New evidence mounts to support MacBook Pro refresh in early March

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Date: Tuesday, February 8th, 2011, 06:28
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Additional evidence has appeared pointing towards a refresh of Apple’s MacBook Pro notebook line in early March, according to reports.

Per Macworld UK, the Japanese Macotakara web site is reporting that stocks of MacBook Pros in Japan are running low, suggesting that Apple is making room for stocks of the new models.

On top of this, 9To5Mac has stated that tomorrow, February 9th, could be the date for an announcement on the MacBook Pro line, this also being a date that other sites have pencilled in for an iPad 2 announcement.

Further evidence of a refresh for the MacBook Pro line has appeared with the discovery of dummy entries in Best Buy’s internal inventory system. Though the entries don’t absolutely confirm a new MacBook Pro, they do show an entry for Apple in the mobile computing category priced at US$1,199 and due in stock on March 3rd.

Reports have also come in citing dwindling stocks of MacBook Pro notebooks in Apple Stores and third-party retailer locations, Amazon.com listing long waiting times for anyone ordering a MacBook Pro on its website.

Amazon.co.uk currently has only a few 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros left in stock. On the UK Apple Store website all MacBook Pro models are listed as being in stock.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve heard anything from your end, please let us know in the comments.

Intel confirms SATA controller chip flaw, may delay MacBook Pro refresh

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:30
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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If Apple’s notebook refresh is taking a bit longer than you’d like, it might just be Intel’s fault.

Earlier Monday, Intel acknowledged that a supporting chipset for the next-generation Core processors contained a flaw in the Serial-ATA (SATA) controller. The bug can cause poor hard drive performance or even make the drive invisible to the system.

Per Computerworld, Intel said it has stopped shipments of the flawed chipsets and retooled the chipset. It will begin shipping the fixed version late next month, and said that it “expects full volume recovery in April.”

The design gaffe could effect Apple’s next MacBook Pro refresh if the notebook line is to get new processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, as many speculated last month.

According to Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with the Linley Group (the publishers of Microprocessor Report) the mobile version of the supporting chipset may have been flawed.

In an e-mail reply to Macworld UK’s questions, Krewell pointed out a pair of Intel documents that note the mobile versions of the chipset use the same 6Gbps and 3Gbps ports as those used in the desktop versions.

According to Anandtech.com, the flaw affects only the 3Gbps ports — the chipsets’ SATA controller also offers faster-speed 6Gbps ports — making the likelihood of an impact on notebook makers even higher.

While the signs point to a problem for Apple, analysts split today on whether a MacBook Pro refresh would be delayed.

“It could mean a delay of two to three weeks,” said Martin Reynolds, a vice president with Gartner, assuming Apple intended to launch new MacBook Pros in March or even April.

Dan Olds, a senior analyst with Portland, Ore.-based Gabriel Consulting Group, disagreed.

“I don’t think Intel has shipped any [Sandy Bridge] chipsets for mobile yet,” Olds said. “I haven’t heard any chatter from the major players [about upcoming notebooks that use the chipsets], like Dell, for example.”

The unknown, of course, is when Apple was planning to launch revamped MacBook Pro models that rely on the Sandy Bridge architecture, and thus, the flawed chipsets.

Most close Apple watchers have been expecting an imminent refresh. Although Apple doesn’t hew to a set schedule for upgrades, the last time it boosted the MacBook Pro was in April 2010, nearly 300 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Updated MacBook Pro units may be in the pipeline

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 07:54
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Good things come to those who wait.

Per the cool cats at MacRumors, Apple could be preparing to refresh the MacBook Pro product line amid reports that stocks of the 15″ and 17″ models are running low.

The site is claiming that both Apple Stores and third-party retailer supplies are dwindling, suggesting that stocks are being run down in preparation for new models.

Amazon.com says that customers ordering some variants of the MacBook Pro, particularly the 17″ model, will have a long wait, quoting delivery times of between one and two months.

There appear to be some left on the site, though several lines are down to the last few units.

The MacBook Pro line got its last refresh in April of 2010 with the introduction of Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors. It is widely expected that the next refresh of the MacBook Pro line will happen in the next few months.

Rumor: Apple to release redesigned MacBook Pro, iMac units in first half of 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:44
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Since it’s the rumors that keep you hankering for new technology, here we go:

Per Taiwanese technology industry publication Digitimes, sources from “upstream component makers” indicate that Apple will introduce the upgraded models in the first half of next year.

The Mac maker reportedly plans to launch “at least four upgraded MacBook Pros” with a “slight change” in chassis design and an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The upgraded iMac is expected to feature “a new panel size and a price point for the mainstream market,” according to the report.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at the “Back to the Mac” event in October. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will incorporate features brought back to the Mac from iOS, such as App Home Screens, full-screen apps, and expanded multi-touch gestures. According to Jobs, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the summer of 2011.

The first day of summer in 2011 is June 22, which would fit within the first half of 2011 timeframe from Digitimes’ most recent report. The report’s sources believe that the MacBook Pro upgrades will help Apple’s notebook shipments grow 30-40 percent year over year in 2011.

Other details were sparse in the report, however, next year’s Macs are generally expected to utilize Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel reportedly plans to formally unveil the new processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5th, 2011.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in July that the company had decided to accelerate production in response to the “very strong reception” of Sandy Bridge CPUs by the chipmaker’s customers.

Rumor: Apple may rely on Intel’s Sandy Bridge line for next-gen notebook CPUs, AMD for graphics processing

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 06:08
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Per CNET, Apple will use Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs in its future notebooks. Interestingly enough, some of these forthcoming machines might rely solely on Intel’s chip for both general and graphical processing tasks.

That’s the word from the usual “sources familiar with Apple’s plans,” who expect “MacBook models with screen sizes of 13″ and below” to eschew the inclusion of a discrete GPU and ride their luck on the improved graphical performance of Intel’s upcoming do-it-all chip. There are currently no sub-13.3″ MacBooks, so the suggestion of one is surely intriguing.

The key point here is that NVIDIA’s being left out of the Apple party, because MacBook Pros are also predicted to switch up to AMD-provided graphics hardware. All these changes should be taking place with Apple’s next refresh, which is naturally expected at some point in the new year.

Even so, this could all be just a massive negotiating ploy to get NVIDIA to play nicer with its pricing, we’re inclined to believe Intel has finally gotten its integrated graphics up to a level where it pleases the discerning tastemakers at Apple.

2011 MacBook Pro may include Light Peak, USB 3.0, do away with DVD drives

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 06:46
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Back in 1998, Apple veered its user base away from the floppy disk drive, whether people were ready or not.

This could happen again next year, if to a smaller degree.

According to Three Guys and a Podcast, Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro will likely arrive in April 2011 with a new design inspired by the latest slim-line MacBook Air. That means that the high-end laptops will probably dispense with spinning drives altogether and come equipped only with solid-state drives of up to 512GB capacity.

With the internal speed bottlenecks reduced by the flash memory drives and new Sandy Bridge CPUs, Apple will also work on speeding up the external communication interfaces. The much-sought-after Light Peak port technology may finally debut on the MBP, as will USB 3.0. The fate of Firewire is unknown at this time, but it seems unlikely to make the cut, especially if Light Peak is included. The one exception may be if Apple keeps one of the current generation 15″ machines in the lineup as an entry model. If the 13″ MBP also remains in the lineup, the new interfaces, CPUs and perhaps a higher resolution display will be what set it apart from the similarly sized Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you’d make of such a notebook in the comments.

Apple, authorized resellers offer Black Friday savings on desktop Macs, notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:40
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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Black Friday has begun and so have the discounts.

Per iPodNN, Apple is presently offering US$101 off certain Macs, albeit authorized resellers are offering up to $150 off white MacBooks, $270 off MacBook Pros, $180 off iMacs, $130 off MacBook Airs and $100 off Mac minis.

Apple’s Black Friday sale offers US$101 off MacBook Pros, iMacs and 13-inch MacBook Airs, in addition to US$41 off iPads, up to US$21 off iPod nanos, and up to US$41 off iPod touches, plus a handful of accessory deals. In every case but the iPad, however, resellers have well undercut Apple, as can be seen in AppleInsider’s Mac Pricing Guide, below.

White 13-inch MacBooks:
For its part, MacConnection (Black Friday sale) maintains the lowest price on the sole white MacBook, blowing out units at US$849.99 (a US$149 discount).

MacBook Airs:
Long-time reseller MacMall has teamed up with AppleInsider to offer its readers an additional, exclusive 2% discount off Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs when using the links in this article or the price guide. Unlike MacConnection, whose deals are tied to mail-in-rebates, MacMall’s Black Friday savings all run off instant discounts, meaning the prices you see on the reseller’s website are the prices you pay, no rebates needed.

The exclusive coupons on the Airs bring the bringing the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 64GB to US$929.04 (US$70 savings), the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,116.22 (US$83 savings), the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,174.04 (US$125 savings), and the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 256GB to US$1,468.04 (US$131 savings).

MacBook Pros:
For MacBook Pros, MacConnection continues to extend the best deals across the board with its mail-in-rebates. Among the standouts are the 2.66GHz 13″ MacBook Pro for US$1,299 (US$200 savings), the 2.4GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,599 (US$200 savings), the 2.53GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,579 (US$240 savings), and the 2.53GHz 17″ MacBook Pro for US$2,029 (US$270 savings).

iMacs:
MacConnection is also offering the 3.06GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,049.00 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,349 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 27.0″ iMac for US$1,529 (US$170 savings), and the 2.80GHz 27.0″ iMac quad-core for US$1,819.00 (US$180 savings).

Mac minis:
MacConnection is also offering the 2.40GHz Mac mini for US$599 (US$100 savings), with a strict limit of 1 per customer. Amazon, however, has matched the US$599 pricing without imposing a limit. For the 2.66GHz Mac mini Server, MacMall, Amazon, and B&H Photo have the lowest pricing at US$954 (US$45 savings).

Mac Pros:
When it comes to Mac Pros, a handful of resellers are offering similar pricing on the 2.80GHz 4-Core and 2.40GHz 8-Core models. For its part, MacMall has taken US$400 off the high-end 2.66GHz 12-Core Mac Pro

It should also be noted the both MacConnection and MacMall are offering free shipping and free printers with each Mac purchase. MacMall is also offering a free copy of Parallels Desktop 6 with each Mac purchase. Both offers are tied to rebates.

If you’ve seen any memorable Black Friday Mac deals in your area, please let us know.

Apple releases firmware updates for mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 04:39
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released two EFI firmware updates for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebook line. The MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.0, available for the 13″ MacBooks and MacBook Pros released earlier this year, resolve an issue that had caused purple discoloration when some systems were connected to an external display.

The EFI firmware downloads are available directly from Apple’s support site or via Software Update and are also available as a 1.98 megabyte download.

If you’ve tried the new updates, please let us know how they went and if anything caught fire.

Media Event: Apple releases updated MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Aperture 3.1, iLife ’11, Pro Kit refinements and FaceTime for Mac OS X

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Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 19:05
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Proving good on a good numbers of the rumors surrounding the event, Apple offered a slew of goodies at its October 20th announcements including an updated MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air and a slew of software goodies.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple surprised its audience by releasing a faster build-to-order MacBook Pro. For an additional US$200, customers can upgrade the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro to a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor from a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 chip. The same upgrade is also available for the sole 2.53GHz 17-inch model for a US$400 premium. An upgrade on that model to a 2.66GHz Core i7 remains, priced at US$200.

In addition, Apple on Wednesday released a number of software updates related to the release of the new MacBook Air models, as well as the iLife ’11 suite. Those who pick up the newly released MacBook Air have Software Update 1.0, a 368KB download available via Mac OS X’s Software Update function, already available for them.

The update resolves an issue where the system becomes unresponsive while playing a movie trailer in iMovie. It also fixes a problem where the system becomes unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display is connected. It is recommended for all late-2010 MacBook Air models.

During the event, Apple also released Aperture 3.1, a 357.55MB download that improves overall stability and performance, and also addresses compatibility with the newly release iLife ’11 suite.

Fixes and changes include the following:
- Performance when opening large libraries.

- Performance when exporting heavily-adjusted images.

- Importing iPhoto Libraries.

- Relinking to referenced images after importing an iPhoto Library.

- Importing photos and videos from iPhone or iPad.

- Upgrading libraries with images containing Spot & Patch adjustments.

- Duplicate detection of audio and video files.

- Face detection on RAW+JPEG pairs.

- Rendering of thumbnails used in Faces view.

- Rendering of images scaled to below 100% in Viewer.

- Image quality on straightened images.

- Applying Red Eye correction.

- Rendering thumbnails when reprocessing masters.

- Searching libraries containing a large number of keywords.

- Applying photos to GPS track paths.

- Export of GPS data when using Export Metadata command.

- Handling of color profiles in Print dialog when using Loupe.

- Applying and removing slideshow Photo Effects.

- Slideshows containing video clips.

- Tethered capture.

- Library database reliability.

- Library repair.

- Updating vaults.

During the media event, Apple also issued ProKit 6.0 for Snow Leopard. The 13.5MB downloadadds the following fixes and changes to Apple’s professional applications:
- Improves reliability for browsing iPhoto libraries in Aperture.

- Addresses cosmetic issue with appearance of disclosure triangles in Aperture.

- Fixes a problem in Logic Pro and MainStage where numeric parameters display incorrect information.

The update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express, Soundtrack, Logic Studio, Logic Pro, MainStage, WaveBurner and Logic Express.

The highlight of the event came when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, which Jobs came after the company asked itself “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” The company then announced the release two new MacBook Airs with 11.6″ and 13.3″ screens, instant-on capabilities, starting at just $999 which are now available.

The new MacBook Air has no optical drive and no hard drive, which allows instant-on capabilities. The MacBook Air has memory up to two times faster that is more reliable and 90% smaller and lighter, Jobs said.

Both models feature a forward-facing FaceTime camera, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics.

The new 13″ model boasts a 7 hour of battery life with 30 days of standby time and features a full-size keyboard and a full-size glass trackpad as well. The 13.3″ display is 1440-by-900 pixels, and the model weighs just 2.9 pounds.

The larger model starts at US$1,299 for 128GB of storage with a 1.86GHZ processor. Doubling the storage to 256GB is US$1,599.

The 11″ model has a display resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It’s just as thin, but is even lighter, at just 2.3 pounds.

The low-end model has a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo and 64GB of storage for US$999. a higher-end model with a 128GB drive retails for US$1,199.

Memory, rather than being enclosed in a solid state drive, is situated directly on the motherboard, allowing Apple to save space within the notebook. Jobs showed the inside of the MacBook Air, demonstrating that most of the space inside is used for the batteries.

The new MacBook Air measures an incredibly thin 0.11″ at its thinnest point and 0.68″ at its thickest, and weighs just 2.3 pounds for the 11″ model and 2.9 pounds for the 13″. Like the iPad, MacBook Air was designed from the ground up to use flash storage exclusively.

Along with the full-sized keyboard, as well as the standard Multi-Touch trackpad found on Apple’s MacBook Pro, the unit also include built-in FaceTime camera for communication with iOS-based devices as well as other Macs.

Full specs include the following:
Size and weight
Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
Width: 11.8″ (29.95 cm)
Depth: 7.56″ (19.2 cm)
Weight: 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)

Processor and memory:
- 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache; or optional 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache.

- 800MHz frontside bus.

- 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM onboard (4GB maximum).

Storage:
- 64GB

- 128GB

Display:
11.6″ (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors

Supported resolutions:
1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, 1280 by 720, 1024 by 576 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio

Graphics and video support:
- Mini DisplayPort

- Pure digital video output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- HDMI output using a third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (sold separately)

- NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main
memory

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors

- FaceTime camera

Keyboard and trackpad:
- Full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)

- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities

Peripheral connections:
- USB 2.0

- Mini DisplayPort

- MagSafe

- USB 2.0

- Headphone

- Microphone

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Omnidirectional microphone

- Headphone minijack

- Support for Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic

Communications:
- AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking4 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology

- Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

Battery and power:
- Built-in 35-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 45W MagSafe power adapter with cable management system

- MagSafe power port

Environmental:
Per Apple, the MacBook Air achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements. Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Pricing & Availability:

The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are immediately available through the Apple Store at apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 1.4 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $999 (US) with a 128GB model for US$1,199 (US).

The 1.86 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US) with a 256GB model for US$1,599 (US).

Configure-to-order options and accessories include faster processors, 4GB of memory, MacBook Air SuperDrive and a USB Ethernet Adapter.

Apple announces “Back to the Mac” media event for October 20th

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Date: Thursday, October 14th, 2010, 05:41
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Rumor, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple announced that the company will hold a special media event next Wednesday to reveal its latest offerings in the Mac space, which may include new MacBook Airs, a preview of Mac OS X 10.7, and an unveiling of iLife and iWork ’11.

Per AppleInsider, the event is set to begin at 10:00 am Pacific time on Wednesday, October 20th in the Town Hall on Apple’s Cupertino Campus.

MacBook Air:
Persistent rumors out of the Far East have suggested Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. Those reports claim that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a larger 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6: display first cropped up in July. It was said the redesigned hardware will be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6″ Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction.

iLife and iWork:
In addition to the introduction of a new MacBook Air, Apple’s iLife suite of digital lifestyle applications and its iWork suite of productivity software are also due for a revamp. The last update to both offers came in January of 2009.

At least one recent discovery has suggested that a iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be launched for iOS devices, like the iPhone and iPad.

Mac OS X 10.7:
Meanwhile, a copy of Apple’s official invitation for next week’s event appears to show a lion peering out from behind the company’s iconic logo.

This appears to suggest that Apple may provide the first preview of its next-generation Mac OS X 10.7 operating system given that all of its predecessors have been nicknamed after large felines.

Distributions of Mac OS X 10.7 have been making the rounds inside Apple under the internal code-name “Barolo” (named after the prestigious Italian wines from the Piedmont region) since early 2010, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Those same people have said that Apple initially hoped to preview the software during this past June’s Worldwide Developers Conference but was forced to relinquish those plans when it was forced to pull resources off the project temporarily to help finalize iOS 4.0 in time for the summer’s iPhone 4 launch.

Other possibilities for the event include possible processor and graphics speed bumps for the MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. For example, both the 13″ MacBook and MacBook Pro still lack Intel’s latest generation of Core i3 microprocessors.

If you have any thoughts on what the new announcements will bring, let us know and stay tuned for continued coverage of the event!