Apple releases OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to developer community

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Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:28
Category: News, Software

Mavericks is further down the line, but the OS X 10.8.5 update is in progress.

Per 9to5Mac, one week after the second beta seed of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5, Apple has issued OS X 10.8.5 build 12F17 to registered developers. The new update, again, includes no known issues and is available for developers via the Mac Developer Center and the Mac App Store Software Update function.

Apple has asked testers to focus on Wi-Fi, Graphics, Wake from Sleep, PDF viewing and Accessibility, and Mobile Device Management during their testing. Apple has also been providing 10.8.5 beta updates to its retail staff for testing.

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

Apple patent application cites research into earbud headphones with noise cancelation features

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Date: Friday, July 5th, 2013, 07:33
Category: News

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This could come in handy.

Per The United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, an Apple patent application discovered on Thursday describes a set of earbud type headphones that automatically adjust audio output based on seal quality, with necessary impedance data gathered by built-in microphones or electrical current measurements.

The patent application, entitled “Electronic device and headset with speaker seal evaluation capabilities” details a new type of self-calibrating earbud that can deliver enhanced audio reproduction over a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes. Also alluded to in the patent are noise canceling headphones which rely heavily on good earbud-to-ear seals to operate.

Apple’s invention is primarily aimed at earbud headphones, which are designed to create a seal in a user’s ear that helps reduce ambient noise while retaining a compact form factor. When an earbud does not create a proper seal, however, these properties are negatively impacted.

From the filing’s description:
“The quality of the seals that are formed between earbuds and a user’s ears affects performance. For example, satisfactory noise cancellation can become difficult when is high-quality seal is not present. Poor earbud-to-ear seals can also affect audio quality in other ways. For example, left-right balance (volume) and equalization can be affected by seal quality.”

To evaluate this seal, the invention proposes measuring the impedance of the speakers by taking current measurements, acoustic measurements with a microphone, or both.

As earbud impedance may vary as a function of signal frequency, impedance-versus-frequency curves can also be mapped and compared against to reveal poor seals. In addition, these curves can be used to adjust speaker output to compensate for inadequate performance.

The filing details a number of techniques to measure impedance levels, including current sensing circuitry. Test tones can also be used in conjunction with microphones to assess disparity in output and input amplitudes. In the case of noise-canceling headphones, microphones are disposed near the ear to measure ambient noise, and the amount of required noise cancellation can be used to judge whether a seal is good.

When a poor seal is detected, actions can take the form of warnings displayed on a user’s device. Alternatively, self-adjustment steps can include balance, equalization, and noise cancellation circuitry adjustments.

Apple’s self-evaluating, self-adjusting earbud patent application was first filed for in February 2013 and credits Victor Tiscareno, Jeffrey J. Terlizzi, Wendell B. Sander and Christopher Todd Beauchamp as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details about this patent application as they become available.

Apple, Time Warner close in on Apple TV content deal

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Date: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013, 10:32
Category: Apple TV, News

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It never fails to have good content available for your customers.

Per Bloomberg, Apple and U.S. cable company Time Warner are closing in on a deal that will give subscribers access to cable channels via Apple TV, which also claims the Cupertino company has taken on Hulu media marketing chief Pete Distad to help secure content, according to one report.

Citing sources close to the story, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Apple and Time Warner plan to announce the agreement in the coming months once a deal has been solidified. It is unknown what channels will be offered if and when a deal is finally struck, but access will likely be for existing cable subscribers only.

While a Time Warner Cable spokesperson said the company has “no agreement with [Apple],” it has similar content deals in place for Roku’s set-top box, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox game console. The company already allows subscribers to watch certain channels on iOS devices with its TWC TV app, which is also available for Android.

In addition to the Time Warner arrangement, the publication claims Apple has hired Hulu’s now former vice president of marketing and distribution Pete Distad to help executives with upcoming negotiations with media and cable companies.

No further details were divulged regarding the executive’s hire, but Distad’s bio on Hulu’s website says he is in charge of “subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing.”

Apple has become more aggressive in acquiring content for its Apple TV “hobby,” most recently adding channels HBO GO, WatchESPN, and more to the small streaming device.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2013-003 for Mountain Lion users

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Date: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013, 06:38
Category: News, security, Software

You might want to snag this.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple released Security Update 2013-003 for Mountain Lion on Tuesday.

The update’s specific security changes can be found here.

Security Update 2013-003 showed up earlier in the day on Tuesday, but quickly disappeared from Apple’s site. It reappeared late in the afternoon with a “1.0” appended to the update’s name in Software Update on the Mac App Store, where it’s available now and is also available as a 20.84 megabyte download and requires OS X 10.8.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple launches Back to School promotion, throws in $50 and $100 iTunes gift cards

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:49
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, retail

Never look a back to school promotion in the mouth.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple kicked off its annual Back to School deals on Tuesday for educational buyers and includes iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore gift cards worth up to US$100 with new Mac, iPhone and iPad purchases. The special deals are available now and run through September 6, 2013.


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The offer reads as follows:
“Buy a Mac for college and get a $100 gift card to spend on apps and more — and also save with education pricing. Or buy an iPad or iPhone and get a $50 card.
Qualifying products include Macs other than the Mac mini, plus the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPad 2, fourth generation iPad, and iPad mini.”

Not a bad thing and where a US$50 or US$100 iTunes gift card are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong there.

Apple files for “iWatch” trademark in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Columbia

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:09
Category: Legal, News

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The “iWatch” international patent/trademark tour continues.

Per 9to5Mac, in addition to filing a trademark for the name “iWatch” in Russia and Japan, Apple has requested a trademark for “iWatch” with Mexico’s Institute of Industrial Property. The Mexico-based filing was made public in recent days, but the request was originally filed on June 3rd. Apple filed the iWatch trademark under two categories relating to the hardware and software of mobile devices, according to the submitted documents.

The “iWatch” trademark request in Mexico is tied to Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop address in Cupertino, California, and Apple Inc. is noted as the company behind the filing. According to the documents, the person who submitted the request for Apple is named Maria Teresa Eljure Tellez. This person is the Head of the Trademark department at Mexico-based law firm Arochi, Marroquín, & Linder, S.C. This firm also appears on other Apple trademarks in Mexico such as for the iPad and other recently launched products.

The fact that Apple seems to be on a world tour of applying for the “iWatch” name trademark adds even more weight to the possibility of Apple launching a wearable-computing device in the near future.

Reports are currently split between Apple launching the device either later this year or later in 2014. The product will likely include sensors to gain data about the user in addition to functionality, such as mapping, messaging, and phone apps, that could interact with iOS Devices such as the iPad or iPhone.

Other than the “iWatch” trademark, the rest of the filing, like the ones from Japan and Russia, is fairly vague other than the aforementioned categories of the filing requests. Notably, the three thus-far discovered requests from Apple were filed within the same week of each other.

Apple is expected to debut new versions of the iPhone and iPad later this year, and it is yet to be seen if the watch-like device is ready to join Apple’s plans for this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to hold Q3 earnings conference call on Tuesday, July 23rd

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 06:21
Category: Finance, News

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The numbers tell the truth.

Per MacNN, Apple will hold its next quarterly earnings call with investors on Tuesday, July 23, where it will discuss its fiscal third-quarter results. According to its own estimates, it expects to report between US$33.5 billion and US$35.5 billion, a drop from the previous quarter but a realistic figure in light of no refreshed iPad or iPhone, the two primary drivers of Apple’s income. While the latest MacBook Air revision has garnered significant praise for its various improvements, it emerged at the very tail end of the quarter and thus didn’t influence sales.

Possibly affecting sales of other Apple products is the expected drop in sales that comes ahead of new iOS device models. Apple has already said that new products will be coming this fall, which is taken to mean the latest iPhone, iPad and possibly some entirely new devices — including a long-rumored Apple television or smartwatch. Another keenly-anticipated release is the acceptance of the new iOS 7, not to mention the long-overdue Mac Pro overhaul, which will test how professional users will adapt to the re-designed machine. Primarily, however, investors will be watching to see if Apple can continue its remarkable iOS platform US sales growth in the face of competition and a lack of any new product in the quarter.

In the previous quarter, Apple saw both good news and bad: revenues were up, as were iPad and iPhone sales (above analysts’ predictions), but Mac sales were basically flat and net profit was down slightly for the first time in a decade, a trend that is expected to have continued over the past three months. Analysts have reported that Apple has ordered fewer iPhones for the upcoming quarter, signalling that it expects further erosion of iPhone sales ahead of its eventual announcement of the next model.

Margins are expected to be around 36 percent, with operating expenses bubbling just under US$4 billion. The conference call is schedule to take place at 2PM Pacific/5PM Eastern on July 23.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to incorporate LTE-Advanced support, could operate at 150 Mbps data rate

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 08:46
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s just a rumor, but it could indicate that something really cool is en route for the next-gen iPhone.

Per The Korea Times, Apple is allegedly in talks with SK Telecom about launching an LTE-Advanced phone later this year. “LTE-A” is an upgraded version of the long-term evolution wireless standard currently found in the iPhone 5.

Citing an unnamed executive with SK Telecom, the report said that Apple is in the midst of negotiations with the carrier. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only device to take advantage of the LTE-A standard with SK Telecom.

LTE-A is capable of theoretical download speeds reaching 150Mbps, which is double that of basic LTE. The executive cited in the story reportedly said there is “no reason” for Apple not to adopt LTE-A with its next iPhone.

The possibility of LTE-A functionality on the next iPhone is believed to be possible because of new chipsets from Qualcomm. A potential “global LTE” chip candidate for Apple was released in February, boasting truly global connectivity support.

The Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution would enable an iPhone that supports all 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and LTE Advanced networks. Currently, the iPhone 5 is sold in three variants — two GSM and one CDMA — to offer compatibility with various networks across the world.

But Qualcomm’s RF360 would mitigate this problem, and even add support for the obscure TD-SCDMA network used by the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile. Apple does not currently have a deal in place to offer the iPhone through China Mobile, though rumors of a deal have persisted for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple files for “iWatch” trademark in Japan, other countries

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 06:50
Category: Hardware, News

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Prior to securing the licensing term “iPhone” back in 2006 and 2007, Apple went through a fair amount of rigamarole to get the much-coveted brand name.

It apparently doesn’t want to do that all over again.

Per Bloomberg and MacRumors, Apple has filed for a trademark for the term ‘iWatch’ in Japan:

“The maker of iPhones is seeking protection for the name which is categorized as being for products including a handheld computer or watch device, according to a June 3 filing with the Japan Patent Office that was made public last week. ‘iWatch’ is one of the possible names for the long-rumored Apple wristwatch that has generated increasing buzz over the past year.”

The filing actually represents the second ‘iWatch’ trademark filing discovered from Apple. The first report of the “iWatch” trademark came from Russia, also on June 3rd.

Bloomberg also restated that Apple has a team of about 100 product designers working on a wristwatch computer. The most recent reports have suggested we won’t see the Apple watch until late 2014 and that the watch will feature biometrics as a key feature, allowing for increased security and opening the door to broader health-related applications.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple working on 802.11ac bug fix for mid-2013 MacBook Air users, sends out limited invitation to test update

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

If you’re having trouble with the Wi-Fi on your new mid-2013 MacBook Air, a fix may be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, in a likely response to reports of 802.11ac Wi-Fi issues with its latest MacBook Air refresh, Apple late Friday began sending out invitations to select users, offering inclusion in the AppleSeed Program to test an upcoming Wi-Fi centric software update for the notebook.

Sources who received the email said that Apple will provide selected customers with a pre-release version of the “MacBook Air WiFi Update 1.0” to install and use on their new machines, asking that they give feedback on any bugs found during the testing process.

While not explicitly stated in the AppleSeed invite, it is thought that the update relates to recent Wi-Fi connectivity issues some customers have experienced with Apple’s implementation of the fairly new 802.11ac wireless standard.

The recently-released 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs are the first Macs to implement the fast wireless protocol which, when combined with the new AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule, can reach theoretical speeds of up to 1300Mbps.

Although the technology has promise, a growing number of owners have complained of throughput limitations related to 11ac, with some reports speculating the wireless stack in OS X is at least partially to blame.

A thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage appears to confirm the AppleSeed invitations, but offers little information on the software. Those who have already agreed to Apple’s terms said the company has yet to activate the invitation codes or send out the software.

In December 2012, Apple released a similar Wi-Fi compatibility update for Mac two months following the debut of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. At the time, owners of the then-new machine complained of problems recognizing 802.11n networks in the 5GHz band.

If you’ve received the notice or have experienced any Wi-Fi issues with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.