Users report bugs in iChat video recording on current-gen MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News

You love your new MacBook Air.

You would have asked it to prom if it had been around back then.

And it might not be able to record video chats despite having the hardware to do so.

According to MacFixIt, a reader wrote to state has not been able to record video chats in iChat on his new MacBook Air notebook. While video chats work fine, for some reason the “Record Chat” option in the “Video” menu does not work and the program will not allow video chats to be recorded. This is in contrast to both prior MacBook Air models, all other Mac systems that support video chatting.

MacFixIt reader “Joseph” writes:
“I’ve just discovered that the new MacBook Air, unlike every other current-vintage Apple laptop and desktop, is unable to record a video iChat. My local Apple Store tells me that the problem lies within the hardware itself. Can anyone tell me more specifically what that problem is, and whether there might be any workarounds?”

In the midst of diagnosing the problem, the article suggests creating a new user account on the system to test iChat with and see if any user-related settings were contributing to the problem.

On systems that support recording, a green check will appear. On the MacBook Air systems experiencing this problem an “Insufficient CPU” error will be shown.

Apparently other users have reported experiencing this problem, and in a call to AppleCare, one reader was told it is caused by the latest model of MacBook Air having a hardware incompatibility with iChat that prevents video chats from being recorded. To see this, if you go to the “Video” menu and choose “Connection Doctor,” select “Capabilities” from the drop-down menu and the “Record video chat” option will show “Insufficient CPU” instead of a green check.

Some MacBook Air systems that are experiencing this problem have been able to record video when running Mac OS X 10.5.x, indicating this issue may be with the previous 2009 models that shipped with Mac OS X 10.5 in addition to the 2010 models that shipped with Mac OS X 10.6.

The hardware in the latest MacBook Air should be fully capable of recording video chats.

Therefore, this is likely a bug in iChat that is preventing this feature from working. It appears Apple uses a specific feature of certain CPUs in iChat’s recording feature, and this feature is either not present in the CPUs used in the latest MacBook Air systems, or it has been disabled in firmware or by how the CPU interfaces with the other hardware changes in the latest MacBook Air systems.

Meanwhile if you are affected by this issue, one workaround that’s been located is to use QuickTime Player’s video chatting capabilities. To do this, start up a video chatting session and launch QuickTime Player. Then start a screen recording session, switch to iChat, and set the video to be full screen. This will record the screen and your audio input which you should then be able to import into iMovie or any other editing software.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Analyst cites iPad 2 components, specs, expected supply numbers

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 05:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities has prepared a report indicating that iPad 2 won’t receive higher resolution screen this year, using the same 1024×768 of the original iPad.

“The improvement of iPad 2 display,” the report notes, “focuses on thickness and anti-reflection, not resolution. iPad 2 display module is 30 – 35% thinner than iPad 1 and it’s helpful for better form factor.

“Thanks to anti-reflection, iPad 2 could have better sunlight readable experience and it’s helpful for Apple to compete with Amazon’s fast growing Kindle business.

“The most important reason why iPad 2 won’t have retinal display is yield rate of panel making. At this point, making high resolution and bright IPS/FFS panel is not easy and the production volume and cost couldn’t meet Apple’s requirements.”

The new iPad model is also said to pack much higher processing power, graphics and more RAM and faster memory access. The greater computing power of of the revised iPad “could ensure iPad 2‘s competitive advantage for coming tablet war this year,” the report notes.

“iPad 2 will use [ARM] Cortex-A9 dual core processor running at 1.2GHz. Increasing 1-2% single core processor clock results in a 3-5% power increase and dual core could get a better balance between computing power and power consumption. That’s the reason why Apple will use dual core for iPad 2.”

As expected, the report also states “iPad 2 will also have a GPU using Imagination’s SGX543 dual core graphics technology which is 200~300% powerful than iPhone 4.”

RAM is also on the rise, the report says. “For making full use of GPU upgrading advantage, iPad 2 needs bigger memory bandwidth. So iPad 2 has 512MB RAM, same as iPhone 4 and twice as much as iPad 1, but running at higher clock 1,066 MHz for getting bigger memory bandwidth (iPhone 4 memory clock is 800 MHz).”

The report also stated that “iPad 2 adds one new CDMA model and it could bring more market share to Apple. Project IDs of Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA iPad 2 models are different. GSM iPad will use Infineon chip and CDMA iPad will use Qualcomm chip. More suppliers could reduce the risk of component shortage.”

The possibility of an SD Card slot is mentioned, but not confirmed, but the report notes that the iPad 2 will have two cameras, but with components shared with iPad touch, rather than the higher quality iPhone 4 cameras.

“There are more and more photo and video editing applications for iPad in App Store. The SD slot could let users easily transfer photo and video files made by DSC and DV to iPad and edit them,” the report observed, falling short of actually confirming whether a card slot will be present.

“iPad has two cameras. Front camera is 0.3 mega-pixel [VGA, like iPhone 4] and rear one is 1 mega-pixel [like iPod touch, rather than iPhone 4]. Front camera is for Facetime and Photo Booth and 0.3 mega-pixel is enough because the resolution of iPad 2 is 1,024×768. Rear camera is for applications such as video recording and augmented reality.”

Finally, the report notes that Foxconn will remain the iPad’s sole maker, noting that production began this month and will result in “at least 4.5 – 5 million units for Apple in 1Q’11. iPad 2 will likely go to market in late 1Q’11 or early 2Q’11 based on supply chain shipment status.”

Verizon confirms Feb. 3, 3 a.m. preorder window for current customers

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, News

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With its February 10th launch date just around the corner, wireless carrier Verizon has launched a new teaser countdown page for existing customers, telling them to come back at 3 a.m. eastern standard time on Feb. 3rd.

Per AppleInsider, Verizon sent out emails to business customers earlier this week notifying them of the 3 a.m. start, the new page is the first time that all existing customers were informed of the time. Verizon customers will, of course, still need to check with the carrier to verify that they are eligible for an iPhone upgrade.

Verizon’s iPhone frequently asked questions page still states that preorders will begin “on or around February 3rd 2011″ and will be sold on a “first come, first serve” basis.

While a 3 a.m. Eastern time may seem an odd time for Verizon to begin taking iPhone 4 preorders, it’s the earliest time where all contiguous states will have reached Feb. 3.

The 16GB iPhone 4 model will retail for US$199, while the 32GB model will go for US$299, each with a 2-year contract. A leak on the Apple website Wednesday revealed that Verizon’s voice plans for the iPhone 4 will start at US$39.99 per month, with unlimited data for US$29.99, and the option of 2GB of data tethering for an additional US$20. According to one Verizon executive, the company’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time before being phased out for a tiered pricing structure.

In preparation for the launch, Verizon has also begun carrying cases for the CDMA iPhone 4 on its website. Apple recently began offering a universal bumper case that fits both the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4, since the new CDMA iPhone has a new antenna design that necessitated moving the mute switch slightly.

BBC iPlayer apps for iPhone, iPad close to release

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:45
Category: iPad, News, Software

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You’ve been hankering for it for a while.

And it’s almost here.

Per PaidContent, the BBC is close to launching its long-awaited iPlayer app for iOS, it has been claimed.

A recent story has suggested that the app will be launched as a farewell ‘present’ to future media and technology director Erik Huggers. Huggers is leaving the BBC for Intel and will take up his new role some time at the end of February.

A web-based beta version of iPlayer for the iPad was launched at the same time as the iPad launched in the UK, in May 2010. At the moment the service is accessible through the iPhone and iPad browser, but a dedicated app should lead to a much smoother experience.

The BBC’s intention to develop iPhone apps was greeted with protests from commercial rivals, with the Newspapers Publishers Association pressurising the BBC to put the plans on ice.

A planned BBC News app for iPhone did eventually launch, but a BBC Sport app, which the corporation had originally wanted to launch before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has still not been released.

The BBC also announced plans in December to roll the iPlayer out to iPad users worldwide, on a subscription basis.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1.2 update

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:05
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 10.1.2, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 90.4 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- The update also allows for syncing with Apple’s CDMA iPhone (a.k.a., the Verizon iPhone available on February 10th).

iTunes 10.1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Rumor: Updated MacBook Pro units may be in the pipeline

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 07:54
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Good things come to those who wait.

Per the cool cats at MacRumors, Apple could be preparing to refresh the MacBook Pro product line amid reports that stocks of the 15″ and 17″ models are running low.

The site is claiming that both Apple Stores and third-party retailer supplies are dwindling, suggesting that stocks are being run down in preparation for new models.

Amazon.com says that customers ordering some variants of the MacBook Pro, particularly the 17″ model, will have a long wait, quoting delivery times of between one and two months.

There appear to be some left on the site, though several lines are down to the last few units.

The MacBook Pro line got its last refresh in April of 2010 with the introduction of Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors. It is widely expected that the next refresh of the MacBook Pro line will happen in the next few months.

AT&T pulls out unadvertised data plan pricing loophole to retain customers

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News

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When in doubt, match your competition’s offer.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T is reportedly offering some customers unlimited iPhone data plans in an attempt to keep them from defecting to rival carrier Verizon, where Apple’s handset will launch on February 10th.

The report states that AT&T is employing an “unadvertised loophole” in an effort to retain some subscribers who contact customer service. The carrier is said to be quietly offering the option to customers who had a previous version of the iPhone prior to June 2010, when the carrier offered an unlimited data plan for US$30.

Though AT&T wouldn’t confirm the option, the report cited a resident of Brentwood, N.Y., who said he and a friend were switched back to an unlimited plan after they contacted the carrier’s customer service and threatened to swtich. Both subscribers are iPhone 4 users who owned a previous version of the iPhone with an unlimited plan.

AT&T introduced tiered data plans with lower pricing in June 2010. New customers can receive 2GB of data for US$25 per month, or 200MB for US$15 per month.

Customers who signed a contract for US$30-per-month unlimited 3G data prior to last June can keep the plan until their two-year contract expires. Those customers have been able to keep their unlimited plan when upgrading, but the ability to switch back to unlimited, after choosing tiered, has apparently been secret.

Claims that AT&T is offering some customers an unlimited option come as the iPhone 4 is just weeks away from going on sale for Verizon customers. This week, the carrier revealed it would offer unlimited data for iPhone customers for US$30 per month.

Verizon Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam said Verizon hopes its unlimited offering will help the carrier attract more customers away from AT&T. He said canceling the company’s unlimited plan would create a barrier for customers who might otherwise switch.

“I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot,” McAdam said on Tuesday.

Still, Verizon’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time, as the carrier has indicated it intends to move to a tiered structure with caps on monthly data use, much like AT&T did last June. Verizon has not indicated when it will adopt tiered plans, but the company has expressed interest in making the change in the near future.

When AT&T capped its plans last year, the carrier noted that 65% of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB of data per month, and 98% use less than 2GB per month. To soften the blow, the tiered structure came with lower prices, as AT&T now charges US$5 less per month for its high-end 2GB plan than it did for its unlimited plan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx 2.2.3 released

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 04:25
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.2.3. The new version, a 16.4 megabyte download (courtesy of MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

- Misc display bugs corrected.

- Deleting the Fonts Cache improved.

- Deleting the logs improved.

- Help improved and updated.

- Individual deleting the .DS_Store files in the hidden folders.

- Restore Defaults Option in the Parameters > Dock panel improved.

- Bug corrected while checking the volume in some cases.

- Bug corrected in the Parameters panel (Mac OS X Server).

- Bug corrected when OnyX quit all the applications.

Onyx 2.2.3 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Verizon to offer $20/month “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed that it will offer iPhone 4 with a US$20 “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan similar to what it currently offers its existing smartphone subscribers.

According to Macworld, Verizon’s mobile hotspot plan allows users, for an extra US$20 option on top of their data plan, to share their mobile 3G service with up to five WiFi devices (such as an iPad, iPod touch, MacBook, or any other WiFi device).

The iPhone 4 tethering plan has its own 2GB monthly cap, according to the report, with each additional gigabyte costing another US$20/month. Previous Verizon tethering plans cost US$30/month but delivered 5GB of data, in addition to the user’s data plan. That means the unlimited plan with tethering will cost a total of US$50, with 2GB for tethering and unlimited use of mobile data.

AT&T’s US$20 tethering plan currently only supports USB or Bluetooth tethering to a single device at once, and rather than offering a separate data pool, the plan counts use against the user’s plan. That means the 2GB data plan with tethering costs US$45 total, but still only offers 2GB of data per month.

Verizon earlier announced that its new CDMA iPhone 4 would only be offered with an unlimited data plan costing US$30, with no option for a limited use data plan as the company now allows its current smartphone users to choose.

In the future, Verizon says it will phase out the unlimited data plan, following AT&T toward tiered service plans. It has not detailed when it will do this, nor how much it will charge.

AT&T also announced earlier this month that it would be simplifying its texting plans to two options: 1000 messages for US$10/month, or unlimited texts for US$20/month.

Drive Genius 3.1 update released

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 05:38
Category: News, Software

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Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 3.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.

The new version, a 16.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

- The system startup volume can now be defragmented without the need of a DVD or alternate startup volume (“live” defrag).

- DrivePulse™ verifies the preference files of the logged in user and the global preferences located on the startup volume.

- DrivePulse™ displays visual error and warning status hints in its menu.

- Up to one month of DrivePulse™ event history can be browsed.

- Repartition offers the option to add HFSX volumes. UFS volume support has been removed as Apple is moving away from supporting UFS.

- ExFAT volume support. (10.6.5+ only)

- Drobo devices are officially not supported for most tools. Drobos are proprietary devices and due to the way they store and manipulate data on multiple physical drives, Drive Genius cannot safely manipulate that same data. It is the decision of Data Robotics, Inc to not share the technical information necessary to safely support Drobo devices.

- Bug Fix: Possible spurious failures when defragging an 8TiB or larger volume.

- Bug Fix: Missing fragmentation information in the Defrag overview for volumes that contain a very large number of files (such as Time Machine volumes).

- Bug Fix: Stability improvements to DriveSlim™while searching and while slimming files.

- Bug Fix: The DriveSlim™ Universal Binary slimming plan could spuriously fail.

- Bug Fix: If DriveSlim™ found an application that matched multiple slimming plans and one of the plans was Universal Binary slimming, only the Universal Binary plan would be run on the application.

Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.3 or later installed to install and run.