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Apple promotes Arthur D. Levinson to chairman of the board

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Date: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 08:08
Category: News

It’s time to step up to the plate.

According to the company’s press release, Apple has named Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. as its new non-executive Chairman of the Board.

Levinson replaces Steve Jobs in the chairman role, who was briefly named Apple’s chairman following his resignation as its chief executive.

Levinson has served as a co-lead director on Apple’s board since 2005, and has served on three board committees— audit and finance, nominating and corporate governance, and compensation. Apple noted he will continue to serve on the audit committee.

Levinson also serves as the chairman of Genentech, Inc., a biotech firm he lead as chief executive from 1995 through 2009, and is a member of the board of directors at pharmaceutical firm Roche.

Apple’s new chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement that “Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000. He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”

Levinson stated, “I am honored to be named chairman of Apple’s board and welcome Bob to our team. Apple is always focused on out-innovating itself through the delivery of truly innovative products that simplify and improve our lives, and that is something I am very proud to be a part of.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.



Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 beta, focuses on iCloud storage features

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Date: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 04:48
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday began widespread testing of Mac OS X 10.7.3, the third maintenance update to its relatively new Lion operating system that will improve upon iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud, among a handful of other areas.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the first external build of the forthcoming update — labeled OS X Lion 10.7.3 build 11D16 — say the company has requested developers to focus their evaluation efforts on iCal calendars, Mail, AddressBook and iCloud’s document storage.

The 633MB delta update is reported to have no known issues at this time. It was accompanied by a pre-release copy of OS X Lion Server 10.7.3 that carried the same build number and set of focus areas.

Apple last updated Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in mid-October when it released Mac OS X 10.7.2, which delivered initial Mac support for iCloud.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the betas and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple offers Apple TV price break through retailers in advance of Black Friday sales

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Date: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 04:04
Category: Apple TV, News, retail

It’s not a huge price drop, but it’s worth paying attention to.

Per AppleInsider, both Amazon and Best Buy are advertising a US$10 drop in price for the Apple TV. The latest version of Apple’s “hobby” originally came with a US$99.99 price tag when it was released last year.

The new pricing isn’t the lowest price ever for the set-top box. Last November, MacConnection ran an early Black Friday sale offering the device for just US$79.99.

The price drop does not, however, suggest an imminent release of an updated Apple TV, as it is likely too late in the holiday season for Apple to launch a new product. The last time the company released new hardware in November was the Core 2 Duo MacBook in 2006.

Though Apple declined to release a hardware update to its Apple TV this year, it did release a software update around the one-year mark. Version 4.4 of the set-top box’s software added compatibility with new iOS 5 features such as AirPlay Mirroring and Photo Stream. The update also added a Trailers app, as well as access to Wall Street Journal Live and National Hockey League content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple apparently exploring further updates to resolve MacBook Pro battery/Lion issues

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 15:11
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Sometimes the firmware update doesn’t fix everything…

Per AppleInsider, as some users continue to report battery life issues running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on older MacBooks, Apple continues to look into the problem in hopes of finding a solution.

One user reported receiving a phone call from an Apple technician last week. The representative was said to be following up on both an AppleCare call and Genius Bar appointment involving the customer in July, just after Mac OS X Lion was released as an upgrade on the Mac App Store for US$29.99.

“My (MacBook Pro) battery life dropped precipitously after the install, and the Apple support team was clueless,” this person wrote. “It kind of ended there, until the phone call last week.”

The user was given the impression that Apple is still working on addressing the bug, as they were asked to send an e-mail back to the Apple technician sharing data from a number of tests. These tests included running commands in the terminal window of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

“I was told to expect a software update addressing the issue eventually,” they wrote.

Other users continue to detail their own problems with battery life after upgrading to Lion on Apple’s official Support Communities website. One thread has ballooned to more than 1,200 posts and 130,000 views, with more being added every day.

“After a full charge on my 17 inch (MacBook Pro), I booted up this morning and it took 5% of the battery to boot up,” user “DucatiMonster” wrote on Apple’s forums on Monday. “It said 2:52 minutes left, and now 20 minutes later it says 1:33 left. I will be lucky to get a full hour out of this battery that got 8 hours a couple days ago.”

The person later posted that their MacBook Pro, after upgrading to Lion, managed 2 hours and 24 minutes of uptime, most of it with the screen off. Another user, “Nickofari,” said they went through two calls to AppleCare and two Genius Bar visits to troubleshoot the problem, but no solutions have been provided.

“At the last Genius Bar appointment, they said I need to check-in my computer so they could diagnose the problem more deeply,” they wrote. “It’s a reasonable approach, but not for me. If I had an extra machine, I would do this, but as my (MacBook Pro) is my primary work computer and I can’t live without it. Even with AppleCare, Apple suggested that I buy into the US$499 Business Joint Venture Program so they might provide a loaner. Disappointing to be sure.”

If you’ve seen these concerns on your end, please let us know.

Scientists looking into methods of boosting consumer battery strengths via millions of tiny holes

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 08:27
Category: battery, News

Even if you’d like to throw your MacBook or MacBook Pro’s battery through a wall on occasion, there’s hope.

Per BBC News, a new battery development technique could allow batteries for phones and notebooks to recharge up to ten times faster and hold a charge ten times larger than current technology allows.

Scientists at Northwestern University in the US have changed the materials in lithium-ion batteries to boost their abilities.

One change involves poking millions of minuscule holes in the battery.

Batteries built using the novel technique could be in the shops within five years, estimate the scientists.

In essence, a mobile phone battery built using the Northwestern techniques would charge from flat in 15 minutes and last a week before needing a recharge.

The density and movement of lithium ions are key to the process.

Dr. Harold Kung and his team at Northwestern said they have found a way to cram more of the ions in and to speed up their movement by altering the materials used to manufacture a battery.

The maximum charge has been boosted by replacing sheets of silicon with tiny clusters of the substance to increase the amount of lithium ions a battery can hold on to.

The recharging speed has been accelerated using a chemical oxidation process which drills small holes – just 20-40 nanometers wide – in the atom-thick sheets of graphene that batteries are made of.

This helps lithium ions move and find a place to be stored much faster.

The downside is that the recharging and power gains fall off sharply after a battery has been charged about 150 times.

“Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today,” said lead scientist Prof Harold Kung from the chemical and biological engineering department at Northwestern.

So far, the work done by the team has concentrated on making improvements to anodes – where the current flows into the batteries when they are providing power.

The group now plans to study the cathode – where the current flows out – to make further improvements.

A paper detailing the work of Prof Kung and his co-workers has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available…and a MacBook Pro battery that charged in less than 15 minutes, the ladies would love it.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard) firmware update for 15-inch MacBook Pro units running Mac OS X 10.6

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 05:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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It’s not the meatiest firmware update in the world, but it could still prove helpful in a pinch.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple has released its MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard) firmware update, a fix for Snow Leopard users experiencing the “Intermittent black screen or loss of video” issue. The company released a fix for Lion users in October, and this release brings Snow Leopard users up to date on the problem, too.

Apple’s patch notes simply say, “This update addresses an issue where MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2010) computers may intermittently freeze or stop displaying video.”

The update, a 51.45 megabyte download, can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature provided you have a qualifying MacBook Pro and Mac OS X 10.6.8 installed.

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

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 update, includes long-anticipated iTunes Match feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 11:15
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released iTunes 10.5.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Introducing iTunes Match. Store your entire music library in iCloud, including music you’ve imported from CDs, and enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or Apple TV.

iTunes 10.5.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple initiates first-gen iPod nano replacement program, cites occasional battery overheating concerns

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:53
Category: iPod Nano, News

Sometimes you just have to make amends.

Per MacRumors, Apple has initiated a replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to issues with the device’s battery overheating.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker first acknowledged the issue in 2008, offering replacements to customers who experienced overheating. The defect prompted investigations from several international government agencies, including South Korea, Japan and Europe.

In 2010, the trade ministry in Japan ordered Apple to publicize the replacement offer on its Japanese website.

According to the article, Apple began sending out emails to purchasers of the first-generation iPod nano on Friday, notifying them of the replacement program.

“Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006,” the company wrote. “This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.”

The company now recommends that users stop using their first-generation iPod nanos and order a replacement. Customers can bring their iPod nanos an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for help securing a replacement. They can also order a new unit via the web. Replacements will take approximately six weeks to arrive.

The fact that the likelihood of overheating increases over time explains why Apple chose to publicize the program now, more than six years after the first affected devices hit the market. iPod-related fire incidents have been reported since as early as 2005, though the Consumer Product Safety Commission ruled several years ago the the incidences weren’t common enough to warrant a full recall.

Apple had previously said that less than 0.001 percent of first-generation iPod nanos experienced the overheating issue, but it has yet to indicate how much that percentage has increased over time.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or have engaged in the replacement program, please let us know.

Apple releases third iTunes 10.5.1 beta, focuses on iTunes Match feature

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:23
Category: iTunes, News, Software

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After erasing developers’ iTunes Match accounts, Apple has supplied its developers with a third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 to test the new US$24.99-per-year service.

Per AppleInsider, the third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 is now available to members of Apple’s developer program. The company said it includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match.”

All who are testing the iTunes Match service, which also remains in beta, must update to the latest iTunes 10.5.1 beta in order to continue using the subscription service. The last beta was supplied earlier this month, and brought iTunes Match testing to the Apple TV.

The first beta of iTunes 10.5.1 was supplied to developers in October, soon after the public release of iTunes 10.5. Apple originally promised that iTunes Match would become publicly available by the end of October, but that deadline came and went without comment from the company.

As Apple continues to attempt to work out kinks with iTunes Match, the company once again erased accounts Saturday morning. Developers were notified on Friday that their iTunes Match beta libraries would be erased as Apple continues to prepare for the forthcoming launch of the service.

When it is eventually publicly available, iTunes Match will support music collections of up to 25,000 songs for US$24.99 per year. The service will scan users’ personal music libraries, including songs obtained from ripped CDs or other locations, and match them up with tracks sold on the iTunes Store.

iTunes Match subscribers will be able to re-download any of their matched songs on other enabled devices, including iPhones and iPads. Those downloads will be 256Kbps AAC files, even if the original user-owned files are of lower quality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple now offering unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S units via online store to U.S. customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 10:40
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve wanted it since 2007 and it’s finally here.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has begun offering its unlocked iPhone 4S contract-free from the online store.

The unlocked iPhone 4S starts at US$649 for the 16GB model, while customers can also get a 32GB option for US$749, or 64GB for US$849. All three models are estimated to ship within one to two weeks when ordered from Apple’s online store.

The unlocked iPhone 4S is only supported on GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. Users can also obtain a micro-SIM card to use on overseas carriers when traveling abroad.

Customers of CDMA networks, like Verizon and Sprint, should not buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, because it cannot be activated on their networks, even though the iPhone 4S is a “world phone” compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks.

“If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice,” Apple’s official product description reads.

“It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.”

The company warns that a credit check may be required for customers to buy the unlocked iPhone 4S, and the handset is only available to buy for customers who are 18 or older.

Apple first revealed that the new iPhone 4S would be sold unlocked and contract-free in October. The sale of the unlocked iPhone 4S at Apple’s online store in the U.S. means the company met is previously promised deadline of November.

The unlocked iPhone 4S arrives five months after Apple began selling the GSM iPhone 4 unlocked in June. The contract-free iPhone 4 also carried a starting price of $649 for 16GB.

Stay tuned for additional details and while it may be pricey, it’s the unlocked, contract-free freedom you’ve been hankering for.