Apple changes iOS SDK rules to accept Lua but restrict Flash

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Something about this reminds me of when the cool kids wanted to keep the nerds out of the clubhouse, if only on principle.

According to AppleOutsider, Apple has changed its iOS SDK rules for iPhone developers have relaxed the restriction of section 3.3.2 pertaining to interpreted code, enabling Apple to forbid Flash and other middleware platforms while still enabling popular game engines and libraries.

When the 3.3.2 rules were first published, the restriction stated that iOS apps must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript, and that “no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).”

Apple’s goal seemed to be limited to stopping third parties from shifting iPhone developers from using Apple’s own Xcode development tools and instead making them dependent upon their own middleware meta-platforms.

The most obvious example of this was Adobe’s efforts to turn its Flash Professional CS5 application into a product that could export iPhone apps, facilitating cross platform development centered on Flash as a platform rather than Apple’s own Cocoa Touch.

Apple’s 3.3.2 restriction made it clear the company would refuse to sell such apps in its iTunes Store.

Strangely enough, the wording of the restriction appeared to also target any iOS apps that might include any interpreted code, including a large number of games that make use of general purpose, reusable code engines or libraries to expedite development.

Adobe has argued that any iOS restrictions on development with its Flash tools would also halt the use of popular game engines or libraries such as Unity 3D and Lua. Such a situation would imperil many popular iPhone games that Apple has already approved (and often singled out for targeted promotion), including Tap Tap Revenge and Rolando.

The latest modifications to the 3.3.2 section indicate Apple won’t be forced to dump popular, existing titles just to block middleware meta-platforms as a threat to iOS development. The most recent wording of the iOS SDK, published by Matt Drance of Apple Outsider, articulates an additional option Apple can invoke when choosing to approve apps:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple’s prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.”

Drance notes, “these new terms seem to acknowledge that there’s a difference between an app that happens to have non-compiled code, and a meta-platform.”

AT&T reveals customer protection plan for recent iPhone 3GS buyers

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Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 08:42
Category: iPhone, News

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For those of you who recently snagged an iPhone 3GS at the old price of US$199 for the 16GB model or US$299 for the 32GB model (the two models having been lowered to US$149 and US$199, respectively with a US$99 8GB model being the last to go), AT&T is said to be offering a “one-time Customer Price Protection” plan, giving credit for the difference.

Per modmyi.com, customers who purchased a 3GS between May 7th and the 14th are said to have until June 14th to visit their AT&T store and claim US$50 off the cost of a 16GB phone, or $100 off of a 32GB model. For those who made a purchase between May 15th and June 7th, a 30-day window should be in effect. Alternately, customers within either timeframe (including buyers of the iPhone 3G) can go without a discount and trade in towards an iPhone 4.

A new flyer reveals that AT&T plans to open its retail locations at 7AM on June 24th iPhone 4 launch. Some restrictions apply, namely that new AT&T customers will only be able to buy one phone and activate one line on that day. Existing subscribers will be able to buy one phone per active number.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 10.1.53.64

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Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 03:52
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Adobe officially released Flash Player 10.1.53.64, the newest version of its multimedia software for Mac OS X. The new version, a 7.4 megabyte download, offers a slew of security fixes detailed here with full (and extensive) release note changes documented here.

The new version is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

AT&T web site hacked, iPad 3G user emails leaked

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 04:23
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, News

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A good hack can be seen in one of two ways:

1. It keeps a company on its toes and aware of what might come at it.

2. It’s less-than-wonderful news that makes you wonder how your information was exploited and makes a lot of people slam their heads against their desks in frustration.

Per Gawker, a group of black hat hackers have exploited a security flaw on AT&T’s web servers which enabled them to obtain email addresses from the SIM card addresses of iPad 3G users.

The breach described the event as “another embarrassment” for Apple and outlined a variety of high profile individuals whose email addresses were obtained by automated script attacks on AT&T’s web server based on their iPad 3G SIM addresses (ICC ID).

The publication claimed that the identifying information meant that thousands of iPad 3G users “could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking,” while also pointing out that many users have actually already published their iPad ICC ID numbers in Flickr photos. Presumably, many of them also have public email addresses and therefore already receive spam like the rest of us.

The attack on AT&T’s web servers resulted in at least 114,000 iPad 3G users’ emails being leaked to the hackers, who were coy as to whether they were planning to enable others to access the data. The security leak, which returned a user’s email address when their ICC-ID was entered via a specially formatted HTTP request, has since been patched.

The group automated requests of the email address information for a wide swath of ICC-ID serial numbers using a script. No other information was discovered.

The report suggested that having known ICC IDs would leave iPad 3G users vulnerable to remote attacks, citing the attackers involved in the security breach as claiming that “recent holes discovered in the GSM cell phone standard mean that it might be possible to spoof a device on the network or even intercept traffic using the ICC ID.”

In its report, Gawker cited telephony security experts who disputed that the ICC ID email breach was a serious issue. “Vulnerabilities in GSM crypto discovered over the years, none of them involve the ICC ID […] as far as I know, there are no vulnerability or exploit methods involving the ICC ID, ” said Emmanuel Gadaix, a mobile security consultant.

The report also noted that Karsten Nohl, a “white hat GSM hacker and University of Virginia computer science PhD,” informed them “that while text-message and voice security in mobile phones is weak,” the “data connections are typically well encrypted […] the disclosure of the ICC-ID has no direct security consequences.”

At the same time, Nohl described AT&T’s lapse in publishing the email information as grossly incompetent, saying, “it’s horrendous how customer data, specifically e-mail addresses, are negligently leaked by a large telco provider.”

On Wednesday, AT&T issued the following statement regarding the breach:
“This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday. We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses… may have been obtained.”

Either way, be careful out there, beware the spam and the phishing efforts that never seem to let up and if an e-mail is offering something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Google Chrome 5.0.375.70 out the door

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 04:50
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 5.0.375.70 for the Mac. The new version, an 25.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- Medium: Cross-origin keystroke redirection. Credit to Michal Zalewski of Google Security Team.

- High Cross-origin bypass in DOM methods. Credit to Sergey Glazunov.

- High: Memory error in table layout. Credit to wushi of team509.

- High: Linux sandbox escape. Credit to Mark Dowd under contract to Google Chrome Security Team.

- High: Bitmap stale pointer. Credit to Mark Dowd under contract to Google Chrome Security Team.

- High: Memory corruption in DOM node normalization. Credit to Mark Dowd under contract to Google Chrome Security Team.

- High: Memory corruption in text transforms. Credit to wushi of team509.

- Medium: XSS in inner HTML property of text area. Credit to sirdarckcat of Google Security Team.

- High: Memory corruption in font handling. Credit: Apple.

- High: Geolocation events fire after document deletion. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Justin Schuh).

- High: Memory corruption in rendering of list markers. Credit: Apple.

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Adobe releases Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Mac OS X, Windows

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Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2010, 05:34
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, software giant Adobe announce the release of Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Mac OS X and Windows. Per AppleInsider, the new version includes bells and whistles such as support for DSLR video files and tethering shooting on selected cameras.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 boasts a performance architecture that Adobe said better handles growing image libraries and provides a superior raw processing engine with noise reduction and sharpening tools. The new 64-bit capable software also has new features to optimize workflows.

Adobe said Lightroom 3 was rebuilt to be fast and responsive, and the new application provides a fluid experience for photographers. Images are said to load almost instantaneously, and importing of images has been redesigned to be more intuitive, with added previews and default selections that give users quick access to sort through and find images.

Lightroom 3 also allows users to import and manage DSLR video files, as well as take advantage of tethered shooting for select Nikon and Canon cameras. It also has a new set of photographic tools for features like Luminance and Color Noise Reduction, which are said to help produce a clearer picture from high ISO or underexposed images while still preserving details.

The latest version also adds the highly requested Automatic Lens Correction feature, which improves results by allowing users to apply profiles that correct for undesirable geometric distortions, chromatic aberrations and lens vignette effects that most lenses introduce to the image.

There’s also a new straighten tool, allowing users to perfect vertical vertical and horizontal perspective, additional presets for applying more photographic adjustment styles, three new contemporary vignette styles, and a grain effect to add a more natural look with images.

Output options in Lightroom 3 have also been expanded, with new capabilities to publish collections to online sharing sites (for example, Flickr users can sync accounts to Lightroom with one click, and integration with other websites can be added through third-party plugins).

Lightroom 3 also has customizable print layouts which provide more refined control over how photographers present final images, and new watermarking features with options to modify text, size, location and style. Users can also export polished slideshows as video files with the option to add audio and title screens.

Photoshop Lightroom 3 is now for both Windows and Mac on the Adobe store and retails for US$299 for new users, and US$99 to upgrade. The app requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based processor to run on the Mac end or Windows XP with Service Pack 3 or later on the PC end.

Microsoft releases Office 2004 11.5.9, Office 2008 12.2.5

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Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2010, 04:09
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Microsoft released version 11.5.9 of its Microsoft Office 2004 suite and version 12.2.5 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite. The updates, which weigh in at 9.7 and 332 megabytes, respectively, focus on improving security for both suites, fixing vulnerabilities that could allow malicious code to overwrite portions of your Mac’s memory and run arbitrary commands.

The updates are free and available through the AutoUpdate programs and require Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run Office 2004 and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run Office 2008.

If you’ve installed the updates and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Additional details surface about iPhone 4′s Retina display

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 07:35
Category: iPhone, News

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone 4, the Retina display, was introduced at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday.

To answer the question of what a Retina display is, Chris Branderick of PC World offered the following tidbits:

“To put it simply, Apple’s figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches—a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it’s easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this “magic number,” when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4’s screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi), the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

Apple’s retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn’t the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google’s Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re attending the WWDC and can offer any hands-on feedback of the iPhone 4, please let us know in the comments.

Apple renames “iPhone OS 4″ to “iOS 4″, ships gold master candidate

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 03:27
Category: News, Software

As Jason mentioned on the podcast last night, Apple has officially changed the name of the long-anticipated iPhone OS 4.0 to “iOS 4″. The new operating system, which currently powers iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices, will be available for free on June 21st.

Per AppleInsider, iOS 4 it will be a free update for eligible iPod touch users (iOS 4 is not available for the first-generation device) when the operating system arrives on June 21st.

After asking attendees to turn off their laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots in order to get a working connection during yesterday’s keynote, Jobs demonstrated the ability of the iOS to run Pandora in the background to stream Internet radio.

Jobs also showed off the unified inbox in the phone’s Mail application, as well as threaded messages.

The chief executive also put applications into automatically created folders, as had been revealed in the initial unveiling of the new operating system. Folders can be renamed, and they can also be placed in the dock.

iOS 4 also adds support for Microsoft Bing for search, although Google will remain the default option. Jobs touted that Bing uses HTML5 for its mobile search results.

The golden master candidate of iOS 4 is available for developers beginning immediately.

Apple releases Safari 5.0 web browser

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Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 03:08
Category: News, Software

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Amidst yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference announcements, Apple finally released Safari 5.0, the newest version of its web browser. The new version, available here (or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature), sports the following fixes and changes:

- Safari Reader: Click on the new Reader icon to view articles on the web in a single, clutter-free page.

- Improved Performance: Safari 5 executes JavaScript up to 25% faster than Safari 4. Better page caching and DNS prefetching speed up browsing.

- Bing Search Option: New Bing search option for Safari’s Search Field, in addition to Google and Yahoo!.

- Improved HTML5 support: Safari supports over a dozen new HTML5 features, including Geolocation, full screen for HTML5 video, closed captions for HTML5 video, new sectioning elements (article, aside, footer, header, hgroup, nav and section), HTML5 AJAX History, EventSource, WebSocket, HTML5 draggable attribute, HTML5 forms validation, and HTML5 Ruby.

- Safari Developer Tools: A new Timeline Panel in the Web Inspector shows how Safari interacts with a website and identifies areas for optimization. New keyboard shortcuts make it faster to switch between panels.
- Smarter Address Field: The Smart Address Field can now match text against the titles of webpages in History and Bookmarks, as well as any part of their URL.
- Tabs Setting: Automatically open new webpages in tabs instead of in separate windows.

- Hardware Acceleration for Windows: Use the power of the computer’s graphics processor to smoothly display media and effects on PC as well as Mac.

- Search History with Date: A new date indicator in Full History Search shows when webpages were viewed.

- Top Sites/History Button: Switch easily between Top Sites and Full History Search with a new button that appears at the top of each view.

- Private Browsing Icon: A “Private” icon appears in the Smart Address Field when Private Browsing is on. Click on the icon to turn off Private Browsing.

- DNS Prefetching: Safari looks up the addresses of links on webpages and can load those pages faster.

- Improved Page Caching: Safari can add additional types of webpages to the cache so they load quickly.

- XSS Auditor: Safari can filter potentially malicious scripts used in cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

- Improved JavaScript Support: Safari allows web applications that use JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to run faster and more securely.

Safari 5.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 (under Mac OS X 10.5) or Mac OS X 10.6.2 (under Mac OS X 10.6) or later to install and run and is available for free.