Apple revises iOS Developer Program requirements, begins asking for Retina Display-compatible screenshots across the board

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: iOS, News

It looks like the Retina Display might be arriving for additional advices.

Which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday notified members of its iOS Developer Program that they will be required to provide high-resolution, Retina Display compatible screenshots when initially submitting or updating an app through iTunes Connect.

The note sent out to third-party software developers says that any future updates will not be approved by Apple unless 960×640 pixel screenshot is included, a change from the company’s earlier policy which supported Retina Display screenshots but did not require them.

Previously, non-Retina Display images and apps were scaled up from their native 480×320 pixel resolution on devices that sport the high-resolution display, and many apps in the App Store have yet to support to the higher pixel count.

Currently, the only Apple products to boast the Retina Display are the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the fourth generation iPod touch, however speculations that the much-rumored next-generation iPad will include its own high-resolution display have been cropping up since early last year.

The iPhone 4 was the first device to use the 960×640 pixel screen, with the display being introduced to the current iteration of the iPod touch in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2010 MacBook Air, Pro notebooks, adds Lion Recovery and sleep fix

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Firmware updates…they get useful.

Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.6 for its early 2010 MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection on MacBook Pro (Early 2010) models.

The company also released MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.3 for its early 2010 MacBook Air notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection and also addresses an issue where the system would sometimes restart when the power button was pressed immediately after waking from deep sleep.

The updates can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

AT&T begins data throttling on “Unlimited” data plans at 2GB mark

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 08:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s as if the wireless carriers WANT you to be disgruntled with them.

Per iLounge, AT&T has begun to throttle—or downgrade the data speeds of—customers on unlimited data plans that go over 2GB in data usage for the month.

As AT&T customer John Cozen wrote on his blog, “I received a message during my last billing cycle, warning I was in the top 5% of my region and would experience reduced data speeds next time I reach that level of data use. I immediately checked my data usage on the AT&T iOS app. 2.1 GB. Less than I expected considering AT&T offers a 3GB plan for US$30 a month. The same amount I’ve paid for the unlimited data plan since signing up with them many years ago. AT&T no longer offers an unlimited data plan, anyone still on it has been grandfathered in.”

“Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” said Emily Edmonds, Director, AT&T Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of AT&T smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.”

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

Updated Mac OS X 10.7.3 user interface notes could point towards Retina displays for future Macs

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:26
Category: Hardware, News

Analyze the new Mac OS X update’s source code and you find some interesting stuff.

Per Daring Fireball, a series of newly-upgraded high-DPI UI elements in Mac OS X 10.7.3 has led to some speculation that Apple is continuing to lay the groundwork for high-resolution Mac displays that approach the pixel density of its Retina Displays.

The article pointed to a series of Twitter posts (1, 2) outing UI resources that scale to larger sizes in the latest release of Mac OS X Lion, which arrived last week.

The new elements include the pointing-finger cursor in Safari, the “grabby hand” in Mail, and the camera cursor for taking screenshots and a few others. One straightforward reason for the change could be that Apple wanted to improve the look of the Universal Access zoom feature. But, reports from some Mac Mini users outputting to HDTVs over HDMI that upgrading to 10.7.3 caused their system to reboot into HiDPI mode have added to the mounting evidence that Apple is planning for high-definition Mac displays.

Apple added HiDPI modes to Mac OS X Lion last year, but they were previously only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the UI resolution doubling that takes place on Retina Display iPhones.

Gruber went on to wonder “whether we may be on the cusp of Apple releasing HiDPI Mac displays and/or HiDPI MacBooks. I.e.: retina display Macs.” He did, however, add that he has been anticipating “super-high-resolution Mac displays” for over five years, so his speculation should be taken with “a grain of wishful-thinking salt.”

Late last year, a rumor emerged that Apple was preparing new versions of its MacBook Pro lineup with double the resolution. The resulting display for a 15-inch MacBook Pro would be 2,880 by 1,800 pixels and is expected to set off “a new round of competition for panel specifications.”

Chipmaker Intel has indicated that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support resolutions up to 4K, or 4,096 by 4,096 pixels per monitor. Multiple reports have suggested that the company will launch its Ivy Bridge Processors in the second quarter of 2012, and Apple is expected to begin adding Ivy Bridge chips to its Macs in soon after. Wallpapers as large as 3,200 by 2,000 pixels were also discovered in a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst sees Apple potentially forming partnerships with cable partners for exclusive “iTV” content

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News

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An Apple-branded HDTV is potentially awesome, but without content, it won’t get off the ground.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies presented his “what if” analyses related to content on the so-called “iTV” in a note to investors on Monday. In what he sees as the most likely scenario, Apple could gain access to non-exclusive content for its television set and forge deals with existing cable providers.

By potentially partnering with carriers and cable operators, Apple could enter the market on a level playing field with everyone else for content. With access to a variety of content through existing providers, as well as the content already available on the iTunes Store, Misek believes that Apple could package everything with a “superior user interface and ecosystem” and beat out the competition.

“We think that partnerships with carriers and MSOs are possible whereby they provide the video content,” he wrote, “as they already have deals in place (at least to sell video over their own pipes), whereas Apple has to negotiate for new over-the-top distribution rights.”

While partnerships with companies like AT&T, Verizon, Bell and Rogers, combined with the existing iTunes Store, are seen as the most likely option, Misek also presented three other directions Apple could potentially take. In one option, he said Apple could simply seed content, as Google does with its YouTube Original Channels.

In this scenario, Misek thinks Apple could select about 100 groups to create channels and provide upfront financing in exchange for a year of exclusivity. Given Apple’s current clout in the entertainment industry with its iTunes Store, he believes Apple could target mainstream TV shows and movies with this method.

In another option, he said Apple could buy access to exclusive content, much as Netflix has done for the “House of Cards” program, and DirecTV has with its exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. With “headline deals,” such as a rumored bid on the English Premier League rights, he thinks Apple would gain buzz.

But exclusive content deals for an Apple television could also open the company up to scrutiny from governments. He believes that antitrust concerns could limit exclusive content options for Apple.

The final possible scenario, as seen by Misek, is that Apple could become a Hollywood studio and produce its own content. But the analyst believes lower margins and higher risks would scare Apple away from that option, as the film and TV divisions of companies like Sony, Disney, Viacom and News Corp. have substantially lower margins than Apple.

Misek believes Apple’s rumored entrance into the television market will be primarily to bolster the company’s “halo effect,” in which consumers buy into the Apple ecosystem and purchase its other products. He does not believe that an iTV with subscription revenue, as well as gross margins on the sale of HDTVs, would have much of an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.4

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.4. The new version, a 6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Made several changes to the preset configurations. Both the wording and some of the settings have been changed in response to user feedback and typical usage scenarios.

– New feature: CCC now provides support for archiving and cloning the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Recovery HD partition. Choose “Disk Center” from CCC’s Window menu to find this functionality.
New feature: Scheduled tasks can now be configured to wake or boot the system when the task is scheduled to run.

– New feature: For users with a Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer application in /Applications, CCC’s Source menu now includes a handy “Create a Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer…” choice that will clone the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installation disk image onto a physical volume.

– Window positioning of the scheduled task helper application is now retained on a per-task basis, so you can move these windows around on your screen and multiple tasks won’t be stacked on top of each other.

– CCC will now mention the lack of a Recovery HD partition in the Cloning Coach prior to running the initial backup task.

– The table of scheduled tasks in the Scheduler window are now sorted alphabetically by default.

– Fixed a scheduler issue in which tasks scheduled to run on the first (any weekday) of the current month would be scheduled to run in the following month.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC was not “remembering” the last preset that had been selected upon relaunching CCC.

– Fixed an issue with the German localization related to the application of a particular setting in custom presets.

– Fixed an issue in which a scheduled task had trouble mounting a disk image when uncommon permissions conditions were present (such as when a system is bound to an Active Directory directory service).

– The “This volume will be bootable” message is back, though with a caveat that I have to insist upon from a support perspective. Many external hard drive enclosures still manage to screw up the boot process, and it’s impossible for me to determine if that is going to happen for any particular user from within CCC.

– When backing up to a subfolder, CCC now overlays an icon of the underlying volume on the folder icon in the task status panel.

– Scheduled tasks that specify a network volume as the destination are now aborted when CCC receives a sleep notification.

– Growl notifications should now work properly on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion with Growl 1.3.

– Email notifications now include the sender’s full name.

– Fixed a couple minor bugs associated with email notifications.

– Fixed an issue in which the scheduled task window would be unresponsive while CCC waited for a response from an email server.

– Added support for sending email to servers that use a self-signed certificate. This support is disabled by default, see the documentation for details on enabling this functionality.

– Resolved a problem in which an errant filter would protect items in folders that were to be deleted, resulting in CCC reporting that it couldn’t replace a particular folder or application.

– Fixed a minor 5-second shutdown hang associated with CCC scheduled tasks.

– Numerous tweaks to the advice that CCC offers for various error conditions.

– Fixed some Mac OS X 10.7 Lion-specific problems with the mounting of sparsebundle disk image files that are hosted on a network volume.

– If you’re running an ad hoc task in CCC (e.g. click “Clone” in the main window), CCC will ask before deleting anything from the _CCC Archives folder. To avoid problems that would affect automation, this warning is not provided for scheduled tasks.

– CCC is more proactive about dealing with the 4GB file size limitation of FAT32 volumes. Files larger than 4GB will now be excluded by default, and you’ll get a warning of this exclusion before running the task.

– Fixed a hang that would occur at the end of a scheduled task while CCC tried to unmount the destination volume (network volumes only, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion only).

– Made some cosmetic changes concerning ZFS support.

– Mail account settings on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion are now properly imported and populated into the email notifications tab of the scheduled tasks window.

– The path to a disk image file is now properly provided as the fourth argument to postflight scripts.

– Fixed a 30 second hang that would occur while saving changes to scheduled tasks on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. For every OS, though, saving scheduled tasks should be considerably faster.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.4 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to run.

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

Tim Cook hints at no ARM-based processor for future generations of MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012, 06:37
Category: MacBook Air, News

It’s when Apple executives begin dropping hints as to upcoming product lines that things get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, after meeting with Apple chief executive Tim Cook and chief financial officer Peter Openheimer, Citi analysts noted a strong iPad outlook leaving little likelihood of an ARM-based MacBook Air.

Citi analyst Richard Gardner reported Cook reiterating his comment, originally made during the quarterly earnings conference call, that the market for tablets would eventually grow larger than the conventional PC market.

Apple doesn’t refer to iPad as a PC, but as a “post-PC device,” leaving the ARM-based tablet distinct from the company’s Intel-based Macs. Gardner further indicated the meeting dispelled the notion that Apple might introduce ARM-based Macs, countering rumors that a new MacBook Air featuring an ARM processor might appear sometime soon.

Gardner cited Cook as alluding to “rapid innovation on the iOS platform” that will “significantly broaden the use case for tablets,” and stated he “walked away from this meeting with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies—or will soon satisfy—the needs of those who might have been interested in such a product” as an ARM-based MacBook Air.

Speculation about a MacBook Air or other low end Mac models beginning to incorporate ARM processors has been fueled by rapid advances in ARM’s chip designs as well as Microsoft’s Windows 8 strategy that envisions future tablet and clamshell PC devices built around ARM chips rather than Intel x86 compatible processors that Windows has historically been tied to as a platform.

While Apple could deliver ARM based Macs, it appears the company is more focused on increasing the desirability of its existing iPad and leaving Macs as a higher end alternative rather than bringing them into directly overlapping use scenarios.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4S returns to Chinese Apple Store web site, units can be expected by March 2nd

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Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012, 06:18
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re over in the far east and hankering for an iPhone 4S, you’ll be able to snag one online without getting into a fistfght in line.

Per China Daily, the handset has returned to the company’s Chinese online store following a brief stoppage of sales due to overwhelming demand that led to scalpers and violence, though wait times for orders can range from overnight to weeks.

The report confirms that the iPhone 4S can now be purchased through the online Apple Store in mainland China, bringing an end to the nearly month-long moratorium on sales that was instituted almost immediately following the smartphone’s Chinese launch.

Apple’s Chinese online store has been taking orders since Wednesday, though customers may not be receiving the actual device for some time as current estimates are quoting a ship date of “February.”

“If you pay today, you might get the items tomorrow, and no later than March 2,” said an Apple sales representative.

In re-opening online orders, Apple has instituted strict sales policies that dissuade scalpers from using bots to gobble up online inventory to be sold on the grey market at inflated prices.

A lottery system was recently introduced in Hong Kong, where lower taxes and limited supply led to a flood of scalpers who repeatedly clashed with customers and each other for a chance to buy the device. The price for a 16 GB iPhone 4S in Hong Kong is HK$5,088 (US$660), more than US$100 cheaper than the 4,988 yuan (US$790) mainland China customers pay for the same handset.

iPhone buyers in Hong Kong must place their online order with a valid government-issued ID between 9am and 12pm, and those who are randomly selected will receive an email by 9pm with instructions on picking up the device at a specific time the following day. Customers not selected are forced to repeat the procedure on a different day.

Apple’s new rules limit purchases to two devices per person and it remains to be seen whether the newly instituted rules will reduce the number of units sold through unofficial channels, however some stores are seeing a change.

“Since we began accepting online orders yesterday, not as many people have been hawking iPhones nearby as before,” said an employee at the Apple Store in Xidan, Beijing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been involved in the Chinese purchase process for an iPhone 4S, please let us know in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.7.3 bugs being tracked, workarounds/fixes discovered

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Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2012, 05:25
Category: News, Software

Mac OS X 10.7.3 is here.

Now it’s time to sort out the bugs.

Per 9to5Mac, a number of users are reportedly suffering from an odd application crash bug. Affected people will see apps crash often, with the unusual twist of error messages that feature the word “CUI” stamped over them. A source claims that the company has already sent out an email to a v10.7.3 test group, asking them if they’ve run into the problem and requesting bug reports if so.

Some workarounds exist (which are cataloged here). The most extreme of these involves booting into a Lion Recovery partition, and using Terminal to install a downloaded Combo version of the v10.7.3 update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve discovered any issues or workarounds, please let us know in the comments.

Apple cites misdirected iMessages as result of incorrect configuration, not iOS 5 bug

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Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2012, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If iOS 5’s iMessages app is giving you fits, Tim Cook is here to tell you why. Per The Loop, reports of iOS 5 iMessages being sent to the wrong recipient are the result of a misconfigured phone, not an issue with the operating system or Apple’s cloud services, the company indicated.

The report notes that a situation where messages from an Apple Store employee were being directed to another user’s iPhone were the result of the employee failing to follow directions while troubleshooting the customer’s device.

The employee installed his personal SIM card in the customer’s phone, linking the device to his Apple ID account in a way that resulted in his subsequent iMessages, including photos, being relayed to the customer’s device.

The report cited Apple representative Natalie Harrison as saying, “this was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM. This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

Apple noted that to prevent such a situation, users should “toggle iMessage on and off” in the Settings app of any iOS 5 device configured to their Apple ID before it is given away or sold.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.