O'Grady's PowerPage » iPod

WaterBlock technology demoed at CES, could provide waterproofing shield for iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 04:13
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

With any luck, something will come of this.

And it will be spiffy.

Per Pocket Lint, HzO, the maker of a “WaterBlock” technology shown off at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, has said it is in talks with Apple about using its material in future devices, including the iPhone.

HzO was promoting its nano-scale film barrier at CES last week, pitching it as a potential solution to waterproof expensive electronic equipment. One of their demonstrations included submerging an iPhone into water, and having it remain in proper working order.

HzO’s technology is similar to the nano-coating process demonstrated at CES by P2i, branded “Aridion” and profiled yesterday. A video demonstration of Aridion-treated paper also appeared recently. The technology is already in use by Motorola on both its Droid RAZR smartphone and XYBOARD tablet.

While speaking to attendees at the show, officials with HzO said that Apple is among the companies that have shown interest in the water repelling technology. Company officials said Apple was interested in making a future iPhone waterproof, potentially with a sixth-generation model expected to be released later this year.

“We expect HzO to be in next season’s phones,” the company reportedly said.

In addition to Apple, its rival Samsung is also said to have shown interest in HzO’s technology. The company said it showed a Samsung executive a waterproofed Galaxy S smartphone, and that company officials were “really excited” by what they saw.

HzO’s WaterBlock technology protects the insides of devices on a molecular scale. It has been used in demonstrations to protect a number of Apple products, including the iPhone 4S, iPads and iPods, after the material has been applied to the devices in a vacuum deposition process.

The company says that WaterBlock is a non-toxic, organic material that is safe for people to use. It also doesn’t change the aesthetics of a device or add any weight.

The technology is intended for “accidental encounters” with moisture, meaning use in deep waters or being submerged for an extended period of time is not recommended. However, HzO coated devices have reportedly been immersed in water for “many continuous hours,” and they continue to work fine.

“The technology is designed to protect against failure due to jumping in a pool and forgetting your phone was in your pocket, or dropping your iPod in the sink while doing dishes, or getting caught in a torrid rain storm and getting soaked, or leaving your smartphone in your pants when they go through the wash,” the company said.

Still, a video’s worth a thousand words, so here we go:



Let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Rumor: iPad 3 to retain Apple dock connector

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 11:10
Category: iPad, Rumor

If there’s one universal constant, it’s the Apple dock connector.

Per Macotakara, new components claimed to be from Apple’s third-generation iPad show continued use of the 30-pin dock connector, potentially dispelling rumors that it would be replaced with a smaller form factor.

The web site ordered a handful of components claimed to be from prototype builds of Apple’s anticipated third-generation iPad. The so-called “replacement parts” purport to be a microphone flex cable ribbon, power on/off flex cable, and dock connector charging port.

The dock connector is the most significant of the trio of components, because the 30-pin port still fits with Apple’s existing iPod cable used on current iPhone, iPad and iPod models. The hands-on look at the part found that the cable sticks slightly shallower into the port, and the connector is shorter than before.

An earlier rumor about the next iPad’s dock connector surfaced in October from the same website, suggesting Apple’s third-generation iPad would feature a new, smaller dock connector. It was then claimed that the port would include the same 30-pin input and electricity specification internally, but it would be redesigned and smaller on the outside.

The current 30-pin dock connector was first introduced in Apple’s iPod lineup back in April of 2003. It has been largely unchanged ever since, and Apple has even managed to squeeze the port onto its diminutive touchscreen iPod nano.

As for the other alleged third-generation iPad components, the power on/off flex cable includes a power button, rotation lock button, and volume button, suggesting all of those hardware features will be retained in the next iPad. The microphone flex cable is also said to be redesigned from the iPad 2.

The parts were obtained from reseller TVC-Mall.com, which gained attention earlier this month when it was found to be selling the microphone flex cable ribbon replacement. Because the part shows a different arrangement in internal circuitry than with the iPad 2, it led to speculation that the internal components of a so-called “iPad 3″ may feature a significant redesign.

The first purported iPad 3 part surfaced in July, and it too hinted at material design changes with the next-generation tablet, at least internally, due to different part numbers on a hardware component.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing wearable, Siri-controlled computing devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 19th, 2011, 09:12
Category: Hardware, Rumor

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per the New York Times, Apple has reportedly begun work on new, tiny, wearable devices that could be controlled with Siri, or used to input information to devices like the iPhone.

One of the prototype products developed by Apple, according to the article, is a “curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist.” Users could interact with this device by using their voice, like with Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Another experimental idea from Apple has been small, wearable devices that could be used to input information on another, more powerful device like an iPhone. These accessories could also wirelessly display information on other devices, like iPods.

Apple’s interest in wearable electronics has reportedly been spearheaded by a very small group of employees at the company. But prototypes of some wearable devices have allegedly been built by the company.

Author Nick Bilton said Apple is not alone in its pursuit of these devices: Google, too, is said to have been working on wearable computers that could connect to Android smartphones. Calling the smartphone the “first wearable computer,” Bilton said smartphones will eventually become the “hub” for all information, “transmitting power and Internet access to sensors and screens that are tacked on to our clothing.”

Of course, Apple has produced wearable version of the iPod for years, and currently sells the iPod shuffle and iPod nano, both of which include a clip so it can be attached to clothing. The iPod nano, which includes a multi-touch display, can also be worn as a watch with available accessories.

Though the tiny iPod nano includes a standard 30-pin iPod dock connector, it does not include any wireless functionality that would allow it to wirelessly communicate with an iPhone. As it stands, the iPod nano is a standalone media playback device.

But Bilton’s report envisions a future where all devices are connected, and wearable electronics could include glasses or even contact lenses with built-in screens, capable of displaying information to users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.