Apple TV’s first big update adds Siri search for Apple Music

The latest iteration of Apple TV’s operating system, tvOS 9.1, is out of beta and ready for the big screen. The new update includes support for searching Apple Music with your voice, via the fantastic Siri Remote, so you no longer have to type in long artist names with the weird keyboard line that Apple […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Mad Catz Now Shipping C.T.R.L.i and Micro C.T.R.L.i Bluetooth Gamepads for iOS [iOS Blog]

Mad Catz Interactive today officially started shipping its C.T.R.L.i and Micro C.T.R.L.i Bluetooth-enabled mobile gamepads. Announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, the controllers are compatible with Apple’s latest iOS devices running iOS 7 and iOS 8. While there has been some limited availability of at least the larger model through several retailers in recent weeks, today’s announcement indicates both models should now be broadly available.

Both controllers use Bluetooth to connect to an iOS device and support multiplayer gaming, allowing up to four gamepads to connect with a single iOS device. Available in five colors, the controllers feature dual joysticks, dual left and right triggers, a D-pad, and four controller buttons. They also include clips that allows users to attach their iOS devices to the controllers for mobile game playing.

Mad Catz’s C.T.R.L.i gamepad is a full-size controller for gamers looking for a console-like experience. It is available now for $49.99 and is compatible with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPad Air and Air 2, iPad mini 2/3, and the iPod touch (5th Generation). Compatible with the same suite of devices, the Micro C.T.R.L.i is 20 percent smaller and retails for $39.99.

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Apple Awarded Patent for Contact Aware User Interface in Messaging Applications [iOS Blog]

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that details a user interface in messaging apps that dynamically changes its background based on conversation participants. The patent details how this interface would adapt to both single and group conversations, and how it would work with specific data to generate images.

Outlining the „Generation of a user interface based on contacts“, the patent describes how a conversation can be displayed over a background image associated with a contact. Users have the ability to assign a photo to a single contact to serve as a background, while the image itself can be adjusted to be dimmed or alpha-blended with a background color to ensure greater message readability. If an image is not assigned, the interface could also generate a default male or female image based on contact information.

The concept also carries over into group chats, as one user can be highlighted while others are greyed out to display who sent the last message. Alternative methods described in the patent also include showing contact thumbnails in a Cover Flow or carousel fashion, as well as layouts that center and increase the thumbnail of the most recent contacts with animations for emphasis. The patent also describes a potential API for third party developers to integrate the user interface into their own apps.

As with other software patents, it is unknown whether Apple plans to include this dynamic user interface in future versions of Messages or other apps. However, Apple could make changes to the Messages app in iOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled next month at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Recent rumors have suggested that iOS 8 will feature a focus on health-related applications along with enhancements to Maps and Siri.

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5th Generation iPad to Begin Production in July-August

DigiTimes claims that Apple will begin volume production of the 5th generation iPad in July-August 2013. The timeline reportedly comes from sources in Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

Mockup of 5th Generation iPad next to an iPad mini
A July-August ramp up of production runs counter to many of the earlier rumors that had suggested the iPad launch as early as April.

While Apple’s traditional timeframe for iPad launches has been in the first few months of the year, last year saw two iPad launches – one in March, and one in November. The late 2012 release of the 4th Generation iPad may have altered that usual timetable.

The new iPad is believed to be „thinner and lighter“ than the currently shipping full-sized iPad. The 5th Generation iPad is also believed to take on the same thin-bezel design as the iPad mini. The above mockup is based on leaked iPad 5 enclosures from early this year.

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Apple Investigating Thinner, Lower Power IGZO Displays Across iPad and iPhone Product Lines for 2013

According to a new DigiTimes report, Apple is evaluating the feasibility of using IGZO displays across their iPad, iPad mini and iPhone products in 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’ve heard rumors about Sharp’s IGZO displays over the past year, but no Apple products yet seem to use the new technology. There had been talk of production delays that may have prevented Apple from pursuing the technology.

Qualcomm recently invested in Sharp to push forward the technology. Sharp is reportedly betting on IGZO to save the company, which is in dire financial straits.

IGZO has been touted as having many benefits over existing technology. PCWorld notes lower power consumption, improved touch sensitivity and increased pixel density among these benefits.

This difference in current flow inside the screen also means that transistors don’t have to be continually refreshed when a still image is on the screen. That leads to lower power consumption and, for touch panels, much less interference from the screen’s electronics so the touch panel becomes more accurate and sensitive, said Nobuhiro Okan, a manager with Sharp’s display device group.

The glass edge of each display can also be made slimmer, allowing for smaller devices.

Obviously, those improvements would be highly desired for Apple to advance their products. The iPad, in particular, actually found itself both thicker and heavier in the 3rd Generation model in order to accommodate the battery for the power-hungry Retina display. Display power consumption and thickness were also likely factors that prevented the iPad mini from adopting a Retina display in its first generation. Rumors have already suggested that the 2013 5th Generation iPad could be slightly thinner and smaller than the current models.

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