Apple releases Flashback removal tool for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:21
Category: News, security, Software

If you’ve yet to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 or Mac OS X 10.7, there’s some good news.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released a pair of security updates for the older operating system: Leopard Security Update 2012-003 and Flashback Removal Security Update.

The Leopard Security Update disables older versions of Adobe Flash Player that don’t contain the latest security updates, prompting you to upgrade instead. That mirrors an update Apple offered for Safari on Snow Leopard and Lion last week.

The Flashback Removal Security Update finds and removes the most common variants of that malware; the updater may need to restart your Mac to complete the removal of any malware.

Both updates are available directly from Apple’s website or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5.8 to install and run.

If you’ve tried the updates/malware removal tools and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Kaspersky Lab to help advice Apple on Mac OS X security

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 10:08
Category: News, security, Software

It never hurts to ask for a helping hand.

Per computing.co.uk, Apple has invited Kaspersky Lab to consult on potential OS X security issues following the aftermath of the largest malware outbreak on the platform.

Kaspersky has begun analyzing the OS X platform at Apple’s request, the company’s chief technology officer, Nikolai Grebennikov, said in an interview with Computing. The Kaspersky executive has publicly called Apple out for not taking security seriously enough.

“Mac OS is really vulnerable, and Apple recently invited us to improve its security,” Grebennikov said. We’ve begun an analysis of its vulnerabilities, and the malware targeting it.”

As one specific security issue with OS X, he noted that Apple has blocked Oracle from directly updating Java on the Mac. Instead, Apple handles the updates, and they typically arrive months after Oracle issues its own patches.

Mac-centric Java development is set to move to Oracle following the latest runtime updates built in-house at Apple. Apple dropped Java from the default installation of OS X 10.7 Lion after the company announced its plans to deprecate the software’s release from the Mac platform.

In April, Oracle released its first Java Development Kit and JavaFX Software Development Kit for Mac users. They arrived one and a half years after Apple announced the depreciation of its own edition of Java for Mac.

Kaspersky’s newfound partnership with Apple comes on the heels of the Flashback malware botnet, which was believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of Macs at its peak. The presence of Flashback was greatly diminished after Apple released a series of software updates to squash the malware, including a Java update and a separate removal tool.

Grebennikov cited the Flashback malware as “a huge sign that Apple’s security model isn’t perfect.” He also predicted that the first malware targeting Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which powers the iPhone and iPad, will arrive in the next “year or so.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate photo sharing features in iCloud at WWDC

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 09:20
Category: iCloud, iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, add functionality.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to upgrade its iCloud service with new photo sharing functionality at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The new features will reportedly be announced when WWDC kicks off on June 11 and the new functionality will allow users to share photos with others and also comment on them.

That’s a major improvement from the current Photo Stream functionality in iCloud, which simply syncs pictures across devices rather than giving users the ability upload and share them publicly or with friends.

If true, the new photo sharing functionality would be another attempt at social networking on the part of Apple. The company launched a social networking component of iTunes with Ping in 2010, but that effort has largely failed to gain traction despite integration with Twitter.

Monday’s report also reaffirmed that Apple is planning to add support for synced Notes and Reminders to an upgraded iCloud.com website. Apple itself tipped its hand to those upgrades last week, when the site beta.icloud.com was temporarily accessible to the public.

Last week Apple’s regular iCloud.com site also showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website. Monday’s report made no mention of Web-based notification syncing for iCloud.

Apple will show off the future of both iOS and OS X at WWDC when it kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. The company is expected to reveal more about this summer’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion update, and also unveil iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Uncovered Geekbench benchmarks hint at speedy next-gen MacBook Pro, iMac computers

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:13
Category: Benchmark, Hardware, iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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It’s the benchmarks that get you interested in a new architecture.

Per MacRumors, a series of Geekbench benchmarks that appear to be from unreleased versions of Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMac computers have surfaced online and serve as compelling evidence of upcoming upgrades from the company.

Scores for a MacBook Pro9,1 and an iMac13,2 were discovered by a MacRumors forum user on Sunday, as noted by the publication. Though it’s possible the results were spoofed, the model numbers, if accurate, are higher than Apple’s current-generation models.

According to the benchmarks, the MacBookPro9,1 was running Max OS X 10.8 (Build 12A211), a build that has yet to be released to developers. The machine reportedly made use of a quad-core 2.70 GHz Core i7-3820QM processor and received a GeekBench score of 12,252. That compares to a score of around 10,500 for the Core i7-2860QM processor found in the current MacBook Pro.

Benchmarks for the alleged iMac13,2 were posted a few days before the MacBook Pro results. The desktop was also powered by a quad-core i7 chip, though the model number was 3770 and the clock speed was 3.40 GHz. The operating system for the iMac was described as Mac OS X 10.8 (Build 12A2040), which may have been running an earlier build of Mac OS X 10.8 than that of the aforementioned MacBook Pro. The Geekbench score for the iMac came in at 12,183.

The report also noted that the motherboard identifiers for both machines match up with Mac models discovered in the first developer preview of OS X 10.8.

Geekbench has served as an accurate source of leaks in the past. In 2010, early benchmarks matched the eventual specifications of a MacBook Pro upgrade.

In March, benchmarks reportedly for “Hackintosh” Ivy Bridge-powered computers appeared online. A 3.50GHz Core i7-3770K CPU running Mac OS X 10.7 was said to have received a score of 13,453.

Chipmaker Intel officially launched its Ivy Bridge architecture late last month. Ahead of the release, CEO Paul Otellini indicated that the “bulk” of the first wave of chips would go to desktop computers. A second batch of Ivy Bridge processors bound for lightweight notebooks are scheduled to be released later this quarter.

Rumors have also suggested that Apple will release new iMacs in June or July. One report claimed last month that the new iMacs will feature anti-reflective displays.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple approaches Genesys to supply USB 3.0 chips for next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, Rumor

This could prove useful.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to have inked a deal with Genesys Logic for USB 3.0 card reader controller chips.

The integrated-circuit design house will provide the USB 3.0 chips for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Air models, which will be released in the second half of 2012, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Overall shipments of USB 3.0 products are expected to take off in 2012 with the launch of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are also expected to be found in Apple’s next Macs.

Genesys Logic manufactures the GL3220 Card Reader Controller, a USB 3.0 complaint chip which can support various types of memory cards. Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air includes a dedicated SD card reader, which would make it an ideal fit for the new chips.

The card reader controller allows for a system’s internal SD card slot to connect to a system’s onboard USB 3.0 controllers. The rumored deal with Gensys and Apple could suggest that Apple plans to add USB 3.0 support to its future MacBooks.

Last year, Apple launched its first Macs with the new high-speed Thunderbolt port, which the company co-designed with Intel. Thunderbolt support is set to come to Windows PCs this year, as Intel views it and USB 3.0 as complementary technologies, with support for both built in to Ivy Bridge processors.

Formerly code-named “Light Peak,” Thunderbolt’s data transfer speeds are 20 times faster than the current, widely available USB 2.0 specification. Thunderbolt’s 10Gbps speeds are even twice as fast as USB 3.0.

Last September it was rumored that Apple was investigating USB 3.0 support with new Mac hardware. The third-generation of USB is backward compatible with the previous generation of devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iCloud beta site shows possible upcoming Notes, Reminders functionality

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:07
Category: iCloud, Rumor, Software

While it’s not a wild stretch of the imagination in terms of added functionality, this could be useful.

The beta.icloud.com web site has been sporadically available today and seems to suggest that Apple is looking to add Notes and Reminders to iCloud’s syncing services.

The change was discovered by developer Steve Troughton-Smith and another space was also included in the beta site for iCloud for another service, though the image link was broken and did not display. It’s unclear whether the website was a beta for iCloud before it launched last year, or if it was a test for a forthcoming update to the service.

However, the beta site for iCloud was not functional as of Friday, as attempts to sign in to the page were not successful. The site has since been pulled offline, and forwards to Apple’s overview page for the iCloud service.

The beta site is the second unintentional iCloud-related leak from Apple this week. On Tuesday, the regular iCloud.com site showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple creating its own mapping services for iOS 6

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:40
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Ok, this could be interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple will move away from Google Maps services in iOS 6, making the transition to an in-house mapping service that included 3D views. According to the report, Apple’s prior acquisitions of mapping companies Placebase and Poly9 could work with last year’s purchase of 3D mapping firm C3 Technologies rounding out the suite of services.

The most important aspect of the new Maps application is a powerful new 3D mode. The 3D mode does not come enabled by default, but users simply need to click a 3D button that is conveniently and visibly stored in the app. This 3D mode is said to essentially be technology straight from C3 Technologies: beautiful, realisitic graphics based on de-classified missile target algorithms.

Apple’s in-house mapping services will otherwise be rather similar in appearance to the current Google Maps application, although Apple’s implementation is said to be a “much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience” and will include a new icon based on the same view of the company’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino but with new colors and styling.

Apple has clearly been working for some time to reduce its reliance on Google by developing its own mapping services for iOS, as evidenced by its acquisitions of mapping expertise and job postings addressing its ambitions for mapping. The company has already moved location services in-house and revealed last year that it is building a crowd-sourced traffic database based on users’ GPS data.

With the release of iPhoto for iOS back in early March, Apple took its first big step outside of the actual Google mapping services, taking advantage of OpenStreetMap and other services to generate its own map tiles for the application’s Photo Journals feature.

Apple is expected to preview iOS 6 at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, with the operating system presumably making its public debut alongside new iPhone hardware later in the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 5.0.1 update, adds HD previews, other fixes

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It may not be the biggest update in the world, but it makes a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday released Software Update Version 5.0.1 for second and third generation Apple TVs, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes to the set-top media streamers.

The update includes the following fixes and changes:

– Fixing an issue that caused some iOS app to have trouble connecting via AirPlay.

– Improving the reliability of Home Sharing connections; addressing an unspecified issue with Neflix login and navigation.

– Fixes for issues affecting stability and performance.

The software is meant for second and third generation Apple TVs only and can be downloaded on the unit by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software.

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

Mac OS X 10.7.4 update resources point towards Retina Display features in upcoming Macs

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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The cool stuff, it’s en route.

Per AppleInsider, assorted resources within the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update issued on Wednesday is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple’s built-in TextEdit application. In Mac OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application’s icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled.

With the quality of the TextEdit icon increased greatly to 1,024-by-1,024 pixels, the file size of the icon also grew from just 209 kilobytes in OS X 10.7.3 to 1.7 megabytes in 10.7.4.

Other applications also saw their icon file sizes grow, such as the Address Book, from 279 kilobytes to 484 kilobytes, and Dashboard, from 130 kilobytes to 226 kilobytes. However, those applications do not feature Retina display 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons.

The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup. Apple’s new iPad, released in March, packs 3.1 million pixels onto its 9.7-inch display, giving it a higher resolution than a high-definition 1080p television.

Apple has been making behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X to prepare for anticipated Retina display Macs for some time. Some application icons, like the App Store and LaunchPad, have included 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons since OS X 10.7 Lion was in beta.

In February, it was discovered that Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update for Lion added more high-DPI user interface elements. Various cursors were upgraded to higher-resolution versions, like the pointing-finger cursor for browsers, the “grabby hand,” and the camera cursor for taking screenshots.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but those were only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the user interface resolution doubling that Apple has done with Retina displays on the iPhone and iPad.

Double-resolution icons can also be found in various applications in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system set to arrive this summer.

One report from last year claimed that Apple is planning to launch a new MacBook Pro with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel Retina display this year. That would be exactly twice the resolution of the 1,440-by-900-pixel display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s next-generation Macs are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Intel announced last September that Ivy Bridge chips would include support for screens with a 4K resolution, providing up to 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.