Tuesday July 29, 2014 3:09 am PDT by Richard Padilla
As indicated over the weekend and yesterday, Apple today launched refreshed 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros.The new notebooks feature faster versions of Intel's Haswell processors, as all 13-inch models now come with 8GB of RAM standard while all 15-inch models now feature 16GB of RAM. The high end 15-inch model also received a $100 price cut, going from $2599 to $2499.
Build-to-order options now include a 3.0 GHz dual-core i7 processor on the 13-inch model and a 2.8 GHz quad-core i7 processor on the 15-inch model. Users can also now add up to 1 TB of flash storage for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models.
Alongside the refreshed line of Retina MacBook Pros, Apple's 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro received a price cut, going from $1199 to $1099. However, the machine has not been updated with faster internals and remains the same model introduced in June 2012.
Today's minor refresh is primarily a stopgap measure until Apple can launch a more significant update to its Retina MacBook Pro line once Intel's next-generation Broadwell processors hit the market. Broadwell chips appropriate for the MacBook Pro may, however, not arrive until mid-2015. Apple is also rumored to be working on a 12-inch Retina MacBook for 2015 which is said to feature an ultrathin chassis, a fan-less cooling system and a revamped trackpad.
Apple's refreshed Retina MacBook Pros are available today through the company's various retail locations and online store, with all standard configurations showing a shipping avaliability of "within 24 hours." The new notebooks will also be a part of Apple's back-to-school program, which gives qualified educational purchasers an Apple Store gift card of $100 with the purchase of a new Mac.
“People love their MacBook Pro because of the thin and light, aluminum unibody design, beautiful Retina display, all day battery life and deep integration with OS X,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The MacBook Pro with Retina display gets even better with faster processors, more memory, more affordable configurations and a free upgrade to OS X Yosemite this fall.”
Apple also highlights the price drop on the non-Retina model, noting the machine is popular with Windows switchers.
Following yesterday's reported spotting of in-store digital signage from an Apple retail store in China showing upgraded specs for the Retina MacBook Pro, MacG.co now claims [Google Translate] the update is set to arrive tomorrow, July 29. The information comes from a reliable source who has accurately predicted MacBook Air, iMac, and iPod touch updates in recent months, although the source was off by a few days on the iPod touch update timing.
Few details on the new Retina MacBook Pros are available from the source other than that the update will include both 13-inch and 15-inch models and that only minor changes to the internal model number (J44a and J45a respectively) point to a simple speed bump.
The in-store digital signage had shown details on three 15-inch MacBook Pro models, all carrying "Haswell refresh" processors clocking in at 200 MHz faster than their counterparts currently used in the Retina MacBook Pro line. Those new Haswell chips were introduced by Intel last week, and we noted at the time that the list of three dual-core and three quad-core processors appeared almost custom tailored for a Retina MacBook Pro update.
In addition to the processor upgrades, the signage also pointed to a bump in RAM for the low-end 15-inch model, moving from 8 GB to 16 GB.
While the Retina MacBook Pro upgrade appears imminent, the minor update is in large part a stopgap measure as Apple and other manufacturers await Intel's much-delayed Broadwell family of processors. Broadwell chips appropriate for the Retina MacBook Pro may not be ready until as late as mid-2015.
Update 1:22 PM: MacRumors has received word that seven new model numbers are indeed incoming to retail stores, likely corresponding to the three stock configurations of the 13-inch model and two for the 15-inch model, along with a maxed-out "ultimate" configuration of each as is commonly carried in-store.
Intel yesterday launched new Haswell processors designed for high-end notebooks, which could be slated for use in an upcoming refresh of the 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models.
As detailed by CPU World, Intel has released three new Core i5 chips and three new Core i7 chips that are all successors to the chips currently used in the 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros. The new processors provide a modest 200 MHz speed boost over existing Haswell chips.
The Core i7-4770HQ chip at 2.2 GHz is a direct replacement for the Core i7-4750 used in the lower-end 2.0 GHz 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, while the Core i7-4870HQ chip at 2.5 GHz is a direct replacement for the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro's existing Core i7-4850 chip at 2.3 GHz. The Core i7-4980HQ chip at 2.8 GHz replaces the high-end build-to-order Core-i7 4960 processor at 2.6 GHz.
As for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, the Core-i5 4278U, the Core i5-4308U, and the Core i7-4578U all offer the same 200 MHz jump over the existing Core i5-4258, Core i5-4288, and Core i7-4558 used in the three processors available for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, bringing the low-end up to 2.6 GHz, the mid tier to 2.8 GHz, and the high-end build-to-order option to 3.0 GHz.
Earlier this year, an Intel roadmap revealed direct Haswell successors for the MacBook Air and the iMac, but at the time, there did not appear to be any chips available for a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro update. The chips in the roadmap designed for the MacBook Air were used in the April refresh as we expected, and the newly released chips are likely destined for an upcoming Retina MacBook Pro update.
As these chips only offer a small 200MHz boost over existing chips, the fall Retina MacBook Pro refresh that has been previously rumored is likely to be only a minor update. A major Retina MacBook Pro update is unlikely until Intel's Broadwell chips are ready in 2015.
Last week, a rumor suggested redesigned 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air models were slated to enter production in August, but it is unclear what chips those machines might utilize as Intel has not yet released another set of Haswell chips suitable for a MacBook Air refresh.
Intel's line of 14-nanometer Broadwell chips, which are expected to be included in future versions of the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro, and iMac, have been further delayed, reports Chinese site VR Zone [Google Translate] (via CPU World).
According to the site, while Intel will begin production on its extremely low power Core M processors in July and August for a 2014 launch, production on the U and H Broadwell chip series will not begin until much later in the year.
As a result, the Broadwell U 2+3 dual-core chips with GT3 (HD 5000 or Iris) graphics, likely slated for use in the MacBook Air and the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, won't be ready to ship until February of 2015. The Broadwell H 4+3e quad-core chips with Iris Pro graphics designed for the larger Retina MacBook Pro and iMac won't be shipping until July 2015 at the earliest.
Back in May, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised Broadwell processors for the 2014 holiday season, but it appears that the promised chips will be limited to the company's Core M processor series, used in ultra low power products like two-in-one computers. Broadwell chips suitable for Apple products will not make their first appearance until 2015, which Intel essentially confirmed to CNET in June.
"We expect the initial Broadwell-based devices, including fanless 2-in-1s built on the Core M processor, will be on shelves by the end of this year with more products and broader OEM availability in 2015," Intel told CNET on Wednesday.
Intel's Broadwell chips have seen several delays over the course of 2013 and 2014, and were originally slated to enter production in late 2013 before production was delayed until Q1 2014 and then Q3 2014. The delays are reportedly due to problems with the 14-nanometer process used to manufacture the chips.
Intel's continual Broadwell delays are likely impacting Apple's own release plans. Rumors have suggested Apple is planning a fall launch of a refreshed Retina MacBook Pro and a new 12-inch MacBook Air, but it is unclear which chips the company will use. Apple may only be able to offer a minor Haswell processor boost for the Retina MacBook Pro, which will be the only update the line sees until Broadwell is ready. Apple has already given the MacBook Air a Haswell refresh bump alongside a price drop with an update in late April.
On the desktop side, Apple introduced a new low-end iMac last month, but otherwise the lineup has not been updated since last September. The Mac mini has not even been updated to Haswell yet, with its last revision coming in October 2012. It is unknown why Apple has not released updated Mac mini models, as appropriate Haswell chips are readily available.
Intel's Broadwell chips are said to be 30 percent faster and more power efficient than Haswell, offering even greater increases in battery life and performance. According to Intel, the Broadwell delays will not affect the company's next line of processors, Skylake, as the chips are based on new architecture. Broadwell, however, will have a very short lifespan as Skylake has a prospective late 2015 release date.
Monday May 19, 2014 4:18 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has stated that Intel's next-generation Broadwell processors will launch during this holiday season, reports Reuters (via MacG).
"I can guarantee for holiday, and not at the last second of holiday," Krzanich said in an interview. "Back to school - that's a tight one. Back to school you have to really have it on-shelf in July, August. That's going to be tough."
Originally expected to launch in Q3 2014, Krzanich noted that new manufacturing technologies are responsible for the delays surrounding Broadwell, but maintained that Intel is now on schedule to ship its new chips to manufacturers later this year. The statement comes after a leaked Intel roadmap surfaced this past February, which appeared to show an uncertain timetable for Apple's 2014 Mac updates.
With Intel's Broadwell chips launching near the end of this year however, it is possible that Apple could either choose to wait until next year to integrate Broadwell chips into the Retina MacBook Pro or launch updated models with slightly faster Haswell chips. Apple updated its standard models of the MacBook Air last month with a faster 1.4 GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor while cutting the price by $100.
It is also possible that Intel's new Broadwell chips could be used in the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air, which may coexist alongside or replace the current MacBook Air line. However, it is uncertain which specific chips Apple would use for the new notebook, as prior reports have pointed to the machine coming out towards the end of the third quarter.
As far as a next-generation iMac goes, Apple could also choose to hold off on an update until the appropriate Broadwell chips are out. However, a report last month claimed that Intel's faster Haswell desktop CPUs could arrive in May, with Apple perhaps launching updates sooner rather than later.
Apple is also rumored to have a low-cost iMac in the works, which could utilize more cost-efficient chips. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the low-cost desktop computer could boost sales in critical foreign markets and increase shipments by up to 30 percent.
Apple has been expected to discontinue its standard MacBook Pros for quite some time in favor of an all Retina lineup. After Apple announced and subsequently released updated Retina MacBook Pros last October, the company cut the price of the entry level 13-inch Retina model to $1,299 - just $100 more than the non-Retina version.
The company is also expected to update its 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros in the future with Intel's forthcoming Broadwell chips, however the exact timing of those updates remains uncertain and differs for both models. While chips for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are not expected to launch until the first quarter of 2015, chips for the 15-inch models are expected to be released at certain points throughout 2014. Rumors have also suggested that Apple is working on a 12-inch Retina notebook for the middle of this year.
Friday February 21, 2014 1:43 pm PST by Eric Slivka
With Apple's Mac lineup beginning to show signs of aging, consumers are no doubt starting to wonder when they can expect updated models to hit the market. Apple's product update cycles are in large part driven by availability of new processors, so it pays to take a look at Intel's roadmap to see what might be coming when to give Apple new options for upgrades.
The MacBook Air is currently the older of Apple's two current notebook lines (setting aside the non-Retina MacBook Pro that has been reduced to a single 13-inch model and hasn't been updated since June 2012). Apple's ultrathin notebook currently offers a choice of two low-power 15-watt Haswell chips to help achieve remarkable all-day battery life. Entry-level models include a 1.3 GHz i5-4250U chip, while higher-end models bump up to a 1.7 GHz i7-4650U processor. Both chips include Intel's "Iris 5000" integrated graphics that offers reasonable everyday performance in a power-efficient design.
According to an Intel roadmap leaked by VR-Zone [Google Translate], a successor to the current low-end chip is set to launch in the third quarter in the form of an i5-4260U Haswell refresh, presumably carrying just a small speed bump compared to the current chip. Another alternative for Apple could be the 1.4 GHz i5-4350U or its just-announced successor 1.5 GHz i5-4360U. The 4350U chip has been available since last year, but Apple elected not to use it in the current MacBook Air. The high-end MacBook Air situation is less clear, as leaked roadmaps have not yet shown a direct successor to the current i7-4650U chip.
Tuesday January 21, 2014 8:06 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple today was awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,633,916 (via AppleInsider), which describes a touchpad that utilizes force sensors and acuator feedback. The buttonless design uses an array of sensors and an actuator to mimic the function and tactile feedback of the current trackpad found in the company's MacBook product lines.
Currently, Apple's trackpad technology is based on an integrated button design. Surface touch sensors track the movement of fingers and a hinged button allows the trackpad to click when a user presses down on it. A switch located under the trackpad is actuated when a click pivots the trackpad downward on its rear hinge. The pivoting motion of this button makes it difficult to click near the rear edge of the trackpad and requires extra space within the chassis of the notebook.
In the newly awarded patent, which was filed in December 2009, Apple builds upon its current design by using a surface touch sensor and four corner force sensors to track finger movement and clicking input from the user. An actuator would be used to provide tactile feedback. Also similar to the current trackpad, a buttonless trackpad may have user-customizable settings that adjust the sensitivity levels for the click pressure or the tactile feedback.
In addition to processing touch sensor signals to determine the location of touch events, signals from the force sensors may be processed. A rectangular touch pad may have four corners. Force sensors may be mounted under each of the four corners. When a user presses on the surface of the touch pad, the force sensors may pick up four corresponding independent force signals.
Tactile feedback may be provided using an actuator. The actuator may be controlled by actuator drive signals. As a user of an electronic device interacts with the touch pad, the user may make gestures and perform other touch-related tasks. When the user desires to select an on-screen object or perform other tasks of the type traditionally associated with button actuation events, the user may press downwards against the surface of the track pad. When sufficient force is detected, appropriate action may be taken and drive signals may be applied to the actuator. The actuator may impart movement to the touch pad.
Whether Apple chooses to incorporate this new trackpad technology or not is unknown, but a move to do so would make sense considering that Apple's multi-touch trackpad debuted with the MacBook Air in 2008, and has made its way to every MacBook since then. But given the fact that it has been over four years since the patent's filing, Apple may simply have abandoned the proposed design for unknown reasons.
Wednesday January 15, 2014 10:23 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following the appearance of 15-inch models of the latest Retina MacBook Pro in Apple's online store for refurbished items over the weekend, 13-inch models have now debuted in the store, again offering discounts of roughly 15% compared to brand-new units. While a number of different configurations were available when the 13-inch machines first appeared late yesterday, Apple is currently listing only two of the three stock configurations as available with shipping estimates of 1-5 business days.
Sunday January 12, 2014 9:48 am PST by Eric Slivka
Apple has added a number of models of the current 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro to its online store for refurbished products, marking the their first appearance in the store since their October launch. All six of the currently available configurations are listed as shipping in 1-5 business days and are available at a roughly 15% discount compared to brand-new machines. Available models include:
2014 will likely bring even more innovation to Apple's product lineup, with current rumors hinting at highly anticipated products like the Apple smart watch, a larger iPhone and iPad, and new developments with the Apple TV. A number of these products have been rumored for some time, but the spate of Apple product releases over the past few months and the imminent turning of the calendar offers a chance to bring those rumors back to the forefront.
According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple has plans to create "great products" in areas the company does not participate in today, and in a recent email, Cook told Apple employees that there's a lot in store for Apple in 2014, "including some big plans that we think customers are going to love."
In the list below, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2014 product plans, outlining what customers might see from Apple in the next 12 months based on current rumors.
Apple's next iPhone is rumored to come equipped with a larger screen size, somewhere between 4.7 and 5.7 inches. Some rumors have suggested that Apple might release the phone in two separate sizes, both of which are larger than the current 4-inch iPhone 5s/5c.
Left to right: iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, "iPhone Plus", Galaxy Note II (Source: Marco Arment)
The larger iPhone, which will likely incorporate a faster 20-nanometer A8 chip from TSMC, may also include sweeping design changes in the form of a curved display. While it is possible Apple will release an updated iPhone earlier in the year, the most likely release target for the larger-screened device is September or October.
Along with a larger iPhone, Apple may be planning to add a larger iPad to its current tablet lineup, which comprises the 9.7-inch iPad Air and the 7.9-inch iPad mini. The "iPad Pro" or "iPad Maxi" as it has been called by the media, is rumored to include a larger 12.9-inch display, which would be most similar in size to the current 13.3-inch MacBook Air.
Mockup of the 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air
The display reportedly offers higher pixel density nearing ultra high-definition quality and it will likely adopt many of the design elements offered in the current iPads, like an ultrathin chassis and narrow side bezels. Aside from a larger screen size, not much is known about Apple's larger iPad, and it is unclear when such a product might be released.
Apple's much-anticipated "iWatch," which was a major rumor focal point in 2013, will likely be released in 2014. According to rumors, the smart watch will primarily function as an accessory to the iPhone and the iPad, providing at-a-glance access to common iOS functions.
The watch may also include a multitude of biometric functions, possibly offering a pedometer and heart rate monitor, among other things, and it could also serve as a home automation hub. While it is entirely unclear what the iWatch will look like, rumors have indicated that it could have an OLED display in the range of 1.3 to 1.7 inches, possibly coming in multiple sizes for a customized fit.
Apple's iWatch may incorporate an ultra durable sapphire glass screen, as the company recently signed a deal with GT Advanced to ramp up sapphire glass production. Rumors have also hinted at a flexible, curved design.
Over the course of 2013, Apple ramped up its work on the iWatch, with a team of 100 product designers working on the project. The company also filed for iWatch trademarks in multiple countries throughout 2013.
Currently, Apple's iWatch is expected to debut during the second half of 2014.
Apple has been long rumored to be making some upgrades to its Apple TV, either in the form of a revamped set top box with additional functionality or a full blown television set. It is unclear what Apple will do in the television arena in 2014, however, as rumors have suggested that the company has shelved its TV plans for the time being in order to focus on wearables like the iWatch. Television remains an area of "intense interest" for Apple, according to Tim Cook.
If Apple does release a television-related product in 2014, it will likely be a new set top box that could bundle key features like an App Store and Siri, along with additional content offerings.
In 2013, Apple worked hard to beef up content offerings, adding several new channels, including WatchESPN, HBO GO, Vevo, Yahoo Screen, and PBS. The company is also said to be in talks with cable provider Time Warner and a deal with that company, as well as other improvements in content, could come in 2014.
Improving content and reaching deals with various cable companies and content providers is a necessary step before Apple can make headway in the television industry.
Many people believed Apple would introduce a new Thunderbolt Display alongside the Mac Pro, as it has been two years since the last Thunderbolt Display update. No new display appeared, but it is possible that the company will debut a new display product in 2014, likely offering a 4K resolution of 4096 or 3840 x 2160 pixels.
In late 2013, Apple supplier AU Optronics introduced new 27 and 32-inch 4K display panels, sparking speculation that revamped Thunderbolt Displays were on the horizon, though concrete information on a new display or a possible release date is unavailable at the current point in time. In lieu of a 4K Thunderbolt Display, Apple is offering a 4K 32-inch Sharp display as an add-on to the Mac Pro.
Other updates: iOS 8, OS X 10.10, MacBooks, and More
As it does every year, Apple will undoubtedly offer refreshed MacBooks over the course of 2014. Recently, a rumor has suggested that a 12-inch MacBook with a MacBook Air-style design and a Retina display could make its debut in the middle of 2014, and other incremental updates to products like the Retina MacBook Pro will come as well.
Apple has several products that have not been refreshed for quite some time, including its lineup of iPods and the Mac Mini, which could see updates in 2014.
New versions of both iOS and OS X are also expected, though few details are available on the software at this time. iOS 8 may include improvements to Maps, iOS in the Car, and a possible Siri API, while the next version of OS X could take on some iOS 7-style design elements. iOS 8 will probably arrive during the fall along refreshed iPhones, and it is likely that a revamped version of OS X will come during the same general time frame.
Sunday December 29, 2013 12:04 am PST by Richard Padilla
Among "commercial channel" sales to distributors for corporate, government, and business customers, the iPad held the biggest share of sales for any tablet in the U.S. during 2013, while sales of Google Chromebooks made up a bigger percentage of the laptop market compared to Mac notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
The data in the report showed that the iPad accounted for 15.8% of personal computing device sales in the channel, which was greater than that of Android tablets at 8.7% and Windows tablets at 2.2%. However, the iPad's share of unit sales in the U.S. this year is down from the year-ago period, where it made up for 17.1% of sales. Sales of both Android tablets and Windows tablets grew by 4.5% and 1.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, sales of Chromebooks in the United States grew to 9.6% in 2013, surpassing the 1.8% share of unit sales held by Apple notebooks. Windows notebooks still held on to 34.1% of the market, but was down 8.8% from the 42.9% share it held last year.
The news follows a broader report from October stating that Mac sales were down 7% year-over-year for the full September quarter, as the decline of traditional PC sales as a whole is likely due in part to the rising popularity of tablets.
Both the iPad and the MacBook line of notebooks saw refreshes this year, as Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display along with updated models of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its October event. New versions of the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air were also announced at Apple's WWDC keynote this past June, and featured enhanced performance with significantly improved battery life.
Apple could also be gearing up to release new types of both products in 2014. Rumors of a larger-size iPad for release in 2014 have surfacedoccasionally throughout the past few months, and a report in October from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple may be planning to release a 12-inch MacBook with an all-new design in the middle of 2014.
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