Apple rumored to launch 27" iMac with 5K Retina display at October media event

Sep 29, 2014 - 12:22 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple's big-screen iMac will get a doubled-resolution Retina display with a forthcoming update expected to be unveiled at the company's anticipated October media event, a new report claims.

Citing an unnamed source, 9to5 Mac reported on Monday that only the 27-inch iMac will be upgraded to a Retina display, leaving out the smaller 21.5-inch all-in-one desktop. The 27-inch model is said to have a 5K screen resolution of 5,120 by 2,880 pixels, which is exactly double the current resolution of 2,560 by 1,440.

The report also claims that the new iMac will be able to be configured with an Intel i7-4790K processor clocked at 4.0 gigahertz. That's a current-generation Haswell processor, as Intel's next-generation Broadwell processors are not expected to be available until early 2015.

The 5K screen is said to be powered by AMD graphics, which would be a switch from the Nvidia GPUs found in current iMac models.

As for the 21.5-inch iMac, Monday's report suggested that Apple might bring a Retina display to the smaller model once Intel's Broadwell chips become available.

Apple's first Mac with a Retina display was the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which debuted in mid-2012. A 13-inch version debuted later that year, in the fall.

The report is the latest to claim that Apple has slotted an updated 27-inch iMac for launch this fall. Signs of a potential Retina display iMac were first spotted in June in Apple's beta release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Apple is widely expected to be planning a media event in October where the company would presumably introduce the new iMac with Retina display, as well as next-generation iPads expected to sport Touch ID fingerprint sensors. The company is also said to be working on a new MacBook Air with Retina display, as well as a revamped Apple TV, but recent rumors have suggested those refreshes might not arrive until 2015.



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Apple posts job for Product Design Structural Analysis engineer next iPhone no bends

Sep 25, 2014 - 3:19 PM - by sparkyscott21

At Apple’s Reliability Testing Lab the iPhone’s Multi‑Touch display is twisted and bowed.

With the iPhone 6 bending controversy heating up and Apple PR masterfully debunking the non-issue earlier today, it should come as no surprise that Apple does a lot of durability testing on its new devices before shipping. However, the team responsible for that testing– Apple’s Product Design Structural Analysis team for iPhone and iPod– needs some help.

Today the company posted a job listing seeking engineers to stress test new iPhones and iPods just as it responded to the controversy saying the problem was “extremely rare” during normal everyday use.

Specifically, Apple is looking for experts in failure analysis, metallography or fractography to work on its Product Design Structural analysis team. The job requires material testing and determining “the strength of raw materials and components” while working with the product design team. In other words, these are the people that are supposed to make sure your iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t bend (during normal use) in your pocket. As for what that durability testing includes, Apple notes the team performs 4-point bend tests, tensile testing, and other industry standard analysis [emphasis ours].

Earlier today Apple responded to the bending controversy saying only 9 customers (of the 10+ million new iPhones sold) had complained of bent devices. It also said that “both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus passed a series of tests meant to check the products’ strength and durability to withstand every day, real-life use.”



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Be careful of using any app’s browser except Safari until Apple fixes this security

Sep 25, 2014 - 3:15 PM - by sparkyscott21

Be careful logging into sites like Twitter and Facebook using in-app browsers.

If you regularly use an iPhone or iPad app that uses a built-in browser, you could be vulnerable to a major vulnerability in iOS that allows unscrupulous app developers to spy on your typing.

The vulnerability was discovered by Craig Hockenberry, one of the developers behind Twitter for iOS, who has taken to his blog to warn iOS users about the security issues inherent in using in-app browsers: namely, that an app can spy on everything that is being entered in its in-app browser.

Hockenberry posted a video and a proof-of-concept app to show the vulnerability in action. As you can see, it can even capture passwords.

Hockenberry explains the hack:

- The information at the top of the screen is generated by the app, not the web page. This information could easily be uploaded to remote server.

- This is not phishing: the site shown is the actual Twitter website. This technique can be applied to any site that has a input form. All the attacker needs to know can easily be obtained by viewing the public facing HTML on the site.

- The app is stealing your username and password by watching what you type on the site. There’s nothing the site owner can do about this, since the web view has control over JavaScript that runs in the browser.

- The site content is also modified: the text on the button label is normally “Sign in” and has been changed to “SUCK IT UP”. It seemed appropriate.

- This technique works in iOS 7 and 8 (and probably earlier versions, but I didn’t have an easy way to test them).

Basically, until this is fixed, you should think twice about logging into any third-party site through an in-app browser. Instead, you should only log into web sites with Safari, not any sites that use iOS’s in-app browser… which, unfortunately, includes third-party iOS browsers like Chrome.


... [Read More]
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Apple's Macs rack up more than 1/4 of back-to-school PC sales in 2014

Sep 24, 2014 - 10:47 AM - by sparkyscott21

The Mac's share of the lucrative back-to-school shopping season continued its upward trajectory this year, as data released on Wednesday indicates that some 26.8 percent of the personal computers sold in the U.S. between Independence Day and Labor Day bore Apple's logo.

Mac sales were up 14 percent year-over-year, compared to a 3 percent decline for Windows-based computers. Apple's MacBook line was particularly strong, according to market research firm NPD, up 16 percent over the year-ago period.

Google's Chrome OS also pushed ahead, adding 1.2 percentage points to finish with 4.5 percent of the market, a 32 percent year-over-year increase for the nascent web-centric platform.

Much of the non-Apple volume consisted of ultra-low-cost machines, the data suggests. Many Chromebooks — laptops running Chrome OS - come in at less than $300, and sales of sub-$300 Windows-based computers were up 37 percent with an average selling price of $242.

"After a slow start, aggressive pricing and robust selection drove significant volumes towards the end of the Back-to-School season, making it a very strong year," NPD executive Stephen Baker said in a release. "Due to the success of the aggressive Windows notebook pricing during Back-to-School we could see a much more aggressive pricing strategy this holiday season as the seemingly stable PC volume environment emboldens the PC OEMs and the OS and chip suppliers to make a grab for market share while the industry remains relatively steady."

Apple does not compete in the ultra-low-cost segment, making its ability to gobble up share even more impressive. The $899 11-inch MacBook Air is the company's least-costly offering, and the Mac's average selling price comes in well over $1,000.



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Apple paces field in PC consumer satisfaction for 11th consecutive year

Sep 23, 2014 - 11:47 AM - by sparkyscott21

The American Customer Satisfaction Index's 2014 PC consumer satisfaction ratings

Despite booking a modest 3 percent year-over-year decline, Apple has once again claimed the top spot in the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index rankings of personal computer manufacturers.

Apple's aggregate score of 84 — down from 87 one year ago — was enough to maintain a two-point lead over a gaggle of smaller companies, including Samsung, Lenovo, and Asus, which combined to score 82 points. Scores for those smaller firms were up 8 percent year-over-year.

The gap widens from there to Texas-based giant Dell, which scored 76 to come in third. Acer, Toshiba, and beleaguered Hewlett-Packard round out the top five.

Surprisingly, consumers showed a renewed interest in desktop computers. Satisfaction with those wall-bound machines ticked up by 3 percent year-over-year, compared to dips of 4 percent and 1 percent for laptops and tablets, respectively.

"The increase in customer satisfaction for PCs could mean two different things," ACSI Chairman and founder Claes Fornell said in a release. "Either the product is seen as more attractive now and is poised for a comeback, or it has higher customer satisfaction simply because those who were less than happy with it have moved to other devices. If dissatisfied customers leave and satisfied customers stay, average satisfaction may well go up."

The ACSI surveys some 70,000 consumers each year, benchmarking satisfaction with their most-used products and services. Those surveys have given Apple the top spot in the personal computer satisfaction rankings — which also includes tablets — in every ranking since 2004.



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Apple reportedly planning to shut down Beats Music subscription streaming service

Sep 22, 2014 - 3:38 PM - by sparkyscott21

Once thought to be a key component of Apple's acquisition of Beats, the Beats Music subscription service and accompanying brand will apparently be shuttered, leaving just iTunes-related software services, according to a new report.

Citing five sources at Apple and Beats, TechCrunch reported on Monday that although the exact timetable is unknown, Apple plans to sunset the Beats Music service and brand. People involved in the product are said to have already been moved onto other projects at the company, including iTunes.

If true, the move would be a change from May, when Apple emphasized Beats Music as a key component of its $3 billion purchase of the headphone maker. The Beats Music product received top billing over Beats Electronics in Apple's press release announcing the deal, even though the headphone making side of the business is the brand's most recognizable role.

Observers also believed that the Beats Music service allowed Apple to enter a key subscription market where the iTunes Store and iTunes Radio do not compete. Sales of digital albums have been declining in recent years as customers have migrated to competing services like Spotify and Pandora.

But Beats Music also got off to a slow start, with just 110,000 subscribers as of March. Its performance since being acquired by Apple remains unknown.

The rumor would suggest that Apple's $3 billion buyout of Beats was really about the headphones side of the business, as well as the talent and credibility brought on by the "acqui-hires" of Beats's Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

Iovine is a longtime music industry executive and was a personal friend of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Both he and Dr. Dre have considerable sway in the industry and could help secure content for Apple's iTunes business.

When it was announced earlier this year, Apple's $3 billion buyout of Beats proved controversial, with critics suggesting that the iPhone maker had overpaid for a company better known for its brand than quality products. But proponents believe the addition of Beats products to Apple's portfolio will help the company earn revenue from a lucrative accessories market where the company did not previously compete.



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