Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor line to launch during CES

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News, Processors

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Microprocessor giant Intel has confirmed the launch of its Sandy Bridge next-generation processors during its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5th, a new report claims.

Per Electronista, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the “world’s fastest processor,” at CES. The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple’s Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros.

“Desktop chips will range from dual 2.5 GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4 GHz Core i7s. Regular notebooks will get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors, and desktop replacements will get quad 2.2GHz through to 2.5GHz Core i7s,” the report noted. Taiwanese industry publication Digitimes reported Monday that low-power Sandy Bridge processors will be coming to Intel’s Huron River platform, which is also due for a Q1 2011 release.

During an earnings call in July, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he was “more excited by Sandy Bridge” than any product that the company has launched “in a number of years.” “Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32-nanometer factory ramp and have raised our capex guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand,” continued Otellini.

At the time, Intel was expected to release the processors at the end of this year, with Apple then incorporating them into its Mac lineup in early 2011. In 2009, Apple was the first PC maker to release a Nehalem-based system.

In a company memo in October, Otellini admitted that Intel is losing the mobile race to Apple, which has gained a massive head start with the success of the iPhone and iPad, but he reassured employees that Intel was running a “marathon” and would catch up eventually.

Otellini cited Intel’s come from behind to capture 90 percent of the server market as a prior example. “I am also very optimistic about our opportunity in tablets and smartphones, even though we are not first to market with a solution,” Otellini said. “Ultimately, we can and will lead.”

Apple has reportedly been dissatisfied with the drop in battery life that comes with using Intel’s Atom chips. Early rumors suggested that an Apple tablet would sport an Atom chip, but Apple eventually went with a custom System on a Chip that used ARM reference designs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1 update

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 07:56
Category: News, Software

Late Friday, Apple released iTunes 10.1, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 84 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- Provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.

iTunes 10 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.2 update on Tuesday, November 16th

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Date: Friday, November 12th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

Since Mac OS X 10.6.5 hit, I’ve been playing with the new operating system update. Still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been hankering for Apple to finally release its iOS 4.2 upgrade.

Per iPhoneHellas, Apple is “mostly likely” to release the update on Tuesday, November 16th. The same site previously had accurate reports indicating the release time of Apple’s iOS software updates.

In addition, references to a November 12th launch that were allegedly found in previous builds of iOS 4.2 carrier bundles have been removed, providing more evidence that the update may not be issued until next week at the earliest.

The Friday launch was rumored earlier this week, in a report that also said that Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 would arrive on Wednesday. That turned out to be half true, as Apple released its latest update to the Snow Leopard operating system, but did not issue an update for iTunes.

iOS 4.2 is Apple’s eagerly awaited software update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It will mark the debut of iOS 4 on the iPad, bringing features like folders and multitasking that iPhone and iPod touch owners have enjoyed for months.

The update will also bring AirPrint and AirPlay to the mobile devices, though support for shared printers in Mac OS X 10.6.5 was axed at the last minute for still-unknown reasons. The ability to stream video from an iOS 4.2 device to an Apple TV through AirPlay will also require a software update for the Apple TV.

For iPhone users, iOS 4.2 will also bring the ability to create custom text message tones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple may be relaxing liquid/spill-damage repair policies

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Date: Thursday, November 11th, 2010, 05:41
Category: Hardware, News

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A series of internal policy documents leaked to Boy Genius Report shows that Apple may be amending its liquid damage repair policy. Apple’s mobile devices, which currently come with small Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) patches that react and change color when in contact with water, uses the color change to determine whether a device has been submerged in water before honoring warranty claims for the devices. This policy has resulted in some controversy, with some people claiming the LCIs are changing color in conditions of high humidity or are otherwise changing color without having been in contact with liquids.

Though previously Apple employees would just inspect the patches, the new policies apparently will grant more leeway and also require the employees to look for additional signs of liquid damage before determining that liquid contact was the cause for the device malfunction. This change does relax some of the return and replacement rules for iPods, and may make it easier for Apple employees to swap out devices for users; however, the document does note that the final determination of damage is still up to the Apple Store employees.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tests demonstrate much-improved performance of iOS 4.2 on iPhone 3G handset

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you hanging onto an iPhone 3G and hoping for something good to come out of the new iOS, there may be some good news in store.

Per TiPb, a recent series of tests has shown that the iPhone 3G’s performance is much improved under iOS 4.2:



According to the tests, entering text into Apple’s Notes app was acceptably snappy. Browsing the Web was also noticeably improved, especially scrolling and load times (over Wi-Fi). Some pinch-and-zoom was a bit laggy, but definitely worlds better than iOS 4.0 on a 3G.

Apple was recently hit with a class action lawsuit from California iPhone 3G user Bianca Wofford, who claims that Apple “…knowingly and intentionally released what it called a system software ‘upgrade’ that, in fact, made hundreds of thousands of the Third Generation iPhones (sic) that were exclusively tethered to AT&T data plans ‘useless’ for their intended purpose.”

iOS 4.2 is expected to be released this month with some media outlets citing the launch date as early as today.

Verizon launches ad showcasing iPad, Verizon MiFi unit

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPad, News

In a fairly uncharacteristic move, Apple has allowed its new carrier partner, Verizon, to create its own commercial for the iPad, advertising that the touchscreen tablet can now be bought with a MiFi for on-the-go connectivity.

The new commercial, entitled “Breakaway,” debuted on national TV this week. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. began selling the Wi-Fi-only iPad, bundled with a 3G MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, late last month.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander:



According to AppleInsider, the commercial could be a sign of things to come: Verizon is widely expected to begin carrying a CDMA version of Apple’s iPhone starting in January of 2011. That information has been independently confirmed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fortune.

It has been reported that control over the iPhone, including its advertising, was a major point of contention between Verizon and Apple in 2005. The carrier and Apple could not come to a deal, and the device debuted on AT&T’s network in 2007.

But in order to bring the iPhone to Verizon, Apple may be compromising — as evidenced by the iPad commercial. Fortune also reported in October that Verizon’s iPhone is expected to offer special features, like live TV for customers of Verizon’s FiOS cable service.

If you have two cents to throw in on this, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple internal memo surfaces, cites dead pixel/replacement policies for hardware

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Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, retail

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A leaked memo dictating Apple’s internal policy on replacing devices with dead LCD pixels surfaced last week, revealing that the company will replace an iPhone if it has just one dead pixel, while an iPad must have at least three to qualify.

Per Boy Genius Report, the loose guidelines employees must follow when a customer attempts to return a device with bad pixels on its display state that one dead pixel is good enough for a replacement on a device with a screen size of between 1″ and 3.5″.

Apple’s 9.7″ iPad display must have three or more dead pixels for the unit to qualify for a replacement. Things get a bit more complicated with larger screens and devices such as notebooks, iMacs and the company’s Cinema Display demand that a distinction is made between “bright” and “dark” faulty pixels.

Apple Store Geniuses are, however, given some leeway. The internal document states that authorized service providers must explain to the customer that they can replace the product, but that replacement may have even more dead pixels or other issues. Apple will not replace the product again if the replacement product is within the written guidelines.

Members of Apple’s retail team also contacted The Unofficial Apple Weblog to clarify the company’s policy even further:

“If you ask for a first replacement product due to bad pixels, you should always get it, with no arguments and no restock charges (if this isn’t your first experience, ask to discuss it with a supervisor),” the report said. “However, if the replacement unit is still within spec — which for anything other than an iPhone or iPod touch, may mean more pixels depending on how bad the first unit was — a second replacement is ruled out.”

If you’ve seen this on your end or had a similar Apple retail experience, let us know.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PayPal addresses security hole via iPhone app update

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If you’re in iTunes, this is one more reason to snag the updates for your iOS-based apps…

Per the Wall Street Journal, PayPal has released an update to its popular iPhone app. The fix came into place after the company had become aware of a significant security vulnerability in which the previous version reportedly failed to confirm the authenticity of PayPal’s website, leaving a loophole that could have been exploited to gain unauthorized access to users’ accounts.

Spokeswoman Amanda Pires claims the company verified the vulnerability on Tuesday night and rushed to release an update for the app. The company suggests no users have come forward with reports of fraudulent activity, although any affected users will receive 100% reimbursement.

“To my knowledge it has not affected anybody,” Pires told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve never had an issue with our app until now.”

The update app, PayPal 3.0.1, is now available as a free download from the App Store.

Apple ends Personal Shopping service for retail store locations

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Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:29
Category: News, retail

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Apple has brought an end to its Personal Shopping program in its retail stores, removing all mention of the service online and within its Apple Store iOS app.

Per ifoAppleStore, the elimination of Personal Shopping “became effective yesterday and stems from the belief that every customer should receive the same attention and amount of service.”

Originally set up in 2007 as a way for individuals to reserve an appointment with an Apple retail store employee, the company once described the program as “a whole new way to shop at the Apple Store.”

As a free service “where you and a dedicated Mac Specialist explore and test-drive products to find out which ones are best for you,” the program was intended to foster an environment of personal attention within the company’s retail outlets.

“We know the store can be busy, so when you’re ready to talk, Personal Shopping is a way for us to give you our undivided attention.”

However, as stores got busier, the premise of Personal Shopping became more difficult to deliver. At the launch of iPhone 3G in 2008, Apple suspended the program for iPhone-related visits.

“It is critical that all stores follow the same process to ensure every customer has an equal and fair opportunity to purchase a phone,” the company told its store managers.

Since I went out to the Apple Store yesterday during the middle of a weekday and it was basically overrun, there might be something to be said for this.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.