iOS Devices August 3, 2011

China is many things, not just the United States’ biggest creditor and the home to cheap child labor that assembles your iPhone in sweatshops. One thing we can all agree on, though: In China, the government is pretty much in control of many things, including what you read, listen to and consume on the web (hint: The Great Firewall of China). The same could apply to mobile software if it weren’t for one slight problem: China doesn’t get to control the App Store where hundreds of thousands of apps are vying for users’ attention.

So when the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China decided to release their official app called PLA Daily, basically a glorified news reader, one of their top priorities was to bypass Apple’s mobile bazaar, the environment they cannot control. Instead, the app’s target audience – mostly members of the People’s Liberation Army of China’s (PLA) – are expected to jailbreak their devices in order to install the unsanctioned app. has the story:

The app isn’t going to be an official App Store app. Not here or in China. Users must jailbreak (install software that allows for use of the iPhone that was not intended by Apple) their iPhone if they want to read up on what the PLA is doing. They will receive news and updates direct from the PLA’s Daily. It’s interesting that the iPhone must be jailbroken in order to use the app. Usually, jailbreak apps are made by single independent users who want to add a certain functionalities not included in their iPhone. Larger, public organizations have always stuck to official app store releases.

Of course, it’s also possible Apple rejected the app so the powers that be reckoned to give Apple a taste of their own medicine. Either way, Chinese armed forces have gotten their free publicity.
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So, you’re excited about iPad 3 with Retina Display? Hold your horses, panel makers may not be on the same page with Apple. Per this analysis compiled by DigiTimes, display and touch panel providers are actually struggling to keep up with Apple’s ever growing appetite:

As iPad and iPhone have aroused demand for displays and touch panels with higher performance standards, makers are under pressure to upgrade specifications in their road maps, according to industry sources.

As seen in the publication’s chart, 10.1-inch panels are unlikely to hit the full HD resolution before the second half of next year. Sure, some quantities will be available to buyers, but it will likely be a far cry from the current run-rate of nearly 40 million iPad units. On a brighter note, planned upgrades of 10.1-inch panels include thickness going down from from 2.8mm to 2.3mm, power consumption reducing from 3.6W to 2.7W and further to 2.2W by the end of 2012 and multitouch response advancing from 2-10 fingers to more than ten fingers simultaneously (definitely a good news for a rumored Amazon tablet).

Click for larger

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IHS iSuppli has done a mega tear-down analysis of eight major tablets, including Apple’s iPad and iPad 2, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Motorola’s Xoom, Hewlett-Packard’s TouchPad and Asus’s Eee Pad. As nearly all non-Apple tablets sport beefier innards, how come the lower-specc’d iPad is still ruling the tablet space nearly eighteen months after Steve Jobs announced the original model back in January of last year? It’s because Apple controls the whole widget, IHS senior analyst Wayne Lam explains:

Since Apple controls both the operating system and hardware design of the iPad, it is able to attain design efficiencies that other tablet manufacturers cannot. These efficiencies become obvious in areas like the memory and the battery, where Apple maintains advantages in cost, space savings and performance compared with every competitor in the business.

He also tells CNET that the biggest drawback for the Android camp is the lack of critical mass and explains why rivals are wrong to focus on speeds and feeds:

It’s a post-PC use case. You’re not bounded by performance. You’re bounded by user interaction. I don’t think a user can distinguish a performance difference or get a sense of the speed of the hardware by using it. It’s a different metric. The iPad’s efficient memory usage stems from the fundamental difference in the architecture of the operating system Apple’s iOS handles multitasking differently than other tablet operating systems, allowing it to reduce the amount of memory required to support the microprocessor.

And because Apple owns the user experience by making its own operating system, user interface and hardware designs down to the selection of individual parts, it is able to provide experiences half-baked Android tablets simply cannot touch. So, when will the Android tablets catch up?

All of the major [Android tablet] makers spent this past year directing all of their efforts toward finding the right mix of components. They really didn’t pay attention to software. They thought, Google is doing something, we’ll take whatever they have. And that’s pretty much what happened. But it’s still not cohesive.

Then, there’s this little problem related to manufacturing costs…

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iOS Devices August 2, 2011

As pointed out by TechCrunch, Twitter is rolling out a new interface for the iPad. Up until now, the iPad browser has utilized the full version of (user option) that is typically displayed on Macs and PCs or an upscaled mobile variant.

This new HTML5 interface is more touch friendly and resembles Twitter’s fairly new web interface for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Twitter’s official profile, the rollout of the new interface begins today and should complete over the next week or so.

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In case you haven’t noticed, a rumored Fall release of iPhone 5 is being preceded by the usual media brouhaha. Is Apple going to release its next handset in September? How about October? Maybe they’ll gradually bring the device to market over the course of both months? Has the company already field-tested the gizmo in June? And if the phone is already in production, how come carriers are only now getting prototypes in sealed boxes? Do case leaks mean a ringer switch has been repositioned to the opposite side? And what’s with those iPhone 4 price cuts at Target and Radioshack and AT&T vacation blackouts?

Disregarding all of the above for a second, what exactly about Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone is going to blow our socks off the most? If you ask Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, it’s the large display combined with an even thinner profile than iPhone 4:

It turns out that we are picking up that this interim iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected. We believe this makes sense to improve the iPhone experience without making it too bulky as we have seen with models from competitors.

But what exactly is ‘bulky’ these days? Are we talking a few millimeters larger display or ‘Android superphone bulky’? Italian-language did a cool side-by-side comparison of the current-generation iPhone 4’s 3.5-inch display and the rumored iPhone 5 at various display dimensions. An iPhone 5 with a 4.3-inch display would require a frame wider and taller ten millimeters than that of the iPhone 4, while keeping the same 9.3 millimeter profile. Reducing the display edges “to a minimum” – that’s an edge-to-edge display for you – could allow Apple to engineer a monstrous 4.7-inch device, as depicted in the above drawing. There’s just one problem, though (plus, a cool reader mockup below the fold)…

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The Next Web points at a Guardian online article which states that a next-generation iPhone has been delivered to carriers for field-testing. Without going into much detail as to when exactly Apple might launch iPhone 5 beyond crystal ball peering, author Charles Arthuer writes on the paper’s blog that “my carrier sources tell me that the boxes in which the new iPhone hardware is encased have been transported to carriers for testing”.

The article is referring to the cases Apple (and other manufacturers) use to enclose prototypes so they don’t raise suspicious in field-testing. Remember Gray Powell, an Apple engineer who famously left an iPhone 4 prototype on a bar stool in California? That prototype had been enclosed in an iPhone 3GS-like case and Apple later argued it made discovering the antenna issue that much harder. Of course, Guardian’s article is really a non-discovery as 9to5Mac discovered that the next iPhone hit final testing with Apple in June.

Guardian’s take on those cases? Right below… expand full story


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