Apple may need Samsung to make enough chips for iPhone 6

Apple may have to rely on arch-rival Samsung for a hefty percentage of processors to power the next iPhone.

Samsung has been Apple’s go-to manufacturer for the past several chip generations, most recently producing the A5, the A6, and this year’s A7. Apple has sought to reduce that dependence by reportedly cutting a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to take on production of future A series processors. But Samsung is far from out of the picture, according to a story from The Korea Economic Daily.. Click here to See More

Apple looking at bigger iPhone screens, multiple colors: sources

Apple Inc is exploring launching iPhones with bigger screens, as well as cheaper models in a range of colors, over the next year, said four people with knowledge of the matter, as it takes a cue from rival Samsung Electronics.

Apple looking at bigger iPhone screens, multiple colors

Apple looking at bigger iPhone screens, multiple colors

The moves, which are still under discussion, underscore how the California-based firm that once ruled the smartphone market is increasingly under threat from its aggressive South Korean competitor. Samsung has overtaken Apple in market share through the popularity of its bigger-screen Galaxy “phablets” and by flooding the market with a range of products at different prices.

Apple is looking at introducing at least two bigger iPhones next year – one with a 4.7-inch screen and one with a 5.7-inch screen – said the sources, including those in the supply chain in Asia. They said suppliers have been approached with plans for the larger screens, but noted it is still unclear whether Apple will actually launch its flagship product in the larger sizes.

“They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you’re not really sure whether this is the final prototype,” said one person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Apple declined to comment.

UNDER PRESSURE

Apple’s possible shift to offer what is often referred to as “phablets” – chunkier smartphones not quite big enough to qualify as tablets – comes as the long-time consumer and investor darling faces pressure to deliver more than one new handset model a year. Critics say its pace of innovation has slowed since the death of legendary co-founder Steve Jobs.

The iPhone 5 launched last September was the first to veer away from the Apple phone’s 3.5-inch screen, which Jobs famously deemed “the perfect size for consumers” and had been used in every iPhone since the iconic device was unveiled in 2007.

The current iPhone 5 has one of the smaller screens among the best-selling smartphones in the mobile market, where consumers spend more time browsing the web and streaming content. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 have 5-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively.

For this year, Apple is expected to launch two new models, widely referred to as the iPhone 5S, with new fingerprint technology, and a cheaper version in plastic casing, supply chain sources have said. Apple plans to dress up the cheaper phone in a range of 5-6 colors to differentiate it from the more expensive model that has traditionally come only in black and white.

The U.S. firm has discussed a price of $99 for the cheaper phone, the timing of which could slip to next year, one of the people said. It’s not yet clear what the final price would be.

Apple – whose revenue growth has decelerated from the heady days of 2010 when it introduced the iPad and when the iPhone was the world’s top selling smartphone – has sought ways to re-energize its flagship line.

BROADER PRODUCT RANGE

Analysts say the company needs a cheaper gadget to push on in growth markets in China and India, and to counter Samsung’s edge in having phones priced up and down the spectrum. China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, is set to grow 48 percent this year, outpacing the global increase of 31 percent, according to industry forecasts.

While Apple only offers a single phone model across all markets, it has successfully marketed the iPod music player and its iPad in different sizes and at varying prices. Asked at last month’s AllThingsD industry conference why Apple hasn’t launched different sized iPhones, CEO Tim Cook said: “We haven’t so far. That doesn’t shut off the future.”

He explained that the range of iPods serve different audiences and needs. “On the phone, that’s the question. Are we now at a point to serve enough people that we need to do that?”

Cook noted a larger screen comes with trade-offs on features such as battery life, resolution and brightness.

Test production for both the standard and cheaper iPhone models aims to start next month, with mass production ramping up in August to meet a September launch target, two people said.

“Trial production was originally planned to start in June, but the mixing of colors is taking longer than expected as Apple has very high and idealistic standards,” said one source in Asia, adding 20 million plastic iPhones are expected to ship in the October-December quarter.

Japan’s Sharp Corp and Japan Display and South Korea’s LG Display will supply the panels for the aluminum iPhone 5S and the plastic iPhone, while Hon Hai Precision Industry will assemble the higher-end phone and Pegatron will put together the cheaper model.

See On: http://www.reuters.com

Pick the right on-screen keyboard for your iOS App

When it comes to discussions surrounding hardware versus software keyboards, there is no shortage of soapboxes within the opinion-riddled mobile device user community. It has been nearly six years since the introduction of the iPhone (July 29, 2007) and its controversial software keyboard. As with most trail-blazing innovations, the value is theoretical – at first. As time goes by, however, trendy innovations become part of everyday life. On-screen keyboards have become the norm, and certainly the only choice for iOS devices.

There are many benefits of an on-screen keyboard. One benefit is based on the concept of a “situation-specific” keyboard changing to be relevant to the current needs of the iOS app. When the user is attempting to enter a URL into the address bar of a browser, why not have a single button for typing “.com?” Moreover, a space is not allowed in web addresses, so why include a spacebar on the keyboard layout? Customizing the keyboard to match certain situations eliminates input errors. It is important for iOS developers to use the appropriate keyboard layout for any given situation.

iOS keyboards types

The four most common keyboard types are (1) the default keyboard, (2) the URL keyboard, (3) the e-mail keyboard, and (4) phone keyboard. Each of the keyboard types is designed for specific situations and should be used in accordance with Apple’s Design Guidelines. The full list of keyboards available for use within an iOS app includes:

  • Default
  • ASCII Capable
  • URL
  • Number Pad
  • Phone Pad
  • Name Phone Pad
  • E-mail Address
  • Decimal Pad
  • Twitter

Every input object within an iOS app where a keyboard or number pad would typically be used has a specific keyboard type assigned. If the developer does not select a keyboard type, the default keyboard is used (Figure A).

Figure A

There are two keyboard layouts, and the keyboard type is a parameter controlling the keys within each layout. The default keyboard, for example, contains all of the basic input keys that would be used for general text input. This keyboard layout includes several views allowing the user to toggle between the initial alphabetical keyboard to the numeric and punctuation views. The language preferences for the iOS device controls the characters mapped to each layout as well as the input method or flow.

Here is a breakdown of iOS 6 keyboard types: UIKeyboardType

1. Keyboard Type: Default

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeDefault
  • Description: A basic QUERTY keyboard with additional views for punctuation and numbers (Figure B).

Figure B

2. Keyboard Type: ASCII Capable

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeASCIICapable
  • Description: A standard keyboard layout displaying standard ASCII characters.

3. Keyboard Type: Numbers and Punctuation

  • Constant: UIKeyboardNumbersAndPunctuation
  • Description: Use the alternate numbers and punctuation view of the default keyboard.

4. Keyboard Type: URL

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeURL
  • Description: Includes URL-friendly keys – such as a “.com” and “.” key – and does not include the spacebar (Figure C).

Figure C

5. Keyboard Type: Number Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeNumberPad
  • Description: Standard numeric keypad.

6. Keyboard Type: Phone Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypePhonePad
  • Description: Layout similar to the number pad, but keys arranged for dialing a phone number (Figure D).

Figure D

7. Keyboard Type: Name Phone Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardNamePhonePad
  • Description: Keyboard layout for entering an individual’s name or phone number.

8. Keyboard Type: E-mail Address

  • Constant: UIKeyboardEmailAddress
  • Description: Layout for entering an email address. Includes the “@” symbol as well as a “.” character (Figure E).

Figure E

9. Keyboard Type: Decimal Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardDecimalPad
  • Description: Similar to a standard number pad. Includes numbers and a decimal point.

10. Keyboard Type: Twitter

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTwitter
  • Description: Keyboard with easy access to the “#” and “@” characters for composing tweets.

With so many options available, it is important to select the keyboard layout appropriate to the situation. The idea is to select a keyboard layout that:

  1. Will produce the best user experience, and
  2. Result in the least amount of user input mistakes.

Using the E-mail keyboard type, for example, eliminates the possibility of a user entering a non-conforming space character as part of an address. Make sure to consider all of the possible variations a user might need to enter into a given field and choose the best keyboard layout.

User interface considerations

When user input is required in an iOS app, the developer should consider all types of input controls. In other words, a keyboard may not be the best choice in a recipe app where the user is tasked with entering measurement values and units. A keyboard would allow for freeform input, whereas a UIPickerView would be a better choice. It would be easier – with consistent results – to calculate values entered from a picker control than from freeform text fields.

In the event a keyboard is the best option, make sure to review and set all of the properties for managing the keyboard behavior. Depending on the keyboard type, additional properties can be set. The non-numeric keyboard types support auto-capitalization, auto-correction, and spell checking. If the input field is to contain sensitive information – such as a PIN number or password – consider setting secureTextEntry property.

Final thoughts

On-screen keyboards have much more versatility than fixed hardware keyboards. Some users prefer hardware keyboards because they can type without looking at the keypad – a nearly impossible task on the iOS devices. However, the benefits of an on-screen keyboard outweigh the limitations. Hardware manufacturers also recognize the advantages of this technology.

An on-screen keyboard supports many languages without the need to produce language-specific hardware. Research in Motion (RIM) developed their Blackberry Z10 with a touchscreen keyboard. While you cannot “feel” the keys on this new device, the on-screen keyboard is capable of learning how you type as well as predicting the words you are entering.

Technology companies are constantly innovating and developing solutions to make their products better. The on-screen keyboard is an innovation that has gained momentum in the past few months. The Twitter keyboard layout, for example, would not have been a consideration a few years ago. Remember to take advantage of the iOS device’s capabilities, and leverage the versatility of the on-screen keyboard.

Also See on: http://www.techrepublic.com

By Silhoutte James