Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes medical leave of absence, will remain involved in major decisions

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Date: Monday, January 17th, 2011, 06:30
Category: News

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For the second time in two years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will take a medical leave of absence from his company. According to a press release distributed by Apple, the company co-founder will remain CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions.

Monday’s announcement included a note from Jobs that was sent to all of the company’s employees. In it, Jobs revealed that Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will again take over the company’s day to day operations.

“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health,” Jobs wrote. “I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.”

The CEO said he believes that Cook will do a “terrific” job for Apple as he has done in the past. Cook’s job as interim CEO during Jobs’ previous medical leave of absence in 2009 recently earned him US$59 million.

“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” Jobs wrote. “In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”

Cook assumed the role of interim Apple CEO from January to June of 2009 so that Jobs could recover from liver transplant surgery. During that time, he oversaw the launch of several key products, most notably the iPhone 3GS.

Jobs returned to Apple in June 2009 after he received a liver transplant. In 2004, he also underwent surgery to address pancreatic cancer.

Jobs has long maintained that he believes his health is a private matter, a fact reiterated in Monday’s note to employees.

The announcement comes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S., a holiday on Wall Street where markets, including the NASDAQ, where AAPL trades, is closed. The news was also delivered a day before Apple is set to announce its quarterly earnings after the market closes on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release redesigned MacBook Pro, iMac units in first half of 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:44
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Since it’s the rumors that keep you hankering for new technology, here we go:

Per Taiwanese technology industry publication Digitimes, sources from “upstream component makers” indicate that Apple will introduce the upgraded models in the first half of next year.

The Mac maker reportedly plans to launch “at least four upgraded MacBook Pros” with a “slight change” in chassis design and an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The upgraded iMac is expected to feature “a new panel size and a price point for the mainstream market,” according to the report.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at the “Back to the Mac” event in October. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will incorporate features brought back to the Mac from iOS, such as App Home Screens, full-screen apps, and expanded multi-touch gestures. According to Jobs, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the summer of 2011.

The first day of summer in 2011 is June 22, which would fit within the first half of 2011 timeframe from Digitimes’ most recent report. The report’s sources believe that the MacBook Pro upgrades will help Apple’s notebook shipments grow 30-40 percent year over year in 2011.

Other details were sparse in the report, however, next year’s Macs are generally expected to utilize Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel reportedly plans to formally unveil the new processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5th, 2011.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in July that the company had decided to accelerate production in response to the “very strong reception” of Sandy Bridge CPUs by the chipmaker’s customers.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to surface in early 2011, feature both front and rear cameras, SD card slot

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPad, Rumor

Component suppliers for Apple’s iPad are planning to begin a new round of iPad production in the first quarter of 2011, with one source saying that the next-generation iPad will have front- and back-mounted cameras, a new report claims.

According to a Reuters report published on Friday, sources claim the next-gen iPad will sport dual cameras, and could begin production as early as the first quarter of 2011.

The report further confirms the likelihood of a FaceTime-capable iPad. Additionally, on Thursday, new iPad cases were spotted with cutouts for a rear-facing camera and space for what could be an SD card slot.

Reuters’ sources pegged touchscreen chip designer Wintek Corp, battery maker Simplo Technology and AVY Precision, “an unlisted maker of covers for electronic products,” as suppliers for the next batch of iPads.

Camera component suppliers Genius Electronic Optical CO and Largan Precision Co were also reportedly starting new “supply deals” with Apple, though sources were unable to confirm for which products.

The report lined up with what RBS analyst Steven Tseng has been hearing. “It makes sense for these suppliers to begin delivering their goods in February,” he said. “I think Steve Jobs will announce the new product in January, and we should see the new product hitting shops in about April.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 for 2010 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple issued a MacBook Air EMI firmware resolving an issue where the ultra-thin laptop boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 is recommended for all 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air (late 2010) models and requires Mac OS X 10.6.5 to install and run. The update addresses a “rare issue” where the MacBook Air is unresponsive or displays just a black screen after booting or waking.

Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Air in October at its “Back to the Mac event.” As predicted by AppleInsider the Mac maker released an 11.6″ version of the ultra-portable notebook and abandoned mechanical hard disk drives in favor of custom solid state storage.

On the day of the revamped MacBook Air’s unveiling, Apple released a software update for the product, resolving a problem where the MacBook Air became unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display was connected.

Shortly after the release of the MacBook Air, reports emerged that users were experiencing problems ranging from faulty logic boards to display issues. One issue, detailed on an Apple support thread, involved a flickering or frozen screen. It is not clear whether Apple’s EFI firmware update specifically addresses this issue.

Despite scattered reports of issues with the MacBook Air, the laptop has continued to sell well, especially the 11-inch model. The US$999 11.6″ MacBook Air’s ship times slipped from within 24 hours to 1-3 business days in the first week after its release.

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

Rumor: Mac App Store may launch on Monday, December 13th

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 05:02
Category: Rumor, Software

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You’re hankering for the Mac App Store.

And it may be here in exactly a week.

Per a rumor on AppleTell, Apple has apparently told developers to have their applications ready for a launch as soon as today. A source told the site that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs wanted to launch even sooner than today.

“That obviously didn’t happen, but Apple appears to be way ahead of schedule on the Mac App Store nonetheless, and looks to take advantage of the Christmas rush,” author Kirk Hiner wrote.

Last week, Apple issued its second beta of Mac OS X 10.6.6 with support for the forthcoming Mac App Store. Developers with the early build were reportedly told that the latest update to Snow Leopard “contains developer support for fetching and renewing App Store receipts.”

The Mac App Store was announced in October, and Jobs said it would launch within 90 days. To meet that launch window, Apple has until late January.

Apple is rumored to hold a media event in the coming days to announce the ability to subscribe to publications on the iPad through an iTunes account. It’s possible that Apple could also launch the Mac App Store at the apparent event.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patents describe possible convertible tablet, next-gen MagSafe power/optical connector

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Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 05:46
Category: iPad, MacBook, Patents

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A pair of patents that went public on Tuesday reveal that Apple could be working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form as well as a magnetic connector that provides both power and an optical data connection.

Per freepatentsonline, a November 30 patent entitled “Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations” has surfaced, the patent depicting an Apple notebook that slides into tablet form as an example of a device that would take advantage of the patent’s scrolling operations.

The drawings first show a laptop with a traditional keyboard, body, display frame and display. Then, according to the patent, “the laptop device can be converted into a tablet device” by sliding the display across the keyboard.

Since the patent relates to scrolling operations, it would presumably not cover the convertible laptop to tablet form factor. Apple does, however, disclaim in the application that the patent contains “specific exemplary embodiments.”

“It will be evident that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense,” reads the patent.

In its recent revision. to the MacBook Air line, Apple took features from the iPad, such as “solid state storage, instant-on, amazing battery standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the ultra-thin laptop’s unveiling that he and his company had asked themselves, “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” With both a touchscreen and a keyboard, laptop and tablet configurations, these figures from the scrolling operations patent reveal the possibility of an even closer integration between the two products.

In another patent awarded Tuesday, Apple seeks to reduce the number of cables connected to a laptop device to a single connector that would provide both a power and data connection.

One drawing of the invention depicts what appears to be a MagSafe-like connector attached to a “power and data adapter” with optical, USB, Ethernet, and DVI ports. The adapter would function as both a power brick and a port hub.

Another drawing features a MagSafe connector that splits off into a fiber optic cable with a data adapter and a DC power cable with a power transformer.

The patent could be a first look at Apple’s planned implementation of Intel’s Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel is reportedly readying Light Peak for an early 2011 release, and Apple is expected to quickly incorporate the technology into its Mac line of computers.

Intel claims Light Peak has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and will scale up to 100Gbps over the next decade. “Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible,” states Intel on its website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the patents, please let us know.

Adobe looking to settle battery life argument, currently testing MacBook Air-specific version of Flash

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Date: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, 20:27
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Following a brief period of controversy regarding Flash and its relationship with specific hardware, Adobe’s chief executive revealed this week that his company is currently testing an optimized version of Flash built specifically for Apple’s newly released MacBook Air.

Per Engadget, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that Adobe is looking to improve battery life on the MacBook Air with a new custom build of Adobe Flash, currently in beta testing in the company’s labs. According to Engadget, he noted that battery life performance depends on hardware acceleration.

“When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform,” he said.

His comments come after testing of the new MacBook Air found that ditching Flash improved battery life by two hours. The new notebook gets six hours of uptime loading pages in the Safari browser, but that dips to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed.

Apple caused a stir in October, when it released its newly redesigned MacBook Air models, but shipped them without the Flash plugin preinstalled. Apple portrayed the change as an advantage to consumers, as leaving the user to install Flash ensures they have the latest version.

Apple and Adobe have been at odds in 2010, in a feud that gained considerable steam after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs published an open letter criticizing Flash as old technology that is unfit for the modern era of mobile computers. Apple does not allow Flash onto its iOS-powered devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

Jobs also revealed that Flash is the number one reason for crashes on the Mac platform. For its part, Adobe fired back and said that any crashes of Flash in Mac OS X are not related to its software, but are instead the fault of Apple’s operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Entire Beatles catalog now available via iTunes Store

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Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 08:41
Category: iPod, iTunes Music Store, News

On Tuesday, Apple announced that the entire Beatles catalog is now available via the iTunes Store. Per Macworld, the group’s complete box set is now available for US$149 with many individual tracks selling for $1.29 apiece. Single albums cost $13 each, with double albums such as the Past Masters compilation going for $20.

Each of the 13 remastered albums also sport iTunes LP features, including a mini-documentary on the making of the album. The complete box set also features an exclusive: the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” film of the Beatles’s first U.S. concert. However, if you’re not ready to pony up the full cost of the complete discography, don’t worry: everybody will be able to stream the video from iTunes for free for the rest of 2010.

The appearance of the Beatles on iTunes is the culmination of years of rumors, half-starts, and legal disputes between Apple and the Beatles’s Apple Corps. In a day and age where most new music is released online, the Beatles have long been the most prominent holdout from digital downloads. The closest the lads from Liverpool got was last year, when a limited edition of the band’s remastered discography was released on a USB flash drive with high quality digital tracks.

Despite Jobs’s well known love of the Beatles, Apple and Apple Corps have had a tortuous legal history spanning more than three decades. The companies first met in 1978, shortly after Apple’s inception, when Apple Corps sued the nascent computer company for trademark infringement; the two settled a few years later, with Apple agreeing to stay out of the music business. That lasted until 1989, when Apple started selling a Mac that could synthesize music; Apple Corps sued , saying that the move violated the earlier deal.

The two companies settled for a second time in 1991. That lasted until 2003, when Apple launched the iTunes Store, over which Apple Corps launched a new suit, once again pointing to Apple’s entry into the music business as a clear violation of the two companies’ settlement. That court case dragged on for several years until 2007, when the two companies struck a new deal to settle the breach. By the terms of the new deal, Apple would own all rights related to Apple trademarks and would in turn license those rights back to Apple Corps.

Light Peak could arrive for the Mac in early 2011

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

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Intel’s Light Peak optical cabling technology is on track to make its first appearance in products in early 2011, with Apple expected to follow soon after, according to a new report.

Per CNET, Apple has expressed a very strong interest in Light Peak after Intel approached them with it several years ago. According to sources, Apple Chief Steve Jobs and Intel CEO Paul Otellini allegedly fleshed out the Light Peak standard after Apple intimated that it was looking into optical signaling as a single port solution.

Light Peak, as we’ve outlined before, is a high-speed optical cable technology with bandwidth of 10Gbps, with the possibility of scaling up to 100Gbps in the future. A full-length Blu-Ray movie could transfer over Light Peak in less than 30 seconds, Intel states on its website. The company “expects to see Light Peak in PCs and peripherals in 2011.”

Per the report, sources claim that Light Peak will make its debut in the first half of 2011, and “likely earlier in the year than later.” Apple, which is described as an “innovating force in the industry,” is expected to incorporate Light Peak quickly after its release.

Early versions of the technology have already been tested on Macs. In 2009, “an Intel demonstration at its developer conference used a machine running Apple’s Mac OS X,” wrote author Brooke Crothers.

Optical cabling would provide Apple an alternative to USB 3.0. Though the Cupertino, Calif., company was rumored to be adding USB 3.0 to its Mac Pro and iMac desktops this summer, the updates failed to materialize. Apple has had the USB 3.0 specification for almost a year and a half. Intel has also resisted adopting USB 3.0, holding off on supporting the standard in its chipsets, despite one Intel spokesperson assuring that Intel remains “absolutely committed to USB 3.0 and beyond that.”

A continued Apple/Intel partnership for Light Peak would make mainstream adoption of the technology highly likely. Intel has the reach needed to drive costs down, and Apple is willing to take risks with new standards. Intel may also be looking to work with Apple to develop a mobile version of Light Peak, which would help it break into the mobile space, where Intel’s Atom processors have struggled for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs states Apple won’t support USB 3.0 in the near term via e-mail reply

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Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:48
Category: Hardware, News

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It’s hard to say exactly what Steve Jobs will do next, so this may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Per Tech2.0, a recent Steve Jobs e-mail sent as a reply to Mac user Tom Kruk stated that Apple has no plans to add USB 3.0 connectivity to Macs any day soon.

In the e-mail, Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Mac users will be missing out, for now at least. Following tests, the speed benefits of USB 3.0 are clear, particularly for high-definition video, music, and digital imaging applications. USB 3.0 offers a theoretical 10X jump over current USB 2.0 hardware, which maxes out at 480Mbps. USB 3.0, in contrast, can handle up to 5Gbps.

Intel is expected to roll out USB 3.0 sometime in 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.