Apple Store Becomes Refugee Camp During Earthquake in Japan

During the horrific earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan last week, many companies have gone out of their way to help survivors reconnect with their families. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are all providing free calls and texts to Japan, and massively influential companies, like Google and Apple, are also doing their part to raise awareness.

An Apple Store employee—and Japanese citizen caught in the middle of the quake—wrote an inspiring letter to Kevin Rose (of Digg fame) describing how his Apple Store became a sort of make-shift refugee camp during the disaster.

Even after the quake struck, the store remained opened, and served as a hotspot for survivors to charge their devices and contact family members using the computers. Employees even stayed after hours to fix devices and teach people how to receive news on their iPhones.

You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on?  In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became.  Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones.  Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

Apple allowed staff to sleep at the store, which had a stockpile of food and beverages, and paid for hotel rooms, transportation, and food for employees who were left stranded elsewhere. Apple, and many other companies, have ceased being faceless businesses throughout this disaster, and have made considerable effort—on a personal level—to help in any way that they can.

[Kevin Rose]

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Enable Multitasking Gestures on iOS 4.3

In the early beta versions of iOS 4.3, Apple enabled “multitasking gestures” on the iPad. Rumors suggested that Apple was considering removing the home button from iDevices, and replacing it with 4 and 5-finger gestures to close and switch apps. The chances of this actually happening are pretty slim, but the code is still floating around in the final version of 4.3. To regain the option, users can purchase Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store ($5), connect an iPad or iPad 2, and enable the “use for development” option (when prompted, ignore the request for developer credentials). Once dev-mode is activated, a new option for toggling “Multitasking Gestures” will appear under Settings -> General.

The free Xcode 3—available online or via the OS X install disk—works as well, but you may need to have a free Apple developer account for the trick to work.


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iFixit’s Smart Cover Teardown Reveals… Magnets.

Apple’s Smart Covers are extremely simple, but outstandingly clever. They protect the face of the device and can turn it on and off using frequently misunderstood magnet technology. iFixit has sliced past the polyurethane to uncover (pun intended) the magic underneath.

A grand total of 31 super-strong magnets make the Smart Cover tick—21 inside the cover itself, and 10 inside the iPad 2. A small magnet-activated sensor turns the device on and off automagically, and the steel plate along the left side allows the cover to fold into a triangular stand. As expected, the magnets are arranged in such a way that makes placing the cover on the wrong way difficult. iFixit jokingly notes that disassembling the cover is a one-way street, and has given it a “Repairability Score” of 0/10.

Hit the source for the full breakdown.


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Benchmarks are Nice, But How Much Better is the iPad 2, Really?

As discussed in our forums, the improved graphics of the iPad 2, as benchmarked by AnandTech, are impressive. But for those of us who may not know the difference between a textured triangle test and a texture fetch, the proof is in the pixels and performance.

TouchArcade is touting the improved look of Infinity Blade with a gallery of side-by-side pics (see a few after the jump). The game is more detailed, has better lighting effects and richer textures. Other developers for popular titles including Real Racing 2, Dead Space, Asphalt 6 HD have recently released updates of their games to take advantage of the new graphic capabilities of the iPad 2. 

For some, browsing is a more essential use for their iPad. TiPb has released a YouTube video that nicely demonstrates the improved Safari experience. For one, when switching between tabbed websites on the iPad 1, the pages reloaded upon re-opening. On the iPad 2, the pages just appear. The second difference is a lack of the checkerboard effect. When scrolling quickly on the iPad 2, there is no lag for the page and images to load. The checkerboard is no more. Also, from personal experience, the entering of text in forms, search boxes, logins, etc. is much faster. I have also tried Skyfire for the iPad on both machines and where it was barely usable on the iPad 1, due to lag and crashing, it is an enjoyable experience on the iPad 2.

Check after the jump for some of TouchArcade’s Infinity Blade pics, and click the image below to view the browser comparison video.

[AnandTech via MacRumors]

[Tipb via MacRumors]


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iPad 2 Jailbroken by Comex

Good news everyone! Comex has jailbroken the iPad 2, while 2500 miles away from the actual device. Most impressive, indeed. He says that it will take some work to package it into an official jailbreak tool, so it could be some time before it is released to the public—at the very soonest, a few days after 4.3.1 is seeded. Updates will be posted as we receive them.

via @chpwn

by @comex:

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Philip Schiller Confirms White iPhone Will Be “Available this Spring”

Philip Schiller, Senior VP of Apple, has confirmed via Twitter that a white iPhone will be available this Spring. The white iPhone 4 has eluded customers—and Apple engineers—for nearly a year (assuming that Schiller was referring to the iPhone 4, and not the next-gen iPhone), and even Wozniak resorted to buying scrap parts from China to get his symmetry fix.

Via @pschiller

Hi Eric. The white iPhone will be available this spring (and it is a beauty!).

Rumors suggest the iPhone 5 will feature an aluminum backside, like the iPad, which should resolve many of the issues with the current design. While the Verizon iPhone’s antenna is slightly modified, Consumer Reports has still deemed it problematic, and continues to not recommend it. It’s unlikely that Apple has lost out on many customers due to Antennagate, but overhauling the design will allow them to put the problem to rest.

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iPhones Refuse to Give Up Extra Hour of Sleep

Apple’s software engineers are truly terrible at telling time. Last night, many users experienced yet another daylight saving time glitch, which caused some devices to “Fall back” an hour instead of “Spring forward”. If you seem to be running late everywhere, double check with a reliable source and manually set your device’s clock.

It’s not clear what devices and firmwares are affected.

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iFixit iPad 2 Teardown

iFixit has done what they do best and dissected the freshly minted iPad 2. The guts don’t reveal anything unusual, but it has been doubly-confirmed that the iPad 2 has an acceptable 512MB of RAM. Impressively, the thickness of the glass has been reduced by 27%—but is now glued in place, making it near impossible to remove without heating (or cracking) it. The 3.8V, 25 watt-hour battery is bigger, but also thinner than the original iPad 2. iFixit notes that “any improved battery performance can be attributed to software and other hardware improvements.”

Notable chips found on the logic board:

  • Apple 1GHz A5 dual-core Processor with a 200MHz bus and 512 MB of Samsung manufactured RAM.
  • Toshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89 16GB NAND Flash
  • Apple 343S0542 – this looks like the Dialog Semi power management chip found in last year’s iPad
  • Texas Instruments CD3240B0 11AZ4JT G1 touchscreen line driver, working with the Broadcom BCM5973 and BCM5974 chips shown above.
  • S6T2MLC N33C50V Power Management IC
  • The A5 processor has manufacture dates of late January and mid-February 2011. Production was clearly ramping up through the last minute. It looks like the A5 processor is the APL0498, replacing the A4/APL0398 seen in the iPad 1 and iPhones.
  • Apple-branded 338S0940 A0BZ1101 SGP. This looks like the Cirrus audio codec Chipworks found in the Verizon iPhone, but they’ll have to get it off the board to make sure.

Despite the fact that the iPad 2 uses standard Phillips screws (and not those silly Pentalobular screws) iFixit still gives it a low 4/10 for “repairability”. If your iPad 2 needs to be disassembled, bring it to the professionals!

Hit the link for the full teardown.

[iFixit] Video overview

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SHAtter, Limera1n Patched in iPad 2

MuscleNerd and the gang have confirmed that those meddling Apple engineers have patched both the SHAtter and Limera1n vulnerabilities in the iPad 2. Other exploits are being worked on, but p0sixninja has tweeted that “the exploit is very complicated, so I’m not positive. But things aren’t looking good. I’m still optimistic though“.


Confirmed: limera1n is patched in iPad 2.


Early testing also seems to show at least one thing SHAtter depends on was gone by March 2010 too :(

This means any early iPad2 jailbreaks will have to be purely userland

This means that hackers will need to start from scratch and find a brand-new vulnerability in order to jailbreak the iPad 2. An untethered userland jailbreak will likely be released first, possibly followed by an untethered jailbreak sometime in the future.

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iPad 2 Launching, Next Batch Expected in “2-3 Weeks”

The lines are forming for the iPad 2, but if your not one of the (lucky?) customers queuing up in the cold rain, expect the next batch of units to start shipping in the next 2-3 weeks. Best Buy, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Target will also be stocking the device, but reports indicate that many Verizon stores around the country have not received any units–so call ahead before trekking out. Additionally, AT&T doesn’t seem to be stocking the 64GB model. Apple is expected to sell nearly 600,000 iPad 2s this weekend, breaking its predecessor’s record. Remember, Apple won’t charge your credit card until the device actually ships, so you can place an order ahead of time if you’re still scraping together the cash.

The iPad 2 will be unleashed at 5:00 EST.

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