Tekkeon introduces MP1580 battery pack, allows external charging of iOS, other USB-charging devices

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Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 05:39
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

This could be useful.

Per iLounge, Tekkeon has introduced its new TekCharge MP1580 battery pack for the iPod, iPhone, and other USB-charging devices. The MP1580 offers the ability to charge devices using between two and four AA batteries, and serves as a charging station for rechargeable NiMH or lithium cells. Other features include an inline voltage regulator to ensure safe charging, a built-in USB slot for connecting charging cables, and an external charge indicator.

The TekCharge MP1580 is available now and retails for US$25.

Glowing iPhone 4 causes scare on Australian airline flight

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Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 08:58
Category: battery, iPhone, News

You’d probably remember seeing this if you were there.

Per PC Mag, an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting “dense smoke” on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset’s battery safety.

Regional Express (REX), the country’s largest independent regional airline, said last Friday that a passenger’s iPhone was emitting a “red glow” and smoke on a flight from Lismore to Sydney. A flight attendant extinguished the smoking smartphone and no one was injured during the incident.



Judging by the model number of the device, the handset in question is the GSM version of the iPhone 4.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have both been notified of the matter. Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is “very rare,” though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting lithium batteries used in consumer electronics from proposed limitations that would classify the batteries as hazardous materials. According to an analysis commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would have cost electronics makers US$1.13 billion alone in the first year.

One of the biggest consumer electronic battery scares in recent years occurred in 2006. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries that year after microscopic metal particles were detected inside the batteries. The incident affected Apple, which had to recall 1.8 million iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Sony had also supplied the defective batteries to Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces free shipping, free gift wrapping for online orders

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 13:11
Category: News, retail

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You can’t argue with Cyber Monday.

Or free shipping.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday announced that all orders for any product placed at its U.S. online store through Dec. 22 will ship for free, while customers in other countries can also receive free shipping for one day only.

The announcement was made on Apple’s online store on Monday, also known as “Cyber Monday,” or the first Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Apple does not have any Cyber Monday deals, though it did participate in Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year, last week.

Apple’s free shipping promotion through Dec. 22 applies only to the U.S., but customers in other countries — including Canada, the U.K., France, and Spain — receive free standard shipping on all orders placed Monday. The free shipping offer in those countries does not extend beyond Monday.

Monday’s free shipping offer does not extend to all other countries. For example, Apple’s official online store in Australia simply advertises that customers can receive free gift wrapping on iPod and iPad purchases through Christmas, on Dec. 25.

Assorted resellers of Apple products also offer Macs and other products at discounted prices with free shipping, including MacMall, MacConnection, B&H, Amazon, Best Buy and DataVision.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple initiates first-gen iPod nano replacement program, cites occasional battery overheating concerns

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Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:53
Category: iPod Nano, News

Sometimes you just have to make amends.

Per MacRumors, Apple has initiated a replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to issues with the device’s battery overheating.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker first acknowledged the issue in 2008, offering replacements to customers who experienced overheating. The defect prompted investigations from several international government agencies, including South Korea, Japan and Europe.

In 2010, the trade ministry in Japan ordered Apple to publicize the replacement offer on its Japanese website.

According to the article, Apple began sending out emails to purchasers of the first-generation iPod nano on Friday, notifying them of the replacement program.

“Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006,” the company wrote. “This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.”

The company now recommends that users stop using their first-generation iPod nanos and order a replacement. Customers can bring their iPod nanos an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for help securing a replacement. They can also order a new unit via the web. Replacements will take approximately six weeks to arrive.

The fact that the likelihood of overheating increases over time explains why Apple chose to publicize the program now, more than six years after the first affected devices hit the market. iPod-related fire incidents have been reported since as early as 2005, though the Consumer Product Safety Commission ruled several years ago the the incidences weren’t common enough to warrant a full recall.

Apple had previously said that less than 0.001 percent of first-generation iPod nanos experienced the overheating issue, but it has yet to indicate how much that percentage has increased over time.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or have engaged in the replacement program, please let us know.

Apple patent points towards clip-on iPod nano, iPod shuffle devices with integrated speakers

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iPod, News, Patents

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It’s the patents that make tech interesting.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in building a clip-on iPod with the same wearable form factor as the current iPod nano or iPod shuffle, but with a new integrated speaker built directly into the rear clip.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled, “Speaker Clip.”

The text of the proposed invention makes no specific mention of the iPod nano, or even the similarly shaped iPod shuffle. In fact, it doesn’t even include Apple’s iPod brand name. But the accompanying images show a device that looks like the current clip-on iPod nano and iPod shuffle, only with the new inclusion of an integrated speaker.

The new iPod would feature the same clip on the back that is found on the current wearable models, but that new clip would have a cavity in the middle. Filling that hole would be an “acoustical device,” or speaker.

That speaker could simply be used for user-interface feedback, providing simple sounds such as clicks to create a more intuitive experience for users when utilizing the multi-touch screen on the front of an iPod nano. Or it could also be used as a more full-featured — albeit tiny — speaker to listen to music tracks, or perhaps even do something new, like play games.

The speaker located on the attachment clip would be wired back to the main housing of the device through a “conduit” in the spring-loaded hinge that attaches the clip to the device. The speaker could also be protected by a cover that could shield the speaker from the elements, but also allow sound to pass through.

The filing notes that any kind of acoustic speaker could be used in this device, but one example given is a piezoelectric speaker. The conduit that connects the speaker to the main housing and processor could be a coaxial cable, flex microstrip, or fine gauge wire.

The protective cover layer could be a solid surface with numerous perforations, allowing sound to pass through. A mesh layer atop the speaker, woven from either plastic, metal or natural fibers, could be attached with an adhesive to the protective cover layer.

The iPod nano gained its touchscreen-driven design in September 2010 with its sixth-generation hardware revision. The small, wearable device is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than its predecessor, yet it still manages to include up to 16GB of storage, a 30-pin dock connector, hardware volume buttons and a lock button, an FM radio, and even Nike+ integration with a pedometer.

There has been some previous evidence that Apple plans to expand the functionality of its diminutive iPod nano even further while retaining its current form factor. One alleged prototype reveled in a picture this May claimed to show a rear-facing camera placed on the device. But this week’s filing is the first suggestion of an integrated speaker.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in May of 2010. It is credited to John Benjamin Filson, Eugene Whang, and Matthew Rohrbach.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store app hits 2.0, adds in-store pickup, Easy Pay features

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Date: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 07:37
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail, Software

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Apple may not make all aspects of your life easier at all times, but they do try to streamline buying more of their products…

Per AppleInsider, Apple has updated its official Apple Store application for iOS, adding the new “Personal Pickup” option, as well as an “Easy Pay” feature, which allows customers to pay for an item on their own, direct from an iPhone, while in a retail store.

The Apple Store application was updated on Tuesday to version 2.0. The free application is a 4.0MB download that requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The most significant new features in the update are EasyPay and Personal Pickup. With EasyPay, an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S the user can scan the barcode of an accessory while in a store, and complete the transaction using the same credit card information tied to their Apple ID.

Word of the self-checkout option first surfaced last week, and accurately revealed that the option would only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf. Users cannot complete a self-checkout with more expensive items that are kept in Apple’s retail stockrooms, including the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs.

The updated Apple Store application also features a built-in Personal Pickup feature. With the software, users can buy an item on their iOS device, and then pick it up in a store in less than an hour if it is in stock.

Apple began offering an in-store pickup option on its website last month with a trial that began in San Francisco, Calif., and quickly spread to New York City stores. The in-store pickup option is currently available in the U.S. only.

The full list of new features included in version 2.0 of the Apple Store iOS application are included below:

Personal Pickup: Buy in the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple Retail Store. Most in-stock orders are available for pickup within an hour. (U.S. only)

EasyPay: Purchase select accessories in store quickly by scanning the barcode and completing your transaction right in the app. (U.S. only, requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)

Track your stuff: View the status of current and previous orders from the order status section in the More tab.

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

Rumor: Prior to passing, Steve Jobs left iTunes creator in charge of HDTV project

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:51
Category: Rumor, Software

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When Steve Jobs passed away, he put certain Apple employees in place to keep things going and make sure his final goals were realized.

It looks like another has been discovered.

According to Bloomberg, Jeff Robbin, an Apple vice president and engineer who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company’s efforts to produce a connected TV with integrated search functionality.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the project, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Robbin is in charge of Cupertino, Calif., company’s secretive high-definition TV project. According to the sources, Apple is working to integrate seamless content search features into the device.

“For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated,” the report noted.

Robbin worked as a system software engineer at Apple in the 1990s before leaving to work on his own software projects. While at software publisher Casady & Greene, he helped to develop the SoundJam MP MP3 player software. In late 2000, Apple purchased the rights for SoundJam from Casady & Greene, bringing Robbin back into the fold to head up the software’s transformation into iTunes.

Back at Apple, Robbin also played a crucial role in the development of the iPod, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is listed among the inventors of several key iPod-related patent filings, though not all of the applications were successfully converted into legitimate patents.

His current role at Apple is vice president of consumer applications and lead software designer for iTunes.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at one point considered Robbin to be of such high value to the company that he worked to keep Robbin’s role under wraps. According to the bestselling biography on Jobs, officially released on Monday, Jobs refused to allow a Time magazine reporter to use the engineer’s full name in an article because he feared Robbin would be poached by another company. The book also noted that Robbin was one of the Apple executives who successfully lobbied Jobs to allow a Windows version of iTunes.

Having persisted for years, rumors surrounding Apple’s connected television initiative have gained momentum after Jobs’ biography confirmed that he had been working on such a device. Author Walter Isaacson quoted Jobs in an interview as saying that he wanted to make television sets “simple and elegant,” just like he had done with computers, music players and phones.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs reportedly said of the project. “I finally cracked it.”

Multiple analysts claimed on Monday that Apple has been building prototype high-definition TVs, possibly in preparation for a 2012 launch. The rumored product would represent a strong opportunity for the company, as some have projected the LCD TV market to top US$100 billion next year.

Apple currently sells a US$99 Apple TV set-top box, but considers the device to be little more than a “hobby.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Industrial designer Jonathan Ive left with additional power/privileges after Steve Jobs’ death

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Date: Friday, October 21st, 2011, 06:41
Category: Hardware, News

If you’re on your way out, leave someone behind to protect your ideals and legacy.

And if that person is less than conventional but has created some of the coolest industrial designs of the past 13 years, all the better.

Per the Associated Press, Apple’s widely praised design chief Jonathan Ive has no true boss who can tell him what to do at the company, a distinction put in place by Steve Jobs himself.

Information from the new biography of Jobs, set to arrive next week, continues to arrive, offering a glimpse into the highly private life of the Apple co-founder. The news wire obtained an early copy of the book, and shared some details on the relationship between Jobs and Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design.

In talking with author Walter Isaacson for the book, Jobs revealed that he viewed Ive as his “spiritual partner” at Apple. Showing his trust in Ive, the company co-founder left him more freedom than anyone else in the company — a perk that remains even after Jobs’s death.

“He told Isaacson that Ive had ‘more operational power’ at Apple than anyone else besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do,” the report said. “That, says Jobs, is ‘the way I set it up.’”

Ive and Jobs became close at Apple, working directly together on designing a number of the company’s core products, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Ive, a 44-year-old native of London, joined Apple in 1996 and has held his current job since 1997.

Showcasing their extensive work together, Jobs and Ive share credit for inventing over 200 patents. Jobs is responsible for the most total patents at the company, at 313.

A 2006 profile of Ive said that at the time he and his team worked in a large, secretive open studio that many Apple employees were not allowed to enter. There a “massive sound system” played music as he and his team worked with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment with “intense iteration.”

Ive has been heralded as one of the most influential designers of his time, and legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams publicly praised him in the 2009 documentary Objectified. In return for his design work at Apple, Ive has been well compensated, and is said to be worth more than US$128 million.

In 2009, Ive was declared the “smartest designer” in technology by Forbes. He was also honored with the title “Designer of the Year” in 2003 by Design Museum London, and was named “Royal Designer for Industry” by The Royal Society of Arts.

More details on the relationship between Ive and Jobs will be available in Isaacson’s book, arriving next week. Entitled “Steve Jobs,” will be available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally through Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBooks.

Apple posts $28.27 billion revenue, $6.62 billion profit for Q4 2011, still disappoints some analysts

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 04:00
Category: Finance, News

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You can offer evidence of something pretty amazing, but you’ll never win the entirety of your audience over all the time.

In this vein, Apple released the financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter yesterday, reporting record sales of the Mac and iPad product lines as well as the company’s highest September quarter revenue and earnings ever, the news still failing to meet some analysts’ expectations.

Per Mac|Life, Apple announced its quarterly financial results for the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter which ended on September 24. Even without a new iPhone over the summer, the company still racked up quarterly revenue of US$28.27 billion and quarterly net profit of US$6.62 billion, or US$7.05 per diluted share. Last year at the same time, Apple had revenue of US$20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, or US$4.64 per diluted share. The company’s gross margin was 40.3 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago, with international sales accounting for 63 percent of the quarterly revenue.

Even with this at hand, analysts on Wall Street looked at the report glumly, with Apple missing their own expectations of US$7.22 per share and revenue of US$29.5 billion. Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple hasn’t missed earnings forecasts since the second quarter of 2002, but others are saying sometime in 2004 instead. Whatever the case, the stock fell eight percent after hours but rebounded just a bit to close at US$398 per share.

While Apple has already sold more than four million iPhone 4S devices in the first weekend which won’t be accounted for until next quarter, the company still managed to move 17.07 million of the older handsets in the current quarter, a 21 percent year-over-year growth and certainly nothing to sneeze at. 11.2 million iPads flew out the door, marking a 166 percent increase from the same quarter last year, with 4.89 million Macs also finding homes in the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase.

“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to US$108 billion and growing earnings to US$26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”

One product category that took a hit was the iPod, which sold only 6.62 million units during the quarter, marking a 27 percent decline from the same quarter last year — but certainly not bad for a lineup that’s now a decade old, and the iPod continues to hold more than 70 percent market share.

“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of US$5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about US$37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about US$9.30.”

As usual, Apple held a conference call to provide further highlights and field questions from analysts and investors, with CEO Tim Cook noting that it marks the first since the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs. “The world has lost a visionary and an amazing human being,” Cook stated. “He was an amazing leader and mentor. His spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple, and we are dedicated to continuing the amazing work that he loved so much.”

Cook then got down to business by turning things over to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, who repeated most of the details from Apple’s earlier press release before throwing out some additional numbers. These included iTunes Store revenue of US$1.5 billion, 180 million iBooks sold, US$11 billion in revenue from iPhone handsets and accessories, and six million downloads of OS X Lion in the quarter.

Asia-Pacific growth doubled year over year, which the company was expecting to fall when it became clear in June that no new iPhone was on the horizon. The handset is now available on 230 carriers in 105 countries, with Consumer Reports listing the device with its highest customer satisfaction rating for the sixth consecutive time. 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now either deploying or testing the iPhone, up from 91 percent last year.

The App Store is also flying high, with 22 more countries enlisted during the quarter for a total of 123. Retail stores are also enjoying “very strong” year-over-year growth, particularly for Mac and iPad sales, which enjoyed their best quarter ever — which no doubt helped lessen the blow from the iPhone 4S being unveiled in fiscal Q1 2012 instead.

Last but not least, during the closing question and answer session, Cook proclaimed confidence that Apple would have record sales for the next quarter, which includes the all-important holiday season. That quarter will also bring the iPhone 4S to another 22 countries at month’s end, with even more coming by year’s end.