Apple releases firmware updates for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, iMac units

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:27
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never quite works perfectly until the updates hit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week released a series of updates for its newest MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktops equipped with the high-speed Thunderbolt port, addressing issues related to performance and stability.

Two updates are available for MacBook Pro owners: MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4, a 132.69MB download, and MacBook Pro EFI Update 2.1, a 3.06MB download. Both are available direct from Apple’s website or via Software Update.

Update 1.4 is said to include fixes that improve graphics stability, address issues with external display support and 3D performance, and also improve Thunderbolt device support.

Meanwhile, EFI Update 2.1 includes fixes that resolve an issue with Turbo Mode in Boot Camp, and improves performance and stability for graphics and Thunderbolt. A user’s power cord must be connected and plugged in to a working power source when applying this update, as it updates the EFI firmware on the MacBook Pro.

Owners of the new iMacs just released this week get Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB download, and iMac EFI Update 1.6, weighing in at a 6.1MB download. The Mac OS X update applies a number of fixes for the Snow Leopard operating system, including:

– Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

– Resolves an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

– Addresses various minor Mac App Store bugs.

– Addresses minor FaceTime performance issues.

– Addresses issues with graphics stability and 3D performance.

– Improves external display compatibility.

– Improves Thunderbolt device support.

Finally, the iMac EFI Update 1.6 includes fixes that improve the performance and stability for the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. The update will restart any iMacs it is installed on, at which point a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Apple has already quickly released a handful of updates for its new iMac desktops. On Tuesday, when the all-in-one computers first went on sale, a Boot Camp update was also available for download.

Apple updated its iMac line on Tuesday, adding faster Sandy Bridge Intel quad-core processors, a FaceTime HD camera, and the new Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt debuted in February in Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pros.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any significant changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Sketchbook Pro Updated to 2.0

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 17:11
Category: iPad, News, Software

I’m reporting from my iPhone at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco where I am surrounded by incredible examples of design and technology from a number of different categories. My favorite being the 3D television that doesn’t require 3D glasses.

Tonight’s event is to introduce the impending release of Sketchbook Pro 2.0 which adds a slew of new features, and for the cost conscious, also marks a price decrease from $7.99 to $4.99 (iPad version). So, hold out a few more hours and save $3! And this app is definitely worth it…even at the original price.

Present at the announcement is Jay Shuster, Art Director at Pixar Animation, who used Sketchbook Pro for his development work on Cars 2. I’ll cover a little more after I get a chance to play with the app some more and review the promo materials on this awesome thumb drive.

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Rumor: Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 via Mac App Store

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 02:35
Category: Rumor, Software

You know, I was getting used to hoofing it into the Apple Store, giving them a reasonable $29 and walking out with a Mac OS X 10.6 DVD…

It seemed like a good way to live.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will make the switch to a new kind of digital distribution for its upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) operating system upgrades by releasing the software first through its new Mac App Store.

The Mac App Store, available to all users running the most recent version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, will become the de facto method for obtaining the Lion upgrade, sources familiar with the matter have revealed. Users will be able to upgrade instantly without the need for physical media by purchasing Lion through the Mac App Store.

While the Mac App Store will be the preferred method for installing Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, set for release this summer, it’s logical to presume that Apple will also offer an optical disc for people who may not have broadband. At least one person with knowledge of the situation claims that this will indeed be the case “for those with slower connections, or [for those who for whatever reason do] not want to download it.”

Apple will likely reveal its distribution plans for Lion at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif., set to take place June 6 through 10. Apple has promised that this year’s conference will showcase the “future” of the Mac operating system, and will be an event developers will not want to miss.

Evidence that Lion will be available in the Mac App Store can already be found in the pre-release builds Apple has issued to developers. Betas are downloaded from the Mac App Store by entering a redemption code provided by Apple.

Utilizing the App Store will allow owners of the new disc-drive-less MacBook Air to easily install the latest version of Mac OS X without the need for a physical disc. Apple ships its redesigned MacBook Air with a Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard reinstaller on a USB thumb drive, rather than a DVD.

Making the App Store a central component of the Mac experience will also allow Apple to remove disc drives from future hardware as the company looks toward a future of computing without the need for physical media. Removal of SuperDrives from devices like the MacBook Pro is expected to take place over the next 12-18 months, paving the way for even thinner designs with more internal space for a larger battery.

Apple has even moved to limit shelf space for software in its retail stores, allowing greater room for more profitable hardware to be sold. In February, it was rumored that the company actually plans to cease the sale of all boxed software at its retail locations.

The App Store has even been highlighted by Apple as a defining feature of Lion, which is due to be released this summer. But rather than wait for the release of Lion, Apple opted to bring the Mac App Store to Snow Leopard users in January.

Hardware requirements for the Mac App Store are the same as those for Snow Leopard, including an Intel-based processor, 1GB of system RAM, and 5GB of available disk space. But those with Apple’s earliest Intel-based machines will not be able to run Lion, as it has a minimum requirement of a Core 2 Duo processor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4 for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 02:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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You snagged a 2011 MacBook Pro.

And, well, there were a few issues to sort out.

Fortunately, Apple’s recently-released MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4 might resolve some of these.

Per Engadget, the firmware update (a 132.69 megabyte download) should offer fixes for the following bugs:

– Problems encountered problems when outputting video through the Thunderbolt port to a Cinema Displays.

– Improve overall stability under heavy processing loads.

– Improvement graphics stability and 3D performance.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run and can also be snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

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

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 14:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Responding primarily to its recent location tracking controversey, Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3.3, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes the following fixes and changes for iOS-based devices:

– Reduces the size of the cache.

– No longer backs the cache up to iTunes.

– Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, the CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: AT&T rep says iPhone 5 may come after typical June/July launch period

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A potentially awesome new iMac just came in, now you might have to wait a bit for the next generation of iPhone.

Per a report on MacRumors, an AT&T representative has asserted that Apple has informed the carrier that it does not plan to release a new version of the iPhone in June or July of this year.

The article cited that AT&T customer care representatives claim to have heard directly from Apple that the launch of the next-generation iPhone will miss the company’s usual early summer timeframe.

“Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe, though there will be a newer version in the future,” the report noted the AT&T representative as saying. “Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone. We will release this information on our website when it is available to us.”

The representative made the comments after a reader allegedly called AT&T over concerns that his upgrade eligibility had been pushed back several months.

The rumor should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt. The report’s author Eric Slivka warns that he is “always skeptical about such information shared by customer-facing representatives of Apple or associated companies.”

However, Slivka add that “due to the specific nature of the claim and its presentation in a matter-of-fact manner expressly citing Apple as the source of the information, the tidbit is worth sharing.”

Apple has traditionally unveiled a new iPhone at the annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June. However, this year’s WWDC, which takes place from June 6 to June 10 at San Francisco’s Moscone West, is expected to be a software-centric event. In its announcement, Apple teased that this year’s show will “unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS.”

Reports have suggested that the so-called iPhone 5 will feature only minor upgrades to its form factor and features, though the device has been rumored to house an 8-megapixel camera and may feature a larger display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“MAC Defender” trojan goes live, prompts users for credit card information

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 04:20
Category: News, security, Software

Security firm Intego announced Monday that a fake antivirus program for Mac OS X has been discovered in the wild. While the threat potential remains low, inexperienced users could be fooled into paying to remove fake viruses “detected” by the software, and in the process, could end up giving credit card information to scammers.

Per Ars Technica, the fake antivirus software calls itself “MAC Defender,” perhaps the first hint that it should not be trusted (Apple makes “Macs,” not “MACs”). The developers have incorporated what’s known as “SEO poisoning” to make links to the software show up at the top of search results in Google and other search engines. Clicking the links that show up in search results brings up a fake Windows screen that tells the user a virus has been “detected,” another clue that something is fishy. JavaScript code then automatically downloads a zipped installer for MAC Defender.

If the “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” option is turned on in Safari, the installer will be unzipped and run. Since the installer requires a user password, it won’t install without user interaction. However, inexperienced users may be fooled into thinking the software is legitimate.

Intego notes that the application is visually well designed and doesn’t have numerous misspellings or other errors common to such malware on Windows, though it does seem to contain some sketchy grammar. The software will periodically display Growl alerts that various fake malware has been detected, and also periodically opens porn websites in the default browser, perhaps leading a user to believe the detected malware “threats” are real. Users are then directed to an insecure website to pay for a license and “clean” the malware infections. However, buying the license merely stops the fake alerts from popping up, but your money and credit card info is now in the hands of hackers.

While MAC Defender wouldn’t likely fool an experienced user, Intego notes that its appearance in the wild is yet another opportunity to detail some useful security precautions. Don’t let your browser automatically open downloads. If your browser asks if you want to run an installer even though you didn’t try to download one, click “cancel.” And never give your password to run installers you aren’t 100% sure about.

On a final note, if you or anyone you know happens to know who created this thing, feel free to kick them in the shins at your earliest convenience.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3.3 within next two weeks, resolve location tracking controversy with update

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 04:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

After, well, a lot of pretty awkward questions regarding Apple’s collection of certain tracking data and what’s being done with it, Apple promised last week to release a software update to address a location tracking bug in its iOS mobile operating system, and a pre-release build of iOS 4.3.3 indicates the company is acting quickly to release the update.

Per Boy Genius Report, which received an early build of iOS 4.3.3, the update will likely be issued within the next two weeks, but possibly even sooner.

Sources reportedly told the site that after installing the update, iOS 4 will no longer back up the location database file, “consolidated.db,” to iTunes when a user syncs their iPhone or iPad 3G. Apple will also, as promised, reduce the size of the file and limit the length of time that location data is stored.

Also as promised, the update will reportedly delete the database file when users choose to turn off Location Services on their iOS-powered device.

In addition to addressing the location data controversy, the update is also said to include battery life improvements, and fixes for bugs related to the iPod software.

Last week, Apple issued a statement in response to growing concern over a bug in iOS 4 that stored a database of up to a year’s worth of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations. Apple said they don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days worth of such data.

The company also said that the data should not be collected when users turn off Location Services on their iPhone, and the fact that it was being stored was a bug. The company said that it would release a software update “in the next few weeks” to fix the bug, stop backup of the database file, and reduce the size of the file and scope of the information stored.

Apple also promised that its next “major” iOS software release would encrypt the file on the iPhone, ensuring that the data could not be obtained by a third party for illicit purposes.

The company was forced to speak out on the issue after concern over the location data reached a fever pitch. The controversy prompted lawsuits, government investigations around the world, and a scheduled hearing on mobile privacy in the U.S. Senate, set to involve both Apple and Google on May 10.

The issue gained attention after two security researchers publicized their findings related to the “consolidated.db” file stored on the iPhone, although the file created by iOS 4 is not sent to Apple or anyone else.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 10.0.3

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Date: Monday, May 2nd, 2011, 13:04
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 10.0.3. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed an installation issue with Project 2007 which produced a ‘Not installed for the Current User’ error message.

– Updated several built-in CrossTies. (These upgrades have been available online for a while.)

– Improved the MojoSetup (.bin installer) upgrade path.

– Added a progress dialog during initial open of a CrossTie on the Mac.

– Added support for the ‘installer’ keyword which supports CrossTies for stand-alone executables.

– Added RAR support to CrossTie installation.

– Added a ‘recreate’ button to the menus control panel.

– Fixed some menu issues on the upgrade path from CrossOver 9.2.

CrossOver 10.0.3 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

White iPhone 4 stripped down, differences in camera lens, proximity sensor discovered

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Date: Monday, May 2nd, 2011, 07:16
Category: iPhone, News

The white iPhone 4 has gone on sale and you stampeded and shoved the elderly out of your way to get your mitts on one.

And now that you’ve got it, you should know what’s inside.

Per Japanese Mac blog MacOtakara,there are a few modest changes to the inside of the device, most notably a modified camera lens and proximity sensor.

“According to the report, which drew its information from various Twitter posts, the sensor remains the same, but the ‘magnitude of the incident light’ between the black and white iPhone 4 models is a different size,” the article notes. “Photo comparisons of the two devices seem to indicate that the rear-facing camera lens on the white iPhone 4 has been set farther back than its black counterpart.”

Apple’s own promotional images of the white iPhone 4 reveal that the outer hole for the proximity sensor is larger than on the black model. It’s been speculated that both changes were necessary to avoid light leakage, which is widely believed to be the major issue that delayed the white iPhone 4 for nearly 10 months and drove iPhone owners just a bit nuts in the process.