Patent granted for scratch-proof nitride coating on Apple devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 08:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

applelogo_silver

The good news: Your Apple device might get a bit tougher.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has been granted ownership of an invention related to scratch-proof coatings on stainless steel devices, using a nitride layer to potentially make iPhones, iPads and Macs more durable.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week granted ownership of the invention “Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products” to Apple. Known as U.S. Patent No. 7896981, it describes a cost-effective system that uses a nitride coating to prevent scratches and blemishes on the metal surface of a mobile device.

Adding a layer of nitride atop a stainless steel exterior would protect a device from damage. But the choice of material would maintain the look and feel of stainless steel, as nitride allows the color of the metal to show through.

Nitride is not to be confused with titanium nitride, a ceramic material that is also used as a coating on metal. Unlike nitride, which is clear, titanium nitride has a metallic gold color that conceals the look of the metal beneath it.

Apple’s invention notes that stainless steel, while scratch-prone, is an ideal material to craft electronic devices. Stainless steel is preferable because it is not magnetic, and it is less likely to inhibit wireless technology like a cell phone signal, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The addition of nitride could give Apple the best of both worlds: the advantages of stainless steel would remain, while a nitride coating would address the chief concern of durability.

The invention also includes specifics on how the nitride coating would be applied to a device. It describes using a salt bath nitride process to coat stainless steel with an initial layer at least 15 to 30 microns thick and with a Vickers Hardness value of at least 1,000. Another method would use a nitrogen salt bath with an average temperature of no more than 580 degrees Celsius.

After the stainless steel sits in a superheated salt bath for between 45 and 90 minutes, the material would be removed and the nitride layer would be polished to remove no more than 10 percent, resulting in a smooth exterior.

Apple first filed for the invention in April of 2010. The invention is credited to Douglas Weber.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3 update on February 14th

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 13:11
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Ok, Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s favorite holiday.

In fact, almost no one likes it.

Still, there may be something good to come out of it this year.

Per MacStories.net, a source has claimed that Apple will release its iOS 4.3 update for the iPhone and iPad on Monday, February 14th, at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

The update is expected to bring AirPlay functionality to third-party applications and the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi tethering feature, in 10 days. Apple usually releases its iOS updates around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

In the past, the website correctly predicted that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion would adopt various features and user interface elements from iOS, which powers the iPad and iPhone. But last November, the site also incorrectly reported that Apple would release iOS 4.3 in December with recurring application subscriptions.

Apple issued the first beta of iOS 4.3 to developers in mid-January. It introduced the new Personal Hotspot tethering feature for iPhone, as well as new multi-touch gestures on the iPad for quickly multitasking and accessing the home screen.

However, Apple later informed developers that the new multi-touch gestures in the iOS beta are just a preview for developers to test compatibility with their applications. The Cupertino, Calif., company indicated that the functionality will be included with a later update to iOS.

So far, Apple has released a total of three betas of iOS 4.3 to developers, with the most recent one issued this week. Other reports have speculated that iOS 4.3 could be released within two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And if this Valentine’s Day’s choices come down to buying your significant other something nifty to express how you feel and clicking the “Check for Update” button in your iTunes device list menu, play it safe and buy her something nice.

iOS 4.3 may hit on February 13th, could bring Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T users

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:35
Category: iPhone, News

Apple is set to launch iOS 4.2.6 for Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 4 on February 10, but a 4.3 update may be made available just days later, bringing Personal Hotspot WiFi sharing to AT&T users.

Per AppleInsider, David Pogue of the New York Times noted that the new Personal Hotspot feature would come to existing AT&T iPhone users on February 13, a date that no longer appears in his review.

The reader said that Pogue’s review originally stated, “the single new feature in Verizon’s iPhone is Personal Hotspot, where the iPhone becomes a Wi-Fi base station. Up to five laptops, iPod Touches or other gadgets can get online, using the phone as a glorified Internet antenna.

“That’s incredibly convenient. Many other app phones have it — AT&T’s iPhone gets it on Feb. 13 — but Apple’s execution is especially nice. For example, the hot spot shuts itself off 90 seconds after the last laptop disconnects. That’s hugely important, because these personal hot spot features are merciless battery drains.”

The review now simply states, “AT&T says its iPhone will get it soon” without mentioning a date. While the February 13 date falls oddly on a Sunday, making it an unlikely date for an iOS release, it appears that iOS 4.3 will at least be released around that day.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Personal Hotspot feature could come to iPhone 3GS under iOS 4.3

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 19th, 2011, 08:52
Category: iPhone, Rumor

3gs.jpg

This could be nifty.

The cool cats at iLounge have received an anonymous tip stating that the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS 4.3 will work on both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS. Per the source, who claims to have tested it using the first beta version of iOS 4.3, the feature works on the 3GS exactly as it works on the iPhone 4, including the ability to share the device’s 3G network connection over Wi-Fi.

While it’ll be up to the individual wireless carriers to support the feature, the feature may be present in the OS but not show up in users’ Settings app unless it has been enabled by their carrier. In addition, while the feature is present in the current 3GS build of iOS 4.3 beta, it is possible that Apple could remove the feature prior to the public release of the update.

Even if it’s just a rumor, this could lead to something useful down the line.

iOS 4.3 beta code points towards Verizon iPad 2, iPhone variants and camera app for iPad

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 06:54
Category: News, Software

The developers got the iOS 4.3 beta yesterday.

And they found some nifty stuff in it.

Per Engadget and 9 to 5 Mac, discoveries in the iOS 4.3 beta have revealed that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone and second-generation iPad will come in native editions for Verizon along with camera functions. Mirroring the iPhone 3,1 and 3,2 entries that represent the iPhone 4 for GSM and CDMA respectively, device listings now exist for iPhone 4,1 and iPhone 4,2 as well. The appearance suggests Apple plans to synchronize its iPhone launches rather than stagger GSM and CDMA by a wide margin.

A third iPhone 4 variant (iPhone 3,3) has also appeared, which seems unusual and the device may be a version for GSM carriers on 1,700MHz 3G in North America, most notably including T-Mobile in the U.S. but also a slew of new Canadian carriers such as Wind Mobile, Videotron and Mobilicity. Without an iPhone 4,3 listed, though, it’s possible that either the third iPhone 4 variant will never ship or else that its iPhone 5 equivalent will ship sometime later.

The next iPad is also on show in the code and shows the newly promised Verizon model. Along with Wi-Fi (iPad 2,1) and HSPA 3G (iPad 2,2) variants, an iPad 2,3 version has tipped up and is almost certainly an EVDO version to give CDMA carriers one with internal 3G.

Separately, discoveries in the iOS 4.3 SDK have shown iPad-sized graphics for a camera app. The images show the camera iris effect as well as icons for both still photo and video modes, confirming movie recording. The full iris image tops out at 1024×768 and casts doubt on rumors of a higher resolution display unless Apple is deliberately keeping higher resolution graphics out of beta releases to avoid spoilers.

Rumor: Apple may add Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T/GSM iPhone in iOS 4.3 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 04:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The much-hyped Personal Hotspot feature found on iOS 4.2.5 will not remain exclusive to the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4, and will arrive with the release of iOS 4.3 for existing GSM-based handsets, according to a new rumor.

Per iPhoneHellas.gr, (via Google Translate), the feature will be part of a purported update in the works known as iOS 4.3. The rumor was credited to “reliable information” obtained by the site.

The Personal Hotspot feature is included in a new version of iOS, dubbed 4.2.5, that was spotted on pre-release CDMA iPhone hardware shown off at Tuesday’s Verizon iPhone press conference. The feature is found in the Settings application on the phone, where it can be turned on or off and the Wi-Fi password can be changed.

In addition, on Tuesday iPhoneclub.nl also reported that the iOS 4.3 update will only support the mobile hotspot feature, which allows up to five devices to be connected to a 3G data connection over Wi-Fi, will only be available if a carrier offers it.

AT&T famously did not allow tethering on the iPhone in the U.S. even after Apple had added the ability to share a wireless Internet connection via USB or Bluetooth to its mobile operating system. The feature eventually arrived last June alongside new, capped data plans. Tethering with an iPhone on AT&T costs an extra US$20 per month.

When asked on Tuesday whether AT&T will offer the Personal Hotspot feature on its network, a company spokesperson said they wouldn’t “speculate” on potential future features. Apple has not made any mention of the Personal Hotspot coming to existing iPhones since the feature was first revealed on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Rumor: Apple could produce second-gen iPad with HSPA, EVDO models slated for March release date

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 06:16
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the second generations of a device where things get really interesting.

Per Electronista, Apple is looking to ship three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65% of shipments and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.

The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give the unit away for free.

Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.

Apple might also be eager to advance the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30% of which would be Wi-Fi, 40% HSPA and 30% EVDO. Additional shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn’t have to push it back to a previously cited April target.

The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly taking hold of as much as 65% to 75% of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google’s partners a much stronger platform.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Apple releases Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.5.2

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 17th, 2010, 05:22
Category: News, Software, wireless

Late Friday, Apple released its Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.5.2. The update provides bug fixes for all 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Stations, AirPort Express Base Stations, and Time Capsules. Some of the fixes include the following:

- General fixes to Wi-Fi base station stability.

- Fixes some issues with AirPlay streaming.

- General fixes with USB interoperability including connection to external storage devices.

- Fixes some issues with NAT port mapping settings.

- Disables TKIP security with 802.11n rates per the Wi-Fi Alliance specifications.

The update can be found, downloaded and installed via the software update feature in the AirPort Utility program (Applications–>Utilities), takes about a minute to install and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new firmware and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Apple looking for possible Verizon iPad engineer in recent job post

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 06:40
Category: iPad, News

verizonlogo.jpg

While a Verizon iPhone is still up in the air, a new job posting on Apple’s web site shows that the company may be looking to put the iPad on the Verizon network according to Engadget.

While Verizon began selling the iPad back in November, the company uses a Mi-Fi style device to provide the wireless data connection as opposed to a direct, contracted connection.

According to the job description on Apple’s site, “The iPad System Engineer will work with the carrier business teams, business customers, and Apple sales resources to drive the adoption of iPad in enterprise accounts. Partnered with the iPad Sales team, the SE will be responsible for developing carrier relationships within the carrier technical teams and must have exceptional technical, project management, presentation and communication skills. He/She must also possess the ability to work without direct supervision or detailed direction. The successful candidate will have enterprise sales experience and must have an existing knowledge of the mobile market and the technologies that support it. Individual must have strong IT knowledge in the areas of enterprise messaging and collaboration, VPN, WiFi and enterprise security technologies. Hands-on experience with Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and Exchange Server is a plus. Must have the ability to effectively work with all levels in an organization including corporate CIOs and IT departments. Ability to work across a matrixed team is required.”

So, if you’re hankering for an iOS device on Verizon’s network, you may be one step closer to seeing this become a realization.

Rumor: Foxconn to ship second-gen iPad in 100 days to meet April launch

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 07:41
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will begin shipping Apple’s next-generation iPad within the next 100 days according to a story published by DigiTimes.

After checks with Taiwan-based component makers, the publication reported Tuesday that Foxconn is set to ship the iPad 2 by the end of February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000-600,000 units. Tuesday’s report echoes an earlier report from the publication that claimed suppliers would ramp up shipments of iPad 2 components in the first quarter of 2011.

Apple had reportedly planned to begin mass production of the device in January, but ongoing testing of the new iPad’s firmware has apparently forced Apple to postpone its schedule. The new iPad is still expected to launch in April, a year after the first-generation device debuted.

According to the report, Foxconn’s new production plants in Chengdu are still in “pilot production,” so the iPad 2 will be mainly supplied by the company’s Shenzhen plants.

In preparation for a spring launch of the second generation of Apple’s successful tablet device, production of the original iPad is expected to drop off in early February. According to the article’s sources, Apple will still place orders for an estimated 1.6-1.8 million iPads through the end of January before reducing orders.

Anonymous sources have also indicated that Apple would introduce FaceTime-equipped next-gen iPads by the end of the first quarter of 2011, ahead of the usual 12-month product cycle. In November, rumors emerged that the next iPad will be a “world mode” device with both GSM and CDMA radios, allowing it to work on a variety of networks.

In the U.S., Verizon has already begun selling the iPad, though it currently only offers the Wi-Fi-only model bundled with a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. The iPad 3G model is not compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network.