Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis
The search engine Apple uses for the Mac is called Spotlight. It is a good search engine, but it is on the slow side and does not include any power user features. If you are looking for something more, look no further than LaunchBar by Objective Development. Once installed, it is accessible by using the spotlight or user definable shortcut.
LaunchBar is significantly faster at bringing up search results than Spotlight. It also has an extensive list of options to customize the search index. This allows users to specify which folders or file types to be included or excluded from LaunchBar's search. Customizing the search index is another way to speed up and improve the search results.
Apple refreshed their Macbook Pro line-up at the end of January 2011. The big news out of this update was an announcement of a new data port called Thunderbolt and the move to Intel's Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. Apple also switched from Nvidia's integrated graphics processors (IGP) and discreet graphics processors to Intel's IGP and AMD's (formally ATI) discreet graphics processors. With this move, Apple changed the Macbook Pro 13" graphics chip to the Intel HD Graphics 3000. Intel's Sandy Bridge main processor is a big upgrade from the previous version, a Core 2 Duo, but is the graphics processor an upgrade or a downgrade?
Intel has been known in the past for producing very poor graphics processors. This lack of a good graphics processor from Intel is the main reason why most decent desktop and laptop computers come with a discreet processor. Nvidia built a graphics processor into the supporting chipset for the Intel x86 main processors, which was used in the previous MacBook Pros. Nvidia's IGP performance was substantially better than anything Intel came out with and provided a huge upgrade in performance.
It was January 2010, and front and center at CES was Steve Ballmer who "demoed" for us three (he really only used one) "slate" products running Windows 7. Well, "demo" is really an generous description. Ballmer picked the slate up, did a few things with it and then put it back on the shelf next to the other two "slates". We were told that 2010 would be a year full of slate product introductions — and it was going to be exciting!
Ballmer got his prediction half correct. On January 27, Apple launched the iPad — a real tablet that ran a sophisticated OS and it began shipping in mass in April. If you had an iPhone or iPod Touch, you knew how to use the iPad right out of the box: download software, sync with your computer and everything else. Even better your iPhone/iPod Touch software could be used on the iPad. Developers also were in luck as they didn't need to do much to adjust their apps for the iPad either.
Intel's Light Peak technology (also known as Thunderbolt) was first introduced on Apple's MacBook Pro line-up last month. Thunderbolt is set to race across the Mac platform, spreading across Apple's entire lineup by the end of 2011.
The next Mac product to include Thunderbolt is the Mac Mini — via a product update due this month. Following the Mac Mini will be updates to the iMac and Mac Pro towers. That said, both systems update timelines have varied greatly in the past few years. What is not known is how many Thunderbolt ports each system will receive.
Steve Jobs took center stage this week at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, unveiling Apple's new iPad 2. Some bloggers, such as Paul Thurrot, mention Jobs physical appearance, while others left Steve Jobs health off the table. Clearly, Wall Street dinged Apple's stock price on the news that Jobs would be taking another leave of absence. However, his appearance, along side the iPad 2 launch, gave investors confidence to once again to pour big dollars back into the company.
But where is the line in commenting on and covering Steve Jobs health? Is it any business of yours? Is it any business of mine? The answers are diverse and it could be situational.
Yesterday the Nielsen Company reported that for the months of November 2010 to January 2011 Google's Android operating system’s market share has pulled ahead of Apple and RIM with 29% of the smartphone sales in the U.S.
As with most things, when you look behind the curtain there is more than meets the eye — and in this case we don't find a happy, content Android family, but one fighting for its smartphone life.
The two leading browsers on the Mac are Apple's own Safari and the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser. There are other browsers available for the Mac, including Google's own Chrome, but this test will be between the two market leaders.
During the testing period, Firefox 4 beta 11 and Safari 5.0.3 were used. Although Firefox 4 is still in beta, it is already better than Firefox 3, which Safari clearly beat in past competitions. This test examined eight key areas for browser performance and usability. Now it is time to compare these two browsers.
The iPad 2 launched today with great fanfare and a solid, if not modest, hardware update. Apple's hardware team showed us how they can industrial engineer like no one else, delivering a razor thin iPad 2 — which is even thinner than the iPhone 4. The iPad 2 shows us Apple's hardware prowess, but a few major pieces were missing amongst the mix.
The iPad 2 sports the same resolution screen as iPad 1, humble camera specs, and ho-hum software updates — for now. The big reveal in hardware and software looks to be on the horizon, arriving in the in iPad 3.
Apple introduced a new connection port called Thunderbolt with their Macbook Pros Last Month. Thunderbolt has replaced the Mini Display Port and will replace USB and Firewire over time. Apple will need to refresh their Macintosh product line-up to add this new port to keep the sales figures up.
The Mac Mini went through a major redesign this last summer. The new version uses Apple's unibody manufacturing process that was first used on the Macbook Air in 2008. Since the mini's redesign is less than a year old, Apple is unlikely to do another overhaul this year. When is the next Mac Mini refresh likely to happen? The table below shows previous release dates, introduction date, and length of time between between updates.
Motorola's XOOM tablet has arrived, and with it a slew of other Android Honeycomb products are on the precipice of reaching out to the masses, crushing the iPad! Tech media and Apple critics alike are weaving their webs, claiming Honeycomb is the OS we've all been waiting for — which will bring iPad to it's knees and relegate the iPad as a niche player at best. I'm sorry to break it to all the Apple-haters, but the demise of the iPad is greatly exaggerated.
The problem with this premise is that while Honeycomb may be a big improvement to Android for tablet use, Android has nothing to do with tablet production costs, and ultimately, retail prices. When it comes to tablets and pricing, there is a massive pricing chasm between the horrifically bad product and a good enough solution.