Apple announces iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, offers extended returns for recently-purchased third-gen iPads at select locations

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:15
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You’ve been hankering for this.

And now you get to be somewhat angry at Apple for having bought a third-generation iPad, oh, six months ago.

Per Macworld, Apple unveiled the long-rumored iPad mini along with a fourth-generation of the standard model.

The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick—23 percent thinner than the new, fourth-generation iPad—“thin as a pencil,” as Schiller put it. It weighs 0.68 pounds, which is half the weight of the previous iPad.



The iPad mini is available in white with silver or black with slate black, much like the iPhone 5.

In determining what size to make the iPad mini’s screen, Schiller said, Apple engineers worked to make the device smaller, but not “so small that it stops being incredibly useful.” The iPad mini screen measures 7.9 inches diagonally. Like the iPad 2, the iPad mini employs a 1024-by-768 resolution, meaning all existing iPad apps work with the iPad mini, too.

Schiller said that the iPad mini is great for the same tasks that the full-size iPad is good for: games, Facebook, Web browsing, email, GarageBand, iWork, and so on. “I could sit here and list 275,000 examples” of what the iPad mini is good for, Schiller said, referring to the number of iPad-optimized apps in the App Store.

Compared to Android tablets, Schiller said, the iPad mini is vastly superior. Apps are custom-built for the iPad, but on Android tablets, apps are often blown-up phone apps that aren’t optimized for the device.

Inside the iPad mini, Schiller said, “the technologies…are equal to or better than the iPad 2.” The iPad mini uses Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. It has a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back. It gets the same LTE capabilities as the fourth-generation iPad with LTE, and faster Wi-Fi, too. Of course, it uses the Lightning connector. Apple says that, like the other iPads in the lineup, it still offers ten hours of battery life; the company boasts that the iPad mini uses the largest and thinnest battery Apple’s ever made.

The iPad mini will be available in a variety of configurations. The 16GB model will retail for US$329, the 32GB model will retail for US$429, and the 64GB model will retail for US$529. If you add in the option for cellular connectivity, those prices increase by $129. Pre-orders for the iPad mini will start on Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi versions will ship starting on November 2, in many countries. Two weeks later, they’ll start to ship the iPads with cellular—first in the U.S., and then later around the world.

Apple also introduced a lineup of new Smart Covers for the iPad mini. The polyurethane Smart Covers custom-designed for the iPad mini are available in pink, green, blue, light gray, dark gray and (Product) red for US$39. Existing Smart Covers and Smart Cases work with the fourth-generation iPad. Among the new Lightning accessories Apple unveiled on Tuesday are cables for connecting cameras and SD cards.

Schiller also took the wraps off the new fourth-generation iPad. The new iPad uses the Apple A6X chip, a new chip that further improves upon the speed performance of the A6; the company claims that it’s twice as fast as the A5X, with double the graphics performance. It gets the same ten hours of battery life as the third-generation iPad.

New to the fourth-generation iPad is a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a Lightning port that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of old. And the Wi-Fi is twice as fast as in the previous generation.

Like the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation iPad comes in black in white. It keeps the same pricing: The base 16GB model starts at US$499, with 32GB at US$599 and 64GB at US$699. Cellular-ready models are available for US$130 extra, at US$529, US$629, and US$729 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively.

For those of you somewhat kicking yourselves for having just bought a third-generation iPad, assorted Apple Store retail locations are extending their return policy. Tablets bought within the last 30 days that show no signs of wear and tear can be exchanged for the new model.

For more information as to which Apple Store locations are offering the extended exchange, be sure to call around to see which policies are in effect.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces updated, slimmer, Ivy Bridge iMac

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:30
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

It may not have been the absolute centerpiece of the show, but it still looks nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Tuesday released a new, thinner iMac. The company reengineered the iMac’s internals and display, and Apple says the display system is 45 percent thinner and 8 pounds lighter.

The new iMacs are available in 21.5- and 27-inch models, with displays that support native resolutions of 1920-by-1080 pixels and 2560-by-1440 pixels, respectively. Previous models of the iMacs had a 2mm air gap between the glass and the display; that gap has been removed in the new iMac. Apple now laminates the display directly to the glass, and the company says the full lamination will improve optical quality.

Besides the new design, the other marquee feature of the new iMac is the Fusion Drive, which is a hybrid storage technology that combines flash storage with a hard drive. The Fusion Drive comes with 128GB of flash storage used mainly by the operating system to provide fast performance. The hard drive portion of the Fusion Drive is available in 1TB or 3TB capacities.

However, the Fusion Drive isn’t part of Apple’s standard configuration for the iMac—it is a build-to-order option. Apple has yet to release upgrade pricing for the iMac models with a Fusion Drive, though it’s worth noting that the 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade for the 2.3GHz Core i7 Mac mini is US$250.

As seen with the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple is relying on Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 for connectivity. The iMac has two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports, as well as a gigabit ethernet port. FireWire is no longer offered on the iMac, and users of FireWire devices will need an adapter.

The iMac also features a built-in FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The optical drive is no longer included, and the SDXC card slot that was located next to the optical drive can now be found on the back of the iMac, between the headphone jack and the USB 3.0 ports.

The 21.5-inch iMacs have only two RAM slots and support a maximum of 16GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs have four RAM slots and support a maximum of 32GB of memory.

The new iMac is available in the following four configurations:
US$1299: 21.5-inch model with a 2.7GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 640M graphics.

US$1499: 21.5-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics.

US$1799: 27-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics.

US$1999: 27-inch model with a 3.2GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 675M graphics.

The 21.5-inch models will be available in November, while the 27-inch models will be available in December.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Fusion Drive, blends SSD and HDD technologies

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could be interesting.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple surprised its audience by announcing the Fusion Drive, a combination of SSD and HDD technologies. Fusion Drive is part of the new, just-announced iMacs, and is supported by OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). In concept, it’s similar to auto-tiering that is used in enterprise environments.



In practice, Apple is offering a 128 GB SDD with a 1 TB or 3 TB HDD drive that are combined with smart software. The OS will monitor which apps you use the most and runs them from the SDD. Apple claims that, when the system is idle, it uses 50 percent less power than a standard hard drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces updated, Ivy Bridge Mac mini

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:23
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

The Mac mini, it’s now equipped with Ivy Bridge goodness.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, besides a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple also updated its Mac mini line of desktops. The affordable Mac computer keeps the same boxy form factor, but soups up internals with a Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor (dual-core or quad-core configuration), integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 16 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive or 256 GB SSD. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

The base model starts at US$600 with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of memory. It is available starting today. A server edition will be available for US$999.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:18
Category: MacBook Pro, News

You’ve been waiting for this for a long time now.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off its redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro, featuring a high-resolution Retina display.

Apple executive Phil Schiller noted that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s best selling Mac in its entire product lineup. With that in mind, the company has high expectations for its new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The pixel count on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is so high that it is now the second highest resolution notebook, ahead of all competitors’ models with larger 15 or even 17 inch screens, the company said. The new screen features rich color, deep blacks, a 29% higher contrast ratio, a 75% reduction in reflection, uses IPS for 178 degree viewing, and delivers 300 nits of brightness.



“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is our most popular Mac, and today it gets completely reinvented with a new thin and light design, fast flash storage and a gorgeous Retina display,” Schiller said. “With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.”

The new model weighs just 3 lbs, almost a full pound lighter than the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro, and is 0.75 inches thick, 25% thinner than before and the lightest ever. Schiller noted that the MacBook Pro’s Retina display has more than 4 times as many pixels than its predecessor.

The 13-inch Retina display has a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch. It also uses IPS technology for a 178-degree-wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection with 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

Beyond the screen, it has a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, a backlit keyboard, and glass multi-touch trackpad, as well as the new MagSafe 2, dual Thunderbolt ports and USB 3.0.

Schiller said the “most exciting” part of the computer is on the inside: It’s been re-engineered from scratch, with asymmetric battery technology, Intel Core i5 or i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics.

It also has up to 7 hours of battery life and comes with 8 gigabytes of RAM. Like its 15-inch brethren, the new MacBook Pro is only available with flash storage, which can be upgraded to 768 gigabytes.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starting at US$1,699; and with 256GB of flash storage starting at US$1,999. Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors and flash storage up to 768GB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at apple.com/macbook-pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 1.4.20

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:34
Category: News, Software

An update’s an update.

On Tuesday, Dropbox released version 1.4.20 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 22.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fix menu icon not showing for Ubuntu 12.10.

– Fix tray icon not showing for Windows 8.

– Other small fixes.

Dropbox 1.4.20 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple receives patent for “always-on” low power geared towards mobile devices

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 07:40
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a system in which the status of a portable device can be persistently displayed on-screen without having to turn on the display or primary backlight.

Apple notes that it may be necessary to check the status of a device, as many portable electronics simply shut off their displays when not in use as a method to conserve power. For example, an iPhone user has no way of knowing when their handset is on or off, or how much battery life is left, unless they turn on the main display.

While some solutions currently exist that display device status, they rely on technology that requires extra assembly and packaging, or takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the device.

In its U.S Patent No. 8,294,659 for a “Secondary backlight indicator for portable media devices,” Apple describes a system in which a low-power, location-specific backlight is used to illuminate certain areas on a device’s main display.

There are two modes covered in the invention, an “On” mode where the device’s primary backlight and display are activated, and an “Off” mode in which a secondary low-power backlight is activated when the primary backlight and display are deactivated.

Unlike other systems, the light is situated behind the primary backlight and display, and can be illuminated in sections. Instead of using cutouts in the device body, Apple’s patent calls for icon shapes to be removed from multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of primary backlight’s system. When the low-power secondary backlight is turned on, the light emitted passes through the primary icon shaped regions of the primary backlight system’s layers to the cover glass, but are blocked by color filters that hold a plurality of icon shapes.

In one embodiment, the icons can change shape and size when needed, a good example being a battery life indicator:

“To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. For example, color filters of different shapes and with different properties may be superimposed on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display may depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight. This technique may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.”

The icons can also be dynamic, creating a blinking effect by pulsing the secondary backlight, which can in turn save power.

Apple’s invention allows for multiple icons to displayed on the device at any given location, with the secondary backlight selectively guiding light toward “certain regions of the primary backlight such that only selected icons are shown on the display.”

It remains unclear if Apple will use the technology in an upcoming product, however space is already at a premium in the iPhone 5, making the addition of such a system questionable.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to offer livestream of media event today

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

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Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!

Cocktail updated to 6.2

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 6.2 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 5.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:
– Added ability to disable Notification Center (System – Misc).

– Added ability to set the Software Update frequency (System – Misc).

– Added ability to set the default file save location in iCloud supported applications (Interface – General).

– Added “Use the Backspace key to show the previous page” setting (Interface – Safari).

– Fixed compatibility issues with Firefox 16.

– Updated Help files.

– Updated Automator actions.

– Other bug fixes and improvements.

Cocktail 6.2 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.