Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers update for iLife ’11 programs

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:19
Category: News, Software

Following up on yesterday’s stories about Apple issuing updates for iMovie and iPhoto, the company also released significant updates the the GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD components of its iLife ’11 suite.

Per AppleInsider, the other iLife ’11 updates offer the following fixes and changes:

– GarageBand 6.0.4 fixes an issue with lesson downloads from the GarageBand Lesson Store. It also corrects issues with tempo-based effects falling out of sync and resolves problems with Magic GarageBand project files.

The update is a 53.72MB download requiring Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and runand is recommended for all users of GarageBand ’11.

– iWeb 3.0.4: A long-awaited and surprising update, as Apple indicated in a FAQ last month that iWeb publishing will get the ax when the MobileMe service is shuttered permanently on June 30, 2012.

iWeb has not received a major revision since Apple released iLife ’09 in January 2009. That update added new iWeb Widgets, such as iSight video and photos, a countdown timer, YouTube video and RSS feeds and integrated FTP publishing. Apple quietly bundled the older versions of iWeb and iDVD into iLife ’11 when it was released last October.

The release notes for iWeb 3.0.4 do not indicate any specific changes, noting only that the update “improves overall stability and addresses a number of minor issues.” The 178.57MB download is recommended for all iWeb 3 users and requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

– iDVD 7.1.2: Monday’s update to iDVD improves reliability of imported iPhoto ’11 slideshows. fixes a problem that could prevent files from re-linking and addresses an issue that could cause iDVD to use all available CPU capacity when searching for missing files.

iDVD 7.1.2 is recommended for all iDVD 7 users. The 36.12MB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple also offes iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie individually in the Mac App Store, though it has chosen not to make iWeb and iDVD available.

If you’ve installed the updates and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple releases iMovie 9.0.4 update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:56
Category: News, Software

imovieicon.png

On Monday, Apple released iMovie 9.0.4, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 76.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Support for opening projects imported from iMovie for iOS.

– Fixes an issue where some audio adjustments were not preserved.

– Addresses a performance issue when using large quantities of video clips with keywords.

– Resolves issue with slow application launch when working with large iPhoto libraries.

iMovie 9.0.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run and can be snagged manually or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.1.5 update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:54
Category: News, Software

eliphoto

Apple on Monday released iPhoto 9.1.5, the latest version of its image organization and editing application. The update, a 108 megabyte download which can be be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, offers the following major fixes and changes:

– The date range of each event now updates correctly to reflect changes made to photos using the Adjust Time and Date command.

– Addresses an issue that could cause the Photos view to scroll incorrectly when Event Titles are displayed.

– Fixes a problem that could prevent Ken Burns animations from being applied correctly on photos in a saved Classic slideshow.

– Deleting photos from a web album using the contextual menu now removes them from the album without deleting them from the library.

– Addresses an issue that could prevent a crop adjustment from being removed from a photo when using the Revert to Original command.

iPhoto 9.1.5 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later to install and run.

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

Analyst: App Store downloads to increase by 61%, prices to jump 14% in calendar year 2011

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:12
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News

applelogo_silver

If you remember your economics class, an old supply and demand chart should pop into your head.

Those charts are applicable.

Per AppleInsider, having recently hit the 15 billion download milestone, a new analysis has found that downloads from Apple’s iOS App Store will increase 61 percent in calendar year 2011, while the average selling price of software will be up 14 percent.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray published on Monday his latest App Store model, including average selling prices, for the official iOS digital download destination. The new numbers reflect Apple’s announcement from last week that more than 15 billion applications have been downloaded by more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users.

Munster estimates that the average iOS user will download 83 applications in calendar year 2011, up from 51 in calendar year 2010. That’s an increase of 61 percent year over year.

“We believe this trend points to the increasing importance of an app store with a broad selection of tested apps to drive device sales,” Munster wrote. “Smartphone users are showing an increasing appetite to use apps to add features to their phones, and iOS has the leading app ecosystem.”

Piper Jaffray’s App Store model also indicates that paid application average selling prices are on the rise in 2011. Munster said the data shows prices up 14 percent year-over-year in calendar year 2011, compared to the 18 percent decline seen by paid applications in 2010.

“After the initial race to the bottom in App Store pricing, we are seeing users pay up to add features and games to their iOS devices,” he said.

Using Apple’s announced figures, the App Store model suggests that 82 percent of applications on the iOS App Store are free, while 18 percent are paid. Those paid applications have an average selling price of US$1.44.

Munster attributed the increase in 2011 at least partially to more expensive iPad applications that are gaining share among App Store downloads. The average selling price of the top 10 iPad applications is US$6.32, up 36 percent from US$4.66 a year ago. Meanwhile, the top 50 iPhone applications have an average price of US$1.61.

The App Store model also shows that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users are now downloading more than 32.3 million applications per day. That’s nearly triple the 11.9 million-per-day rate of tracks downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Apple does not profit greatly from its iOS App Store, and Piper Jaffray estimates that the company’s 30 percent share of all sales amounts to just 1 percent of its total revenue. More importantly for Apple, though, the App Store drives sales of iOS devices — something that Munster admitted is hard to quantify.

“Even though our qualitative analysis does not factor in the sale of additional devices, we believe the App Store drives device sales,” he said. “We see a virtuous cycle of Apple’s robust app ecosystem adding features and functionality to the iOS devices, which drives sales, which makes the ecosystem more robust, which encourages more developers to write apps, and the cycle repeats itself.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable faces legal questions from industry group

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:50
Category: Accessory, Legal

applelogo_silver

Sometimes it’s the really useful stuff that gets picked on..

Per TechRadar, HDMI Org, the group that oversees HDMI specifications, has deemed Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables outside of its standard and will not allow them to be sold.

The group explained that “the HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on either end. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

All licensed HDMI products must undergo compliance testing. Given the fact that the cable is undefined by the group, “it cannot be tested against the Specification,” thereby making it unofficial and
unlicensed.

This outcome is devastating for the numerous companies that make money from these cables, though there is one upside. Cables, or dongles, that have a DisplayPort on one end and an HDMI female receptacle on the other are licensed.

HDMI Org does, however, note that there are users who covet this type of cable system, stating that recognizes that there “may be a market need for a cable solution rather than a dongle solution. However, at this time, there is no way to produce these cable products in a licensed manner.” According to the report, hundreds of thousands of cables could be affected by a recall.

Apple reportedly developed a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter but never released it, relying instead upon third-party offerings .

First introduced in October 2008, the Mini DisplayPort connector is used by Apple in its latest Mac offerings. The standard was designed by Apple as a smaller form factor alternative to the DisplayPort standard. The Video Electronics Standard Association officially adopted the specification in 2009.

More recently, Apple and Intel have collaborated on Thunderbolt, a new high-speed I/O technology that makes use of the Mini DisplayPort connector. The first generation of Thunderbolt offers two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions, simultaneously, and 10 watts of power. Intel expects to scale the technology up to transfer rates of 100Gbps within a few years.

Late last month, Apple released the first Thunderbolt cable and added the first third-party Thunderbolt storage solutions to its online store. The cable was revealed to be an active cable with a transceiver chip at each end and “tons of little resistors.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Canon Printers Drivers 2.6 update for Mac OS X 10.6 users

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 02:06
Category: News, Software

applelogo_silver

It’s not the most exciting news in the world, but if you have a Canon printer, it’s necessary.

Per Macworld, Apple released its Apple Canon Printer Drivers 2.6 package on Thursday.

Apple released Canon Printer Drivers v2.6 for Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) on Thursday. With the update you’ll get the latest software for a number of printers and scanners provided you have a Canon computer attached to your Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”); check out the full list of supported Canon models on Apple’s site.

The download is available now via Software Update and from the Support Downloads section of Apple’s website and requires Mac OS X 10.6.1 or later to install and run.

Apple working on fixes for posted iOS security holes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 10:25
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, security

applelogo_silver

This probably won’t make you feel safer about the security on your iOS device…

Per Macworld,

Apple said on Thursday that it is developing a fix for vulnerabilities that affect its iPhone, iPad and some iPod touch models, a problem that the German government warned could be used to steal confidential data.

The vulnerabilities became publicized with a new release on Wednesday of JailbreakMe 3.0, a framework that allows unauthorized applications to be installed in devices such as the iPhone.

Apple prohibits the installation of applications that have not been approved for distribution in its App Store. But hackers have used vulnerabilities in the iOS operating system that allow the phones to be “jailbroken,” allowing applications not vetted by Apple to be used that are obtained through alternative application markets such as Cydia.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, issued an alert on Wednesday about the vulnerabilities, which it said could be exploited if a user opened a specially crafted PDF document. The issue involves how the iOS parses fronts within the mobile version of the Safari browser.

There is also a second vulnerability that circumvents ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), a security feature which mixes up how programs are loaded into memory and makes it more difficult for an attacker.

BSI noted that it would be possible for an attacker using the flaws to steal passwords, banking data and e-mails as well as have access to built-in cameras, intercept telephone calls and obtain the GPS coordinates of a user.

Apple rarely comments on security issues. But on Thursday, Alan Hely senior director for corporate communications in London, said in a statement that “Apple takes security very seriously, we’re aware of this reported issue and developing a fix that will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

The BSI wrote that the devices affected are the iPhone 3G and devices running iOS versions up to 4.3.3. Also affected are both iPad models and iPod Touch models running iOS versions up to 4.3.3.

One of the hackers behind JailbreakMe, Comex, published a fix for the vulnerability called PDF Patcher 2, which is now in the Cydia app store. It will only work if people install JailbreakMe, which Apple discourages.

“Until Apple releases an update, jailbreaking will ironically be the best way to remain secure,” according to a note on the JailbreakMe website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon announces new plans, unlimited space with Cloud Drive offerings

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 03:10
Category: News, Software

It’s the competition that keeps things interesting.

Amazon announced Wednesday a promotion offering unlimited music storage to users who purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan, heating up competition before Apple’s fall launch of its iCloud and iTunes Match services.

Per AppleInsider, the online retailer revealed three enhancements to its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in a statement Wednesday: storage plans that include unlimited space for music, free storage for all Amazon MP3 purchases and an iPad version of Cloud Player for Web.

“Customers are already enjoying Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and now for just US$20 a year, customers can get unlimited space for music,” said Craig Pape, Director of Amazon Music. “Additionally, we are adding free storage for all MP3s purchased from Amazon MP3, and support for the iPad. Our customers love Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and we’re excited to innovate these services on their behalf.”

The unlimited music storage applies to all premium Cloud Drive accounts, which start at US$20 a year for 20GB. Users who qualified for 20GB of free storage from an earlier promotion will automatically receive the unlimited space for music. Amazon offers 5GB of free space to all Cloud Drive users.

The addition of an iPad-friendly Amazon Cloud Player is a step back in Apple’s direction, though no mention is made of iPhone or iPod touch compatibility. Cloud Player originally launched for the Web and Google’s Android mobile OS, without direct support for iOS and Mobile Safari. In May, iOS users reported being able to access the Cloud Player, despite the fact that full compatibility had yet to be officially announced.

Whereas only new Amazon MP3 store purchases were automatically added to Cloud Drive when the service first launched in March, now all digital music purchased from Amazon will be added to the drive. The retroactive support for previously purchased music appears to indicate that Amazon has resolved any conflicts with the music industry of its service.

Apple is planning a similar move with its iCloud service, and offered the first taste of its cloud strategy last month with the release of iTunes 10.3, which allows re-downloading of music, apps and books purchased on iTunes and the App Store. When iCloud arrives in the fall, the service will provide complimentary storage of music, apps and books purchased from Apple. However, unlike Amazon’s Cloud Drive, iCloud does not stream music.

Amazon reportedly opted for an ‘ask forgiveness, not permission’ strategy with Cloud Drive, surprising music labels with the announcement of the service. Music industry sources said Amazon only addressed the issue of negotiating licenses after launching the service, leaving some industry members to view the service as illegal.

Google launched a beta of its own music service in May. However, the search giant was unsuccessful in negotiating new licenses with major music labels and has yet to open a full music store as originally planned.

Amazon and Apple will likely compete for subscribers with their respective Cloud Drive and iTunes Match services. Amazon’s cloud offerings require manual uploading of non-Amazon music files, but also offer streaming, and start at a lower price of US$20 a year. On the other hand, iTunes Match runs US$25 a year and will scan and match users’ iTunes libraries with songs available in the iTunes Music Store. Matched songs will then automatically be available for download in iCloud, and the small portion of unmatched musical will be uploaded. Like Amazon, Apple will offer 5GB of free storage for iCloud users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.