Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop

The notion of using a phone to power a computer isn’t new — we’ve seen companies like HP and Motorola try, and ultimately fail, to make it a reality for years. But that’s not stopping Apple from considering the idea. The USPTO issued a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop, AppleInsider reports. As usual, the patent idea likely won’t end up turning into full-fledged product (it was originally filed last September). But it gives us an idea of how Apple is looking at the future of mobile devices and ultraportables.

The patent filing shows off multiple forms of a potential “electronic accessory.” One features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. Another concept describes sliding an iPad in the screen area to power the accessory. Apple also considers plugging additional batteries and GPU hardware in the accessory base to buoy the performance of the iPhone or iPad.

This might all seem a bit crazy, but it makes sense for Apple to be considering new ways to use its mobile hardware. Both the iPhone and iPad are getting faster every year, and such a nimble accessory could give Apple some intriguing ways to combat the rise of convertible, touchscreen-equipped PC laptops. We’re in a world where Microsoft’s Surface devices are demonstrating far more innovation when it comes to portable computing, and where Apple is being forced to respond with its iPad Pro line. It’s about time for the Cupertino company to try something new.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: USPTO (1), (2)

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Apple doubles the storage of the iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4

The new, limited-edition red iPhone 7/7 Plus and upgraded 9.7-inch iPad aren’t the only things Apple has to share today. The company is also increasing the storage across all iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4 configurations. The lowest-capacity 4-inch iPhone SE is now 32GB, up from 16GB, and the 64GB model has been scrapped in favor of a 128GB version. Basically, Apple has doubled the storage and finally killed off the last 16GB iPhone, but good news: The prices haven’t changed. The new 32GB iPhone SE costs $ 399/£379 (the same price as the old 16GB device), while the 128GB model comes in at $ 499/£479. Both will go on sale this Friday, March 24th.

For the iPad Mini 4, Apple has simply done away with the 32GB and 64GB models, introducing a new, lone 128GB config. You’re getting an even better deal here, since you’re only expected to pay as much as the 32GB was worth for quadruple the storage — though it makes sense customers should get more bang for their buck since the internals of the Mini 4 are lagging behind Apple’s other iPads. The 128GB tablet goes on sale today for $ 399/£419 for the WiFi-only model, and $ 529/£549 if you add LTE connectivity.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

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Amazon puts Alexa inside your iPhone

Now you can talk to Amazon’s intelligent assistant whenever you use the Amazon app on your iPhone. Alexa will be able to do much more than just deal with your Amazon account, like play songs from Amazon Music, give you news updates, or even tell a (bad) joke or two. You’ll also be able to use any of your previously enabled skills that are available within the Alexa ecosystem. According to Amazon, the one thing you won’t be able to do just yet is to ask Alexa to open your door locks with your voice.

Don’t uninstall the Alexa app just yet, though, because you’ll need it to tweak your default settings.

The iPhone isn’t the only handset to get Alexa — Huawei announced the voice service for its upcoming Mate 9 phone — but it is the first. Getting Alexa on as many devices as possible makes a lot of sense for Amazon, which is competing with Apple and Google for digital assistant supremacy.

The iOS update to the Amazon app should roll out starting today and continue for the next week.

Via: VentureBeat

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Russia finds Apple guilty of fixing iPhone prices

Google isn’t the only American company facing regulatory trouble in Russia. The country’s antitrust body has ruled that Apple is guilty of fixing prices for iPhone 5 and 6 variants at 16 local retailers. Reportedly, the company tracked prices at these stores and would ask them to raise the price if it was ever deemed “unsuitable.” If they didn’t comply, Apple supposedly had the authority to terminate their reseller deals without so much as an explanation.

Apple has 3 months to contest the decision once it’s published in full later in March. It’s not clear what the proposed penalty will be, but Google was hit with a relatively modest 438 million ruble (currently $ 7.4 million) fine. Execs aren’t likely to lose sleep over the financial side of the ruling, then. Officials add that Apple has mended its ways with a policy that should prevent future trouble.

We’ve asked Apple for comment. However, a spokesperson tells the Financial Times that the company “worked closely” with the antitrust agency and is “glad to put this matter behind us.” Apple isn’t likely to fight this verdict, in other words — unlike in its e-book case, it’s more interested in moving on (and protecting sales in a major market) than fighting to the bitter end.

Via: Financial Times, 9to5Mac

Source: FAS (translated)

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This iPhone case is basically an Android phone

iPhones have a reputation for being user friendly, but ultimately, Android can do a lot of things iOS can’t. Aspects of Android could be useful to all phone users, but straying from the Apple ecosystem can be intimidating. Now, there’s a new way for iPhone users to easily access Android features like expandable storage and multiple SIM cards. Entrepreneur Joseph Savion and his company ESTI Inc. decided to (almost literally) strap an Android phone to the back of an iPhone. That sounds like a strange idea, but that’s basically what ESTI’s Eye phone case does.

The case, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, adds a 5-inch AMOLED display, a 2.3GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, a 2800mAh battery, up to 256GB of microSD storage, dual SIM slots, a headphone jack and wireless charging, among other features. There are two versions of the case: one with cellular connectivity and one without. A comment from Savion on the Kickstarter page says that the Android device can make use of the iPhone’s internet connection. While there is some other integration between the devices — they share the iPhone’s speaker, microphone and cameras — they pretty much function as their own machines.

The case runs Android 7.1 Nougat, and if Eye is starting to sound more like a standalone phone than an iPhone case, well, it’s priced like one too. It’s expected to retail for $ 189 (or $ 229 for the 4G version), although early Kickstarter backers can get theirs for $ 95 ($ 129 for 4G). That said, $ 95 for a phone is pretty cheap.

The main question is, who this product is even for? Most iPhone users seem happy with their devices, and probably don’t need a product like this to “improve” it. Even for users wanting to test the Android waters, there are plenty of non-Apple devices available for under $ 100 that could satisfy their curiosity without adding bulk to their current phone.

Ultimately, Eye seems a lot more interesting than it does practical. As of this writing, the case has raised over $ 84,000 of its $ 95,000 goal with 32 days to go. So, it might not be necessary, but it will probably come to market anyway.

Via: The Verge, 9to5Google

Source: Kickstarter

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VSCO brings GIFs to its main iPhone app

In October, Giphy reported that it has over 100 million users every day. Yes, GIFs are huge, and camera app VSCO wants in. That’s why, back in 2015, it introduced DSCO. The iOS-only spin-off app allows users to create looping images and share them on the company’s own portal or their favorite social networks. Today, VSCO announced that it’s reducing phone clutter by bringing DSCO’s GIF-making capabilities to its main app.

The new feature appears to function very much like DSCO does: Open the in-app camera, switch to DSCO mode, hold the rainbow-colored circle to record a few seconds of video, then swipe to choose preset filters and post away. The company didn’t say whether this means the standalone DSCO app will be discontinued. What it did make clear in its blog post introducing the feature is that like DSCO, GIF creation will remain exclusive to iOS.

With the update, which VSCO says is rolling out in the next couple weeks, the app will also add some meat to its community features. The option to favorite an image will be added, although VSCO calls it “a private acknowledgment between two people,” since only an image’s creator will be able to see if their photos have been starred. Users will also soon be able to block annoying people, but not entirely: Blocked users will still be able to see a person’s images, but will be unable to follow them or interact with their posts.

VSCO’s devotion to Apple devices is clear: DSCO was introduced in late 2015 but has yet to make its way to Android. The company has previously addressed this preference, saying on its support website that “due to some device limitations found while developing for Android, there are some key features that are available for the iOS version that are not available in the Android version of VSCO.” With that in mind, non-iPhone users shouldn’t expect to see GIF capabilities on their VSCO apps any time soon, if ever.

Source: VSCO

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iPhone muggers turn to phishing to access the device

If your phone was stolen or got lost somewhere, keep an eye out for any suspicious texts or emails: thieves and muggers could have a high-tech trick up their sleeves. A Brazilian woman who got robbed began receiving phishing attempts not long after the event. Her husband told Krebs on Security that he located the device using Find my iPhone and sent it text messages asking if he could buy it back. After that, he began receiving texts telling him that his iPhone had been found — all he needed to do was click on a link to retrieve it.

Further, the link leads to exact replicas of Apple’s and Find my iPhone’s log-in pages. The couple even got a call from a Siri-like robotic voice asking them to look for the text message for more info about their “recovered” phone. Clearly, it’s a well-thought-out scheme by tech-savvy muggers: rob people and then phish them to get their passwords.

The victim’s husband wanted to get the word out, since the scheme can definitely dupe anyone who’s not that familiar with phishing attempts. It’s also a good reminder to switch on Find My iPhone, so you can lock or erase it remotely if anything like this happens.

Source: Krebs on Security

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Latest version of iOS solves iPhone 6’s shutdown issues

Some iPhone 6 and 6s devices have been randomly shutting down over the past several months. iOS 10.2.1 was designed to fix the issue, and Apple says it has successfully solved the problem for most people who’ve already installed it. Cupertino told TechCrunch that 10.2.1, which has already been downloaded by roughly half of all iOS users, has led to an 80 percent reduction of unexpected shutdowns in iPhone 6s and 70 percent reduction in iPhone 6. TC says the affected phones unexpectedly shut down due to sudden spikes of activity in older iOS versions that cause older batteries to malfunction.

A spokesperson told the publication:

“With iOS 10.2.1, Apple made improvements to reduce occurrences of unexpected shutdowns that a small number of users were experiencing with their iPhone. iOS 10.2.1 already has over 50% of active iOS devices upgraded and the diagnostic data we’ve received from upgraders shows that for this small percentage of users experiencing the issue, we’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6s and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down.”

Apple also told TechCrunch that it has given the older iPhones the ability to restart without needing to be plugged in. Before the fix came out, people had no choice but to plug in their phones whenever an unexpected shutdown happens. In addition, the tech titan will roll out another feature in the next few days. If the latest version of iOS deems your battery to be too old and worn down, you’ll see a notice in settings telling you that “your battery needs service.”

Apple didn’t give an advice on what to do if version 10.2.1 doesn’t fix the problem for you. But if you’ve been experiencing the same issue, try installing the platform update first before getting your battery replaced.

Source: TechCrunch

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Next iPhone might have depth-sensing front camera

It’s that time of year, folks. Rumors of what the next iPhone will be like are coming in hot and heavy. Last week, well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo noted that the new handsets would nix the home button for a touch-friendly “function area.” Now there’s another bit of info. In a KGI Securities report detailed by 9to5Mac, the analyst explains that the upcoming OLED iPhone will feature a “revolutionary” front camera that’s capable of sensing 3D space via infrared.

More specifically, the report explains that the newfangled camera can combine depth information with 2D images for things like facial recognition, iris recognition and, perhaps most importantly, 3D selfies. Given the previous report about the home button being put out to pasture, there will need to be a replacement for Touch ID. Rumors indicate that either facial recognition or a fingerprint reader embedded in the display would assist with unlocking the device. This new report would point more to the former method.

The report also explains a bit about how the 3D front-facing camera would be used in gaming scenarios. The camera could be used to replace an in-game character’s head or face with that of the user and those 3D selfies could be destined for augmented reality.

It’s no surprise to get word of potential depth-sensing camera tech from Apple. The company nabbed PrimeSense in 2013, an outfit that co-developed the original Kinect for Xbox. This latest KGI report says PrimeSense algorithms will allow the hardware to depth and location of objects in its field of view. An earlier report from Fast Company explained that Apple was working with Lumentum to use its 3D-sensing tech on the next iPhone.

While the 3D camera will only be on the front side for now, Kuo says Apple will eventually employ the tech on around back as well. The report also explains that the company is way ahead of Android as far as 3D algorithms go, so a depth-sensing camera would be a unique feature for a couple of years. Of course, if the early rumors are true, you can expect to pay $ 1,000 for the 10th anniversary iPhone when it arrives.

Source: 9to5Mac

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Analyst rumor: iPhone 8 ‘function area’ to replace home button

While we’re still months away from finding out exactly what’s what with any new iPhone, the rumor mill is already running at full tilt. Following up on earlier reports of a 5.8-inch edgeless OLED screened device arriving as the “iPhone 8,” well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors more about what its home button-less front screen could be like.

As explained by AppleInsider and 9to5Mac, the analyst notes that this presumed OLED iPhone with its $ 1,000+ pricetag will be similar in size to the current 4.7-inch iPhone. However, instead of the home button, it will include a “function area” that can also display controls for video or games.

That would keep it matched in style with the recently-released MacBook Pros and their OLED TouchBar, and, the analyst says, reduce the screen size used for everything else to about 5.15-inches. Last year the New York Times reported that the next iPhone would ditch the home button for virtual buttons built into the screen, and this rumor explains how all that could work. Losing the home button could indicate a lack of TouchID, which could be replaced by a fingerprint reader embedded in the display itself, or other biometric technology like face recognition.

Source: Apple Insider, 9to5Mac

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