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:





Apple begins shipping 2012 iPod touch, iPod nano units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, 07:47
Category: iPod, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, News

If you ordered a fifth-generation iPod touch or a seventh-generation iPod nano, you should be getting it soon.

Per AppleInsider, customers on Tuesday began receiving word that their order for the new fifth-generation iPod touch and seventh-generation iPod nano has shipped and should arrive in the next week.

Readers who received shipping notifications shared with AppleInsider on Tuesday that their orders for the new iPod touch have now shipped from China and are en route to the U.S. Estimated deliveries for standard shipping are before next Monday, Oct. 15.

One user who provided detailed information on their shipment revealed that the package has been shipped via FedEx from one of the shipper’s origin facilities in Kunshan, China. That order was placed on Sept. 14.

Users also began sending word Tuesday morning that their iPod nano orders have also begun to ship from China. Those units are also scheduled to arrive by next Monday.

The shipments come as Apple has also posted the official user’s guide for the new iPod touch on its iBookstore. The fifth-generation media player features a taller 4-inch display, just like the new iPhone 5.

The first shipments being sent out on Tuesday confirms a rumor from last week that claimed the iPod touch would officially go on sale this week. Apple has been taking orders for the new iPod touch since last month, but the company has only promised a shipping timeframe of October.

Supply of the new iPods is said to be limited at launch. The iPod touch and iPhone 5 share the same 4-inch Retina display, and supply of the iPhone 5 has been constrained since it debuted in September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And if you’ve received your spiffy new iPod nano or iPod touch, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple exploring wireless headphone technology for “active” users

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

The wireless headphones you’ve been dreaming of…they could be en route.

And if wireless headphones are the biggest concern in your life, that’s saying something.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

The invention, titled “Detachable wireless listening device,” describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are “susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity.” The situation can be “particularly nettlesome” since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever “listening device” is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player’s power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday’s unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

The “listening device” patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to send out “iPad mini” media event invitations on October 10th, hold event on October 17th

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 06:24
Category: iPad, Rumor

There could be a nifty media event in which Apple unveils its rumored, smaller iPad in 15 days.

Or not.

According to Fortune, Apple 2.0 reported on Monday that members of the press will be invited to the event on Wednesday, Oct. 10. That would suggest the event itself would be held a week later on Wednesday, Oct. 17, as Apple typically gives a week’s notice with its invitations.

If Apple were to follow recent launch schedules as it has done with the iPhone 5 and new iPad, the so-called “iPad mini” could then go on sale on Friday, Oct. 26.

Monday’s rumor comes from an unidentified “major Apple investor” who spoke with Elmer-DeWitt and cited “multiple sources” for the date invitations will allegedly go out.

Reports first surfaced in August that Apple was planning to hold a media event this month to introduce a smaller and lighter iPad. The new product is believed to feature a screen that will measure 7.85 inches diagonally, smaller than the 9.7-inch display found on all iPad models to date.

Leaked components and device mockups have also suggested the device will have a smaller bezel around the screen than the current iPad, as users will be able to hold it easily with one hand. The smaller iPad has also been shown with Apple’s new Lightning connector, featured on the iPhone 5 and updated iPod touch and iPod nano.

As always, stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple files patent for inductive charging pad that could also offer device syncing features

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 06:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, Patents

applelogo_silver

It’s not the newest peripheral idea in the world, but it’s still sort of nifty.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, Apple has shown interest in building an inductive charging mat that would allow users to dock, charge and sync their portable devices by simply placing them on top of the accessory.

Apple’s filing, entitled “Device Orientation Based Docking Functions,” describes a “docking device” that would allow devices to be placed on top of it.

The mat would accomplish docking functions such as charging, data transfer, syncing, diagnostic checking, or any other potential use based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

The filing notes that smartphones, like the iPhone, as well as digital cameras and media players like iPods can all be built to utilize inductive charging surfaces. Circuitry in these devices would respond to a magnetic field provided by the charging surface that would also allow data to be transferred while the device is docked.

While inductive charging surfaces are not new technology, Apple’s application brings a new twist to the concept with the idea of interpreting the device’s orientation for specific purposes. For example, a future iPhone with inductive charging capabilities could be placed face down on the mat for charging only, while placing the handset face-up on the mat could initiate syncing with a computer or iCloud as well as charging.

Once a device is placed on the mat, its current docking mode may be indicated to the user by either a sound, a graphic displayed on the device’s screen, an electronic message notification, or a vibration of the device.

Beyond a local computer for syncing, the inductive charging mat could also be connected to a host of devices throughout a person’s home. In one example, the mat is connected to speakers for audio output when docked.

Apple’s proposed invention was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2011. It is credited to Jorge S. Fino.

When the iPhone 5 was announced earlier this month, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked why the new handset does not include inductive charging capabilities. He said the perceived convenience of such technology is questionable, as charging mats must still be plugged into an outlet.

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” he explained.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Apple’s new Lightning connector should have product lifespan of 5-10 years

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

If you’re irked about having to buy a new Lightning adapter for your iPhone 5 or updated iPod, at least it’ll be around for a while.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s new Lightning connector, introduced alongside the iPhone 5 last week, is thought to be a key longterm investment for the company, and will possibly have a lifetime of ten years.

In a research note shared with clients, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo broke down the cost of components used in the iPhone 5, and found the Lightning’s ASP (average sales price) to have risen the most compared to parts in the iPhone 4S.

Kuo notes the new Lightning connector’s cost of US$3.50 represents a huge 775 percent rise in ASP compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector’s last price of US$0.40. Concurrently, the Lightning cable’s US$6.00 ASP is a 233 percent jump from the previous standard’s US$1.80 model.

The spike is to be expected as Lightning is a new technology, replacing the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector first introduced with the third-generation iPod.

While Apple’s new plug is similar in size to the Micro USB standard, Kuo believes the Lightning’s specs are higher, making the connector more difficult to manufacture. Included in the new high-tech part is a unique design which the analyst says is likely to feature a pin-out with four contacts dedicated to data, two for accessories, one for power and a ground. Two of the data transmission pins may be reserved for future input/output technology like USB 3.0 or perhaps even Thunderbolt, though this is merely speculation.

As for Lightning’s expected lifespan, the format is estimated to be in use for the next five to ten years, almost identical to the now-defunct 30-pin standard.

While ASP may be high in the first one to two years following deployment, the cost is acceptable as Apple will likely make back its investment in royalties from accessory sales. Apple is thought to be using a Texas Instruments chip for accessory authorization, making it difficult for third party manufacturers to build and sell Lightning-compatible products without paying royalties.

Looking at other critical parts in the iPhone 5, Kuo notes Apple’s quest to make high-quality products has boosted the ASP of other components as well, including the sapphire camera lens cover, upgraded baseband system, the A6 processor and the 4-inch in-cell touch panel. The second-highest ASP rise comes from the iPhone 5′s all-aluminum back casing’s $17 price which represents a 240 percent increase from the US$5 “metal band” design seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.