Skype updated to 6.2.73.1117

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Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 08:38
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, version 6.2.73.1117 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 41.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– eGifting: Skype user can now send a gift of credit to anyone they care about on their birthday.

– One-way SMS without verifying your mobile number.

Skype 6.2.73.1117 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 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.

Evasi0n hack now over 7 million downloads, updated version available for iOS 6.1.1

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Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 08:16
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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You can’t knock a good hack.

Per Redmond Pie, the Evad3rs team on Tuesday rolled out an update for the Evasi0n untethered jailbreak tool, fixing bugs found in the initial software while adding support for the Apple’s iOS 6.1.1 mobile operating system just one day after its release.

After launching last week, version 1.3 of the Evasi0n jailbreak is now available to the public, allowing iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners to liberate any device running iOS 6, 6.1 and 6.1.1.

Multiple reports noted that Evasi0n was downloaded over seven million times in four days, making the so-called liberation tool the most popular in iOS history.

Apple’s release of iOS 6.1.1 on Monday broke compatibility with the software hack, but version 1.3 brings back support for all iOS devices, including the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Apple’s iOS release targeted battery life and 3G issues seen by some iPhone 4S users, and was not meant to patch the Evasi0n exploit.

Available on OS X, Windows and Linux, the untethered hack allows users to jailbreak their devices without having to connect to a computer.

It should be noted that the process of jailbreaking is legal, but will void the supplied Apple warranty as it leverages exploits in the iOS software to run unauthorized code.

If you’ve run the Evasi0n hack on your iOS device and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Apple posts updated specs, reduced prices for Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 07:45
Category: MacBook Pro, News

It never hurts to wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple said Wednesday that it’s making the MacBook Pro with Retina display faster and more affordable with updated processors and lower starting prices, starting at US$1,499 rather than US$1,699.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now starts at US$1,499 for 128GB of flash, and $1,699 for a new 2.6 GHz processor and 256GB of flash. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now also features a faster 2.4 GHz quad-core processor, while the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook comes with a new 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory.

Apple today also announced that the 13-inch MacBook Air with 256GB of flash has a new lower price of US$1,399.

The revised units are available over on the Apple Store and immediately available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Previous Apple patent applications reveal plans for line of wearable computing devices

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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You know that whole iWatch thing? It could be just the tip of the iceberg where Apple and wearable technologies are concerned.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the company is secretly developing an entire wearable/attachable computing platform and ecosystem comprised of wireless sensing systems for monitoring not only sports activity, athletic training, medicine, fitness, and wellness in humans, but also for tracking packages and industrial production.

The site initially discovered an 83-page patent filing granted to the company that covered a series of wireless sensing systems aimed at quantifying actions or events that can currently be measured only qualitatively, such as the effectiveness of a karate kick or what exactly happened to a package from FedEx that arrived with its contents broken. Industry watchers could think of the technology as a series of Nike FuelBands for nearly all aspects of motion.

Since then, Apple has continued to refine the provisional filing, and on Tuesday was awarded the rights to a continuation of the now divisional patent application under the title “Personal items network, and associated methods.” It makes references to dozens of earlier filings, including several from the company itself dating back to 2001.

A couple of wireless monitoring devices are critical to Apple’s concept, the first of which is called a movement monitor device, or “MMD.” The company says these tiny transmitters can take the form of an adhesive strip similar to a bandage and include a processor, a detector, communications port, and battery. Alternatively, they could assume the form of a credit card and/or include a magnetic element for adhering to metal objects. In any of the cases, they’d ideally also include a real time clock so that the transmitter can tag “events” with time and date information.

In one aspect, the MMD continuously relays a movement metric by continuous transmission of data from the detector to a RR. In this way, a MMD attached to a person may beneficially track movement, in real time, of that person by recombination of the movement metrics at a remote computer. In one aspect, multiple MMDs attached to a person quantify movement of a plurality of body parts or movements, for example to assist in athletic training (e.g., for boxing or karate).

“In another aspect, multiple MMDs attached to an object quantify movement of a plurality of object parts or movements, for example to monitor or assess different components or sensitive parts of an object. For example, multiple MMDs can be attached to an expensive medical device to monitor various critical components during shipment; when the device arrives at the customer, these MMDs are interrogated to determine whether any of the critical components experienced undesirable conditions–e.g., a high impact or temperature or humidity.”

MMDs could also be capable of measuring temperature, humidity, moisture, altitude and pressure. These environmental metrics would be combined into an MMD with a detector that facilitates the monitoring of movement metrics. And they “can practically attach to almost anything to obtain movement information,” the filing claims.

By way of example, an MMD can be mounted to the helmet or body armor of each football player or motocross competitor to monitor movement and jerk of the athlete. In such applications, data from the MMD preferably transmits event data in real time to a RR in the form of a network, so that MMD data associated with each competitor is available for broadcast to a scoreboard, TV or the Internet. Other advantages should be apparent in the description within.”

Event Monitoring Devices:
The second kind wireless monitoring device Apple describes in its filing is called an Event Monitoring Device, or “EMD,” which can be used to monitor and report humidity, chemicals, heart rate, pulse, pressure, stress, weight, environmental factors and hazardous conditions. Nearly identical in structure, composition, and operation to MMDs, EMDs monitor one or more metrics for “events,” where data is acquired that exceeds some predetermined threshold or value.

In [one] example, the detector and processor collectively monitor stress events, where for example it is determined that the EMD attached to a human senses increased heart rate of over 180 beats per minute (an exemplary “event” threshold). In still another aspect, the detector is a chemical (or pH) detector and the processor and detector collectively determine a change of chemical composition of an object connected with the EMD over some preselected time period.

Apple goes on in the filing to describe how MMDs and EMDs can monitor and enhance activities and live broadcasts of Nascar races, marathons, rodeos, bike races, and extreme sports. They could also be applied to body armor and used for weight monitoring.

Apple receives patent for “microslot antennas”, could see improvements in wireless functionality in coming years

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:01
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, wireless

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Your notebook and iOS device’s wireless system could be getting that much niftier.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday won the patent rights to “microslot antenna” technology that allows micron-wide antenna assets to be integrated into the housing of a portable device, such as an iPhone, making them nearly invisible to the human eye.

As portable electronics become thinner and more compact with each successive generation, internal space is quickly becoming a limiting factor to device designers. Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,373,610 for “Microslot antennas for electronic devices,” granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, could drastically cut down on the size of at least one component needed to create products like the iPhone.

While the patent refers to implementations in a laptop computer, the antenna tech can be used in other portable electronics like smartphones and tablets.

With Apple’s current technology as seen in the iPhone 5, two internal radio antennas dynamically switch between multiple frequency bands, including those carrying fast LTE data. In order to fit the units within the handset’s slim body, Apple had to design a window for radio waves, while keeping the unit small enough to leave room for other important structures like the logic board and battery.

Tuesday’s patent focuses on so-called “microslot antenna” technology, or “dielectric-filled microslots that are formed in a ground plane element.” According to the invention, the ground plane can be a device’s housing as long as it is conductive, meaning the slots would be integrated on the outer hull of a product. The system can also support multiple communications bands, meaning functionality would not be compromised for size enhancements.

As for the size of the microslots, the patent language states that the widths of the slots are usually significantly less than their lengths. For example, widths can range from microns to hundreds of microns, while a microslot’s length can be on the order of millimeters or centimeters.

Filling the slots is a dielectric such as epoxy, plastic, air or other suitable substance that prevents foreign matter from entering. Antenna feeds can be located at or between the functional microslots, and operate on common communication bands that support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G cellular, among others.

The ‘601 property was first filed for in December 2007, less than six months after the original iPhone debuted, and credits Bing Chiang, Gregory Allen Springer, Douglas B. Kough, Enrique Ayala and Matthew Ian McDonald as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.1 update for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 07:43
Category: News, Software

An update’s an update.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 update. The update, a 110.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Stability is improved. This update fixes an issue that may cause Office 2011 applications to report a problem with Licensing even though the applications continue to run unaffected.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.1 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.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 4S users

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Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 12:32
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Well, that was quick.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday released iOS 6.1.1 to address a number of bugs for iPhone 4S owners who recently ran into a handful of issues following the release of iOS 6.1 for all of Apple’s mobile devices.

The release is currently available as a direct download here (968MB) or as an over-the-air download (weighing in at about 23 megabytes). It’s available only to iPhone 4S users. No release was issued for iPhone 5 or other models of the handset at this time, despite claims from iPhone 5 owners that they were also negatively impacted by the iOS 6.1 update.

Two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone 4S users began reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the update. British wireless carrier Vodafone UK even sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version because the carrier determined it to cause 3G performance problems.

For instance, Apple’s Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after applying the iOS 6.1 update.

In particular, the carrier noted that iOS 6.1 was creating intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handsets to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The reports on Apple’s support forums, however, suggested that the problems may not be limited to just iPhone 4S users and may also affect iPhone 5 users to some extent.

One iPhone 5 owner saw their battery drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life. It’s unclear whether Apple is separately preparing an iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 5 owners.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried iOS 6.1.1 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Vodafone UK, some users warn about overheating issues between iPhone 3GS handset and iOS 6.1 update

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Date: Monday, February 11th, 2013, 08:11
Category: iOS, News, Software

If there’s one constant in the IT world, it’s that no update will make everyone happy…

Per AppleInsider, a little over two weeks after Apple released iOS 6.1, a number of iPhone users are reporting battery drain and overheating issues possibly related to the newest update, while Vodafone UK sent out a warning telling iPhone 4S owners not to upgrade to the latest OS version as it has been found to cause 3G performance.

While the extent of the 3G problems Vodafone reported is unknown, multiple Apple Support Community threads exist regarding battery drain and overheating issues, which appear to be affecting a number of iPhone models.

The Support Community forum battery drain and overheating problems after updating to iOS 6.1. Reports are conflicting, however, as one iPhone 5 owner saw a drain of 35 percent overnight, while an iPhone 3GS user said Apple’s latest update actually boosted battery life.

In Vodafone’s warning, the British carrier noted that iOS 6.1 is causing intermittent problems with iPhone 4S models, causing the handset to experience 3G-related issues with making calls, sending texts and accessing the company’s data network. The telecom said Apple is working on a fix, but failed to elaborate further on the matter.

From Vodafone’s release regarding iOS 6.1:
“Hi everyone,

We’re aware of an issue caused by Apple iPhone 4s handsets that have been upgraded to iOS 6.1 which impacts performance on 3G.

Some customers may occasionally experience difficulty in connecting to the network to make or receive calls or texts or to connect to the Internet. Apple is working on a solution to their software issue. These connection problems are intermittent.”

While Apple’s investigations continue, we would recommend that anyone who has not yet installed iOS 6.1 on their iPhone 4s should delay doing so until Apple has confirmed that their problem has been fixed.
Apple released iOS 6.1 on Jan. 28, bringing a host of bug fixes and feature enhancements like added LTE support to its mobile operating system.

If you’ve seen these issues on your iPhone 3GS handset after installing the iOS 6.1 update, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6.3

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Date: Friday, February 8th, 2013, 08:42
Category: News, Software, wireless

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You can’t knock a decent networking update.

On Friday, Apple released its AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.6.3 firmware updates. The updates, which are available for all 802.11n AirPort Express, 802.11n AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models, include the following fixes and changes:

– Extend the Guest Wi-Fi network for a network configured with multiple AirPort Base Stations.

– Ability to add a WPS capable Wi-Fi printer.

– Support for additional countries.

It is recommended that AirPort Utility 5.6 or later be installed before updating to Firmware version 7.6.3.

The updates can be located and installed via AirPort Utility’s update feature and require an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.5.502.149 update

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Date: Friday, February 8th, 2013, 08:16
Category: News, Software

Late Thursday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.5.502.149 for Mac OS X, a 16.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate as a pre-release beta. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

– Firefox & Safari crash reported(3493470).

Adobe Flash Player 11.5.502.149 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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