Friday, 30 March 2012

iOS 5.1 confirms that Apple is working on a 4G capable iPhone

Now that Apple has finally ventured into 4G territory with the new iPad, it’s inevitable that the next iPhone will follow suit, right? If the latest rumors hold any weight, it sure would seem that way.
While we think it’s a no brainer that we’ll see 4G LTE in the next iPhone, we’ve received a tip that makes us feel a lot better about the possibility.
The following information definitely confirms that Apple is working on a 4G capable iPhone. This new evidence, along with the successful launch of the new iPad, makes us feel 99.999% sure that the new iPhone will feature 4G capability. Full details inside…
As stated, our tipster exclusively provided us with screenshots and detailed information fromiOS 5.1. To get this information he used iFile on a jailbroken iOS 5.1 install from an iPhone 4. We were able to replicate this and grab the same exact information on our iPhone 4. We were also able to get the same data from an iPod touch. We’re assuming that these strings exist on all 5.1 IPSW’s.
These particular strings are new to iOS 5.1. We have confirmed that they do not reside oniOS 5.0.1.
The screenshots we received indicate 4G connectivity. Needless to say we were initially skeptical, because after all, the new iPad has 4G LTE, which would explain the presence of text strings like the following:
“FOUR_G_GROUP_FOOTER_TEXT” = “Using LTE loads data faster.”;
“FOUR_G_SWITCH” = “Enable LTE”;
These files can be found within the following directory:
  • /System/Library/PreferenceBundles/MobileDataSettings.bundle/
The files are:
  • /DataSettings.plist
  • /English.lproj/DataSettings.strings
For example, here is a screenshot of our Verizon LTE equipped iPad. Notice the exact same wording from the text strings above:
Okay, so this is nothing to get excited about, right? These text strings are there because the new iPad uses those settings in the Cellular Data panel in the Settings app.
Not so fast. While it’s true that these settings are found on LTE equipped iPads, the rabbit hole goes a bit deeper. Our tipster provided us with further, more convincing evidence of an upcoming 4G capable phone device.
Notice some of the text strings contained within:
“4G_ON_CALL_CANCEL” = “Cancel”;
“4G_ON_CALL_OK_DISABLE” = “Disable”;
“4G_ON_CALL_OK_ENABLE” = “Enable”;
“4G_ON_CALL_WARNING_DISABLE” = “Disabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to disable 4G?”;
“4G_ON_CALL_WARNING_ENABLE” = “Enabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 4G?”;
“4G_ON_FACETIME_4G_WARNING_DISABLE” = “Disabling 4G will end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 4G?”;
“4G_ON_FACETIME_WIFI_WARNING_DISABLE” = “Disabling 4G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 4G?”;
“4G_TEXT” = “Using 4G loads data faster, but may decrease battery life.”;
This file can be found here:
  • var/stash/Applications/Preferences.app/English.lproj/Network.strings
These strings go beyond the ambiguous ones contained in the initial screenshots. These strings are definitely indicative of 4G presence on a phone device. Notice 4G_ON_CALL_OK_ENABLE, 4G_ON_FACETIME_4G_WARNING_DISABLE, and “Disabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to disable 4G?”
Not only will we be seeing 4G capabilities on future iPhones, but there’s also the possibility that we could see FaceTime finally make itself available (officially) over cellular connections. Considering that 4G connectivity is much more akin to Wi-Fi connections when compared to 3G, we’d say Apple would be more on board than they were with 3G. The final decision likely rests with the carriers, as evident from the lack of 4G FaceTime support on the new iPad.
Now compare the above screenshots and data with screenshots of the same file from my iPhone 4S running iOS 5.0.1. As you can clearly see, those strings don’t exist on the older 5.0.1 firmware.
This file can be found here:
  • var/stash/Applications/Preferences.app/English.lproj/Network.strings
This is pretty convincing. In fact, we’d be downright shocked if the next iPhone didn’t include 4G LTE connectivity.
Look at the evidence: the new iPad successfully launched with 4G LTE to much praise. AT&T is continuing to flesh out its LTE Network. More and more rumors are stating that Apple is investigating 4G LTE chipsets for the next iPhone. And now this.
Save your pennies ladies and gentlemen; Apple’s next iPhone is leaving the cellular network technology that it’s been using ever since the iPhone 3G’s debut way back in July of 2008.
This is extremely good news for iPhone users, because as we’ve demonstrated, 4G LTE is lightyears ahead of 3G from a speed perspective.
Are you excited about this news?
Special thanks to our tipster, Krishna Sagar, who tipped us exclusively. He’s an amateur hacker from India and happens to be the developer of Cydia tweaks like Jailbreak FAQ for SiriAwesome Facts for Siri, IP Tracker, and more.

Apple researching iSight cameras with 3D imaging and facial gestures recognition

According to a patent filing that surfaced today in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) database, Apple is researching a much-improved camera for mobile devices that could recreate 3D models of scanned objects as well as capture gestures and facial expressions. It works with both stills and video and employs one or more dedicated cameras to capture 3D objects.
The system is based on new depth-detection sensors, such as LIDAR, RADAR and laser, that create stereo disparity maps in 3D imagery. With the ability to both capture and recreate 3D images, this killer imaging system could elevate the already powerful imaging capabilities of the five-megapixel iSight camera on the new iPad and its eight-megapixel counterpart found on the iPhone 4S.
Can we have this on the iPhone 5, please?
Patently Apple provides a nice overview of facial gestures:
The three-dimensional imaging apparatus may be used for recognizing facial gestures. Facial gestures may include, but are not limited to, smiling, grimacing, frowning, winking, and so on and so forth. In one embodiment, this may be accomplished by detecting the orientation of various facial muscles using surface geometry data, such as the mouth, eyes, nose, forehead, cheeks, and so on, and correlating the detected orientations with various gestures.
A previous patent filing from December 2011 similarly outlines facial recognition features on portable devices.
As for 3D imaging, one of the proposed depth-detection techniques includes a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor that emits laser pulses. The LIDAR sensor then picks the pulses reflected from objects to calculate the distance by measuring the time delay between transmission of a laser pulse and the detection of the reflected signal.
It’d be capable of capturing oneself’s representation in a three-dimensional space via a Photo Booth-like interface, depicted at the bottom. Once captured, a 3D image of your face could be used for your three-dimensional avatar, Apple says.
More complex scenarios are discussed as well, including this:
In another related embodiment, multiple photographs or video may be taken while the image sensing device is moved relative to the object, and used to construct a three-dimensional model of the objects within the captured image(s). For example, a user may take video of a home while walking through the home and the image sensing device could use the calculated depth and surface detail information to create a three-dimensional model of the home. The depth and surface detail information of multiple photographs or video stills may then be matched to construct a seamless composite three-dimensional model that combines the surface detail and depth from each of the photos or video.
Apple credits engineers Brett Bilbrey, David Simon, Rich DeVaul, Mushtag Sarwar, Michael Culbert and David Gere with the invention. To get more information on this patent filing, type in an ID number 20120075432 into the USPTO search engine.

Patent drawing courtesy of AppleInsider.
I like how Apple isn’t standing still and continues pursuing advanced imaging techniques. We’ve come a long way since the original iPhone and its sub-par camera.
Now we have iOS gadgets that capture 1080p video at thirty frames per second and high-quality stills. Apple isn’t just using off-the-shelf CMOS sensors, they’re improving them with own solutions such as customized optics with a fifth lens and real-time processing to detect faces and stabilize video.
Sure, other phone cameras have those features as well – I’m just observing that the iPhone no longer has a crappy camera. It’s also interesting that Apple appears to be really interested in 3D imaging, as this patent filing proves.
I’m wondering whether those camera- and imaging-related patents could mean an Apple-branded digital camera down the road? After all, Apple did re-brand itself as a consumer electronics powerhouse.
Surely widening their product portfolio and branching out into digital cameras at some point won’t hurt.

Does the new iPad pack in enough oomph for native Retina gaming?

AnandTech on Wednesday posted their review of the new iPad. Per usual, the 21-page article goes into every aspect of the device in excruciating detail. The most interesting takeaway includes an in-depth analysis concerning the gizmo’s graphical prowess and how the enhanced A5X chip stacks up in high-resolution games against the iPad 2 and latest crop of Android tablets powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 silicon.
For starters, the publication portrays the A5X as “an absolute beast” of an system-on-a-chip. But, its power comes at a price because – as it is implemented in the new iPad – the A5X“under load consumes more power than an entire iPhone 4S”.
We kinda knew that, so just how fast is its quad-core GPU and can we expect jaw-dropping Retina games running natively in all their 2,048-by-1,536 pixel glory and – most importantly – at satisfactory frame rates?
Well, according to authors Vivek Gowri and Anand Lal Shimpiwho who know these things inside out, the A5X shows “a roughly 2x increase in triangle and fill rates” in GPU benchmarks at the 1,024-by-768 resolution of iPad 2. As a result, the new iPad delivers roughly twice the performance of its predecessor. Again, at the iPad 2′s 1,024-by-768 pixel resolution.
In many ways in the A5X is a very conservative design, while in others it’s absolutely pushing the limits of what had been previously done in a tablet.
This 2x speed increase draws from the four GPU units inside the A5X chip versus two on the A5 silicon inside the iPad 2. Note that both chips are based on the PowerVR SGX 543 GPU design from Imaginaton Technologies, the only differentiator being twice the GPU cores and the improved memory bandwidth.
Since we’re still on a 45nm LP process, GPU clocks haven’t increased so we’re looking at a pure doubling of virtually all GPU resources.
Now, the caveats…
You won’t notice this speed gain much in most iPad games updated for the Retina resolution, such as Shadowgun and Grand Theft Auto 3. The reason being, they resort to a trickery involving rendering the scene at 1,024-by-768 and upscaling images to the 2,048-by-1,536 resolution, using antialiasing to smooth out the pixels.
The end result is a nice-looking game on the new iPad’s Retina display that’s really being rendered at the iPad 2′s resolution.
When it comes to gaming at the new iPad’s native Retina resolution, frame rates “can drop to well below” what the iPad 2 delivers. Why? Because the two times speed gain offered by the quad-core GPU doesn’t offset the four times pixel count increase of the Retina display.
It’s because of this drop in performance at the iPad’s native resolution that we won’t see many (if any at all), visually taxing games run at anywhere near 2048 x 1536.
The conclusion:
The bigger takeaway is that with the 543MP4 and a quad-channel LP-DDR2 interface, it is possible to run a 3D game at 2048 x 1536 and deliver playable frame rates. It won’t be the prettiest game around, but it’s definitely possible.
“Playable frame rates” may be sufficient for casual games, but likely won’t cut it for 3D shooters and other graphics-intensive titles.
And the fact that both the new and “old” iPad run the same dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU with NEON SIMD accelerator from ARM Holdings isn’t helping either.
“With no change on the CPU side, CPU performance remains identical to the iPad 2″, the publication explains. That’s why the new iPad is slower when reading magazines.
While gaming at the native Retina resolution is feasible on the new iPad, it all comes down to frame rates and developers’ ability to really push the A5X chip to its extremes.
The aforementioned caveats probably won’t affect a few triple-As from the biggest developers with the most resources. I’m talking about so-called system sellers, such as the upcoming Infinity Blade Dungeons from Epic Games.
My sources in the graphics industry convince me that a handful of cherry-picked developers enjoy preferential treatment because Apple is fond of positioning iOS gadgets as portable gaming consoles, among other things.
Disappointed? Do you still think the new iPad has enough horsepower to drive graphics-intensive games natively at the Retina display resolution and at frame rates matching or exceeding those on iPad 2?

Apple become Japan’s top consumer brand, for the first time

As Apple’s influence across industries continues to grow, so does its reputation among consumers the world over. The latest example is Japan, the country infamous for its fickle consumer and, at times, odd expectations with everyday gadgets (at least by Western standards).
A new study puts Apple as the top consumer brand in Japan – and for the first time, too. The achievement echoes a sentiment shared in a survey earlier this week, saying that half of all households in the United States now own at least one Apple product.
According to Nikkei, a large media corporation in Japan, an annual brand evaluation survey of consumers by Nikkei BP Consulting Inc. conducted online over November and December of last year had the Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget designer score 90.5 points out of 100 for total brand power.
Apple catapulted from 11th last year. Its iPad tablet computer and two other key products also made the list for the top-40 brands. In a survey of businesspeople, the U.S. technology giant took second behind Toyota Motor Corp.
Overall brand power scores were calculated based on the responses of some 52,000 people aged 18 and older and targeted a thousand consumer brands.
Sample size is certainly large enough – after all, 52,000 people can’t be wrong.
In years past, we’ve seen Apple re-inventing itself as a consumer electronics powerhouse with a lineup of iOS devices.
The process began at the 2007 iPhone introduction, when Steve Jobs wrapped up the MacWorld keynote by announcing that Apple was dropping “Computer” from its name, becoming only “Apple, Inc.”.
Jobs remarked the name change reflects Apple’s broadened product lineup that now includes computers, but also cell phones, set-top boxes, music players and wireless appliances, to name a few.
And at the 2010 iPad introduction, Jobs took it even further by calling Apple the largest mobile devices company in the world, by revenue.
He said:
iPods are mobile devices. iPhones are mobile devices, too. And most of the Macs that we ship are notebooks, they’re also mobile devices. Apple is a mobile devices company – that’s what we do.  
And with a full-blown TV set reportedly on the horizon for a 2013 release and other consumer electronics products likely on their roadmap (can you say digital cameras), I think Apple is well on its way to becoming the Sony of the 21st century.
Or has the company already achieved this status?

Black SMS provides Privacy for your Messages

With security and privacy very much at the front of everyone’s minds these days, the possibility of having your private SMS messages read is something that will send a shiver down the spine of plenty of people, especially if you are sharing sensitive information.
A new iPhone app plays to those fears, while also providing a workable solution that, as far as we can tell, isn’t going to be as annoying as you might first think.
Black SMS is not an iMessage or SMS app replacement, and in fact, it could be used with email or any other encrypted text. What it does do is allow users to type text into the app and then have it encrypted, ready for decryption on the other end…
The whole process isn’t as long-winded as it sounds. Create a password and type a message into Black SMS. Copy and paste the result into an email or SMS and hit send. The receiving party then does the opposite – copy the received text and paste it into Black SMS. After entering the password, the text is decrypted. Simple.
The app itself costs ₨50.44 and if you’re the kind of person that likes to ensure correspondence remains private, then you’ll want to check Black SMS out sooner rather than later.