Evidence of unknown iPad models surface in developers notes, speculation of forthcoming “iPad mini” grows

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Date: Friday, August 31st, 2012, 06:39
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, there’s always some interesting stuff in the logs.

Per the cool cats at MacRumors and his own blog, developer Marco Arment he noticed the two “curious entries” in Instapaper’s device stats on Friday, positing the device identifiers could offer clues to the supposed tablets’ internal hardware.

As a side note, Arment said, “There were also a few iPhone5,1 devices, but that’s not a surprise — that’s almost certainly next month’s new GSM iPhone,” but didn’t give specifics.

While Arment concedes the unknown “iPad2,5″ and “iPad2,6″ identifiers can conceivably be spoofed, he has “never had a device show up [on the logs] that didn’t end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device.”

Arment goes on to explain that when Apple first launched the iPad 2 in 2011, the Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA versions were tagged with the internal designations iPad2,1, iPad2,2 and iPad2,3, respectively. Alongside the release of the New iPad in March, Apple unveiled a quietly updated iPad 2 Wi-Fi model with a new A5 processor manufactured on the 32nm process, identifying it as “iPad2,4.”

It is possible that the new “iPad2,5″ and “iPad2,6″ devices discovered by Arment could simply be GSM and CDMA versions of the iPad 2 carrying the 32nm A5 chip, but the developer believes such a move would be unusual so late in the product’s lifecycle.

If the unknown devices turn out to be a smaller iPad, Arment said, the Apple-assigned identifiers suggest “the iPad Mini is, effectively, an iPad 2″ with an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM.

“This is all speculation, of course,” Arment writes, “but I’m convinced: like the leaked Dock connector, this move is so ingenius that it’s most likely to be what Apple has really done.

Apple is rumored to debut the so-called “iPad mini” at a special event in October. Many expect the tablet to sport a 7.85-inch screen and boast a design resembling an iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jury rules in Apple’s favor, Samsung ordered to pay $1.05 billion fine for patent infringement

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 17:16
Category: Hardware, Legal, News

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It went on for months, it got about as ugly as a legal case could possibly get, but in the end, the jury mostly sided with Apple.

Per Wired and Mac|Life, the verdict came in on Friday with Samsung being ordered to pay US$1.05 billion in damages for violating Apple’s patents for its iPad tablet design.

The court ruled that Samsung had infringed upon patents relating to user interface design (like scrolling and multi-touch), as well as physical design. Samsung could not convince the court that it hadn’t taken its design ideas from Apple’s iPad.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the case while Apple has stated that the company will file for injunctions against Samsung products it believes currently violate its patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you make of the case in the comments.

Analyst: Apple producing 13-inch Retina Display screens, may launch 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro this fall

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You love the MacBook Pro with the Retina Display.

Get ready for it in a smaller size.

Per CNET, an analyst citing upstream supply chain sources claims that a high-resolution display bound for a rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now in production, with initial output volumes expected to be higher than the current 15-inch version.

According to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, the display purportedly being produced for the smallest MacBook Pro features a resolution of 2,560-by-1600 pixels, compared to the current iteration’s 1,280-by-800 pixel screen.

“The supply chain indications are that it’s for a MacBook Pro 13.3 — not a MacBook Air,” Shim said.

The analyst goes on to say Samsung, LG Display and Sharp are all churning out the new 13-inch panel to meet a higher initial volume compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display’s launch in June. Stock of Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop quickly dwindled as supply couldn’t meet demand due to low display yield rates, and only recently has the company been able to catch up, with shipments now quoted at two to four business days.

“With 15.4 it’s production of a few hundred thousand units versus one to two million for the 13.3,” Shim said. He prefaced the estimates by noting volume depends on yield rates, noting that if the manufacturers are able to reach rate of 70, 80, or 90 percent, output of the 13-inch panel will likely be in the “million and a half range.”

Shim also pointed out that the manufacturing capabilities of the three different suppliers can factor into how many displays will be ready for assembly.

“With Samsung, if you look at the new [Retina] iPad, they had fewer issues reaching the higher resolution requests from Apple,” he said. “They were the first vendor to get to volume with that panel.”

The production timeline could point to a fall debut for the rumored 13-inch Retina display-packing MacBook Pro, which is in line with previous reports that Apple would be launching the laptop in September.

Sunday’s rumor comes on the heels of multiple sightings (1, 2) of an unknown MacBook Pro seen on online benchmarking site Geekbench.

Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is identified as “MacBookPro10,1,” while the legacy 15-inch model is “MacBookPro9,1.” The “10,2″ identifier, first spotted in the logs of an online battery testing site, hints at a Retina version of the 13-inch laptop as the recently updated non-Retina version carries the “MacBookPro9,2″ designation.

While it is unclear when Apple will decide to launch the purported device, the company is expected to debut the next-generation iPhone at an as-yet-unannounced Sept. 12 event. Further rumors suggest a smaller iPad will also be launched in October ahead of a revamped iPod touch and iPod nano.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon to hold media event on September 6th, expected to unveil new Kindle models

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Date: Friday, August 24th, 2012, 06:11
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s not the only company with a nifty tablet out there.

And there’s some cooler stuff on the way.

On Friday, Amazon announced that it will hold a media event on Sept. 6, prompting speculation that the company plans to unveil a new lineup of Kindle tablets and e-readers.

Per AppleInsider, Amazon sent out a cryptic invitation to members of the press that simply reads “Please join us for an Amazon Press Conference.” The event will be held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

Amazon is expected to be planning a number of new Kindle devices for launch before the end of the year. New hardware could potentially include multiple new versions of its Kindle Fire touchscreen tablet, as well as new e-ink Kindle readers.

One report from July claimed that Amazon will launch at least three new Kindle Fire models this fall: A version with a 1,024-by-600-pixel display and no camera, a 1,280-by-800 model with a camera, and a 1,280-by-800 version with both a camera and 4G LTE connectivity.

It’s also been suggested that Amazon could continue to sell its existing Kindle Fire at an even lower price point of US$149. The first-generation Kindle Fire was announced in late September of last year, and currently sells for US$199, but now faces strong competition from Google’s identically priced Nexus 7.

The Kindle Fire debuted to a strong start, but demand for the device quickly collapsed, as customer satisfaction with Amazon’s low-priced device was about half that of Apple’s third-generation iPad, according to research from ChangeWave.

Beyond the Kindle lineup, another potential device that Amazon could unveil at its media event is a smartphone. Various reports have suggested that the online retailer is considering building its own smartphone to compete with devices like Apple’s iPhone and handsets that run the Google Android operating system.

Amazon’s Sept. 6 event will come less than a week before Apple is expected to hold its own media briefing to unveil its next-generation iPhone. Rumors have pegged such an event to take place on Sept. 12, with the new iPhone becoming available in the U.S. on Sept. 21.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s talks with Korean wireless carriers suggest LTE support for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, August 15th, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve been waiting for the iPhone to support the Long Term Evolution (LTE)/4G protocol for a while.

It looks like you might get your wish.

Per Korea Times, SK Telecom and KT, two official Korean iPhone wireless carriers, have both been in talks to offer LTE connectivity on Apple’s next handed, officials from both companies reportedly told the Korea Times under the veil of anonymity.

Although industry trends and the inclusion of LTE in this year’s iPad models both point to an LTE-capable iPhone next month, supporting the technology isn’t as clean cut as supporting existing 3G networks, which all operate within a 2.1-gigahertz frequency.

“KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone,’’ said one senior KT executive, who asked not to be identified. Meanwhile, SK Telecom is also reportedly pushing for the same treatment for its 800-megahertz frequency LTE network. It sent this week an official to Apple’s Cupertino-based headquarters in hopes of hammering out a deal.

The number of LTE subscribers in Korea reached 8.4 million by the end of July, with 4 million of them choosing SK’s network and another 1.4 hinged to KT’s. The two iPhone providers, along with rival carrier LG Uplus, have been heavily promoting LTE devices on their network to much success.

The carriers fear, however, that sales of the new iPhone will suffer in much the same way that sales of Apple’s new iPad have lagged behind in the region because Apple has thus far refused to support the local carriers’ frequencies in the LTE-equipped versions of the tablet.

“KT is eager to narrow the market gap with SK Telecom and even LG Uplus in the fight for LTE-enabled devices,” said another KT source. “If the talks with Apple produce visible results, then we will rise as the top LTE service provider in Korea.”

Apple had balked at the inclusion of LTE connectivity in previous generations of the iPhone because because the first wave of LTE chipset were a bit too large and power-hungry for the company’s liking. Since then, more advanced designs from chipmakers like Qualcomm have mitigated those concerns.

In the US, Verizon LTE network uses a 700-megahertz frequency, while AT&T operates both 700-megahertz and 2.1-gigahertz LTE networks.

For its part, Sprint’s utilization a 800-megahertz frequency for LTE saw it left out of Apple’s LTE iPad plans earlier this year but subsequent reports claim the carrier has already forged a deal with Apple to make sure the omission doesn’t carry over to the launch of the so-called iPhone 5 next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Geekbench scores of purported 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro leaked

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 14:54
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

You have to love leaks.

And you have to love leaks about really cool upcoming products even more.

Per MacRumors and AppleInsider, the GeekBench scores for an unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro notebook with Retina display designated by the ambiguous identifier “MacBook Pro 10,2″ has appeared over on the Primate Labs web site.

The profile of the machine accompanying the Geekbench scores includes the same Intel Core i7-3520M Ivy Bridge processor clocked at 2.9 gigahertz as the earlier sighting, but indicates the notebook was outfitted with 8GB of RAM and is running a newer, yet unreleased build of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.1.

The “10,2″ model designation makes it distinct from the existing 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro 9,x models Apple released in June and instead associates it with the slim new 15-inch Retina Display model Apple internally designates as its “MacBook Pro 10,1″ model.

Given that Apple canceled its 17 inch offering (apparently due to limited sales, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities correctly predicted in April), this would strongly suggest the new model will be the rumored 13 inch version of the Retina Display MacBook Pro.

The appearance of 8GB of RAM is also noteworthy because the new design of the Retina Display MacBook Pro solders its memory chips directly to the logic board (below, highlighted in green) rather than offering user-upgradable sockets. The previous appearance of this new 13 inch model only indicated 4GB of RAM.

The unreleased new MacBook Pro model joins a new iMac and Mac Pro model designation that were recently discovered, with the new iMac similarly appearing in Geekbench results.

Per the results themselves, here you go and some things (like the idea of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) remain pretty sexy:



Rumor: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion resource files hint at possible next-gen iMac, Mac Pro models without optical drives

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iMac, Mac Pro, Rumor

It’s the internal files that hint at the upcoming cool stuff.

Per AppleInsider, internal configuration files in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion make apparent references to yet-unreleased new generations of Apple’s iMac (iMac13,0) and Mac Pro (MacPro6,0), both in the context of USB booting options that indicate the new Mac desktops could, for the first time in nearly 20 years, lack built-in optical drives.

The discovery, made by a source close to the story, appears in a configuration plist file used by Boot Camp Assistant to designate the Mac model versions capable of supporting either a optical boot disc, or alternatively, a USB flash drive volume capable of installing Windows to a Boot Camp partition.

While all modern Macs can boot OS X from a USB drive, Apple’s Boot Camp Assistant references the plist to display a listing of newer Mac models with EFI-level support for booting a legacy operating system from a USB flash drive. The primary advantage to using a USB flash drive to create a bootable Windows 7 volume from an ISO (disc image file) is if you lack an optical drive burner.

The file lists a series of Mac models that support USB flash drive booting, referring to each model by its initials and its internal architectural version number. While it includes MacBook and MacBook Pro models with optical drives, most of the Macs in the supported list are optical free.

The list of models (below) include the “MM50″ (the Mac mini 5,x series, also known as the “Mid 2011 Mac mini”, which is the first non-Server version of the Mac mini to lack an optical drive), along with other optical-free models including the MacBook Air.

Two of the models in the USB-boot support listing refer to Macs that haven’t been released yet: the MP60 (the six generation Mac Pro, or MacPro6,x) and IM130 (pointing to the 13th generation iMac, or iMac13,x).

The current Mac Pro, updated only slightly in June during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, hasn’t changed enough over the previous model for Apple to assign it a new architecture designation; it is still internally referred to as the “Mac Pro 5,1″ just like the Mac Pros that originally shipped back in August 2010.

Apple’s conspicuous lack of timely updates for the Mac Pro (and its relatively small and shrinking proportion of Apple’s Mac sales mix) has created the expectation that the company might eventually discontinue its full sized desktop the same way it terminated its rack mounted Xserve, an idea Apple reportedly evaluated as an option.

However, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook confirmed in June that Apple would not be killing the Mac Pro, stating instead in an email to a concerned customer, “Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s [WWDC] event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year. We also updated the current model today.”

Cook’s choice of the words “working on something really great,” indicates Apple plans to significantly update its Mac Pro model, which has carried forward the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

While removing its optical drive would do much less to save space and thickness compared to Apple’s notebook designs, it’s likely that an all new Apple desktop aimed at professionals would rethink its use of slow, bulky and essentially obsolete optical drive devices and perhaps instead incorporate high performance SSD RAID options for a reduced profile.

Apple’s current iMac (referred to internally as the iMac 12) was last refreshed in May 2011, indicating that it’s overdue for a refresh. A new 13th generation iMac generation identified as “iMac 13,2″ has already appeared in Geekbench benchmarks.

Similarly, patent filings reveal Apple has also been working to once again slim down the peripherals that ship with its industry-leading all-in-one desktop, with the designs referenced in those filings having the potential to accompany the next iMac update.

The appearance of new Mac Pro and iMac models in the USB booting support list doesn’t definitively mean the models won’t have optical drives, as it also lists MacBook and MacBook Pro models that do incorporate an optical drive.

At the same time, Apple has clearly indicated in the newest Mac mini and Retina Display MacBook Pro that it plans to get rid of optical disc drives as soon as possible across the board, providing an external USB drive as an option for users who need one.

Users increasingly have fewer opportunities to use optical drives, as the bulk of third party software is now available as a digital download either directly from the vendor or through Apple’s App Store. Apple also sees digital distribution as the future of music and movies, as exemplified in Apple TV, which has never included an optical drive.

The company has never supported any new HD optical disc formats on its products, including Microsoft’s ill fated HD-DVD or Sony’s Blu-ray format, despite initially being involved in the Blu-ray standardization process. Instead, Apple has put its resources behind developing increasingly higher definition audio and video formats that it can distribute electronically through its own iTunes Store.

Apple even developed an alternative iTunes Extras web based multimedia format to deliver the same kind of interactive menus supported on DVDs, with a parallel solution for albums it called iTunes LP.

In addition, Apple introduced technologies intended to wean its Mac platform from optical disc dependance with the MacBook Air, which was designed to remotely share disc drives available on the local network (even remotely install OS X) via Remote Disc and handle Migration Assistant tasks over a wireless network connection.

Modern Mac models can now apply system updates, such as OS X Mountain Lion, entirely via digital downloads, while Apple’s newest Mac models can boot legacy operating systems from USB flash drives.

By ditching the need for a built in optical drive, Apple can not only make new Macs smaller, thinner and more energy efficient, but will also increase their overall reliability, as optical drives become one of the last complex physical mechanisms inside computers.

Apple has similarly helped to pioneer the mainstream adoption of Solid State Drives as an alternative to the more fragile mechanical design inherent in conventional Hard Disk Drives. Its most popular general computing device, the iPad, makes no use of either optical drives or HDD mechanisms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit repair guide posits $500 estimate to replace Retina Display MacBook Pro battery

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 13:22
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

If you want to replace the battery on your brand new 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro, it’s going to get pricey.

Per MacNN, the newly-published iFixit repair guide for the Retina MacBook Pro breaks tasks down by component, such as the logic board, left and right fans, or the SSD. Of special interest though is the battery, which iFixit estimates could cost US$500 to replace “if technicians follow the safer Apple-suggested procedure and replace the entire upper case assembly along with the battery.”

In an earlier teardown, iFixit called the Retina Pro the “least repairable laptop” it had ever taken apart. This is mostly because Apple has gone to extreme measures to keep the computer thin. The battery, for instance, is glued into the case instead of using screws, and the different parts of the display assembly have been merged together, dropping a glass protection layer. Even opening the chassis can be a problem, since Apple uses an unusual pentalobe screw type to hold the lower case together.

So, yes, the Retina Display MacBook Pro can be repaired by the user, even if iFixit does feel that some trepidation is warranted…

iFixit posts DIY repair guides for Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks, advises caution during process

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 08:00
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The MacBook Pro with the Retina display is a beautiful thing, but iFixit has been hesitant about repairing the unit.

Per Engadget, iFixit has posted a total of 16 new guides to show users how to disassemble or remove those parts that stand a realistic chance of leaving the system unscathed.

While that does include some key components, iFixit continues to fly some caution flags: getting to one part often requires taking apart others, and removing the battery carries the very real possibility of permanent damage. If you’d still prefer to upgrade the SSD yourself (when an option) than pay Apple more for a custom order, there’s now a helping hand for your thriftiness.

So, yeah, be careful if you’re taking apart your nifty new MacBook Pro with the Retina display, take it slow and iFixit is there to lend you a hand.

Apple releases Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter to online storefront

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Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, 06:44
Category: Hardware, News

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Hey…adapters are always useful.

Late Tuesday, Apple added its new Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter for newer Thunderbolt-equipped Macs at a US$29 price on the Apple online store.

The new adapter is estimated to ship in one to three business days. It allows users to connect their Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to a FireWire device with the small and compact cable.



The connector provides a FireWire 800 port that supplies up to 7 watts for bus-powered peripherals like hard drives and audio devices and can utiize two separate 10Gbps links — one for displays and one for PCI-Express device traffic — for throughput of up to 10Gbps between Thunderbolt-capable devices and a compatible Mac.

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