Saturday, 23 June 2012

No Retina Display in the Next iMac?

Earlier today, Instapaper developer Marco Arment published his thoughts on a potential timeline for upgrades to Apple's iMac and Mac Pro lines, initially suggesting that the need for an ultra-high resolution 5120x2880 Retina display (either inside the 27-inch iMac or as a standalone display) is likely the most significant hurdle to major updates for those lines. 

With ABC News having reported in May that Apple was planning to bring Retina displays to its next-generation iMac line and suggestions of updated models potentially being right around the corner, anticipation has been high for new Retina iMacs. But shortly after publishing his speculation, Arment is now hearing that while the next iMac update will come later this year, it will not include Retina displays.

"I've now heard from multiple sources that while an iMac update is indeed coming this fall, it will not have Retina displays."

Arment describes some of the issues surrounding Retina displays at the size needed for the 27-inch iMac, including production yield and insufficient bandwidth, but it is unclear why Apple would wait until the fall to update the iMac if those issues will prevent Retina displays from being included in that revision. Even without a Retina display, updated iMac models could take advantage of Ivy Bridge processors, improved graphics chips, and USB 3.0, and those upgrades could be included in a new model any time now. 

As we noted earlier today, vacation blackouts at a third-party technical support firm are hinting at a release of OS X Mountain Lion in late July, and it seems possible that Apple could follow last year's trend of a simultaneous hardware/software launch by introducing new Ivy Bridge iMacs and perhaps Mac minis alongside Mountain Lion. That speculation is, however, yet to be supported by any specific rumors or evidence. 

Following the keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, company representatives were initially quoted as saying that updated Mac Pro and iMac designs were due "later next year", but the company moved to clarify those remarks as applying only to the Mac Pro, suggesting that iMac updates will come ahead of that timeframe.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Apple Planning 'Media-Related' Announcement in New York This Month?

AllThingsD reports that Apple is said to be planning a special event in New York for the end of this month. The event is reported to be for a "media-related announcement" and not for the iPad 3 or an Apple television set.

"According to sources close to the situation, Apple is planning an important — but not large-scale — event to be held in New York at the end of this month that will focus on a media-related announcement. 

Per the usual caveat, the tech giant is well known for moving around their public show-and-tells, so this could certainly change at any moment."

As the report notes, the New York location makes it likely that the announcement has something to do with advertising or publishing. Several of Apple's media and advertising units under senior vice president Eddy Cue have significant presences in New York City, and Cue is also said to be set to play a role in the event. 

Apple participated in a pair of New York-based media events last year, although both of those were primarily hosted by other companies: the Verizon iPhone introduction and the launch of The Daily. The company had previously been a participant in Macworld Expo events held in New York, but that event ceased to exist a number of years ago and Apple has now pulled out of trade shows entirely. 

Apple's Internal 'GameStore' Testing App Accidentally Appears in App Store [Update: Pulled]

As noted by German sites Flo's Weblog [Google translation] and [Google translation], a curious new iOS application that seems to be from Apple has appeared in the App Store. The new app, known as GameStore [App Store], debuted on December 31st and seems to be a test app of some sort, offering several racing-themed in-app purchases but without any actual functionality. 

GameStore product listings and in-app purchase confirmation for "Nitrous"

The app is priced at $0.99, with the three in-app purchases currently available through the app priced between $0.99 and $2.99. Additional in-app purchases shown in the single screenshot shown on the App Store page for GameStore show items as high as $26.99, but these other items are not currently visible in the app itself. 

In-app purchases made through the app do go through and users' accounts are charged for them, but with no actual game supporting the content available, they have no functionality. 

App Store page for GameStore app and Settings pane from within app

When the app's listing is viewed in the App Store from an iOS device, the posting date is listed as June 9, 2009, which was during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference just ahead of the public launch of iPhone OS 3.0 and the debut of in-app purchasing. Consequently, GameStore may simply be an internal testing app for the feature that was somehow accidentally published to the public App Store over the weekend. 

UpdateGameStore has now been removed from the App Store. 

Mac Pro Build-to-Order Ship Dates Slip as Future Remains Uncertain

Just before Christmas, shipping estimates for Apple's 12-core Mac Pro model increased to 1-3 weeks, and while that specific model does tend to occasionally see some extra lead time, the shipping delays were later noticed to have extended to nearly any customized Mac Pro order. Even as simple a customization as increasing the RAM on an "In Stock" standard Mac Pro configuration increases its shipping estimate to 1-3 weeks. 

Quad-core Mac Pro shipping estimate bumped to 1-3 weeks by upgrading RAM

Increases in shipping estimates in Apple's online store can sometimes be indicative of an upcoming product refresh as the company draws down supplies ahead of launching the updated models. The Mac Pro is most certainly due for an update, and there are several indications that components may be coming together for a significant upgrade to the line. 
Most importantly, Intel's Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors are due for launch during the first quarter of this year after having been delayed from a late 2011 debut. Rumors have suggested, however, that continued issues with the chipset portion of the "Romley" platform utilizing the Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors may see a release being held back until the beginning of March, still several months from now. 

On the graphics front, evidence of support for AMD's "Tahiti" line of graphics cards has been showing up in developer builds of OS X 10.7.3, and just a week and half ago AMD officially unveiled the first Tahiti graphics card for a January launch. 

But while the pieces seem to be coming together at the right time for a substantial Mac Pro upgrade, a bigger question is whether the line will even continue to survive long enough to see another update. A late October report claimed that Apple is "questioning" the future of the Mac Pro given declining sales as customers have continued a trend of shifting toward portable computers, and we've heard similar rumblings that even pinpointed a discontinuation date in January. 

Consequently, it is difficult to speculate on whether increased shipping estimates for custom configurations might be due to Apple tightening supplies ahead of a refresh or if the company could be drawing down production entirely ahead of a discontinuation of the line.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Apple TV Hacked to Run iOS Apps at Full Screen

Safari running on Apple TV

Over the past few days, iOS developers Steven Troughton-Smith and TheMudKip have managed to hack the 2nd generation Apple TV to run iOS apps at full resolution. The feat was accomplished using a custom Springboard (Home Screen) written by TheMudKip on a jailbroken Apple TV. Troughton-Smith has since been making progress running iPhone and iPad apps at full resolution. 

Many existing apps seem to run well on the Apple TV, which is known to be an iOS device using an A4 processor. When this generation of the Apple TV was released, we noted that Apple may have had plans to incorporate native applications all along. In fact, Jobs said that an Apple TV App Store could launch when the time is right. 

This video shows the Apple TV in action, running apps under the custom springboard: 

The hack isn't available publicly yet, and remains more of a proof of concept at this time. It's feasible that such a hack could be released to the public at some point to encourage Apple TV specific apps that might be designed to work with the remote interface in mind. 

Readers should note that the original iPhone jailbreaks enabled native iOS apps well ahead of Apple's official App Store launch. Lights Off was the first native iOS game, released for jailbroken iPhones in August 2007. The official App Store wouldn't launch for another 10 months

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Apple reportedly interested in NAND flash memory company Anobit

Apple reportedly interested in flash memory company Anobit

Anobit, a company that makes NAND flash memory — the kind used extensively in everything from iPhones to iPads to MacBook Airs — is apparently in Apple’s acquisition radar of Apple. According to TechCrunch, the price could even be in the $400 – 500 million range.
What makes Anobit stand out from the crowd is their highly innovative, efficient solution based on its proprietary MSP (Memory Signal Processing) technology and which aim sto improve the speed, endurance and performance of the drives. Purchases of non-software related companies are usually pretty rare, and only two have been documented by Apple, so we will wait to see if this all plays out.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Apple leaks "iPhone 4S" product name in latest iTunes beta

With just days to go before the company is expected to detail its latest iPhone offerings, Apple has let slip references to an Phone 4S in its latest iTunes beta.

References to the much-used iPhone 4S moniker could be found in the Info.plist file of the MobileDevices bundle that was included with the ninth beta of iTune 10.5 released Friday. .

Specifically, device preferences for Item 7 and Item 8 in the Info.plist file describe a black and white iPhone 4S whose display icons (below) depict models that look identical to the existing black and white CDMA iPhone 4 introduced earlier this year.

The discovery can be seen as further evidence that Apple is gearing up to introduce iPhones next Tuesday, Oct. 4th that bundle an 8MP camera, 512MB of RAM, support for HSPA+ and the iPad 2's A5 processor and dual graphics, but do so in a the current CMDA iPhone 4 design.

However, the new iPhone 4S is expected to be a dual-mode phone, meaning the same iPhone 4S can be used on either CDMA or GSM networks. Currently, Apple markets separate iPhone 4 models for CDMA and GSM networks.

Talk of Apple taking a dual-route strategy this year by releasing both an iPhone 4S and a more advanced iPhone 5 began to cool off this week, withleaked parts and casings all pointing to a product dubbed iPhone 4S.

In addition, insider Ming-Chi Kuo reported that his industry checks turned up no sign of a redesigned iPhone 5 in the pipeline. Instead, he toldAppleInsider that Apple was manufacturing a model that looks largely the same as the current iPhone 4, only with an improved antenna design.

Dubbed "N94," the new iPhone model will reportedly also use the same Gorilla glass for its back panel. Kuo also said it will be available in both black and white models at launch, and 60 percent of units assembled so far have been of the black variety.

 iPhone 4S

Echoing a report from earlier this month, he also said that Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing 85 percent of Apple's fifth-generation iPhone units. The other 15 percent will reportedly be assembled by Pegatron.

Each will run iOS 5, which is rumored to bundle new voice recognition technology in the form of a new application dubbed Assistant, which will allow users to speak to their iPhone and accomplish a number of tasks through natural language, like sending text messages, looking up information, or scheduling an appointment.

The functionality is believed to stem from Siri, a "personal assistant" application for the iPhone that Apple purchased in April of 2010.

In all Apple is said to be building 30 million fifth-generation iPhone units by the end of calendar 2011. If Apple were to meet that goal and sell all of the handsets in the holiday quarter, it would easily best the record 20.34 million iPhones Apple sold in its June 2011 quarter.