Rumor: Apple prepping smaller, lighter MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Things may be about to change for Apple’s MacBook Air, the super-slim notebook perhaps receiving an LED-backlit display nearly two inches smaller than the current model.

Per DigiTimes, Apple has watched sales of its ultra-portable trickle off to levels believed to be immaterial to its bottom line. As such, the product line has received little attention from the company, undergoing just two minor revisions in a 29-month span — the latter of which took place well over a year ago.

At just 0.76″ at its thickest point, the MacBook Air is undoubtedly slim enough for its target audience of business travelers and those consistently on the go. However, sales of the device suggest that its 13.3″ footprint and 3 pound carrying weight may be a bit more than that class of customers would prefer, especially given the resounding success of Apple’s more compact and lighter 9.7″ iPad.

In an effort to make the design of the Air more appealing and further differentiate the notebook from the company’s mainstream 13.3″ MacBook, Apple in 2008 reportedly began experimenting with a partial carbon fiber enclosure that would shave upwards of a 100 grams off its weight.

With plans for such a design failing to materialize over the last two years, it’s believed that Apple returned to the drawing board at some point and began crafting a makeover that would deliver both size and weight reductions, further pushing the envelop of ultra-portable notebook computing.

The first evidence to this end arrived earlier this year when an analyst citing sources in Apple’s Taiwanese component supply chain revealed that the company was placing orders for parts to fit a slimmer and lighter MacBook Air based around an 11.6″ LED-lit display and Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

On Friday, a new report appears to further corroborate such claims, alleging that Apple’s primary notebook manufacturer Quanta has landed orders to produce the first 400,000-500,000 11.6″ “MacBooks” for delivery to the Mac maker before the end of the 2010 calendar year.

No further details were available from the report. Apple last updated the 13.3″ MacBook Air back in June of 2009 when it dropped the entry-level price to US$1,499 from US$1,799 for a model with a 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. A $1,799 offering based around a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid state drive was also introduced.

Stay tuned for details as they become available.

Apple posts new iOS 4.2 beta, adds AirPrint feature

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Date: Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, 04:10
Category: News, Software

Last Wednesday, Apple released a new beta version of its iOS 4.2 operating system to developers, bringing with it a new feature known as AirPrint. Per ZDNet, the update brings multitasking to the iPad for the first time. Multitasking allows users to run more than one program at a time. The iPhone and iPod Touch have had some multitasking capabilities since the introduction of iOS 4.0.

The update also features wireless printing software called AirPrint. “AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS — no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, in a statement on Wednesday.

iOS 4.2 is expected to be released in November.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta and have anything to say about it, let us know what you think.

NBC Universal balks at iTunes Store 99 cent rental price, seeks higher rates

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Date: Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, 03:37
Category: iTunes, News

It happened before, it can happen again.

Television network NBC Universal is unlikely join a pair of its peers in serving up a la carte TV show rentals to Apple TV users for 99 cents for pop through Apple’s iTunes Store later this year, according to comments from the company’s top executive.

“We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content,” NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker said on Wednesday at Goldman Sachs investor conference. “We thought it would devalue our content.”

Per AppleInsider, NBC currently offers iTunes customers the option of purchasing its shows outright forUS $1.99. But like the vast majority of networks that also distribute their content through the digital download service for the same price, it has balked at Apple’s new 99 cent model announced earlier this month alongside the revamped Apple TV set-top box.

Thus far, only Walt Disney’s ABC and News Corp’s Fox have agreed to the price cut, though News Corp President Chase Carey similarly told investors at the same conference Wednesday that its participation in the matter is only a “short-term test.”

For NBC and Zucker, this isn’t the first time they’ve had difficulties with Apple over digital download pricing on the iTunes Store. After accounting for roughly 40% of video downloads through the service in 2007, the network abruptly pulled its video library from iTunes after Apple wouldn’t agree to a reported 100% increase in the wholesale price of each show.

During an October 2007 breakfast hosted by Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications, Zucker even went as far as to single out Apple for ‘destroying’ music pricing and urged his colleagues to take a stand against the company’s iTunes Store, alleging that the service was undermining the ability of traditional media companies to set profitable rates for their content online.


NBC eventually caved to the popularity of the iTunes Store, signing back on with the service to sell its standard definition content for US$1.99 an episode and HD content for US$2.99 an episode less than a year later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Magic Trackpad driver for Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems

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Date: Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, 03:40
Category: Magic Trackpad, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released a software update that allows the Windows operating systems to use its new Magic Trackpad input device. The update, which is available as a 7 megabyte download for the 32-bit version and a 4 megabyte download for the 64-bit version, adds the driver where needed.

The update requires Windows XP, Vista or 7 to install and run.

If you’ve tried the driver and have any feedback (positive or negative) to offer, please let us know.

Apple files suit against Sanho-owned HyperMac regarding MagSafe, iPod connector patent infringements

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Date: Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010, 04:00
Category: Legal, News

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If you’re going to be in the market with the 800 pound gorilla, it’s advisable not to infringe on said 800 pound gorilla’s patents.

Or at least try to be subtle about it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of accessories, alleging violation of patents it owns related to the MagSafe charger and cables that use the iPod 30-pin connection.

The lawsuit filed this month accuses Sanho, based out of Sunnyvale, Calif., of infringing on six MagSafe- and iPod-related patents, covering a variety of products sold under the HyperMac brand name. Among the products named in the suit are its magnetic power connectors, known as MBP-PRO and MBP-AIR, as well as a MacBook car charger, MBP-CAR.

Instead of mimicking Apple’s patented MagSafe connectors, Sanho’s products actually rely on recycled official MagSafe products made by Apple. “Our charging cables use original Apple MagSafe connectors for maximum compatibility,” the company’s website reads.

The suit also focuses on charging and data cables that rely on the 30-pin dock connector compatible with Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad ecosystem of devices. Named in the suit are the “HyperMac Nano,” “HyperMac Micro” and “HyperMac Mini” products.

Sanho sells a number of small, portable external batteries that can provide extra power to portable devices on the go. Using the iPod 30-pin dock connector, products like the HyperMac Micro come in a variety of colors and are compatible with Apple products like the iPhone 4 and iPad.

In the suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, Apple says it notified Sanho of its infringement via official letters on April 26th, May 19th and June 20th of 2010.

“Defendants manufacture, distribute, and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connectors used to connect power adapters and other products to Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook,” the suit reads. “Defendants also manufacture, distribute and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s 30-pin connectors and receptacles , used to connect cables to Apple iPod, iPhone and/or iPad products.”

“Defendants’ infringing conduct has damaged Apple and inflicted irreparable harm for which Apple seeks, among other remedies, an award of its actual damages, disgorgement of Defendants’ profits from the sale of infringing devices and injunctive relief.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple purchased Polar Rose facial recognition company for $29 million

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 04:17
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the stuff Apple buys out that makes future technology speculation kind of fun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company Polar Rose. The company has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.

Though neither party has officially confirmed the purchase, Polar Rose offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.

One of the company’s products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone’s video camera.

Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.

Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.

“The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology,” Polar Rose’s Thijs Stalenhoef said. “This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated.”

Apple has its own “Faces” technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.

In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.

Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-006 for Mac OS X 10.6 users

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 03:11
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released its Security Update 2010-006 patch, a tiny 1.8 megabyte download that fixes one specific bug in Mac OS X 10.6.4’s AFP file sharing implementation that could allow remote attackers to bypass the password validation system if they know the name of an account on the Mac.

Fortunately, previous versions of Mac OS X are not affected and only client users need the update.

The update can be snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

Apple begins selling refurbish Wi-Fi iPad units at $50 discount

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News

For the first time since the iPad went on sale, Apple is now offering the hardware refurbished with a US$50 discount from its online store as availability of the product continues to improve.

Currently, just refurbished Wi-Fi-only iPad models are available, though all capacities can be purchased, with a shipping time of between one and three days. The 16GB model sells for US$449, the 32GB model is US$549, and the highest capacity 64GB model is US$649.

Like other refurbished sales, the iPads come with Apple’s one-year limited warranty, and the AppleCare Protection Plan is also available for purchase. The site also notes that supplies are limited.

The popular 3G-capable refurbished iPads are not yet available for purchase via Apple’s online store. All three models are listed as out of stock, and will also sell for US$50 off, starting at US$579 for the 16GB model.

Rumor: Apple digital newsstand app in planning phases, talks being held with content providers

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, Rumor

While it’s hard to say if Apple can help save the overall publishing industry, it appears to be doing its part to try. Per Bloomberg, the company is rumored to be creating a new digital storefront for newspapers and magazines that, like iBooks does for print books, will serve as a standalone iPad app for purchasing repurposed print content.

The new store has been described as standing apart from the established App Store and iBooks applications. The product is said to be in the early planning stages, as negotiations with major content providers are reportedly ongoing.

“Apple’s effort is aimed at luring more consumers to the iPad and helping publishers sell subscriptions, rather than single issues,” the report said. “The main hang-ups between Apple and publishers including Time Warner Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp. and News Corp. are who controls data about users and how to split subscription revenue, the people said. Pricing for subscriptions also hasn’t been worked out.”

People involved in the discussions reportedly said the digital newsstand could open as soon as in a few months, or the talks could fall apart altogether. It was also suggested that Apple could wait until it launches its next-generation iPad in early 2011 before unveiling the new store.

The plans are said to be part of Apple’s ongoing talks with print publishers who want to offer subscription plans for customers to access content from the iPad. This week, it was reported that Apple has agreed to allow an opt-in function which would let subscribers share their personal information with publications. The print business relies on demographic information to share data with advertisers.

The new application will reportedly “make it easier and cheaper to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with extras such as high-resolution videos integrated with stories.” The storefront will aim to simplify the process, in order to attract publishers.

Before the iPad was released earlier this year, publishers and Apple were said to have struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. But advertisers and publishers consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Two Google Voice apps receive Apple approval, Google Voice may be forthcoming

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:10
Category: News, Software

In a change on previous decision, two Google Voice applications were accepted into the App Store on Sunday: GV Mobile + and GV Connect. Per AppleInsider, their acceptance marks the first time that Apple has allowed such software since it removed Google Voice apps in July of 2009.

Earlier this month, Sean Kovacs, the developer of GV Mobile +, indicated he had spoken with Apple, and representatives with the company indicated they would approve his software. The change in policy came after Apple published its App Store Review Guidelines for all to see.

Still missing in action, however, is Google’s own official Google Voice application. The “non-rejection” of that application in 2009 caused a controversy and even led to an inquiry from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In a letter to the FCC, Apple claimed that it was reviewing the official Google Voice application. The company said it had not outright rejected the software, but was instead considering it. Over a year passed with no official acceptance or rejection.

Google, on the other hand, said in its own letter to the FCC that Apple had outright “rejected” the Google Voice application from the App Store.

The approval of the two apps would suggest that the search giant could once again submit its Google Voice application, and have it accepted into the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.