Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.3.3 versions, patches security holes

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Date: Wednesday, June 30th, 2010, 04:36
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Adobe released a long-awaited patch that addresses a number of vulnerabilities in versions of its Acrobat Pro and Reader offerings.

Per Macworld, the fix addresses 18 different vulnerabilities, some of which are critical, are corrected by the update.

Adobe has released new versions of both Acrobat Professional and Acrobat Reader for Mac. The former comes in a Universal package, while the latter comes in separate packages for Intel and PowerPC architectures.

Both Acrobat 9.3.3 Pro and Adobe Reader 9.3.3 address what Adobe calls �critical vulnerabilities� in earlier versions of the software. According to an Adobe security bulletin, the vulnerability could cause either Acrobat or Reader to crash, potentially allowing an attacker to take control of your computer. Earlier this month, Adobe patched a similar vulnerability in its Flash software.

Acrobat Reader 9.3.3 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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.”

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.

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.

Apple releases sixth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, no known issues reported

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 11:09
Category: News, Software

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Apple this week issued a sixth beta of its Mac OS X 10.6.4 security and maintenance update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Per AppleInsider, the latest build remains free of known issues.

According to sources close to the story, the beta, which was issued to developers last Tuesday, is labeled as “build 10F564″, weighs in at 600 megabytes which developers being asked to focus on graphics drivers, SMB, USB, VoiceOver and VPN.

The last few builds have all contained the same focus areas and enhancements, and this week’s update is no different. The updates addressed issues that could cause the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive, and also fixed a problem that prevented some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from loading.

Apple first began widespread testing of Mac OS X 10.6.4 in late April. The previous update to Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.3, was released at the end of March. It included improvements for QuickTime X and OpenGL-based applications, in the form of a 437.2 megabyte update.

Adobe releases Camera Raw 6.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 04:37
Category: News, Software

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Early Tuesday, software giant released version 6.1 of its Camera Raw plugin, a program which delivers access to “raw” image formats in professional and mid-range digital cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and others. The new update, a 61.9 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), includes the following fixes and changes:

- This new version of the Camera Raw plug-in replaces the original Camera Raw plug-in that was installed with Adobe Creative Suite 5, Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Support has been added for the following cameras:

- Canon EOS 550D (Digital Rebel T2i/ EOS Kiss X4 Digital)

- Kodak Z981

- Leaf Aptus-II 8

- Leaf Aptus-II 10R

- Mamiya DM40

- Olympus E-PL1

- Olympus E-600

- Panasonic G2

- Panasonic G10

- Sony A450

Camera Raw 6.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Hulu confirms, quickly retracts, vow of HTML5 support for iPad

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Date: Friday, May 14th, 2010, 04:25
Category: iPad, News

Video streaming web site Hulu both posted and quickly retracted a blog post yesterday, the edited form stating that the web site doesn’t see using HTML5 in its immediate future.

Per AppleInsider, Eugene Wei, vice president of product with Hulu, said that his company’s contractual requirements make the transition to HTML5 too difficult. The current player on the website, built with Adobe Flash, does a great deal more than stream video.

“We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs,” Wei wrote. “Our player doesn’t just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren’t necessarily visible to the end user.”

The statement would seem to finally put to rest lingering rumors that Hulu might convert to HTML5 for an iPad-friendly site. But it does not mean that iPad users will not be able to access Hulu.

The company is still expected to bring its service to the iPad eventually, through software in the App Store much like the ABC and Netflix streaming players. It is believed Hulu on the iPad will be a pay-only service that would require a monthly subscription.

But the existing, popular ABC application shows programs like “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” for free, with ad support. And that free product has apparently caused concern for Hulu, which is rumored to introduce a US$9.95-per-month subscription plan later this month, on May 24th.

It is believed that Hulu will incentivize its subscription plan with Apple’s iPad, and also offer a “window” where content is available to subscribers, both on computers and the iPad, before it can be seen for free by the general public. Rumors have suggested Hulu’s business partners have pressured the service into subscription plans to “train” viewers that they should pay for online access to content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple developing its own alternative to Flash via Gianduia

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News, Software

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When in doubt, roll your own.

As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.

Gianduia, named after an Italian hazelnut chocolate, is “essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters,” according to a tweet by developer Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch. “Jaw dropped.”

After watching the NDA demo Apple gave for the new framework at WOWODC last year, Rentzch also tweeted, “Blown away by Gianduia. Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious.”

Per AppleInsider, SproutCore is the JavaScript framework Apple uses to build the web interface for its desktop-like MobileMe web apps. Cappuccino is another third party JavaScript framework that works as a Cocoa-like API for web apps; it was used to deliver 280Slides, a web app designed to provide most of the functionality of Apple’s Keynote desktop application. JavascriptMVC is also an independent open source project used to develop rich apps within JavaScript for web deployment.

Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.

While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.

Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.

While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs goes bananas on Adobe Flash in open letter

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Date: Friday, April 30th, 2010, 05:59
Category: News

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In the wake of several weeks of back and forth between Apple and Adobe regarding Flash, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter explaining Apple’s position on Flash, going back to his company’s long history with Adobe and expounding upon six main points of why he thinks Flash is wrong for mobile devices. HTML5 naturally comes up, along with a few reasons you might not expect.

Per Engadget, here’s the breakdown:

It’s not open: “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.” HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, on the other hand, exist as open web standards.

The “full web”: Steve responds to Adobe’s claim of Apple devices missing out on “the full web,” with an age-old argument (YouTube) aided by the numerous new sources that have started providing video to the iPhone and iPad in HTML5 or app form like CBS, Netflix, and Facebook. Regarding the games argument, he states that “50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free.” If we were keeping score we’d still call this a point for Adobe.

Reliability, security and performance: Steve states that “Flash is the number one reason Macs crash,” but adds another great point on top of this: “We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.”

Battery life: “The video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.”

Touch: Steve hits hard against one of the web’s greatest hidden evils: rollovers. Basically, Flash UIs are built around the idea of mouse input, and would need to be “rewritten” to work well on touch devices. “If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?”

The most important reason: Steve finally addresses the third party development tools situation by writing that “If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.”

Jobs concludes in saying that “Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the feedback section.

Apple opens up video decoding APIs to Adobe, other developers

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Date: Monday, April 26th, 2010, 04:36
Category: News, Software

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Sometimes a well-publicized conflict between two large companies can actually lead to something good. Per Macworld, Apple has released information on how third-party developers can take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics, a previously unavailable feature that’s been blamed for Flash’s poor performance on the Mac platform.

Traditionally, Flash hasn’t performed nearly as well on Mac OS X as it has on Windows, especially when it comes to video playback despite the fact that these days both platforms run on comparably-powerful hardware. Adobe has been adamant thatany performance issues in Flash are the result of Apple not making the necessary video decoding application programming interfaces (APIs) available to developers, thus preventing them from taking advantage of hardware acceleration on Macs that support it.

However, a recently released Apple Technical Note for Mac OS X 10.6.3 details a new Video Decode Acceleration Framework that may help developers. The framework seems to be a relatively simple and straightforward set of APIs to do precisely what Adobe wants: use hardware acceleration to decode raw H.264 video.

“We will be enabling support for hardware accelerated video decoding for Flash Player on Mac,” said Adobe spokesperson Matt Rozen. “Now that the required APIs are available, we are working on an additional Flash Player release to follow shortly after Flash Player 10.1 to include this functionality for the hardware configurations supported by the new APIs.”

Until now, the only way to take advantage of hardware acceleration when decoding video was to use Apple’s QuickTime APIs, which only work with video that is stored in a “traditional” H.264 container, such as an MP4 file. By letting developers use the raw hardware-decoding capabilities of the graphics processors available in many Macs, Apple allows decoding video that is stored in any format, even if it’s not considered “standard.” By communicating directly with the hardware, an application can now decode video regardless of where or how it’s stored.

Unfortunately, the Video Decode Acceleration Framework has its limitations in that it can only take advantage of hardware video decoding with those GPUs that support that functionality. These GPUs include NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, or GeForce GT 330M graphics chipsets and, because they require Mac OS X 10.6.3, the new APIs are only available on Intel-based Macs.

Even with these limitations, Apple may be lending Adobe and other developers the access they need to help improve Flash on Mac OS X or even bring it to the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad somewhere down the line…