Tuesday April 19, 2016 6:25 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
In addition to releasing the next-generation 12-inch MacBook with faster specs and a Rose Gold color option, Apple has announced that its two 13-inch MacBook Air configurations now ship with 8GB of RAM as a standard option starting today.
13-inch MacBook Air models previously had 4GB of RAM for stock configurations, with 8GB of RAM available as an upgrade option for built-to-order models. 11-inch MacBook Air models continue to have 4GB of RAM for base configurations.
Apple did not make any other changes to the MacBook Air lineup, which is awkwardly positioned between the ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook and the MacBook Pro. In fact, there is some speculation that the MacBook Air might eventually be discontinued, but for now it lives on with older Broadwell processors and no Retina display.
But those waiting patiently for a Mac refresh may not have much longer to wait, as DigiTimes today reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter.
The second calendar quarter ends on June 30, meaning that new Macs could feasibly be introduced by WWDC 2016, which will likely take place between June 13-17 based on scheduling information available from the Moscone Center.
The new MacBooks will allegedly "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air," which makes it difficult to infer which MacBook lineup the report is referring to.
DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its report corroborates a previous rumor claiming Apple is preparing thinner 13" and 15" MacBook Airs with "fully redesigned" internal components. That report said the notebooks would be ready by the third quarter, which corresponds to a July-September timeframe -- possibly shortly after a WWDC announcement.
Apple currently offers the MacBook Air in 11" and 13" sizes, and it has never released a 15" MacBook Air. In fact, many have assumed the MacBook Air will be discontinued at some point as declining costs allow the MacBook to become Apple's mainstream notebook offering. A redesigned MacBook Air, possibly with a long-awaited Retina display, could be considered a bit of a surprise.
The current MacBook Pro perhaps better corresponds with the rumored 13" and 15" sizes, but whether Apple is able to fit pro-level hardware in an "ultra-thin" design similar to the lower-spec 12-inch MacBook remains to be seen. There is also the possibility that the new 13" and 15" notebooks will be MacBooks, but the notion seems questionable unless Apple discontinues the year-old 12" model.
Apple last refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in March 2015, while the 15-inch model was updated in May. For this reason, the 13-inch model is classified as Early 2015, and the 15-inch model is Mid 2015. Both notebooks received Force Touch trackpads, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and improved graphics.
iOS 9, watchOS 2, and OS X 10.11 El Capitan brought refinements to Apple's operating systems, and the fourth-generation Apple TV came with a brand new operating system, tvOS. 2015 saw a huge number of new products and software updates, and 2016 promises to be just as exciting.
A second-generation Apple Watch is in the works and could launch in early 2016, while new flagship iPhones, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, are coming in late 2016. Those who love smaller devices will be excited to hear a 4-inch iPhone 6c may be coming early in 2016, and Apple's Mac lineup is expected to gain Skylake chip updates.
New software, including iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3, and an upgraded version of tvOS are all expected in 2016, and Apple will undoubtedly work on improving services like HomeKit, Apple Pay, and Apple Music.
As we did for 2014 and 2015, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2016 product plans, outlining what we might see from Apple over the course of the next 12 months based on current rumors, past releases, and logical upgrade choices.
Sunday November 29, 2015 8:26 pm PST by Eric Slivka
Apple may be preparing to introduce a revamped MacBook Air at next year's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to Taiwan's Economic Daily News [Google Translate]. If Apple holds true to recent history, WWDC 2016 would be held in June, and the today's report claims the new MacBook Air will launch in the third quarter, which corresponds to the July–September timeframe.
The new MacBook Air is said to take on a slimmer design and arrive in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, but it is unclear whether an 11-inch model will also be included. The slimmer design will be enabled by "fully redesigned" internal components across the board, and Apple is reportedly currently working with its suppliers to develop these new components.
Apple's notebook lineup expanded earlier this year with the addition of the new MacBook, an ultrathin machine carrying a 12-inch Retina display and utilizing ultra low voltage Intel chips for a fanless design.
Many have assumed the MacBook Air will be discontinued at some point as declining costs allow the MacBook to become Apple's mainstream notebook offering, so a redesigned MacBook Air giving the line a new lease on life could be considered a bit of a surprise.
The addition of a 15-inch MacBook Air could hint at Apple's vision for its future lineup, with the 12-inch MacBook occupying the ultraportable spot, the MacBook Air serving mainstream customers at 13 and 15 inches, and the MacBook Pro offering more power at those same sizes.
Economic Daily News has a hit-or-miss track record with Apple rumors, so caution should be observed with today's claims until or unless other supporting rumors surface in the coming months.
Tuesday November 3, 2015 7:03 am PST by Joe Rossignol
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.
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.
Tuesday September 1, 2015 10:35 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
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.
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).
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.
Tuesday August 11, 2015 2:14 pm PDT by Juli Clover
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.
Click to view larger version
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.
Click to view larger version
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.
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.
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