Apple Acquires Low-Power Wireless Chip Developer Passif Semiconductor


Apple has purchased Silicon Valley-based wireless chip developer Passif Semiconductor, reports technology writer Jessica Lessin. The company, which Apple has reportedly been after for several years, specializes in low-power communication chips that could be used to improve battery life in wearable devices such as Apple’s rumored iWatch. 

Passif develops communication chips that use very little power. Its technology, which includes a radio that works with a low-energy version of Bluetooth called Bluetooth LE, is promising for health-monitoring and fitness devices that need extra-long battery life. (Apple, of course, is working on one of those.)

Apple has confirmed the acquisition, with Apple spokeswoman Amy Besette givingAllThingsD the following statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." 

According to rumors, battery life is one area where Apple has struggled in its iWatch development. A report in March suggested that the batteries in Apple’s iWatch prototypes were only lasting a couple of days, with the company targeting at least 4–5 days of battery life. 

After trademarking the iWatch name in a number of countries, Apple has been pouring its resources into the smart watch in recent months. The company hired a number of new employees to join the iWatch team, including health sensor experts, as the iWatch is said to focus on health related applications and biosensors. 

Passif's low-power chip technologies could also be used in other Apple products going forward, improving battery life across the board. In addition to Passif, Apple has acquired a number of other small companies in recent months, including Locationary and HopStop.

Source: Mac Rumours


Apple Allowed Developers to Test a Prerelease Mac Pro Hidden Inside a Metal Box

Before Phil Schiller gave the world a sneak peek of the new Mac Pro at WWDC this week, Apple allowed select developers to come to its Cupertino headquarters to test out their software on preproduction hardware.

AppleInsider spoke with employees of The Foundry, a firm that develops high end rendering software used on Hollywood productions.

The Foundry shared with AppleInsider the story of how its team worked with the new Mac Pro in a room at Apple HQ known as the "Evil Lab" ahead of the desktop's unveiling. During the tests, the Mac Pro was entirely concealed in a giant steel cabinet, keeping its new design a mystery to The Foundry and Pixar.

"We were essentially doing a blind tasting of the machine," said Jack Greasley, MARI product manager at The Foundry. "All we could see was the monitor, and the Mac Pro was encased in a giant metal filing cabinet on wheels. Experiencing the machine in this way was actually really cool, because I can tell you that the speed and power of this machine really stands up. Mari running on this machine out of the box is the fastest I have ever seen it run."

Greasley said "some real innovation and thought has gone into what users want and need" with the new Mac Pro, and he doesn't "think pro users should be concerned" about the new machine.

Representatives from The Foundry and Pixar participated in a lunchtime session at WWDC this week, demonstrating the company's MARI software running on the new Mac Pro. The company managed to get a working copy of MARI ported to the Mac in just under a week and convinced Apple executives to give a significant block of time at WWDC to demo the software and the new machine.

The Mac Pro is expected to be released later this year.

Source: Mac Rumours

Havok introduces free 3D game development engine

Havok has announced that their 3D gaming Vision engine, Physics and Animation suites, and their award winning AI tools will now be free for "leading" mobile platforms under their new Project Anarchy initiative. If you play games, you already know about Havok. They're the folks who make the tools behind games like the Assassin's Creed, Halo, and Skyrim franchises, and are used by some of the biggest names in gaming, like EA, Bethesda, and Bungie.

The download also includes game samples and tutorials for mobile developers, and there will be a complete online community to "encourage free sharing and collaborative development of extensions and customizations by the community." Ross O’Dwyer, head of developer relations at Havok, says:

We’re really delighted to be able to offer these professional grade tools to mobile developers for free and we look forward to supporting the mobile game development community to make some stunning games with the technology over the next few years.

[Source: AndroidCentral]

Google revamps Developer Console for Google Play, eases tracking Android app ratings over time

Android developers need as much tender loving care for their interfaces as the users, don't they? Google thinks so, as it just reworked Google Play's Developer Console to offer a more direct, faster loading design. Along with scaling elegantly to let app writers see and manage many releases at a glance, the makeover gives developers a much more refined historical breakdown of app ratings. Creators can filter the star count through Android versions, carriers, countries, language, updates and even specific devices -- if you're convinced adding Kyocera Echo support was the ticket to improved ratings, you might have a chance to prove it. For anyone who isn't that determined to keep everyone happy, there's still a simplified publishing process and automatic translations for app descriptions in the store. Developers comfortable with a few limits on APK bundles can try the new console in a rough but mostly ready state ahead of its wider launch in the near future.

[Source: Engadget]

iOS developer toolchain will bid farewell to the iPhone 3G

Cocoanetics has noticed something that's become apparent to most iOS developers already: with the advent of iOS 6 in a few weeks, Apple is essentially phasing out support for iOS on the iPhone 3G. Apple is slowly deprecating frameworks that iPhone 3G-compatible apps require from Xcode and app libraries, and the upcoming version of Xcode (4.5, currently in development) specifically states that it does not support armv6 devices or anything below iOS 4.3.

In other words, both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G have become extremely difficult for iOS developers to support, and by the time iOS 6 rolls around this fall, there will be essentially no reason for devs to try and make sure their apps and games work on the older hardware. While it may be technically possible to maintain separate codebases for newer and older hardware (by running old versions of Xcode), even the largest developers won't have financial reasons to do so.

And the audience likely won't care much anyway. The number of people this affects grows smaller and smaller every day -- most phone contracts last about two years, which means it's been a few generations since the iPhone 3G was released in 2008. And there are a whole lot of new technologies for developers to take advantage of, including iCloud, Automatic Reference Counting, and Storyboard development, that make apps easier and quicker to develop and would never work with the older iPhone models anyway.

Apple's never been accused of sticking with a product for too long -- the company has a reputation for moving on to the newer and better as quickly as possible. For developers, the iPhone 3G is essentially being lowered into the ground for good. Of course, that doesn't mean consumers are obligated to dump them; the existing apps they run will still work.

[Source: TUAW]