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Desktops (Apple)

Mac Sales Declined Nearly 10 Percent Last Year (9to5mac.com) 328

It's not surprising that Mac sales dropped for Apple in 2016 as they experienced their first year over year sales decline since 2001. What is interesting, however, is that as Mac sales dropped roughly 10% and personal computers overall dropped 5.7% for the year, the top four leaders in the market all saw growth as Apple was pushed to number five. From a report: Although Mac sales were up in Q4 2016 compared to Q4 2015, an analyst note today from Bloomberg's Anand Srinivasan and Wei Mok has revealed Apple has dropped to the fifth largest PC vendor, with ASUS overtaking fourth place. The top four vendors are now Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS. The report adds, "Those four companies represent 65.2% of the overall market and each grew year -- over-year, while Apple ceded ground, declining 30 bps to 7.1%. The other 27.7% of the market is comprised of more than 200 vendors. In a market expected to consolidate, Samsung and Fujitsu are reported to be in discussions to sell their PC businesses to Lenovo."
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Seemingly Censors UltraFine 5K Monitor Reviews After Poor Feedback (thenextweb.com) 97

It appears Apple is filtering and censoring bad reviews of the LG's UltraFine 5K display. From a report on The Next Web: The deletion was first spotted by a Reddit user four days ago. Though it's possible the reviews were removed for some other reason, at first glance, it looks like censorship. It's not a good look for the company. Apple said it was getting out of the monitor business, and instead chose to work more closely with third-party partners, heavily featuring LG's 5K and 4K UltraFine displays at its recent MacBook Pro unveiling. But then the monitor received multiple negative reviews from users who were experiencing issues such as the screen failing to wake up from sleep. The Reddit post also points out that: "In many cases, attempts to fix the problem through physical reconnection[sic] of the monitor, or manual restarts, have caused the attached Mac to crash, become otherwise unresponsive, or develop problems with the touch bar (where equipped)."
The Internet

Monopoly May Replace Iconic Pieces With Emoji Faces and Hashtags (cnet.com) 123

Hasbro, the toymaker behind Monopoly, is letting the public decide whether or not they should replace the game's iconic game pieces with new pieces inspired by pop culture and social media. CNNMoney reports: Gamers can visit the Vote Monopoly site and choose from more than 50 new options. The old tokens, including the thimble, top hat and Scottie dog, are also on the table. The voting takes place inside a digital house with shelves and furniture stocked with both classic and newfangled token options. Jazzy music plays in the background as you explore and take a closer look at the figurines. Some aren't too surprising. There's a horse, a sailboat, an airplane, a bike and a helicopter. Two of the stranger options are sliced bread and a fuzzy bunny slipper. Hasbro is offering up a number of tokens that may appeal to tech consumers. There's a cell phone that looks like it came out of the '80s, a television that looks very '50s, and a computer with keyboard that vaguely resembles the first flat-screen iMac. Internet denizens can also vote for a hashtag and emoji options, including a winking smiley-face, thumbs-up symbol, crying-laughing face and a Rich Uncle Pennybags version of an emoji face. Voting is open to internet users worldwide until January 31. The chosen tokens will be part of a fresh Monopoly game due to hit stores this summer, so think long and hard about whether you want to stare at a kissy-face emoji for the next decade or so. A special edition called Token Madness will offer the original tokens as well as the new winners.
Chrome

Slashdot Asks: Why Are Browsers So Slow? (ilyabirman.net) 766

Designer Ilya Birman writes: I understand why rendering a complicated layout may be slow. Or why executing a complicated script may be slow. Actually, browsers are rather fast doing these things. If you studied programming and have a rough idea about how many computations are made to render a page, it is surprising the browsers can do it all that fast. But I am not talking about rendering and scripts. I am talking about everything else. Safari may take a second or two just to open a new blank tab on a 2014 iMac. And with ten or fifteen open tabs it eventually becomes sluggish as hell. Chrome is better, but not much so. What are they doing? The tabs are already open. Everything has been rendered. Why does it take more than, say, a thousandth of a second to switch between tabs or create a new one? Opening a 20-megapixel photo from disk doesn't take any noticeable amount of time, it renders instantaneously. Browsers store their stuff in memory. Why can't they just show the pixels immediately when I ask for them? [...] Unfortunately, modern browsers are so stupid that they reload all the tabs when you restart them. Which takes ages if you have a hundred of tabs. Opera was sane: it did not reload a tab unless you asked for it. It just reopened everything from cache. Which took a couple of seconds. Modern browsers boast their rendering and script execution performance, but that's not what matters to me as a user. I just don't understand why programmers spend any time optimising for that while the Chrome is laughably slow even by ten-years-old standards.Do you agree with Birman? If yes, why do you think browsers are generally slow today?
Desktops (Apple)

Tim Cook Assures Employees That It Is Committed To Mac and 'Great Desktops' Are Coming (techcrunch.com) 307

Apple CEO Tim Cook has assured the employees that the company is committed to the computer lineups and that a desktop computer is certainly on the way. From a report on TechCrunch: "Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we're committed to desktops," Cook wrote. "If there's any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that." Cook cites the far better performance of desktop computers, including screen sizes, memory, storage and more variety in I/O (ha) as a reason that they are "really important, and in some cases critical, to people." So no matter how you feel about the state of the Mac at the moment, you have new machines to look forward to. No mention of whether that meant iMac or Mac Pro or both, but at the very least it's encouraging to those of us who couldn't live without a desktop computer.
Power

New MacBook Pros Max Out At 16GB RAM Due To Battery Life Concerns (macrumors.com) 319

The new MacBooks Pros have been improved in nearly every way -- except when it comes to RAM capacity. With faster, more energy efficient Skylake processors, faster SSDs, and better GPUs, one would think the amount of RAM wouldn't be capped off at 16GB. However, that is the case. The reason why the MacBook Pros continue to max out at 16GB RAM is due to battery life concerns, according to marketing chief Phil Schiller. MacRumors reader David emailed Apple to get an explanation: Question from David: "The lack of a 32GB BTO option for the new MBPs raised some eyebrows and caused some concerns (me included). Does ~3GBps bandwidth to the SSD make this a moot issue? I.e. memory paging on a 16GB system is so fast that 32GB is not a significant improvement?" Schiller's answer: "Thank you for the email. It is a good question. To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system."

For the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple was able to reach "all-day battery life," which equates to 10 hours of wireless web use or iTunes movie playback. That's an hour improvement over the previous generation in the 15-inch machine, and a small step back in the 13-inch machine. While none of Apple's portable machines offer more than 16GB RAM, 32GB of RAM is a high-end custom upgrade option in the 27-inch iMac.

Desktops (Apple)

Apple Announces a Mac Event On October 27, Says 'Hello Again' 87

Apple announced on Wednesday that it will be holding an event on October 27. The tagline of the invite is, "hello again." This suggests that the rumors are true and that the company will indeed announce a fleet of new Mac products. The original Mac was introduced with the word "hello" in 1984. People have waited for years now for Apple to refresh its Macbooks -- some of the products in Mac line haven't received an update in 1000 days. Many expert even said earlier that Apple should stop selling the old MacBooks. The new MacBooks are expected to ship with Intel Skylake processor and a contextual keyboard. Not long ago, the company was also exploring the idea of a MacBook without a 3.5mm audio jack.
Portables (Apple)

Apple MacBook Refresh Could Bring E-Ink Enabled Keyboard (hothardware.com) 159

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Apparently Apple has been working on some unique upgrades to its MacBook line, and not just underneath the hood. One of the bigger feature upgrades could actually be in the keyboard. As previously rumored, the new MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running. However, according to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard -- one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Similar technology was developed by a start-up company named Sonder, the same company Apple is in the process of acquiring. What the tipster describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded. In any event, we should know more soon -- Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Explores the Idea Of Killing Headphone Jack On the MacBook Pro (thenextweb.com) 495

Less than two weeks after Apple unveiled its headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the company is already exploring the idea of doing the same on its flagship computing lineup. An anonymous reader shares a report on The Next Web: Apple might be going all-in with the wireless revolution as the company is now allegedly considering killing the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro. Users are reporting that as of recently Apple has been asking them to fill in a survey about the way they use their MacBook Pro and one of the questions pertains particularly to the headphone jack. Shared by Blake A. via Twitter, the question reads "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?", suggesting Apple is exploring going jackless with its laptops in the future. Given the Cupertino company just ditched the audio jack on the iPhone 7, the change is likely to eventually come to other Apple products too -- the real question is when.Several Slashdot readers have also confirmed that they have participated in a similar survey with some noting that Apple also asked them about the removable of headphone jack on some of its other computing lineup including the iMac.
Iphone

Apple Q3 Earnings: iPhone Sales Continue To Slide, But Apple Beats Estimates (bgr.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: Apple on Tuesday announced fiscal third-quarter earnings of $1.42 per share, or $7.8 billion in net income, on sales totaling $42.4 billion. That compares to a net profit of $1.85 per share in the same quarter last year, while revenue slid from the Q3 record of $49.6 billion that Apple set in fiscal 2015. Ahead of Apple's report, analysts were expecting EPS to come in at $1.39 while revenue was seen dropping to $42.1 billion, right in the middle of Apple's guidance of between $41 billion and $43 billion. iPhone sales in fiscal Q3 2016 totaled 40.4 million units, down from the 47.5 million iPhones the company sold during the June quarter last year, which was also a third-quarter record. Wall Street's consensus for this past quarter was 40 million units. The company said it expects between $45.5 billion and $47.5 billion in sales for the fiscal fourth quarter. The only part of Apple's business that's really growing is its mobile apps and online services. The company reported a 19 percent sales jump for the segment that includes iTunes, Apple Music, the App Store and services like Apple Pay and iCloud storage. "That segment produced nearly $6 billion in sales -- more than Apple pulled in from quarterly sales of either iPad or Macs," reports ABC News.
Businesses

Apple's Electric Car Project To Be Led By Bob Mansfield (techcrunch.com) 143

An anonymous reader writes: Long-time Apple executive Bob Mansfield will lead Apple's electric car project, according to the Wall Street Journal. TechCrunch reports: "Mansfield stepped down from the Apple executive board in 2013, yet stayed around the company to work on, what Apple called, special projects. In this role he was reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. One of Mansfield's projects turned out to be the Apple Watch. Now it seems he will head-up Apple's car ambitions -- a project Apple has yet to publicly confirm. During Mansfield's tenure he lead the engineering teams responsible for numerous products including the MacBook Air, iMac, and the iPad."
Chrome

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration (thenextweb.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.
Games

PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard (vice.com) 729

Motherboard has an article in which it argues that PC gaming is still way too hard. The author of the article claims that for one to build a gaming PC, they need an "unreasonable" amount of disposable income, and also have an unreasonable amount of time to "research, shop around, and assemble parts" for their computer. The author adds that a person looking into making one such gear also needs to always have to keep investing time and money in as long as they want to stay at the cutting edge or recommended specifications range for new PC games. The author has shared the experience he had building his own gaming PC. An excerpt from it: The process of physically building a PC is filled with little frustrations, and mistakes can be costly and time consuming. I have big, dumb, sausage fingers, so mounting the motherboard into the case, and screwing in nine (!) tiny screws to keep it in place in a cramped space, in weird angles, where dropping the screwdriver can easily break something expensive -- it's just not what I'd call "consumer-friendly." This is why people buy from Apple. It designs everything from the trackpad to the box the computer comes in, which unfolds neatly to reveal everything you need. Apple reduces friction to the point where even my mom could upgrade the RAM on her iMac, and it can do this because it controls everything that goes in that box.That's accurate. But it also means -- at least as of today -- that the current Apple computer -- MacBook Air, MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini you purchase packs in at least three-year-old components.
Microsoft

Microsoft Targets The iMac With New All-In-One Surface PCs, Reports Say (networkworld.com) 140

New submitter Miche67 writes: Two reports say Microsoft is working on an all-in-one (AIO) PC under the Surface brand. If that's true, it would put it in competition with HP and Dell, which have their own AIO lines, as well as put it in competition with Apple's iMac. Network World reports: "Both DigiTimes and Windows Central picked up on the story, each citing their own sources. DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based publication with connections to the PC industry over there (but also a very mixed record of accuracy) said the new devices would come in the third quarter of this year. Windows Central, which is a little better when it comes to rumors, said it did not have a solid release date." Business Insider was able to find a patent filing by Microsoft for a desktop PC that supports the rumored AIO design. "The device is evidently targeting a 'modern and elegant' design and is meant to be something akin to a premium appliance or furniture," Windows Central wrote. Intel's release date of the new Kaby Lake line of processors around Q3 of this year complicates things. While Kaby Lake is said to be more mobile-friendly with less power consumption and heat, they would make for a good choice for an AIO machine. However, it would be pushing it for Microsoft to release its AIO machines in the same quarter that Kaby Lake is due. On a semi-related note, a programmer at Building 88 recently confirmed that Microsoft will release Surface 5 devices next year powered by Kaby Lake processors. He posted pictures of four device holders marked "2017" on his Twitter account.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Reportedly Developing 5K Retina Thunderbolt Display With Integrated GPU (hothardware.com) 296

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: If you head over to Apple's website, the Cupertino outfit will happily sell you a 27-inch Thunderbolt display for $999, at least until its inventory runs out. Word on the web is that it's nearly out of stock and Apple doesn't plan to replenish them. Instead, Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor, one that's been upgraded to a 5K resolution and has a discrete GPU stuffed inside. It's an interesting product actually, if you think about it. Depending on the task, it can take some serious graphics muscle to drive a 5K resolution display. It amounts to over 14.7 million pixels (5120x2880), compared to Apple's current generation Thunderbolt display which runs at 2560x1440, or less than 3.7 million pixels. Apple's thinking is likely that if it integrates a GPU capable of driving a 5K resolution into the display itself, it won't have to worry about trying to balance graphics performance with thin and light designs for its future Mac systems.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Patent Filing Points To a Keyboard With No Keys (digitaltrends.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Apple's patent, titled "Configurable Force-Sensitive Input Structure for Electronic Devices," was filed in September 2015 and was recently made available to the public on April 7th. It states that this all-in-one input interface consists of a metal contact layer, and a sense layer combined with a drive layer mounted underneath. According to the patent, the sense and drive layers detect a force exerted on the metal contact layer. This is accomplished by using an array of pixels on the sense and drive layers that determine an input location when active pixels are aligned on both layers. The user then gets a response to his or her action thanks to a haptic feedback module and a light guide layer that lights up the "keys" through extremely tiny holes in the metal surface. The components of the force-input sensitive "structure" are enclosed within the device's chassis; thus the only exposed portion is the contact surface itself. In a provided drawing, the illustrated notebook shows four distinct input areas on the surface. However, the patent states that the device can have any number of input areas defined on the contact portion.
Businesses

At 40, There's Never Been a Tech Company Quite Like Apple (qz.com) 106

Mike Murphy, reporting for Quartz: Forty years ago today, two college dropouts decided to start selling cobbled-together computers out of a garage in California because they couldn't afford the ones on the market. They had an intricate wood-cut logo, not much money or manpower, and their first computer only sold about 175 units. But in the years between then and now, Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world, spurring revolutions in how we communicate, use computers, listen to music, and to a lesser extent, tell the time. [...] Some critics think that Apple is boring now, setting itself up to iterate on its successes and lock customers into their services with products that are very good, but nothing they haven't really seen before. This is a solid business strategy that will provide strong returns for years to come, but not those eye-popping leaps we've seen before. Here's a video Apple published recently showcasing 40 of its most remarkable products.
Businesses

Rumor: Broadcom Phasing Out Wi-Fi Chip Business (digitimes.com) 65

jones_supa writes: According to sources in Taiwan at the heart of the electronics industry, Broadcom is looking to phase out its Wi-Fi chip business in a move to streamline its workforce and product offerings following its acquisition by Avago Technologies. In general, the Wi-Fi chip business yields relatively low gross margins compared to other product lines due to fierce price competition in the market for mass-market applications (such as notebooks, tablets, TVs and smartphones). Companies such as MediaTek, Realtek Semiconductor and RDA Microelectronics have already received a pull-in of short lead-time orders from Broadcom's customers in the Wi-Fi sector. Following its merger with Avago, Broadcom is expected to allocate more RD resources to solutions in the fiber-optic and server sectors. In addition, Broadcom has almost halved the workforce stationed at its office in Taipei.
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 195

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.

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