Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 for mid-2012 notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:27
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It’s the firmware updates that really make a difference.

Late Friday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, a firmware update for its June 2012 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.

The update requires a Mac notebook introduced in June of 2012, Mac OS X 10.7.4 or higher and can be downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple introduces Lightning to Micro USB adapter to North American customers

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: Hardware, News

You can’t knock a useful adapter.

Per AppleInsider, alongside the iPad mini, Apple on Friday introduced the Lightning to micro USB adapter, a tiny dongle first available in Europe, to the U.S. market.

Initially built and released in tandem with the iPhone 5 in Europe to fulfill the European Commission’s regulation that all smartphones sold in the region be micro USB compatible, the US$19 adapter has now become available in North America.

Previously, those iPhone, iPod and now iPad users needed to buy the component through third-party resellers or directly from an Apple Store in Europe if they wanted to charge and sync their devices via micro USB. As there is no official standard in the U.S., manufacturers offer their products in a variety of charging methods, causing many consumers to build up a stockpile of various cables and chargers. The Lightning to micro USB adapter looks to do away with at least one of those cables.

Apple’s adapter is compatible with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, seventh-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. According to the company’s website, the dongle is able to both charge and sync devices, though it is unlikely that audio line out is supported as the Lightning protocol is completely digital and would require an embedded digital-to-analog converter to function.

The US$19 adapter can be purchased directly from store.apple.com, with shipments available to ship in one to three days.

If you’ve tried the adapter and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 Update for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, late 2012 21.5″ iMac and Mac mini models

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Where new hardware is released, the software updates will follow.

Per AppleInsider, only one day following the announcement of new iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, Apple on Wednesday released an OS X Mountain Lion update built specifically for those devices.

While the download is called OS X 10.8.2, just like the most recent update to Apple’s current operating system for all other Macs, Wednesday’s release is “for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012)Mac mini (Late 2012).”

A quick look at the release notes doesn’t yield much in the way of new information, possibly pointing to issues the new 2012 units are facing with some features in 10.8.2. Of note is the update’s compatibility with the 21.5-inch iMac, a model that has yet to be released, though the no mention was made of the 27-inch version.

The update, a 654 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
- Single sign on for Facebook.
- Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
- Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
- Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Game Center:
- Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
- Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
- Facebook Like button for games.
- Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
- Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
- iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
- From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.
- New shared Reminders lists.
- FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number.
- New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
- Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
- The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary.
- Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:
- An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
- Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail.
- Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
- URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
- Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
- SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
- New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
- Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
- USB 3.0 reliability enhancements

As always, the update can be located and installed via the Mac App Store or OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple Store now offering Lightning to VGA, HDMI adapters

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 08:58
Category: Hardware, iPad, Lightning, News

You’ll never go broke selling the adapters that people need.

Per Engadget, Apple’s online store has begun offering up some of the accessories as of yesterday.

First up are the Lightning adapters, with a new Lightning to VGA Adapter and Lightning Digital AV Adapter selling for US$49 each. While these are available for purchase today, at the Apple online store shows an available to ship date of two to three weeks.

A new US$19 12W USB power adapter (which connects directly to the Lightning port) has also appeared for the 3rd and 4th generation iPads, bumping the previous version’s 10W — meaning your tablet might get charged a bit quicker.

The new adapters can be found here.

As always, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

Apple announces updated, Ivy Bridge Mac mini

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:23
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

The Mac mini, it’s now equipped with Ivy Bridge goodness.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, besides a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple also updated its Mac mini line of desktops. The affordable Mac computer keeps the same boxy form factor, but soups up internals with a Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor (dual-core or quad-core configuration), integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 16 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive or 256 GB SSD. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

The base model starts at US$600 with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of memory. It is available starting today. A server edition will be available for US$999.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:18
Category: MacBook Pro, News

You’ve been waiting for this for a long time now.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off its redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro, featuring a high-resolution Retina display.

Apple executive Phil Schiller noted that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s best selling Mac in its entire product lineup. With that in mind, the company has high expectations for its new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The pixel count on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is so high that it is now the second highest resolution notebook, ahead of all competitors’ models with larger 15 or even 17 inch screens, the company said. The new screen features rich color, deep blacks, a 29% higher contrast ratio, a 75% reduction in reflection, uses IPS for 178 degree viewing, and delivers 300 nits of brightness.



“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is our most popular Mac, and today it gets completely reinvented with a new thin and light design, fast flash storage and a gorgeous Retina display,” Schiller said. “With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.”

The new model weighs just 3 lbs, almost a full pound lighter than the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro, and is 0.75 inches thick, 25% thinner than before and the lightest ever. Schiller noted that the MacBook Pro’s Retina display has more than 4 times as many pixels than its predecessor.

The 13-inch Retina display has a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch. It also uses IPS technology for a 178-degree-wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection with 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

Beyond the screen, it has a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, a backlit keyboard, and glass multi-touch trackpad, as well as the new MagSafe 2, dual Thunderbolt ports and USB 3.0.

Schiller said the “most exciting” part of the computer is on the inside: It’s been re-engineered from scratch, with asymmetric battery technology, Intel Core i5 or i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics.

It also has up to 7 hours of battery life and comes with 8 gigabytes of RAM. Like its 15-inch brethren, the new MacBook Pro is only available with flash storage, which can be upgraded to 768 gigabytes.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starting at US$1,699; and with 256GB of flash storage starting at US$1,999. Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors and flash storage up to 768GB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at apple.com/macbook-pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.2

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Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 07:02
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.2. The new version, a 102.3 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- VMM: adapted to changes in Mac OS X 10.8.2 (bug #10965).

- GUI: restored VM item tool-tip functionality (4.2 regression).

- GUI: added group item tool-tip functionality.

- GUI: fixed handling of the .ova/.ovf file name association (4.2 regression).

- GUI: it was not possible to change any setting before the first VM was created (bug #10928).

- GUI: disable grouping action if all the selected items are full children list of the same group already.

- GUI: added menu for runtime drag-and-drop option change.

- GUI: cleanup shared-clipboard menu on visual-mode change.

- GUI: make sure VM receives keyboard focus on entering fullscreen-mode on Win host (bug #11051).

- GUI: disable proxy authentication for security reasons.

- 3D Support: DrawIndexedPrimitiveUP implementation fixes for the Windows WDDM video driver (bug #10929).

- Storage: fixed a release assertion in the AHCI emulation when requests where canceled with asynchronous I/O disabled.

- Storage: fixed a hang during VM reset under certain circumstances (bug #10898).

- NAT: fixed a crash under rare circumstances (Windows hosts only; bug #10128).

- NAT: automatically use the host resolver if the host name server is set to some unusual loopback value (bug #10864).

- E1000: fixed a VirtualBox crash during intensive network transfers (4.2 regression; bugs #10936, #10969, #10980).

- ICH9: fixed PCI bridge initialization.

- USB mouse: ensure that the last mouse event doesn’t get lost if no URBs are available.

- BIOS: certain legacy guests (e.g. Windows 95) didn’t find the boot device after a warm reboot.

- BIOS: don’t trash the palette in text modes when setting the border color.

- EFI: fixed OS X guest autoboot (4.2 regression).

- VBoxManage: fixed output of showvminfo –machinereadable (bug #10973).

- VBoxManage: fixed parsing of storageattach –discard (bug #11023).

- VBoxManage: fixed wrong output of the HPET setting in showvminfo (bug #11065).

- VBoxManage: fixed closing the guest session after executing a guest process via guest control.

- VBoxShell: adaptions to interface name changes.

- Guest Additions device: fixed a Guest Additions hang when a machine was reset after a crash.

- Linux hosts / guests: Linux 3.7-rc1 fixes.

- Linux Additions: support X.Org Server 1.13.

- Linux Additions: fixed a hang when the X server was restarted with old guest kernels.

- Linux Additions: fixed a VBoxService crash during CPU hot remove (bug fixed in … (new)”>#10964).

- Windows Additions: fixed automatic screen resize issue for NT4 guests.

- OS/2 Additions: fixed shutdown hang.

- OS/2 Additions: fixed mouse driver panic.

- Solaris hosts: fixed autostart service going into maintenance mode after all VMs started.

- Solaris hosts: fixed linking the host driver with the dtrace module.

VirtualBox 4.2.2 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know.

Apple begins shipping Lightning adapter orders

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Date: Monday, October 8th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

With any luck, that Lightning adapter you ordered should be arriving soon.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Monday sent out emails notifying a number of Australian customers that their Lightning to 30-pin Adapter orders had shipped, with an expected arrival date coming almost four weeks after sales of the iPhone 5 went live in September.

At least one buyer of Apple’s new adapter, which is currently only compatible with the iPhone 5, told MacRumors that his shipment is due for delivery on Oct. 9, more than three weeks after the handset went up for preorder in mid-September.

According to Apple, the move away from the legacy 30-pin plug to the 80 percent-smaller proprietary Lightning connector was required to build devices as slim and compact as the iPhone 5 and products from the next-generation iPod line. To help ease the transition to the new format, which effectively renders nearly a decade’s worth of “Made for iDevice” accessories obsolete, Apple is offering the US$29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter along with a US$39 cabled version.

The reversible Lightning port dynamically assigns pins and uses only those signals required by a connected accessory, such as audio or USB data for a dock. The advanced protocol also carries authentication hardware, making it difficult for third-party manufacturers to build accessories without paying royalties to Apple.

It appears that Apple’s Lightning adapters will be indispensable for users tied to their accessories for some time, as Apple is said to have made significant changes to the “Made for iPhone” rules expected to be presented in November, allowing little to no room for accessory makers to build new products before Christmas.

If you’ve gotten your Lightning adapter and can offer any sort of feedback on it, please let us know how your experience went in the comments section.

Analyst: Apple’s new Lightning connector should have product lifespan of 5-10 years

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

If you’re irked about having to buy a new Lightning adapter for your iPhone 5 or updated iPod, at least it’ll be around for a while.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s new Lightning connector, introduced alongside the iPhone 5 last week, is thought to be a key longterm investment for the company, and will possibly have a lifetime of ten years.

In a research note shared with clients, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo broke down the cost of components used in the iPhone 5, and found the Lightning’s ASP (average sales price) to have risen the most compared to parts in the iPhone 4S.

Kuo notes the new Lightning connector’s cost of US$3.50 represents a huge 775 percent rise in ASP compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector’s last price of US$0.40. Concurrently, the Lightning cable’s US$6.00 ASP is a 233 percent jump from the previous standard’s US$1.80 model.

The spike is to be expected as Lightning is a new technology, replacing the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector first introduced with the third-generation iPod.

While Apple’s new plug is similar in size to the Micro USB standard, Kuo believes the Lightning’s specs are higher, making the connector more difficult to manufacture. Included in the new high-tech part is a unique design which the analyst says is likely to feature a pin-out with four contacts dedicated to data, two for accessories, one for power and a ground. Two of the data transmission pins may be reserved for future input/output technology like USB 3.0 or perhaps even Thunderbolt, though this is merely speculation.

As for Lightning’s expected lifespan, the format is estimated to be in use for the next five to ten years, almost identical to the now-defunct 30-pin standard.

While ASP may be high in the first one to two years following deployment, the cost is acceptable as Apple will likely make back its investment in royalties from accessory sales. Apple is thought to be using a Texas Instruments chip for accessory authorization, making it difficult for third party manufacturers to build and sell Lightning-compatible products without paying royalties.

Looking at other critical parts in the iPhone 5, Kuo notes Apple’s quest to make high-quality products has boosted the ASP of other components as well, including the sapphire camera lens cover, upgraded baseband system, the A6 processor and the 4-inch in-cell touch panel. The second-highest ASP rise comes from the iPhone 5′s all-aluminum back casing’s $17 price which represents a 240 percent increase from the US$5 “metal band” design seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.0

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 07:42
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.0. The new version, a 96.6 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

New Features:
- Improved Windows 8 support, in particular many 3D-related fixes.

- GUI: VM groups (bug #288).

- GUI: expert mode for wizards.

- GUI: allow to alter some settings during runtime.

- Support for up to 36 network cards, in combination with an ICH9 chipset configuration (bug #8805).

- Resource control: added support for limiting network IO bandwidth; see the manual for more information (bug #3653).

- Added possibility to start VMs during system boot on Linux, OS X and Solaris; see the manual for more information (bug #950).

- Added experimental support for Drag’n’drop from the host to Linux guests. Support for more guests and for guest-to-host is planned. (bug #81).

- Added support for parallel port passthrough on Windows hosts.

- Enhanced API for controlling the guest; please see the SDK reference and API documentation for more information.

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:
- Mac OS X hosts: sign application and installer to avoid warnings on Mountain Lion.

- VMM: fixed a potential host crash triggered by shutting down a VM when another VM was running (only affected 32-bit hosts and 64-bit OS X hosts, 4.1 regression, bug #9897).

- VMM: fixed a potential host crash under a high guest memory pressure (seen with Windows 8 guests).

- VMM: improved VM context switch performance for Intel CPUs using nested paging.

- VMM: added support for FlushByASID features of AMD CPUs (Bulldozer and newer).

- VMM: fixed unreal mode handling on older CPUs with VT-x (gPXE, Solaris 7/8/9; bug #9941).

- VMM: fixed MP tables fixes for I/O APIC interrupt routing relevant for ancient SMP guests (e.g. old OS/2 releases).

- VMM: support recent VIA CPUs (bug #10005).

- VMM: fixed handling of task gates if VT-x/AMD-V is disabled.

- VMM: page fusion fixes.

- GUI: network operations manager.

- GUI: allow taking screenshots of the current VM window content (bug #5561).

- GUI: allow automatically sorting of the VM list.

- GUI: allow starting of headless VMs from the GUI.

- GUI: allow reset, shutdown and power off from the Manager window.

- GUI: allow to globally limit the maximum screen resolution for guests.

- GUI: show the full medium part on hovering the list of recently used ISO images.

- GUI: do not create additional folders when a new machine has a separator character in its name (bug #6541).

- GUI: don’t crash on terminate if the settings dialog is still open (bug #9973).

- GUI: consider scaled DPI values when display fonts on Windows hosts (bug #9864).

- GUI: if a bridged network interface cannot be found, don’t refuse to start the VM but allow the user to change the setting immediately.

- Snapshots: fixed a crash when restoring an old snapshot when powering off a VM (bugs #9364, #9604, #10491).

- Clipboard: disable the clipboard by default for new VMs (see the manual for more information). It can be enabled at any time using the VM menu.

- Settings: sanitize the name of VM folders and settings file (bug #10549).

- Settings: allow to store the iSCSI initiator secret encrypted.

- NAT: improvements for the built-in TFTP server (bugs #7385, #10286).

- NAT: fixed memory leak when disabling the NAT engine (bug #10801).

- E1000: 802.1q VLAN support (bug #10429).

- Storage: implemented burning of audio CDs in passthrough mode.

- Storage: fixed audio CD passthrough for certain media players.

- Storage: implemented support for discarding unused image blocks through TRIM for SATA and IDE and UNMAP for SCSI when using VDI images.

- Storage: added support for QED images.

- Storage: added support for QCOW (full support for v1 and readonly support for v2 images).

- Storage: added readonly support for VHDX images.

- USB: don’t crash if a USB device is plugged or unplugged when saving or loading the VM state (SMP guests only).

- Solaris additions: added support for X.org Server 1.11 and 1.12.

- Solaris additions: switched to using an in-kernel mouse driver.

- Windows hosts: no need to recreate host-only adapters after a VirtualBox update.

- Windows Additions: fixed memory leak in VBoxTray (bug #10808).

VirtualBox 4.2.0 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know.