Apple announces 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:18
Category: MacBook Pro, News

You’ve been waiting for this for a long time now.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off its redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro, featuring a high-resolution Retina display.

Apple executive Phil Schiller noted that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s best selling Mac in its entire product lineup. With that in mind, the company has high expectations for its new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The pixel count on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is so high that it is now the second highest resolution notebook, ahead of all competitors’ models with larger 15 or even 17 inch screens, the company said. The new screen features rich color, deep blacks, a 29% higher contrast ratio, a 75% reduction in reflection, uses IPS for 178 degree viewing, and delivers 300 nits of brightness.



“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is our most popular Mac, and today it gets completely reinvented with a new thin and light design, fast flash storage and a gorgeous Retina display,” Schiller said. “With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.”

The new model weighs just 3 lbs, almost a full pound lighter than the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro, and is 0.75 inches thick, 25% thinner than before and the lightest ever. Schiller noted that the MacBook Pro’s Retina display has more than 4 times as many pixels than its predecessor.

The 13-inch Retina display has a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch. It also uses IPS technology for a 178-degree-wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection with 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

Beyond the screen, it has a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, a backlit keyboard, and glass multi-touch trackpad, as well as the new MagSafe 2, dual Thunderbolt ports and USB 3.0.

Schiller said the “most exciting” part of the computer is on the inside: It’s been re-engineered from scratch, with asymmetric battery technology, Intel Core i5 or i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics.

It also has up to 7 hours of battery life and comes with 8 gigabytes of RAM. Like its 15-inch brethren, the new MacBook Pro is only available with flash storage, which can be upgraded to 768 gigabytes.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starting at US$1,699; and with 256GB of flash storage starting at US$1,999. Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors and flash storage up to 768GB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at apple.com/macbook-pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for “always-on” low power geared towards mobile devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 07:40
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a system in which the status of a portable device can be persistently displayed on-screen without having to turn on the display or primary backlight.

Apple notes that it may be necessary to check the status of a device, as many portable electronics simply shut off their displays when not in use as a method to conserve power. For example, an iPhone user has no way of knowing when their handset is on or off, or how much battery life is left, unless they turn on the main display.

While some solutions currently exist that display device status, they rely on technology that requires extra assembly and packaging, or takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the device.

In its U.S Patent No. 8,294,659 for a “Secondary backlight indicator for portable media devices,” Apple describes a system in which a low-power, location-specific backlight is used to illuminate certain areas on a device’s main display.

There are two modes covered in the invention, an “On” mode where the device’s primary backlight and display are activated, and an “Off” mode in which a secondary low-power backlight is activated when the primary backlight and display are deactivated.

Unlike other systems, the light is situated behind the primary backlight and display, and can be illuminated in sections. Instead of using cutouts in the device body, Apple’s patent calls for icon shapes to be removed from multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of primary backlight’s system. When the low-power secondary backlight is turned on, the light emitted passes through the primary icon shaped regions of the primary backlight system’s layers to the cover glass, but are blocked by color filters that hold a plurality of icon shapes.

In one embodiment, the icons can change shape and size when needed, a good example being a battery life indicator:

“To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. For example, color filters of different shapes and with different properties may be superimposed on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display may depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight. This technique may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.”

The icons can also be dynamic, creating a blinking effect by pulsing the secondary backlight, which can in turn save power.

Apple’s invention allows for multiple icons to displayed on the device at any given location, with the secondary backlight selectively guiding light toward “certain regions of the primary backlight such that only selected icons are shown on the display.”

It remains unclear if Apple will use the technology in an upcoming product, however space is already at a premium in the iPhone 5, making the addition of such a system questionable.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to offer livestream of media event today

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!

Samsung may end LCD display contract with Apple in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, News

Maybe it’s time to see other people.

An article in the Korea Times suggests Samsung will sever its contract with Apple and will no longer supply LCD panels to the Cupertino company, starting in 2013. An unnamed senior source within Samsung told the newspaper that the company is not making enough money off the panels that it is selling to Apple.

“We are unable to supply our flat-screens to Apple with huge price discounts. Samsung has already cut our portion of shipments to Apple and next year we will stop shipping displays,” said the source.

Samsung is reportedly shipping fewer and fewer panels to Apple each quarter, with the Korean company expected to supply Apple with only 4.5 million LCD panels in the second half of the year. This is down from the 15 million panels that Samsung sent to Apple in the first six months of 2012. Samsung will reportedly turn to Amazon and its own handset division to make up for the loss of orders from Apple.

Apple sources components from many companies, including displays from LG and Sharp as well as Samsung.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged “iPad mini” image shows Lightning port, other changes

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:56
Category: iPad, photos, Rumor

This is about as convincing as a leaked photo of a much-anticipated item gets.

Per Japanese website Apple.pro, the following leaked image released on Saturday claims to show a slightly modified third-generation iPad with a Lightning connector port, possibly pointing to an imminent release of the rumored device as part of Apple’s move to bring parity across its iDevice lineup.



It should be noted that the authenticity of the image cannot be confirmed and is thus provided for purposes of discussion only.

The supposedly new shell is shown resting atop the current iPad with 30-pin dock connector, illustrating the difference in size between the two cutouts.

Sitting on top of the purportedly refreshed case is a Lightning flex cable, in this case black, which appears to line up perfectly with the slot. It is unclear if the component will be used in the revamped iPad.

Apple is expected to bring Lightning connectivity to all of its iDevice products as they are refreshed, offering compatibility with upcoming accessories. The proprietary standard is seen as a long-term investment for the company, and is expected to have a lifetime of ten years, mirroring that of the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

It is unknown if and when Apple will release the slightly modified iPad, but it may take the opportunity to do so at a special event on Tuesday, where the company is widely expected to unveil the 7.85-inch “iPad mini.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro images show HDMI, Thunderbolt ports, SD card reader, other changes

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, photos, Rumor

If this is truly en route, then it looks like it could rock.

Per Weiphone and MacRumors, a series of leaked photos claiming to be of an as-yet-unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display show the purported laptop’s battery cell and external connectivity options, which include two Thunderbolt ports, an SD card reader and HDMI output.



The images also show battery cell array and other particulars of the rumored Apple notebook.

Surprisingly, the allegedly leaked machine looks to be in working order, and is shown running Windows 7 at 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, lending evidence to rumors in August that claimed display makers were producing screens with an identical resolution.

Also shown are multiple close-up shots of the purported machine’s logic board, 8GB of Elpida RAM and screen assembly.

While the legitimacy of the images cannot be confirmed, the parts do line up with rumors suggesting Apple will soon release a Retina display carrying version of its smallest MacBook Pro.

It was reported earlier in October that low yields of the expected 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s high-resolution display forced Apple to delay the device’s launch.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a small form factor iPad, dubbed “iPad mini” by the media, at a special event next week, with sources saying the company is also likely to introduce a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases Color Labs’ talent base for indeterminate price

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Finance, News, Software

Your favorite computer company bought up the talent, not the office supplies (including the trusty coffee maker)

Per All Things D, Apple didn’t buy social video startup Color, but it did acquire its engineering team of about 20 employees for as much as $5 million.

Disputing a rumor that surfaced on Wednesday claiming that Apple had bought Color, Liz Gannes of All Things D revealed on Thursday that Apple instead “acquired” Color’s engineering team. The employees were said to have been picked up for somewhere between US$2 million and US$5 million.

That would mean that earlier claims that Apple had bought Color for “double-digit millions” were incorrect. Instead, Apple made a relatively small talent acquisition of about 20 personnel.

“Apple is not buying Color’s technology, intellectual property, domain names or liabilities,” Gannes said. “Those are being left with the company, which still has considerable cash in the bank — something like US$25 million — and is going to be wound down.”

A flurry of rumors and misinformation related to Color were attributed to “bad blood” that has apparently formed between Color employees, company CEO Bill Nguyen, ex-employees, investors, and even Apple itself.

Founded by Bill Nguyen and Peter Pham in 2011, Color Labs was at the center of some controversy after netting US$41 million in a pre-launch funding round, a massive investment compared to the usual US$1 million in seed money seen by most comparable start-ups. The company released a photo-sharing app, though the initiative failed to draw users, prompting Pham to exit three months after launch and Chief Product Officer DJ Patil to do the same one month later.

Nguyen changed strategies and created a new video-sharing app that allows users to record and post 30-second silent video to Facebook, a direction that netted Color a deal with Verizon in May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to phase out iPad 2 to make room for “iPad mini”

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 07:13
Category: Finance, iPad, News

The iPad 2 could be going the way of the dodo.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Rob Cihra with Evercore Partners said in a note to investors this week that he sees Apple phasing out the current iPad 2, because Apple’s overall vision calls for “clearer product tiers.” The prediction comes as Apple is expected to lower the barrier to entry of its iPad lineup by unveiling a new, smaller iPad next Tuesday.

Cihra believes Apple will sell around 7 million so-called “iPad mini” units in the December quarter. Along with the full-size iPad, he sees Apple selling a total of 26 million units in the holiday shopping season.

In his view, Apple is leveraging its engineering expertise in both hardware and software to “pull dollars away from otherwise commodity markets and incumbent competitors.” Apple’s calendar year 2012 revenues are up 30 percent year over year, while the broader PC market has dropped 4 percent this year.

Further bolstered by sales of 49 million iPhones, Apple is expected by Cihra to post US$56.1 billion in revenue during the December quarter, amounting to US$16.33 in earnings per share.

Prior to that anticipated blockbuster quarter, Apple will report results for its just-concluded September quarter. For that three-month frame, Cihra believes Apple sold 27 million iPhones, 17 million iPads, 4.9 million Macs and 5.7 million iPods, resulting in revenue of US$36.5 billion and earnings per share of US$9.03.

His numbers are slightly above Wall Street consensus for the September quarter, as other analysts on average seek US$36.4 billion in revenue and US$8.93 earnings per share.

Evercore Partners has reiterated its overweight rating for AAPL stock, as well as a target price of US$800.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking to replace IR sensors with sonar technology in next-gen devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

Look at it this way: sonar’s been around for a while.

And it’s always been nifty.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday describes a system that may one day replace the infrared proximity sensors deployed in current iPhones with sonar-like technology.

Apple’s invention for “Passive proximity detection” negates the need for the current IR sensor, replacing it with a system that can detect and process sound waves to determine how far away an object is from a portable device.

Much like passive echolocation or a loose interpretation of passive sonar, the filing describes a system that takes two sound wave samples, a “before” and an “after,” and compares the two to determine if an external object’s proximity to the device changed. “Sampling” occurs when a transducer, such as a microphone, picks up ambient sound and sends a corresponding signal to the device’s processor for analysis.

The invention relies on basic acoustic principles as applied to modern electronics. For example, a microphone’s signal equalization curve from an audio source changes when the device moves towards or away from an object, which “variably reflect[s] elements of the sound wave.”

This effect may be noticed when sound is reflected by soft material as opposed to a hard surface. Generally, sound reflected off the soft surface will seem muted when compared to the same sound reflected off a hard surface located at the same distance and angle from an audio transducer and a sound source.

In one of the invention’s embodiments, two microphones are situated at different planes on a device, and detect the subtle changes in broad-audio-spectrum caused by interference when a sound wave interacts with an object.

To relate this to a common phenomenon, when a sea shell is held up to one’s ear a resonant cavity is formed that amplifies ambient sounds. This hi-Q filtering results in the ocean like sounds one hears.

In another example, response signals produced by two microphones located at either end of a device can be compared to determine if an object is nearer to one or the other. For example, when a user’s face is close to the top of a device, as is usual when talking on the phone, the microphone located near the ear will produce a different reactance ratio than the microphone located at the device’s base.

Basically, the signals from two transducers, or microphones, detect slight changes in ambient sound and sends corresponding signals to a processor which then compares the two to determine whether an object is in close proximity to either of the mics.

Monitoring of the microphones can be live or set to take samples at predetermined intervals, such as after a user begins to speak. Placement of the microphones can also be tweaked, and in some cases can be located next to each other.

Finally, a more active detection method is proposed, where an internal speaker generates noise, taking the place of ambient sound waves.

As portable electronic devices become increasingly smaller, the need to develop space-saving components, or to combine parts to serve a number of uses, becomes more pressing. Such is the case with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, a device that packs 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, a battery that can last for days, a 4-inch Retina display, two cameras, and a litany of other features into a chassis only 7.6 mm deep.

Space is already at a premium with the iPhone, as evidenced by the new Lightning connector, which Apple’s Worldwide Marketing chief Phil Schiller said was needed to create such a thin device. Moving forward, the company is rumored to incorporate near field communications (NFC) for e-wallet payments, which will take up even more precious room.

It remains to be seen if Apple will one day employ the passive proximity detection technology in a consumer device, however the iPhone is a platform ripe for deployment as it already boasts three mics for noise canceling and call quality purposes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Assorted Verizon customers report time-shifting issue with iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Well…this is why they invented firmware updates.

Per AppleInsider, a number of iPhone 5 owners, especially those on U.S. network Verizon, are complaining of an issue where the incorrect day and time is displayed, sometimes jumping weeks ahead or behind the actual date.

According to multiple posts on Apple’s Support Communities forum, a number of iPhone 5 users are experiencing what appears to be a problem with the handset’s automatic date and time setting feature.

It is suspected that the issue may lie in the handset’s compatibility with Verizon’s network, as most of the reports on the 21-page thread come from that carrier’s subscribership.

The bug was initially reported on Sept. 24, the iPhone 5’s first day of availability, and subsequent posts citing similar timing-related difficulties have been streaming in ever since. There have been no reports of time-shifting with other iPhone models, including those upgraded to iOS 6.

While the exact cause of problem is unknown, speculation points to a bug with how the timing code embedded in Verizon’s CDMA cell network is handled.

In order to operate properly, all CDMA cell towers transmit a time signal based on data from an on-site GPS receiver, allowing the network to stay in synchronization. It is possible that either Apple’s handset is somehow misinterpreting the time signals, or timing data from certain Verizon cell towers is faulty, though at this point the theories are mere conjecture.

Forum members say both Apple and Verizon are aware of the iPhone 5’s time-shifting issue, however no clear remedies were offered to the few who contacted the companies’ customer support staff. Some have found limited success in performing a factory reset, but the method is not a sure-fire solution.

It appears that each party is placing blame on the other, further confusing the situation. Apple forum member “dtenberge” claims to have been contacted by a “Senior iOS Advisor” who said, “I just got a response from our Engineers, at this time we cannot see anything wrong on our end, they did suggest that you contact Verizon and open up a ‘ticket’ and have them look into it.”

Another member, Janine Costanzo, said, “We just called Verizon, and they said they’ve had some reports of this problem, but it’s nothing on their end. They checked the cell towers in our area (SF Bay Area) and the time is right on them. They said it’s likely a software issue on Apple’s end, so we should call Apple and tell them the problem and hope that they release a software fix for it.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.