Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel lists three new processors that could find their way into next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 05:56
Category: MacBook Air, News, Processors

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With everything that’s being said about Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air, it’s time to meet the potential processors for the notebook.

Per CNET, Intel has added three new high efficiency Sandy Bridge CPUs to its product catalog, likely representing the chips Apple will use in its next refresh of the light and thin MacBook Air.

The ULV (ultra low voltage) parts consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, as opposed to the mainstream Sandy Bridge chips Apple uses in its full size MacBook Pro lineup.

The standard Sandy Bridge chips in Apple’s Pro notebooks dissipate 25 to 35 watts, making them too hot (and too battery taxing) to use in the considerably thinner Air machines.

The new lineup consists of three part numbers:
- Core i7-2677M: dual cores running at 1.8 GHz (peaking to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$317

- Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$289

- Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for US$250

Intel sees a big market for notebooks similar to Apple’s MacBook Air, which the chipmaker calls “ultrabooks.” When Apple first released the Air, it was criticized for not being thin enough and giving up too many features while using a full sized keyboard.

Apple has since made the Air lineup thinner and reduced the price while retaining a full size keyboard and moving exclusively to SSD storage, which supports very fast booting, wake and program launching.

The report cited analyst Doug Freedman of Gleacher & Company, who refers to machines like the Mac Book Air as “SSD notebooks,” as commenting that “In the 4-year lifespan of [Apple's] iconic MacBook Air, units sold as a percentage of its total notebook supply was 8 percent in 2008, 9 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2010 to an estimated 48 percent in 2011.”

“We expect total notebook SSD penetration at a conservative 5 percent in 2011 growing to 30 percent in 2014,” Freedman stated. He noted that Intel is planning to bundle its own SSD storage devices with its CPUs to sell PC makers packages of components, something the company already does with CPUs and chipsets.

However, Apple introduced SSD options for its latest MacBook Airs using specialized components rather than conventional SSDs built to fill the same space as a conventional notebook hard drive, such as those built by Intel. That has enabled the company to further reduce weight and thickness in the Air designs.

If you have any thoughts on the next-gen MacBook Air, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple releases third Mac OS X 10.6.8 build to developer community

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Date: Monday, May 30th, 2011, 03:21
Category: News, Software

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If you’re hankering for the Mac OS X 10.6.8 update, it’s coming.

On Friday, Apple seeded the third build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developers, with no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, the 1GB download is labeled 10K531. MacStories reports that focus areas for the beta software remain unchanged: Airport, Graphics Drivers, Mac App Store, Networking, QuickTime and VPN.

Thus far, Apple has maintained a weekly release schedule with developer builds of Mac OS X. The first release came two weeks ago, and the second build arrived last week.

It is as yet unclear whether Mac OS X 10.6.8 contains a fix that will find and remove the MAC Defender malware, though Apple may likely release the fix as a standalone security update. The company promised earlier this week to release an update to Mac OS X that would resolve an issue with phony antivirus software that automatically downloads as a phishing scam looking for users’ credit card numbers.

The malicious software first appeared in early May, though one noted security expert has downplayed the threat as being “simply a trick website” rather than a viral attack.

Apple released the latest update to Mac OS X Snow Leopard in March with changes designed to improve the reliability of Back to My Mac, resolve issues when transferring files to SMB Windows Files Sharing servers, and address Mac App Store bugs. Mac OS X 10.6.7 also contained fixes for Thunderbolt MacBook Pros to address “minor FaceTime performance issues” and improve “graphics stability and external display compatibility.”

This summer, Apple will launch the next major upgrade to its flagship operating system in the form of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Mac OS X Lion contains numerous new features and changes, many of which are drawn from Apple’s experience with iOS.

If you’ve gotten a chance to play with the new build and have any feedback, please let us know.

Apple looking to create outdoor, sunglasses-friendly LCD screens

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Date: Friday, May 27th, 2011, 02:35
Category: News, Patents

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It’s Friday, additional Apple patent applications have emerged and Apple has apparently shown interest in creating an improved LCD display for devices like the iPhone and iPad that is not distorted when viewed by a user wearing polarized sunglasses outdoors.

Per AppleInsider, the proposed new technology was revealed in a new patent application made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. Entitled “Display that Emits Circularly-Polarized Light,” the proposed invention describes a liquid-crystal display that reduces perceived distortion when viewed through linearly polarizing filters, such as sunglasses.

In the application, Apple notes that current LCDs are based on polarization optics, and typically utilize linear polarizers on their front surfaces. The problem is that the light from LCDs typically has an electric field that only vibrates in one direction, while polarized sunglasses only allow through light with an electric field that vibrates in the vertical direction.

“Hence a user looking at the LCD display of a portable device… may see a distorted image in the display when viewed through polarized sunglasses, due to the polarized filters in the sunglasses blocking the light when the display is viewed at some angles,” the application reads.

When an LCD display is seen through polarized sunglasses, at certain angles the screen may be completely dark or somewhat obscured. The issue can be made even worse when a lens cover is placed in front of a display for protection or industrial design, as these plastics can compound the issue with color and gray artifacts.

Apple’s solution is a display that emits circularly polarized light by placing a layer in the path of linearly polarized light.

“The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface,” the application reads. “By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter.”

The invention would allow for superior outdoor viewing of displays, like iPhone or iPad screens, by reducing perceived distortion created when a user wears sunglasses.

Apple’s adoption of glass screen covers and glossy displays has been a point of criticism against the company, as some have complained they make viewing of devices in sunlight near impossible. The company has even brought back antiglare matte screens to some of its MacBook Pro options as an optional US$150 upgrade.

By creating a screen that could accommodate sunglasses, Apple would craft a new LCD that would allow a reduced amount of light to reach a user’s eye without distorting the screen. This could improve the ability to use devices like an iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro outdoors on a sunny day.

Apple first filed for the proposed invention in January of this year. It is credited to John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen, Cheng Chen, Victor H.E. Yin, and Shawn R. Gettemy.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.8 builds to developer community

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Date: Monday, May 16th, 2011, 04:03
Category: News, Software

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There may not be a ton of details about it, but it’s on its way.

Per MacRumors, Apple has released a new build of Snow Leopard to developers, the first since 10.6.7 in March, and potentially the last before the delivery of Mac OS X Lion this summer.

The new build, identified as 10K521, reportedly comes without any detail of changes.

That update was delivered in two flavors, one specifically for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pros identified as build 10J3250, and a general release for other models 10J869.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is anticipated to be released at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference during the first week of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Newer Technology announces NuPower 52 Watt-Hour High Capacity Battery for 2008/2009 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 11:36
Category: Accessory, battery, MacBook Pro, News

If you’re saving up for a 2011 MacBook Pro and need to keep your older gear going for a while, you’ll appreciate that.

On Tuesday, Woodstock, Illinois-based Newer Technology announced today the NuPower 52 Watt-Hour High Capacity Replacement Battery for Late 2008/Early 2009 15″ Apple MacBook Pro ‘Unibody’ notebook computers that offers up to 4% greater capacity over the factory original battery for longer runtimes.

The unit retails for US$99.00 MSRP and reportedly offers a 23% lower cost than the replacement battery available from Apple.

The battery includes Newer’s one year warrant and is RoHS-compliant.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to support up to 450 mbps Wi-Fi speeds on newer Mac models

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Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 03:09
Category: News, Software

Although it’s unknown as to exactly when Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will be released, its feature list is looking interesting.

Among these features is a new protocol that will unlock the latent capacity of recently released Thunderbolt MacBook Pro and iMac systems to use faster 450 Mbps 802.11n wireless networking, thanks to triple send and receive antennas capable of supporting three spacial streams of wireless traffic.

Per AppleInsider, the 802.11n WiFi standard supports faster networking speeds through a number of technologies, including the use of multiple antennas (aka “MIMO” or multiple-input multiple-output).

Devices and wireless base stations supporting 802.11n can use multiple antennas (up to four each for send and receive) to spatially multiplex multiple independent data streams within one spectral channel of bandwidth enabling faster data throughput, a major factor of why the relatively new 802.11n is faster than previous 802.11 a/b/g wireless networks.

The 802.11n standard also supports the less-utilized (but higher frequency and therefore weaker wall penetrating) 5GHz frequency band, which was previously only tapped by 802.11a devices in corporate networks; 802.11b/g standards both only use the (often heavily saturated) 2.4GHz frequency band, potentially suffering from interference with neighboring wireless networks or Bluetooth devices.

New 802.11n networks can also speed up data transfers by using wide, 40MHz bandwidth channels to double the amount of radio spectrum used. Apple’s Airport base stations only support wide channels when configured to work as “802.11n only (5GHz)” networks. The option is hidden behind the “Wireless Network Options” button.

MCS is reported by Mac OS X clients in the AirPort menu when holding down the Option key. This index number can scale down depending on signal strength and interference, but its top limit is bound by the features of the hardware on the client and the network’s base station.

For example, iPhone 4 is 802.11n but lacks support for 5GHz and wide channels, limiting it to 802.11n networks configured to use 2.4GHz. The iPad, in contrast, can see and connect to “802.11n only (5GHz)” wireless networks. However, the iPad can still only support one spatial stream using a 20MHz channel because, like the iPhone, it lacks multiple “MIMO” antennas (due to battery life, cost and complexity constraints, as each antenna also requires radio support as well).

This limits Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad to an MCS index of 7, with a top throughput rate of 65 Mbps. Earlier 802.11b/g devices (including older iPhones) can only support a maximum data rate of 54 Mbps. The iPad, unlike iPhone 4, can also make use of 5GHz networks, which may enable for less interference from neighboring wireless traffic but does not raise its MCS index.

All Macs supporting 802.11n have multiple antennas and can therefore support two spacial streams, allowing them to achieve an MCS of 15 and a top data rate of 130 Mbps on 2.4GHz networks. Unlike iOS devices, Macs can also handle wide 40MHz channels in the 5GHz band, enabling a doubled data throughput of 300 Mbps when connecting to a “802.11n only (5GHz)” network configured to support wide channels.

This year, Apple began incorporating three send and receive antennas in its Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and iMacs, enabling them to achieve an MCS of 23 and a top data rate of 450 Mbps on 5GHz networks with wide channels. This new capability goes beyond the baseline certification of 802.11n as defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which maxes out at 300 Mbps

While not currently supported by Mac OS X Snow Leopard, a developer has reported that the developer preview of Lion does indicate support for the new hardware when used with modern base stations such as Airport Extreme or Time Capsule.

The developer tested a MacBook Pro using a 2.3GHz Core i5, and reported an MCS of 23 with a transmit rate of 450 using a 5GHz network hosted by Airport Extreme. Previous machines are only able to achieve MCS 15.

If you’ve gotten your hands on an early build of Mac OS X 10.7, let us know how it went and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4 for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 02:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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You snagged a 2011 MacBook Pro.

And, well, there were a few issues to sort out.

Fortunately, Apple’s recently-released MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4 might resolve some of these.

Per Engadget, the firmware update (a 132.69 megabyte download) should offer fixes for the following bugs:

- Problems encountered problems when outputting video through the Thunderbolt port to a Cinema Displays.

- Improve overall stability under heavy processing loads.

- Improvement graphics stability and 3D performance.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run and can also be snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to redesign case for next-gen MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 05:09
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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While the latest refresh of MacBook Pros are just two months old, rumors of the next update have already begun, with a new report claiming that the next model will feature a newly redesigned case construction.

Per MacRumors, an article citing “reliable confirmation” reported Monday on an alleged plans for a new case design in the next MacBook Pro update. However, the report offers no details on what changes Apple could make to the unibody construction of the current aluminum MacBook Pros.

The article cites a rumor from February which stated that the newly redesigned MacBook Pro notebooks would arrive next year. The rumored all-new design was said to already be in development at Quanta in Taiwan.

The last major update to the look of the MacBook Pro line came in 2008, when Apple updated the line with unibody construction. The unibody MacBook Pros are machined from a single block of aluminum, allowing Apple to create a strong, single-piece shell.

Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro line of products earlier this year, adding Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt data connection port. But the external design of the new notebooks was largely unchanged from their predecessors.

Additional rumors surfaced in February that Apple plans to transition its notebooks in the next 12 to 18 months and add features from its hot-selling thin-and-light MacBook Air notebooks. Major changes to the MacBook Air including instant-on, standard flash solid-state drives, slimmer enclosures, and the omission of optical drives are expected to become more prevalent in the design of many Mac notebooks planned for introduction in the future.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

2011 MacBook Pro notebooks booting to gray screen, freezing, workarounds suggested

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Date: Monday, April 11th, 2011, 04:25
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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As nifty and drool-worthy as the 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks may be, there still may be issues to sort out.

Per MacFixIt, a number of owners have noted an issue wherein the machine will start up to the gray Apple logo screen without a progress indicator and freeze. Apple has also noted the issue, releasing a knowledge base article to help with the situation.

Apple Support Discussions forum user CoryCripita writes:
“So for the second time my Macbook Pro is stuck on the ****** gray screen and won’t boot. The first time this happened 2 days ago I HAD TO resort to Archive and install. The only thing that I can even think caused this was again the fact that I updated via Software Update then rebooted.”
One suggestion offered on the forum was to reset the PRAM. To do so, turn off your machine. While holding Command + Option + P + R, turn your Mac back on. Wait for the boot chime to ring three times and your machine will start normally.

Apple has released a knowledgebase article to address some causes of this problem. According to the article, the Mac booting to the gray logo screen “may happen if the computer starts up from the hard drive or from an external drive using the wrong version or build of the operating system.”

If this happens, reinstall the proper build of Mac OS X from your install DVDs that came with your Mac. Later versions of Mac OS X will also work, but the article notes that using a version of OS X that was released before the computer will likely cause this issue.

You can check and see which version of Mac OS X your machine is attempting to start from by booting your Mac in Verbose Mode. When starting up, hold Command + V. If a DOS-like white text on black screen pops up, you’ve done it correctly.

“If the computer has the wrong build of the OS installed, the startup process will stop. The following line of text will appear on the display: “Loading SystemLibraryCachescom.apple.kext.cachesstartupExtensions.mkext.””
Hold the power button to shut down and quit Verbose Mode. When you next power on your Mac it will start normally.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, let us know how it went.