Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15094.749908

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15094.749908 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Improved 3D support.

– Ability to easily download and install Fedora 16 from within the Parallels Wizard.

– Support for the Dvorak keyboard, Arabic keyboard and French numeric keyboard layout.

– Improved support for the Swedish keyboard layout.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

AT&T using iTunes, telephone-based assistance for iPhone unlock process

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on Friday’s story, wireless carrier AT&T began allowing out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone for use on other carriers yesterday, and the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes.

Per AppleInsider, customers who were among the first to take advantage told the web site that after dialing 611 to speak with a customer service representative, they were met with a lengthy wait to speak with a technician.

Once that AT&T representative was on the phone, they asked a series of qualifying questions to ensure that the user was eligible for their iPhone to be unlocked.

The unlock process is detailed by AT&T in a PDF document shared by users who request the service. In it, the carrier offers a series of four steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the unlock.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple and is administered through iTunes. AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. Restoring the iPhone will unlock it for use on other carriers.

AT&T’s instructions also include a link to a support document available on Apple’s website. There, users are instructed to reseat the SIM card in their iPhone, restore their handset, or contact their carrier if they experience issues with unlocking via iTunes.

If the authorized unlock is completed successfully, users are met with the message: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

If you’ve been part of the unlock process, please let us know how it went via the comments and thank you.

AT&T to begin unlocking off-contract iPhone units beginning April 8th

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 11:31
Category: iPhone, News

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As much as AT&T may drive you crazy, you might like this.

Per Electronista and Engadget, AT&T will begin unlocking certain iPhones in the (very) near future. As of April 8, customers that are either out of contract or bought contract-free will have the option of derestricting the phone’s SIM slot much like the already-unlocked iPhones sold at Apple retail stores. The only other condition was to have a healthy account.

“Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones,” a spokesman said. “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

The initiative follows a number of complaints that led to Apple’s Tim Cook taking action and arranging for a handful of case-by-case unlocks. Other carriers worldwide have been offering after-sale iPhone unlocks, most notably in Canada, but AT&T until now has declined to do it, even for customers who paid the unsubsidized price.

More incentive exists for AT&T to unlock phones now that its spectrum refarming gives a real chance that its 3G network, and future 4G LTE network, will work properly with existing iPhones. A SIM unlock was previously only useful for those either willing to limit themselves to 2G data or who were traveling and wanted a much less expensive local SIM card instead of AT&T’s roaming plans.

If you go through the unlocking experience, please let us know how it went and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 07:47
Category: News, Software

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Early Friday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, a 7.6 megabyte download, adds support for the following camera:

– Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple releases Java for OS X 2012-002 update, offers potential fixes for Flashback trojan

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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It’s been a strange week for Java on the Mac.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday rolled out its second Java update for Mac OS X in less than a week via Software Update.

Java for OS X 2012-002 appeared on Software Update just two days after version 2012-001 was released on Tuesday. Apple also released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 earlier in the week. The updater, a 63.8 megabyte download, requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

It’s not immediately clear, however, how the most recent update differs from the earlier version, as Apple’s links for more detail and information point to the same page as the old update. Java for OS X 2012-001 resolved multiple vulnerabilities in Java, the most serious of which could “allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox.”

On Wednesday, a Russian antivirus company revealed that an estimated 600,000 Macs had been infected by a “Flashback” trojan that exploited the Java vulnerability to turn the computers into bots. The majority of the infected computers were located in the U.S.

The virus was first discovered by a security firm last September. F-Secure has posted a tutorial on how to detect and remove the trojan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Researchers estimate 600,000 Macs infected by “Flashback” trojan, offer removal/online safety advice

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 08:21
Category: News, security

Even if you’re a Mac user, you have to be careful out there.

According to Russian antivirus company Dr. Web, a trojan horse virus named “Flashback” that surfaced last year is believed to have created a botnet including more than 600,000 infected Macs around the world, with more than half of them in the U.S. alone.

The outfit issued a report on Wednesday noting that 550,000 computers running OS X had been infected by BackDoor.Flashback variants of the virus, as highlighted by ArsTechnica.

An analyst for the company later updated the figure to note that the size of the botnet had reached 600,00. He also pointed out that 274 bots are originating from Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif.

According to a map released by the firm, 56.6 percent of infected computers are located in the United States. Canada was second with 19.8 percent, followed by the U.K. with 12.8 percent of cases.

Apple released a Java Security update on Tuesday to resolve the vulnerabilities that the virus is exploiting, but not before a number of Mac users had been hit with the malicious software. Oracle first issued a fix for the vulnerability in February.

Security firm Intego publicized the Flashback trojan last September. Some variants of the software were even discovered with the potential to disable anti-malware protections within OS X.

Researchers F-Secure have provided instructions on how to detect and remove the malware.

So, be sure to snag the Java update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature, be careful out there and if they do catch whoever wrote this thing, I’ll happily serve marshmallow ‘smores and free drinks to the angry mob that corners them with torches and pitchforks.

Skype updated to 5.6.0.203

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 07:20
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.203 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Automatic Updates

– Improved UI for group video calling.

– New full screen mode in OS X Lion.

– Ability to delete conversations.

– Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

Skype 5.6.0.203 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Five regional U.S. wireless carriers to offer iPhone units, service starting April 20th

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 11:45
Category: iPhone, News

If you felt left out of the iPhone party, there’s a decent chance it’s coming to your area.

Per AppleInsider, a total of five regional U.S. carrier announced on Wednesday that they will begin selling Apple’s iPhone on April 20, as Alaska Communications, GCI, Appalachian Wireless and Cellcom join an earlier announcement from nTelos.

The iPhone 4S will become available to customers of five regional U.S. on April 20. It will be sold for US$50 cheaper than its traditional subsidized price at other carriers, starting at US$150 for the 16-gigabyte model, US$250 for 32 gigabytes, and US$350 for 64 gigabytes. The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will also be available for US$50.

And one of the carriers announced Wednesday, GCI, has a GSM network, which means it will also be able to offer Apple’s iPhone 3GS for free with a two-year contract.

Two of the carriers announced on Wednesday are based out of Alaska: Alaska Communications and GCI. The iPhone 4S will be available through Alaska Communications from its 14 retail stores, as well as the company’s website.

The carrier offers nationwide unlimited talk plans for US$90 with 2 gigabytes of data, while adding unlimited texting brings the monthly cost to US$101 and bumps the data cap up to 5 gigabytes. The subsidized iPhone pricing requires a two-year service contract.

Cellcom offers wireless service in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, while Appalachian Wireless is based in Kentucky.

The announcement of four more wireless partners as an official carrier partner of Apple came on the same day that nTelos Wireless was also revealed. nTelos will also begin selling the iPhone 4S on April 20 to its more than 400,000 subscribers.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

nTelos regional wireless carrier to carry iPhone 4, 4S units

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 07:33
Category: iPhone, News

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based wireless company with more than 400,000 subscribers, will become the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Apple’s iPhone when it launches on April 20.

Per AppleInsider, nTelos is the second regional carrier to partner with Apple, as the company began expanding to smaller U.S. carriers last October when it struck a deal with C Spire Wireless, which has about 900,000 customers.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will be available through nTelos for US$50, while the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S can be had for US$150, 32 gigabytes for US$250, and 64 gigabytes for US$350. Those contract-subsidized prices are all US$50 cheaper than the offerings from the company’s competitors.

nTelos offers unlimited voice, text and data for one line for US$100 per month. Two lines can be purchased for US$140 per month, and additional lines after that cost US$50 each.

Availability of the iPhone to nTelos is possible because the carrier relies on a CDMA network, similar to the technology that powers Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks.

As of Wednesday, the iPhone 4S is listed as “coming soon” on the nTelos Wireless website. Sales will officially begin at 7 a.m. on April 20 through nTelos retail stores, at the company’s website, or by calling 1-888-427-8858.

nTelos offers nationwide voice and data coverage for subscribers based in Virginia and West Virginia, along with portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.

When the iPhone launches with nTelos, it will join AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and C Spire as one of five official U.S. carriers. The one glaring omission from the list of official Apple partners is T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 34 million customers.

T-Mobile’s lack of access to the iPhone is a result of the company’s 3G service relying on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, which are not supported by Apple’s smartphone. Users who operate an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network are restricted to much slower “EDGE” speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.