Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.6, adds support for new camera formats

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Date: Thursday, February 17th, 2011, 05:53
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.6, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’09 applications.

The update, a 6.4 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:
- Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D / Kiss X50

- Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D / Kiss X5

- Olympus E-5

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

- Pentax K-r

- Pentax K-5

It also addresses processing issues for the following cameras:
- Nikon D7000

- Nikon COOLPIX P7000

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple apparently unaffected by Sandy Bridge chipset bug, boosts notebook component orders

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Date: Wednesday, February 16th, 2011, 06:59
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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In spite of much hubbub surrounding the error in Intel’s Sandy Bridge chipset, emerging evidence suggests that Apple has been largely unaffected by the gaffe.

Per DigiTimes, Apple’s notebook shipments are expected to “remain strong” in the first quarter of 2011. It noted that retail channel vendors indicated a widely publicized design flaw in the chipset accompanying Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors “did not impact” Apple, and the company is expected to increase orders.

Apple was reportedly aided by the fact that it is slower in upgrading its products to the latest platform. The report said that Apple is still using Intel’s Calpella chips for “most” of its current models, allowing it to “completely” avoid the impact.

“The sources pointed out that because Apple’s products have high (average selling prices), even if the company is slow in upgrading its products to the latest platform, it will not see a significant impact on its pricing or gross margins,” the report said.

“However, for Hewlett-Packard (HP), Acer and Dell, which heavily depend on their economic scale, the new platform will help raise their ASPs and therefore, these makers will try to launch notebooks with new platforms as early as possible.”

Intel disclosed earlier this month that it discovered an error in its series 6 chipsets, dubbed Cougar Point, which causes the performance of serial ATA ports numbered 2 through 5 to degrade over time in extreme conditions. The issue applies to both mobile and desktop processors, and does not affect SATA ports 0 and 1.

Just a week after the error was revealed, Intel announced that it had resumed shipment of chipsets for Sandy Bridge-powered PC system configurations not impacted by the design flaw. The company also said the new, fixed version of its support chip would begin shipping for systems that relied on SATA ports 2 through 5 in mid-February. In addition, the company confirmed it will meet its deadline to begin shipping dual-core Sandy Bridge chips on Feb. 20.

Hopefully this’ll lead to something nifty in the next revision of Apple’s notebooks and we’ll keep you informed as details emerge.

Apple releases iWeb 3.0.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, February 16th, 2011, 05:27
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released iWeb 3.0.3, the latest update to its WYSIWYG web content generation tool and part of iLife ’09.

The update, a 177 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses an issue when using the iSight Movie widget on certain Macs.

- Addresses an issue publishing iWeb sites using FTP .

- Improves compatibility with Mac OS X.

iWeb 3.0.3 requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new update (as opposed to the previous crashtastic version) and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Rare Apple customer survey sparks hopes for 3G in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 05:06
Category: MacBook Air, News

This could be interesting.

Apple, which typically relies on its own in-house research as opposed to customer feedback, began reaching out to select MacBook Air owners this week in a new survey that could help define future versions of the diminutive notebook, posing questions on 3G, data syncing, I/O usage, and the desire for models with more capable computing power.

Per AppleInsider, the wide-ranging survey touches on a number of issues, including the use of USB ports and external disc drives, Web-based file storage and syncing, and use of certain function keys on the keyboard. It also includes a number of queries related to wireless 3G data connectivity, suggesting Apple could be exploring integrated cellular radios in future notebooks.

Official Apple customer surveys on products are not unheard of, though they are rare. The last survey AppleInsider can recall was conducted back in February 2009 to help shape the future of the Apple TV, and that was related to the company’s self-proclaimed “hobby” that was a work-in-progress.

In addition to future MacBook Air models, the new survey could offer a glimpse into Apple’s plans for the MacBook Pro line of notebooks. When the new MacBook Air was released last October, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the thin-and-light computer is “the first of a new generation of notebooks.”

Interestingly, the survey asks users whether they have connected their MacBook Air to a 3G network, how often they do so, where they connect to 3G, what type of device they use to connect to a 3G network (MiFi, USB device, or tethering with a cell phone).

Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its successor have already begun to surface. Last week, it was said that Apple allegedly plans to upgrade its line of thin-and-light notebooks to Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors this June. No claims were made about 3G connectivity.

Rumors of a 3G-capable Mac have persisted for years, but the company does not yet sell a notebook with an integrated cellular data radio. Apple even sought to hire a 3G expert for its Mac team in 2009, fueling those rumors that the functionality would be added to a future MacBook.

So, it’s hard to say how much attention to pay to this, but it is sort of interesting and could lead to something cool. If you’ve seen this survey on your end, please let us know in the comments.

iPhone 5 could feature 4″ screen, A5 processor

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Date: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 05:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone may be getting a bit bigger.

Per Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, upstream component suppliers report that Apple will expand the screen size of the fifth-generation iPhone to 4 inches in order to compete with a growing class of ‘super phones’ in the 4- to 7-inch range. By comparison, the iPhone 4 sports a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels.

The screen bump could also serve to push the iPhone toward the smaller end of the tablet market. “The component suppliers noted that the production lines for Apple’s next generation iPhone have begun testing, and Apple is interesting in expanding the screen size to 4-inches to support the tablet PC market as the vendor only has a 9.7-inch iPad in the market,” said the report.

If accurate, the report could dovetail with recent rumors of an “iPhone nano,” as Apple may be looking to differentiate its iPhone lineup with bigger and smaller displays. Though rumors of a smaller version of the iPhone have persisted for years, recent reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal of an upcoming cheaper, smaller iPhone have lent credence to the rumors.

A second report from DigiTimes claims that Apple is hoping to outsource the production of its A4 processor and the next-generation A5 processor, which will likely utilize the ARM Cortex A9 design, to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company due to concerns over increased competition between Samsung and Apple. At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung has shown a number of new products, such as the Galaxy S II smartphone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, that will directly compete with Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Though Apple’s A4 processor is currently exclusively produced by Samsung Electronics, Apple has tapped TSMC for help producing the A4 in the past when Samsung’s capacity was unable to meet demand for Apple’s devices. Sources indicated to DigiTimes that “the move at that time was perhaps to test TSMC’s capability.”

“According to Digitimes Research,” the report continued, “the iPad 2 will support an enhanced version of the A4 and the A5 will power the iPhone 5. TSMC will initially produce the improved A4, and could likely become the exclusive manufacturer of the A5.”

The report echoes rumors from January suggesting that the next iPhone will run atop “Apple’s new A5 CPU (a Cortex A9-based, multi-core chip).”

It’s speculation at this point but it’s still interesting.

If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone mini could drop internal storage, rely extensively on MobileMe streaming

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Date: Monday, February 14th, 2011, 10:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep technology interesting.

With that in mind, the iPhone mini is making the rounds with the cool cats at Cult of Mac stating that the smaller iPod smartphone combo may rely on the also rumored MobileMe cloud-based iTunes storage server for streaming content from user’s media libraries.

Access to music, video and photos on the iPhone mini “would be a mostly cloud-based iOS,” according to Cult of Mac’s anonymous sources.

The rumored changes to Apple’s MobileMe service include a new Internet-based iTunes library storage system for iPhone users. Since content would be pushed wirelessly to them, the need for large amounts of RAM for local data storage would go away.

The notion that users would be able to stream their entire iTunes library may not, however, go over well with cell service providers. Relying on 3G data connections instead of Wi-Fi networks at least some of the time would push up iPhone user’s wireless data usage dramatically, and carriers may not want to deal with the extra network traffic per the Mac Observer.

Streaming content libraries would also a problem in places where data connections aren’t available, such as many flights. Unless the iPhone mini includes at least some local storage for media, users won’t be able to listen to music or watch movies when they can’t get an Internet connection.

It’s been presumed that an iPhone mini would have at least some built-in storage so users could load apps and store their contacts and appointments on the device.

As of now, Apple has yet to offer any comment, leaving the rest of this up to speculation…

Rumor: Updated MacBook Pro units could arrive on March 1st

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Date: Monday, February 14th, 2011, 05:45
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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You’re eagerly waiting for the next MacBook Pro refresh.

And it could happen on March 1st.

A report from Danish blogger Kenneth Lund has claimed that Lund has had heard from retailers in the country that a limited supply of the new MacBook Pros will be available from March 1st.

Last week, it was reported that supplies of MacBook Pros were running low in Japan, following on from January’s news that U.S. stores were also facing dwindling stocks.

It was anticipated that problems with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors could delay the MacBook Pro product line refresh, though if the reports about a March 1st launch are correct then it seems that any delays were minor.

Other rumors include the possibility that the new MacBook Pro notebooks could contain solid-state drives as opposed to conventional hard drives. This has yet to be confirmed and only time will tell.

Samsung may supply advanced display for iPad 2 tablet

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Date: Monday, February 14th, 2011, 05:41
Category: iPad, News

The iPad 2, it could smack of the niftiness.

Per the Korea Times, the second-generation ipad could trade its “In-Plane Switching” (IPS) display for a new “Super Plane to Line Switching” (PLS) display for improved viewing angles.

Citing industry sources, the report from The Korea Times claims that Samsung Mobile Display will supply LCD panels for Apple’s anticipated “iPad 2.” Apple currently buys LCD panels from a number of companies, including LG Display and others, but that is “expected to change because of the LCD panel’s unit price,” the report said.

Last November, Samsung first unveiled its new “Super PLS” displays, and the panels have reportedly gained the attention of Apple. The report said that Apple has shown interest in Super PLS LCDs, which are geared toward smartphones and tablets, and allow for even more improved viewing angles than the IPS display found in the first-generation iPad.

However, the report stopped short of stating that Apple is interested in using a Super PLS display in its second-generation touchscreen tablet. It only said that Apple has shown interest in the new technology.

The second-generation iPad display, widely expected to be released in the coming months, has been the subject of a great deal of discussions as rumors about the still-unannounced device grow. In January it was suggested that Apple could quadruple the pixels from the current iPad to a 2,048-by-1,536 display, giving the device a “Retina Display” like the iPhone 4.

But other reports have cast doubt on those rumors, suggesting that the power required to run a display at that high of a resolution would result in too poor a battery life for the device. It has been suggested that the next-generation iPad will instead retain its 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to place Sandy Bridge processor in MacBook Air line this June

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Date: Saturday, February 12th, 2011, 06:22
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for an upgraded processor in your MacBook Air, just wait a bit.

Per CNET, Apple is looking to replace the Core 2 Duo chip found in the current MacBook Air, a processor that is two generations behind Intel’s recently released Sandy Bridge processors. The MacBook Air was updated with a new, thinner design, flash memory drive, and an 11.6-inch model was added to the mix in an update released last fall.

In December, CNET claimed that future MacBooks from Apple with Sandy Bridge processor would not use Nvidia graphics processors in at least some models 13 inches and under. It is rumored that the smaller models will switch to Sandy Bridge-only integrated graphics, while Apple’s larger, higher-end MacBooks with screen sizes of 15 and 17 inches will allegedly rely on GPUs from AMD.

Intel began its roll-out of the Sandy Bridge next-generation processors in January, but the company quickly discovered an error in the chipset that accompanies the processor. That forced Intel to halt production of Sandy Bridge processors while it works on a fix for the 6 Series chipset code-named Cougar Point.

The error affected both desktop and mobile chips, leading to concerns that the issue could have an impact on Apple’s anticipated MacBook Pro refresh. Apple last updated its MacBook Pro notebooks in April of 2010, meaning an update for those products is likely to precede the alleged June refresh for the MacBook Air.

Intel announced this week that it has resumed shipment of chipsets for systems not affected by the Cougar Point design issue, which can lead to poor performance of devices connected to certain SATA ports. The chipmaker also said that it will meet its deadline to begin shipping dual-core Sandy Bridge hips on their previously announced launch date of February 20th.

Source claims that Apple MacBook Pro delay from Intel chip bug probably minimal

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Date: Saturday, February 12th, 2011, 05:10
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Following up on a widely publicized chip design error on Intel’s part has disrupted Apple’s plans for its next-generation MacBook Pro models, but the impact will be largely immaterial to both the company’s bottom line and its customers according to a source.

Per AppleInsider, Intel said late last month that a design flaw in all of its 6 Series Cougar Point chipsets — due to support new Sandy Bridge Core processors bound for mainstream notebooks and desktops like Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMacs — would delay volume launches of those chips due to a lapse in production while it corrected the glitch.

The impact on Apple due to the setback hasn’t been immediately clear. However, one source has stated that some of the company’s upcoming MacBook Pros were affected by the situation. According to the source, Apple elected to make minor tweaks to the logic boards of those models, but that those changes would translate to a delay of less than two weeks.

Reading between the lines can only lead to speculation that Apple was an early recipient of some of those Cougar Point chipsets from Intel, and that the changes it’s making involve tweaks to SATA ports that those MacBook Pros will utilize.

Those chipsets offer support for a total of six SATA ports, but Intel acknowledged the only problem with the chips was the potential for four of those ports — 2 through 5 — to “degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives.”

However, an Intel spokesperson confirmed that that the problem does not affect SATA ports 0 or 1, so any system builders that received those parts would be clear to ship those chips in systems that utilize only ports 0 or 1. For its part, Apple makes use of only two SATA ports in its current MacBook Pros, according to iFixit teardown specialist Kyle Wiens, and has no reason to require more going forward.

“There are two connections on the board — one for optical drive, and one for HDD,” he said. “The other internal devices (trackpad, keyboard, SD card reader, etc.) use USB.”

In total, Intel said it shipped roughly 8 million of the Cougar Point chipsets to system manufacturers before it discovered the error but that “relatively few consumers” were impacted by this issue because the only systems that actually made it into end consumers hands’ were those based on its new Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 quad core processors for desktop systems. The rest of the chips — presumably some of which went to Apple — hadn’t yet been built into systems available to consumers.

As such, the launch window for Apple’s new MacBook Pros, which have been rumored to “feature a slight change in chassis design” and speculated to employ the Sandy Bridge Core processors listed in the chart below, remains hazy. Still, evidence from those familiar with the matter and checks within the company’s supply chain suggest a period sooner than later — likely between late February and early April for volume shipments.

Apple as early as last month began drawing down inventories of its lower volume MacBook Pros, namely the 17-inch model, in anticipation of the transition. For instance, some of the company’s largest resellers including Amazon direct, MacMall and J&R Computer World (1,2,3) have long run dry of this model. And just this week, MacConnection and MacMall appear to have run into trouble securing more of the two high-end 15-inch models (1,2,3,4), which are now both out of stock.

People familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Amazon and Best Buy say Apple initially offered restocking dates of late January for those MacBook Pros but then missed those dates and pushed them out a week late. This trend has continued for the past two weeks, where a restocking date is supplied, only to be missed and rescheduled.

According to those same people, such anomalies in Apple’s Mac supply chain only manifest in the face of a significant production problem or on the cusp of major product line refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.