Analyst: ARM-based Macs “inevitable”, though still a ways off

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Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 09:24
Category: News, Processors

Apple’s future may be in the hands of ARM some day.

Per AppleInsider, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu has gone on record as saying it’s “inevitable” that Apple will merge its Mac and iOS devices at some point, but such a change is not expected to happen for years.

Wu said in a note to investors on Tuesday that he believes it will take Apple some time to optimize its Mac OS X operating system for the ARM processors currently found in the iPad and iPhone.

Intel processors are currently much more powerful for running intensive Mac applications, as well as for development. But he believes that ARM processors will eventually become powerful enough to replace Intel chips.

In his view, making Apple’s entire product line based on custom-built ARM-based processors would simplify the architecture of its devices, and also help to create a more seamless experience for users.

Wu also noted that the Mac represents just 14 percent to 18 percent of Apple’s total revenue. In comparison, the iPhone accounts for between 45 and 50 percent of the company’s revenue, and the iPad is 20 to 25 percent.

Wu’s take was issued in response to a report that surfaced on Monday from Bloomberg, which indicated that Apple’s engineers are confident that the company’s A-series custom chip designs will one day be powerful enough to run the company’s desktop and laptop machines. ARM-based silicon in Apple devices is currently limited to iOS devices.

Monday’s report also suggested a change to ARM processors is not likely to take place “in the next few years.” But it also portrayed a shift to proprietary chip designs as an “inevitable” transition for the company in the future.

Apple is said to have a team dedicated to the project, with engineers working to design a lineup of machines that rely on a common chip design. Apple already employs this approach with its current lineup of iPhones, iPads and iPods.

A potential switch to ARM chips would pose a challenge to Intel, Wu said. He noted that Apples’ 11-inch MacBook Air gets four to five hours of battery life under heavy use, compared to 10 hours of battery life with an ARM-based iPad.

Reports suggesting Apple could power future Macs with ARM processors are not new. One recent story issued in October also said Apple has “deliberated” moving its lineup of Mac computers away from Intel processors, though such a change was said to not be “imminent.”

Apple has made headway in designing its own custom silicon for the iPhone and iPad. Earlier this year, rumors suggested Apple was looking to use its own ARM processors in upcoming iterations of the MacBook, especially in power-critical applications like the thin-and-light MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.1 beta, updated Xcode beta to developers, looks to improve iOS Maps application functionality

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:22
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s time to sort out this iOS Maps snafu in a major way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday provided developers with a prerelease version of its forthcoming iOS 6.1 update, featuring improvements to its Maps application programming interface, and also issued a beta of Xcode 4.6.

Both iOS 6.1 and Xcode 4.6 are now available to download from Apple’s developer website. People familiar with the first iOS 6.1 beta indicated it is identified as “Build 10B5095f.”

The iOS 6.1 beta is available for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS; fourth-, third- and second-generation iPads; and the fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Beta versions of iOS 6.1 compatible with the iPad mini and new fourth-generation iPad, which will become publicly available tomorrow, are not said to be offered on Apple’s developer website.

The only major new addition to iOS 6.1 is said to be “Map Kit Searches” as part of the “Map Kit” framework. It now lets developers search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

A new class labeled “MKLocalSearch” is also said to offer map-based content using a natural language string. This will allow users to enter place name information or portions of an address to return relevant information.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

The new Xcode 4.6 beta is reportedly labeled as “Build 4H90b,” and it includes the iOS 6.1 beta SDK, along with Mac OS X 10.8 SDK. The pre-release version of Xcode includes the Xcode IDE, iOS simulator, and all required tools and frameworks for building OS X and iOS applications.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new development tools and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6.0.1 update

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 06:51
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s the bug fixes that matter.

On Thursday, Apple released its iOS 6.0.1 update. The new operating system, a 626 megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Fixes a bug that prevents iPhone 5 from installing software updates wirelessly over the air.

- Fixes a bug where horizontal lines may be displayed across the keyboard.

- Fixes an issue that could cause camera flash to not go off.

- Improves reliability of iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation) when connected to encrypted WPA2 Wi-Fi networks.

- Resolves an issue that prevents iPhone from using the cellular network in some instances.

- Consolidated the Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match.

- Fixes a Passcode Lock bug which sometimes allowed access to Passbook pass details from lock screen.

- Fixes a bug affecting Exchange meetings.

iOS 6.0.1 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second, third or fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.0.1 works for you, no matter what the feedback may be.

Forstall ousting apparently met with “quiet jubilation” among Apple employees

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Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, 07:50
Category: News

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Maybe Scott Forstall’s departure was a long time coming.

Per GigaOm, employees at Apple are said to be extremely satisfied with the ouster of iOS software chief Scott Forstall, who had apparently worn out his welcome at the company.

Sources familiar with the situation told GigaOm’s Om Malik that Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of “quiet jubilation,” particularly among those who worked in Apple’s engineering groups. One person quipped that a number of employees were going out for “celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future.”

Forstall’s departure from Apple was also said to be “fairly last minute.” A number of employees at Apple’s iOS and OS X teams only learned the news minutes before the press release was released to the public on Monday, and engineers were “caught off guard.”

Employees are also said to be excited about designer Jony Ive taking over the new human interface group, while many feel that Craig Federighi needs to prove himself in heading both the iOS and OS X teams.

While Forstall was said to be close with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, none of the remaining executives particularly cared for Forstall. Ive, in particular, was said to have had a “rocky relationship” with Forstall.

Earlier reports also revealed that one significant reason why Forstall is out at Apple is because of his apparent refusal to sign an apology letter for the quality of the new Apple Maps application in iOS 6. When the letter was issued to the public, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was the only signature included.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to delay iTunes 11 launch until November, looks to “get it right”

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Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, 07:05
Category: iTunes, News, Software

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You’ll have to wait a little longer for iTunes 11.

Per AllThingsD, Apple announced on Tuesday that it will be pushing back the launch of iTunes 11 until November, citing unexpected delays and the desire to “get it right.”

The news comes after Apple in September said the new media purchasing and management hub would be ready for rollout later in October, but now the company is delaying release until some time in November.

“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,” said spokesman Tom Neumayr. “We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface, and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”

The software’s revamped user interface purportedly shows a tidied up, iOS-inspired interface.

Speculation suggests that the recent Apple management overhaul, more specifically the departure of Scott Forstall, played a role in the delay. Eddy Cue, the executive that will take on some of the iOS chief’s duties including Maps and Siri, is also in charge of iTunes, which could be a factor in the hold up. It should be noted that the rumors are just that and have little to no supporting evidence.

Some of the new features expected with iTunes 11 are a better layout, faster performance, full-library search, improved iCloud integration, redesigned mini-player and full-screen support, among others.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Forstall’s refusal to sign iOS Maps apology letter may have been the last straw

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:19
Category: News

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There may be a few pretty valid reasons as to why Scott Forstall is leaving Apple.

Per the Mac Observer, sources have indicated that Forstall’s ouster was due to his refusal to sign a letter of apology over Apple Maps in September. The New York Times, Fortune, and The Verge all claim sources saying as much, suggesting that this could have played a role in his departure from Apple.

At issue was the rollout of Apple Maps as a replacement for Google Maps on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple Maps is a beautiful service that brings all manner of performance enhancements to Apple’s iOS devices, but it was rolled out with significant flaws, none of which were mentioned by Scott Forstall when he introduced the service at Apple media events.

Pushback and criticism of the service by customers, critics, fans, and Apple-haters alike led to Apple pulling back on its claim that Apple Maps was the, “most beautiful, powerful mapping service.” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter apologizing for the rollout and promising that Apple Maps would improve over time.

On Monday, Apple announced that Mr. Forstall would depart Apple and that his various fields of responsibility would be split up among Apple’s other top executives. In coverage of that shakeup, The New York Times and Fortune both included minor notes that Scott Forstall had refused to put his name on the letter published by Tim Cook.

The Times specified that Mr. Forstall dismissed the criticism that was being heaped on Apple as exaggerated. Fortune said that it “sealed his fate” at Apple, a sentiment echoed at The Verge, which said the reports were backed up by its own sources.

This, in addition to recurring reports that Mr. Forstall’s management style had angered Apple’s other executives and was causing friction with those ranks, seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.

White and silver iPad minis sell out within hours of pre-order availability

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:57
Category: iPad, News, retail

Well, that was fast.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after the iPad mini became available to preorder at Apple’s online store, the white and silver model sold out is now advertised to ship in two weeks.

While the white model in all capacities is now sold out, as of Friday morning the black and slate version is still advertised to deliver on next Friday, Nov. 2. Cellular-capable models do not ship until mid-November.

Announced this week, the iPad mini is available in sizes of 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes. Like the iPhone 5, it’s available in black and slate, as well as white and silver.

Market watchers have big expectations for the iPad mini, with millions expected to be sold this quarter. Though many expected an entry price lower than US$329, Wall Street analysts believe the iPad mini will justify its price to consumers with superior build quality, strong software, and a huge range of third-party applications available on the iOS App Store.

The iPad mini features a 7.9-inch display and a thinner bezel that allows it to be held with one hand. It’s 7.2 millimeters thin and weighs 0.68 pounds, which is 68 percent less than the full-size iPad.

In the meantime, there’s still the black and slate model…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 Update for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, late 2012 21.5″ iMac and Mac mini models

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Where new hardware is released, the software updates will follow.

Per AppleInsider, only one day following the announcement of new iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, Apple on Wednesday released an OS X Mountain Lion update built specifically for those devices.

While the download is called OS X 10.8.2, just like the most recent update to Apple’s current operating system for all other Macs, Wednesday’s release is “for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012)Mac mini (Late 2012).”

A quick look at the release notes doesn’t yield much in the way of new information, possibly pointing to issues the new 2012 units are facing with some features in 10.8.2. Of note is the update’s compatibility with the 21.5-inch iMac, a model that has yet to be released, though the no mention was made of the 27-inch version.

The update, a 654 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
- Single sign on for Facebook.
- Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
- Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
- Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Game Center:
- Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
- Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
- Facebook Like button for games.
- Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
- Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
- iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
- From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.
- New shared Reminders lists.
- FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number.
- New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
- Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
- The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary.
- Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:
- An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
- Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail.
- Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
- URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
- Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
- SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
- New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
- Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
- USB 3.0 reliability enhancements

As always, the update can be located and installed via the Mac App Store or OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple releases iBooks 3.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 06:12
Category: iOS, News, Software

Following the muchos-nifty-announcements at yesterday’s media event, Apple released iBooks 3.0, the new version of its e-reader for iOS.

The new version, a 40.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- See all your iBookstore purchases in iCloud—right on your bookshelf with iOS 6.

- Scroll vertically through your books with the flick of a finger using the new Scroll theme.

- Receive free updates to purchased books—including new chapters, corrections, and other improvements.

- Look up definitions for words in German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Simplified Chinese with iOS 6.

- Share quotes or thoughts about your favorite book with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Messages, or Mail.

iBooks 3.0 is available for free and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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