iOS 7 beta 3 shows improved “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 08:08
Category: iOS, News, Software

ios7logo

Ok, this could come in handy.

Per MacRumors, one of the more subtle changes reported in Apple’s iOS 7 beta 3 released to developers yesterday is a move to leverage the Retina assets included in iPhone-only apps to improve the viewing experience in “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads such as the iPad mini and the iPad 2.

Since the launch of the iPad, Apple has supported the use of iPhone-only apps on its tablet platform, allowing users to toggle between a “1x” mode where the app appears in an iPhone-sized window in the center of the iPad screen and a “2x” mode where pixels are doubled to allow the app to fill more of the iPad’s screen. But up until iOS 6, this 2x pixel doubling has been performed on the non-Retina iPhone versions of the apps for non-Retina iPads, expanding a 480×320 app to fill a 960×640 space on the iPad display and resulting in jagged text and blurry images.

With the advent of Retina displays on the iPhone supporting apps at 960×640, Apple moved to take advantage of those higher-quality assets to provide a better viewing experience on the iPad for those apps that do not have native iPad interfaces. Since the introduction of the third-generation iPad last year, Apple’s Retina iPads have been able to tap into the Retina assets in iPhone apps to display higher-quality 2x apps, and with iOS 7 beta 3 Apple has now brought that capability to its non-Retina tablets.

Interestingly, on the latest iOS 7 beta, users are no longer even presented with a 1x/2x toggle on non-Retina devices such as the iPad mini, and iPhone apps are instead presented simply as 2x apps taking advantage of Retina assets included in the app package. The result is a much better looking 960×640 app on the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. Retina iPads have not, however, seen any changes to their handling of iPhone apps and continue to offer the 1x/2x toggle.

Apple’s move to leverage the Retina assets in iPhone apps by default is essentially identical to the strategy used by RetinaPad, a jailbreak tweak that provided owners of non-Retina iPads with the higher-quality 2x scaling. That tweak had gained new popularity with the release of the non-Retina iPad mini late last year, but with Apple now building that support directly into iOS 7, all users will be able to take advantage of the higher-quality experience.

Apple announced back in March that as of May 1, it was requiring all app submissions and updates to support both Retina displays and the iPhone 5′s taller display, pushing developers to support Apple’s latest devices. The Retina support requirement also allows more apps to take advantage of the new 2x improvements for non-Retina iPads in iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten a chance to play with the third iOS 7 beta, please let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple working on 802.11ac bug fix for mid-2013 MacBook Air users, sends out limited invitation to test update

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

If you’re having trouble with the Wi-Fi on your new mid-2013 MacBook Air, a fix may be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, in a likely response to reports of 802.11ac Wi-Fi issues with its latest MacBook Air refresh, Apple late Friday began sending out invitations to select users, offering inclusion in the AppleSeed Program to test an upcoming Wi-Fi centric software update for the notebook.

Sources who received the email said that Apple will provide selected customers with a pre-release version of the “MacBook Air WiFi Update 1.0″ to install and use on their new machines, asking that they give feedback on any bugs found during the testing process.

While not explicitly stated in the AppleSeed invite, it is thought that the update relates to recent Wi-Fi connectivity issues some customers have experienced with Apple’s implementation of the fairly new 802.11ac wireless standard.

The recently-released 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs are the first Macs to implement the fast wireless protocol which, when combined with the new AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule, can reach theoretical speeds of up to 1300Mbps.

Although the technology has promise, a growing number of owners have complained of throughput limitations related to 11ac, with some reports speculating the wireless stack in OS X is at least partially to blame.

A thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage appears to confirm the AppleSeed invitations, but offers little information on the software. Those who have already agreed to Apple’s terms said the company has yet to activate the invitation codes or send out the software.

In December 2012, Apple released a similar Wi-Fi compatibility update for Mac two months following the debut of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. At the time, owners of the then-new machine complained of problems recognizing 802.11n networks in the 5GHz band.

If you’ve received the notice or have experienced any Wi-Fi issues with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Mid-2013 MacBook Air wake from sleep delay fix posted, simple Terminal command all that’s needed

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Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, 09:33
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

The new MacBook Air is nifty.

But there are still some bugs to sort out.

And in the case of the notebook being slow to wake up from sleep, PowerPage head honcho Jason O’Grady has noted a cool Terminal command that can resolve the slow wake issue, which first manifested itself when the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was released in June 2012.

The fix was reported in by user Erv Walter and is covered, step by step, in detail over on The Apple Core.

Click the link, take a gander and with any luck, your spiffy new MacBook Air will be able to wake from sleep just as quickly as you’d like it to.

Let us know if the fix works in the comments and if you have any other cool fixes of your own, please let us know.

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.