Apple releases firmware updates for early and late 2011 MacBook Pro, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for its early and late 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks as well as its mid-2011 MacBook Air Notebooks.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.7, a 4.1 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (Late 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4, a 3 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

The updates can be directly downloaded and installed or located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware updates and have either positive or negative feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent shows effort to develop thinner keyboards

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:51
Category: News, Patents

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Remember your Apple keyboard?

It might just be about to go through a training montage and get thinner in the process.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple may be looking to make its notebook computers and keyboard accessories even thinner and lighter with a brand new take on the classic input method.

Apple’s interest in reinventing the keyboard was revealed in a new patent application entitled “Single Support Lever Keyboard Mechanism,” it describes a handful of ways that a keyboard could be shrunk in size without affecting its performance.

In the filing, Apple notes that the size of existing keyboards presents a challenge for the company as it attempts to design thinner, lighter and more attractive devices.

“It would be beneficial to provide a keyboard for a portable computing device that is aesthetically pleasing, yet still provides the stability for each key that users desire,” the application reads. “It would also be beneficial to provide methods for manufacturing the keyboard having an especially aesthetic design as well as functionality for the portable computing device.”

One of the most common keyboard types is the “dome switch,” in which the key pushes down on a rubber dome located beneath the key. Other types of keyboards include capacitive, mechanical switch, Hall-effect, membrane, and roll-up, and each offer their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of two important categories: response (positive feedback that the key has been pressed) and travel (the distance needed to push the key).

Apple’s solution is a single support lever keyboard mechanism, which the proposed invention says would allow the keyboard cap to be formed of almost any material, but would also provide stability to each key.

The application notes that the material chosen for the key caps is very important, not only for the appearance of the keyboard but also how it feels on users’ fingers. The application includes a number of potential off-the-wall materials that could be used, like glass, wood, stone, and even “polished meteorite.”

Regardless of the material, Apple’s keyboard key caps would be held in place by a rigid support lever. With its design, the keys could have a total travel range of as little as 0.2 millimeters.

In another method, Apple describes a support lever holding the key cap that would be made of a flexible material. This support lever could be made of spring steel that could allow good tactile feedback to the user when they are typing.

The key cap and support lever would have an “elastomeric spacer” between them and a metal dome positioned below. The spacer would be made of a material such as rubber or silicone that would “provide a desirable and distinctive feel to the user when pressed,” in addition to reducing rattling on the keyboard.

“The advantages of the invention are numerous,” the filing states, adding: “One advantage of the invention is that a low-travel keyboard may be provided for a thin-profile computing device without compromising the tactile feel of the keyboard.”

The filing, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed by Apple in August of 2010. It is credited to Patrick Kessier, Bradley Hamel, and James J. Niu.

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

Tipsters reveal hints as to why AMD “Llano” processor never came to MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

If you wondered as to where the next-gen AMD processors might be on your MacBook Air, there’s a reason for that too.

According to Forbes, former AMD employees revealed that Apple gave its “Llano” chip a “close look” for a new MacBook Air model last year, but ultimately decided not to go with the processor because too many of its parts were faulty.

AMD has been through several reinventions in recent years in a quest to find a niche to call its own. The company was an early competitor to chip giant Intel, but it has struggled to keep up pace with its rival as of late.

Brian Caulfield reports that new “fusion” processors from AMD had a shot at upstaging Intel by making their way into Apple’s popular MacBook Air notebook for last year’s refresh. People familiar with the matter indicated that Apple had given the “Llano” processor, which combined the CPU and GPU into one part, serious consideration for use in its thin-and-light portable.

However, a former employee indicated that AMD was unable to get early working samples of the chip to Apple on time, though tipsters disagreed on exactly how close the company was to delivering the chip, with one claiming that AMD “had it.” According to the report, too many of the parts ended up being faulty and AMD lost the deal.

Sources also said AMD had proposed a low-power processor named “Brazos” for a revamp of the Apple TV box, but Apple declined to go with the option. “Brazos” went on to make inroads in the netbook industry and reportedly kept the company afloat.

“If Brazos had been killed, AMD wouldn’t be in business,” one former employee said.

A separate report from late last year also claimed that Apple had considered the AMD “Llano” option “plan A” for its MacBook Air, but AMD was said to have “dropped the ball” at the last minute.

Apple released the Thunderbolt MacBook Air last July with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors powering the notebooks. The machines became an instant success and reportedly jumped to 28 percent of the company’s notebook shipments just months after they were released.

Hitachi announces 500GB, 7mm, 7,200 RPM Z7K500 notebook hard drive

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Date: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, 07:22
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

On Wednesday, Hitachi announced the release of its 500GB Travelstar Z7K500. Per Electronista, the drive is the first to hit a half-terabyte at the slimmer 7mm height while keeping a full 7,200RPM spin speed and just one drive platter. Along with being the first to have both a 6Gbps SATA3 connection and a 32MB buffer, it’s billed as being not just faster than other 7mm drives but faster than many regular 9mm drives as well.

The disk is intended both for thin regular notebooks as well as for ultrabooks. Although not fast enough by itself to match a solid-state drive, including an SSD as a cache theoretically offers a best-of-both-worlds design where the responsiveness of an SSD and the lower prices of a rotating hard drive are combined. It consumes more power, but at 1.8W peak and 0.8W idle is relatively efficient.

Hitachi has had test versions of its newer Z7K500 drives since January and is already expecting mass production for March, with 250GB and 320GB editions already available. It hasn’t named the customers that will be using it, although it conspicuously mentioned that “all major PC OEMs” had already qualified the pre-500GB drives and implied that Apple, Dell, HP, and others were either using or planning to use the new Travelstars.

Final pricing details for the Z7K500 drives also have yet to be announced.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Happy President’s Day from O’Grady’s PowerPage!!!

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Date: Monday, February 20th, 2012, 02:09
Category: Announcement

Ladies and gentlemen, President’s Day is upon us and the staff of O’Grady’s PowerPage will be taking the day off to spend with friends, family and assorted Apple mobile devices.

We advise you to do the same.

And if you can find a good sale in the process, more power to you.

Swing back tomorrow for more Apple mobile news and events and remember, it’s a good thing that Lincoln fought the vampires:



Leaked iOS 5.1 image shows off possible permanent lock-screen camera button image

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Date: Friday, February 17th, 2012, 05:45
Category: iOS, Rumor

An alleged leak of Apple’s upcoming iOS 5.1 update appears to show the addition of a permanent camera button on the lock screen and Japanese support for Siri.

Brazilian iPhone blog blogdoiPhone claimed on Thursday to have a obtained a “pre-GM” version of iOS 5.1 with a few minor changes from current beta versions. The GM version is the final candidate that is used in a software release.

The publication reported that the leaked software featured a fixed camera icon on the lock screen, whereas the current version of iOS 5 adds the camera button when users double tap on the home button. According to the report, sliding a finger up on the icon pulls up the camera screen.

The publication also appeared to show the addition of Japanese to the language options for Siri, the new voice-activated assistant on the iPhone 4S. Siri itself already claims to speak Japanese, as was discovered earlier this week.

Apple has promised to add Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish to Siri this year. One recent rumor claimed Chinese, Japanese and Russian support could arrive as early as next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Canon Printer Drivers 2.8 update

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:17
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most exciting update in the world, but it doesn’t hurt.

Late Wednesday, Apple released its Canon Printer Drivers 2.8 update. The update, a 328 megabyte download, offers the latest printer drivers for Apple’s Mac OS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) and Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) operating systems where Canon’s printers and multi-function devices are concerned.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via the built-in Mac OS X Software Update feature and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases public beta of Messages for the Mac, looks to replace iChat and integrate functionality with iOS version

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 06:03
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple announced the public beta of its new Mac Messages application with cross-platform support for iOS will be a major feature of the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, users can get their hands on an early beta immediately.

According to AppleInsider, the Messages beta is now available for download direct from Apple for free. Apple’s official site advertises that it will give users “a taste of what’s coming in OS X Mountain Lion,” set to be released in late summer 2012.

“When you install Messages, it replaces iChat,” Apple said. “But iChat services will continue to work. And Messages brings iMessage to the Mac — just like on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5.”

The Messages beta requires users Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and offers the following features:

– Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.

– Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.

– Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re tried the beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hints at Apple TV opportunities during Goldman Sachs speech

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

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Sometimes Apple CEO Tim Cook gets coy and drops hints as to cool new Apple products coming down the road.

And that’s generally a good thing.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity.

Such a suggestion points towards Apple creating a more stand-alone device than a tethered solution such as the current Apple TV units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.