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Let’s be honest. We all love software updates on our smart devices. Be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, we all love to run the latest OS version. It is surprising because, not so long ago when we were all using feature phones made by Nokia or Sony Ericsson (now Sony), we never bothered about any such OS updates. But the smartphone era has changed the way we see our handsets. We do a lot more than making a call or sending a text message on a smartphone.
iOS distribution across devices
OS features define which platform we choose. And new updates to the system software means new and improved features. But getting updated to the latest OS on your device is not fun always. Especially if you are on Android. Take for example Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android which debuted at the end of October 2013. As of May 2014, only around 8.5% of Android devices run KitKat (4.4.x). On the other hand, iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, which saw public release in mid September, 2013, runs on at least 88% of iOS devices(7.x.x).
Yes, Apple does have an advantage since they build their own hardware and software. On the other hand there are a number of manufacturers (or OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers) with 100s of Android devices under their brand name with varying hardware specifications. And providing the latest software to all those devices is harder than you might think. But lets focus on high end devices or flagships. You spend a good amount of money. But there are times you have to wait for months to receive your updates from the date Google announces a new version of Android. So why does this happen? Why does it take so long for your OEMs to provide software updates? Few months ago both Sony and HTC tried to shed some light into what actually goes behind the whole process. I’ll try to present a breakdown based on these reports:
Android platform distribution across devices
Before we get into the process, note that android devices can be categorized into 4 main categories.
1- Carrier Devices - Devices that are released for/by a particular carrier (like the Dialog branded devices in Sri Lanka). These devices are locked to the network, most of the time. They may be sold on a contract at subsidized prices. And the updates are pushed by the carriers with support from OEMs. (This category is not seen in our local market. Even Dialog’s self branded devices are not latest flagships)
2- Unlocked Devices – the regular devices you get in the market. Sold by country dealers or distributors for the manufacturers. The OEMs are responsible for updating these devices.
3- Nexus Devices – Sold directly by Google via Google Play (There were times before Google Play, when manufacturers sold it. Still some do in countries where Google Play is not present). Updates are pushed directly by Google. Updates usually arrive as soon as a new Android version is announced.
4- Google Play Edition Devices – Once again, sold by Google via Google Play, These devices are based on manufacturer models (i.e flagships) except they run mostly pure Android. Updates are mainly pushed by Google, with help from the OEMs.
Now to the process. Carrier edition devices go through a complex process to get updates. We are not going to talk much about them since they are not much relevant here. Also the carrier branded ones are locked to that particular network, so you can’t use them in a different country.
The regular unlocked devices have the largest market here. Nexus devices too are catching up locally, as of late. Even though Google Play edition devices are not widely available, that does not mean they cannot be used here. They are basically unlocked flagships with a nexus feel.
The update process can be divided into 5 phases.
Phase 0 – Evaluation
This is when Google releases the Platform Development Kit (PDK) to the OEMs or hardware partners. The PDK is usually released at least 2 months before a major android version is announced, enabling hardware manufacturers to come up with innovative ideas for their devices. This also means the hardware partners will actually know what’s in store for the next big OS release. And some time after (around two months) the PDK is released, Google announces the newest version of Android. Major android versions are usually released along with new Nexus hardware (smartphone/tablets). And Google also announces update to existing Nexus devices. This updates starts rolling out (via OTA) globally within few days of the announcement. This actually completes the update process for Nexus devices, which is pretty fast.
Once the OS is announced, Google provides source codes to the OEMs and the chipset manufacturers (like Qualcomm). The OEM will evaluate the source code to see the requirements. The chipset manufacturer plays an important role here. they will evaluate and decide whether to support the newest version on their chipsets and if so which models will actually support. (In the case of Nexus devices, these are done in-house at Google before announcing the updates). The chipset manufacturer may take their time delaying the process.
Phase 1 – Development.
At the early stages of this phase the chipset manufacturer will announce (to the OEMs) which of their chipsets will support the new OS. If any of their chipsets are excluded from this support, then whichever the device that is powered by that chipset, will be excluded from the update. If the chipset manufacturer decides to support the OS, they will go ahead and release the necessary drivers along with optimizations. And the chipset manufacturer will release what is known as a Modified Board Support Package (MSP) to the OEM.
Much of the work required to update the Google Play Edition devices ends here. Since they essentially run an unadulterated version of Android, the process is shorter, and goes directly to Phase 3.
Phase 2 – Integration
This phase involves the regular devices and the ones specially designed/modified for carriers. It is in this step that the OEMs decide whether to support the new OS and if so on which devices. They also release a maintenance release (MR) and assign teams to work on integrating the OS with their own custom UI skins (i.e Sense by HTC, TouchWiz by Samsung). This is an important step since this defines how the OS will look and function on the device. If the OEM decides to exclude support for certain models, those devices will not get any update. They do it for various reasons, including that – continuous updates to older devices has a chance of affecting sales of newer models. It is also in his phase that OEM works with carriers to add any modifications to the OS to support carrier exclusive features (read: bloatware).
Phase 3 – Testing/ Certification
During this phase all versions of devices (including GPE) go through internal testing. If any issues or critical bugs are found, a newer version is created and tested again. Once done,more testing and certifications are done by Google and other players like regulators. If this process is a success, then Google issues a Technical Acceptance (TA). For carrier versions, a TA is issued by the carrier too.
Phase 4 – Push to end users
And now it is time to roll out the update! Updates are mostly done as OTA (Over The Air) and carrier updates are handled by carriers along with OEM. OEMs handle the updates for the regular devices while Google come into play when GPE devices are updated.
So, now you get an idea as to how the update process works in the background. It is obvious such a lengthy process requires time, since it involves multiple parties. And there is no surprise that the OEMs take a long time to release updates. Sometimes Google might actually release another version of android by the time this process comes to an end. All hail Nexus!
Check out the detailed infographic by HTC, describing the process, here.
Snapchat, Vine, and Candy Crush Saga earned coveted spots on smartphones this year, making them among the most downloaded apps of the year.
There are more than a million apps on Apple Inc’s App Store and Google Inc’s Play store, the two dominant marketplaces for apps, which see billions of downloads each year.
This year, the most downloaded apps were new takes on communication, gaming, and entertainment, according to mobile app experts.
“2013 was a really interesting year in terms of maturation, milestones and new trends,” said Craig Palli, chief strategy officer at Fiksu, a mobile marketing company based in Boston.
“The most downloaded apps were in familiar categories, but offered new twists,” he added.
While old favorites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — available for iPhone, Android and other devices – continued to be popular ways of communicating with friends, Snapchat eclipsed them in downloads in 2013, becoming the sixth most downloaded free app of the year on the App Store, according to Apple.
“Snapchat went from being a niche app to achieving much more critical mass, so much so that Facebook was reportedly willing to spend billions of dollars to acquire the company,” said Palli.
With Snapchat, users can send photos and videos that disappear shortly after they are viewed.
Launched in 2011, the app’s user base continued to grow rapidly in 2013, with over 13 million people using the app in October, according to the latest available estimates from global information and measurement company Nielsen. In December alone, over 400 million pieces of content were shared through the app, according to Snapchat, based in Venice, CA.
Vine, a video sharing app released earlier this year by microblogging company Twitter Inc, was the fourth most downloaded free app in 2013. The app, for iPhone, Android and other devices, allows users to share videos under six seconds in length. Nielsen estimates over 6 million people in the US were using the app in October of this year.
Snapchat and Vine fall into a category that mobile analytics firm Flurry calls camera-enhanced messaging, which they said grew eightfold in 2013.
Games were another popular category, with Candy Crush Saga for iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire securing its position as the top downloaded free app, and as the top revenue grossing app. It has been downloaded over 500 million times since its launch last year, according to its creator King, based in the UK. Nielsen estimates that over 20 million people in the US were playing the game in October of this year.
In the entertainment category, Pandora continued to be the leading way to stream music and was the ninth most downloaded, and third top grossing, app in 2013.
“Clearly the device has swallowed radio,” said Palli. “Despite the new entrants, Pandora remains the dominant player in the space,” he added.
But the biggest trend of 2013, according to Palli, is the emergence of apps as a way to control companion devices, which he believes will continue to grow in 2014.
On Christmas Day, apps that pair with devices were among some of the top downloaded apps on the App Store.
The Fitbit app, for iPhone and Android, pairs with an electronic wristband to track metrics such as steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. It was the 16th most downloaded app on December 25, according to Palli, who monitored the Apple rankings.
Other apps that pair with devices, such as Chromecast, UP by Jawbone, and GoPro were also among the top downloads that day.
Khalaf predicts that apps for televisions will be the trend to watch for 2014.
“I think 2014 could be the year the TV industry gets disrupted by mobile,” said Khalaf.
“If you think about it, every American spends $100+ dollars per month on a service that is not personalized and not mobile. It’s an area that’s ripe for disruption and I think someone will come up with new content, maybe a new device and more importantly a better business model.”
2013 was the most intense year in the tablet war yet. Amazon and Google kept their prices low, Apple and Samsung responded accordingly, and Microsoft showed it was here to stay. Here’s our take on what happened this year and what it all means.
There are, naturally, other companies that build and sell tablets. Not only did 2013 remind us that the tablet market is large enough for many small players to fight it out, but even retailers designed and sold their own tablets in the hopes to make a quick buck. The bigger battle, however, is taking place between the big five, as each are putting in more and more resources to win over consumers.
Tablet buyers thus end up supporting Apple’s iOS ecosystem, the Android ecosystem (in its many variations), or Microsoft’s Windows 8 ecosystem. 2013 showed us that even those who want to pick one platform and stick with it, end up using more than just one at home, at work, and on the go.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the bigger picture of what each company did, and tried to do, this year.
In October, Apple introduced the fifth-generation iPad, called the iPad Air, and asecond-generation iPad Mini that comes with a Retina Display. The iPad Air went on sale on November 1, while the second generation iPad Mini was released on November 12.
Apple kept its pricing structure the same for the iPad and actually increased it for the iPad mini. The company showed once again that it had no problems with being beaten on price by the competition: it was still perfectly happy with losing share in exchange for keeping its profit margins.
This is a strategy Apple has employed for most of its products, with mixed results. That tablet market is so massive, however, that trying to figure out whether the company is doing the smart thing right now is frankly impossible. While the latest iPad sales numbers aren’t available yet, we do know the demand is there.
Having had decent success with the original Nexus 7 and the 3G-refreshed Nexus 7 last year, in July Google announced the 2013 model of the Nexus 7. An LTE variant was also unveiled and arrived in September.
Curiously, the Nexus 10 was not refreshed this year, although rumors suggested that it would be. It’s still not clear how much the company wants to emphasize the larger tablet offering. Google was, however, very eager in pushing new Android releases, announcing both 4.3 Jelly Bean (along with the Nexus 7) and 4.4 KitKat (along with the Nexus 5) this year.
Again we don’t have proper sales numbers yet, but the Nexus line seems to be gaining a lot of attention. Google showed in 2013 that it would do everything it could to ensure Android would become as popular on tablets as it already is on smartphones.
While Google has been pushing its Nexus brand hard, it’s still no match for Samsung, based on market share at least. The South Korean company continued to dominate Android tablets, and kept its second place position in the tablet market overall.
In April, Samsung revealed the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3. In June, it followed up with 8-inch and 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablets as well as the 10.1-inch ATIV Tab 3running Windows 8.
In September, it also revealed the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. While Samsung has been trying to simplify its tablet line, it is still difficult to keep track of, given the overlapping smartphone, phablet, tablet, and laptop brands.
Speaking of brands, Amazon continued onwards with its Kindle and Kindle Fire approach. In September 2013, the company launched 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HDX.
The same month, Amazon also announced the second-generation Kindle Paperwhite. In October 2013, the company refreshed the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD with a new case and price reduction.
Amazon is starting to suffer the same problem as Samsung: offering just a few too many models of its tablets, leading to consumer confusion. Yet as is typical with the retailer, it will simply continue to slash prices and replace older models as it sees fit, sharing absolutely nothing regarding sales figures.
Amazon’s Seattle rival may have been pushing tablets for ages, but the Surface line is still very much in its infancy. The company unveiled its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 refresh in September.
Microsoft continued to push its vision of a one-size-fits-all approach in the tablet space. Reviews were mixed for both devices, although there was certainly a notable improvement observed all across the board.
Microsoft naturally has a long way to go, especially on the software side. Talk ofmerging operating systems and app stores suggests there’s a very long-term play in the works. Throw in the acquisition of Nokia, and it’s obvious that Windows will play a major role on tablets.
In 2013, prices didn’t drop as much as they did in 2012. By and large, tablet makers were more than happy to refresh their offerings without trying to significantly undercut each other further than they already have.
Instead, they continued to invest in their respective ecosystems. Each of the big five has its own devices and accompanying services, and each are still trying to figure out how to best one-up each other: nobody’s strategy has been set in stone.
Tablets are expected to outship mobile PCs this year, and it won’t be long till they outsell all other types of computers too. They’re simply devices that offer as much as, if not more than, traditional PCs do for most people, at much lower prices.
While in 2012 it appeared that the battle couldn’t last, 2013 showed that none of the five are going to go down easy. Even though in terms of market share,Android seems to have won, 2013 wasn’t the year when company winners and losers were decided.
Image credits: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; WILL OLIVER/AFP/Getty Images; Amazon; Spencer Platt/Getty Images
It would be an understatement to say that Apple’s Mac Pro workstation was getting a little long in the tooth. As of summer 2012, it was missing Apple’s own Thunderbolt ports, not to mention 802.11n WiFi. Finally, though, Apple released an updated version, and it addresses a little more than just the wireless card and I/O options. Redesigned from the ground up, it’s now much smaller and lighter, with a space-age cylindrical shape, an overhauled cooling system that’s half as loud and a spec sheet that includes standard dual GPUs, PCIe SSDs, 802.11ac WiFi, up to 64GB of RAM and the latest Intel Xeon processors, once again going up to 12 cores. In short, these are specs that bring the Mac Pro into the modern age — and make it ready to handle the coming onslaught of 4K content.
If you’re a professional photographer, videographer, audio engineer, animator or what-have-you, you might actually be considering spending $2,999 on one of these — maybe as much as $9,599, if you have the means. Or maybe you’re just like my colleagues here at Engadget, who don’t need one, and won’t ever buy one, but covet it just the same. Either way, you’ll want to read on to see how this thing actually performs (though you probably already have an idea).
If the Mac Pro really does look like a trash can, as everyone says, it’s much nicer than any rubbish bin I’ve ever owned. Starting with the shape, which seems to have earned it so much ridicule, the Mac Pro is basically a squat little cylinder, with a large circular opening up top where the heat creeps out. Between that and the glossy
gunmetal ”Space Gray” finish, it does indeed look like some sort of futuristic wastepaper basket.
Then, of course, you turn the thing around and notice the Apple logo, power button and a cutout in the anodized-aluminum exposure, making it easy to access the various ports. Not exactly a garbage can, that. All told, the Mac Pro is a compact little thing, standing 9.9 inches tall and measuring 6.6 inches in diameter. For whatever reason– the photography on Apple’s site, perhaps — it feels smaller and shorter than I imagined it. To give you some perspective, the Pro stands around half as tall as a 27-inch monitor, like Apple’s own Cinema Display, and has roughly the same footprint as an office phone. So if you have room for a landline, you almost certainly have room for the Mac Pro. And if you have enough room for a landline, you can probably get away with using the Mac Pro in other small spaces, like a music stage or the corner of a film set.
Speaking of the sort, the machine is light enough, at 11 pounds, that you could conceivably take it with you to your next shoot. Left uncovered, you’ll want to handle it gingerly, of course, but if you keep the original box with the foam inserts, you should have no problem carrying it in the crook of your arm. In fact, that might not be such a bad idea: The glossy aluminum finish is also quite the fingerprint magnet, much more so than any other Apple products we’ve seen. If you do carry this around by hand, be prepared to wipe off some smudges now and again.
Swinging back to the ports for a moment, these include headphone and mic jacks, four USB 3.0 sockets, six Thunderbolt 2 connections, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and an HDMI 1.4 port. As a nice, even more futuristic touch, the power button glows white briefly when you turn on the machine, as do a few other accent lights around the ports. The LEDs even fade as you shut down the computer, and flick on again one by one as it’s booting up. Additionally, you’ll find a locking switch that keeps the removable aluminum enclosure in place (you can’t actually power on the machine unless the cover is on). One thing you won’t find here: a memory card slot. This makes sense, in a way, given that pros aren’t big on SD cards, and there are simply too many other formats to accommodate on one small chassis. To build in, say, a CF slot, but not one for XQD would have been rather arbitrary indeed.
Six paragraphs so far and I’ve only described the removable case. Slip it off and you get to the heart of the machine, a tall, three-sided board Apple is calling the “thermal core.” Two of the sides are taken up by the GPUs — dual graphics cards are standard here — whereas the CPU occupies the third. I’ll get to performance and configuration options in a moment, but for now, suffice to say you can configure this thing with two AMD FirePro D700 GPUs and 12GB of video memory, amounting to up to seven teraflops of computing power (the last Mac Pro maxed out at 2.7 teraflops). Meanwhile, there are two RAM banks (with two slots each), located on either side of the CPU board. Combined, these can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR3 memory, with bandwidth of up to 60 gigabytes per second.
With the exception of the processor, everything is user-replaceable — the RAM, the GPUs and the solid-state storage. (I still wouldn’t recommend that the average person replace the GPU himself, but then again, the Mac Pro isn’t exactly for the average consumer in the first place.)
Speaking of thermal performance — this is the thermal core, after all — Apple designed a cooling system whereby air is sucked in at the base of the machine, and gets pushed out of that large hole in the top. Rather than use multiple fans, Apple went with just one, tweaking the size, shape, speed and spacing of the blades. In the end, the company’s engineering team settled on backward-curved impeller blades, which spin at fewer revolutions per minute than on the last-gen Mac Pro.
The idea, of course, is for the blades to effectively cool the system, but also to make less noise in the process. According to Apple, the new Pro reaches 15 decibels while under load, versus 30dB on the last edition. And when the machine is idle, it simmers down to just 12dB — very similar to the lower-powered Mac mini. As I’ll discuss later in the review, the machine is indeed as quiet as advertised, though that may or may not come at the expense of some warm operating temperatures.
Though the unit we have here is very nearly an entry-level configuration (quad-core Intel Xeon E5-1620 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, dual 2GB AMD FirePro D300 GPUs), I also had the chance to test out a more tricked-out version. That was an $8,099 model with an eight-core CPU, 64GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and two FirePro D700 GPUs — the best graphics Apple is offering. With the newest version of Final Cut Pro X, which has been specifically optimized to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s dual GPUs, I saw the machine play back 16 picture-in-picture 4K streams simultaneously.
||MAC PRO (2013, 3.7GHZ INTEL XEON E5-1620, DUAL 2GB AMD FIREPRO D300)
||IMAC (2013, 27-INCH, 3.4GHZ CORE I5, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 775M)
||IMAC (2012, 27-INCH, 3.4GHZ CORE I7, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 680MX)
||IMAC (2012, 21.5-INCH, 3.1GHZ CORE I7, 16GB RAM, 512MB NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 650M)
||12,650 (32-bit) / 14,207 (64-bit)
||10,920 (32-bit) / 11,867 (64-bit)
Editing is a seamless affair too — you can apply a filter to a video and see it go into effect immediately. Zero rendering time here. Ditto for previews: You can instantly see how an effect will look without having to wait for the machine to catch up. Last example: Retiming a four-and-a-half-minute clip to just a few seconds was also instantaneous — I could immediately play back a much shorter version of that same footage. I’m no videographer, as you all know, but if I were, it would be nice not to have to wait while I had a director or client looking over my shoulder, asking me to make changes. (Because in my fantasy life as a videographer, I’m always on location.)
Fortunately, you don’t need an $8,100 configuration to enjoy that kind of performance. Even on the more modestly specced machine, I was able to preview and apply effects and transitions with zero waiting time. As on the higher-end model, I could play back multiple 4K streams at once. Additionally, I was able to add effects to clips while playing back my project, and could immediately jump to that clip to see the effect in action. At one point, I went a little overboard and added 15 filters and the footage still ran flawlessly. (N.B.: There’s an option in settings that causes playback to stop as soon as a frame drops, but that never happened during my testing. Not once.) Truth be told, I probably could have applied even more than 15 effects, but by that time, I had conceded defeat, and was starting to feel bored with my little game.
Other stats: Importing a 9.23GB folder of .MOV files from the desktop took less than two seconds — I had barely pressed the start button on my stopwatch and the import was already over. When it came time to export, exporting that 9.23GB project from ProRes 422 to H.264 took five minutes and 16 seconds. As a side note, when I timed the export, I made sure I wasn’t doing anything else in Final Cut Pro, since the program is designed to slow background processes if there’s something going on in the foreground. That said, I found that I could play other 4K clips while exporting a project, though at one point I hit a clip that included a 4K picture-in-picture overlay, which caused a brief slowdown.
I won’t dwell too much on benchmark scores here, for the simple reason that most tests have not yet been optimized to take advantage of dual GPUs. As you can see in the above table, for instance, the numbers are on par with a recent iMac, even though the real-world performance here is far superior, especially in apps like Final Cut Pro X, which have been designed to leverage both graphics cards. Meanwhile, our test system ran the Cinebench R15 Open GL test at 74 frames per second — that, too, is a good showing, but still not as fast as you’d expect of a dual-GPU machine.
It’s a similar story with gaming: I ran Batman: Arkham City (the Game of the Year Edition), but suspect it was using just one of the GPUs. With resolution set to 2,560 x 1,440, details on high and anti-aliasing at its highest setting (8x), the Mac Pro managed an average of 56 frames per second, with frame rates running the gamut from 28 to 83 fps. It wasn’t until I dropped the anti-aliasing and detail levels to medium that I saw rates climb to 60 frames per second, with a peak of 88 fps. Even then, that was only a modest improvement. In the Mac Pro’s defense, though, gameplay is smooth, especially if you disable V Sync, which caps frame rates. The performance just isn’t quite as robust as you’d expect on a machine this powerful.
Without belaboring the point, this brings me to one of my few concerns about the Mac Pro, which is that right now, at least, most programs won’t fully harness its graphics capabilities. One of the reasons I spent so much time in Final Cut Pro is that it’s one of the few programs designed specifically to run well on a new Mac Pro. It reminds me a bit of how Retina display MacBook Pros were initially short on compatible software. If that analogy holds true, we should see more apps retooled to play nice with the Mac Pro’s dual-GPU setup. Just be prepared for some slim pickings if you buy one this week.
As for tasks that aren’t GPU-intensive, start-up consistently took around 46 seconds — a moot point if you’re one of those people who never shuts down before leaving the office. (If you do shut down regularly, you might find the boot-up sequence slightly tedious, though you’ll of course make up for it in rendering time.) Copying a nearly 10GB file from the downloads folder to the desktop was basically instantaneous. Most apps launched with virtually zero wait time. Even Final Cut Pro, a fairly heavy-duty program, was up and running in under three seconds.
Right now, at least, most programs won’t fully harness the Mac Pro’s graphics capabilities.
Throughout, the Mac Pro gets a bit warm, but it’s rarely hot, and it’s always quiet. For lack of a better word, you’d have to provoke the machine to really be bothered by the heat: The warmest area is at the top of the chassis, and even then, you’d have to be sticking your hand near the vents to feel it. Otherwise, the chassis does get a tad warm — and can take a while to cool down — but it’s much cooler than the air blowing out of the top. Avoid sticking your fist into the opening at the top and you’ll be fine. As for noise, I tried hard to get the fans spinning, but they stayed quiet. Actually, if you put your ear up to the opening at the top, you will hear a faint purring, but again, you’d have to be the sort of wise guy willing to put your ear next to the hottest part of the machine (not recommended).
It’s no surprise that with a high-performing machine like this, Apple went with SSDs built on the PCI Express standard. (In fact, all of its new machines, laptop and desktop alike, use PCIe.) In this case, though, the speeds are rated for 1.2GB per second, versus 800 MB/s on, say, the MacBook Air or the entry-level Retina display MacBook Pro. So, whereas the disk speeds are good on Apple’s other machines, they’re positively screaming here. As you can see in the above table, our read speeds averaged 918.6 MB/s across different stress loads, with write speeds coming out to 761.2 MB/s. To put that in perspective, the newest iMac managed 667.88 MB/s on the read test, and just 318.14 MB/s when it came to write speeds. Big difference, wouldn’t you say?
In addition to the SSD, the Thunderbolt 2 ports bring some serious speed of their own. Thanks to their bandwidth of 20 Gbps, you can daisy-chain up to six peripherals per port, or 36 for the whole machine. Or, you can connect up to three 4K monitors. I wish I could’ve tested that last bit, but alas, our reviews budget doesn’t stretch far enough to include three of those bad boys. One would be sweet enough.
And here we arrive at what’s actually one of the more important sections of this review: the part where we tell you all the ways you can trick out your new beast of a workstation. On Apple’s site, you’ll see two ready-made models, both of which are scheduled to ship in February. The base version goes for $2,999 with a quad-core 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory and a 256GB PCIe SSD. In other words, it’s basically the same unit I tested, except ours had 16 gigs of RAM instead of 12. Otherwise, same specs.
The other model listed on Apple’s site is a six-core unit with dual FirePro D500 GPUs. As a higher-end machine, this has 3GB of video memory per GPU, not two. Additionally, it comes with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, just like the base model.
But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of Apple’s purchasing page. Click “select” for either and you’ll be opening up a wide array of customization options. And really, that’s what you’re most curious about, right? Let’s unpack all the choices here. For starters, if you’re configuring the lower-end quad-core model, you can step up to a six-core CPU ($500), an eight-core one ($2,000) or a 12-core chip ($3,500). From there, you can upgrade to 16GB ($100), 32GB ($500) or 64GB ($1,300) of RAM. As for storage, there are larger 512GB and 1TB SSDs available for $300 and $800, respectively. Finally, there’s graphics. In addition to the base option, which includes two 2GB FirePro D300 GPUs, you can opt for two 3GB D500s ($400) or two 6GB D700s ($1,000).
Obviously, the upgrade prices are different if you start with the higher-end model. Regardless, the Mac Pro always comes with dual GPUs, as I said, along with other amenities like 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, neither of which was included on the last-gen Mac Pro.
If you still have room in your budget, Apple is also selling a $3,595, 32-inch 4K Sharp monitor on its site, in case you don’t already have a screen for viewing and playing back ultra-high-res media. Apple is also selling the keyboard and mouse separately, as it has in the past. Already, we’ve seen some commentary on the internet criticizing Apple for being stingy, but keep in mind that many of the folks buying this might well be businesses that already have keyboards and mice lying around, so they might not actually be missing these accessories as much as you think they are.
I debated even putting the word “expensive” in the cons list of that review card you seen down there. It’s hard to say if the Mac Pro is pricey, per se, given that there’s nothing else quite like it. There are plenty of Windows-based workstations, certainly, but none are quite this small or quite this portable (many aren’t quite this quiet, either). And if you’re a creative professional already hooked into Mac-only apps like Final Cut Pro, this is really your only choice: The new Mac Pro is a serious improvement over the old model in every way, and is likely worth the upgrade. So, while $2,999 (let alone $10,000) is indeed a big investment, it’s well worth it for people who live and die by their workstation, and for whom (rendering) time is money.
Zach Honig and Todd Thoenig contributed to this review.
Mac Pro (2013)
- Compact, space-saving design
- Strong graphics performance, fast disk speeds
- Runs quietly
- Supports up to three 4K displays
- Runs a little warm, and can take a while to cool down
- Many apps still need to be optimized to take advantage of two GPUs
CONCLUSIONThere isn’t another computer we know of that’s this powerful and also this compact. With a starting price of $2,999, going all the way up to nearly $10,000, it’s quite pricey, but for videographers, photographers, animators and other creative professionals, it could be well worth the investment.
Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/23/apple-mac-pro-review-2013/
Apple is developing iPhones with curved-glass screens and enhanced sensors that detect different levels of pressure, according to a new report.
Two models — with screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches —are in the works, and both would use glass that curves downward at the edges, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the plans. These screen sizes almost rival that of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, which boasts a 5.7-inch screen. For its part, Apple’s iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen.
The new phones would likely be released in the third quarter of next year, the source said, adding that Apple is also testing “pressure-sensitive technology,” which won’t be ready for the next iPhone launch.
Curved glass has become a smartphone trend among major tech companies. Samsungreleased its Galaxy Round phone, which has a 5.7-inch curved display, while LG is set to release its G Flex phone, which is curved from top to bottom.
Apple has not confirmed any rumors, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sorce : http://mashable.com/2013/11/10/apple-curved-iphone-screens/
Since Apple released its iPad Air into the wild, many are wondering if it’s worth braving the inevitable long lines to buy the new tablet. Others are content to wait out the initial rush in hopes that the Cupertino, Calif. company can keep up enough supply to meet demand over the next few weeks.
Based on Apple’s website data, however, it may be a good idea for those hankering for an iPad Air to suck it up, and get in line now.
In the store section of Apple’s official website, users can check the availability of various models of the iPad Air. The site’s latest data indicates that the highest-capacity versions of the device — the 64GB and 128GB — are becoming scarce at some stores.
Conducting a random search for 128GB and 64GB cellular versions of device in the New York area, our results revealed that these particular models were not listed as being available at local brick-and-mortar stores. Checking the same configurations in Texas and California yielded similar results.
However, the 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi-only versions of the iPad Air did show up as “available today” in most of the stores we checked.
To check the availability of a specific iPad Air model in your area, visit Apple’s online store, select your preferred color, then choose a storage size for either the Wi-Fi or cellular version.
Afterward, click the blue link that says “Check availability” on the right side of the page under “Available for pickup.” You’ll be prompted to enter your zip code, after which you’ll see the stores that currently carry your desired iPad Air model.
These early supply constraints offer a preview of what to expect when the Retina iPad mini hits stores later this month.
Many fans of the smaller device have been waiting months for the Retina upgrade, so supplies will likely run out even faster than that of the iPad Air.
Source : http://mashable.com/2013/11/02/apples-ipad-air-shortage/
Apple wrapped its October event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco earlier today and, as promised, there was plenty to dig into. We’ve pumped out plenty of stories dissecting Apple’s myriad announcements, but in case you’re looking for a highlight reel of sorts, we’ve put together a quick rundown of everything Apple pulled back the curtain on.
New MacBook Pros: Yeah, people tend to swoon about new iGadgets, but the company’s refreshed batch of Retina Macbook Pros are nothing to sneeze at. Apple showed off slimmer 13- and 15-inch versions that sport Intel’s latest Haswell chip sets and bigger batteries and come preloaded with OS X Mavericks.
In the event these things struck your fancy, you can lay claim to yours in the Apple Store starting today. Here are Darrell Etherington’s thoughts on how they compare to past versions based on initial impressions.
New Mac Pro: Many a nerd has salivated over Apple’s curious Mac Pro redesign, and today we got a better look at what’s ticking away under the hood. Long story short, the back provides you all the access to input/output/expandability you could want, and the otherwise unbroken smooth cylinder evokes a ‘Darth Vader’ vibe.
It’s got dual workstation GPUs (proprietary in design but potentially upgradeable down the line) and an amazing Intel processor, making it an awfully powerful machine housed in an awfully pretty body.
The new Mac Pro will be available in December starting at $2,999, and you can see our hands-on impression of the computing powerhouse (courtesy of Matthew Panzarino) here.
iPads: And who could forget the iPads — Apple pulled back the curtain on two new models, the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display.
The two actually have plenty of things in common: both sport the same 64-bit A7 chip that recently debuted in the iPhone 5s, both have screens that run at 2048-by-1536 resolution (though the smaller screen on the mini will make for much crisper images), and both are going to hit store shelves starting in November. They even resemble each other to an extent — the Air essentially looks like a 10-inch iPad mini, making it significantly slimmer and lighter than the model that came before it.
If you’re not looking to spend too much, though, Apple is keeping some older models around to make sure that anyone who wants to jump on the iPad bandwagon can do so. The (non-Retina) iPad 2 is still kicking and will set you back $399 to start.
Today it seems the name of the game was ‘free.’ Apple announced that two of its most prominent software suites — iLife for content creation and iWork for, well, work — would now be free with the purchase of any new Mac or iOS device.
But that’s not all. Apple’s next big OS X update, OS X Mavericks, is also free and it’s available right now for all to download. This should help dramatically raise the rate at which users update their software, which has a benefit for security and for developers, too.
Considering that the Apple has been charging for these annual updates since the earliest days of OS X, this is an unexpected (though very welcome) change. It’s true the company has been reducing the cost of updates with each new version, but going completely free was a move almost no one saw coming.
Apple also delivered an update about how quickly people are taking to iOS 7, and the numbers aren’t too shabby. It’s been just over a month since the update went live and started getting pushed to iDevices across the globe, and so far a full 64 percent of those Apple gadgets are now running iOS 7.
And that’s about everything there is to know about Apple’s big fall event, without getting too deep into the nitty gritty. Safe to say, Apple has a lot of new stuff for people to get excited about going into the holiday shopping season.
Source : TechCrunch
There’s a new iPhone. Well, to be completely accurate there are two new iPhones. But the new iPhone 5S is Apple’s flagship phone and it’s the best iPhone you can buy. It looks exactly like how the iPhone 5 looked last year but with improved internals and guts that will make everything run even faster. Twice as fast, Apple says. Oh and it also has a fingerprint scanner.
There’s nothing too different about the design of the new iPhone 5S compared to last year’s iPhone 5. The icon-less home button has a silver (or gold) ring around it to signify the 5S-exclusive fingerprint scanner but everything else is pretty much the same. Same unibody aluminum body. Same two-toned design. Same 4-inch display. All your cases for the iPhone 5 will work with the 5S.
One thing is new though. The iPhone 5S now has a new gold color option, along with the usual black and white (which is now weirdly called space gray and silver).
Powering the iPhone 5S is Apple’s new A7 processor which is a 64-bit chip. It’s the first 64-bit chip in a smartphone and it’ll make the iPhone 5S two times faster than the iPhone 5 (and 40 times faster than the original iPhone). The 5S runs OpenGL ES 3.0 which makes the graphics performance in the 5S pretty gnarly too (that’s 56x faster than original iPhone, which yay, I guess?). The A7 chip has 3x general-purpose registers, 2x floating-point registers and over a billion transistors.
Along with the A7, Apple is using a “motion coprocessor” in the 5S called the M7. It continuously measures motion data with an accelerometer, gyroscope and compass support. It’s supposed to “enable a new generation of health and fitness apps” by letting apps use all that motion data without tapping into the A7.
Just as we expected, the iPhone 5S’ home button pulls double duty as a fingerprint scanner. Apple dubs the feature “Touch ID.” The scanner adds another layer of security to your iPhone by allowing you to use the fingerprint scanner in lieu of a passcode. Place your thumb down on the new sapphire crystal home button and the iPhone 5S will unlock. The silver ring around the home button will detect when your finger is on it so you don’t have to actually press down on the button.
You can use Touch ID to make purchases in iTunes too and set it up so it can read multiple fingerprints.
The fingerprint sensor has a 500ppi resolution and 360 degree readability.
As with every new iPhone, Apple focused on making the camera even better. The iPhone 5S has dual-LED flash that might make the flash on the iPhone camera actually usable. Or at least, slightly better than the weak excuse of a bulb that did more harm than good in previous iPhones. The dual-LED flash—one is white and the other is amber—in the 5S may help make your pictures look more natural and balanced because the iPhone can combine the right percentage and intensity of the two bulbs to create 1,000 different variations of a flash.
Megapixel-wise, the camera remains the same at 8-megapixels. But megapixels never tell the entire story with cameras. The iPhone 5S has improved its camera by using a larger f/2.2 aperture and a 15 percent larger sensor. Basically, that means the camera has 33 percent greater light sensitivity, which will make for better looking pictures.
Here’s an actual image taken with the 5S camera:
And here’s an image comparing the difference between the old flash and the dual-LED flash:
The 5S camera has an autofocus that’s twice as fast, auto image stabilization, and a new burst mode to capture ten frames per second. The iPhone will analyze all those burst shots and show you what it thinks your best shot is. The iPhone 5S also has a slow-motion camera that allows it to record 720p video at 120FPS. Your videos of your cat will theoretically look more epic.
The iPhone 5S has slightly better battery life with ten hours talk time, ten hours LTE browsing, and 250 hours standby. That’s an improvement over last year’s eight hours of talk time, eight hours of LTE browsing and 225 hours of standby. We’ll have to see how this actually translates in real world use though.
Apple is in the accessories game. It’s selling a dock again for 30 bucks which will fit both the iPhone 5S and the discontinued iPhone 5. There’s also a new leather case that comes in six different colors, which will run you 40 bucks.
Price and Availability
Apple is keeping the same price as the previous generation for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. The iPhone 5S 16GB will cost $199, the 32GB version will be $299 and the 64GB version will cost $399, all with a new two-year contract. There’s also an unlocked and contract-free version of the 5S for T-Mobile. Prices for the unlocked 16GB start at $650.
You can start buying the iPhone 5S on Friday September 20th.
Source : http://gizmodo.com/apple-iphone-5s-everything-you-need-to-know-1282062460
The “c” in the iPhone 5c title doesn’t stand for “cheap”. It stands for “clueless”.
As in, we were all clueless in our speculation on Apple’s motivations for creating this device.
(Okay, it actually seems to stand for “color”, but humor me.)
After sitting through Apple’s unveiling today and more importantly, watching the product videos, it seems decidedly more clear to me why Apple actually made the iPhone 5c. I think it comes down to the star of those videos: Jony Ive.
I’ve seen a lot of Jony Ive videos in my day. And to my eye, it sure seems like he’s decidedly more excited about the iPhone 5c than he is the iPhone 5s. He (and Apple) would probably say that’s unfair — after all, how do you pick one of your children to love more? But just watch the videos back-to-back.
You’d think it would be the opposite. After all, the iPhone 5s is the new pinnacle of Apple’s flagship hardware. But remember that it is largely the same design as the iPhone 5, a device dreamed up by Ive before he was in charge of the design of software for Apple as well as their hardware.
In other words, I view the iPhone 5c as the iPhone 5 that Ive would have built had he been in charge of iOS design at the time of its creation. And thanks to the executive shake up last winter, I believe he now got to do just that.
“We believe the iPhone is an experience. And experience is defined by hardware and software working harmoniously together. We continue to refine that experience by blurring the boundaries between the two,” Ive says early on in the video. The words are spoken as only a man now in charge of both hardware and software design can speak.
When iOS 7 was first unveiled this summer at WWDC, many were shocked at the colorful new palette. But longtime Apple observers will recall that this is actually nothing new for Apple and Ive. The original iMac, the product which rebooted Apple, came in thirteen very colorful variations. In fact, that was a key selling point.
While Ive spent the subsequent years at Apple shifting from polishing white plastics to bending aluminum (or, a-lew-min-e-num, in his parlance), it seems that he’s returning to his roots, so to speak. It’s not unlike an artist going through different periods in their work.
And this is a good time for Ive to return to his colorful period, because again, now he has control of the software side of the equation as well.
“I think that designs with a real coherence are the result of developing form, material, and color in unison. Each element informing, and in many ways defining the other,” Ive says in the video. If you truly believe that design is not just the superficial — not just how something looks when it’s on a table — but rather how it works, as Ive’s longtime collaborator and boss Steve Jobs did, the hardware and the software have to be fully intertwined. And Ive gets to fully design for that symbiosis for the first time with the iPhone 5c.
But how is any of that going to help Apple sell more iPhones in China or India or in the developing world? It’s probably not. It appears now that this was always misdirection triggered by clueless reporting. Oh, Apple is working on a new, plastic iPhone? It must be a cheap one to sell in the rest of the world. Nope, it mustn’t.
Instead, what we get is a replacement for the iPhone 5. The fact that Apple is no longer selling that device but still selling the iPhone 4S (yes, the “S” versus “s” is perplexing to everyone) is telling. Ive wanted to try his hand at designing a phone to perfectly envelope his software and he got his wish.
As a result, Apple can now offer customers something substantially sexier than “last year’s model” when they walk into a store looking for a $99 (subsidized) phone. At the same time, it eliminates the confusion that would have been caused by the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5 looking nearly identical to one another (subtle gold, notwithstanding). And it likely keeps their high margins on the device intact. It seems like a win-win-win for Apple.
But it’s not going to be viewed as a “win” by tech pundits and Wall Street. Because they want their damn cheap iPhone. In other news, many of those same clowns are still waiting for their iPhone with a physical keyboard.
The point, as always, is that Apple doesn’t do things because rivals are forcing their hand. That’s always going to be a losing strategy and the company seems to know that. If they had launched a “cheap” iPhone, the clowns would have been excited until earnings rolled around and they saw Apple’s margins dropping as a direct result of such “innovation”. That’s lose-lose.
Of course Apple thinks China and the rest of the world is important. Tim Cook has said that ad nauseam. But they’ll address that with what they view as the right product at what they view as the right time. Maybe that will be too late. Maybe it won’t. But again, the iPhone 5c very clearly is not that product.
This is Jony Ive’s iPhone. It’s his return to colors and “beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”
“It’s the vivid realization of hardware and software together in one device.”
Source : http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/10/iphone-5c/
It’s hardly a secret that Apple will unveil an upgraded iPhone at its Cupertino event on Tuesday. But that one phone could just scratch the surface of what shows up. Here’s what you should — and shouldn’t — expect from Apple’s announcements tomorrow at 1PM ET / 10AM PT.
Apple’s next flagship iPhone is expected to physically resemble the iPhone 5, while including a couple of new features. The biggest of those could be a fingerprint scanner that’s built directly into the home button, which could be used for securely unlocking the device. Rumors suggest that it’ll be covered with sapphire crystal for durability, and have a silver ring around it, which would for the first time change how the home button looks.
Image credit: AppAdvice
Camera upgrades are expected to be minor, if much happens at all. The main update expected is a dual-LED flash, featuring different light colors to help improve color balance in photos. Some rumors have also pegged a new sensor with a higher megapixel count — around 12 or 13 — and others have suggested that the camera’s lens could receive a wider aperture, opening up to F/2.0.
A GOLD IPHONE AND SOME NEW PHOTOGRAPHY TRICKS
Apple is also expected to branch outside of its traditional color schemes by adding a new gold color with white accents. The rest of the iPhone’s big changes should be internal. That’ll likely mean an improved processor, a slightly longer-lasting battery, and potentially more storage, which would bring the base model up to 32GB.
While it’s been rumored that iPhones with displays as large as 6 inches are on the way, don’t expect them just yet. If those make it to market, it’ll certainly be down the road.
This year, Apple is expected to debut a brand-new iPhone line that’ll sell at a lower cost than its flagship smartphone. It’s rumored to be called the iPhone 5C — though that name is far from official for now. The rumored name is indicative of what we might see: the device is expected to be an iPhone 5 repackaged into a slightly thicker plastic case, instead of its standard aluminum. It’ll otherwise be just about identical, including LTE and a 4-inch display.
Image credit: Sonny Dickson (Twitter)
It’s also expected to come in a variety of bright colors, similar to the current iPod touch lineup. It would be the first time that Apple has added colors outside of white, black, and silver, and it could help to set the low-cost device apart in a fun way.
Don’t expect it to get all of the upgrades that come to the iPhone 5S, though. Big features like the fingerprint scanner will likely be used as a major way to set the two devices apart.
Apple has long held music-focused events in early fall, but the iPhone has come to dominate those announcements of late. While the iPod touch should see an upgrade to iOS 7, the nano and shuffle may well be left as they are.
There’s one thing we may not see after Tuesday, however. The iPod classic has sat around unchanged for years now, and rumors of late have predicted that this may finally be the year that Apple retires it for good. However, it’s been rumored before to no avail, so there’s no saying how much time the old MP3 player has left.
OS X MAVERICKS
The next version of Apple’s desktop operating system is slated to be unveiled this fall. Rumors have pegged it for arelease in late October, which will likely make it a no-show at what should be a primarily iOS-focused event. Though details on the new operating system have been slim since its initial announcement, our first impressions are that it’s looking pretty good.
The world got its first glimpse of iOS 7 back at WWDC in June, and on Tuesday, Apple is likely to set its official release date. The new iPhones should ship with iOS 7 by default, and if Apple follows its usual release scheme, existing iPhone owners may even get it a few days before any new devices go on sale. While the company may not have any big software features still up its sleeve, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple give a tour of some visual design tweaks that have been made over the past few months.
While there have been conflicting reports on the possibility of new Apple TV hardware,some software improvements may be in store. Among those could be a way for iPhone and iPad owners to stream content to their friends’ Apple TVs without having to log in on their own accounts. Whether this will be the year that Apple finally opens the platform up to developers, however, remains to be seen.
MACBOOK PRO AND IMAC
Less than a week after Intel launched its Haswell processors, Apple added them into the MacBook Air. But months later, the Air is still the only Mac to get them. Rumors have predicted this year’s processor updates may happen around September, so something should be in the works soon. Apple often issues its processor upgrades quietly — by simply replacing the product in its online store — so it’s possible an upgrade could even come without a proper announcement.
IPAD AND IPAD MINI
A flurry of leaks have started to give us an early look at what a new iPad and iPad mini might look like. The iPad mini is believed to be on track for a Retina display, and the full-sized iPad is believed to be slimming down into a body that looks just like that of the iPad mini. Our best look yet came just this weekend from Sonny Dickson, who appears to have cases for both upcoming devices (as seen below). Last year, iPad updates came in late October, so it’s possible that we’ll have another month to go before they’re properly announced.
Image credit: Sonny Dickson
Though Apple rarely announces its hardware plans ahead of time, the company revealed back in June that a completely redesigned Mac Pro was on the way. The new machine is surprisingly tiny and comes in a sleek black finish, and it’s supposed to ship this fall. Fall doesn’t start for another few weeks though, so while the Mac Pro should be released in the next few months, an announcement isn’t expected for tomorrow.
IWATCH AND ITV
Both an Apple-made smartwatch and television set have been rumored for years. And both
are almost certain to be rumored for a little while longer. Though details of a so-called iTV quickly heated up following the publication of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, they’ve cooled down just as quickly. As for a smartwatch, the story could be slightly different: rumors targeted the release of an Apple smartwatch for 2013, though recent reports suggest that the date has shifted into 2014.
So what should you expect? Most likely: two iPhones, a release date for iOS 7, and a software update to the Apple TV. But there’s almost certainly a lot more on the way in the near future. We’ll soon know what’s really in store, and we’ll be sharing all of the details the moment they’re unveiled over at our liveblog.
Source : http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/9/4710870/what-to-expect-from-apples-iphone-5s-5c-event