Archive of MacBook Air Rumors

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a low-travel keyboard design with Force Touch-like sensors that measure the pressure placed on a key when a user presses or rests a finger on it.

As summarized by AppleInsider, the exhaustive patent filing details how the keyboard would have a switch-less QWERTY input mechanism, rather than mechanical switches, allowing for less key travel and potentially thinner Mac keyboards.
Apple's current MacBook and Mac accessory lineups employ modified scissor switches, or butterfly switches on the 12-inch Retina MacBook, nestled within hollow key caps. Today's patent mirrors the aesthetic of existing designs, but deviates from established technology by replacing mechanical switches for a stack of sensors, actuators and supporting circuitry.

Theoretically the system operates akin to Apple's Force Touch trackpads, but on a much larger scale; one force sensor package for each keyboard key. Force sensors configured to measure downward pressure are integrated beneath the keyboard's key caps, while integrated actuators — part of the key stack — generate haptic feedback.
The patent filing does not guarantee that Apple will release a Force Touch keyboard, but a pressure-sensitive keyboard is plausible alongside the Magic Trackpad and Force Touch trackpads on MacBooks.

Apple's new Retina MacBook has been criticized by some over its all-new butterfly mechanism keyboard, which has low key travel, so whether Apple implements this new keyboard design into the rest of its MacBook lineup remains to be seen.

Apple was granted U.S. Patent No. 9,178,509, and credits Jeffrey T. Bernstein as its inventor.
Apple has raised its prices for the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini and Mac Pro this week in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey as the values of foreign currencies continue to fluctuate against the U.S. dollar.

MacBook Air prices in New Zealand, for example, ranged between NZ$1,399.00 and NZ$1,799.00 for stock configurations prior to the price increase, but the lineup is now priced between NZ$1,599.00 and NZ$2,199.00.

Similarly, the base model Mac mini now starts at NZ$899, up from NZ$749, while the base model Mac Pro rose from NZ$4,499.00 to NZ$5,699.00. The 12-inch MacBook is now priced from NZ$2,399, a $400 increase over the original NZ$1,999 price.

The price increases were consistent on the Apple Online Store in the other affected countries. In Brazil, for instance, the MacBook Air now costs between R$ 8.499,00 and R$ 11.499,00, up from between R$ 5.899,00 and R$ 7.699,00.

Retina MacBook Pro prices now start at kr 14 990,00 in Norway, as another example, an increase over the former kr 12 590,00 price for the entry-level configuration. In Malaysia, the Retina MacBook Pro is also now more expensive, at RM 5,899.00 and up.

Apple reports its quarterly earnings in U.S. dollars, and routinely adjusts its prices in foreign countries due to currency exchange rates that are beyond its control. Australia, Canada and Europe have faced similar price increases this year.

Update: MacRumors has confirmed several tips from readers about similar price increases on Macs and some other products in Australia, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.
Intel has released detailed information about its upcoming Skylake processors for notebooks and desktops ahead of IFA 2015 in Berlin (via Ars Technica). The sixth-generation chips will deliver CPU and GPU performance improvements and longer battery life, and are likely to power future MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac models released over the next year.

Retina MacBook

Intel's new lineup of Core M processors appropriate for the 12-inch Retina MacBook will provide up to 10 hours of battery life, between 10%-20% faster CPU performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to equivalent Broadwell chips.

CPU World accurately shared Core m3, Core m5 and Core m7 specifications last week, with all three families of chips including Intel HD 515 graphics, 4MB of L3 cache and 4.5 watt thermal design power (TDP).

Intel Skylake Core M MacBook
The low-end Core m3 6Y30 replaces the Core M-5Y31 and is likely suited for the base model 12-inch MacBook sold for $1,299. The mid-tier Core m5 6Y54 and Core m5 6Y57 replace the Core M-5Y51 on the high-end 12-inch MacBook sold for $1,599, while the high-end Core m7 6Y75 replaces the Core M-5Y71 for top-of-the-line 12-inch MacBook custom configurations.

Core M processors have configurable TDPs, allowing for performance and heat output to be adjusted. Core m3, m5 and m7 chips can be run at 3.5-3.8 watts or be increased to 7 watts to allow for higher CPU clock speeds. For the current 12-inch MacBook, Apple boosted the 900 MHz 5Y31 chip to 1.1 GHz, 1.1 GHz 5Y51 chip to 1.2 GHz and 1.2 GHz 5Y71 chip to 1.3 GHz.

Ars Technica notes that Core M processors should be available to Apple and other PC makers now, meaning that Core m3, m5 and m7-powered notebooks could begin shipping within the next few months. However, given that the 12-inch MacBook just launched in April, it remains uncertain if Apple is willing to release updated models this soon or hold off until 2016.

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Details on Intel's upcoming 15-watt 6200U - 6600U Skylake processor lineup were shared today by Fanless Tech, giving us a look at what we can expect from the processors that will likely be used in Apple's next MacBook Air update.

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The 2.3GHz i5-6200U and the 2.4GHz i5-6300U chips are appropriate for the lower-end MacBook Air models, while the 2.5GHz i7-6500U and the 2.6GHz i7-6600U would be used in the higher-end MacBook Air models. All four chips include Intel HD 520 graphics. With Skylake, Intel has opted to simplify its graphics naming scheme, adopting 3-digit numbers instead of 4-digit numbers.

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It is not clear when Intel plans to release the Skylake chips appropriate for the MacBook Air, but with full specs now available, it seems launch is imminent, perhaps planned for next week's Intel Developer Forum.

According to the information available, 28-watt chips appropriate for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will not be launching until 2016. Launch dates are equally unclear for the rest of the Skylake lineup, as today's leak only covers chips that would be used in the MacBook Air.

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Intel's Skylake processors are expected to offer a 10 to 20 percent boost in CPU performance over Broadwell, plus lower power consumption and improved Intel HD integrated graphics performance. Better energy efficiency will also lead to up to 30 percent longer battery life.
facetime-mac-2015Apple 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)

Apple refreshed the MacBook Air and 13" Retina MacBook Pro with the latest Broadwell processors in March, but the refreshed 15" Retina MacBook Pro released in May remains powered by two-year-old Haswell architecture due to the lack of quad-core Broadwell processors appropriate for the notebook at the time.

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.
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.

MacBook Air
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.
boot_camp_iconApple'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.

(Thanks, Daniel!)
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.
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.

An iFixit teardown of the 13-inch MacBook Air conducted this morning suggests the notebook is using Samsung flash memory with a Samsung controller. A teardown of the 11-inch MacBook Air, which does not feature the faster flash storage, was equipped with SanDisk flash memory and a Marvell controller. In comparison to the Samsung flash storage used in the previous-generation 13-inch MacBook Air, iFixit said "it's definitely an update."

The new 13-inch MacBook Air is available from Apple's online and retail stores with prices that start at $999. The higher-end $1,199 model can be configured with up to 512GB of flash storage.