Additional Perks, Features Emerge in iPhone OS 3.0 Firmware Betas

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 20th, 2009, 08:00
Category: iPhone, iPod shuffle, Rumor, Software

applelogo1.jpg
Developers working with recent betas of Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 software have uncovered some impressive new features such as changes to Safari’s user interface, new battery status indicators and notification preferences, as well as the advent of data detectors in certain apps.
According to AppleInsider, the following changes have been the most prominent:
Safari:
Safari now allows the user to close out and clear all your open browser windows without having to first create a new blank page to get rid of the contents of the last active window.
The iPhone OS 3.0 beta apparently allows the user to close out the lone remaining page. Once the “x” icon is triggered, the page disappears and a new blank page quickly slides into view.
Battery Indicators:
Improvements have apparently been made to the battery indicators, showing the remaining battery life left on your iPhone or iPod touch as a numerical percentage.
Resource files contained within the new version of the device’s Springboard application include 22 new PNG files to facilitate this option. Half are numerical characters (and a “%” sign) in black typeface for representing healthy battery level percentages while the other half are in red typeface for when battery life falls bellow a certain threshold.
Though this has yet to be confirmed, users will have the option of selecting how their battery status indicator appears in the menubar — such as an icon-only view (per current versions of the software), an icon + numerical view, or a numerical-view only.
Push Notification preferences:
A new Push Notifications preference pane allows users to enable or disable any of the three types of notifications that third party applications can push to your handset: Sounds, Alerts and Badges. Alternatively, notifications can be disabled as a whole.
Data Detectors:
Apple has enabled Data Detectors for several new applications. Data Detectors automatically detect text fragments like email addresses, phone numbers, and street addresses and allow users to execute actions on those fragments via touch selections — like dialing a phone number automatically by clicking on it or adding it to your address book.
Finally, the iPhone OS 3.0 beta firmware apparently also allows users to change scrubbing speeds in the iPod application.
“You press and hold on the little dot to scrub and slide your finger down the screen to get finer scrubbing speeds,” a person familiar with the software said. “There are four options: Hi-Speed Scrubbing (normal slide position), Half Speed Scrubbing, Quarter Speed Scrubbing and Fine Scrubbing (furthest down the screen).”

(more…)

TechTool Pro 5.0.4 Released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 20th, 2009, 07:59
Category: Software

techtoolicon.jpg
Over the weekend, Micromat released version 5.0.4 of TechTool Pro, its best-selling utility software for the Mac. The new version offers features and changes such as the eDrive, which allows users to create an emergency startup partition that includes TechTool Pro on one of your hard drives without the need to reinitialize your hard drive.
Note: Users can download the version 5.0.3 updater here (courtesy of MacUpdate) but will need to use the software’s built-in update feature to access version 5.0.4.
TechTool Pro 5.0.4 retails for US$98 and requires a Mac with a G4, G5 or Intel-based processor running Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to install and run.

(more…)

Tweetie for Mac Coming Soon!

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 18:15
Category: Software

Who would have thought such a simple thing would become such a huge phenomenon? In a matter of months, it seems like Twitter has become a household name and “the next big thing”? You know it must be big, even Oprah is on Twitter now. News even broke that Ashton Kutcher beat out CNN to be the first to reach 1 million followers, as reported by PCWorld. Twitter is even being used to report the news, gaining popular exposure earlier this year for being used to document a Denver plane crash.
As an avid Twitter user myself (I have four accounts), it took me a while to find the perfect Twitter client on the iPhone for my needs. After trying out several, the winner, hands-down, turned out to be Tweetie.
Lately, I have been faced with the same dilemma for managing Twitter on the Desktop. There are variations for every workflow, from the simplicity of Twangle and Twitterific, to more full-featured clients that manage several different types of social networks such as Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck. I’ve been trying them all. A recent favorite is Nambu.
tweetie-mac_icon.png
About a week ago from behind a curtain came the announcement from Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie for the iPhone, that a Desktop client for the Mac was in development. Yesterday, a preview of the new software was showcased in a screencast.
WOW! I expected something good since I am a cheerleader for the iPhone version, but Tweetie for Mac pulls out all the stops. From the features, to the cool, GUI animations, this looks like a real Mac application that is as much fun to watch as to use. I really hope it has multiple account support and hooks into some other social networks, but I already can’t wait for it’s release on Monday to try it out. I may have found my default desktop Twitter app.

(more…)

Verizon CEO Claims iPhone Deal More Likely with 4G Network in Place

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:20
Category: iPhone

verizonlogo.jpg
Even though Verizon snubbed Apple when iPhone wireless carriers were initially being chosen, Verizon’s chief executive Ivan Seidenberg has now stated that the chances of an iPhone on the company’s network will be improved once 4G technology is in place.
The CEO explained to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Apple is ‘more likely’ to want to work with Verizon due to the wider distribution of the 4G standard it will use to supplement, and eventually replace, its 3G network.
Per Seidenberg, Apple was never likely to create an iPhone handset suitable to Verizon’s existing network due to the company’s choice of CDMA standards. While CDMA and its matching EVDO data format are very popular among carriers in North America and are shared with Alltel, Bell, Sprint and Telus (among others), the standards have very little reach outside of the continent. Choosing CDMA may have forced Apple to make a second iPhone model just to accommodate the rest of the world, which has settled on the more popular GSM and HSPA protocols.
This problem disappears with Verizon’s move towards Long Term Evolution (LTE) for 4G. Unlike the artificial split between North America and the rest of the world today, a large number of both domestic and international carriers plan to move to LTE within the next few years, including AT&T and T-Mobile USA.
Seidenberg has claimed that the network may or may not be the sticking point and the discussion remains up for debate. Verizon is believed to have snubbed Apple early on when the handset was initially being developed. Just after the introduction of the first iPhone, the carrier spun its apparent loss by claiming that Apple wanted too much control over sales and service. Observers have also speculated that Verizon objected to being denied a chance to customize the interface and choose which features to allow.

(more…)

Mac Hacker Charlie Miller Locations Additional Security Hole in iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:33
Category: iPod, security

3giphone.jpg
Mac hacker Charlie Miller, a principal security analyst at Independent Security Evaluators and the winner of the the CanSecWest security conference hacking contest two years straight, has detailed his latest find wherein he was able to run shellcode on an iPhone.
According to Macworld UK, it was widely believed by many security researchers that it wasn’t possible to run shellcode on an iPhone. Shellcode is code that can run from a command line, but the iPhone was thought not to allow it for security reasons.
If pulled off correctly, shellcode allows users to perform malicious actions such as gaining access to a users text messages or call history from a remote location.
Earlier versions of the iPhone OS firmware didn’t have many protections to prevent people from tampering with its memory to run other commands, Miller said. But the latest version of the iPhone’s software strengthened the overall security of the phone, Miller said.
In his report, Miller detailed how he was able to trick the iPhone into running code which then enabled shellcode. To pull this off, Miller said he needed to have a working exploit for an iPhone and a means of targeting a vulnerability in the software such as the Safari web browser or the iPhone’s operating system.
Miller said he doesn’t have one now but stated that if someone did, “this would allow you to run whatever code you want,” Miller said in an interview after his presentation.
In 2007 Miller and some of his colleagues did find a vulnerability in mobile Safari that would allow an attacker to control the iPhone. Apple was immediately notified and later issued a patch for the problem.
Miller said he isn’t sure if Apple is aware of the latest issue and stopped short of calling the problem a vulnerability, saying instead that Apple engineers may have overlooked the issue. Apple also has never come out publicly and said it is impossible to run shellcode on an iPhone, he said.

(more…)

Drive Genius 2.1.1 Released

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 16th, 2009, 13:35
Category: Software

drivegenius.jpg
Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 2.1.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.
The new version, a 23.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

  • Enhanced Duplicate tool has an option to verify the destination of whole-drive copies. In addition, source bad blocks can be skipped if found during a whole-drive copy.
  • Increased performance and reliability of Defrag.
  • Bug Fix: spurious “test aborted by disk” S.M.A.R.T. warnings in 10.5.x
  • Bug Fix: after shredding a volume, a new volume would always be created as “Untitled” instead of using the previous volume name.
  • Bug Fix: the tooltip displayed for duplicate files in DriveSlim contained an invalid path to the original file when displaying results from the boot volume.
  • Bug Fix: crash during launch if information about installed languages could not be obtained (10.4.x/PPC only).
  • Bug Fix: Adobe and Microsoft application updates would fail if language bundles were removed or their binaries trimmed; these are now excluded from the DriveSlimsearch results.
  • Other bug fixes.
  • Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later installed to work. The application is a Universal Binary and functions natively under both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.

    (more…)

    Man Traded Kidney for PowerBook in 2000

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, April 16th, 2009, 08:56
    Category: Fun, PowerBook

    elwallstreet.jpg
    During Apple’s higher-end product releases, we look at the cool new items for sale and wonder what we’d sacrifice for the new Mac Pro or a 17″ MacBook Pro notebook.
    According to PC World, one person went a step further and, back in 2000, apparently indirectly traded his kidney for a then-brand-new PowerBook G3.
    Back then, Washington, D.C.-area consultant Phil Shapir was advising an elderly couple, who brought up the question as to why Apple didn’t use senior citizens in its advertising. At a certain point, the wife asked her husband, “Why don’t we show him the kidney Powerbook? Maybe he can answer some questions about that computer.”
    When Shapiro asked why they call it the “kidney PowerBook,” she said, “My husband donated one of his kidneys to his sister. She asked him what he’d like in return. Without hesitation, he said, ‘I’d love a PowerBook.’”
    And he got it.

    (more…)

    Apple Files Patent for Motion-Adaptive iPhone Software

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, April 16th, 2009, 08:56
    Category: iPhone, Patents, Software

    3giphone.jpg
    Apple may be looking into creating a version of its iPhone with a front-facing camera as well as a software interface capable of adjusting itself for more precise interaction when the user carrying the phone is in motion.
    While the front-facing camera idea hints towards the inevitable adoption of video conference capabilities by the iPhone in the coming years, the adaptive software interface concept could become a reality that much sooner, improving a user’s accuracy in making touch selections by increasing the size of user interface elements on the touch-screen when its determined that the user is operating the device while jogging or participation in some other kind of motion-based activity.
    According to AppleInsider, Apple has filed a patent that proposes an updated version of its iPhone OS software that can detect when the device is in motion and then compare the detected degree of motion to one or more predetermined “signatures of motion.” The iPhone software could then adjust itself by enlarging selection areas on the screen to a degree suitable for the current motion of the device and user.
    “For example, if the user wishes to view the contact information for ‘John Adams,’ the user touches the display over the area of the row for the contact ‘John Adams,” Apple says. “While the device is moving, the motion of the device can be detected. The device can change the size of the rows of the contacts in the contact list application to give the user a larger target area for each contact. For example, the height of a row can be increased. This gives the user a larger touch area with which to select a contact. In some implementations, the height of the toolbar can be increased as well.”
    The 16-page patent filing made back in November of 2007 also suggests that interface elements, such as an array of home screen icons, could shift their position on the screen based on predictions of where the user may touch the screen. Oddly enough, the need for such adjustments isn’t entirely clear from Apple’s description.
    “The shift moves the target touch areas of the display objects to a different position. In some implementations, the new position is a predetermined distance from the original position,” the company says. “In some other implementations, the new position is determined by the device based on a prediction of where the user will touch the touch-sensitive display if the user wanted to select the user interface element while the device is in motion.”
    The filing is credited to Apple employee John Louch.

    AT&T Pushing for Exclusive iPhone Rights Through 2011

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 08:35
    Category: iPhone

    3giphone.jpg
    After three years of holding exclusive rights to the iPhone, AT&T is looking to take one more shot at an exclusive deal for the Apple handset and may keep it away from competitors until 2011.
    According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” have stated that AT&T has a deal to keep the iPhone in its stable until 2010 and that negotiations are underway to have the device onboard for one more year.
    Though there has been no specific commentary from AT&T regarding this, an Apple spokeswoman would only say that the two companies have a “great relationship.”
    The commentary follows a report from last year that also said AT&T had struck a deal to keep the iPhone until 2010 and may provide insight into current talks. At the time, the cellular carrier reportedly agreed to allow iPhone 3G subsidies in exchange for a one-year extension of the iPhone’s US exclusivity. Although the cost of discounting those phones has been severe — as much as US$1.3 billion to date, according to an estimate — the agreement renewed interest in AT&T and gave it millions of users paying at least US$60 per month (on grandfathered plans) for service.
    Should AT&T be allowed to keep exclusive rights to the iPhone, it would be able to help prevent customers from jumping ship to Verizon or an alternate carrier at a time when the market is saturated and customers are more likely to have switched than sign up for the first time. The company added 1.9 million iPhone users just in the fall 2008 quarter alone.

    (more…)

    Apple Releases iMovie 8.0.2 Update

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 07:35
    Category: Software

    imovieicon.png
    Tuesday afternoon, Apple released iMovie 8.0.2, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 24.5 megabyte download, fixes an issue with projects having a size of 0 KB. Attempting to open these projects would cause iMovie to quit unexpectedly at launch. The update also addresses a problem where full-screen mode could not be accessed on some systems.
    The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

    (more…)