Crucial unveils solid-state drives for older Mac notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:34
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You should add more solid-state drives to more things, as they are awesome.

Per Macworld, accessory provider Crucial today announced a new solid-state drive (SSD) targeted at users who want to upgrade older computer systems with a flash drive that boasts a price well under US$1 per gigabyte of capacity.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD, which is being manufactured by partner Micron, may not sport top flash-drive speeds. But it outpaces any consumer hard drive by more than twice the performance. The new 128GB SSD sells for US$100; a 256GB model can be had for US$190.

The price of consumer-class SSDs had been expected to drop to US$1 per gigabyte this year. SSD prices further slipped precipitously because of market oversupply. For example, NAND flash memory maker Toshiba recently slashed its production by 30 percent in order to deal with oversupply issues.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD uses the more widely used but older SATA-2, which has the 3 Gbps interface that most pre-2011 computer systems sport for internal drive connectivity. SATA-3 offers 6 Gbps, but only the latest systems (such as the new MacBook Pro) come with it.

Crucial said its v4 SSD has sequential read/write speeds of 230 MBps and 190 MBps, respectively. To put that in perspective, a top-of-the-line hard disk drive, such as Western Digital’s 7200-rpm Scorpio Black, has maximum read/write speeds of around 104 MBps and 101 MBps.

By comparison, an Intel top-of-the-line 520 Series SSD boasts peak read/write speeds of 550 MBps and 520 MBps, respectively. So the new Crucial SSD rests nicely in the middle.

The v4 SSDs are available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities with suggested retail prices of US$50, US$70, US$100, and US$190, respectively. The SSDs can be purchased now through global channel partners, or direct through Crucial’s website.

The Crucial v4 SSD comes with a three-year limited warranty, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X systems.

Apple confirms iCloud error, some users unable to access older email messages

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:42
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Ok, this is somewhat awkward.

On Tuesday, Apple issued a system status update on the iCloud Support web page that confirmed that some users may be affected by a temporary error where older emails are inaccessible.

The message, posted under “iCloud: Mail & Notes” shortly after noon PST on Tuesday, said select iCloud users may not be able to access older email messages, though sending and receiving new messages should be unaffected.

Apple has promised the issue would be resolved “ASAP” but gave no indication of what exactly caused the error.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.5 build, iCloud Control Panel beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 05:24
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock the development cycle.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday seeded new builds of OS X Lion, Lion Server and the Windows-only iCloud Control Panel beta to developers with no known issues.

In the new builds, noted as 11G30 for both OS X Lion and Lion Server, Apple is asking developers to focus on graphics performance and quality as there are no known issues with the release.

Work on the server side is a bit more substantial as developers have been tasked with focusing on Password Server, Profile Manager, Webmail (RoundCube), Server App, System Image Utility, Software Update Server, Web Sharing and Workgroup Manager. No known issues are present in the server build.

iCloud Control Panel:
- The second seed for version 2.0 of iCloud Control Panel brings a host of new features to the Windows-centric software including consolidation of Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks enablement into a single checkbox and overall stability enhancements.

- This seed build of iCloud Control Panel 2.0 includes all the same features as Seed 1, with the following changes:

- Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks are now enabled with a single checkbox.

- Shared Photo Streams can now be explicitly enabled and disabled through the Control Panel.

- Shared Photo Streams UI in Explorer view has been substantially improved.

- Addressed an issue where Push Notifications could crash or stop working.

There are a few known issues with the second iCloud Control Panel beta:
- The seed is available in English only

- If you sign out of the control panel and sign in as another iCloud account, you may need to restart your computer to use Shared Photo Streams with your second iCloud account.

- If you are unable to sign out of the iCloud Control Panel, open the task manager and stop the ApplePhotoStreams.exe process.

- Portrait JPG images may create low-resolution versions and not have proper orientation.

- Both the OS X Lion and Lion server seeds as well as the iCloud Control Panel are available for developer download today.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new beta and had a chance to play with it, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple working on modified cases for next-gen iPhone model

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 10:27
Category: News, Rumor

It’s the cases that give it away sometimes.

Per iLounge, third party accessory companies are apparently creating a larger “Bumper” case to accommodate a taller iPhone screen, the second case will feature a new, different design. Citing a “highly reliable source,” the site reported on Monday that though the new case will affect third-party case makers, the design will be “not hugely surprising,” which led author Jeremy Horowitz to speculate the case could include a stand.

Apple stepped into the iPhone case accessory business with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Its first-party “Bumpers” wrap around the outside edges of both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which feature the same external design.

Monday’s report follows up on an earlier rumor that claimed Apple will launch its next-generation iPhone at a media event on September 12. Corroborating some of those details, Horowitz said the new iPhone will be ready to ship in mid-September.

Also rumored to arrive in September is a new iPod touch, which will presumably also feature a larger 4-inch display to bring it in line with the new iPhone. iLounge, however, disagreed with an earlier rumor that suggested a new iPod nano will also be unveiled at an alleged September event.

Rumors of Apple’s next-generation products have picked up steam, as both photos and a video of parts claimed to be from Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone have also appeared online.

Earlier this month, pictures of alleged “iPad mini” engineering samples also surfaced, showing a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display and a shrunken dock connector also expected to appear in the next iPhone. Numerous reports from mainstream media outlets have indicated that Apple plans to expand the iPad lineup with a new, smaller, less expensive model this fall.

As for Apple’s full-size iPad, iLounge was told that Apple currently plans for its fourth-generation model to have a “relatively modest body tweak.” The device is expected to keep largely the same shape while adopting a smaller 19-pin dock connector, a new rear-facing microphone, and design tweaks to reduce heat.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Photos of purported next-gen iPhone surface, show fully assembled state

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 06:40
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per the web blog of Japanese repair company iLab Factory, pictures of an alleged fully-assembled next-generation iPhone hit the web on Sunday, offering what could be the most detailed look at Apple’s upcoming device yet.

The photos depict what is supposedly a complete next-generation iPhone built from leaked parts sourced from China.

The purported unit pieces together previously-seen components including the smaller 19-pin dock connector first rumored in June and 4-inch display and a relocated headphone jack. The site notes that the home button’s finish has been modified and feels to be improved. A report in April found a supposedly leaked home button had been slightly redesigned internally to accomodate changes made to the screen and case.



While all of the external parts are in place, most of the handset’s innards are missing with only power and sensor flex cables and accompanying home button circuitry installed. This lack of integral electronics, such as cameras, logic board and battery, hint the supposedly-leaked parts may have come from an upstream supplier rather than an assembly plant.

Pictures of the unit’s casing show the two-tone aluminum design first seen in early June, though noticeably absent is the nano-SIM card tray purportedly leaked in May.

The unit’s front seems to sit tightly with the uni-body casing which, unlike the current generation iPhone 4S, features a slightly beveled edge. Side shots show the expected volume rocker button assembly and hold switch as well as a sleeker profile compared to existing iPhones.

Making a reappearance is the small hole located beween the camera assembly and the unit’s LED flash, a feature which was rumored to be removed in final production models.

As mentioned above, much of the internals are absent, however what is in place yields some insight into how Apple plans to utilize the cramped space. The site notes three screw anchors on the back plate will likely hold the display in place while four screw anchors located on the unit’s right wall and six on the left will most likely secure integral components as the device can no longer be opened by removing case-back. Also new are four screw holes at the top of the case near the power button though their use remains a mystery.

Overall, the site points out the alleged device boasts a high-quality milled aluminum feel consistent with all Apple products and makes special note of the unit’s thinness.

Apple is rumored to announce a follow-up to the iPhone 4S sometime this fall with one analyst estimating an early-September launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update v1.0, adds Power Nap feature to Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 15:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

In the wake of an enormous operating system release, you can always expect some updates.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Friday rolled out a firmware update for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display enabling Mountain Lion’s new Power Nap feature two days following the new operating system’s release.

The update, a 190 kilobyte download entitled “MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update,” comes on the heels of a Thursday firmware release which brought the same functionality to mid-2011 MacBook Airs and is available via OS X 10.8′s Software Update feature and enables the new Power Nap feature that comes with Mountain Lion.

Limited to newer MacBook Air models and the MacBook Pro with Retina display, Power Nap keeps Macs up to date and allows for the automatic backup of data while the machine is sleeping. The automatic data-refreshing service, which handles Time Machine and iCloud syncing, is both silent and power-efficient.

This update fixes several sleep/wake issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro with Retina display (Mid 2012) computers and is recommended for all users running OS X v10.7.4. It also enables Power Nap support for users running OS X v10.8 or later.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple buys fingerprint recognition company AuthenTec for $356 million

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 14:22
Category: Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

This could turn into something interesting.

Per Reuters, Apple has signed a deal to buy a Florida-based company, AuthenTec, at a price of US$8 per share or about US$356 million. That’s a premium of 58 percent over AuthenTec’s Thursday closing value. While largely unknown to the public, the firm makes fingerprint sensor chips used in computers, and various other forms of security software and chips for cellphones; some of the company’s clients include Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Samsung. Notably, the company also produces chips involved in near-field communication (NFC) technologies.

For a long time rumors have suggested that Apple is working on adding NFC support to the iPhone, and talk has revived for the sixth-generation model. NFC could have several uses; while the main one would likely be e-wallet/ticketing transactions, it might also be used to enable device-to-device file transfers, or carrying settings between multiple computers.

According to Bezinga, AuthenTec’s board unanimously approved the takeover earlier this week. The deal still isn’t fully complete, however, because it requires majority shareholder approval, as well as a few other steps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy now offering iPhone 4 for $50 with 2-year contract

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with a cheap price.

Per AppleInsider, Best Buy is now selling Apple’s 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49.99 with a new two-year contract.

The new price is half that of the regular US$99 price for the iPhone 4 with a new service contract. Reseller Best Buy is offering the US$49.99 upgrade price on both the GSM iPhone 4 model, compatible with AT&T, as well as the CDMA variants, available for both Verizon and Sprint.

Best Buy’s website does not identify the new price as a temporary sale. The new price is the same that Best Buy charges for a refurbished iPhone 4, and the discount is available in both black and white models.

The price cut comes only days after Apple announced it sold 26 million iPhones in the June quarter, representing 28 percent growth over the same period a year prior. Investors viewed that number as disappointing, and AAPL stock took a hit as a result.

Apple executives said during their quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that they believe the growth slowdown, particularly with respect to iPhone sales, was at least somewhat attributable to rumors of new products. The company is widely expected to launch its next-generation iPhone with a slightly larger 4-inch display later this year.

The iPhone 4 was first released in mid-2010 and marked the debut of the high-resolution Retina display, as well as the forward-facing FaceTime camera. It is currently Apple’s mid-range handset, resting between the newest model, the iPhone 4S, and the low-end iPhone 3GS, available for free with a two-year contract. Verizon and Sprint do not offer the iPhone 3GS, which means the iPhone 4 is Apple’s entry-level handset with those two carriers.

So, yeah…an iPhone 4 for 50 clams. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened…

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.268 update

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:30
Category: News, Software

adobelogo

Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.268 for Mac OS X, a 10.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new beta version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Various general stability issues.

Flash Player 11.3.300.268 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.