Apple has made version 3.2.2 of their Xcode developer tools available, which is primarily a bug fix for the debugger and interface builder, as well as the llvm-gcc compiler and some of Apple's optimization tools including Clang and Shark. The update also addresses bugs with Interface Builder. If you have earlier versions of Xcode, keep in mind that this update will need to be installed over OS 10.6.2 or later.… Read more
Nvidia is once again playing a central role in Apple's new MacBooks, curbing to some extent the immense influence of industry giant Intel.
In order to understand what Apple is--and has been--doing with its MacBook Pro design, jettison the conventional notion of an Intel-centric PC universe. Graphics oomph defines the MacBook experience. "They have affirmed the message Nvidia has been sending," said Ben Bajarin with Creative Strategies.
That message is more reliance on the GPU, or graphics processing unit and, hence, equal standing with Intel's CPU, or central processing unit. An idea that dovetails nicely with Apple's focus on providing a premium multimedia experience centered on "photos, movies, music"--as Apple describes it.
"Incremental [processing] workloads are being driven more by video and graphics and that's where Nvidia comes into play," said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw. Says Bajarin: "Apple is strategically writing software that is able to harness the GPU."
Indeed, the most talked-about new feature in the MacBook Pro systems announced last week is the ability to switch on the fly from the energy-efficient, less-capable Intel graphics to more powerful Nvidia graphics, a process that Apple calls automatic graphics switching. "They absolutely don't want to make any compromise relative to high-end graphics," said Van Baker, an analyst at the Gartner Group.
Another indication of Apple's emphasis on graphics processing over the CPU is the recently updated 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple chose to not upgrade from the older Intel Core 2 processor design, but rather to upgrade the Nvidia graphics chip. "The combination of a GPU and a lower-performance Intel CPU actually yields better benchmarks and performance and is priced more favorably," Bajarin said. Baker, meanwhile, points out that Apple also had "space constraints within that design while they wanted high-end graphics performance."
This emphasis on Nvidia graphics in laptops is not a recent trend.… Read more
If you're not satisfied with the power or flexibility of the Mac's built-in Spotlight search, you should check out HoudahSpot. This app isn't a Spotlight replacement, but rather a more versatile front-end for Spotlight--as it actually uses the technology behind Spotlight to help you find files on your computer. If you want to find any file or even content within a file, this is the application for the job.
Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. This week there were the same revolving updates for several file management and maintenance utilities, with some of them being significant updates. A few hardware monitoring and maintenance updates are also available that improve problem tracking and diagnosis on new Apple hardware.… Read more
There are a couple of new Apple-related videos over at CNET TV. Editor Donald Bell discusses using various hidden iPad keyboard features such as accent characters with international keyboards, using caps lock, auto-complete for Web domains, and other options. In this week's Apple Byte, Brian Tong and other CNET editors discuss the new MacBook Pro's performance, features, along with Steve Jobs' reasoning why the 13" model did not get a Core i5 or i7 chip. They also cover some iPad sales news, including some problems with the international iPad sales and Israeli customs not allowing the devices into that country.… Read more
With new MacBook Pros hitting the streets packing faster silicon, it's a good exercise to see how Apple stacks up against the competition.
Note that this is not a performance comparison--though I've include links at the bottom--but a quick side-by-side comparison that a buyer might do upon walking into Best Buy (which I've witnessed before).
And the usual disclaimers apply about price. MacBook Pros are relatively pricey, top-notch laptops designed to exude chic: aluminum enclosures, high-performance LED displays, and a fit-and-finish that is better than most competitors.
That said, some customers (surprise, surprise) are swayed by price, particularly when there's a gaping spread between two systems with roughly similar specifications.
And that seems to be the case here. Take a look and you decide.
Note that the Dell has a quad-core Core i7, the Apple a dual-core i7. But don't be deceived by core counts. The Core i7-based MacBook Pro does very well in performance benchmarks. Moreover, the Pro has Intel graphics integrated into the CPU package along with the dual-core processor, allowing it to switch between Intel and Nvidia discrete graphics to save power--which results in much better battery life compared to the Dell. In Dell's favor, the Studio XPS 16 has options for a Blu-ray optical drive and a 3G modem (both included below). The MacBook Pro doesn't.
Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro:Operating system: Mac OS X Snow Leopard Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core i7, dual-core Display: 15-inch 1440-by-900-pixel LED-backlit glossy w/camera Graphics chip: Nvidia GeForce GT 330M w/ 256MB plus Intel graphics (switchable)… Read more
Shocker! The San Francisco Bay Area is the biggest U.S. market for Apple products, according to the results of a survey conducted by research firm Experian Simmons. The study found that 32.3 percent of adult residents of the region own at least one Apple product--an iPod, iPhone, or Mac computer--compared to 21.6 percent in the nation as a whole, which makes Bay Area residents 49 percent more likely to buy Apple products.
Apple, of course, is based in the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino, in close proximity to San Jose and San Francisco.
A close second in … Read more
Here's something you don't see very often: a freebie for Macs. But Digiarty Software is showing the love by offering the WinX DVD Ripper for Mac, normally $35.95, absolutely free. No strings attached.
If the WinX name sounds familiar, it's because the company has offered a few Windows-only freebies in the past--most notably the Windows version of the same app (sorry, but that offer's long gone).
DVD Ripper can copy copy-protected movies to your hard drive and convert them to any number of popular formats, including FLV, MOV, and MP4. In other words, it's … Read more