Rumor: Apple prepping ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook for Q2 2012

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 04:31
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The nice thing with rumors: there’s generally a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered a “small volume” of components for a 15-inch ultra-thin notebook that could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012.

Upstream suppliers are said to have begun shipping the components this month, though it remains unclear whether the final version of the 15-inch laptop will be marketed as a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro. Based on the timing of the order, sources believe that mass shipments of the device will begin in March of next year.

However, it should be noted that the publication has, as of late, had spotty reliability when it comes to Apple product predictions, though it claims to be well-connected in the Asian supply chain.

Late last month, it was reported that Apple was finishing up a “test phase” for a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook. The Mac maker is also rumored to be developing a 17-inch ultraportable MacBook, though such a machine was not mentioned in Tuesday’s report.

According to sources close to the story, Apple appears poised to move its MacBook Pro lines more toward the MacBook Air next year. The company is believed to be interested in bringing features, including instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures and the omission of optical drives, to the MacBook Pro in future designs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to telegraph such a move last year when he said that the MacBook Air, which had been redesigned to incorporate standout features from the iPad, represented the “future of the MacBook.”

The MacBook Air’s portion of Apple’s total Mac sales saw a significant jump in July after the company released an upgrade with Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge processors and back-lit keyboards. According to a recent analysis, the thin-and-light notebook now makes up 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments, up from 8 percent in May and June.

As of the September quarter, portables represented 74 percent of the company’s Mac sales, despite seeing record desktop sales in the same period. Meanwhile, total Mac sales last quarter were the highest ever at 4.85 million units.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray believes the latest NPD domestic sales data point to Apple selling 5.3 million Macs over the holiday quarter. Wall Street consensus for the quarter stands at 5.2 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may incorporate dual-LED light bars for iPad 3′s boosted screen resolution

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Date: Monday, November 7th, 2011, 08:11
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3: It could be nifty.

Per DigiTimes, with Apple’s next-generation iPad expected to adopt much higher resolution displays, the electronics maker and its component suppliers are reportedly challenged with designing new backlight solutions capable of maintaining the tablet’s existing level of brightness with the higher density panels.

Citing sources within Apple’s Taiwanese supply chain, DigiTimes claims that the single LED back-light bar designed for the iPad 2′s 1024 x 768 resolution display is insufficient for maintaining and strengthening the brightness of the iPad 3′s planned upgraded to a double pixel density “Retina Display” long rumored to be in the ballpark of 2048 by 1536 pixels.

As such, LED back-light unit (BLU) vendors have reportedly pitched two alternative solutions to the Cupertino-based company, including a new design that maintains a single-bar form factor but with two LED chips nestled inside.

Apple, however, is said to be leading towards a second option that proposes using dual-LED light bars inside the iPad 3 — one on the left and one on the right — now that the BLU makers have reportedly conquered initial design glitches that created heat dissipation and battery consumption problems earlier in their development.

Difficulty with the higher resolution displays and new LED backlight design is already reported to have “affected the launch schedule” of the iPad 3. Still, necessary components for the tablet’s production have been arriving at Apple’s overseas manufacturing facilities since the end of October, as Apple reportedly aspires to pre-construct roughly 2 million of the new tablets by the end of December in anticipation of a launch in March of 2012.

In addition to the higher resolution displays, the next iPad is also rumored to adopt a quad-core A6 processor based on either Samsung’s or TSMC’s 28-nanometer processing technology. Other rumored enhancements include a redesigned, smaller dock connector that will allow Apple to continue to shave down the tablet’s thickness, and a thinner, lighter battery pack meeting CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability that will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

If sources are to be believed, the company as of last week had still yet to sign off on a finalized design for the new tablet that will ultimately be sent to mass production. Instead, it’s reportedly been developing two next-generation designs — code-named “J1″ and “J2″ — that each sport slightly different sizes, specifications and technologies.

According to one report, the J2 project is a more ambitious upgraded to the iPad 2 than the J1 project and Apple will “likely to make the final decision” on which model to mass produce based on “its needs” and intelligence on what rival tablet makers will be capable of producing come early next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing ultrathin, optical-drive-free 15″ MacBook Pro notebook

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Never doubt the thin nature of the MacBook Air, as people tend to like it.

Per the Japanese Macotakara web blog, Apple is allegedly prepared to add a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook to its lineup in the near future, with one report claiming the company has finished development of a crucial test component.

Calling the new notebook model an extension of the MacBook Air family, Macotakara reported on Sunday that Apple is finishing up a “test phase” for the new 15-inch ultraportable. Citing an Asian source, the report said Apple has already finished development of an LCD test component for the anticipated notebook.

However, the report also noted that Apple is believed to be developing a next-generation MacBook Pro that will not have a built-in optical disc drive. The new 15-inch MacBook reportedly “seems to fill” the role of a next-generation MacBook Pro.

Whatever name the new portable Mac might take, rumors have suggested the current physical form factor of the MacBook Pro lineup will undergo a drastic redesign in 2012. For some time now it has been said that Apple will redesign its MacBook Pro lineup sometime next year.

Last week, Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup, adding slightly faster Intel Sandy Bridge processors, as well as improved AMD Radeon graphics. The new notebooks were a minor update ahead of the holiday buying season, believed to be an attempt to keep the MacBook Pro lineup competitive until a major refresh occurs next year.

Apple’s future MacBooks are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, and systems powered by the new CPUs should be available in the spring of 2012.

Currently, Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup comes with screen sizes of 13 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches, and all of its professional notebooks feature optical DVD disc drives. The MacBook Air is available with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, and all models feature only solid-state hard drives with no optical drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Prior to passing, Steve Jobs left iTunes creator in charge of HDTV project

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:51
Category: Rumor, Software

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When Steve Jobs passed away, he put certain Apple employees in place to keep things going and make sure his final goals were realized.

It looks like another has been discovered.

According to Bloomberg, Jeff Robbin, an Apple vice president and engineer who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company’s efforts to produce a connected TV with integrated search functionality.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the project, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Robbin is in charge of Cupertino, Calif., company’s secretive high-definition TV project. According to the sources, Apple is working to integrate seamless content search features into the device.

“For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated,” the report noted.

Robbin worked as a system software engineer at Apple in the 1990s before leaving to work on his own software projects. While at software publisher Casady & Greene, he helped to develop the SoundJam MP MP3 player software. In late 2000, Apple purchased the rights for SoundJam from Casady & Greene, bringing Robbin back into the fold to head up the software’s transformation into iTunes.

Back at Apple, Robbin also played a crucial role in the development of the iPod, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is listed among the inventors of several key iPod-related patent filings, though not all of the applications were successfully converted into legitimate patents.

His current role at Apple is vice president of consumer applications and lead software designer for iTunes.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at one point considered Robbin to be of such high value to the company that he worked to keep Robbin’s role under wraps. According to the bestselling biography on Jobs, officially released on Monday, Jobs refused to allow a Time magazine reporter to use the engineer’s full name in an article because he feared Robbin would be poached by another company. The book also noted that Robbin was one of the Apple executives who successfully lobbied Jobs to allow a Windows version of iTunes.

Having persisted for years, rumors surrounding Apple’s connected television initiative have gained momentum after Jobs’ biography confirmed that he had been working on such a device. Author Walter Isaacson quoted Jobs in an interview as saying that he wanted to make television sets “simple and elegant,” just like he had done with computers, music players and phones.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs reportedly said of the project. “I finally cracked it.”

Multiple analysts claimed on Monday that Apple has been building prototype high-definition TVs, possibly in preparation for a 2012 launch. The rumored product would represent a strong opportunity for the company, as some have projected the LCD TV market to top US$100 billion next year.

Apple currently sells a US$99 Apple TV set-top box, but considers the device to be little more than a “hobby.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release official 4G-capable iPhone in 2012

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

When the iPhone 4S was released recently, one of the major complaints was that the unit lacked an official 4G function.

This may be resolved next year when Apple is “expected to join the LTE club,” according to sources who spoke with DigiTimes.

Apple’s entrance into the 4G LTE smartphone market is expected to come as Nokia, Research in Motion and Sony Ericsson also release their own next-generation high-speed handsets next year. The debut of those smartphones will come as carriers around the world launch their own LTE networks.

Just 35 LTE networks are online globally at the moment, but that number is expected to triple and exceed 100 before the end of 2012. By 2015, LTE networks are expected to reach 290 million people, and sales of LTE smartphones are projected to top 154 million units.

In the U.S., competition for 4G networks is expected to pick up next year, when Sprint launches its own LTE services in the middle of the year. The third-largest carrier in America, which began offering the iPhone earlier this month, reportedly expects to launch 15 LTE-enabled devices in mid-2012.

Earlier this year, reports claimed that Apple had eyed building an LTE-capable iPhone in 2011, but opted to push back the launch of such a device in 2012. It was said that the implementation of LTE networks had not yet matured enough to satisfy Apple.

In a quarterly conference call earlier this year, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, then the company’s chief operating officer, said that poor battery life and other issues with current LTE technology were enough to dissuade the company from pursuing an LTE iPhone at the time.

“The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make,” Cook said.

The just-released iPhone 4S features an improved antenna that it HSDPA compatible for theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. That has led U.S. carrier AT&T to advertise that the iPhone 4S has 4G-like speeds on its GSM network. However, the world-mode phone is not capable of achieving those same speeds on CDMA networks with carriers like Sprint and Verizon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple creating HDTV prototypes for late 2012 launch

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Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:08
Category: Hardware, News, Rumor

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Prior to his passing away, Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs stated that he wanted to capture the television market.

This might be the first step towards that goal.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray revealed in a note to investors on Monday that a source close to an Asian component supplier claimed in September that Apple was building prototype models of its rumored high-definition television set.

Munster has long been a believer that Apple will enter the television market, saying as far back as February 2009 that he believed the company was working on a major entrance into the living room. He sees Apple building an all-in-one, Internet-connected television set with access to the App Store and iTunes content.

If Apple were to launch a TV set in late 2012, he believes it would add about 3 percent to the company’s revenue in 2013. With a projected 220 million flat panel TVs to be sold in 2012, 48 percent, or 106 million, will be Internet-connected devices, and he sees Apple selling 1.4 million of those.

With the addition of iCloud and Siri voice control, Munster believes Apple is even more prepared to launch an HDTV in the coming years. With iCloud, users could access TV shows, pictures, and potentially moves, while Siri could “simplify the chore of inputting information like show titles, or actor names, into a TV.”

Munster also met with sources in Asia in January of this year, where he heard word that Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supply for LCD displays. The company is said to have invested in screen sizes of up to 50 inches for a potential television set.

Rumors of an Apple-built HDTV began to pick up steam once again last week, when it was revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked’ the secret to building an integrated, easy-to-use television set. He said the device “will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Apple is currently in the set-top box market with its US$99 Apple TV, but the company has famously referred to its interest in that market as a “hobby.” The Apple TV allows users to purchase content from iTunes, while new features like wireless AirPlay mirroring have been added with recent software updates.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available and if you have any features you’d love to see on an Apple-branded HDTV, let us know what they might be in the comments.

Rumor: Apple in talks with studios to begin streaming movies to iCloud

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Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 06:23
Category: Apple TV, iCloud, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

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Additional movies: They’re never a bad thing.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood movie studios in an effort to give customers the ability to stream movies they own to devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Citing sources close to the story, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Apple wants to give its customers the ability to stream movies they have purchased through iTunes without the need to manually transfer the files. The talks come as Apple has launched its iCloud product, and movie studios have rolled out their own cloud-based movie streaming service, dubbed UltraViolet.

UltraViolet movies can be streamed to an iPhone or iPad using the Flixster application available on the iOS App Store, however an UltraViolet account does not include any movies that may have been purchased through iTunes. The new UltraViolet format lets people stream a film they have purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, and is seen as a way to help boost slumping sales of movies.

Rumors that Apple wants to give users the ability to stream and re-download movies they have purchased are not new. Apple has already secured deals for iTunes customers, allowing them to re-download songs and TV shows they own, but Hollywood movies cannot be re-downloaded.

Previous reports have claimed that the so-called “HBO window” has been a sticking point in negotiations. The window is a deal in which three of the top six film studios have distribution deals with premium network HBO, and under the terms of that deal, outlets must halt sales or distribution of a film when it premieres on HBO.

As recently as August, Apple was still said to be pursuing a cloud-based streaming and re-downloading service, though such a deal with Hollywood studios was said to not be imminent.

The studios’ UltraViolet service launched this week, giving customers access to “digital lockers” that let customers stream or download a digital copy of physical purchases on a wide variety of devices. The service requires customers to create an account that serves as a hub for all of their purchased media, and passcodes that ship with physical discs allow users to access those movies online from remote servers.

All of the major movie studios except for Walt Disney Co. are backing UltraViolet, while it is planning its own proprietary service called KeyChest. Neither Disney nor Apple were part of the consortium that formed UltraViolet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple shifts iPad 2 battery orders from Simplo to Dynapack after leak-prone units discovered

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Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, switch a component supplier.

Per DigiTimes, part supplier sources maintained Wednesday that Apple had recently been pushed into switching battery supply for the iPad 2. Apple moved some of its orders from Simplo to Dynapack at the end of September after Simplo’s eastern China plant produced some leak-prone lithium-polymer packs according to the story. Apple’s use of safer lithium-polymer batteries kept them from showstopper fires, but the recharging problems were enough to require better.

Normally, Simplo would supply about 60 percent of iPad 2 batteries with Dynapack providing the rest. That ratio would have shifted more towards neutral with a part swap.

The issue hasn’t been independently confirmed. Both Dynapack and Simplo are widely known as Apple’s battery suppliers, and Simplo handles the batteries for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Companies like Apple are known to change orders for other components to keep supply up, such as a well known diversification away from LG for iPad 2 displays until it resolved display issues.

A successful swap could minimize any disruption in Apple’s manufacturing, although it still comes just as Apple is likely seeing a peak in shipments as it goes into the holidays. As such, it might be more sensitive to unplanned switches.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 4S RAM to remain at 512 MB, same as iPhone 4

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Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 04:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news is that the iPhone 4S comes out this week.

The bad news is that it may contain the same amount of RAM as the iPhone 4 model, this component showing no improvement.

A new report this week lends support to earlier claims that Apple’s new iPhone 4S does not include more on-board RAM than its predecessor.

Donald Mustard, creative director for Epic Games subsidiary Chair Entertainment, recently let slip in an interview detailing Infinity Blade 2 that the iPhone 4S will sport 512 MB of RAM according to Eurogamer.

Given that a demo of Infinity Blade 2 was prepared for and unveiled as part of Apple’s iPhone 4S keynote presentation last Tuesday, Mustard’s comments are likely a result of first-hand knowledge of the iPhone 4S specifications, as Apple was reported to have provided select game developers with early versions of the iPhone 4S hardware for their development purposes.

Separately, a poster on a Chinese-language blog claims to have taken possession of the iPhone 4S, which he also says has 512MB of RAM. Both reports appear to confirm an earlier article that first reported the information in early September.

With the move to Apple’s A5 chip and dual-core graphics, the iPhone 4S’s underpinnings now largely mirror that of the iPad 2, which also contains 512MB of RAM.

For the past two years, Apple has used the iPad to usher in a new mobile architecture before transferring those rights to a new iPhone. As such, the iPad 3 stands to become the most likely iOS device to first receive an upgrade to 1GB of RAM when it hits the market early in the second quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5 case image surfaces from AT&T store, speculation grows

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Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 06:30
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

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It’s the leaks that make things interesting.

Per MacRumors, a picture showing iPhone 5 cases entered into the carrier’s inventory system, more evidence has emerged that AT&T has begun stocking third-party iPhone 5 cases days before Apple is expected to unveil its next handset.

An alleged store employee at an AT&T retail store sent to MacRumors photos of newly arrived silicone sleeves for the as-yet-unannounced “iPhone 5.” The product appears to be a low-end generic case, as it carries no distinguishable brand, is simply labeled “cell phone accessory” and comes in oversized packaging.

The sleeve features a tapered design with the mute switch on the right side of the device, resembling purported iPhone 5 cases that have proliferated in China for months.

However, the publication took care to note that the cases run against the “growing feeling that Apple may not be releasing such a device” because of recent evidence suggesting that Apple’s design for its next iPhone may be “nearly identical to the iPhone 4.”

Earlier on Thursday, a leaked photo allegedly of AT&T’s inventory system surfaced, showing entries for iPhone 5 hard case, soft case and skin products from Case-Mate. The case maker had previously posted its case designs on its website, but took them down shortly after they went up.

Anticipation for the next-generation iPhone reached a fever pitch after Apple sent out invitations to an event next Tuesday, Oct. 4, with the tagline “Let’s talk iPhone.” The tagline has prompted renewed speculation that Apple will include voice recognition features on its fifth-generation smartphone. The next iPhone is widely believed to feature the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera.

There has been some disagreement, however, about whether Apple will introduce a redesigned iPhone 4 in addition to a new model. It had been suggested that Apple was looking to release a cheaper iPhone 4S alongside the iPhone 5, but recent reports have poured cold water on the rumor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.