iOS 6 security bug in wild, reenables JavaScript under Safari without input from user

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Date: Monday, December 24th, 2012, 08:57
Category: News, security, Software

This is the reason bug fixes were invented.

Per AppleInsider the Safari web browser in Apple’s iOS 6 platform has a potentially serious JavaScript bug that could have major security and privacy implications.

The new “Smart App Banner” feature in iOS 6 is designed to allow developers the ability to promote App Store software within Safari. The Smart App Banner detects whether a user has a specific application installed, and invites them to view the software on the App Store or open it on their iOS device.

But for users who choose to turn off JavaScript in the Safari Web browser, the appearance of a Smart App Banner on a website will automatically and permanently turn JavaScript back on without notifying the user.

iOS device owners can test this issue by opening the Settings application and choosing Safari, then turning off JavaScript. Then simply launch the Safari browser and visit a website with a Smart App Banner.

Users can then go back into the Settings application to verify that the JavaScript setting switch has been flipped back to the “on” position without warning. Accordingly, JavaScript features on websites will begin working again.

The issue has reportedly existed since the release of iOS 6 months ago, though it has not been widely reported. In addition, people familiar with the latest beta of iOS 6.1 said the problem also remains in Apple’s pre-release test software on the iPhone.

Peter Eckersley, technology products director with digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he would characterize such an issue as a “serious privacy and security vulnerability.”

Neither Eckersley nor the EFF had heard of the bug in iOS 6, nor had they independently tested to confirm that they were able to replicate the issue. But Eckersley said that if the problem is in fact real, it’s something that Apple should work to address as quickly as possible.

“It is a security issue, it is a privacy issue, and it is a trust issue,” Eckersley said. “Can you trust the UI to do what you told it to do? It’s certainly a bug that needs to be fixed urgently.”

But Lysa Myers, a virus hunter at security firm Intego, said she doesn’t see the bug as a major concern for the vast majority of iOS device owners.

“While this issue is certainly not an ideal situation, by itself it actually isn’t that large a problem,” said Myers. “At the moment it doesn’t pose a threat, but we’ll continue to monitor it to make sure it doesn’t become more exploitable. There’s also the fact that few people actually disable JavaScript completely as it can partially, or totally, disable the majority of websites.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users complain of reduced battery life, new Wi-Fi issues after iOS 6.0.2 update

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Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 08:51
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Sometimes a bug fix works perfectly for everyone.

Other times it doesn’t, or opens up a whole new can of worms.

Per the Apple support forums and Ars Technica, Apple’s newly released iOS 6.0.2 update for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini may have resolved some Wi-Fi issues, but some users say it seems to have also reduced their battery life.

A number of users have expressed they have noticed poorer battery life on their iPhone after upgrading to iOS 6.0.2. Specifically, one user said they noticed their battery draining “substantially faster.”

In addition, a small number of users have created a thread at Apple’s official support forums to share their own evidence of battery problems with iOS 6.0.2.

“It is absolutely draining my battery,” user ‘atdguy’ wrote. “I can usually get through a day with about 75% of my battery power remaining. Today I’ve gone through 90% and I’ve done nothing special with it.”

Others posting at Apple’s site said that the release of iOS 6.0.2 actually introduced Wi-Fi connectivity issues for them. The software update, released on Tuesday, was intended to address previous Wi-Fi bugs for the iPhone and iPad mini.

All of the users who commented or e-mailed say they are experiencing the battery drain issues with their iPhone 5. There was no mention of iOS 6.0.2 battery problems with the iPad mini.

If you’ve seen these issues on your own devices after the iOS 6.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.3 build 12D44 to developer community

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Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 07:50
Category: News, Software

The OS X 10.8.3 seeds are coming a bit more quickly these days.

Which is never a bad sign.

Late Thursday, Apple seeded OS X 10.8.3 build 12D44 to developers, with the new version coming just two days after the previous 12D43 build was released according to AppleInsider.

It is not clear what changes have been made with the new OS X 10.8.3 beta as sources familiar with the previous build say developers are being asked to focus on the same areas. In fact, the release notes are identical to those released alongside build 12D43 on Tuesday.

Thursday’s notes also come with the same step-by-step instructions for installing and activating the “OS X Software Update Seed Configuration Utility,” which allows developers to download new seeds directly through Software Update in the Mac App Store. The new feature was first introduced in build 12D38 released at the start of December.

As with the previous beta seed, build 12D44 comes with no known issues and requests developers focus on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers and Safari.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the build and can offer any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patents point to effort to reduce noise on MacBook Pro fan modules

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Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 09:02
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News, Patents

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You know the fans on your MacBook Pro?

They’re about to get quieter.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trio of patent applications discovered on Thursday reveal how the asymmetric fan blade spacing used in the newest MacBook Pro with Retina display models quiet the spinning impeller without sacrificing performance.

The three patent applications, all titled “Centrifugal blower with asymmetric blade spacing” and numbered sequentially (1, 2, 3) cover separate fan designs that feature asymmetrically aligned fan blades, two with 31 blades and one with 61 blades.

Apple first introduced its asymmetric fan design in June with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a subsequent teardown revealed that the laptop uses a 31-blade unit.

Typical fans incorporate a prime number of blades that are spaced at angles equidistant to each other, an industry standard aimed at reducing unwanted sound. At issue is the blade pass frequency (BPF) which produces harmonics from the pressure wave formed at the tip of each blade. The most noticeable source of noise is the pole pass frequency (PPF) tone, or the “vibration and resulting pressure waves created by the poles in the motor of the fan.”

Apple’s design calls for variably-angled blades that controls the spectral distribution of tones created by the fan. First-hand tests have found the new design to not necessarily quiet fan noise as much as create a less grating sound.

From the patent:
“Dispersing the energy of a tone over a number of discrete frequencies can make the tone seem less noisy to the listener by reducing the perception on the tonal BPF [blade pass frequency]. Spacing fan blades unevenly, while maintaining impeller balance, is one method of controlling pure-tone effects.”

According to the invention, the rearrangement of the fan blade angles cancels some of the noise usually heard in conventional portable computers but allows for the unit to still be balanced as the center of mass is located at the shaft of the impeller. The modified design also allows for the fan system to be smaller, thus permitting a thinner laptop as seen with the Retina MacBook Pros.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds updated OS X 10.8.3 build, focuses on Software Update notification for pre-release builds, other changes

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s hard to knock a beta that’s making the rounds.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday seeded a fresh OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion beta to developers and Apple Seed participants, asking testers to focus on AirPlay, Graphics Drivers and other areas while further detailing the new Software Update feature for pre-release builds.

According to people familiar with build 12D43, the software contains no known issues and the focus areas remain unchanged from the last beta seeded earlier this month.

With the previous build, dubbed 12D38, Apple introduced a new beta installation feature that allows participants to download and install new seeds through the Mac App Store. The company explained the option further in the Tuesday’s release, saying that users will be alerted via OS X notification when new seeds are available, much like consumer versions of the operating system.

In order for developers to take advantage of the Mac App Store tool, they must download and install the “OS X Software Update Seed Configuration Utility,” which grants Software Update access to pre-release builds. Users can also opt out of the Software Update mechanism if they so choose.

Other than the detailed information regarding the seed configuration utility, build 12D43 has no known issues and developers have been tasked with focusing on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers and Safari.

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

Apple releases iOS 6.0.2 update, includes fixes for Wi-Fi, security features iPhone 5, iPad mini

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iTunes, News, Software

Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Apple released iOS 6.0.2, the latest version of its iOS operating system for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini devices.

The update, a 626 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a bug that could impact Wi-Fi.

– Assorted security fixes detailed here.

The iOS 6.0.2 update requires the following devices:

– iPhone 3GS / 4 / 4S / 5

– iPad 2 and new iPad

– iPod Touch 4th Gen

– iPad Mini

As always, the update can be acquired via iTunes or the Over The Air software update feature built into iOS 5 or later.

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

Rumor: Apple looking to incorporate Foursquare functionality into iOS 6 Maps application

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 09:28
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

It may not save the iOS 6 Maps app, but at this point, it couldn’t hurt.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is reportedly in preliminary talks with Foursquare to integrate some of the location-based social network’s date into iOS Maps, with the move purportedly in response to offerings from rival services like Google Maps.

Anonymous sources have stated Apple is looking to use local data provided by Foursquare Labs in a bid to enhance the iOS Maps app.

The sources say Apple Senior Vice President of Online Services Eddy Cue met with the popular social service “in recent weeks,” but failed to detail exactly what was discussed or when the meetings took place.

Although only speculation, Foursquare could provide Apple with a number of business listings, relative popularity and user-generated tips to help enhance the iOS Maps experience. Integration with the social service may also allow iPhone and iPad users to “check in” at various locations, letting friends know where they are around town. Currently, iOS limits such location-based discovery features to Apple’s Find My Friends and Foursquare’s app.

It was reported in June that Apple was working to integrate Yelp reviews and listings, a feature that has already made its way to the Maps app.

Since its release with iOS 6, Apple’s mapping solution has been criticized for its lack of features, most noticeable when compared to Google’s established service which once powered the iOS app, as well as incorrect location information and a number of glitches.

Cue is said to be “racing” to improve Maps after taking control of the project when former iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted from the company in October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple gets regulatory clearance to sell cellular-enabled iPad mini, fourth-gen iPad in Chinese marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:32
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News

It never hurts to get all your telecom and regulatory ducks in a row.

Per Techweb, a filing with China’s telecommunications regulation body discovered on Tuesday reveals that Apple has acquired the network licenses needed to start sales of its cellular-enabled iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad.

The Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center (TENAA) granted Apple two licenses on Dec. 13 for devices carrying the model numbers A1455 and A1460, which are noted on the company’s website as being the iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular and fourth-generation iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular, respectively.

Per the article, the licenses allow the two iPad models to run on China Unicom’s WCDMA network as well as China Telecom’s CDMA2000 bands.

After announcing a Dec. 7 rollout date for the Chinese market, Apple debuted Wi-Fi only versions of the tablets to uncharacteristically small crowds. The company followed up the iPad release with the iPhone 5 on Dec. 14, which saw over two million sales over its first weekend of availability.

So, if you’re headed to the Chinese frontier in the near future and were hoping to snag a cellular-enabled iPad mini or fourth-gen iPad, you should be in luck in the near future.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware for late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:28
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

You might want to snag this.

Late Monday, Apple released its MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware update for the late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 5 megabyte download, improves sleep performance, enhances Thunderbolt router support, fixes an HDMI display issue, and improves compatibility when using the 5GHz band in Wi-Fi.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via OS X’s Software Update features and requires a late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mac Wi-Fi Update for late-2012 Macs

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 07:54
Category: News, Software

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A firmware update never hurt anyone.

Late Monday, Apple released its Mac Wi-Fi update, a 1.6 megabyte download that improves compatibility when using the 5GHz band in Wi-Fi.

The upgrade, like similar software, can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires a late-2012 Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8.2 or later.

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