Third-party Lightning accessories begin to arrive in Apple Store retail locations

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 08:07
Category: News, retail

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If you’ve been looking for third-party Lightning adapters, they’ve begun to arrive in Apple Store retail locations.

Per The Mac Observer, which so far, only car chargers are available, other compatible accessories are likely coming soon.

Lightning-compatible accessories with Apple’s official approval have been slow coming because the company has apparently taken its time ramping up its review process. With companies finally getting the green light, customers should start seeing more Lightning devices on store shelves in the coming weeks.

Several manufacturers exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week stated that they have Lightning accessories ready to go, but are currently waiting on Apple to complete its licensing approval process.

If you’ve seen third-party Lightning adapters at your local Apple Store location, please let us know in the comments.

Oracle releases updated Java 7 Update 11 security fix, now available for download

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 08:28
Category: News, security, Software

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Following up on the discovery of a Java 7 flaw that prompted Apple to disable the software in OS X, Oracle issued a statement saying it is currently working on a fix and released a patch over the weekend.

Oracle released the statement late Friday following a U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommendation that all Java 7 users disable or uninstall the software until a patch was issued, reports Reuters. Taking action on its own, Apple quietly disabled the plugin through its OS X anti-malware system shortly after hearing of the exploit.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that Java’s most-recent vulnerability is being “attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits.”

For its part, Oracle noted in its statement that the flaw only affects the most up-to-date version of Java 7 and Java software designed to run in Internet browsers.

Java and Apple have had a rocky relationship over the past few years, including a move to drop the Java runtime from OS X 10.7 Lion’s default installation when the OS debuted in 2010. Another flaw in Oracle’s internet plugin was responsible for the most widespread Mac malware ever when the “Flashback” trojan reportedly affected some 600,000 OS X machines in April 2012.

Apple continued efforts to deprecate Java from OS X over the past year, culminating in the company’s final official in-house Java update issued in May 2012. From that point, all responsibility for future updates was handed over to Oracle.

Oracle on Sunday released a fix to a Java 7 flaw discovered on Friday. Users can download the release here.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

From the release notes:
“The fixes in this Alert include a change to the default Java Security Level setting from “Medium” to “High”. With the “High” setting, the user is always prompted before any unsigned Java applet or Java Web Start application is run.”

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

Rumor: Apple prepping iOS 6.1 beta, build expected to go Golden Master

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 07:51
Category: iOS, News, Software

Just the term, “golden master”, it pretty much sounds awesome.

Per German web site iFun, Apple is said to be internally testing a new beta of iOS 6.1 that is expected to be the golden master build, suggesting the software is nearly ready to be released to the public.

Citing a “reliable source,” the web site reported Friday that the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 is about to be released to developers. The software is said to have gone through “extensive internal testing,” and if all goes well it will be the golden master of the software.

The software is expected to be released to developers either on Friday or potentially on Monday.

Apple began supplying beta builds of iOS 6.1 to its development community in early November. To date, there have been four betas seeded, the most recent arriving in mid-December.

Changes in iOS 6.1 are mostly minor, with the most significant user-facing additions including the ability to purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri, and a new prompt that asks users to enter security questions for iCloud when setting up their device for the first time.

For developers, iOS 6.1 includes an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow third-party applications to search for map-based addresses based on points of interest. For example, a user could search the term “coffee” and the new framework would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

iOS 6.1 builds released to date have been compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS; fourth-, third-, and second-generation iPad; iPad mini; and fifth-and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release updated iPad, iPad mini models in March

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Date: Friday, January 11th, 2013, 09:42
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Come March…you may buy the next generation of iPad.

Per AppleInsider, a new rumor has pegged both the full-size iPad and iPad mini as due for updates in March.

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets said his checks with industry sources at this week’s CES event in Las Vegas, Nev., indicated both the fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will debut this March, just five months after the last update was announced.

White was told that the new “iPad 5” will be lighter and thinner than the fourth-generation model Apple released late last year. The updated model features a new A6X processor and Apple’s smaller Lightning chip but maintained the same design as the third-generation iPad released last March.

As for the iPad mini, White said the second-generation device is expected to have the same form factor. A new model would likely just have upgraded components, such as a faster chip.

No mention was made of a potential high-resolution Retina display in a new iPad mini. One report from last month claimed Apple was focused on boosting the resolution of the next-generation iPad mini.

Though many industry insiders attend CES, Apple does not have an official presence at the annual event. White did not indicate the source of his information aside from unnamed “checks” at the show.

White also reported last week that Apple is expected to debut new iPhones this summer in more sizes and colors, expanding the lineup from the current black and white options. He expects the new iPhones to debut in the May-June timeframe, which would be earlier than the last two years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

27-inch iMacs see production delays, difficult display lamination process cited

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Date: Friday, January 11th, 2013, 08:25
Category: iMac, News, retail

You know that 27-inch iMac you’ve been wanting for a while? You might have to wait a little while longer for your order.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is still facing manufacturing issues with its new big-screen 27-inch iMac, though a report claims the issue could start to improve in February.

Citing industry sources, the publication reported on Thursday that mass production issues can be pinned on iMac panel supplier LG Display. The problem apparently stems from full lamination issues in producing the panels.

Apple and LG are only able to produce about 100,000 units a month, according to the report. The issues do not apparently apply to the 21.5-inch iMac, which has reached monthly shipments of between 300,000 and 400,000.

It had been noted that Apple’s iMacs remain in short supply more than a month after the new all-in-one desktop launched. In fact, Apple’s reseller channel remains completely out of stock of the 21.5-inch model.

Apple’s online store advertises that the 27-inch iMac will ship to new orders in three to four weeks. The wait isn’t quite as long with the 21.5-inch model, which ships in 7 to 10 business days.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said publicly in October that there would be “significant shortage” of iMacs in the December quarter. And analyst Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities was first to reveal in August that the new screen lamination process used in building the new iMacs is particularly difficult with the larger 27-inch model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.