Rumor: Apple may be looking to move away from Intel chipsets, begin using its own processors for certain products

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, Processors, Rumor

intellogo.jpg

It’s been six years.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

Per Bloomberg Businessweek, Apple has reportedly “deliberated” moving its lineup of Mac computers away from Intel processors, though such a change apparently isn’t “imminent.”

The details come from a profile of Apple’s current state under CEO Tim Cook published Wednesday by Bloomberg Businessweek. Citing two unnamed sources familiar with Apple’s discussions, the report indicated that Apple would like to move away from Intel’s CPUs in its Macs.

“Such a shift would be difficult and isn’t imminent, though it would allow Apple to further distinguish its laptops and desktops from competitors that run Intel’s chips and Microsoft’s Windows software,” authors Brad Stone, Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows wrote.

Apple’s interest in moving away from Intel is not new, but Wednesday’s report is an indication that the desire still exists at the company. Per AppleInsider, Apple had discussions with Intel’s chief competitor, AMD, about switching to its chips for future Macs.

Apple previously differentiated its Mac lineup from Windows PCs by utilizing PowerPC chips built by IBM and Motorola. But in 2005, Apple announced it would switch to Intel microprocessors for all of its Mac hardware. The transition was complete by August of 2006, and starting with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in 2009, support for legacy PowerPC Macs no longer existed.

While Intel currently powers Apple’s Mac lineup, the company is absent from Apple’s more popular iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Intel has instead pushed its own “Atom” processors for mobile devices, but tests have shown that Apple’s latest A6 CPU found in the iPhone 5 outperforms Atom.

While AMD would be an option if Apple were to abandon Intel, Apple has made headway in designing its own custom silicon for the iPhone and iPad. Earlier this year, rumors suggested Apple was looking to use its own ARM processors in upcoming iterations of the MacBook, especially in power-critical applications like the thin-and-light MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple working on modified cases for next-gen iPhone model

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 10:27
Category: News, Rumor

It’s the cases that give it away sometimes.

Per iLounge, third party accessory companies are apparently creating a larger “Bumper” case to accommodate a taller iPhone screen, the second case will feature a new, different design. Citing a “highly reliable source,” the site reported on Monday that though the new case will affect third-party case makers, the design will be “not hugely surprising,” which led author Jeremy Horowitz to speculate the case could include a stand.

Apple stepped into the iPhone case accessory business with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Its first-party “Bumpers” wrap around the outside edges of both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which feature the same external design.

Monday’s report follows up on an earlier rumor that claimed Apple will launch its next-generation iPhone at a media event on September 12. Corroborating some of those details, Horowitz said the new iPhone will be ready to ship in mid-September.

Also rumored to arrive in September is a new iPod touch, which will presumably also feature a larger 4-inch display to bring it in line with the new iPhone. iLounge, however, disagreed with an earlier rumor that suggested a new iPod nano will also be unveiled at an alleged September event.

Rumors of Apple’s next-generation products have picked up steam, as both photos and a video of parts claimed to be from Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone have also appeared online.

Earlier this month, pictures of alleged “iPad mini” engineering samples also surfaced, showing a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display and a shrunken dock connector also expected to appear in the next iPhone. Numerous reports from mainstream media outlets have indicated that Apple plans to expand the iPad lineup with a new, smaller, less expensive model this fall.

As for Apple’s full-size iPad, iLounge was told that Apple currently plans for its fourth-generation model to have a “relatively modest body tweak.” The device is expected to keep largely the same shape while adopting a smaller 19-pin dock connector, a new rear-facing microphone, and design tweaks to reduce heat.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy now offering iPhone 4 for $50 with 2-year contract

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with a cheap price.

Per AppleInsider, Best Buy is now selling Apple’s 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49.99 with a new two-year contract.

The new price is half that of the regular US$99 price for the iPhone 4 with a new service contract. Reseller Best Buy is offering the US$49.99 upgrade price on both the GSM iPhone 4 model, compatible with AT&T, as well as the CDMA variants, available for both Verizon and Sprint.

Best Buy’s website does not identify the new price as a temporary sale. The new price is the same that Best Buy charges for a refurbished iPhone 4, and the discount is available in both black and white models.

The price cut comes only days after Apple announced it sold 26 million iPhones in the June quarter, representing 28 percent growth over the same period a year prior. Investors viewed that number as disappointing, and AAPL stock took a hit as a result.

Apple executives said during their quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that they believe the growth slowdown, particularly with respect to iPhone sales, was at least somewhat attributable to rumors of new products. The company is widely expected to launch its next-generation iPhone with a slightly larger 4-inch display later this year.

The iPhone 4 was first released in mid-2010 and marked the debut of the high-resolution Retina display, as well as the forward-facing FaceTime camera. It is currently Apple’s mid-range handset, resting between the newest model, the iPhone 4S, and the low-end iPhone 3GS, available for free with a two-year contract. Verizon and Sprint do not offer the iPhone 3GS, which means the iPhone 4 is Apple’s entry-level handset with those two carriers.

So, yeah…an iPhone 4 for 50 clams. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened…

Apple hires chip former AMD engineer John Bruno, looks to be expanding mobile devices

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 20th, 2012, 05:29
Category: Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

Give the man a chance and he’ll probably invent something truly cool.

Per SemiAccurate, former AMD chip architect John Bruno, known for his contribution to the chip maker’s Trinity Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), now lists himself as a “System Architect at Apple” via his LinkedIn profile.

While Bruno’s new position has not been officially announced, the profile change is thought to reflect Apple’s ongoing efforts to design high-performance, energy-sipping mobile processors for use in its iDevice line of products.

Bruno’s management of AMD’s second-generation APU project, dubbed Trinity, is well known and it is speculated that he may take a similar role at Apple. As a side note, Apple was rumored to be using the original AMD Fusion APU in its Apple TV in 2010, but the final product ended leveraged the proprietary ARM-based A4 processor.

Originally an employee of ATI, Bruno joined AMD in 2006 when the company acquired the graphics card manufacturer in 2006. He was ultimately axed amid wide-ranging job cuts last year that saw the departure of other high-level SoC engineers. Since being let go, Bruno has been “off the radar” and wasn’t reported to be attached to any major tech companies until Wednesday’s report.

Apple has long been rumored to be looking into moving its entire portable product line, including laptops, to the ARM platform but Apple leadership remains mum on the prospect. The tech giant was reported to be testing an ARM-based MacBook Air model in 2011, though the machine has yet to materialize. Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned in February that the need for ARM-based thin-and-lights was not part of the company’s “post-PC” strategy and said the niche would soon be filled by the iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may use IGZO display for next-gen ‘Mini’ iPad

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012, 10:08
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per Unwired View and MyDrivers.com, rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display continue have cropped up, with one new report out of the Far East claiming the device will feature a Sharp IGZO display and will cost under US$300.

The latest details claim Apple’s so-called iPad mini will be as thin as the iPad 2, according to anonymous sources. The machine translation indicates that the “endurance has also been strengthened,” perhaps referring to the battery life of the rumored device.

The report also said that Apple’s smaller iPad will feature Sharp’s IGZO display technology, named for its use of indium, gallium and zinc. The new screen would be optimized to reach 330 pixels per inch, according to the latest rumor.

Finally, the new iPad is rumored to have a capacity of 8 gigabytes with a price between US$249 and $299. It was said that Apple’s primary target with a smaller iPad is Google’s newly unveiled Nexus 7, as well as the Amazon Kindle Fire, both of which are available for US$199.

But the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire feature 7-inch displays, while Apple’s rumored new iPad has been said in various reports to feature a slightly larger 7.85-inch display. Rumors of a smaller iPad have lingered since Apple launched its first model in 2010.

Speculation on a smaller form factor iPad gained traction again this year in February when The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple officials have been showing off designs for a smaller iPad that has a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2. The report did caution, though, that Apple could be simply testing new designs and might not actually release the device.

As for IGZO technology, it was also rumored to be featured in the high-resolution Retina display of Apple’s third-generation iPad. But those claims didn’t pan out, and follow-up reports suggested that Sharp’s new screen technology couldn’t meet Apple’s approval process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into technologies to help improve iOS device typing speed/autocorrect

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 28th, 2012, 06:47
Category: News, Patents, Software

applelogo_silver

This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a trio of patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered on Thursday show that Apple is looking into automatic typing and spelling correction, while a third application could indirectly relate to the feature.

Timing and Geometry:
Application No. 12/976834, titled “Combining timing and geometry information for typing correction,” describes a process for using keystroke geometry and timing to better detect a user’s intended input.

In one embodiment of the invention, a string of typed characters is timestamped and can be analyzed by a process for use in either autocorrection or autocompletion. The invention also suggests that “baseline typing speed data” could be gathered in order to determine whether double strikes, transpositions or other errors have occurred.

“For example, if the string “theere” is entered and the time between the keystrokes “ee” is less than an associated baseline by more than a threshold amount, the replacement candidate “there” may be assigned a higher score,” the application read.

Apple’s invention could start with a pre-determined typing speed that would be monitored and adjusted in case users type slower or faster than a “typical” user.

The system would also take into account the location of letters on the keyboard and the geometry of the typed words in order to catch mistakes.

“For example, a word that is similar to the typed text except for one or more errors associated potentially with keyboard geometry, such as differing by a letter where the correct letter is located adjacent to the typed incorrect letter on the keyboard, may be suggested,” Apple wrote.

Douglas Davidson and Karan Misra are named as the inventors of the patent, which Apple filed for in late 2010.

Parts of Speech:
A second autocorrect-related patent application (No. 12/976849) is entitled “Using parts-of-speech tagging and named entity recognition for spelling correction.” The proposed process involves understanding the context surrounding typed words in order to tag their parts of speech and identify named entities, such as differentiating between the company “Apple” and reference to the fruit.

The technical details for Apple’s invention are relatively advanced, as they involve a “statistical language model.” That process would involve parsing words, phrases and sentences and would make use of clues like capitalization, suffixes and prefixes and other “contextual features.”

Apple filed for the patent in December 2010. Brent Ramerth, Douglas Davidson and Jennifer Moore are listed as its inventors.

Contextual Lookup:
Apple’s application for “Using statistical language models for contextual lookup” (No. 12/976864), closely resembles the aforementioned parts-of-speech tagging application, but it describes a system for applying language processing to search queries.

According to the invention, a process for analyzing parts of speech could help make searching documents or the Internet more efficient. In its filing, Apple provided examples of phrases and words that could be interpreted different ways and would benefit from a process for forming specific and targeted searches.

Autocorrect Lawsuit:
Apple has put some of its autocorrect-related patents to work in its legal complaint against rival handset maker Samsung. In February, the compiled asserted a patent for a “Method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations” against the South Korean company.

Autocorrect on the iPhone has also entered popular culture by giving rise to several Websites documenting humorous or embarrassing instances of the feature, such as Damn You Auto Correct! and Autocorrect Fail.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“We Want a New Mac Pro” group page gaining traction/support

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:00
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

Apple’s Mac Pro line really hasn’t been updated in a while.

Which is growing disconcerting to some users.

Per AppleInsider, a group of users has begun a “We Want a New Macpro” group page on the social networking site had garnered over 4,000 likes as of late Thursday and a number of comments from group members calling for either a Mac Pro update or concrete information from Apple about its plans for the high-end machine.

According to the page, the petition was started by Lou Borella, a self-described “professional editor and graphic animator” in the New York City area, earlier in May.

On May 9, Borella posted an open letter to Apple asking for “a little clarity” about the Mac Pro.

“Its been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we’re really happy with our new toys,” he wrote. “But unfortunately many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living.”

The letter went on to say that professional software applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite 6, AVID, Pro Tools and Smoke, require “the most powerful hardware available.” In addition, creative professionals need configurable systems for their business.

“The iMac is not the answer for these situations,” he said.

Borella is seeking for a “timeframe” for a new Mac Pro update or official confirmation as to whether the line is “dead.”

“It’s not too much to ask. We cannot wait any longer and it’s really not fair to string us along like this,” Borella concluded, also signing the letter on behalf of the “Creative Community.”

According to an informal poll posted to the page last week, 267 people are willing to wait until “shortly after” the Worldwide Developers Conference in mid-June, while 47 people said they would wait until the end of this year. 143 respondents said they would wait until the Mac Pro was “officially discontinued” before taking the next step.

A second poll found that 197 people are willing to wait because their “current computer still works fine.” 131 others said they would build a “Hackintosh,” a custom-built computer running an unauthorized copy of OS X. Finally, 47 people said they would switch back to Microsoft Windows.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both the petition and its plans for the Mac Pro.

Apple’s neglect of the Mac Pro was especially felt last year as all of the other Mac models received upgrades adding Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors. Some have even suggested that Thunderbolt is Apple’s alternative to high-end workstations.

The Mac Pro’s important to Apple’s bottom line has diminished as the company’s profits have increasingly skewed toward mobile devices and the iPhone has come to account for the bulk of its revenue. Apple sold 1.2 million desktops in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 2.82 million notebooks during the period. Mac revenue for the quarter amounted to US$5.1 billion, much less than the US$22.7 billion in revenue from the iPhone and related products.

Though Apple has in the past been known as a niche hardware and software maker catering to creative professionals, the company has shown a willingness to adapt to better serve its mainstream customers. For instance, it announced plans to discontinue its Xserve server in 2010. Though the company redirected customers to its Mac Pro as a Mac-based server alternative, it has curiously not updated the Mac Pro since July 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 11.1.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 09:05
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.1.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

New Game Support:
- Support for Diablo III.

Application Enhancements:
- Smoother installation process for some versions of Microsoft Office.

- Printing fix for Project 2007.

- Fixed an error saving certain documents in Excel 2010.

CrossOver Enhancements:
- Printing how honours duplex settings.

- Printing fixes to non-letter sized paper.

- Improvements to Spanish-language translations.

- Fixed an error where IE6 in a Win98 bottle would complain it was not registered.

- Fixed an error which would cause CrossOver’s ‘Welcome’ screen not to appear in some situations on Mac OS X Lion.

- Fixed a problem which caused Windows applications to have slightly (four) fewer graphics shaders available than they could have, which could produce graphics glitches in games.

CrossOver 11.1.0 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.