Apple quietly removes jailbreak API detection code in iOS 4.2

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This is a bit weird but maybe it makes sense in the long run.

Per Network World, less than six months after introducing it, Apple has quietly disabled its jailbreak detection API (Application Programming Interface) through the iOS 4.2 software update, according to a new report.

The publication reported that the API, which was released in June as part of a mobile device management (MDM) bundle for iOS 4.0, has been disabled in iOS 4.2, leaving perplexed vendors to question why. The API had previously allowed third-party MDM applications, such as AirWatch or Sybase’s Afaria, to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files, author John Cox wrote.

Third-party MDM vendors had created their own utilities to check for jailbreaks, but Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted MDM applications direct access to iOS system information.

“We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Sybase vice president of engineering Joe Owen. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Though jailbreaking an Apple device voids its warranty, the U.S. government recently legalized the process through a handful of exemptions to preexisting laws forbidding it.

Since the release of iOS, Apple has gone back and forth with the jailbreaking community, both sides working to one up each other with each new update. As vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited by the hacking community, Apple rushes to patch the issues, while hackers secretly move on to the next flaw.

In August, hackers released a high publicity browser-based jailbreak for the iPhone 4 that drew attention to a glaring security flaw that could have exposed users to malicious software just by visiting website.

As hackers became aware of the jailbreak detection API, they may have begun circumventing it, adding another layer to the tug-of-war between jailbreakers and Apple.

“Whatever [Apple] adds [in the OS] to detect the jailbreak, if it is to be queried from the iOS kernel, it must be accessible and have the ability to be changed,” security consultant Jeremy Allen told Cox. “Meaning, if it is going to be a useful detection method it can also be circumvented. It is a fairly intractable problem to solve 100%.”

The use of jailbreaking to pirate App Store software has been a major concern for Apple and developers. Also at stake is Apple’s relationship with carriers, who often sell iPhones locked to their networks. In the U.S., for instance, the iPhone is only available through AT&T, though Verizon is expected to begin selling the iPhone early next year. Users looking to use their locked iPhones on other carriers often jailbreak and unlock their handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HP adds AirPrint functionality to six printers via firmware updates

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 13:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The AirPrint feature has been released with iOS 4.2.

Now it’s time to find a printer that actually supports this.

Per AppleInsider, HP this week updated the firmware of six of its printers, enabling compatibility with Apple’s AirPrint, which allows printing directly from iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The company added the functionality to six of its Officejet line of printers with firmware updates released on Thursday, the new models consisting of the following:
– Officejet 6500A e-AiO

– Officejet 6500A Plus e-AiO

– Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-AiO

– Officejet Pro 8500A e-AiO

– Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-AiO

– Officejet Pro 8500A Premium e-AiO

The addition of six new printers makes a total of 18 printers from HP that are now compatible with AirPrint. Five existing printers offer AirPrint functionality out of the box, while another seven had previously released firmware updates that added the ability to print from iOS 4.2.

AirPrint was originally intended to work from any printer shared through a Mac or PC. In early builds of iOS 4.2, iTunes 10.1 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 issued to developers, printers could be shared over a local network to iOS 4.2 devices.

That functionality was eventually removed, and now only HP printers with support for direct wireless printing without sharing through a Mac or PC work with AirPrint. However, a number of fixes and workarounds have been released that allow users to share a printer once again.

There were rumors that a legal dispute led Apple to remove the printer sharing feature from Mac OS X 10.6.5, iTunes 10.1 and iOS 4.2 at the last minute. Apple’s own website now only promises that AirPrint allows users to “print mail, photos, web pages, and more directly to a printer on a wireless network.”

If you have one of these printers, try the firmware update and let us know how this process goes.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.13 update

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:08
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.13 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 18.7 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

– Patched 13 security bugs, 11 of these being rated “critical”.

– Aaddressed browser engine memory bugs, buffer and integer overflows, and a location bar SSL spoofing flaw.

– The update also fixed nearly 70 non-security flaws, including several stability bugs that Mozilla tracked through user-submitted crash reports.

Firefox 3.6.13 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

Microsoft posts Office 12.2.8 update for Office 2008 for Mac

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 06:49
Category: News, Software

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Microsoft has posted an update to version 12.2.8 for Office 2008 for Mac. As usual, the company states that the update improves stability and includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can potentially use to overwrite the contents of your Mac’s memory with malicious code.

According to Macworld, the update also fixes an issue in Entourage that causes the program to quit unexpectedly under certain circumstances.

The 332.8 MB update applies to Office 2008, Office 2008 Home and Student Edition, Office 2008 Special Media Edition, Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008, Entourage 2008, Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition and can be located, downloaded and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate feature.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 for 2010 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple issued a MacBook Air EMI firmware resolving an issue where the ultra-thin laptop boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 is recommended for all 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air (late 2010) models and requires Mac OS X 10.6.5 to install and run. The update addresses a “rare issue” where the MacBook Air is unresponsive or displays just a black screen after booting or waking.

Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Air in October at its “Back to the Mac event.” As predicted by AppleInsider the Mac maker released an 11.6″ version of the ultra-portable notebook and abandoned mechanical hard disk drives in favor of custom solid state storage.

On the day of the revamped MacBook Air’s unveiling, Apple released a software update for the product, resolving a problem where the MacBook Air became unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display was connected.

Shortly after the release of the MacBook Air, reports emerged that users were experiencing problems ranging from faulty logic boards to display issues. One issue, detailed on an Apple support thread, involved a flickering or frozen screen. It is not clear whether Apple’s EFI firmware update specifically addresses this issue.

Despite scattered reports of issues with the MacBook Air, the laptop has continued to sell well, especially the 11-inch model. The US$999 11.6″ MacBook Air’s ship times slipped from within 24 hours to 1-3 business days in the first week after its release.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple addresses security concerns with QuickTime 7.6.9 update for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, security, Software

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Per the cool cats over at CNET, Apple has updated its Quicktime software, now at version 7.6.9, to fix vulnerabilities where a maliciously designed file could execute arbitrary code or lead to the application terminating.

As Apple describes in its knowledge base article:
“Description: A heap buffer overflow exists in QuickTime’s handling of JP2 images. Viewing a maliciously crafted JP2 image may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue is addressed through improved bounds checking. For Mac OS X v10.6 systems, this issue is addressed in Mac OS X v10.6.5. Credit to Nils of MWR InfoSecurity, and Will Dormann of the CERT/CC, for reporting this issue.”

Also included in this security update are fixes to maliciously crafted avi file types, other movie file types, FlashPix image files, GIF image files, or PICT image files, as well as a possibility that local users may have access to sensitive information on certain Windows machines.
The update is for Mac users running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or Server 10.5.8. For more information, visit the entire security update article.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Lightroom 3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:18
Category: News, Software

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Early Tuesday, software giant released version 3.3 of its Lightroom (available on the company’s update page) photo editing utility. The Lightroom 3.3 updated added the following fixes and changes:

– Additional camera support for several new camera models including the Canon PowerShot 95, Nikon D7000 and Olympus E-5.

– Corrections for issues introduced in Lightroom 3.0.

Adobe Lightroom 3.3 retails for US$299 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later to install and run.

Analyst: Verizon may accept more of Apple’s terms for access to iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 08:35
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon may be willing to accept Apple’s terms regarding the iPhone according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Per The Mac Observer, a deal between the two companies is “closer to reality,” and Verizon may be more willing to pay what Apple wants under Apple’s terms as Android “starts losing some of its luster (at least at Verizon).”

The change would mark a shift in the rumored negotiations between the two companies, as Verizon previously hadn’t wanted to pay the same high subsidies AT&T pays for each iPhone signed up on its network. The telecom has also been unhappy with the notion of leaving Apple in charge of the customer experience, as it is with almost all of its carrier partners.

“Times have changed,” wrote Mr. Wu in a research note to his firm’s clients clients. “Apple is back in the driver’s seat with a record 14.1 million iPhone shipments in the September quarter helping AT&T gain share against VZ over the last two quarters as Android starts to lose some of its luster (at least at VZ). In addition, our sources indicate that VZ does not believe the pending launch of BlackBerry 6 on its network is likely to have a material impact.”

Another factor playing into the negotiations, according to industry and supply chain checks conducted by Kaufman Bros., is that Verizon may be willing to pay more than (i.e. what AT&T pays) to keep the device exclusive to AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., and off of Sprint and T-Mobile.

The iPhone has been the single biggest drive in customer growth for AT&T, helping Ma Bell to close much of the distance between itself and Big Red. AT&T has enjoyed an exclusive five year deal on the iPhone, but that five year contract will be up as soon sometime-in-2011, according to a variety of reported leaks and informed speculation (the smart money is on the summer of 2011).

While Verizon wants to end AT&T’s exclusivity on the device, the company doesn’t necessarily want every other carrier to get it, too, according to the reasoning laid out by Mr. Wu.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.

Parallels Desktop 6.0.11990.62101 released

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 10:57
Category: News, Software

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Parallels Desktop, the popular virtualization application that allows users to run the Windows and Linux operating systems simultaneously alongside Mac OS X, reached version 6.0.11990.62101 on Thursday. The new version, available here, sports the following major fix:

– Address stability and performance of Parallels Desktop and virtual machines.

– Resolve various networking issues.

– Improve the process of converting third party virtual machines.

– Address an issue when Parallels Desktop won’t start.

– Address an activation issue when upgrading Parallels Desktop.

– Add mouse settings to Parallels Desktop Preferences.

– Resolve printing issues.

– Address issues with unexpected inability to copy and paste between Mac and Windows.

– Resolve an issue when a Boot Camp virtual machine requires to reactivate Windows.

– Address a mouse handling issue that causes incorrect transitions between SmartMouse modes in 3D applications and games.

– Add support for Red Hat 6 and Fedora 14 operating systems.

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac retails for US$79.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 later to install and run.

Apple, magazine publishers in long-standing stalemate over iPad-based subscriptions

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPad, News

In as much as the iPad has been seen as the device to help bring magazines back into a better range of profitability, the devil may be in the details. Per MediaMemo, Apple and magazine publishers have still not been able to reach a deal for selling subscriptions on the iPad, as publications reportedly want extensive subscriber data, but Apple is unwilling to give it.

The report stated Friday that Apple and publishers are “still miles apart” on the prospect of subscriptions for iPad content in the App Store. The two sides remain at odds over the same issue they’ve allegedly been debating since early this year: Publishers want personal data about subscribers to provide to advertisers, and Apple doesn’t want to allow it.

Apple is reportedly offering publishers the option of an opt-in form, which would allow subscribers to grant publications the ability to access a “limited amount of information” about them, such as their name, physical mailing address, and e-mail address.

They’ve also proposed the same revenue sharing plans used to great success on the App Store, where Apple keeps a 30% cut of all transactions.

“The offer has been on the table for a ‘couple months,’ I’m told, and so far none of the big publishers have gone for it,” Kafka wrote. “They don’t like the 30% cut Apple wants to take, but their real hang-up is the lack of access to credit card data: It’s valuable to them for marketing, and without it they can’t offer print/digital bundles, either.”

As a result, he said publishers are now looking toward Google and tablets running the Android mobile operating system, in hopes of finding some success on that platform instead.

However, the anticipated tablet-only daily publication from News Corp, called The Daily, doesn’t have many of the same issues, because it’s a new product that’s doesn’t have existing customers on the print side of the business. One rumor has suggested that The Daily will be formally announced, along with Apple’s subscription plans, at an event on Dec. 9 or soon after.

For months, reports have claimed that Apple is unwilling to share consumer data beyond sales volume to publishers who are interested in putting their publications on the App Store. It has been said that Apple has pitched an opt-in function that would allow consumers to willingly share some information, but according to Kafka’s sources, Apple still refuses to give more detailed demographic information.

Print publishers view demographic data from readers as their most valuable asset, as they rely on that information to sell advertisements.