Mac OS X 10.7 features, release date, App Store-only purchase structure highlighted at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 15:02
Category: News, Software

Ok, this might take a while to go through…

Following up on Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference which opened today, Apple announced on Monday that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will be available only in the Mac App Store, and the operating system upgrade will be available for just US$29.99.

Per AppleInsider, a new developer preview of Lion will be available to download today, while the final product will become available to users on the Mac App Store in July. The Mac App Store release of Lion and aggressive pricing of the operating system were both first reported by AppleInsider earlier this year.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was demonstrated Monday by Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, and Craig Federighi, head of Mac OS X Software. Together, they demonstrated 10 of the more than 250 new features found in Lion.

The forthcoming operating system features new Multi-Touch gestures and fluid animations built into Lion that allow you to interact directly with content on the screen for a more intuitive way to use your Mac. New gestures include momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps. All Mac notebooks ship with Multi-Touch trackpads and desktop Macs can use Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Full screen apps take advantage of the entire display and are perfect for reading email, surfing the web or browsing photos, especially on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. With a single click your app fills the display and you can swipe from one window to another, between full screen apps, or back to your Desktop, Dashboard or Spaces without ever leaving full screen. iWork and iLife apps, as well as Safari, iTunes, Mail, FaceTime and others, all take advantage of Lion’s system-wide support for full screen apps.

A new Mission Control feature combines Exposé, full screen apps, Dashboard and Spaces into one unified experience for a bird’s eye view of every app and window running on your Mac. With a single swipe, your desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full screen apps and your Dashboard, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere with a tap.

Similar to Mac OS X 10.6.6 and beyond, the Mac App Store is built into Lion and allows you to buy them with your iTunes account, download and install them. Apps automatically install directly to Launchpad, and with Lion’s release, the Mac App Store will be able to deliver smaller “delta” app updates and new apps that can take advantage of features like In-App Purchase and Push Notifications.

A Launchpad feature allows you to find and launch any app. With a single Multi-Touch gesture, all your Mac apps are displayed in a full screen layout wherein apps can be organized in any order or into folders that can be swiped through to find the one you want.

A redesigned Mail app with a widescreen layout includes a Conversations groups related messages into an easily scrollable timeline, hiding repeated text so the conversation is easy to follow, and retaining graphics and attachments as they were originally sent. A new search feature allows you to refine your search and suggests matches by person, subject and label as you type. Mail includes built-in support for Microsoft Exchange 2010.

Additional new features in Lion include:
- Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app.

- Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work.

- Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions.

- AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.

The Mac App Store will be built into Lion and will offer in-app purchases and push notifications, just like in iOS. Apple is also adding delta updates, which should make it faster to patch software.

Other features mentioned, but not detailed, include built-in FaceTime, FileVault 2, Windows Migration, Lion Server add-on, Safari Reading list, resize from any edge, Xsan built-in, dictionary lookup smart magnify in Preview, and more.

Mac OS X Lion will be available in July as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard from the Mac App Store for US$29.99 (US). Lion will stand as a 4GB download and Mac OS X Lion Server requires Lion and will be available in July from the Mac App Store for US$49.99 (US).

Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM. The Lion upgrade can be installed on all your authorized personal Macs.

The Mac OS X Lion Up-To-Date upgrade is available at no additional charge via the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 6, 2011. Users must request their Up-To-Date upgrade within 30 days of purchase of their Mac computer. Customers who purchase a qualifying Mac between June 6, 2011 and the date when Lion is available in the Mac App Store will have 30 days from Lion’s official release date to make a request.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.3 public beta, begins to introduce iCloud, re-download feature for purchased content

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 15:28
Category: iTunes, iTunes Music Store, News, Software

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Literally moments after announcing its new iCloud service, Apple offered a public beta iTunes 10.3, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, available at download, offers a new “Purchased” tab for re-downloading software and content at no cost.

Per AppleInsider, the new iTunes also includes the iBookstore for Mac and PC, allowing for “an unabridged browsing and shopping experience.”

Users can also find “Purchased” software in the iOS App Store by selecting the “Updates” tab. From there, in addition to available updates, the “Purchased” section can also be viewed.

The new feature offers a thorough list of all software that has been purchased on the authorized Apple ID signed in on the iOS device. A convenient “Not On this iPhone” tab also allows users to only view applications that are owned, but not currently installed.

Similarly, purchased songs can also be viewed in the iOS iTunes Store application. Content that has been purchased from the iTunes Store can be sorted by artist name, in a list of recent purchases, or a complete list of songs.

All content is presented with a cloud icon, connecting the new functionality with the just-announced iCloud service. While Monday’s quick updates offer a taste of iCloud, the full service (including wireless syncing of content and data on iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) will roll out with the launch of iOS 5 this fall.

The functionality of “iTunes in the Cloud” can also be extended to music ripped from a personal CD collection with Apple’s newly announced iTunes Match, available for US$24.99 per year. The new service will match up a user’s personal library of songs with the 18 million high-quality tracks available on the iTunes Store, and that content can also be re-downloaded to multiple devices, like an iPhone or iPad.

If you have any opinion on this, please let us know and we’ll get additional details to you as soon as they become available.

VLC 1.1.10 update released

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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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 1.1.10. The new version, a 43.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Security update regarding an integer overflow in xspf demuxer.

- Rewrite of the pulseaudio audio output module.

- Update of libmodplug for security reasons in Windows and Mac versions.

- Major updates in most language translations.

- Removal of the font-cache re-building on the freetype module on Windows.

- Numerous updates and fixes on the interface and look of VLC for Mac OS X.

- Many miscellaneous fixes in decoders, demuxers and subtitles.

- 3rd party libraries updates.

VLC 1.1.10 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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.

AT&T CEO drops hints at smaller SIM card format

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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Prior to all the Worldwide Developers Conference hubbub, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview this week with All Things D that a smaller SIM card is a “no-brainer” and his company is looking into it, but declined to make the direct connection to Apple that the France Telecom CEO made last week.

When asked by All Things D’s Ina Fried whether AT&T is interested in the smaller SIM card that Apple and France Telecom have reportedly agreed upon, de la Vega acknowledged that the carrier is “working with the industry” to look at the possibility of smaller SIM cards. “I think that probably will happen,” he said.

In late May, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview that Apple and wireless carriers had reached a compromise to use a smaller SIM card format instead of an embedded SIM chip that Apple had expressed interest in. According to Richard, the next iPhone will be “smaller and thinner,” partially due to a reduction in the SIM card footprint.

Per another executive at Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Apple in May submitted a new requirement for a smaller SIM form factor to a European standards institute. The iPhone 4 and iPad currently utilize a micro-SIM solution.

Like Richard, de la Vega expressed a preference for a smaller SIM card over an embedded SIM. “We think that making the card smaller and shrinking the size is a no-brainer and we should be able to make that happen,” he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an e-SIM.

During the interview, de la Vega expressed disappointment at Windows Phone sales. “We actually like [Windows Phone 7] very, very much,” he said. “It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to.”

Despite the lackluster sales, the AT&T CEO remained optimistic about Microsoft’s prospects. “I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good,” he said. “I think they just need to make it better… Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone–I think that is all that it needs.”

For de la Vega, the iPhone and Google’s Android have been “positive surprises,” while sales of Research in Motion’s devices have dropped off. “Android and Apple are really the hot products right now,” he added, noting that customers have been “choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries.”

The executive also challenged tablet makers to continue to raise standards in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to de la Vega, all the manufacturers who make smartphones are also offering AT&T tablets. “The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar,” he said.

Speaking at the D9 conference earlier this week, de la Vega confirmed that AT&T is working on a shared data plan that would allow users to pool minutes and data plans between devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iCloud service to be initially free for certain customers, then available for $25/year

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:49
Category: iTunes, Rumor, Software

You can have it for free…for a while.

Per the Los Angeles Times, music industry insiders allege that Apple’s forthcoming iCloud service will have an initial free period for iTunes Music Store customers, but the company plans to eventually charge a US$25 a year subscription fee.

The newspaper confirmed on Thursday earlier reports that Apple had finalized contracts with the last of the major music labels, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

“The service initially will be offered for a free period to people who buy music from Apple’s iTunes digital download store,” the report read. “The company plans to eventually charge a subscription fee, about US$25 a year, for the service.”

It is unclear, though, whether the report refers to the cost of the whole iCloud service or just the streaming music feature. By comparison, MobileMe, Apple’s current online storage and sharing solution, costs US$99 a year.

In addition to charging a subscription fee, “Apple would also sell advertising around its iCloud service,” the report noted, without providing details on why Apple would both charge for the service and sell advertising. Sources also indicated that Apple “envisions the service to be used for movies, TV shows and other digital content sold through iTunes.”

Sources stated on Wednesday that Apple could offer general iCloud features free to Mac users who make the upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”), though a music streaming service would likely come with a price tag. Music industry executives have previously suggested that Apple’s cloud-based music service could be free at first, but would eventually cost money.

According to sources knowledgeable with the terms of Apple’s agreements with the music labels claim 70% of the revenue from iCloud’s music service will go to the labels and 12% will go to the publishers, leaving Apple with 18%, according to Thursday’s report.

However, those numbers contradict a report from CNet earlier on Thursday that alleged Apple would keep 30% of revenue and share 58% with the labels and 12% with publishers. That report also cited sources claiming Apple’s streaming music service won’t be available on Monday “but will be offered soon,” though it will reportedly store only music purchased from the iTunes.

Apple is set to unveil the service next Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in San Francisco, alongside a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and the introduction of iOS 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

WHO study finds AT&T iPhone 4 emits “medium” amount of radiation

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:25
Category: iPhone, News

I’m not sure if this is comforting or otherwise.

In the wake of the World Health Organization’s report on cell phones and radiation, the Environmental Working Group has released a database of cell phone models with the highest and lowest rates of radiofrequency energy according to a CNN report. Per the report, Apple’s iPhone 4 (the AT&T version; the Verizon model wasn’t tested) falls in the middle range of emissions, which are measured using a Specific Absorption Rate of energy by the body written as “watts per kilogram.”

Cell phones sold in the U.S. cannot exceed a measure of 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiofrequency energy, but there is no study that shows an increased risk — or any risk — in using phones that emit higher or lower amounts. The WHO announcement, which was a change from their previous, more neutral position, comprised a review of hundreds of other peer-review studies — a compilation of known data — and concluded that cell phone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Often omitted from reports of the meta-study is that its principle recommendation was that the issue needed further study.

The database of phone radiation showed that Motorola had the model emitting the most energy per kilogram of energy, AT&T’s Bravo at 1.59 W/kg — just under the legal limit. The phone with the least amount of exposure was AT&T’s LG Quantum at 0.35 W/kg. Apple’s iPhone 4 tested at 1.17 W/kg, which ranks it about average. Samsung had a number of phones that were among the 10 lowest, while Motorola had the most phones in the top 10 highest, along with the Palm Pixi, the Blackberry Bold and the HTC Magic also ranking very high in energy absorbed by the body.

Cell phones, by their nature, emit and receive small amounts of microwave energy at all times while they are on — communicating with cell towers, updating GPS coordinates and of course being used for communication. Studies have been unsuccessful at establishing a clear link between cell phones and specific medical issues, even when the unit is held next to the head for prolonged periods. Radiation is naturally present in the atmosphere and from other sources, but how much the human body can absorb on a low-but-constant level without ill effects remains unclear.

Stay tuned for more on this as we get it.

Rumor: Apple, Universal reach licensing terms for iCloud music streaming

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:29
Category: iTunes, Rumor, Software

It’s never a bad thing when two parties come to terms on something.

Per CNET, Apple has signed a licensing deal with Universal Music Group, incorporating all four of the major record companies into its iTunes iCloud music plans.

Citing “sources with knowledge of the talks,” the reported today that, in addition to Universal, Apple has also reached agreements with “some of the large music publishers.”

Apple announced earlier this week that it would feature iCloud at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, detailing its plans for the new web service.

It is believed that Apple’s iCloud will deliver a streaming media repository for users’ commercial digital content. iOS 5 is also expected to add new features that make it easy for users to automatically upload and publish their photos, movies, and other content directly from iOS mobile devices.

Apple already offers some basic streaming music and content sharing via MobileMe, but the new iCloud is understood to dramatically expand upon these features and add new ones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop 6.0.12090.660720 released

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Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 09:24
Category: News, Software

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Parallels Desktop, the popular virtualization application that allows users to run the Windows and Linux operating systems simultaneously alongside Mac OS X, reached version 6.0.12090.660720 on Thursday. The new version, available here, sports the following major fixes and changes:

- Adds support for Ubuntu 11.04 virtual machines.

- Improves mapping of Mac OS X system shortcuts to their equivalents in guest operating systems.

- Improves sharing clipboard between Windows and Mac OS X.

- Post about your exploring Windows on the Mac to Twitter and Facebook right from Parallels Desktop.

- Migrate multiple user accounts from a PC to your Mac using Parallels Transporter.

- Many issues have been fixed.

Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac retails for US$79.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.2 later to install and run.

Microsoft looking to ARM processors, HTML5 for Windows 8 mobile strategy

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Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

There may be something to this whole HTML5 thing…

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft has provided a look at how it plans to bring Windows to more mobile devices in the future, leveraging ARM processors and using HTML5 as the basis of a new app platform.

As demonstrated at the D9 conference, Windows 8 will deliver a touch-centric new interface for apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that runs on top of the existing, conventional Windows platform.

The company showed off a new Start screen patterned after the tiled home page of Windows Phone 7. The company says the new tiled interface “replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.”

Microsoft’s mobile Windows CE core operating system differs dramatically from its desktop Windows operating system, but the two will grow closer together in appearance as Windows 8 adopts a similar, top level interface to Windows Phone 7 and the Zune.

In contrast, Apple’s desktop Mac OS X and mobile iOS share the same core operating system and use optimized versions of the company’s proprietary Cocoa development platform to deliver native apps, but differ in the interface they present, with Mac OS X retaining a mouse-based windowing environment while iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad present a completely rethought, touch-based interface.

Microsoft’s own efforts to build a cohesive development environment for both the Windows CE-based Windows Mobile 6 and its desktop Windows XP/Vista/7 platform initially revolved around the company’s .Net APIs before shifting Windows Phone 7 to use Microsoft’s Adobe Flash-like Silverlight as its mobile app platform.

Now, Microsoft is announcing a new shift that leverages the interest in HTML5 to deliver “web-connected and web-powered” apps (similar to HP’s webOS platform acquired from Palm) that will run alongside legacy Windows apps on the forthcoming Windows 8. Microsoft says this approach “is designed and optimized for touch,” although the company also says “it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard.”

Ironically, the new HTML5 layer of Windows 8 works like the Dashboard layer of Mac OS X, although rather than only supplying quick assess to simple widgets, the new “Windows 8 apps” are intended to supply a layer of highly animated, full screen, touch-based apps capable of competing with native apps running on Apple’s iPad.

Like Apple’s iOS, Windows 8 is intended to be deployed on highly mobile devices such as ARM-based tablets in addition to the conventional PCs Windows has powered in the past. Unlike Apple’s iOS, which became instantly popular on the iPhone before expanding to the iPod touch and iPad, Microsoft’s tile-based Zune interface hasn’t yet found a significant, sustainable audience. After the Zune failed, Microsoft KIN and Windows Phone 7 have both found little interest among consumers.

Microsoft’s radical experimentation with Windows Vista in 2007 caused a negative backlash from Windows PC users, which has only settled down with the more conservative release of Windows 7. Sales of PCs have yet to rebound to levels prior to the release of Vista, and new mobile devices, in particular Apple’s iPad, have siphoned off a significant amount of demand among generic PCs.

Microsoft does have considerable clout among its developers and hardware makers however, and describes the new Windows 8 as its biggest risk yet, hoping the new release, due sometime over the next couple years, will bring it back into relevance among new generations of consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

New “MAC Defender” malware variant surfaces, works way around recent security update

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Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011, 04:10
Category: News, security, Software

Only one day after Apple released a security update for Mac OS X to address the “MAC Defender” malware, a new variant of the bogus antivirus software has been spotted in the wild.

Per ZDNet, the new variation of MAC Defender, named “Mdinstall.pkg,” has been crafted to bypass the new malware-blocking code made available by Apple. That update for Mac OS X, Security Update 2011-003, was released on Tuesday.

“The file has a date and time stamp from last night at 9:24PM Pacific time,” Bott wrote. That’s less than 8 hours after Apple’s security update was released. On a test system using Safari with default settings, it behaved exactly as before, beginning the installation process with no password required.

“As PC virus experts know, this cat-and-mouse game can go on indefinitely. Your move, Apple.”

Security Update 2011-003 included changes to the File Quarantine feature found in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It includes anti-malware definitions within the operating system itself, and examines external files downloaded within Mail, iChat, Safari, or other quarantine-aware applications.

The MACDefender malware first gained attention in early May, when it was spotted by an antivirus company. The program automatically downloads in Web browsers through JavaScript and originally required users to enter an administrator password, but a more recent variant does not ask for a password.

Some reports have suggested that the “MAC Defender” malware has spread quickly, with Bott earlier citing an anonymous AppleCare representative that apparently said the “overwhelming majority” of recent calls to Apple were related to the malware. Last week, Apple posted instructions on its site informing users on how to remove the malware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.