Apple job postings, logs hint towards Siri integration in upcoming OS X 10.9 operating system, iLife, iWork suites

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Date: Thursday, February 7th, 2013, 08:06
Category: News, Siri, Software

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Sometimes it’s the job postings that give the future away.

Per MacRumors, builds of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.9 have been appearing in site logs since November, the logs hinting at possible Siri integration into the operating system.

A recent Apple job posting reinforces the rumor that Siri might be bundled with the next version of OS X. In its listing for a Siri UI Engineer, Apple specifies that candidates should possess “Familiarity with Unix, especially Mac OS X” and a “Passion for the Macintosh platform and writing simple, elegant software that is easy and fun to use.”

The listing, which does not include a specification for experience with iOS aside from knowledge of Apple’s development APIs, states that the engineer will be in charge of implementing the content that appears within Siri’s conversational view. The position will also require collaboration with other Siri teams.

To quote the posting:
“This is a broad-ranging task – we take every application that Siri interacts with, distill it down to fundamentals, and implement that application’s UI in a theme fitting with Siri. Consider it an entire miniature OS within the OS, and you get a good idea of the scope!

Of course, each of these little “snippets” corresponds to an individual application, so you will have extensive cross-functional work with many other teams. You’ll need to work with them to enable access to their data and behaviors, and wire them up to your implementations. As a result, strong API design is needed to keep communications ideal.”

As of mid-January, OS X 10.9 activity has increased considerably, suggesting the new operating system, with Siri included, may be imminent.

Job postings for Apple’s iLife/iWork team also surfaced this week. iWork’s last major update was in 2009, while iLife was last updated in 2010. An overhaul of the apps could potentially include Siri integration, allowing for voice commands for simple tasks such as photo and music editing.

Apple has been upgrading OS X on a yearly basis. 10.8 Mountain Lion was released in July of 2012, a year after 10.7 Lion was released in July of 2011. The first developer preview of OS X 10.8 appeared in February, and OS X 10.9 could follow a similar timeline.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases 11th OS X 10.8.3 build to developer community, pins down file bug

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Date: Thursday, February 7th, 2013, 08:58
Category: News, security, Software

The betas, they just keep rolling in…

Per The Mac Observer, Apple continued to extensively test the next maintenance update to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion with the release of the tenth prerelease build of 10.8.3 to developers Wednesday. The build, 12D65, arrives one week after the previous build, 12D61.

The latest build of 10.8.3 lists no known issues and asks developers to focus on AirPlay, Airport, Game Center, Graphics Drivers, and Safari.

Notably, the build fixes a file bug revealed over the weekend that caused nearly every Mountain Lion app to crash by entering a specific set of characters. It was eventually determined that the bug was due to a Cocoa programming error in Mountain Lion’s data detectors. That Apple has now fixed the bug in the latest prerelease of 10.8.3 is a good sign, as it was potentially a serious security vulnerability.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was first released on July 25, 2012. The 10.8.1 update arrived on August 23, 2012 and 10.8.2 on September 19, 2012. Prerelease builds of 10.8.3 have been seeded by Apple since November.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the latest beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases first iOS 6.1.1 beta, focuses on improving Maps experience for Japanese marketplace

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Date: Thursday, February 7th, 2013, 07:43
Category: iOS, News, Software

The next version of Apple’s iOS is en route, and it’ll improve the Maps app if the company has anything to say about it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released the first beta of iOS 6.1.1 with a clear focus on improving its much-criticized Maps application, specifically in regards to turn-by-turn navigation in Japan.

In a note to developers accommodating the release, Apple said iOS 6.1.1 beta 1 includes the following improvements to Maps for Japan:
– Improved pronunciation of roads during turn-by-turn navigation
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– Optimized directions to more strongly prefer highways over narrower roads.

– Now indicates upcoming toll roads during turn-by-turn navigation
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– Added labels for junctions, interchanges, on-ramps, off-ramps, and intersections
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– Added indicators for transit station buildings, subway lines, and traffic lights
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– Updated freeway color to green
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– Updated icons for some location categories including fire stations, hospitals, and post offices Added 3D buildings including Tokyo Station, Japan Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower.

The move comes as Apple is looking to strengthen its presence in Asia, where revenue has been on the double digit rise, particularly in China and Japan, which were up 67% and 25% year-over-year, respectively, during the company’s most recent December quarter.

The iOS 6.1.1 beta carries build number 10B311 and is available for the iPad 2 and greater, iPhone 3S and greater, iPod touch 4th-gen and greater, and the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers strong hints of refreshed Mac Pro this spring to French reseller

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Date: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 08:47
Category: Mac Pro, News

The Mac Pro you know and love looks like it’s going to get refreshed this year.

More specifically, this spring.

Per French web site Mac4Ever and AppleInsider, an Apple Authorized Reseller in France has revealed that the company plans to release its updated Mac Pro desktop this spring, suggesting the hardware will arrive sooner rather than later.

France Systemes disclosed the details in its latest newsletter.

Apple apparently disclosed the launch window for the new Mac Pro to ease concerns over the fact that the current model will no longer be available in Europe starting March 1. Sales of the Mac Pro desktop will cease in less than a month because of new regulatory requirements in Europe.

In a rare public disclosure about an upcoming product, Apple announced last June that it was planning on updating the Mac Pro in 2013. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook sent an email in which he confirmed his company was “working on something really great.”

Cook’s comments assuaged concerns that Apple could be planning to ax the Mac Pro from its lineup entirely. The high-end professional desktop is largely a niche product for the company, and it hasn’t seen a meaningful upgrade in years.

While Apple has signaled it will update the Mac Pro this year, there’s been no indication as to exactly what the company is planning to do. Some have speculated that a complete redesign of the current tower, the design of which dates back to the company’s Power Mac G5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts 10 new Maps team development positions to employment web site

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Date: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 08:33
Category: iOS, News, Software

It never hurts to have more staff to overhaul a much-criticized application…

Per AppleInsider and AppleBitch, Apple posted at least ten advertisements for positions within the iOS Maps team on its employment web site on Monday, suggesting the company is looking to make major enhancements to its proprietary mapping service.

According to multiple job listings posted on Feb. 4, Apple is seeking ten software engineers to contribute to iOS Maps, nine of whom will handle various programming duties, while one will be assigned to tackle navigation. The listings are for jobs located in Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

A closer look at the listings reveal that the company is looking to make upgrades on a number of fronts, including the iOS Maps app’s user interface, integration with other iOS services like Siri, how maps are displayed in real time, points of interest labeling and 3D flyover visuals, among others.

Most of the ads start out with the following paragraph:
“The iOS Maps team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. The Maps application is used by millions of customers and it’s the best mapping program on any mobile platform. Our team is also responsible for MapKit, the iOS framework that displays maps which is used by countless applications on the App Store.”

In an effort to bolster the iOS Maps team, Apple most recently sought new hires in September, with many of the advertised positions being identical to Monday’s listings.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opera web browser updated to 12.14.1738

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Date: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 08:42
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Opera Software released version 12.14.1738 of its web browser. The new version, a 20.3 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:

– Update addresses a re-occuring crash, allowing users to update two or more extensions at one time.

Opera 12.14.1738 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

Mozilla releases Firefox 18.0.2 update

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Date: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 08:40
Category: News, Software

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No one ever said an update was a bad thing.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 18.0.2 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 36.6 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

– Bug fixes for Facebook-related crashes.

Firefox 18.0.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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 receives patent for solar multitouch panels, could harvest additional energy for iOS devices from sunlight

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 08:08
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could turn into something very, very spiffy.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, on Tuesday Apple a patent for an invention that integrates a touch sensor array with a solar panel, allowing for portable device to be both power-efficient and compact.

Apple’s newly-granted U.S. Patent No. 8,368,654 for an “Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly” points directly to the system’s use in portable electronic devices like a media player or phone. The technology is arguably most useful in these types of products as consumer demand for larger, power-hungry screens is pushing the limit of battery design.

Instead of merely layering solar cells within the touchscreen’s array, the ‘654 patent calls for true integration, meaning the solar panel can operate as both an energy harvesting component as well as an optical sensor. To accomplish this feat, the touch panel’s electrodes are used for both capacitive sensing and collecting solar energy. Further, because the proposed component includes electrodes that offer the same “coverage” as a typical solar panel, it provides “far more quadrants or pixels” to be used as touch sensors.

Unlike capacitive touch panels, such as those used in Apple’s iPhone, the hybrid system’s solar panels can be used to simultaneously provide optical-based sensing while capturing and converting energy.

The patent offers a number of examples to illustrate the benefits of having a dual-mode touch panel. In one case, when an approaching object such a finger is detected, the panel may switch to a “capacitive sensing mode” for precise input, increasing the number of capacitive cycles within a given time period. In other situations, the panel may cycle between “solar power/optical sensing mode” and “capacitive sensing mode” depending on whether an object is near the screen. If no object is detected, the number of capacitive cycles is reduced, giving the electrodes more time to facilitate energy production from the solar cells.

Behind the scenes, a so-called “traffic control” unit, which can be either a hardware or software solution, decides whether generated energy should be allocated to running the device or sent to the battery for storage.

Physically, the capacitive touch sensors and solar cells are separated using isolation trenches, though both are routed through multiplexer circuitry. The MUX is fed either touch signals or power from the solar cells and delivers them to the CPU or power management unit, respectively.

While the technology may not be incorporated into the next iPhone Apple releases, the patent could help in cutting valuable space from the handset. With the most recent iPhone 5, Apple used in-cell touch panel technology to bring the phone’s depth down to 7.6 millimeters.

Apple first filed for the ‘654 patent in September 2008 and credits Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt, Benjamin Lyon, John Benjamin Filson, Steve Porter Hotelling, Gordon Cameron and Cameron Frazier as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

128 gigabyte fourth-gen iPad now available for purchase

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Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You know that enormous fourth-gen iPad you’ve been hankering for?

It’s here.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday updated its online store to reflect availability of the new high-capacity 128-gigabyte iPad with Retina display.

The new high-end iPad model retails for US$799 for the Wi-Fi-only model, or US$929 with cellular connectivity. It’s available in both black and white, just like every other capacity, and is advertised to ship in one to three business days.

Apple first announced the product, which doubles the previous maximum capacity of 64 gigabytes, a week ago. Prior to the announcement, evidence of a larger capacity iOS device had just been discovered in the newly released iOS 6.1 software update.

In announcing the 128-gigabyte iPad, Apple suggested the expanded storage would be particularly appealing to enterprise users, educators, and artists. The company also noted that virtually all Fortune 500 and more than 85 percent of the Global 500 are currently deploying or testing the iPad.

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

If you’ve snagged the 128-gigabyte fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Evasi0n hack arrives, allows jailbreaking of iOS 6.1 devices

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Date: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, 07:09
Category: Hack, iOS, News, Software

The perpetual arms race between Apple and the hacker community continues.

Per AppleInsider, hackers on Monday released a long-awaited untethered software “jailbreak” of Apple’s iOS 6.

For the first time ever, iPhone 5 and iPad mini owners can jailbreak their device with the release of Evasi0n, the new jailbreak for Apple’s iOS 6 mobile operating system. The software hack is available to implement via OS X, Windows, and Linux.

The new jailbreak is untethered, which means users will not have to reconnect their device to a computer to restart it. The hack is compatible with all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models running iOS 6.0 through iOS 6.1.

Users are advised to backup their device through iTunes or iCloud before beginning the jailbreak process. It’s also recommended to disable any passcode locks on an iOS device, as they can cause issues.

Jailbreaking is a legal but a warranty-voiding process that utilizes exploits in the iOS software to allow users to run unauthorized code. By jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad, users can add features and software not allowed by Apple, such as custom themes or user interface tweaks.

Apple advises against jailbreaking iOS devices, as the unauthorized modification could lead to system instability, compromised security, shortened battery life, and other potential issues.

If you’ve tried the Evasi0n hack and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.