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Jake Smith

January 3, 2013

Corning and Sumitomo unveil 100-ft optical Thunderbolt cables ahead of CES

Corning Thunderbolt Cable

Ahead of CES 2013 taking place in Las Vegas next week, Corning has unveiled a new optical Thunderbolt cable for folks who need extra long-reaching Thunderbolt access (perhaps to storage closets or for dummy terminals). Corning’s new cable, perfect for plugging peripherals into supported Macs and moving away from copper core cables, will ship in lengths of 10, 20, and 30 meters and boast the same data transfer speeds of up to 10GBbps. Corning plans to unveil a USB 3 cable as well. No launch date or pricing has been provided for the cables—only that they will be available sometime during the first quarter of this year. At any rate, you bet we’ll stop by Corning’s booth for a closer look next week’s CES.

Just last week, Sumitomo Electric got the “world’s first” Thunderbolt optical cable certification and announced it would mass-produce the cables immediately. The cables are as thick as current copper cables (4.2 mm), can be bent 180 degrees or tangled in knots, and they still perform just like shorter copper cables.

A 100-foot Thunderbolt cable could let Mac users put their whole rig in a closet, run just a Thunderbolt cable to the desktop, and connect to peripherals via the Thunderbolt display. If only there were a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac Pro…

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Ahead of CES 2013 taking place in Las Vegas next week, the folks at Corning have unveiled Gorilla Glass 3. It is a new glass composition aimed at next-generation smartphones and tablets. The stronger Gorilla Glass 3 offers a new feature called “Native Damage Resistance” that brings 40 percent reduction in the number of scratches a device’s screen may take and a 50 percent boost in retained strength after the glass becomes flawed.

Cupertino-based Apple has incorporated Corning glass since the original iPhone, which accompanied an epic visit to the plant by Steve Jobs. Today, CEO Tim Cook likes to tout that Corning in Kentucky makes the glass on Apple’s iOS devices when the topic of U.S.-based manufacturing arises. Corning unveiled Gorilla Glass 2 at CES last year. While it is not mentioned by its brand name, it is undoubtedly the glass used in the iPhone 5. Presumably, Apple will repeat itself with Corning’s third-generation glass in the next-generation iPhone. At any rate, we’ll take a closer look at CES with our hands-on coverage. The full press release is found below: (via Engadget)

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iHome teases new Lightning-enabled docks ahead of CES 2013

Ahead of CES 2013 taking place in Las Vegas next week, popular dock/speaker manufacturer iHome has teased its first Lightning-enabled line. The iPhone 5, iPad mini, and fourth-generation iPad enabled speakers are set to be shown off in-depth at the company’s booth next week, something many speaker manufacturers will look to do to highlight their Lightning-enabled products. The first is the iDL100 Triple Charging Stereo that will ship for $149.99 and be able to charge two devices through Lightning docks, and it features a USB dock for other devices and a 3.5MM headphone jack. Secondly, iHome will unveil another one of its retro boomboxes for $199 (as seen below). The iBT44 features wireless capabilities with Airplay, which uses Bluetooth to stream audio, and it sports USB charging. You bet we’ll take a closer look at CES next week, as the iDL100 with its triple charging looks especially interesting.

January 2, 2013

Apple just announced on its Investor Page that it would report its Q1 2013 earnings Jan. 23. As it does once a quarter, Apple will issue a press release at 4:30 p.m. EST with the numbers and follow with a conference call at 5 p.m. EST to discuss the results with CEO Tim Cook, CFO Peter Oppenheimer, and more. The report will give us a close look into how Apple fared during the holiday shopping season and its outlook for 2013. As of the last earnings report in October, Oppenheimer said he expected revenue of about $52 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $11.75 for Q1 2013. Past numbers, questions from investors on the conference call typically bring out new, interesting pieces of information from Apple, and you bet 9to5mac will provide full coverage. [Apple]

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Apple has detailed in a support article on its website that the Do Not Disturb functionality found within iOS 6 will return to normal functionality after Jan. 7, 2013. As we previously covered, the New Year brought some problems with the feature. It would not turn off at the scheduled time for many users, causing the opportunity for missed notifications. Until Apple’s fix goes in place, the company advised you to manually turn the feature on or off. The Williams twins can’t be happy.

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Why it makes sense for Apple to acquire mapping solution Waze

Update #2, Jan. 03: TechCrunch’s MG Siegler just posted a report claiming the rumor of Apple acquiring Waze for up to $750m was little more than a rumor. While citing “multiple sources close to the situation,” Siegler claimed “There is no deal is happening. At least not now or anytime soon.” A little birdie told Cnet the same thing.

That’s huge news for a few reasons: Apple rarely makes startup acquisitions — Waze is a hot startup with good buzz — the Apple Maps fiasco — the list goes on. But there’s just one little problem: the deal isn’t actually happening.

That information comes from multiple sources close to the situation. And while Mike Butcher also claimed multiple sources in his original post, you’ll note that he was quick to qualify the information as a “rumor”

Update: Butcher later updated the post to add that another source confirmed Apple is in advanced negotiations with Waze to purchase the company for a figure ranging from $400M to $750M:

Another source confirms that negotiations are advanced, but Waze wants $750M and Apple is willing to do $400M plus $100m in incentives. Waze had less than $1M in revenues last year (primarily from ads). Negotiations may take awhile.

Following rumors that Apple may partner with Foursquare to better its mapping experience, Mike Butcher of TechCrunch offers a great case as to why Apple may purchase social sat-nav smartphone app Waze. For those unfamiliar, Waze is a popular mapping solution in the United Kingdom, Asia, and Middle East (areas where Apple is having trouble with its in-house Maps). Here’s how Apple could benefit:

Because Waze maps are built on the location of moving cars, it’s far more accurate than check-in apps. Outside of Google’s project to map cities with Streetview cars – something which has taken years to complete – and the real-world mapping undertaken by volunteers on the Open Streetmaps open source project, there has been little to match Waze’s approach. 

It would also cost Apple northwards of $500M+ to buy Foursquare (which has raised $71 million is known to be raising another round), and gain, what? The location of restaurants, bars and airports? Given Waze has raised $67 million, Apple could acquire far better mapping data and a real driving app.

[TechCrunch]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has been contracted by Apple to soon manufacture A6X chips, according to a report from Taiwan-based Commercial Times (via France24). The move, which has been speculated by media in the recent months, is said to reduce Apple’s reliance on South Korean-based Samsung, who has been responsible for many of Apple’s chips in recent years. The folks in Cupertino introduced the A6X chip in the fourth-generation iPad in October, and it is expected to go into TSMC’s hands, rather than Samsung’s, during the first quarter of this year for trial production.

For those unfamiliar, TSMC is the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry. The trial that will be underway during the first quarter will presumably be in-place to see if the company can keep with Apple’s high demand that must be appeased with devices in stock. Past the powerful A6X chip, Apple has been rumored to make the switch to TSMC’s 20nm process for quad-core processors over the next couple of years in the iPad, “iTV” (Apple TV?), and MacBook, while iPhone’s will remain with duo-core chips.

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December 31, 2012

From 9to5toys:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 10.59.14 AM

As a special offer to close out the year, Apple is offering the bestselling albums of 2012 on iTunes for $6.99. The promotion is running from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3 only and includes some pretty nice offerings for you hip music listeners in the crowd:

12 Days of Christmas Day 6:

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December 29, 2012

Apple drops prices on refurbished Mac Minis by $50, now start at $469

From 9to5Toys:

Apple has taken an additional $50 off the refurbished 2011 Mac mini this afternoon on its online Certified Refurbished Store. Apple now offers the Intel Core i5 starting at $469 for the 2.3GHz model with 2GB of RAM. As it does with the entire refurb store, a 1 year warranty is applied just like new models.

December 28, 2012

Since the removal of YouTube, and Maps as preloaded Google apps within iOS, Google has been especially adept at developing its own set of iOS apps. We previously detailed how Google wants to own the iOS ecosystem on the apps level, providing users with an alternative universe to most of the core features of Apple’s mobile operating system. It appears Google now has a dedicated iOS app team which builds cohesive apps rather than having each business unit build its own apps. expand full story

December 27, 2012

As users powered on their new iOS devices and received iTunes gift cards on Christmas day, a strong surge of app downloads obviously followed. According to analytic firm Distimo, App Store downloads increased a whopping 87 percent on Christmas Day, compared to the rest of December 2012. With the increased downloads, revenue consequently rose 70 percent. Interestingly, the iPad and iPad mini seemed to be the most popular iOS gift given, as downloads and revenues rose by 140 percent and 83 percent, respectively.

Distmo also looked at the most downloaded applications from the App Store on Christmas day. They included Google’s standalone YouTube app and the recently released Apple Maps alternative Google Maps at the top. Other top downloads, excluding Apple’s in-house apps like iWork, included: ElfYourself by OfficeMax, Where’s My Holiday?, and Skype for iPad. The numbers that will give us a real look at how iOS device sales were during the Christmas quarter will be during Apple’s January earnings call with investors, where record sales are expected.

Competitor Amazon, who doesn’t like to give hard numbers, detailed some of its shopping statistics for the holiday season. The Seattle-based online retailer said that Christmas day brought the busiest day ever for digital downloads of movies, TV shows, apps, and more. The Angry Bird fans were also busy with purchases, as Angry Birds plush toys would stack up to 285 times the height of the world’s tallest tree in California. Research firm Flurry also detailed that Christmas 2012 saw the highest amount of activated gadgets than any other day in history.

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In June, we told you about BlueStacks. It is a tool that allows Android apps to run on a Mac. The alpha only officially supported 17 Android apps, with Pulse and Words with Friends being the two of the more notable apps at launch, but the application has improved immensely. As Venture Beat first noted, BlueStacks has moved into beta this morning. It now allows users to run every Android app that the Google Play store has to offer. Some may be puzzled at the need to run a mobile application on the desktop, but it does come in use for apps like Instagram and Flipboard that have no desktop equivalent. BlueStacks reminds us a lot of Parallels or VM Ware, and it definitely becomes more useful with the added apps.

As of earlier this month, the Silicon Valley-based company passed 5 million installs on both Windows and Mac. BlueStacks also plans an even more impressive growth with partners AMD and ASUS, as TechCrunch noted, where the software would be pre-installed on over 100 million devices. Upcoming features include an App Discovery system in the Mac app to make it easier for users to find apps. Interested? You can download the beta from BlueStacks.

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In January 2012, The New York Times published a lengthy report covering the problems with Foxconn’s plants in China. The piece caused uproar, and it pushed Apple to perform its own audit in the factories that make its products and work to address the issues the audit found. Close to a year after publishing its first report, the New York Times has followed up with a second piece that found working conditions are getting better. One of the first steps was in March, when top Apple executives met with Foxconn executives to reduce worker hours and increase wages in 2013. This is said to create a ripple effect that will benefit the entire manufacturing industry.

Past wages and hours, changes are also coming about within the plant. According to the New York Times, new safety measures like automatic shut-off devices and protective foam are now in place to protect workers when doing their difficult jobs of assembling various Apple products. The piece told a story of one worker receiving a wooden, sturdy chair more comfortable on her back than the green plastic stool she once used. Apple also tripled the staff at its California headquarters to ensure safe working conditions across the world.

The changes also extend to California, where Apple is based. Apple, the electronics industry’s behemoth, in the last year has tripled its corporate social responsibility staff, has re-evaluated how it works with manufacturers, has asked competitors to help curb excessive overtime in China and has reached out to advocacy groups it once rebuffed.

Earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook spoke a lot about worker safety while changes were underway. “We insist that our manufacturing partners follow Apple’s strict code of conduct, and to make sure they do, the Supplier Responsibility team led more than 200 audits at facilities throughout our supply chain last year,” said Cook in an email. “These audits make sure that working conditions are safe and just, and if a manufacturer won’t live up to our standards, we stop working with them.” Subsequently, Apple issued a statement to the New York Times this week on the recent changes:

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December 26, 2012

Apple reportedly continuing talks with Sharp over IGZO display panels for iOS devices

Digitimes reported that Apple is continuing talks with the struggling Sharp over its IGZO display panels. Before making a switch, the company is evaluating whether Sharp’s supply will be able to meet the demand of the iPhone, iPad mini, and 10-inch iPad throughout 2013.

The sources said Apple is in further discussions with Sharp over IGZO panel production capacity estimates for 2013 and is also inquiring about whether AU Optronics’ (AUO) L5C line could be used to produce the technology.

We previously detailed the benefits of an IGZO display when we spent some hands-on time with it at IFA Berlin. We found it to be pretty impressive, as it can be built under a 2 mm bezel, and it features a smoother touch and the ability to consume one-fifth to one-tenth of the power consumed by a-Si displays (which would lead to smaller batteries in devices). Apple reportedly wanted to use it with the third-generation iPad, but scrapped those plans at the last second. The fifth-generation iPad is now looking like a likely candidate for the new screen tech in March.

Check out a hands-on below:

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Digitimes has shed more light on CEO Tim Cook’s early December announcement that a Mac line’s production will move to the United States in 2013 courtesy of a $100 million investment. According to the hit-and-miss publication this evening, Cupertino-based Apple will move the production of its Mac mini to the U.S. (and not the Mac Pro, as previously theorized.) The infamous Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing it, moving away from its traditional Asia and South America locale.

We previously detailed several locations that Foxconn has in the U.S., where hiring is sure to ramp up to accommodate the production. Additionally, with the help of automated production lines, Mac mini sales are expected to rise to 1.8 million units in 2013. That’s up 30 percent from 2012. While we have a very solid guess on location, we’re still left scratching our heads with who the U.S.-assembled iMacs are originating from.

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December 25, 2012

japan-boxing-day

As we move past Christmas and into Boxing Day worldwide, Apple has confirmed its annual ‘Lucky Bag’ sale for Jan. 2 in Japan. The sale, which takes place in seven stores across the country, allows shoppers who get in line early to purchase a 33,000 yen ($390 USD) gift bag that includes the possibility of headphones, an iPod touch, cases, an Apple T-shirt, and other accessories. The real surprise is a few gift bags are loaded with special items like a MacBook Air or iPad that a few lucky people will receive.

Lucky Bags are a big tradition in Japan and other parts of Asia to bring in the New Year. Apple’s Lucky Bag event, much like Black Friday in the United States, brings out overnight campers who seek the silicon treasures. As one person noticed in 2011, getting in line at 5 a.m. still wasn’t early enough. Will any 9to5mac readers venture out? Check out a gift bag below: [Apple via Tech in Asia]

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December 24, 2012

Impounded Steve Jobs yacht free to sail after dispute is temporarily resolved

After the yacht Steve Jobs commissioned was impounded in Amsterdam over a payment dispute with designer Phillipe Starck earlier this month, it has been released today. AFP reported that Steve Jobs’ estate paid the designer to release it, but no specific amount was detailed.

Starck originally sought an unpaid 3 million euro of the 9 million euro that he claimed he was entitled to for his work. He was holding the ship, named “Venus”, until the money was received, but it’s not clear if it was the full $3 million euros. The dispute occurred because Jobs and Starck had no formal contract to detail how much would be paid, as the two had a mutual trust between each other.

The 105 million euro ship was designed by Steve Jobms and set sail after his death. It is currently ported in Amsterdam and awaiting a voyage to the United States, so Laurene Powell Jobs and her family can enjoy it. In the “Steve Jobs” biography by Walter Isaacson, he called the ship “sleek and minimalist” with a control panel made up of non-other than seven iMacs.

December 18, 2012

iMac2012

As customers begin receiving the new iMac this month, business-end users and gamers may find one issue when booting up their new machine. As reader Michael Verde first shared with us, the built-to-order 27-inch iMac configuration with a 3TB Fusion Drive (an extra $400) will not allow any Boot Camp use. This essentially cuts off access to a full Windows experience that some Mac users may want to benefit from. Many might consider this a bummer, as a sizable amount of users turn to Boot Camp to access necessary Windows programs or just simply enjoy Windows paired with Mac hardware.

Apple highlighted the issue on both its iMac configuration and Fusion Drive explanation page. “Boot Camp Assistant is not supported at this time on 3TB hard drive configurations,” Apple said in buried text. “At this time,” could mean the feature is enabled down the road in a software update, but it is non-existent as of now.

There are virtualization solutions, such as Parelles and VM Ware, that provide a Windows experience, but they do not offer a full experience that many may want. Boot Camp users include gamers who want to run games at full settings and business users looking to use specific business apps in a full Windows environment.

Right now it is not clear what the cause is, or if it has anything to do with Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology, but it seems that Boot Camp is limited to hard drive with less than 2TB of space (PC World has a good explanation for this). Announced in October and shipping in the new Mac Mini and iMacs, the top Fusion Drive configuration provides 128GB of flash storage coupled with 3TB of HDD space. The cheaper configuration, 128GB Flash Storage + 1TB HDD, supports Boot Camp. So, we have to wonder: what is holding back the more expensive configuration? We reached out to Apple for comment.

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Apple successfully defends itself against Motorola in latest patent case

Apple successfully defended itself against a Motorola lawsuit over an accidental hang-up sensor on its iPhone line. Bloomberg reported this evening that U.S. International Trade Commission judge Thomas Pender ruled in Apple’s favor, as he has before, declaring Motorola’s patent invalid. The ITC’s commission still has the power to review the ruling, but that hasn’t stopped Motorola from releasing an official statement on the matter.

Jennifer Erickson, a Motorola Mobility spokesperson, told Bloomberg in a statement: “We’re disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options.” Motorola is a part of Mountain View-based Google, which was acquired last August for $12.5 billion in a patent defense move.

Motorola’s collective lawsuit was filed in August with a claim that Apple violated seven patents with its iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iOS products, and even Macs. The suit was filed during the same time Apple worked to defeat Samsung in a historic patent case that played out during the better part of August. Samsung was ultimately ruled to pay damages of more than $1 billion.

Screen Shot 2012-12-18 at 4.12.52 PMShortly after releasing iOS 6.0.2 to the masses this afternoon, Apple seeded build 12D43 of OS X 10.8.3 to developers. The folks in Cupertino have not listed any new features or known issues, but they asked developers to focus on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers, and Safari. The last pre-release build was released on Dec. 5. You can check today’s release out on the developer center, while the full release note is below:

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