Thursday, October 7, 2010

TheAppleBlog (10 сообщений)
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  • Glass Backing Next iPhone 4 Controversy?

    In a provocative essay, Ryan Block at gdgt asserts Apple is aware that the glass backing of the iPhone 4 is “another design flaw.” Even if true, this is hardly “Antennagate.”

    Although much was made of the iPhone 4 antenna at launch, it turned out to suffer from a technical defect, and a much larger public relations problem. At the same launch, the glass on the iPhone 4 also received a little publicity. Made of aluminosilicate glass, it was described as “20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic” and “comparable in strength to sapphire crystal.”

    Not so, says Block, who cites “sources both inside and outside Apple” as confirming “another potential design flaw,” resulting in a “quiet panic” within the company. The issue is supposedly that the glass backing is prone to scratching, cracking, and fracturing, especially when used in conjunction with certain cases, specifically slide-on cases.

    According to Block, to prevent another “Antennagate,” Apple temporarily halted sales of almost all third-party cases, and slide-on cases for the iPhone 4 are still “conspicuously absent” from the Apple Store. Further, there may not be a solution to the “design flaw,” and Block suggests that this will be the end of the glass backing for the iPhone.

    While it’s difficult to disprove any of those assertions, mostly because they are based on somewhat questionable data, it’s hard to see how the so-called “Glassgate” situation could be as big a problem as the iPhone 4 antenna. First, unlike with the antenna, there haven’t been nearly as many anecdotal reports on the issue, either in the media or in discussions at Apple Support.

    While you can still find some discussions on the issue, the number of views and participants are insignificant compared to what happened with the antenna. Apple also hasn’t tried to cover up the issue by removing discussion threads, as was the case with the iPhone 4 antenna. More importantly, unlike the iPhone 4 antenna, the glass backing can easily be replaced should it fail.

    That doesn’t mean the glass backing is impervious to harm, just that an alleged design flaw in this area hardly seems comparable to the antenna issue. Nonetheless, for those who own an iPhone 4, or are thinking of buying one, a survival kit is a good way to protect your iPhone 4′s surfaces from scratching.

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  • Quick Tip: Add More External Displays to Your Mac

    I always thought Apple was really missing a beat by including only one video-out port on its all-in-ones and notebooks, given that many Mac users are design, video and photography professionals. So I went looking around for a solution. If you want to get more screen real estate out of your Mac, here’s how.


    My (Too?) Many Monitors


    First, you need some extra hardware. Obviously, you’ll need two extra monitors, in addition to the one built in to your computer, but that’s not all. You’ll also need to pick up a USB-to-video adapter. These come in many flavors. I’ve got a Sewell USB-to-DVI external video card ($79.95), but another good cheap option is the EVGA UV Plus+ ($69.99 for the UV16). Both options come with DVI-to-VGA adapters, so you can use either type of connection.

    One of your monitors should be connected via your Mac’s video-out port (whether it be mini-DVI or Mini DisplayPort, depending on your machine’s age). You can get an adapter for that direct from Apple, or from third-party vendors. That’s the easy part.

    Now, connect your other monitor using the USB-to-video device you decided upon. To do this, first install DisplayLink’s Mac OS X drivers. The latest version (1.6 Beta 3 as of this writing) can be found here. Without these drivers, no USB video cards will work with a Mac.

    Once you’ve installed the drivers, plug in your second external monitor using the USB video adapter. Your screen should go blue, then extend to your new monitor. Use Displays under System Preferences to make any necessary adjustments.

    Note that using DisplayLink to operate a third display with your Mac isn’t perfect. Because of restrictions Apple imposes on OS access for third-party software, the DisplayLink drivers don’t support 3D acceleration or OpenGL, meaning that keynote presentations won’t work properly, and video will be choppy. But if you’re using that third display to house an extra browser window, or even for photo editing, it’s more than up to the task. Plus, you can add up to four additional monitors over USB using this method (though separate adapters would be required).

    DisplayLink’s been around for a while, but I remember when I was first testing a multi-monitor solution, it took me longer than it should have to unearth this solution. Hopefully now you won’t have the same problem.

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  • Backblaze vs. CrashPlan: Mac Backup Smackdown, Round 2

    In round 1, we started looking at the bitter war for your online backup dollar. These companies know that once you pay for an initial backup, you’ll likely stay a customer long-term, because of convenience.  But could unique features and attractive pricing convince you to switch? Today we turn to Backblaze and CrashPlan to find out.


    Instead of configuring what BackBlaze backs up, you tell it what NOT to back up. It automatically excludes certain system files and won’t back up individual files larger than 4GB, but otherwise it’ll grab everything else on all your connected drives by default. Too often in my line of work, I see online backup systems miss files because they were put in the wrong folder. Backblaze’s exclusionary configuration greatly reduces the chances of that happening.

    Another unique feature of Backblaze is its ability to overnight you a hard drive (currently $189) in case of failure. Carbonite doesn’t currently offer this option, and Mozy will ship your data via DVD for $29.95 plus 50 cents per GB. Anyone who’s suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure knows waiting days and weeks for an online service restoration only adds insult to injury.

    Tech support with Backblaze was also much better than my experience with other providers. While they missed their 24 hour response window, the advice they gave was helpful and accurate and I didn’t suffer the off-shore language barrier I experienced with Carbonite and Mozy. After my trial was over, I signed up my main Mac with Backblaze, knowing that I had quality support when I had questions.

    I also liked the fact I could create a supplemental security password and encryption key that can’t be reset. I tried many times to convince them to reset the password and they simply wouldn’t, which is good practice from a security standpoint, just make sure that you won’t forget that password or you’ll be up the creek without a paddle.

    From a technical perspective, Backblaze’s software is simply outstanding. They were one of the first on the scene with a 64-bit version for Snow Leopard, beating out both Carbonite and Mozy. The software runs as a System Preference pane, but doesn’t require admin access to configure or disable. Unlike Mozy or Carbonite, Backblaze allows a full throttle upload capability using all available upload bandwidth. When it’s set to high it really flies!

    My only major complaint with Backblaze is the fact that while backups can be scheduled to start, they can’t be set to stop at a certain time. This is part of their philosophy that backups should be constant. With set time windows, backups could be missed and data lost. Still, I’d personally like the option to set an end time.

    Pricing is $5.00 a month, or $50 a year, for unlimited backup. For most users, when compared to Mozy or Carbonite, Backblaze is simply a superior choice. That is, until you check out CrashPlan.


    I first used CrashPlan many years ago, way before Mozy and Carbonite were household names. At the time, their focus was on local and peer-to-peer backups. CrashPlan has grown up considerably since then. The basic software is free for home users. Consumers can download the software and backup to a local hard drive or to another person running the software who gives them permission. For $59.99, CrashPlan+ adds features such as hourly backups, customer support and no ads.

    CrashPlan Central is an option within the general CrashPlan software (regular or plus). Central provides online backups with unlimited storage, with tiered pricing for single and multiple-computer licenses. Similar to Backblaze, you can allow your backup to use the maximum upload bandwidth to allow for quick initial backups.

    The software is an application that runs in the background, but not as a System Preference or with a menu bar icon. CrashPlan uses inclusionary, rather than exclusionary, backups. Changing the configuration does not require the Administrator password, but CrashPlan can optionally request one of its own. I really liked this option because I feel a regular user should not be able to change or configure the backup.

    However, this isn’t just an application that runs on your Mac. Because CrashPlan talks to Central to do backups, the developers realized the conversation could be two-way. With the CrashPlan account password, you can go to their website and directly modify the preferences for your own Mac anywhere in the world. For example, I was able to turn down the throttle on the initial backup when my ISP requested I do so.

    Other unique settings CrashPlan offers is the ability to tweet or email you when backups are completed. Plus, you can specify how many versions of files CrashPlan should keep, and it can modify its actions based on user activity and percent of CPU being used. If you can imagine it, you can configure it with CrashPlan.

    In my opinion, the killer feature of CrashPlan is the ability to “seed” your backup. The initial backup with online services can take many weeks for large hard drives. Crashplan allows you to create a local encrypted backup to your hard drive that you can ship to them and they’ll add that data to your CrashPlan account.

    That initial upload can then take a few days instead of a few weeks with no impact to your system or bandwidth. This service runs the opposite way as well: They can ship you a hard drive with all your data to do a full restore. The service isn’t cheap at $150, but it’s well worth it for those who need it.

    CrashPlan Central’s pricing is extremely competitive. For one user, Central is $54 a year, and goes down if you agree to a multi-year deal. They also have an extremely generous family plan. For $100 a year, you can back up as many computers as you own. That could include the machines of anyone in your family, no matter their location. The only catch is the account owner can see all the files (either a blessing or curse depending on your perspective).

    One more thing: CrashPlan’s tech support was one of the best I’ve seen for any software vendor. My emails were answered quickly and professionally, but I asked for a number to call with questions. I called the number and a gentleman from Minnesota answered within two minutes. I gave him my “test scenario” that I gave to all the online backup vendors. He wasn’t really sure the answer and said he’d have to research it. Within an hour, he called, having tested the solution on his own computer and provided an extremely detailed guide to the solution worthy of inclusion in Apple’s own tech manuals.


    So after researching four backup services, which do I use? Personally I’ve been extremely happy with Backblaze. The high-speed uploading combined with the peace of mind that I can quickly get a drive of my data convinced me this was the backup service of choice for my main computer. I’m committed to them after spending all that time uploading the data and while CrashPlan is attractive, I’m happy with my service from Backblaze.

    However, should Backblaze ever stop being awesome (and recent blog posts about buyouts and extended downtown indicate cause for concern), I’ll happily send my data over to CrashPlan and have started recommending it more and more to my clients. I also use CrashPlan for some of my other, secondary systems.

    So who wins? It’s CrashPlan on all accounts. The ability to seed the backup, combined with amazing tech support and family-friendly pricing makes it an irresistible choice for most users. However, Backblaze is a very strong second and beats Carbonite or Mozy hands down.

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  • According to Revenue Estimates, Apple's Future is the iPad

    Apple turned a few heads when it declared itself a “mobile device company,” but sales of the iPhone and the iPad have shown that really, that’s exactly what it is. In 2011, it’s poised to become more of an “iPad company” than anything else.

    That’s because, according to a research note by Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White (via Forbes) based on supplier information, Apple is planning to sell 45 million iPads in 2011. In case you’re more concerned with dollars and cents, that translates to roughly $30 billion in revenue.

    Which, if you’re counting, is nearly as much as the company made from all its products in 2008, when it made around $32 billion. It’s not too far off its total for 2009, either, when it took over $35 billion, with a good deal of the difference between the two years being made up by the iPhone.

    The Mac has traditionally been Apple’s biggest revenue-generator, with 44 percent in 2008, and 37.7 percent in 2009. The iPhone has been steadily gaining significance in the revenue picture, going from only 5.7 percent of total in 2008 to 18.5 percent in 2009. But that’s nothing compared to what the iPad has and will accomplish.

    The iPad is already the fastest selling electronic device ever, and with anticipated sales of 7-10 million iPads since its introduction through the remainder of the year, Apple is on track to make between $4.5 and $6.7 billion in revenue this year alone. That’s close to what the iPhone made in 2009, and the iPad hasn’t been available for the whole year, and has only just seen an expansion of its retail availability to more of Apple’s secondary channels.

    Even if Apple doesn’t hit 45 million iPads in 2011, more conservative estimates still put the iPad in a place of prominence regarding revenue share. White’s own prediction of 21.8 million iPads sold in 2011 puts revenue at $14.7 billion, which would’ve exceeded the Mac share in both 2008 and 2009. No matter how you break it down, it looks like the iPad will become Apple’s central tent pole.

    If Apple’s business is mostly iPad, then you can bet that Apple’s focus in 2011 will be mostly iPad. And that’s a good thing, both for consumers and developers. iOS will get plenty of attention, meaning more APIs, performance improvements and continued refinements in the App Store review process. Apple will also make translating the iPad’s success across its lineup of product offerings. We’ll see more touch tech, better portability and more aggressive pricing across the board.

    The iPad hasn’t only succeeded where many thought it would fail, it’s also become the core of Apple’s business virtually right out of the starting gate. Apple will shift its priorities to capitalize, and those operating in the iPad ecosystem are the ones who stand to gain the most.

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  • iOS and Android Devices Continue Their Assault on Enterprise
    IOS and Android devices are finding fast adoption by corporate customers, according to new figures from Good Technology, which found that iOS devices represented more than 50 percent of new activations from June to September, fueled by interest in the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

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  • MacBook Air Supplies Run Low: New Model on the Way?

    If you were waiting for Apple to finally update the MacBook Air before you bought a new notebook, you’re in luck. AppleInsider’s discovered that stock of the current versions of Apple’s ultra-portable is depleted, a good sign that something new is on the way.

    AppleInsider regularly checks stock levels of Macs with Apple’s officially authorized resellers in order to maintain its Mac Price Guide. In its most recent check, it found that, MacConnection, MacMall and J&R had all run out of the 1.83GHz MacBook Air, and at least two were also completely without the 2.13 GHz stock configuration, too.

    Apple will generally allow stock of products approaching an update dwindle, so that retailers aren’t left with obsolete product in their inventory. Stock of the MacBook Air has been slowly dwindling for weeks, and this is the first time in over two years that the Air has shown depleted stock levels, so it’s unlikely that it’s just poor supply chain management on Apple’s part. Unprecedented demand also isn’t likely, since the price remains the same and the Air hasn’t seen an update since 2009.

    In addition to low stock levels, there are also reports that Apple has told retailers that it won’t be replenishing stock levels of the MacBook Air until Oct. 12 or 16. It’s the kind of delay that almost always precedes a product update, according to people working on the buying side of major retail chains.

    The MacBook Air is long due for an update, and rumors about what that might include say that a new, smaller form factor based around an 11.6-inch display is in the pipeline. That news came via DigiTimes, citing parts suppliers in Asia. As someone who still uses his 12-inch PowerBook G4 frequently and with great satisfaction, I’m very much looking forward to what a smaller screen might do for the ultra-portable.

    Will a MacBook Air redesign start a fire in the hearts and wallets of consumers the way the new Apple TV has? Sound off in the comments.

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  • The Mac Notebook-to-Desktop Conundrum

    I’m one of the lucky few who can carry their MacBook Pro to and from work each day, and use the same machine for everything computer-related. Still, I’m not always happy with my current setup. My day job issued me a small Dell laptop, which has one major advantage over my MacBook: the docking station.

    Apple spends a lot of time on industrial design and usability, so it amazes me that the process to hook up a Mac to an external keyboard, monitor, and mouse consists of five to seven steps, depending on if you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard or not. As I look at the mess of wires coming out of the side of my MacBook, I’ve got to wonder why there isn’t an official Apple-branded docking station.

    Docking stations seem like an idea that should have come out of Cupertino, because they reduce clutter and encourage simplicity. All the cables that would normally plug into the side or back of the computer go into the docking station instead, and there’s a single slot that the computer plugs into. Plug it in, and the notebook is now a desktop.

    Apple has a patent for an interesting iMac-like dock for a MacBook, which would be amazing if the price was right. However, actually producing docks has been left to third-party manufacturers. Some have avoided the docking station idea by designing holders for the MacBook, and some have designed docking stations that look absolutely ridiculous.

    The best bet for a real docking station so far seems to be Henge Docks, which mount the MacBook vertically.  They look gorgeous, but are only available in a 13-inch size as of this writing, with 15- and 17-inch versions in the pipeline. I’ve signed up to pre-order the 15-inch.

    I’ve tried just about every combination of desk layout I can think of. I’ve tried MacBook in front, monitor on the side, no keyboard; MacBook on the left, monitor on the right, keyboard and mouse in front (and vice-versa); MacBook in clamshell mode on the side of my desk where the Dell’s docking station used to be, monitor, keyboard, and mouse in front (what I presently use), and a few other setups that just didn’t seem right.

    From Apple’s point of view, the solution is to drop a grand on one of their gorgeous LED Cinema Displays. The display doubles as a docking station, providing power, monitor, and USB ports for the MacBook. It’s beautiful, and certainly reduces the cable clutter, but at a cost that’s hard to justify for consumer-grade use.

    Browsing through Shawn Blanc’s “Sweet Mac Setups” I find that most of the setups featured go for the “MacBook on one side, monitor on the other, keyboard and mouse in front” rig. For some, this seems to work, for many others the cabling and accessories start to clutter the desktop. This is the point where I become distracted and want to start moving things around.

    One of my favorite “setups” remains none at all. I simply open my MacBook wherever I want to work and start doing what needs to be done. But I’m still left wanting a more complete solution. How do you use your MacBook? If you’ve got a setup that works for you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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  • GrabBox: Simple Mac Screenshot Sharing Via DropBox
    Who says you can't make a good thing even better? GrabBox is a nifty little utility that extends upon OS X's built-in screenshot capabilities by automatically uploading screenshots to your Dropbox account. It also copies a URL to your clipboard, which makes sharing screenshots a snap!

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  • Motorola Only the Latest of Apple's Many Legal Woes

    Today, Motorola filed suit regarding three complaints against Apple over patent infringements. The complaints deal with antenna design and other associated smartphone technologies covered in 18 patents held by Motorola. According to Kirk Daily (via CNNMoney), Motorola Mobility’s corporate VP of intellecual property, legal action was a last resort taken after licensing negotiations with Apple broke down.

    But that’s hardly the end of Apple’s legal problems. The company was slapped with $625 million in legal penalties this week for infringing on three patents, at a rate of $208 million per infraction. Obviously, Apple’s already challenged the verdict, as would any corporation, but the ruling is blood in the water for Cupertino’s foes.

    The case was brought by Mirror Worlds, and presents a legitimate case, not just the usual patent trolling fare. Mirror Worlds, a company founded by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter, claimed it held patents infringed upon by Apple through its Time Machine and Cover Flow features, among others. Mirror Worlds held patents regarding automated backups and flipping through digital album covers that are remarkably similar to the tech used in today’s Macs and iOS devices.

    The verdict was rendered by jury in a Texas district court, and would represent one of the largest ever awards in patent suit history in the U.S., if upheld. Even a $625 million pay out won’t really dent Apple’s $40 billion on hand, but that’s not where the real hurt lies.

    Apple is currently embroiled in a large number of legal disputes over patents. Here’s a list of some of the more high-profile cases:

    • Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company Interval Licensing filed suit against Apple, along with Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others in August for infringing on a number of patents relating to fundamental web technology developed in the early 90s.
    • Kodak accused Apple in January of this year of using on of its digital imaging patents regarding previews in the iPhone, along with smartphone rival RIM. Apple is also singled out for two more infringement suits from the camera pioneer, including one regarding the ability to process images of differing resolutions.
    • Apple, along with Google and others, is named in a suit brought by NTP, a patent holding firm, in June 2010. The suit concerns patents held by NTP about wireless email delivery, and an earlier suit against RIM resulted in a $612 million settlement.
    • Perhaps the most highly publicized, Nokia is suing Apple over 10 patents it owns regarding wireless handset technology. The suit came after negotiations regarding licensing fees with Apple broke down. Apple is countersuing over 13 of its own patents.
    • Tune Hunter named Apple along with a whole slew of others in its 2009 suit regarding music recognition tech. Tune Hunter holds a patent for a music identification and purchasing system that is says resembles far too closely the tech in use by Shazam.

    This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s representative of the kind of heat Apple’s been facing since becoming a top dog in the tech realm. Now that one of these efforts has hit paydirt, it’s unlikely the tide will be stemmed anytime soon. The smell of money is a heady intoxicant.

    As unseemly as it might be, Apple has the right idea with its countersuit of Nokia. The only way to deal with this kind of issue is to defend your patents vigorously, or face losing the farm. While things definitely won’t get better in the near future for Apple as its star continues to rise, whether or not this latest verdict is upheld will determine if things get much worse, and possibly begin to have an impact on the company’s ability to do business.

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  • Early 2011 Verizon iPhone Rumors Resurface

    Despite comments made by Verizon’s CEO about an iPhone not appearing on its network in the near future, a new report by the Wall Street Journal reaffirms earlier suggestions that the provider would indeed have an Apple smartphone among its offerings in early 2011.

    The WSJ cites “people briefed by Apple” as the source of the information. Qualcomm is said to be providing the CDMA-capable chip for the Verizon version of the iPhone. The article also curiously states that the new handset would be “similar in design” to the iPhone 4 currently available. It could mean that we’ll see a slight design revision, maybe to do with ameliorating antenna performance.

    Though I doubt we’ll see a significant change in the physical appearance of the phone (likely just odd wording on the part of the article’s authors), I do think this report is otherwise credible. It’s been confirmed that Apple uses media outlets like the WSJ to leak product information ahead of time when it thinks such a leak would be advantageous. News of an upcoming Verizon iPhone is definitely in Apple’s best interest, since it could stop some customers from buying an Android device just out of distaste for AT&T and its network.

    The article also follows Apple’s reported pattern of using two authors for its intentional leaks, a move designed to provide plausible deniability in the event that something goes wrong and a report proves inaccurate. Article author Yukari Iwatane Kane is often co-contributor on this type of piece.

    Whether an early 2011 Verizon iPhone is set in stone, or this is just Apple testing the waters with an intentional leak, it’s still a good sign for those hoping to see the iPhone on America’s largest mobile network.

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