Rumor: Apple to update iMac, Mac Pro desktops for fall, add USB 3.0, improved FireWire

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Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 03:12
Category: iMac, Mac Desktop, Rumor

newimac.jpg

Amidst the cacophony of the iPhone 4 press conference, French website Hardmac reported Friday that Apple aims to update its iMac and Mac Pro desktops in time for its back to school sales period. The report cited one of the site’s “better sources” in relaying the information.

“On this occasion, Apple should inaugurate two great innovations, the arrival of USB 3.0 and a faster FireWire interface, 1600 or 3200,” they wrote. “Thus, FireWire will not be forgotten. Note that Apple is also interested in LightPeak technology, but they do not expect to use it or set it up before one year.”

Finally, the report also said that the new hardware will not support Blu-ray discs. That news should come as no surprise to those who have heard Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs’ assessment of the format. Jobs was recently alleged to have said that the physical medium’s days are dying, and will give way to digital download services like iTunes.

The USB 3.0 specification was in Apple’s hands over a year ago. The new standard will be ten times faster than the current Hi-Speed USB standard (USB 2.0), and also more power-efficient, leading to lower active and idle power requirements. Like its predecessor, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.

Rumors of a new Mac Pro have persisted for all of 2009, with Apple expected to adopt Intel’s Gulftown processor, the 32nm Core i7-980X with six cores. The chips have 12MB of L3 cache. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it’s possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

The last major refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Last year, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Last October, Apple updated its iMac desktop line, redesigning the hardware with a new edge-to-edge glass design and seamless all-aluminum enclosure. The LED-backlit iMacs come in screen sizes of 21.5″ and 27″.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers free bumper to iPhone 4 customers, explains antenna issue at press conference

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 10:49
Category: iPhone, News

After being hounded by weeks of complaints regarding the iPhone 4′s antenna, Apple today held a press conference to tackle the press conference head on.

While the company didn’t issue a sweeping recall, it noted that you can get a free bumper case (or a refund if you’ve already purchased one) and that since they can’t make bumpers fast enough, you’ll be able to select from a choice of cases on the Apple website starting late next week.

Per the full play-by-play over at the Apple Core, iPhone 4 customers still have the option of returning the phone for a full refund, with no restocking fee within 30 days. Apple also announced that the white iPhone is going to start shipping at the end of July and that its bringing the iPhone to 17 more countries on July 30, including:

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Denmark
Finland
Hong Kong
Ireland
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Norway
New Zealand
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to avoid iPhone 4 recall, offer details at press conference later today

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Date: Friday, July 16th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News

In spite of the press conference scheduled for today, the iOS 4.0.1 update and Apple’s well-documented problems with the iPhone 4′s antenna and reception, a new report claims that a recall of the handset won’t be among the announcements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to the story has stated the company doesn’t plan to instate a recall of the more than 2 million units it’s shipped worldwide thus far.

That same source echoed an earlier report in claiming that hardware engineers warned chief executive Steve Jobs about the risks of the phone’s new external antenna design nearly a year ago, but that Jobs “liked the design so much that Apple went ahead with its development.”

The report went on to document how Apple’s immense secrecy over new iPhone masked the problem during the company’s evaluation process with its carrier partners, as design verification units were disguised as “stealth” phones that obscured their design and some of their functions.

“Those test phones are specifically designed so the phone can’t be touched, which made it hard to catch the iPhone 4′s antenna problem,” the Journal said. The paper added, citing people familiar with the matter, that Apple afforded carriers “limited time to test the iPhone 4 before its June 24 launch” and equipped them with “fewer devices to test than other handset makers.”

Although Apple declined to comment on its development methods for the new iPhone, a company spokesperson fired back at the claim that a senior antenna expert had expressed his concern over the new design to Jobs, challenging the publication to “produce anything beyond rumors to back this up.”

“It’s simply not true,” the spokesperson said.

Concerns over the iPhone 4′s new antenna design began generating headlines ever since its June 24th launch, when some users began reporting the handset’s propensity to lose reception and sometimes drop calls when cupped in the lower left corner.

Though media coverage of the matter persisted for a couple of weeks on and on-and-off basis, it reached a boiling point earlier this week when Consumer Reports did a 180-degree turn on its stance on the iPhone 4, and announced that it could no longer recommend the device to consumers because of the antenna issues.

Since then, the matter has only escalated further up the chain, with democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday issuing an open letter to Jobs, calling Apple’s current solutions to fixing the problem “insufficient” and asking the company to provide a free fix for consumers.

So yeah, it’s been a fun three weeks…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple drops hint at iOS 4 for iPad in November, iWork for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 04:04
Category: iPad, News, Software

When iOS 4 hit, I was a little disappointed to see that it had yet to arrive for the iPad.

This may change as Apple has quietly hinted at a launch window for iOS 4 on the iPad, while the company’s website has slipped another clue that iWork is on its way to the iPhone. An AdAge report suggests that Apple has been telling marketers that the iAd platform will extend to the iPad sometime in November.

Steve Jobs initially pointed to iOS 4 availability on the iPad sometime “this fall.” The iAd platform is known to be directly integrated with iOS 4.

Many of Apple’s international online stores posted a “Learn more” link for iPhone AppleCare warranties, which includes software support for “iWork for iPhone” among other topics. The iOS 4 pages briefly included an iPhone interface image showing an option to open an attachment in Keynote, although the company quickly replaced the iWork reference with an iBooks selection.

Cool stuff either way and you have to wonder what iOS 4 will bring for the iPad.

iPhone 4 sells record-breaking 1.7 million units in three days, also blends

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Date: Monday, June 28th, 2010, 08:58
Category: iPhone, News

Following 600,000 pre-orders and impressive lines, Apple today announced that the companyt had sold over 1.7 million iPhone 4 units. In other words, since releasing the iPhone 4 to customers on June 24 (and including the pre-orders that were delivered in the mail), the device was selling at a rate of nearly seven per second.

“This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said in the press release. He also apologized to customers who have been turned away because Apple is having trouble meeting demand.

As of Monday morning, an iPhone 4 ordered from Apple’s U.S. Website won’t ship for three weeks. If you’re trying to find one, Apple retail stores are probably the best bet, as they should receive steady trickle for customers on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In other news, Techxilla is hosting a fairly impressive cache of iPhone 4 destruction videos, including the following snarky-but-clever video from the cool cats at Blendtec…



iPhone 4 “Death Grip” analyzed, iOS 4.0.1 update expected this week to resolve issue

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Date: Monday, June 28th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

Following reports of reception issues observed by new iPhone 4 owners (tagged the “Death Grip” across the Internet), additional insight reveals that this may actually be a software issue that could be cleared up in the near future.

In terms of identifying the problem, clear observations of mobile signal strength and how they are affected by the placement of users’ hands are difficult to perform in part because there are multiple factors involved in receiving a mobile radio link, including outside interference and the conductivity or mass of different people’s hands.

Additionally, cellphones in general (and in particular the iPhone) have always only presented a very rough approximation of signal strength in the signal bar display, averaged over time. It appears that iOS 4, more so than previous iPhone software, presents a less accurate signal meter, showing less signal at times than an iPhone 3GS while still being able to achieve the same or better call quality.

Per AppleInsider, this has led some to jump to the conclusion that the reception problems noted by some iPhone 4 users are the sign of a hardware design flaw related to its stainless steel band antenna design. Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs stoked a whiplash of blogger frenzy when he reportedly responded that users “were holding it the wrong way,” blocking the signal with their hands.

A variety of people have demonstrated identical problems with other phones, from the Android based Nexus One to the iPhone 3GS. However, the fact that problems observed in the iPhone 3GS are much more pronounced when the device is upgraded to iOS 4 indicate that there is also a software issue involved in the matter. iPhone 4 users can’t downgrade to earlier versions of the core software, making it impossible to compare its relative performance.

According to the article, several messages have arrived from Apple’s tech support forums confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday).

The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

The core software problem is likely augmented by hand placement, as Jobs noted in pointing out that holding the new phone (or any mobile device) in such a way that attenuates the signal should simply be avoided.

If you’ve seen the “Death Grip” issue on your end or have anything to add, let us know.

Apple responds to iPhone 4 wireless signal complaints, offers advice to avoid issue

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Date: Friday, June 25th, 2010, 02:26
Category: iPhone, News

Following a slew of well-publicized launch day complaints regarding the loss of signal strength when held a certain way, Apple has released official advice for iPhone 4 owners to overcome the problem of the device losing signal when held by the lower left corner.

Per the BBC, Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to a query about the problem from one owner by saying: “Just avoid holding it in that way.”

The official advice is to “avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band”.

Alternatively, said Apple, customers could buy a case to shield the antenna.

In a statement, Apple said: “Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas.”

Steve Jobs issued his response in a message responding to an e-mail from the Ars Technica news site. Mr Jobs wrote that “All phones have sensitive areas”.

The problem is thought to be particularly acute for left-handed owners who naturally touch the phone in the sensitive area.

The casing of Apple’s latest phone is made of stainless steel, which also serves as its antenna.
Apple sells a rubber “bumper” that shields the sensitive area.

Richard Warner, one of the first to buy an iPhone 4, contacted BBC News, saying that he thought the phone was “useless in its current state”.

“Apple have created a phone that has an antenna on the bottom left-hand side of the phone.”

“This means that when you hold it in your left hand, the signal bars slowly fade until there is no signal,” he wrote.

A number of videos have been posted on video sharing site YouTube complaining about the reception issue.

One video had an American user running a speed test, with hands on and hands free.
In it, the user ‘awington’ says that, while holding the phone “it won’t even run the test when I am holding the phone… once I let go, it makes a connection and runs the test.
“Hold it a second time, and the upload test will not start.”

The issue might stem from the way the integrated antenna is constructed. One section provides mobile reception, while another is for wi-fi.

Some users have speculated that touching the bottom of the phone bridges this gap, affecting signal strength.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen the issue on your end, please let us know.

Additional details surface about iPhone 4′s Retina display

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 07:35
Category: iPhone, News

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone 4, the Retina display, was introduced at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday.

To answer the question of what a Retina display is, Chris Branderick of PC World offered the following tidbits:

“To put it simply, Apple’s figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches—a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it’s easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this “magic number,” when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4’s screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi), the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

Apple’s retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn’t the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google’s Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re attending the WWDC and can offer any hands-on feedback of the iPhone 4, please let us know in the comments.

Apple renames “iPhone OS 4″ to “iOS 4″, ships gold master candidate

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 03:27
Category: News, Software

As Jason mentioned on the podcast last night, Apple has officially changed the name of the long-anticipated iPhone OS 4.0 to “iOS 4″. The new operating system, which currently powers iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices, will be available for free on June 21st.

Per AppleInsider, iOS 4 it will be a free update for eligible iPod touch users (iOS 4 is not available for the first-generation device) when the operating system arrives on June 21st.

After asking attendees to turn off their laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots in order to get a working connection during yesterday’s keynote, Jobs demonstrated the ability of the iOS to run Pandora in the background to stream Internet radio.

Jobs also showed off the unified inbox in the phone’s Mail application, as well as threaded messages.

The chief executive also put applications into automatically created folders, as had been revealed in the initial unveiling of the new operating system. Folders can be renamed, and they can also be placed in the dock.

iOS 4 also adds support for Microsoft Bing for search, although Google will remain the default option. Jobs touted that Bing uses HTML5 for its mobile search results.

The golden master candidate of iOS 4 is available for developers beginning immediately.

Apple announces iPhone 4 at WWDC keynote

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 12:39
Category: iPhone, News

In his long-awaited Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the fourth-generation iPhone, termed the “iPhone 4″. Per Macworld, the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24$ thinner than the iPhone 3GS and includes new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

The iPhone 4 features a new screen technology called a “retina display” which operates at 326 pixels per inch, double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display measures the same 3.5″ inches diagonally, but at 960 x 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model with an 800:1 contrast ratio that’s also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

The new handset also sports the A4 chip, which boasts both a small footprint and good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that, coupled with the new chip, Apple says provides 40$ more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

The handset includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

The iPhone 4 also add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity and can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing which can be combined with new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information.

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. The company has also created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). Once the video has been recorded, users can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for US$5.

For Jobs’ “One More Thing” moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls via a feature called FaceTime between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only (at least through 2010). Users can also switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

The iPhone 4 will be available in both black and white, at US$199 for 16GB and US$299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24th, with pre-orders starting on June 15th. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a US$29 dock and a US$29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.