Wednesday July 29, 2015 8:27 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has released a FaceTime Camera Driver Update for all 2015 MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks that improves FaceTime camera compatibility with Windows. Apple recommends that all Boot Camp users install the software update (1.4MB) from the Apple Support website.
The software update was released for the following notebooks:
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
Languages supported include English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Korean, Chinese (Traditional) and Chinese (Simplified).
Less than two weeks before Intel announces new desktop Skylake processors, likely to be used in future Macs, at the Gamescom trade show in Germany on August 5, FanlessTech has leaked an Intel slide deck that offers a closer look at some of the performance enhancements the next-generation processors will deliver for both desktop computers and notebooks.
The leaked slides reveal that Skylake processors will provide a 10%-20% CPU performance boost in single and multi-threaded applications, with lower power consumption, and 30% faster Intel HD integrated graphics performance on average compared to current-generation Broadwell processors. The improved energy efficiency will also result in up to 30% longer battery life.
The specific performance improvements to the four main Skylake families are outlined below based on preliminary data, with the MacBook model appropriate for each chip listed in parentheses:
- Y-Series (MacBook): Up to 17% faster CPU, up to 41% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- U-Series (MacBook Air): Up to 10% faster CPU, up to 34% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- H-Series (MacBook Pro): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 16% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 80% lower silicon power
- S-Series (iMac): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 28% faster Intel HD graphics, 22% lower TDP (thermal design power)
Given that Intel announced a trio of Core i7 processors appropriate for the 15" Retina MacBook Pro just weeks later, and both the iMac and Mac mini still have Haswell processors, it is plausible that Apple has chosen to skip Broadwell processors entirely and release Skylake-based Macs in late 2015 or early 2016 -- and the jump from Haswell to Skylake would deliver an even higher performance boost.
Taiwanese blog DigiTimes, which has a hit-and-miss track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, says that Intel is planning to launch 18 new Skylake processors for notebooks in the fourth quarter, starting in October. The mid-range and high-end processors could be used in the next-generation 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro.
Ukrainian website Rozetka has compared the new 12-inch Retina MacBook to the 11-inch mid-2013 MacBook Air in a new video, providing a closer look at the physical design of the new MacBook and offering a side-by-side view of the different features between the notebooks. The video also highlights how the new MacBook, which measures 0.51" at its thickest point, is nearly as thin as the original iPad (0.50").
The video provides an in-depth look at the new MacBook's ultra-thin design, Retina display, redesigned keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, unlit Apple logo and more, interspersed with stock video footage and screenshots of the notebook from Apple. The fifteen-minute clip complements Vietnamese website Tinhte's unboxing photos and video of the new MacBook that surfaced last week.
Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook will be available to purchase in silver, space gray and gold on April 10, the same day that Apple Watch pre-orders begin in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and United Kingdom. The notebook starts at $1,299 for the base 256GB configuration, while a 512GB model with a slightly faster processor is available for $1,599.
Wednesday March 25, 2015 10:02 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
The recently refreshed 2015 MacBook Air can drive 4K external displays at a refresh rate of 60Hz, as confirmed by Ars Technica. The report claims that Intel's new Broadwell processors with integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 support 4K output at 60Hz using a DisplayPort 1.2 cable, whereas previous-generation notebooks with Haswell processors were limited to lower resolutions at 30Hz.
Apple's tech specs page for the new MacBook Air lists the notebook as capable of supporting one external display at up to 2,560×1,600 pixels, which clearly is not the case. Apple may be electing not to advertise 4K support for the new MacBook Air on purpose, however, as performance can still be somewhat laggy or jerky and the company has a shortlist of supported displays and configurations.
"Given that the Air is using one of Intel’s integrated GPUs, general OS X user interface performance isn’t too bad while driving the Air’s internal display alongside the 4K display. Dropped frames are clearly visible when entering into Full Screen mode or using Mission Control, and of course you’ll never want to try playing games or doing heavy 3D work at native resolution. But things are more than smooth enough for desktop use."
The new Thunderbolt 2 port included on the refreshed MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is compatible with the DisplayPort 1.2 spec, meaning that Single-Stream Transport is possible using one cable. Meanwhile, 4K over HDMI remains restricted to a 24Hz refresh rate due to the limitations of the current 1.4 spec. Multi-Stream Transport should also be possible using DisplayPort 1.2, although the number of displays will be limited and performance will likely be impacted.
Update: Apple has now updated its tech specs page for the new MacBook Air to note that it supports external displays up to 3840 by 2160.
Apple's newly refreshed MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models no longer support running Windows 7 with Boot Camp, according to Apple's Boot Camp support document. Boot Camp on the new notebooks only works with Windows 8 or later, so it is impossible to use Boot Camp to install Windows 7 on the machines.
For those unfamiliar with Boot Camp, it is Apple's software designed to allow Mac users to install Microsoft Windows on their machines.
Apple also dropped Windows 7 Boot Camp support in the 2013 Mac Pro, suggesting the software would cease to be supported by future Macs, but Macs released in 2014 continued to offer Windows 7 installations. The 2014 MacBook Air and the 2014 MacBook Pro will be the last Apple notebooks that support Windows 7.
Though Boot Camp no longer supports Windows 7, the operating system can continue to be used on these newer machines with virtualization software like VMware Fusion and Parallels.
It is not surprising that Apple has opted to phase out support for Windows 7, given its advanced age. Windows 7 first became available to the public in 2009 and was followed by Windows 8 in 2012. Despite being six years old, Windows 7 continues to be the most heavily used Windows-based operating system.
Mac users were not happy with Apple's decision to cease Windows 7 support in the Mac Pro, and it's likely the dropped support in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will also be met with resistance. Windows users have not yet embraced Windows 8 due to both its cost and its interface, which deviated significantly from the design of Windows 7.
Windows 10, coming later this year, may encourage stalwart Windows 7 users to upgrade, as it melds Windows 7 design elements with Windows 8 design elements for a happy medium that might satisfy a wide range of tastes. Windows 10 pricing has not been unveiled, but it will be a free upgrade for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users.
Wednesday March 18, 2015 8:45 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Twelve South today revealed the BaseLift for MacBook, a "super-thin, microfiber-layered pad" that attaches to the bottom of any MacBook and can instantly fold up, similar to an iPad Smart Cover, to provide an elevated screen and angled keyboard to users on either a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Once attached, BaseLift for MacBook stays connected to the MacBook, and is thin enough to fit into "most bags and laptop cases" along with a user's computer.
"If you have a MacBook, get a BaseLift," said Andrew Green, Creative Director of Twelve South. "Without a doubt, it's one of the best MacBook accessories we've ever invented. It is so simple and adds so much comfort for just $39, that everyone with a MacBook should have one. When I'm on a MacBook without a BaseLift now, I miss it terribly -- and that's the true test of a great accessory."
BaseLift aims to be more than a MacBook stand, with Twelve South claiming that the device acts as a buffer between the initial chilliness of a MacBook and even the heat given off when heavily using the device.
The BaseLift fits any current model of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the default BaseLift Pad aimed at the 11" MacBook Air and a few optional "Fit Strip" accessories included for users on 13" and 15" models. The company promises that the adhesive SurfaceGrip technology used to attach the accessory to a MacBook won't leave a sticky residue if a user ever chooses to remove the BaseLift Pad from the device.
The BaseLift for MacBook can be purchased right now from Twelve South's official website for $39.99, and is available in a red-black option. Although the new MacBook is not directly mentioned, the dimensions of the BaseLift suggest the product could be used on Apple's just-announced ultra-thin MacBook.
Earlier this week, we shared some Geekbench benchmarks for the Broadwell processors in the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and the new 13-inch MacBook Air, which pointed towards speeds that were comparable to mid-2014 models.
At the time, we noted the results might shift once more data came in and the machines got past their initial housekeeping tasks, and Primate Labs' John Poole has now shared additional benchmarks for all stock versions of the new machines. The new data indicate that performance improvements may indeed be somewhat better than initially thought, though still relatively moderate.
On the new MacBook Air, both the default 1.6 GHz Core i5 chip and the 2.2 GHz Core i7 chip available as an upgrade performed somewhat better than their predecessors on the 32-bit single-core test, but there were more significant gains in the multi-core test for the higher-end processors.
According to the new averages, single-core performance increased 6 percent from Haswell to Broadwell. Multi-core performance on the i5 chip increased 7 percent, while multi-core performance for the i7 model increased 14 percent.
Due to the more meaningful jump in multi-core performance between the 2.2GHz Core i7 chip and the 1.6GHz Core i5 chip, Poole recommends that MacBook Air buyers go for the processor upgrade.
If you're thinking of buying the new MacBook Air I would strongly recommend the i7 processor. It has 20% faster single-core performance and 25% faster multi-core performance for only a 15% increase in price.
Benchmarks of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro showed slight gains over previous-generation models, but the differences were not quite as pronounced as on the MacBook Air. Single-core performance increased between 3 percent and 7 percent from Haswell to Broadwell, depending on the model, while multi-core performance increased 3 percent to 6 percent.
I have no recommendations regarding the processor for the new MacBook Pro. The performance differences and the price differences between the processors are roughly equivalent.
Intel operates on a "Tick-Tock" chip manufacturing model. Tock upgrades represent a new microarchitecture, while tick upgrades like Broadwell are generally an improvement on tock architecture, leading to improvements in efficiency. As a tick upgrade, the minor speed improvements Broadwell brings are no surprise. Intel's last tock upgrade was Haswell, and its next tock upgrade will be Skylake, coming later this year.
Apple's new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and new MacBook Air models are available immediately from the online Apple Store and from Apple's retail stores.
Wednesday March 11, 2015 2:41 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple on Monday refreshed its MacBook Air lineup, adding Broadwell chips and Intel 6000 graphics. Both models received the same processor updates, but the 13-inch MacBook Air got an extra boost -- new PCIe-based flash storage that Apple says is "up to two times faster" than the flash storage used in the previous generation MacBook Air. The 11-inch MacBook Air did not receive the same flash storage update.
iFixit decided to test Apple's "two times faster" claim by comparing SSD speeds between a new 11-inch MacBook Air and a new 13-inch MacBook Air, with results that suggest the SSD in the 13-inch MacBook Air is indeed nearly twice as fast as the SSD in the MacBook Air.
Average write speeds for the 11-inch MacBook Air using Black Magic's Disk Speed Test were 315MB/s, while average read speeds were 668MB/s. The 13-inch MacBook Air saw average write speeds of 629.9MB/s and average read speeds of 1285.4MB/s.
Now that Apple's "Spring Forward" media event has wrapped up, the company has posted a full video of the event on its website, which viewers can watch at their leisure.
During the event, Apple shared several product videos, which it has now uploaded to YouTube. There are dedicated videos on the new MacBook, each of the Apple Watch models, the new West Lake, China Apple Store, and more. A full list of videos is below.
Monday March 9, 2015 11:05 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Following the announcement of the brand new line of MacBooks, Apple today revealed a slight update to its MacBook Air and 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro lines.
Both the 11" and 13" MacBook Air models will be upgraded to 5th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Thunderbolt 2, and Intel HD Graphics 6000.
Today the popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Air all received significant upgrades,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We’re also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.”
The 13" MacBook Pro will receive the brand new Force Touch trackpad introduced on the new MacBook today at the Spring Forward event. Other new additions to the Pro lineup include: 5th-gen Core i5 and i7 processors with Turbo Boost Speeds up to 3.4 GHz, 2x faster flash, "faster integrated" Intel Iris Graphics 6100, and an improved 10-hour battery life. There was no mention of an update to the 15" MacBook Pro line at today's event.
The updated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines can be purchased starting today on Apple's online store, Apple's retail stores, and various Apple authorized retailers.
With just one day to go until Apple's "Spring Forward" media event in San Francisco, there are still plenty of unknowns about what the company will be showing off beyond a focus on the Apple Watch. As a result, we've put together this summary of what we expect to see, what we might see, and what we probably won't see at the event.
Given the time-related tagline of "Spring Forward" and today's start of Daylight Saving Time in the United States, it's clear the Apple Watch is the focus of tomorrow's event. We got a first look at the device last September, but now with just a month to go until launch, it's time for Apple to provide final details and shape the marketing message. Expect more details on launch dates and pricing of course, as well as some updates on performance aspects such as battery life.
Also expect apps to play a significant role in the event, with Apple allowing a few developers to show off what they've been able to accomplish over the past few months since guidelines and developers tools for the device were made available.
Pricing will undoubtedly be one of the most interesting topics to be covered, with the company so far refusing to disclose any information beyond a $349 starting price. Daring Fireball's John Gruber has made his final predictions, arguing the stainless steel Apple Watch collection will be more expensive than people think.
[T]he steel Apple Watch, that’s something that most people still look at as for them. And so they expect the starting price to be around $500, and the various leather and metal band options to cost $100-300 more.
But if the starting price for the steel Apple Watch is $500, I don’t see why Apple Watch Sport exists at $350. $150 difference does not justify the difference. If they were that close in price, there’d only be one of them. [...] With Sport and steel Apple Watches, everything you can see or touch is different. Different metal (aluminum vs. steel), different finishes (matte vs. highly-polished), different displays (glass vs. sapphire), different case backs (plastic vs. ceramic and sapphire).
With that in mind, Gruber predicts the steel Apple Watch collection will start at $749 while the gold Apple Watch Edition collection starts at $7500. He expects Apple will charge a small premium for the 42mm size compared to the 38mm casing, and various band options will quickly drive up the cost of the steel and gold models.
Gruber is of course only one voice among many who are speculating about pricing, but he offers a clear and thorough argument for his pricing predictions, serving as a solid basis for debate and discussion.
MacBook Air and 13" Retina MacBook Pro shipping times have slipped on the Apple Online Store from "in stock" to "1 business day" ahead of Apple's upcoming "Spring Forward" media event on Monday. Earlier this week, we reported that a MacBook Air refresh with the latest Intel Broadwell processors and Intel HD 6000 graphics appears imminent, and it is plausible that Apple also updates the MacBook Pro with similar hardware.
The shipping dates have slipped across North America, with the Apple Online Store in the United States, Canada and Mexico showing the longer "1 business day" estimate. A spot check of the United Kingdom and Australia online storefronts still shows regular shipping times. In-store availability of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in the also appears unaffected in the United States based on Apple Stores in New York and California.
Intel's Broadwell processors are available for all MacBook Air models and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, although more powerful chips for the 15-inch MacBook Pro are not expected until later this year. Nevertheless, Apple may choose to focus its March 9 media event solely on the Apple Watch and could hold off on refreshing its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups until a later date.
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