O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Microsoft looking towards digital delivery system for Windows 8 upgrades/installs

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 14:11
Category: News, Software

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You may not be in love with Windows, but it does become handy from time to time.

Per the MSDN blog, Microsoft looks to be gearing up to release its next-generation Windows 8 operating system via digital release. In a post to the company’s official blog this week, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, detailed the setup experience users will see with Windows 8.

Sinofsky explained that Microsoft aims to satisfy two distinct types of customers in the install process: those who want to install with minimum hassle, and those who want to do a clean install with more options, control and customization. Microsoft’s simpler solution will allow users to simply launch a file that can be delivered via the Web, not unlike Apple’s Lion, which is available for purchase and install through the Mac App Store.

“In the past, if you wanted to buy an upgrade for Windows, it involved purchasing a boxed product from a retail outlet, taking it home, (sometimes being infuriated while trying to open the box,) and inserting a DVD,” Sinofsky explained. “However, buying boxed software is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule, with more and more software being purchased online as broadband penetration increases and large-size media downloads become more common.

“While we will continue to offer boxed DVDs, we are also making it easier than ever to purchase and install online. This includes starting the setup experience online as well, and having one continuous integrated experience from beginning to end.”

Microsoft’s Web setup will allow the company to “pre-key” the setup image that is downloaded to a unique user. This means users won’t need to enter the 25-digit product key that is currently necessary to install existing versions of Windows.

Sinofsky stopped short of saying that the Web install method will be the preferred way for users to install Windows 8, though the simplified process will likely make it ideal for most users. Through one application, Microsoft will scan a user’s system for compatibility, download Windows 8, and then install the operating system.

Apple has made it clear that the Mac App Store is the preferred way for users to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, though the company has made Lion also available on a USB thumb drive. But while Lion costs US$29.99 on the Mac App Store, its US$69 price tag when bought on a USB drive is more than double the price of the digital download.

Of course, Microsoft’s digital delivery method for Windows 8 is very different from Apple’s approach, in that Microsoft does not have a centralized software storefront akin to Apple’s Mac App Store. Users will have to load the dedicated Windows 8 Setup application to make the upgrade on their system, while the Mac App Store is available on all up-to-date systems running Apple’s previous-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Beyond digital delivery, Microsoft has made a number of other changes to help simplify and speed up the Windows 8 install process. Through a number of modifications to the upgrade engine, Microsoft says it has reduced a clean install time from 32 minutes for Windows 7 to 21 minutes with Windows 8.

The greatest improvement will be seen for power users who complete a “super upgrade,” which, in Microsoft’s tests, includes 1.44 million files and 120 installed applications. While a Windows 7 upgrade under that scenario would have taken 513 minutes, Windows 8′s advertised upgrade time is just 52 minutes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple television expected in mid-2012, initial production slated for February

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 13:00
Category: Rumor

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Apple didn’t do the “Inc.” and “lifestyle company” change for nothing.

Per AppleInsider, commercial production of Apple’s anticipated television set is expected to begin in February at a Sharp plant in Japan, while competing HDTV makers are reportedly desperate to find out just what Apple plans to sell.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note to investors this week that Apple is expected to partner with Sharp for TFT-LCD panels for its so-called “iTV.” Production is expected to begin in February at the company’s Gen 10 Sakai facility in Osaka, Japan, placing the television set in position for a mid-2012 launch.

Apple’s expected entrance into the television market is said to have sent other TV makers “scrambling” to identify what the features of the product may be.

“They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple,” Misek wrote. “Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario.”

TV makers are said to be looking at Android as a potential option to counter Apple’s anticipated television set. In that scenario, the television market would act much like the current smartphone landscape, with manufacturers making the hardware and Google providing the operating system.

TV makers are said to be looking to Android because they lack the software and cloud capabilities Apple already offers. Earlier reports have also suggested that Apple will implement its proprietary voice recognition service, Siri, to allow controller-free navigation and further differentiate itself from current products on the market.

Rumors of an Apple television set picked up considerable steam with the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. To biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs hinted at a completely new product that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

In an interview published last week, Isaacson revealed that before he died, Jobs had three products he wanted to reinvent, with the television being first among them, followed by textbooks and photography. Jobs reportedly felt there was “no reason” for televisions to be as difficult to use as they currently are.

Misek’s timeframe for a mid-2012 Apple television launch is slightly more aggressive than some other rumors have suggested. For example, last month The New York Times forecast Apple to announce the product by late 2012, with it going on sale to consumers by 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts Black Friday savings teaser, leaves iPhone out of potential deals to be had

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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Come Friday, there shall be savings.

And probably shoving to get to those savings.

So, look, try to be polite and don’t shove other people for the savings, all right?

Per MacStories, Apple has placed a teaser on its web site, saying that it will be holding a “special one-day Apple shopping event” on Friday. Apple plans to offer discounts on iPad, iPod, and Mac lines. It made no mention of iPhone deals.

The teaser appears to show Apple offering the deals worldwide. As of this writing, the Black Friday deal teaser is being displayed on Apple’s Australia, Italy, and U.K. online stores.

However, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind. For one, Apple says that the deals will be available on its “Online Store,” seeming to indicate it might not offer the same discounts in its retail outlets. The company is also waiting until Friday to unveil the deals it will offer customers that day.

Apple has been holding special Black Friday events for years. But its offers haven’t always been so exciting. In 2009, for example, it took just US$101 off its MacBook Pro models and US$31 off its iPod Touch.

Apple product discounts don’t come along too often and those who want to save a few bucks might want to head back over to the Apple online store later this week to see what’s offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Users report losing Wi-Fi signal strength after updating to iOS 5.0, 5.0.1

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Because software updates are either a great thing or a terrible thing.

Per Engadget, a number of users have reported losing Wi-Fi after updating to iOS 5.0 and beyond in the Apple discussion boards.The majority of replies mention intermittent connectivity and/or a significant loss in signal strength. The issue remains unconfirmed by Apple, but it appears to span across a number of devices, including the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, along with the iPad (and possibly, the iPod Touch).

Through troubleshooting, one user was able to resolve the problem by reverting to iOS 4.3, then cause it to manifest — once again — by upgrading to iOS 5. The recent iOS 5.0.1 update failed to fix the matter as well.

Apple has yet to offer an official reply regarding this issue.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to delay iOS 5.0.2 update by unspecified amount of time

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:23
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Rumor

Backpedaling on a rumor that Apple would release iOS 5.0.2 to address software bugs this week, a new rumor claims the update has been delayed due to memory leaks in the code.

Per German-language site Macerkopf.de in an update on Monday, the site claimed that iOS 5.0.2 requires more testing before it can be released. A source reportedly said that the company doesn’t want to be in a rush to release another minor release in the form of iOS 5.0.3 soon after.

The site originally reported last week that an iOS 5.0.2 update would arrive “no later” than this week to address battery life issues experienced by some iPhone 4S users. Apple already issued one update earlier this month in the form of iOS 5.0.1 to quash bugs, including some related to battery life, as well as Documents in the Cloud.

The rumored iOS 5.0.2 update is said to provide iPhone 4S users with 10 hours of active use. Apple’s official technical specifications advertise 200 hours of standby time, up to 8 hours of 3G talk time, 6 hours of 3G Internet use, 10 hours of video playback, or 40 hours of audio playback.

Last week’s report also claimed that Apple is also working on its next major iOS update, numbered 5.1, with “many changes” related to Siri voice control. But the site said development of Siri is “very expensive,” and the update will not arrive until after the new year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have your two cents to hurl in, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to return to Nvidia GPUs for 2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:05
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Sometimes you’ve got to play the field and see which GPU works best for you.

Per SemiAccurate, a new rumor claims that next-generation MacBook models will once again feature Nvidia graphics processors.

Nvidia’s return to Apple’s Mac lineup is expected to begin next spring, when new hardware featuring Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors is anticipated. Rumors have suggested that Apple’s new MacBook Pro models, arriving in 2012, will feature a redesigned chassis that will take some design cues from the popular thin-and-light MacBook Air lineup.

The last MacBook Pro models to feature Nvidia graphics arrived in 2010 alongside a new proprietary graphics switching technology developed by Apple. But the higher end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched early this year completed the switch to AMD graphics, while the entry-level 13-inch model relies on integrated Intel graphics.

In mid-2009, rumors began to crop up that Nvidia and Apple were at odds with each other, though there was no hard evidence to support a rift. But over the next few years, Apple gradually began to feature only ATI graphics across its entire Mac lineup, including desktop machines.

The same site to report the AMD GPU rumor also claimed last week that Apple had secretly built an AMD-powered MacBook Air model last spring, but scrapped the device at the last minute because of production issues. It said Apple had originally hoped to release a thin-and-light notebook powered by AMD’s Llano processor.

SemiAccurate also claimed in May that Apple plans to transition its future portable Macs to ARM processors, away from Intel CPUs. Low-cost, low-power ARM processors are currently found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, but the report claimed Apple hopes to have ARM specifications also power its Macs by the end of 2012 or by early 2013, when 64-bit variations are expected to become available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4S receives network license in China, will go on sale through China Unicom

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 10:23
Category: iPhone, Software

The iPhone 4S looks about ready for the big time in the Chinese marketplace.

Per M.I.C. Gadget, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was reported on Monday as having approved the iPhone 4S for sale in China. The HSPA 3G version of the phone has passed government tests, clearing it for sale on China Unicom. It should get a network license this week, Sina claimed.

No mention had been made of the CDMA version that might reach China Telecom, although recent tips have had it arriving in 2012. China Mobile is believed to be waiting on LTE before making the leap.

An approval marks the quickest turnaround between an iPhone’s first launch and its appearance in China. Apple is known to be thriving on Asian sales and will want to both seize on mainland Chinese sales as quickly as possible as well as curb the rise of Android in the country.

The smartphone is already on sale in Hong Kong and helped contribute to high tensions at the launch as bootleggers conflicted with genuine buyers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Apple patent points towards shatter-proof, shock mounted iPhone glass

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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You can’t knock Apple for trying to make a sturdier product.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recent Apple patent applications shows the company looking to create a “shock mounting cover glass in consumer electronic devices,” the invention claims a tunable shock mount sandwiched between the phone’s glass and other hardware. There’s also plans for a sensor that can distinguish a “drop event” from normal phone movements and an actuator to prepare the shock mount for impact. Given that it’s only at the application stage, we won’t be seeing bombproof iPhone displays any time soon, but here’s hoping it’ll become a product reality someday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AppleCare+ policies/rules shifted, coverage now available for sale within 30 days of iPhone 4S purchase

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Date: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 11:24
Category: iPhone, News

AppleCare has always been a good thing, it’s just that its details can get a bit muddled.

Alongside the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple also debuted a new US$99 AppleCare+ program offering an extended warranty with accidental damage coverage. The AppleCare+ package replaced the previous US$69 AppleCare for iPhone offering that did not offer accidental coverage.

Some confusion about the AppleCare+ program arose in its early days, stemming in large part from Apple’s requirement that the coverage be purchased at the same time as the iPhone, a requirement that seemed to conflict with the legal text of the agreement which stated that AppleCare+ must be purchased within the device’s one-year standard warranty period. Regardless, a number of customers were not offered the AppleCare+ option at the time of pre-ordering, and Apple addressed the issue by offering a temporary exception to allow any early iPhone purchaser to obtain AppleCare+ through November 14th.

With that deadline for delays AppleCare+ purchases having now passed, Apple appeared set to revert to the original policy of requiring that the plan be purchased at the same time as the iPhone according to MacRumors. Apple has now updated its AppleCare+ page to indicate that users can purchase it in-person at an Apple retail store or over the phone any time within 30 days after the iPhone purchase.

How to get AppleCare+:

- Add it to your shopping cart during the checkout process when you purchase your new iPhone.

- Buy it within 30 days of your iPhone purchase at an Apple Retail location (requires a Genius Bar appointment, inspection of the iPhone & proof of purchase).

- Or call 1-800-275-2273 (requires proof of purchase).

Apple has also revised the AppleCare+ terms and conditions to remove the previous mention of the option to purchase any time within the one-year standard warranty period.

In addition to the new 30-day window, SprintFeed reports that it has received an internal Sprint notice indicating that the original amnesty period for early iPhone 4S purchasers has also been extended through December 15th. The wording does suggest, however, that the 30-day limit still applies to these customers, so customers who purchased the iPhone 4S on launch day would still be out of luck given that the window has now passed for them. But the policy does offer some continuing retroactive coverage for customers who purchased their devices less than 30 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any positive or negative stories about AppleCare+ and your iPhone 4S, please let us know.