Analyst pegs Apple to release 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, updated iMac this fall

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Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2012, 06:13
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News

Just hang on a few months and that Retina Display goodness should find its way to the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Per AppleInsider, a Retina display-toting 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to join the recently-released 15-inch model sometime this September and may be accompanied by an iMac refresh, writes analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note shared with investors.

Rounding out the KGI analyst’s forecast for the second half of 2012, Kuo expects Apple to bring a Retina display-resolution display to its 13-inch MacBook Pro line in September though demand may outweigh supply as components for the high-pixel density display are limited.

The reports is in line with two previous findings, both from online computer benchmarking sites that pointed to an unknown MacBook Pro fitting the description of a 13-inch Retina display model.

Kuo believes the device will be an attractive option to consumers looking to purchase the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro or MacBook Air due to the Retina display’s high-quality image reproduction. The analyst also claims customers will be drawn to the balance of power consumption and form factor as well as the unit’s price which should be somewhat similar to Apple’s non-Retina MacBook Pro.

While the laptop is expected to do well at launch, Kuo thinks sales growth won’t be meaningful as many consumers will gravitate toward iOS devices, especially so if Apple debuts a smaller, more affordable iPad in September. He goes on to say supply of the smaller high-resolution MacBook Pro will likely be constrained due to panel and assembly yield rates, a problem Apple is only now beginning to overcome with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

As for the iMac, Kuo believes a refreshed model could debut close to the end of September but qualifies the statement by saying indicators from the supply chain point to a later release. Shipments of Apple’s desktop products will dip in July due to inventory adjustments but are expected to dramatically rise in August as the new iMac starts shipping out from factories.

Regarding Apple’s overall financial outlook, Kuo sees zero growth across the line for Apple in the second quarter of 2012 on smartphone competition from Samsung, slow MacBook sales, a weakened global economy and the iPad’s late entry into China. Quarter three of the calendar year will likely pick up, however, as new product launches are expected to lead moderate growth ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple advises iOS developers on temporary fix for in-app purchase hack

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Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2012, 06:02
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Apple on Friday issued a note to developers outlining a fix for an in-app purchasing exploit that allowed for the free download of for-pay content, and also announced that the loophole will be plugged when iOS 6 is released this fall.

Per CNET, in its support document for iOS app developers, Apple recommends that apps featuring in-app purchases follow a set of guidelines that includes confirming orders with the company’s new receipt system.

The receipt validation protocol, which Apple unveiled on Wednesday, attaches a “unique identifier” to in-app purchase receipts. This tactic effectively thwarts the recently-discovered workaround that validated dubious “purchases” by routing them to a specialized DNS server and spoofing digital receipts. Previous to the discovery, Apple sent generic receipts containing no unique user data.

“We recommend developers follow best practices at developer.apple.com to help ensure they are not vulnerable to fraudulent In-App purchases,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. “This will also be addressed with iOS 6.”

Friday’s document includes instructions on how to setup and use Apple’s new validation system as well as how to validate transactions that have already gone through.

From the document:
“A vulnerability has been discovered in iOS 5.1 and earlier related to validating in-app purchase receipts by connecting to the App Store server directly from an iOS device. An attacker can alter the DNS table to redirect these requests to a server controlled by the attacker. Using a certificate authority controlled by the attacker and installed on the device by the user, the attacker can issue a SSL certificate that fraudulently identifies the attacker’s server as an App Store server. When this fraudulent server is asked to validate an invalid receipt, it responds as if the receipt were valid.”

As part of the damage control measures, Apple allowed apps to access certain non-public APIs pertaining to verification and security services.

Along with the support document Apple sent out an email to developers noting the exploit will be patched in iOS 6 when the mobile operating system is released alongside an expected next-generation iPhone sometime this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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

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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.

Apple launches third-generation iPad in China

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Date: Friday, July 20th, 2012, 05:00
Category: iPad, News

Mental note: Head to China and pick up a third-generation iPad.

Per Reuters, Apple launched its Retina display-sporting iPad in China on Friday to orderly lines, a scene contrasting the company’s most recent product launches in the country which were marred with unruly crowds and scalpers.

A pre-sale reservation system instituted by Chinese Apple Stores appeared to be effective as the third-generation iPad launch went off without a hitch, perhaps uncharacteristically so for such a substantial release.

The scene came as a surprise to Apple customers, as many have become used to long lines and overnight waits to purchase the new products. Scalpers were also an issue as demand sometimes drastically outweighed supply. Apple in January was forced to halt sales of the popular iPhone 4S on launch day as a large group of customers became unruly upon hearing that the handset was sold out.

“I’m very surprised that there is no line,” said Sun Xufei, an IT worker who was first in line at the Shanghai Lujiazui Apple Store. “I thought there was going be a long line so I came over a bit earlier to pick it up.” The line Xufei was standing in was reportedly only about 20 people deep.

Apple adopted a pre-order system in which customers are prompted to reserve an iPad through the Apple online store between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. after which they are assigned a time to pick up their device the next day. This allows the company to somewhat control the flow of foot traffic in and around the six official brick-and-mortar Apple Stores on the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong also has one Apple Store to serve the region’s over seven million residents which accompanies a network of authorized resellers dotted throughout the country.

The Wi-Fi-only third generation iPad first gained Chinese regulatory approval in March and was followed by the 3G wireless version in May.

If you’re over in China and just snagged a third-gen iPad, please let us know how your line experience went over in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 1.0 for 2012 notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 15:44
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This could be helpful.

On Wednesday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 1.0 for its 2012 notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, fixes an issue that can lead to increased CPU power consumption, and it improves compatibility with some USB devices.

As always, the update can also be found and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The update requires a 2012 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro notebook and Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

Obviously, this is a significant firmware update, so please let us know how it went for you via feedback in the comments section.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to incorporate thinner screen, in-cell technology

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 08:33
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

That screen on your current iPhone 4S? It might just get a bit thinner.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s next iPhone “currently being manufactured by Asian component makers” will arrive this fall with a thinner screen than ever before, thanks to the combined might of Sharp, LG Display and Japan Display Inc.

“The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer,” explains DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase on the new in-cell technology. “The absence of the layer, usually about half a millimeter thick, not only makes the whole screen thinner, but the quality of displayed images would improve.”

In-cell technology comes at a convenient time for Apple as rival Samsung is pushing “organic light-emitting displays” as a key feature of its latest Galaxy S III Android handset, which features a 4.8-inch OLED screen, yet is even thinner than the current iPhone 4S.

“A thinner screen in the next iPhone could make the whole device slimmer, or make extra room available for other components such as batteries,” the report reveals, which could be crucial if rumors that the handset will use 4G LTE data prove true.

“But in-cell touch screens are harder to manufacture than conventional LCD screens,” the report continues. “The people familiar with the situation said that LCD makers are finding the manufacturing process challenging and time-consuming as they scramble to achieve high yield rates.”

The next iPhone is widely expected to include a 4.0-inch display, which is made possible by elongating the vertical height of the handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

27-inch Thunderbolt display exhibiting noise issue with 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

Firmware updates were invented for a reason…

Per Electronista, a number of MacBook Air owners are experiencing audio issues when they connect their laptops to Apple’s Thunderbolt display and complain of static, distortion and crackling emanating from the speakers built into the 27-inch screen’s chassis.

The problem usually presents itself intermittently after a few hours’ use when sound from Apple’s new 2012 MacBook Air, which was announced during WWDC in June, is routed through the Thunderbolt display’s speakers.

It should be noted that as of this writing a single report claiming the same issue was found on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, though it seems to be an isolated case not associated with the MacBook Air matter.

An Apple Support Communities thread started on June 23 is now six pages long though the issue seems to be affecting only a small number of users. Owners of both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have reported identical problems, though some experience the issue more frequently than others.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear though it could be related to how the thin-and-light’s firmware handles audio output. Sound played directly through the MacBook Air’s internal speakers are unaffected by the supposed bug meaning the issue lies in the interconnect.

Forum members have speculated that the adaptor needed to connect Apple’s new MagSafe 2 power connector to the Thunderbolt display’s power cord is somehow related to the static. This seems unlikely, however, as owners have unsuccessfully attempted to switch adaptors and run the laptop without plugging in to the Thunderbolt display’s power connector.

Most users have found that a workaround involving the switching between audio outputs solves the issue for a short time while others note that terminating and restarting an offending application gives temporary relief. Unplugging and replugging all connections also seems to remedy the problem.

Apple is aware of the issue though no official response has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases InDesign fix to alleviate crash on Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 06:19
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never hurts to issue a bug fix.

Per AppleInsider, Adobe on Monday issued a ZIP file complete with instructions to manually fix an API bug that would crash the company’s InDesign professional layout software on Intel Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks.

The fix comes less than a week after Adobe acknowledged a problem with its program and Apple’s OS X 10.7.4 which comes pre-installed on all 2012 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. According to a user support forum thread started in mid-June, the issue can be traced back to an API that handled InDesign’s system icons which was removed in the latest update to OS X.

The problem caused blank dialogue boxes to pop up as InDesign failed to retrieve the correct icon assets which in turn crashed the program.

It appears that the issue is confined to mid-2012 MacBooks that have “MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) Software Update” installed. Previous to Monday’s response some users created a workaround by rolling back the machine’s operating system to factory defaults.

Adobe is working closely with Apple on both their current and future OS releases to resolve this issue in a more comprehensive manner.

Adobe’s pseudo-patch involves the running of a script that installs three InDesign icons automatically or, for cases where the script does not run, a manual installation of the files directly into the application’s resources folder.

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

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 3 to developer community

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t have a final version without a few betas…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday supplied developers with the third beta of iOS 6, arriving three weeks after the previous beta build, adding new features like expanded settings for the Maps application..

Developers can now download iOS 6 beta 3 from Software Update on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In addition, full downloads are also available from Apple’s developer portal.

Sources familiar with the latest build indicated that there are new options in the Settings application for Apple’s new Maps software. Specifically, the third beta now allows developers to customize certain aspects like the volume of turn-by-turn navigation, and whether to measure distances in miles or kilometers.

The last update, which arrived in late June, included a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance. iOS 6 beta 3 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch. The final software will be released to the public this fall.

iOS 6 was formally announced last month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 7.85-inch iPad this fall at sub-$499 price point

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 06:02
Category: iPad, Rumor

A rumor’s got to be true on some levels…

Per the New York Times, previous rumors have been confirmed saying consumers can expect the as-yet-unannounced iPad to boast a 7.85-inch form factor and cost “significantly less than the latest US$499 iPad” when it debuts later this year.

Previous reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both claimed Apple was working on the so-called “iPad mini” and said the new device is expected to launch before year’s end.

Most recently, images of purported iPad mini “engineering samples” were leaked and included side-by-side comparisons with the current third-generation iPad. The samples showed a rearranged speaker assembly flanking a diminutive 19-pin dock connector seen before on alleged next-generation iPhone parts.

According to analysts and executives in the technology industry, the smaller iPad is part of an Apple strategy to garner and retain a larger marketshare by introducing a variety of tablet sizes. The publication notes the Cupertino-based company used a similar model with the iPod line which now ranges from the iPod shuffle to the iPod classic.

If and when the iPad mini is announced, it will be facing stiff competition from Google’s recently-announced US$199 Nexus 7 Android tablet as well as expected offerings from Amazon. The online sales giant is rumored to be readying three distinct 7-inch Kindle Fire models for fall as well as an 8.9-inch version that may be released in late 2012 or early 2013. Sunday’s Times report cites sources who claim the larger-screened Fire is being developed as a competitor to Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad.

Yet another new entrant into the tablet arena is Microsoft’s Surface, a Windows 8-powered device set to be the centerpiece to the company’s “PC+” environment despite CEO Steve Ballmer’s claim that the unit is merely a “design point.” Rather than creating hardware and software separately for different tasks, as does Apple with the iPad and iOS, Microsoft believes that a one-OS-fits-all solution is the future of computing. The ARM architecture-based Surface for Windows RT is expected to debut alongside Windows 8 in October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.