Apple internal memo surfaces, cites dead pixel/replacement policies for hardware

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Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, retail

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A leaked memo dictating Apple’s internal policy on replacing devices with dead LCD pixels surfaced last week, revealing that the company will replace an iPhone if it has just one dead pixel, while an iPad must have at least three to qualify.

Per Boy Genius Report, the loose guidelines employees must follow when a customer attempts to return a device with bad pixels on its display state that one dead pixel is good enough for a replacement on a device with a screen size of between 1″ and 3.5″.

Apple’s 9.7″ iPad display must have three or more dead pixels for the unit to qualify for a replacement. Things get a bit more complicated with larger screens and devices such as notebooks, iMacs and the company’s Cinema Display demand that a distinction is made between “bright” and “dark” faulty pixels.

Apple Store Geniuses are, however, given some leeway. The internal document states that authorized service providers must explain to the customer that they can replace the product, but that replacement may have even more dead pixels or other issues. Apple will not replace the product again if the replacement product is within the written guidelines.

Members of Apple’s retail team also contacted The Unofficial Apple Weblog to clarify the company’s policy even further:

“If you ask for a first replacement product due to bad pixels, you should always get it, with no arguments and no restock charges (if this isn’t your first experience, ask to discuss it with a supervisor),” the report said. “However, if the replacement unit is still within spec — which for anything other than an iPhone or iPod touch, may mean more pixels depending on how bad the first unit was — a second replacement is ruled out.”

If you’ve seen this on your end or had a similar Apple retail experience, let us know.

Internal memo: Apple acknowledges second-gen MacBook Air graphics issue, fix apparently in the works

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:47
Category: MacBook Air, News

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An internal memo allegedly leaked from Apple seems to support display issues experienced by some owners of the new MacBook Air notebook as well as indicate that an upcoming software update will fix the problems.

The purported memo, obtained by Boy Genius Report, acknowledges that Apple is aware of the issue and is “working on a solution” in the form of an upcoming software update. The company notes that customers have reported horizontal screen flickering on the 13″ model, while users of both the 11″ and 13″ notebooks have reported that the screen fades to light colors after waking from sleep.

The note claims that the causes of both the flickering and fading issues have been “isolated,” but does not indicate when Apple might release the software update to address the problems.

Apple representatives are also instructed to have customers attempt a resolution that involves closing the MacBook Air lid, waiting 10 seconds, and then re-opening the lid to wake the computer up. Doing so forces the display to power cycle, and should resolve the issue.

The MacBook Air screen flickering issue gained attention earlier this week. Users on Apple’s support forums have also reported vertical lines and odd colors on their screens, as well as freezing issues and trouble with the new instant-on feature.

Some have speculated that the display problems on the new MacBook Air models could be caused by the logic board of the hardware.

The new 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Air models were released last month, and represent Apple’s thinnest and lightest notebooks. The new, smaller 11.6-inch model has a starting price of just US$999 with and all models relying on the Nvidia GeForce 320M for graphics capabilities.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype 5.0 beta for Mac now available

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:13
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Skype announced a public beta of its client for the Mac. Per Macworld, the new version brings Skype much more in line with its Windows counterpart in both features and interface.

First and foremost, the interface looks absolutely nothing like its predecessor, and entirely like its Windows counterpart, which got the 5.0 treatment in mid-October. Skype for Mac has shed the narrow-windowed “contact list” appearance—a staple of virtually every chat app on the market—in favor of an almost e-mail client approach. It’s a fairly minimal interface that feels all right (but not great) on the Mac.

A left sidebar contains contacts, groups, and a Recent list that displays the contacts you correspond with the most frequently. For the first time, Skype 5.0 for Mac lets you turn on full integration with Mac OS X’s Address Book from the preferences. This means you can finally call, SMS, or IM contacts without first having to go through the process of adding them to your Skype contact list. Users can also open the Contact Monitor, which offers a compact window that is more akin to the style of a thin buddy list that you can keep to the side of your work.

Beyond the major interface overhaul, the most significant new feature in Skype 5.0 for Mac is easily Group Video Calling (GVC), which first arrived in the Windows client last month. Skype 5.0’s group video chat looks somewhat like iChat’s, but unlike iChat, it supports up to ten members in a single chat (which requires that all parties have a minimum broadband connection of 4 mbps down and 1 mbps up). Skype chat is free to use while Skype 5.0 is in beta, but a paid plan will be required once the feature officially ships. There is no word yet from Skype on what GVC’s pricing will be or how it will fit into Skype’s existing price plans.

Skype 5.0 for Mac contains plenty of other new features, though it is still lacking at least one feature of its Windows sibling, albeit one that not everyone will miss: integration of the Facebook News Feed.

The Skype 5.0 for Mac beta can be snagged here and requires a Mac running OS X Leopard 10.5.8 and a 1GHz CPU or faster, though video calling requires at least a an Intel Core 2 Duo 1GHz CPU.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried the beta and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.

PayPal addresses security hole via iPhone app update

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If you’re in iTunes, this is one more reason to snag the updates for your iOS-based apps…

Per the Wall Street Journal, PayPal has released an update to its popular iPhone app. The fix came into place after the company had become aware of a significant security vulnerability in which the previous version reportedly failed to confirm the authenticity of PayPal’s website, leaving a loophole that could have been exploited to gain unauthorized access to users’ accounts.

Spokeswoman Amanda Pires claims the company verified the vulnerability on Tuesday night and rushed to release an update for the app. The company suggests no users have come forward with reports of fraudulent activity, although any affected users will receive 100% reimbursement.

“To my knowledge it has not affected anybody,” Pires told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve never had an issue with our app until now.”

The update app, PayPal 3.0.1, is now available as a free download from the App Store.

Light Peak could arrive for the Mac in early 2011

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: Hardware, News

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Intel’s Light Peak optical cabling technology is on track to make its first appearance in products in early 2011, with Apple expected to follow soon after, according to a new report.

Per CNET, Apple has expressed a very strong interest in Light Peak after Intel approached them with it several years ago. According to sources, Apple Chief Steve Jobs and Intel CEO Paul Otellini allegedly fleshed out the Light Peak standard after Apple intimated that it was looking into optical signaling as a single port solution.

Light Peak, as we’ve outlined before, is a high-speed optical cable technology with bandwidth of 10Gbps, with the possibility of scaling up to 100Gbps in the future. A full-length Blu-Ray movie could transfer over Light Peak in less than 30 seconds, Intel states on its website. The company “expects to see Light Peak in PCs and peripherals in 2011.”

Per the report, sources claim that Light Peak will make its debut in the first half of 2011, and “likely earlier in the year than later.” Apple, which is described as an “innovating force in the industry,” is expected to incorporate Light Peak quickly after its release.

Early versions of the technology have already been tested on Macs. In 2009, “an Intel demonstration at its developer conference used a machine running Apple’s Mac OS X,” wrote author Brooke Crothers.

Optical cabling would provide Apple an alternative to USB 3.0. Though the Cupertino, Calif., company was rumored to be adding USB 3.0 to its Mac Pro and iMac desktops this summer, the updates failed to materialize. Apple has had the USB 3.0 specification for almost a year and a half. Intel has also resisted adopting USB 3.0, holding off on supporting the standard in its chipsets, despite one Intel spokesperson assuring that Intel remains “absolutely committed to USB 3.0 and beyond that.”

A continued Apple/Intel partnership for Light Peak would make mainstream adoption of the technology highly likely. Intel has the reach needed to drive costs down, and Apple is willing to take risks with new standards. Intel may also be looking to work with Apple to develop a mobile version of Light Peak, which would help it break into the mobile space, where Intel’s Atom processors have struggled for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail 4.7.8 (Snow Leopard Edition) released

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 04:01
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.7.8 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added ability to clear Koobface.A (Boonana.A) trojan.

- Added ability to clear Microsoft Office 2011 font caches.

- Minor bug fixes.

- Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 4.7.8 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 or later to install and run.

Apple ends Personal Shopping service for retail store locations

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Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:29
Category: News, retail

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Apple has brought an end to its Personal Shopping program in its retail stores, removing all mention of the service online and within its Apple Store iOS app.

Per ifoAppleStore, the elimination of Personal Shopping “became effective yesterday and stems from the belief that every customer should receive the same attention and amount of service.”

Originally set up in 2007 as a way for individuals to reserve an appointment with an Apple retail store employee, the company once described the program as “a whole new way to shop at the Apple Store.”

As a free service “where you and a dedicated Mac Specialist explore and test-drive products to find out which ones are best for you,” the program was intended to foster an environment of personal attention within the company’s retail outlets.

“We know the store can be busy, so when you’re ready to talk, Personal Shopping is a way for us to give you our undivided attention.”

However, as stores got busier, the premise of Personal Shopping became more difficult to deliver. At the launch of iPhone 3G in 2008, Apple suspended the program for iPhone-related visits.

“It is critical that all stores follow the same process to ensure every customer has an equal and fair opportunity to purchase a phone,” the company told its store managers.

Since I went out to the Apple Store yesterday during the middle of a weekday and it was basically overrun, there might be something to be said for this.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Jobs states Apple won’t support USB 3.0 in the near term via e-mail reply

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Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:48
Category: Hardware, News

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It’s hard to say exactly what Steve Jobs will do next, so this may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Per Tech2.0, a recent Steve Jobs e-mail sent as a reply to Mac user Tom Kruk stated that Apple has no plans to add USB 3.0 connectivity to Macs any day soon.

In the e-mail, Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Mac users will be missing out, for now at least. Following tests, the speed benefits of USB 3.0 are clear, particularly for high-definition video, music, and digital imaging applications. USB 3.0 offers a theoretical 10X jump over current USB 2.0 hardware, which maxes out at 480Mbps. USB 3.0, in contrast, can handle up to 5Gbps.

Intel is expected to roll out USB 3.0 sometime in 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Second-gen MacBook Air may be demonstrating logic board errors

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 14:42
Category: MacBook Air, News

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This could be a bit foreboding.

Per Cult of Mac, a rising number of complaints from users of the new MacBook Air has appeared regarding kernel panics, video distortion and other issues that could be related to defective logic boards.

Apple Discussion forum user, DanRyb, basically stated that his 11-inch model would randomly display “weird colors in vertical lines” extending across the entire screen and the machine would freeze. He was forced to power cycle the computer in order to recover.

Another forum user, Hobokendippy, reported that his 13-inch model had crashed three times twice with a blank screen and once with the screen distortion reported by DanRyb.

One user has posted a video to YouTube showing a display issue with the new 11-inch MacBook Air.

In addition to the video distortion, Cult of Mac staff have reported several kernel panics experienced on both the 11″ and 13″ models, although the extent of the problem is not yet known.

The issue, according to a testimonial on Macworld, seems to be intermittent with neither a PRAM fix or an SMC reset resolving the issue:

“Sadly, I can personally confirm these issues: Just two days after unboxing my 11-inch Air – the base model with 4GB of RAM – the notebook randomly cut to a gray screen during Screen Sharing and only a reboot could cure it. In the ensuing days, I’ve seen my Air’s screen turn a variety of colors: gray again, tan, gray-black, and – on Monday – blue! (Let’s everyone get their Blue Screen of Death jokes out of the way now, please.)

As I was working on something different in every instance, it was hard to say exactly what triggered the crashes, though Screen Sharing has been the culprit at least twice. Neither a PRAM nor SMC reset did much to help.”

While the issues do not yet appear to be affecting all MacBook Air machines and some number of defective units is to be expected, the growing number of complaints suggests that the new machines may be experiencing a higher-than-normal rate of failure. Apple did issue a software update addressing graphics issues on the new MacBook Air just as it was released, but several users have reported experiencing these graphics-related problems even after applying the update.

Finally, the following YouTube footage captures the issue in action:



If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know!!!