Apple releases MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 Update for mid-2010 models

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Date: Friday, August 27th, 2010, 06:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 update for its 15″ and 17″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 2.2 megabyte download, resolves a rare issue that may cause the system to freeze during startup or intermittently stall during operation, and it improves compatibility with external displays.

As always, the update can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

The MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Analyst divulges details as to upcoming Apple TV successor

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

Like the iPhone 4 and iPad, the new Apple TV will run the iOS operating system and be powered by a processor with ARM architecture, and will also have access to the App Store, according to one prominent analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. issued a note to investors Wednesday in which he revealed that sources indicated the “biggest potential change” to the forthcoming Apple TV refresh is the move to an ARM architecture processor running the same iOS software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The current Apple TV hardware relies on an Intel x86-based chip, running a “light” version of Mac OS X and its Front Row software.

Wu also said that the new Apple TV, which some have said will be called the “iTV”, will have access to the App Store, Apple’s digital software download storefront. Like the iPad, the new Apple TV could have access to the iPhone App Store, which offers about a quarter-million options for users, though such functionality is apparently not guaranteed.

“Our sources indicate there is some debate within Apple whether to allow this or not, or to have it run only Apple TV-specific apps,” Wu said. “We believe the ability to run the same apps makes a lot of sense and believe this feature could be enough to drive significantly more volume for Apple TV. We find the potential to run video game apps on a TV set most intriguing, as it has been proven in the marketplace that there is (a) large market for casual gaming at inexpensive prices.”

Wu did not indicate, however, how iPhone or iPad applications would run on a TV set, as those that rely on the touchscreen interface require users to interact with the images on screen. But games that rely on the accelerometer in Apple’s mobile devices would likely be suited for the allegedly forthcoming set top box.

As for reports that Apple is negotiating with networks to offer 99 cent TV show rentals (reaffirmed this week by The New York Times), Wu said such an offering would benefit not only the Apple TV, but the company’s entire ecosystem, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac lineup.

“From our checks with supply chain and industry sources, we believe potential changes could turn Apple TV into a bigger hobby and a multi-million unit seller,” the analyst wrote. “And perhaps be a precursor to a bigger effort to address the home entertainment space down the road.”

This should sort itself out on September 1st, so stay tuned until then and we’ll feed you the details as soon as they become available.

Apple confirms September 1st press event

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:52
Category: iPad, iPod, News, Software

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Apple has confirmed that the company will be holding a press event on September 1st for what’s likely to be a debut of new products and services. Per Macworld UK, the invite did not provide details of the event, simply giving the date and time accompanying a photo of a guitar with an apple shaped sound hole.

Apple has traditionally made new iPod product announcements in September. Rumors have been kicking around for a while about the possibility of an iPod Touch with a forward and rear facing camera. A forward-facing camera would allow the iPods to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi and new cameras could also offer support for Apple’s iMovie software, allowing video editing directly on the fly. Apple’s new high-contrast retina display, is also a possibility for new iPods.

At least a few iTunes announcements seem likely for the September 1st event. Last month rumors circulated that the newest version of iTunes would offer support for wireless iTunes streaming and syncing, and Apple quietly added the ability to stream music from MobileMe folders in its latest update. The MobileMe audio streaming feature could have been a test run of a larger iTunes plan.

Rumors have been swirling for the past few weeks about the possibility of US$.99 TV show rentals from iTunes. Currently iTunes only allows shows to be purchased for US$1.99 a pop, the rumored US$.99 rental would instead be good for just a few days. The cheaper price tag may however encourage more people to purchase the commercial free shows than currently, providing them an alternative to Hulu and other streaming sites that won’t break the bank.

While the picture of a guitar is a bit of a stretch for an event to unveil a new version of Apple TV, that doesn’t mean that Apple TV won’t be a part of the announcement, although it is likely it won’t be a focus for the event. A new version of Apple TV called iTV is rumored to have 16GB of flash storage, the ability to run iOS-based applications, and the ability to stream iTunes to iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches over WiFi. The iTV was at one point also expected to offer a TV subscription service, although those plans are thought to have been changed.

Finally, the announcement of a smaller iPad is not entirely out of the question. The announcement of a new version of the device in September would make it available before the holiday season, helping to potentially boost sales come gift giving time.

Either way, it’s all speculation. Stay tuned for September 1st when we provide every bit of information on the new products that we can prior to giving all of our readers a free pony.

China Unicom expected to offer free cases with iPhone 4 launch

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:49
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, provide a useful free gift.

Per Caixin, when the iPhone 4 launches in China on September 16th, carrier China Unicom is expected to give every customer a free case as a preemptive strike against the antenna concerns that caused a stir in the U.S.

In July, after reports of antenna issues with the iPhone 4 reached a deafening buzz in the tech community, Apple announced it would give away free cases to all iPhone 4 purchases made through Sept. 30. Customers can order their free case through the iPhone 4 Case Program App Store software.

The report did not indicate whether China Unicom’s complimentary case will be mailed after the purchase, or made available to the customer when they buy their iPhone 4.

Earlier this month, a Wi-Fi-enabled 8GB iPhone 3GS was released by China Unicom. Apple’s previous phones sold legitimately in the nation of over one billion did not have Wi-Fi, because the Chinese government had temporarily banned the technology.

Following the launch of the iPhone 4, China Unicom is expected to soon offer Apple’s iPad for sale.

Rumor: Apple negotiating 99 cent rentals ahead of next-gen Apple TV release

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

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Well, at least there’ll be more stuff to rent.

Per a Bloomberg article, Apple is allegedly in negotiations with content providers, and is in “advanced talks” with News Corp., to offer 99 cent TV show rentals ahead of an anticipated Apple TV update.

The new service would purportedly allow customers to rent shows through iTunes for 48 hours. News Corp. is the owner of the Fox network.

Author Peter Burrows said Apple’s talks coincide with a new iPod touch with a higher-resolution screen, as well as a new cloud-centric Apple TV with less internal storage starting at US$99.

In addition to Fox, CBS and ABC could also become an option in the streaming service, the report said, as the parent companies of both networks are also a part of the discussions. Apple and Disney, the owner of ABC, have a close relationship, as Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is the single largest shareholder of stock in the Walt Disney Co.

Rumors of a 99 cent TV show rental deal previously surfaced earlier this summer. That report claimed that the offer would work just like existing iTunes movie rentals: users would have 30 days to start watching the rental, and would then have 24 hours to finish it. But unlike the movie rentals, the TV shows would be streamed instead of downloaded.

Apple has allegedly attempted to broker a deal with TV networks for months to offer a subscription TV plan, but has had no luck.

Apple’s 99 cent TV show rentals could be a backup plan of sorts for the company, which is rumored to release a new set top box dubbed iTV as soon as September. Numerous reports have alleged that the device will run Apple’s iOS operating system and be capable of running software from the App Store.

Reports have also suggested that the new iTV will have limited internal storage in order to keep the cost of the device down. The new set top box with a small form factor is rumored to have a starting price of just US$99. The device would apparently make up for its alleged lack of storage by placing an emphasis on streaming media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-06 for Mac OS X 10.5.x, 10.6.x users

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released Security Update 2010-05 for Mac OS X 10.5.x and Mac OS X 10.6.x. The update, a which ranges between 80.6 and over an over 400 megabyte download, adds a slew of security fixes and changes, as summarized here.

More specifically, the update addresses a “heap buffer overflow” in the way CoreGraphics handles PDF files. The vulnerability could allow “unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution” through a malicious PDF file as well as a “stack buffer overflow” that would allow arbitrary code execution through a malicious embedded font. Both the PDF and the font vulnerabilities are fixed through “improved bounds checking.”

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 on the Mac OS X 10.5 end and Mac OS X 10.6.4 on the Mac OS X end to install and run and can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know.

Analyst points out advantages of iPhone on Verizon network, highlights Apple/Verizon negotiations in progress

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Date: Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, 04:24
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the rumor that never dies, but this time it could be garnering additional strength and credence.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Shaw Wu with Kaufman Brothers indicated that a deal between Apple and Verizon is being ironed out. The analyst went on to state that he expects Apple to expand the iPhone to another carrier in the U.S. next year. Apple needs this, he said, to maintain high growth, as the company’s smartphone nears saturation on the AT&T network.

The current front-runner is Verizon, which is said to be in talks with Apple for a “SVDO” iPhone which would allow both voice and data at the same time, something not possible with a traditional CDMA phone on Verizon’s network.

While Wu believes that the iPhone will eventually come to Verizon, that could happen as late as 2012, he said, if Apple decided instead to go another route: both T-Mobile and Sprint.

“It is notable that signing up both T-Mobile USA and Sprint would almost be the equivalent of Verizon (in terms of subscribers),” he said. “For point of reference, AT&T has 90 million wireless subscribers compared to 93 million at Verizon, 48 million at Sprint, and 34 million at T-Mobile USA.”

Wu said sources have indicated to him that important details are still being ironed out between Verizon and Apple, including technology and economics. But while the companies are in talks, he said it would be “premature” to rule out T-Mobile and Sprint.

However, the growth of Android on the Verizon network also provides Apple with an incentive to make the iPhone available on the carrier, he said. Making the iPhone available to Verizon customers would be the best way to address the growing presence of Android phones, Wu wrote.

While Apple and Verizon are said to be eying SVDO for the iPhone for now, the companies are said to be viewing that option as an interim device until a full-fledged long-term evolution (LTE) 4G phone debuts in a few years.

“From AAPL’s perspective, the debate is whether it makes sense to roll out an interim CDMA iPhone sometime in 2011 or perhaps wait until LTE becomes more available in 2012,” Wu wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as we get them.

Rumor: China Unicom to launch iPhone 4 on September 16th

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Date: Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, 04:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Wireless carrier China Unicom may officially launch the iPhone 4 on September 16th, a local source claims. While the carrier is generally believed to have set plans in motion, it has yet to formally announce details. A launch on the 16th would come just a little over a month after the availability of the first Wi-Fi-equipped Chinese iPhones.

Per Caixin Online, the source mentions some other information about the launch. In order to get an iPhone 4, people may be required to order online in advance. The Chinese model is also expected to suffer from the same reception problems as other versions, but Unicom will allegedly be offering cases as free gifts. In other countries free cases will cease to be available for iPhone 4s bought after September 30th, barring an extension from Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 4.1 beta points out forthcoming fixes with proximity center, Bluetooth, Game Center, etc.

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:12
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The third beta of Apple’s upcoming iOS 4.1 update points out a slew of fixes to be expected when the software releases.

iOS 4.1 is currently in its third beta, released earlier this month. Per AppleInsider, the update addresses many issues that users have experienced, including problems with Bluetooth connectivity.

The official list of fixes and enhancements does not make mention of the proximity sensor or Bluetooth functionality. However, time spent with the latest beta build shows a marked improvement with those features.

The most recent update also added new features such as a new API that allows apps to access contact thumbnail pictures.

Proximity sensor:
While not documented by Apple, experience with the iOS 4.1 beta has shown that the proximity sensor on the iPhone 4 is far more reliable. Since the device launched in June, users have reported that the handset’s touchscreen will sometimes turn on in the midst of a call, resulting in accidental button presses that can end a call or place someone on hold.

At a press conference in July, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his company was aware of the problem and working on a fix. But the first two minor updates to iOS 4, in the form of 4.0.1 and 4.0.2, did not address the problem.

Game Center:
Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major feature of iOS 4 and works much like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, making it easy for users to play and talk about games.

With Game Center, users will create an alias that represents their online persona. The community service allows players to interact with one another anonymously via their alias. When Game Center is launched later this year, users will be able to create a friends list, set “status updates” and more.

Developers access the features of Game Center through the Game Kit framework API provided by Apple. The API includes leaderboards for scores, allowing players to compare their performance in a game to friends and others.

Game Kit also allows developers to enable player-versus-player matchmaking for their titles. Through a Game Center account, players will be able to compete in online games against one another, or with a group of people.

As noted earlier this week, the latest beta also added a Game Center restriction. The feature allows the owner of an iPhone, such as a corporation or parent, to restrict access to certain functions of the device.

Other changes:
Users will have the ability to turn on or off a “Check Spelling” feature in the Keyboard section of the iPhone’s Settings application. Users can have misspelled or unrecognized words highlighted without enabling the Auto-Correction functionality.

As previously reported, the latest beta of iOS 4.1 allows users to conduct FaceTime video chat via another person’s e-mail address. This is likely how the forthcoming iPod touch refresh, widely expected to have a forward-facing camera, will allow users without a phone to engage in a FaceTime call.

Camera controls now reposition between portrait and landscape orientations. Currently in iOS 4, the flash and camera selection buttons will only rotate accordingly when the camera is physically turned. In the third beta, the buttons transition to remain atop the screen, regardless of orientation.

Developers have access to new functions to identify the BSSID or SSID of the current Wi-Fi hotspot that the user is connected to.

Developers now have new methods to save images to a user’s photo album.
iOS 4.1 also includes new capabilities that allow applications to control fonts.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve been able to play with the third beta of iOS 4.1, let us know what you made of it.

New photos surface, point towards forward-facing camera in upcoming iPod touch

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

Photos of another front panel claimed to be a component for Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, again showing a space for a front-facing camera.

According to MIC gadget from parts site taobao.com, the component pictureshows a hole above the LCD display that would allow for a forward-facing camera.

Like the last part pictured, the purported iPod touch front panel is labeled “Apple (c) 2010.” It is being sold for 650 Chinese Yuan, or US$95.

The photos provide more evidence for the assumption that the upcoming iPod touch refresh, expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual media-centric event in September, will sport two cameras like the iPhone 4. The fourth-generation iPod touch is rumored to become the second device from Apple to support the open FaceTime standard for video chat.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said earlier this summer that his company will ship tens of millions of devices compatible with FaceTime this year alone. Currently, only the iPhone 4 is capable of making FaceTime video chat calls over Wi-Fi.

While the iPod touch lacks a phone number to allow people to connect for a FaceTime call, beta releases of iOS 4.1 show that the media player will identify users by their e-mail address.