Rare Apple customer survey sparks hopes for 3G in next-gen MacBook Air

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 05:06
Category: MacBook Air, News

This could be interesting.

Apple, which typically relies on its own in-house research as opposed to customer feedback, began reaching out to select MacBook Air owners this week in a new survey that could help define future versions of the diminutive notebook, posing questions on 3G, data syncing, I/O usage, and the desire for models with more capable computing power.

Per AppleInsider, the wide-ranging survey touches on a number of issues, including the use of USB ports and external disc drives, Web-based file storage and syncing, and use of certain function keys on the keyboard. It also includes a number of queries related to wireless 3G data connectivity, suggesting Apple could be exploring integrated cellular radios in future notebooks.

Official Apple customer surveys on products are not unheard of, though they are rare. The last survey AppleInsider can recall was conducted back in February 2009 to help shape the future of the Apple TV, and that was related to the company’s self-proclaimed “hobby” that was a work-in-progress.

In addition to future MacBook Air models, the new survey could offer a glimpse into Apple’s plans for the MacBook Pro line of notebooks. When the new MacBook Air was released last October, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the thin-and-light computer is “the first of a new generation of notebooks.”

Interestingly, the survey asks users whether they have connected their MacBook Air to a 3G network, how often they do so, where they connect to 3G, what type of device they use to connect to a 3G network (MiFi, USB device, or tethering with a cell phone).

Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its successor have already begun to surface. Last week, it was said that Apple allegedly plans to upgrade its line of thin-and-light notebooks to Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors this June. No claims were made about 3G connectivity.

Rumors of a 3G-capable Mac have persisted for years, but the company does not yet sell a notebook with an integrated cellular data radio. Apple even sought to hire a 3G expert for its Mac team in 2009, fueling those rumors that the functionality would be added to a future MacBook.

So, it’s hard to say how much attention to pay to this, but it is sort of interesting and could lead to something cool. If you’ve seen this survey on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Source claims that Apple MacBook Pro delay from Intel chip bug probably minimal

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, February 12th, 2011, 05:10
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

Following up on a widely publicized chip design error on Intel’s part has disrupted Apple’s plans for its next-generation MacBook Pro models, but the impact will be largely immaterial to both the company’s bottom line and its customers according to a source.

Per AppleInsider, Intel said late last month that a design flaw in all of its 6 Series Cougar Point chipsets — due to support new Sandy Bridge Core processors bound for mainstream notebooks and desktops like Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMacs — would delay volume launches of those chips due to a lapse in production while it corrected the glitch.

The impact on Apple due to the setback hasn’t been immediately clear. However, one source has stated that some of the company’s upcoming MacBook Pros were affected by the situation. According to the source, Apple elected to make minor tweaks to the logic boards of those models, but that those changes would translate to a delay of less than two weeks.

Reading between the lines can only lead to speculation that Apple was an early recipient of some of those Cougar Point chipsets from Intel, and that the changes it’s making involve tweaks to SATA ports that those MacBook Pros will utilize.

Those chipsets offer support for a total of six SATA ports, but Intel acknowledged the only problem with the chips was the potential for four of those ports — 2 through 5 — to “degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives.”

However, an Intel spokesperson confirmed that that the problem does not affect SATA ports 0 or 1, so any system builders that received those parts would be clear to ship those chips in systems that utilize only ports 0 or 1. For its part, Apple makes use of only two SATA ports in its current MacBook Pros, according to iFixit teardown specialist Kyle Wiens, and has no reason to require more going forward.

“There are two connections on the board — one for optical drive, and one for HDD,” he said. “The other internal devices (trackpad, keyboard, SD card reader, etc.) use USB.”

In total, Intel said it shipped roughly 8 million of the Cougar Point chipsets to system manufacturers before it discovered the error but that “relatively few consumers” were impacted by this issue because the only systems that actually made it into end consumers hands’ were those based on its new Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 quad core processors for desktop systems. The rest of the chips — presumably some of which went to Apple — hadn’t yet been built into systems available to consumers.

As such, the launch window for Apple’s new MacBook Pros, which have been rumored to “feature a slight change in chassis design” and speculated to employ the Sandy Bridge Core processors listed in the chart below, remains hazy. Still, evidence from those familiar with the matter and checks within the company’s supply chain suggest a period sooner than later — likely between late February and early April for volume shipments.

Apple as early as last month began drawing down inventories of its lower volume MacBook Pros, namely the 17-inch model, in anticipation of the transition. For instance, some of the company’s largest resellers including Amazon direct, MacMall and J&R Computer World (1,2,3) have long run dry of this model. And just this week, MacConnection and MacMall appear to have run into trouble securing more of the two high-end 15-inch models (1,2,3,4), which are now both out of stock.

People familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Amazon and Best Buy say Apple initially offered restocking dates of late January for those MacBook Pros but then missed those dates and pushed them out a week late. This trend has continued for the past two weeks, where a restocking date is supplied, only to be missed and rescheduled.

According to those same people, such anomalies in Apple’s Mac supply chain only manifest in the face of a significant production problem or on the cusp of major product line refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Unofficial iPhone Dev Team releases redsn0w beta, offers initial iOS 4.2.1 jailbreak

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 27th, 2010, 07:28
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The Unofficial iPhone Dev Team has advanced to its next project, posting a beta of redsn0w, its jailbreaking utility for iOS devices. Per iPodNN, the release supports untethered operation in iOS 4.2.1, that is, jailbreaking without having to stay connected to a computer via USB during the process. So far only the iPad, the iPhone 4 and the fourth-generation iPod touch devices are compatible.

The Dev Team warns that because things can potentially go “very wrong,” the software is aimed strictly at beta testers. People are asked to back up any essential content, and avoid the beta entirely if they use the ultrasn0w unlock. The software also requires a separate install of usbmuxd, and that Cydia have v4.2b3 SHSH blobs saved.

Owing to sandbox problems, Bluetooth support is temporarily unavailable. redsn0w 0.9.7b3 is a Mac-only download; the untethered mode can be used by selecting the Jailbreak Monte option. Testers are urged to do a fresh restore before installation in order to rule out variables.

If you’re feeling brave, let too know how it went in the comments.

Apple releases Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.5.2

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 17th, 2010, 05:22
Category: News, Software, wireless

Late Friday, Apple released its Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware 7.5.2. The update provides bug fixes for all 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Stations, AirPort Express Base Stations, and Time Capsules. Some of the fixes include the following:

- General fixes to Wi-Fi base station stability.

- Fixes some issues with AirPlay streaming.

- General fixes with USB interoperability including connection to external storage devices.

- Fixes some issues with NAT port mapping settings.

- Disables TKIP security with 802.11n rates per the Wi-Fi Alliance specifications.

The update can be found, downloaded and installed via the software update feature in the AirPort Utility program (Applications–>Utilities), takes about a minute to install and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases LED Cinema Display Firmware Update 1.0 for 27″ monitor

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:00
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released its LED Cinema Display Firmware Update 1.0 to try and fix a bug that’s been plaguing some users.

Per Macworld, the issue in question involves audio from the display’s speakers dying intermittently. In order to fix the sound issues, users have resorted to unplugging and replugging the monitor’s USB cable or even rebooting their Mac.

The update, a 957KB download, can be snagged from Apple’s support download site or via Software Update and then run it from your /Applications/Utilities folder and requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple 27″ Cinema Display units demonstrating audio, slow volume control response problems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 13:19
Category: Hardware, News

As nifty as Apple’s 27″ Cinema Display, there may be some kinks to work out.

Per MacNN, the device is suffering from serious audio problems, some owners say. Complaints reportedly surfaced back in October on the Apple boards, but have persisted without any solution from Apple. In worst-case scenarios Cinema Displays have been losing built-in audio entirely, although the glitch can be temporarily solved by unplugging and reconnecting the monitor, or in some instances changing audio settings.

Another problem involves slow response times for keyboard-based volume controls. Affected displays can potentially take as long as 6 or 7 seconds to respond to keyboard presses, making onboard sound impractical.

The issues are notably affecting both Mac and Windows systems, suggesting that any permanent solution will require a firmware or hardware fix. The root cause may in fact involve USB connections, as Macs using Mini DisplayPort for audio have been going unaffected. Apple support staff are said to be aware of the problem, but unable to tell if or when a fix is coming. Some customers have managed to secure replacement monitors only to encounter the same trouble.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

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

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

applelogo_silver

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.

Apple releases Boot Camp 3.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

bootcamplogo.jpg

Late Thursday, Apple released its Boot Camp 3.2 update (a 280 megabyte download for the 32-bit version of Windows and a 121 megabyte download for the 64-bit version of Windows), a package that added the following changes and fixes for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 under Boot Camp:

- Adds support for the ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card.

- Adds support for the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter.

- Adds support for the MacBook Air SuperDrive.

- Addresses critical bug fixes.

This update is highly recommended for all Boot Camp 3.1 users and can be located and snagged on the Windows side via the Apple Software Update application.

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

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.5 build 10H571, refines focus area for developers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010, 05:43
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Late Friday, Apple released an additional beta of its forthcoming Mac OS X 10.6.5 update. Per World of Apple, the beta, labeled build 10H571, arrived 5 days after Apple released an internal “pre-release build.”

According to the release notes, developers who installed Thursday’s Mac OS X 10.6.6 beta will need to revert to 10.6.0-10.6.4 in order to install the latest 10.6.5 build. Focus areas for the build are: 3D Graphics, Printing, QuickTime, Time Machine and USB Devices.

The public release of Mac OS X 10.6.5, which is required to take full advantage of the soon-to-be-released iOS 4.2, is expected to come soon.

The iOS 4.2 update is scheduled for a November release.

Media Event: Apple releases updated MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Aperture 3.1, iLife ’11, Pro Kit refinements and FaceTime for Mac OS X

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 19:05
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

applelogo_silver

Proving good on a good numbers of the rumors surrounding the event, Apple offered a slew of goodies at its October 20th announcements including an updated MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air and a slew of software goodies.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple surprised its audience by releasing a faster build-to-order MacBook Pro. For an additional US$200, customers can upgrade the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro to a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor from a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 chip. The same upgrade is also available for the sole 2.53GHz 17-inch model for a US$400 premium. An upgrade on that model to a 2.66GHz Core i7 remains, priced at US$200.

In addition, Apple on Wednesday released a number of software updates related to the release of the new MacBook Air models, as well as the iLife ’11 suite. Those who pick up the newly released MacBook Air have Software Update 1.0, a 368KB download available via Mac OS X’s Software Update function, already available for them.

The update resolves an issue where the system becomes unresponsive while playing a movie trailer in iMovie. It also fixes a problem where the system becomes unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display is connected. It is recommended for all late-2010 MacBook Air models.

During the event, Apple also released Aperture 3.1, a 357.55MB download that improves overall stability and performance, and also addresses compatibility with the newly release iLife ’11 suite.

Fixes and changes include the following:
- Performance when opening large libraries.

- Performance when exporting heavily-adjusted images.

- Importing iPhoto Libraries.

- Relinking to referenced images after importing an iPhoto Library.

- Importing photos and videos from iPhone or iPad.

- Upgrading libraries with images containing Spot & Patch adjustments.

- Duplicate detection of audio and video files.

- Face detection on RAW+JPEG pairs.

- Rendering of thumbnails used in Faces view.

- Rendering of images scaled to below 100% in Viewer.

- Image quality on straightened images.

- Applying Red Eye correction.

- Rendering thumbnails when reprocessing masters.

- Searching libraries containing a large number of keywords.

- Applying photos to GPS track paths.

- Export of GPS data when using Export Metadata command.

- Handling of color profiles in Print dialog when using Loupe.

- Applying and removing slideshow Photo Effects.

- Slideshows containing video clips.

- Tethered capture.

- Library database reliability.

- Library repair.

- Updating vaults.

During the media event, Apple also issued ProKit 6.0 for Snow Leopard. The 13.5MB downloadadds the following fixes and changes to Apple’s professional applications:
- Improves reliability for browsing iPhoto libraries in Aperture.

- Addresses cosmetic issue with appearance of disclosure triangles in Aperture.

- Fixes a problem in Logic Pro and MainStage where numeric parameters display incorrect information.

The update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express, Soundtrack, Logic Studio, Logic Pro, MainStage, WaveBurner and Logic Express.

The highlight of the event came when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, which Jobs came after the company asked itself “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” The company then announced the release two new MacBook Airs with 11.6″ and 13.3″ screens, instant-on capabilities, starting at just $999 which are now available.

The new MacBook Air has no optical drive and no hard drive, which allows instant-on capabilities. The MacBook Air has memory up to two times faster that is more reliable and 90% smaller and lighter, Jobs said.

Both models feature a forward-facing FaceTime camera, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics.

The new 13″ model boasts a 7 hour of battery life with 30 days of standby time and features a full-size keyboard and a full-size glass trackpad as well. The 13.3″ display is 1440-by-900 pixels, and the model weighs just 2.9 pounds.

The larger model starts at US$1,299 for 128GB of storage with a 1.86GHZ processor. Doubling the storage to 256GB is US$1,599.

The 11″ model has a display resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It’s just as thin, but is even lighter, at just 2.3 pounds.

The low-end model has a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo and 64GB of storage for US$999. a higher-end model with a 128GB drive retails for US$1,199.

Memory, rather than being enclosed in a solid state drive, is situated directly on the motherboard, allowing Apple to save space within the notebook. Jobs showed the inside of the MacBook Air, demonstrating that most of the space inside is used for the batteries.

The new MacBook Air measures an incredibly thin 0.11″ at its thinnest point and 0.68″ at its thickest, and weighs just 2.3 pounds for the 11″ model and 2.9 pounds for the 13″. Like the iPad, MacBook Air was designed from the ground up to use flash storage exclusively.

Along with the full-sized keyboard, as well as the standard Multi-Touch trackpad found on Apple’s MacBook Pro, the unit also include built-in FaceTime camera for communication with iOS-based devices as well as other Macs.

Full specs include the following:
Size and weight
Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
Width: 11.8″ (29.95 cm)
Depth: 7.56″ (19.2 cm)
Weight: 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)

Processor and memory:
- 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache; or optional 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache.

- 800MHz frontside bus.

- 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM onboard (4GB maximum).

Storage:
- 64GB

- 128GB

Display:
11.6″ (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors

Supported resolutions:
1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, 1280 by 720, 1024 by 576 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio

Graphics and video support:
- Mini DisplayPort

- Pure digital video output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- HDMI output using a third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (sold separately)

- NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main
memory

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors

- FaceTime camera

Keyboard and trackpad:
- Full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)

- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities

Peripheral connections:
- USB 2.0

- Mini DisplayPort

- MagSafe

- USB 2.0

- Headphone

- Microphone

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Omnidirectional microphone

- Headphone minijack

- Support for Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic

Communications:
- AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking4 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology

- Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

Battery and power:
- Built-in 35-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 45W MagSafe power adapter with cable management system

- MagSafe power port

Environmental:
Per Apple, the MacBook Air achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements. Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Pricing & Availability:

The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are immediately available through the Apple Store at apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 1.4 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $999 (US) with a 128GB model for US$1,199 (US).

The 1.86 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US) with a 256GB model for US$1,599 (US).

Configure-to-order options and accessories include faster processors, 4GB of memory, MacBook Air SuperDrive and a USB Ethernet Adapter.