Dropbox updated to 1.4.20

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:34
Category: News, Software

An update’s an update.

On Tuesday, Dropbox released version 1.4.20 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 22.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fix menu icon not showing for Ubuntu 12.10.

– Fix tray icon not showing for Windows 8.

– Other small fixes.

Dropbox 1.4.20 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 in the comments.

Apple receives patent for “always-on” low power geared towards mobile devices

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 07:40
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a system in which the status of a portable device can be persistently displayed on-screen without having to turn on the display or primary backlight.

Apple notes that it may be necessary to check the status of a device, as many portable electronics simply shut off their displays when not in use as a method to conserve power. For example, an iPhone user has no way of knowing when their handset is on or off, or how much battery life is left, unless they turn on the main display.

While some solutions currently exist that display device status, they rely on technology that requires extra assembly and packaging, or takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the device.

In its U.S Patent No. 8,294,659 for a “Secondary backlight indicator for portable media devices,” Apple describes a system in which a low-power, location-specific backlight is used to illuminate certain areas on a device’s main display.

There are two modes covered in the invention, an “On” mode where the device’s primary backlight and display are activated, and an “Off” mode in which a secondary low-power backlight is activated when the primary backlight and display are deactivated.

Unlike other systems, the light is situated behind the primary backlight and display, and can be illuminated in sections. Instead of using cutouts in the device body, Apple’s patent calls for icon shapes to be removed from multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of primary backlight’s system. When the low-power secondary backlight is turned on, the light emitted passes through the primary icon shaped regions of the primary backlight system’s layers to the cover glass, but are blocked by color filters that hold a plurality of icon shapes.

In one embodiment, the icons can change shape and size when needed, a good example being a battery life indicator:

“To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. For example, color filters of different shapes and with different properties may be superimposed on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display may depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight. This technique may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.”

The icons can also be dynamic, creating a blinking effect by pulsing the secondary backlight, which can in turn save power.

Apple’s invention allows for multiple icons to displayed on the device at any given location, with the secondary backlight selectively guiding light toward “certain regions of the primary backlight such that only selected icons are shown on the display.”

It remains unclear if Apple will use the technology in an upcoming product, however space is already at a premium in the iPhone 5, making the addition of such a system questionable.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to offer livestream of media event today

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!

Cocktail updated to 6.2

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, Software

cocktaillogo.jpg

On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 6.2 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 5.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:
– Added ability to disable Notification Center (System – Misc).

– Added ability to set the Software Update frequency (System – Misc).

– Added ability to set the default file save location in iCloud supported applications (Interface – General).

– Added “Use the Backspace key to show the previous page” setting (Interface – Safari).

– Fixed compatibility issues with Firefox 16.

– Updated Help files.

– Updated Automator actions.

– Other bug fixes and improvements.

Cocktail 6.2 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

Samsung may end LCD display contract with Apple in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, News

Maybe it’s time to see other people.

An article in the Korea Times suggests Samsung will sever its contract with Apple and will no longer supply LCD panels to the Cupertino company, starting in 2013. An unnamed senior source within Samsung told the newspaper that the company is not making enough money off the panels that it is selling to Apple.

“We are unable to supply our flat-screens to Apple with huge price discounts. Samsung has already cut our portion of shipments to Apple and next year we will stop shipping displays,” said the source.

Samsung is reportedly shipping fewer and fewer panels to Apple each quarter, with the Korean company expected to supply Apple with only 4.5 million LCD panels in the second half of the year. This is down from the 15 million panels that Samsung sent to Apple in the first six months of 2012. Samsung will reportedly turn to Amazon and its own handset division to make up for the loss of orders from Apple.

Apple sources components from many companies, including displays from LG and Sharp as well as Samsung.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OnyX updated to 2.6.2

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 06:03
Category: News, Software

onyxicon

OnyX, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.6.2. The new version, a 21.5 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

– Translations improved.

– Some obsolete functions were removed.

– Minor corrections.

OnyX 2.6.2 requires an Intel-based processor and OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple purchases Color Labs’ talent base for indeterminate price

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Finance, News, Software

Your favorite computer company bought up the talent, not the office supplies (including the trusty coffee maker)

Per All Things D, Apple didn’t buy social video startup Color, but it did acquire its engineering team of about 20 employees for as much as $5 million.

Disputing a rumor that surfaced on Wednesday claiming that Apple had bought Color, Liz Gannes of All Things D revealed on Thursday that Apple instead “acquired” Color’s engineering team. The employees were said to have been picked up for somewhere between US$2 million and US$5 million.

That would mean that earlier claims that Apple had bought Color for “double-digit millions” were incorrect. Instead, Apple made a relatively small talent acquisition of about 20 personnel.

“Apple is not buying Color’s technology, intellectual property, domain names or liabilities,” Gannes said. “Those are being left with the company, which still has considerable cash in the bank — something like US$25 million — and is going to be wound down.”

A flurry of rumors and misinformation related to Color were attributed to “bad blood” that has apparently formed between Color employees, company CEO Bill Nguyen, ex-employees, investors, and even Apple itself.

Founded by Bill Nguyen and Peter Pham in 2011, Color Labs was at the center of some controversy after netting US$41 million in a pre-launch funding round, a massive investment compared to the usual US$1 million in seed money seen by most comparable start-ups. The company released a photo-sharing app, though the initiative failed to draw users, prompting Pham to exit three months after launch and Chief Product Officer DJ Patil to do the same one month later.

Nguyen changed strategies and created a new video-sharing app that allows users to record and post 30-second silent video to Facebook, a direction that netted Color a deal with Verizon in May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to phase out iPad 2 to make room for “iPad mini”

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 07:13
Category: Finance, iPad, News

The iPad 2 could be going the way of the dodo.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Rob Cihra with Evercore Partners said in a note to investors this week that he sees Apple phasing out the current iPad 2, because Apple’s overall vision calls for “clearer product tiers.” The prediction comes as Apple is expected to lower the barrier to entry of its iPad lineup by unveiling a new, smaller iPad next Tuesday.

Cihra believes Apple will sell around 7 million so-called “iPad mini” units in the December quarter. Along with the full-size iPad, he sees Apple selling a total of 26 million units in the holiday shopping season.

In his view, Apple is leveraging its engineering expertise in both hardware and software to “pull dollars away from otherwise commodity markets and incumbent competitors.” Apple’s calendar year 2012 revenues are up 30 percent year over year, while the broader PC market has dropped 4 percent this year.

Further bolstered by sales of 49 million iPhones, Apple is expected by Cihra to post US$56.1 billion in revenue during the December quarter, amounting to US$16.33 in earnings per share.

Prior to that anticipated blockbuster quarter, Apple will report results for its just-concluded September quarter. For that three-month frame, Cihra believes Apple sold 27 million iPhones, 17 million iPads, 4.9 million Macs and 5.7 million iPods, resulting in revenue of US$36.5 billion and earnings per share of US$9.03.

His numbers are slightly above Wall Street consensus for the September quarter, as other analysts on average seek US$36.4 billion in revenue and US$8.93 earnings per share.

Evercore Partners has reiterated its overweight rating for AAPL stock, as well as a target price of US$800.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.2

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 07:02
Category: News, Software

virtualbox.png

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.2. The new version, a 102.3 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
– VMM: adapted to changes in Mac OS X 10.8.2 (bug #10965).

– GUI: restored VM item tool-tip functionality (4.2 regression).

– GUI: added group item tool-tip functionality.

– GUI: fixed handling of the .ova/.ovf file name association (4.2 regression).

– GUI: it was not possible to change any setting before the first VM was created (bug #10928).

– GUI: disable grouping action if all the selected items are full children list of the same group already.

– GUI: added menu for runtime drag-and-drop option change.

– GUI: cleanup shared-clipboard menu on visual-mode change.

– GUI: make sure VM receives keyboard focus on entering fullscreen-mode on Win host (bug #11051).

– GUI: disable proxy authentication for security reasons.

– 3D Support: DrawIndexedPrimitiveUP implementation fixes for the Windows WDDM video driver (bug #10929).

– Storage: fixed a release assertion in the AHCI emulation when requests where canceled with asynchronous I/O disabled.

– Storage: fixed a hang during VM reset under certain circumstances (bug #10898).

– NAT: fixed a crash under rare circumstances (Windows hosts only; bug #10128).

– NAT: automatically use the host resolver if the host name server is set to some unusual loopback value (bug #10864).

– E1000: fixed a VirtualBox crash during intensive network transfers (4.2 regression; bugs #10936, #10969, #10980).

– ICH9: fixed PCI bridge initialization.

– USB mouse: ensure that the last mouse event doesn’t get lost if no URBs are available.

– BIOS: certain legacy guests (e.g. Windows 95) didn’t find the boot device after a warm reboot.

– BIOS: don’t trash the palette in text modes when setting the border color.

– EFI: fixed OS X guest autoboot (4.2 regression).

– VBoxManage: fixed output of showvminfo –machinereadable (bug #10973).

– VBoxManage: fixed parsing of storageattach –discard (bug #11023).

– VBoxManage: fixed wrong output of the HPET setting in showvminfo (bug #11065).

– VBoxManage: fixed closing the guest session after executing a guest process via guest control.

– VBoxShell: adaptions to interface name changes.

– Guest Additions device: fixed a Guest Additions hang when a machine was reset after a crash.

– Linux hosts / guests: Linux 3.7-rc1 fixes.

– Linux Additions: support X.Org Server 1.13.

– Linux Additions: fixed a hang when the X server was restarted with old guest kernels.

– Linux Additions: fixed a VBoxService crash during CPU hot remove (bug fixed in … (new)”>#10964).

– Windows Additions: fixed automatic screen resize issue for NT4 guests.

– OS/2 Additions: fixed shutdown hang.

– OS/2 Additions: fixed mouse driver panic.

– Solaris hosts: fixed autostart service going into maintenance mode after all VMs started.

– Solaris hosts: fixed linking the host driver with the dtrace module.

VirtualBox 4.2.2 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple looking to replace IR sensors with sonar technology in next-gen devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

Look at it this way: sonar’s been around for a while.

And it’s always been nifty.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday describes a system that may one day replace the infrared proximity sensors deployed in current iPhones with sonar-like technology.

Apple’s invention for “Passive proximity detection” negates the need for the current IR sensor, replacing it with a system that can detect and process sound waves to determine how far away an object is from a portable device.

Much like passive echolocation or a loose interpretation of passive sonar, the filing describes a system that takes two sound wave samples, a “before” and an “after,” and compares the two to determine if an external object’s proximity to the device changed. “Sampling” occurs when a transducer, such as a microphone, picks up ambient sound and sends a corresponding signal to the device’s processor for analysis.

The invention relies on basic acoustic principles as applied to modern electronics. For example, a microphone’s signal equalization curve from an audio source changes when the device moves towards or away from an object, which “variably reflect[s] elements of the sound wave.”

This effect may be noticed when sound is reflected by soft material as opposed to a hard surface. Generally, sound reflected off the soft surface will seem muted when compared to the same sound reflected off a hard surface located at the same distance and angle from an audio transducer and a sound source.

In one of the invention’s embodiments, two microphones are situated at different planes on a device, and detect the subtle changes in broad-audio-spectrum caused by interference when a sound wave interacts with an object.

To relate this to a common phenomenon, when a sea shell is held up to one’s ear a resonant cavity is formed that amplifies ambient sounds. This hi-Q filtering results in the ocean like sounds one hears.

In another example, response signals produced by two microphones located at either end of a device can be compared to determine if an object is nearer to one or the other. For example, when a user’s face is close to the top of a device, as is usual when talking on the phone, the microphone located near the ear will produce a different reactance ratio than the microphone located at the device’s base.

Basically, the signals from two transducers, or microphones, detect slight changes in ambient sound and sends corresponding signals to a processor which then compares the two to determine whether an object is in close proximity to either of the mics.

Monitoring of the microphones can be live or set to take samples at predetermined intervals, such as after a user begins to speak. Placement of the microphones can also be tweaked, and in some cases can be located next to each other.

Finally, a more active detection method is proposed, where an internal speaker generates noise, taking the place of ambient sound waves.

As portable electronic devices become increasingly smaller, the need to develop space-saving components, or to combine parts to serve a number of uses, becomes more pressing. Such is the case with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, a device that packs 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, a battery that can last for days, a 4-inch Retina display, two cameras, and a litany of other features into a chassis only 7.6 mm deep.

Space is already at a premium with the iPhone, as evidenced by the new Lightning connector, which Apple’s Worldwide Marketing chief Phil Schiller said was needed to create such a thin device. Moving forward, the company is rumored to incorporate near field communications (NFC) for e-wallet payments, which will take up even more precious room.

It remains to be seen if Apple will one day employ the passive proximity detection technology in a consumer device, however the iPhone is a platform ripe for deployment as it already boasts three mics for noise canceling and call quality purposes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.