os x

Google Now Comes To Chrome On The Desktop For Windows And Mac

Google has released its Google Now notification integration for its desktop Chrome browser, and the update will begin rolling out today and continue to percolate over the coming weeks. The new feature allows users to receive Google Now notifications on their desktop, synced the Now notifications on their phone. To enable them, users need only to be logged into Chrome on the desktop with the same… Read More

Microsoft: Office for Mac Will Get a Refresh Soon

Apple-imac

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Microsoft Office has evolved quite a bit since the release of the new subscription-based Office 365 in early 2013, but the Mac version has remained stubbornly stuck in 2011, the year of its last major update. But Mac users shouldn’t have to wait much longer for a refresh.

Office for Mac will be updated this year, a Microsoft representative told German publication Computerwoche (Computerweek in English). Thorsten Hübschen, who oversees Microsoft’s office in Germany, revealed the company had originally intended to release Office:mac 2013, but those plans were scrapped after the company’s Mac business unit was phased out. Microsoft stopped updating the Office for Mac blog on Monday. Read more…

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Next OS X Update Will Bring Retina Support to 4K Monitors

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For Apple users with a 4K resolution monitor, you’re in luck: the next OS X Mavericks update for Macs will reportedly bring Retina support to the high-resolution displays.

While running on what’s referred to as a pixel-doubled resolution, Macs can now intelligently scale resolution for 4K displays in the same way they do for the current Retina displays in the MacBook Pro line. Previously, Mac users with a 4K display could view content on the high-res display, but with irregular scaling on some elements (e.g., tiny icons).

According to 9to5Mac, Apple rolled out its new OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 update to developers on Friday, with Retina scaling for 4K included. Mac users can set up their ultra-high-definition 4K displays to run the software at a pixel resolution (3,840 pixels) double what it is now, for a much sharper experience. Read more…

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Apple Fixes SSL Security Vulnerability in OS X 10.9.2

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Apple released the latest version of OS X Mavericks Tuesday

The OS X 10.9.2 update included a fix for the major SSL security flaw, user blocking in iMessage, and audio calls for FaceTime.

The most important addition to OS X Mavericks in 10.9.2 is a fix for the security bug known as “Gotofail.” The bug, which stemmed from an error in Apple’s code, caused SSL/TLS encryption — the system that creates secure links between your computer and servers — to fail, leaving users vulnerable to hackers and “man in the middle” attacks.

This was a major vulnerability and has caused concern among security experts since it was first discovered last week when Apple released iOS 7.0.6, an update that fixed the same bug in iOS Read more…

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Apple Issues Patch For OS X SSL Security Vulnerability

Apple faced a considerable security threat with its SSL flaw, present in both iOS and OS X devices over the past few days. The iOS bug was plugged late Friday via the iOS 7.0.6 update made available to iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, but Macs with 10.9 went unpatched until now. The fix is out, however, so grab it and get your Macs updated to v10.9.2 as soon as possible. Read More

The Name Game: 9 Curious Mac Branding Choices

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What’s in a name? That which we call a Mac by any other name would…probably still be as popular

Since 1984, Apple has used some pretty interesting names for its Mac products and operating systems. Ever wonder how Mac teams came up with the many themes to its operating systems? Or what Steve Jobs really wanted to name the company?

Here’s a list of some little-known name facts about the tech juggernauts.

1. Macintosh, Meet Bicycle

Image: Flickr, fedeanimation

Most Mac aficionados know that the computers are named after the McIntosh apple. But did you know that Steve Jobs wanted to call the company Bicycle instead? He said computers were bicycles for our minds. Read more…

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Apple Reflects On The Mac At 30 With New Video And Website Retrospective

mac-at-30

Apple is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Mac with a new video and microsite released today featuring some fond remembrances of the machines over the years from creative professionals including Moby, artist April Greiman, photographer Jon Stanmeyer and more. The site features use cases exemplified by some of the best creative, educational and scientific professionals of the past 30 years, attaching a renowned face to each generation of new hardware from the original Macintosh all the way up to the brand new Mac Pro.

There’s also an interactive element to the site, with a section called “Your First Mac” where Apple asks visitors to tell them about their own first experience with a Cupertino computer, featuring a brief quiz where you select your inaugural introduction to Macintosh and then choose from a list of general activities you used said machine for. For me, the first Mac I actually owned all to myself was 2005′s eMac, which I bought used and which had been modified by the local authorized Mac shop to have the power button up front instead of hidden all the way round back of that deep CRT.

  1. Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.47.32 AM

  2. Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.47.53 AM

  3. Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.48.02 AM

Apple seems to be tabulating that input in real-time on the site, and is displaying a running breakdown of the most popular first Mac models and what percentage of visitors were using said machines. There’s also a slider that lets you see, depending on which year you’re looking at, what first-time Mac users were mostly doing on their hardware: Early on, there’s a lot of educational use and desktop publishing, but ‘Internet & Email’ starts taking over in the mid-90s as you might expect and remains dominant right through to today.

If you are or have been a Mac user at any time during the past three decades, the site’s bound to trigger some nostalgia, and even if you aren’t, you’ll get a glimpse into why this computing pioneer has managed to invoke so much devotion from its fans, and why Apple executives told MacWorld that the “Mac keeps going forever.”

2013 Mac Pro Review: Apple’s New Desktop Boasts Dramatic Redesign, Dramatic Performance

Another angle. This is one of the FirePro AMD workstation GPUs.

Apple’s new Mac Pro is a sight to behold: In black aluminum with an eye-catching cylindrical design, there’s little chance you’ll ever mistake it for any other computer. The previous Mac Pro was iconic too, of course, but this one is also just slightly larger than a football and dimpled on the top with a recess like a jet engine. But the true power lies under the hood, and what’s contained therein will satisfy even the most pressing need for speed.

Video Review

Basics (as reviewed)

  • 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 16GB 1897 MHz DDR3 RAM
  • Dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards with 2GB of RAM each
  • 256GB SSD
  • 6 Thunderbolt 2.0 Ports, 4 USB 3.0
  • 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
  • MSRP: $2,999
  • Product info page

Pros

  • No faster Mac exists under the sun.
  • It’s like having an exhibit from an industrial design museum in your house.

Cons

  • It’s super expensive.
  • Bring your own screen/everything.

Design

Few would argue that Apple’s design for the Mac Pro isn’t unique. It’s been compared to Darth Vader’s iconic look from the original Star Wars movies, and in a less flattering light, called the “trash can” Mac. But when you actually have one sitting on your desk, it’s a very different story. The aluminum surface is cool to the touch, reflective without being shiny, and – somehow – astoundingly reassuring.

  1. Mac Pro With Case

    The new Mac Pro with its case removed, side by side with said case.
  2. The Mac Pro Without Case

    Underneath, the Mac Pro lays bare its circuit boards for all to see.
  3. Mac Pro Without Case

    Another angle. This is one of the FirePro AMD workstation GPUs.
  4. Mac Pro SSD

    Here you see the SSD module for the Mac Pro.
  5. Mac Pro Case

    This is the case, which is a solid piece of rigid aluminum.
  6. Mac Pro Vs. Mac Mini

    Here's the Mac Pro compared to the latest model Mac mini design.
  7. Mac Pro Ports

    This is a close-up of the I/O for the Mac Pro.
  8. Mac Pro Rear Panel

    Here's the locking switch mechanism that allows you to remove the lid.
  9. Mac Pro Rear

    Here's what the Mac Pro looks like when viewed from behind.
  10. Mac Pro Vents

    Here are the top vents on the Mac Pro, which channel air away from the "thermal core."

It’s the modern monolith of desktop computing, and indeed it does harken forward to a future age where the amazing engineering contained within is required for your everyday computing needs.

As it stands, of course, the computer housed within that sleek black shell will obliterate any task thrown at it by all but the most extreme and demanding of professionals. Apple might not be as fond of the so-called ‘moonshot’ as competitors like Google, but it gives great immediate futurism with the Mac Pro in terms of both design and performance.

The modularity of the new Mac Pro is not the same as it was with the older versions. You won’t be swapping 3.5mm HDDs out of bays, for instance. But the outer shell slides off easily once you’ve unlocked it, and you get full access to the RAM bays (upgradeable to a maximum of 64GB via four 16GB modules), as well as to the SSD units (which, while Apple-specific, are upgradeable too) and the GPUs (also theoretically replaceable with future Apple-specific hardware). But the real modularity comes via the external I/O: Thunderbolt 2 can theoretically display 4K video while simultaneously transferring it thanks to a unified 20 Gbit/s throughput rate, and there are six ports on the back, combined with four for USB 3.0.

This, combined with the unique thermal core Apple has created, makes for an incredibly small, quiet professional workstation machine. In testing, I couldn’t hear it unless I put my ear up close, and even then it’s a relatively quiet hum, not even close to the fracas my Retina MacBook Pro makes when it’s doing heavy lifting. It breathes a light exhaust of air through the top, too, which is actually a nice refresher if you’ve been slaving away in Final Cut Pro all day.

Performance

For the layperson or everyday computer user, the new Mac Pro will seem like a thought-based computer, where virtually every input action you can think of results in immediate response. Whether it’s the Xeon processor or the super-fast PCIe-based SSD or those dual workstation GPUs, everything seems slightly but impossibly faster than on any other Mac, even the most recent iMac and Retina MacBook Pros. To be honest, it’ll be hard to go back even for everyday tasks like browsing the web and importing pics to iPhoto.

But that’s not what the Mac Pro is for: It’s a professional machine designed to help filmmakers create elaborate graphics, 3D animations and feature-length films. It’s aimed at the most demanding photographers, working in extreme resolutions and doing batch processing on huge files. It’s for audio producers, creating the next hit album using Logic Pro X and low latency, high bandwidth I/O external devices.

For me, Final Cut Pro was bound to be the wrench that would otherwise throw my existing Mac setup some trouble. On the Mac Pro, FCP X ran like a dream, rendering and publishing in the blink of an eye. I had to pinch myself to prove that I wasn’t dreaming after it took fewer than 10 seconds to render and publish the final edit of a 1080p video a little over two minutes long. And again, nary a peep from the Mac Pro itself.

For the super nerdy, you can check out the Geekbench scores of the new Mac Pro we tested here and here. Remember, this is the baseline, entry-level version without any customization options, so it’s the bottom of what you can expect in terms of performance.

Features

The Mac Pro has some unique abilities that you won’t find in any other Mac, including the ability to power up to six Thunderbolt displays at once. I ran two Thunderbolt Displays plus a 21-inch iMac, as well as a Wacom 13HD through the HDMI port, and Apple’s premium machine didn’t even break a sweat. This is definitely the computer for the video producer who wants to be able to monitor output in real time while working on some raw video at the same time, or the information addict who feels they just aren’t getting enough with the two or three displays that represent the maximum possible output with a MacBook Pro or iMac.

Another great feature is the upgradeability, which ensures that, as futuristic and ahead-of-the-curve as this Mac already is, it’ll be even more future-proof thanks to the ability to swap out components down the road. Apple hasn’t revealed any details about later upgrade kits, but it’s reasonable to expect that RAM, SSDs and even GPUs will be available for those who feel they need even more out of their maxi Mac.

mac-pro-lit-portsOne final subtle but very nice feature is the auto-illumination of the ports that happens when you move the Mac tower itself. It’s extremely useful for helping you plug the right device into the right port when you’re looking to add new devices, and likewise when you’re looking to unplug something. This kind of attention to detail only reinforces that if you have $3K to spend on a Mac, your money’s in good hands with Apple.

Bottom Line

The Mac Pro is almost absurd in terms of its abilities. It’ll blow away any ordinary computer user, including one with even slightly advanced demands like myself (occasional video editing, plenty of Photoshop, some digital graphics and podcast production). But in reality, my Retina MacBook Pro wasn’t straining under the demand of my needs, either – the Mac Pro merely makes it all seem effortless.

That said, it’s rare that a computer is an investment; mostly these days, you buy one with the expectation that you’ll probably need another in two years’ time. The Mac Pro, somewhat like the iPhone 5s, is designed with the future in mind, so that video producers who aren’t working on 4K but will be expected to in a few years don’t have to reinvest.

For anyone who’s been looking forward to a replacement for their aging gray tower Mac Pro, and for anyone who has the money and is willing to spend it, the Mac Pro is a no-brainer, but for the rest of us, we needn’t reach quite so high to touch the sky when it comes to Apple’s line of OS X hardware.

Apple Adds FaceTime Audio To OS X 10.9.2 Beta, Bringing Native Mac-To-iOS Voice Calls Closer

facetime-audio

Apple has issued a new developer preview of OS X version 10.9.2, and it introduces some interesting new features according to 9to5Mac. The most interesting is probably FaceTime Audio, however. Apple introduced VoIP calling (no video required) to FaceTime in iOS 7 on mobile devices, but this marks its first appearance on the desktop.

9to5Mac reports that the new audio calling feature is “integrated deeply” into both the Messages and the FaceTime OS X apps, which presumably means that you can initiate and possibly receive voice calls from each. This is a major development because it essentially completes the picture on Apple providing a full set of over-the-top text, voice and video communication tools across both its computing platforms, bypassing typical network and even device type limitations entirely.

Already since upgrading to iOS 7, and having most of my friends and family do the same, I’ve noticed a lot of inbound calls coming through via FaceTime Audio, and my outbound ones have mostly been the same. Having the option to use it on the Mac means I’ll now be able to field those calls at the desk, seamlessly, if I happen to be there, instead of having to fumble for the phone.

I’d call this a considerable threat to Skype, if Skype didn’t already work on an even greater range of devices. And the crowd that uses Skype isn’t necessarily the same group that would be using FaceTime Audio – ordinary users who’ve never set up a Skype account could easily call friends using FaceTime instead of their carrier’s voice service, given how deeply embedded it is into iOS in general. In that sense, FaceTime Audio could cut off some of Skype’s growth potential, as iOS and Mac users at least who live mostly within the ecosystem won’t be bothered to look around for alternatives.

As with any beta release, 10.9.2 is subject to change before its eventual launch, so don’t count on this absolutely, 100 percent definitely coming through in the final release. Still, it’s a logical move, and one that I’m personally hoping makes the cut.

Apple: Future Versions Of OS X To Be Free, $900M Increase In Revenue Deferral Due To Free Software

apple ilife free

Today during its earnings call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer confirmed that future versions of OS X would be free. Last week, Apple announced that OS X Mavericks would be available for free, but did not confirm plans for future versions of its operating system.

Oppenheimer’s statements during the call indicate that future versions of OS X will also be free. This, along with iWork updates and free copies for each purchaser of Mac and iOS hardware, would contribute to a $900 million sequential increase in net revenue deferred for software upgrade rights and non-software services in the December quarter.

Basically, a larger slice of revenue from each device will go towards ‘paying’ for those free software upgrades under a law that doesn’t allow Apple to count revenue for freebies until the products they’re housed on are delivered. Apple noted that this would be enough to affect its gross margins, using the phrase “dollar for dollar.” This indicates that its margins might have been hit by as much as 170 basis points, increasing what it has estimated for its future margins.

The market responded to the news that Apple’s margin estimates were directly affected by the deferrals, popping by a few points.

Basically, this is the market reacting to the fact that Apple’s guidance for next quarter included these deferrals. That means that what looks like a flat growth curve is actually going to be a pop in disguise in Q1 ’14.

Oppenheimer says that these new deferrals would add to those already sliced off for software updates. He notes that this is now $15-25 per iPhone and iPad beginning in September, and on Mac it increased from $20 to $40 in October.

He says that it will record those deferrals over two years for iOS devices and over Mac for four years, slipping that revenue back in to the bottom line over years rather than ‘right now’ if it were to charge. Oppenheimer says that it will “work hard” to get down the cost curves on those devices in order to compensate for those increases.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the primary reason for Apple to make OS X and iWork free was to “make it a part of what it meant to own a Mac and what it meant to own an iOS device…Some other folks charge $199 for each of these – the OS and the productivity apps. We wanted to make it a part of the experience.”

Apple reported a strong quarter with $37.5B in revenue, $7.5B in net profit representing $8.26 per share. Apple sold 33.8M iPhones, 14.1M iPads and 4.6M Macs in the quarter.