HP, Brother, release updated printer drivers for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 operating systems

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Date: Friday, January 11th, 2013, 07:42
Category: News, Software

The Software Update feature is your friend.

On Thursday, Apple released its HP Printers Drivers 2.13 package. The update, a 450.57 megabyte download, adds updated drivers for assorted HP printers, scanners and multifunction devices.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Also on Thursday, Apple released its Brother Printer Drivers 2.10 package. The update, a 150.56 megabyte download, adds updated drivers for assorted HP printers, scanners and multifunction devices.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.1 or later and can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

Patent reveals Apple’s exploration of emergency services app for iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 08:16
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

You’re never far from help with an iPhone in hand.

Per FreePatentsOnline, Apple has shown continued interest in offering easy access to local emergency services when traveling through the iPhone.

The concept is detailed in a patent continuation published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “Location-Based Emergency Information,” the proposed invention is credited in part to Scott Forstall, Apple’s former chief of iOS who was chased from the company late last year.

“When a person travels abroad, emergencies can occur,” the filing states. “For example, the person can become injured in an accident, be a victim of a crime, or lose their travel documents. In those situations, having knowledge of contact information for local emergency services or the pertinent consular services can be beneficial.”

Apple notes that the process of gathering local emergency service information before traveling can be time consuming, particularly if a person plans to stop in multiple cities or countries. It’s also likely that a traveler would neglect to gather this information entirely, potentially placing them in a bad situation.

To resolve this issue, Apple’s concept includes an “Emergency” Application for iOS that would give users quick access to local medical, police or fire assistance, based on the current location of their iPhone.

The information could allow users to quickly contact emergency authorities in foreign countries, where users may not know the proper emergency number. Or in the U.S., it might provide direct numbers for non-emergency calls to authorities, preventing unnecessary calls to 9-1-1.

In one illustration, the iPhone app is shown with a unique application “drawer” that Apple said could slide out when selected. This would allow users to then tap on which emergency response service they wish to contact.

In addition to Forstall, the application is also credited to inventors Gregory N. Christie, Robert E. Borchers, and Imran A. Chaudhri. The continuation filing, made in September of 2012, stems from a patent originally filed in June 2007, around the time that the first-generation iPhone went on sale in the U.S.

Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with China Mobile representatives

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Date: Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 08:26
Category: iPhone, News

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Mr. Smith went to Washington, so it’s only logical that Tim Cook go to China.

Per Sina Tech, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook gave an interview with local media, in which he revealed that he met with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier.

Cook declined to say in his interview with Sina Tech what came of his meeting. Rumors of the iPhone becoming available on China Mobile have persisted for years, but no deal has been struck yet.

A spokesman for China Mobile confirmed that the talks took place, and said the two sides discussed “matters of cooperation.” No further details were given, as a confidentiality agreement was reportedly signed.

Currently, the iPhone is available on carriers China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile’s president confirmed a month ago that talks with Apple were ongoing, but a deal had not been reached.

Analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets believes Apple could earn 13 percent of China Mobile’s 75.6 million high-speed 3G subscribers. That doesn’t include the nearly 700 million total subscribers the carrier has, some of which could switch to smartphone plans for the iPhone.

Daryanani predicted in November that a potential deal with China Mobile could add about US$3 to Apple’s annual earnings per share, and US$45 to the company’s stock price.

The number of 3G subscribers in China grew 88 percent year over year in 2012 to 222 million. China Mobile is the only major carrier in the country that does not have a deal for Apple’s iPhone, which market watchers believe has helped to stifle the carrier’s smartphone adoption rates.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.6 for mid-2012 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 07:13
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

You can’t knock a useful firmware update.

Late Wednesday, Apple released its MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.6 for its mid-2012 MacBook Air notebooks. The update, a 5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a color issue with HDMI displays connected to MacBook Air.

– Resolves an issue with Windows which can prevent MacBook Air from booting properly.

– Resolves an issue where unplugging a Thunderbolt device may cause the system to freeze when waking from standby.

The update, which can be snagged via the Software Update feature, requires a mid-2012 MacBook Air and OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple may start building lower cost iPhone in second half of 2013

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Date: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013, 08:03
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you were waiting for the iPhone to become cheaper in the face of increased competition, this might be the year for it.

Per the Wall Street Journal and DigiTimes, Apple is currently working on a cheaper iPhone that could hit the market as soon as this year.

According to people briefed on the matter, Apple is reportedly looking to a new audience with the less expensive iPhone, a move the WSJ claims is in response to slipping smartphone supremacy.

While Apple has supposedly tossed around the idea of building a more affordable iPhone “for years,” the plan is progressing toward a release in the second half of 2013.

The new device could be unveiled later this year and be marketed as an entry-level model to Apple’s flagship iPhone. Sources say the cheaper unit may take on the form factor and design of the current iPhone with a chassis made from less exotic materials like polycarbonate. Other parts could “remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.3 build 12D50, adds minor changes for developers to look into

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Date: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013, 08:12
Category: News, Software

OS X 10.8.3 is coming, just give it a little while longer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday seeded build 12D50 of OS X 10.8.3 pre-release to developers with no known issues.

The new build comes a little over two weeks after Apple seeded the previous 12D44 build, which itself arrived with no known issues and minor under the hood changes to the upcoming version of Apple’s operating system.

Sources familiar with the release stated that Tuesday’s build notes are identical to the previous two seeds that came out in December, with developer focus areas including AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers and Safari.

Build 12D50 continues to tout the new “OS X Software Update Seed Configuration Utility” tool that allows developers to retrieve new seeds through Software Update. When new builds are made available, Apple sends out notifications to install the update via the Mac App Store. The usual e-mail notices will continue to be sent out if developers choose not to use the Software Update tool.

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

Rumor: Apple looking into Sharp IGZO technology for future iOS device displays

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 10:28
Category: News

It’s a rumor now, but it highlights the idea of a cool thing that could come to the Mac before too long.

Per AppleInsider, Sharp this week Sharp stressed the importance of IGZO technology for the company’s future.



In attendance for Sharp’s event was analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, who lauded the abilities of IGZO technology. Sharp’s advanced displays were described as having twice the resolution of a conventional LCD screen with up to 90 percent power savings.

“Even after turning off the power of a device, IGZO allows the image to continue to be displayed on the screen,” White explained. He said he believes Apple is a “prime candidate” to adopt IGZO in future devices.

Apple has been rumored for years to be interested in Sharp’s IGZO display technology. One report from last year claimed that Apple investigated using IGZO panels in the third-generation iPad, but the technology was not yet ready for mass production.

Rumors again cropped up in December, claiming that Apple is evaluating IGZO display technology for its next generation of iPhones and iPads. The technology’s acronym stands for the materials that make up the advanced panels: indium, gallium, and zinc oxide.

White believes that Apple “increasingly requires new innovative display technologies to compete with Samsung.” A deal with Sharp could also reduce Apple’s reliance on LG Display, which initially struggled to meet required standards for the iPad’s Retina display in early 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts job openings for 802.11ac engineers

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News, wireless

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Apple’s looking to bring the 802.11ac protocol to the Mac this year.

Now it just needs the people to do it.

Per AppleBitch, a new job listing by the company advertises a position for engineers experienced with Gigabit Wi-Fi.

The mention of 802.11ac comes from a new job posting listed by the company on Sunday, first highlighted by AppleBitch. The role of “System Test Engineer” will be based at Apple’s corporate Campus in Cupertino, Calif., and focuses on Wi-Fi connectivity.

In the job listing, Apple notes that the position requires “technical knowledge” of the Wi-Fi standard in all forms, including the next-generation 802.11ac. The ideal candidate will include “experience on consumer-facing hardware/software products.”

The new job posting comes only days after a rumor surfaced claiming that Apple plans to add Gigabit Wi-Fi to its 2013 Mac lineup. The so-called “5G Wi-Fi” standard offers up to 1.3Gbps data transfers with a three-antenna design.

Current Macs and other Apple devices feature 802.11n networking, the current industry standard for Wi-Fi. That allows transfers of up to 450Mbps with three antennas — a feat that 802.11ac can accomplish with just one antenna.

Apple is rumored to have struck a deal with Broadcom to potentially debut 802.11ac in this year’s Macs. The Broadcom chips reportedly remain in development and are not yet available to use.

Apple has a history of being on the cutting edge with Wi-Fi — it was among the first to bring Wi-Fi to the masses in 1999, while Apple secretly included support for the “Draft-N” specification in some of its devices in 2006 before the 802.11n standard was officially ratified.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel shows off fourth-gen Core processor lineup at CES

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:48
Category: Hardware, Intel, News, Processors

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The cool stuff’s en route for this year.

Per AppleInsider, Intel on Monday demoed a number of upcoming processors set to hit market later this year, including low power versions of the company’s “Haswell” fourth-generation Core series CPUs slated to roll out in Apple’s inevitable 2013 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refreshes.

While Apple wasn’t specifically mentioned in Intel’s keynote, which focused mainly on the chip maker’s push into smartphones and Ultrabooks, the processors outlined on Monday will likely be powering the MacBook lineup later this year.

According to the head of Intel’s PC client group, Kirk Skaugen, the fourth-gen Core family of processors are the first to be designed specifically for the Ultrabook initiative. The new silicon is said to bring the most significant battery life improvement in Intel history, with laptops using the CPUs boasting 9 to 13 hours of continuous on-the-go use.

“The 4th generation Core processors are the first Intel chips built from the ground up with the Ultrabook in mind,” Skaugen said. “We expect the tremendous advancements in lower-power Core processors, and the significant ramp of touch-based systems will lead to a significant new wave of convertible Ultrabooks and tablets that are thinner, lighter and, at the same time, have the performance required for more human-like interaction such as touch, voice and gesture controls.”

Intel is making a strong push for touch capabilities in this year’s thin-and-light lineup, requiring OEMs to include the functionality in return for “Ultrabook” branding. The company is also mandating that Ultrabook manufacturers incorporate Intel Wireless Display technology into 2013 machines, allowing users to view digital content on an HDTV.

As Apple does not participate in the Ultrabook initiative, a category believed to be a response to the MacBook Air, the Cupertino, Calif., company is not required to incorporate touchscreen tech into its laptop products. There have been no reports pointing toward multitouch capable MacBooks and industry sources claim Apple will merely debut refreshed units in June with existing designs.

Stay tuned for additional details

USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces updated spec, anticipated 10Gb/s speeds for 2014

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 07:32
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to something nifty.

Per CNET and the mighty Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, an updated USB 3.0 specification that promises to double theoretical maximum bandwidth is scheduled to arrive in mid–2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Sunday. The improvements, thanks to revised hardware and more efficient data transfer methods, will double USB 3.0’s speed from 5 gigabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, rivaling the single-channel performance of Thunderbolt.

The news of faster USB speeds will be welcomed by those relying on external solid state or multi-disk hard drives, as some current high-end drives already saturate USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s limit (equivalent to about 640 MB/s). For those not yet interested in faster speeds, the new technology will still be backwards-compatible with older USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices and ports.

The new specification is expected to be finalized by mid-year, but devices taking advantage of it won’t hit the market until early 2014 at the earliest, with “much broader availability of products in 2015.”

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which announced the new specification, is comprised of member companies in the technology field, including HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. Apple, which belatedly introduced USB 3.0 on its 2012 line of Macs, is not a member, although it pioneered Thunderbolt, an alternative high-speed interface.

Thunderbolt also offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gb/s (about 1,280 MB/s) but is dual channel, allowing two transfers up to that speed to occur simultaneously between attached devices. However, the limited number of Thunderbolt-enabled computers and the complicated nature of Thunderbolt chipsets and cables have made the technology significantly more expensive than most other interface options. As a result, it is far less ubiquitous than the backwards-compatible and cheaper USB 3.0 standard.

Users interested in the new USB 3.0 specification will need both updated computers and external devices to support it. New USB 3.0 devices will still work in the absence of both of these conditions, but they will operate at much slower USB 3.0 or 2.0 speeds depending on the exact configuration.

Cables, on the other hand, are another matter. Due to changes in the efficiency of the new specification, existing USB 3.0 cables may not work. “Existing SuperSpeed USB cables are not certified to operate at 10 Gbps; it is possible that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables may be capable of operating at 10 Gbps,” the group said.

Now that Apple has introduced USB 3.0 support, it is likely that the company will move to incorporate the faster USB specification once it is available, especially if Thunderbolt adoption continues to progress at a glacial pace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.