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Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 15:49
Category: News, Software

They may come from out of nowhere, but supplemental updates are a good thing.

On that note, Apple has released its Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. The update, a 38k download (provided you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 already installed), resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. The software requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

C-Spire offers iPhone 4, 4S units at $50 discount with two-year contract

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 12:22
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you CAN find a decent deal.

Of course, signing a multi-year contract sort of helps as well.

Per 9to5Mac, C-Spire Wireless is now selling the iPhone 4S for US$50 off the standard retail price. The discount, which is only available when signing up for a new two-year agreement, brings the price for the 16GB iPhone 4S to US$150 and the 32GB and 64GB models to US$250 and US$350, respectively.

In addition, the carrier is offering US$25 off the 8GB iPhone 4, bringing the price for that model to US$75. C-Spire launched the iPhone 4S on its network last November.

iPad 3 accessories begin to arrive at Best Buy ahead of next-gen tablet’s product launch

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 09:45
Category: iPad, News

Even if you’re one of the largest tech companies on earth, you never quite control when a soon-to-be-launched product’s accessory line arrives.

Per PhoneArena.com, a number of Best Buy stores have reportedly begun to receive cases sealed in boxes for Apple’s third-generation iPad ahead of Wednesday’s anticipated unveiling.

The cases have shipped in boxes with a pink sticker stating “Do not display until official iPad 3 launch,” an anonymous tipster told the site. Cases for the so-called “iPad 3” are said to be shipping in bulk, as third-party manufacturers are planning for Apple to begin selling its next iPad soon after it is officially announced.

“The shipment is not of just a few cases — there’s over 1,000 Targus Versavu 360 stands for the next-gen iPad shipping to Best Buy, meaning that it won’t be long until the actual tablet hits shelves,” the report said.

Multiple leaked components from Apple’s supply chain have suggested the next iPad will feature an external design largely the same as the current iPad 2. The third-generation iPad is expected to be slightly thicker, with edges more tapered than the iPad 2.

Despite minor tweaks to the design, its expected that Apple’s magnetic Smart Cover will still work with the next iPad. But Apple’s protective accessory only covers the front, flat screen of the iPad, while many third-party cases cover the aluminum back.

The rumor that third-party cases are being delivered to Best Buy is supported by a picture that surfaced last week, showing the retailer’s inventory system listing “iPad 3” accessories set to be in stock by next Sunday, March 11. The leaked inventory listings included ZAGG’s InvisibleSHIELD.

The next iPad is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s media event this Wednesday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif. The event will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

AT&T publishes full content of company’s data-throttling policy

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:02
Category: iPhone, News

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After a fair amount of consternation, wireless provider AT&T has published a Web page laying out precisely who will be affected by the policy, and what customers’ options are.

Per Macworld, unlimited data customers on the 3G network will be warned via text message when their usage approaches 3GB within a single billing cycle. If the 3GB ceiling is breached, users will find their data speed reduced for the remainder of the billing cycle; as of the beginning of the subsequent cycle, however, their speed will return to normal. Data quantity is truly unlimited, though, the carrier says—customers can continue to use as much as they want, even after the 3GB ceiling is passed. The company does not specify by how much customers’ speeds will be reduced.

Customers using the carrier’s 4G LTE network have a higher threshold; their speeds will only be dialed down once they hit 5GB.

AT&T says that the speed reductions will only affect the top 5 percent of its customers. The measures have been put in place because of the rapid increase in wireless data traffic created by the increased adoption of smartphones in the past five years; by AT&T’s figures, that number has skyrocketed from 7 million phones in 2006 to 39.4 million in 2011, yielding a wireless data traffic increase of 20,000 percent. According to AT&T, it has invested US$95 billion in its networks over that period, including US$20 billion in 2011; another US$20 billion is earmarked for 2012.

In addition, the network lays out where the majority of that data is getting eaten up, which is to say streaming HD movies. AT&T’s handy chart estimates that streaming HD movies gobbles up 306MB an hour, a sizable increase from the roughly 120MB of data that AT&T says one hour of standard video consumes.

Users can check their current month’s data usage by dialing *data# on their mobile phone’s keypad, or access previous months’ usage at their AT&T account online. The company also offers a mobile app for iPhones that provides the same data.

As for customers’ options, AT&T lays out a few suggestions, including using Wi-Fi when available, since that data does not count against the carrier’s data plans. And, of course, customers can continue using their current unlimited data plan, if they don’t mind the speed reductions. Users can also switch to one of the company’s current tiered data plans, which offer 300MB for US$20 per month, 3GB a month for US$30, or 5GB per month for US$50. But, in those cases, users must pay overage charges for exceeding the data cap: US$20 for another 300MB on the lowest plan, US$10 per gigabyte on either of the higher plans. That would seem to give little incentive for unlimited data customers to switch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
– Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

– Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

– Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

– Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

– iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

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

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.2.202.221 release candidate

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released its Flash Player 11.1.102.62 release candidate for Mac OS X. The update, a 10.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate, includes the following fixes and changes:

– Multithreaded Video Decoding (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)* – This release introduces a new fully multithreaded video decoding pipeline which resolves a number of legacy playback issues. This modern architecture will also enable future performance enhancements across all platforms.

– Mouse lock, relative mouse coordinates, right and middle click events – Infinite scrolling and new mouse events to enable first-person shooter experiences.

– Drivers gating for hardware acceleration relaxed to 1/1/2008*** Throttling event**** – This release introduces a new ThrottleEvent.

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

HandBrake updated to 0.9.6

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:26
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.6.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers a wide variety of fixes and changes that have been documented here.

HandBrake 0.9.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Apple releases MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for late 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 16:08
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for its late 2008, 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks. The update a 3 megabyte download, resolves a graphics issue that may cause the internal display to flicker.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

Apple confirms iPad 3 event for March 7 in San Francisco

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 13:18
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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As nifty as rumors tend to be, it helps to hear the truth from the horse’s mouth.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday sent out official invitations for a media event to be held next Wednesday, March 7, in San Francisco where it is expected to introduce its next-generation iPad.

The March 7 event will be held at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif., the same place the last two iPad unveilings have been held. The invitation features a finger pushing down on an iOS calendar icon with March 7 as the date.

“We have something you really have to see. And touch,” the invitation reads.

The inclusion that people will “have to see” the new device is likely a reference to the high-resolution Retina Display that Apple is expected to add to its next-generation iPad. Rumors have suggested the display will have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice the resolution of the 1,024-by-768 screen found on the iPad 2.

In fact, the invitation itself could even be a picture of the new iPad display. The image does show a very crisp iPad screen that could be a higher resolution than the current iPad 2.

Apple’s invitations went out only moments after financial network CNBC incorrectly claimed that the next iPad would be unveiled at an event in New York next week. However, reporter Jon Fortt quickly followed up to explain that he has heard that New York will play a “key” role in next week’s announcement.

The March 7 event date has been expected for weeks now, but Tuesday’s invitations were the first official confirmation of the media briefing from Apple. Recent reports out of the Far East have suggested that Apple could offer near-immediate availability of the new iPad, with claims that the new devices are already being shipped to the U.S as retailers cut prices of existing iPad 2 models by US$50 to US$70.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.

Another leak showed a purported “iPad 3” logic board, featuring a processor labeled “A5X,” suggesting the chip could be a more powerful version of the A5 CPU currently found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S rather than a full-fledged “A6” upgrade. Reports have also been divided as to whether the next iPad will be powered by a quad-core processor or a dual-core CPU.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.