iPad 2 ship times drop to 1-3 days

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Date: Monday, July 18th, 2011, 06:54
Category: iPad, News

After more than fourth months on the market, Apple’s iPad 2 appears to have nearly caught up with the staggering demand for the product, as estimated shipping times on the company’s U.S. online store have improved to just one to three business days.

Per Electronista, Apple reached near immediate availability for all models of its popular touchscreen tablet on Saturday. The lead times are an improvement upon last week’s drop to three to five days.

Shortly after the device’s launch in March, Apple was quoting shipping estimates of over a month. In April, the iPad 2 began shipping within one to two weeks, with Apple holding that timeframe steady until early July.

Analysts have viewed the improvements to availability as evidence that Apple has overcome supply constraints, rather than viewing the news as indicating slackening demand for the device. J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz believes the resulting increase in iPad sales should help allay investor concerns that have contributed to recent volatility in shares of Apple.

Despite the fact that Apple sold “every iPad [it] could make,” analysts were disappointed in April when the company announced sales of just 4.69 million units last quarter. Wall Street had expected sales of 6.2 million.

“Demand has been staggering, and I’m not going to predict when supply and demand will come into balance, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said during the earnings call, adding that the iPad 2 is “the mother of all backlogs.”

Apple releases iOS 4.3.4 update, addresses PDF security issues

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Date: Friday, July 15th, 2011, 10:54
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.4, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates, which somewhat function as a response to the German government’s regarding PDF-related security vulnerabilities in MobileSafari fix the same three vulnerabilities, the patch arriving in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.4 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.9.

Per Macworld, the issues addressed in the updates include the aforementioned PDF problem within Apple’s CoreGraphics framework, which exploits FreeType’s TrueType and Type 1 fonts to execute malicious code, and a conversion problem within the IOMobileFrameBuffer framework, which could allow code to inadvertently gain system privileges by posing as the user.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Additional sources point towards next-gen MacBook Air launch next week

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Date: Friday, July 15th, 2011, 04:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Ya know, if the next-gen MacBook Air came out today and killed all this anticipation, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Per All Things D, a new report Thursday corroborates that Apple is expected to launch new MacBook Airs next week, featuring backlit keyboards and minimum 128GB solid-state hard drives.

Updated: The report from All Things D corroborates numerous details that have been published elsewhere online over the last several days. It cites “several” anonymous sources as having indicated the notebooks will go on sale late next week.

“So look for an announcement Thursday or Friday, with the new hardware spec’ing out pretty much the way rumors in AppleInsider have described: New Sandy Bridge processors from Intel, support for Apple’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port, backlit keyboards and a winnowing down of configuration options to 128GB and 256GB of flash,” the revised report said.

In addition, it was first reported here on Thursday that the new notebooks could do away with the entry-level 64GB solid-state flash hard drive and offer 128GB as the lowest capacity. Those details were provided in a communication with Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who also indicated the devices are expected come with 4GB of RAM as the standard.

In addition to the more recent rumors in the past week, reports have indicated for months that the new MacBook Air models will feature Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors, which first hit the market earlier this year. The new notebooks will also sport the high-speed Thunderbolt port that already appeared in Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMac lineups earlier this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches App Store Volume Purchase Program for businesses

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:43
Category: iOS, News, retail

While iOS from the App Store have proven to be supremely useful, they can prove to be an expensive habit when purchased en masse.

Per Macworld, Apple has announced the App Store Volume Purchase for Business Program, which offers to businesses the same capabilities that the company made available to educational institutions last year.

With the Volume Purchase Program you create a single Apple ID that is specifically used to manage purchases for your organization. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then purchase them in bulk. (There’s no discount for purchasing in bulk, however; the prices remain the same as they are in the App Store.)

Once the purchases have been made, Apple issues the company a list of redemption codes for the app. Whoever is managing app distribution for the company can email those codes to employees, allowing them to download the app just by following a link on their Mac, PC, or iOS device. The management interface is updated as users redeem the apps, keeping track of which codes are still available, as well as retaining a full purchase history.

In addition to purchasing apps available on the App Store, the Volume Purchase Program also lets you buy custom business-to-business (B2B) apps that third parties develop for your company. These are distinct from apps that might be developed within a company and distributed to employees, in that they are required to be paid apps (costing at least US$10) and are developed out of house. The app developer, who needs to be a member of the iOS Developer program, also needs to authorize purchasers to allow them to buy the apps, at which point the process is virtually identical to buying apps in bulk from the store.

Both cases allow organizations to use third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) programs to distribute and manage redemption codes for apps.

To be eligible for the Volume Purchase Program, your organization must have a Dun & Bradstreet (D-U-N-S) number, a valid business address, and business contact information. Though the program is not yet in operation, Apple says that it’s coming soon and that a full guide on volume purchasing is available at Apple’s website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to receive hard drive, RAM capacity boosts

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:39
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

There may be yet another reason to hanker after Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air notebook.

Per AppleInsider, the new MacBook Air may up the value proposition for customers through increases to the notebook’s standard memory and storage components, in addition to the latest ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge mobile chips, should checks within the company’s supply chain prove accurate.

In a recent note, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his industry checks suggest Apple is no longer placing orders MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM. Instead, those checks indicate that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will include 4GB of RAM as standard, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion, also due to ship on each model.

Similarly, Kuo cited the same checks in suggesting that Airs with just 64GB solid-state-drives may go away in favor of Apple shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard, given that the bulk of Apple’s shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. Contrary to some reports, however, the analyst and proven insider said his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won’t be soldered to the logic board.

In terms of which Sandy Bridge CPUs Apple has chosen for the Air, Kuo pointed to three specific Intel ultra-low-voltage chips (comparison chart) that launched just last month as prime candidates based on his checks: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). Each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.

While these details can’t currently be corroborated, Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple’s future hardware designs. For instance, he was the first to accurately predicted the launch of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air and iPod touch with camera last year, and this year followed up with accurate specifications for the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 production, among other products.

The redesigned MacBook Air launched last October with a thinner and lighter design and a new 11.6-inch model with a US$999 entry level price. The major changes, including the adoption of only solid-state flash hard drives, took the MacBook Air from being a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup to one of its hottest selling Macs.

In particular, the sub-US$1,000 11.6-inch MacBook Air was said to be a major hit with consumers for both its price and lightweight design. In the first quarter of availability at the end of 2010, Apple shipped more than a million of the new MacBook Airs, making it one of the company’s most successful Mac product launches ever.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have something you’d like to see on the upcoming MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Series of UK employment ads may point towards mid-August iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 04:26
Category: iPhone, News

A series of job postings for a number of seasonal iPhone sales staff in the U.K. this summer appear to suggest a mid-August launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Per CNET UK, the ads were discovered on the U.K. employment site Reed.

“Our client, Apple, one of the largest consumer electronic hardware and software companies in the world are seeking full-time iPhone Sales Staff for an exciting project to work 5 days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) for the period 16th August – 29th October within key retail stores,” the posting reads.

According to the listing, only applicants willing to commit “to the period of the campaign” will be considered.

Given the proscribed seasonality for the new employees, the sales staff appear to be extra help brought on to handle an influx of customers during the launch of Apple’s so-called iPhone 5. Though the listing by no means serves as concrete evidence of mid-August launch, it does indicate that, at least in the U.K. retail preparations for the new device are ramping up through the summer and into the fall.

Successful candidates would attend a “4 day training event” in London from August 9 to 12. The job pays £75 per day and involves working to “generate and grow iPhone sales and ensure sales targets are met” while providing a “first class customer service experience.”

Gekko, the recruiter who posted the listings, boasts several years of experience working with Apple. The company’s website boasts of a “Most Innovative Campaign” award for a staffing campaign for Apple that brought in “nearly £2 million in hardware sales alone.”

The mid-August timeframe would line up with indications from suppliers on Wednesday that Apple’s next iPhone will launch in the third quarter of calendar 2011. Bloomberg reported last month that the next iPhone will go on sale in September and feature an A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

According to recent reports, Apple plans to build 25 million units of the next iPhone by the end of this year. The device is expected to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor and sport wireless baseband chips from Qualcomm. It should also be noted that some analysts expect the next-generation iPhone to arrive in late September or possibly as late as the fourth quarter of this year.

Earlier this month, component suppliers claimed Pegatron had been contracted to produce 15 million units of the new handset. However, a new report on Wednesday suggested Pegatron’s share of next-gen iPhone production may be closer to 10 million as rival manufacturer Foxconn has exerted efforts to protect its orders.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Aperture 3.1.3 update

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 04:56
Category: News, Software

Early Thursday, Apple released version 3.1.3 of Aperture, its pro-grade image editing application. The new version, a 292 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability and performance when syncing web-published albums.

- Slideshow exports are now handled as a background operation.

- Crop tool now correctly supports use of gestures to define crop size.

- Gesture support can now be enabled or disabled in Preferences.

- Fixes an issue that could cause a blank sheet to display when placing a book or print order.

- Published MobileMe, Facebook and Flickr albums now appear in a Web section in the Projects Inspector.

- Shift-clicking snapshots on the Faces corkboard now allows you to make contiguous selections.

- Metadata presets are now correctly applied to imported audio files.

- Fixes an issue that could cause Aperture to quit unexpectedly when trimming audio in full screen mode.

- Resolves various issues when adding names to Faces using accented, Japanese, Korean or Simplified Chinese characters.

- Improves stability when browsing video clips.

- Addresses reliability of library repair and rebuild.

Aperture retails for US$199 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’re tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know via the comments.

Microsoft to open 75 retail locations over next 2-3 years

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Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, 13:16
Category: News, Retail Store

microsoftlogo.jpg

If you can’t beat ‘em, follow their lead and eventually try to take them down.

Per Neowin, Microsoft plans to massively expand its retail presence to take in the U.S. in the next 2 to 3 years, with an aggressive goal of 75 new stores to take on Apple’s own retail operations.

The plans are said to be part of the company’s effort to expand the “Microsoft story,” an initial map showing clusters of stores in California, Texas, Florida and the Northeast.

Microsoft gave a presentation at its Worldwide Partner Conference on Wednesday. Currently, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has a total of 11 stores across America, mostly in California, with a new one that just opened in Los Angeles.

“Also shown off during this presentation was that an Apple retailer in Latin America was showing off Apple hardware running Windows 7,” the report said. “Microsoft used this to poke fun that Apple makes fantastic hardware but their OS is still behind Windows 7.”

Microsoft first announced in early 2009 that the company planned to open new retail stores, in an approach that mimics Apple’s own wildly successful retail operations. The company pushed hard with viral marketing buzz, and even poached employees from Apple’s retail operations with the promise of pay raises and compensation for moving expenses.

In a recent instance, Microsoft was able to court an Apple retail market manager who had recently left the company. That person said they were offered a pay raise and were then allegedly asked to contact employees they had previously worked with at Apple in an effort to recruit them.

Little has been said of Microsoft’s retail operations since their debut in 2009, but Wednesday’s latest development indicates that the company has high hopes for the future of its brick-and-mortar ventures. The news comes as it was revealed that Apple single-handedly accounted for one fifth of all sales growth by publicly traded American retailers during the first three months of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3, iTunes 10.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 07:17
Category: News, Software

Late Monday Apple iOS 5 beta 3 to developers, the latest pre-release build of its forthcoming mobile operating system update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Per the Mac Observer, sources with access to the latest beta now available for download said it is dubbed Build 9A5259f and that significant changes to the software have yet to be listed, but also cited that the new build said that iMessage users on iOS 5 beta 3 will be unable to communicate with iMessage users running iOS 5 beta 1. Communication between beta 3 and beta 2 reportedly works just fine.

The new software is also said to fix an issue in which the Apple TV screen saver could degrade mirroring performance over AirPlay. iOS 5 will allow wireless mirroring when used in concert with the new Apple TV.

Also reportedly addressed in the latest build is an issue where the Reminders application did not send notifications upon the entry or exit of a location if there is no specific date associated with the location-based reminder.

The pre-release software, which is made available to members of Apple’s iOS development community, is not intended for use on end-user machines. A list of bugs that still remain in the latest build were reportedly provided to developers with beta 3.

The second iOS 5 beta was released in late June, and it brought about wireless syncing of devices. Wireless syncing with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch also requires that developers be running a beta version of Apple’s iTunes desktop client.

Accordingly, a new, third beta of iTunes 10.5 was also provided to developers on Monday.

The first beta of iOS 5 was issued to developers after it was unveiled in early June. The final software, which will become publicly available this fall, will pack more than 200 new user features including the new Notification Center.

Also released on Monday to developers was a new golden master for Xcode 4.1. It reportedly features interface builder support for auto layout, new Aqua controls, and full-screen support in the main Xcode workspace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.