Rumor: Apple prepping ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook for Q2 2012

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 04:31
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The nice thing with rumors: there’s generally a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered a “small volume” of components for a 15-inch ultra-thin notebook that could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012.

Upstream suppliers are said to have begun shipping the components this month, though it remains unclear whether the final version of the 15-inch laptop will be marketed as a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro. Based on the timing of the order, sources believe that mass shipments of the device will begin in March of next year.

However, it should be noted that the publication has, as of late, had spotty reliability when it comes to Apple product predictions, though it claims to be well-connected in the Asian supply chain.

Late last month, it was reported that Apple was finishing up a “test phase” for a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook. The Mac maker is also rumored to be developing a 17-inch ultraportable MacBook, though such a machine was not mentioned in Tuesday’s report.

According to sources close to the story, Apple appears poised to move its MacBook Pro lines more toward the MacBook Air next year. The company is believed to be interested in bringing features, including instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures and the omission of optical drives, to the MacBook Pro in future designs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to telegraph such a move last year when he said that the MacBook Air, which had been redesigned to incorporate standout features from the iPad, represented the “future of the MacBook.”

The MacBook Air’s portion of Apple’s total Mac sales saw a significant jump in July after the company released an upgrade with Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge processors and back-lit keyboards. According to a recent analysis, the thin-and-light notebook now makes up 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments, up from 8 percent in May and June.

As of the September quarter, portables represented 74 percent of the company’s Mac sales, despite seeing record desktop sales in the same period. Meanwhile, total Mac sales last quarter were the highest ever at 4.85 million units.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray believes the latest NPD domestic sales data point to Apple selling 5.3 million Macs over the holiday quarter. Wall Street consensus for the quarter stands at 5.2 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 update, includes long-anticipated iTunes Match feature

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Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 11:15
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released iTunes 10.5.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Introducing iTunes Match. Store your entire music library in iCloud, including music you’ve imported from CDs, and enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or Apple TV.

iTunes 10.5.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 5.0.1 update, offer battery, security, document, speech recognition fixes

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 12:23
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it and it’s here.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple released iOS 5.0.1, the latest version of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:
- Fixes bugs affecting battery life.

- Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.

- Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud.

- Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation.

iOS 5.0.1 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

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

Rumor: Adobe to announce cancelation of Flash Player for mobile platforms

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Date: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

It’s had a good run, but maybe it’s time to move on to something else.

Per ZDNet, Adobe has briefed its employees on the company’s plans to abandon development of Flash player for mobile browsers in a blow to Google Android and Research in Motion PlayBook tablets, according to a new report.

Citing “sources close to Adobe” late Tuesday, ZDNet went on to claim that the company will soon make the following announcement, possibly as early as Wednesday:
“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.”

Adobe’s partners will reportedly receive an email briefing them on the fact that it is “stopping development on Flash Player for browsers on mobile,” the report continued. The company will instead focus its efforts on mobile applications, desktop content “in and out of browser,” and investments in HTML5.

The rumored announcement can largely be seen as a win for Apple and a loss for Android tablets and the Playbook. Competitors to the iPad and iPhone had originally touted Adobe Flash as a major selling point for their devices over Apple’s mobile offerings, which have eschewed Flash. RIM had highlighted in videos the fact that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was Flash-capable.

Making the resource-intensive Flash work for low-power mobile situations has long been a thorn in Adobe’s side. The company has encountered delays as it struggled to streamline Flash to run on mobile processors. Earlier this year, Motorola bragged that its Xoom tablet would come “fully Flash-enabled,” but then went ahead and launched the device without initial Flash support, promising to add it later.

The end of mobile Flash could also be seen as a vindication of Apple’s decision to steer clear of it. The late Steve Jobs famously called out Adobe for its struggles with Flash.

“Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it,” Jobs said in an open letter last April.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

In recent months, Adobe has moved towards HTML5. For instance, in September, the company announced that its Flash Media Server product would support the delivery of HTML5 video to Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Adobe also unveiled this summer work on an Edge web development tool that will enable creation of Flash-style animations through HTML5.

Adobe’s decision to drop development of mobile Flash comes as the company has initiated a round of layoffs due to restructuring. According to a press release on Tuesday, the software maker is aiming to focus more on “Digital Media and Digital Marketing” and will cut 750 full-time positions in North America and Europe as a result.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store app hits 2.0, adds in-store pickup, Easy Pay features

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Date: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 07:37
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail, Software

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Apple may not make all aspects of your life easier at all times, but they do try to streamline buying more of their products…

Per AppleInsider, Apple has updated its official Apple Store application for iOS, adding the new “Personal Pickup” option, as well as an “Easy Pay” feature, which allows customers to pay for an item on their own, direct from an iPhone, while in a retail store.

The Apple Store application was updated on Tuesday to version 2.0. The free application is a 4.0MB download that requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The most significant new features in the update are EasyPay and Personal Pickup. With EasyPay, an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S the user can scan the barcode of an accessory while in a store, and complete the transaction using the same credit card information tied to their Apple ID.

Word of the self-checkout option first surfaced last week, and accurately revealed that the option would only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf. Users cannot complete a self-checkout with more expensive items that are kept in Apple’s retail stockrooms, including the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs.

The updated Apple Store application also features a built-in Personal Pickup feature. With the software, users can buy an item on their iOS device, and then pick it up in a store in less than an hour if it is in stock.

Apple began offering an in-store pickup option on its website last month with a trial that began in San Francisco, Calif., and quickly spread to New York City stores. The in-store pickup option is currently available in the U.S. only.

The full list of new features included in version 2.0 of the Apple Store iOS application are included below:

Personal Pickup: Buy in the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple Retail Store. Most in-stock orders are available for pickup within an hour. (U.S. only)

EasyPay: Purchase select accessories in store quickly by scanning the barcode and completing your transaction right in the app. (U.S. only, requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)

Track your stuff: View the status of current and previous orders from the order status section in the More tab.

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

Rumor: Apple may incorporate dual-LED light bars for iPad 3′s boosted screen resolution

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Date: Monday, November 7th, 2011, 08:11
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3: It could be nifty.

Per DigiTimes, with Apple’s next-generation iPad expected to adopt much higher resolution displays, the electronics maker and its component suppliers are reportedly challenged with designing new backlight solutions capable of maintaining the tablet’s existing level of brightness with the higher density panels.

Citing sources within Apple’s Taiwanese supply chain, DigiTimes claims that the single LED back-light bar designed for the iPad 2′s 1024 x 768 resolution display is insufficient for maintaining and strengthening the brightness of the iPad 3′s planned upgraded to a double pixel density “Retina Display” long rumored to be in the ballpark of 2048 by 1536 pixels.

As such, LED back-light unit (BLU) vendors have reportedly pitched two alternative solutions to the Cupertino-based company, including a new design that maintains a single-bar form factor but with two LED chips nestled inside.

Apple, however, is said to be leading towards a second option that proposes using dual-LED light bars inside the iPad 3 — one on the left and one on the right — now that the BLU makers have reportedly conquered initial design glitches that created heat dissipation and battery consumption problems earlier in their development.

Difficulty with the higher resolution displays and new LED backlight design is already reported to have “affected the launch schedule” of the iPad 3. Still, necessary components for the tablet’s production have been arriving at Apple’s overseas manufacturing facilities since the end of October, as Apple reportedly aspires to pre-construct roughly 2 million of the new tablets by the end of December in anticipation of a launch in March of 2012.

In addition to the higher resolution displays, the next iPad is also rumored to adopt a quad-core A6 processor based on either Samsung’s or TSMC’s 28-nanometer processing technology. Other rumored enhancements include a redesigned, smaller dock connector that will allow Apple to continue to shave down the tablet’s thickness, and a thinner, lighter battery pack meeting CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability that will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

If sources are to be believed, the company as of last week had still yet to sign off on a finalized design for the new tablet that will ultimately be sent to mass production. Instead, it’s reportedly been developing two next-generation designs — code-named “J1″ and “J2″ — that each sport slightly different sizes, specifications and technologies.

According to one report, the J2 project is a more ambitious upgraded to the iPad 2 than the J1 project and Apple will “likely to make the final decision” on which model to mass produce based on “its needs” and intelligence on what rival tablet makers will be capable of producing come early next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent points towards improved OLED displays in future iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, 08:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Patents

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Uncertain about what’s coming down the pipe? Just check the recent patent applications.

Per freepatentsonline, Apple has shown interest in improving the technology behind organic light emitting diodes, or OLED displays, to provide even better battery life for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s pursuit of better OLED technology was revealed this week in a new patent application that went public. Entitled “Power Efficient Organic Light Emitting Diode Display,” it describes ways in which an OLED screen could offer improved battery life, particularly when displaying the color white.

The filing notes that OLED screens can operate at lower voltages than traditional displays, like the LCD screens currently found on the iPhone and iPad. This is possible because OLED technology is light emissive rather than light transmissive.

But while OLED can offer some advantages over LCD — including darker blacks, higher contrast ratios, and improved power efficiency — those perks are diminished when an OLED display is used to generate large amounts of white display area.

In order to display a screen that is largely the color white, an OLED panel has to utilize a range of color channels for every pixel on the display. Doing this can be power intensive and make the device inefficient.

“The relative power inefficiency in display white spaces using an OLED display may be particularly problematic in certain contexts,” the filing notes. “For example, certain applications, such as word processing, spreadsheet design and use, database design and use, e-mail, and other business or productivity applications, typically utilize dark or black alphanumeric characters on a white background, such as to simulate writing or printing on a sheet of paper.

“As a result, these applications may cause the display of large expanses of white background with relatively little area devoted to the non-white alphanumeric characters. Such applications, therefore, may make the use of OLED displays unsuitable or undesirably power intensive for battery powered and/or portable electronic devices, such as handheld devices.”

Apple’s proposed solution to this problem would include a transparent OLED display panel positioned in front of a solid white background layer, like a white transflective sheet. The display would also feature an opacity switchable layer located between the OLED panel and the background layer.

“The switchable layer may be switched, in whole or in part, from an opaque or semi-opaque state to a transparent or semi-transparent state,” the application reads. “For example, in one embodiment, the switchable layer may be opaque, e.g. black, in the absence of a current. However, upon application of a current all or part of the switchable layer may be come transparent so that the underlying background layer is visible.”

The combination of a solid white background and an opaque layer that could be made transparent would allow a transparent OLED panel to avoid displaying the color white. By instead utilizing the white background, this could produce the color when appropriate, such as when reading black text on a white background, without consuming battery life to turn the individual OLED pixels white.

The white background could even be used for smaller elements on a screen, and applied even in situations where the entire background isn’t white. In one illustration, Apple shows a list of calendar events on an iPhone, with one tiny element — the selected “List” view — displayed against a white background.

Apple’s proposed invention, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Daniel William Jarvis, Albert John Golko, and Felix Jose Alvarez Rivera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PlugBug accessory simultaneously charges current Apple notebooks, iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:30
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod

This could be nifty.

Per Electronica, accessory developer Twelve South on Tuesday Tuesday unveiled a unique add-on to help Apple fans that travel with more than one device. PlugBug takes advantage of the changeable connector on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro AC adapter to add a 10W USB charger. The add-on can charge anything up to the power levels of an iPad and is seen as a way to charge any iOS device or other USB hardware without having to remember all the cables or charge through the MacBook.

The adapter doesn’t have to slot into the AC brick to work and has a cap to cover the exposed area. Twelve South imagines it as a substitute for those outside of North America who want a converter.

The PlugBug is already on sale and ships for US$35 through the company’s own online store.

If you’ve snagged one or have a favorite charger of choice, please let us know and thanks.

Rumor: Apple to update iOS retail store app, allow for self-checkout feature

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 08:19
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail, Software

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As nice as the Apple retail store employees can be, sometimes you just want to grab your merchandise and go.

Per MacRumors, Apple is working on plans to give retail customers the ability to finalize their own in-store purchases via its iOS application for the iPhone, according to a new report.

Perhaps arriving even sooner than expected, the new functionality is expected to arrive as soon as this week.

An update to the official “Apple Store” application for iOS is said to allow users to charge purchases to their iTunes Store account, linked to an Apple ID and credit card just as App Store purchases are authorized. The anticipated option will only apply to accessories and items found on the shelf.

The new ability will not apply to more expensive items like the iPhone, iPad, iPods or Macs. Those devices will remain kept in the stockroom at Apple’s retail stores, and will require assistance from a salesperson in order to purchase.

But for accessories sold in stores, including cases for products like the iPhone and iPad, users will be able to complete the transaction on their own with an iOS device. An automated e-mailed receipt will serve as confirmation of the transaction, allowing customers to show employees that an item has been paid for.

The new self-checkout option is rumored to arrive soon after Apple launched an in-store pickup program via its online store. Customers in San Francisco can now order a product online and pick it up at a local Apple retail store, and that ability is expected to expand to other U.S. stores in the near future.

Another change is also said to be coming to Apple’s online store, allowing customers to place a single order with multiple items, and have those items shipped to different addresses. The enhanced functionality is expected to debut in time for the holiday shopping season.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available.

Apple reaching out to users for iPhone 4S battery life data, firmware update may be in the works

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:17
Category: battery, iPhone, News

With any luck, a firmware update will fix the issue.

Per The Guardian, responding to complaints of battery life issues with the iPhone 4S, engineers from Apple are said to have contacted customers directly in an effort to solve any issues.

One user who spoke with the newspaper said that he was contacted by Apple, and was asked to install a monitoring program on his phone. Apple’s engineers hope to be able to use the diagnostics to determine what is causing shorter battery life for some users, though the report said the problems are thus far “unexplained.”

The person said they were contacted by a senior engineer at Apple who read a post they made online, and indicated that the company was contacting users to resolve the problem. The Apple representative also allegedly admitted that the company isn’t “close to finding a fix.”

“(He) asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file… and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info,” the person wrote. “I extracted the file from my Mac after a sync and mailed it to him. He was incredibly helpful and apologetic in the typical Apple way!”

Experiences of reduced battery life are supported by a growing thread on the Apple Support Communities website, where numerous users have found they experience significantly less uptime with the iPhone 4S. As of Friday afternoon, the thread as nearly 100,000 views and 1,300 replies.

“Glad to see people are talking about this,” user ‘telarium’ wrote. “My 4S battery life is terrible… even worse than my 3GS, even though all the settings are the same.”

Another user, ‘Frenzi,’ said they found some success by turning off many of the features on the phone, and only gradually re-enabling them as needed. Among the features disabled included sending of diagnostic data to Apple, automatically searching for Wi-Fi connections, automatic date and time, iTunes Ping, and even the Siri “raise to speak” feature. “The improvement has been nothing short of miraculous,” they wrote.

Still another user on the Apple Support Communities website, “Snowwolfwarrior,” said they spoke with an Apple technician who also gave them special software to install on their iPhone 4S. The software logs all of the usage from the handset over a 24-hour period, after which the user obtains the data and sends it back to the Apple technician.

When it was unveiled earlier this month, Apple claimed that the iPhone 4S had an increased battery talk time of eight hours. But standby battery time, when compared to the previous-generation iPhone 4, is advertised at 100 hours less.

In spite of this, the iPhone 4S does have a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 4, and includes an extra .05WHrs when compared to its predecessor. Apple also limited the amount of RAM in the iPhone 4S to 512MB, in an effort to conserve battery life.

The iPhone 4S includes the same A5 processor found earlier this year in the iPad 2. It is a dual-core chip that runs up to twice as fast as the A4, and includes graphics processing up to seven times faster with the SGX 543MP2 GPU.

If you’ve seen battery issues with your new iPhone 4S and want to throw your two cents in, let us know what’s on your mind via the comments.