Apple posts two security-related job openings, looks to be closing holes where present

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News, security

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If you keep losing an incredibly valuable intellectual property, it might be time to give your security a once-over.

Per PCmag.com, Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of “New Product Security.” While it might be a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple’s troubles of late for losing test gadgets:

“The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property,” said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recently, an iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

San Francisco Police confirmed last Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn’t found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple’s problems went beyond iPhones. Apple is also apparently working to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. The customer said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store’s internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for effectively keeping its secrets and sticking close to its message.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple taps Largan Precision, Genius Electronic Optical for 8 megapixel camera lenses for iPhone 5

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:41
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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If you’re hoping for something good from the next generation of iPhone, at least expect an improved camera.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple has secured deals with two suppliers to build 8-megapixel camera lenses for the company’s forthcoming next-generation handset.

Both Largan Precision and Genius Electronic Optical are said to be supplying smartphone lenses for the iPhone. Specifically, both are said to be providing 8-megapixel cameras for “Apple’s newest iPhone 5.”

The report notes that both companies were previously responsible for 5-megapixel lens modules found in the current-generation iPhone 4. Both Largan and Genius are expected to keep ahead of competition as their shipments are boosted by a massive amount of orders from Apple.

Orders from Genius and Largan reportedly pushed both companies to a combined 27.5 percent global market share last year. As sales of the iPhone continue to grow, with a record setting 20.34 million sales by Apple last quarter, both companies’ shares could move even higher.

While rumors about the size, shape and even functionality of Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5” have varied, one relatively consistent element in rumors leading up to the device’s debut has been the camera. For months now, repots have claimed that the new handset will sport an 8-megapixel camera.

Largan was rumored as far back as May to provide the 8-megapixel camera for Apple’s next iPhone.

While Largan and Genius are expected to provided lenses for the 8-megapixel camera, sensors in the shooter were said in June to be ordered from OmniVision. Nearly all of the 8-megapixel sensor orders — 90 percent — were expected to be placed with the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 case pictures leaked, indicate larger design

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Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 08:35
Category: Accessory, iPhone, Pictures

If you ever wondered about the size and shape of Apple’s upcoming mobile devices, look to what the case makers are developing.

Per Electronista, Italian web site Macitynet.it and MIC Gadget have discovered new iPhone cases, all of them showing a design somewhat like the iPod touch but with the requisite camera, microphone, and speaker connectors. The Macitynet.it sighting compared it against both the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch and found it larger than both, strongly supporting beliefs that it has a larger screen.

A plethora of cases from multiple Chinese manufacturers shown at MIC Gadget bear this out annd suggest that they all got access to leaked blueprints rather than some of the more speculative designs seen a few months ago.

The more recent cases, if shaped around the real design, point to Apple finally taking on a wave of increasingly larger Android phones. It’s now common for even mid-tier phones like the Droid Incredible 2 to have four-inch screens, which are rumored for Apple’s model, and phones like the Galaxy S II regularly use 4.3-inch or even 4.5-inch screens. Apple might not increase the resolution but would still have one of the sharpest screens in the size class.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

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Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Apple loses iPhone 5 prototype, manages to locate it within days

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Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, this is odd.

Remember when an Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar last year and the company was, well, mildly upset regarding the aftermath?

It’s happened again.

In a bizarre repeat of a high-profile incident last year, an Apple employee once again appears to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar.

Per CNET, the errant iPhone, which went missing in San Francisco’s Mission district in late July, sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid US$5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for US$200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.

Apple declined to comment after being contacted this morning. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said the company did not file a police report based on the loss at the bar. Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco’s Cava 22, which describes itself as a “tequila lounge” that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source. When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

In an interview this afternoon, Jose Valle told CNET that neither the police nor Apple security ever contacted him. Valle, who owns the bar with his family, said however does he remember a man calling multiple times about a lost iPhone about a month ago. He told the man he would call him back if he ever found the phone.
“I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong,” Valle said.

After last year’s embarrassing loss, Apple reportedly has taken extraordinary steps to protect its prototype devices from leaks. Next-generation iPhones are sent to carriers for testing “inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs,” according to the Guardian.

Apple developers have been given new iPhones with an upgraded processor — the one that is used in the iPad 2 and is expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone. But the device “is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it’s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone’s exterior,” according to a report at 9to5Mac.com. Even last year’s prototype was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to add remote diagnostic tool in iOS 5.0

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s always nifty when you can get something fixed remotely.

Per the cool cats at HardMac, Apple has allegedly internally announced to its employees that the new remote diagnostic tool has been completed. Presumably, these features could arrive with this fall’s release of iOS 5, the next major upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The entirely online system will be triggered by a special URL sent via e-mail or entered manually. When a user visits the website and agrees, Mobile Safari will conduct internal checks of the system and send that data to Apple’s servers.

To ensure user privacy, the only personal data that will be sent to Apple will include its unique identifier, or UDID, as well as the name of the owner, the report said.

The list of information to be shared by the diagnostic system reportedly includes:
Battery health, including current charge level, amount of time since the last charge, minimum level to which the battery was discharged, iOS version installed and whether the handset was turned off normally the last time.

Apple’s iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is set to be released this fall. It will pack more than 200 new user features, including Notification Center, iMessage, and Newsstand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint to hold media event on October 7, may announce iPhone carrier partnership

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Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 07:44
Category: iPhone, News

The good news is that Sprint looks more likely to become a U.S. iPhone carrier.

The bad news is that Candace Bergen is probably sitting around wondering if they’ll call and ask her to sponsor them 20 years after the fact…

Per Electronista, the telephone carrier sent out invitations on Monday for a Strategy Update event on October 7. The New York City event has few details and will have presentations from executives followed by a question-and-answer session. Topics for the gathering weren’t given out, although it’s implied that it’s a broader corporate move.

The time slot immediately raises suspicion as it dovetails with one rumored iPhone 5 release date as well as a general consensus that Apple is aiming for the first half of that month. At the same time, however, Sprint has hinted at a major rethink of its 4G strategy for the end of the year and may simply use the scheduling to make a push into LTE. Its newly minted LightSquared deal directly opens the possibility of a switch from WiMAX to LTE.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds updated iTunes 10.5 beta with iCloud iTunes Match feature to developers

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Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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The rest of the iCloud is coming.

And it will have additional snazzy features.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has released a new version of iTunes for developer testing of the functionality of iCloud’s new iTunes Match feature for storing songs “in the cloud” for flexible access from mobile devices.

Apple has already publicly introduced some new iCloud features in iTunes, including the ability to browse and download any previously purchased songs at no additional charge.

The new iTunes 6.1 beta release is the first to support the “scan and match” cloud access feature that Apple first announced at this summer’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

This new feature allows users to pay for an annual iTunes Match subscription that will make their entire existing music collection (including songs not purchased through iTunes) available from Apple’s cloud servers as well.

The service will support music collections up to 25,000 songs and costs US$24.99 per year. That library limit does not count any songs purchased from iTunes, which are already cloud accessible. The service is also limited to music, and does not support the uploading of apps, audiobooks, books, movies, TV shows, ringtones or interactive content such as iTunes LP liner notes or iTunes Extras for movies.

Users can upload any music they want (up to the 25,000 title limit) onto Apple’s cloud servers, but the biggest feature of iTunes Match is its upload-free, automated file matching service.

Rather than forcing users to upload the many gigabytes of data that thousands of songs would involve, Apple’s iTunes Match will simply scan the user’s library and then make those same songs available from iTunes’ vast catalog of songs, effectively allowing users to upgrade their CD collections into cloud-accessible, high quality iTunes downloads without having to repurchase their music as digital downloads.

The beta program is for developer testing only, and Apple warns that any content copied up to its cloud servers during the test period may be erased. For this reason, developer notes tell users testing the service to back up their original songs, and not to delete any music they’ve uploaded into the service.

Developers participating in the program pay the standard subscription fee, but are given three free months for participating. The iTunes Match feature is currently limited to the Mac version of iTunes only, but once songs are added to the iCloud library, they can be accessed from any computer running the iTunes 10.5 beta as well as any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running the latest iOS 5 beta.

The iTunes Match service works with up to 10 iTunes PCs and iOS devices connected to the same Apple ID, although only five of those devices can be computers. Apple also notes that a computer or iOS device can only be associated with a new Apple ID once every 90 days.

Apple notes that iTunes Match is currently limited to certain supported song formats “at this time,” and that some songs may be matched incorrectly. Matched songs may also be a different version of the same song.

Apple also tells developers to watch out for performance issues on iOS devices, and notes that under the existing iOS 5 beta, music will continue to download from the cloud over cellular connections even if that option has been restricted to WiFi only in the Settings app.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new beta and have any feedback, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple gives internship to 19-year-old jailbreak prodigy

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Date: Friday, August 26th, 2011, 04:46
Category: iPhone, News, security

If you’re a good enough hacker and sort of threaten Apple’s warranties to a certain degree, the company might just give you an internship.

According to his Twitter feed, 19-year old Nicholas Allegra, announced that he will start an internship with Apple “the week after next.” Allegra gained notoriety last year when, as a member of the iPhone Dev Team, he released a web-based JailbreakMe exploit for the iPhone 4.



Jailbreaking refers to the process of hacking iOS to allowed users to install custom software and tweaks without Apple’s permission. Performing a jailbreak can, however, void Apple’s warranty for the device.

Allegra made waves again last month when he released an updated version of JailbreakMe for iOS 4.3.3.

According to a profile on him by Forbes earlier this month, Allegra has been on leave from Brown University since last winter while looking for an internship.

The hacker expressed that he’s not sure why he has such a knack for circumventing Apple’s security measures. “It feels like editing an English paper,” Allegra said. “You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.”

Charlie Miller, a former National Security Agency analyst and one of the first people to hack the original iPhone in 2007, was impressed by Allegra’s hack. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to do what he’s done for years,” he said. “Now it’s been done by some kid we had never even heard of. He’s totally blown me away.”

Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi has compared Allegra’s hacking skills to those of government-sponsored “advanced-persistent threat” hackers. “He’s probably five years ahead of them,” he remarked.

Allegra taught himself to program when he was just 9 years old. “By the time I took a computer science class in high school, I already knew everything,” he said. As a self-professed Apple “fanboy,” he confessed that he hacks the iPhone because he likes the challenge.

“I didn’t come out of the same background as the rest of the security community,” he added. “So to them I seem to have come out of nowhere.”

Last year, the U.S. government approved an exemption that made it legal for iPhone owners to jailbreak and carrier unlock their devices.

Apple’s relationship with the jailbreak community has been likened to a game of cat and mouse. The iPhone Dev Team published a post, entitled “The coolest cat,” to their blog on Wednesday with an image of the iconic Tom and Jerry cat and mouse cartoon characters and the note “We loved the chase! Good luck, Steve.” The well-wishes were addressed to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who announced on Wednesday his resignation as CEO of the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent application points to voice recognition/voice command technology in future versions of iOS

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Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 13:18
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’ve gotta love forthcoming versions of iOS.

Per freepatentsonline, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone’s voice to identify the person themselves, allowing the system to enact custom-tailored settings and access to personal content.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “User Profiling for Voice Input Processing,” it describes a system that would identify individual users when they speak aloud.

Apple’s application notes that voice control already exists in some forms on a number of portable devices. These systems are accompanied by word libraries, which offer a range of options for users to speak aloud and interact with the device.

But these libraries can become so large that they can be prohibitive to processing voice inputs. In particular, long voice inputs can be time prohibitive for users, and resource taxing for a device.

Apple proposes to resolve these issues with a system that would identify users by the sound of their voice, and identify corresponding instructions based on that user’s identity. By identifying the user of a device, an iPhone would be able to allow that user to more efficiently navigate handsfree and accomplish tasks.

The application includes examples of highly specific voice commands that a complex system might be able to interpret. Saying aloud, “call John’s cell phone,” includes the keyword “call,” as well as the variables “John” and “cell phone,” for example.

In a more detailed example, a lengthy command is cited as a possibility: “Find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed.” Also included is natural language voice input, with the command: “Pick a good song to add to a party mix.”

“The voice input provided to the electronic device can therefore be complex, and require significant processing to first identify the individual words of input before extracting an instruction from the input and executing a corresponding device operation,” the application reads.

To simplify this, an iPhone would have words that relate specifically to the user of a device. For example, certain media or contacts could be made specific to a particular user of a device, allowing two individuals to share an iPhone or iPad with distinct personal settings and content.

In recognizing a user’s voice, the system could also become dynamically tailored to their needs and interests. In one example, a user’s musical preferences would be tracked, and simply asking the system aloud to recommend a song would identify the user and their interests.

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed in February of 2010. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay.