O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Rumor: Apple creating its own mapping services for iOS 6

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:40
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Ok, this could be interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple will move away from Google Maps services in iOS 6, making the transition to an in-house mapping service that included 3D views. According to the report, Apple’s prior acquisitions of mapping companies Placebase and Poly9 could work with last year’s purchase of 3D mapping firm C3 Technologies rounding out the suite of services.

The most important aspect of the new Maps application is a powerful new 3D mode. The 3D mode does not come enabled by default, but users simply need to click a 3D button that is conveniently and visibly stored in the app. This 3D mode is said to essentially be technology straight from C3 Technologies: beautiful, realisitic graphics based on de-classified missile target algorithms.

Apple’s in-house mapping services will otherwise be rather similar in appearance to the current Google Maps application, although Apple’s implementation is said to be a “much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience” and will include a new icon based on the same view of the company’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino but with new colors and styling.

Apple has clearly been working for some time to reduce its reliance on Google by developing its own mapping services for iOS, as evidenced by its acquisitions of mapping expertise and job postings addressing its ambitions for mapping. The company has already moved location services in-house and revealed last year that it is building a crowd-sourced traffic database based on users’ GPS data.

With the release of iPhoto for iOS back in early March, Apple took its first big step outside of the actual Google mapping services, taking advantage of OpenStreetMap and other services to generate its own map tiles for the application’s Photo Journals feature.

Apple is expected to preview iOS 6 at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, with the operating system presumably making its public debut alongside new iPhone hardware later in the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 5.0.1 update, adds HD previews, other fixes

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It may not be the biggest update in the world, but it makes a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday released Software Update Version 5.0.1 for second and third generation Apple TVs, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes to the set-top media streamers.

The update includes the following fixes and changes:

– Fixing an issue that caused some iOS app to have trouble connecting via AirPlay.

– Improving the reliability of Home Sharing connections; addressing an unspecified issue with Neflix login and navigation.

– Fixes for issues affecting stability and performance.

The software is meant for second and third generation Apple TVs only and can be downloaded on the unit by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.7.4 update resources point towards Retina Display features in upcoming Macs

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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The cool stuff, it’s en route.

Per AppleInsider, assorted resources within the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update issued on Wednesday is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple’s built-in TextEdit application. In Mac OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application’s icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled.

With the quality of the TextEdit icon increased greatly to 1,024-by-1,024 pixels, the file size of the icon also grew from just 209 kilobytes in OS X 10.7.3 to 1.7 megabytes in 10.7.4.

Other applications also saw their icon file sizes grow, such as the Address Book, from 279 kilobytes to 484 kilobytes, and Dashboard, from 130 kilobytes to 226 kilobytes. However, those applications do not feature Retina display 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons.

The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup. Apple’s new iPad, released in March, packs 3.1 million pixels onto its 9.7-inch display, giving it a higher resolution than a high-definition 1080p television.

Apple has been making behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X to prepare for anticipated Retina display Macs for some time. Some application icons, like the App Store and LaunchPad, have included 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons since OS X 10.7 Lion was in beta.

In February, it was discovered that Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update for Lion added more high-DPI user interface elements. Various cursors were upgraded to higher-resolution versions, like the pointing-finger cursor for browsers, the “grabby hand,” and the camera cursor for taking screenshots.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but those were only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the user interface resolution doubling that Apple has done with Retina displays on the iPhone and iPad.

Double-resolution icons can also be found in various applications in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system set to arrive this summer.

One report from last year claimed that Apple is planning to launch a new MacBook Pro with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel Retina display this year. That would be exactly twice the resolution of the 1,440-by-900-pixel display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s next-generation Macs are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Intel announced last September that Ivy Bridge chips would include support for screens with a 4K resolution, providing up to 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Safari 5.1.7 nixes outdated Flash versions, focuses on security-based issues

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 06:32
Category: News, security, Software

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When in doubt, go with the update.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released an update to its Safari web browser that automatically disables old versions of Adobe’s Flash Player as they don’t have the most up-do-date security features.

After pushing out OS X Lion 10.7.4 which included Safari version 5.1.6, Apple rolled out a separate update for the browser that can be downloaded by Mac OS X 10.7.3, Mac OS X 10.7.4 and Windows users.

According to the Safari 5.1.7 support page, the update is meant to disable older versions of Flash that pose a security risk as they lack the latest vulnerability patches.

Safari 5.1.7 will scan a Mac’s Flash assets for out-of-date software, disable it if found and inform the user via a dialog box. A link to Adobe’s website is integrated into the dialog so that users can easily locate and install the most current Flash Player.

If users need to roll back to a previous version of Flash, they must navigate to the “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins (Disabled)” folder on their Mac, drag “Flash Player.plugin” into the active “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins” folder and restart the browser.

Apple has become increasingly leery about third-party applications, perhaps due to the recent Flashback malware debacle that affected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide. One of the trojan’s first iterations was discovered in 2011 when it disguised itself as a Flash Installer, though the exploit had nothing to do with Adobe’s software.

Most recently, Apple released a Java update to cope with Flashback and even created a dedicated removal tool for those Mac owners who didn’t already have Java installed on their computers.

The Safari update comes in at 44.98MB download and can be acquired via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2012-002 for Mac OS X 10.6 operating systems

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, security, Software

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Amidst yesterday’s update-o-rama, the Mac OS X 10.6 side of things received some attention as well.

On Wednesday, Apple released Security Update 2012-002, a patch designed to take care of the following security details highlighted here.

The update, which is designed for both Mac OS X 10.6 Client and Mac OS X 10.6 Server, weighs in as a 239 megabyte download and can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Security Update 2012-002 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Safari 5.1.7 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:59
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released Safari 5.1.7, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

– Improve the browser’s responsiveness when the system is low on memory.

– Fix an issue that could prevent webpages from responding after using a pinch to zoom gesture.

– Fix an issue that could affect websites using forms to authenticate users.

– Disable versions of Adobe Flash Player that do not include the latest security updates and provide the option to get the current version from Adobe’s website.

Safari 5.1.7 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.4 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:09
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for this.

Late Wednesday, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.7.4 update. The update, a 693 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Resolve an issue in which the “Reopen windows when logging back in” setting is always enabled.

– Improve compatibility with certain British third-party USB keyboards.

– Addresses permission issues that may be caused if you use the Get Info inspector function “Apply to enclosed items…” on your home directory. For more information, see this article.

– Improve Internet sharing of PPPoE connections.

– Improve using a proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file.

– Address an issue that may prevent files from being saved to an SMB server.

– Improve printing to an SMB print queue.

– Improve performance when connecting to a WebDAV server.

– Enable automatic login for NIS accounts.

– Include RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras.

– Improve the reliability of binding and logging into Active Directory accounts.

– The OS X Lion v10.7.4 Update includes Safari 5.1.6, which contains stability improvements.

The Mac OS X 10.7.4 updater requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS x 10.7 or later.

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

Security companies estimate that Flashback infection rate is remaining steady, advise users to run update/malware removal tools

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 06:18
Category: News, security, Software

Ok, guys, it’s time to update your Mac and help bring down the Flashback trojan malware infection rate.

Per CNET, following an effort to estimate how many Macs remain infected with the Flashback malware, the data from these monitoring efforts have suggested that despite early reports of the malware levels sinking rapidly from efforts by Apple, news organizations, and anti-malware companies, the levels of infections appears to be remaining constant.

The spread Flashback malware was facilitated by a neglected security hole in Apple’s Java runtime for OS X, and at its peak had infected around one percent of Mac systems. To tackle the spread of the malware, initially news organizations covered methods for manually removing the malware, followed by security companies issuing malware removal tools to facilitate this process. Apple then released a series of Java updates to close the vulnerability and also scan for and remove known instances of the malware.

During the time of these infections, security companies set up sinkhole servers and other techniques to monitor the network traffic from the Flashback infections, and determine how many unique computers had been infected with the malware. Following the peak of the malware infection on August 6, initial reports from the anti-malware efforts suggested the infection rates had dropped significantly, with the number of infected Macs decreasing to a reported low of 30,000 in 10 days. However, despite these claims the malware has remained active, and adjustments have had to be made to these numbers.

Following the reports of success at tackling the malware, security company Dr. Web revealed errors in the malware estimation calculations and suggested that the number of infected systems was in fact much higher. Security companies followed this news with more conservative estimates that suggested a more shallow fall in the malware, to an estimated 140,000 systems in late April.

Despite the higher numbers, the number of malware infections did fall from its peak, though while some have hoped the number to fall far lower, the malware appears to have fallen to a revolving infection rate of just over 100,000 Mac systems. In a new report by Intego, the company claims that in the past week it has observed the following numbers from its sinkhole operation:

04/30/2012 – 102,769 infected Macs

05/01/2012 – 96,948 infected Macs

05/02/2012 – 103,779 infected Macs

05/03/2012 – 121,826 infected Macs

05/04/2012 – 102,375 infected Macs

05/05/2012 – 118,593 infected Macs

05/06/2012 – 113,909 infected Macs

Intego notes that these numbers are only the active infections it monitors on a day-to-day basis, and is not the total number of Macs infected. The malware is only active when a user logs in and thereby suggests that this activity difference reflects a steady state variance in when people are using their Macs, which will revolve as Macs are used more in some parts of the world than at others. Therefore the total number of infected systems will likely be much higher at around the 140,000 of previous recent estimates.

Intego has further noted that despite the initial impact in the malware’s activity by community efforts, the numbers appear to no longer be declining and show indications that they may even be increasing. Intego speculates the reason for this is that a small percentage of users have not taken any effort to either update their systems, but it may be more than just updating. Apple has only offered updates and malware removal options for OS X 10.6 and above (its supported versions). However, this malware will infect systems with older versions of OS X, so even if the older versions have been kept up to date, they will be left vulnerable without Apple issuing a proper Java fix. Not only can they still contain the malware, but they also will be subject to new infections by any of its variants.

In short, if you have a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later, please update the Java updates via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature. And for Apple, well, a Flashback removal update for Mac OS X versions previous to Mac OS X 10.6 or later wouldn’t hurt…

Rumor: AppleCare training schedule now pointing towards June launch of Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 05:30
Category: Rumor, Software

No one ever said it was easy to keep a secret.

Per AppleInsider, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division of AppleCare is allegedly hiring and training new staff on certain aspects of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, possibly hinting that a release date is soon to arrive.

According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, AppleCare EMEA is hiring a number of new employees who will serve as customer support for the new operating system that has yet to receive an official launch date.

The source went on to say that Mountain Lion may be just a few weeks from launch as internal training recently commenced regarding certain facets of the operating system. Apple usually restricts the operating window of support staff training to a minimum before large product release presumably to avoid leaks.

Though purely speculation, the training could point to a OS X 10.8 debut at WWDC 2012 which is scheduled to take place from June 11 to June 15.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was announced on Feb. 16 with an expected release date of summer 2012. Beyond the basic information provided on Apple’s website, developer previews have revealed that the new OS will offer a bevy of new features like Messages and more comprehensive integration with iCloud that will further blur the line between OS X and iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.