Apple unveils iOS 7 at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:20
Category: iOS, News, Software

Make no mistake about it, iOS 7 is en route.

And it looks a whole lot different than what you’re used to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday took the wraps off a drastically redesigned iOS 7 that marks a new direction for the company’s mobile operating system.

Virtually everything about the look and feel of iOS has changed with version 7, including a refined typography, all new icons, and a dynamic color scheme. The new operating system was spearheaded by Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive, and engineering head Craig Federighi.


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“iOS 7: The biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook declared.

As you move an iPhone in your hand, a new parallax feature will actually move the wallpaper in the background, allowing users to “see behind” the icons on their home screen.

All of the built-in applications have been completely rebuilt with a new look, including Messages, Calendar, and even the phone application.

In a demonstration of the new weather application, Federighi showed how dynamic weather effects are shown in the background, giving a visual representation of the current conditions.

A new gesture allows for easier one-handed use, letting users swipe from the left side of the screen to go back. Folders have also been expanded to allow multiple pages and hold more applications.

An updated Notification Center is slightly transparent, removing its previous textured appearance. Notification Center is also available from the lock screen as well, without the need to unlock the device.

In addition to an all-new look, iOS 7 is also a major feature release, he said. Among those features is Control Center, which allows quick access to settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and even a built-in flashlight. Control Center is available from anywhere, including the lock screen.

Multitasking has also been enhanced “for all apps with great battery life,” Federighi said. iOS 7 notices users’ pattern of use, giving applications background cycles based on how often users access them.

Swiping between open applications is now a full-screen affair, offering users a larger preview of the application as it is currently open.

An updated Safari for iOS 7 has a new full-screen mode that allows users to focus on content. A smart search field also has one-tap access to favorite websites, along with a new tabbed interface. Users are also no longer limited to just 8 tabs.

New AirDrop functionality will allow users to quickly share content with friends nearby with peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. AirDrop will be supported on the iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch.

“No need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others,” Federighi joked.

An updated Camera application comes with built-in filters, while enhancements to the Photos application allow individual pictures to be organized into “moments.” Photos are automatically organized based on data such as where and when they were captured.

Users can even zoom out to a year-by-year view. Enhanced by the Retina display, users can “scrub” through their yearly photos to narrow down what they’re looking for. And new Shared Photo Streams also allow group sharing of photos and video via iCloud.

Additional features include the following:
- A new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature that requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased.

- Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark.

- FaceTime audio for high quality calls over a data network.

- Notification sync, so when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices.

- Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you.

- Tencent Weibo support for users in China, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters.

- The ability for businesses to more efficiently deploy and manage iPhones and iPads;

- Enhanced in-car integration, bringing an Apple designed experience into the car for the first time.

Apple has released an iOS 7 beta to its developer community (available at developer.apple.com).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon runs out of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, rumors hint at new model to be announced at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

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When the inventories run low, there’s generally some cool stuff around the corner.

Or the retailer REALLY needs to order some more stock.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after new details surfaced suggesting that Apple could introduce a slimmed-down version of its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display next week, one of the company’s largest resellers — Amazon.com — is sold out of the current entry-level model.

The high-profile stockout comes just a week before Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote presentation — a stage frequently used to unveil new products and innovations. This year, the company is expected to showcase its new next-generation operating system software for the Mac and iOS devices — OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 — in addition to highlighting some new Mac notebooks powered by Intel’s new Haswell processors

Well-connected industry watch Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Sunday that Apple plans to launch a slimmed-down 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at WWDC. He said the tweaked design will feature a thinner chassis, giving the professional-grade notebook a more portable form factor.

In addition, it’s said that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will sport an improved FaceTime HD camera, which could move from a current resolution of 720p to 1080p, or “full HD.” For his part in attempting to predict Apple’s future product plans through insight into the company’s operations out East, Ming-Chi Kuo sports one of the industry’s most respectable track records in recent years.

Amazon’s stockout applies to Apple’s entry-level 13-inch model, sporting a 2.5-gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor and 128 gigabytes of flash storage. Low inventory levels at authorized resellers are often one of the first signs of new hardware on the horizon, as Apple draws down its available inventory ahead of a new product launch.

While the entry-level model is sold out, Amazon still has remaining inventory of the higher end models with 256 gigabytes of flash storage, at processor speeds of 2.5 gigahertz and 2.6-gigahertz.

In addition, other resellers still have inventory of the two default configurations of Apple’s larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which are the 2.4-gigahertz model with 256 gigabytes of storage and 8 gigabytes of RAM, and the 2.7-gigahertz variety with 512 gigabytes of storage and 16 gigabytes of RAM. The latest rumors have not offered any indication that Apple plans to update the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro next week, suggesting that a refresh to add Intel’s Haswell processors may come at a later date.

However, Apple is expected to bring Haswell to its MacBook Air lineup at WWDC next week, with new models sporting dual microphones for better voice recognition. AppleInsider was first to report on widespread stockouts of MacBook Air models at resellers in recent weeks leading up to WWDC.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop corroborated rumors of new Macs at WWDC last week when he signaled that updated hardware will likely be unveiled. The company is also planning to show off new versions of iOS and OS X, but is not expected to launch any new iPhone or iPad models.

Stay tuned for up to the minute coverage come WWDC next week.

Rumor: Updated Retina Display MacBook Pro with 1080p camera, MacBook Air with improved microphone expected at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:

“We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:

Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.”

The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.

If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours.

As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:

“MacBook Air to share dual built-in microphone design of Retina MacBook Pro. We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.”

Apple previously noted that the dual-microphone setup is ideal for voice apps like the included Dictation function.

Kuo expects the older, non-Retina MacBook Pros to freeze and be taken out of the spotlight, much like the iPod Classic. The computer would continue to be sold but with the current Ivy Bridge processors, optical drive slots, and high-capacity hard drives.

The report also notes that MacBooks in general are not immune from the overall global slowdown in PC purchasing caused by the iPad and other tablet cannibalization. The expectation is that 2013 will see 12M units sold, off 1.6M from 2012′s 13.6M total.

Finally, Kuo notes that Apple’s move away from optical and hard drive based storage continues to shift orders to SSD producers:

SSD to be mainstream storage solution for MacBook. We estimate the market share of MacBook with SSD to rise from 45% in 2012 to 64% in 2013, far ahead of the industry’s 15-20%. We also expect SSD penetration to continue to trend up, with SSD eventually replacing conventional hard disk drive and optical disc drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly drops fourth-gen iPod touch, offers $229, 16GB units with 4-inch screen, no rear iSight camera in its place

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Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 07:45
Category: Hardware, iPod Touch, News, retail

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It happened pretty quickly.

Late Wednesday night, Apple quietly removed the fourth-generation iPod touch from their online store, replacing it instead with a modified version of the current generation. The new model features only a few differences from the fifth-gen, but the omissions are significant.

Per 9to5Mac, the updated music player features a 4-inch Retina display like that found on the current model as well as a dual-core A5 processor, but lacks the rear-facing iSight and loop attachment. Aside from those changes, the new model is identical to the fifth-generation. Unlike the larger models, the 16 GB iPod touch is only available in one color option: black and silver, as seen above.

The 32 GB and 64 GB models remain untouched, suggesting a possibility that Apple is phasing out the older hardware in preparation for iOS 7, which is expected to be announced at WWDC in June. The new model retails for US$229, which is US$30 more than the previous generation.

If you pick up one of the new units and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Retina Display production for iPad mini to begin in June/July, LG to be primary supplier for screens

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 06:47
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

The facts are trickling in slowly but steadily, even though we’re still in rumor territory…

Per CNET and The Mac Observer, Apple will start up production on the Retina Display version of the iPad mini in June or July, according to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim. He also said the displays for the new iPad mini will come from LG and not Samsung.

“Samsung is currently not in the iPad Mini and they won’t be in the next generation. LGD is becoming a much bigger supplier than before,” Mr. Shim told CNET.

He said the new model will sport a 2048 x 1536 resolution 7.9-inch display, which is on par with the iPhone 5′s resolution. That also puts the display at the high end of what our eye can discern for resolution improvements.

“We’re going to start to see a bunch of tablets with a pixel density over 300,” he said. “At a certain point it will be hard to discern that improved image quality.”

If so, a June production window would accommodate a September Retina Display iPad mini product launch, which probably aligns with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comment that there won’t be any big product announcements until fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Best Buy team up for week-long MacBook Pro discounts, drive prices down across the board

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Date: Monday, May 6th, 2013, 06:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

One person’s price war is another person’s savings.

Per AppleInsider, Apple and Best Buy have again teamed for a week-long MacBook Pro sale, not only helping the Mac maker push units in an unfavorable climate for the PC market, but also helping to driving down prices for consumers even further at competing resellers.

Best Buy’s MacBook Pro sale took particular aim at the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, and initially prompted Amazon to follow suit by offering the 2.5GHz 13″ MacBook Pro (8GB,128GB) for US$1,349.00 this weekend before selling out and diverting its inventory draw from Datavision.

Similarly, MacMall followed Best Buy’s lead, and as of Monday had recouped claim to the lowest prices on 13-inch MacBooks when customers go to the MacMall web site and then apply Promo code APPINSDRMWB38717. For example, MacMall is offering the entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 128 gigabyte solid-state drive for US$1,377.38, compared to Apple’s suggested price of US$1,499.

The latest drops come just weeks before Apple is excepted to introduce its 2013 MacBook lineup at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. They also arrive amid the largest historical decline in PC growth in recent memory.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated last month that Apple plans to refresh its MacBook lineup at WWDC in June. Most notably, the refreshed models are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors.

According to Kuo, Apple plans to keep its legacy MacBook Pro with disc drive available, because the hardware is popular in emerging markets where Internet connectivity is not as dependable. He indicated that new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models will ship by the end of the June quarter, while updated MacBook Pro with Retina display units will arrive later this year due to apparent yield issues with high-resolution screens.

Reduced prices on existing models are usually a sign that updated hardware is on the horizon, but this year it’s believed that the reductions are also driven by weak overall PC sales, as well as initial pricing on Retina MacBook Pros that was too high. That has helped to fuel expectations that Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display models will be available at prices more in line with market expectations.

Retina Display for second-gen iPad mini looking more likely, NPD DisplaySearch cited

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Date: Monday, May 6th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

It looks like the rumor is coming closer to fruition.

Per CNET, Apple’s iPad Mini will get a refresh in the third quarter with a Retina display, NPD DisplaySearch predicted late Sunday.

This is an update to information that DisplaySearch provided earlier Sunday.
“We see two refreshes coming. One in the second half of this year, then one in Q1 [first quarter] of 2014,” analyst Richard Shim stated late Sunday night.

“The Q1 [2014] device will have a Retina display plus an updated processor,” Shim added.

Earlier Sunday night, NPD stated that the first iPad Mini with a Retina display would appear in the first quarter of 2014. That will actually be the second refresh, according to NPD’s updated prediction.

It’s not clear yet which display technology will be used. One of the candidates is LTPS, or low-temperature polysilicon — the same technology used in the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel details specs for upcoming i7 “Haswell” processor

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 06:59
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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The next-gen stuff always looks pretty sexy…

Per AppleInsider and Engadget, a document released on Wednesday sheds some light on Intel’s forthcoming Core i7 processors, which will boast new integrated graphics silicon that promises to double or even triple performance compared to existing models.

Alongside a new iteration of the “Intel HD Graphics” series, dubbed HD 5000, Intel is introducing the “Iris” and “Iris Pro” tiers to its graphics lineup with Haswell, effectively creating a three-tier system for its upcoming Core i7 offerings. Apple is expected to use products from the newest family of processors when the company refreshes its Mac lineup later this year.

As is the case with every new generation of CPUs, there will be an across the board performance boost with the fourth-generation Core i7 chips. However, while previous generational changes brought only slight gains to Intel’s respective Ultrabook, notebook and desktop class lineups, Iris and Iris Pro will enjoy huge gains, in some cases showing threefold improvements.

The options start out with HD 5000 for 15W TDP (Thermal Design Power) U-series chips, and move to the new Iris graphics with 28W U-series silicon. Iris Pro, which uses embedded DRAM instead of shared system memory, promises to double the speed of current 47-55W H-series laptop processors. Most intriguing is a tripling in 3D rendering speeds for 65-84W R-series desktop CPUs.

According to Intel’s documentation, Iris Pro will also be available on certain M-series laptop and K-series desktop chips.

The 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air currently uses two U-series chips — a 17W dual-core Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor in its standard configuration and an optional Core i7 version. Apple uses M-series Core i5 and i7 chips for its MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro with Retina Display products.

Intel also detailed the three tiers’ feature sets, which support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4 and OpenCL 1.2. Display modes include “enhanced” 4K and 2K output and a 3-screen collage, which looks to eschew the need for a discrete graphics card for multi-panel setups.

Full specs, including those pertaining to non-graphics processing performance, are slated to be revealed , one day prior to the Computex Taipei trade show.

Rumor: Apple to debut cheaper iPhone with plastic casing, no Retina display come June/July

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Date: Friday, March 22nd, 2013, 06:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

There’s gotta be a nugget of truth in here somewhere…

Per AppleInsider, analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets issued a note to investors on Friday in which he said he’s received word that Apple plans to launch “multiple new phones” in the June-July timeframe this year. Specifically, he expects Apple to launch a next-generation flagship handset, a so-called “iPhone 5S,” as well as a more affordable handset.

“The low-end iPhone will have the same 4-inch form factor as the iPhone 5, but will have a plastic casing and no Retina display,” he said. “With a lower price point, AAPL will be able to target a growing and important part of the smartphone market (sub-US$400 price band).”

Daryanani believes Apple’s rumored low-end iPhone will carry lower gross margins than the iPhone 5 or an iPhone 5S. But he also expects that such a product would contribute another US$22 billion in revenue and more than US$5 in earnings per share in calendar year 2014, which he believes would add US$50 of value to Apple’s stock price.

In his projections, the low-end smartphone market has a total addressable size of about 500 million units in calendar 2014. He believes Apple could capture more than 15 percent of that market in the medium term, leading to what he said is a “conservative” estimate of 70 million units.

Daryanani also expects Apple to launch a new iPad mini and full-size iPad this year, while he said a full-fledged Apple television and so-called “iWatch” smart watch are “likely,” but the timing of their debut is “unclear.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Class action lawsuit launched over alleged LG display flaws in 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:13
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If you feel like the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has let you down, you’re not along.

Per 9to5Mac and Law360, since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. This has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views.

Apple presently uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG. Today, MacBook Pro user Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Hodges is apparently seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.