O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Hard drive replacement in Thunderbolt-equipped iMac restricted by unique connector, temperature control system

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 04:48
Category: iMac, News

If you want to upgrade the hard drive on your new Thunderbolt-equipped iMac, you may be in for some additional challenges.

Per Other World Computing, Apple iMac desktop line features a new custom 7-pin serial ATA connector and proprietary temperature control system that will make hard drive upgrades difficult for end users.

The article’s authors found that the main 3.5″ SATA hard drive bay in the new 2011 Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs has been modified significantly. Instead of a standard 4-pin power configuration, the drives in the new all-in-one desktop use a custom 7-pin configuration.

In addition, hard drive temperature control is reportedly detected through a combination of the new cable and proprietary firmware that Apple has on the hard drive itself.

“From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from the bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed,” the report said,” and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test.”

The site tried a number of methods to circumvent the changes Apple has implemented in the new iMac, including swapping the main drive out with the same model drive, as well as a different solid-state drive. All testing so far has found that the Apple-branded hard drive not be removed or replaced.

In addition, though the iMac EFI Update 1.6 released earlier this month allows 6Gb/s speeds on two internal ports, the standard 7,200rpm drive that ships with the new iMacs cannot take advantage of those fast throughput speeds.

The site sells a “Turnkey Upgrade Program” that allows for hard drive upgrades on Mac hardware. While the service will not allow upgrades to the main drive, it can take advantage of an external eSATA port or allow additional, secondary hard drives to be added.

Apple’s new quad-core Sandy Bridge iMacs with Thunderbolt ports debuted earlier this month. Users can configure the desktop to include both a standard spinning hard drive as well as a 256GB solid-state second drive, on which Mac OS X and all applications will come preinstalled.

The new iMacs were the first hardware to ship with Intel’s new Z68 chipset, which allows for faster solid-state drive caching performance with hybrid drives or a combination of SSD and traditional drives. However, Apple’s new iMacs do not take advantage of the new caching feature offered by the Z68 chipset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent describes keyboards with sensors, tactile feedback

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2011, 20:47
Category: Patents

applelogo_silver

This could be nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in creating an advanced keyboard that could provide tactile feedback to users through the inclusion of numerous proximity sensors and air vents on individual keys.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filing, entitled “Input Devices and Methods of Operation,” notes that as physical keyboards get smaller and more compact, they may not offer the same typing experience users prefer.

A smaller keyboard might limit the tactile feedback a user feels on their fingertips while typing. This is as a result of keys that do not travel as far when pressed on, say, a much thinner keyboard.

Apple proposes addressing this issue by placing proximity sensors in each key on a keyboard. These sensors could be used to detect when user input on a key is imminent.

The patent filing describes a system that would “flow air from the input device,” perhaps through openings in the surface of an individual key on a keyboard. This would provide tactile feedback to the user before they make physical contact with the key surface.

This air pressure could be used to apply air pressure against a user’s fingertips, giving tactile feedback even though the key may not move as much as a key on a more traditional keyboard.

In another example, Apple describes a pneumatic system that would be used to “advance the selected key in a direction of actuation in response to detecting user selection.” Through this method, the key would be “pulled away from the user.”

Apple also proposes combining these two methods in a keyboard that would provide initial air resistance to movement of a user’s fingers, and then withdraw a key from the user’s touch.

The application, made public this week, was first filed in November of 2009. The proposed invention is credited to Aleksandar Pance, Michael Sinclair, and Brett Bilbrey.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 4.2.2 update out the door

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2011, 03:59
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

A new software update addresses a variety of minor issues for users of the second generation “black box” A4-powered Apple TV. You can install the update on your Apple TV by navigating to Settings -> General -> Update Software and following the directions there.

Per AppleInsider, the update, which is the second minor update to version 4.2, is named 4.2.2, but internally is described as iOS 4.3 build 8F305, addresses a half dozen minor issues:

- Audio: Addresses an issue in which audio is not output when playing some video content.

- Video playback: Addresses an issue in which video is not displayed when playing some content.

- Audio output setting: Adds an audio output setting for switching to 16-bit audio for compatibility with some TVs and AV receivers.

- Live FF/RW improvements: Improves the performance of fast-forwarding and rewinding live events.

- Movie description: Addresses an issue in which the description information is not displayed for some movies.

- YouTube video order: Addresses an issue in which YouTube subscription videos were not ordered by date.

Users of the original, Intel-based Apple TV are still stuck with software update 3.0.1, as that model is now discontinued.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.1.3 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2011, 02:56
Category: News, Software

eliphoto

Apple on Tuesday released iPhoto 9.1.3, the latest version of its image organization and editing application. The update, a 112 megabyte download which can be be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, offers the following major fix:

- Fixes a problem that could cause some events merged in iPhoto to be split back into multiple events on iOS devices after being synced.

iPhoto 9.1.3 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires Mac OS X 10.6.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Leaked photo shows 7th-generation iPod nano with 1.3 megapixel camera, no attachment clip

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, 07:39
Category: iPod, iPod Nano, Pictures

If it’s not the rumors that keep technology interesting, it’s the leaked product photos.

Per tw.apple.pro, additional evidence has surfaced showing that the seventh generation iPod nano will retain its same small form factor and multi-touch screen, but add a camera to the rear side of the diminutive device and strangely ditch the built-in clip.

A picture claimed to show the alleged seventh-generation iPod nano appeared on Monday on the website, the accompanying report claiming that the camera is a low-resolution 1.3 megapixel lens.

Crediting a source named “Ray” from California, the site suggests that the next iPod nano will not include a clip as the current model does. Placing a clip on the back of the device would cover the camera lens on the supposed device.

Tuesday’s picture is not the first report to suggest that Apple could add a camera to its multi-touch iPod nano. In early April, an unverified photo showed an alleged seventh-generation iPod nano frame with space in the back for a rear-facing camera.

The Taiwanese Apple blog has correctly leaked each of the previous six generations of the iPod nano. Last year, they leaked photos of a tiny touchscreen that went on to become the multi-touch display for the sixth-generation iPod nano, released in 2010.

The larger fifth-generation iPod nano, released in 2009, did have a camera, along with the classic-style iPod click wheel. But the camera was ditched in the 2010 model, allowing Apple to create an even smaller device driven by a multi-touch display.

Adding a camera to the iPod nano once again could appease some critics who were disappointed that the feature was removed last year. But removing a clip from the rear of the device would also be a detriment, as the small size and inclusion of an integrated Nike+ pedometer has made the sixth-generation iPod nano a strong choice for use at the gym.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon quietly adds iOS support for Cloud Player music streaming service

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 03:10
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

Competition’s a bit weird sometimes.

Amazon has silently added support for browser-based playback of music in its new cloud streaming service on iOS-powered devices.

Per TechCrunch, Amazon quietly added support for iOS devices through its built-in Safari browser. Users can log into their account on Amazon and access the Cloud Player, which now allows streaming of audio files stored on its servers.

Users who visit the site will still be prompted with a message warning them that their browser is not supported. However, music playback now works through the service, and audio is even paused when a push notification or call is received.

“Of course, this implementation is still not as good as it is on Android, where Cloud Player is part of a native app,” author MG Siegler wrote. “But if Amazon did a little web work and made the web-based player optimized for the iPhone and iPad, it would certainly be very useable on a regular basis.”

Amazon’s cloud streaming service launched in March, but initially only had support for streaming via the Web and on Android devices. Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB of free online storage, with premium accounts expandable to up to 1,000GB.

The push to launch the service, which requires users to upload their own songs and is not backed by any recording industry licensing deals, was seen as a move to preemptively take on Apple and its own anticipated cloud music streaming service. It’s also been reported that Apple is expected to unveil its “iCloud” service this year with support for bookmarks, e-mail, contacts and more, in addition to music streaming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve played around with Amazon’s Cloud service on your iOS device and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to support up to 450 mbps Wi-Fi speeds on newer Mac models

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 03:09
Category: News, Software

Although it’s unknown as to exactly when Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will be released, its feature list is looking interesting.

Among these features is a new protocol that will unlock the latent capacity of recently released Thunderbolt MacBook Pro and iMac systems to use faster 450 Mbps 802.11n wireless networking, thanks to triple send and receive antennas capable of supporting three spacial streams of wireless traffic.

Per AppleInsider, the 802.11n WiFi standard supports faster networking speeds through a number of technologies, including the use of multiple antennas (aka “MIMO” or multiple-input multiple-output).

Devices and wireless base stations supporting 802.11n can use multiple antennas (up to four each for send and receive) to spatially multiplex multiple independent data streams within one spectral channel of bandwidth enabling faster data throughput, a major factor of why the relatively new 802.11n is faster than previous 802.11 a/b/g wireless networks.

The 802.11n standard also supports the less-utilized (but higher frequency and therefore weaker wall penetrating) 5GHz frequency band, which was previously only tapped by 802.11a devices in corporate networks; 802.11b/g standards both only use the (often heavily saturated) 2.4GHz frequency band, potentially suffering from interference with neighboring wireless networks or Bluetooth devices.

New 802.11n networks can also speed up data transfers by using wide, 40MHz bandwidth channels to double the amount of radio spectrum used. Apple’s Airport base stations only support wide channels when configured to work as “802.11n only (5GHz)” networks. The option is hidden behind the “Wireless Network Options” button.

MCS is reported by Mac OS X clients in the AirPort menu when holding down the Option key. This index number can scale down depending on signal strength and interference, but its top limit is bound by the features of the hardware on the client and the network’s base station.

For example, iPhone 4 is 802.11n but lacks support for 5GHz and wide channels, limiting it to 802.11n networks configured to use 2.4GHz. The iPad, in contrast, can see and connect to “802.11n only (5GHz)” wireless networks. However, the iPad can still only support one spatial stream using a 20MHz channel because, like the iPhone, it lacks multiple “MIMO” antennas (due to battery life, cost and complexity constraints, as each antenna also requires radio support as well).

This limits Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad to an MCS index of 7, with a top throughput rate of 65 Mbps. Earlier 802.11b/g devices (including older iPhones) can only support a maximum data rate of 54 Mbps. The iPad, unlike iPhone 4, can also make use of 5GHz networks, which may enable for less interference from neighboring wireless traffic but does not raise its MCS index.

All Macs supporting 802.11n have multiple antennas and can therefore support two spacial streams, allowing them to achieve an MCS of 15 and a top data rate of 130 Mbps on 2.4GHz networks. Unlike iOS devices, Macs can also handle wide 40MHz channels in the 5GHz band, enabling a doubled data throughput of 300 Mbps when connecting to a “802.11n only (5GHz)” network configured to support wide channels.

This year, Apple began incorporating three send and receive antennas in its Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and iMacs, enabling them to achieve an MCS of 23 and a top data rate of 450 Mbps on 5GHz networks with wide channels. This new capability goes beyond the baseline certification of 802.11n as defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which maxes out at 300 Mbps

While not currently supported by Mac OS X Snow Leopard, a developer has reported that the developer preview of Lion does indicate support for the new hardware when used with modern base stations such as Airport Extreme or Time Capsule.

The developer tested a MacBook Pro using a 2.3GHz Core i5, and reported an MCS of 23 with a transmit rate of 450 using a 5GHz network hosted by Airport Extreme. Previous machines are only able to achieve MCS 15.

If you’ve gotten your hands on an early build of Mac OS X 10.7, let us know how it went and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

iPhone dev team releases untethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 03:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you who don’t mind living on the edge, you can now do it a bit more sensibly with your iPhone.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, jailbreakers hesitant to update to iOS 4.3.3 can now do so without losing their ability to jailbreak. The iPhone dev team confirmed iOS 4.3.3 is still vulnerable to the untethered jailbreak exploit that @i0n1c created for 4.3.1. Released earlier this week, this version of iOS fixes the location bug that made headlines a few weeks ago.

Both the group’s PwnageTool and redsn0w have been updated and will jailbreak iOS 4.3.3 devices including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod touch 3G, iPod touch 4G, iPad1 and AppleTV 2G (v4.3;8F202). Unfortunately, the iPad 2 is not yet supported and its jailbreak is still under development.

Head over to the dev team’s blog for more information about this untethered jailbreak. As with all jailbreak attempts, follow the directions carefully and proceed at your own risk…

Apple releases firmware updates for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, iMac units

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:27
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never quite works perfectly until the updates hit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week released a series of updates for its newest MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktops equipped with the high-speed Thunderbolt port, addressing issues related to performance and stability.

Two updates are available for MacBook Pro owners: MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4, a 132.69MB download, and MacBook Pro EFI Update 2.1, a 3.06MB download. Both are available direct from Apple’s website or via Software Update.

Update 1.4 is said to include fixes that improve graphics stability, address issues with external display support and 3D performance, and also improve Thunderbolt device support.

Meanwhile, EFI Update 2.1 includes fixes that resolve an issue with Turbo Mode in Boot Camp, and improves performance and stability for graphics and Thunderbolt. A user’s power cord must be connected and plugged in to a working power source when applying this update, as it updates the EFI firmware on the MacBook Pro.

Owners of the new iMacs just released this week get Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB download, and iMac EFI Update 1.6, weighing in at a 6.1MB download. The Mac OS X update applies a number of fixes for the Snow Leopard operating system, including:

- Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

- Resolves an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

- Addresses various minor Mac App Store bugs.

- Addresses minor FaceTime performance issues.

- Addresses issues with graphics stability and 3D performance.

- Improves external display compatibility.

- Improves Thunderbolt device support.

Finally, the iMac EFI Update 1.6 includes fixes that improve the performance and stability for the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. The update will restart any iMacs it is installed on, at which point a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Apple has already quickly released a handful of updates for its new iMac desktops. On Tuesday, when the all-in-one computers first went on sale, a Boot Camp update was also available for download.

Apple updated its iMac line on Tuesday, adding faster Sandy Bridge Intel quad-core processors, a FaceTime HD camera, and the new Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt debuted in February in Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pros.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any significant changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may switch to ARM processors for notebooks in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 05:27
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per SemiAccurate, sources have claimed that Apple will be transitioning from Intel processors to ARM processors in the not too distant future.

The short story is that Apple is its notebook line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM-based chips as soon as possible.

The transition seems unlikely to take place after ARM has moved to full 64-bit cores which won’t likely be until at least mid-2013.

At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an [instruction set architecture] that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either.

Apple has made a heavy investment in the ARM architecture which presently powers their iOS line of products. Apple even made the bold move to take ARM processor design in house with the acquisition P.A. Semi and Intrinsity.

A transition of the Mac notebook line over to a different processor architecture would still present some roadblocks. While Apple did previously succeed in such a transition in the past with the PowerPC to Intel transition, it was not without an incredible amount of engineering to ease the process. Existing Mac applications would be unable to run on the new ARM processors without some sort of emulation layer. Mac applications would have to be recompiled to support the ARM processors.

While ARM is known for their low power processors, last year they announced plans to move into high-performance computing in the future, and has been rumored to moving into the 64-bit space as well.

Codenamed “Eagle,” the A15 architecture is ostensibly aimed at netbooks and tablets, but a look at the spec sheet leaves no doubt that ARM is absolutely gunning for the server market that Intel and AMD currently dominate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available