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

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

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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

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 14:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Responding primarily to its recent location tracking controversey, Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3.3, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes the following fixes and changes for iOS-based devices:

- Reduces the size of the cache.

- No longer backs the cache up to iTunes.

- Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, the CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

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

Apple releases Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped 2011 iMacs

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 09:57
Category: iMac, News

It’s kind of fun when the rumors are true.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple announced a new generation of iMac models, running at speeds up to 3.4 GHz and powered by the next generation of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The models also build in support for the new Thunderbolt high-speed peripheral connection interface that debuted in Apple’s MacBook Pro line earlier this year.

In terms of processors, Apple has shifted to Intel’s second-generation Core technology—codenamed “Sandy Bridge”—for the iMac line. “What Intel has done is very tightly engineer the processor, the graphics, the cache, and the memory controller on a single die,” said Apple’s David Moody, vice president of hardware product marketing. Moody said this accelerates transfer between processor components, resulting in some impressive performance gains.

In addition, the processor architecture upgrade has enabled a transition to quad-core processor configurations across the iMac line—in comparison, the previous iMac line had only a single quad-core configuration on the highest-performance model.

“Even in the top-end, moving from the old quad-core configuration to the new quad-core configuration has seen 30 percent faster performance,“ said Moody.

The desktop line now sports the latest generation of AMD Radeon HD discrete graphics processors. The high-end Radeon HD 6790M boasts 1.3 Teraflops of performance and is up to 80% faster than the previous generation. Moody described the technology as “Mac Pro-class graphics” and said it’s the “first time we have the same level of performance in the iMac that you’d have in a Mac Pro.” The gains aren’t limited to high-end either; even the entry-level version’s Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor clocks in at three times faster than the previous configuration.

For external connectivity, the new iMacs boast the same Thunderbolt ports introduced in its new MacBook Pro line released in February. Co-developed with Intel, Thunderbolt offers two bi-directional channels that can transfer data at up to 10Gbps each—12 times faster than the theoretical maximum of FireWire 800. The technology is based on the PCI Express protocol that most Macs use for internal I/O, but via adapters it can support pretty much any other type of connectivity protocol, including FireWire, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The smaller iMac sports a single Thunderbolt port while the larger version includes two—Moody confirmed that those ports are independent as well, meaning that users essentially have four 10Gbps channels. That allows, for the first time, the 27-inch iMac to drive two external displays—and that’s in addition to other high-speed peripherals. Moody also said that the adoption of Thunderbolt is progressing, with several vendors announcing plans for compatible peripherals at the NAB show last month.

As with the MacBook Pro refresh also earlier this year, the iMac line also now has a FaceTime HD camera for video conferencing. The camera can supports 720p high-definition video in a 16 by 9 widescreen format, and supports a wider viewing angle to make it easier for multiple people to get in the picture. High-definition video calls are only supported between Macs with a FaceTime HD camera, such as the iMac and MacBook Pros—calls with other Macs, or iOS devices are limited to standard definition.

The new machine comes in four basic configurations: two 21.5-inch models with a 2.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 processor respectively, and two 27-inch models with a 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel i5. Apple is also offering build-to-order Web-only options to bump the 21.5-inch model to a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, and the 27-inch model to a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7; the i7 processor upgrades add US$200 to the cost.

The low-end 21.5-inch model sports a 500GB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB of video RAM, while the more powerful 21.5-inch configuration has a 1TB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM. Both versions feature a 1920 by 1080 pixel display and 4GB of memory. They retail for US$1,199 and US$1,499 respectively.

Both of the 27-inch models sport a 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560 by 1440 pixel display. The 2.7GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM, while the 3.1GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB of video RAM. They retail for US$1,699 and US$1,999 respectively.

Additional build-to-order options include 2TB hard drives, an additional 256GB solid-state drive alongside the main drive, and up to 16GB of DDR3 memory. Customers can choose between a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad with their order.

If you’ve snagged a new iMac, let us know when it arrives and what you make of it and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2.2 update

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Date: Friday, April 22nd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released a minor update to its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.2.2 includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements” for playing video with enhanced books from the iBookstore, incorrect fonts being displayed, and navigational responsiveness.

The new version’s fixes and changes include the following:
- Addresses issues playing video included with enhanced books from the iBookstore.

- Resolves a problem where some books open with a different font than expected.

- Makes iBooks more responsive when navigating books with many items in their table of contents.

iBooks requires an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple receives RFID tag reader patent, iPhone 5 possibilities seen on horizon

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Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, 07:25
Category: iPhone, Patents

If it’s not the rumors that keep things interesting, it’s the patents for stuff that might be coming down the line…

Per AppleInsider, a patent recently granted to Apple detailing a method of incorporating a Radio Frequency Identification tag reader into the screen of a portable touchscreen device in order to save space has furthered speculation that Apple plans to add RFID features to the iPhone.

The patent, entitled “Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader,” describes “the efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published the filing on Tuesday.

RFID allows devices to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without the requirement of contact or a visible line of sight.

In the filing, Apple documents a process by which the touch sensor panel of a device can be modified to double as an “RFID transponder,” thereby eliminating the need for a “space-consuming RFID antenna.”

According to the invention, loops for the antenna of the RFID circuit can be formed from “metal on the same layer as metal traces form in the borders of a substrate” without requiring a separate metal layer.

Apple’s method for employing RFID tag reader technology within a touchscreen joins a growing collection of RFID patent applications, which include the invention of a mobile “ID App” for reading RFID tags and a method of using RFID to sense and connect to WiFi networks.

The proposed “ID App” would utilize an RFID reader, camera and an IR image capture device to identify objects, such as a painting in a museum, and search a set of databases to gather more information.

Last August, rumors emerged that Apple was planning to bring near field communications technology, such as RFID, to the next-generation iPhone. Further evidence of Apple’s alleged plans for an RFID-capable iPhone came in October of last year when reports suggested that an Apple partnership with chip manufacturer Gemalto could pave the way for contactless transactions on the iPhone via RFID.

In January, Apple web site visitors discovered a job listing for an iPhone hardware engineer with RFID experience. It has been suggested that Apple will implement an e-wallet feature to take advantage of the rumored NFC-capabilities in future iOS devices.

Analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities claimed in February that the next iPhone will utilize NFC for a ‘unique’ twist that would go beyond just e-wallet functionality. After a suprising contrary report suggested that NFC would not make it into the next iPhone, Forbes reported in March that, according to a trustworthy source in the NFC market, the iPhone 5 will indeed have NFC contactless capabilities.

Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling are listed as inventors of the patent.

HBO Go to launch in early May, stream content to mobile and iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, 03:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you love the HBO Go online streaming service that allows subscribers to watch their shows as they please, you’ll like this. Per Engadget, HBO Go is slated to hit smartphones and tablets early next month. Android and iOS HBO Go apps have been teased by a new video on HBO’s YouTube channel, with promises of “instant and unlimited access” to “every episode of every season” of your favorite shows, garnished with a selection of hit movies.



The apps and streaming will be free to HBO subscribers, who’ll be able to get their content over both 3G and Wi-Fi connections. May 2nd is the date on which the teaser video ends, though it doesn’t explicitly say that the service will go live then.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts job listing focused on improving cloud services

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Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011, 03:07
Category: Mobile, Rumor, Software

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When the job listings go up, things become interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is building a small team to write software which will lay the groundwork for the company’s future Web services, which it has advertised as “the future” of its cloud-based offerings.

This week the company posted a new job listing for the position of “Cloud Systems Software Engineer.” The full-time role at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus will join a “small team” that is said to be building “the future of cloud services at Apple.”

That small team writes “software which forms the foundation” for some of Apple’s “most exciting new products and services,” the job listing reads. In keeping with Apple’s legendary secrecy, the listing does not reveal what services the company’s cloud-driven future will include.

The company is apparently looking to hire an engineer with experiencing in scalable and extensible systems. The ideal candidate will collaborate with other engineering teams at Apple to build the platform frameworks and systems that will power Apple’s next-generation Web services.

Apple has offered cloud-based services for some time with its US$99-per-year MobileMe service. According to unconfirmed rumors, Apple is expected to unveil an enhanced version of MobileMe this year, featuring a digital “locker” that would store personal files such as photos, music and videos. That content could be streamed to Internet-connected devices like iPhones, eliminating the need for a large amount of local memory on devices.

In particular, Apple is believed to be working on a cloud-based music service that would allow users to stream their music from anywhere. Such a product could be powered by Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina, expected to go online this spring.

This week’s latest job listing from Apple comes only months after the company sought to add software engineers to its iOS development team with an emphasis on remote storage for data access. Cloud support is rumored to be a major component of iOS 5, the next major version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad. One report from March said Apple plans to release iOS 5 this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 4.3.2 to feature FaceTime, Verizon iPad, WebKit fixes and changes

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Date: Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

If iOS 4.3.1 is driving you mildly nuts, there’s hope down the line.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple is rumored to issue its next mobile operating system update, iOS 4.3.2, for the iPhone and iPad in the next week, addressing problems with FaceTime and connectivity issues related to the Verizon iPad 2.

The web site allegedly obtained an early copy of the iOS 4.3.2 software and loaded it on an iPhone, but apparently didn’t notice any standout changes with the incremental software update. Even so, a tipster reportedly said that the new software will pack a fix for FaceTime, as well as security fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities, among other minor changes.

The update is also said to resolve connectivity issues with the Verizon CDMA iPad 2. Last Friday, Apple said in a statement that it is looking into connection problems users have reported with the 3G-capable Verizon iPad 2. The issues have not been reported by users of the AT&T-compatible 3G iPad 2.

Rumors of an iOS 4.3.2 update first surfaced earlier this month. It was said that the security and maintenance update would include bug fixes, but no additional details were given at the time.

iOS 5.0 is expected to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled to kick off June 6 in San Francisco, Calif. Apple has said that this year’s conference will be used to “unveil the future of iOS,” and rumors have indicated that Apple will preview iOS 5, but will not announce a new iPhone as it has done in years past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3.2 in next couple of weeks

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Date: Friday, April 8th, 2011, 04:06
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

Apple is rumored to be prepping another incremental update to its mobile operating system in the form of iOS 4.3.2 within the next few weeks, the update having been said to include bug fixes and enhancements.

Per Boy Genius Report, the company is currently working on iOS 4.3.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Tipsters allegedly indicated that the software will arrive in about two weeks.

“It’s said to include a few enhancements, address security issues, and it will also fix several bugs that have affected users,” the report said. It provided no specifics on what bugs or improvements the update might include.

The same site reported on iOS 4.3.1 in March, and said it would also arrive within two weeks. The actual software arrived just four days later, and was a minor release with fixes for cellular networks and a resolution for an occasional graphics glitch on the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Apple has already revealed that it will “unveil the future of iOS” at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, scheduled to start on June 6. It is widely believed that Apple will officially unveil the next major update for its mobile operating system, iOS 5, at that event, though rumors have suggested the company has no intention of showing off new iPhone hardware, as it has done in years past.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Facebook 3.4 app released, adds “Unfriend”, geolocation features

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Date: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 08:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It may not be the best thing that Facebook pervades a bit too much of our lives, but it IS useful, especially on the iOS devices.

Per Mac|Life, Facebook released version 3.4 of its iPhone app on Monday. The new version, which still has yet to go iPad native, adds a handful of modest improvements including the ability to “unfriend” one of your friends with a couple of taps.

A “Place”s feature in the Facebook app has added a map view. Now, instead of simply seeing a list of where your friends are, you can actually see their location, even from across the country. Version 3.4 also adds the ability to check in to Facebook Events that you happen to be attending.

Last but not least, the Facebook app gets an “improved News Feed” as well as an “improved notifications UI,” but one major thing on everyone’s wish list remains MIA yet again — either a native Facebook app for the iPad, or better yet a universal upgrade so the app is optimized for both the iPhone/iPod touch as well as the iPad.

The Facebook app is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.