Google Chrome updated to 21.0.1180.81

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Date: Friday, August 17th, 2012, 16:42
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock frequent updates.

On Friday, Google released a beta of version 21.0.1180.81 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 43.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Duplex Printing defaults to Yes, which prints extra pages even for a 1 page print out (Issue 138312).

– Print preview takes forever on Win XP (issue: 140044).

– Anti-DDoS inversion of logic (Issues: 141643, 141081).

– Pepper Flash: in file uploads, treats HTTP status != 200 as failure, breaking (e.g.) uploads to Amazon S3 (Issue: 140468).

– Projectmanager.com application causes Flash to hang (Issue: 141018)
Turn off TLS 1.1 in Chrome 21 Stable (Issue: 142172).

– An additional scroll bar appears at the right on many sites (issue: 140239).

– Setting and unsetting display:none obliterates current scroll position (issue: 140101).

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.81 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 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.

China Unicom may break away from contract sales of iPhone, cites high overhead costs

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Date: Friday, August 17th, 2012, 06:20
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes contracts don’t work as well as you’d like them to.

Per DigiTimes, China’s Unicom wireless carrier is struggling to benefit from its investment in contract sales of Apple’s latest iPhone models and is reportedly considering a move that would do away with traditional pricing discounts on the handset for customers willing to sign two-year service agreements.

As the only WCDMA carrier in China, China Unicom signed a two-year agreement with Apple back in September of 2010 to offer its iPhone subscribers the handsets at reduced pricing if they agree to 24-month service contracts.

But high overhead costs for the devices themselves, coupled with a need for continued investment in infrastructure to support surging growth and data consumption by iPhone users, has China Unicom mulling a move to end contract bundles of the phone come next month.

Company representatives have stated that China Unicom “has not substantially profited from sales of iPhone 4” and therefore may not re-sign its agreement with Apple to continue sales of the iPhone 4S or a new version of the phone widely expected to make its debut in September.

Though no further details were reported, it appears that the carrier would continue to carry the iPhone but only market it to customers who are willing to pay full retail price for the device.

Although most iPhone carriers offer Apple’s latest device to customers at prices between US$199 and US$399 USD, they actually purchase the phones from Apple at much higher costs, then turn around and subsidize the handsets for customers, banking on recouping the overhead costs and making profits through two-year, high-margin service agreements.

For its part, China Unicom has been amongst the most aggressive with its subsidies, and earlier this year began offering the 16GB iPhone 4S at no cost to customers who sign up for multi-year service contracts for as little as US$45 USD per month.

With more than 125 million subscribers, China Unicom is China’s second-largest cell phone service provider. It’s also the tenth-largest worldwide. But its 3G business has reportedly been a money-losing operation, with high smartphone subsidies — like those required for the iPhone — accounting for 45% of its overhead.

As of January, the average selling price of an iPhone — or the price charged by Apple to carriers — was roughly US$660.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Motion Picture Experts Group releases H.265 draft standard, offers Web-based video at twice the quality, half the data size

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Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 08:10
Category: News, Software

If you think Web-based video is impressive now, wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, the Motion Pictures Expert Group has issued a new video standards draft that promises to deliver twice the video quality at the same size, or alternatively, identical video quality at half the data rate as today’s MPEG-4 H.264 standard.

The new H.265 draft specifically addresses mobile devices and networks overloaded with video. Products using the new H.265 video compression standard could begin to launch as early as 2013.

Apple is likely to quickly adopt support for the new H.265 specification, just as it has rapidly rolled out support for new features of H.264, including support for expanded H.264 profiles in the new third generation Apple TV and the new iPad.

MPEG, formed by the International Standards Organization in 1988, first developed a joint video compression format in 1993 intended for Video CD. Its video codec, H.261, was used to deliver multimedia video clips. The audio portion of that standard, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (also known as MP3) revolutionized the portability of music by allowing users to rip CDs to files that could be compressed enough to be used in mobile devices with limited storage.

Apple backed MP3 with the iPod in 2001 at a time when Microsoft and Sony were working to entrench their own proprietary standards with strong DRM (Windows Media and ATRAC, respectively).

MPEG released the MPEG-2 standard in 1994, which enabled high quality DVD and efficient digital TV transmissions. MPEG-2 incorporated the initial H.261 video compression standard as well as a more efficient H.262 and, later, the H.263 ASP codec implemented by DivX and Xvid, popular formats used for video file sharing. Work on an MPEG-3 standard aimed at HDTV was abandoned and folded into the MPEG-2 portfolio.

MPEG-4, initiated in 1998 and released in 2003, merged the television and video industry’s expertise with work pioneered by Apple’s QuickTime on desktop computers, resulting in a video format that incorporated Apple’s QuickTime container format. This helped to simplify video editing tasks, even as Apple began adopting advanced bidirectional compression technologies in QuickTime that had been contributed to the MPEG-4 pool by the rest of the industry.

MPEG-4 carried forward H.263, which Apple hadn’t ever widely used, while also introducing H.264, which enabled a doubling of video quality at the same size as the earlier H.263 codec.

Before MPEG-4, Apple had previously used proprietary video codecs from Sorenson in QuickTime, but rapidly began adopting MPEG standards as the pooled efforts of every major company with video expertise began to quickly outpace the development of alternatives.

Apple helped to popularize MPEG-4’s AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format as a more efficient replacement for MP3 in iTunes, then brought MPEG-4’s H.264 video compression into the desktop computing mainstream as the default video codec in QuickTime. It is now essentially the only video standard supported by the iPhone and other iOS devices, and H.264 is deeply integrated into the architecture of QuickTime.

While MPEG itself usually refers to its MPEG-4 audio and video standards as AAC and AVC, Steve Jobs introduced the new video standard to the world as H.264, and Apple continued to refer to it by its ITU numerical designation. MPEG is now referring to its newest H.265 standard as “HEVC” (High Efficiency Video Coding).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds third Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 07:37
Category: News, Software

The nice thing about betas, it means they’re a bit closer to getting somewhere.

Per MacNN, Apple is seeding a third developer beta of OS X 10.7.5 to developers. The code is listed as build 11G36, and as before, has no known issues. Apple is also holding steady on testing focus, asking developers to look at graphics quality and performance, along with media importing, editing, and viewing.

The Mac OS X 10.7.5 update may or may not be the last for OS X Lion, since Mountain Lion has been available for several weeks. Apple is forging new ground with its current development cycle, since it has switched to releasing a new OS every year. As a result, it may end up having to support Lion well into Mountain Lion’s lifespan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail updated to 6.0.2

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Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 07:39
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 6.0.2 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Addresses an issue in which Cocktail could not force empty the Trash.

– Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may fail to scan preference files.

– Various improvements to the Pilot scheduler.

– Resolves some OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility issues.

Cocktail 6.0.2 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.

QuarkXPress 9.3.1 update released

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Date: Wednesday, August 15th, 2012, 07:25
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, software developer Quark released version 9.3.1 of its QuarkXPress design application. The 1.1 gigabyte update, which can be downloaded here (thanks to MacUpdate), adds the following change:

– Includes an installer/updater that is compatible with the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Gatekeeper feature. This release is not compatible with QPS 9.2.

QuarkXPress 9.3.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 later to install and retails for US$799.00 for the full version.

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

Dropbox 1.5.12 beta goes live, now available for download

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Date: Wednesday, August 15th, 2012, 07:15
Category: News, Software

Hey, sometimes the beta version can rock.

On Wednesday, Dropbox released a public beta of version 1.5.12 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 22.6 megabyte download, which adds the following fixes and changes:

– Support for Notification Center on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

– Support for new sign-in backend.

– Minor bug fixes.

Dropbox 1.5.12 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.271 update

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 15:39
Category: News, security, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.271 for Mac OS X, a 11.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds a slew of security fixes outlined here.

Flash Player 11.3.300.271 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Sprint offers $100 gift card with purchase of iPhone 4S, Apple offers $100 store credit in return

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 14:27
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Let the incentives roll.

Per Business Insider, wireless carrier Sprint is now giving a $100 pre-paid gift card to new iPhone 4S buyers and Apple will be matching the deal by offering an Apple Store credit for the same amount.

The new incentive, the second in as many weeks from Sprint, comes ahead of an expected Sept. 12 launch of the next-generation iPhone and has prompted> Apple to make good on its promise to match iPhone pricing from major resellers, Business Insider has learned.

Sprint last week slashed the price of Apple’s iPhone 4S to US$149 not including a US$36 activation fee waiver, a move followed by other sellers including Target and Best Buy. Apple subsequently instructed its stores to match the discount prices being offered by the major retailers, limited to US$49 for the iPhone 4 and US$149 for the iPhone 4S.

With the new US$100 American Express pre-paid card, US$149 discount, activation fee waiver and free shipping, Sprint has effectively whittled down the cost of buying an iPhone 4S to US$50. There are stipulations, however, as the added gift card bonus is online only and lasts until Aug. 26. It is unclear if Apple will continue to offer the store credits after Sprint’s sale ends.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat Pro updated to 10.1.4

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 14:20
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Adobe released version 10.1.4 of its Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

– This is a regular quarterly update that provides security mitigations, feature enhancements, and bug fixes.

– Added support for Mac OS X 10.8.

– Safari 5.1 for 10.6.8-10.7, Safari 6.0 for 10.8.

Acrobat Reader 10.1.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.