Rumor: Apple sitting on MacBook Air product refresh until Mac OS X 10.7 is released

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 06:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple is sitting on at least one refresh of its Mac notebook line, waiting for Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to be released in July.

Per Macworld UK, sources close to the story have said that new MacBook Air models featuring Intel Sandy Bridge processors and the Thunderbolt expansion port have been ready for some time, but Apple doesn’t want to release them featuring the old Mac OS X 10.6 operating system. This was released in June 2009.

The Macrumors.com Buyer’s Guide, which tracks the intervals by which Apple refreshes its hardware, supports this view. It shows all portable Mac products are reaching the end of their typical sales cycle, with the exception of the MacBook Pro, which was updated earlier this year. The Mac Mini is also due for an update.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is due in July and is more than a simple operating system upgrade. The new OS hooks users into iCloud, Apple’s new storage service, which offers benefits including seamlessly storing music and personal files online. iCloud represents a major new direction for Apple, which sees it as a way of tying together its various desktop and mobile platforms, as well as providing an additional method for delivering media to users.

In the past Apple overcame the issue of hardware releases not chiming with OS X release dates by bundling CPU Drop-In discs with new Macs. The computer came an older version of the OS preinstalled, while the disc allowed the user to manually upgrade to the latest release at their leisure.

However, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will only be available for download via the Mac App Store, installed on all Macs running the current Mac OS release. OS X Lion will not be available on DVD in any way, shape or form — making it unavailable via traditional retail channels too.

Theoretically it should still be possible for Apple to bundle a voucher code that would allow users to upgrade for free via the App Store. However, Apple is traditionally resistant to registration keys of the kind that blight the life of Windows users. Mac OS X retail releases have never used them, for example, and retail releases of the iWork productivity suite have dropped the need for registration keys completely. The Mac App Store also avoids the needs for registration by using digital rights management to tie the software to a user’s computer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to manufacture Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac Pro, Mac mini units in August

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:57
Category: Mac mini, Mac Pro, Rumor

elmacmini.jpg

In spite of a current lack of native devices for the mighty Thunderbolt port, a new rumor places Apple as manufacturing new Mac Pro and Mac mini systems with Thunderbolt this August.

Per a Twitter post from CNET’s Brian Tong on Sunday, the “all new” next-generation Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch “either end of July (or) first week of August.”

He then followed up with a second post, in which he said that August is “more likely.” He also suggested that Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt would appear on both machines, as expected, though he added that “no details for specs or configurations were given.”

Tong in March correctly pointed to the launch of new iMacs, also with Thunderbolt ports and Sandy Bridge processors. He said the updated all-in-one desktops would arrive by early May, and they went on sale right on schedule.

The Mac Pro was last updated in late July of 2010. The tower was upgraded to 12 processing cores with Intel Xeon processors, making them up to 50% faster than their predecessors.

Just a month before, a redesigned Mac mini was released in June adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to a high-definition television. The Mac mini also sports a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera, all in a size just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin starting at US$699.

The MacBook Air is also expected to receive an upgrade in the near future to be outfitted with Sandy Bridge processors and a Thunderbolt port. Last week, it was reported that Apple is expected to hold off on releasing any new Mac hardware until its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, goes on sale in July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad-native Facebook client close to release

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Date: Friday, June 17th, 2011, 07:01
Category: iPad, Rumor, Software

You love Facebook.

And you love your iOS devices.

And you wish there was a native Facebook client for your iPad.

Your wish might be about to come true.

According to the New York Times, sources close to the story have indicated that Facebook will release an app optimized for the iPad in “coming weeks,” while continuing work on an iPad-specific version of its website.

The New York Times reported Thursday that, according to people briefed on Facebook’s plans, the social network’s iPad app is in the “final stages of testing.” The app has been in production for almost a year and should be available within weeks.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly been “heavily invested” in the process and has overseen design decisions and the app’s unique features. Sources who have seen the application said it has a “slick design” specifically tailored for the iPad and its multi-touch interface. In particular, the company’s developers have focused on overhauling the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features.

iPad 2 users will also be able to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the built-in cameras. “The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images,” said a person who has seen the app.

Facebook declined to comment on the rumored app, though it did reiterate that it maintains “a great relationship” with Apple, as exemplified by the iPhone application, which launched alongside Apple’s App Store in 2008.

According to the company, 250 million of Facebook’s 700 million worldwide users access the service on a mobile device. Meanwhile, Apple has sold more than 25 million iPads since its initial release last year. Apple plans to help Facebook promote the forthcoming iPad app by “featuring it prominently” in the App Store, said a person familiar with plans for the app.

Sources also confirmed that Facebook is working on an improved iPad version of its website, but specific timing of the update remained unclear. The tipster did, however, emphasize that an upgraded website was meant to supplement the iPad and iPhone app experiences, rather than competing with them.

Rumors swirled on Wednesday that Facebook is hard at work on an HTML5 platform meant to “break the stranglehold” that Apple has on mobile app distribution. The company has reportedly lined up 80 developers on a secretive project that would help Facebook to retain control while still reaching the more than 200 million iOS devices Apple has sold.

The two companies have differed at times; for example, Apple was unable to agree to Facebook’s terms for integration of Apple’s Ping social music discovery service with its own social network. But, last year Apple CEO Steve Jobs was reported to have invited Zuckerberg over for dinner to discuss the issue.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 4 flash orders scaled back, iPhone 5 camera system undergoing redesign

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Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 06:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make technology interesting.

Per Electronista, parts supplier leaks on Wednesday supported beliefs that Apple redesigning the camera flash for the iPhone 5. The company has reportedly “greatly reduced” the number of orders from Philips for the LED flashes used in the iPhone 4 over the past one to two months. Although it couldn’t be confirmed, there’s been talk of a switch to a Taiwanese supplier but said it could be a sign Philips wasn’t being used for the next iPhone, or at least not as-is.

The rumor has been corroborated by new iPhone camera parts that separated the camera sensor from its flash. The move is likely a reflection of lessons from the iPhone 4 and general photography: moving the flash further from the sensor reduces the instances of blown-out highlights and effects like red-eye.

Changes to the sensor itself may have also necessitated the shift. Apple is rumored to be using an eight-megapixel CMOS sensor from OmniVision that would be more sensitive than in the past. While excellent for low light, it could also be overly sensitive to light from a flash that on the iPhone 4 is just a fraction of an inch away.

Apple is rumored to be starting production in July for the next iPhone and would likely be winding down the majority of its part production to make way for the new device. Old components probably won’t be phased out entirely as Apple will likely want to keep the iPhone 4 as the new entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple continues initial next-gen MacBook Air production run, begins certifying components for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 07:05
Category: iPad, MacBook Air, Rumor

A new report corroborates earlier indications that Apple will begin production of revamped MacBook Air notebooks this month, while also adding an unverified tip on a high-resolution iPad 3 reportedly coming later this year.

Per Reuters, Apple will begin selling the new MacBook Air in late June with an initial shipment of 380,000 units.

According to the Economic Daily, when shipments of the new MacBook Airs are combined with shipments of the existing model, 460,000 units are expected to be produced this month.

Over the weekend, one tipster claimed that revitalized MacBook Airs would arrive this week, but eventually revised his story to suggest that Apple would actually begin carrying unlocked iPhone 4s at Apple Stores in the U.S.

The report also claimed that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in the fourth quarter with “image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2.” But, it should be noted that the rumor appears highly unlikely and is reported here for the sake of completeness.

While numerous reports of an upgraded iPad 3 with a doubled resolution of 2048 x 1536 already exist, the resulting display would have four times the amount of pixels. Various sources have also hinted that the iPad 3 will not arrive until 2012.

Apple has reportedly begun certifying components for the iPad 3, but component makers expect the device to come out next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photos point towards additional voice recognition features in iOS 5

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Date: Monday, June 13th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, Rumor

If the rumors don’t make technology interesting, it’s the leaks that do.

Per AppleInsider, Twitter poster Chronic has posted a pair of screenshots of an alleged internal build of iOS 5, displaying settings for “Nuance Dictation” and “Nuance Long Endpoint.” In addition, a “Mic on space key” may provide further evidence of the rumored voice recognition support in iOS 5. The features are reportedly disabled for the developer build of iOS 5.

In May, it was suggested that Apple would deepen its relationship with Nuance, which makes voice recognition technology, in iOS 5. However, Apple neglected to demonstrate voice control features at last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. After Apple’s keynote, several sources claimed that voice features weren’t ready in time for WWDC.

Apple has been expected to add complex voice command features to iOS since it acquired Siri, the developer of a voice search app that supported open-ended questions, last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to enter mass-production in June

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for the upcoming MacBook Air, it might be closer than you think.

Per AppleInsider, the second-generation of Apple’s revitalized MacBook Air notebooks are scheduled to enter mass production during the month of June, with an initial build volume hovering around 400,000 units.

Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the Mac maker has placed orders for the production of a total of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs this month.

The analyst, whose industry checks have long provided accurate insight into the Cupertino-based company’s future hardware plans, notes that roughly 55% (or 209,000) of those MacBook Airs will be of the 11.6-inch varieties, which have proven slightly more popular than the 13.3-inch offerings due to their more attractive entry-level price points.

In addition, Kuo notes that Apple plans to wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units, bringing the total number of MacBook Airs slated for production in June to 460,000.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

And a big part of that notebook lineup has become the MacBook Air. A source familiar with Apple’s supply chain stated back in March that the ultra-thin notebooks were then selling in volumes roughly half that of MacBook Pros, as customers have embraced the thinner, lighter and less expensive offerings during a phase when computing is increasingly shifting to the mobile space.

Apple shipped more than a million units of the new MacBook Air in its first quarter of availability, but rumors of an upgraded model with Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors quickly began to swirl as far back as February.

The new MacBook Airs set to go into production this month will move to to Intel’s 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge architecture, with the chipmakers’ latest ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips. With the upgrade to Sandy Bridge, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips found in the current offering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing iPhone handset with Sprint network

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 07:57
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If there’s a good network out there, Apple might just like the iPhone to be on it.

Per 9to5Mac, sources close to the story had said that a version of the iPhone for Sprint’s network is currently in advanced testing. The physical design of this device is akin to the iPhone 4 of today, so this might be the iPhone 4S device with support for all carriers that we have been dreaming up and hearing whispers about. Apple is said to have ordered Sprint-compatible cell towers for use on their campus – for testing – in late 2010. Apple similarly tested the Verizon iPhone against Verizon cell towers on their campus months before the product’s release.

In addition to being actively tested in Apple’s “black labs,” the device is making the rounds amongst Sprint’s research and development department. Sources also say that talk of a 4G varient of the iPhone for Sprint is moving along, but the first generation Sprint iPhone that is currently in testing does not feature support for 4G bands. Back in May, a job listing posted to Apple’s official jobs website revealed that Apple is looking to craft up a cellular engineering team in Kansas City, home of Sprint’s worldwide headquarters. Sources did warn that depending on negotiations regarding 4G, the project may be pushed to late 2012. If the Sprint model is this fall’s model, it likely will not carry 4G compatible radios.

Additional reports have stated that a Sprint iPhone is coming and that it will include dual-band support for T-Mobile. The report also claims that Verizon/AT&T and Sprint/T-Mobile will switch off annually as to who gets the new iPhone model. Rumors on the ground have also stated that the Sprint data plan will be spiked to US$89 a month from US$69 a month.

Keep checking back and we’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Rumor: iCloud service to be initially free for certain customers, then available for $25/year

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:49
Category: iTunes, Rumor, Software

You can have it for free…for a while.

Per the Los Angeles Times, music industry insiders allege that Apple’s forthcoming iCloud service will have an initial free period for iTunes Music Store customers, but the company plans to eventually charge a US$25 a year subscription fee.

The newspaper confirmed on Thursday earlier reports that Apple had finalized contracts with the last of the major music labels, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

“The service initially will be offered for a free period to people who buy music from Apple’s iTunes digital download store,” the report read. “The company plans to eventually charge a subscription fee, about US$25 a year, for the service.”

It is unclear, though, whether the report refers to the cost of the whole iCloud service or just the streaming music feature. By comparison, MobileMe, Apple’s current online storage and sharing solution, costs US$99 a year.

In addition to charging a subscription fee, “Apple would also sell advertising around its iCloud service,” the report noted, without providing details on why Apple would both charge for the service and sell advertising. Sources also indicated that Apple “envisions the service to be used for movies, TV shows and other digital content sold through iTunes.”

Sources stated on Wednesday that Apple could offer general iCloud features free to Mac users who make the upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”), though a music streaming service would likely come with a price tag. Music industry executives have previously suggested that Apple’s cloud-based music service could be free at first, but would eventually cost money.

According to sources knowledgeable with the terms of Apple’s agreements with the music labels claim 70% of the revenue from iCloud’s music service will go to the labels and 12% will go to the publishers, leaving Apple with 18%, according to Thursday’s report.

However, those numbers contradict a report from CNet earlier on Thursday that alleged Apple would keep 30% of revenue and share 58% with the labels and 12% with publishers. That report also cited sources claiming Apple’s streaming music service won’t be available on Monday “but will be offered soon,” though it will reportedly store only music purchased from the iTunes.

Apple is set to unveil the service next Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in San Francisco, alongside a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and the introduction of iOS 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple, Universal reach licensing terms for iCloud music streaming

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:29
Category: iTunes, Rumor, Software

It’s never a bad thing when two parties come to terms on something.

Per CNET, Apple has signed a licensing deal with Universal Music Group, incorporating all four of the major record companies into its iTunes iCloud music plans.

Citing “sources with knowledge of the talks,” the reported today that, in addition to Universal, Apple has also reached agreements with “some of the large music publishers.”

Apple announced earlier this week that it would feature iCloud at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, detailing its plans for the new web service.

It is believed that Apple’s iCloud will deliver a streaming media repository for users’ commercial digital content. iOS 5 is also expected to add new features that make it easy for users to automatically upload and publish their photos, movies, and other content directly from iOS mobile devices.

Apple already offers some basic streaming music and content sharing via MobileMe, but the new iCloud is understood to dramatically expand upon these features and add new ones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.