area is already populated with relevant talent as it is home to popular semiconductor company/Apple chip partner Qualcomm which may be the reason for the location.

Apple currently hosts a small office for its “Latin America General Manager” in Coral Gables, Florida, some five hours south of Orlando, Florida, illustrating the Cupertino-based company’s increasing presence in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Foxconn ends hiring freeze, hires additional workers to build next-gen iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 07:03
Category: iPhone, News

Not to worry, Foxconn will have enough people on board to construct the next-gen iPhone.

Per Bloomberg, after a brief freeze on hiring, Foxconn has allegedly begun adding employees again at one of its Chinese factories — a move said to be made in anticipation of Apple’s next iPhone.

Foxconn is in the process of gearing up to build Apple’s 2013 iPhone, a source stated to Bloomberg. The handset is commonly referred to as a so-called “iPhone 5S,” though the actual name for the unannounced product remains unknown.

A hiring freeze was instituted by Foxconn in February after more workers returned from the Chinese New Year break than did last year. Some had speculated the freeze may have been related to weaker-than-expected demand for the iPhone 5.

The new hires at Foxconn were reportedly requested by Apple to boost capacity in anticipation of its next flagship smartphone. In addition to assembling the “iPhone 5S,” the employees are also expected to handle existing models, such as the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

Rumors as to when Apple plans to launch its next iPhone have been varied, with some expecting a new handset to be unveiled as soon as June, which would mark less than a full year after the launch of the iPhone 5. In contrast, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said last week that he expects Apple to face a number of technical challenges in assembling the “iPhone 5S.”

According to Kuo, Apple is planning to include a fingerprint scanner underneath the home button of its next iPhone. This feature would allow users to bypass password entry and could potentially open the door to e-wallet functionality, but the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner is expected by Kuo to cause the “iPhone 5S” to launch later than some expect.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” Kuo said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2” faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile boosts incentives prior to iPhone launch, begins trade-in program for iPhone 4, 4S users

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Date: Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 07:08
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, offer all the incentives you can.

Per 9to5Mac, T-Mobile USA announced the latest move in their continuing initiative to lure iPhone users to their network, which currently boasts the smallest subscriber base in the country. The new iPhone trade-in program allows subscribers switching to T-Mo from other carriers to recieve deep discounts on the iPhone 5 by swapping out their older model.

According to a press release from the magenta-branded company, the down payment on the iPhone 5 will completely vanish when customers trade in an iPhone 4 or 4S, and a US$120 credit will be applied to the monthly payment for the phone, essentially cutting the price down to only US$15 a month for the remainder of the two-year don’t-call-it-a-contract “agreement.”

The iPhone 5 doesn’t officially hit T-Mobile until April 12th, but pre-orders have been open since last Friday. Some early buyers may be disappointed to learn that they could have saved quite a bit of money if only they had waited an extra seven days.

The press release specifically lists the 4 and 4S models as being tradeable, which may mean iPhone 5 owners on AT&T won’t be able to get in on the savings by trading in their current-generation devices for the updated versions that work on T-Mobile’s AWS bands. That means those customers will have to stick to their existing handsets with the latest carrier software, which will enable LTE speeds, but will not allow use of T-Mobile’s “4G” network. Instead these models will be forced to use slower speeds due to hardware differences.

If you’ve pre-ordered an iPhone from T-Mobile or want to hurl your two cents in, let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Apple receives patent for offline purchasing system

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iOS, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Patents, Software

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Ok, this is interesting.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday was awarded a patent for an offline purchasing system that would allow iTunes users to buy music, movies and other media when not connected to the internet.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,417,575 for “On-device offline purchases using credits,” which describes a system involving the purchase of offline credits stored on a given device that can be put toward media in the iTunes store even when not connected to the online marketplace.

Currently, iTunes users must be logged in or have an internet connection to successfully purchase and download content from the online storefront, but Tuesday’s patent lays the groundwork for a type of “pre-loaded” payment system. Beyond the obvious applications for on-the-go iPod touch users and perhaps frequent travelers, the patent could be a harbinger of new never before seen iTunes functionality.

According to Apple, the proposed service involves media stored on an electronic device, like an iPhone or iPod touch, that is not part of the user’s owned library. If a user wants to buy a track, but cannot connect to the Internet to provide a means of payment, they can use pre-paid credits previously purchased through the store and subsequently loaded onto the device. Once a data network is accessed, the appropriate deductions are made to a user’s on-board credit allotment.

Users can add credits to their device accounts either through the device itself or what appears to be a specialized portal on the desktop version of iTunes, along with other options. Multiple forms of payment are accepted, including credit cards, bank accounts and other digitally connected assets a user links to their online profile.

As noted by the patent, in order to play back a purchased song or movie, a device must first have a copy of said media item, as well as authorization to play back the content. The device can retrieve copies of “unauthorized” media in any number of ways, including recommendations downloaded from the media store. Carrying on with the recommendation example, the device can restrict access to the content in any number of ways until authorization, or a purchase, has been detected. In some instances, the media might be played back at a lower quality, or there could be a limit to how many times a track is played.

The locally-stored media can be displayed in a variety of arrangements, including a layout similar to the existing iTunes iOS app, making browsing and buying new content easy. Once a user makes a selection, they can purchase the locally stored media with the credits they bought in advance, which will remove the restrictions previously imposed on the content. In other words, the authorization and playback transaction would be fully completed offline.

The property could be a boon for iTunes users who don’t have ready access to the Internet and, if made real, would likely drive sales for the digital music giant. Specific implementations were not thoroughly discussed, though Apple already has iTunes Match, which allows users iCloud access to their entire music collection, even tracks imported from CDs, for a yearly fee. While mere speculation, further cloud computing integration could bring even more tie-ins with the offline purchasing service, such as music sharing or gifting.

It remains unknown if and when Apple plans to roll out the offline crediting functionality, but the device-specific solution could theoretically be implemented with a firmware update as no hardware limitations were described in the patent.

Apple’s offline purchasing patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Taido Nakajima, Tyler Mincey, Gloria Lin and Joey Darragh as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile firmware update to bring Visual Voicemail, LTE access to unlocked iPhone 5 units on carrier’s network

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Date: Monday, April 8th, 2013, 07:53
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Never doubt a nifty firmware update.

Per TmoNews, a software update released this past Friday will give iPhone 5 users on T-Mobile access to the carrier’s LTE network, in addition to adding a number of other features like Visual Voicemail

T-Mobile on Friday updated its support forums to detail the new features the carrier update will bring. All eligible iPhones using a T-Mobile SIM card will now have access to Visual Voicemail, the Commercial Mobile Alert System, and LTE connectivity on T-Mobile’s AWS spectrum for iPhone 5 users.

The update also brings HD Voice to T-Mobile iPhone 5 users, and it contains device/network optimizations that will improve battery life.

The update is restricted to iPhones running iOS 6.1.x or higher. Rumors of the update leaked earlier this month, and it has rolled out as predicted.

T-Mobile’s network currently hosts roughly two million iPhone customers using unlocked devices, adding about 100,000 more per month. The carrier will begin officially carrying Apple’s smartphone on April 12, with a 16GB iPhone 5 available for US$99. Pre-orders for the device began on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 now available for pre-order through T-Mobile

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, News, retail

There’s nothing wrong with a good pre-order via an upcoming iPhone carrier.

Per 9to5Mac, customers will be able to order the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s newly revamped “un-carrier” unlimited plans for a carrier-exclusive low price.

Along with the low down payment on the pre-order comes a two-year financing plan that totals US$579.99, which is US$70 cheaper than purchasing the phone unlocked. Plans start at US$50 per month for 500MB of high-speed data and throttled data afterward, while US$70 per month gets unlimited high-speed data.

Following the pre-orders this week, all models of the iPhone will be available for immediate purchase on April 12. Customers who purchase a new iPhone 5 through Apple or T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s speedy LTE network in markets where it is available, but those who use older AT&T or unlocked iPhone 5 models will need to install an over-the-air update to do so (and won’t get all the AWS HSPA bands without new hardware). T-Mobile also announced that the updated iPhone 5 will receive HD Voice service in a future software upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 7 to incorporate overhauled user interface, “flatter” look

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 08:38
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

It’s time to start talking about iOS 7.

Per the mighty John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design and new head of Human Interface Jony Ive has apparently made noticeable visual tweaks to Apple’s mobile platform. So much so, that “word on the street” has it that iOS engineers are required to put a polarizing filter over their iPhone displays to prevent onlookers from getting a glimpse of the new UI.

The rumor was revealed in a Branch discussion regarding the latest Apple talk, with a number of well-known bloggers airing out their thoughts on what the company has in store for 2013.

Other rumors have stated the new iOS will incorporate a “flatter” look, albeit time will tell what that actually means.

Gruber claims that iOS 7 development is “running behind,” prompting OS X 10.9 engineers to be pulled from their work to lend a hand in getting the mobile OS ready in time for launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to introduce HD Voice later this year, iPhone 5 users rejoice

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re an iPhone 5 user, your call quality with AT&T should improve this year.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and AllThingsD, when Apple introduced the iPhone 5 last year, Apple’s Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller explained that Apple updated the iPhone 5’s entire audio system. In addition to the inclusion of three microphones and an improved speaker design, Schiller also boasted that the iPhone 5 featured a technology dubbed wideband audio, otherwise known as HD Voice technology.

Phil Schiller said the technology was capable of delivering amazing sound performance and described it thusly:

In a typical cellphone call, this is what it looks like. The frequency of the data in your voice is compressed around the midrange to help make that call sound more intelligible, but it doesn’t sound entirely natural all the time. So with wideband audio we can fill up more of the frequency spectrum and make your voice sound even more natural.

In order to take advantage of the much improved call quality, however, the technology must be supported by the carrier and both devices on a particular call.

When Apple first introduced the iPhone 5, Schiller said that 20 cellphone carriers worldwide would be ready to support the iPhone 5’s wideband audio technology at launch. Notably, no US carriers were part of that original grouping of 20.

But that’s all poised to change.

According to statements made by AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne on Tuesday at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit indicating that Ma Bell is planning to roll out support for wideband audio later this year.

“HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy,” Rinne explained.

Of course, this is welcome news for AT&T subscribers who have long complained of subpar call quality measured against other US carriers like Sprint and Verizon.

Rinne also added that AT&T is taking other measures to improve call quality on its network.

Rinne, who oversees network technologies for the carrier, said that the carrier will also begin work on so-called advanced LTE which does things to reduce interference and bond together traffic from various frequencies.

Sprint is reportedly interested in supporting HD Voice as well, though a timetable for such support wasn’t specified.

So, if you ever felt your iPhone 5’s call quality was just slightly short of stellar, this should help. Verizon users, on the other hand, will have to wait until 2014 for HD Voice support.

Rumor: Unlocked GSM iPhones could go from 2G EDGE to LTE on T-Mobile network, firmware update possible

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Date: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, 13:31
Category: iOS, iPhone, Rumor

Bring your iPhone over to the right carrier and nifty things can happen.

Per TmoNews, T-Mobile customers that brought their iPhones over to the carrier will see feature enhancements and perhaps even a data speed boost when the carrier rolls out an update on Friday.

The web site carried an image of a leaked screenshot showing a carrier update set for April 5. The update will bring features like Visual Voicemail, and MMS Settings, as well as “Network/Device optimizations that customers do not have access to today.”

While unconfirmed, it is possible that these “optimizations” will give current iPhone owners on T-Mobile access to the network’s LTE network. Currently, data speeds for iPhones on T-Mobile’s network top out at 2G EDGE levels. The iPhone 5, when it reaches T-Mobile, will be able to take advantage of the carrier’s new high-speed network.

Apple’s iPhone 5 will make its official debut on T-Mobile on April 12, for US$99 on the carrier’s new UNCarrier payment plans. The OTA update for current T-Mobile iPhone users will go out to devices running iOS 6.1.x or higher beginning April 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.