Google Latitude released for iPhone

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, News, Software

On Monday Google’s Latitude app finally became available for the iPhone, the app fully supporting iOS 4 and optionally providing constant position updates in the background on an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. Privacy is still a focus as users can selectively turn off both background updates, hand-pick a location or turn off positioning altogether.

Per Electronista, the official release comes roughly a year and a half after Google was forced to release an HTML5 version for the iPhone after Apple rejected the original version for reportedly being too similar to Apple’s own Maps tool. Critics have argued that the initial block was motivated by attempts to punish Google for Android, where Latitude has been a native part of Google Maps itself for most of the platform’s history.

It’s widely suspected that a loosening of App Store rules, prompted by Adobe-backed FTC and EU investigations into approval processes, may have changed Apple’s approach. Apple recently allowed Google Voice after a similar delay and what’s believed to be for identical reasons.

If you’ve played with Latitude and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple quietly removes jailbreak API detection code in iOS 4.2

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This is a bit weird but maybe it makes sense in the long run.

Per Network World, less than six months after introducing it, Apple has quietly disabled its jailbreak detection API (Application Programming Interface) through the iOS 4.2 software update, according to a new report.

The publication reported that the API, which was released in June as part of a mobile device management (MDM) bundle for iOS 4.0, has been disabled in iOS 4.2, leaving perplexed vendors to question why. The API had previously allowed third-party MDM applications, such as AirWatch or Sybase’s Afaria, to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files, author John Cox wrote.

Third-party MDM vendors had created their own utilities to check for jailbreaks, but Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted MDM applications direct access to iOS system information.

“We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Sybase vice president of engineering Joe Owen. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Though jailbreaking an Apple device voids its warranty, the U.S. government recently legalized the process through a handful of exemptions to preexisting laws forbidding it.

Since the release of iOS, Apple has gone back and forth with the jailbreaking community, both sides working to one up each other with each new update. As vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited by the hacking community, Apple rushes to patch the issues, while hackers secretly move on to the next flaw.

In August, hackers released a high publicity browser-based jailbreak for the iPhone 4 that drew attention to a glaring security flaw that could have exposed users to malicious software just by visiting website.

As hackers became aware of the jailbreak detection API, they may have begun circumventing it, adding another layer to the tug-of-war between jailbreakers and Apple.

“Whatever [Apple] adds [in the OS] to detect the jailbreak, if it is to be queried from the iOS kernel, it must be accessible and have the ability to be changed,” security consultant Jeremy Allen told Cox. “Meaning, if it is going to be a useful detection method it can also be circumvented. It is a fairly intractable problem to solve 100%.”

The use of jailbreaking to pirate App Store software has been a major concern for Apple and developers. Also at stake is Apple’s relationship with carriers, who often sell iPhones locked to their networks. In the U.S., for instance, the iPhone is only available through AT&T, though Verizon is expected to begin selling the iPhone early next year. Users looking to use their locked iPhones on other carriers often jailbreak and unlock their handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad to surface in early 2011, feature both front and rear cameras, SD card slot

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPad, Rumor

Component suppliers for Apple’s iPad are planning to begin a new round of iPad production in the first quarter of 2011, with one source saying that the next-generation iPad will have front- and back-mounted cameras, a new report claims.

According to a Reuters report published on Friday, sources claim the next-gen iPad will sport dual cameras, and could begin production as early as the first quarter of 2011.

The report further confirms the likelihood of a FaceTime-capable iPad. Additionally, on Thursday, new iPad cases were spotted with cutouts for a rear-facing camera and space for what could be an SD card slot.

Reuters’ sources pegged touchscreen chip designer Wintek Corp, battery maker Simplo Technology and AVY Precision, “an unlisted maker of covers for electronic products,” as suppliers for the next batch of iPads.

Camera component suppliers Genius Electronic Optical CO and Largan Precision Co were also reportedly starting new “supply deals” with Apple, though sources were unable to confirm for which products.

The report lined up with what RBS analyst Steven Tseng has been hearing. “It makes sense for these suppliers to begin delivering their goods in February,” he said. “I think Steve Jobs will announce the new product in January, and we should see the new product hitting shops in about April.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may rely on Intel’s Sandy Bridge line for next-gen notebook CPUs, AMD for graphics processing

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 06:08
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Per CNET, Apple will use Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs in its future notebooks. Interestingly enough, some of these forthcoming machines might rely solely on Intel’s chip for both general and graphical processing tasks.

That’s the word from the usual “sources familiar with Apple’s plans,” who expect “MacBook models with screen sizes of 13″ and below” to eschew the inclusion of a discrete GPU and ride their luck on the improved graphical performance of Intel’s upcoming do-it-all chip. There are currently no sub-13.3″ MacBooks, so the suggestion of one is surely intriguing.

The key point here is that NVIDIA’s being left out of the Apple party, because MacBook Pros are also predicted to switch up to AMD-provided graphics hardware. All these changes should be taking place with Apple’s next refresh, which is naturally expected at some point in the new year.

Even so, this could all be just a massive negotiating ploy to get NVIDIA to play nicer with its pricing, we’re inclined to believe Intel has finally gotten its integrated graphics up to a level where it pleases the discerning tastemakers at Apple.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 for 2010 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple issued a MacBook Air EMI firmware resolving an issue where the ultra-thin laptop boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 is recommended for all 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air (late 2010) models and requires Mac OS X 10.6.5 to install and run. The update addresses a “rare issue” where the MacBook Air is unresponsive or displays just a black screen after booting or waking.

Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Air in October at its “Back to the Mac event.” As predicted by AppleInsider the Mac maker released an 11.6″ version of the ultra-portable notebook and abandoned mechanical hard disk drives in favor of custom solid state storage.

On the day of the revamped MacBook Air’s unveiling, Apple released a software update for the product, resolving a problem where the MacBook Air became unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display was connected.

Shortly after the release of the MacBook Air, reports emerged that users were experiencing problems ranging from faulty logic boards to display issues. One issue, detailed on an Apple support thread, involved a flickering or frozen screen. It is not clear whether Apple’s EFI firmware update specifically addresses this issue.

Despite scattered reports of issues with the MacBook Air, the laptop has continued to sell well, especially the 11-inch model. The US$999 11.6″ MacBook Air’s ship times slipped from within 24 hours to 1-3 business days in the first week after its release.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple addresses security concerns with QuickTime 7.6.9 update for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, security, Software

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Per the cool cats over at CNET, Apple has updated its Quicktime software, now at version 7.6.9, to fix vulnerabilities where a maliciously designed file could execute arbitrary code or lead to the application terminating.

As Apple describes in its knowledge base article:
“Description: A heap buffer overflow exists in QuickTime’s handling of JP2 images. Viewing a maliciously crafted JP2 image may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue is addressed through improved bounds checking. For Mac OS X v10.6 systems, this issue is addressed in Mac OS X v10.6.5. Credit to Nils of MWR InfoSecurity, and Will Dormann of the CERT/CC, for reporting this issue.”

Also included in this security update are fixes to maliciously crafted avi file types, other movie file types, FlashPix image files, GIF image files, or PICT image files, as well as a possibility that local users may have access to sensitive information on certain Windows machines.
The update is for Mac users running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or Server 10.5.8. For more information, visit the entire security update article.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know in the comments.

Analyst: Verizon may accept more of Apple’s terms for access to iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 08:35
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon may be willing to accept Apple’s terms regarding the iPhone according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Per The Mac Observer, a deal between the two companies is “closer to reality,” and Verizon may be more willing to pay what Apple wants under Apple’s terms as Android “starts losing some of its luster (at least at Verizon).”

The change would mark a shift in the rumored negotiations between the two companies, as Verizon previously hadn’t wanted to pay the same high subsidies AT&T pays for each iPhone signed up on its network. The telecom has also been unhappy with the notion of leaving Apple in charge of the customer experience, as it is with almost all of its carrier partners.

“Times have changed,” wrote Mr. Wu in a research note to his firm’s clients clients. “Apple is back in the driver’s seat with a record 14.1 million iPhone shipments in the September quarter helping AT&T gain share against VZ over the last two quarters as Android starts to lose some of its luster (at least at VZ). In addition, our sources indicate that VZ does not believe the pending launch of BlackBerry 6 on its network is likely to have a material impact.”

Another factor playing into the negotiations, according to industry and supply chain checks conducted by Kaufman Bros., is that Verizon may be willing to pay more than (i.e. what AT&T pays) to keep the device exclusive to AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., and off of Sprint and T-Mobile.

The iPhone has been the single biggest drive in customer growth for AT&T, helping Ma Bell to close much of the distance between itself and Big Red. AT&T has enjoyed an exclusive five year deal on the iPhone, but that five year contract will be up as soon sometime-in-2011, according to a variety of reported leaks and informed speculation (the smart money is on the summer of 2011).

While Verizon wants to end AT&T’s exclusivity on the device, the company doesn’t necessarily want every other carrier to get it, too, according to the reasoning laid out by Mr. Wu.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Foxconn to ship second-gen iPad in 100 days to meet April launch

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 07:41
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will begin shipping Apple’s next-generation iPad within the next 100 days according to a story published by DigiTimes.

After checks with Taiwan-based component makers, the publication reported Tuesday that Foxconn is set to ship the iPad 2 by the end of February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000-600,000 units. Tuesday’s report echoes an earlier report from the publication that claimed suppliers would ramp up shipments of iPad 2 components in the first quarter of 2011.

Apple had reportedly planned to begin mass production of the device in January, but ongoing testing of the new iPad’s firmware has apparently forced Apple to postpone its schedule. The new iPad is still expected to launch in April, a year after the first-generation device debuted.

According to the report, Foxconn’s new production plants in Chengdu are still in “pilot production,” so the iPad 2 will be mainly supplied by the company’s Shenzhen plants.

In preparation for a spring launch of the second generation of Apple’s successful tablet device, production of the original iPad is expected to drop off in early February. According to the article’s sources, Apple will still place orders for an estimated 1.6-1.8 million iPads through the end of January before reducing orders.

Anonymous sources have also indicated that Apple would introduce FaceTime-equipped next-gen iPads by the end of the first quarter of 2011, ahead of the usual 12-month product cycle. In November, rumors emerged that the next iPad will be a “world mode” device with both GSM and CDMA radios, allowing it to work on a variety of networks.

In the U.S., Verizon has already begun selling the iPad, though it currently only offers the Wi-Fi-only model bundled with a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. The iPad 3G model is not compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network.

Rumor: white iPhone 4 spotted in public, Apple working out tech issues though handset due in spring

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 06:35
Category: iPhone, Rumor

You’ve been hankering for it and it’s almost here.

Though it could need some tweaking.

Per the Seattle Times, a white iPhone 4 was spotted in public, though another handset constructed using leaked alleged official parts demonstrates issues with the camera flash.

Last week, a news producer in Seattle reportedly saw a white iPhone 4 at a Whole Foods store. The owner, an Italian man, reportedly claimed he was testing the device for Apple, and that it would go on sale in Europe in February.

The person claimed that the handset was modified so the iPhone 4 antenna issue which caused headlines earlier this year, no longer exists. According to The Seattle Times, the man also said that Apple was having problems keeping the edges of the device from yellowing.

Apple has repeatedly delayed the white iPhone 4, citing production issues. Rumors have suggested the color of the device has been a problem, though Apple has not clarified.

The news producer also snapped the following photo of the device spotted in the wild:

In other news, German web site MacNotes.de obtained what it says are official parts for Apple’s white iPhone 4. The site took a regular, black iPhone 4 and had the white external glass placed on it.

Though obviously not an official white iPhone 4, the site found that the camera flash had issues with the white glass, causing overexposed photos.

Finally, some Apple retail stores around the country began advertising over the weekend that the white iPhone 4 is set to debut in Spring 2011, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Taking the season literally, that would mean the handset could debut at any point between March 20 and June 21.

Apple formally announced in October that the white iPhone 4 was delayed until Spring 2011. Apple also stopped advertising the hardware on its site after numerous delays.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, magazine publishers in long-standing stalemate over iPad-based subscriptions

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPad, News

In as much as the iPad has been seen as the device to help bring magazines back into a better range of profitability, the devil may be in the details. Per MediaMemo, Apple and magazine publishers have still not been able to reach a deal for selling subscriptions on the iPad, as publications reportedly want extensive subscriber data, but Apple is unwilling to give it.

The report stated Friday that Apple and publishers are “still miles apart” on the prospect of subscriptions for iPad content in the App Store. The two sides remain at odds over the same issue they’ve allegedly been debating since early this year: Publishers want personal data about subscribers to provide to advertisers, and Apple doesn’t want to allow it.

Apple is reportedly offering publishers the option of an opt-in form, which would allow subscribers to grant publications the ability to access a “limited amount of information” about them, such as their name, physical mailing address, and e-mail address.

They’ve also proposed the same revenue sharing plans used to great success on the App Store, where Apple keeps a 30% cut of all transactions.

“The offer has been on the table for a ‘couple months,’ I’m told, and so far none of the big publishers have gone for it,” Kafka wrote. “They don’t like the 30% cut Apple wants to take, but their real hang-up is the lack of access to credit card data: It’s valuable to them for marketing, and without it they can’t offer print/digital bundles, either.”

As a result, he said publishers are now looking toward Google and tablets running the Android mobile operating system, in hopes of finding some success on that platform instead.

However, the anticipated tablet-only daily publication from News Corp, called The Daily, doesn’t have many of the same issues, because it’s a new product that’s doesn’t have existing customers on the print side of the business. One rumor has suggested that The Daily will be formally announced, along with Apple’s subscription plans, at an event on Dec. 9 or soon after.

For months, reports have claimed that Apple is unwilling to share consumer data beyond sales volume to publishers who are interested in putting their publications on the App Store. It has been said that Apple has pitched an opt-in function that would allow consumers to willingly share some information, but according to Kafka’s sources, Apple still refuses to give more detailed demographic information.

Print publishers view demographic data from readers as their most valuable asset, as they rely on that information to sell advertisements.