When you can, and when you can't, teach an old Mac new tricks
Today's Pointers is sort of a two-fer on the broad topic of using new gear with older Macs (and by "older," we mean four years or older). We'll talk specifically about the inspiration for this column, the new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 -- but we'll also talk about other types of things you may want to connect to an older Mac, such as new iPhones or iPads, printers, scanners, and other gadgets. Broadly, our advice is "approach with caution," but it can often be done -- with a little bit of important prep work.
Apple Pencil, iPad Pro get government OK ahead of November release
On Thursday, the FCC granted final approval to the forthcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the optional drawing stylus accessory, the Apple Pencil, ahead of a projected November launch. Previously, the FCC had issued approvals for the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2, but to date there's been no sign of paperwork for the Magic Trackpad 2. The iPad Pro-exclusive accessory the Smart Keyboard has also seen FCC approval, but Apple has recently noted that it will only be available in US format for the time being.
New Magic peripherals switch removable batteries for lithium-ion versions
Apple has launched new "Magic" accessories for the Mac, shortly after they surfaced in code for the OS X 10.11.1 beta. The Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 improve upon the original versions of each peripheral, while the Magic Keyboard joins the Magic range, with all three incorporating reusable lithium-ion batteries rechargeable over Lightning within two hours, replacing the previous reliance on removable AA batteries.
New peripherals will feature integrated batteries, USB charging
Apple plans to release a new version of the company's Magic Mouse and Bluetooth wireless keyboard that will use Bluetooth Low Energy and include integrated batteries, according to new filings with the US Federal Communications Commission. The new peripherals will eschew the AA batteries currently used in favor of USB-based charging. Both will use Bluetooth 4.2 with Bluetooth LE, which should result in dramatically longer battery life.
Logitech M600 takes Magic Mouse cues
Logitech chose Wednesday to unveil its own alternative to the Magic Mouse. The Touch Mouse M600 uses the same concept of an all-touch surface as Apple but with the technology behind its Cube mobile mouse. Having the larger surface solves some of the issues of the Cube, letting users left- and right-click more naturally while opening the door to horizontal scrolling along with the vertical.
Might also see better peripheral support for iPad
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests several potential interface changes to iOS. The greatest of these is the "persistent overlay," to which users could add things like photos, music from iTunes, and links to web content. Patently Apple suggests that some descriptions appear to associate the overlay with the multitasking feature in iOS 4 and 5. Conceivably, recent or favorite media could become quickly accessible in the same way as recent apps.
Not discontinued as was claimed earlier
A further follow-up from other sources has produced evidence that Apple may simply be upgrading the Magic Mouse to a newer model rather than discontinuing it as earlier claims had said. A new Magic Mouse model could offer upgraded Bluetooth connectivity (to version 4.0) and better support for Lion-oriented gestures, Cult of Mac is reporting.
May be sign of Apple pushing OS X toward gestures
Apple is discontinuing the Magic Mouse, throwing its weight behind the Magic Trackpad instead, a retail source claims. In detail the person alleges that Apple Stores are not receiving new Magic Mouse inventory, and that Apple is in fact phasing the peripheral out of its product lines.
Microsoft Touch Mouse brings multi-touch
Microsoft's hardware team marked CES by adding a multi-touch mouse. Just known as the Touch Mouse, it relies on a nearly unbroken touch surface to handle many of its commands, like Apple's Magic Mouse. Microsoft's hardware can support two or three fingers for window management and viewing the desktop respectively.
ASUS ships Magic Mouse-like peripheral
ASUS has released a new wireless mouse in the WX-DL. Similar in function to Apple's Magic Mouse, the 2.4GHz WX-DL uses touch sensitive controls and can read some gestures. The top portion also has multimedia control buttons.
Visual cues given greater prominence
Mac-only pro audio/video DJ and broadcast automation software MegaSeg has been updated to version 5.5, introducing a new Wave Viewer, redesigned decks and trackpad beat syncing and scrubbing compatible with MacBook trackpads as well as Apple's Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse. MegaSeg developer Fidelity Media says over 100 refinements are included in the update, which is free for MegaSeg v5 users.
Mobee charger powers Magic Mouse by induction
Mobee today caused a minor stir at IFA by unveiling the Magic Charger. The peripheral uses the same induction behind devices like the PowerMat to recharge Apple's Magic Mouse without wires. By replacing the regular battery section and cover with a special rechargeable pack, the device can run for about six days without gaining any weight or bulk.
Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse to fight Magic Mouse
Microsoft's mystery touch device is actually a competitor to Apple's Magic Mouse. Both a leak and a store listing point to the Arc Touch Mouse having its namesake touch surface instead of traditional clicks. It was originally the result of a research project into a multi-touch mouse whose details were published just as Apple was shipping its own device.
Magic Trackpad may supplement
A possible component of Apple's WWDC unveilings may have been uncovered this morning as a leak has surfaced for what may be the Magic Trackpad. The design is a literal cross between the "no button" trackpad on MacBooks and the aesthetic of the Apple Wireless Keyboard that would serve as an alternative to a mouse for a desktop. Bluetooth would be certain, but the Engadget tipster didn't have any more details, including whether it the track would be unveiled today.
Likely to cover MacBook trackpads
Apple is looking to secure the name "Magic Trackpad" through the US Patent and Trademark Office, new filings show. The trademark would apply specifically under International Classification 009, within which are technologies such as touchscreens and graphics tablets. It is not clear if the name refers to a future product or an existing one.
Additional gesture support for Magic Mouse
Creaceed has announced the release of an update to its Aperture HDR plug-in, Hydra. With the tool, users can combine a series of images depicting the same scene, into one high dynamic range image. The v2.1.4 update has added support for the 64-bit architecture introduced in the latest version of Aperture. With the inclusion of this support the plug-in can be used with Aperture 2.x, or Aperture 3.x. The update is free for all registered users or a new licence can be purchased for $80.
Sesamouse imitates real multi-touch gestures
Calf Trail Software has announced Sesamouse, a new utility designed to extend the gesture capabilities of the Magic Mouse. The software works by imitating multi-touch trackpad gestures, enabling control over the rotation and zoom functions in gesture-capable apps. The utility also adds vertical swipe recognition, while supplying more advanced multi-touch programs with information regarding the positioning of each finger on the mouse surface.
iMac and Mac Pro firmware and drivers also revised
Apple has released several Boot Camp and firmware updates designed for 64-bit or 32-bit versions of Windows 7. Boot Camp 3.1 adds full support for Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. The update addresses issues involving trackpads and the red LED for digital audio, while the company's wireless keyboard and Magic mouse are also now supported. For users planning to transition from Windows Vista to 7, a separate utility ensures that the Macintosh volume will safely unmount on Vista.
Rumor has a third, touch iMac in store
A rumor floated by Taiwan's Commercial Times newspaper today claims Apple is developing its first touchscreen iMac. The new version would allegedly be a 22-inch model and would be separate from the 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions already on sale. Quanta would be responsible for the manufacturing, while Sintek Photronic would make the touch overlays for the screens.
Goldman sees iPhone with 5MP cam in June
Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Chen in a comment Thursday claimed to know that Apple will build an unusual touch-sensitive casing for the next iPhone. Without naming his sources, the researcher says the iPhone will use a plastic shell similar to that of the Magic Mouse, which supports touch functions despite its curved surface. More conventionally, Chen echoes leaks of a 5-megapixel camera making its way into the device.
Logitech, Microsoft continue to lead market
Apple doubled its share of US mice sales during the month of November, according to data compiled by the NPD Group. The company achieved a 10 percent marketshare, a first in its history. Sales are said to have been fueled by the introduction Magic Mouse, even when disregarding the units bundled with updated 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs.
Reduced prices on refurbished iMacs and MacBooks
This week the current-generation 21.5-inch iMac hit the refurb. shelf at Apple's online store. It is configured with the 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor upgrade with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, and is priced at $1449, that's $250 less than the regular price for this configuration. This iMac model also features a LED-backlight glossy widescreen display, ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card with 256MB of GDDR3 memory, SD card slot, Bluetooth and includes an Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse.
Batteries running dry at unusually fast rates
The Magic Mouse may be behind rapid battery drain on Apple's wireless keyboards, support forum complaints suggest. The keyboards are typically said to last several months on a single set of batteries, but after installing a Magic Mouse, battery life may shrink down to a span of two to three weeks or less. In extreme cases, users may have to replace batteries every week.
Apple Black Friday discounts active in US
Apple as promised has launched its Black Friday sale, currently ongoing in the US, Canada and Europe. The Friday-only discounts are highlighted by a $101 price cut for all iMac and MacBook Pro models regardless of size. The iPod touch also sees heavy discounts, bringing the 64GB model down to $358, the 32GB version to $268 and the 8GB model down to $178.
Bluetooth update hacked and converted into .exe
In Brief: Although Apple only provides drivers to support the new Magic Mouse on Mac OS X or Windows via Boot Camp, a recent software update has been hacked and converted into an .exe for operating the mouse on ordinary Windows PCs. Meanwhile, a separate report suggests Apple has been rejecting warranty claims for Macs that have been used in smokers' homes.
Apple's fastest iMac given a verdict
The 27-inch iMac is already a milestone for Apple through its inclusion of a truly greater-than-HD display, but the addition of Core i5 and Core i7 processors transforms it into a near powerhouse. This is the first iMac in recent memory to come close enough to Apple's workstations that it could replace one of them. Our review of the Core i5-equipped iMac will find out how close it comes to that goal and whether it's a worthwhile option for any other prospective Mac desktop owner.
Drag and swipe features fail to work
In spite of the relative newness of the Magic Mouse, some complaints have begun emerging on Apple's support forums. Anticipated drag and swipe functions are sometimes said to be failing, leaving only regular click commands available. When the special wireless mouse software is applied, a Mac may still fail to detect a Magic Mouse.
Accessory arrives behind necessary software update
Apple has finally begun shipping its new Magic Mouse wireless controller. The necessary software updates for Leopard and Snow Leopard arrived on Tuesday, enabling the operating systems to recognize the Multi-Touch gestures for scrolling, swiping, clicking and double clicking.
Teardowns reveal unique engineering, new parts
iFixit has completed teardowns of Apple's new 27-inch iMac and Magic Mouse. The dissection of Apple's newest iMac reveals a revamped set of components used to create the largest iMac ever. The 27-inch display, with a 16x9 aspect ratio and 2560x1440 resolution, is an LG-branded (LM270WQ1) IPS-based LCD panel, weighing nearly 11 pounds. IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology offers better color reproduction and wider viewing angles compared to Twisted Nematic technology. The new all-in-one can be used as an external display, however the signal routes through the circuit board and requires the iMac to be turned on.
Magic Mouse more significant, says columnist
Apple's new MacBook and iMacs are solid but merely evolutionary products, argues Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg. The MacBook is praised for incorporating the MacBook Pro's large trackpad, and being "fast and reliable," booting cold in 22 seconds. It is also described as lighter than its predecessor at 4.7 pounds, and armed with a powerful battery, though likely to fall short of Apple's promised seven-hour lifespan in most cases.
Imposes definite deadline on update's release
The forthcoming Mac OS X 10.6.2 update will be required for Magic Mouse compatibility in Snow Leopard, an Apple support document reveals. The mouse's user guide -- quietly published on Apple's website yesterday -- mentions that a "full range of features" will not work without v10.6.2. Leopard users must have a combination Mac OS X 10.5.8 and the unreleased Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0.
New standard controller for iMacs
Apple has confirmed the existence of the Magic Mouse, a new Mac controller. The device is said to borrow the multi-touch technology used in iPhones and MacBooks, eliminating the need for a scrollwheel, as well as any mechanical buttons. Users instead perform various taps and swiping gestures, which execute configurable controls.