Honda, Acura, other car makers to offer Siri-based Eyes Free support on some 2013 models

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 08:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Soon you will talk to your car.

And it might actually do some of the things you ask of it.

Per AppleInsider, the American division of carmaker Honda announced on Wednesday it will integrate support for Apple’s voice-driven Siri personal assistant into its 2013 Honda Accord and Acura RDX and ILX models.

The 2013 Honda Accord will offer Siri Eyes Free integration as a dealer upgrade option.

The feature will be a dealer-installed option for customers who buy the latest model of the vehicles. Using a compatible iPhone running iOS 6, users will be able to direct Siri to perform specific tasks while keeping their eyes on the road.

Honda was already announced last June as one of nine auto makers that planned to support Siri’s Eyes Free mode. However, prior to Wednesday’s announcement, it was not known which vehicles Honda planned to offer with Siri integration, or when those vehicles would become available.

Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai also announced it would include Eyes Free support for Siri in its next-generation infotainment systems. Hyundai did not give any specific vehicle models.

General Motors did, however, announce support for its Chevy Spark and Sonic vehicles last November.

Hands Free allows the iPhone screen to stay off and help prevent the driver from being distracted by their device. The Siri personal assistant software talks to a user out loud, allowing them to pay attention to the road.

The other companies that have announced plans to support Siri Eyes Free are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Chrysler.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly disables Oracle’s Java 7 Update 11 fix via XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, security, Software

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When it comes to Java, there’s always an argument to be had between Apple and Oracle.

Per MacGeneration, the recently released Java 7 Update 11 has been blocked by Apple through its XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X.

Oracle issued the latest update to Java earlier this month to fix a serious zero-day security flaw. The threat was so serious that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had recommended that all Java 7 users disable or uninstall the software until a patch was issued.

Apple took action on its own and quietly disabled the plugin through its OS X anti-malware system. As noted by the article, Apple has again updated its OS X XProtect list, this time to block Java 7 Update 11.

Because Oracle has yet to issue a newer version of Java that addresses any outstanding issues, Mac users are prevented from running Java on their system.

Over the last few years, Apple has moved to gradually remove Java from OS X. The company dropped the Java runtime from the default installation for OS X 10.7 Lion when the operating system update launched in 2010. Java vulnerabilities have been a common exploit used by malicious hackers looking to exploit the OS X platform.

Most notably, the “Flashback” trojan that spread last year was said to have infected as many as 600,000 Macs worldwide at its peak. Apple addressed the issue by releasing a removal tool specifically tailored for the malware, and also disabled the Java runtime in its Safari web browser starting with version 5.1.7.

Apple comments on upcoming Apple TV unit, says smaller form factor won’t affect performance

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 07:33
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

Sometimes Apple drops some interesting hints about its unreleased stuff.

According to The Verge, despite details from a new FCC filing suggesting an updated Apple TV would feature a smaller form factor, Apple has indicated that the slightly tweaked hardware will look and function just like the current model.

Apple provided a statement on Wednesday in which the company downplayed speculation that a new Apple TV with a new look and experience may be forthcoming. Instead, Apple said the newly approved model is just a minor upgrade to the existing hardware.

“We sometimes make component changes which require an updated model number for regulatory approval,” the company said. “The component changes we made don’t affect product features and Apple TV customers will continue to have the same great user experience.”

The statement comes less than a day after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission revealed an unannounced Apple TV model identified as “A1469.” The filing suggested the unit’s design would be slightly smaller, shrinking from 98 millimeters to 93.78 millimeters square.

The filing also revealed that the new hardware would feature a low-power 40-nanometer Broadcom wireless chip identified as BCM4334. That’s the same chip already found in Apple’s iPhone 5, offering both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

But the comments from Apple reveal any changes to the hardware will not be noticeable to end users. Evidence has suggested the new Apple TV will feature a faster A5X chip, similar to the one the company used in its third-generation iPad.

It’s possible that Apple could be making the silent switch to an A5X chip in an effort to gradually ramp up production of the processor for another, more popular device. A strong candidate would be the iPad mini, which rumors have suggested will receive a high-resolution Retina display with a second-generation update later this year.

Apple used a similar approach last year when it launched the current Apple TV, a product update that added 1080p video support thanks to a shrunken A5 chip that uses the 32-nanometer manufacturing process. That same 32-nanometer chip was also placed inside the US$399 iPad 2 — a device that was previously powered by a 45-nanometer A5 chip. The new hardware, identified as “iPad2,4″, saw battery life improved by as much as 16 percent thanks to the design change.

This week Apple also issued a software update for an unannounced Apple TV model. The name “AppleTV3,2″ implied that the updated hardware would be a minor revision from the current 1080p-capable set-top box, which is identified in software as “AppleTV3,1″.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 24.0.1312.57

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 07:25
Category: News, Software

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An update’s an update.

Late Wednesday, Google released version 24.0.1312.57 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 46.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Mac: r177690 Fix renderer crashes when using certain IMEs. (Issue 152566)

– Mac: r178517 Fix microphone input dropout with Pepper Flash. (Issue 168859)

– Chrome Frame: r178591 Fix renderer exiting in certain cases when opening a new Window from Chrome Frame. (Issue 171877)

Google Chrome 24.0.1312.57 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 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.

Apple secures 48 assorted patents, including inductive charging, integrating portable electronics with bicycles

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Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

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It never hurts to have a patent for something.

Much less 48 of ‘em.

Per AppleInsider , the United States Patent and Trademark office published 48 newly granted Apple patents on Tuesday, covering technologies ranging from inductive charging to bike-integrated iPods, as well as one property covering the touchscreen technology that enables the latest iOS devices to achieve their current slimness.

The patents granted on Wednesday involve components and design elements for virtually all of Apple’s product offerings.

Inductive charging using printed coils:
This patent, filed for in June of 2012, describes systems “for harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils.” Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,362,751 calls for one or more moveable magnets that, when traveling along the path of the printed coils, can power a device.

The technology is akin to shake-to-charge flashlights that use induction to produce electric current which is stored in capacitors for later use. This type of system eschews the need for bulky batteries that must be plugged in for charging or replaced when depleted.

A similar technology is used in rival devices — including the Google-LG-produced Nexus 4 and Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phone 8 handsets — which integrate inductive charging systems that use a wall charger to recharge built-in batteries, thus doing away with pesky electrical cords. Apple has yet to bring a competing technology to market. Prior to the release of the iPhone 5, rumors circulated that Apple would bring wireless charging to bear in that handset, but Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said after the unveiling that the perceived convenience of such systems was questionable, since charging mats would still need to be plugged into an outlet.

In September, an Apple patent application emerged demonstrating a “realistic and practical approach to wireless power, providing over-the-air electricity to low-power devices within a distance of one meter.

Integrated touchscreen:
Apple also was granted a patent on a design for “displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup.” This is a continuation of the in-cell touchscreen patent, granted in July of 2012, which made an appearance in the iPhone 5. The in-cell touch panel technology allows Apple to make its devices noticeably thinner, but initial yield rates for the panels were problematic, and Apple is said to be evaluating a newer technology using “touch-on” displays, averting some of the problems that came with in-cell touch panels.

Notably, the patent granted today gives a mobile phone, a media player, and a notebook computer as examples of where the technology could be implemented. Tim Cook famously dismissed touch-enabled PC form factors, saying they were like “[converging] a toaster and a refrigerator.”

Integrating a portable electronic device with a bicycle:
Also among the patents Apple secured today was a design for interfacing an electronic device with a bicycle. In the filing, the device receives output from sensors coupled to the bicycle, displaying riding characteristics and even communicating with other devices in order to allow cyclists to ride as a team and assist each other.

The application for the patent originally emerged in 2010. Technology such as that seen in the patent has yet to materialize in any Apple products, but it is in keeping with other fitness-related offerings, such as the Nike+ compatibility seen in iPods and iPhones.

Tuesday’s patent haul covers many other technologies, including motion-based payment confirmation, beamforming antenna systems, device cooling mechanisms, and more. Among companies worldwide, Apple in 2012 ranked 21st for the total number of patents granted in 2012. Last year saw the Cupertino company granted 1,135 patents, just behind Google, which secured 1,151 patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opera web browser updated to 12.13.1734

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Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 08:16
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Opera Software released version 12.13.1734 of its web browser. The new version, a 20.3 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:

General and User Interface:
– Fixed an issue where Opera gets internal communication errors on Facebook.

– Fixed an issue where no webpages load on startup, if Opera is disconnected from the Internet.

– Fixed an issue where images will not load after back navigation, when a site uses the HTML5 history API (deviantart.com).

Linux and Windows:
– A new stand-alone update-checker, as part of a planned upgrade of the auto-update system.

Windows:
– Improved protection against hijacking of the default search, including a one-time reset.

Security:
– Fixed an issue where DOM events manipulation might be used to execute arbitrary code, as reported by Arthur Gerkis; see our advisory.

– Fixed an issue where use of SVG clipPaths could allow execution of arbitrary code, as reported by anonymous via the iSIGHT Partners GVP Program; see our advisory.

– Fixed a low severity security issue; details will be disclosed at a later date.

– Fixed an issue where CORS requests could omit the preflight request, as reported by webpentest; see our advisory.

Opera 12.13.1734 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.0 update for Mac

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Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 07:27
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 update. The update, a 106.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Meeting invitation times are displayed inaccurately in Outlook. Fixes an issue that causes meeting invitation times from non-Exchange calendar servers to be off by one hour during certain times of the year.

– Slides in collapsed sections cover other slides in Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint.

– Fixes a display issue that involves collapsed sections in Slide Sorter view.

– Hash tags (#) in hyperlinks aren’t saved correctly in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which hyperlinks that contain hash tags (#) aren’t saved correctly.

– Crash occurs when you use Paste Special with a partial table in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to crash when you use the Paste Special option to copy and paste part of a table.

– RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be pasted into PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be copied and pasted into PowerPoint for Mac.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Microsoft announces Office 365 Home Premium for Macs, PCs and Windows tablets, points to February 27th release date

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Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 08:05
Category: News, Software

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If you were wondering when Office 2013 would find its way to the Mac, it’s on its way come February 27th.

And in a subscription model.

Per CNET, after existing in preview form since last summer, Office 2013, the next version of Microsoft’s productivity software, is now available for download.

The company has begun offering users Office Home and Student 2013 with all the familiar apps like Word and Excel for a one-time fee of US$139. Since this stand-alone package won’t entitle you to any subsequent upgrades, Microsoft is also offering a more complete subscription model for US$99 per year that delivers the various updates over the coming months and years.

The package offers the following:
– The latest and most complete set of Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.

– One license for the entire household to use Office on up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs or Macs, and Office on Demand available from any Internet-connected PC.

– An additional 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, nearly three times the amount available with a free SkyDrive account.

– 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month to call mobile phones, landlines or PCs around the world.

– Future upgrades, so you always use the latest time-saving technology.

Microsoft also announced today the cloud-connected Microsoft Office Home and Business, though you won’t be able to snatch it up until February 27. You can get it for a one-time fee of US$219 or as a subscription for US$150 per year.

And along with the new software, Microsoft’s Office.com Web site has received a refresh in both look and functionality. The Web site lets you manage your account, set up and check the status of your subscription, and download the Office software to your computer.

Office 365 Home Premium for the Mac requires the following specs to install and run:
-1 GHz or faster x86 or 64-bit processor with SSE2 instruction set (PC); Intel processor (Mac).

-1 GB RAM (32-bit or Mac) /2 GB RAM (64-bit).

-3.0 GB of available disk space (PC); 2.5 GB HFS+ hard disk format (Mac).

-1024×576 or higher resolution monitor.

– Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 2008 R2 with .NET 3.5 or later (PC); Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later (Mac).

– Graphics hardware acceleration requires DirectX10 graphics card with 1024 x 576 resolution.

– Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, or 10; Mozilla Firefox 10.x or later; Apple Safari 5; or Google Chrome 17.x.

A full 30 day trial can be found and downloaded from here.

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

Apple releases fourth-gen 128 gigabyte Retina Display iPad

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Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:02
Category: iPad, News

This came out of nowhere, but it’s appreciated.

Following up on a series of software updates, Apple on Tuesday announced it has launched a new 128-gigabyte model of the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display, doubling the previous maximum capacity offered.

The 128-gigabyte version of the fourth-generation iPad are available starting Tuesday, Feb. 5 in black or white. They will have a suggested retail price of US$799 for the Wi-Fi-only model, while the cellular-capable model will sell for US$929.

Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad lineup now extends to four different capacities, starting at 16 gigabytes for the entry-level model. The smaller iPad mini still tops off with a 64-gigabyte model.

The announcement of the new iPad model comes only a few days after it was discovered in the newly released iOS 6.1 software update that Apple had included references to a new iOS device with a storage capacity of 128 gigabytes. Previously, the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad lineups all maxed out at 64 gigabytes.

Aside from the higher storage capacity, the new 128-gigabyte iPad with Retina display is unchanged from the previously released fourth-generation models. It includes the Apple-designed A6X processor, a 9.7-inch Retina display, and forward facing FaceTime HD camera.

If you get your mitts on the 128 gigabyte iPad in the next few days, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple TV updated to 5.2, Bluetooth keyboard support, other features added

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Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

This smacks of the nifty.

The Apple TV set-top box was updated to software version 5.2 on Monday, adding enhanced support for iTunes in the Cloud and the ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard, while also hinting at a minor hardware refresh.

Per AppleInsider, users can download the update directly to their device by choosing the Settings application on the Apple TV, then choosing “General,” and “Software Update.” The update adds the following fixes and changes:
– iTunes in the Cloud: Brows and play your purchased iTunes music directly from iCloud.

– Up Next: See upcoming songs when playing music, and easily choose what plays next.

– Bluetooth Keyboard: Use your Apple Wireless Keyboard to control your Apple TV.

The company also strangely released three versions of the software update on Monday, including one intended for a previously unknown hardware revision referred to as “AppleTV3,2.” Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed earlier this month that the Apple TV would receive a refresh this quarter, but details on the rumored hardware were not provided.

The Apple TV was last updated a year ago with a single-core A5 processor. The faster chip allows the device to output 1080p video, while its predecessor was limited to 720p.

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