Apple confirms iPhone trade-in program at retail locations, certain Best Buy locations

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:52
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The rumors of an iPhone trade-in program are true.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has confirmed rumors that it has been developing an iPhone trade-in program to be based out of its retail locations, saying that that program will begin rolling out nationwide today.

Rumors of the program surfaced in June of this year when it was reported that Apple had confirmed the program’s existence, as well as its Friday launch. The program will see Apple Store customers able to trade-in an older model iPhone for store credit toward the purchase of a new model.

Notably, the program appears designed to keep current iPhone owners within the iPhone ecosystem. Reports stated that “customer[s] must leave [the] store with [a] new contract” in order to take part in the program.

Shortly after news of Apple’s confirmation broke, the Wall Street Journal reported that the highest value a customer can receive for a trade-in will be US$280.

The confirmation aligns with previous claims as to the program’s nature. Those claims had customers being given a gift card for the value of their trade-in with the requirement that that gift card be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone model.

Further, the gift card is only usable is the purchaser is eligible for a phone upgrade from their selected carrier. Any leftover value can be used for other retail store purchases.

Apple is launching the trade-in program only about a week and a half before it is expected to unveil the next iteration of its bestselling smartphone. A rumored September 10 media event may well see the introduction of both a high-end and low-end model of the new iPhone, and having a trade-in program up and running would likely help draw current iPhone owners back into Apple’s retail stores to grab the newest generation.

Prior reports had the trade-in company being run by Brightstar Corp., the same company that handles trade-ins for AT&T and T-Mobile. Previously, it was expected that Brightstar would resell the units in emerging markets, though some have since disputed such claims.

Apple is not the only firm offering discounts for iPhone trade-ins. Best Buy has its own program going on for Labor Day weekend. That program will see the electronics retailer offering 50 percent off of the on-contract price of an iPhone 5 in exchange for working iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Researcher draws attention to long-standing security vulnerability in OS X operating systems

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 10:19
Category: News, security, Software

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After five months, it might be time to fix this sucker…

Per mitre.org and Ars Technica, a unaddressed bug in Apple’s Mac OS X discovered five months ago allows hackers to bypass the usual authentication measures by tweaking specific clock and user timestamp settings, granting near unlimited access to a computer’s files.

While the security flaw has been around for nearly half a year, a new module created by developers of testing software Metasploit makes it easier to exploit the vulnerability in Macs.

The bug revolves around a Unix program called sudo, which allows or disallows users operational access based on privilege levels. Top tier privileges grant access to files belonging to other users’ files, though that level of control is password protected.

Instead of inputting a password, the flaw works around authentication by setting a computer’s clock to Jan. 1, 1970, or what is referred to as the Unix epoch. Unix time starts at zero hours on this date and is the basis for calculations. By resetting a Mac’s clock, as well as the sudo user timestamp, to epoch, time restrictions and privilege limitations can be bypassed.

“The bug is significant because it allows any user-level compromise to become root, which in turn exposes things like clear-text passwords from Keychain and makes it possible for the intruder to install a permanent rootkit,” said H.D. Moore, founder of the open-source Metasploit and chief research officer at security firm Rapid7.

Macs are especially vulnerable to the bug as OS X does not require a password to change these clock settings. As a result, all versions of the operating system from OS X 10.7 to the current 10.8.4 are affected. The same problem exists in Linux builds, but many of those iterations password protect clock changes.

While powerful, the bypass method has limitations. In order to implement changes, an attacker must already be logged in to a Mac with administrator privileges and have run sudo at least once before. As noted by the National Vulnerability Database, the person attempting to gain unauthorized privileges must also have physical or remote access to the target computer.

Apple has yet to respond or issue a patch for the bug.

“I believe Apple should take this more seriously but am not surprised with the slow response given their history of responding to vulnerabilities in the open source tools they package,” Moore said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to hold off on next-gen iPad announcement for September 10th media event, more likely to announce new iPhones

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 08:32
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

You might have to wait a bit longer for that next-gen iPad you’ve been hankering for.

Per The Loop, there will be “no iPads” at Apple’s upcoming September 10th media event. The keynote is expected to feature Apple’s next-generation iPhones, rumored to be called the “iPhone 5S” and “iPhone 5C.”

The mighty Jim Dalrymple’s comments were provided in response to an earlier media report that had suggested iPads could be introduced at Apple’s Sept. 10 media event. However, Apple has historically kept its iPhone and iPad announcements separate.

Last year, the iPhone 5 was unveiled at a media event in September, while the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad were introduced to the public in October. It’s likely that Apple will follow a similar schedule this year, and introduce a second-generation iPad mini and redesigned fifth-generation iPad in October, ahead of the holiday shopping season.Jim Dalrymple’s comments assure that there won’t be iPads at Apple’s iPhone-centric Sept. 10 event, but new MacBook Pros with Haswell processors remain a possibility.

The new fifth-generation iPad is expected to feature many of the same design elements as the current iPad mini, including smaller size bezels, a thinner body, and lighter weight. Parts claimed to be for the “iPad 5” have appeared regularly throughout 2013.

As for the iPad mini, it’s expected that Apple’s second-generation 7.9-inch tablet will see an upgraded high-resolution Retina display. There has also been speculation by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities that Apple could additionally offer a low-cost iPad mini, potentially without a Retina display, to allow the company to hit an even lower price point than the current US$329 entry price.

While Dalrymple’s comments assure that there won’t be any iPads at Apple’s Sept. 10 event, the possibility of new Macs being unveiled at the keynote remains. Most of Apple’s Mac lineup, including the MacBook Pro and iMac, are due for upgrades to Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors.

The September event is also expected to announce the release date for iOS 7, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system currently available in beta to developers. If prior release schedules hold again for 2013, iOS 7 will likely become available to the public about a week after the event, while Apple’s next-generation iPhones will be in the hands of customers on Friday, Sept. 20.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases swedish firm AlgoTrim, snags image, video compression assets for mobile devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Finance, News

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The Apple shopping spree continues.

Per Rapidus.se and TechCrunch, Apple has purchased a Swedish firm called AlgoTrim for an undisclosed price. The small company specializes in image and video, specifically JPEG, compression techniques on mobile devices which allow faster processing of images on power-constrained mobile devices.

AlgoTrim develops advanced solutions for mobile devices within the fields of data compression, mobile imaging and video, and computer graphics.

These solutions are designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements, making them ideal for mobile devices. Many solutions offered by AlgoTrim are codecs that are the fastest on the market, for example, the lossless codec for general data compression and the imaging codecs.

Apple could use these codecs in its camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS. It is probable that the cost of picking up the company and owning the technology outweighed the cost of licensing the technology over its hundreds of millions of devices. This also could be an “aquihire”.

Apple is no stranger to the Swedish technology market. It picked up Polar Rose in 2010, a face recognition company and C3, a Swedish 3D mapping company in the run up to its Maps product launch. Cupertino has been on a bit of a startup binge lately buying such companies as Embark and Matcha.tv.

Last year, AlgoTrim reported a revenue of US$3.0 million, with an net income before taxes of EUR -1.1 million. Until now, AloTrim has been focused mostly on Android development.

As of now, the acquisition has been confirmed to TechCrunch, Apple offering the following quote:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV update closes security hole, prevents PlexConnect client from working

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News

The update didn’t go exactly as planned.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacRumors, the Apple TV update yesterday that added five new channels to the set-top box. However, the also prevents the PlexConnect streaming media client from running on the Apple TV. Released in June, PlexConnect allowed Apple TV users to view stored movies on remote servers right through Apple’s device without a hack. However, with yesterday’s update, PlexConnect has been blocked:

“The client, called PlexConnect, used a hack to get video from the Plex Media Server onto the Apple TV. A small Python program on the Mac intercepted DNS requests from the Movie Trailers app on the Apple TV and instead returned a custom XML feed that delivered a list of media and movie streams to the device.

Now, however, Apple has closed the loophole. Previously, the Trailers app used regular HTTP requests and the PlexConnect app intercepted those requests. Now, the Trailers app uses HTTPS and it is likely impossible for the Plex programmers to overcome it.”

Plex’s developers stated that they’re sorry to hear Apple has blocked PlexConnect and can only hope that Apple will eventually release an official Apple TV SDK so developers can make apps with Apple’s blessing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Nuance e-mail to developer community points to September 10th release date for iOS 7

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Date: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

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September 10th seems to be the day for iOS 7’s release.

Per Owened and The Verge, an email sent to developers from speech recognition software company Nuance (in this case, those using its SpeechKit 1.4.5 speech services) on Monday suggests iOS 7 could be available to the public on Sept. 10, the same day Apple is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone.

Technology from Nuance was recently confirmed to be part of the Siri voice-recognizing assistant, meaning the company works closely with Apple and could be privy to upcoming launch information.

There is, however, some confusion over the email’s use of iOS 7 “GA,” which means general availability, a term often confused with “GM,” or golden master. Traditionally, Apple has released GM versions of iOS to developers alongside a new iPhone’s release, with the GA rolling out a week later.

Apple is expected to announce both a next-generation “iPhone 5S” and a lower-cost “iPhone 5C” at a special event on Sept. 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV update adds support for Vevo, Disney, Weather Channel and Smithsonian Channel

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Date: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013, 07:41
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

The Apple TV console received several new channels via an update today.

Per AppleInsider, an update released for the set top box added Vevo, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Weather Channel, and content from the Smithsonian Channel.

The launch of new content options on Apple TV comes just days after it was revealed that Apple had inked a deal with Vevo to provide music video content to its HDTV accessory.

Apple has been steadily adding channels to the Apple TV through new dedicated apps throughout 2013. The last major update came in June, when Apple added HBO Go, WatchESPN, Sky News, CrunchyRoll and Qello.

Established programming partners on the Apple TV also include Hulu Plus, Netflix, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, and The Wall Street Journal.

The next major direction for Apple TV may be live and on demand content from cable providers. Apple is said to have been working with Time Warner Cable to provide streaming content to existing cable subscribers without the need to have a dedicated table box.

Tuesday’s update also arrives amidst rumors that Apple is in the process of negotiating directly with content providers for a new product category that may be a realization of the company’s long-rumored television set. It’s been said that Apple has found little success in negotiations with cable providers, prompting the company to turn to the content providers themselves.

The update can be installed by heading to the “General” settings on the Apple TV, then choosing “Software Update” and letting the unit locate, download and install its updated operating system.

One rumor from earlier this month suggested that Apple could announce a new television product of some sort as soon as November. While that product may not be a full-fledged television set, it was said the supposed product is likely to include some sort of enhanced control functionality.

Apple’s future ambitions in the TV space were hinted at with the company’s acquisition of Matcha.tv earlier this month. The small startup company provided a second-screen iOS app connected to various content outlets like cable TV, Internet streams, and digital storefronts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple could release OS X 10.8.5 update as soon as today

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Date: Monday, August 26th, 2013, 06:46
Category: News, Software

If you’ve been hankering for OS X 10.8.5, it could hit as soon as today.

Per AppleInsider, Apple began supplying prerelease builds of OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion to select partners on Monday, signaling that a public release of the maintenance and software update is not far behind.

Sources familiar with the software indicated that the prerelease version made available is identified as build “12F35.” The update, recommended for all users of Mountain Lion, includes the following changes:
– Fixes an issue that may prevent Mail from displaying messages.

– Improves AFP file transfer performance over 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

– Resolves an issue that may prevent a screen saver from starting automatically.

– Improves Xsan reliability.

The prerelease build supplied to partners on Monday is said to weigh in at 286 megabytes. Those early releases are typically provided only hours before the software is launched to the public, suggesting that OS X 10.8.5 will arrive on Monday.

A total of seven beta builds of OS X 10.8.5 have been supplied to developers for testing ahead of the final release. The most recent was issued on July 31, identified as build “12F30.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to see 31% speed improvement via A7 chip, will feature motion detection

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Date: Monday, August 26th, 2013, 06:27
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Processors, Rumor

If this report’s anything close to accurate, you’re going to like the speed of the next-gen iPhone.

Per a tweet sent by Fox News and citing inside sources, Clayton Morris claims the so-called “iPhone 5S” will be powered by an Apple-designed “A7” system on a chip that is some 31 percent faster than the current A6 silicon used in the iPhone 5. In addition, mention of a totally new chip dedicated to “motion tracking” will be used to bring another layer of user interactivity to Apple’s flagship handset.

A 31 percent bump should be noticeable to future iPhone 5S owners in day-to-day use. It is unknown what metrics were being used as a basis, an important question given an applications processor’s architecture includes both the number-crunching CPUs and graphics driving GPUs.

It is largely unknown how Apple is managing to squeeze out the extra horsepower, though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities noted in a recent report that a move to the ARMv8 architecture could yield a 20 percent increase in efficiency. In that same note to investors, Kuo speculates that Apple could offer 64-bit support in the A7, which would theoretically allow for greater speeds.

As for the motion tracking feature, Morris said in a follow-up tweet, “I’ve also heard there’s a separate chip devoted to motion tracking. Should be an interesting camera upgrade.” It would appear from the tweet’s wording that the unknown chip would be part of the iPhone’s camera package, perhaps as a special post processor.

Apple owns a number of patents regarding post processing techniques, including a few that interpolate camera sensor data for tasks other than outputting an image such as “gaze detection.” Some of these patents include a separate chip, usually disposed on the sensor module’s circuit board, to handle processing duties.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5S at a special event on Sept. 10, possibly alongside a lower cost plastic handset dubbed the “iPhone 5C.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases Embark, appears to be adding transit functionality to Maps

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Date: Friday, August 23rd, 2013, 08:34
Category: Finance, News, Software

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Apple’s small-but-really-useful company shopping spree continues.

Per iMore and The Verge, Apple is now reported to have acquired another transit focused app, Embark. While the usual public statements apply, the transaction has reportedly been confirmed to former Wall Street Journal writer, Jessica Lessin:

“We don’t know how much Apple paid for the several-person team it acquired very recently. But we heard from people knowledgeable about the deal that the company plans to directly integrate Embark’s technology into Apple Maps.”

Apple is deeply committed to building out Maps, and a year after launch users are seeing a much-improved product already. But, transit information is one of the next big hurdles, and this acquisition along with the earlier one of HopStop is sure to have a big impact on the future of Maps.

As always, let us know what you make of this in the comments.