Apple developing its own alternative to Flash via Gianduia

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News, Software

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When in doubt, roll your own.

As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.

Gianduia, named after an Italian hazelnut chocolate, is “essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters,” according to a tweet by developer Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch. “Jaw dropped.”

After watching the NDA demo Apple gave for the new framework at WOWODC last year, Rentzch also tweeted, “Blown away by Gianduia. Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious.”

Per AppleInsider, SproutCore is the JavaScript framework Apple uses to build the web interface for its desktop-like MobileMe web apps. Cappuccino is another third party JavaScript framework that works as a Cocoa-like API for web apps; it was used to deliver 280Slides, a web app designed to provide most of the functionality of Apple’s Keynote desktop application. JavascriptMVC is also an independent open source project used to develop rich apps within JavaScript for web deployment.

Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.

While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.

Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.

While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

USB 3.0 underperforms in notebook tests, bottlenecks cited

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 05:49
Category: News

USB 3.0 may be the future, but it may still have room for improvement. Per Techworld, the upcoming port technology may be hard pressed to surpass current technologies like eSATA.

The test comprised plugging Freecom’s USB 3.0 external drive, the XS Hard Drive 3.0, into a mainstream dual-core notebook using the company’s new USB 3.0 Express Card notebook add-on.

Throughput was derived using a simple calculation based on how long the drive took to copy and paste a large number of video and image files to and from the laptop, replicating how the drive will actually be used in the real world for functions such as directory backup.

The Freecom XS operating in USB 2.0 mode managed an average throughput of 18.7MB/s for reads and only 11.1MB/s for writes, well below the theoretical maximum of USB 2.0 but in line with real-world transfer speeds on a mid-range laptop.

The same drive in USB 3.0 mode raised this to 36.6MB/s for reads and about the same or slightly slower for writes, although this fluctuated considerably for reasons that might relate to the supplied NEC driver. Still, there seems to be a relative difference which will depend on a range of factors including overall system performance.

The tests concluded that USB 3.0 offers even notebook users a handy though not spectacular speed boost compared to USB 2.0 of around two-three times. However, when pitted against an eSATA drive from LG, the interface port for which is found on many high end notebooks, the results were less clear cut.

Copying the test files to an external LG eSATA drive achieved throughputs of 32.5MB/s for reads, and 29.7MB/s for writes, not much slower than USB 3.0 on this hardware. In some cases, it even matched the USB 3.0 drive.

Freecom engineers agreed that USB 3.0 would be held back by a number of bottlenecks on today’s systems, especially laptops which typically use slower internal hard drives. Desktop systems which can use the company’s faster PCI Express Card interface would fare better, they said.

USB 3.0 will start to shine when paired with forthcoming SATA 3.0 or even SSD drives, faster CPUs able to keep up with the dramatically higher data throughtputs, integrated USB 3.0 ports that don’t need slow interfaces such as Express card, and possibly also better drivers and chipsets.

Rumor: Apple to release updated MacBook Air on Tuesday

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 04:17
Category: MacBook Air, News

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Following the recent refresh to its MacBook Pro line of notebooks last month, the same source who correctly predicted the new MacBook Pro notebook arrival date has stated that an updated MacBook Air could arrive as early as Tuesday.

Per AppleInsider, the same source has stated to Macworld UK that a new product will arrive Tuesday with the model MC516LL/A K87 BETTER BTR-USA. The “better” distinction reportedly means it is likely to be a Mac product, leading the tipster to suggest the refresh is a MacBook Air.

The report noted that there is “some potential” the listing could instead refer to a new 27″ Cinema Display. But the source said there are several thousand of the product headed to Australia, “which suggests a major new product.”

Further evidence for the MacBook Air refresh has been noted with current inventory levels of the ultra-light notebook apparently running low. The MacBook Air, starting at US$1,499, still ships within 24 hours from Apple’s online store.

In January, it was suggested that the MacBook Air refresh might have seen a delay due to limited availability of Intel’s Core i5 ultramobile processors. Those reports suggested Apple could adopt the ultra-thin 18W TDP processor. The Core i5-520UM has a maximum processor speed of 1.86GHz, and an integrated GPU with 500MHz of processing power. The 32nm dual-core chip also includes 3MB of L3 cache.

Apple last updated the MacBook Air in June of 2009, dropping its entry price to US$1,499 for a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based system. Apple’s full line of MacBook Pros are also based on the Core 2 Duo processor.

In April, Apple updated its MacBook Pro line of notebook computers, with the high-end systems receiving Intel’s latest Core i7 and Core i5 mobile processors and new automated graphics switching technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone document show contactless payment technology in the works

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve got to love the occasional press leak, as they yield some interesting things on the horizon.

NFC World recently spotted a release from Visa and DeviceFidelity on the MarketWatch website, which revealed that the companies have developed a protective iPhone case that will allow users to pay for goods and services “by simply waving their iPhone in front of a contactless payment terminal”.

The release has since been removed from MarketWatch, but not before NFC World pasted the full text on its site.

The technology, developed by DeviceFidelity and certified by Apple, includes an iPhone case that holds a secure MicroSD card hosting Visa’s contactless payment application, Visa payWave. The release said that market trials of the “payment-enabled” iPhone are scheduled to start this summer.

The release said that the technology will also work with smart phones that have a suitable memory card slot.

Visa and DeviceFidelity announced plans to trial the technology in smart phones with memory card slots back in February. However, at the time, the iPhone was excluded from the trial because it did not have the required card slot.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.3.2

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, Software

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It’s the quick fixes that make a neat app that much better.

On Thursday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.3.2. The new version, a 3.6 megabyte download, adds the following changes:

- Fixed the localization of a dialog that appeared in the Scheduled Tasks window.

- Addressed an issue in which a scheduled task would fail to mount a disk image if the disk image file was not located at the root of the backup volume.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.3.2 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run.

Fourth-gen iPhone could record high definition video

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 05:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Even with the hunt to find the missing fourth-gen iPhone over, some cool stuff may still be around the corner. Per MacRumors, new evidence in the iPhone OS 4 SDK suggests the camera in Apple’s next-generation handset could record 720p high-definition video.

Preset values for video capture in the latest beta of the software development kit show a supported resolution of 1280×720 pixels. That’s the same progressive-scan resolution used for high-definition 720p content.

Last week, a report claimed that the iPhone would have a 5 megapixel camera supplied by LG Innotek. While the megapixels account for the size of still images, the they offer no clear insight into the video recording capabilities of the handset.

In its hands-on with the obtained next-generation iPhone prototype, Gizmodo noted that the camera on the device’s back side was “quite noticeably larger” than the one on the current-generation iPhone 3GS. The prototype device also had a forward-facing camera, but neither lens could be tested and picture quality could not be determined, as the hardware had been deactivated.

Previous rumors had indicated the new iPhone would be known as the “iPhone HD,” and would feature a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display.

In addition to a 5-megapixel camera with possible support for HD video recording, this year’s iPhone model is also expected to gain a camera flash. Camera flash functions were also found referenced in pre-release builds of iPhone Software 4.0.

The next-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. The conference is scheduled to kick off on June 7th, and runs through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

Intel demonstrates Light Peak port technology for HD video streams

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 04:48
Category: News

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PC Pro is reporting that Intel has been demoing a laptop running the company’s “Light Peak” connectivity standard initially offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The company previously demonstrated the technology using a prototype Mac Pro motherboard last year, but has now reduced the required hardware to fit inside a laptop enclosure.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands.

Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. “Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions,” he said. “We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You’ll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There’s almost no limit to the bandwidth – fibers can carry trillions of bits per second”.

Intel has touted Light Peak as a possible replacement to USB, Firewire, and display connectors in the future, and notes that the hardware should become available to computer manufacturers by the end of this year.

Apple releases iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3 to developers, focuses on orientation lock and iPod features

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Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, 03:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple released the third beta of its upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 firmware to developers on Tuesday. The new build, specified as build 10M2247, closely follows the release of beta 2 just two weeks ago. Both last year’s iPhone OS 3 and the 3.2 release for iPad went through five beta cycles before being released publicly.

iPhone 4 is expected to be release to the public in June for iPhone and iPod touch users, with an iPad version due for release in the fall.

Shortly after being published on Apple’s developer site, the new update was pulled temporarily to fix an issue believed to be related to an installation problem according to Gizmodo.

The new beta makes it easier to quit apps running in the multitasking drawer by giving each icon a red quit quit button, similar to the Home screen method of uninstalling apps with a touch.

Also new is a widget controller for iPod music playback, and an orientation lock that works similar to the physical switch on iPad. However, since the iPhone’s user interface is oriented toward portrait by default, with apps supporting landscape only optionally, the lock only sets orientation in portrait.

In contrast, the iPad presents no default orientation, making the lock more important and functional in both landscape and portrait directions.

The beta 3 release still does not support push messaging features for remote location, messaging, lock, or secure wipe as Apple prioritizes its beta releases to be relevant to the issues developers face in testing their apps with the new firmware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they come in and if you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta, let us know.

Apple alters Chinese iPhone Wi-Fi protocol to adopt government standard

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Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple fought for years to break the iPhone into the Chinese marketplace and appears to be doing what it takes to stay there.

Per Macworld UK, the company appears to have tweaked its iPhone to support a Chinese security protocol for wireless networks. This follows suit as companies increasingly adopt Chinese government-backed technologies and standards to stay on the nation’s store shelves.

The move suggests Apple may soon launch a new version of the iPhone in China with Wi-Fi, a feature that regulations previously barred.

Chinese regulators last month approved the frequency ranges used by a new Apple mobile phone with 3G and wireless LAN support, as noted by China’s State Radio Monitoring Center. The device appears to be an iPhone and uses GSM and the 3G standard WCDMA, just like iPhones currently offered in China by local carrier China Unicom.

Apple removed Wi-Fi on the iPhones now sold in China because regulators there began approving mobile phones with WLAN support only last year. These units are only supported if they use a homegrown Chinese security protocol called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

The new Apple phone does support WAPI, according to the Chinese regulatory site. If an iPhone with WAPI goes on sale, Apple would be one of the highest-profile companies to offer a device using the protocol.

The new Apple phone may also support standard Wi-Fi. The Chinese security protocol is an alternative for just part of Wi-Fi, and devices can support both it and the technology it is meant to replace.

China has promoted the protocol, along with other homegrown technologies like the 3G standard TD-SCDMA, as part of a vision to produce more of its own technology and have it adopted by international companies.

Earlier this year, China Unicom chairman and CEO said the company was in talks with Apple about offering a version of the iPhone with Wi-Fi.

The new Apple device, like all mobile phones, still must obtain a network access license from regulators if its maker wants to sell it in China.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.