Merom in Apple's notebooks, some thoughts...
Merom (Core 2 Duo) processors are coming to Apple's notebook lineup this Autumn, but they've already appeared in test system PC notebooks. And there's a general agreement among testers, which we have to look at. Merom brings about 20-25% more performance, but battery performance is lower when using Merom. Not much lower, but a bit. At its idle speed of 1.0 GHz, both Yonah (Core Duo) and Merom (Core 2 Duo) use about 36 Watts, but even there, the newer chip uses a tiny bit more. Under heavy load, the difference gets bigger. This means that the new chips won't mean cooler MacBooks and MacBook Pros, because Apple won't clock them below their predecessors.
What the new chips do
bring to the table are mainly two things, then: 64bit support and faster performance, mainly because of a larger cache. Comparing 2.16 GHz MacBook Pros, one using Yonah, one Merom, you'd get a performance increase of anything between 10 and 25% (depending on application, of course), but you'd also lose about 5-10% of battery life. Apple could theoretically change the battery in the notebooks, of course. And newer graphics cards might make the difference in performance (but also battery life) bigger. We're certainly looking forward ot Apple's Autumn line-up of notebooks, but it's not going to be the biggest step just yet.
Apple seeds Mac OS X 10.4.8 8L108/8L2108
While development on Leopard obviously continues behind closed doors (newer builds for developers are expected in September), Apple has also started working on the next update to Tiger and has seeded build 8L108/8L2108 to developers.
There are a couple of known issues with the build, but more importantly, Apple is working on several key areas in this build. Among the usual "improved stability and performance" fixes, Apple has specifically mentioned USB, AFP, DVD Player, graphics, iCal, iPhoto, Mail, modem/networking, printing, Rosetta (specifically scientific apps), Safari and Microsoft Word & OpenType fonts. Apple will still take some time before releasing 10.4.8. The OS update is believed to contain support for new hardware such as the MacBook and MacBook Pro updates expected in September.
This update seems to be one of the bigger ones, btw. - the Combo updater for intel is 305.5 MB in size. (The PPC builds are usually smaller - and of course so are the Delta updaters, which only have the required files for updating 10.4.7-10.4.8.)
Vista pre RC-1 builds running on Macs
Several voices on the web claim to have Vista Build 5536 running on intel Macs
using the recently released BootCamp 1.1 to install. There's some doubt right now, but quite obviously, Apple will
want Vista to install using BootCamp once Vista is released, so there's no real reason why it shouldn't be possible soon, anyway.
If the reports are true, even the "lowly" MacBook's integrated graphics are capable of running the full-blown Aero graphics.
Apple recalls batteries as well.
Sony's defective batteries - over 4 mio of which have been seen recalled by Dell - are in some of Apple's notebooks as well. Some 12" iBook G4 and 12"/15" PowerBook G4 models are affected. You can check on this Apple support page
. 1.8 mio Apple notebooks are affected, no version of the MacBook and MacBook Pro, though.
Sony is facing huge financial trouble because of it. Dell has taken a lot of bad press lately. The question now is how the press reacts to Apple's "news".
Apple has released a new beta version with various advantages compared to the old one. iSight drivers, right-click support (through right Apple key) etc. as well as support for the Mac Pro and installation on any internal harddrive (still no FW support, though). Read more and download here
, users of an older version should definitely get this version and let the BootCamp Assistant burn a new drivers CD, so you can take advantage of the new features within Windows XP.
That undead iPhone rumour
Some rumours, unlike others, are revived year after year, even if Steve Jobs himself said there wouldn't ever be such a product. He didn't say that about the iPhone, though, but rumours are as old as iSync, back when Apple introduced that and the only real compatible phone was the Sony Ericsson T68i (and older Ericsson T68 variants as well as some other phones of the same maker).
Add to that the never-ending dream of a Newton-revival as well as the fact that mobile phones have started to eat on lowend music players like the iPod shuffle plus a lot of other details and ideas - and you have one giant mesh of a rumour-web.
People say "iPhone" or "iPod phone", but no two persons I've heard talk about it have the same idea what that would actually be. Early on, when iSync was new, the rumour mainly meant a colour screen mobile phone which integrated nicely into iCal and Address Book. Then came the Newton-revival rumours and the iPhone suddenly was a PDA with phone functions as well. Then 3G and iChat AV, and of course
an Apple-branded iPhone would include WiFi as well as support for iChat video chats! Then all the iPod-related things that would "definitely" mean that an iPhone or iPod phone would need a scrollwheel and "at least" 4 GB of space for music.
But let's take a step back and look at three different "iPhones". All of them are based on the mesh of rumours around the iPhone - but also on things that are technically feasible as well as marketable.1.) Just a mobile phone slash music player.
It would integrate nicely into iSync, have a great display, no camera but a little scrollwheel for (among other things) handle the mobile iTunes client, which would - of course! - be much better at playing tunes and videos. Yes, videos as well. Maybe. But with only 1 GB of memory (non-upgradable), it'd be clearly aimed at musical performance - besides being used as a mobile phone, of course.2.) A decent 3G mobile phone.
Still only 1 GB of memory, but adding two cameras and a slot for mini-SD cards. The "iSight mobile" (facing you
) takes 640*480 video for videoconferencing. The photo camera would be of the 2 or 3 MegaPixel variant, have autofocus and a real flash. Everything else the same as above.3.) A decent allround communication device.
It's a (very) small tablet computer with slideout keyboard. Touchscreen of course like the video iPod mock-ups you've seen. It has WiFi as well, can do iChat AV chats/conferences like any iChat client - but also over 3G networks, maybe even EDGE, and voice-chats on GPRS as well. More importantly, you can use iChat instead of texting, which saves money. (While this can already be done on most mobile phones using Agile Messenger or similar software, it's a rather less well-known fact...) It also does E-Mail, of course (.Mac plus IMAP4 and POP3), synchs E-Mail with your Mac and can even double as a PDA with a nice JAVA implementation that offers some sort of magic user-interface layer. It's no "mobile OS X", but it looks and acts like it and offers a TextEdit clone as well as a Preview/media player application which lets you view everything from H.264/MPEG-4 movies over Word files to PDF etc. Easily. With 8 GB or more NAND flash memory, it's an easy task. You can attach your iPod (with Dock connector) as well and see its library on the phone.
Now... I personally would prefer number one and three. Either or. Something in the middle, in my opinion, always leaves the bad mouth-feeling of being neither. I'm sure there are a lot of variants for number two, but usually, they're all caught between stools. Wouldn't be Apple-like. For more about recent "proof" of a coming iPhone, read this AppleInsider rumour
The WWDC FlameWar's latest episode...
If you read Paul Thurrott's blog entry
about how Apple should shut up about Leopard, you should definitely
read the answer
by Daniel Eran. Thanks, Daniel.
I guess Apple actively tries to make it as clear as they can that WWDC is more about developers and underlying technologies in OS X than it is about consumer products and marketing-able features of their software. They don't deliver the keynote live, for example. (Then again, they do
stream it afterwards...) They don't talk about iPods at all at WWDC keynotes. They tell people in advance that the D in WWDC stands for "developer". But then again, 2005's WWDC was also used to tell the world about the switch to intel, which obviously rocked the consumer world as well. (Probably even more so than the developers'.) Also, Apple has started to introduce hardware at WWDC, which might be a mistake. Ever since Apple unveiled the G5, the iSight or now the Mac Pro at WWDC keynotes, consumers are
looking forward to the keynote presentation, because they guess (correctly) that something
new that could be of their interest is about to be presented. This doesn't mean Apple should stop doing that. But I guess consumers will have to either learn to put things they see and hear in perspective.
Merom coming to MacBooks & MacBook Pros at AppleExpo Paris
According to several sources, Asustek has been ordered to produce Merom-based MacBooks, while Quanta will produce the Merom-based MacBook Pros.
While it may surprise some people that Apple would give the new processor to the consumer notebook already as well, it does make a lot of sense. First: Yonah (the processor currently used in all MacBook variants) won't become much less expensive once Merom arrives. Instead, it is simply being replaced. Second, and more important for Apple: Merom supports the 64bit extensions, and having 64bit-aware processors in the whole lineup of Macs by the time Leopard is introduced may very well be at the heart of the decision to update the MacBook as well. Plus: Back-to-school as well as the holiday season simply works better for Apple if their main product for students (and the MacBook certainly is, except for the iPod...) has seen a recent upgrade and uses the latest and greatest processors available.
If all goes well, we'll see new iMacs, MacBook Pros and MacBooks in September/October, while the Mac mini is likely to be updated/replaced at MWSF 2007.
Mac Pro review on ArsTechnica
As usual, the Ars-Review takes a little more time to read, but it's worth it
Parallels Desktop Update
At WWDC, Parallels has announced a beta update
for their Mac Desktop product. It should enhance performance and enhance USB device compatibility.
If you must, you can see some screenshots
of the Developer Preview build of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". ;) It's certainly interesting to see some more details about Time Machine. Obviously, backups are not made "as you work", but rather once a day. So it's rather a "normal" incremental backup - behind the scenes. The novelty is, of course, the user interface for restoring files. Now if Spotlight in Leopard (and in Time Machine) can also search by files' names properly, this'd be good. :)
Quark XPress 7 final!
has released the final version of XPress 7!
A comment on the WWDC 2006 keynote
For future reference, you'll find our live transcript here
, but I guess by now you know what Steve and his people at Apple have told the WWDC attendees.
During the keynote I've made some critical comments already, because I truly felt there were too many things left in the dark, and there was a bit too much "bling" for my taste and not enough "bang". So let's review Steve's message...
The Mac Pro: Certainly a good machine. As we've expected, Apple doesn't use the "Conroe" variant of the Core 2 Duo line of processors by intel and uses the workstation class processor instead. That's both good - and bad. For example: The cheapest config you can buy is now 2'124 USD. While it's still a good (2 GHz quadcore Woodcrest) machine, it takes the entry point for a pro machine up a notch, and certainly leaves some people wondering whether they're truly asked to go Mac mini or iMac! There's certainly a "free spot" for a more minimally equipped pro desktop machine. For example, they could let you have one with only one dualcore processor for 1999. Or they could actually start at 1799 for a machine with a Conroe processor. Apple has previously filled that spot with a "lesser" machine. Either way: The highend's looking good - and a few years late, we've finally reached 3 GHz. (Steve didn't dwell on it, so let's not repeat that message too often, either.) ;) - The Xserve was good news as well, and it implies that in October, there finally will
be Tiger Server for intel, at least preinstalled on the Xserves. Apple might decide to only let customers buy separate server licenses when Leopard arrives, though.
Talking about Leopard, Steve has made it clear that certain "top secret" features weren't talked about yesterday. Whether that really was to stop MS from copying Apple or because the features simply weren't ready yet - we don't know (but guess the latter). Leopard was
postponed 3 months to "Spring 2007" compared to the original "end of 2006" point. (Whether "Spring" means beginning or end of Spring will remain to be seen. April would be two years after Tiger, which more or less complies with what we originally expected would be Apple's "new cycle" after Panther/Tiger.)
The shown features are all right and well, but other than Time Machine, they didn't exactly blow my mind. Time Machine itself... I'll have to test this. As I'm working on a notebook, I fear that there might be some issues with disconnecting and reconnecting my backup harddrive when I'm on my way/coming home. Will it try to move large amounts of data every time I reconnect the drive? If I changed, re-changed and then deleted a file I created
while outside, will Time Machine have backed that file up without
the external drive connected in the meantime in some sort of cache on the local volume? Does that mean that I'll run out of local disk space more often and sooner? After a couple of months, will I need 500 GB for my 100 GB internal drive, because I actually do
work a lot? Can I selectively let Time Machine forget about a 20 GB iMovie project that only takes space I know I *really* could put to better use? Questions and questions - and unanswered until quite a bit of testing is done, I guess. Generally, I certainly like the idea of instant
automatic backups. But there aren't that many cases in which I really need several states of a file ready to recover. And if Time Machine tries to remember a 20 GB iMovie project that I've *wildly* edited over a few weeks, I guess it *would* take up lots of space on that backup drive. Three users using a server could quickly run into problems - unless Time Machine automatically starts to "select and forget". And if it does, I'm not sure whether I truly want to trust its "guts" about which versions to forget. The oldest might be more important than some in-between steps, you know. At least for nostalgics like myself. Then again, it maybe doesn't even want to forget, and will just inform users that they have to buy a couple of TB of drive space. (The real reason for the four drive bays in the Mac Pro, I guess?) ;)
I guess we just can't really say too much about Leopard yet. We'll certainly report about the coming along of the next version of Mac OS X over the next months. And we're looking forward to it. After all: Tiger was not all that
good, Panther was a bigger step. (Read: "leopard's coming. was tiger good?
I haven't used my MacBook's iSight much so far. Backdrops might make me use it, I guess. I always wanted to video chat from Mars' surface. :) But that's a "gimmick", not a feature of the OS, in my opinion. I hope Apple won't deliver "200 new gimmicks, five new features" with Leopard.
WWDC Keynote Live Coverage transcript...
Take a look here on a separate page
until we've melted it down into a usual article. The keynote has ended by now and will probably be streamed later on on Apple's Quicktime page. The Mac Pro
was introduced, the new Xserve
was shown and Leopard had its introduction. (Will ship in Spring 2007 now.)
WWDC keynote live transcript
We'll have a live transcript tonight (CET). VMware, btw., has announced their beta program
for the Mac. You can pre-register for the beta on the previous link.
Expected for today's announcements: First Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" Preview build (for developers) with lots of marketing blitz ("Hasta la vista, Vista!" and "Introducing Vista 2.0" have been spotted on banners at WWDC...) etc. as well as the new Mac Pro machines (replacing the PowerMac) using the "Woodcrest" processors (Core 2 Duo server/workstation processors).
Less probable rumours for the keynote include the infamous iPhone, video iPods, 8 GB iPod nanos as well as something we'd tag with a "no way!" sticker, but after hearing about the move to intel last year, we'll state just the same... One source mentioned that Leopard would be available from Apple for PCs for 199 USD. While we're still shaking our heads in disbelief, we vaguely remember many, many Mac fans doing the same thing after Steve Jobs' move to intel announcement.
Panic?! MacBook's WiFi driver BlackHatHacked?! Or NOT?!
Okay, let's hear it, then. Today, heise.de raises claims that in fact it's UNCLEAR whether or not an external USB-WLAN adaptor with 3rd party drivers was used to hack the MacBook.
- Sounds to me things are not that clear in fact. If it's really just some 3rd party USB-WLAN adaptor that in combination with a MacBook enables the hack
, I'm personally not afraid, since I rather use the internal
WiFi instead. Actually, I've never seen the need to use a USB-WiFi card on a Mac, since the very beginning, Macs used internal WiFi cards instead of USB ones. I guess we'll have to wait for actual news here... *shrug*
Security Update 2006-004
Apple has released a 5.5 MB (PowerPC) and 8.4 MB (intel) security update for Tiger and Panther users. The update contains fixes for AFP Server, Bluetooth, Bom, DHCP, dyld, fetchmail, gnuzip, ImageIO, LaunchServices, OpenSSH, telnet and WebKit.