O'Grady's PowerPage » iPhone

Recent Xcode references point towards quad-core ARM CPUs for future iOS devices

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

While Apple may not always tell you what hardware features are on the horizon where its iOS devices are concerned, the development tools can spill the beans.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, a number of references found inside Apple’s Xcode developer tool point towards quad-core ARM CPUs, hinting at next-generation processors that will power Apple’s future iPhones and iPads.

The references specifically point towards the idea that Apple recently added support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.

Author Chris Foresman concluded that it’s “most probable” that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototype versions of future iPhones and iPads. The existing chip could serve as a placeholder while Apple works on its own custom-built next-generation processors.

Reports have indicated that Apple’s next anticipated ARM CPU, dubbed “A6,” will be built on a 28-nanometer process and use 3D stacking technology. There has been no mention of a quad-core ARM CPU from Apple in 2012. The A5 CPU found in the iPad 2 is a dual core processor.

It’s also possible that the Xcode references signal that Apple will begin using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air, something that Apple has been rumored to be testing in its internal labs. However, Foresman noted that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors are built on an advanced 22-nanometer process that will boost performance and reduce battery life, while ditching Intel would require developers to recompile Mac OS X software for ARM-based Macs.

Apple’s so-called “A6” CPU is believed to be in trial production for a 2012 launch, presumably in a third-generation iPad. The company is believed to have even signed a new foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build an “A7” CPU, which would be projected to debut in devices in 2013.

Apple began designing its own chips following the acquisition of boutique microprocessor design company P.A. Semi in 2008 for US$278 million. Then in 2010, Apple acquired Intrinsity, another chipmaker, for an estimated $121 million.

Apple’s custom chips debuted last year in the first-generation iPad, in the form of the A4 processor. That same chip later appeared in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, while the A5 debuted this March in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.2 build 11C62 to developer community, includes additional iCloud tools

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 06:05
Category: News, Software

System updates: they’re a good thing.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple has released a new beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied to developers on Thursday with no known issues.

The latest build, coined “11C62”, and weighs in at 740.2MB in its delta form. It comes less than a week after the last beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied for testing.

The latest Lion betas have included iCloud integration, while previous builds required that developers download a separate installer to test Apple’s forthcoming syncing and storage service.

The new beta comes the same day that Apple has warned developers it will reset all iCloud data. The reset is being done in preparation for the launch of the new free service.

Apple has not officially announced a specific release date for iCloud, and instead revealed in June that the service will become available this fall. It will store content such as photos, e-mail and contacts, and wirelessly push it to devices, including Macs, iPhones and iPads.

People familiar with the beta issued on Thursday said the latest build again has no known issues. The focus areas are said to remain the same as they were previously, and include Address Book, Graphics Drivers, iCal, iChat, iCloud, the Mac App Store, Mail, MobileMe, Safari, Spotlight and Time Machine.

Mac OS X 10.7.2 will likely be released when iCloud and iOS 5 are made available to the public. They are expected to be released at an event rumored to be scheduled for Oct. 4, where Apple is also expected to introduce its fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to add KDDI as Japanese iPhone carrier, end Softbank monopoly

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Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A monopoly can’t last forever.

Per The Nikkei, Japanese carrier KDDI will break up rival Softbank’s exclusive hold on Apple’s iPhone in the country early next year, when it will reportedly begin selling the iPhone 5.

The business newspaper said on Thursday it had learned that the company will offer Apple’s next-generation iPhone through its “au” service in the first quarter of 2012.

The report noted that Apple plans to released the device worldwide in “mid-October,” adding that KDDI will begin selling the device next year because “it will take time for preparations. The carrier’s flat rate for iPhone data services is said to cost 4000 yen (US$52), roughly comparable to Softbank’s pricing.

Softbank, the third-largest cellular provider in Japan, has enjoyed boosted profitability because of its exclusive deal with Apple. But, being limited to just one carrier has curbed Apple’s ability to compete with rival Android devices, which are available on first-place NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

Shares of Softbank tumbled 10 percent on the rumor. One analyst said the increased competition could result in a wave of price cuts. “I’m bracing myself for a huge shake-up in the sector for the next six to 12 months,” remarked Michito Kimura, a senior market analyst at IDC Japan.

The iPhone 5 is expected to include the A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera, while additional rumors have buzzed that Apple will release a retooled iPhone 4 to target the midrange market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins ordering NAND Flash memory from alternate vendors, works to curb reliance on Samsung

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Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 03:42
Category: Finance, News, retail


When in doubt, find another supplier.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is increasing purchases of flash memory from Japanese suppliers in an effort to scale back its dependance on Samsung for components, as the two companies continue their legal dispute.

DigiTimes on Thursday cited industry sources as saying that Apple has tapped Toshiba and Elpida Memory for orders of DRAM and NAND flash.

“Apple has moved to reduce its reliance on memory supplies from Samsung Electronics, the sources claimed,” the report read. “The vendor has procured more NAND flash parts from Toshiba, and mobile RAM from Elpida, the sources indicated.”

The tipsters also suggested that the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung has been “key to encouraging” Apple to broaden its supplier base. According to the report, the Korean electronics giant has been the largest component supplier for Apple’s products in the past.

Last week, reports emerged that Apple had signed a foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to manufacture the next two generations of Apple processors. The deal has been viewed as a significant blow to Samsung, which was contracted to produce the A4 and A5 chips used to power Apple’s iOS devices.

Apple is slated to be Samsung’s largest customer this year with a projected US$7.8 billion in parts, up from US$5.7 billion in 2010. The company has become the world’s largest consumer of memory chips in recent years as it incorporated flash storage into its products.

In 2005, Apple revealed that it had reached agreements with several flash suppliers, including Samsung, to pre-pay more than US$1 billion to guarantee flash shipments through 2010. Earlier this year, then COO Tim Cook called the deal a “fantastic use of Apple’s cash.”

For its part, Samsung currently boasts a more than 40 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market and a 30 percent share of NAND flash production.

The disagreement between the two companies has heightened in recent months. According to Samsung executives speaking on condition of anonymity, the company is already planning to target the as-yet-unannounced iPhone 5 with patent infringement suits when it arrives in Korea. Another recent report said Samsung will also pursue legal action against Apple’s next-generation handset in Europe.

Recent gains made by Apple in Australia have prompted Samsung to fight back with a countersuit against the iPhone and iPad. Apple also won a permanent ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany earlier this month after a court ruled that Samsung’s tablet looks too similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPhone 5 media event on October 4th, Tim Cook to be main speaker

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Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:01
Category: iPhone, Rumor


It’s not confirmed yet, but there’s a date for it.

Per All Things Digital, Apple will hold its next big media event will be held on October 4th, where freshly minted CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the iPhone 5. Sources close to the situation say Cook will be the main presenter at the event, with execs Phil Schiller, Scott Forstall and Eddy Cue playing supporting roles.

This would mark the first time that Cook has actually led an Apple event, adding an extra wrinkle of significance to an already highly anticipated occasion. The site’s sources went on to say that the next-gen iPhone will be available for purchase “within a few weeks” of the announcement.

The article acknowledges that the exact date of its unveiling is still subject to change.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked town hall meeting notes point toward T-Mobile not receiving iPhone 5 in 2011

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 09:26
Category: iPhone, News

It’s turning into a weird year for T-Mobile.

Per TmoNews, an image has surfaced from an internal news posting with T-Mobile USA sharing word from Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman that the carrier will not be offering the iPhone 5 this year. Brodman’s comment apparently came as part of a September 15th company town hall meeting.

“Our business is working very hard to improve performance over the last couple of years and we’ve had some great success,” said Brodman. New products and value plans are fueling customer response, he added, and Brodman expects the excitement to continue into the holiday season as T-Mobile introduces two new smartphones. Note: “We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman said.
Brodman’s comment does not eliminate the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone 5 at some point in the future, but it seems that the carrier will not be a launch partner for the device.

Several mainstream media reports have claimed that Sprint will become the third major U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone with the debut of the iPhone 5 next month, but the fate of the iPhone on T-Mobile USA has been less clear. Despite a few claims of a T-Mobile iPhone coming this year and evidence of prototypes for testing on the carrier’s network, there had yet to be any solid reports of an launch from mainstream sources.

T-Mobile’s status is of course complicated by AT&T’s efforts to acquire the carrier, and effort that is being opposed by the U.S. government, Sprint, and a number of other groups.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kazaa resurfaces in iOS form, service recrafted as subscription-based music service

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 05:04
Category: News, Software

It’s usually a better idea to run things above the board.

Per iPodNN, former filesharing service Kazaa has released an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The app allows subscribers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee. It can download songs and save playlists for offline listening. The Kazaa app also provides a social media function that shows subscribers what songs their friends are listening to or recommend.

Earlier this year, Kazaa was encouraging iPad and iPhone owners to use its browser-based service, possibly to avoid the App Store’s 30 percent royalty on purchases.

In its first incarnation, Kazaa was the largest peer-to-peer network in the world. It was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of the four major US record labels. Kazaa settled the case five years ago for US$100 million and reinvented itself as a subscription-based digital music service.

The app (free, App Store) comes with a one week free trial, then changes to a US$10 per month subscription and requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News


After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

China Mobile CEO hints at upcoming 4G technologies for Apple iPhone

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:08
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the hints that make technology interesting.

The chairman of China Mobile, the largest wireless operator in the world, revealed this week that his company is hopeful it will collaborate with Apple to create a 4G LTE-capable iPhone model.

Per Bloomberg, Chairman Wang Jianzhou said in an interview on Thursday that China Mobile has been in talks with Apple about producing a high-speed 4G iPhone. The carrier has been working to launch its time-division long-term evolution, or TD-LTE, fourth-generation data network, and wants to see that Apple’s iPhone is compatible.

“We discussed this issue with Apple,” Wang reportedly said. “We hope Apple will produce a new iPhone with TD-LTE. We have already got a positive answer from Apple.”

Currently, the iPhone is exclusive to China Unicom in the nation of over a billion people. But China Mobile is the largest prize, with more than 611 million subscribers.

The iPhone currently operates on 3G data speeds, but newer and faster 4G networks are spreading across the globe. Apple has publicly downplayed the prospect of embracing LTE technology in the iPhone in the near future, as first-generation LTE devices available on the market have been plagued with poor battery life, among other issues associated with the still-early technology.

In April, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook indicated his company is in no rush to adopt 4G technology in its products. He admitted that Apple has explored LTE, but the company wasn’t ready to make the jump with the launch of a CDMA Verizon iPhone in February.

Before Apple creates a TD-LTE iPhone for China Mobile, it will likely first introduce a 3G-capable model compatible with its unique homegrown network. Wang revealed on Thursday that there are more than 8.5 million iPhone users on China Mobile, but those using unlocked phones are restricted to the carrier’s much slower second-generation network. Apple is rumored to release the its fifth-generation iPhone for China Mobile this year.

In March, Wang went on record as saying that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs had “expressed interest in an LTE iPhone” and was willing to start development “at an early date.” Wang also said in January that Apple has “made it clear” that future updates to the iPhone will support long-term evolution 4G technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.