Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases public beta of Messages for the Mac, looks to replace iChat and integrate functionality with iOS version

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 06:03
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple announced the public beta of its new Mac Messages application with cross-platform support for iOS will be a major feature of the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, users can get their hands on an early beta immediately.

According to AppleInsider, the Messages beta is now available for download direct from Apple for free. Apple’s official site advertises that it will give users “a taste of what’s coming in OS X Mountain Lion,” set to be released in late summer 2012.

“When you install Messages, it replaces iChat,” Apple said. “But iChat services will continue to work. And Messages brings iMessage to the Mac — just like on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5.”

The Messages beta requires users Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and offers the following features:

– Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.

– Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.

– Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re tried the beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hints at Apple TV opportunities during Goldman Sachs speech

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News


Sometimes Apple CEO Tim Cook gets coy and drops hints as to cool new Apple products coming down the road.

And that’s generally a good thing.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity.

Such a suggestion points towards Apple creating a more stand-alone device than a tethered solution such as the current Apple TV units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to go with NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware for next-gen Mac Pro computers

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 12:25
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

You may love your Apple notebook or iOS device, but at the end of the day, it’s the Mac Pro that gets the most number-crunching done.

Per MIC Gadget, Apple’s long-rumored Mac Pro update could signal a return to NVIDIA for graphics based on claims about production progress on Tuesday. The company had reportedly been soured based on is experience with drivers and hardware failures. Instead, it would use NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware, although which exact parts weren’t mentioned.

Apart from possibly better behavior, the graphics switch might also be to improve overall speed for creative pros. Adobe’s Creative Suite still primarily depends on NVIDIA’s CUDA general-purpose computing rather than OpenCL.

Kepler is expected to be about three times more efficient in performance than NVIDIA’s existing technology and may help it leapfrog AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series.

The same tip had Apple just getting test samples of Ivy Bridge-based Xeon processors. The 22-nanometer chips have reportedly overcome overheating issues and are in high-enough production volumes. Apple would be using eight-core chips with 20MB cache, according to the tip, supporting its own early, inadvertent slip of 16-core Mac Pros that would use two processors.

The finished hardware, if accurate, might not ship until later into the summer, or about two years after the last update. Apple is known to have skipped a 2011 update after Intel’s Xeon E5 missed the market for all but a handful of specially-picked customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cautions against “Beta test iPhone 5” scam, tells users to be wary of unsolicited offer

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPhone, News

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Per the Apple discussion boards and iPodNN, a recent scam spam has spread from email and forums to Twitter, Facebook and now text messaging. Users have reported seeing unsolicited texts and social-network posts claiming that “Apple” is seeking 1,000 testers for text messaging on the iPhone 5. The links go to the websites or and ask for email or a text message “code” to sign up.

The notoriously secretive Apple would not, of course, openly solicit for public testers of a forthcoming product (it rarely even acknowledges a forthcoming product at all), nor use a third-party company to do so. Users who “sign up” will be asked for additional information. The “promotion” is a scam operation that sells the data collected to spammers and other criminal organizations. The text messages have appeared for users of other phone platforms as well as iOS users.

Scams promoting free “iPhone 5” units were popular on social-networking and forum sites up until the announcement of the iPhone 4S. Speculation that Apple may introduce a new model sometime later this year has apparently reached a sufficient level of mainstream consciousness that spammers are seeking to attract gullible consumers who want to get the jump on the next version of Apple’s most popular product.

The call to “test text messaging” is particularly ironic since iOS 5 introduced a new iOS service called iMessage that bypasses normal SMS traffic, circumventing a source of carrier income. Apple mobile devices that register their phone numbers or email addresses in iOS 5 can send and receive SMS-like text, image or video messages to and from other iOS devices or groups at no charge. The system works over Wi-Fi or 3G (and in the latter case does use 3G data).

AT&T is advising users to contact Apple when they receive such a text message. The company cannot block users from receiving the unsolicited text message, though Canada has recently introduced anti-spam laws that require mandatory opt-in before unsolicited electronic messages can be sent.

In other news, if you’ve already fallen for the iPhone 5 tester scam, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you just a few blocks away…

Rumor: Apple purportedly testing upcoming iPad model with 8-inch screen

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:49
Category: iPad, Rumor

The next iPad could feature a smaller form factor.

And there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be working with suppliers to test a new iPad model with a smaller form factor, sporting an 8-inch screen rather than the 9.7-inch size found on current models.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the publication reported on Tuesday that Apple officials have shown some suppliers designs for a device with an 8-inch screen size. It was said that Apple is qualifying potential suppliers to manufacture the device.

“One person said the smaller device will have a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2,” authors Lorraine Luk and Jessica E. Vascellaro wrote. “Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.”

The report also came with a caveat, noting that Apple works with suppliers to test new designs regularly, but that such a device may never see the light of day.

Tuesday’s report comes on the heels of an initial story from the publication, which claims that Apple plans to add 4G long-term evolution high-speed data connectivity to the third-generation iPad. The LTE iPad will reportedly operate on networks from both Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., and it would be the first 4G device from Apple.

Apple is expected to hold a media event on March 7 to announce its third-generation iPad. The new device is expected to sport the same 9.7-inch screen size as the current generation model, but will have a higher-resolution “Retina Display” similar to the pixel density found on the iPhone 4S screen.

Rumors of a so-called “iPad mini” are not new and have persisted for years. But Apple has long downplayed the prospect of such a device, calling the screen size too small to be functional and criticizing competitors who released 7-inch touchscreen tablets.

In October of 2010, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs slammed rivals who were building 7-inch tablets, saying the screen size was too small for users. He said that manufacturers of those devices would need to ship sandpaper with their 7-inch tablets so users could file down their fingers to the point where they could hit smaller targets on the screen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad 3 to add 4G LTE capabilities

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:57
Category: iPad, Rumor

There’s usually some truth to a rumor, especially if it’s been circulating for a while.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple will announce a third-generation iPad in early March that is capable of operating on 4G LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T.

Sources close to the story told the publication that Apple is planning on announcing the 4G-capable iPad during the first week of March. The device would reportedly then go on sale with AT&T and Verizon.

That lines up with earlier reports that have suggested the same time frame. One recent rumor claimed the announcement would come on March 7 and was quickly backed up by The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple.

The Journal was unable to learn whether the other major carriers in the U.S., Sprint and T-Mobile, would also sell Apple’s next iPad, though it did point out that AT&T and Verizon are currently the only two operators in the U.S. that run LTE networks. Verizon got an early lead with its 4G network and now reaches 200 million people with the service. AT&T has worked to catch up to its rival, covering 74 million people at the end of 2011.

Sources also said that the next iPad will resort to slower network technology when LTE isn’t available. AT&T sold the original iPad iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in 2010, while Verizon sold the iPad with Wi-Fi and a Mobile Hotspot router. The second-generation iPad, released last year, was capable of running on both Verizon and AT&T from day one.

Though rumors that Apple would transition the iPhone and iPad to LTE in 2012 have persisted for some time, evidence that the company will make the leap next month has mounted in recent months.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV stocks dwindle, fuel speculation as to third-gen device on horizon

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 08:28
Category: Apple TV, News

This is sort of out of nowhere, but it could lead to something interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, an upgraded Apple TV media hub might come sooner than thought after signs emerged that multiple stores ran low on stock. Amazon, Best Buy,, Radio Shack, and Target all show the device either as out of stock or taking weeks to ship. Apple and others do have supply, but it follows a pattern of third-party resellers usually running out first.

While it’s possible that there would be a temporary lull in stock, new tips suggest that the existing version may have been phased out. No more were shipping to Best Buy stores, a person at the retailer claimed.

Code references have been appearing that refer to a new Apple TV for the past few months, but little has emerged as to what it might be. With a full TV set unlikely in the near future, it’s more probable that any device, if it reaches stores, would be an A5- or A6-based update that could support 1080p video.

The timing follows some dwindling iPad 2 stock and raises the possibility that Apple may use an increasingly likely early March event to show both a new Apple TV and a new iPad at the same time.

Stay tuned and we’ll have details as soon as they become available.

Meijer’s $70 iPad 2 price reduction, other discounts hint at upcoming iPad 3 launch

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:58
Category: iPad, News

It’s the discounts that sometimes provide the best hints as to a product released.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. big-box retailer Meijer, has slashed the in-store price of the 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi by US$70, even as Apple’s third-generation tablet is expected to hit the market within weeks.

The chain announced the sale in its weekly ad for the week of February 12 – 18, noting that it runs only while supplies last and does not include rain checks or substitutions. A separate listing on the company’s website lists the US$429 price as lasting until Feb. 25 and notes that the iPad 2 deal is only available in stores.

The Smart Cover iPad 2 accessory is also on sale for US$35, US$5 off Apple’s price. In addition, Meijer is offering a free US$15 iTunes gift card with the purchase of an 8GB iPod touch for US$195 this week.

Meijer is a Michigan-based supermarket chain that has been credited with popularizing the “supercenter” retail concept. The bulk of the company’s stores are in Michigan, though it also has locations in several other surrounding states.

The US$70 off sale is one of the steepest discounts for the iPad 2 since the device was released last March. For instance, Best Buy offered US$45 off all iPad 2 models last year ahead of the Black Friday retail frenzy. Apple itself offered between US$41 and US$61 off during its own Black Friday promotion.

Given that recent reports have pegged the first week in March as the likely time frame for the launch of the third-generation iPad, Meijer’s deal could be viewed as an effort to clear out inventory before the new devices arrive.

Apple’s next tablet is widely expected to have a high-resolution Retina Display with double the pixel density as the current model, as well as a significantly faster A6 processor. Some reports have also suggested that Apple could make the jump to 4G with the release of an LTE-capable iPad next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.