Apple releases Safari 5.1.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.5, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 44.7 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

– Contains a fix for an issue that could affect website usability when running Safari in 32-bit mode.

Safari 5.1.5 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple backs royalty-free licensing of “nano-SIM” cards, looks to incorporate the technology in future iOS devices

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:55
Category: Hardware, News

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It never hurts to play nice every so often.

Per Foss Patents, Apple will reportedly offer to license a new, ultra-compact SIM card technology to rival mobile devices makers if they agree back the format as the new industry standard for subscriber identification modules (SIM), a move which could pave the way for more compact and efficiently-designed iOS devices.

The pledge, said to have been outlined earlier this month in a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) penned by a senior member of Apple’s legal council, comes just days before the iPhone maker is expected to square off against opponents of the design at the organization’s Smart Card Platform Plenary in southern France.

Sized roughly a third smaller than existing MicroSIM cards found inside current iPads and iPhones, the proposed nano-SIM design — which is also noticeably thinner than that of MicroSIM — has already garnered the support of most European wireless carriers as part of their own proposals to the ETSI.

However, rival mobile device makers Nokia, RIM and Motorola have each voiced concerns in opposing standardization of nano-SIM — mainly out of fears Apple could eventually claim ownership of the patents behind the format, placing the company in a position of powered where it could command royalties from the broader industry.

The March 19th letter to the ETSI stands to invalidate these concerns, according to independent intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller, through “an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

“This shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard rather than seeking to cash in on it,” he said. “Apple is a company that values its intellectual property and rarely gives it away for free. But as far as the evolution of SIM cards is concerned, Apple is clearly being generous and absolutely pro-competitive.”

In 2010, Apple was said to be working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset the wireless operators, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move. As such, the Cupertino-based company compromised and began talking with carriers about designing a smaller SIM card that eventually emerged as the existing MicroSIM.

Apple’s continued push towards further miniaturization of SIM cards aims to reduce the space required to house the identification cards inside its future mobile devices, paving the way for devices that are either more compact or free up additional space for other components, such as larger batteries.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-generation iPad may be displaying inaccurate battery readings, researcher finds

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:52
Category: iPad, News

A firmware update is never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, findings that have surfaced from a follow-up test by DisplayMate President Dr. Raymond Soneira, who conducted an in-depth analysis of the new iPad’s Retina Display earlier this week, and claims that a mathematical charge rate model may be the cause of false on-screen battery indicator readings reported on the iPad 3.

Soneira’s findings have not been corroborated and thus may not reflect all third-generation iPads, though it seems that the problem is not hardware related and instead has to do with the device’s programmed charge rate.

In his investigation, Soneira found that the iPad continued to draw 10 watts of electricity for two hours after indicating 100% charge, then began to reduce power for an additional ten minutes until a precipitous decline in power draw signaled the termination of the charging cycle.

Soneira offers this explanation:
“The charge indicator on all mobile devices is based on a mathematical model of the charge rates, discharge rates, and recent discharge history of the battery. It uses this information to estimate how much running time is left. It’s actually rather difficult to do because most batteries degrade slowly as they discharge and then tend to surprise with a precipitous decline near the end.”

He goes on to say that there may be a fault in the battery charge mathematical model in the new iPad as the indicator should not read 100% until it’s power draw switches from 10 watts to a trickle charge of about 1 watt.

It is unclear whether the iPad’s battery level indicator shows an inaccurate level throughout the entire charging process or if the issue is limited to the final stages directly before the power management chip initiates a trickle charge.

While Apple boasts that in spite of its power hungry components like the high-resolution Retina Display and A5X processor, the third-generation iPad’s battery life is similar to that of the iPad 2. These claims are no doubt based on a fully charged unit, and the newly-discovered indicator issue could confuse some customers into thinking their device is not performing up to advertised standards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Unreleased Intel Ivy Bridge benchmarked on modified version of Mac OS X 10.7.3, promising results reported

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:25
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

The Ivy Bridge architecture is on its way, which will probably be a cool thing.

Per the tonymac86 Blog, a modified version of OS X 10.7.3 has been tested with an unreleased Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge chip, giving a first indication of how Apple’s next-generation Macs will perform.

An anonymous tipster provided screenshots of benchmarks conducted with a Core i7-3770K processor to the blog. The Core i7 CPU is one of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, and was tested at its stock speed of 3.5GHz.

The early test, which used a Z77 motherboard, found that OS X runs well on Intel’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge processors. However, while the tests give an idea of how Ivy Bridge will perform with new Macs, the “Hackintosh” benchmarks do not represent any real Apple products.

The person testing the new Intel processor had to modify the boot kernel of OS X 10.7.3 Lion in order to get it to run on the chip. In addition, the Core i7-3770K is a high-end desktop chip that may never find its way into any of Apple’s shipping products.

Still, the tests offer the first look at Apple’s OS X operating system running on an Ivy Bridge chip. It’s also the first glimpse at Intel’s HD Graphics 4000, which previous tests running Windows 7 found is 55 percent faster than the 3000 series graphics integrated with the Sandy Bridge processors released by Intel last year.

The “Hackintosh” machine earned an overall Geekbench score of 13,453, led by a score of 20,250 for its processor floating point performance. The tests gauged the quad-core processor with 8 gigabytes of 2400MHz DDR3 RAM.

Apple’s new Macs with Ivy Bridge processors are expected to begin debuting in the coming months, starting with new, slimmer 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros that are rumored to already be in production. The new 15-inch model is expected to be offered in variations powered by Intel’s mobile Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge CPUs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.11

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:06
Category: News, Software

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Early Friday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.11, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, a 7.6 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:

– Nikon D800

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Security firm finds hole in iOS 5.1 that could lead to URL spoofing

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, security

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Well, this is the reason they write updates.

Per AppleInsider, a newly-discovered mobile Safari web browser vulnerability allows a malicious website to display a URL that is different than the website’s actual address, and can trick users into handing over sensitive personal information.

The issue, first discovered by security firm Major Security, is an error in how Apple’s mobile Safari app in iOS 5.1 handles URLs when using javascript’s window.open() method that can be exploited by malicious sites to display custom URLs.

“This can be exploited to potentially trick users into supplying sensitive information to a malicious web site,” Major Security explains, “because information displayed in the address bar can be constructed in a certain way, which may lead users to believe that they’re visiting another web site than the displayed web site.”

The exploit was tested on an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and third-generation iPad running iOS 5.1, and it seems that any iDevice running Apple’s latest mobile OS is affected by the vulnerability. Users can test the vulnerability themselves by visiting this web site from a mobile device. After a user clicks the “demo” button on the test page, Safari will open a new window which shows “http://www.apple.com” in the address bar, but that URL is in fact being displayed through an iframe being hosted by Major Security’s servers.

By spoofing a URL and adding some convincing images to a malicious site, users can easily be tricked into thinking they are visiting a legitimate website such as Apple’s online store.

The vulnerability was originally found in iOS 5.0 and reproduced on iOS 5.1 earlier in March. Apple was made aware of the issue on March 1 and posted an advisory regarding the matter on March 20. A patch has yet to be pushed out, though the iPhone maker is expected to do so in the near future.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently-released Apple patent discusses touch-based screen featuring haptic feedback

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:13
Category: News, Patents

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When in doubt, make your touchscreens better.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, in an effort to make touchscreens less static, Apple has proposed that future iPhones and iPads could feature actuators that would provide haptic feedback to users, and also include sensors that would measure the force at which a user touches the screen.

The concept was unveiled this week in a patent application entitled “Touch-Based User Interface with Haptic Feedback.” The use of actuators underneath a touchscreen could allow users to actually feel elements on the screen, such as buttons or controls.

The timing of the application being made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is interesting because one rumor from earlier this month incorrectly suggested Apple would introduce new haptic feedback technology in its third-generation iPad. That rumor was based on technology from the company Senseg, which creates an electric field on the surface of a touchscreen, allowing users to feel complex, context-sensitive textures, such as making a surface feel smooth or rough to the touch.

The concept described in Apple’s new patent application is quite different, relying on actuators to physically provide haptic feedback on a touchscreen, rather than giving sensations through an electric field. But it demonstrates Apple’s continued pursuit of providing users with some sort of physical feedback when using a touchscreen device.

“The user can typically only feel the rigid surface of the touch screen, making it difficult to find icons, hyperlinks, textboxes, or other user-selectable elements that are being displayed,” Apple’s filing reads. “A touch-based user interface may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen by incorporating haptic feedback.”

Rather than simply vibrating the device when a button is tapped, as some touchscreen devices do, Apple’s solution could utilize piezoelectric actuators for “localized haptic feedback.” This would allow the user to feel a virtual button on their fingertips.

Specifically named as products that could benefit from haptic feedback in the application are the iPhone and iPad, as well as the Magic Mouse and Apple’s notebook trackpads.

The application describes a touchscreen with a “haptic feedback layer” that could include piezoelectric actuators aligned in a grid pattern. These actuators could be located below an external protective layer that the user would touch to interact with the device, or the haptic layer itself could be the outermost layer.

The actuators could be used to replace the mechanical “click” of a mouse, or would allow users to “feel” selectable buttons or icons displayed on a touchscreen device.

Another element described in the application is the use of “force sensors” in a touchscreen device. With these, an iPhone or iPad could determine how much force a user is applying to the touch-based user interface, and respond to just how hard the user is tapping the screen.

To allow this, the outer screen of the device would “flex minimally,” but enough that the force sensors would be able to detect any pushing or squeezing of the device by the user.

The application, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in September of 2010. The proposed invention is credited to Paul G. Puskarich and Michael Pilliod.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Roxio Toast Titanium 11.0.5 update released

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 05:50
Category: News, Software

Late Thursday, Roxio released version 11.0.4 of its Toast Titanium authoring software. The new version, available as a 380 megabyte download here, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Added video export profiles for iPad (third generation), AppleTV (third generation) and PS Vita

– Toast will now correctly growl with support for Growl 1.3.x from Mac App Store.

– Resolved issue where malformed MP4 file may cause Toast to crash.

– Resolved issue where malformed video files may cause Video Player to crash.

– Setting audio crossfades in spanned disc projects should no longer cause a crash.

– Users who enjoy scrolling up and down will once again enjoy using the AVCHD Media Browser.

– Cosmetic issue where “Pause” and “Resume” buttons did not update has been fixed.

– Resolved graphics alignment issue when authenticating to Facebook.

– Attempting to authenticate to Vimeo with an unverified account will remind you to check verify your email address.

– Open QuickTime Player option when converting audio now opens QuickTime instead of iTunes.

– Length of video is now correctly displayed in the main window when working with DVD-Video sources.

– Video_TS Folder and Compilation projects will now correctly include DVD-ROM content.

– Photos rotated using iPhoto should now be correctly rotated in Toast Media Browser
Resolves error that may occur when writing Lead-Out track on DVD+R DL media under Lion.

– Image File based projects now correctly allow you to replace the first image you added to the project with a new image.

– Audio durations will in spanned Audio CD projects will now be correctly updated in the main window.

– Resolved cosmetic issue where the volume name of an image file may not display correctly.

– Skipping forward and seeking through ASF video files should now work correctly in Video Player.

– Resolved issues with window focus when using Quick Look preview on Web Video content.

Toast Titanium 11 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$99.99.

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

Adobe releases Photoshop 6 public beta, touts upcoming Creative Suite 6 features

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Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

Spiffy Photoshop-based things, they’re on the horizon.

Late Wednesday, Adobe released a public beta of its first major update to Photoshop CS6, the company posting a preview now available for download at the Adobe Labs website. The Mac OS X version of the software is a free 984MB download.

According to the company, highlights of the upcoming version of the photo editing application include a new content-aware patch, “blazingly fast performance,” a dark background user interface and “new and re-engineered design tools.” The software will be powered by a new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine, which promises “near-instant results” from editing tools.

“Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance,” Winston Hendrickson, Adobe’s vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, said in a statement.

Users should note that the beta includes features from Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, such as 3D editing features and “quantitative imaging analysis capabilities,” that will not be included in the basic version of Photoshop CS6.

After downloading the preview, users are directed to select “Try. I want to try Adobe Photoshop CS6 for a limited time.” Users will then have seven days to activate the beta with an Adobe ID login.

Adobe has yet to announce an official release date for the software, though the press release announcing the public beta says the final release is “expected” in the first half of this year. Some reports have pointed to a May launch for Creative Suite 6.

The Adobe Photoshop 6 preview requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

CrossOver updated to 11.0.2

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Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:47
Category: News, Software

Sometimes it pays to take an extra day for bug testing, just to be sure.

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.0.2. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– This is a bug-fix release which resolves an issue whereby 11.0.1 would fail to register correctly for many users. If you have experienced an issue where CrossOver registration fails despite the fact that you believe your support contract is still enabled, this version may address your problem.

CrossOver 11.0.2 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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