Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
MrSeb writes "Reverse engineering company Chipworks has completed its initial microscopic analysis of Apple's new A6 SoC (found in the iPhone 5), and there are some rather interesting findings. First, there's a tri-core GPU — and then there's a custom, hand-made dual-core ARM CPU. Hand-made chips are very rare nowadays, with Chipworks reporting that it hasn't seen a non-Intel hand-made chip for 'years.' The advantage of hand-drawn chips is that they can be more efficient and capable of higher clock speeds — but they take a lot longer (and cost a lot more) to design. Perhaps this is finally the answer to what PA Semi's engineers have been doing at Apple since the company was acquired back in 2008..." Pretty picture of the chip after using an Ion Beam to remove the casing. The question I have is how it's less expensive (in the long run) to lay a chip out by hand once instead of improving your VLSI layout software forever. NP classification notwithstanding.
Nerval's Lobster writes "A physical teardown of the iPhone 5 by IHS iSuppli reveals that Apple has managed to keep its materials and manufacturing costs roughly in line with that of the iPhone 4S. The firm estimated the Bill of Materials for the iPhone 5's low-end variant at $199.00, rising to $207.00 once manufacturing costs are entered into the equation. It tallied the BOM for the 32GB version at $209.00 (or $217 with manufacturing) and the 64GB one at $230.00 (rising slightly to $238 with those manufacturing costs). Compare that to the BOM for the iPhone 4S, which IHS iSuppli estimated at $188 for the 16GB version (rising to $196 with manufacturing costs added in), $207 for the 32GB version ($215 with manufacturing) and $245 for the 64GB version ($254 with manufacturing)." Reader redkemper writes with another kind of comparison of the newest iPhone to its predecessor: "Apple didn't spend too much time talking about the iSight camera at the iPhone 5s unveil event because it's mostly the same as the one found in the iPhone 4S. Thankfully, iMore grabbed an iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S and did a fantastic shoot-out between the two device's rear cameras. [The new camera] just barely edges out the iPhone 4S's year-old camera."
An anonymous reader writes "While there's much talk of Apple asking for more money from Samsung, there's less talk of the likelihood that the verdict will be overturned completely. Based on voir dire, and the foreman's subsequent statements to the press, it seems he failed to follow the law."
angry tapir writes "A California jury may have awarded Apple more than US$1 billion in damages in late August when it triumphed over Samsung in a hard-fought case over smartphone and tablet patents, but the iPhone maker is coming back for more: late last week it asked for additional damages of $707 million. The request includes an enhanced award of $535 million for willful violation of Apple's designs and patents, as well as about $172 million in supplemental damages based on the fact that the original damages were calculated on Samsung's sales through June 30."
Presto Vivace writes with news (as reported by Engadget) of a riot at Foxconn's Taiyuan plant, reportedly over guards beating up a worker, and writes "Something is going on at Foxconn. Do any Slashdotters know of a good source for news about Chinese labor disputes?" Reports of the riot are also at Reuters, TUAW, and CNBC, to name a few.
TechCrunch reports that Apple, facing a substantial backlash (and some snarky competitive advertising) over goofs in the mapping software included in iOS 6, is going after the problem with a hiring spree. Here's TechCrunch's lead: "Apple is going after people with experience working on Google Maps to develop its own product, according to a source with connections on both teams. Using recruiters, Apple is pursuing a strategy of luring away Google Maps employees who helped develop the search giant’s product on contract, and many of those individuals seem eager to accept due in part to the opportunity Apple represents to build new product, instead of just doing 'tedious updates' on a largely complete platform." Meanwhile, writes reader EGSonikku "Well known iOS hacker Ryan Perrich has gotten the iOS5 Google Maps application to run on iOS6 using 'a little trickery.' (YouTube demonstration.) He has not released it yet due to crashing issues but states 'it mostly works.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Apple received a lot of criticism during the Apple/Samsung litigation this past Summer as folks deemed it absurd that Apple was able to patent things such as icon design and the overall form factor of a smartphone. Well as it turns out, it appears that Apple has engaged in some copying of its own in the form of the new clock icon design used in iOS 6 on the iPad- a rather ironic turn of events given that Apple railed against Samsung for copying its own iOS icons. Specifically, the clock icon in iOS 6 on the iPad is a blatant copy of a Hans Hilfiker design to which both the trademark and copyright is owned by the Swiss Federal Railways service."
An anonymous reader writes "iOS 6 has seen rapid adoption among iPhone and iPad users, reports developer David Smith. Smith's applications like Audiobooks get around 100k downloads weekly and he's taken to mapping the adoption of Apple's software releases over the last couple of years. This update's data shows a 35.4% adoption of iOS 6, with iOS 5.x holding court at 71.5% adoption. That's a pretty rapid pace, eclipsing Android Jelly Bean's 2-month adoption levels of 1.2% easily."
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Geek.com: "If you're planning to get a new Verizon iPhone 5, there might be a little bonus feature included that neither Apple nor Verizon are keen to admit. As units have started making it out of the stores, it appears that the Verizon version of the device is fully unlocked out of the box and able to connect to any GSM network. Verizon support is apparently confirming to customers that the device is unlocked. At the very least, this doesn't appear to be a mistake. It likely has to do with the way the iPhone's radios are designed along with the implementation of LTE on Verizon. This might make the device a little more palatable to those on the fence about upgrading, especially for anyone that travels."
iFixit has posted a detailed teardown of the new iPhone 5. While the casing still uses Apple's proprietary pentalobe fasteners, the good news is that Apple has made the screen much easier to remove. Once the fasteners have been removed, the screen will lift out easily through the use of a suction cup. The screens are by far the most common parts of iPhones to break, and this change turns a complicated 38-step procedure that takes about 45 minutes at minimum into a quick, 5-10 minute job. The teardown also shows the iPhone 5 battery to be very similar to the iPhone 4S's, suggesting that the improvements to battery life come from other hardware and software changes. We get a look at the new A6 processor running the phone, which is a custom design based on ARMv7. iFixit also looks at the Lightning connector assembly; unfortunately, it includes the loudspeaker, bottom microphone, Wi-Fi antenna, and headphone jack as well, so fixing any one of those parts individually will be difficult. Whatever you think of Apple's decision to move to Lightning instead of micro-USB, it seems their switch away from the 30-pin connecter was necessitated by size constraints.
This video is a half-hour speech given by Dino Dai Zovi and Charlie Miller, two people Apple corporately hates because of their success in finding security holes in Apple operating systems and software. Both Charlie and Dino have been mentioned on Slashdot before and probably will be again. This is a chance to see how they sound and look in person, talking to a small "by invitation only" group. They have a book to push, too: The iOS Hacker's Handbook. (Please note that this book is supposed to help you secure iOS and iOS apps, not exploit security holes in them.)
Hugh Pickens writes "Currently — as most of us know — TSA agents briefly examine government ID and boarding passes as each passenger presents their documents at a checkpoint at the end of a security line. Thom Patterson writes at CNN that under a 2008 Apple patent application that was approved in July and filed under the working title "iTravel," a traveler's phone would automatically send electronic identification to a TSA agent as soon as the traveler got in line and as each traveler waits in line. TSA agents would examine the electronic ID at an electronic viewing station. Next, at the X-ray stations, a traveler's phone would confirm to security agents that the traveler's ID had already been checked. Apple's patent calls for the placement of special kiosks (PDF) around the airport which will automatically exchange data with your phone via a close range wireless technology called near field communication (NFC). Throughout the process, the phone photo could be displayed on a screen for comparison with the traveler. Facial recognition software could be included in the process. Several experts say a key question that must be answered is: How would you prove that the phone is yours? To get around this problem, future phones or electronic ID may require some form of biometric security function including photo, fingerprint and photo retinal scan comparisons. Of course, there is still a ways to go. If consumers, airlines, airports and the TSA don't embrace the NFC kiosks, experts say it's unlikely Apple's vision would become reality. 'First you would have to sell industry on Apple's idea. Then you'd have to sell it to travel consumers,' says Neil Hughes of Apple Insider. 'It's a chicken-and-egg problem.'"
bonch writes "Google-owned Motorola is asking the International Trade Commission to ban every Apple device that uses iMessage, based on a patent issued in 2006 for 'a system for providing continuity between messaging clients.' Motorola also claims that banning Macs and iPhones won't have an impact on U.S. consumers. They say, 'With so many participants in the highly competitive Wireless communication, portable music, and computer market, it is unlikely that consumers would experience much of an impact if the requested exclusion orders were obtained.' The ITC has yet to make a decision."
Hugh Pickens writes "Michael DeGusta writes that Apple's new Maps app is the very first item on their list of major new features in iOS 6, but for many iPhone and iPad users around the world Apple's new maps are going to be a major disappointment as the Transit function will be lost in 51 countries, the Traffic function will be lost in 24 countries, and the Street View function will be lost in 41 countries. 'In total, 63 countries with a combined population of 4.5 billion people will be without one or more of these features they previously had in iOS,' writes DeGusta. 'Apple is risking upsetting 65% of the world's population, seemingly without much greater purpose than speeding the removal of their rival Google from iOS. Few consumers care about such battles though, nor should they have to.' The biggest losers will be Brazil, India, Taiwan, and Thailand (population: 1.5 billion) which overnight will go from being countries with every maps feature (transit, traffic, and street view) to countries with none of those features, nor any of the new features, flyover and turn-by-turn directions. Apple's maps are clearly behind in some key areas, but they will presumably continue to improve over time. Google has committed to making their maps available everywhere, so it seems likely Google will release their own iOS maps app soon, as they did with YouTube, which has similarly been removed from iOS 6." But what percentage of people who actually buy iPhones lost these features?
Hugh Pickens writes "Austin Carr notes that a number of user interface designers have become increasingly critical of Apple's approach to software user interface design. Much of their censure is directed against a trend called skeuomorphism, a term for when objects retain ornamental elements of the past that are no longer necessary to the current objects' functions, such as calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. A former senior UI designer at Apple who worked closely with Steve Jobs said, 'It's like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?' The issue is two-fold: first, that traditional visual metaphors no longer translate to modern users; and second, that excessive digital imitation of real-world objects creates confusion among users. 'I'm old enough, sure, but some of the guys in my office have never seen a Rolodex in real life,' says Designer Gadi Amit. 'Our culture has changed. We don't need translation of the digital medium in mechanical real-life terms. It's an old-fashioned paradigm.' One beneficiary could be Microsoft, where the design of Windows 8 distances itself from skeuomorphism by emphasizing a flat user interface that's minimalist to the core: no bevel, no 3-D flourishes, no glossiness and no drop shadow."