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Developers plow through iOS 4.3 code, find evidence of A5 processor in upcoming iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple’s iOS 4.3 update hit yesterday and within hours, developers had found further evidence that Apple plans to use its dual-core A5 processor in the next-generation iPhone.

Per iClarified, developers have found references to the A5 processor in a kernel file for a device codenamed N94AP, widely assumed to be the iPhone 5, within the code for iOS 4.3 (full picture available here).

According to the report, the A5 chip is referred to as S5L8940 in the iOS 4.3 code and, as expected, is also listed as the processor for the Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA versions of the iPad 2.

Apple released iOS 4.3 on Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s iPad 2 launch and two days earlier than originally expected. The software update improves JavaScript performance in the mobile Safari web browser, features third-party support for AirPlay wireless streaming and adds the Personal Hotspot feature first introduced on the Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 in February.

Apple took the wraps off the new A5 processor last week when it unveiled the faster, thinner and lighter iPad 2. A recent rumor suggested that Apple has turned to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to produce the A5 chip, rather than staying with Samsung, its original partner for the A4 processor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you missed it yesterday, Apple released its latest version iOS on Wednesday, the long-awaited iOS 4.3 update becoming available through iTunes and introducing the following new fixes and features:

- Personal Hotspot – Share iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to 5 devices (combination of up to 3 Wi-Fi, 3 Bluetooth, and 1 USB).

- iTunes Home Sharing – Play music, movies and TV shows from a shared iTunes library on a Mac or PC (requires iTunes 10.2).

- New Airplay features – Play videos from the Photos app including the Camera Roll album, iTunes previews, enabled third-party appsand websites on Apple TV – Play slideshows from Photos on Apple TV using transitions available on Apple TV.

- Faster Safari performance with Apple Nitro JavaScript engine.

- HD video out using the Apple Digital AV Adapter – View 720p HD videos from Videos app, iPod app, Photos, YouTube, Safari, Keynote, and enabled third-party apps on an HDMI display
Ping features.

- Push notifications for comments and follow requests.

- Post and Like songs directly from the Now Playing screen.

- Parental controls.

- New Settings.

- Messages setting for number of times to repeat an alert.

- iPad side switch setting to lock screen rotation or mute audio notifications and sound effects.

- Single tap conference call dialing with a pause to send a passcode.

- Bug fixes.

Amongst the biggest inclusions are Home Sharing (the ability to stream audio and video from iTunes on a local network to the iOS device); AirPlay (the ability to stream audio and video from the iOS device to an Apple TV or computer) for third-party developers; and the ability to create a personal WiFi hotspot from an iPhone or iPad with 3G support.

Per Macworld UK, users may need a qualifying data plan from your carrier and any necessary hotspot or tethering options to enable the much-anticipated Personal Hotspot feature. Users with an unlocked iPhone can use the feature without restriction. However, we advise users of this feature to keep a close eye on data charges as some mobile phone companies are now restricting data usage.

A couple of minor features snuck into iOS 4.3. Users can now enable Push Notifications for Ping activity, and the iPod app’s Now Playing screen offers the options to post about songs and like them on your Ping profile. Also new is a preference to specify how many times an SMS alert is repeated, as well as a conference dialing option to add a pause for entering a passcode.

Missing from iOS 4.3, however, are the new multitouch gestures that Apple asked developers to test on the iPad during the beta period. Gestures like four- and five-finger swipes could switch between apps and reveal the multitasking bar, and a pinch could exit an app and return you to the Home Screen. With the second iOS 4.3 beta, however, Apple clarified that these features were only for testing and would not ship to consumers in the final version. Obviously, they could return in a future iOS update or upgrade, but Apple hasn’t stated any plans.

iOS 4.3 is available now as a free update in iTunes for the iPad, iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. As for the Verizon iPhone 4, it runs a custom version of iOS 4.2.6 that includes some features like hotspot support. Comments from an Apple representative at the iPad 2 event suggest that it might take a little while for Verizon’s iPhone 4 to converge with the same iOS version as Apple’s other mobile devices.

If you’ve snagged the iOS 4.3 update, please let us know how it’s working on your devices, for better or for worse.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, 04:00
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes 10.2.1 also includes improved Home Sharing, and lets users play music from their iTunes library on any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch over Wi-Fi using iOS 4.3. Any other changes to iTunes from version 10.2 are likely minor, as Apple did not detail them.

iTunes 10.2.1 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Adobe releases Wallaby preview, looking into tool to bridge Flash, HTML5 formats

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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After years of the squabble between Adobe’s Flash format and Apple’s push towards HTML5, Adobe may be developing a product to bridge the two sides. Per Macworld UK, Adobe Systems has released a preview of its Wallaby technology, which enables developers to leverage Flash development skills to build HTML files that can run on systems without the need for the Flash Player, including Apple iOS devices.

Wallaby, which will be offered for free on the Adobe Labs website, helps developers convert a Flash file created in the Flash Professional development tool to HTML. Apple’s iOS, which does not support Flash Player, is the primary use case for Wallaby. Output can also run on WebKit-based browsers like Safari and Chrome, said Tom Barclay, senior product manager for the Adobe Creative Suite business.

“It is an experimental technology that provides a glimpse of innovation that we’re doing around Flash and HTML and showing the investment that we’re making in both technologies we think are important for the long term,” Barclay said. The output of Wallaby enables use of not just HTML but also SVG and CSS, which are related technologies.

Wallaby is an AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) application for the Windows and Mac platforms. Developers can convert files to HTML5 via drag-and-drop functionality, Adobe said. Once files have been converted, developers can edit using an HTML editing tool, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, or by hand.

Wallaby was previewed last fall at the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles. At this point, Adobe cannot indicate a product road map, as the company still is inviting user feedback.

Apple to cut certain products from retail locations, focus on personalized setup services

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:38
Category: News

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As much as you love a certain selection in the Apple Store locations, the old stuff has to go.

Per The Loop, Apple reportedly plans to ax some hardware and software products from its store shelves to make room for an expansion of its popular personalized in-store setup service. The lineup includes some of the printers, scanners and potentially hard drives presently on display. Though they will not be directly shown in the store, such peripherals will still be available for sale if a customer requests them.

Apple is also said to drastically cut the number of games it sells in stores. Sources reportedly said that the company will get rid of 32 game titles from its retail locations, leaving each store with only about 8 games on display.

Unlike the hardware, which will still be available for sale, the games will not be available for purchase in Apple stores, as such software is said to not be strong sellers. Customers will reportedly be advised that they can download titles for Mac OS X from the Mac App Store.

In order to expand its personalized setup program, the article stated said that new employees are being hired in some locations. In other stores, the employee that sells a product will be the one to do the setup.

The personal setup service is said to be viewed as an opportunity for Apple to differentiate itself from competitors. With the service, customers are guided through setting up their Mac, signing up for an iTunes account, and given a quick walkthrough of the Mac experience.

In February, it was said that the initial success of the Mac App Store has sped up Apple’s plans to cease all sales of boxed software at its retail stores. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company allegedly plans to rely solely on digital distribution of software, and in the process will clear out space in its retail stores.

The company has also halted retail boxed sales of one of its own major digital products, MobileMe, late last month. The cloud-based syncing service, which costs US$99 a year, is rumored to receive a significant makeover in the near future.

Let us know if you’ve seen anything of this on your end and please let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.

EFI firmware trick allows some 2008 MacBooks, MacBook Pros to address 8GB of RAM

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Date: Monday, March 7th, 2011, 04:46
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Sometimes these things catch you by surprise in nifty ways.

Per the Apple Core, the cool cats at Other World Computing took another look at the memory limits in some of Apple’s late 2008 Core 2 Duo MacBook and MacBook Pros. Its testing found that a specific blend of updated firmware, Boot ROM and OS versions will let the notebooks handle a 8GB RAM upgrade.

According to a recent entry in the company blog, the tip says that machines running the latest update to Snow Leopard can address 8GB rather than the previous 6GB limit. It all depends on which version of the EFI Firmware Update and Boot ROM is installed.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you installed the EFI Update when it first came out, like we did, you would have gotten the old code, which meant your computer would only address 6GB properly. Those who didn’t upgrade until after Apple changed the updater got the newer firmware, which allowed proper addressing of 8GB.

Upon manually installing the “updated” version of the EFI Firmware in various test machines, the notebooks were able to address 8GB normally, without any crashing or slowdowns.

Users may have to download updated Boot ROMs, make sure they are running OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.6. According to the blog post, the machine must run the Mac OS X 10.6.6 software.

Apple includes SSD Trim support for 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks under Mac OS X 10.6.6

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Date: Monday, March 7th, 2011, 03:35
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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The future is solid state hard drives.

Which isn’t bad, as they’re pretty nifty.

Per AppleInsider, the 2011 MacBook Pro models are shipping with Mac OS X 10.6.6 (build 10J3210), which supplies TRIM support for bundled Apple Solid State Drives, enabling extended performance of the fast new devices via background maintenance.

The change comes a bit ahead of schedule as it had been previously reported that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion would incorporate support for the TRIM command, which helps the operating system coordinate the maintenance of unused memory cells on the new SSD devices, preserving long term performance.

While the new notebooks appear to run the same Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.6 version, the newer build (10J3210 versus 10J567, the newest build of Mac OS X 10.6.6 available for download from Software Update by other Macs) includes and automatically activates TRIM Support, as noted in System Profiler.

Apple will likely roll out support for the new feature in an upcoming new build of Snow Leopard. The feature reportedly only supports Apple-bundled SSD volumes, but this may change as well.

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available and if you have any feedback as to your new 2011, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, please let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T confirms Personal Hotspot support for iOS 4.3, iPhone

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has confirmed that it will support the 3G/WiFi hotspot features that will come to the GSM iPhone 4 on March 11. Per ars technica, the company said that the pricing would remain the same as the current tethering model—AT&T customers must subscribe to the US$25 data plan that gives them 2GB per month, plus the extra US$20 tethering charge that gives them an extra 2GB. In all, that will make it US$45 per month for 4GB of data plus hotspot sharing when the feature arrives in iOS 4.3.

The iPhone’s hotspot feature first made its debut with the Verizon (CDMA) iPhone last month. Verizon iPhone users can currently pay US$30 per month for unlimited 3G data, and US$20 extra to use the hotspot feature with a 2GB cap. So, although the iPhone itself currently has no monthly data limit, those who decide to tether or share their 3G with other devices will have a lower hotspot data limit than AT&T’s comparable plan. And, if you use the hotspot sharing feature on your AT&T iPhone, it won’t pause your Internet connection when you receive a phone call.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think about the Personal Hotspot feature in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.15 update

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:56
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.15 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 18.7 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Several fixes to improve performance, stability and security.

Firefox 3.6.15 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

iOS 4.3 en route, will be delayed for CDMA iPhone

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 09:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The good news: iOS is on its way.

The bad news: You might have to wait for the CDMA version of it for your Verizon iPhone.

Per AppleInsider, the announcement of iOS 4.3′s on March 11 had Apple explicitly exclude CDMA iPhone 4 from the list of supported devices, indicating that a separate build will be provided afterward.

The new iOS 4.3 release will officially support the 2009 iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod touch, and iPad models. This leaves out the CDMA iPhone 4 as well as Apple TV (which is normally updated on its own, independent schedule).

The Verizon iPhone 4 was released using its own software build, labeled iOS 4.2.5. Other iOS devices remained at iOS 4.2.1, which was released in November. Apple subsequently updated Verizon iPhones to iOs 4.2.6 to fix a bug related to its new Personal Hotspot feature.

Apart from the brief exclusive of its Personal Hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware. Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model.

Apple hasn’t announced a date for the Verizon iPhone release version of iOS 4.3, but it is likely to follow shortly after the initial release for GSM iPhones because the new build packs a variety of features and improvements.

The general features provided to all iOS devices by iOS 4.3 include Personal Hotspot (WiFi tethering), which Verizon iPhone users already have. However, there are also a number of other significant new improvements Verizon iPhone users will want, including:
- Improved Safari JavaScript performance using the Nitro engine, which Apple says boosts JavaScript execution up to twice as fast. JavaScript powers much of the interactivity of modern web apps.

- Support for AirPlay video streaming by third party apps, as well as videos within the web browser or within the Photos app. Streamed photos also use slideshow transitions.

- The ability to locally stream (without downloading or syncing) any content from your iTunes library via Home Sharing: music, movies, TV, podcasts, or audiobooks.

New minor features in iOS 4.3
- A new Noteworthy font in Notes

- Fixes a slideshow stop after 15 image when using AirPlay

- The ability to cancel and delete an app that is downloading. It is currently only possible to delete an app that has been installed.

- A slightly redesigned keyboard; missing accented letters in European keyboard popups; increased font size for China and Pinyin inputs

- A new Parental Controls setting for the iTunes Ping social network

- A new menu for scrubbing in videos, with Fine Scrubbing by seconds/frames; Quarter Scrubbing by second; Half Speed Scrubbing by minute and Hi-Speed Scrubbing by minutes.

- A new Updates section in the App Store and new Accounts section in the Store menu.

- Location Services settings moves from General to Settings Menu, and both Location Services and Mail accounts ON/OFF button is changed to a lock symbol.

Some minor features (outside of Personal Hotspot) and bug fixes are also targeting just GSM iPhones:
- Baseband is updated to 05.16.00 (for iPhone 3GS), 04.10.01 (for GSM iPhone 4).

- Enabled Traffic Volume Indicator IE in CELL UPDATE; fixes issue with integrity protection failing after SRNS relocation and iPhone units deactivating and not activating after baseband logging is enabled.

- A control to set repeat of text tone (up to 10 times).

- Automatic refresh of information displayed in Field Test Mode (removing manual refresh).

- Slideshow options have moved to Photos app.

- New Contact photo user interface.

- Dual vibrate when receiving a text message.

A variety of minor changes and bug fixes are also addressed in iOS 4.3:
- Accessibility: Voice Over now reads the entire chart in stocks app while in landscape mode. Fixed issues that prevented controls from being dismissed, or that prevented the keyboard from returning when highlighting and swiping through search results.

- Calendar: deleting a recurring event now make the alarm go away; fixed an all-day alarm going off an hour early. Canceled recurring CalDAV calendar events now removed on the event list. Fixed Exchange calendar event duplicating when passing Israeli daylight savings time.

- Language: updates inconsistent translations in Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese; fixes auto-correction issue when switch back from Emoji to English keyboard.

- Mail: fixes orientation of Mail not following device orientation under specific conditions; fixes popover when drilling into a thread while the empty search field is focused; fixes mail message view and orientation when quickly selecting a message and hitting edit mode.

- Safari: addresses issue that caused browser to crash after loading certain websites.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.