Apple closes OS X 10.8.4 seeds, release seems imminent

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 08:35
Category: News, Software

OS X 10.8.4 should be out any day now.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday sent notice to developers that it will be closing the OS X Software Update 10.8.4 seed project, suggesting a final version of the maintenance update is close to release.

Sources who have seen the emailed notice believe OS X 10.8.4 could see public release in the near future, possibly at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference coming up on June 10.

Along with thanking participants who contributed to the testing, Apple noted the discussion board and Project Area dedicated to the seeding initiative will be shut down following scheduled infrastructure maintenance this weekend. No information was given regarding a public release date.

Though Apple has yet to dole out a Gold Master of 10.8.4, signaling an imminent release of the software update, the company most recently seeded the eighth beta version of the software last week.

While the maintenance update is not expected to have many new features, a beta issued in April revealed code pointing to support for the 802.11ac wireless protocol, hinting that future Macs could soon employ the speedy Wi-Fi tech. Last week, pictures of a reported Broadcom BCM94360CD PCI-E mini custom combo WLAN+Bluetooth card made the rounds, with some speculating that the part could be used in an as-yet-unannounced Mac.

Apple has announced that it will show off next-generation versions of OS X and iOS at WWDC 2013, but many are anticipating new hardware like a refreshed MacBook lineup featuring Intel’s latest Haswell processors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

United States Treasury Department clears way for iPhones to be sold in Iran

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 07:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Iran-Flag

At long last, the iPhone is finally coming to Iran.

Per the cool cats over at The Mac Observer, the United States Treasury Department has lifted some sanctions on selling communication devices mobile phones in Iran, which means Apple can finally begin selling its popular iPhone in the country. The decision will make it easier for people in Iran to legitimately buy iPhones, iPads, and other electronics, and is a move on the part of the U.S. to help push for political freedom in the country.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranians deserve access to information and to communicate with each other without fear of government retribution.

The agency released the following statement:

“To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications. This license allows U.S. persons to provide the Iranian people with safer, more sophisticated personal communications equipment to communicate with each other and with the outside world. This General License aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information.”

While the policy change is good news for some people in Iran, it isn’t good news for everyone in the country. The U.S. isn’t allowing companies to export products to Iran’s government, or to people or organizations on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

The policy change will hopefully help curb incidents where companies in the U.S. refuse to sell products to people they think are Iranian nationals. Apple came under fire in 2012 when the National Iranian American Council accused the company of racial profiling over retail store employees refusing to sell iPhones to customers that spoke Farsi or appeared to be of Iranian descent.

The incidents didn’t appeared to be widespread, but did underscore the confusion that comes with government-imposed sales sanctions.

The U.S. reversal on the Iranian sanctions comes a few weeks ahead of elections in the country. Apple may not be able to ramp up sales in Iran quickly enough to get iPhones and iPads into people’s hands, but the door is now open for the company to move forward into a new market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 7 to include long-awaited AirDrop file sharing feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:57
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Granted, no one has ANY REAL IDEA as to what iOS 7’s interface will look like, but there’s some cool new and improved features rumored to be coming down the pipe.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is currently testing versions of iOS 7 internally that include the AirDrop WiFi-direct file sharing tool from the Mac, according to sources close to the story.

Like the rumored Flickr and Vimeo integration that’s been making the rounds, it is very simple for Apple to remove any single feature from the new operating system ahead of the mid-June unveiling.

Additionally, Apple has scrapped AirDrop late in software development from iOS before. Last year, we reported that Apple was developing an AirDrop tool to take advantage of the new WiFi hardware inside of Apple’s latest iOS devices. Because Apple has postponed the feature before, we believe it is possible that the feature could be pushed back again…

Sources say that the AirDrop functionality is currently integrated into the standard iOS share menu. AirDrop will work between two iOS devices and potentially between an iOS device and a Mac. The feature will make it easier than ever to transfer, for example, a photograph or document from one person’s iPhone to another person’s iPad.

While iCloud synchronization works well for sharing photos and documents between two iOS devices owned by the same person, the AirDrop feature will allow seamless individual file exchanges between iOS devices belonging to different people. Apple launched this functionality between Mac computers in 2011 with OS X Lion.

Notably, this potential addition will increase feature parity between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Android has included peer-to-peer file sharing for multiple releases of the software, but the implementation can be confusing due to fragmentation. For example, Samsung has its own unique fork of peer-to-peer file sharing while Google’s stock Android builds include its own implementation. AirDrop for iOS will be seamless in that it will work the same way on all of Apple’s supported products.

Finally, rumors have also pointed towards improved in-car-integration for Maps and Siri – something I think most iOS users can appreciate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon runs out of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, rumors hint at new model to be announced at WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

macbookpro15

When the inventories run low, there’s generally some cool stuff around the corner.

Or the retailer REALLY needs to order some more stock.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after new details surfaced suggesting that Apple could introduce a slimmed-down version of its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display next week, one of the company’s largest resellers — Amazon.com — is sold out of the current entry-level model.

The high-profile stockout comes just a week before Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote presentation — a stage frequently used to unveil new products and innovations. This year, the company is expected to showcase its new next-generation operating system software for the Mac and iOS devices — OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 — in addition to highlighting some new Mac notebooks powered by Intel’s new Haswell processors

Well-connected industry watch Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Sunday that Apple plans to launch a slimmed-down 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at WWDC. He said the tweaked design will feature a thinner chassis, giving the professional-grade notebook a more portable form factor.

In addition, it’s said that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will sport an improved FaceTime HD camera, which could move from a current resolution of 720p to 1080p, or “full HD.” For his part in attempting to predict Apple’s future product plans through insight into the company’s operations out East, Ming-Chi Kuo sports one of the industry’s most respectable track records in recent years.

Amazon’s stockout applies to Apple’s entry-level 13-inch model, sporting a 2.5-gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor and 128 gigabytes of flash storage. Low inventory levels at authorized resellers are often one of the first signs of new hardware on the horizon, as Apple draws down its available inventory ahead of a new product launch.

While the entry-level model is sold out, Amazon still has remaining inventory of the higher end models with 256 gigabytes of flash storage, at processor speeds of 2.5 gigahertz and 2.6-gigahertz.

In addition, other resellers still have inventory of the two default configurations of Apple’s larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which are the 2.4-gigahertz model with 256 gigabytes of storage and 8 gigabytes of RAM, and the 2.7-gigahertz variety with 512 gigabytes of storage and 16 gigabytes of RAM. The latest rumors have not offered any indication that Apple plans to update the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro next week, suggesting that a refresh to add Intel’s Haswell processors may come at a later date.

However, Apple is expected to bring Haswell to its MacBook Air lineup at WWDC next week, with new models sporting dual microphones for better voice recognition. AppleInsider was first to report on widespread stockouts of MacBook Air models at resellers in recent weeks leading up to WWDC.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop corroborated rumors of new Macs at WWDC last week when he signaled that updated hardware will likely be unveiled. The company is also planning to show off new versions of iOS and OS X, but is not expected to launch any new iPhone or iPad models.

Stay tuned for up to the minute coverage come WWDC next week.

Rumor: Updated Retina Display MacBook Pro with 1080p camera, MacBook Air with improved microphone expected at WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:

“We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:

Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.”

The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.

If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours.

As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:

“MacBook Air to share dual built-in microphone design of Retina MacBook Pro. We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.”

Apple previously noted that the dual-microphone setup is ideal for voice apps like the included Dictation function.

Kuo expects the older, non-Retina MacBook Pros to freeze and be taken out of the spotlight, much like the iPod Classic. The computer would continue to be sold but with the current Ivy Bridge processors, optical drive slots, and high-capacity hard drives.

The report also notes that MacBooks in general are not immune from the overall global slowdown in PC purchasing caused by the iPad and other tablet cannibalization. The expectation is that 2013 will see 12M units sold, off 1.6M from 2012′s 13.6M total.

Finally, Kuo notes that Apple’s move away from optical and hard drive based storage continues to shift orders to SSD producers:

SSD to be mainstream storage solution for MacBook. We estimate the market share of MacBook with SSD to rise from 45% in 2012 to 64% in 2013, far ahead of the industry’s 15-20%. We also expect SSD penetration to continue to trend up, with SSD eventually replacing conventional hard disk drive and optical disc drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.