Now that the people are used to the pressure-sensitive trackpads in the new MacBook and smaller MacBook Pro, it’s high time that the 15-inch model joined the party. That’s why Apple has revealed that it’s bringing Force Touch to the larger of its pro laptops. It’s not just the user interface that’s been tweaked, since there’s faster flash storage, a further hour of battery life and AMD’s new discrete graphics hardware tucked inside. At the same time, the company has managed to get the base price for its 27-inch Retina Display iMac down to $1,999 by sacrificing the Fusion Drive. Even better, however, is that the top-line 5K iMac with a 3.5GHz chip will now set you back $2,299, at least before you pick some build-to-order options, obviously. Both devices are available from today at the company’s online and retail stores, as well as authorized resellers.
Source: Apple (BusinessWire)
Apple’s Watch is now on pre-order at Apple’s Store, but unlike Katy Perry, you’re going to have to wait until at least April 24th to get one. If you don’t want to wait a lot longer than that, you should probably order one sooner than later, and you may have to settle for a model you didn’t have your heart set on. Apple said that it expects “strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch,” and information on the Apple Store backs that up. For instance, the 38mm sport model is shipping between April 24th and May 8th, but the 42mm model isn’t going out until May 8th at the earliest.
Nevertheless, some folks are reporting that the ordering process was smooth, and if you’re so inclined, you can grab up to two of them. If you choose to go ahead and not buy a $350-minimum fashion item sight-unseen, you can head to an Apple Store, even though you won’t be able to order it there. Should you take that option and risk a later delivery date, Apple recommends using its concierge service to book an appointment. Another option to try one out is to visit three department store pop-up shops in Tokyo, London and Paris.
If you’re more interested in a new laptop than a watch, the retina-screened MacBook is also up for grabs. There’s no issues about buying that model, which is showing ship times of 1-3 days. The only downside? The price for that lack of weight and a retina screen is a princely $1,299 – $1,599.
Apple’s new range of MacBooks have something particularly new inside them: the Force Touch trackpad. No longer hinged like previous Apple laptops, the new trackpad houses a “Haptic Engine”, outputting tactile feedback that will let you “feel” what’s happening on-screen. iFixit’s taken a closer look at how Apple did it, and while the trackpad is no longer hinged, there are now four spring mounts underneath. That haptic engine? A load of wires coiled around a magnetic core, which makes that all important vibrational feedback.
There are no moving parts to the mechanism, as Apple noted in the presentation this week, instead everything’s all done through magnets fitted underneath the pad. iFixit reckons that strain gauges inside the metal supports are how the trackpad is able to detect force. There might be a learning curve to the new trackpad, but then, there’s also a learning curve to reading iFixit’s teardowns too — find the rest of the details here.
Dead set on snagging one of those extra-slim MacBooks, but won’t make the leap until you have an easy way to back up your files? LaCie has your back. It just unveiled a new version of its Porsche Design Mobile Drive that uses the same USB Type-C port as Apple’s latest portable (and eventually, other computers), saving you the hassle of using an adapter just to offload that photo project or back up to Time Machine. It’s not quite a dream storage device, though. You’ll still need an adapter (thankfully included) to hook up to regular USB devices, and there’s no passthrough port. Unless you get a hub, you’ll have to choose between powering your Mac and expanding your storage. If that’s no barrier, though, you can get the Mobile Drive in the second quarter in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models. Pricing isn’t available yet, but the regular USB models cost $80, $100 and $150 — it won’t be surprising if the USB Type-C versions are in that ballpark.
Filed under: Storage
Other World Computing today announced the launch of new 1 TB (960 GB) solid state drive options for 2010-2012 models of the MacBook Air.
Priced at $549 for the drive alone or $579 for a package including tools and an Envoy enclosure to repurpose the original drive for external storage, the new 1 TB option complements existing 120, 240, and 480 GB options for the various MacBook Air generations.
With Apple’s move to PCIe-based SSDs beginning with the 2013 MacBook Air, OWC has yet to launch new SSD upgrade kits for the latest notebooks, but the company has promised it is hard at work on kits for these machines.
Those of us who try to bring the handy two- and three-finger trackpad gestures from a MacBook over to a PC laptop are usually treated to digitus interruptus. But during TechEd, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore said that Windows 10 will have new three finger gestures (not to be confused with salutes) for PC trackpads. Swiping up and down will bring up the “Task View” to minimize and restore active windows, while left and right gestures will switch between apps. Sound vaguely familiar? On a MacBook, three-fingered left and right swipes let you change virtual desktops and apps, while up and down gestures reveal OSX’s Mission Control — a decidedly similar feature to Task View.
The new features reinforce the fact that Microsoft wants to put some emphasis back on the humble trackpad and away from its beloved touchscreens. With Windows 8.1, it made a concerted effort to improve poorly-regarded PC trackpads by working with Intel and Synaptics. While some might decry the new gestures as being a bit more than paying homage to Apple, it will certainly make it easier for users to switch from Macs to PCs. If you’re curious to try the new features, you’ll have to wait — they’ll be available in a future Windows 10 Technical Preview build.
Source: Channel 9 (Silverlight required)
Siri might be making her way to a Mac near you. According to a patent application filed in February and released today, Apple’s considering bringing the iPhone personal assistant to its desktop OS. The 92-page document details how you’ll interact with Apple’s “digital assistant,” a term that occurs 574 times in the patent app (the name Siri never makes an appearance, however). According to the document, a desktop version could pair Siri’s current actions with more complex functionality, such as file and system management. After calling on the assistant by using a specific gesture on the touchpad or clicking an icon in the dock, you could use it to send emails, find images or YouTube videos on the web, print documents or copy and “hold” multiple files. As TechCrunch notes, there’s no reference to such an assistant in the Yosemite beta preview, so it’ll probably be at least another year before Siri (or her better-equipped equivalent) arrives on the Mac.
Source: USPTO (PDF)
Your worst fear, confirmed: Engadget‘s staff laptop of choice is the MacBook Air. Other than the massive checks we each personally receive from Apple (har har), it’s our go-to laptop because it’s light, fast, and great for the kind of work we do. It doesn’t hurt that it looks sweet with stickers as well, of course. And after Apple highlighted users’ proclivity for decking out their MBAs in a recent video (seen below), the world of laptop decal sellers was suddenly cast in the spotlight. That spotlight resulted in a lot of new buyers, according to a report on MacStories. Quite a few more, actually. One of the venders MacStories spoke with saw orders increase by 400 percent since the ad aired, and page views jumped from a typical 500 per day all the way up to a peak of some 4,500 last week. If you dug any of those stickers, well, our sister site TUAW searched out links for where to buy those 74 decals. And while a majority of those depicted are easily found online, for those that aren’t, the site scoured Etsy and other places for suitable stand-ins. Now for the hard part: picking out the perfect decal.
Ben Gilbert contributed to this report
Modbook, the company behind those aftermarket Apple tablets, just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Modbook Pro X. After paying a pre-order price of $1,999 today, backers will be able to convert their own Retina MacBook Pros into a tablet beginning early next year. The conversion incorporates the laptop’s original hardware, with components shifted from the lower half of the computer to just behind the 15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800-pixel LCD.
The Modbook Pro X supports pen input with 2,048 pressure levels, along with tilt and rotate functionality. You can also interact with the device using the rear-mounted shortcut keys or the detachable keyboard stand, both of which will be available for an additional cost. And, since your Apple warranty won’t be valid, you can purchase a three-year warranty through Modbook, which provides complete coverage for the first year free of charge. If you’d prefer to avoid supplying your own MacBook, you’ll also be able to pre-order a complete device from $3,999 and up, depending on the model.
Source: Modbook (Kickstarter)
After rumors surfaced yesterday about an incoming MacBook Pro refresh, Apple’s store went down earlier today, and now, hey presto! New MacBook Pros. The updated models haven’t changed significantly, but look to be better equipped to handle the next version of OS X due in the fall, Yosemite. All 15-inch MacBook Pro Retinas now have 16GB of RAM standard instead of 8GB, and the priciest model will get a new 1TB PCIe-based SSD. All the larger Retina models will also get bumped by 200Mhz to the latest 4th Core-i7 CPUs, with the top-liner getting a Core i7-4980HQ, which hits the magical 4.0GHz mark. Surprisingly, Apple has stuck with NVIDIA’s GeForce GT-750M for its top model with discrete graphics rather than updating to the latest GeForce GT800M series. The upside, however, is that the price for that model has dropped by $100 to $2,499 (or £1,999 in the UK).
The 13-inch models, meanwhile also got memory and speed boosts. The minimum amount of memory now available on the entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro is 8GB instead of 4GB, and all 13-inch models also got a 200MHz CPU speed bump. Despite the performance tweaks, Apple has kept the same pricing across the board, apart from the aforementioned discrete graphics model. All of that should keep MacBook Pro fans happy, particularly those grumbling about the meager 4GB of RAM in the base models. We imagine that Apple wasn’t upgrading the memory out of sheer generosity, however. There are a lot of new tweaks in Yosemite, including a new look, Spotlight search, widgets, a new version of Safari and more — so any extra space won’t hurt.