Apple releases updated, slimmer Mac mini with HDMI, SD card ports

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:57
Category: Announcement, Mac mini

Apple on Tuesday updated its Mac mini desktop computer, adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to an HDTV, as well as a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera.

The newly redesigned hardware is just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin. It also has a built-in power supply, which means it lacks a bulky external power brick, which Apple said means the tiny desktop Mac takes up even less space than before, with 20 percent less system volume than the previous model.

“The sleek, aluminum Mac mini packs great features, versatility and value into an elegant, amazingly compact design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With twice the graphics performance, HDMI support and industry-leading energy efficiency, customers are going to love the new Mac mini.”

The new Mac mini includes the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor, which delivers up to twice the performance of its predecessor. It also comes standard with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 320GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM at the $699 starting price.

In March, AppleInsider first reported that Apple was building its first Macs with an HDMI port for high definition video and audio output. HDMI, or High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a cabling standard intended for home theater, built on top of the computer-oriented DVI, or Digital Video Interface, specification.

Weeks ago, AppleInsider revealed that supply of the Mac mini was dwindling ahead of the release of new models.

Availability

Shipping today, the Mac mini is available through the Apple store, retail stores, and authorized retailers. The $699 model includes:

2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
2GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
a slot-load 8X SuperDrive® (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme® 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire® 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 500GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm, Apple Remote, Aperture 3, Final Cut Express 4, Logic Express, iWork (pre-installed), Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The Mac mini with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), includes:

2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
two 500GB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, External SuperDrive, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

Environmental impact

Even with its doubled graphics performance, Apple said the new Mac mini is still the world’s most energy efficient desktop, based on products listed within the EPA Energy Star Small Scale Server database as of June 2010.

The new hardware uses 25 percent less power to less than 10W at idle, which is less than half the power used by competing systems. It also meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, achieves EPEAT Gold status, has a highly recyclable aluminum enclosure, and uses PVC-free components and cables with no brominated flame retardants.

Included software

The new Mac mini comes with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system, and iLife, Apple’s suite of applications for managing photos, making movies and creating and learning to play music. The $999 high-end model includes Snow Leopard Server, and allows a workgroup or small business to fulfill needs such as e-mail, calendar, file serving, Time Machine backup, Wiki Server, podcast production and more.

Apple changes iOS SDK rules to accept Lua but restrict Flash

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Something about this reminds me of when the cool kids wanted to keep the nerds out of the clubhouse, if only on principle.

According to AppleOutsider, Apple has changed its iOS SDK rules for iPhone developers have relaxed the restriction of section 3.3.2 pertaining to interpreted code, enabling Apple to forbid Flash and other middleware platforms while still enabling popular game engines and libraries.

When the 3.3.2 rules were first published, the restriction stated that iOS apps must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript, and that “no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).”

Apple’s goal seemed to be limited to stopping third parties from shifting iPhone developers from using Apple’s own Xcode development tools and instead making them dependent upon their own middleware meta-platforms.

The most obvious example of this was Adobe’s efforts to turn its Flash Professional CS5 application into a product that could export iPhone apps, facilitating cross platform development centered on Flash as a platform rather than Apple’s own Cocoa Touch.

Apple’s 3.3.2 restriction made it clear the company would refuse to sell such apps in its iTunes Store.

Strangely enough, the wording of the restriction appeared to also target any iOS apps that might include any interpreted code, including a large number of games that make use of general purpose, reusable code engines or libraries to expedite development.

Adobe has argued that any iOS restrictions on development with its Flash tools would also halt the use of popular game engines or libraries such as Unity 3D and Lua. Such a situation would imperil many popular iPhone games that Apple has already approved (and often singled out for targeted promotion), including Tap Tap Revenge and Rolando.

The latest modifications to the 3.3.2 section indicate Apple won’t be forced to dump popular, existing titles just to block middleware meta-platforms as a threat to iOS development. The most recent wording of the iOS SDK, published by Matt Drance of Apple Outsider, articulates an additional option Apple can invoke when choosing to approve apps:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple’s prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.”

Drance notes, “these new terms seem to acknowledge that there’s a difference between an app that happens to have non-compiled code, and a meta-platform.”

Apple shows signs of implementing TRIM features in latest 13″ MacBook Pro notebook

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 04:12
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro, News

This is sort of unexpected but interesting.

Per AnandTech, the current-run 13″ MacBook Pro notebook may be showing that Apple is implementing TRIM support for solid-state drives in Mac OS X. Attaching an SSD to the 2010 system will show an entry for “TRIM support” that doesn’t exist on the Core i5 or i7 MacBook Pros or earlier models. The support appears very rough and incorrectly flags TRIM-capable drives as lacking support.

TRIM is considered important to the future of SSDs, as it will keep them running at peak speed for most of their useful lifespan. Older SSDs often slow down over time as more of the drive space is used and the system has to erase more and more junk data, such as deleted but not missing files, before it can write new information. TRIM aggressively erases these areas so that they’re truly empty in advance of when new content needs to be written.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems currently support TRIM, but Apple so far hasn’t had native support and has seen less benefit from faster SSDs as a result. Adding the feature would let Macs use the full features of modern SSDs and could lead to significant storage updates for the for any Mac offering SSDs as a build-to-order option.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

QuickerTek releases Apple Juicz external battery for iPad

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:31
Category: Accessory, iPad, News

Accessory maker QuickerTek has announced a new line of external batteries via its
Apple Juicz for iPad. The unit, a 9400mAh lithium polymer battery is claimed to be rated for over 2000 charge cycles with the web site claiming that the battery pack adds an additional 20 hours of usage time for the iPad with each charge.

The pack features advanced safety circuitry with failsafe protection, temperature and charge/discharge controls and automatic cell balancing. Per iPodNN, the Apple Juicz can fully recharge an iPad in three hours, while a second USB port can charge a second device such as an iPhone or iPod touch. It can power any USB-chargeable device, but has special circuitry guaranteeing compatibility with Apple’s range of products.

The battery is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. The design also integrates a 10-LED gauge that allows users to quickly view the remaining battery power.

The Juicz for iPad is now shipping for US$250 and includes a year’s warranty with parts and labor.

How-To: Work around Safari 5.0 launch crashes

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Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2010, 05:39
Category: How-To, News

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Since installing Safari 5.0 on Monday, my Macs have yet to catch fire and the basset hound has yet to start waltzing across the living room carpet with my cat.

This may not be the case for everyone.

Per CNET, after installing version 5.0 of the Safari browser, a few users are reporting the program crashes whenever they try to open it. Even after trying some general troubleshooting steps the browser still crashes, which could mean something small has been overlooked, but also could mean there was a problem with the installation.

The cool cats over there have offered the following advice:

“To start the troubleshooting, first determine if the problem is account-specific by either going to another existing account, but also by creating a fresh user account to try. Even if other existing accounts have similar problems, using a fresh one will ensure no modifications have been made.

If the problem only happens in one or a few accounts, then it is likely the problem is because of a faulty setting or plug-in that resides in the local account. As a first step, try removing Safari’s preferences, which are located in the /username/Library/Utilities/ folder and are called “com.apple.Safari.plist.” Remove that file from its folder and try relaunching Safari.

You might also try clearing your Web caches, which can be done with Safari using the “Reset Safari” feature if you manage to get it open; however, if not then you can use a cache cleaning program like OnyX or Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner to remove the browser caches.

If this does not clear the problem, next try launching Safari without plugins enabled. To do this, go to the Safari preference file mentioned above and open it with a text editor. Locate the “WebKitPluginsEnabled” key and change it from “true” to “false” so it looks like the following:
WebKitPluginsEnabled

This should prevent Safari from loading plugins, so save the file and relaunch Safari to test it out. This setting can be set in the “Security” section of the Safari preferences; however, if the program will not launch then this is an alternative way to disable the plugins.

While disabling the plugins should keep Safari launching in a bare state, you can also try removing plugins manually. These are located in the following folders, so move all of them from these folders to another location and try relaunching the program.

/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
/username/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

If the program launches after doing this, then test each plugin (or small groups of plugins) by moving them back one by one and relaunching the browser each time.

Lastly, with plugins removed from the global library, try booting into Safe Mode and launching Safari from a fresh user account. If this still does not work, then download and reinstall Safari again, especially if you used Software Update to apply the previous update. A faulty installation can sometimes be remedied by reinstalling the program without using updaters (similar to reapplying a system “Combo” updater when OS updates cause bizarre problems. Before doing this you might consider running general maintenance procedures on your system and install it when booted into Safe Mode to ensure minimal interference from other system processes.”

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or have found a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Additional details surface about iPhone 4′s Retina display

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 07:35
Category: iPhone, News

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone 4, the Retina display, was introduced at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday.

To answer the question of what a Retina display is, Chris Branderick of PC World offered the following tidbits:

“To put it simply, Apple’s figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches—a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it’s easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this “magic number,” when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4’s screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi), the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

Apple’s retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn’t the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google’s Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re attending the WWDC and can offer any hands-on feedback of the iPhone 4, please let us know in the comments.

Apple renames “iPhone OS 4″ to “iOS 4″, ships gold master candidate

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 03:27
Category: News, Software

As Jason mentioned on the podcast last night, Apple has officially changed the name of the long-anticipated iPhone OS 4.0 to “iOS 4″. The new operating system, which currently powers iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices, will be available for free on June 21st.

Per AppleInsider, iOS 4 it will be a free update for eligible iPod touch users (iOS 4 is not available for the first-generation device) when the operating system arrives on June 21st.

After asking attendees to turn off their laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots in order to get a working connection during yesterday’s keynote, Jobs demonstrated the ability of the iOS to run Pandora in the background to stream Internet radio.

Jobs also showed off the unified inbox in the phone’s Mail application, as well as threaded messages.

The chief executive also put applications into automatically created folders, as had been revealed in the initial unveiling of the new operating system. Folders can be renamed, and they can also be placed in the dock.

iOS 4 also adds support for Microsoft Bing for search, although Google will remain the default option. Jobs touted that Bing uses HTML5 for its mobile search results.

The golden master candidate of iOS 4 is available for developers beginning immediately.

Apple releases Safari 5.0 web browser

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 03:08
Category: News, Software

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Amidst yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference announcements, Apple finally released Safari 5.0, the newest version of its web browser. The new version, available here (or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature), sports the following fixes and changes:

- Safari Reader: Click on the new Reader icon to view articles on the web in a single, clutter-free page.

- Improved Performance: Safari 5 executes JavaScript up to 25% faster than Safari 4. Better page caching and DNS prefetching speed up browsing.

- Bing Search Option: New Bing search option for Safari’s Search Field, in addition to Google and Yahoo!.

- Improved HTML5 support: Safari supports over a dozen new HTML5 features, including Geolocation, full screen for HTML5 video, closed captions for HTML5 video, new sectioning elements (article, aside, footer, header, hgroup, nav and section), HTML5 AJAX History, EventSource, WebSocket, HTML5 draggable attribute, HTML5 forms validation, and HTML5 Ruby.

- Safari Developer Tools: A new Timeline Panel in the Web Inspector shows how Safari interacts with a website and identifies areas for optimization. New keyboard shortcuts make it faster to switch between panels.
- Smarter Address Field: The Smart Address Field can now match text against the titles of webpages in History and Bookmarks, as well as any part of their URL.
- Tabs Setting: Automatically open new webpages in tabs instead of in separate windows.

- Hardware Acceleration for Windows: Use the power of the computer’s graphics processor to smoothly display media and effects on PC as well as Mac.

- Search History with Date: A new date indicator in Full History Search shows when webpages were viewed.

- Top Sites/History Button: Switch easily between Top Sites and Full History Search with a new button that appears at the top of each view.

- Private Browsing Icon: A “Private” icon appears in the Smart Address Field when Private Browsing is on. Click on the icon to turn off Private Browsing.

- DNS Prefetching: Safari looks up the addresses of links on webpages and can load those pages faster.

- Improved Page Caching: Safari can add additional types of webpages to the cache so they load quickly.

- XSS Auditor: Safari can filter potentially malicious scripts used in cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

- Improved JavaScript Support: Safari allows web applications that use JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to run faster and more securely.

Safari 5.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 (under Mac OS X 10.5) or Mac OS X 10.6.2 (under Mac OS X 10.6) or later to install and run and is available for free.

Apple announces iPhone 4 at WWDC keynote

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 12:39
Category: iPhone, News

In his long-awaited Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the fourth-generation iPhone, termed the “iPhone 4″. Per Macworld, the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24$ thinner than the iPhone 3GS and includes new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

The iPhone 4 features a new screen technology called a “retina display” which operates at 326 pixels per inch, double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display measures the same 3.5″ inches diagonally, but at 960 x 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model with an 800:1 contrast ratio that’s also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

The new handset also sports the A4 chip, which boasts both a small footprint and good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that, coupled with the new chip, Apple says provides 40$ more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

The handset includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

The iPhone 4 also add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity and can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing which can be combined with new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information.

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. The company has also created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). Once the video has been recorded, users can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for US$5.

For Jobs’ “One More Thing” moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls via a feature called FaceTime between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only (at least through 2010). Users can also switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

The iPhone 4 will be available in both black and white, at US$199 for 16GB and US$299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24th, with pre-orders starting on June 15th. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a US$29 dock and a US$29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.

“Magic Trackpad” images leaked prior to WWDC 2010 keynote

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 05:06
Category: Pictures

Hours before Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2010 keynote, Engadget has gone and done something snarky by posting pictures of a device that appears similar to Apple’s wireless Bluetooth keyboard. The device appears to offer a large, multitouch input surface for Mac hardware.

“What we appear to be looking at is a brand new input device that Apple has dreamed up which connects to desktops (and laptops, if you like) via Bluetooth, much like the Apple Keyboard,” Topolsky wrote. “If you take what you see in the photos at face value, it would seem that the folks in Cupertino are making a play for finger-based input in a big way — taking the work they’ve done on Mac laptops and the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and translating it to the desktop realm.”

The images also came with a tip that the device would support handwriting recognition, along with “every feature you can find on a Magic Mouse (and possibly features of a MacBook Pro trackpad).” The information reportedly came from a person who claimed to be personally testing it.

The pictures would seem to suggest that the hardware could be announced by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs at today’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

The product name may already be known, too, as Apple filed a trademark for ownership of the name “Magic Trackpad” in February That naming corresponds with Apple’s Magic Mouse, a multitouch device introduced by Apple last fall. The entire surface of the Magic Mouse can track independent fingers for activities like scrolling and zooming, much like an iPhone or iPod touch.

So, without further ado, what may be the Magic Trackpad…