O'Grady's PowerPage » News

Microsoft VP highlights Windows 8 interface changes, emphasizes upcoming Ribbon features

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 04:18
Category: iOS, News, Software

microsoftlogo.jpg

If Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) was starting to look like Windows 7 (or vice versa), this might be reassuring.

Per a blog entry by Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s president of its Windows Division, indicates that one key element of Windows 8 will take the new release in a very different direction than Apple’s outline for Mac OS X.

Sinofsky detailed his thinking behind changes planned for Windows Explorer, which is roughly analogous to Mac OS X’s Finder.

The Windows file system manager originally appeared as “MS DOS Executive,” which exposed DOS commands in a graphical environment with little similarity to the icon-centric Mac desktop.

As Windows began to grow in popularity, Microsoft created an embellished graphical representation of the file system with File Manager. Then, as web browsing became popular, Microsoft brought a browser-like interface to the file system, renaming File Manager as Windows Explorer, complete with a URL-like address bar and prominent back button.

Microsoft has incrementally incorporated Mac-like interface elements in Windows Explorer, with icon-centric file browsing that links documents to their preferred application. Particularly since the release of Mac OS X, Microsoft has incorporated a similar user environment focus that presents the user’s documents, pictures, music and videos rather than just a raw window into the root file system.

Microsoft’s biggest changes in Windows 8 will be an Office-like Ribbon that presents all the major functions in a tall, window-wide control bar. This marks a radical change in thinking compared to Apple’s increasingly minimalistic interface in the Finder, which limits the default buttons to a grouping of view options, a new sorting feature in Mac OS X Lion, a Quick View button, an Action button, and a search field.



Microsoft’s Windows 8 Explorer presents 19 visible buttons in five categories, and that’s just the Home tab. The Ribbon also supplies four other tabs, which function similar to the Mac’s main Menu Bar. Sinofsky explains, “The Home tab is the heart of our new, much more streamlined Explorer experience. The commands that make up 84% of what customers do in Explorer are now all available on this one tab.”

Outside of the graphical interface, Microsoft’s design goals for Windows 8 also mark a new era of computing centered around mobile devices such as tablets. Existing Windows 7 apps won’t run on future ARM-based tablets, but a new secondary environment of web-based apps will, something Microsoft hopes will enable Windows to remain relevant even as the conventional PC market has plateaued and begun to shrink globally.

Apple’s design direction for Mac OS X has opted to incorporate a variety of design elements originally created for iPad, including a simplified, window-less Full Screen mode for apps; limited and simplified control buttons in toolbars; an increasing use of touchpad gestures; and a new security model that encapsulates apps and their documents in a private sandbox.

Apple’s iOS originally appeared on the iPhone without any “file browser,” and even the latest version works hard to avoid any exposure of the underlying file system, despite supporting document-centric apps like iWork. Apps on iOS simply can not present a global view of the underlying filesystem, because all they can see is their own sandbox.

Apple’s iCloud similarly reduces the exposure of file system, replacing MobileMe’s iDisk with a new Documents and Data feature that secures an app’s files and data from access by malware while making the user’s files (and any changes) easier to manage across various devices.

Future versions of Mac OS X will likely continue along the same path, focusing upon self contained apps that create files, rather than a wide open file system (and the security issues related with having any piece of user-level software capable of accessing or wiping out any files in the local user folder).

Yes, the Ribbon shall rule the day after you boot up your Windows partiion either via Boot Camp or your virtualization app of choice.

All hail the Ribbon!!!

Apple seeds updated iTunes 10.5 beta with iCloud iTunes Match feature to developers

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

blueituneslogo.jpg

The rest of the iCloud is coming.

And it will have additional snazzy features.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has released a new version of iTunes for developer testing of the functionality of iCloud’s new iTunes Match feature for storing songs “in the cloud” for flexible access from mobile devices.

Apple has already publicly introduced some new iCloud features in iTunes, including the ability to browse and download any previously purchased songs at no additional charge.

The new iTunes 6.1 beta release is the first to support the “scan and match” cloud access feature that Apple first announced at this summer’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

This new feature allows users to pay for an annual iTunes Match subscription that will make their entire existing music collection (including songs not purchased through iTunes) available from Apple’s cloud servers as well.

The service will support music collections up to 25,000 songs and costs US$24.99 per year. That library limit does not count any songs purchased from iTunes, which are already cloud accessible. The service is also limited to music, and does not support the uploading of apps, audiobooks, books, movies, TV shows, ringtones or interactive content such as iTunes LP liner notes or iTunes Extras for movies.

Users can upload any music they want (up to the 25,000 title limit) onto Apple’s cloud servers, but the biggest feature of iTunes Match is its upload-free, automated file matching service.

Rather than forcing users to upload the many gigabytes of data that thousands of songs would involve, Apple’s iTunes Match will simply scan the user’s library and then make those same songs available from iTunes’ vast catalog of songs, effectively allowing users to upgrade their CD collections into cloud-accessible, high quality iTunes downloads without having to repurchase their music as digital downloads.

The beta program is for developer testing only, and Apple warns that any content copied up to its cloud servers during the test period may be erased. For this reason, developer notes tell users testing the service to back up their original songs, and not to delete any music they’ve uploaded into the service.

Developers participating in the program pay the standard subscription fee, but are given three free months for participating. The iTunes Match feature is currently limited to the Mac version of iTunes only, but once songs are added to the iCloud library, they can be accessed from any computer running the iTunes 10.5 beta as well as any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running the latest iOS 5 beta.

The iTunes Match service works with up to 10 iTunes PCs and iOS devices connected to the same Apple ID, although only five of those devices can be computers. Apple also notes that a computer or iOS device can only be associated with a new Apple ID once every 90 days.

Apple notes that iTunes Match is currently limited to certain supported song formats “at this time,” and that some songs may be matched incorrectly. Matched songs may also be a different version of the same song.

Apple also tells developers to watch out for performance issues on iOS devices, and notes that under the existing iOS 5 beta, music will continue to download from the cloud over cellular connections even if that option has been restricted to WiFi only in the Settings app.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new beta and have any feedback, let us know what you think in the comments.

Cocktail 5.0 (Lion Edition) released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 09:06
Category: News, Software

cocktaillogo.jpg

Late Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.0 of Cocktail (Lion Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added Mac OS X 10.7 compatibility.

- Miscellaneous bug fixes and overall improvements.

- Updated Automator actions.

- Revised Help files.

Cocktail 5.0 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Apple seeds updated Mac OS X 10.7.2 build, iCloud beta 9 to developer community

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Apple on Friday supplied developers with a new beta build of Mac OS X 10.7.2, as well as iCloud for Lion beta 9 for testing purposes, just a few days after the last beta builds were issued.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta of Lion 10.7.2 said it is known as build 11C43 and carries no known issues. Developers have reportedly been asked to focus on AirPort, AppKit, GraphicsDrivers, iCal, iChat, the Mac App Store, Mail, Spotlight and Time Machine.

Beta builds of Mac OS X are meant for testing purposes only, and are available to members of the Mac Developer Program. The last major update to Lion came just last week in the form of Mac OS X 10.7.1, packing fixes for Wi-Fi reliability, HDMI output resolutions, and optical audio output.

The last beta build of Mac OS X 10.7.2 was issued to developers this Monday. It came along with iCloud beta 8, and similarly on Friday, the new build of 10.7.2 debuted alongside iCloud for Lion beta 9.

iCloud for OS X Lion beta 9 is an add-on installer for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion that adds in-development iCloud functionality to Macs for developers.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new builds, please let us know what you make of it via the comments.

Purported iPhone 4S part photos display modified antenna base

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 26th, 2011, 06:51
Category: News

A series of purporting to be the structural case design for a revamped, cheaper new iPhone 4 indicate changes in its antenna design.

The images, published by MacRumors and iPatchiPods, appear to show a unibody frame without case seams on the top or either side of the top of the phone.

Existing GSM iPhone 4 models sold by AT&T and other global carriers have a single seam on the top, while the Verizon CDMA model has two seams on either side of the top end.

The seams separate the external edge of the iPhone 4 into antenna segments; the GSM model has two antennas (one for mobile use and one for WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS, as shown below) while the CDMA model has three (dual mobile antennas required in the CDMA specification and a WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS segment).

The modified case also incorporates a SIM card, something that only the existing GSM version of the current iPhone 4 has or needs.

It’s not yet known whether the anticipated new cheaper iPhone 4 (sometimes referred to as the “iPhone 4S”) will be dual band, allowing it to work on both major mobile network types. It is expected that the separate iPhone 5 model, bearing an original new design, will support both networks.

The primary feature of the new iPhone 4 phone design is expected to be its reduced cost, achieved through the use of streamlined components and a smaller 8GB of storage capacity.

A similarly purported “iPhone 5″ prototype case design appeared in January, similarly lacking seams on the top two sides, instead bearing a single seam on the top.

The report also portrays a bottom frame segment that appears to lack a defined Home button, suggesting that Apple may change the appearance and design of the Home button on the phones it releases later this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple gives internship to 19-year-old jailbreak prodigy

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 26th, 2011, 04:46
Category: iPhone, News, security

If you’re a good enough hacker and sort of threaten Apple’s warranties to a certain degree, the company might just give you an internship.

According to his Twitter feed, 19-year old Nicholas Allegra, announced that he will start an internship with Apple “the week after next.” Allegra gained notoriety last year when, as a member of the iPhone Dev Team, he released a web-based JailbreakMe exploit for the iPhone 4.



Jailbreaking refers to the process of hacking iOS to allowed users to install custom software and tweaks without Apple’s permission. Performing a jailbreak can, however, void Apple’s warranty for the device.

Allegra made waves again last month when he released an updated version of JailbreakMe for iOS 4.3.3.

According to a profile on him by Forbes earlier this month, Allegra has been on leave from Brown University since last winter while looking for an internship.

The hacker expressed that he’s not sure why he has such a knack for circumventing Apple’s security measures. “It feels like editing an English paper,” Allegra said. “You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.”

Charlie Miller, a former National Security Agency analyst and one of the first people to hack the original iPhone in 2007, was impressed by Allegra’s hack. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to do what he’s done for years,” he said. “Now it’s been done by some kid we had never even heard of. He’s totally blown me away.”

Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi has compared Allegra’s hacking skills to those of government-sponsored “advanced-persistent threat” hackers. “He’s probably five years ahead of them,” he remarked.

Allegra taught himself to program when he was just 9 years old. “By the time I took a computer science class in high school, I already knew everything,” he said. As a self-professed Apple “fanboy,” he confessed that he hacks the iPhone because he likes the challenge.

“I didn’t come out of the same background as the rest of the security community,” he added. “So to them I seem to have come out of nowhere.”

Last year, the U.S. government approved an exemption that made it legal for iPhone owners to jailbreak and carrier unlock their devices.

Apple’s relationship with the jailbreak community has been likened to a game of cat and mouse. The iPhone Dev Team published a post, entitled “The coolest cat,” to their blog on Wednesday with an image of the iconic Tom and Jerry cat and mouse cartoon characters and the note “We loved the chase! Good luck, Steve.” The well-wishes were addressed to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who announced on Wednesday his resignation as CEO of the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent application points to voice recognition/voice command technology in future versions of iOS

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 13:18
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’ve gotta love forthcoming versions of iOS.

Per freepatentsonline, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone’s voice to identify the person themselves, allowing the system to enact custom-tailored settings and access to personal content.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “User Profiling for Voice Input Processing,” it describes a system that would identify individual users when they speak aloud.

Apple’s application notes that voice control already exists in some forms on a number of portable devices. These systems are accompanied by word libraries, which offer a range of options for users to speak aloud and interact with the device.

But these libraries can become so large that they can be prohibitive to processing voice inputs. In particular, long voice inputs can be time prohibitive for users, and resource taxing for a device.

Apple proposes to resolve these issues with a system that would identify users by the sound of their voice, and identify corresponding instructions based on that user’s identity. By identifying the user of a device, an iPhone would be able to allow that user to more efficiently navigate handsfree and accomplish tasks.

The application includes examples of highly specific voice commands that a complex system might be able to interpret. Saying aloud, “call John’s cell phone,” includes the keyword “call,” as well as the variables “John” and “cell phone,” for example.

In a more detailed example, a lengthy command is cited as a possibility: “Find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed.” Also included is natural language voice input, with the command: “Pick a good song to add to a party mix.”

“The voice input provided to the electronic device can therefore be complex, and require significant processing to first identify the individual words of input before extracting an instruction from the input and executing a corresponding device operation,” the application reads.

To simplify this, an iPhone would have words that relate specifically to the user of a device. For example, certain media or contacts could be made specific to a particular user of a device, allowing two individuals to share an iPhone or iPad with distinct personal settings and content.

In recognizing a user’s voice, the system could also become dynamically tailored to their needs and interests. In one example, a user’s musical preferences would be tracked, and simply asking the system aloud to recommend a song would identify the user and their interests.

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed in February of 2010. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay.

Apple releases iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 03:12
Category: iMac, News, Software

Amidst a wild series of events at Apple yesterday, the company released its iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0, a 482 kilobyte download designed to fix a graphics issue that may cause an iMac to hang under certain conditions.

Apple doesn’t specify which iMac models the firmware update targets, but the package will only install on applicable models and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run. iMacs that need the update can download it through Software Update or from Apple’s download page.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know.

Apple releases Boot Camp 3.3 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 03:12
Category: News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released Boot Camp Software Update 3.3, an update which offered revised Windows support for Macs running Boot Camp 3.x, included as part of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Apple only notes that update supplies “critical bug fixes and hardware support.”

This update is targeted at users running Windows 7 in either the 32 or 64-bit version via Boot Camp 3.2 on Snow Leopard.

Macs running 10.7 Lion do not need the update, as that version (Boot Camp 4) can upgrade itself. Users running Boot Camp 3.2 can download the new package through Software Update or from Apple’s download page.

The update also offers specific support for the ATI-Radeon HD 5870 graphics card, Apple USB Ethernet Adapter, MacBook Air SuperDrive, and addresses critical bug fixes.

That update addressed users of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 running BootCamp 3.1 on Snow Leopard.

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

Steve Jobs retires from CEO position, looks to head Apple’s Board of Directors

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 17:43
Category: News

applelogo_silver

In an incredible turn of events, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announced on Wednesday that he is no longer fit to serve as the company’s chief executive officer, officially resigning from the position, which has been be filled by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement came Wednesday evening in a press release directed at the Apple Board of Directors, as well as the company’s community. Jobs said he would like to stay on as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee, a wish that was granted by the board.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

Jobs also recommended that Cook, who has fulfilled Jobs’ duties as CEO during his medical leave, take over as the chief executive. The board also agreed with Jobs’ assessment, and Cook is now CEO.

“The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” Levinson said. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Jobs’ resignation was submitted to the Apple Board of Directors Wednesday. His role on the board, as well as Cook’s election to the board, are both effective immediately.

Jobs has long maintained that his health is a private matter. His public letter issued on Wednesday made no mention of his current medical condition. Jobs had been on medical leave since January, and has had a long bout with cancer.

Job’s full resignation letter went as follows:

“To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.