Apple releases MacBook Air EFI Firmware 2.1 update, focuses on Thunderbolt issues

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 12:31
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

Firmware updates, they make a difference.

Per the cool cats at Mac|Life, Apple today released an EFI update for the MacBook Air. The update, available here or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature, works to boost the stability of Lion Recovery from an internet connection and fixes the Thunderbolt Display compatability issues with Thunderbolt, as well as remedies any issues with the Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any changes, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.2 seed to developers, includes built-in iCloud support for the first time

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Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 03:54
Category: News, Software

It’s inevitable.

And with system updates, that’s never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Sunday seeded Mac OS X 10.7.2 beta to developers with support for the beta version of iCloud incorporated directly into the build.

For the first time, the pre-release version, labeled build 11C55, does not require a separate install of iCloud services. No known issues are listed for the beta. Apple reportedly lists iCloud, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Safari, and MobileMe as focus areas for the release.

One source familiar with the matter also indicated that Apple has begun transitioning user accounts from MobileMe to iCloud, allowing the transfer of mail, contacts, and calendars to the iCloud.com.

The last beta release of Mac OS X 10.7.2 came on Sept. 2 and included the 10th test version of iCloud as a separate install.

Developers have seen a steady stream of beta software as Apple gears up for several major releases this fall. The launch of iOS 5 and iCloud will be supported by updated versions of iTunes and Mac OS X. Last Friday, Apple issued a beta release of iTunes 10.5, along with pre-release versions of iWork for iOS. The company also recently extended the test period of its iTunes Match service to additional developers.

Apple launched Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on the Mac App Store in July. The company then updated its flagship desktop operating system to version 10.7.1 in August, adding improvements to Wi-Fi and audio out functionality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2011-005

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Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 14:20
Category: News, security, Software

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On Friday, Apple also released Security Update 2011-005 for the Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 operating systems. The update, a 15.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Certificate Trust Policy:

Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.8, Mac OS X Server v10.6.8, OS X Lion v10.7.1, Lion Server v10.7.1

Impact: An attacker with a privileged network position may intercept user credentials or other sensitive information

Description: Fraudulent certificates were issued by multiple certificate authorities operated by DigiNotar. This issue is addressed by removing DigiNotar from the list of trusted root certificates, from the list of Extended Validation (EV) certificate authorities, and by configuring default system trust settings so that DigiNotar’s certificates, including those issued by other authorities, are not trusted.

Security Update 2011-005 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later on the Mac OS X 10.6 end or Mac OS X 10.7.1 or later on the Mac OS X 10.7 end to install and run.

iPhone 4 ship times extend ahead of iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 02:23
Category: iPhone, News

This might be a bit unexpected, depending on your point of view.

According to AppleInsider, all new iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. now take one to three business days to ship through Apple, a sign that the company is running low on inventory ahead of introducing its fifth-generation model.

Previously, orders of the iPhone 4 for both AT&T and Verizon shipped within 24 hours. That fast turnaround applied to both black and white models, in capacities of 16GB and 32GB on both carriers.

On Thursday, it was discovered that the iPhone 4 now takes one to three days to ship direct from Apple, for all colors, capacities and carriers.

Similarly, the US$49, 8GB iPhone 3GS, only available through AT&T in the U.S., also takes one to three business days to ship. The same applies for those who want to buy the unlocked GSM iPhone 4.

Lengthening shipping times are often an indication that Apple is running low on inventory ahead of a product refresh. For example, in February MacBook Pro shipments slipped to three to five days immediately before new models were introduced.

However, while shipping times for the iPhone 4 have slowed in the U.S., abroad they still have a 24-hour turnaround time. For example, in the U.K. and France, new orders still ship within a day of being placed.

Last year, the iPhone 4 debuted in the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Japan, before quickly expanding to other countries. In its first three days of availability, the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units.

This year’s introduction of a fifth-generation iPhone will come with a later-than-usual launch date, as Apple in years past has released a new iPhone in the months of June or July. Apple is widely expected to host an event in the coming weeks to introduce the so-called “iPhone 5″ ahead of an anticipated October launch.

The updated handset is expected to include a new, higher resolution 8 megapixel camera, as well as the high-speed A5 mobile processor currently found in the iPad 2. Rumors have been split as to whether the fifth-generation iPhone will sport an all-new design or one similar to the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Foxconn currently assembling 150,000 iPhone 5 units per day

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Date: Thursday, September 8th, 2011, 06:42
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The iPhone 5: it’s probably on the way.

Per DigiTimes, Foxconn Electronics has ramped up production of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone to 150,000 units per day, with shipments expected to reach 5-6 million in September.

The report released on Thursday states that Apple’s iPhone 5 suppliers have geared up production and will soon begin volume shipments of the new device. Industry sources provided the publication with the 150,000 unit per day production figure for OEM Foxconn.

Meanwhile, sources also said lens maker Largan Precision, touch panel maker TPK Holding, reinforced glass supplier G-Tech Optoelectronics and battery vendors Simplo and Dynapack “are all operating at full swing currently,” according to the report.

iPhone 5 shipments are expected to be in the range of 5-6 million this month and top 22 million in the fourth quarter as Apple reduces shipments of the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4.

The report also echoed an earlier claim reportedly from a Chinese source that Pegatron has received orders to produce a 15 percent share of Apple’s new smartphone. However, DigiTimes’ sources said the company may not begin shipping until 2012.

Apple is now believed to be planning to launch the iPhone 5 in October. Recent leaks from retailer Best Buy point to next month, though there is some disagreement about the specific timing of the release.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported 8 megapixel image taken with iPhone 5 surfaces

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 08:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5′s camera, it might be looking forward to.

Per PocketNow, a picture has surfaced online that is alleged to have been taken by an Apple engineer with an 8-megapixel camera from the still-unannounced fifth-generation iPhone.

The data associated with the so-called “test photo” states that it was shot with an iPhone 4, but also reveals that the picture, cropped to a size of 5 megapixels, was originally a much-higher resolution just shy of 8 megapixels.

“What’s more, the lens was recorded as a 4.3mm f/2.4, which is closer to that of a point-and-shoot than the iPhone 4′s actual 3.85mm f/28,” the report said.

However, the data could also be bogus, as the site noted it was recently duped by an image taken with an iPhone, then uploaded to an iPad using software that altered the EXIF data associated with the image.

“We suppose that a similar scenario is also possible here,” author Evan Blass wrote, “but there’s one compelling piece of evidence which suggests that this is indeed a genuine iPhone 5 photo: it was supposedly shot by an Apple engineer eating his lunch at work.”

The purported iPhone 5 photo is bolstered by numerous rumors that Apple’s next-generation handset will sport an 8-megapixel camera. This week, a new report claimed that Apple had tapped both Largan Precision and genius Electronic Optical to supply those lenses for the next iPhone.

In fact, the supposed 8-megapixel shooter has been perhaps the only relatively consistent element in rumors leading up to the unveiling of the so-called “iPhone 5.” Reports claiming Apple will adopt an 8-megapixel camera began surfacing earlier this year.

Apple is widely expected to publicly unveil its next iPhone in the coming weeks at a press event. Numerous reports have pointed toward an October launch of the fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped displays to customer base

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 03:03
Category: Hardware, News

This had to come eventually.

Per MacRumors, Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display to its retail stores and resellers this week, while individual pre-orders are said to have shipping estimates of Sept. 15.

The new displays are arriving this week and will be available for purchase “very soon.” Meanwhile, Electronista noted that it has heard of Sept. 15 shipping estimates for online pre-order customers.

Apple unveiled the US$999 27-inch LED display, billed as the world’s first display to take advantage of the new Thunderbolt I/O technology, in July, promising availability within 60 days. The display requires a Mac with a Thunderbolt I/O port.

The Thunderbolt Display features a 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle made possible via IPS technology. It also includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port and a Thunderbolt port.

Up to five additional Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained to the display. Additionally, eligible Macs, such as the MacBook Pro, can run two Thunderbolt Displays.

Apple and Intel co-developed the Thunderbolt standard, combining the chipmaker’s Light Peak technology with the Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt currently supports two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions and is expected to eventually reach speeds of 100Gbps.

The first Thunderbolt external RAID storage options arrived on the Apple online store in June. LaCie was scheduled to release the more consumer-oriented Little Big Disk Thunderbolt drive in “Summer 2011,” but has yet to announce a more specific release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a Thunderbolt display, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate thinner, lighter battery design for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 might be a bit lighter than you expected.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple is said to have chosen two suppliers to provide batteries that will be thinner and lighter, but also up to 30 percent more expensive, for its third-generation iPad.

Simply Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both been tapped for the next-generation batteries, according to reports. Both companies are said to currently supply batteries for Apple’s iPad and MacBook lineup.

The report said Apple’s third-generation iPad will be mass-produced in the first quarter of 2012. The device’s battery is said to have been redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

“Furthermore, the new battery pack will also be required to meet CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability, a trend that has been commonly seen nowadays, especially in the U.S.,” the report said.

The new thinner, lighter and safer battery will also reportedly come at a higher price for Apple, costing between 20 percent and 30 percent more than the battery currently found in the iPad 2.

Both Simplo and Dynapack are rumored to begin providing batteries to Apple in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011. That would put the company on track to begin production of the so-called “iPad 3″ soon after, and would also put Simplo and Dynapack in a position to earn record quarterly revenues.

Last month it was said that Apple was already near the trial production phase for its third-generation iPad. The device is expected to have a high-resolution screen, similar to the Retina Display found on the iPhone 4.

That retina display is expected to be provided by three major suppliers in order to meet growing demand for Apple’s iPad lineup. LG Display, Samsung Electronics and Sharp have all been rumored to be in the supply chain for Apple’s next iPad.

Also in August, Apple was said to have e begun trial production of the proprietary A6 mobile processor that’s expected to power the next iPad 3 and, eventually, a sixth-generation iPhone. A previous report from the Taiwan Economic News named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the new manufacturer of the chip, reportedly snagging a role formally filled by Samsung.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip, which is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts two security-related job openings, looks to be closing holes where present

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News, security

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If you keep losing an incredibly valuable intellectual property, it might be time to give your security a once-over.

Per PCmag.com, Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of “New Product Security.” While it might be a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple’s troubles of late for losing test gadgets:

“The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property,” said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recently, an iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

San Francisco Police confirmed last Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn’t found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple’s problems went beyond iPhones. Apple is also apparently working to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. The customer said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store’s internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for effectively keeping its secrets and sticking close to its message.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.