Microsoft announces Windows 8 release date for this fall, shows off NFC features

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 11:06
Category: News, Software

It may not be your favorite operating system, but it’s good to have on hand.

Microsoft announced today that its Windows 8 operating system will launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.

Windows Phone 8 was unveiled at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Summit, where the company announced that the platform will support multi-core CPUs and high-definition screen resolutions. The new Windows Phone 8 will also borrow much of its code base from Windows 8, which will allow developers to create applications that can be run on phones, tablets and desktops all running Microsoft’s operating systems.

Windows Phone 8 also features Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft said has four-times faster JavaScript performance than its predecessor, Windows Phone 7.5, and also twice the feature support for HTML5. Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8 gets a better SunSpider score when testing Web browsing than the iPhone 4S running Apple’s first beta of iOS 6.

The operating system will also support near-field communications chips with a native wallet application that will store credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore also demonstrated onstage on Wednesday how the new NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8 will allow handsets to scan NFC-enabled advertisements or business cards.

Microsoft is also focusing on enterprise users with Windows Phone 8, offering encryption, secure boot, and IT device management. And turn-by-turn navigation will also be built in to the operating system with Nokia map technology.

Starting with Windows Phone 8, developers will also be able to offer in-application purchases. That means upgrades and other content can be purchase with an integrated tool part of the operating system.

Microsoft is also enhancing its speech support with the latest version of Windows Phone. But in one onstage demonstration, the Audible application was asked to play “Game of Thrones,” but the phone mistakenly tried to search for “St. Louis, Missouri.” After the technical hiccup, Microsoft showed how speech recognition could be used by third-party developers for functions like searching, and playback and pausing of content.

Devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to the new Windows Phone 8. Instead, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some of the new features, such as an updated Start screen, will be brought to legacy devices with the Windows Phone 7.8 update.

The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 comes only a few days after Microsoft held a heavily hyped, high-profile event in Hollywood to unveil Surface, its new touchscreen tablet that will compete with Apple’s iPad when it hits the market this fall. Surface will be built by Microsoft itself, and will come in two forms: an ARM-based model running the Windows RT operating system, and a “pro” model featuring an Intel processor and running the full Windows 8 operating system.

A final release date and pricing have yet to be announced for the new operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple requests developers focus on graphics for recent Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 06:34
Category: News, Software

The Retina Display is king for Apple, so graphics have to be pretty high up there these days.

Per AppleInsider, Apple supplied its development community with the first beta of OS X 10.7.5, its forthcoming maintenance update to the Lion operating system.

Sources familiar with the beta issued on Tuesday indicated that it is identified as build 11G15. Those testing the software have reportedly been asked to concentrate on testing graphics performance and quality along with networking reliability and performance.

Another area of focus is said to be the importing, editing or viewing of images and media. The delta download is reportedly a 937-megabyte installer, while the combo update weighs in at 1.87 gigabytes.

Details on what exactly has been changed in the first beta of OS X 10.7.5 remain unknown, but any fixes or updates are likely to be relatively insignificant with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion set to hit the Mac App Store in July.

The most recent update to Lion, OS X 10.7.4, was publicly released in early May. It included a fix for a potential security flaw in FileBug.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases external Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 06:28
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a good operating system beta.

Per AppleInsider, work on OS X 10.7.5, the next performance and maintenance update for Lion, is far enough along that Apple is preparing to issue a preview of the software to its developers for testing.

A pre-release build of OS X 10.7.5 is set to be released to a limited number of members of Apple’s development community in the coming days, sources familiar with the software indicated on Monday. Public testing among all members of the Apple Developer Connection will likely begin soon after.

Details on what fixes or updates OS X 10.7.5 might include remain unknown. But any changes are likely to be relatively insignificant, as Apple is gearing up to launch the next major version of its Mac operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, next month.

The last update to Lion, OS X 10.7.4, was publicly released in early May. It included a fix for a potential security flaw in FileBug.

OS X 10.7.4 also quietly added support for Retina display Macs, more than a month before Apple officially announced its next-generation MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina display. That notebook began shipping last week with OS X 10.7.4 installed, featuring high-resolution support for icons and native applications.

Apple announced last week that Mountain Lion will arrive on the Mac App Store in July for US$19.99. Those who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and the date Mountain Lion hits the App Store will be eligible for a free upgrade to OS X 10.8.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 firmware upgrade

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 06:59
Category: Hardware, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 firmware upgrade for its Thunderbolt-equipped Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The update, a 506 kilobyte download, adds support for the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter.

In addition to the direct download, Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 is available through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature. The update requires a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Apple to include U.S. government warning alert feature in iOS 6

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 06:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Under iOS 6, when the zombie apocalypse occurs, you’ll be among the first to know.

Apple devices running iOS 6 will be able to receive U.S. government alerts during an emergency or disaster, in compliance with a National Alerting Program.

Per Emergency Management, the new feature, labeled by Apple as “Government Alerts,” will be a part of the iOS 6 operating system when it launches for iPhone and iPad this fall, as first noticed by Emergency Management (via CNet) on Friday. That means that Wireless Emergency Alerts can be provided to Apple mobile device users.

The feature is expected to be available on all devices that can run iOS 6, including the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009, and the iPhone 4, which became available in 2010.

Author Rick Wimberley said Apple’s adoption of Wireless Emergency Alerts is “big news” for those who work in the emergency management industry. The new feature means that users can receive alerts from local, state and federal officials through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

The National Weather service also intends to start issuing Wireless Emergency Alerts by the end of June, meaning iPhone and iPad users will be able to receive weather warnings once their device runs iOS 6. There is also an option to opt out of warnings in the Settings menu represented by the usual on/off iOS toggle button.

Further details on the new emergency alert system in iOS 6 are unknown as Apple did not detail the new feature at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote this week.

The U.S. government’s Wireless Emergency Alert system went live just last month. Carriers already offer users the ability to receive alerts to customers via text message, without the need for support from mobile operating systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 1.4.9

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 05:09
Category: News, Software

The updates may not be huge, but they help.

On Friday, Dropbox released version 1.4.9 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 21.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fix missing Korean Translations.

– Better photo importing from Blackberry devices.

Dropbox 1.4.9 requires Mac OS X 10.4 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.

Mozilla releases Firefox 13.0.1 update

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Date: Friday, June 15th, 2012, 19:37
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

On Monday, Mozilla.org released version 13.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 30.7 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

– FIXED – Windows Messenger did not load in Hotmail, and the Hotmail inbox did not auto-update (764546, fixed in 13.0.1).

– FIXED – Hebrew text sometimes rendered incorrectly (756850, fixed in 13.0.1).

– FIXED – Flash 11.3 sometimes caused a crash on quit (747683, fixed in 13.0.1).

– NEW – When opening a new tab, users are now presented with their most visited pages.

– NEW – The default home page now has quicker access to bookmarks, history, settings, and more.

– CHANGED – SPDY protocol now enabled by default for faster browsing on supported sites.

– CHANGED – Restored background tabs are not loaded by default for faster startup.

– CHANGED – Smooth scrolling is now enabled by default.

– DEVELOPER – 72 total improvements to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor.

– DEVELOPER – The column-fill CSS property has been implemented.

– DEVELOPER – Experimental support for ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects has been implemented.

– DEVELOPER – Support for the CSS3 background-position property extended syntax has been added.

– DEVELOPER – The :invalid pseudo-class can now be applied to the element.

– DEVELOPER – The CSS turn unit is now supported.

– FIXED – Various security fixes.

Known Issues:
– UNRESOLVED – If you try to start Firefox using a locked profile, it will crash (see 573369).

– UNRESOLVED – For some users, scrolling in the main GMail window will be slower than usual (see 579260).

– UNRESOLVED – Windows: The use of Microsoft’s System Restore functionality shortly after updating Firefox may prevent future updates (see 730285).

– UNRESOLVED – OS X: nsCocoaWindow::ConstrainPosition uses wrong screen in multi-display setup (see 752149).

– UNRESOLVED – CSS :hover regression when an element’s class name is set by Javascript (see 758885).

Firefox 13.0.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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.

Rumor: Qualcomm getting ready to prepare 4G LTE chips for next-gen iPhone handset

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Date: Friday, June 15th, 2012, 11:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You’re probably going to need components if you’re going to build a snazzy new thing.

Per DigiTimes, Taiwanese chip maker Qualcomm is said to be providing high-speed 4G long-term evolution chips produced using a 28-nanometer process.

The company is expected to build its 4G LTE chips at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, supply chain sources shared with DigiTimes. Qualcomm will need about 10,000 28-nanometer 12-inch wafers, representing one-third of the 28-nanometer capacity at TSMC, just to produce 4G chips for the next iPhone, the report said.

Also relying on TSMC’s 28-nanometer process for the next iPhone will be Broadcom, which is expected to provide Wi-Fi chips to Apple. And OmniVision is also said to be looking to get in on TSMC’s 12-inch fabrication process.

The report noted that TSMC’s “tight production capacity” for its 28-nanometer process will also have customers Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Altera, Xilinx and others. It’s expected that it will be difficult for TSMC to meet market demand for the 28-nanometer process until it can produce 50,000 units a month around the fourth quarter of 2012.

With supply constraints in mind, STMicroelectronics is said to be ramping up output of MEMS devices for Apple’s next iPhone. Similarly, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments are reportedly stockpiling inventory of analog integrated circuits to meet Apple’s demand.

In March it was said that Apple was in the process of reviewing potential components for the company’s next-generation LTE 4G iPhone. Among the parts Apple was expected to utilize by Barclays was Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G networks.

Analysts at Barclays also said at the end of May that Apple had “locked down” suppliers of important radio chips for the sixth-generation iPhone. Companies said to have been selected by Apple included Skyworks, Avago Technologies, and TriQuint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opera web browser updated to 12.00

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Date: Friday, June 15th, 2012, 06:54
Category: News, Software

operalogo

On Thursday, Opera Software released version 12.00 of its web browser. The new version, a 23.3 megabyte download, boasts the following fixes and changes:

New Features:
– Opera now runs plug-ins as a separate process, allowing for more control when a plug-in misbehaves. This feature will enhance security and stability.

– The 64-bit version of Opera will offer performance improvements for some functions and allow Opera more freedom in allocating memory.

– New, lightweight themes make it easier to customize the browser. Install or change themes at the click of a button, without restarting the browser.

Numerous improvements to the address bar have been made:
– Improved address field and address bar drop-down suggestions.

– Smart URL shortening in the address field drop-down.

– The page title and the page excerpt will be used for full page search results
URL and page content columns in the address field drop-down have been combined
Hardware acceleration allows Opera to offload graphics rendering from the processor (CPU) to the graphics card (GPU), making graphics intensive operations such as animations faster.

– RTL support will bring additional stability for certain languages. Persian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Arabic languages added.

– Extensions will now be able to interact with tabs, create tab groups, and manage windows.

– Opera Unite and Opera Widgets will be off by default in Opera 12.00, and will eventually be phased out of the Opera browser in the future. Voice support will be removed as of Opera 12.00, as the voice-detection library is no longer supported by the third-party vendor.

– Opera 12.00 will include changes in the Opera Presto 2.10 engine up to core-integration-point 289.

– Initial support for real-time communication has been added. Allowing the source of HTML5

– Drag and drop enables webpages to have elements that the user can drag from one page to another, or from their desktop to the webpage.

– Support for animations and transitions has been updated and expanded.

– Added support for the Do Not Track (DNT) HTTP header.

– An innovative new set of CSS constructs that allow webpages to be split up into paged media, revolutionizing the Web reading experience.

– CORS enables more secure and flexible communications between websites.

Improvements:
– General and User Interface.

– Appearance dialog improvements and cleanup.

– Sandboxing enabled for Mac App Store builds.

– A custom user agent preference has been added to opera:config.

Display and Scripting:
– Improved pipelining, JavaScript, and Turbo.

Fixes and Changes:
– Mail, News, Chat.

– Removed IRC client, start bar, navigation bar, main bar, and BitTorrent support.

Security:
– Fixed an issue where hidden keyboard navigation could allow cross site scripting or code execution, as reported by Jordi Chancel.

– Fixed an issue where a combination of clicks and key presses could lead to cross site scripting or code execution, as reported by Jordi Chancel.

– Fixed an issue where cross-domain JSON resources may be exposed as JavaScript variable data.

– Fixed an issue where carefully timed reloads, redirects, and navigation could spoof the address field, as reported by Jordi Chancel.

– Fixed a moderate severity issue; details will be disclosed at a later date.

– Fixed an issue where pages could prevent navigation to a target page, spoofing the address field, as reported by Code Audit Labs of vulnhunt.com.

Opera 12.00 is available for free and requires and Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Skype updated to 5.8.0.865, adds Mac OS X 10.8 support, refined contacts list

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Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2012, 10:18
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

On Thursday, version 5.8.0.865 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 23.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Support for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

– Reintroduction of a slimmer contact list, which can be resized and repositioned as necessary.

– When talking to people using the iOS or Android apps, the Mac software will now automatically detect when a person has rotated their mobile device, and adjust incoming video on a Mac automatically. Auto-rotation was already supported for incoming Windows Phone video; Skype is notably owned by Microsoft. Premium subscribers, meanwhile, can now see photos and live video simultaneously during Screen Sharing.

– The company has promised that a future Mac release will add the ability to open chats in separate windows, and talk to multiple contacts at once.

Skype 5.8.0.865 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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