Summary Of WWDC 2012: What to expect in the near future

For all the Apple fans out there, I am sure you have waiting long for the WWDC event to see what big announcements are being made and which products are being launched. For those who have missed the keynote, here is the summary of the update and great features you are going to see in the near future.

MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

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The first announcement at WWDC was a new Macbook Air. The new MacBook Air is much thinner than its predecessor. Aside from the MacBook Air’s thinner face, the laptop also includes an improved Intel Core i7 processor and an HD FaceTime quality camera. You have two screen size options, the 11-inch and 13-inch, with the 11-inch being available for a base price of $999. The 13-inch has a base price of $1099.

The highlight is the “next generation MacBook Pro“. The new Retina MacBook Pro will feature a newly introduced Ivy Bridge processor and comes with a 13-inch and 15-inch model with Intel Core i7. The 15-inch goes for $2199.

What’s Different?

One big improvement for the MacBook Air is the introduction of Ivy Bridge, a replacement of Sandy Bridge. Aside from the 11-inch model, staying at $999 for MacBook Air, the 13-inch model receives a $100 discount from last year’s $1299 price. The USB port is upgraded and a 512GB storage option is also available. Graphics has also improved, memory has doubled. The difference for the Pro is a thinner build and of course, the retina display.

More About Retina

The Retina display for the MacBook Pro now sports a 2880×1800 resolution. Due to the larger screen compared to the iPad and iPhone 4S, the MacBook Pro doesn’t boast a better Retina pixel per inch measurement compared to both devices. However, when compared to high quality screens like on a television or a fellow computer, the MacBook Pro has an upper hand in terms of display quality.

The New OS X: Mountain Lion

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Mountain Lion includes everything that we mentioned in our February preview. Reminders, notes, notification center, they all appear in Mountain Lion. Aside from these features, new features, it also include Voice Dictation, improved searching in Safari, and Power Nap. Power Nap allows your Mac to update all of your notifications and photos while it charges. The Mountain Lion will be available in July for $19.99. The new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air won’t come shipped with them if you buy them in June, however, from today on, Mountain Lion will be free for those buyers. To my disappointment, Siri was a no show for Mac, well not yet.

iOS 6: Your iPhone – Revised

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If hardware was the star of the show, iOS 6 was at least the opening act in terms of excitement. iOS 6 featured everything from an improved Apple built-from-the-ground-up maps application with turn by turn directions, to Siri for iPad, Passbook, and even Facebook integration.

Along with directions, maps includes 3D imaging and high quality traffic information reported by iOS users, for iOS users. Siri for iPad is the first instance of Siri growing out of it’s iPhone 4S parent. More on Siri, the voice application now has support for game scores, movie information, restaurant reservations and info through OpenTable and Yelp. Passbook allows you to have all of your tickets and cards all in one place. If you have a baseball game ticket for this weekend, Maui tickets for next month, your Fandango movie ticket for Friday night, along with your gift cards, Passbook holds all of these in one app. Finally, Facebook is fully integrated into iOS, allowing you to share photos, location, and links on Facebook.

When And How Much?

The price of the MacBook Air line begins at $999 for an 11-inch model.

The MacBook Pro line begins at $1099 for the 13-inch base model.

Both MacBook models will be available today, and Mountain Lion will be available in July.

Mountain Lion will be available for $19.99 for existing Mac users, new users will have Mountain Lion available to them for free.

iOS 6 will be available this fall.

Developers will have access to iOS 6 today.

Apple’s Focuses for The Future

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From the WWDC Keynote, it is rather obvious that Apple is integrating the iOS and OSX and have them operate in harmony. This is best shown with the myriad of iOS features now available in OS X, including Reminders, Notes, and others. In addition to the merging of iOS and OS X, WWDC showed how Apple hopes to connect individuals together. FaceTime now having support over cellular networks and Facebook having integration in iOS 6 shows that Apple is looking into making things more social. The integration with Facebook allows users to show music and apps they like from the App Store. Photo Stream in OS X now allows you to create shared folders that allow you to share groups of photos that can be made accessible to iPhoto and other applications. Users can comment on the photos shared as well.

While it amazes me to say, reviews of this year’s WWDC have been mixed. Some, including myself, have touted this as the best WWDC yet, others believe that it could be better. What is your opinion of WWDC 2012? Let us know in the comments below.

Apple to Introduce Third MacBook Line with Retina Display at WWDC?

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today issued a new report outlining his belief that Apple’s thinner, Retina-equipped Mac notebook will arrive next week as a new model, referring to the machine simply as a “MacBook”. Kuo believes that this MacBook will be offered alongside upgraded versions of the existing 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, with Apple being reluctant to do away with the current 13-inch design in particular due to its massive popularity.

We expect Apple (US) to unveil a new MacBook series independent from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines at Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. We expect the new MacBook to have the following features: 

(1) Basic 13” model to be priced at US$1,199 
(2) No disc drive 
(3) To come in both SSD and HDD 
(4) Lighter and slimmer than MacBook Pro, with equal computing power 
(5) Retinal display with tapered edge, larger battery capacity

Kuo also reiterates his earlier claims that Apple will discontinue the 17-inch MacBook Prothis year, citing estimates that the model makes up only 1% of Apple’s notebook sales. 

The introduction of this new “MacBook” model would leave Apple with a lineup of six notebooks, although Kuo predicts that issues with display yield and heat dissipation will push the release of the 13-inch MacBook back until August, leaving only the 15-inch model to make its debut next week. 

 
Mention of an independent graphics chip on 13″ MacBook Pro is an error – should be integrated graphics


We should note that this configuration of models is not accounted for in our speculation on part numbers that leaked earlier this week, but we did receive an unconfirmed tip of a different configuration that would match up with Kuo’s claims fairly closely. In that scenario, new iMacs are not accounted for in the list and the J30/J31 model numbers represent updated 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models while the D2 model represents this new Retina-equipped 15-inch MacBook. 

Kuo believes that Apple will wait until next year to re-simplify its notebook lines with Intel’s Haswell platform, at which point the company will merge the MacBook Pro and this new MacBook model, leaving a set of four models: 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs and 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks. 

We do find Kuo’s claims to be somewhat difficult to believe, as we fail to see how this new “MacBook” model is substantially different in performance from the MacBook Pro and thus do not see why users would be interested in a non-Retina MacBook Pro given the existence of this new MacBook line. Given the scenario outlined by Kuo, the only “advantage” of the thicker MacBook Pro would be an included optical drive, but users are finding such a feature to be increasingly unnecessary and easily replaceable by digital downloads such as through the Mac App Store, direct file transfers, and cloud-based storage, with an external optical drive available to be connected only on the rare occasions when necessary. 

Still, Kuo has offered accurate information on Apple’s notebook plans in the past, being the first to outlined the MacBook Air redesign that included the new 11-inch model, and thus we feel that his claims are worth some consideration and discussion.

Claimed Rear Shell with Sides for Next-Generation iPhone Surfaces

9to5Mac reports that iPhone repair firm iFixyouri has received information on a new part claimed to be the rear shell for the next-generation iPhone. The part is reportedly made of an aluminum alloy that integrates both the rear panel and sides for the device. 


Notably, the part is relatively consistent with previous claims that the next-generation iPhone would integrate a “metal panel” to the center section of the device’s back, but in reality the panel appears to simply be a different finish applied to that portion of the casing. 

With the part also including the device’s edges, a port for a smaller dock connector can also be seen, as well as larger speaker and microphone grills. The part’s source claims that Apple will take advantage of the space freed up by shrinking the dock connector to enhance speaker performance in the next-generation iPhone. 

Finally, the supplier claims that the part is showing up not only in black and white, but also in two other unspecified colors, although it is unclear whether those colors would make it to final production. 

Update: The part appears to show the headphone jack being on the bottom of the device as on the current iPod touch, rather than along the top edge as found on all iPhone models to date. That observation would fit with a recent part leak of what was claimed to be the headphone jack and earpiece. But many observers suggested that the center feature on that part looks more like a dock connector than an earpiece assembly. Moving the headphone jack to the bottom of the device would explain the layout of this component. 


Update 2: Repair firm uBreakiFix has also received photos of what may be the same part in white. The “iPhone” font on the shell appears to be somewhat suspicious, seemingly of a lighter stroke and/or looser spacing between the letters. But otherwise the part appears identical to the previously-posted part, which seems to carry a more typical “iPhone” typeface. 





9to5Mac has received more photosshowing these same parts in black and white, as well as a mid-frame plate. 

 
Click for larger


In addition, the source has also provided a photo of what is claimed to be the next iPhone’s front panel in black, which shows that the FaceTime camera has been moved from beside the earpiece to above it. 

 
Click for larger

Composite Mockup of iOS 6 Maps App Based on Purported Leaked Screenshots

BGR reports that it has received a set of blurry photos showing portions of the new Maps app that Apple is said to be preparing for launch in iOS 6. Based on those photos, the site has put together a composite mockup demonstrating how the app would appear in its entirety.

BGR has obtained exclusive information and photos of parts of Apple’s new Maps app from a trusted source, and the app features a refreshed user interface including a brand new navigation bar. This bar, we’re told, is silver instead of blue. Since the current Maps app follows the standard blue iOS color scheme, we think it’s possible Apple might shift toward a silver color theme in iOS 6 like on the iPad. 

The iPhone version of Maps has a floating locate me button (it sounds very similar to Android’s Google Maps app) in the bottom left corner. To access 3D mode, which will make use of Apple’s C3 Technologies acquisition, you have to peel back the lower right corner of Maps just like the current version and enable 3D mode. Once enabled, you can switch in and out of 3D mode by tapping a 3D icon in the lower left corner.


The full set of actual screenshots, which show the 3D map toggle button, a new silver-themed “Directions” button and several closeups of map content, are available in a photo gallery.

New Part Leaks Include Taller iPod Touch Front Panel, ‘iPhone 5’ Cameras

In line with today’s claims of taller iPhone prototypes with 3.95-inch displays, one of our sources has provided us with images of what are claimed to be new next-generation iOS device parts being carried by a supplier. The most significant of these parts is a claimed front panel from the next-generation iPod touch, with the supplier claiming that the display would be taller than the current model and that the opening in the front panel measures 4.1 inches diagonally. 


Apple would undoubtedly use the same display size on the iPhone and iPod touch if it were to bring a larger screen to both of the devices, so it is not entirely clear how to mesh recent claims of a 3.95-inch display with this measurement of 4.1 inches and The Wall Street Journal‘s claim of “at least four inches”, but all of the reports are in the same general size range. The viewable portion of the iPhone’s display is slightly smaller than the opening in the front panel, so that could explain the slight discrepancy in reported sizes. 


Our source’s supplier has also included listings for several new parts claimed to be for the next-generation iPhone, including the home button flex cable and front and rear cameras, although the camera parts are listed as needing “verification”, so the supplier may yet be confirming their authenticity. The photos are extremely small, but at a minimum the home button flex cable and front camera assembly show distinct differences from their iPhone 4S counterparts, although they may end up being functionally indistinguishable from the user’s perspective. The rear camera appears very similar to modules used in the last several generations of the iPhone, although it is lacking an associated LED flash. 

 
Left to right: Home button flex cable, front camera, rear camera
Better shots of the cameras have been posted at BadGizmo Repair, which appears to have received its information from the same supplier as our source. 

 
“iPhone 5” front camera (left) and rear camera (right)
Part leaks from Apple’s supply chain have become fairly routine in the months leading up to a product launch, and these latest parts are by no means the first to appear for the upcoming hardware update. The plastic home buttons were the first to leak last month, followed by a micro-SIM tray and what claimed to be a headphone jack/earpiece assembly, although there has been some debate about exactly what the components on that part represent. The authenticity of all of the parts has yet to be confirmed, but past history suggests that these components are frequently genuine parts leaked from Apple’s supply chain.

Apple Testing Taller iPhone Prototype with 3.95-Inch 1136×640 Display?

9to5Mac reports that Apple is currently testing two prototypes of the next-generation iPhone that offer a taller screen while maintaining the existing 640-pixel width. According to the report, the two prototypes carry a display with a height of 1136 pixels, up from the current 960-pixel height and leading to an increase in the diagonal size of the display from 3.5 inches to 3.95 inches.

These prototype phones are floating around Apple HQ in thick, locked shells in order to disguise the exterior design to “undisclosed” employees. We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). Because Apple reserves certain models for internal-only usage (such as the N96 phone we previously reported on), we’re not sure which of the two devices will make its way into the world later this year.

The idea of a larger screen in the range of 4 inches for the iPhone has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, with some sources already having claimed that Apple will achieve that increase with a taller design

 
Rendered mockup of taller iPhone with 4-inch display (Source: Ciccarese Design
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Today’s report indicates that iOS 6 will support this taller screen by displaying an extra row of home screen icons, in line with previous speculation. The new iPhone hardware also reportedly includes the rumored smaller dock connector, with the report’s source pegging its size at between micro-USB and mini-USB.

Apple Television Set to Include Siri and Face-Tracking iSight for FaceTime Calls?

Cult of Mac reports that it has received information from a “well-placed” source who claims to have seen a prototype of the rumored Apple television set. According to the source, the device resembles Apple’s current Thunderbolt display but is “much larger” than the 27-inch model currently offered. 

 
Mockup of Apple television set based on Thunderbolt display design


Among the key features reportedly included on the prototype Apple television set is a Siri-enabled iSight camera allowing users to make FaceTime video calls using the device. Addressing the fact that users are likely to sit substantially farther away from the television than they do their computers and mobile devices, the source claims that the camera will be able to automatically detect and track faces, zooming in on them for FaceTime calls even if they move about the room.

The Apple HDTV makes FaceTime calls using the built-in iSight camera. The camera is sophisticated, with facial recognition and the ability to zoom into the user’s face and follow them as they walk around the room. This allows users to make video calls from the couch across the room, rather than having to stand smack in front of the TV. 

In addition, calls are initiated by Siri, the iPhone 4S’s virtual assistant. “[Apple] used Siri to make a FaceTime call,” the source said.

Apple’s rumored television set is widely expected to make extensive use of Siri, a rumor that first surfaced in Jobs’ authorized biography, in which he was quoted as saying that he had “finally cracked” the problem of creating an elegant interface for the device. With Jobs calling it “the simplest user interface you could imagine”, speculation immediately leapt to Siri, which could allow users to change channels and find shows using only their voice. 

The idea of a Siri-enabled television set quickly gained steam with a followup rumor fromThe New York Times claiming that Apple was indeed working on such a device for a launch in late 2012 or 2013. 

Apple has reportedly been working with component suppliers on plans for Apple television sets in recent months, although debate continues as to whether such a product will be ready for launch by late this year, next year, or even 2014.

Password Security Hole Discovered in Certain FileVault Configurations on OS X 10.7.3

ZDNet reports on the discovery of a significant breach of password security for certain users of Apple’s FileVault encryption system under OS X Lion. Affected systems currently store the login information for every recent user of the machine in plain text, allowing for easy circumvention of encryption.

In specific configurations, applying OS X Lion update 10.7.3 turns on a system-wide debug log file that contains the login passwords of every user who has logged in since the update was applied. The passwords are stored in clear text. 

Anyone who used FileVault encryption on their Mac prior to Lion, upgraded to Lion, but kept the folders encrypted using the legacy version of FileVault is vulnerable. FileVault 2 (whole disk encryption) is unaffected.

The issue was noted last Friday by David Emery on the Cryptome mailing list.

This is worse than it seems, since the log in question can also be read by booting the machine into firewire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk or by booting the new-with-LION recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition and read the file. This would allow someone to break into encrypted partitions on machines they did not have any idea of any login passwords for.

Emery also offers some suggestions for dealing with the issue, including turning on FileVault 2 and setting a firmware password on the machine in question. 

The issue was actually first noted in the Apple discussion forums back on February 6, just days after OS X 10.7.3 was released to the public. That poster now notes that the issue may extend further than just the specific FileVault situation outlines by others, as he notes that he has experienced the same behavior on an OS X Lion virtual machine through VMware Fusion, without FileVault ever having been active on the installation. Consequently, the extent of the issue may not yet be fully known. 

Apple has yet to offer any response to the issue, although it is unclear when the company became aware of it. Apple touts the security features of OS X Lion in its promotional materials for the operating system, with a focus on FileVault as an important component of that security, and it seems likely that the company will move as quickly as possible to investigate and fix the issue.

Apple Looking to Launch $799 MacBook Air in 3Q 2012?

Digitimes reports that Apple is planning to launch a cheaper MacBook Air in the third quarter of this year, dropping the entry-level price to $799 from the current $999. The move is reportedly being made to take on Intel’s “Ultrabook” initiative that is pushing low-cost, ultra-thin notebook PCs.

Although Acer has recently reduced its ultrabook shipment target, Intel continues to aggressively push ultrabooks and is aiming to have the devices priced at US$699 in the second half of the year. However, if Intel is unable to bring down ASPs to its goal, the price gap between ultrabooks and the US$799 MacBook Air may further postpone the time ultrabooks become standardized, the sources noted.

Ultrabook manufacturers have so far struggled to match or beat Apple’s MacBook Air pricing, leading to weak shipments. But Intel remains committed to the initiative, and is working with manufacturers to continue to bring prices down. 


It is unclear just how Apple would achieve a $200 price cut on the MacBook Air, given the company’s focus on maintaining high profit margins. Certainly pricing on the solid-state drives used in the MacBook Air will continue to fall, but Apple likely has only limited flexibility to bring down pricing. And given the strong performance of the MacBook Air as Ultrabooks continue to struggle, it is not immediately obvious whether Apple would even see a need to lower pricing on its models. 

Digitimes has a spotty track record with regard to Apple rumors, although it has on occasion offered accurate insight based on sources in Apple’s supply chain. The publication’s recent claims regarding Apple’s notebook plans including a report ofproduction being underway on slimmer 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, as well as a suggestion that Apple is considering a 14-inch MacBook Air for Asian markets.

Apple Seeks to Gain Control of iPhone5.com Domain

While there has been much debate about whether Apple will refer to the next-generation iPhone as “iPhone 5”, “iPhone 6”, simply “iPhone”, or something else entirely, Fusiblenotes that Apple has filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) seeking to gain control of the iPhone5.com domain. WIPO authorities are currently assessing compliance of Apple’s claim with the agency’s regulations, and proceedings are likely to be initiated in the near future. 


The iPhone5.com domain currently hosts a very small discussion forum dedicated to discussion of the “iPhone 5”. The forum was launched in October 2010 following the debut of the iPhone 4 earlier in the year. 


Apple’s pursuit of the iPhone5.com domain is interesting given how slow the company has been to take action to secure domains related to its previous products. Apple didn’t gain control of iPhone4.com until nearly a year after that device launched and Apple didn’tseek to gain control of iPhone4S.com until several weeks after that device debuted last October. In the latter case, Apple was likely extremely motivated to take control of the domain because it was being used to forward visitors to pornography sites. 

Given that Apple typically doesn’t pursue domain names for its products until after they launch, lest their names be revealed ahead of time by the negotiation process, it seems odd that Apple is already seeking to gain control of iPhone5.com. But with “iPhone 5” having been the name informally attached to Apple’s next iPhone form factor redesign for nearly two years now and still in popular use, the company apparently believes that it should have some control over the name’s usage.