Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

- Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

- Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

- Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

- Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

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

Apple releases long-awaited iOS 5.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:51
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You’ve been craving it for months and it’s finally here. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has released its iOS 5.1 update for qualifying iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices.

The update, which can be located, snagged and installed via iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Japanese language support for Siri (availability may be limited during initial rollout)

- Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream.

- Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation).

- Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces.

- Redesigned Camera app for iPad.

- Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers.

- Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer.

- Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad.

- Updated AT&T network indicator.

- Addresses bugs affecting battery life.

- Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls.

As always, if you’ve tried the new iOS and have any feedback to offer (positive or negative), please let us know in the comments.

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iOS 5.1 image shows off possible permanent lock-screen camera button image

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Date: Friday, February 17th, 2012, 05:45
Category: iOS, Rumor

An alleged leak of Apple’s upcoming iOS 5.1 update appears to show the addition of a permanent camera button on the lock screen and Japanese support for Siri.

Brazilian iPhone blog blogdoiPhone claimed on Thursday to have a obtained a “pre-GM” version of iOS 5.1 with a few minor changes from current beta versions. The GM version is the final candidate that is used in a software release.

The publication reported that the leaked software featured a fixed camera icon on the lock screen, whereas the current version of iOS 5 adds the camera button when users double tap on the home button. According to the report, sliding a finger up on the icon pulls up the camera screen.

The publication also appeared to show the addition of Japanese to the language options for Siri, the new voice-activated assistant on the iPhone 4S. Siri itself already claims to speak Japanese, as was discovered earlier this week.

Apple has promised to add Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish to Siri this year. One recent rumor claimed Chinese, Japanese and Russian support could arrive as early as next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises iOS Developer Program requirements, begins asking for Retina Display-compatible screenshots across the board

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: iOS, News

It looks like the Retina Display might be arriving for additional advices.

Which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday notified members of its iOS Developer Program that they will be required to provide high-resolution, Retina Display compatible screenshots when initially submitting or updating an app through iTunes Connect.

The note sent out to third-party software developers says that any future updates will not be approved by Apple unless 960×640 pixel screenshot is included, a change from the company’s earlier policy which supported Retina Display screenshots but did not require them.

Previously, non-Retina Display images and apps were scaled up from their native 480×320 pixel resolution on devices that sport the high-resolution display, and many apps in the App Store have yet to support to the higher pixel count.

Currently, the only Apple products to boast the Retina Display are the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the fourth generation iPod touch, however speculations that the much-rumored next-generation iPad will include its own high-resolution display have been cropping up since early last year.

The iPhone 4 was the first device to use the 960×640 pixel screen, with the display being introduced to the current iteration of the iPod touch in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to hold “Strange” special event in February

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Date: Thursday, February 2nd, 2012, 05:59
Category: iOS, iPad, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that make tech interesting.

Per Macotakara, a rumor is circulating that Apple will hold a “Strange” event in February and a Special Event to launch the third-generation iPad in early March. Staff writer Danbo has now corrected the original claim as only telling a “half-side of truth.”

According to him, Apple will indeed hold an event in February, but it will be a “Strange” event rather than a full product launch. The author was unable to provide further details on what exactly a strange event would entail, though he did reiterate that it would not be a product event.

One possibility is that the rumored February event could contain industry-related announcements similar to how last month’s education event in New York City to mark the release of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author without showing off new hardware.

“Special Event for new products will be hold in early March and will release products during March as usual,” Danbo continued.

The publication’s most-recent corrections put its insider information more in line with other reports that have pegged March as the month that Apple will release its new iPad, similar to last year. Bloomberg reported last month that production for the next-gen iPad was already underway ahead of a March launch. That report also claimed that the device would feature a high-resolution display, LTE compatibility and a quad-core processor. Rumors out of Taiwan have also pointed to March as the time frame for the launch.

The third-generation iPad is generally believed to feature a doubled-resolution display with a pixel density of 254 pixels per inch. Apple is also expected to unveil its next-generation A6 processor alongside the next iPad as it did with the A5 and the iPad 2 last year.

As for iOS 5.1, a beta release of the software provided by Apple to developers appears to contain references to deep Facebook integration similar to system-wide elements for Twitter that the company built into iOS 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

EFF looking to keep jailbreaking iOS devices legal in U.S.

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Date: Friday, January 27th, 2012, 13:04
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

Since it’s now kind of, sort of legal to jailbreak your iOS device, the Electronic Frontier Foundation aims to keep it that way.

Per AppleInsider, an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that has made iPhone “jailbreaking” legal is set to expire, and a digital rights advocacy group hopes the U.S. government will renew and expand that exemption.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week reached out to members of the public, asking them to help protect the act of jailbreaking, in which users can hack their iPhone or iPad to run unauthorized code. Up until now, jailbreaking has been legal through exemptions in the DMCA, but that exemption is set to expire this year.

“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, but it’s been misused to threaten tinkerers and users who just want to make their devices more secure and more functional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “The U.S. Copyright Office should hear from concerned Americans who want to run software of their choice on the gadgets of their choice.”

The EFF helped to ensure that jailbreaking was granted an exemption in the DMCA in 2010, but this year the group wants to expand it to specifically cover tablets and videogame systems through its “Jailbreaking is Not a Crime” campaign at jailbreakingisnotacrime.org.

The term jailbreaking usually refers to hacking Apple’s iOS devices in order to run software not approved by Apple. But the EFF’s campaign uses jailbreaking as a blanket term for hacking all devices, regardless of platform.

Every few years, the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office authorizes exemptions to ensure existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material. Two years ago, the office officially ruled that jailbreaking is an acceptable practice, though it still voids Apple’s product warranties.

Through jailbreaking, hackers have created their own custom applications which are available from an alternative storefront known as Cydia, similar to Apple’s official App Store for iOS. There are many free and paid applications available on Cydia that allow users to install custom tweaks, user interface themes and various pieces of software that does not comply with Apple’s iOS developer agreement.

While jailbreaking itself is not illegal, the process can be used to pirate software from the App Store, which is against the law. Concern over piracy is one of the main reasons Apple has fought the practice of jailbreaking.

To keep jailbreaking legal, the EFF has asked that supporters sign a letter written by author and hacker Andrew “bunnie” Huang, an MIT graduate who wrote the 2003 book “Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering.” Huang’s letter advocates for expanded jailbreaking exemptions to protect “security researchers and other tinkerers and innovators.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Volume Purchase Program allows businesses to buy iOS apps in bulk

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Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 05:58
Category: iOS, News, retail, Software

Sometimes a business just needs certain App Store apps.

Per Macworld, Apple quietly unveiled a Volume Purchase for Business program (also known as VPP) last summer: Essentially, it’s an App Store specifically for businesses, where they can purchase iOS apps in bulk. It allows developers to custom-tailor software for specific businesses; it also gives Apple another entry into the business market.

Here’s how the Volume Purchase Program works: Businesses create a single Apple ID to manage their purchases. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then buy them in bulk.

Once the purchases have been made, Apple issues the company a list of redemption codes for the app. Whoever is managing app distribution for the company can email those codes to employees, allowing them to download the app just by following a link on their Mac, PC, or iOS device. The management interface is updated as users redeem the apps, keeping track of which codes are still available, as well as retaining a full purchase history.

Developers say Apple sets a minimum price of US$10 per app, but after that they’re free to offer custom prices, features, and services to specific customers.

VPP does have its limitations and as of now has yet to expand beyond the United States.

For years, Apple has famously focused on the consumer end of the market. But as more and more of those consumers bring their iPhones and iPads to work, IT departments are increasingly needing to take advantage of those devices; VPP gives Apple a way to help with that and thereby make inroads into the enterprise market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ever used the VPP for your business, please let us know about your experience, positive or otherwise.

Apple releases iTunes U app, allows college students to view course materials, sign up for classes, etc.

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Date: Thursday, January 19th, 2012, 08:11
Category: iOS, News, Software

And now, you have even less of an excuse for not signing up for the courses you want.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released its iTunes U application for iPad on Thursday. The app will allow college students to view course materials, receive updates from their teachers, and even sign up for classes.

In its presentation to the press, Apple showed off an online course from Duke for “Core Concepts in Chemistry.” In the iTunes U application, students can get an overview of the course, view teacher details, obtain the class syllabus, rate the course and even access information like the teacher’s office hours.

The iTunes U application for iPad has sections for “Info,” “Posts,” “Notes” and “Materials.” In the “Posts” section, teachers can provide updates to students, including assignments.

The assignments can even be context sensitive, allowing a student to tap on it and automatically be sent to the appropriate section of a textbook in iBooks. When an assignment is completed, it can be crossed off of the included task list.

In the “Notes” tab, users can access and modify their class notes, even highlighting certain text. And the “Materials” tab shows off all of the material for a course, including textbooks, videos, audio, and documents.

The iTunes U application itself is free and now available on the iPad App Store. Participating schools that have had early access to the software are Duke, Yale, Harrisburg Area Community College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and The Open University.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.