Friday February 21, 2014 12:43 pm PST by Eric Slivka
With Apple's Mac lineup beginning to show signs of aging, consumers are no doubt starting to wonder when they can expect updated models to hit the market. Apple's product update cycles are in large part driven by availability of new processors, so it pays to take a look at Intel's roadmap to see what might be coming when to give Apple new options for upgrades.
The MacBook Air is currently the older of Apple's two current notebook lines (setting aside the non-Retina MacBook Pro that has been reduced to a single 13-inch model and hasn't been updated since June 2012). Apple's ultrathin notebook currently offers a choice of two low-power 15-watt Haswell chips to help achieve remarkable all-day battery life. Entry-level models include a 1.3 GHz i5-4250U chip, while higher-end models bump up to a 1.7 GHz i7-4650U processor. Both chips include Intel's "Iris 5000" integrated graphics that offers reasonable everyday performance in a power-efficient design.
According to an Intel roadmap leaked by VR-Zone [Google Translate], a successor to the current low-end chip is set to launch in the third quarter in the form of an i5-4260U Haswell refresh, presumably carrying just a small speed bump compared to the current chip. Another alternative for Apple could be the 1.4 GHz i5-4350U or its just-announced successor 1.5 GHz i5-4360U. The 4350U chip has been available since last year, but Apple elected not to use it in the current MacBook Air. The high-end MacBook Air situation is less clear, as leaked roadmaps have not yet shown a direct successor to the current i7-4650U chip.
Tuesday February 18, 2014 12:56 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple is preparing an update to fix an issue that causes 11 and 13-inch 2013 MacBook Airs to crash when they are wakened from sleep, according to information from an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
According to multiple lengthy threads on the Apple Support Communities, 2013 MacBook Air users have been experiencing sleep/wake issues for several months. Crashes, freezes, and blank black screens are common after waking a MacBook Air from sleep, and fixing the problem requires a hard restart.
It appears that the problem is related to OS X Mavericks and requires a combination of the computer going to sleep and a press on the keyboard or touchpad to initiate. One user has been able to successfully re-create the problem by pressing the power button to put the MacBook Air to sleep and then immediately clicking on the touchpad, which causes the machine to freeze.
The service provider that notified MacRumors about the update has said that it appears to be a bug in the sensor that detects when the lid is being opened, which has led to multiple machine returns and replacements as it was previously unclear whether it was a hardware issue or a software issue.
An Apple Support representative has also confirmed that a fix is in the works and should be bundled with the next OS X Mavericks update, which likely points to 10.9.2. A user on Apple's support forums has noted that 10.9.2 beta 4 appears to fix part of the problem by altering the function of the power button, preventing the machine from going to sleep when the power button is mis-tapped.
Ahead of the update, customers who are experiencing sleep/wake crashes with their MacBook Airs appear to be able to repair the problem with a restart.
Tuesday January 28, 2014 5:57 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Industry-wide notebook shipments will continue to decline in 2014, claims NPD DisplaySearch. Revised estimates predict shipments from all vendors, including Apple, will reach 134 million units, down from an earlier estimate of 152 million unit.
One factor contributing to this decline is the expected Q3 2014 launch of Intel's upcoming Broadwell CPU. Intel confirmed in its latest earnings conference call that its Broadwell chipset will enter production in Q1 2014 and become available in the second half of 2014. Slowing PC demand and yield issues forced Intel to delay Broadwell by at least a quarter from its original timetable, with that delay likely contributing further weakness in the PC market. Intel's Haswell processor line, the company's current CPU family and predecessor to Broadwell, was released in June 2013 and landed in the MacBook Air during the same month.
DisplaySearch also cites the rumored 12.9-inch iPad, wearables and the convergence of mobile and desktop operating systems as market forces that could shift consumers away from notebook PCs.
At the same time, the expected launch of a 12.9” iPad from Apple could trigger growth in larger tablet PC screen sizes, leading to even more competition for potential notebook PC buyers. In addition, wearable devices and other new concepts are expected to compete for consumer spending during the holiday season and beyond. Finally, the trend toward user-interface fusion and operating-system integration will offer a more seamless working platform between mobile devices and PCs, which would further extend mobile device advantages for businesses.
Despite a declining market, Mac sales in the just-ending quarter were strong, increasing from 4.06 million units in Q1 2013 to 4.8 million in Q1 2014. Mac net sales accounted for 11% of the company's revenue for the quarter, up slightly from 10% a year ago.
Saturday January 25, 2014 10:50 am PST by Arnold Kim
In October 2013, DisplaySearch analyst David Hsieh first revealed that Apple would be introducing a 12" Retina MacBook Air in 2014. The report was quickly corroborated by the reliable Ming-Chi Kuo.
It wasn't entirely clear at the time why Apple would choose to introduce a new 12" screen model, when their current lineup of MacBook Airs and Pros come in 11", 13", and 15" screen sizes.
Analyst Daniel Matte, however, lays out a convincing argument at his new blog on why Apple would choose that size. Matte believes that the new Retina MacBook Air will be exactly 11.88" in diagonal screen size, as that would allow Apple to offer a Retina Display (2732 x 1536, twice 1366x768) with the exact same PPI as the iPad Air (264 PPI). The full analysis is worth reading.
It would make sense for Apple to take advantage of the same display technology it has been utilizing for the 9.7” iPads by cutting their panels to this larger size.
Apple is quite deliberate in choosing screen sizes for their new products.
The earliest supply chain rumors of the iPad mini included the specific screen size of 7.9 inches. The reason for that particular size later became apparent as it similarly allowed Apple to use the exact same PPI displays that were used in original iPhone and iPod touch.
The main discrepancy in Matte's argument is that the original DisplaySearch report predicted a lower resolution (2304 x 1440). Also, in the past, we'd heard very specific display sizes from Apple's supply chain, such as the 7.9" iPad mini display rather than 8" iPad mini display. In this case, the early reports (so far) have been at 12-inches.
Still, the new Retina MacBook Air is not expected until mid-2014, so we should start hearing more as production starts ramping up.
Tuesday January 21, 2014 7:06 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple today was awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,633,916 (via AppleInsider), which describes a touchpad that utilizes force sensors and acuator feedback. The buttonless design uses an array of sensors and an actuator to mimic the function and tactile feedback of the current trackpad found in the company's MacBook product lines.
Currently, Apple's trackpad technology is based on an integrated button design. Surface touch sensors track the movement of fingers and a hinged button allows the trackpad to click when a user presses down on it. A switch located under the trackpad is actuated when a click pivots the trackpad downward on its rear hinge. The pivoting motion of this button makes it difficult to click near the rear edge of the trackpad and requires extra space within the chassis of the notebook.
In the newly awarded patent, which was filed in December 2009, Apple builds upon its current design by using a surface touch sensor and four corner force sensors to track finger movement and clicking input from the user. An actuator would be used to provide tactile feedback. Also similar to the current trackpad, a buttonless trackpad may have user-customizable settings that adjust the sensitivity levels for the click pressure or the tactile feedback.
In addition to processing touch sensor signals to determine the location of touch events, signals from the force sensors may be processed. A rectangular touch pad may have four corners. Force sensors may be mounted under each of the four corners. When a user presses on the surface of the touch pad, the force sensors may pick up four corresponding independent force signals.
Tactile feedback may be provided using an actuator. The actuator may be controlled by actuator drive signals. As a user of an electronic device interacts with the touch pad, the user may make gestures and perform other touch-related tasks. When the user desires to select an on-screen object or perform other tasks of the type traditionally associated with button actuation events, the user may press downwards against the surface of the track pad. When sufficient force is detected, appropriate action may be taken and drive signals may be applied to the actuator. The actuator may impart movement to the touch pad.
Whether Apple chooses to incorporate this new trackpad technology or not is unknown, but a move to do so would make sense considering that Apple's multi-touch trackpad debuted with the MacBook Air in 2008, and has made its way to every MacBook since then. But given the fact that it has been over four years since the patent's filing, Apple may simply have abandoned the proposed design for unknown reasons.
2014 will likely bring even more innovation to Apple's product lineup, with current rumors hinting at highly anticipated products like the Apple smart watch, a larger iPhone and iPad, and new developments with the Apple TV. A number of these products have been rumored for some time, but the spate of Apple product releases over the past few months and the imminent turning of the calendar offers a chance to bring those rumors back to the forefront.
According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple has plans to create "great products" in areas the company does not participate in today, and in a recent email, Cook told Apple employees that there's a lot in store for Apple in 2014, "including some big plans that we think customers are going to love."
In the list below, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2014 product plans, outlining what customers might see from Apple in the next 12 months based on current rumors.
Apple's next iPhone is rumored to come equipped with a larger screen size, somewhere between 4.7 and 5.7 inches. Some rumors have suggested that Apple might release the phone in two separate sizes, both of which are larger than the current 4-inch iPhone 5s/5c.
Left to right: iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, "iPhone Plus", Galaxy Note II (Source: Marco Arment)
The larger iPhone, which will likely incorporate a faster 20-nanometer A8 chip from TSMC, may also include sweeping design changes in the form of a curved display. While it is possible Apple will release an updated iPhone earlier in the year, the most likely release target for the larger-screened device is September or October.
Along with a larger iPhone, Apple may be planning to add a larger iPad to its current tablet lineup, which comprises the 9.7-inch iPad Air and the 7.9-inch iPad mini. The "iPad Pro" or "iPad Maxi" as it has been called by the media, is rumored to include a larger 12.9-inch display, which would be most similar in size to the current 13.3-inch MacBook Air.
Mockup of the 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air
The display reportedly offers higher pixel density nearing ultra high-definition quality and it will likely adopt many of the design elements offered in the current iPads, like an ultrathin chassis and narrow side bezels. Aside from a larger screen size, not much is known about Apple's larger iPad, and it is unclear when such a product might be released.
Apple's much-anticipated "iWatch," which was a major rumor focal point in 2013, will likely be released in 2014. According to rumors, the smart watch will primarily function as an accessory to the iPhone and the iPad, providing at-a-glance access to common iOS functions.
The watch may also include a multitude of biometric functions, possibly offering a pedometer and heart rate monitor, among other things, and it could also serve as a home automation hub. While it is entirely unclear what the iWatch will look like, rumors have indicated that it could have an OLED display in the range of 1.3 to 1.7 inches, possibly coming in multiple sizes for a customized fit.
Apple's iWatch may incorporate an ultra durable sapphire glass screen, as the company recently signed a deal with GT Advanced to ramp up sapphire glass production. Rumors have also hinted at a flexible, curved design.
Over the course of 2013, Apple ramped up its work on the iWatch, with a team of 100 product designers working on the project. The company also filed for iWatch trademarks in multiple countries throughout 2013.
Currently, Apple's iWatch is expected to debut during the second half of 2014.
Apple has been long rumored to be making some upgrades to its Apple TV, either in the form of a revamped set top box with additional functionality or a full blown television set. It is unclear what Apple will do in the television arena in 2014, however, as rumors have suggested that the company has shelved its TV plans for the time being in order to focus on wearables like the iWatch. Television remains an area of "intense interest" for Apple, according to Tim Cook.
If Apple does release a television-related product in 2014, it will likely be a new set top box that could bundle key features like an App Store and Siri, along with additional content offerings.
In 2013, Apple worked hard to beef up content offerings, adding several new channels, including WatchESPN, HBO GO, Vevo, Yahoo Screen, and PBS. The company is also said to be in talks with cable provider Time Warner and a deal with that company, as well as other improvements in content, could come in 2014.
Improving content and reaching deals with various cable companies and content providers is a necessary step before Apple can make headway in the television industry.
Many people believed Apple would introduce a new Thunderbolt Display alongside the Mac Pro, as it has been two years since the last Thunderbolt Display update. No new display appeared, but it is possible that the company will debut a new display product in 2014, likely offering a 4K resolution of 4096 or 3840 x 2160 pixels.
In late 2013, Apple supplier AU Optronics introduced new 27 and 32-inch 4K display panels, sparking speculation that revamped Thunderbolt Displays were on the horizon, though concrete information on a new display or a possible release date is unavailable at the current point in time. In lieu of a 4K Thunderbolt Display, Apple is offering a 4K 32-inch Sharp display as an add-on to the Mac Pro.
Other updates: iOS 8, OS X 10.10, MacBooks, and More
As it does every year, Apple will undoubtedly offer refreshed MacBooks over the course of 2014. Recently, a rumor has suggested that a 12-inch MacBook with a MacBook Air-style design and a Retina display could make its debut in the middle of 2014, and other incremental updates to products like the Retina MacBook Pro will come as well.
Apple has several products that have not been refreshed for quite some time, including its lineup of iPods and the Mac Mini, which could see updates in 2014.
New versions of both iOS and OS X are also expected, though few details are available on the software at this time. iOS 8 may include improvements to Maps, iOS in the Car, and a possible Siri API, while the next version of OS X could take on some iOS 7-style design elements. iOS 8 will probably arrive during the fall along refreshed iPhones, and it is likely that a revamped version of OS X will come during the same general time frame.
Saturday December 28, 2013 11:04 pm PST by Richard Padilla
Among "commercial channel" sales to distributors for corporate, government, and business customers, the iPad held the biggest share of sales for any tablet in the U.S. during 2013, while sales of Google Chromebooks made up a bigger percentage of the laptop market compared to Mac notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
The data in the report showed that the iPad accounted for 15.8% of personal computing device sales in the channel, which was greater than that of Android tablets at 8.7% and Windows tablets at 2.2%. However, the iPad's share of unit sales in the U.S. this year is down from the year-ago period, where it made up for 17.1% of sales. Sales of both Android tablets and Windows tablets grew by 4.5% and 1.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, sales of Chromebooks in the United States grew to 9.6% in 2013, surpassing the 1.8% share of unit sales held by Apple notebooks. Windows notebooks still held on to 34.1% of the market, but was down 8.8% from the 42.9% share it held last year.
The news follows a broader report from October stating that Mac sales were down 7% year-over-year for the full September quarter, as the decline of traditional PC sales as a whole is likely due in part to the rising popularity of tablets.
Both the iPad and the MacBook line of notebooks saw refreshes this year, as Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display along with updated models of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its October event. New versions of the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air were also announced at Apple's WWDC keynote this past June, and featured enhanced performance with significantly improved battery life.
Apple could also be gearing up to release new types of both products in 2014. Rumors of a larger-size iPad for release in 2014 have surfacedoccasionally throughout the past few months, and a report in October from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple may be planning to release a 12-inch MacBook with an all-new design in the middle of 2014.
Wednesday October 23, 2013 12:16 pm PDT by Juli Clover
In his lengthy and ultra-detailed review of Mavericks, John Siracusa of Ars Technica conducts battery benchmark tests to measure Mavericks' power saving features on both a 2007 MacBook Pro and a 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air.
While both systems saw notable battery gains going from Mountain Lion to Mavericks, the 2013 MacBook Air in particular saw impressive improvements of up to 30 percent, lasting for more than 15 hours in some instances.
For his battery tests, which were conducted using OS X 10.8.5 and the GM build of Mavericks, Siracusa created a light Web browsing and text-editing automation script, including websites that used Flash. In his tests, battery life varied significantly, but provided, on average, an increase of two hours of work time.
I suspect the aggressiveness of the auto-playing Flash ads that happen to be on specific websites on a particular day may partly explain the huge variability in Mountain Lion's numbers. Some of the lower-scoring Mountain Lion trials may have also had the bad luck to coincide with energy-intensive periodic jobs—jobs that are prevented from running on Mavericks due to AC power or battery-level restrictions as part of centralized task scheduling.
These tests may or may not be representative of how you use your Mac, but regardless, it's clear that Apple's efforts have not been in vain. Mavericks really does consume less energy than Mountain Lion when performing the same tasks.
Since its debut at WWDC, Apple has touted the power saving features bundled into Mavericks, poising improved battery life as the keystone of the operating system. Mavericks is designed to cut down on CPU activity using Timer Coalescing, Compressed Memory, and App Nap.
While Timer Coalescing bundles low-level operations into a single batch action that reduces CPU utilization by up to 72 percent, App Nap cuts down on the power usage of apps that are not running in the foreground, reducing their overall power draw by up to 23 percent. Compressed Memory also works in conjunction with these two features, compacting the least used processes so less time is spent reading and writing virtual memory swap files on disk, which improves power consumption.
There's also a new power saving feature built directly into Safari, called Power Saver. With Power Saver, Safari intelligently detects plug-in content playing in the margins of a website and pauses it, preserving battery life.
During Apple's October 22 event, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi also highlighted Mavericks' battery saving capabilities on the new 13-inch MacBook Air, noting that the operating system provides an extra hour of web browsing and an hour and a half of extra video time.
Mavericks is available for free from the Mac App Store and is a one-step update for all Mac users running OS X Snow Leopard and above. It can be installed on most computers produced after 2007. As of this morning, total Mavericks adoption hovered at approximately seven percent.
Wednesday October 16, 2013 11:39 am PDT by Juli Clover
Intel yesterday confirmed that it is delaying the production of its next-generation Broadwell processors on account of a manufacturing issue. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the news during Intel's earnings call, stating that production on the chips will begin during the first quarter of 2014 (via PCWorld).
Intel's Broadwell chips are designed to be the successor to its existing Haswell chips, manufactured on a 14-nanometer process as opposed to Haswell's current 22-nanometer process.
Intel ran into some problems with the 14-nanometer process used to manufacture the chips and will have to fix them before it can resume production, CEO Brian Krzanich said during Intel’s earnings call on Tuesday.
Intel normally releases new chips like clockwork on an annual basis, and the manufacturing problems are a rare misstep for the company. Krzanich said there were problems with the "yield"—or the number of good chips the company gets per silicon wafer.
The Broadwell chips, which will eventually find their way into Apple's line of MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros, are said to be 30 percent faster and more power-efficient than Haswell, leading to even greater increases in battery life and performance. The inclusion of Haswell chips in Apple's MacBook Air boosted battery life to 12 hours on the 13-inch version and nine hours on the 11-inch version.
Based on Intel's prospective timeline with production beginning during the first quarter of 2014, Broadwell MacBooks could make an appearance at next year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which is where the Haswell MacBook Airs debuted.
It is unclear whether Apple had planned to introduce Broadwell updates earlier, and whether Intel's delay will affect its future release plans. Apple's scheduled desktop updates, for its iMacs, will not be affected as they will incorporate updated Haswell architecture rather than Broadwell chips.
Apple has yet to release a Haswell Retina MacBook Pro, which is expected to come before the end of 2013 and should bring significant improvements to battery life.
According to Intel, the delay of Broadwell will not affect the company's next line of processors, Skylake, as the chips are based on new architecture. Broadwell, however, will have a shorter lifespan due to Intel’s manufacturing issues.
Saturday October 12, 2013 9:34 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple may be planning to release a 12-inch MacBook with an all-new design and high-resolution Retina Display in the middle of 2014, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Specifically, the new MacBook is expected to feature a clamshell form factor even thinner than the current MacBook Air, and may debut at a lower-price point than the current Retina MacBook Pro line due to an improving yield rate. While Kuo stops short of calling the new model a replacement for the current MacBook Air line, his description of the model suggests that it would indeed supplant Apple's current ultra-slim notebook line.
We expect the unprecedented 12” model will boast both the portability of the 11” model, and productivity of the 13” model. The high resolution display will also offer the outstanding visual experience of the Retina MacBook Pro. The offering will likely be lighter and slimmer than the existing MacBook Air to further highlight ease of portability in the cloud computing era. We think the form factor will showcase a much improved clamshell structure, and that it will redefine laptop computing once again following the milestone created by the MacBook Air.
Kuo's claims match with a report from NPD DisplaySearch analysts earlier this week claiming that Apple is planning to introduce a new 12-inch MacBook Air next year. That new model was predicted to use a high-resolution 2304 x 1440 display
Both rumors also fall in line with earlier reports that Apple is set to move to IGZO displays for many of its future products, allowing for higher-resolution displays with lower power consumption.
Kuo has generally been quite accurate with his predictions over the past several years, including accurately outlining many of the details of Apple's 2013 launch plans as far back as January. Other accurate predictions have included the introduction of a "third MacBook line" that arrived in the form of Retina MacBook Pro models and the discontinuation of the 17-inch MacBook Pro last year.
Thursday October 10, 2013 1:20 pm PDT by Jordan Golson
Apple today released EFI Firmware Update 2.7 for the mid–2013 MacBook Air, which comes with several Boot Camp-related bug fixes for the MacBook Airs that were released in June.
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.7
This update is recommended for MacBook Air (mid 2013) models.
This update addresses an issue which may cause a black screen to appear when installing Windows 7 or Windows 8 using Boot Camp Assistant if both an external optical drive and USB thumb drive are connected to the system. This update also ensures that the system will boot by default into OS X after installation of Windows 8.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 8:33 am PDT by Husain Sumra
Apple is set to revamp the displays for the majority of its product lines within the next year, according to supply chain research done by NPD DisplaySearch (via CNET). The new research corroborates an earlier report that Apple is set to revamp its displays across multiple product lines and offers some speculation on Apple's plans rooted in the supply chain hints.
Based on supply chain research, we believe Apple is planning to revamp nearly all of the displays in its products over the next year. This would indicate that Apple, once again, intends to count on display technology for new product innovation. We can speculate about Apple’s new products as follows:
DisplaySearch speculates that Apple may launch both a 4.7-inch and a 5.7-inch iPhone next year, roughly in line with a Wall Street Journalreport from September claiming Apple has been experimenting with iPhone models carrying displays of 4.8 inches to 6 inches, perhaps for a 2014 release.
DisplaySearch's report also covers the slimmer-bezeled iPad and Retina iPad mini, which will reportedly be unveiled on October 22. Unsurprisingly, the report indicates that both displays will carry the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as the current full-size iPad. DisplaySearch also suggests that a 12.9-inch iPad is set for debut next year, in line with the Wall Street Journal'sreport that Apple is looking at larger iPad models.
The MacBook Air, which is unlikely to get an update at Apple's October 22 event, is likely to see a new 12-inch Retina Display model launch next year, according to DisplaySearch's findings. This new low-power MacBook Air would likely feature a 2304 x 1440 display, although this would be the usable screen real estate at a non-Retina equivalent of just 1152 x 720, lower than that of the current 11-inch MacBook Air. Users would, however, be able to opt for higher-resolution non-Retina settings as seen on the Retina MacBook Pro. Mac display upgrade rumors also fall in line with earlier reports that Apple is set to move to IGZO displays, which allow for higher-resolution displays with lower power consumption.
DisplaySearch also claims there will be two Apple-branded 4Kx2K television sets in 55- and 65-inch sizes, feeding longstanding rumors of an Apple television set project that has yet to come to fruition. Finally, the report claims that 1.3- and 1.6-inch iWatch models could debut in late 2014 with flexible 320 x 320 AMOLED displays. This, too, falls in line with earlier rumors claiming Apple is set to adopt AMOLED display for its smart watch device.
The first of these rumored devices with all new displays is reportedly set for an unveiling at an iPad-centric event on October 22. Apple has yet to officially confirm the event, but should send out media invitations roughly one week ahead of time.
Thursday October 3, 2013 11:42 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is shaking up the display market with a multitude of upcoming product debuts and enhancements, according to Korean site ET News. The site summarizes several known product rumors that will impact display manufacturers, including larger iPhone and iPads, an OLED iWatch, and IGZO displays for its MacBook lineup.
Multiple reports have suggested that Apple is working on both a larger iPhone and a larger iPad. ET News suggests that a larger iPhone will be at least 5 inches, in line with a September report from The Wall Street Journal indicating that Apple was experimenting with a number of screen sizes from 4.8 inches to 6 inches.
Several iPad changes are in the works as well, with Apple planning to introduce a Retina iPad mini and experimenting with a larger (possibly 12.9-inch) iPad. The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple is experimenting with larger screen sizes for its iPad lineup and a Retina mini has been confirmed by multiple sources.
ET News further suggests that the iPad will be offered at multiple price points based on display, similar to the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has made a similar prediction, stating that Apple has plans to introduce a low-cost iPad mini.
Rumors have previously indicated that Apple is considering a 1.5-inch OLED display for its iWatch, which will be produced by Samsung. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously stated that OLED displays were oversaturated, but Apple has hired at least one OLED expert in recent months.
Apple will also adopt AM OLED which the company has shunned so far to hold Samsung in check and for picture quality issue, etc. Yet, Apple recently began to develop associated technologies, adopting flexible OLED for its iWatch. Apple has drawn up a new OLED display strategy, hiring OLED experts from LG Display early this year.
As far as MacBooks go, ET News points to rumors that Apple is considering the adoption of IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) displays. IGZO is a semiconducting material that has forty times more electron mobility than the standard amorphous silicon, resulting in higher resolution displays with better reaction times and less power consumption. IGZO seems like a logical move for Apple as it works to improve both displays and device size and may be a future solution for a MacBook Air with a Retina display.
According to ET News, the implementation of these sweeping product changes will have huge impacts on display manufacturers in Korea. Japan Display is expected to diversify beyond Apple, leaving LG Display to increase its shipments to the company. Samsung Display is also expected to be a key Apple supplier in the months to come, with both Samsung and LG providing components for the iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks. Though rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to reduce its dependence on rival Samsung, it has been unable to find a supplier able to match Samsung's production capacity and quality.
Apple is expected to release the first of its major products during the fall months. A Retina iPad mini and a redesigned fifth-generation iPad mini are both expected to debut in the October/November timeframe. Other products, such as the iWatch, a larger iPad/iPhone, and MacBooks that incorporate new display technology could come in 2014 and beyond.
Wednesday September 18, 2013 9:27 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Apple today began offering refurbished units of its mid-2013 11-inch MacBook Air models in its online store. The move comes a little over three months after they were announced in June, and both stock configurations are currently available. The current 13-inch MacBook Air has yet to appear in Apple's store for refurbished products.
Both models include Intel's Haswell processors and "all-day" battery life along with 4GB of RAM, and are offered at a 15% discount off of Apple's prices for brand-new units. The 128GB model is available for $849, a $150 discount from the standard price of $999, while the 256GB model is available for $1,019, a $180 discount from the standard $1,199 price.
Apple's refurbished units come equipped with the same one-year warranty that brand-new products carry and have been thoroughly tested for reliability. The units also come with brand-new batteries and outer shells.
Saturday June 29, 2013 11:17 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Last week, it was reported that a growing number of owners of Apple's new MacBook Air were experiencing Wi-Fi issues, with users reporting problems such as dropped connections that require a restart in order to reconnect. It was reported earlier this week that Apple has been replacing affected machines and collecting the defective units in order to examine them as part of the company's investigation into the issue.
As noted by AppleInsider, Apple is now sending out invitations to certain MacBook Air owners asking if they wish to participate in the company's AppleSeed customer software seeding program for the purposes of testing a new "MacBook Air WiFi Update 1.0". While Apple does not specify in its invitation exactly what problem the software update is designed to address, it presumably focuses on the connection issues being reported by users.
You have been selected to join our AppleSeed program. If you accept, we will provide you with a pre-release version of the MacBookAir WiFi Update 1.0 to install and use.
While trying out MacBookAir WiFi Update 1.0, we ask that you provide us with your feedback. Our program includes a bug reporting system for our participants. If you wish to be a seed volunteer and help Apple release high-quality software, follow the instructions below.
Beyond the connection issues, Apple's OS X 10.8.4 public release and OS X Mavericks beta also appear to have a software issue that prevents machines supporting the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard from taking advantage of the faster speeds for file transfers. It is, however, unclear whether Apple will address this issue for current MacBook Air owners through this software update in testing or through a separate update such as the upcoming OS X 10.8.5 update.
Gizmodo reports on a growing number of complaints from owners of Apple's newly updated MacBook Air regarding Wi-Fi performance issues. The issues are being documented in Apple's support forums and a few users in our own forums have also seen similar problems.
The problems they’re seeing sound eerily similar to those we’re experiencing with our machines: Wi-Fi will initially connect, but after a minute or two the connection will stop working, and a total reboot is needed to be able to connect again. [...]
An anonymous source at one of Apple’s retail stores in London has also told me they’ve had “well above average” complaints and returns (in a few cases) of Airs owing to Wi-Fi issues.
It is not uncommon for users to raise issues following the launch of new hardware as they put machines through their paces and discover differences in their behavior. Some of these issues are more significant and widespread than others, however, and Apple generally addresses many of the most significant ones with subsequent software or firmware updates.
Apple's new MacBook Air adopts the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, offering faster connectivity and bandwidth. Apple's new AirPort Extreme base stations also offer better signal strength by taking advantage of beamforming to focus their Wi-Fi signals toward connected 802.11ac devices such as the new MacBook Air.
Thursday June 13, 2013 10:38 am PDT by Jordan Golson
The first reviews of the 2013 MacBook Air models are beginning to come out and, aside from new CPUs and a new SSD architecture, the biggest new feature is a dramatic increase in claimed battery life.
Apple has increased the battery capacity of the 13" MacBook Air from a 7.3V 6700mAh unit to a 7.6V 7150mAh battery. As a result, the claimed battery life of the 13" model has increased from 7 to 12 hours. In its review, Engadget found the 13" MBA achieved 12 hours and 51 minutes on a charge under their standard battery test.
If that didn't impress you enough, there's one area where the performance has really gone off the charts, and that's battery life. Apple rates the 2013 edition of the MacBook Air for up to 10 hours of battery life playing video or 12 hours of wireless web surfing. Our standard rundown test, as it happens, also entails playing video and last year's machine managed just over six and a half hours before expiring. We were, then, skeptical that this new edition could manage nearly twice that longevity -- but it actually did better. This year's Air survived 12 hours and 51 minutes on a charge. That's a stunning number from a laptop this thin, achieved with WiFi enabled and without any external batteries.
Laptop Magazine's test unit achieved 10 hours and 53 minutes on a home Wi-Fi connection suggesting that, while mileage may vary, Apple's claims appear to be largely legitimate.
A review from Forbes found that the battery life would be somewhere between 8 and 9 hours under more strenuous use conditions. Competing 13" notebooks don't come close to reaching 12 hours of battery life without external batteries.
Apple says OS X Mavericks, when its released this fall, will include a number of battery-saving software features which could push the battery life of the new Air even further.
Other notes from the review confirm previous reports of significant increases in flash storage read/write. Engadget reported similar numbers for reads and writes to the new PCIe-based SSDs, while also saying boot time has decreased to 12 seconds from 18 seconds on the 2012 models.
Reviews also indicated substantial increases in both CPU and graphics performance on both benchmarks and real world tests. Laptop Magazinefound the 13" MacBook Air returned 44.6 fps in a World of Warcraft test on 'good' settings, comparing favorably to similar Windows machines that returned between 30 and 33 fps in a similar setup.
The teardown experts at iFixit have just taken apart the new 13-inch Mid-2013 MacBook Air that was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote yesterday, and while there aren't too many drastic changes in the internals there are a few differences that are worth noting.
The team found that the PCIe-based SSD module from Samsung is smaller than the previous model's Toshiba SATA module, which also means that the drive is not compatible with previous MacBook Air models. As noted earlier by AnandTech, the read/write speeds of the flash storage approach 800 MB/s.
Samsung SSD in Mid-2013 MacBook Air
When Apple announced the Haswell-based MacBook Airs yesterday, perhaps the main highlight of the introduction was the "all-day" battery life topping out at 12 hours for the 13-inch model. And while the processors are a large part of the claimed all-day battery life, iFixit found that the new Airs also sport batteries with increased capacity driven by higher voltages: increasing from a 7.3 V, 6700 mAh power battery to a 7.6 V 7150 mAh power battery.
Other changes that the iFixit team found include a redesigned AirPort card that provides 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an expanded heat sink covering both the CPU and platform controller hub (PCH), although the PCH does not have any thermal compound applied to assist with transferring heat to the heat sink.
The 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $999 with a 128 GB hard drive, while the 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1099 with a 128 GB hard drive. Both lines are available at Apple's Online Store and at the company's retail outlets.
Aside from the "all-day" battery life that comes alongside the upgrade to Intel's Haswell processors in the new MacBook Air, one of the other major improvements is the adoption of PCIe-based flash storage for much faster performance. The new PCIe flash will also be coming to Apple's radically redesigned Mac Pro later this year, and undoubtedly other Macs as well.
Available in capacities up to 512GB, this next-generation flash storage is up to 9x faster than a traditional 5400-rpm notebook hard drive. And it’s up to 45 percent faster than the flash storage in the previous-generation MacBook Air. So when you flip open MacBook Air, it’s ready to go right away. Even after a month in standby mode, the screen springs to life.
AnandTech has taken a closer look at flash storage performance and other benchmarks in the new MacBook Air, finding that read/write speeds are approaching 800 MB/s.
The drive in my system uses a Samsung controller, although I've heard that SanDisk will have a PCIe solution for Apple as well. A quick run through Quick Bench reveals peak sequential read/write performance of nearly 800MB/s.
This is a pretty big deal, as it is probably the first step towards PCIe storage in a mainstream consumer device that we've seen.
Beyond battery life and flash storage enhancements and the shift to Haswell, Apple's new MacBook Air brings several other enhancements as well, including faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi and dual microphones for reducing background noise.
With the introduction of its new Haswell-based MacBook Air models yesterday, Apple revealed a strong emphasis on battery life, pushing the rated operating time from five hours to nine hours on the 11-inch model and from seven hours to 12 hours on the 13-inch model.
Even with the focus on battery life, Apple was also able to bring some minor performance improvements, as seen in Geekbench 2 benchmarking results highlighted by Primate Labs. Overall, the new MacBook Air models performed 3-8% better than their previous-generation counterparts.
With Haswell, Intel's focus was on reducing power usage. Rather than improve performance by 25%, Intel improved performance by 10% while consuming 25% less power.
Apple then went a step further. Apple reduced power usage even more by selecting processors with lower frequencies. In the low-end Air, the frequency has been reduced to 1.3 GHz from 1.7 GHz, while in the high-end Air, the frequency has been reduced to 1.7 GHz from 2.0 GHz.
The new MacBook Air is available now through Apple's online store, although the company recommends waiting until tomorrow before trying to obtain one at any of its retail stores. Pricing begins at $999 for the 11-inch models, with the 13-inch models starting at $1099.
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