Geekbench entry hints at next-gen 15-inch, Haswell-based MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 07:14
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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This could point to something cool down the road.

Per MacRumors, a new entry that surfaced last month in the results database for popular benchmarking tool Geekbench 2 appeared to reveal Apple’s next-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro. Many observers had expected the update to come at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, but Apple has yet to release the new machines.

The post appears to reveal Apple’s next-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, carrying a code name of “AAPLJ45,1″. As with the 13-inch model, it is not clear whether this machine is a Retina or non-Retina model, although Apple has been rumored to be leaving the non-Retina models without any further updates as it seeks to phase out the line in favor of an all-Retina lineup.

The benchmarked 15-inch MacBook Pro, which carries one of Intel’s new Haswell processors and 16 GB of RAM, received a Geekbench score of 12497, roughly in line with the current generation of the machine. But as was seen with the MacBook Air released last month, Haswell’s biggest benefit comes in efficiency, with Apple being able to boost the battery life on those machines to up to 12 hours.

The chip included in the benchmarked machine is a Core i7-4950HQ running at 2.4 GHz and offering Intel’s new high-end Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics. Intel’s promotional materials for Iris previously showed graphics performance gains of 2-2.5x for this i7-4950Q with Iris 5200 compared to the i7-3840QM with HD Graphics 4000 found in the current stock high-end Retina MacBook Pro.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro has, however, historically also included a dedicated graphics chip for improved performance, although it is unclear exactly what Apple’s plans are in this regard for future generations. With Intel’s integrated graphics seeing significant increases in performance, it is possible that Apple could, at least on some models, forego a dedicated graphics chip in order to push battery life even higher.

As with the 13-inch model benchmarked earlier, this 15-inch model is running a custom build of OS X Mavericks, in this case 13A2052. The machine is also running a Boot ROM dated June 24.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro currently offers 7 hours of battery life, and while Apple may not be able to duplicate the 80% increase in battery life seen with the MacBook Air’s switch to Haswell due to other power-hungry components such as the MacBook Pro’s Retina display, the company may still be able to offer substantial battery life improvements in its new machines.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 3, adds extensive changes across the board

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 07:50
Category: iOS, News, Software

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The third iOS 7 beta is out, complete with a fairly massive list of updates and changes.

Per AppleInsider, Apple Apple on Monday released the third beta build of iOS 7 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to its development community for testing, addressing pre-release bugs related to a range of issues, including Messages, iCloud and AirPlay.

Those with authorized Apple developer accounts can update their devices directly through the Software Update section of the built-in Settings application. Monday’s launch confirms an earlier rumor that Apple planned to follow a two-week release schedule.

The third beta includes the following fixes and changes:
The third beta is said to address a number of issues that previously existed when using Apple’s iCloud services. Specifically, users familiar with the accompanying release notes said a number of problems associated with the new iCloud Keychain feature have been fixed in beta 3. Issues that also existed with Find My iPhone and Bookmarks toggles have reportedly been addressed.

Apple also indicated to developers that it has fixed an issue in the Messages application that would present an empty message list on a clean install of iOS 7. Another issue that would cause Messages to crash when viewing attachments on two separate threads has also been addressed.Fixes in iOS 7 beta 3 are wide ranging, covering issues with push notifications, iCloud Keychain, Messages, and Newsstand.

Developers testing iOS 7 beta 3 will also no longer be prompted with authorization alerts when Newsstand background downloads using HTTP basic or digest authentication are initiated.

The latest beta also squashes a bug that would not save per-app settings in the Background App Refresh option in Settings. In addition, an issue that would not respect custom Passcode Lock and Auto-Lock settings has been fixed.

Apple has also reportedly addressed a common issue where some apps may receive either duplicate push notifications, or no push notification at all. The app switcher has also been updated to show all suspended apps, Apple told developers.

Finally, a bug that would not allow Reminders to work with VoiceOver functionality is said to have been addressed.

As before, Apple has warned users that the second beta “should only be deployed on devices dedicated for iOS 7 beta software development.” The prerelease software is not intended for use among the general public.

As such, a number of known issues are said to remain in iOS 7 beta 3 in a range of applications, including Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Safari, Passbook and more.

The second iOS 7 beta was provided to developers two Mondays ago, on June 24. It added new voice options for Apple’s Siri personal assistant software.

Apple gave developers the first beta of iOS 7 a month ago at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. That was also the first time the world, outside of Apple’s team, got to see a major design overhaul for the platform.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new iOS 7 beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Cocktail updated to 6.5

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 07:38
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, shareware developer Maintain released version 6.5 of CocktailCocktail (Mountain Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 5.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:
- Added ability to hide the Spotlight menu bar icon (System – Spotlight).

- Added ability to rebuild Mail’s Envelope index database (System – Databases).

- Added ability to clear Mail downloads (Files – Caches).

- Added ability to enable Simple Finder (Interface – Finder).

- Added ability to disable send and reply animations in Mail (Interface – Mail).

- Added OS X 10.8.5 compatibility.

- User interface improvements.

- Updated Automator actions.

- Updated Help files.

Cocktail 6.5 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.

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

Apple offers popular apps at deep discounts, for free as App Store nears fifth anniversary on July 10th

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

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With the fifth anniversary of the iOS App Store approaching, a number of high-ranking apps will become free for a period of time.

According to The Verge, an unknown number of iOS apps are now free to download for both the iPhone and iPad, with titles spanning across genres and price ranges.

Games like Badland, Infinity Blade II, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Tiny Wings, and Where’s My Water? are all complimentary, while other apps include Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, Over, and Traktor DJ for iPad. With the price slashing, users can save anywhere from US$0.99 to US$19.99.

While Apple has yet to make an official announcement regarding the free app selection, or collect them into a dedicated App Store section, it is thought that the move is in celebration of the digital storefront’s upcoming fifth anniversary on July 10.

The company sent out a poster last week detailing a timeline of major App Store milestones, including explosive growth that saw 1 billion downloads in 2009, 10 billion in 2011, and 50 billion this past May. Apple also noted that the store has generated more than US$10 billion for app developers to date.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve noticed a cool iOS app that’s free or discounted on the iOS App Store, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad could arrive in September, second-gen iPad mini not long after

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:22
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

The next-gen iPad you’re hoping for could hit in September, the mini version not long after.

Per DigiTimes, a new 9.7-inch iPad is planned to debut in September with a slimmer bezel, as has been rumored.

In addition, the report said the number of LED tubes to backlight the Retina display has been reduced from two to one, and battery life of the device has also been improved.

Pilot production of the device is allegedly already able to satisfy demand for the initial launch. As such, suppliers reportedly indicated they expect Apple to give shipment estimates as soon as the end of this month.

While the full-size iPad is rumored to see a refresh in September, the iPad mini may have to wait a little longer for its second-generation model to launch. Sources have stated that Apple is “still considering whether to adopt a Retina display for the device.”

If Apple does opt for a high-resolution display in its 7.9-inch tablet, the release of the product could be delayed until the fourth quarter of calendar 2013, the report said. It also added that Apple is pushing component suppliers to further shrink the iPad mini bezel, and that the company is pushing for a largely bezel-less design.

Apple launched both the first iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad at the same event last October. The updated full-size iPad was a moderate surprise, as the third-generation model with Retina display had debuted only six months prior.

The fifth-generation iPad is expected to adopt a design similar to that of the iPad mini, including more rounded edges and a thinner bezel. Leaked schematics have suggested the new iPad will also be thinner than its predecessor, while well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has said the device will be 25 percent lighter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to 6.6.0.467

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Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 09:33
Category: News, Software

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On Friday, version 6.6.0.467 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 40 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Improvements:
- Optimizations to video messaging: To ensure a consistent Skype experience no matter which device you use, we have added entry points for video messaging to the share menu (plus button). You will now be prompted to send a video message if your call goes unanswered for ten seconds.

- Upgrading for users with non-administrator accounts: After downloading 6.6, all future updates will be silently downloaded for you even if you don’t have an administrator account on OS X.

- Improvements to the instant messaging experience: We have reintroduced quick access to the button that lets you edit chat messages. By clicking the arrow that appears on hover next to the timestamp of a message, you can access the editing menu.

Resolved:
- [File Transfer] “Reveal File in Finder” can point to the wrong file when multiple files with the same name are sent via file transfer.

- [Conversations] Sometimes unsent chat message does not show up when switching back to prior a conversation.

- [Generic] In some cases, Skype accesses the non-existent file video.cfg every second.

- [Calling] Cannot block phone numbers.

Known issues:
- [Conversations] Messages sent to a Facebook contact show up multiple times. Fix is in progress.

Skype 6.6.0.467 is available for free and 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 to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to developer community

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Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:28
Category: News, Software

Mavericks is further down the line, but the OS X 10.8.5 update is in progress.

Per 9to5Mac, one week after the second beta seed of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5, Apple has issued OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to registered developers. The new update, again, includes no known issues and is available for developers via the Mac Developer Center and the Mac App Store Software Update function.

Apple has asked testers to focus on Wi-Fi, Graphics, Wake from Sleep, PDF viewing and Accessibility, and Mobile Device Management during their testing. Apple has also been providing 10.8.5 beta updates to its retail staff for testing.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new build and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent application cites research into earbud headphones with noise cancelation features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:33
Category: News

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This could come in handy.

Per The United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, an Apple patent application discovered on Thursday describes a set of earbud type headphones that automatically adjust audio output based on seal quality, with necessary impedance data gathered by built-in microphones or electrical current measurements.

The patent application, entitled “Electronic device and headset with speaker seal evaluation capabilities” details a new type of self-calibrating earbud that can deliver enhanced audio reproduction over a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes. Also alluded to in the patent are noise canceling headphones which rely heavily on good earbud-to-ear seals to operate.

Apple’s invention is primarily aimed at earbud headphones, which are designed to create a seal in a user’s ear that helps reduce ambient noise while retaining a compact form factor. When an earbud does not create a proper seal, however, these properties are negatively impacted.

From the filing’s description:
“The quality of the seals that are formed between earbuds and a user’s ears affects performance. For example, satisfactory noise cancellation can become difficult when is high-quality seal is not present. Poor earbud-to-ear seals can also affect audio quality in other ways. For example, left-right balance (volume) and equalization can be affected by seal quality.”

To evaluate this seal, the invention proposes measuring the impedance of the speakers by taking current measurements, acoustic measurements with a microphone, or both.

As earbud impedance may vary as a function of signal frequency, impedance-versus-frequency curves can also be mapped and compared against to reveal poor seals. In addition, these curves can be used to adjust speaker output to compensate for inadequate performance.

The filing details a number of techniques to measure impedance levels, including current sensing circuitry. Test tones can also be used in conjunction with microphones to assess disparity in output and input amplitudes. In the case of noise-canceling headphones, microphones are disposed near the ear to measure ambient noise, and the amount of required noise cancellation can be used to judge whether a seal is good.

When a poor seal is detected, actions can take the form of warnings displayed on a user’s device. Alternatively, self-adjustment steps can include balance, equalization, and noise cancellation circuitry adjustments.

Apple’s self-evaluating, self-adjusting earbud patent application was first filed for in February 2013 and credits Victor Tiscareno, Jeffrey J. Terlizzi, Wendell B. Sander and Christopher Todd Beauchamp as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details about this patent application as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.16

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:36
Category: News, Software

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An update’s an update.

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.16. The new version, a 110 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- OVF/OVA: don’t crash on import if no manifest is used (4.2.14 regression; bug #11895).

- GUI: do not restore the current snapshot if we power-off after a Guru Mediation.

- Storage: fixed a crash when hotplugging an empty DVD drive to the VM.

- Storage: fixed a crash when a guest read from a DVD drive attached to the SATA controller under certain circumstances.

- EFI: don’t fail with 64-bit guests on 32-bit hosts (bug #11456).

- Autostart: fixed VM startup on OS X.

- Windows hosts: native Windows 8 controls.

- Windows hosts: restore native style on Vista 32.

- Windows hosts / guests: Windows 8.1 adaptions (bug #11899).

- Mac OS X hosts: after removing VirtualBox with VirtualBox_Uninstall.tool, remove it from the pkgutil –pkgs list as well.

VirtualBox 4.2.16 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Happy 4th of July from the PowerPage!!!

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 4th, 2013, 06:12
Category: Announcement

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Ladies and gentlemen, the staff of O’Grady’s PowerPage would like to wish you an amazing Fourth of July. We’ll be taking the day off to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.

That being said, put down the computers and gadgets for the day, whip up some tasty food and drinks, hang out with the people you care about and we’ll be back tomorrow for every bit of Mac mobile news and events we can get our hands on.

Happy Fourth of July!!!