Google Chrome updated to 9.0.597.84

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 05:33
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 9.0.597.84 for the Mac. The new version, an 32.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software.

- With Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant), web pages that you frequently visit will begin loading as soon as you start typing the URL. (“Look, Mom – no enter key!”). If supported by your default search engine, search results appear instantly as you type queries in the omnibox.

- Lastly, the Chrome Web Store is now open to all Chrome users in the United States. As part of this, we’ve now added a link to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page, along with two sample apps. (If you don’t use these sample apps, they will automatically disappear after some time).

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T to include two free gigabytes of data to tethering plan come Feb. 13th

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Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News

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For the first time in a long time, AT&T has competition for the iPhone and has to offer some incentives to keep its customers coming back.

With that in mind, the company announced on Wednesday plans to add 2GB of data usage to its smartphone tethering plan. According to iLounge, current tethering customers will automatically get the additional 2GB of monthly data usage added to their plans at no extra charge as of February 13; customers who sign up for tethering afterwards will get the additional data from the start of their tethering plan. The total cost for 4GB of data plus tethering capability will be US$45 per month, the same price iPhone users paid for 2GB of data plus tethering in the past; users who exceed their data limits will be charged an overage fee of US$10 per gigabyte.

The plan change coincides with the release of an “AT&T Mobile Hotspot” app and the launch of the HTC Inspire 4G, however, the announcement makes no mention of whether a similar app will be offered for iPhone users, or if the company plans to make use of iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature. Notably, Verizon Wireless has said that it will also charge US$20 for use of the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature, but the 2GB of data included in the Verizon plan is for Personal Hotspot use only, while AT&T’s extra data will be applied to collective use across all devices.

iOS 4.3 may hit on February 13th, could bring Personal Hotspot feature to AT&T users

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Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:35
Category: iPhone, News

Apple is set to launch iOS 4.2.6 for Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 4 on February 10, but a 4.3 update may be made available just days later, bringing Personal Hotspot WiFi sharing to AT&T users.

Per AppleInsider, David Pogue of the New York Times noted that the new Personal Hotspot feature would come to existing AT&T iPhone users on February 13, a date that no longer appears in his review.

The reader said that Pogue’s review originally stated, “the single new feature in Verizon’s iPhone is Personal Hotspot, where the iPhone becomes a Wi-Fi base station. Up to five laptops, iPod Touches or other gadgets can get online, using the phone as a glorified Internet antenna.

“That’s incredibly convenient. Many other app phones have it — AT&T’s iPhone gets it on Feb. 13 — but Apple’s execution is especially nice. For example, the hot spot shuts itself off 90 seconds after the last laptop disconnects. That’s hugely important, because these personal hot spot features are merciless battery drains.”

The review now simply states, “AT&T says its iPhone will get it soon” without mentioning a date. While the February 13 date falls oddly on a Sunday, making it an unlikely date for an iOS release, it appears that iOS 4.3 will at least be released around that day.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta to developer community, no known issues cited

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Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 06:58
Category: News, Software

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The third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta shipped this week, developers actually citing no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build of Mac OS X 10.6.7 say it is known as 10J850, and was released late Tuesday. The delta update is reportedly a 376.9MB download.

Those people say Apple has asked developers to again focus their testing on the Mac App Store, as well as AirPort, Bonjour, SMB, and Graphics Drivers. The latest build has no known issues.

The last beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple’s forthcoming maintenance and security update for Snow Leopard, was released just over a week ago. That build, dubbed 10J846, was a 372MB download that asked developers to concentrate on the Mac App Store — the only change from the previous build.

And less than a week before that, on Jan. 20, the first beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7 was issued to developers. None of the releases have reportedly contained any known issues.

The last update for Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.6, was released in early January, and included access to the Mac App Store feature.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the third Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Adobe releases Flash Player 10.2.152.21 update

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Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 06:36
Category: News, Software

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You may love or hate Flash Player, but updated versions are never a bad thing.

Late Tuesday, Adobe released Flash Player 10.2.1521 for Mac OS X, a 7.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version functions essentially as a pre-release to version 10.2 and includes the following fixes and changes:

- General stability fixes.

- Additional audio and video fixes.

- Stage Video hardware acceleration – A new method for video playback in Flash Player allows developers to leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can decrease processor usage by up to 85% and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

- Internet Explorer 9 hardware accelerated rendering support – Flash Player takes advantage of hardware accelerated graphics in Internet Explorer 9, utilizing hardware rendering surfaces to improve graphics performance and enable seamless composition.

- Native custom mouse cursors – Developers can define custom native mouse cursors, enabling user experience enhancements and improving performance.

- Support for full screen mode with multiple monitors – Full screen content will remain in full-screen on secondary monitors, allowing users to watch full-screen content while working on another display.

- On Mac computers, hardware decoding of H.264 video in Flash Player is available with Mac OS X 10.6.4 and later on hardware supported by the Mac OS Video Decode Acceleration Framework (such as the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, and GeForce GT 330M). Whether hardware decoding will engage for a specific video is determined by the Mac OS Video Decode Acceleration Framework.

The full notes of the new version can be found here and Flash Player 10.2.152.21 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Intel confirms SATA controller chip flaw, may delay MacBook Pro refresh

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:30
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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If Apple’s notebook refresh is taking a bit longer than you’d like, it might just be Intel’s fault.

Earlier Monday, Intel acknowledged that a supporting chipset for the next-generation Core processors contained a flaw in the Serial-ATA (SATA) controller. The bug can cause poor hard drive performance or even make the drive invisible to the system.

Per Computerworld, Intel said it has stopped shipments of the flawed chipsets and retooled the chipset. It will begin shipping the fixed version late next month, and said that it “expects full volume recovery in April.”

The design gaffe could effect Apple’s next MacBook Pro refresh if the notebook line is to get new processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, as many speculated last month.

According to Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with the Linley Group (the publishers of Microprocessor Report) the mobile version of the supporting chipset may have been flawed.

In an e-mail reply to Macworld UK’s questions, Krewell pointed out a pair of Intel documents that note the mobile versions of the chipset use the same 6Gbps and 3Gbps ports as those used in the desktop versions.

According to Anandtech.com, the flaw affects only the 3Gbps ports — the chipsets’ SATA controller also offers faster-speed 6Gbps ports — making the likelihood of an impact on notebook makers even higher.

While the signs point to a problem for Apple, analysts split today on whether a MacBook Pro refresh would be delayed.

“It could mean a delay of two to three weeks,” said Martin Reynolds, a vice president with Gartner, assuming Apple intended to launch new MacBook Pros in March or even April.

Dan Olds, a senior analyst with Portland, Ore.-based Gabriel Consulting Group, disagreed.

“I don’t think Intel has shipped any [Sandy Bridge] chipsets for mobile yet,” Olds said. “I haven’t heard any chatter from the major players [about upcoming notebooks that use the chipsets], like Dell, for example.”

The unknown, of course, is when Apple was planning to launch revamped MacBook Pro models that rely on the Sandy Bridge architecture, and thus, the flawed chipsets.

Most close Apple watchers have been expecting an imminent refresh. Although Apple doesn’t hew to a set schedule for upgrades, the last time it boosted the MacBook Pro was in April 2010, nearly 300 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.2.6 before Feb. 10th CDMA iPhone release

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:38
Category: iPhone, News

Eight days before the release of the CDMA-compatible iPhone, Apple has posted a version of iOS 4.2.6, possibly for journalists who have reportedly received review units.

Per AppleInsider, iOS 4.2.6, available as a direct download from Apple, is listed as for iPhone3,3, which is the identifier for the CDMA version of iPhone 4 coming to the Verizon network on Feb. 10. The 652 MB download is labeled as Build 8E200.

Demo versions of the Verizon iPhone at the carrier’s Jan. 11 press event were running iOS 4.2.5, suggesting that Apple has since made several minor changes to the software.

Apple issued a beta build of version 4.3, the next major update to iOS, earlier this month. The pre-release software contained support for several new multi-touch gestures, as well as GSM support for the Personal Hotspot feature included in iOS 4.2.6.

In documentation accompanying the second beta of iOS 4.3, Apple noted that the new gestures are provided as a preview and will not be enabled for customers. The update could, however, include a new Photo Stream service, as well as a “Find my Friends” feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve tried the new version of iOS and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Users report bugs in iChat video recording on current-gen MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News

You love your new MacBook Air.

You would have asked it to prom if it had been around back then.

And it might not be able to record video chats despite having the hardware to do so.

According to MacFixIt, a reader wrote to state has not been able to record video chats in iChat on his new MacBook Air notebook. While video chats work fine, for some reason the “Record Chat” option in the “Video” menu does not work and the program will not allow video chats to be recorded. This is in contrast to both prior MacBook Air models, all other Mac systems that support video chatting.

MacFixIt reader “Joseph” writes:
“I’ve just discovered that the new MacBook Air, unlike every other current-vintage Apple laptop and desktop, is unable to record a video iChat. My local Apple Store tells me that the problem lies within the hardware itself. Can anyone tell me more specifically what that problem is, and whether there might be any workarounds?”

In the midst of diagnosing the problem, the article suggests creating a new user account on the system to test iChat with and see if any user-related settings were contributing to the problem.

On systems that support recording, a green check will appear. On the MacBook Air systems experiencing this problem an “Insufficient CPU” error will be shown.

Apparently other users have reported experiencing this problem, and in a call to AppleCare, one reader was told it is caused by the latest model of MacBook Air having a hardware incompatibility with iChat that prevents video chats from being recorded. To see this, if you go to the “Video” menu and choose “Connection Doctor,” select “Capabilities” from the drop-down menu and the “Record video chat” option will show “Insufficient CPU” instead of a green check.

Some MacBook Air systems that are experiencing this problem have been able to record video when running Mac OS X 10.5.x, indicating this issue may be with the previous 2009 models that shipped with Mac OS X 10.5 in addition to the 2010 models that shipped with Mac OS X 10.6.

The hardware in the latest MacBook Air should be fully capable of recording video chats.

Therefore, this is likely a bug in iChat that is preventing this feature from working. It appears Apple uses a specific feature of certain CPUs in iChat’s recording feature, and this feature is either not present in the CPUs used in the latest MacBook Air systems, or it has been disabled in firmware or by how the CPU interfaces with the other hardware changes in the latest MacBook Air systems.

Meanwhile if you are affected by this issue, one workaround that’s been located is to use QuickTime Player’s video chatting capabilities. To do this, start up a video chatting session and launch QuickTime Player. Then start a screen recording session, switch to iChat, and set the video to be full screen. This will record the screen and your audio input which you should then be able to import into iMovie or any other editing software.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Verizon confirms Feb. 3, 3 a.m. preorder window for current customers

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, News

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With its February 10th launch date just around the corner, wireless carrier Verizon has launched a new teaser countdown page for existing customers, telling them to come back at 3 a.m. eastern standard time on Feb. 3rd.

Per AppleInsider, Verizon sent out emails to business customers earlier this week notifying them of the 3 a.m. start, the new page is the first time that all existing customers were informed of the time. Verizon customers will, of course, still need to check with the carrier to verify that they are eligible for an iPhone upgrade.

Verizon’s iPhone frequently asked questions page still states that preorders will begin “on or around February 3rd 2011″ and will be sold on a “first come, first serve” basis.

While a 3 a.m. Eastern time may seem an odd time for Verizon to begin taking iPhone 4 preorders, it’s the earliest time where all contiguous states will have reached Feb. 3.

The 16GB iPhone 4 model will retail for US$199, while the 32GB model will go for US$299, each with a 2-year contract. A leak on the Apple website Wednesday revealed that Verizon’s voice plans for the iPhone 4 will start at US$39.99 per month, with unlimited data for US$29.99, and the option of 2GB of data tethering for an additional US$20. According to one Verizon executive, the company’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time before being phased out for a tiered pricing structure.

In preparation for the launch, Verizon has also begun carrying cases for the CDMA iPhone 4 on its website. Apple recently began offering a universal bumper case that fits both the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4, since the new CDMA iPhone has a new antenna design that necessitated moving the mute switch slightly.

BBC iPlayer apps for iPhone, iPad close to release

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:45
Category: iPad, News, Software

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You’ve been hankering for it for a while.

And it’s almost here.

Per PaidContent, the BBC is close to launching its long-awaited iPlayer app for iOS, it has been claimed.

A recent story has suggested that the app will be launched as a farewell ‘present’ to future media and technology director Erik Huggers. Huggers is leaving the BBC for Intel and will take up his new role some time at the end of February.

A web-based beta version of iPlayer for the iPad was launched at the same time as the iPad launched in the UK, in May 2010. At the moment the service is accessible through the iPhone and iPad browser, but a dedicated app should lead to a much smoother experience.

The BBC’s intention to develop iPhone apps was greeted with protests from commercial rivals, with the Newspapers Publishers Association pressurising the BBC to put the plans on ice.

A planned BBC News app for iPhone did eventually launch, but a BBC Sport app, which the corporation had originally wanted to launch before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has still not been released.

The BBC also announced plans in December to roll the iPlayer out to iPad users worldwide, on a subscription basis.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.