Drive Genius 2.2 Out the Door

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 10:54
Category: Software

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Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 2.1.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.

The new version, a 33.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:
* Now supports Snow Leopard.
* Improved defragmentation functionality.
* Improved repartition performance and other improvements.

Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later installed to work. The application is a Universal Binary and functions natively under both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.

Canadian Markets Complain of iPhone 3GS Supply Shortage

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 04:23
Category: iPhone, News

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Up in the frosty north, the Canadian markets are complaining about a shortage in the iPhone 3GS supply. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the major suppliers, Fido and Rogers, are both reporting they are sold out pretty much across the country. Some Apple Stores in Canada have them in stock, but a couple of calls revealed that even Apple Stores are often out of stock.

Both Rogers and FIDO say new shipments will arrive in ‘weeks,’ and that back orders are being filled on a priority basis. No dates are being given, and buyers are being told to check back with their local stores or online.

Similar shortages occurred in Canada and the UK earlier this month and during the Apple conference call last Tuesday, COO Tim Cook said iPhone demand has been “staggering in almost every country we’ve shipped in.”

Apple has stated that the company will release the new iPhone to 20 more countries on August 22nd.

VLC Reaches Version 1.0.1

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 04:18
Category: Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.0.1 on Tuesday. The new version, a 28.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

* Flv and mpeg2 seeking.
* Wmv, wav, rtsp and ssa support.
* Fixes for Qt and MacOS interface.
* Fix of an integer underflow in Real pseudo-RTSP module.
* Translations updates.
* Port of the ZVBI module to Windows for full teletext support.
* Codecs updates for Windows and Mac OS.

VLC 1.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and is available as a free download.

Apple Systematically Pulling Google Voice, Similar Applications

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:24
Category: News

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Apple is apparently systematically yanking iPhone applications from the App Store that use Google Voice to simplify and reduce the costs of making phone calls, though it’s suspected Apple isn’t the one making the actual judgment call.

According to AppleInsider, developer Sean Kovacs, was surprised on Monday to discover that his GV Mobile client for Google Voice was to be pulled from the App Store as it was allegedly duplicating the iPhone’s calling and text messaging features. Apple representative Richard Chipman contacted him personally but not only wasn’t specific about what could be fixed but wouldn’t provide e-mail to confirm the takedown.

Although individual removals aren’t uncommon, later reports have surfaced that Apple had pulled VoiceCentral, another competitor, and had even denied Google when it tried to quietly submit a Google Voice app six weeks ago in spite of its corporate partnerships with Apple.

The systematic disappearances don’t currently have a larger official explanation but, given the common thread of their using the same service, is now thought less to a matter of Apple guarding its built-in features and more cellular carriers pushing it to keep the service out. Google Voice not only allows users one virtual phone number to call multiple real phones but greatly reduces the cost of outbound long-distance and messaging, all of which potentially deprive AT&T and eventually other carriers of possible extra revenue.

Such an unspoken ban would also go a step beyond normal restrictions on which apps are allowed and what they can do. In the past, carriers have argued against allowing voice over IP apps such as Fring and Skype on the cellular network for technical reasons, such as latency; the lag on even a 3G network is high enough that holding a regular conversation isn’t really feasible, for example. In restricting Google Voice, which still uses the regular voice network for much of its activity, the primary advantage is to eliminate competition.

Neither Apple nor AT&T have offered official comments on the issue.

Apple, China Mobile Apparently Reach Terms Regarding Chinese iPhone Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After about two years of negotiation, wireless carrier has allegedly landed a three-year contract for the exclusive rights to local iPhone distribution, according to MacNN and a Shanghai Securities News report. The deal, described by unnamed sources, is said to extend for three years and guarantees annual sales of 1 million to 2 million units.
Apple recently acknowledged that bringing the iPhone into the Chinese market held a top priority. The recent report suggests the potential carriers could not come to agree on revenue sharing terms. Soon after the first iPhone was released, sources claimed AT&T was paying between US$150 to US$200 per purchased phone and an additional US$9 for each month of the standard two-year duration of a customer subscription.

Beijing reportedly objected to the idea of revenue sharing, although the carrier has agreed to purchase the devices for 3,000 yuan (~US$439 USD) each. The terms also mandate a minimum overall revenue of at least 5 billion yuan (~US$732 million USD) every year.

China Mobile, with a much larger subscriber base than China Unicom, was also involved in negotiations for the iPhone.

The Chinese iPhone is expected to be customized for the local market, although specific details remain unconfirmed. An anonymous source recently claimed that component provider Foxconn has already begun mass production. The device is said to keep 3G and Bluetooth, while omitting Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations.

Finally, Agence France-Presse has quoted a Unicom spokesman as saying that while the carrier is close to a deal, there are still problems to be negotiated. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations,” according to the spokesman. He adds that proper negotiations with Apple began in January, when the Chinese government began issuing 3G licenses.

Samsung Releases 1GHz Hummingbird Processor for Future Smartphones

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 07:41
Category: Processors

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Electronics giant Samsung unveiled a new ARM processor intended for future smartphones. Per MacNN, the processor, nicknamed “Hummingbird”, uses the same Cortex-A8 architecture as the chip in the iPhone 3GS but clocks at 1GHz, significantly higher than the 833MHz of its previous best. The feat is accomplished both by a smaller, more energy-efficient 45 nanometer process as well as partly customized circuits designed to handle the load.

Samsung has stated the processor can handle up to 2 billion instructions per second but will consume only 640mW of power and doesn’t need more than 1V of voltage. As a Cortex-A8 chip, Hummingbird is a dual-issue (two instructions at a time) processor with special media extensions, known as Neon, that can speed up common audio or video tasks.

Specific customers haven’t been named for the processor, although Samsung makes it clear it sees Hummingbird reaching “advanced mobile devices” once it’s turned into standard system-on-chip processors. Apple has been one of Samsung’s larger customers for ARM processors, although it has typically underclocked the processor for the iPhone to accommodate the heat concerns in the tight enclosure.

iPhone 3GS Hardware Encryption Cracked in Two Minutes

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 05:35
Category: iPhone 3GS, security

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As cool as the recently-released iPhone 3GS may be, there may be room for improvement. According to a blog entry over on Wired’s Gadget Lab, iPhone Forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski describes how the hardware encryption of the iPhone 3Gs can be worked around and demonstrates how both the passcode and backup encryption can be bypassed in about two minutes.

Zdziarski goes on to comment that all data on the iPhone, including deleted data, is automatically decrypted by the iPhone when it’s copied, allowing users and law enforcement agencies alike access the device’s raw disk as if no encryption were present. A second demonstration features the recovery of the iPhone’s entire disk while the device is still passcode-locked.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve heard anything about this, let us know in the comments.

iPhone OS 3.1 to Support Augmented Reality Applications, New Snow Leopard Seed Distributed

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 04:16
Category: Software

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Recently, Apple released word that its upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 firmware will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS’ camera. Such programs would allow for more extended use of the iPhone 3GS’ improved camera and overlay information and controls on top of real-world objects seen through a camera.

Per AppleInsider, iPhone OS 3.1 has so far only been known to expose some video camera controls for developers, third-party producer Acrossair was told by Apple that the future release would be needed for its Nearest Tube and future Nearest Subway apps to work properly.

These applications are already highly dependent on the built-in compass and autofocusing camera of the iPhone 3GS, both of which are needed to alternately recognize the direction the iPhone is facing as well as to get a detailed enough look at a subject to tag it with information. As a demonstration of the technology, Acrossair’s software can show the subway stops visible in a particular direction and their distance relative to the user.

iPhone OS 3.1 is anticipated to be ready by early September, just in time for Apple’s by now yearly iPod updates. The release could also dovetail with the seemingly probable release of an iPod touch with a camera that could take advantage of augmented reality when using Wi-Fi.

On Friday, Apple distributed Mac OS X Snow Leopard build 10A421. The update comes just ten days after 10A411 and is said by people familiar with the changes to be very modest on the surface, including general compatibility, security and stability fixes.

Apple’s increased frequency in providing updated Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) builds is expected with just weeks left before the revision is due to reach stores, as the company will now be looking to isolate and fix the remaining obvious bugs instead of changing functionality.

comiXology Releases Comics for iPhone, iPod Touch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 03:00
Category: iPhone, Software

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Over at San Diego Comic-Con, Iconology Inc. announced the launch of its Comics by comiXology App on the App Store. The Comics by comiXology App is a digital comic library and reader for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch handsets that is launching with over 100 titles available from twenty popular comic publishers and many independent comic writers.

Comic book enthusiasts can now read their comics in a format designed to preserve the comic book experience on an iPhone or iPod touch, but also locate and connect with local retailers to purchase the printed version of the titles.

The application offers a “guided view” that keeps the entire page of a comic intact, unlike other solutions where the page is cut into individual pictures the user browses like a photo application.

Among the twenty publishers that have already signed up to deliver their titles through Comics by comiXology are many well-known industry icons including:

  • AdHouse Books
  • Arcana Comics
  • Asylum Press
  • Bluewater Comics
  • Com.X
  • Creative Impulse Entertainment
  • Digital Webbing
  • eigoMANGA
  • Evil Twin Comics
  • First Salvo
  • Image Comics (Active Images, Allred, Kirkman, Wagner, Brunswick, Revel and more)
  • Markosia
  • Moonstone
  • Red 5
  • Slave Labor Graphics
  • Th3rd World Studios
  • Zenescope

Additionally, popular comics writer Robert Kirkman has agreed to deliver his titles exclusively through Comics by comiXology making it the only place to get “Walking Dead” and “Invincible” for iPhone and iPod touch.

The Comics by comiXology App is now available, including over 30 free comics, for US$0.99 from the App Store.

Palm Releases webOS 1.1, Restores Pre’s Ability to Sync with iTunes

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Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 03:12
Category: News, Software

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One week after Apple disabled the Palm Pre’s capacity to sync with iTunes, Palm has responded by releasing webOS 1.1, an update that again enables Palm’s phone to access media from the current version of iTunes.

Per the company’s blog, Pre users can expect the new software to arrive via an over-the-air update.

“Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync,” the post reads. “That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).”

Last week, Apple released iTunes 8.2.1. In accompanying release notes, the company was vague about what the upgrade actually did, stating only that the update provided “a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.”

Soon after the new version of iTunes was released, Pre users realized that the update had broken their ability to sync music with the software.

The webOS 1.1 update brings a number of changes focused on business users, including remote wipe, inactivity timeout, improved certificate handling and more for Exchange ActiveSync. The update also provides emoticons in the messaging app.

When Palm initially unveiled the handset, the company boasted about the the handset’s ability to transfer media from iTunes. According to AppleInsider, the feature worked by identifying the Pre in its hardware ID as an iPod — a trick Apple warned might not work for long.

Last month, Apple warned Pre users that future software updates may kill sync capability with the device.

“Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store,” Apple warned a document released in June. “Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players.”

In its blog post, Palm declined to elaborate on how they circumvented the changes presented in iTunes 8.2.1.