Rumor: Apple to offer black matte option with next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 10:34
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Per MacRumors, sources have stated that Apple will offer the option of a black finish on its next-generation Sandy Bridge powered MacBook Air ultraportable notebooks expected to arrive in the near future.

Citing “several anonymous tips,” the site reported on Monday that Apple will will offer “at least some models” of its next MacBook Air with a black finish. That would be different from the aluminum currently found on all MacBook Air models.

“The most specific of the claims suggests that a black anodized aluminum case would be available on a top-end MacBook Air model, in much the same way as Apple once offered a high-end black MacBook on top of the standard white offerings,” the report said.

Author Eric Slivka said the site is “unable to confirm the rumors,” but given the fact that numerous tips have been received, the information was shared “for interest and discussion.”

It’s been stated that Apple is ready to build nearly 400,000 next-generation MacBook Airs this month in preparation for the anticipated launch. The new hardware is expected to sport Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port codeveloped by Apple and Intel.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple sitting on MacBook Air product refresh until Mac OS X 10.7 is released

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 06:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple is sitting on at least one refresh of its Mac notebook line, waiting for Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to be released in July.

Per Macworld UK, sources close to the story have said that new MacBook Air models featuring Intel Sandy Bridge processors and the Thunderbolt expansion port have been ready for some time, but Apple doesn’t want to release them featuring the old Mac OS X 10.6 operating system. This was released in June 2009.

The Macrumors.com Buyer’s Guide, which tracks the intervals by which Apple refreshes its hardware, supports this view. It shows all portable Mac products are reaching the end of their typical sales cycle, with the exception of the MacBook Pro, which was updated earlier this year. The Mac Mini is also due for an update.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is due in July and is more than a simple operating system upgrade. The new OS hooks users into iCloud, Apple’s new storage service, which offers benefits including seamlessly storing music and personal files online. iCloud represents a major new direction for Apple, which sees it as a way of tying together its various desktop and mobile platforms, as well as providing an additional method for delivering media to users.

In the past Apple overcame the issue of hardware releases not chiming with OS X release dates by bundling CPU Drop-In discs with new Macs. The computer came an older version of the OS preinstalled, while the disc allowed the user to manually upgrade to the latest release at their leisure.

However, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will only be available for download via the Mac App Store, installed on all Macs running the current Mac OS release. OS X Lion will not be available on DVD in any way, shape or form — making it unavailable via traditional retail channels too.

Theoretically it should still be possible for Apple to bundle a voucher code that would allow users to upgrade for free via the App Store. However, Apple is traditionally resistant to registration keys of the kind that blight the life of Windows users. Mac OS X retail releases have never used them, for example, and retail releases of the iWork productivity suite have dropped the need for registration keys completely. The Mac App Store also avoids the needs for registration by using digital rights management to tie the software to a user’s computer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flex 4.5, Flash Builder 4.5, updates tools for building iOS apps

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:01
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Sometimes the Hatfields and the McCoys can put their differences aside and get along where the iOS platform is concerned.

Per the company’s official blog, Adobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple’s official App Store.

The new functionality was announced on the company’s official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created “using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers.”

The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.

Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe’s software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple’s iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.

A “Platform Settings” option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.

“When your application is ready, you don’t actually have to build the application separately for every single platform,” Jespers said. “You can actually do that in one code. It’s pretty amazing.”

Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.

Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe’s in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple’s iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.

Controversy over Apple’s decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce “sub-standard apps” for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs said in April 2010.

Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The “experimental” software called “Wallaby” allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new versions of Flash Builder or Flex, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to manufacture Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac Pro, Mac mini units in August

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:57
Category: Mac mini, Mac Pro, Rumor

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In spite of a current lack of native devices for the mighty Thunderbolt port, a new rumor places Apple as manufacturing new Mac Pro and Mac mini systems with Thunderbolt this August.

Per a Twitter post from CNET’s Brian Tong on Sunday, the “all new” next-generation Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch “either end of July (or) first week of August.”

He then followed up with a second post, in which he said that August is “more likely.” He also suggested that Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt would appear on both machines, as expected, though he added that “no details for specs or configurations were given.”

Tong in March correctly pointed to the launch of new iMacs, also with Thunderbolt ports and Sandy Bridge processors. He said the updated all-in-one desktops would arrive by early May, and they went on sale right on schedule.

The Mac Pro was last updated in late July of 2010. The tower was upgraded to 12 processing cores with Intel Xeon processors, making them up to 50% faster than their predecessors.

Just a month before, a redesigned Mac mini was released in June adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to a high-definition television. The Mac mini also sports a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera, all in a size just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin starting at US$699.

The MacBook Air is also expected to receive an upgrade in the near future to be outfitted with Sandy Bridge processors and a Thunderbolt port. Last week, it was reported that Apple is expected to hold off on releasing any new Mac hardware until its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, goes on sale in July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.