Rumor: Microsoft working on “iWatch” device of its own

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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You know that rumor about Apple working on an iWatch of sorts?

Microsoft may be working on its own.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is apparently working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple Inc. in working on a new class of computing products.

Earlier this year, Microsoft asked suppliers in Asia to ship components for a potential watch-style device, the executives said. One executive said he met with Microsoft’s research and development team at the software company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it’s unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch, they said.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in wearable, computerized devices built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect body temperature, geographic location and voice commands of people on the go.

Some of the new wearable gadgets, like Nike Inc.’s FuelBand, measure physical activity, while others are intended to supplement functions of a smartphone, such as receiving text messages, taking photos or checking the weather. Apple has also experimented with designs for a wristwatch-style device.

Startup Pebble Technology Corp. is selling a watch that syncs wirelessly with smartphones and vibrates to alert wearers to incoming phone calls, Twitter posts and emails. Google Inc. is testing with consumers a device it calls Google Glass, an eyeglass-style gadget that displays certain computerized information in a user’s field of vision.

“We see growing demand for wearable gadgets as the size of the smartphone has become too big to carry around,” said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. “A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers.”

Research firm Gartner expects the market for wearable smart electronics to be a $10 billion industry by 2016.

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has shown an interest in wearable gadgets. Microsoft a decade ago unveiled a “Smart Watch” powered by the company’s software. For a subscription fee, Smart Watch wearers could have news headlines, sports scores and instant messages beamed over FM radio to their wrists. But sales stopped in 2008.

For its potential new watch prototype, Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers, said an executive at a component supplier.

The tests of a computerized watch also underscore Microsoft’s ambitions in expanding its hardware offerings. Last October, Microsoft launched the Surface tablet-style computer, and the company is prepping more homegrown computing devices including a smaller, 7-inch version of a tablet to compete with popular gadgets like Apple’s iPad Mini, people familiar with the matter have said.

Microsoft also is continuing to test its own smartphone, although it isn’t clear whether it will bring such a device to market, component suppliers said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.12

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 06:19
Category: News, Software

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A good set of bug fixes never hurt anyone.

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.10. The new version, a 150 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- VMM: fixed a Guru Meditation on putting Linux guest CPU online if nested paging is disabled

- VMM: invalidate TLB entries even for non-present pages.

- GUI: Multi-screen support: fixed a crash on visual-mode change.

- GUI: Multi-screen support: disabled guest-screens should now remain disabled on visual-mode change.

- GUI: Multi-screen support: handle host/guest screen plugging/unplugging in different visual-modes.

- GUI: Multi-screen support: seamless mode: fixed a bug when empty seamless screens were represented by fullscreen windows.

- GUI: Multi-screen support: each machine window in multi-screen configuration should have correct menu-bar now (Mac OS X hosts).

- GUI: Multi-screen support: machine window View menu should have correct content in seamless/fullscreen mode now (Mac OS X hosts).

- GUI: VM manager: vertical scroll-bars should be now updated on content/window resize.

- GUI: VM settings: fixed crash on machine state-change event.

- GUI: don’t show warnings about enabled or disabled mouse integration if the VM was restored from a saved state.

- Virtio-net: properly announce that the guest has to handle partial TCP checksums (bug #9380).

- Storage: Fixed incorrect alignment of VDI images causing disk size changes when using snapshots (bug #11597).

- Audio: fixed broken ALSA & PulseAudio on some Linux hosts due to invalid symbol resolution (bug #11615).

- PS/2 keyboard: re-apply keyboard repeat delay and rate after a VM was restored from a saved state (bug #10933).

- BIOS: updated DMI processor information table (type 4): corrected L1 & L2 cache table handles.

- Timekeeping: fix several issues which can lead to incorrect time, Solaris guests sporadically showed time going briefly back to Jan 1 1970.

- Main/Metrics: disk metrics are collected properly when software RAID, symbolic links or rootfs are used on Linux hosts.

- VBoxManage: don’t stay paused after a snapshot was created and the VM was running before.

- VBoxManage: introduced controlvm nicpromisc (bug #11423).

- VBoxManage: don’t crash on controlvm guestmemoryballoon if the VM isn’t running (bug #11639).

- VBoxHeadless: don’t filter guest property events as this would affect all clients (bug #11644).

- Guest control: prevent double CR in the output generated by guest commands and do NLS conversion.

- Linux hosts / guests: fixed build errors on Linux 3.5 and newer kernels if the CONFIG_UIDGID_STRICT_TYPE_CHECKS config option is enabled (bug #11664).

- Linux Additions: handle fall-back to VESA driver on RedHat-based guests if vboxvideo cannot be loaded.

- Linux Additions: RHEL/OEL/CentOS 6.4 compile fix (bug #11586).

- Linux Additions: Debian Linux kernel 3.2.0-4 (3.2.39) compile fix (bug #11634).

- Linux Additions: added auto-logon support for Linux guests using LightDM as the display manager.

- Windows Additions: Support for multimonitor. Dynamic enable/disable of secondary virtual monitors.

- Support for XPDM/WDDM based guests.

- X11 Additions: support X.Org Server 1.14 (bug #11609).

VirtualBox 4.2.12 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Firefox updated to 20.0.1

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 11:50
Category: News, Software

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Even the minor updates help…

On Friday, Mozilla.org released version 20.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 40.2 megabyte download via MacUpdate, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Minor bug-fix.

Firefox 20.0.1 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.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2″ faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use LED backlighting system to reduce weight of next-gen iPad

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could prove spiffy.

Per CNET, a report released on Thursday says Apple will likely use a modified LED backlight apparatus in a bid to make the 9.7-inch tablet as thin and light as possible.

NPD DisplaySearch stated that it expects Apple’s fifth-generation iPad to sport a more efficient LED array, as well as a change to film-based touch sensor technology, as the company slims down its largest tablet offering.

“It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs,” said analyst Paul Semenza.

Apple is widely expected to launch a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad with an aesthetic borrowed from the current iPad mini. Such a design was revealed in an image of a purportedly leaked next-gen iPad cover glass, which had thinner bezels and significantly modified dimensions in comparison with existing models.

Turning to display technology, Semenza said it’s too soon to tell if the next-gen iPad will make the switch to more efficient IGZO panels. Rumors dating as far back as 2011 have Apple preparing to transition to the LCD tech, though such displays have yet to be used in the company’s product lineups. Most recently, industry chatter has pointed to the inclusion of IGZO in this year’s iPhone and iPad models, with the panels coming from Apple partner supplier Sharp.

Finally, Semenza said a third-quarter debut is most likely for the upcoming iPad. Prediction regarding the iPad’s launch timeline have been highly varied, however, with some analysts claiming an October release, while other sources say the tablet could be unveiled this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple close to finalizing iRadio content agreements, service to launch in a dozen markets in mid0to-late 2013

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:05
Category: Rumor, Software

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You know that iRadio/content deal Apple was wrangling through with major studios and content providers? It may be about sorted out and have an actual delivery date.

According to The Verge, the Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.

Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have stated. Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.

Per CNET, sources have apparently also indicated Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:

The press has dubbed the service “iRadio”, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song. Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Independent study finds Bing engine returning five times the as many malware websites as Google

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 07:55
Category: News

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Well, this is a bit awkward.

Per PC Magazine, searches on Bing returned five times more links to malicious websites than Google searches, according to an 18-month study from German independent testing lab AV-Test. Though search engines have worked to suppress malicious results, the study concluded that malware-infested websites still appear in their top results.

The study looked at nearly 40 million websites provided by seven different search engines. About 10 million results came from Bing and another 10 million from Google. 13 million sites were provided by the Russian service Yandex, with the rest coming from Blekko, Faroo, Teoma and Baidu respectively. Of these 40 million sites, AV-Test found 5,000 pieces of malware—and admittedly small percentage of websites.

The study concluded that while all the search engines the lab evaluated delivered malware, Google delivered the least. It was followed by Bing, which returned a disconcerting five times as much malware as Google. Yandex, the Russian website, delivered 10 times as many malicious sites.

Thankfully, the 5,000 pieces of malware the study found are concentrated in Yandex results—which had 3,330 malicious links out of the 13 million the AV-Test looked at. Bing had a little under half that, with 1,285 malicious results out of 10 million pages. Google returned a mere 272 malicious results in 10 million while Bleko had even fewer: 203 out of around three million.

The good news is that if you’re a Google user or even a Bing user, the chances that you would encounter a malicious website in your search are low. Doing some quick arithmetic, it looks like the chance of a Googler hitting malware is about one in 40,118.

Of course, those odds are repeated billions of times a day. “[It] is important to remember that Google alone deals with a phenomenal total of 2 to 3 billion search requests worldwide every day,” reads the study. “If this total is factored into the calculations, the total number of websites containing malware found by the search engine is enough to make your head spin!”

In 2009, Google reported it handled around 320 million searches a day for America alone and around 2 billion worldwide. That’s potentially about 50,000 malicious sites a day.

In an era where malware is becoming more and more prevalent on the Mac, it never hurts to start with the right search engine.

Apple posts, pulls job posting for engineer with “flexible display” experience, could link to rumored “iWatch” on horizon

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Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:23
Category: Hardware, News

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Your next Mac display could be bendy/squishy/flexible.

Or not.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday took down a job listing it posted in early April looking for a hardware engineer with experience in flexible displays, suggesting that the company is actively researching the advanced technology only now emerging in the consumer marketplace.

The listing, originally posted on April 1 at the company’s Jobs at Apple webpage, sought a “Senior Optical Engineer” who has experience with emerging technologies, including flexible displays. Apple’s post corresponds to recent rumors that a so-called “iWatch” would soon be brought to market, with the wristwatch-like device thought to sport a “curved display.”

According to the now pulled post, Apple is actively recruiting for “a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible displays.”

Judging by the job summary and required duties, Apple appears to be researching how to best build a device with a high-quality flexible display. On the other hand, the company could merely be looking to study its options in how to best deploy such a product should the need arise.

Rumors regarding the iWatch have been making the rounds over the past few months, with rumblings pointing to an ergonomic wearable device featuring a curved screen. In February, users discovered a patent detailing a wrist-worn unit with a flexible display, providing concrete evidence that Apple is at least investigating such a device.

It is not clear why Apple pulled the job listing, though it could be that the company has found a suitable candidate for the position.

Rumor: Leaked Microsoft roadmap points towards Office for iOS/Android in 2014

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Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:22
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

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A rumor’s a rumor, but there’s got to be something valid in there.

Per ZDNet, the outfit claims to have gotten its mitts on a Microsoft roadmap for next year and says on it is “iOS/Android support for Office”.

Also on the roadmap for fall 2014 is what’s listed as iOS/Android support for Office. While this could point to the rumored iOS release of Office, the most recent rumors/expectations have been that Microsoft may be making these mobile iOS/Android versions of Office available as part of an Office 365 subscription of some kind. The alleged roadmap makes no mention of an Office 365/subscription tie-in. It only mentions “iOS/Android” as a Gemini Fall 2014 deliverable.

Microsoft itself has dropped a couple hints at mobile support for Office including assorted job listings and references to Excel and Powerpoint on iPhone from last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VLC updated to 2.0.6

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Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:12
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 2.0.6. The new version, a 41.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Support for Matroska v4 files.

- Fix WMV, Ogg, AVI, MP4 and subtitles crashes and issues.

- Numerous translations updates and new Welsh translation.

- Small fixes and improvements on the Mac OS X interface.

- Fix some HTTPS certificate rejection.

- Fix ALAC decoding.

- Fix FLAC 6.1 and 7.1 channel order.

- Fix the vimeo parser.

- Numerous D-Bus and MPRIS2 improvements.

VLC 2.0.6 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, let us know in the comments.