Apple releases fifth iOS 7 beta to developer community, tweaks icons, Control Center, etc.

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Date: Wednesday, August 7th, 2013, 06:07
Category: News, Software

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The fifth iOS 7 beta is out and the new operating system is coming that much closer to fruition.

Per 9to5Mac, a little over a week after iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has seeded iOS 7 beta 5 to developers via and over-the-air Software Update. The previous beta brought several minor interface and performance tweaks to the operating system and beta 5 will likely continue doing that.

The new beta adds the following fixes and changes:
- All Settings icons redesigned (left is new).

- More Yahoo presence.

- New Twitter icon in share sheet.

- Can now disable Control Center while in apps.

- Major performance improvements across the system.

- Camera swipe access from Lock screen is easier.

- New slide to power off design.

- New in-call icons.

- New option to pull down on a banner.

- Some transparency, blur, UI animation changes across the system.

- Can access icons in a folder during animation.

- Some blurs and effects disabled on iPad mini (likely to improve performance).

- Users can now bring back “on/off” labels on switches. Enable in Accessibility.

iOS 7 is expected to be released this fall as well as feature a significant redesign and new features for the mobile operating system.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Lightroom 5.2 release candidate beta

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Date: Wednesday, August 7th, 2013, 06:42
Category: News, Software

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You can’t argue with a good release candidate.

Adobe on Monday announced the availability of the latest version of its prosumer photo editing software, Lightroom 5.2. The new version, a 467.2 megabyte download via MacUpdate, offers the following fixes and changes:

New features:
- A Smoothness adjustment slider has been added to the Detail Panel under Color Noise.

- Reduction. This helps to reduce low-frequency color mottling artifacts.

Refinements to the Spot Healing Tool:
- New Feather control.

- Auto find source method now works better for images with textured areas like rocks, bark, and foliage.

- Auto find source method now prefers source areas within the crop rectangle.

- Smart Preview size has been updated to 2560 pixels on the long edge.

Refinements to the Local Adjustment Brush:
- Right Click (PC) / Control-click (Mac) on a brush adjustment pin to bring up a context menu to duplicate or delete.

- Control+Alt+Drag (PC) / Command+Option+Drag (Mac) on a brush adjustment pin to clone (duplicate) that adjustment.

Bug fixes:
- Catalog containing images processed with PV2003 were adding a post-crop vignette when catalog upgraded to Lightroom 5.

- Pressing the “Reset” button while holding down the Shift key caused Lightroom to exit abruptly.

- Output Sharpening and Noise Reduction were not applied to exported images that were resized to less than 1/3 of the original image size.

- Incorrect photo was selected when trying to select a photo in segmented grid in Publish Services.

- The Esc key did not exit the slideshow after right clicking screen with mouse during slideshow playing.

- Import dialog remained blank for folders that contain PNG files with XMP sidecars.

- Metadata panel displayed incorrect information after modifying published photo. Please note that this only occurred when metadata was changed after the photo was published.

Lightroom 5.2 is available for both Mac and PC platforms. Mac users will need a multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support, running OS X 10.7 or later along with at least 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended) 2GB of available HDD space, and a 1024×768 resolution to install and run.

The software is available from Adobe’s website for US$79 when upgrading from an earlier version, or US$149 for new users. Those already subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service will find that the new software is included in their memberships.

If you’ve tried Lightroom 5 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Firefox updated to 23.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 11:29
Category: News, Software

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The updates just keep comin’.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 23.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 44.3 megabyte download via MacUpdate, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Mixed content blocking enabled to protects users from man-in-the-middle attacks and eavesdroppers on HTTPS pages (learn more).

- Options panel created for Web Developer Toolbox.

- “Enable JavaScript” preference checkbox has been removed and user-set values will be reset to the default.

- Updated Firefox Logo.

- Improved about:memory’s functional UI.

- Simplified interface for notifications of plugin installation.

- Enabled DXVA2 on Windows Vista+ to accelerate H.264 video decoding.

- Users can now switch to a new search provider across the entire browser.

- CSP policies using the standard syntax and semantics will now be enforced rendering improvements (see bug 838675).

- Replace fixed-ratio audio resampler in webrtc.org capture code with Speex resampler and eliminate pseudo-44000Hz rate.

- “Load images automatically” and Always show the tab bar” checkboxes removed from preferences and reset to defaults.

- HTML5 form control implemented.

- Write more accessible pages on touch interfaces with new ARIA role for key buttons.

- Social share functionality.

- Added unprefixed requestAnimationFrame.

- Implemented a global browser console.

- Dropped blink effect from text-decoration: blink; and completely removed element.

- New feature in toolbox: Network Monitor.

- Various security fixes.

Firefox 23.0 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 to launch “Takeback Program” on August 16th, seeks to replace faulty knockoff USB power adapters with genuine article

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 07:34
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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You should probably stick with the real McCoy.

Per 9to5Mac and Mac|Life, following incidents such as the apparent electrocution of a Chinese woman by a faulty knockoff iPhone charger, Apple is ramping up a program in which customers can bring in their old USB power adapters and receive new, Apple-designed ones for a lower price via a “Takeback Program.”

To take advantage of the offer, simply bring in your old power adapter for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod after August 16 (either third party or designed by Apple) to your local Apple Store or authorized retailer, and the staff will dispose of it for you “in an environmentally friendly way.” If you did so, you can then purchase a new one for just US$10, although Apple’s announcement also states that this offer will only be available until October 18.

The new support page reads as follows:
“Recent reports have suggested that some counterfeit and third party adapters may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues. While not all third party adapters have an issue, we are announcing a USB Power Adapter Takeback Program to enable customers to acquire properly designed adapters.

Customer safety is a top priority at Apple. That’s why all of our products — including USB power adapters for iPhone, iPad, and iPod — undergo rigorous testing for safety and reliability and are designed to meet government safety standards around the world.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked image shows longer ribbon cable, adjusted components for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The upcoming iPhone will feature a longer ribbon cable for its internal components.

Or at least that’s what a leaked photo is indicating.

Per Letem Svetem Applem, a new side-by-side comparison of iPhone 5 parts with components allegedly built for Apple’s next-generation “iPhone 5S” show minor internal changes, the most significant of which is a longer ribbon cable attached to the front display.


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The direct comparison of front panels once again suggested that Apple’s unannounced next-generation iPhone will sport largely the same look as the iPhone 5. That’s why the rumored device has been dubbed an “iPhone 5S” by media and fans, who expect the handset will sport an essentially identical design to Apple’s current flagship smartphone.

Aside from a longer and redesigned ribbon cable on the front panel, the rest of the part looks mostly the same, with a few internal changes in the form of moved screws and other minor tweaks. But on the outside, the part looks identical to the iPhone 5, with the FaceTime camera remaining directly above the handset’s earpiece.

Screw placement around the “iPhone 5S” home button is also essentially unchanged. Rumors have repeatedly suggested that Apple plans to embed a fingerprint scanner inside the home button of its next iPhone, but so far none of the leaked parts have offered any evidence of significant hardware changes.

Apple is expected to hold an event at some point in September to unveil its new iPhone lineup for the fall of 2013 and beyond. In addition to a next-generation flagship “iPhone 5S,” Apple is also expected to introduce a new low-cost iPhone with a plastic back and the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises iTunes EULA, allows Educational accounts to users under 13

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 11:05
Category: iTunes, Legal, News, Software

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Your students will be able to open Educational accounts under Apple’s revised iTunes End User License Agreement.

Per Macworld, Apple on Thursday altered its iTunes Terms and Conditions to permit children under the age of 13 to operate individual iTunes accounts created at the request of an “approved educational institution.”

Previously, Apple restricted iTunes accounts to children aged 13 or older, but the company announced it would be changing its policy with the release of iOS 7.

The new terms are as follows:
“These App and Book Services are only available for individuals aged 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.”

With Apple’s new educational policies, schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining “verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.” In addition, Apple also plans to introduce better tools for teachers.

iOS 7, which is expected to be released to the public in the fall, offers new Mobile Device Management options allowing teachers to set up managed apps, configure accessibility options, and restrict changes to accounts. Teachers will be able to lock student iPads to a particular app as well, to ensure that students are “on the same activity at the same time.”

The new operating system will also bring an App Store Volume Purchase Program designed to allow educational institutions to assign apps to users while maintaining ownership and control over app licenses.

Apple’s policy shift comes as the company continues its push for iPads in educational institutions. Apple has been involved in several large deals in recent months and won a US$30 million contract from the L.A. Unified School District in June that will see the district purchasing iPads for every student in its 47 schools. Apple also met with the Turkish President earlier this year about a potential US$4.5 billion deal that would provide Turkish schoolchildren with as many as 15 million tablets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked video shows translucent bezel, other changes for fifth-generation iPad

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iPad, News

It’s hard to say how legit it is, but the video looks damn cool.

Per Mac Otakara and nowhereelse.fr, the following video has surfaced of the fifth-generation iPad bezel:



As seen above, the 30-second video appears to show a partially assembled 9.7-inch iPad with design cues taken from the existing iPad mini, including rounded corners, thinner bezels and a rear-facing microphone. For reference, the purported next-gen tablet is sitting between current-generation models of the iPad and iPad mini.

Noticeably absent are the tablet’s internals, including basic circuitry like a home button. However, because the assembly is missing a display, the black front panel stands out in sharp relief against the assumedly aluminum rear shell, granting a look at how thin the side bezels are compared to a current iPad.

Also seen through the front glass is the Apple logo, which is revealed to be a translucent white color when viewed from the back, much like Apple’s MacBook lineup. By contrast, current iPads feature an opaque black plastic insert that acts as a window for radio signals.

While unlikely, the design could allow for an illuminated logo lit by the LCD panel’s LED backlighting system. Such a feature would be difficult to implement, however, as adhesive is used to secure the tablet’s large battery pack to the interior shell wall, a design that covers the Apple logo in both the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini. In theory, a light pipe or some other mode of light transport could supply adequate illumination, but the added build and parts costs may be prohibitive.

Although not much can be gleaned from the short clip in the way of new information, it does offer one of the first looks at what Apple’s rumored fifth-generation iPad may look like.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple hiring additional engineers for Maps team, will include “Frequent Locations” feature in iOS 7

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 08:33
Category: News, Software

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It’s Apple’s jobs page that tends to point to where things are going.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is actively recruiting for scores of new full time jobs related to Maps. The company also plans to enlist the support of its installed base of 400 million iOS users with an opt-in invitation to “Help Improve Maps” in iOS 7.

Part of the initial setup of iOS 7 includes an option to “Help Improve Maps,” which as Apple explains, ties into Frequent Locations, a new feature of iOS 7.

Frequent Locations remembers places you’ve been, similar to the the bookmarks history of your web browser, is are presented next to Maps Bookmarks and locations attached to Contacts (below left).

Users who choose to activate both features will have their Frequent Locations linked to their iCloud / Apple ID account so the system can automatically calculate driving (or walking) directions to locations as users select them in Maps (below right, directions to Mavericks).

Apple also benefits from anonymously storing coordinate information because it helps the company verify how accurate its driving time estimates are, by comparing them to the actual time it takes users to arrive.

Apple’s Jobs website currently returns dozens of open positions related to Maps. Among these are a series of Maps Ground Truth Local Experts, in listings that state that “the Maps team is looking for people with a passion for mapping, great testing skills, and deep regional knowledge to help us build better and better maps.

“In this position, you will be responsible for the quality assessment of Apple Maps for your region, including both data and map services. You will monitor changes to our maps, provide feedback on unique local map requirements, collect ground truth information, and evaluate competing products.”

Apple currently lists openings for ground truth local experts in Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles in the U.S., as well as European positions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, the U.K. and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, Australia and Southeast Asia, China, and specific Asian cities that include Beijing, Hong Kong, Sapporo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Osaka.

The company also lists a series of open positions based in or around Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, ranging from scientists to pour through its reams of geodata to QA staff to find bugs and a variety of specialized engineers to develop new features. These include:

Maps Bug Triage Engineer: “Maps problems are challenging to triage and debug. When a business is in the wrong location on the map, the issue could be anything from the address being wrong in our data to the conversion of the address to a latitude and longitude not working properly. We’re looking for engineers to help triage internal problem reports, reproduce problems, and help us learn how to diagnose and triage problems better”

Maps Services QA Manager: “To test Maps well, we need to understand how the world is reflected in code and data, and also how to build great QA systems. Some tests can only be done manually, while other areas can only be covered adequately through large-scale automation.”

Maps Process QA Engineer: “Maps is an interconnected series of services that each have their own teams working to create the best user experience possible. It can be challenging to understand all the working pieces let alone understand their QA needs. We’re looking for individuals who can help bridge the gap and document the unique QA requirements needed for each service.”

Maps Process QA Analyst: “In this role you’ll work directly with Process QA Engineers and you’ll learn something about how every part of Maps works. You’ll be testing and documenting the QA processes involved in qualifying every component. ” “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Maps Senior Data Scientist: “The Maps Data Insights team has an opening for a craftsman skilled in Large Scale Data Mining and Machine Learning for making significant contributions in improving Apple Maps, involving the following techniques: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Software Engineer – Maps Navigation: “The Maps team is looking for a proactive and motivated software engineer to focus on Apple’s turn-by-turn navigation experience.”

Maps Web Applications Engineer: “If you are motivated by building applications that will be used by millions of people and have a penchant for visual details, this is an opportunity to build web applications that will help engage the community and internal teams to visualize maps data and to solicit input to improve the maps quality.”

iOS Software Engineers – Maps (multiple positions): As an engineer on the Maps team, your responsibilities will be working with advanced dynamic label layout of road labels, points of interest and other labels on the map; rendering of 3D flyover models, mesh generation of terrain, road rendering; implementing real-time rendering techniques, creating new and innovative features, solving challenging algorithmic problems and fixing problems. You will be working both on the client and the server to create a state of the art map.”

“The MapKit team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. We are looking for an engineer that’s skilled with algorithms related to mapping. Familiarity with different spatial algorithms and data structures, such as R Trees, Quad Trees, BSP Trees are a big plus.”

Maps Software Engineer – Hadoop: “The Maps Data Insights team is chartered to look at various data signals, derive insights regarding map quality, and use those insights to drive improvements in Maps. Combining disparate signals such as community feedback and probe data to validate our maps is an opportunity that combines large scale data processing, analytics and visualization.”

Maps POI- Big Data Engineer: “Use Big Data technologies to extract data from existing NoSQL systems into system that can generate reports needed by business. Create unique ways to visualize and move our data.”

Maps Raster Data Domain Expert: “You’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights through raster analysis, classification, and feature extraction. You will approach map data and location-based service (LBS) quality metrics with the creativity and inquisitiveness of a scientist — identifying and incorporating various geospatial, big data, and other resources. You will collaborate with excellent developers, system architects, regional experts, project managers, and other domain experts.”

Maps Traffic Accuracy Domain Expert: “The Maps Community and Data Insights team is chartered to analyze various data signals, generate insights, and leverage them to improve Apple Maps. In this role, you’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights on traffic data quality.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 2.2.12

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 08:30
Category: News, Software

Even small updates can prove useful.

On Monday, Dropbox released version 2.2.13 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 31 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), which adds the following fixes and changes:
- Fixed an issue that caused unnecessary indexing when upgrading from 2.0.

- Other minor fixes.

Dropbox 2.2.13 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.

Leaked image shows possible 8 megapixel camera for rumored low-cost iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 2nd, 2013, 08:17
Category: Hardware, iPhone, photos, Rumor

It may feature a plastic backing, but it should have a pretty nifty camera.

Per IT168 and MacRumors, a supposed “iPhone Lite” or “iPhone 5C” rear camera image was published on Thursday. The part is claimed to be a camera module for Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone.

The original report claims that the part is the same 8-megapixel lens already found in Apple’s iPhone 5, and even features the same sapphire crystal scratch-resistant cover.


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Previously, it was also claimed that the “iPhone Lite” will feature the same A6 processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM as the existing iPhone 5. With largely the same internals, the exterior rear shell of the device is expected to be plastic, and come in a variety of colors.

Apple’s alleged production schedule for the low-cost iPhone is expected to have the device ready for launch as soon as early September, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. He expects that the device will cost about the same as the current iPhone 4S, between US$450 and US$550, and will be easy for Apple to manufacture, as it will recycle many parts from the iPhone 5.

The same was not said by Kuo of the so-called “iPhone 5S,” which the analyst expects will be in short supply when it launches this fall. In particular, Apple’s next-generation iPhone is rumored to feature a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button for securely identifying users.

As for the camera on the “iPhone 5S,” one rumor from earlier this year claimed Apple would bump the internal sensor up to 12 megapixels. It’s also been said that the camera will take better nighttime photos with improved sensitivity, while dual LED flash is expected to improve illumination capabilities in low-light situations.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.