Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Pro notebooks in late October, next-gen Mac Pro in mid-November

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Date: Saturday, October 19th, 2013, 22:36
Category: Hardware, iPad, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The upcoming MacBook Pro and Mac Pro rumors are coming in thanks to the French.

Per French web site MacG.co, Alleged availability dates for some of Apple’s anticipated upcoming products were reported on Tuesday, pegging new MacBook Pros to launch in just over a week, with the revamped Mac Pro desktop apparently set to debut in mid November.

The site has stated that the new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will be available for sale either Oct. 24 or 25. It’s expected that Apple’s new professional-grade notebooks will feature Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors, which offer significant savings in power consumption, thus improving battery life.

As for the new Mac Pro, which Apple already gave a sneak peek at earlier this year, the site claims that the new desktop will be available for delivery on Nov. 15.

The site also claims that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will go on sale either Oct. 30 or 31. It’s unclear whether that would be the date orders would begin, or if the devices would be available to physically have in hand.

The iPad dates are somewhat suspect, as Apple traditionally launches new iOS products on Fridays. For example, last year the Wi-Fi-only versions of the first-generation iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale Nov. 2, on their way to total sales of 3 million total units in the first three days of availability.

Apple is expected to announce dates for multiple new products at a media event anticipated for Oct. 22. With that date just a week away, it’s likely that invitations to members of the press will be sent out later today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases SMC firmware updates for 2012, 2013 notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013, 07:35
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

The firmware fixes for your recent Apple notebook arrived yesterday.

Per Macworld, Apple released SMC Updatesfor the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Retina MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air SMC Update v1.9 is available as a 1.09 megabyte download for MacBook Air notebooks released in 2012 and 2013. It fixes a “rare” problem where the battery stops working, the battery is no longer recognized, or the system hangs when the battery has a charge that’s less than one percent.

The MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.7 is available as a 1 megabyte download for non-Retina MacBook Pro laptops released since 2012. Apple says that the update fixes a “rare” problem where a battery that has over 1,000 charge cycles shuts down or stops working.

The MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update v1.1 is available as a 504 kilobyte download that fixes a few problems, including Power Nap bug fixes, and a “rare” issue with slow frame rates in games on the 15-inch model. This update is for Retina MacBook Pros only.

All of the updates can be obtained using the links above or by running Software Update.

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

iFixit completes iPhone 5s teardown, finds interesting new changes in current handset

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Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

eliphone5s

The gents at iFixit got busy again.

Granted, they were a little behind the Aussie teardown, but they still found some pretty cool stuff within the new iPhone 5s.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the iFixit teardown revealed the following:

- The confirmation of AuthenTec as the company behind the fingerprint sensor, which was expected since Apple acquired the biometric hardware company last year. The sensor uses a CMOS chip and requires 5 to ten images to create a complete profile of your fingerprint ridges.

- iFixit also noted that the display in the 5s should be familiar to everyone as it is “no bigger, better, or badder than the [iPhone] 5.” In fact, it is the same 326 ppi Retina display assembly.

- iFixit has reported that the teardown is done and has given the iPhone 5s a 6 out of 10 for repairability. It gets a lower score for using pentalobe screws, a battery with a more sticky adhesive and an all-in-one front panel that includes the front glass, digitizer, and LCD.

- Other goodies include the potential identification of the camera module as a Sony component and the sighting of 1GB of RAM.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Aussie-based tech shop iExperts performs initial teardown of iPhone 5s, reports findings

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Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, 14:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

eliphone5s

The Aussies completed an initial teardown of the iPhone 5s and there are some impressive components inside.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Australia-based tech shop iExperts, the guys at iExperts were able to remove the standard pentalobe screws holding the handset together, then used a suction cup to remove the screen. The team noticed that there’s a special cable that connects the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s to the charging port assembly — not sure of the reason, but some speculation has indicated that it’s for grounding the sensor when the iPhone is docked and charging.

The batteries on the new devices have higher capacities than the one on the iPhone 5 (5.45 Whr), with the iPhone 5s coming in at 5.92 Whr and the iPhone 5c at 5.73 Whr. Those batteries, according to iExperts, are made by Apple Japan, something they’ve never seen before on iPhone batteries.

The logic boards for the new iPhones are quite compact in comparison to the one in the iPhone 5, and iExperts noted that the 5s and 5c boards share a similar design. The team also marveled at the “incredible functionality for such little circuitry” found in the Touch ID sensor on the 5s (below).

If you’re one of those people with an iPhone 4, iPod touch, iPod nano (sixth generation) or iPhone 5 that had a power switch failure, you’ll be happy to know that the switch assembly has been changed in the new iPhones.

The iExperts team will be posting more information on the chips located on the logic board later, so bookmark the page for additional information as it becomes available.

FCC filings hint at larger battery for iPhone 5s, 5c handsets

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Date: Thursday, September 12th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

iphone5sbattery

If you were hoping for a larger, longer-lasting battery on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c handsets, it looks like it’s on its way.

Per AnandTech and 9to5Mac, the FCC filings for the new iPhones to reveal that the iPhone 5s battery offers approximately 10 percent more capacity than its predecessor, while the 5c battery offers a more modest 5 percent gain.

Actual battery-life for the iPhone 5s will be interesting to see. While the handset’s beefier A7 CPU will consume more power, the M7 coprocessor that handles some of the background tasks should reduce battery consumption. How the two balance out is not yet known, though Apple did promise better battery-life than the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds Mavericks Developer Preview 6 to programmer community, include minor fixes

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Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, 07:41
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is still en route, folks.

Per MacNN, on Wednesday, Apple seeded the sixth Developer Preview of the next major upgrade of OS X, known as “Mavericks” (10.9) to developers. Apple appears to be back on its normal development cycle following the disruption of the Developer Center due to a security intrusion in July. The latest update comes two weeks after the fifth DP, which introduced iBooks for the Mac to the upgrade. Registered developers can download the software from the Mac App Store or Software Update. The final version is expected to arrive in September.

The update arrives with no significant reported enhancements, just bug fixes and minor tweaks. The final version will include new additions such as Finder Tabs, Apple Maps for OS X, and a number of processor-management enhancements that should further extend battery life for portable users, among other features.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen low cost iPhone may not include Siri, could replace iPhone 4 as base model

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Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 07:37
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The plastic low-cost iPhone may become Apple’s new overall base model.

Per AppleInsider, in a research note issued to investors on Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts Apple may scale back iOS 7 on a rumored low-cost iPhone, possibly hobbling the handset by deactivating features like Siri.

Recognizing recent rumors of a Sept. 10 iPhone announcement, Munster took the chance to update investors on his Apple product pipeline predictions for the rest of the year and into 2014.

The analyst’s expectations for the next-generation iPhone, dubbed by many as the “iPhone 5S,” are very much in line with rumors and reports coming from a multitude of sources. Aside from incorporating a fingerprint sensor into the home button, which Munster believes will be limited to user authentication, the 5S will feature the usual “S-series” component upgrades. These include increased processor performance, extended battery life, more memory, and other spec bumps.

While his iPhone 5S outlook is in line with mainstream rumblings, Munster’s thoughts on the rumored less-expensive “iPhone 5C” are a bit unconventional. Like others, he predicts the 5C will have a plastic casing, 4-inch display and slightly lower end internal components than the iPhone 5S. However, the analyst believes Apple will exclude software features when the handset launches, specifically the Siri voice recognizing virtual assistant.

Curiously, Munster cites the lack of Siri on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 in his iPhone 5C prediction, but fails to mention the service was never part of iOS until Apple incorporated the feature in the iPhone 4S. Apple purchased Siri, which was formerly an iOS app, in April 2010, ultimately baking the technology into iOS 5 over a year later.

Siri was never officially activated on the iPhone 4 or earlier models, though a jailbreak proved the service could run on older hardware. It is thought that special noise cancellation tech implemented in certain A5 processors, used in the iPhone 4S, iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch, is needed for Siri to work optimally. Even with the latest iOS 6, Siri is still absent in the iPhone 4 and below.

As for Apple’s low-end handset offerings, Munster believes “it may make sense” for the company to discontinue the iPhone 4S product line instead of carrying the model over as a free-on-contract device. This would bring parity to the lineup, the analyst says, with the iPhone 5S, current iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C all sporting similar designs and screen sizes.

In this configuration, Munster sees the iPhone 5C as selling for an estimated US$300.

Finally, Munster agrees with the September iPhone event rumor, and sees October as a likely launch timeframe for both a new iPad and iPad mini. Further out, he predicts Apple to debut a new TV product before the end of 2013, while a larger-screened iPhone and so-called “iWatch” should hit store shelves by mid-2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mavericks Developer Preview 3 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 08:38
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is coming…

Per MacNN, Apple has posted OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 3 on Monday. While it is too soon to notice any significant changes or improvements, the beta is focused on compatibility and performance issues, as well as integrating the forthcoming “iCloud Keychain” feature. The update is still dealing with assorted known issues, including some that render it incompatible with even the last Mavericks and iOS 7 betas. Installation on production machines remains strongly discouraged.

The update, which is just over 1GB in size, doesn’t support virtual machines made by VMWare Fusion, nor does Adobe’s After Effects CS6 work properly. A number of functions in DP3 are not backwards-compatible with previous versions — such as new Fusion Drive volumes, screen recordings, Recovery Partition reinstalls and iCloud Keychain. The latter, an expansion of the ability to sync keychains between devices, still has a number of serious known issues.

The iCloud Keychain proposes to move the centralized storage of secure passwords, website usernames and other important data to iCloud, with entries encrypted using 256-bit AES. This enables users to take more advantage of the built-in Password Generator that creates unmemorable complex passwords for online accounts, since users don’t have to remember the password itself, just the one master password that unlocks the keychain and can be used across any devices the user has.

The release notes refer to issues with QuickTime Player, Aperture, Photoshop, Maps and others. The new update does include a newer version of OpenSSH, 6.2p2, but also lists a number of odd bugs such as “the headphone port on the new 2013 MacBook Air will not operate unless headphones are present at boot” and “on some machines, frequently sleeping and waking may result in the machines restarting,” indicating that the latest release is still far from being ready for public consumption. Migration from Windows is still not supported, and network migration from earlier versions of OS X requires a Migration Update (for Snow Leopard and later) that is only available from the Mac Dev Center.

The forthcoming Mavericks promises users long-requested features such as Finder Tabs and better multi-monitor support, extensive efficiency routines that should prolong battery life, improved Maps, a faster Safari, iBooks for the Mac and many other new and improved features. It is expected sometime in the early fall, although no exact release date has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Geekbench entry hints at next-gen 15-inch, Haswell-based MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 07:14
Category: MacBook Pro, News

macbookpro15

This could point to something cool down the road.

Per MacRumors, a new entry that surfaced last month in the results database for popular benchmarking tool Geekbench 2 appeared to reveal Apple’s next-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro. Many observers had expected the update to come at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, but Apple has yet to release the new machines.

The post appears to reveal Apple’s next-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, carrying a code name of “AAPLJ45,1″. As with the 13-inch model, it is not clear whether this machine is a Retina or non-Retina model, although Apple has been rumored to be leaving the non-Retina models without any further updates as it seeks to phase out the line in favor of an all-Retina lineup.

The benchmarked 15-inch MacBook Pro, which carries one of Intel’s new Haswell processors and 16 GB of RAM, received a Geekbench score of 12497, roughly in line with the current generation of the machine. But as was seen with the MacBook Air released last month, Haswell’s biggest benefit comes in efficiency, with Apple being able to boost the battery life on those machines to up to 12 hours.

The chip included in the benchmarked machine is a Core i7-4950HQ running at 2.4 GHz and offering Intel’s new high-end Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics. Intel’s promotional materials for Iris previously showed graphics performance gains of 2-2.5x for this i7-4950Q with Iris 5200 compared to the i7-3840QM with HD Graphics 4000 found in the current stock high-end Retina MacBook Pro.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro has, however, historically also included a dedicated graphics chip for improved performance, although it is unclear exactly what Apple’s plans are in this regard for future generations. With Intel’s integrated graphics seeing significant increases in performance, it is possible that Apple could, at least on some models, forego a dedicated graphics chip in order to push battery life even higher.

As with the 13-inch model benchmarked earlier, this 15-inch model is running a custom build of OS X Mavericks, in this case 13A2052. The machine is also running a Boot ROM dated June 24.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro currently offers 7 hours of battery life, and while Apple may not be able to duplicate the 80% increase in battery life seen with the MacBook Air’s switch to Haswell due to other power-hungry components such as the MacBook Pro’s Retina display, the company may still be able to offer substantial battery life improvements in its new machines.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.