Apple debuts all-new 12″ MacBook with ultra-thin chassis, new Retina screen, Force Touch

During its Spring Forward event in San Francisco today, Apple officially took the wraps off the ultra-thin 12″ MacBook we exclusively profiled in January. With an all-new 2304×1440 resolution 12″ screen, and reengineered keyboard that runs nearly the entire width of the machine, the new MacBook has a tiny footprint, yet the thinnest screen housing ever on a Mac. A 1.1GHz version with 256GB will sell for $1,299 starting on April 10, with a $1,599 model bumping the processor to 1.2GHz and 512GB storage. A 1.3GHz version was also announced but not priced.

It’s the first fanless Mac notebook, with a miniaturized logic board only 1/3 the size of the prior 11″ MacBook Air, and most of the rest of the internal space occupied by batteries. The CPU is said to be a low-power Intel Core M processor, which can turbo-charge up to 2.9GHz in the 1.3GHz model, plus an Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU. Apple promises 9-10 hour battery life depending on whether you’re using the web or watching iTunes videos. Apple says that it can “operate in silence.”

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Measuring 13.1mm thick at its thickest point, it’s 24% thinner than the prior 11″ MacBook Air, and weighs only 2 pounds – the lightest MacBook ever. In addition to a traditional silver color, it’s being offered in gold and space gray colors for the first time in the MacBook family. The plastic antenna cover at the hinge has been replaced with aluminum, making the new MacBook the most substantially metal version yet.

An all-new keyboard required re-engineering and strategic space reductions to remain full size. Apple is using a butterfly mechanism for keys that are more precise and accurate than before, as well as thinner, with individual LEDs to backlight every key.

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The touchpad incorporates Force Touch, debuted in the Apple Watch, and has the Taptic Engine built in for feedback. As predicted, it doesn’t click; there are four force sensors inside. Using OS-level software, the sensitivity can be adjusted to determine how much pressure you want the computer to detect as a “click.”

802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless are inside, with one data port: USB-C. The reversible connector supports everything via adapters, supporting power, USB data, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA. A headphone port and twin noise-canceling microphones are also built in, along with a large unified speaker grille above the keys. See additional pictures after the break.

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News Hub: Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ Apple Watch event

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Today’s the day: Apple is holding its “Spring Forward” event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. This article contains the latest updates from the event in live blog style; all of our detailed individual stories from the event are now summarized at this link. The event officially began at 10 AM Pacific/ 1PM Eastern time, and our live coverage is below.

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Apple Online Store goes down ahead of Spring Forward event

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.02.14The Apple Store is down, in preparation for announcements later today at Apple’s Spring Forward event. The store going down is a very strong indicator that something new will be available to buy after the event is over — but what products? The most likely answer is new MacBooks.

There is also the potential of Apple Watch preorders, although these are more likely to take place in a couple of weeks, assuming an April launch.

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WSJ footnote suggests 12-inch MacBook Air could be announced by Apple as early as Monday

Render: Martin Hajek (based on our reporting)

Render: Martin Hajek (based on our reporting)

Tucked away at the bottom of the WSJ’s report on the often-postponed iPad Pro was a single sentence that, if correct, suggests that Apple could announce the 12-inch MacBook Air as early as Monday. Update: it did.

While suppliers are gearing up to ship the new 12-inch MacBook Air in large quantities in the second quarter, Apple’s launch schedule remains unclear, the people said.

WWDC traditionally has been the end of Q2, so unless Apple plans another event specifically for the new model (not impossible but I’d think not), the most likely time to announce it would be during Monday’s Spring Forward event, expected to major on the Apple Watch. Since this is a new product, not an upgrade of a current product, Apple could use some ramping time between the announcement and the actual launch.

We’d caution however that supply chain sources, which is apparently the kind the WSJ is using, often guess early when it comes to shipping times.

We exclusively revealed details of the radical new MacBook back in January. Sources described a markedly thinner and lighter machine squeezing a 12-inch higher resolution screen into a casing narrower than the current 11-inch MacBook Air. The machine is also said to take a minimalist approach to ports–likely even just a single USB C port for both power and data–and to be available in iOS device colors as well as plain anodized aluminum. Read more

How-To: Boost your Mac’s speed and prolong its useful life with easy RAM upgrades

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As I’ve spotlighted over the past month, the best way to dramatically speed up an older Mac is to replace its old hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The process is super-easy on MacBooks and Mac Pros, surprisingly manageable on iMacs, and challenging on Mac minis, yielding 3X to 5X speed boosts. But there’s another option that can speed things up with relatively little effort or expertise: upgrading your Mac’s RAM.

RAM upgrades are easy and cheap. You can expect to pay $90 or less for enough (Mac-safe) RAM to run OS X Yosemite without hiccups, or $180 for enough RAM to guarantee you won’t need more for years. Installing RAM generally doesn’t void your Mac’s warranty, and except for several models, the only tool you’ll need is a small screwdriver. Below, I’ll walk you through your best options.

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Apple announces ‘Spring forward’ event on March 9th in San Francisco ahead of Apple Watch debut

Apple has just invited several media outlets to a ‘Spring forward’ special event on Monday, March 9th. We’re sure to see a whole lot more of the Apple Watch at this event ahead of its April debut. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.

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Opinion: Does the Apple Watch Edition signal future luxury-model iPhones, iPads and Macs?

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Back in April of last year, when a luxury model of the Apple Watch was still a vague rumor, I wrote an opinion piece in which I expressed the view that Apple could indeed pull this off. I went further, and suggested that it could even create an entire range of luxury versions of its existing products, from iPhones to Macs.

Ten months on, with the Apple Watch Edition now real, and the general expectation that it’s going to cost several thousand dollars at least, I thought it was time to revisit that idea. Is a luxury model of the Apple Watch a one-off, or does Apple see this as the first step toward Edition models of its complete product range … ?  Read more

How-To: Upgrade the SSD in your MacBook Air or Retina MacBook Pro, boosting size & speed

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Over the past two weeks, I’ve written about the (surprisingly easy) process of adding solid state drives (SSDs) to radically speed up older iMacs, and the varied challenge levels of adding SSDs to older Mac Pros, Mac minis, and non-Retina MacBooks. Today’s guide looks at the easiest SSD installations of all: the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro. A new SSD in one of these machines could have two, four, eight, or sixteen times the original storage, plus two to four times faster speeds.

Apple shipped most MacBook Airs and all Retina MacBook Pros with solid state storage, so upgrading these machines for extra capacity and speed is generally as simple as picking a new drive, then using two special screwdrivers during the installation process. Assuming your MacBook is old enough to be out of warranty — except for a few specific models — you’ll find that pretty much anyone can handle this swap with the right tools. Below, I’m going to show those tools to you, as well as the MacBook-ready SSDs that are worth considering…

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Rumor says Touch ID coming to MacBooks and Magic Mouse/Trackpad for Apple Pay, but there are roadblocks

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When Apple develops a new technology or feature for its hardware, it typically rolls it out on one product then expands it to the rest of the line. For example, Touch ID launched for the iPhone in 2013 and made its way to the iPad with the iPad Air 2 in 2014. For 2015, Touch ID may make its debut on the Mac, according to a rumor from website apple.club.tw. According to the blog, which published legitimate photos of iPad Air 2 Touch ID and A8X chip components last fall, Touch ID will come to Macs this year to enable Apple Pay functionality…

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Review: ClamCase Pro case for iPad Air 2 – a premium keyboard case with a premium price

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At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at some kind of ultra-small MacBook Air on the right, next to my MBA 11. It’s actually my iPad Air 2 in the ClamCase Pro keyboard case that combines all-round protection with a near-laptop-quality keyboard.

I’m testing here the case for the iPad Air 2, but there are other models for the iPad 2/3/4, previous iPad Air and iPad mini …  Read more

MacBook Air survives 1000-foot, 125mph fall from plane

Left, a Sport Cruiser aircraft of the same type; right, the MacBook Air after the fall

A South African pilot appears to have taken the name of his MacBook Air a little too literally, managing to drop it from the light aircraft he was flying when the canopy flew open. The MacBook, along with his flying license and logbook, fell 1000 feet into the fields below–but amazingly survived the experience.

Admittedly it didn’t emerge entirely unscathed. Pilot and Reddit user Av80r reports that the unibody casing was bent, the glass trackpad shattered and the cooling fans were damaged, but the screen remained intact and the MacBook continues to work …  Read more

Don’t cancel your ski plans, Apple’s not having an event in Feb.

Apple Introduces Two New iPhone Models At Product Launch

Contrary to a report from the often-reliable French blog iGen.fr, Apple is apparently not planning a media event late this month to introduce the Apple Watch or other new products, sources tell 9to5Mac.

Several media reports picked up the rumor today, repeating claims that Apple has planned an event for the last week of February, perhaps February 24. The blog speculated that the event could also include the introduction of the in development 12-inch MacBook we revealed earlier this year. Read more