Apple releases MacBook Air Mid 2013 Software Update 1.0, homes in on reported bugs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 19th, 2013, 05:28
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

If you bought a mid-2013 MacBook Air, the firmware update you’ve been waiting for has arrived.

Apple on Thursday released an update to its recently released MacBook Air models, addressing issues affecting Wi-Fi connectivity, screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop and volume fluctuation during video playback.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s “MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0″ is the first for the company’s thin-and-light lineup that was in June, and fixes a number of bugs users have complained about over the past few weeks.

Among the initial problems cited by users was intermittent loss of Wi-Fi signals, a problem Apple partially addressed in a separate AirPort Utility software update earlier this month.

Another problem cropped up last week when MacBook Air owners complained of uncontrollable volume fluctuations while playing video content in both first-party and third-party applications. This too has reportedly been solved with the latest Software Update 1.0.

Finally, the release fixes an issue that would occasionally cause screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop.

The MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update is available as a 3.55 megabyte download and can also be retrieved via the OS X Software Update feature on qualifying MacBook Air notebooks.

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

Apple releases fifth OS X 10.8.5 build to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 08:53
Category: News, Software

OS X 10.8.5 is on its way.

Per MacNN, Apple is now seeding a fifth beta of OS X 10.8.5 to developers. The latest build, 12F23, is just a few version numbers advanced since the previous one, 12F20. That could mean that v10.8.5 will reach the public by the end of the month.

There are no known issues with 12F23. Apple is asking developers to continue testing components like graphics, Wi-Fi, wake-from-sleep functions, mobile device management, and PDF viewing and accessibility.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:28
Category: News, Software

Mavericks is further down the line, but the OS X 10.8.5 update is in progress.

Per 9to5Mac, one week after the second beta seed of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5, Apple has issued OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to registered developers. The new update, again, includes no known issues and is available for developers via the Mac Developer Center and the Mac App Store Software Update function.

Apple has asked testers to focus on Wi-Fi, Graphics, Wake from Sleep, PDF viewing and Accessibility, and Mobile Device Management during their testing. Apple has also been providing 10.8.5 beta updates to its retail staff for testing.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new build and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Study finds mid-2013 MacBook Air’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds throttled by bug in OS X

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:51
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

Even in the event that the Wi-Fi connectivity issues on the mid-2013 MacBook Air notebooks are hardware-based, the underlying operating system software is apparently throttling potential data speeds on the new networking protocol.

Per AnandTech and CNET, a series of tests by AnandTech confirms that much of the Wi-Fi speed throttling is software-based. The new MacBook Air was announced by Apple at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, and in addition to extended battery life, the new systems include support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, which supports up to three times faster data rates in comparison with 802.11n.

In testing, AnandTech noticed that the link speeds of the systems are very high, at an average of about 533Mbps, but when transferring files over standard networking protocols, the speed drops to about 169Mbps at its maximum. This is over three times less than the expected speeds.

In investigating the issue, AnandTech discovered that an apparent bug in OS X limits the TCP window size (the maximum data that can be sent at a time) to a maximum of 64KB, which is far less than the 256KB needed to meet the speed capabilities of the 802.11ac connection.

As a result of this finding, AnandTech shows that in its current state, while the 2013 MacBook Air will still give fast file transfers, these will be limited to about 21MBps, instead of the more than 50MBps expected. Luckily, this limitation being in software means the fix should be easy, and it may be only a matter of a quick update for these systems to realize their full potential.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into mid-2013 MacBook Air Wi-Fi issues, “capturing” units for study

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:41
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

This might be why your friends, the ones who wait a month or two after a brand new product hits the market, could be right…

Per 9to5Mac, over the past few days, a notable amount of users have complained about Wi-Fi issues plaguing the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models released during the week of WWDC. Besides less-battery-intensive chipsets, the marquee feature of the new MacBook Air revolves around faster Wi-Fi connectivity thanks to new 802.11ac cards. As with any new product, bugs are plausible. It’s also been noted that new reports claim that the MacBook Air WiFi issues are due to networking issues in Apple’s OS X software.

The following facts are currently in place:

In the United States, Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) and MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013) computers with any Wi-Fi issues.

According to a source at Apple, the company is working to independently identify what exactly is causing the new Wi-Fi-related problems. According to the source, AppleCare and Apple Store Genius Bar employees have been instructed to “capture” affected MacBook Air units. These units will then be sent back to Apple for further testing so a solution could hopefully be achieved. While Apple is asking AppleCare and Genius Bar staff to “capture” units facing problems, that does not mean Apple is confirming the new MacBook Air is flawed. This points to Apple pushing to determine why at least some units are seeing Wi-Fi problems.

There have also been reports of at least a couple of customers facing MacBook Air WiFi issues who have successfully swapped out their notebooks for new ones. One of these people has said that AppleCare provided them with a complementary USB-to-Ethernet adapter so the new MacBook Air could connect to the internet without Wi-Fi. Apple also informed these people that their original laptops have been “captured”.

If you’ve picked up Apple’s latest MacBook Air notebook and have any feedback to provide about its 802.11ac Wi-Fi performance, please let us know in the comments.

Growing number of users cite Wi-Fi connectivity issues with 802.11ac-equipped MacBook Air notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 21st, 2013, 05:15
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

To be fair, this is what they invented firmware updates for.

Per Gizmodo, some early adopters of Apple’s latest MacBook Air models have found their new thin-and-light notebook will unexpectedly and repeatedly drop its wireless connection.

A growing discussion thread on the Apple Support Communities website details the connectivity problems being experienced by numerous users. The problems appear to apply to both the 11- and 13-inch varieties of the recently updated notebook lineup.

In addition, an anonymous source from an Apple retail store in London said that their store has had complaints about wireless connectivity for the new MacBook Airs that are “well above average.”

In the thread, users say they’re experiencing the problems across a range of routers, including Apple’s own AirPort accessories. Users say they can initially connect to a Wi-Fi network, but that connection will drop after a short period of use.

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an available solution that addresses the problems seen by all users, though some have had success with various routers or even different placement of the MacBook Air.

The updated MacBook Air lineup launched last week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. In addition to faster 802.11ac connectivity, the notebooks also feature Intel’s latest Haswell processors, helping to enable battery life as great as 12 hours.

The new MacBook Airs are also priced US$100 less than their predecessors, with the new low-end US$999 11-inch model packing 128 gigabytes of flash storage.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and noticed any issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, please let us know in the comments.

Intel-based MacBook Air batteries show best-ever test results according to Macworld Lab

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 20th, 2013, 06:02
Category: battery, MacBook Air, News

The new MacBook Air batteries have been tested.

And you’ll probably like the results.

Per Macworld, the Macworld Lab has completed its run of tests on Apple’s new battery for its updated Haswell-based MacBook Air notebook. And while Macworld Lab didn’t experience the 12-hour battery life cited by Apple, the tests do show that the new MacBook Air lasts considerably longer than before. The results were better than anything seen before by the lab.

The tests were run with the brightness set to maximum and made sure that automatic brightness adjustment was off, backlit keyboards were off, and Screen Saver was set to never start.

In the first test, the lab looped a movie clip in full screen mode with Wi-Fi disabled. The new 11-inch MacBook Air lasted 6 hours and 6 minutes, compared to just 3 hours and 34 minutes for the 2012 model. The new 13-inch standard configuration MacBook Air lasted 8 hours and 18 minutes, 36 percent longer than the new 11-inch MacBook Air, and 65 percent longer than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air. Compared to a 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the 13-inch MacBook Air lasted 75 percent longer.

The lab also ran the tests on “ultimate” configure-to-order (CTO) MacBook Air models from this year and from last year. There wasn’t too much of a battery life hit on the new CTO model compared to the standard configuration; the standard configuration model lasted just 11 minutes longer than the CTO unit that has a faster processor, more RAM, and twice the hard drive capacity. Comparing this year’s CTO “ultimate” to last year’s, they saw that the new model lasted 65 percent longer.

The second run of tests used Futuremark’s free Peacekeeper browser test, which has an option to run the online test repeatedly and report the time at which the system being tested stops responding. This test is much more taxing than the movie playback, using more of the system’s memory and processor. Hence, the lab found that the notebooks couldn’t last as long when running the Peacekeeper test, but did find that the performance still scaled as expected.

In the Peacekeeper tests, the new 13-inch standard configuration MacBook Air lasted the longest at 5 hours and 45 minutes, which was 2.5 hours less than in the movie test. The new 13-inch standard configuration model lasted 41 percent longer than the new 11-inch model and 25 percent longer than the new CTO MacBook Air. It should be pointed out, however, that the CTO Air outscored the new stock 13-inch MacBook Air by about 20 percent in the tasks that Peacekeeper repeatedly runs during its battery test. The new standard configuration 13-inch Air lasted 63 percent longer than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air and 67 percent longer than the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The increased battery life is the result of two under-the-hood changes to the MacBook Air. First off, there is more battery capacity. iFixit’s teardown demonstrated that the new models using slightly higher capacity batteries. Second, the new MacBook Air has also switched from using Intel’s third generation Ivy Bridge Core processors to fourth generation Haswell processors. A key difference between the generations is decreased power consumption, which results in increased battery life on the portables it powers.

If you’ve picked up a new Haswell-based MacBook Air notebook and have any feedback about its battery life, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Apple releases first OS X 10.8.5 build to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 20th, 2013, 06:03
Category: News, Software

OS X 10.8.5 development is underway.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday seeded the first OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion beta build to developers, with the latest maintenance update possibly looking to stabilize the operating system ahead of an OS X 10.9 Mavericks launch this fall.

Sources familiar with the beta, dubbed build 12F9, said Apple is asking developers to focus on existing Mountain Lion features, including Wi-Fi and graphics.

The latest beta comes two weeks after Apple issued the OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4 maintenance update to Mac users, which brought Wi-Fi improvements, compatibility with Microsoft Exchange and a host of bug fixes.

Apple is expected to release the next-generation OS X 10.9 Mavericks this fall, and a preview has already been seeded to the development community.

If you’ve gotten your hands on this build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Microsoft releases long-awaited Office Mobile 365 for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 14th, 2013, 06:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

office365ios

You’ve been hankering for a native version of Microsoft Office for iOS for some time now.

And it’s arrived.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft on Friday released its Office Mobile 365 app for Apple’s iPhone, allowing users with subscriptions to the productivity suite to access Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the go.

With Microsoft’s Office Mobile, users can view documents stored in Microsoft’s SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro or SharePoint, as well as read and edit Office docs sent as email attachments. Additionally, owners of Windows machines can remotely access documents that were recently viewed on a desktop client.

Another PC-only feature is “Resume Reading,” which allows Word documents opened from SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro to automatically jump to where users left off on their Windows computer or tablet.

Microsoft says documents are optimized before being viewed on the iPhone, while support for charts, animations, SmartArt Graphics and shapes comes built-in. Also available is an in-app Slide Navigator in PowerPoint and a function to help with presentation practice.

The application offers the following features:
- Edit – You can make quick edits to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

- Documents Remain Intact – Formatting and content remain intact when you edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents on your phone.

- Edit While Offline – Your device doesn’t have to be continuously connected to the network to work on an Office document that is stored online. You can view and edit recently used documents even while you’re offline. Your changes will be saved online when your device reconnects to the network or to Wi-Fi.

- Create – You can create new Word and Excel documents on your phone.

- Comments – You can review comments that have been made in Word and Excel documents on your phone and add your own comments.

- Share – When you’re done with your edits or comments, simply send the document in email or save it to SkyDrive or SharePoint.

Office Mobile comes in at 58MB and is available from the App Store as a free companion app for existing Office 365 subscribers. The app requires an iOS device running iOS 6.1 or later to install and run. Microsoft Office 2013 for PC is required for recent document and resume reading.

If you’ve tried Office Mobile 365 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.