Apple secures 48 assorted patents, including inductive charging, integrating portable electronics with bicycles

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Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

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It never hurts to have a patent for something.

Much less 48 of ‘em.

Per AppleInsider , the United States Patent and Trademark office published 48 newly granted Apple patents on Tuesday, covering technologies ranging from inductive charging to bike-integrated iPods, as well as one property covering the touchscreen technology that enables the latest iOS devices to achieve their current slimness.

The patents granted on Wednesday involve components and design elements for virtually all of Apple’s product offerings.

Inductive charging using printed coils:
This patent, filed for in June of 2012, describes systems “for harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils.” Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,362,751 calls for one or more moveable magnets that, when traveling along the path of the printed coils, can power a device.

The technology is akin to shake-to-charge flashlights that use induction to produce electric current which is stored in capacitors for later use. This type of system eschews the need for bulky batteries that must be plugged in for charging or replaced when depleted.

A similar technology is used in rival devices — including the Google-LG-produced Nexus 4 and Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phone 8 handsets — which integrate inductive charging systems that use a wall charger to recharge built-in batteries, thus doing away with pesky electrical cords. Apple has yet to bring a competing technology to market. Prior to the release of the iPhone 5, rumors circulated that Apple would bring wireless charging to bear in that handset, but Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said after the unveiling that the perceived convenience of such systems was questionable, since charging mats would still need to be plugged into an outlet.

In September, an Apple patent application emerged demonstrating a “realistic and practical approach to wireless power, providing over-the-air electricity to low-power devices within a distance of one meter.

Integrated touchscreen:
Apple also was granted a patent on a design for “displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup.” This is a continuation of the in-cell touchscreen patent, granted in July of 2012, which made an appearance in the iPhone 5. The in-cell touch panel technology allows Apple to make its devices noticeably thinner, but initial yield rates for the panels were problematic, and Apple is said to be evaluating a newer technology using “touch-on” displays, averting some of the problems that came with in-cell touch panels.

Notably, the patent granted today gives a mobile phone, a media player, and a notebook computer as examples of where the technology could be implemented. Tim Cook famously dismissed touch-enabled PC form factors, saying they were like “[converging] a toaster and a refrigerator.”

Integrating a portable electronic device with a bicycle:
Also among the patents Apple secured today was a design for interfacing an electronic device with a bicycle. In the filing, the device receives output from sensors coupled to the bicycle, displaying riding characteristics and even communicating with other devices in order to allow cyclists to ride as a team and assist each other.

The application for the patent originally emerged in 2010. Technology such as that seen in the patent has yet to materialize in any Apple products, but it is in keeping with other fitness-related offerings, such as the Nike+ compatibility seen in iPods and iPhones.

Tuesday’s patent haul covers many other technologies, including motion-based payment confirmation, beamforming antenna systems, device cooling mechanisms, and more. Among companies worldwide, Apple in 2012 ranked 21st for the total number of patents granted in 2012. Last year saw the Cupertino company granted 1,135 patents, just behind Google, which secured 1,151 patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“jOBS” biopic to be released in theaters on April 19th

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Date: Thursday, January 24th, 2013, 08:49
Category: News

On Wednesday, it was announced “jOBS,” the independent biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, will hit theaters on April 19.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, the movie’s April 1st release will coincide with Apple’s 37th anniversary. Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 and incorporated on Jan. 3, 1977.


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According to the film’s producers, jOBS will chronicle the defining 30 years of the tech mogul from 1971 to 2000.

Alongside Kutcher will be Ahna O’Reilly in the role of Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan, while broadway star Josh Gad will play Steve Wozniak. Other cast members include Matthew Modine as former Apple CEO John Sculley.

The indie film is not to be confused with a big-budget Sony-backed picture that has Academy and Emmy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) adapting Walter Isaacson’s official biography. Unlike jOBS, Sorkin’s version will take place over the course of three scenes that will portray the pivotal moments leading up to the product unveilings of the original Mac, NeXT and the iPod.

Ahead of the April 19 release date, jOBS will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival as a closing night film on Jan. 27.

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.

Apple releases third iOS 6.1 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012, 08:01
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

This could lead to some cool stuff.

Per AppleInsider, developers on Monday were provided with the third pre-release beta of iOS 6.1, Apple’s forthcoming software update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The update is available through Software Update in the iOS Settings application. People familiar with the software said it is identified as build “10B5117b.” It arrives three weeks after the second beta was issued.

One person testing the software stated that users are now asked to enter security questions for iCloud once their device boots up. This feature was not in previous betas of iOS 6.1.

The iOS 6.1 beta is compatible with the fourth-, third- and second-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and the fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple informed developers that the beta “contains bug fixes and improvements.”

Earlier betas of iOS 6.1 added the ability to purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri.

The first two betas of iOS 6.1 also featured an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow developers to search for map-based addresses in points of interest. In one example provided to developers, users could search the term “coffee,” and the system would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

If you’ve managed to get your mitts on the new beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments. Otherwise, stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Nokia releases “Here” map application to iOS App Store, offers alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps program

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Date: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012, 08:40
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you’re looking for an alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps, Nokia just delivered.

Per The Next Web, Nokia on Tuesday made good on a promise to bring its new “Here” mapping service to iOS as it launched a free app complete with offline caching and voice-guided walking directions.

The “Here” app comes exactly one week after Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that the app would be available for iPhones, iPads and iPods sometime in the coming weeks.

According to Nokia, the HTML5-based mapping solution includes offline capabilities and, unlike Apple’s own Maps app, voice-guided walking navigation and public transportation directions.

“Maps are hard to get right – but location is revolutionizing how we use technology to engage with the real world,” said Nokia’s Executive Vice President of Location & Commerce Michael Halbherr, who is responsible for Here. “That’s why we have been investing and will continue to invest in building the world’s most powerful location offering, one that is unlike anything in the market today.”

The Finnish company also noted that future updates will come with 3D capabilities akin to Apple and Google’s solutions, which will come from technology acquired by earthmine. Nokia is rolling out the mapping service on its Microsoft Windows Phone handsets as well as versions for Google’s Android and Mozilla’s Firefox OS.

Nokia’s app is one of the first major no-cost mapping submissions to rival Apple’s Maps app, which caused a flap with consumers and the media when it was released as part of iOS 6 in September. With Maps, Apple chose to move away from its longstanding partnership with Google Maps to a proprietary solution built completely in house. Upon launch, however, the program was fraught with problems like rendering issues and incorrect location data.

The internet search giant is said to be planning its own standalone iOS app that may see release soon as rumors claim the company is distributing near final versions of the software to outside testers. One of the major gripes with Apple’s solution is the lack of Google’s Street View option, however that feature was brought back to mobile Safari with the Google Maps web app in October with limited functionality.

Nokia’s Here is available now for iOS as a free download from the App Store.

If you’ve tried the Here app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple introduces Lightning to Micro USB adapter to North American customers

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: Hardware, News

You can’t knock a useful adapter.

Per AppleInsider, alongside the iPad mini, Apple on Friday introduced the Lightning to micro USB adapter, a tiny dongle first available in Europe, to the U.S. market.

Initially built and released in tandem with the iPhone 5 in Europe to fulfill the European Commission’s regulation that all smartphones sold in the region be micro USB compatible, the US$19 adapter has now become available in North America.

Previously, those iPhone, iPod and now iPad users needed to buy the component through third-party resellers or directly from an Apple Store in Europe if they wanted to charge and sync their devices via micro USB. As there is no official standard in the U.S., manufacturers offer their products in a variety of charging methods, causing many consumers to build up a stockpile of various cables and chargers. The Lightning to micro USB adapter looks to do away with at least one of those cables.

Apple’s adapter is compatible with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, seventh-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. According to the company’s website, the dongle is able to both charge and sync devices, though it is unlikely that audio line out is supported as the Lightning protocol is completely digital and would require an embedded digital-to-analog converter to function.

The US$19 adapter can be purchased directly from store.apple.com, with shipments available to ship in one to three days.

If you’ve tried the adapter and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes seventh-gen iPod nano teardowns, finds additional NAND Flash memory, Bluetooth, assorted mystery chips

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:57
Category: Hardware, iPod, iPod Nano, News

It’s the teardowns that make things interesting.

Per iFixit, the teardown of the seventh-gen iPod nano revealed the following interesting components:

– The Toshiba THGBX2G7D2JLA01, which includes 16 gigabytes of NAND flash. The Broadcom BCM2078KUBG also includes both the Bluetooth and FM radios.

– A touchscreen controller from Texas Instruments identified as 343S0538.

– A chip from NXP Semiconductors labeled “1609A1″.

The device also contained the following mystery chips which have yet to be identified:
– 75203 23017

– 75292 98820

– 339S0193

– Apple 338S1099

– Apple 338S1146

iFixit also found that the battery in the new iPod nano is soldered directly to the logic board and adhered to the back of the display. They did find a plastic pull tab presumed to be in place for removing the battery, however they found the adhesive holding the battery in place was too strong.

The new 3.7V, 0.8Wh, 220 mAh battery is more than twice that of the 0.39 Wh rating of the sixth-generation iPod nano. The solutions provider also found that the LCD and digitizer glass are not fused together, which means each component could be replaced separately.

The same could not be said for the battery, Lightning connector, or volume controls, all of which are soldered to the logic board. Pulling out the logic board also removes the battery, button cable, Lightning connector, and headphone jack.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve snagged a new seventh-generation iPod nano and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases version 1.0.1 firmware update for seventh-generation iPod nano

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Date: Friday, October 12th, 2012, 08:02
Category: iPod Nano, News, Software

You’ve had your spiffy new seventh-generation iPod nano for a day or two.

Now let’s update that sucker.

Per iLounge, Apple released version 1.0.1 of the new iPod nano’s software.

The new software only mentions “Support for iPod nano (7th generation)” in its release notes, offering little information as to what issues, if any, are addressed with version 1.0.1. Speculation points to tweaks to make the device compatible with the most current version of iTunes, however the specific problems regarding the device’s interoperability with Apple’s media management software is unknown.

Users will be able to update their new iPod nanos upon delivery by simply plugging the unit into their computer, which should automatically recognize the device and bring up the “Download and Update” new iPod software prompt.

Apple announced the seventh-generation media player in September alongside the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch and newly-designed EarPods headphones. The most recent nano ditches the last-generation’s small square form factor for a more iPod touch-esque layout, complete with 2.5-inch mutli-touch display, integrated Bluetooth connectivity and the reversible Lightning connector.

If you’ve tried the iPod nano with its updated firmware and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes, posts full teardown report of fifth-generation iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, October 11th, 2012, 08:06
Category: Hardware, iPod Touch, News

The fifth-generation iPod touch is now available and shipping. And, that being said, it’s time to dissect the new media player to see what makes it tick.

Per the super cool cats at iFixit that posted their most recent teardown, the disassembly also found that the volume buttons, microphone, LED flash and power button are all connected via the same ribbon cable that easily peels from the rear case.

“We’ve seen this type of design in previous Apple products,” the solution provider noted. “The shift to a single ribbon cable is more cost-effective for the manufacturer, but unfortunately it has a negative impact on repairability.”

The battery inside the iPod touch was described as a “Plane Jane” component with a rating of 1030 mAh, an increase from the previous model’s 930mAh. The battery is advertised to provide up to 40 hours of music playback on a single charge.

iFixit also found that the 4-inch Retina display on the fifth-generation iPod touch is inferior to the screen on the iPhone 5. It characterized the iPod touch screen as “a much simpler, cheaper design.”

The teardown also offers a closer look at the 5-megapixel camera Apple has put into the fifth-generation iPod touch. The lens is capable of recording high-definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second.

The full list of parts found in the fifth-generation iPod touch are included below:
– A5 Processor

– Hynix H9TKNNN4KDBRCR 512 MB RAM

– Toshiba THGBX2G8D4JLA01 32 GB NAND flash

– Apple 3381064 dialog power management IC

– Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module

– Broadcom BCM 5976 touchscreen controller

– Apple 33831116

– STMicroelectronics AGD32229ESGEK low-power, three-axis gyroscope

– Texas Instruments 27AZ5R1 touchscreen SoC

If you’ve gotten your new iPod touch in the mail and had a chance to play with it, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Earbuds for 2012 iPod touch, iPod nano arrive sans remote control, built-in mic

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Date: Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iPod, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, News

If you were irked that your previous iPod touch or iPod nano’s headphones lacked a remote and mic, this probably won’t help your mood.

Per the Macotakara iPod touch and iPod nano entries, Apple’s newly released fifth-generation iPod touch and seventh-generation iPod nano ship with a special set of headphones that lack integrated controls and do not have a built-in microphone.

The web site posted hands-on videos with both the new iPod nano and the new iPod touch. Apple began shipping both devices to customers on Tuesday.

Previously, the iPod touch and iPod nano also shipped with Apple Earphones that lacked the microphone and controls. However, Apple recently redesigned its headphones in the form of the new EarPods, and the unboxing videos posted on Tuesday were the first indication that Apple would make special EarPods for its new iPod lineup.

The new, tweaked EarPods come in a slightly different packaging than is found in the iPhone 5. EarPods that include the remote and microphone come in a reusable plastic case with a cover, while the lesser EarPods included with the new iPods come in more of a temporary packaging without a lid.

In his video demonstration, author “danbo” did show that the integrated microphone found on the full-featured EarPods does work with the iPod nano for recording voice memos. In addition, the volume controls included on the headphones are also compatible with both media players.

On its website, Apple notes in the “Tech Specs” sections for each product that the iPhone 5 ships with “Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic” as well as “storage and travel case,” while the iPod touch and iPod nano ship only with “Apple EarPods.” In contrast, the iPod shuffle and iPod classic ship with Apple’s legacy Earphones.

In addition to the EarPod headphones, the iPod touch ships with the new wrist strap accessory in a color that matches the device itself. It also includes a new Lightning cable for syncing and charging.

The iPod nano does not have a wrist strap accessory, but it does include the basic, button-less EarPods as well as a Lightning cable.

Apple’s redesigned EarPod headphones were unveiled by the company last month along with the iPhone 5 and new iPods. The company has said its new headphones have been redesigned for greater comfort and sound quality.

The new EarPods are also available for purchase separately. The US$29 EarPods sold by Apple include the remote and mic functionality.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander at the two unboxing videos below: