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Recent Xcode references point towards quad-core ARM CPUs for future iOS devices

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

While Apple may not always tell you what hardware features are on the horizon where its iOS devices are concerned, the development tools can spill the beans.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, a number of references found inside Apple’s Xcode developer tool point towards quad-core ARM CPUs, hinting at next-generation processors that will power Apple’s future iPhones and iPads.

The references specifically point towards the idea that Apple recently added support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.

Author Chris Foresman concluded that it’s “most probable” that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototype versions of future iPhones and iPads. The existing chip could serve as a placeholder while Apple works on its own custom-built next-generation processors.

Reports have indicated that Apple’s next anticipated ARM CPU, dubbed “A6,” will be built on a 28-nanometer process and use 3D stacking technology. There has been no mention of a quad-core ARM CPU from Apple in 2012. The A5 CPU found in the iPad 2 is a dual core processor.

It’s also possible that the Xcode references signal that Apple will begin using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air, something that Apple has been rumored to be testing in its internal labs. However, Foresman noted that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors are built on an advanced 22-nanometer process that will boost performance and reduce battery life, while ditching Intel would require developers to recompile Mac OS X software for ARM-based Macs.

Apple’s so-called “A6″ CPU is believed to be in trial production for a 2012 launch, presumably in a third-generation iPad. The company is believed to have even signed a new foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build an “A7″ CPU, which would be projected to debut in devices in 2013.

Apple began designing its own chips following the acquisition of boutique microprocessor design company P.A. Semi in 2008 for US$278 million. Then in 2010, Apple acquired Intrinsity, another chipmaker, for an estimated $121 million.

Apple’s custom chips debuted last year in the first-generation iPad, in the form of the A4 processor. That same chip later appeared in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, while the A5 debuted this March in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.2 build 11C62 to developer community, includes additional iCloud tools

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 06:05
Category: News, Software

System updates: they’re a good thing.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple has released a new beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied to developers on Thursday with no known issues.

The latest build, coined “11C62″, and weighs in at 740.2MB in its delta form. It comes less than a week after the last beta of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was supplied for testing.

The latest Lion betas have included iCloud integration, while previous builds required that developers download a separate installer to test Apple’s forthcoming syncing and storage service.

The new beta comes the same day that Apple has warned developers it will reset all iCloud data. The reset is being done in preparation for the launch of the new free service.

Apple has not officially announced a specific release date for iCloud, and instead revealed in June that the service will become available this fall. It will store content such as photos, e-mail and contacts, and wirelessly push it to devices, including Macs, iPhones and iPads.

People familiar with the beta issued on Thursday said the latest build again has no known issues. The focus areas are said to remain the same as they were previously, and include Address Book, Graphics Drivers, iCal, iChat, iCloud, the Mac App Store, Mail, MobileMe, Safari, Spotlight and Time Machine.

Mac OS X 10.7.2 will likely be released when iCloud and iOS 5 are made available to the public. They are expected to be released at an event rumored to be scheduled for Oct. 4, where Apple is also expected to introduce its fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Delicious Library updated to 2.7.1

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 05:31
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, software company Delicious Monster released version 2.7.1 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The update, a 16.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed a crash on the lookup activity panel (only affected 10.7).

- Fixed some loaned items not displaying on friends (only affected pre-10.7).

- Fixed a crash when dragging a loaned item from one friend to another.

- Refreshing an item with an EAN but not ASIN connects it with its details.

- Fixed some broken links in our help (sorry about that!)

Delicious Library 2.7.1 retails for US$40 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Apple begins ordering NAND Flash memory from alternate vendors, works to curb reliance on Samsung

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Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 03:42
Category: Finance, News, retail

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When in doubt, find another supplier.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is increasing purchases of flash memory from Japanese suppliers in an effort to scale back its dependance on Samsung for components, as the two companies continue their legal dispute.

DigiTimes on Thursday cited industry sources as saying that Apple has tapped Toshiba and Elpida Memory for orders of DRAM and NAND flash.

“Apple has moved to reduce its reliance on memory supplies from Samsung Electronics, the sources claimed,” the report read. “The vendor has procured more NAND flash parts from Toshiba, and mobile RAM from Elpida, the sources indicated.”

The tipsters also suggested that the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung has been “key to encouraging” Apple to broaden its supplier base. According to the report, the Korean electronics giant has been the largest component supplier for Apple’s products in the past.

Last week, reports emerged that Apple had signed a foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to manufacture the next two generations of Apple processors. The deal has been viewed as a significant blow to Samsung, which was contracted to produce the A4 and A5 chips used to power Apple’s iOS devices.

Apple is slated to be Samsung’s largest customer this year with a projected US$7.8 billion in parts, up from US$5.7 billion in 2010. The company has become the world’s largest consumer of memory chips in recent years as it incorporated flash storage into its products.

In 2005, Apple revealed that it had reached agreements with several flash suppliers, including Samsung, to pre-pay more than US$1 billion to guarantee flash shipments through 2010. Earlier this year, then COO Tim Cook called the deal a “fantastic use of Apple’s cash.”

For its part, Samsung currently boasts a more than 40 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market and a 30 percent share of NAND flash production.

The disagreement between the two companies has heightened in recent months. According to Samsung executives speaking on condition of anonymity, the company is already planning to target the as-yet-unannounced iPhone 5 with patent infringement suits when it arrives in Korea. Another recent report said Samsung will also pursue legal action against Apple’s next-generation handset in Europe.

Recent gains made by Apple in Australia have prompted Samsung to fight back with a countersuit against the iPhone and iPad. Apple also won a permanent ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany earlier this month after a court ruled that Samsung’s tablet looks too similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 update, works to make amends to Final Cut Pro user base

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Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:41
Category: News, Software

Sometimes an app needs a major reboot to make amends to its user base.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday issued a major update for its recently refreshed Final Cut Pro X video editing software.

The free update to version 10.0.1 was revealed by Apple in a special page devoted to it its official website. The page highlights new features in the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, including media stems export, Rich XML support, and projects and events on Xsan.

Commenting on the update with Jim Dalrymple of The Loop on Tuesday, Richard Townhill, senior director of applications marketing at Apple, said the features were added after the company received feedback from its users.

“We listened to the pros and have taken their top feature requests and put them in this update,” Townhill said.

The full list of features of the new update, which is available free to those who have already purchased Final Cut Pro X, are described by Apple:

Media Stems Export: Traditional, track-based editing systems require you to constantly rearrange and disable tracks to export audio and video stems. With the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, flexible metadata removes the burden of track management. Use the new Roles tag to label clips — dialogue, effects, music, and more — then export a single multitrack file or separate stems based on your tags. You can even apply Roles to video clips and graphics for a powerful new way to deliver separate files for versioning and localization.

Rich XML Support: Now you can import and export Final Cut Pro X project and Event information via a rich XML format. XML interchange enables a wide range of third-party workflows, including high-end visual effects, color grading, and media asset management. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, Square Box System’s CatDV, and many other third-party applications will offer XML-based workflows with Final Cut Pro X.

Projects and Events on Xsan: Create and edit your Final Cut Pro X projects and Events on Xsan. Ideal for multi-user workflows, you can import media through Final Cut Pro X and place it directly on the SAN. Multiple users can access the same source media, and each editor can create separate projects and Events on the SAN. Users can then edit from any system attached to the SAN, making it easy to move between computers and continue working.

Custom Starting Timecode: Set the start time of your project to a custom timecode value to accommodate color bars and tone, or to meet broadcast delivery specifications.

Full-screen view in Lion: Use every inch of your display when working in Final Cut Pro X. And easily navigate to other applications with a swipe.

One-step Transitions on Connected Clips: Add a transition to a connected clip or between multiple connected clips without manually creating a secondary storyline.

GPU-accelerated export: Harness the power of the GPU on your graphics card to speed up foreground export.

New Theme: Tribute: Access the new Tribute theme, with four animated titles and a matching transition.

Camera Import SDK: Camera manufacturers can use the Camera Import SDK to write plug-ins for importing media from a wide range of cameras. For example, Sony is updating their XDCAM EX plug-in to support native import directly into Final Cut Pro X.

Apple has also promised two new features coming in “early 2012:” multicam editing and broadcast-quality video monitoring. No additional details on those features were provided.

In addition, a new free trial of the software is now available from the official Final Cut Pro X site. Users must enter their name and e-mail address and to be allowed to try the software for 30 days.

Apple’s update comes after the company faced user backlash over the new Final Cut Pro X, released in June. The software was quickly met with condemnation from a group of outspoken professionals who believe the new product is vastly inferior to its predecessor.

Apple made a quick transition to Final Cut Pro X, declaring Final Cut Studio, Express and Server — which included Final Cut Pro 7 — as “end of life” products once the latest version was released.

Faced with growing complaints, Apple resumed sales of the previous, US$999 version of Final Cut Studio earlier this month. Orders have only been taken over the phone, and Apple has said it has a “limited quantity” of the end-of-life product. The company has also provided refunds to some dissatisfied customers.

User discontent over Final Cut Pro X proved to be a gain for rival Adobe and its own video editing software for Mac OS X. The company revealed earlier this month that sales of its Mac video editing products saw a 45 percent boost following the release of Final Cut Pro X.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run and retails for US$299.99

If you’ve tried version 10.0.1 of Final Cut Pro X and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 14.0.835.186, resolves Flash Player vulnerability

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Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:32
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 14.0.835.186 for the Mac. The new version, a 38.9 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- This release includes an update to Flash Player that addresses a zero-day vulnerability.

Google Chrome 14.0.835.186 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Leaked town hall meeting notes point toward T-Mobile not receiving iPhone 5 in 2011

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 09:26
Category: iPhone, News

It’s turning into a weird year for T-Mobile.

Per TmoNews, an image has surfaced from an internal news posting with T-Mobile USA sharing word from Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman that the carrier will not be offering the iPhone 5 this year. Brodman’s comment apparently came as part of a September 15th company town hall meeting.

“Our business is working very hard to improve performance over the last couple of years and we’ve had some great success,” said Brodman. New products and value plans are fueling customer response, he added, and Brodman expects the excitement to continue into the holiday season as T-Mobile introduces two new smartphones. Note: “We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman said.
Brodman’s comment does not eliminate the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone 5 at some point in the future, but it seems that the carrier will not be a launch partner for the device.

Several mainstream media reports have claimed that Sprint will become the third major U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone with the debut of the iPhone 5 next month, but the fate of the iPhone on T-Mobile USA has been less clear. Despite a few claims of a T-Mobile iPhone coming this year and evidence of prototypes for testing on the carrier’s network, there had yet to be any solid reports of an launch from mainstream sources.

T-Mobile’s status is of course complicated by AT&T’s efforts to acquire the carrier, and effort that is being opposed by the U.S. government, Sprint, and a number of other groups.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel quietly mentions 4K support, could introduce higher screen resolutions under upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 06:48
Category: Hardware, News, Software

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The Retina Display: it’s never been a bad thing.

Per VR-Zone, Intel quietly revealed last week that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, with up to 4096 x 4096 pixels per monitor, potentially paving the way for Apple to introduce high-resolution “Retina Display” Macs.

The company announced the news during a technical session at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week, as noted by VR-Zone. Ivy Bridge chips will rival competing discrete GPUs by including support for the 4K resolution when they arrive next year.

The company also highlighted a Multi Format Codec (MFX) engine that is capable of playing multiple 4K videos at once. The codec is also capable of handling video processing for 4K QuadHD video, a standard that YouTube began supporting last year.

A set of performance enhancements, with special attention to graphics, should give Ivy Bridge as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current generation of Sandy Bridge chips, according to Intel.

Intel also revealed last week that Ivy Bridge chips will include support for Apple’s OpenCL standard, which should give a performance boost to next-generation MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models when they arrive in 2012.

If Apple were to introduce a 4K resolution display with the 16:9 ratio currently used in its Thunderbolt Display, iMac and MacBook Air products, the resulting resolution would be 4096 x 2304. A 27-inch display with 4K resolution would sport a pixel density of 174 pixels per inch. Assuming a working distance of 24 inches and 20/20 vision for the calculations, a 4K 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt display would count as a “Retina Display.”

Apple first began using the “Retina Display” marketing term with the iPhone 4 last year. Then CEO Steve Jobs touted the 326ppi display as being beyond the capabilities of the human retina when used at a distance of 12 or more inches from the eyes.

In September 2010, the company released a Retina Display iPod touch. Rumors have also swirled that Apple will follow suit with a high-resolution version of the third-generation iPad, doubling the resolution of the tablet to 2048 x 1536.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kazaa resurfaces in iOS form, service recrafted as subscription-based music service

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 05:04
Category: News, Software

It’s usually a better idea to run things above the board.

Per iPodNN, former filesharing service Kazaa has released an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The app allows subscribers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee. It can download songs and save playlists for offline listening. The Kazaa app also provides a social media function that shows subscribers what songs their friends are listening to or recommend.

Earlier this year, Kazaa was encouraging iPad and iPhone owners to use its browser-based service, possibly to avoid the App Store’s 30 percent royalty on purchases.

In its first incarnation, Kazaa was the largest peer-to-peer network in the world. It was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of the four major US record labels. Kazaa settled the case five years ago for US$100 million and reinvented itself as a subscription-based digital music service.

The app (free, App Store) comes with a one week free trial, then changes to a US$10 per month subscription and requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Apple to reset iCloud backup function on September 22nd, may release final iCloud version in near term

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 09:00
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Backing up might be a bit weird on Thursday.

Per iLounge, Apple has posted an announcement on its developer site for both iOS and Mac developers noting that it will reset all iCloud backup data on September 22nd.

“On Thursday, September 22, the iCloud Backup data will be reset. Backing up to iCloud or restoring from an iCloud backup will be unavailable from 9 AM PDT – 5 PM PDT,” the message reads. “If you attempt a backup or restore during this time, you will receive an alert that the backup or restore was not successful. After this reset, you will be unable to restore from any backup created prior to September 22. A full backup will happen automatically the next time your device backs up to iCloud.”

Registered developers have had access to iCloud for testing purposes during the iOS 5 beta period, as the service will launch alongside iOS 5 this fall. A report from last week—which incorrectly suggested that iOS 5 beta 8 would be released last Friday—claimed that Apple would release the Gold Master (GM) build of iOS 5 on or around September 23, which would coincide with this iCloud data reset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.