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Mac mini nears End-of-Life; Leopard GM target; more...

Apple's current line of Mac mini desktops may be nearing a somewhat premature end-of-life, sources tell AppleInsider. Meanwhile, more evidence is pointing towards an expected Oct. 26 launch date for Leopard despite reports that the software has yet to be declared Gold Master.

Mac mini nearing EOL

While Apple has started to slow shipments of some of its more popular Mac models ahead of this month's anticipated release of Mac OS X Leopard, the company this week began telling some of its channel partners not to expect any more shipments of its current Mac mini configurations, period. And those channel partners who were not provided with this heads up instead discovered anomalies for forward looking orders on their own.

It's no secret that AppleInsider believes the mini's days are numbered. The last major enhancement to the diminutive Mac desktop line came well over a year ago, with recent "refreshes" consisting solely of component swaps with no added engineering effort whatsoever. Should the mini officially go end-of-life (EOL) this month, it's not clear what the future would hold for Apple's alternative desktop offering. The mini was last refreshed — albeit quietly — just over two months ago.

At the same time, however, slowing orders of Apple's other Mac systems are believed, for the most part, to be a preemptive measure. Rather than wind up with a channel stuffed with Tiger-equipped systems come month's end, AppleInsider is told the company is looking to image all new system orders with Leopard as soon as it possibly can.

Tracking Leopard's road to GM

Meanwhile, the guys over at MacRumors have put forth a pretty thorough effort in recent days of tracking Leopard's development progress internally at Apple.

They were first to report earlier this week that despite company efforts to begin training its AppleCare reps for the software's roll-out, the Mac OS development team led by Senior VP of Software Engineering Bertrand Serlet had yet to declare a build Gold Master.

On Wednesday MacRumors reported that Leopard was finally believed to be "approaching Gold Master status" and that their "most recent checks" indicated that "Apple had 11 high priority bugs left."

In a subsequent post on Friday, they reported that Apple "had expected to declare their upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Gold Master this week." Although the company "had not quite reached that goal" it released Friday "an internal 'GM candidate build' which could represent the final version of Mac OS X Leopard, if no other issues are found."

That build is reported to be Mac OS X Leopard build 9A581. (ArsTechnica is also confirming this).

MacRumors also pointed to an apparent slip-up at the Apple online store (since corrected) which listed the current version of Mac OS X (Tiger) as not shipping until October 26 — the expected target launch date for Mac OS X Leopard first reported by AppleInsider last week.

The listing indicated that "Tiger" would ship on Oct. 26, presumably because Apple had halted sales of Tiger in anticipation of Leopard. Any orders for Tiger from the Apple online store during that time would have presumably seen upgrades to Leopard. Since word of the slip-up hit the Web, Apple has changed the store to reflect ongoing shipments of Tiger.

iPhone water-damage sensor

Also of interest — but unrelated to the aforementioned topics — is a report from Hardmac which notes that Apple has apparently included a water-damage sensor inside its iPhone and iPod touch at the base of their headphone jacks.

"Let's say you drop accidentally your iPhone in water (not sea water as salt will be easily spotted), you can always try to send it back to Apple Support for having it repair under warranty. To avoid such behavior, Apple has included a water sensor in the iPhone and in the iPod Touch:"

"At the bottom of the jack plug you can see a white disc that will irreversibly change color when entering in contact with water. So one would not need to open an iPhone or an iPod Touch to ensure it stopped working due to an unexpected bath."