Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to incorporate in-cell touch display

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per the sometimes-reliable cats at DigiTimes, the next-gen iPhone may adopt “in-cell touch panels,” integrating the display and touch layers of the device’s screen into one component, according to DigiTimes’s Taiwan-based supply chain sources late Thursday night. The sources claim that display companies Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display are likely to supply Apple with the parts.

Current iPhones use multiple separate layers to comprise the touch screen, including a transparent conductive layer that sits on top of the LCD display layers and registers touch input. The rumored in-cell touch displays combine these layers into one, resulting in an increase in touch response performance and a reduction in weight and thickness.

Unfortunately, in-cell touch displays are significantly more expensive to manufacture and have a lower yield rate than traditional displays with separate layers.

Apple currently sources iPhone displays from TPK Holdings and Wintek, neither of which have in-cell technology ready for production. TPK is working on implementing a “touch on lens” solution, an alternative to in-cell that can scale up to larger sized displays, but it will not be ready to begin production until later this year. Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display have lines ready to go and are expected to begin production this quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

Qualcomm confirms difficulty in meeting LTE chip demand, next-gen iPhone could see delays

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 05:30
Category: iPhone, News

Well, the good news is that your iPhone 4S might remain current a little longer than you expected.

Per a report from Reuters, Apple’s LTE chip supplier Qualcomm is having “trouble meeting demand” for smartphone chips and will continue experiencing manufacturing constraints throughout the rest of the year. Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs told analysts on a conference call yesterday, “At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing.”

With Apple’s next-generation iPhone expected to include LTE capabilities like the recently launched third-gen iPad, many are speculating Qualcomm’s supply issues could lead to delays. It would also make the rumored September or October unveiling and holiday launch all the more likely opposed to June.

Apple recently began internally seeding prototype N96— a faster iPhone with 1GB of RAM and an A5X variant to test the performance of the new chip on iPhones.

Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Keitel told Reuters the constraints have lead to increased operating expenses:

“Demand went so far ahead of availability that we’ve decided to start spending more money to get more supply as soon as possible… Any time we can’t make a customer totally happy I’m going to worry. You don’t want to give a customer a reason to go elsewhere.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kaspersky Lab states Flashback infections drop to under 30,000, warn of potential exploits en route

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 10:30
Category: News, security, Software

This too shall pass.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, Flashback infections have plummeted since Apple released a tool to stop the Trojan, but a security firm has cautioned that more malware could be on the horizon.

Researchers from Kaspersky Lab held a press conference Thursday morning in which they revealed that the number of machines infected by Flashback has dropped to just 30,000. That’s significantly down from the 600,000 Macs it was estimated to have infected at its peak, as well as the 140,000 Macs estimated to have been infected on Tuesday of this week.

Presence of the Trojan has been limited as Apple released a Java update to rid machines of Flashback. And for those that don’t have Java installed and could be harboring a dormant version of the malware, Apple also issued a separate removal tool.

But researchers at Kaspersky believe Flashback could just be the beginning. They believe that hackers will continue to target the Mac, as Apple has gained significant market share in recent years and continues to outgrow the rest of the PC market.

“Market share brings attacker motivation,” Kaspersky officials said. “Expect more drive-by downloads, more Mac OS X mass-malware. Expect cross-platform exploit kits with Mac-specific exploits.”

The Flashback Trojan was first discovered by another security firm, Intego, last September. The software attempts to trick users into installing it by appearing as Adobe’s Flash Player installer package.

Earlier this week, another Mac Trojan was discovered that takes advantage of an exploit in Microsoft Word to spread. Dubbed “LuckyCat,” it uses a Java exploit to infect a targeted machine, allowing a remote user to analyze and even steal data from the system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion developer preview 3 notes hint at changes to come with Safari web browser

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 06:55
Category: News, Software

safarilogo.jpg

Following the release of OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, Apple has seeded Safari 5.2 Update 3 that carries a few new features and bug fixes.

Per AppleInsider, among the usual bug fixes, Safari 5.2 Update 3 comes with a new scalable vector graphics filter, redesigned Web Inspector and HTML5 media controllers. Also included are CSS filters, Web Audio API and HTML5 timed tracks.

From the release notes:

SVG Filters:
Using SVG Filters, you can combine several filter primitive elements and light source elements into a single sophisticated filter, which can then be applied to any SVG element.

HTML Assets:
– An HTML5 media controller can synchronize or otherwise coordinate the playback of multiple HTML5 media elements. For instance, you could use a media controller to overlay a sign language interpretation track over a video track, and keep the two in sync.

– A media controller has the same methods and events as an HTML media element. This means that, for example, when you call the pause() method on a controller, any
media that is slaved to that controller will be paused. Or, when a controller receives a canplaythrough event, all media slaved to that controller can be played through to the end without buffering.

– HTML5 timed text tracks enable captions, subtitles, descriptions, and chapters by letting you specify the timing of text that appears with an HTML5 video element.

CSS Filters:
– CSS filters let you apply pixel effects to any image or web page element with a single line of code. Available filter functions include sepia, hue-rotate, saturate, invert, opacity, brightness, contrast, blur, grayscale, and drop-shadow. Filters can be combined, and changes to the filter property can be animated with CSS transitions or animations.

Web Inspector:
– The Web Inspector has a streamlined new design that speeds up common development tasks. It features a new all new iconography, a navigation bar that lets you easily switch between different web page elements, a persistent JavaScript console, integrated timelines, and more. Additionally, JavaScript debugging is now enabled by default, and the page source view now opens in the Web Inspector automatically.

Web Audio API:
– The Web Audio API is a high-level JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications. While the HTML5 audio element allows for basic streaming and audio playback, the Web Audio API is powerful enough for more complex audio applications that require mixing, processing, or filtering audio data, such as a modern game audio engine or an interactive audio production application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone’s glass could be replaced with Liquidmetal component

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Date: Wednesday, April 18th, 2012, 11:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Your next iPhone could be part Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.

Which, to be honest, was sort of the high point of Robert Patrick’s career.

Per Korea IT News, a new, questionable rumor from Korea claims that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy.

The claim stated that Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone will be made of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper “and so forth.” It also said it will have a “surface smooth like liquid.”

Though the report includes references to a general “liquid metal,” the proper noun Liquidmetal refers to an amorphous metal that Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use in 2010. The company behind the material, Liquidmetal Technologies, revealed in March that it was paid US$20 million by Apple in that deal.

Casting some doubt on Wednesday’s report out of Korea, it goes on to say that the new iPhone is expected to debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June. Last year, Apple opted to hold off on unveiling the iPhone 4S until well after WWDC, and launched its fifth-generation handset in October.

This year, most rumors have suggested that Apple plans to hold to a similar timeframe for the launch of a sixth-generation iPhone. It has been rumored that Apple will unveil its next handset in the months of September or October.

While the WWDC launch reported by Korea IT News is questionable, claims of a metal back for the next iPhone are not new. As far back as last year, there were indications that Apple was working on an all-new iPhone design with a metal back akin to the iPad.

As for the potential use of Liquidmetal, the company that owns the material announced in March that it had begun shipping commercial parts to “several” unnamed customers. Apple’s Liquidmetal gives it the right to exclusively use the material in electronic products, though it is free to be used in other industries like defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers.

The first product Apple created out of Liquidmetal’s material was an iPhone SIM card ejector tool, but since then there has been no indication that any other products have been crafted from the Liquidmetal alloy.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Symantec: Flashback malware still present on approximately 140,000 Macs

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Date: Tuesday, April 17th, 2012, 19:21
Category: News, security, Software

The good news: The Flashback malware’s infection numbers have gone down dramatically.

The bad news: About 140,000 of you need to look into removing the malware on your Mac.

Per a recent Symantec blog post, the security firm guessed that the number of affected machines would have dropped precipitously by now given that Apple and third-party vendors released their respective Flashback-neutralizing programs last week. The Mac maker even rolled out a removal tool for those Mac users who don’t have Java installed, and thus may be harboring a dormant version of the malware.

Statistics from Symantec’s “sinkhole,” or spoofed command and control server, show that Flashback has been removed from some 460,000 machines since Apr. 9, but the company expected less than 99,000 would be carrying the trojan by Tuesday.

Sinkholes are used by internet security and research entities to monitor and analyze the spread of malicious programs, though the standard practice sometimes brings unwarranted suspicion to smaller, less well-known firms. For example, Apple reportedly attempted to shut down the server hosting a sinkhole belonging to Flashback’s discoverer Dr. Web, mistakenly thinking that it was a legitimate command and control server. Apple’s move, however, can also be considered standard practice when dealing with fast-moving malware.

There has been no speculation as to why the remaining Macs haven’t already disposed of Flashback, as the self-installing program can be easily identified and deleted. It is possible that machine owners remain unaware of the program and haven’t yet performed a software update that would eradicate it.

The trojan itself continues to propagate on upatched systems. Analysis into Flashback’s structure reveals that it is coded to exceed the .com top level domain, and generates domain names from .in, .info, .kz and .net. Flashback creates one new string every day that is paired with a random TLD.

Once a user visits a site carrying Flashback, the program installs itself without the need for permission and proceeds to collect sensitive data like user iDs, passwords and web browsing histories which it then sends to an off-site repository.

Just as Flashback exploited the “Oracle Java SE Remote Java Runtime Environment Denial Of Service Vulnerability” to create its botnet, another threat has surfaced that uses the same hole as a means of distribution.

Called Backdoor.OSX.SabPub.a, the newly-discovered malware was created in March and is considered an “active attack” trojan as an operator manually checks and harvests data from an affected machine. SabPub has also been seen being distributed in malicious Word documents, installing itself by exploiting a known record parsing buffer overflow vulnerability.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Flashback trojan emerges as “LuckyCat” variant, exploit found to spread malware via Microsoft Word documents

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 09:44
Category: News, security, Software

You’ve got to hand it to whoever developed it: they’re persistent.

Per SecureList, a new version of a backdoor trojan for Apple’s OS X operating system takes advantage of an exploit in Microsoft Word to spread.

The latest variant of the attack known as “LuckyCat” was discovered and detailed by Costin Raiu, Kasperskky lab expert. Raiu found that a dummy infected machine was taken over by a remote user who started analyzing the machine and even stole some documents from the Mac.

“We are pretty confident the operation of the bot was done manually — which means a real attacker, who manually checks the infected machines and extracts data from them,” Raiu wrote in a post.

The new Mac-specific trojan, named “Backdoor.OSX.SabPub.a,” uses a Java exploit to infect targeted machine. It spreads through Microsoft Word documents that exploit a vulnerability known as “CVE-2009-0563.”

The new trojan is noteworthy because it stayed undetected for more than a month and a half before it came alive and data was manually extracted from the machine. That’s different from MaControl, another bot used in attacks discovered in February 2012.

There are currently at least two variants of the “SabPub” trojan, which remains classified as an “active attack.” It is expected that new variants of the bot will be released in the coming weeks, as the latest was created in March.

Security on the Mac has been in the spotlight of late as a result of the “Flashback” trojan that infected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide. Apple addressed the issue with a series of software updates last week designed to remove the trojan from affected machines.

The Flashback botnet harvested personal information and Web browsing logs from infected machines. The trojan, which disguises itself as an Adobe Flash installer, was first discovered last September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases third Mac OS X 10.7.4 seed to developer community

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 09:47
Category: News, Software

It’ll be cool to see what comes next.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday seeded the new OS X 10.7.4 build 11E46, asking developers to focus on the App Store, graphics, Mail, QuickTime, Screen Sharing and Time Machine.

The third build has no known issues and Apple is asking devs to continue their focus on the same areas as the second beta, called 11E35. This release comes less than a month after the first beta was released on March 16.

There are presently no known issues and the new developer-only beta is available for download at the Mac Developer Center.

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

VMWare releases Fusion 4.1.2 update

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 09:53
Category: News, Software

On Friday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 4.1.2 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 180 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fix:

– Resolved an issue that caused the following message when you resumed a suspended virtual machine: The Virtual Machine is unable to reserve memory.

– The McAfee Virus Scan software is updated.

– Resolved an intermittent problem that caused printing to fail on Mac OS X Lion.

– Resolved an issue that occurred when copying and pasting information from newer Linux distributions.

– Improved compatibility with certain versions of Mac OS X.

– Improved the behavior of the minibar when placed at the top of the display.

– Fixed mapping of comma on numeric keyboard mapping of a French keyboard.

– Resolved an intermittent problem when removing a CD device from a virtual machine.

Fusion 4.1.2 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

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

Symantec releases Norton Flashback Detection and Removal Tool

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Date: Friday, April 13th, 2012, 08:26
Category: News, Software

In the midst of all this Flashback hubbub, Symantec on Thursday released a free scan-and-removal tool to help remove the now-infamous Flashback malware. The utility is available on http://us.norton.com/mac-flashback/promo as a 649 kilobyte download and requires a quick agreement to the software terms prior to download.

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