Apple releases iOS 4.3.1 update

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Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Apple on Friday released iOS 4.3.1, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and security patches for iOS devices.

Per Macworld, the update centers around a pair of graphics-related fixes: one for an occasional glitch on the 4th-generation iPod touch and one for flickering problems when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs. iOS 4.3.1 also resolves a problem with authenticating some enterprise Web services and some bugs experienced when activating and connecting to cellular networks.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.6.7 internal references point to widening graphics card support for future Mac hardware

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Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 04:13
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Dig around inside an update’s code and you’ll find all sorts of interesting stuff.

Per the tonymacx86 Blog, the Mac OS X 10.6.7 update for early 2011 Mac Book Pro models features native graphics acceleration for some Radeon HD 5000- and 6000-series cards. The supported cards are off-the-shelf graphics processing units, not Mac-only cards as have been in the past.

It’s likely that at least some of the cards will be part of the new iMac refresh expected from Apple in the near future. A new rumor this week claimed that Apple plans to ship a refresh of its all-in-one desktop by early May, with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and a high-speed Thunderbolt port.

But the number of graphics cards natively supported by Mac OS X 10.6.7 has led “tonymacx86″ to suggest that it could signal “the end of the Mac-only graphics card.”

“Could Apple be opening up the platform more?” he asked. “What happens to NVIDIA? Why support for cards that aren’t in Macs yet? Will the 2011 Sandy Bridge iMacs contain one or more of these new 6xxx cards?”

The Mac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard build unique to early 2011 Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro models apparently contains native support for the following graphics cards:

– ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D8

– ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D9

– ATI Radeon HD 5670 Device ID 0x68D8

– ATI Radeon HD 5730 Device ID 0x68D8

– ATI Radeon HD 5770 Device ID 0x68B8

– ATI Radeon HD 5850 Device ID 0x6899

– ATI Radeon HD 5870 Device ID 0x6898

– AMD Radeon HD 6850 Device ID 0x6739

– AMD Radeon HD 6870 Device ID 0x6738

– AMD Radeon HD 6970 Device ID 0x6718

Apple also released a special build unique to the new MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt also addresses performance issues with FaceTime. It also improves graphics stability and external display compatibility with the new notebooks released in February.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

U.S. Apple Store iPad 2 order times improve to 3-4 weeks

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Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 03:02
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve been hankering for a new iPad 2, there’s good news for you.

Availability of the iPad 2 has begun to improve, as Apple has eased the estimated ship time to between three and four weeks for new orders through its online store in the U.S.

Per AppleInsider, the new estimated shipping times for U.S. customers are an improvement from the previous estimate of between four and five weeks. But the wait is a little longer than some international orders, which are estimated to ship in two to three weeks.

The shipping improvement is only a week, but it’s a sign that Apple is beginning to catch up with strong demand it has faced since the iPad 2 first launched in the U.S. earlier this month. It’s also a good sign for the international launch, as there had been some concern that sales in 25 new countries would only exacerbate the problem.

The iPad 2 completely sold out at all retail outlets in the U.S. in its first weekend of availability, and stock has continued to trickle in over the following weeks. But there has also been concern about Apple’s stock going forward, following the earthquake disaster in Japan and its potential effect on iPad components.

Last week, a report from the Far East indicated that Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn had stockpiled enough components to continue to assemble iPad 2 units for at least another two to three weeks. It was said that if the situation in Japan did not improve, Apple could face a stockout of the iPad 2.

For now those concerns appear to be unfounded, as availability appears to be improving with quicker shipping estimates.

Stay tuned for additional details and if your iPad 2’s ship time appears to have improved, please let us know.

Some users report freezes while using FaceTime on iPad 2

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

There’ll always be a few bugs to sort out, no matter how popular a new device is.

Per AppleInsider, some users have reported freezing issues with the FaceTime video chat feature, requiring a restart of the device.

A handful of users on Apple’s support forums have posted to a growing thread where they have described a problem where the image displayed by the forward-facing camera on the iPad 2 crashes in the FaceTime application. The same issue is also detailed in two other, smaller threads (1, 2).

“When I opened up FaceTime the first time, the camera was working fine, but now whenever I open it up, it just shows a still image from when I left,” user “CRK The Man” wrote. “How can I fix it?”

Most users seem to have found success in repairing FaceTime by simply restarting their iPad 2. Others have gone as far as completing a full software restore of the iPad 2 to address the problem.

One user, “dels7080,” claimed that the manager of a Verizon store in New York City revealed that the FaceTime glitch has occurred to “a lot” of demo units available for customers on the sales floor to try. They too said the problem is solved by restarting the iPad 2.

“It happens quite frequently,” user “leov36″ wrote of the issue. “Restarting the ipad fixes the problem, BUT, it happens again with in the next two to three times I go to use it.”

FaceTime is only available on iOS devices with a forward-facing camera, including the newly released iPad 2. To take advantage of the forward and rear cameras on the second-generation iPad, Apple also added devoted applications for picture and movie taking, as well as Photo Booth for taking and editing photos.

If you’ve seen this with your new iPad 2, please let us know in the comments.

VLC 1.1.8 update released

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 03:12
Category: News, Software

vlclogo.jpg

Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.8. The new version, a 25.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Security update regarding video width concerning some demuxers.

– Support for a new Dirac encoder based on libschroedinger.

– Package of the new VP8/Webm encoder ‘Bali’.

– Notable updates in .mp4, .ogg, .ape demuxers.

– Major updates in most language translations.

– Fixes in skins2 supports of Winamp2 skins.

– Upgrade on the look of VLC for Mac OS X.

– Auto-detection for .txt subtitles is fixed.

– Fixes on Windows integration, notably regarding volume keys.

– Codecs updates.

– Many miscellaneous fixes.

VLC 1.1.8 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

WaterField ships iPad Travel Express case

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 04:42
Category: Accessory

On Tuesday, WaterField Designs, a San Francisco manufacturer focused on custom laptop sleeves, bags and cases for digital gear, introduced its iPad Travel Express case. The case stows the iPad by itself or wearing the Apple Smart Cover, the Apple wireless keyboard and additional accessories.

The compact Travel Express offers the following features:
– iPad-specific, scratch-free pocket for the iPad, iPad 2 or iPad 2 with Apple Cover

– Apple Wireless Keyboard slides into main compartment

– Scratch-free inside pockets for cables, adapter, cell phone, keys, wallet, etc.

– Custom made with domestically produced, 1050 denier, ballistic nylon

– YKK zipper opens case along top and side panel for easy access to contents

– Two impact-resistant plastic inserts protect screen and accessories

– Bold stripe in choice of six earthy colors to match other WaterField Designs gear

– Use alone (under an arm or in a bag) or with optional D-rings & strap (as a stand-alone bag)

The iPad Travel Express retails for US$69 and arrives is a black ballistic color with either a black, copper, flame, green, pine or pearl-colored stripe. Optional add-ons D-rings are available for US$5, a simple shoulder strap is available for US$12 and a suspension shoulder strap is available for US$22.

The case measure 12 x 9 x 1.5 inches and weights 10.5 ounces.

Apple TV 4.2.1 update released, addresses “HDTV flicker” issue

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday released a minor update for its second-generation Apple TV set top box, with software version 4.2.1 addressing an issue that caused screen flickering on some older high-definition TVs.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1 can now be downloaded directly from the device. It applies only to the second-generation Apple TV, released last year. The new version’s fixes and changes include the following:

– TV compatibility: Addresses issues that may cause the screen to flicker or display incorrect color on some older TVs.

– Wake from sleep: Addresses an issue where Apple TV may not wake from sleep.

– Audio: Addresses an issue where audio may not be heard on some TV models after switching from another input.

– Stability and performance: Apple TV software Update 4.2.1 includes stability and performance fixes for Apple TV.

If you’ve tried the new update and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 4.0 web browser

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Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 4.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 26.8 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

– Firefox 4 is available in over 80 languages

– Uses JägerMonkey, a new, faster JavaScript engine that is up to six times faster than Firefox 3.6

– Support for the Do Not Track (“DNT”) header that allows users to opt-out of behavioural advertising

– Firefox Sync is included by default, allowing you to securely synchronize between multiple computers and mobile devices

– Certain graphics rendering operations are now hardware-accelerated using Direct3D 9 on
Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS (OpenGL on Linux will be supported in the future)

– Direct2D Hardware Acceleration is now on by default for Windows 7 users

– WebGL is enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers

– Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format, hardware accelerated where available

– Firefox button has a new look for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users

– Tabs are now on top by default on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

– You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar

– The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

– The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like)

– Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins

– You can turn any tab into an “App Tab” by right-clicking on it and selecting “Make into App Tab” from the context menu

– The default homepage design has been refreshed

– Overhaul of the bookmarks and history code, enabling faster bookmarking and startup performance

– Per-compartment garbage collection is now enabled, reducing work done during complex animations

– Additional polish for the Firefox Add-ons Manager

– Improved web typography using OpenType with support for ligatures, kerning and font variants

– Web developers can animate content using CSS Transitions

– Responsiveness and scrolling improvements from the new retained layers layout system

– HTML5 Forms API makes web based forms easier to implement and validate

– Support for the new proposed Audio Data API

– Support for HSTS security protocol allowing sites to insist that they only be loaded over SSL

– A new feature called Panorama gives users a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped

– An experimental API is included to provide more efficient Javascript animations

– Firefox now supports the HTML5 video “buffered” property

– Changes to how XPCOM components are registered in order to help startup time and process separation

– New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)

– Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions

– CSS Transitions are partially supported

– Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently

– Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs

– More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction

– Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload
CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user’s browsing history

– New HTML5 parser

– Support for more HTML5 form controls

– Web authors can now get touch events from Firefox users on Windows 7 machines

– A new way of representing values in JavaScript that allows Firefox to execute heavy, numeric code (used for things like graphics and animations) more efficiently

Firefox 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mad and Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know.

2011 MacBook Pro Turbo Boost problem may be larger issue than originally thought

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Date: Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011, 05:57
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

The good news is that the new 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are out and they are generally considered speedy and awesome.

The bad news is that Apple may have been aware for some time of the problem of new MacBook Pros crashing under heavy loads. According PC Pro magazine, Apple appears to have deliberately turned off Turbo Boost for the top-end 13″ model (with a dual-core 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor) when running Windows under Boot Camp.

PC Pro originally thought that Turbo Boost had been disabled under OS X as well, but then tests performed by AnandTech showed that the feature was only disabled under Windows. “We first noticed a problem when the benchmarks finished five full runs and the results popped up on screen: the times taken to complete several of the most intensive tests were rising with each run” says PC Pro. “This would suggest an overheating problem, so we ran a temperature monitor to find out how hot this Sandy Bridge CPU was getting.”

In fact, the CPU was reaching around 93°C — almost 200°F. “93°C is not necessarily too high for a modern CPU, but it is the root cause of the bigger performance problem.” The magazine went on to state that it was sure the processor isn’t turning off Turbo Boost dynamically, since it didn’t work at all during their week of testing no matter what the CPU temperature was. Also, the cheaper model with the i5 processor did use Turbo Boost, as did the i7 model under OS X.

After measuring the underside temperature of the top-end model at 60°C — 140°F — they conclude that it might actually be a better deal to buy the cheaper 13-inch MacBook Pro. If Turbo Boost is disabled on the higher model, the lower-end version will actually run Windows faster than the more expensive MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 2 set for international launch on March 25th

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011, 04:10
Category: iPad, News

You can’t find it in the United States, so that’s no reason not to introduce it to the rest of the world.

Per TechRadar.com, despite continued sellouts of the iPad 2 in the U.S., an Apple spokesperson has confirmed that the international launch of the touchscreen tablet will proceed as planned on Friday, March 25.

“Everything that is on [Apple's U.K.] website still holds true; the website says 25 March and that’s when it’ll be,” an Apple spokesperson told TechRadar.com earlier this week.

Rumors that Apple would delay the international launch of the iPad 2 were fueled last week by immediate sellouts of new shipments of the device and long lines that continued in the week after launch. Last week, analyst Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities questioned whether Apple would be able to produce enough iPad 2 units to launch in more than two dozen countries this Friday after checks to several key Apple Stores.

Also stoking speculation of iPad 2 delays were reports of supply chain disruption caused by a massive earthquake in Japan that took place earlier this month. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told investors last week that the production status from Apple’s Japanese-based component suppliers remained unclear, with many partners unable to accurately quantify the extent of their damage.

Late last week, a report from iSuppli identified five components in the Pad 2 that are likely sourced from Japan: NAND flash from Toshiba Corp., DRAM made by Elphida Memory Inc., an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, a touchscreen overlay glass likely from Asahi Glass Co. and a system battery from Apple Japan. The report noted that while some of the suppliers’ facilities were undamaged, “delivery of components from all of these companies is likely to be impacted at least to some degree by logistical issues now plaguing most Japanese industries in the quake zone.”

Apple announced last week that it is delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan “while the country and [Apple's] teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster.”

The iPad 2 is scheduled to go on sale March 25 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. According to Apple, launch dates and pricing for further international launches will be announced at a later date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.