Apple to Begin Stress-Testing iPhone OS 3.0 Push Notification Functions

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Date: Tuesday, May 19th, 2009, 09:03
Category: iPhone, Software

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This week, Apple joined forces with the Associated Press and called upon some of its iPhone developer community to help stress test a Push Notification service scheduled to arrive with iPhone OS 3.0 later this year.
According to AppleInsider, the e-mail stated that “We have selected a pre-release version of the Associated Press app for iPhone OS 3.0 to create a high-volume test environment for our servers.”
The test application, which requires iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5, will activate over the next week and then expire. During this week, “AP will be sending a high-volume of real news alerts” to give Apple an opportunity to monitor how well the system works and what optimizations can be made.
The Push Notification system, which was originally slated to arrive in the fall, was delayed after Apple had apparently underestimated the demands third parties would make of the system. Given these new conditions, Apple pulled the plug and began designing a system that could simultaneously address an audience of tens of millions of iPhone and iPod touch users.
The planned iPhone OS 3.0 Push Notification system for sending alerts from third party application developers to mobile users is believed to use the same technology as its push notification system for MobileMe and the push notification system planned for Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server.
In all cases, the alert being “pushed” is minimal, essentially a tweet that indicates more information is ready. The notification alerts act like an instant message because that’s exactly what they are; an analysis of MobileMe push messages indicates Apple is using the open source XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), used in Jabber.
The XMPP feature can allow a variety of applications to alert the user as to changes and updates and the technology could find its way into e-mail, calendar and contact changes via Apple’s MobileMe cloud services.

Adium X Updated to 1.3.4

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Date: Monday, May 18th, 2009, 07:39
Category: Software

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Adium, the open source instant message chat client with support for multiple programs (including AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo! Google Talk, Bonjour, etc.) has been updated to version 1.3.4.
The new version, a 21.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Facebook fixes:
    Updated to pidgin-facebook 1.5.0, fixing a major bug in which massive amounts of data could be continuously sent and received under certain situations as well as several minor bugs.
    Fixed a bug in which the Facebook numeric ID rather than name could be shown in the contact list (#11676).
    Improved proxy support.
  • Fixed a crash when loading Jabber/XMPP account preferences when the computer’s host name is not set (#11246).
  • Fixed a display issue in message windows when running Safari 4.
  • Updated to libpurple 2.5.6.
  • Adium X is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The program functions as a Universal Binary and runs at native speeds on both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.

    How-To: First Mac OS X 10.5.7 Problems Reported, Fixes Offered

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 15th, 2009, 08:40
    Category: How-To, Software

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    Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5.7 update has been released, none of my Macs are on fire and I consider this a good thing.
    Still, there’s bound to be problems and the hep cats at MacFixIt have begun to collect reports on a couple of outstanding issues:

    Blue Screen
    This update may automatically restart your computer up to three times during the update process, and for some people this has not happened but instead has hung on the first restart at the blue screen. Several people have reported waiting for the hang to resolve itself, but that has so far not been successful. When this happens, the fix so far has been to manually reset the computer:
    -Listen to the computer and be sure the hard drive is not being accessed.
    -Press and hold the power button until the computer shuts off.
    -Power on and hold the shift key to boot into safe mode.

    This procedure has apparently helped a few people, and while some did not need to boot into safe mode, for others the computer would continually hang until they tried safe mode.
    Blue screens have occurred via past Mac OS X updates and are generally due to permission and accessibility problems during the update. The likelihood of these can be reduced via the following steps:

    -Don’t use Software Update. Instead, download the standalone “Combo” updater.
    -Reboot into Safe Mode.
    -Run Disk Utility and perform a Permissions fix and hard drive repair.
    -Run the updater.
    -Immediately repair permissions again.

    Other users have reported that their new display resolutions are disappearing, resulting in the computer outputting non-native display resolutions to the monitor. In most cases, instead of being able to choose 1920×1200 as the resolution (the native resolution for many widescreen displays), the computer will only output 1920×1080 (the maximum for HDMI connections). This seems to be a conflict in the drivers, since 1920×1080 is the maximum display resolution for HDMI connections.
    Fixes to this problem include zapping the PRAM (which can be done by holding the options-command-P-R keys all at once at reboot, and holding them down until the computer resets a few times, then releasing them and allowing the computer to boot normally) as well as using a program called SwitchResX, which allows for fine-tuned customization of monitor outputs. The program is a demo, but installing it, setting the screen resolution, and then optionally uninstalling it seems to clear the resolution problem the OS X update.
    Other general troubleshooting tips include the following:

    -Boot into Safe Mode and run a permissions fix with Disk Utility.
    -Reset the PRAM.
    -Reinstall the update using the downloadable “combo” update (not any other), and following the “safe” method of installation mentioned above.

    Apple Warns iPhone App Developers to be Compatible with iPhone OS 3.0

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 15th, 2009, 07:40
    Category: iPhone

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    Earlier this week, Apple officially warned its iPhone/iPod touch application developer base that all applications submitted for iTunes App Store approval must be iPhone OS 3.0-compliant. Per Computerworld, Apple sent an e-mail to registered iPhone developers stating that all new apps will be tested for approval on the latest beta version of 3.0. It said it may also remove any apps currently in the App Store if they do not work on the iPhone’s new operating system.
    Current speculation about the demand is pointing towards Apple wanting to ensure that the new parental controls feature for iPhone applications uncovered in the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0 are functional. The parental controls feature would allow Apple to offer a wider variety of content and restrict more explicit material based on an iPhone user’s age.
    On Wednesday, Apple released its fifth beta version of the latest iPhone OS — a final version of 3.0 is expected to be ready in time for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next month.

    Apple Finally Offering iPhone 3G For Sale Online

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 15th, 2009, 07:40
    Category: iPhone

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    Apple’s iPhone 3G is finally available online, an option that hasn’t existed since the original unit was released in 2007. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has finally allowed new users to activate their services online with the iPhone 3G handset being shipped straight to their door.
    Current AT&T customers will need to reserve their iPhones online, then go pick them up at the Apple Store.
    While this takes away the personal attention (and ability to correct mistakes on the spot should they be made), it’s what’s been expected for a while and nifty altogether.
    If you’ve snagged an iPhone 3G via this method and have any feedback to offer on it, let us know how it went.

    Apple Releases Security Update 2009-002 for Mac OS X 10.4.X Users

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:34
    Category: security, Software

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    If you’re still running Mac OS X 10.4.x (“Tiger”), there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel as secure as a user running Mac OS X 10.5.7 with all its inherent updates. According to MacNN, Apple released Security Update 2009-002 for the previous operating system.
    The update patches several areas of Tiger, including Apache, CoreGraphics, CUPS, Disk images, Flash Player plug-in, Help Viewer, Spotlight, X11, and more and fixes problems ranging from keeping PDFs opened in CoreGraphics from executing malicious code to preventing maliciously crafted Mach-O executables from causing the Finder to repeatedly terminate and relaunch.
    There are four variants of the update (one each for Mac OS X 10.4.x on PowerPC and Intel-based hardware as well as two server versions) that can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

    Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:32
    Category: Software

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    After months of anticipation, Apple has released Mac OS X 10.5.7, the latest update for its Leopard operating system. According to Macworld, the update includes more than 20 major updates as well as security fixes.
    Included within the fixes are additional RAW image support for third-party digital cameras, improved performance of video playback for recent Macs with Nvidia graphics chips, and resolution for an issue with the Dvorak keyboard layout in 10.5.6.
    The update also features fixes to help resolve third-party network services such as improved reliability in syncing contacts with Yahoo and a fix for issues that could occur when logging into Google’s Gmail. The update also improves the reliability and accuracy of several of OS X’s Dashboard widgets, like Unit Converter, Weather, Stocks, and Movies.
    Apple-specific fixes within the update include improved reliability for iCal’s CalDav, better syncing with MobileMe, improved Notes syncing within Apple Mail and a bug fix where Apple Mail’s BCC field populated incorrectly in certain cases. Apple also improved consistency with Parental Controls and fixed a bug with the system when using full-screen games and Fast User Switching, and also fixed several printing issues, including adding the ability for non-admin users to add and remove printers.
    Other fixes include a number of security fixes in the update for the Apache Web server, PHP, CoreGraphics, as well as patches for three separate vulnerabilities discovered as part of Tipping Point’s Zero Day Initiative, which appear to be the same ones demonstrated at the CanSecWest security conference last March. The fixes address issues in Apple Type Services, QuickDraw Manager, and WebKit, each of which could lead to arbitrary code execution.
    Apple also released Mac OS X Server 10.5.7 Update, which rolls out fixes for a number of systems, including Client Management, Directory Services, AFP Server, System Image Utility, and more. The update also includes improved kernel stability and a number of security enhancements which had not been detailed at this writing.
    The Mac OS X 10.5.7 update is available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Leopard. A combo updater, weighing in at a hefty 729MB download, is also available for those upgrading from versions of Leopard previous to 10.5.6.
    Finally, if you’ve installed Mac OS X 10.5.7 and have any feedback, positive or negative to offer about it, let us know and we’ll see that it’s published by Friday.

    SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Due Soon, Will Ship Without 3G Support

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2009, 13:29
    Category: Software

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    Per iPodNN, Apple will publish the long-awaited SlingPlayer application for the iPhone and iPod touch handsets within the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, developer Sling Media is said to have confirmed that the application will lack any form of 3G support.
    Sling Player is designed as extension of the company’s Slingbox hardware, which broadcasts TV from a person’s home to a remote Internet destination. Using SlingPlayer, people should be able to view streams, change channels and control DVR units.
    The final application will be able to connect exclusively over Wi-Fi in what is believed to be a concession to iPhone carrier AT&T. Through its terms of service the company has effectively banned redirecting TV over 3G, a strategy deemed necessary to prevent constraining bandwidth. As a consequence however, the range and usefulness of the iPhone app has been substantially diminished.
    SlingPlayer Mobile will sell for US$30 at the App Store, and officially support the Slingbox PRO, SOLO and PRO-HD devices. Older hardware is also said to be compatible, but not officially supported.

    Apple Freezes Snow Leopard APIs, Mac OS X 10.6 Upgrade Steps Closer to Release

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2009, 08:18
    Category: Software

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    Over the weekend, Apple distributed a new beta of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system that altered the programming methods used to optimize code for multi-core Macs, telling developers they were the last programming-oriented changes planned ahead of the software’s release.
    The company is said to have informed recipients of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard build 10A354 that it has simplified the application programming interfaces (APIs) for working with Grand Central, a new architecture that makes it easier for developers to take advantage of Macs with multiple processing cores.
    According to AppleInsider, Grand Central works by breaking complex tasks down into smaller blocks, which are then routed efficiently to a Mac’s available cores for faster processing. This allows third-party developers to leverage more of a Mac’s hardware resources without having to be well-versed in multithreaded programming.
    Sources close to the story say the Grand Central “dispatch” methods were tweaked/simplified within build 10A354. Apple has also apparently told developers that “no further API changes are planned for Snow Leopard.”
    This means developers can now press forward with Snow Leopard versions of their applications with confidence that further Apple-instated changes won’t force them to make significant alterations to their code between now and the time the software hits the market. It can also be seen as a sign that the the operating system upgrade is one step closer to reaching a final developmental stretch that will focus on stability and optimization.
    Other reputed changes include the addition of Chinese handwriting recognition support for Macs that include a multi-touch trackpad.
    In support of the handwriting recognition software in Snow Leopard, Apple also reportedly tweaked the system’s Language & Text Preference Pane to include support for bidirectional text.
    Apple has apparently also included a new codec due to debut with Snow Leopard called MPEG-4 High Efficiency AAC (or HE-AAC). The company has stated that the codec is an extension of the Low Complexity AAC (or AAC-LC) codec that’s optimized for low-bitrate steaming of audio and podcasts.
    Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is expected to hit the market sometime this summer with a near-finalized version likely to make a public appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference next month in San Francisco.
    Meanwhile, Apple this weekend also equipped developers with Mac OS X 10.5.7 build 9J61, which corrected one more minor issue with the impending Leopard update.

    TomTom Looking for Developers to Help Create iPhone Application

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, May 11th, 2009, 08:46
    Category: iPhone, security

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    Navigation and not-getting-as-lost outfit TomTom is apparently stepping up its efforts to create a turn-by-turn application for the iPhone.
    Per Electronista, a jobserve.us job listing doesn’t mention the company but asks for someone to develop navigation software in Amsterdam, the location of TomTom’s headquarters. The ideal candidate would start in May or June and work on developing the application for at least six months.
    TomTom was one of the earliest GPS device makers to express an interest in iPhone applications, confirming its attempts a month ahead of the App Store’s launch last July.