The 12-inch Retina MacBook Air launch delayed as new 11- and 13-inch Airs enter production

Apple’s upcoming redesigned 12-inch MacBook with a Retina display is now expected to ship later than expected and new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models have gone into production, according to a pair of reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News.

The first report iterates that updates to both the current MacBook Air sizes have entered production with Apple partner Quanta Computer, and that the new computers will boost Quanta’s 2014 notebook shipment numbers by 15%. The new devices are said to sport new chassis, screens, and chipsets, and volume shipments are due in late-August barring any unforeseen component delays.

Speaking of part delays, Apple’s elusive 12-inch MacBook with Retina display is now expected to ship as early as the end of Q3 2014 or as late as early 2015. The computer was initially reported by multiple analysts and publications to hit the marketplace sometime in the earlier part of the third quarter. Why the apparent delay? Intel. According to the report, the new MacBook’s launch is glued to Intel’s power and performance-efficient 14-nanometer Broadwell part, and as we’ve heard multiple times, those chipsets will be short in supply into next year. Regardless, Apple has shown an ability to stock up on Intel’s latest chips months before the competition, so perhaps Apple will be able to avoid this reported delay…

 

The reportedly redesigned 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs will be the first redesign to the MacBook Air since the iPad-inspired design shipped in the autumn of 2010. The MacBook Air received a minor processor bump and a slight price decrease on the entry-level 11-inch model last year, but the latest significant boost came in mid-2013 with an internal revamp which included much-improved battery life, an improved microphone system, and much faster Intel chips. The 12-inch Retina MacBook will mark the first expansion of Apple’s Mac line since the MacBook Pro with Retina Display product line was introduced in mid-2012.

Both Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue and CEO Tim Cook have said that Apple’s 2014 product line will be the company’s best in 25 years, and the aforementioned MacBooks are only one portion of that.

Apple is also preparing to release a pair of larger-screened iPhones with thinner bodies, new iPads with Touch ID fingerprint sensors, a deca-sensor-packed (10) and fitness-oriented wrist-worn device, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and perhaps even some significant updates to the iMac and Mac mini lines. Tim Cook has also been quoted saying that Apple will release new products “across 2014,” but with no notable Apple product updates occurring between January and July, it seems like the new MacBook is unlikely to have been the only delayed product this year.

Apple WWDC 2014 Predictions – What To Expect

Apple’s WWDC event is less than 6 hours away. There has been many a rumour flying around everywhere about all kinds of devices and softwares.

Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook teasing that Apple would introduce new products “across 2014,” so far this year the company has simply released a cheaper version of the iPhone 5c in select markets, marginally faster MacBook Airs, and the 2012 fourth-generation iPad at a lower price.

Here’s what we expect Apple to unveil at this  year’s WWDC:

 

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iOS 8 “Okemo”

Apple is expected to release its mobile OS, iOS 8, internally codenamed “Okemo,” which is expected to contain a slew of new features though an iOS 7-like drastic design change is definitely out of the window. Apple will be heavily concentrating on refining the performance of some major features, and announce an iOS 8 beta.

 

Maps

Maps is also expected to feature transit information, thanks to various acquisitions made by the Cupertino company. This transit feature will be integrated as both a new view (in addition to Standard, Hybrid, and Satellite), and as a new option alongside walking and driving for directions.

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Healthbook

The Cupertino company is also likely to include a “Healthbook” application, an application that aggregates health and fitness data from various applications and hardware accessories.

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The application is akin to Passbook in terms of user-interface design, and users will be able to customize their Healthbook to give visual priority to health statistics that are most important to them. Healthbook is capable of tracking data for various bloodwork details, heart rate, blood pressure, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, weight, and activity.

iHome

Image Credit: Smart home image via /Shutterstock
Image Credit: Smart home image via /Shutterstock

‘Smart Home’ automation feature for iPhone is also said to be part of this major update. The program seems to be an extension of Apple’s MFi Accessory program. Customers will be able to tell which devices can be controlled by iOS devices based on specific Apple-provided branding.

Shazam in Siri

According to a previous report by Bloomberg, Apple is also working with Shazam to get a Song ID feature in Siri.

VoLTE Support

Another significant addition being considered for iOS 8 and the next-generation iPhone is voice-over-LTE support (VoLTE), according to carrier sources. Though carrier support also matters. VoLTE is supported in only a few states in the US and a larger rollout might come by the year’s end.

iTunes Radio

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Following Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics, Apple is expected to break the iTunes Radio into its own iOS app giving users quicker access to the app’s contents. The interface for the standalone iTunes Radio application is said to be nearly identical to the one found inside of the iOS Music app and its Home screen icon is a terrestrial radio graphic atop a red background (above: via 9to5mac).

Goodbye Game Center!

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Apple is expected to remove the Game Center application from both iOS and OS X. Instead the functionality of the app shall be found within the games which have integrated the service.

iCloud Apps

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Apple is developing versions of the Mac operating system’s Preview and TextEdit applications that are optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod touch. The applications are said to not be designed to actually edit PDFs, images, or text documents. Instead, the apps have been built to serve as tools to view Preview and TextEdit files stored in iCloud via OS X. Apple added iCloud synchronization for Preview and TextEdit documents with OS X Mountain Lion, but has not yet released iOS counterparts to actually view the synchronised content.

iPad MultiTasking

According to sources, Apple has planned for iOS 8 to include a new iPad multitasking feature, but the debut of the functionality could be delayed. These people say that the feature will allow iPad users to run and interact with two iPad applications at once. Up until now, every iPad application either developed by Apple or or third parties, via the App Store, is only usable individually in a full-screen view. NYT‘s Brian X. Chen claims on Twitter that the feature won’t be unveiled at WWDC as it is not yet ready, though.


 


 

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OS X 10.10 “Syrah”

Design Overhaul

While leaks related to iOS 8 have been a plentiful, Mavericks’ successor OS X 10.10, internally codenamed “Syrah.” While Mountain Lion brought OS X more inline with iOS 6’s Scott Forstall-era design with linen and OS X Mavericks brought new power-user enhancements and performance boosts OS X 10.10′s changes, however, will most likely revolve around user-interface design. Internally codenamed Syrah, the official marketing name of the OS seems to be either “Yosemite” or “El Cap” deduced from the banners put up at the Moscone West Center ahead of WWDC 2014 (above).

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Concept by Danny Giebe

Apple will, reportedly, change the design language of the OS X akin to that done to iOS last year. The new look will, reportedly, have similar toggle designs to iOS 7, sharper window corners, more defined icons across the system, and more white space than the current version. However, OS X characteristics like the Finder, multi-window multitasking, and Mission Control will not disappear in favor of a more iOS-like experience. The above image is a mockup of the new OS X based off of last year’s Calendar app. Some sources describe the new system as “extremely flat,” but just like with iOS 7, customers will become used to the new look.

New Features

While majority of the focus is given to the redesign of OS X, there will also, obviously, be a bevy of new features and enhancements introduced by Apple for its Desktop OS. It is likely that Apple will port over some of the new features found in iOS 7 but not in OS X Mavericks. For instance, it would make sense for Apple to include a new Control Center-like panel for quickly accessing options across OS X. Other possibilities include Apple finally releasing Siri for the Mac and a version of AirDrop that is compatible with iOS’s AirDrop functionality.

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An improved Maps app to bring feature parity with iOS, the removal or revamp of Game Center, and improvements to the App Store app are also equally likely. Apple might also debut “flatter” 10.10 versions of its own App Store Apps like iWork and iLife. Another area of interest is the handling of non-redesigned third party apps by the new OS X.



New Hardware

Mac

Apple is expected to release Mac hardware of sorts at WWDC, but what hardware remains to be the question.

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Apple seemingly has several new pieces of Mac hardware in development as well as several products in need of a refresh. Here’s the list of Macs which have been rumoured or are in the works, according to sources:

  • A new, smaller MacBook Air/Pro with an enhanced trackpad, no fan, slimmer design, and a 12-inch Retina display
  • A cheaper line of iMacs with less-expensive display components
  • A new generation of iMacs, perhaps with a Retina display
  • A new Mac mini with faster processors
  • A new Thunderbolt Display, perhaps with a Retina/4K panel
  • Retina MacBook Pros with faster processors

Of course, it is completely uncertain of what exactly Apple is planning to debut at WWDC. Apple has said that major hardware introductions are in store for the end of the year.

iOS

On the iOS front, it seems highly unlikely that Apple will update any of the iPhone or iPad lineups though there have been a few rumours which have been listed below:

  • iWatch or a fitness band (would blend well with the Healthbook introduction)
  • A larger iPad, perhaps with a Surface-like connected keyboard
  • A new Apple TV (though sources say that the shipping date for the new Apple TV is either this fall or early next year)
  • An ARM-powered Mac running a form of iOS

All of the above iOS devices other than the Apple TV are very unlikely to be unveiled.

Coverage

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Apple’s keynote address begins at 10:30 PM IST/ 10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern tonight/ this morning, and Apple has said that the keynote will run approximately two hours. We will live blog all the details of the event  at our Facebook and Twitter so be sure to follow up. Apple will also be providing a live stream via Safari, Quicktime, Apple TV, and iOS of the keynote presentation.

RUMOUR: Apple testing ARM-Based Mac prototypes with a larger Magic Trackpad built into the keyboard

French site MacBidouille has started an interesting new rumour [translation] that Apple is currently experimenting with new ARM-powered Mac prototypes that include a Magic trackpad built into the system’s keyboard. The company is also working on a new version of OS X that will be compatible with these ARM machines, according to the report.

According to MacBidouille’s “reliable” sources, Apple is developing three new machines with this configuration: an iMac and Mac mini as well as a 13″ MacBook, presumably a MacBook Air. The iMac and notebook are both said to have “4 or 8″ quad-core ARM 64-bit processors, while the Mac mini has only four.

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The systems are reportedly far enough into development that they could become public knowledge soon, but Apple is hesitant to make the move, concerned that making the switch from Intel to ARM too early could be disastrous for the entire Mac lineup, and thus has decided to keep things under wraps for now.

Of course, the lineup has survived a similar change once already. In 2005, Apple announced that it would be moving away from its then-current PowerPC architecture in Macs and switching to Intel x86 chips for the newer ones.

MacBidouille isn’t a frequent source of rumors, so its hard to gauge its source’s credibility, but rumors of ARM-based Macs have been circulating for years. It seems likely that Apple has prototyped such devices, but many have doubted the feasibility of moving forward with such a plan. 

The first inkling of such a plan might have come when Apple threatened to abandon Intel’s chips if they didn’t work to slash power consumption. While AMD might have been one way to go for Apple, the first
rumors of an Apple migration from Intel to ARM processors appeared earlier that year. Later, a report claimed that Apple already had an ARM (A5) powered MacBook Air in their labs back in 2011. 

Since the launch of the first-generation iPad, Apple has been designing its own ARM-based processors (the A4-A7 line) for use in iOS devices. Thoughts of switching the Mac to an ARM platform could indicate that the company is finally ready give its other products the same treatment.

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An analysis in 2012 suggested that Apple shifting from Intel to ARM wasn’t implausible but it faced several hurdles. The most significant one was Apple’s own ARM chips being able to keep a pace with Intel’s future roadmap. 
Apple, however, has been making great strides in performance in their ARM processors. The A7 (above) is described as desktop class even in an independent analysis. In fact, the A7 chip is currently being underutilized in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, leaving some of its power untapped.

Microsoft announces the 12″ Surface Pro 3 to replace your iPad and MacBook

Today during Microsoft’s Surface event in New York City, the company has unveiled its new 12-inch, 4th Generation Intel Core i7 Surface Pro 3 tablet and it spent much of its presentation comparing it to the iPad and MacBook Air. Microsoft is pitching the 9.1mm thick tablet– the thinnest Intel Core product ever made– as the first true replacement for your iPad and laptop combination. Previously, it has been expected that Microsoft would release a smaller Surface device — the publicly named Surface Mini — but those rumours faded away with the passage of time. Satya Nadella kicked off the event by pushing back against Tim Cook’s line about convergence. Nadella said of Microsoft: “We clearly are not interested in building refrigerators or toasters.” The announcement comes following rumors that Apple is at the very least testing similar sized tablets for future iPad models.

According to Microsoft’s Panos Panay, “This is the tablet that can replace your tablet”

We have previously reported that Apple is working on a new split-screen, multitasking feature for iPad similar to what Microsoft offers on the Surface. Microsoft previously focused on attacking iPad in several marketing campaigns by highlighting the iPad’s inability to multitask with two apps side by side, in addition to its lack of Microsoft Office apps, which have since been released for iPad users in the App Store. So what’s Microsoft’s new angle? The company spent most of its presentation today talking about the fact that consumers still have to decide between a laptop and an iPad or buying both:

“96% of you who own an iPad also own a laptop.. Tabets… They’re designed for you to sit back and watch movies, they’re designed to read books, they’re made for browsing the web. Laptops are not designed that way at all. They’re designed to help you get stuff done.”

To that point, Microsoft pushed the message today that Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch screen makes it the perfect tablet to fix the problem mentioned above and make it a true laptop replacement. Microsoft said Surface Pro 3 weighs just 800g and it made that point by comparing it to a 13-inch MacBook Air onstage: studio-session-029 During its comparison, Microsoft said that the Surface Pro 3′s 12-inch display would provide 6 percent more content on-screen than on the MacBook Air’s 13-inch screen. The Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch 2160-by-1440-pixel display and it moves to a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of 16:9 ratio used by previous Surface devices. Microsoft also has a new dock for the Surface Pro 3 that allows output to a 4K display. Microsoft has changed the kickstand, so that it has a nearly lie-flat mode that will allow for people to near flat. The new angle, 150 degrees, appears designed for pen work (below): studio-session-043 The company also announced new Covers, with 68% larger trackpads having 70% reduced friction, and a new Surface Pen which has a button to instantly open up OneNote. Both can be seen below! studio-session-044   studio-session-051 Rumours of a 12.9-inch display on a new iPad model started to get serious when The Wall Street Journal reported back in July that Apple was indeed testing larger screens for both its iPhones and tablets. The rumours continued with other sources of varying credibility reporting that a 12.9-inch model will arrive sooner rather than later and possibly as early as the first half of this year.

New Macbook Airs lineup updated with new Haswell processors, starts at ₹65,900 (US $899)

In line with our recent reporting, Apple has updated its MacBook Air lineup featuring Intel’s new Haswell processor and all models are now priced $100 less (starting at US$899 instead of US$999) than the previous models. The design is exactly the same and we don’t expect any significant changes to the MacBook Air lineup until later this year.

All MacBook Air variants have been bumped to a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, compared to the 1.3GHz processor of the same family in the predecessors,  with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the low-end configurations and 256GB of storage in the top 11-inch and 13-inch models. These baseline models are configurable with built-to-order options up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of flash storage…

Continue reading New Macbook Airs lineup updated with new Haswell processors, starts at ₹65,900 (US $899)

New MacBook Airs likely to launch Tomorrow!

Apple is preparing to launch a refreshed line of MacBook Air laptops as soon as tomorrow, according to multiple sources (via 9to5mac). These sources added that shipments of the new MacBook Airs have begun arriving in large quantities to Apple Stores all over the US. Another source adds that Apple Stores are scheduled to re-arrange the placement of Macs in stores to focus on the MacBook Air tomorrow morning.

While a milestone MacBook Air update with a thinner body, no fan and a Retina display is in the works, tomorrow’s update is not that one. Tomorrow’s 11-inch and 13-inch Airs are codenamed J41A and J43A, respectively, and their SKUs are simply a variation to the current MacBook Air SKU labels. For example, the entry 13-inch MacBook Air of today is known as “MD760LL/A”, while this week’s refreshed version is, purportedly, known as “MD760LL/B.” It’s unclear if Apple will even promote the updated Airs.

Tomorrow’s update will probably focus on adding Intel’s latest Haswell chips. These processors offer minor speed increases, and Apple will likely tweak the Air’s storage options to round-out the update. An earlier rumor indicated that new MacBook Airs could arrive this week.

We’ll provide with more news regarding these new Airs as soon as they come in!

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[RUMOUR] Minor MacBook Air refresh coming up next week

French site MacG is citing “reliable sources” in suggesting a minor refresh to the MacBook Air line-up next week. With Intel having updated its range of laptop CPUs, it seems likely the 11 and 13-inch machines will see a small increase in processor speed, from the existing 1.3GHz chip to either 1.4GHz or 1.5GHz.

It might also be possible, though less likely, that Apple would increase the SSD size from the present base model’s 128GB.

If you can wait until later in the year, however, you’ll probably get much more for your money when Apple will, reportedly, be launching an all-new 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display in Q3. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said we should expect:

  • 12-inch screen, but as portable as current 11-inch MacBook Air and productive as 13-inch MacBook Air
  • Higher-resolution display (Retina)
  • Will “redefine laptop computing” once again just like the current MacBook Air design
  • Thinner/lighter than MacBook Air, new clamshell structure
  • Will run on Intel chip, not Apple-based A8 processor
  • Potentially lower-cost than current Apple notebooks

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