Metropolitan Transit Authority releases train-locating app for iOS devices

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 08:10
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

If you live in the greatest city in the world, this can only help.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transit Authority on Friday released an iOS app that will let riders of seven train lines plan their trips to the minute, a first for the largest subway system in the U.S.



The official MTA Subway Time app uses train location data to provide iPhone and iPod touch owners with up-to-the-minute arrival times for seven of the system’s 24 lines.

The MTA spent 11 years and over US$228 million to install digital train-tracking sensors and relevant equipment required to serve up real-time location data. The iOS app taps into the system and feeds commuters with arrival times, though the service is available mostly aboveground as cellular extension networks planned for underground stations have yet to be completed. A large portion of the subway’s train location sensors date back fifty years, just before the proliferation of microprocessors and digital communications.

Among the first lines to get support for the new free service are Nos. 1 through 6 and the 42nd Street Shuttle. Two more lines, the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan’s 14th Street and the No. 7 line between Queens and Midtown Manhattan, are currently being upgraded to be compatible with the new system. Updates to the L line are expected to be completed in six months to a year, while the No. 7 won’t be ready until at least 2016.

According to the app’s description, users will also be notified of service delays and reroutes prior to fare payment, a useful tool for on-the-go commuters.

Android and Windows Phone versions of the app are in the works, but unlike the iOS app, those will be built by third-party companies. The agency is also allowing developers access to the sensor data feeds, allowing app makers to build real-time tracking programs with more robust features than those offered by the official app.

MTA Subway Time for iOS is available now as a free download through the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Apple, Samsung come to terms over Galaxy S III Mini, remove it from forthcoming patent infringement case claims

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 08:47
Category: Legal, News

Not that this is going to entirely alleviate the ongoing conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

Per AppleInsider, a court document filed on Friday revealed that Apple is dropping all claims against Samsung’s Galaxy S III Mini smartphone after the Korean company said it has no plans to formally import and sell the handset in the U.S.

In Apple’s filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, a reply in support of a November motion to amend its claims against Samsung, the company agreed to drop the Galaxy S III Mini from the suit in response to the Galaxy maker’s opposition of adding new products to the upcoming case.

Apple looked to broaden assertions with a proposed Nov. 23 motion which added the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III with Android 4.1, Galaxy S III Mini, Rugby Pro, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 to a suit scheduled to be heard in 2014.

Samsung countered by saying it is not “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States,” and opposed the inclusion of the Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and Galaxy Rugby Pro, because “Apple did not serve its claim charts for these products until November 30, after the November 23 date identified by the Court.”

According to Friday’s filing, Apple will not contest the partial opposition and claimed it misunderstood a Nov. 15 court order regarding a limitation on assertions, a stipulation Samsung pointed to in its retort. If the Court agrees with Samsung’s reading of the order, which concludes that all new contentions made after Nov. 23 are invalid, Apple “will of course voluntarily withdraw any infringement contentions” made after that date.

As for the Galaxy S III Mini, Apple noted that the handset can be purchased at retail outlets like Amazon.com’s U.S. storefront, but agreed to withdraw its claims as long as they can be reinstated if the device was to see official sale in America.

The case, which involves the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III flagship smartphones, is set to start hearings on Mar. 31, 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 1.6.11

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 07:57
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a decent update:

On Friday, Dropbox released version 1.6.11 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 23.1 megabyte download, which adds the following fix:

- Fix a hang that affects a handful of people.

Dropbox 1.6.11 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

GraphicConverter updated to 8.5, adds Retina support, other features

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Date: Friday, December 28th, 2012, 09:41
Category: News, Software

A nifty chunk of shareware just got better.

On Friday, Thorsten Lemke’s seminal graphics conversion and editing app GraphicConverter reached version 8.5. The new version, a 153.8 megabyte download, added the following fixes and changes:

New features:
- Retina support added.
- Added support for 16 bit per channel grayscale raw import.
- Split red/green/blue batch added.
- Added batch function to extract all used keywords to convert&modify.
- Added option to disable indicator for unapplied xmp changes.
- Added zoom support to slideshow with gesture.
- Added dialog upon click of rotation indicator.
- Added rating tool to image window toolbar.
- Added option to open a browser with a default path upon launch.
- Added option to use EXIF preview as browser thumbnail.
- Added import of old picture clippings at 64 bit.
- Added import support for some old StartupScreen variants.
- Added editable number fields for display of slider values.
- Added slideshow with find.

Updated features:
- Exif creation does verify gps tags before export.
- Keyword palette supports import of plain keywords list.
- Next/previous icons do now use the last display scale for the new image.
- Improved undo options.
- Improved PhotoRaw options.
- Find and replace colors are stored in the prefs.
- Enhanced edit exif data dialog.

Bug fixes:
- Fixed performance issue after resolution change without resample.
- Added a workaround for a possible issue during keyword change of JPGs on server volumes with 10.7.x.
- Fixed a bug during applying batch settings during html catalog creation.
- Fixed a bug in multipage pdf to tiff conversion.
- Fixed a bug in replace dialog of non image files.
- Fixed a possible memory leak in the slideshow.
- Fixed a bug with the index display in the find and replace dialog.
- Fixed a bug in setting the catalog/picture format.
- Fixed a display issue on 10.6.8.
- Fixed possible crash during import of corrupt WPG file.
- Fixed a bug in JPS to MPO conversion.
- Fixed a bug in flat view.
- Fixed a bug with change of extension if the filename uses dots.

GraphicConverter 8.5 retails for US$39.95 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to update notebooks in June, retain same design with new models

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Date: Friday, December 28th, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

Rumor: Apple to update notebooks in June, retain same design with new models

Sometimes you just don’t muck with a good design.

Per DigiTimes, Apple will reportedly update the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air product lines in June 2013 with upgraded innards, but no major design changes are expected for either laptop range.

According to the article, Taiwanese supply chain sources said Apple recently issued requests for quotations (RFQs) for a number of notebooks, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, with the new models slated to reach consumers in June 2013.

Little information was offered regarding the revised MacBook Pro as the publication focused its report on the effect Apple’s MacBook Air will have on so-called Ultrabook makers next year. For 2013, Apple’s thin-and-light is said to be switching to a new processor platform, most likely Intel’s next-generation Haswell architecture.

As for design, sources say no major changes are planned for either product line. While the MacBook Pro line was the recipient of a design overhaul with the Retina display model, non-Retina versions still sport a unibody chassis largely unaltered since its debut in 2008. The MacBook Air’s enclosure was revamped in 2010, taking on a more angular look as Apple applied design cues learned from its development of the iPad.

DigiTimes also suggests Apple may cut MacBook Air prices ahead of the June launch, but such a move is unlikely considering the company has no recent history of discounting products prior to a newer version’s release. The publication made similar claims in May when it incorrectly predicted that Apple would introduce a US$799 version of the notebook in the third quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent highlights motion-controlled mouse idea for future Macs

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Date: Friday, December 28th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Patents

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per AppleInsider, a patent filing published on Thursday details an Apple invention pertaining to a computer input device that uses motion gestures, like tilting, brushing and tapping to manipulate a computer’s GUI.

Apple’s “Methods and apparatus for processing combinations of kinematical inputs” describes a system that translates a variety of force and velocity data detected by an input device into commands for a computer’s user interface, such as control of a mouse cursor.

The invention calls for an input device with one or more motion sensors to feed a receiving system adapted to convert gesture data into GUI navigation commands.

In order to achieve precise calculations, the input device can use a number of motion sensors including one or more gyroscopes, optical sensors and accelerometers, among others. By taking force and vector data from the device, the receiving computer generates a “gesture profile” that is associated with a certain system command. For example, if a user slides the input device across a plane or object, a cursor will move in that direction.

Two gestures can be combined, for example below a sliding gesture is performed in conjunction with a tilt gesture, thus enabling a different UI command than would a simple lateral movement of the device.

The system is programmable, meaning different gestures can be assigned to various commands. A “nudge” gesture can equate to the waking of the input device when it is in sleep mode or moving a mouse cursor slightly in one direction. Tilting, tapping and other gravity-based gestures are supported by the system and can likewise reproduce any number of UI commands on a computer’s screen.

Gesture profiles can be multi-step operations. In the example below, the input device starts at the left at a speed of 0 meters per second. Once the start motion is detected, a minimum velocity must be reached in order to enable the gesture. When the magnitude of the force vector reaches zero, that is when the unit is lifted off the desk, the conditions satisfy the second gesture circumstance and the command is triggered.

It appears from the patent drawings that Apple could possibly incorporate the additional motion gesture control into an upcoming mouse. While just speculation, the iPhone and iPod lineups could also be used asinput devices as they carry integrated accelerometers, gyroscopes and imaging sensors. There are existing apps in the iOS ecosystem that “transform” iDevices into usable input peripherals, like R.P.A.Tech’s Mobile Mouse, but Apple may one day use the invention’s technology to offer a built-in first-party solution.

Apple’s patent application was first filed in April and credited Jean L. Lee is credited as its inventor.

Updated (x2): Apple changes guidelines as to 30-pin, Lightning connector ports on same iOS device in wake of Kickstarter effort

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Date: Friday, December 28th, 2012, 01:51
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per CNET, only a day after a Kickstarter project was killed because of restrictions on Apple’s MFi program that prevented Lightning and 30-Pin connectors from appearing on the same device, Apple has changed its guidelines to allow third-party devices to have 30-pin and Lightning chargers on the same accessory.



“Our technical specifications provide clear guidelines for developing accessories and they are available to MFi licensees for free,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told CNET. “We support accessories that integrate USB and Lightning connectors, but there were technical issues that prevented accessories from integrating 30-pin and Lightning connectors so our guidelines did not allow this.”

The company added that the guidelines have since been updated to allow accessories to work with both types of connectors to charge devices.

There is no word from Edison Junior on whether the company will move forward with the POP portable power station, which sought to bring both Lightning and 30-pin Dock connectors to iOS devices now that Apple has reversed course.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve heard anything about the POP effort or those similar to it, please let us know in the comments.

Update: The product now has a new web site that can be looked into via popportablepower.com.

Second update: Edison Junior Director of Operations August Cziment has replied to a query as to whether a MagSafe version of the POP with the following statement:

“Thanks for your interest. Right now we don’t have any definitive plans to do a MagSafe although we’d like to explore that idea. Right now we’re so focused on delivering an awesome POP product as we had promised so for now we’re trying not to distract ourselves.”

Rumor: Apple may switch to IGZO displays for next-gen iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, December 27th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, Rumor

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Next year could be interesting where iOS devices are concerned.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is reportedly in talks with Sharp to use the company’s IGZO display technology in next-generation iPhones and iPads, but low yield rates have prompted the Cupertino tech giant to look at other Asian display makers in efforts to bolster its supply chain.

According to sources close to the story, Apple is said to be further evaluating Sharp’s IGZO panel production capacity for 2013 ahead of rolling out the technology in upcoming iPhone, iPad and iPad mini models. Rumors of Apple’s interest in using IGZO, or indium, gallium and zinc oxide, displays first surfaced in late 2011.

While the Sharp-developed screens are thinner and more efficient than those found in current iDevices, Apple was unable to take advantage of the technology as the struggling Japanese electronics firm saw setbacks with initial yields. Only recently has the company introduced the first IGZO panels with its own mobile offerings limited to the Japanese domestic market.

It appears that supply constraints are a continuing concern, as Apple is said to also be evaluating whether display partner AU Optronics’ “L5C” line can be used to produce the cutting edge panels. In addition, Innolux was reportedly granted a license to make IGZO displays, suggesting that the Taiwanese company may become an Apple display supplier.

The most recent rumors surrounding an IGZO-toting Apple product came in July when sources in China claimed the tech would be one of the standout features of the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dispute resolved, Jobs family mega-yacht free to leave port

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Date: Wednesday, December 26th, 2012, 07:41
Category: News

In the spirit of the holidays, the Jobs family mega-yacht is now free to go.

Per The Next Web, a financial dispute with designer Philippe Starck has been resolved and the mega-yacht commissioned by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is now free to leave the dock where it was previously impounded.



A lawyer representing the Jobs family has stated that a resolution has been reached between them and Starck. As a result, the yacht is now free to leave the dock it is stationed at in the Netherlands.

The yacht was sequestered by lawyers last week in Amsterdam over the financial dispute, in which Starck believed he was due 9 million euros, while the Jobs family felt he was owed 6 million euros. The terms of the final agreement between Starck and Jobs’ heirs is unknown, but it was suggested that the designer did not receive as much as he was asking for.

The boat was reportedly built on a mutual trust between Jobs and Starck, and the contract between them was not very detailed. Jobs began designing the ship, named “Venus,” after returning from a cruise that traveled from Italy to Turkey.

The super yacht was first revealed in October. Word of the yacht was first revealed by Starck himself in April, though it wasn’t seen until months later.

The 80-meter-long ship is made completely of aluminum, with huge plate windows covering the wheelhouse and main deck entrances. The yacht relies on 27-inch iMacs for navigation, systems control and other seafaring software.

I’m not sure if getting your mega-yacht out of being impounded counts as a holiday miracle, but the Jobs family has always seemed nice and you take what you can get.

Hacker cites iOS 6 code as becoming more secure, offering “tougher protections”

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Date: Wednesday, December 26th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

Hacking an iOS device may be getting tougher to do.

Per iPodNN, in a recent tweet, hacker i0n1c has revealed that the forthcoming iOS 6.1 update adds “again tougher protections” to the codebase even compared to iOS 6, suggesting that security has been dramatically improved.

While many users have perfectly legitimate reasons (beyond just wanting to) for jailbreaking their iOS devices, because the technique relies on finding an exploitable “hole” in the OS code that could also be used for malicious purposes, Apple is naturally very eager to close up avenues by which unofficial or dangerous code could be injected into the device — even though many “unofficial” apps are simply ones that were rejected by Apple for App Store guideline violations, mostly for altering core OS elements.

Closing down jailbreaking loopholes will also close off one of the principle sources of pirated apps, also giving Apple considerable incentive to cut off the practice. Holes in Android code are frequently used to install scamware, malware, privacy-compromising and even virus-ridden apps — a growing problem for Google, though the ability to heavily customize and “root” Android devices is a major selling point to the most technically-proficient of Android’s audience.

The hacker community believes that iOS 6 will eventually get an “untethered” (meaning “persistent through restarts”) jailbreak, but that iOS 6.1 may represent the end of the free jailbreaking road. The security may simply have reached a point where only those likely to sell any remaining exploit secrets are likely to be able to come up with any.

Apple has made security a top priority on iOS, since it is the only platform where malware is all but completely unknown. Many of the security improvements made in iOS have also been transferred to the Mac as applicable, including complete sandboxing of applications and developer “signatures” on apps.

In his tweet, i0n1c refers to a “changing of the guard” that has brought much-improved security to iOS. It’s unknown if this refers to Craig Federighi’s recent promotion to handle both iOS and OS X, or if this is a reference to Kristin Paget, a top white-hat hacker herself who is now listed on LinkedIn as a “Core OS Security Researcher” at Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.