Seven Years Ago Today: Steve Jobs Introduces the iPad

Jan 27, 2017 - 1:21 PM - by sparkyscott21

After teasing fans to "come see our latest creation" in the weeks leading up to one of its famous media events, seven years ago today former Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first-generation iPad to the world. The iPad was announced as a larger-screen counterpart to the company's three-years-old iPhone, with Scott Forstall pointing out during the conference that the tablet could run "virtually every" iPhone app thanks to an on-screen button that users could press to scale the app's resolution up and down on a whim.

The original iPad launched with a 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 resolution touch screen, in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. The 1.5lb tablet included Apple's A4 chip and was priced at $499, $599, and $699 for Wi-Fi only models, and $629, $729, and $829 for Wi-Fi + 3G models in each respective capacity. The Wi-Fi version debuted on April 3, 2010, while users interested in Wi-Fi and 3G had to wait until April 30 for Apple's new tablet.

Steve Jobs on the iPad:

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

After the event in 2010, initial reactions to the iPad were largely positive, with sites like Engadget calling it "blazingly fast" and remarking that the tablet had no lag when hopping around its various apps. The screen was thought to be "stunning" and the iPad's iBooks application impressed, thanks to its flipping page animations and library-inspired bookshelf space for eBooks that upheld Apple's then popular skeuomorphic iOS design.

The original iPad's largest drawback centered on its substantial 1.5lb weight, as well as the lack of Flash in its operating system, no multitasking, and no camera. Seven years later, Apple has iterated on its original design and addressed most of these user complaints with each update to the iPad.

The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs about the same as the original iPad at 1.57lbs, and still runs a larger version of iOS, but it's thinner (6.9mm vs 13mm) and is the "most capable and powerful" iPad yet, according to Apple, putting it on par with desktop-class machines.

While the iPad saw strong early adoption, Apple has experienced sales declines in the past few years, with users replacing their iPads less frequently than iPhones. Most commonly, users update their iPhones every year or two, while finding their iPads remain serviceable for longer.

In the company's annual earnings report last October focusing on the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016, iPad sales were down slightly to 9.3 million from 9.9 million in the same year-ago quarter. Although they were also infamously down in sales in 2016, Apple still sold 45.5 million iPhones in the same quarter, down from
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Apple Support iPhone app reaches 22 markets with additions like France & UK

Jan 26, 2017 - 1:25 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple's official Support app for iPhone and iPad is now available to download in 22 regions, some additions this week being France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Available free through the App Store, the app is meant to simplify accessing Apple's support system, providing quick links to chat, phone, and email as well as tools for scheduling appointments with a Genius Bar or other service providers. It also identifies devices associated with an Apple ID, and displays guides for common tasks and issues.

Unusually, Apple first launched the app in the Netherlands in November, only bringing it to the U.S. the following month alongside Turkey and Sweden. Apple normally prioritizes the U.S. with app, service, and device launches.

The company may have picked a smaller intro market to limit fallout from any problems. The U.S. is Apple's biggest individual market, and a faulty support app could have created major headaches there.

Apple promised a global expansion shortly after the U.S. came onboard.

The full region list includes Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.


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Investment firm BlackRock increases stake in Apple stock, now owns 6.1% of shares

Jan 23, 2017 - 1:43 PM - by sparkyscott21

The world's largest asset management firm BlackRock has increased its holdings in Apple, with a regulatory filing revealing its total ownership in the company is now over 322 million shares, worth approximately $38.4 billion.

A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission confirms the investment firm owns 322,683,504 shares in total, which works out to be a 6.1 percent stake in Apple. The figure is up from the same time last year, as in January 2016 BlackRock owned a 5.7 percent stake in the iPhone producer.

The news of BlackRock's increased ownership in Apple has positively affected the markets, with Yahoo Finance noting the Apple stock price has risen by 0.3 percent to $120.11.

As the largest investment firm, BlackRock has considerable holdings in other major tech companies, owning at least five percent of Microsoft, Facebook, and HP. BlackRock also has a seat on the Apple board, with co-founder and current chief operating officer Susan Wagner the second woman to do so after replacing the long-serving Bill Campbell in 2014.

Earlier this week, Apple's stock price reached a 14-month high, while Morgan Stanley rated Apple as "overweight" and set a price target for the company's shares of $148. As part of the rating, Morgan Stanley's estimates for the fiscal 2017 iPhone revenue were reduced by 3 percent due to anticipated "weak demand" ahead of an iPhone "supercycle."


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Rumor: FaceTime group video calls to debut in iOS 11

Jan 23, 2017 - 1:40 PM - by sparkyscott21

Potentially fulfilling a long-standing iPhone and iPad feature request, FaceTime might finally support group video calls with iOS 11, a report claimed on Friday.

Following the release cycle of past iOS debuts, iOS 11 will be announced in June and make "social" elements like FaceTime and Messages a focus, Israeli site The Verifier said, citing sources familiar with iOS development. In particular, group video calls are supposedly set for introduction in the next-generation operating system.

According to sources, users will have to initiative a group FaceTime video call from a group chat in Messages. Up to five people should be able to participate.

A June announcement would coincide with Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event typically focuses on OS updates planned to ship later in the year, giving developers an early glimpse at them and a chance to build or update apps with support.

The Verifier is a relatively unknown site, but group video calls are already a common feature in other iOS communications apps such as Google Hangouts and Microsoft's Skype.

FaceTime has been limited to one-to-one communication since its 2010 debut, despite improvements in processor speeds and network bandwidth. That Apple has dragged its feet on multi-user video chat integration has given breathing room to third-party apps, even though FaceTime is for many the de facto video calling solution for iOS and macOS.


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Apple to adopt new 3D Touch technology for OLED iPhone

Jan 23, 2017 - 1:38 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple is expected to replace current 3D Touch technology with a new design based on thin film sensors when it introduces a next-generation iPhone with OLED display, according to noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo says the forthcoming iPhone will feature a 3D Touch module located beneath an OLED panel, a layered arrangement first introduced with iPhone 6s in 2015.

Instead of using a sensor design involving flexible printed circuit boards, however, Apple is predicted to make the switch to thin film, a component package promising enhanced sensitivity over existing implementations. The increased should provide a better overall user experience than the now two-year-old 3D Touch design, perhaps paving the way for gestures more complex than home screen quick actions and system-wide "peek and pop" previews.

Fitting a film sensor beneath an OLED panel is not easy, Kuo notes. Whereas current 3D Touch iterations integrate a rigid metal conductive plate as part of the layered sensor design, film sensor stacks do not, leaving the flexible OLED screen susceptible to deformation. To avoid potential damage from regular operation, a passive metal component will be placed under the film sensor to provide structural support, Kuo says.

The new sensor materials and design inevitably require a more involved lamination process that will drive up per module costs, which the analyst estimates will increase 10 to 20 percent compared to current 3D Touch sensors. Module suppliers GIS and TPK are expected to split orders and begin shipping out supply in March or April.

An evolution of Force Touch technology deployed in Apple Watch and MacBook trackpads, 3D Touch was originally billed as "the next generation of multi-touch" when it debuted on iPhone 6s.

Unlike Force Touch, which uses sensors deployed under the perimeter of an Apple Watch display to detect finger pressure, 3D Touch employs an array of capacitive sensors integrated with an iPhone display's backlight. The system measures the distance between iPhone's flexible cover glass and the sensor array many times per second, then translates the results into granular force and location data.

Film sensors operate under the same working principles, but offer more accurate deflection readings in a design that takes up much less internal space.

Apple is widely rumored to unveil its first OLED iPhone later this year alongside a pair of "s" model upgrades for the iPhone 7 series. The 10th anniversary edition, as some are calling the OLED variant, is expected to feature a stainless steel "glass sandwich" design and incorporate exotic technologies like wireless charging, an "invisible" under-panel home button and more. Most recently, rumblings from within Apple's supply chain suggest the OLED version will sport a wraparound 5.8-inch OLED "flex" screen with embedded sensors.


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Apple and Foxconn weighing $7 billion display plant in U.S., report says

Jan 23, 2017 - 1:36 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple's main manufacturing partner, Foxconn, is considering the possibility of a $7 billion joint investment in an automated display production facility in the U.S., the latter company's chairman said on Sunday.

"Apple is willing to invest in the facility together because they need the [panels] as well," Terry Gou told the press following a year-end party in Taiwan, according to Nikkei. The proposed facility, first rumored earlier this month, would allegedly create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs.

Although U.S. electronics manufacturing is typically more expensive —due to currency values, and higher labor and operational costs —Gou claimed that growing demand for bigger display panels makes U.S. production a better option than importing parts from China.

Foxconn is also said to be planning a new molding plant in the U.S., with Pennsylvania being a possible target in the wake of investment talks with the state. In fact, a representative from Pennsylvania's trade office is said to have attended Sunday's party.

The decision to increase U.S. manufacturing is potentially a response to President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise of growing domestic jobs, and has threatened to renegotiate NAFTA as well as make it expensive to import Chinese goods. Gou noted that a Canadian interactive display company, Smart Technologies, could be relocated to the U.S. because of Trump's NAFTA plans.

He urged the U.S. government to offer concessions on land and electricity to encourage manufacturing, warning that products could otherwise become unaffordably expensive.

"In the future they [shoppers] may be paying some $500 more for products, but those do not necessarily work better than a $300 phone," he said.

Trump has claimed that Apple CEO Tim Cook could bring iPhone manufacturing to the U.S., perhaps lured by the promised of a "very large tax cut" for relocating jobs. In November Nikkei said that Apple had asked Foxconn to consider the possibility.

Gou commented however that Foxconn will continue expanding in China. One such effort is believed to be an Apple prototype facility located in Shenzhen.


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