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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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.

Apple releases AirPort Utility 6.3, AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, adds support for 802.11ac AirPort Extreme units, bug fixes

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 06:56
Category: News, Software, wireless

Airportlogo.png

OS X’s Software Update feature is your friend.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released updates for the Mac, iPhone and iPad versions of AirPort Utility late on Monday following the release of the redesigned 802.11ac-compatible AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Basestations. The update added support for the new wireless network routers.

AirPort Utility 6.3, a 20.64 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- The ability to extend the Guest Wi-Fi network on a network that is configured with multiple AirPort Base Stations.

- The ability to add a WPS-capable Wi-Fi printer.

- Improved international support.

AirPort Utility 6.3 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, a 4.6 megabyte download via Software Update, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Update for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac.

- Resolves a rare issue that may cause the hard drive in AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive connected via USB to become unresponsive.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1 requires and Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple unveils iOS 7 at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:20
Category: iOS, News, Software

Make no mistake about it, iOS 7 is en route.

And it looks a whole lot different than what you’re used to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday took the wraps off a drastically redesigned iOS 7 that marks a new direction for the company’s mobile operating system.

Virtually everything about the look and feel of iOS has changed with version 7, including a refined typography, all new icons, and a dynamic color scheme. The new operating system was spearheaded by Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive, and engineering head Craig Federighi.


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“iOS 7: The biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook declared.

As you move an iPhone in your hand, a new parallax feature will actually move the wallpaper in the background, allowing users to “see behind” the icons on their home screen.

All of the built-in applications have been completely rebuilt with a new look, including Messages, Calendar, and even the phone application.

In a demonstration of the new weather application, Federighi showed how dynamic weather effects are shown in the background, giving a visual representation of the current conditions.

A new gesture allows for easier one-handed use, letting users swipe from the left side of the screen to go back. Folders have also been expanded to allow multiple pages and hold more applications.

An updated Notification Center is slightly transparent, removing its previous textured appearance. Notification Center is also available from the lock screen as well, without the need to unlock the device.

In addition to an all-new look, iOS 7 is also a major feature release, he said. Among those features is Control Center, which allows quick access to settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and even a built-in flashlight. Control Center is available from anywhere, including the lock screen.

Multitasking has also been enhanced “for all apps with great battery life,” Federighi said. iOS 7 notices users’ pattern of use, giving applications background cycles based on how often users access them.

Swiping between open applications is now a full-screen affair, offering users a larger preview of the application as it is currently open.

An updated Safari for iOS 7 has a new full-screen mode that allows users to focus on content. A smart search field also has one-tap access to favorite websites, along with a new tabbed interface. Users are also no longer limited to just 8 tabs.

New AirDrop functionality will allow users to quickly share content with friends nearby with peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. AirDrop will be supported on the iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch.

“No need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others,” Federighi joked.

An updated Camera application comes with built-in filters, while enhancements to the Photos application allow individual pictures to be organized into “moments.” Photos are automatically organized based on data such as where and when they were captured.

Users can even zoom out to a year-by-year view. Enhanced by the Retina display, users can “scrub” through their yearly photos to narrow down what they’re looking for. And new Shared Photo Streams also allow group sharing of photos and video via iCloud.

Additional features include the following:
- A new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature that requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased.

- Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark.

- FaceTime audio for high quality calls over a data network.

- Notification sync, so when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices.

- Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you.

- Tencent Weibo support for users in China, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters.

- The ability for businesses to more efficiently deploy and manage iPhones and iPads;

- Enhanced in-car integration, bringing an Apple designed experience into the car for the first time.

Apple has released an iOS 7 beta to its developer community (available at developer.apple.com).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.4 update

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Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, 14:40
Category: News, Software

You’ve been waiting for it and it’s here.

On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.8.4 of its OS X Mountain Lion operating system. The new version, a 342 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- Compatibility improvements when connecting to certain enterprise Wi-Fi networks.

- Microsoft Exchange compatibility improvements in Calendar.

- A fix for an issue that prevented FaceTime calls to non-U.S. phone numbers.

- A fix for an issue that may prevent scheduled sleep after using Boot Camp.

- Improved VoiceOver compatibility with text in PDF documents.

- Includes Safari 6.0.5.

OS X 10.8.4 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8 to install and run, the update itself being attainable by using OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new operating system and have any feedback whatsoever, please let us know in the comments.