Apple Releases New Mac OS X 10.5.8, Mac OS X 10.6 Seeds to Developer Community

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Date: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009, 04:50
Category: Mac, Software

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Apple has reportedly issued new seeds of Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and Mac OS X 10.5.8 to developers that, at least in the former case, add functionality that was previously only shown at WWDC.

Per AppleInsider and sources close to the story, the new Snow Leopard seed, 10A394, officially provides just compatibility, reliability and security fixes but appears to give developers access to Expose’s integration with the Dock.

As demonstrated by Apple executive Phil Schiller earlier this month, the feature lets users click and hold on an app’s Dock icon to show the windows relating to that app in equal-sized, organized tiles. The simple change makes it much easier to find a particular window for a project, for example, without having to invoke a specific Expose shortcut. They can also choose to view a selected window at full size to determine if the content inside is what they want.

A new Xcode 3.2 build has been released in tandem with the Snow Leopard build.

The new Mac OS X 10.5.8 seed has apparently advanced four builds from its previous state, to 9L20. Apple appears to be quickly winding up development, as it supposedly hasn’t mentioned any remaining known bugs and has fixed just a few prior issues, such as problems with using auto-complete on CalDAV servers in iCal, Image Capture’s support for large files, and syncing Address Book with MobileMe.

Apple has also asked developers to focus their testing on low-level components like graphics drivers, power management and storage.

Apple Releases iPhoto 8.0.4 Update

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Date: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009, 02:17
Category: Mac, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released version 8.0.4 of its iPhoto image organization and editing application. The new version, a 102.2 megabyte download, addresses a rarely encountered issue involving photos imported into a previous version that could affect overall stability, and corrects references to a few points of interest and location names that were labeled incorrectly.

The update can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

iPhoto 8.0.4 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.5

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Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 10:01
Category: Mac, Software

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Early Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.5 of its Firefox web browser.
The new version, a 17.2 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:
- Support for HTML5 video and audio content embedded directly on a page.
- A private browsing mode.
- Location-aware browsing, which allows you to share your location with Web sites if you so choose.
- Faster JavaScript performance via the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine (2x as fast as Firefox 3 and 10x faster than Firefox 2)
- Support for the latest version of the Gecko rendering platform, which brings faster rendering of onscreen content.

The 3.5 update was supposed to be version 3.1, though according to Macworld, Mozilla decided to change the version numbering, believing that it better reflected the breadth of new features and functionality that the update brought.

Firefox 3.5 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Returns to Work

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Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 04:27
Category: News

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs returned to work at Apple following a six-month medical leave.

“Steve is back to work,” a company spokesman told Reuters. “He’s currently at Apple a few days a week, and working from home the remaining days. We are very glad to have him back.”

In January, Apple announced that Jobs, who was thought to be suffering from a hormone imbalance that was contributing to his weight-loss, would take a medical leave through the end of June after discovering that his health problems were “more complex” than originally thought.

It was later revealed that Jobs spent much of that waiting for, receiving, and then recovering from, a liver transplant that was conducted at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

James D. Eason, M.D., chief of transplantation and professor of surgery at the hospital, would later say that Jobs’ prognosis following the surgery was “excellent.”

Apple Releases MacBook Air Update SMC 1.2

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Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 04:56
Category: Mac, MacBook Air, Software

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Apple released its MacBook Air SMC Firmware Update 1.2 patch yesterday, a 623 kilobyte download that offers the following fixes and changes per the web site:

“This SMC firmware update adds compatibility for the latest service replacement batteries…. After this update has successfully completed, your SMC Version will be: 1.23f20 [for original MacBook Air models, or] 1.34f8 [for more recent models].”

SMC Firmware Updates generally control the System Management Controller on Intel-based Macs. The SMC controls power and thermal management features, including the battery and fans. In this case, new replacement batteries from Apple are apparently different enough that they require the use of this updated version of the SMC firmware.

The update can be downloaded directly or snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Several Original iPhone Owners Report Difficulty Maintaining Wireless Connections Under iPhone OS 3.0

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Date: Monday, June 29th, 2009, 05:37
Category: iPhone, iPhone 3GS

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As nifty as iPhone OS 3.0 may be, a number of original iPhone owner have reported that their handsets are having difficulty remaining connected to wireless networks.

According to MacFixIt, complaints similar to the following description have been left over on the site’s discussion board:

MacFixIt reader Mark M. reports:
“I’ve been having persistent problems getting my iPhone to remember Wi-Fi networks after the upgrade to 3.0. I’ve been following the Apple User Group discussions (iphone, network) and have followed the suggestions there (restore the phone; forget network settings) to no avail. I have a 1st gen iPhone and currently I have to go to settings, general, reset, reset network settings several times a day to maintain a Wi-Fi connection to my home airport. From the User Group discussions it appears this is a fairly common problem.”

The issue currently appears to be bigger than single cases and has also been reported with many iPhones running iPhone OS 2.2.1 as well as units with the iPhone OS 3.0 update installed.

Over on the Apple Discussions Board, user “GoHawks” reported the following:

“A lot of us, myself included, are all of a sudden having this issue. Mine started a few weeks ago as well, when I was running 2.2.1, and continued on into 3.0. Every once in a while it will work, but it’s a rare occurrence. Unfortunately all the tips and tricks don’t appear to work for me either, things I’ve tried include:
1. Reset Network settings
2. Reset All Settings
3. Restore (done about 12 of them over the last couple of weeks)
4. Deleting various apps to see if that makes a difference
5. Reboots
6. Airplane Mode on/off
7. Toggle WiFi
8. Turn of Bluetooth
9. Resetting the phone by holding the top button and home until it reboots
I’ve done all of this many times and every once in a while one of them will seem to work, but within an hour I’ve lost it again. Even when I have it I’m constantly having to put in my password information for the networks I connect to with encryption.”

Currently there does not appear to be a permanent fix for this issue. Most users report that a combination of any of the above attempts for a solution will temporarily provide relief and decent wireless performance.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available and if you’ve seen this on your end, please let us know in the new, revamped and nifty comments section!

Latest High-End MacBook Air Performing Slower Than Predecessor

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Date: Monday, June 29th, 2009, 04:47
Category: MacBook Air

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Taken at face value, the specifications tied to Apple’s most recent MacBook Air updates imply the latest pair of ultra-slim notebooks should handily outperform their predecessors, but a new report claims this notion only holds true for the slower of the two models.

According to Macworld’s review, the most recent MacBook Air notebooks, an entry-level US$1,499 model with a 1.86GHz processor and 120GB hard drive, and a high-end version for US$1,799 that sports a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid-state flash drive, have been tested against their predecessors introduced last October: a 1.6GHz model with a 120GB (then priced at US$1799) and a 1.86GHz version with 128GB solid-state flash drive (then priced at US$2499).

While the new low-end 1.86GHz model bested its 1.6GHz predecessor, outperforming it in most tests and recording a Speedmark score of 11 points higher at 156, the same couldn’t be said for the new high-end 2.13GHz MacBook Air, which achieve a score of 175 — a full 4 points lower than the previous-gen 1.86GHz model.

“What’s weird about the new high-end MacBook Air model is that although it cost dramatically less than its immediate predecessor, it was also slower than that model,” wrote Macworld’s editor, Jason Snell. “The late-2008 1.86GHz MacBook Air was faster than the new top-of-the-line model in 11 of our 18 tests, and as a result, the old system’s final Speedmark score was slightly higher.”

Snell also reported that he saw several cases in which the new, low-end MacBook Air, with its slower Core 2 Duo chip and hard disk drive, outperform the high-end model and its sold-state flash drive. He notes that this may be the result of hard drives being known to outperform their solid state drives in certain operations, but added that the slower system also beat the faster model in some video compression and 3D rendering tests.

“We’re not quite sure why this is happening, though it’s possible that the Air’s thermal-protection systems are aggressively ratcheting down the speed of the faster, hotter processors when they’re asked to perform those tasks, slowing their performance,” he wrote.

In light of these results, it’s worth noting that several Apple authorized resellers maintain inventory of the previous-generation 1.86GHz MacBook Air, which they’re discounting to a price of US$1,649 (roughly US$150 cheaper than than the new 2.13GHz model they appear to be outperforming).

Mild iPhone 3GS Shortage Reported Models Across Apple Retail Networks

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Date: Monday, June 29th, 2009, 04:11
Category: iPhone 3GS, retail

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Apple’s retail store chain reported shortages of some models of the company’s recently released iPhone 3GS handset on Sunday. According to Macworld UK, the company’s own inventory tracking tool showed a milder repeat of last summer, when Apple’s stores quickly exhausted supplies of the then-new iPhone 3G, a situation that persisted for several weeks until the company could refill the pipeline.

On Sunday, Apple’s stock-checking tool indicated that 13 of the 211 stores in the US, or 6% of the total, were completely out of the iPhone 3GS.

Another 31 stores, or 15%, had only one of the four models for sale.

The hardest-to-find iPhone 3GS was the US$199 white 16GB model, which was out of stock in 121 stores, or 57% of the locations. Supplies of the US$299 32GB black iPhone 3GS were also short, as 84 stores, or 40% of the total, reported it unavailable.

Customers on Sunday were most likely to find the US$199 black 16GB iPhone 3GS and the US$299 white 32GB model in stock, as only 23% of the stores reported being out of either of those configurations.

The iPhone 3GS has been available since June 19, but Apple only recently re-activated the inventory tool. Last summer, users were told to use the tool after 9 pm local time each day to check availability for the next day. This year, there is no such instruction, since the tool has been changed to offer better information.

“You can check the most up-to-date availability right here,” said Apple on the tool’s Web page. “Shipments of iPhone 3GS arrive most days and availability is updated hourly.”

All stores currently have the US$99 8GB iPhone 3G in stock, Apple added.

AT&T, which last year also ran through its inventory soon after the iPhone 3G’s July launch, and took much longer to restock, has some spot shortages in its 2,200 retail stores as well. The carrier, however, was vague about the extent of the problem.

“There are AT&T stores that do not currently carry iPhone,” AT&T said in an message accompanying its online store finder. The remainder of the text was identical to last year: “This store locator is made specifically for finding iPhone at an AT&T store. It does not, however guarantee that there will be iPhones in stock at the particular store at this time. To make sure iPhone is at the store closest to you, call that store’s number.”

Best Buy and Wal-Mart are selling the 3GS handset as well. However, neither sells the iPhone online or offers any information about availability online. Instead, customers must call or visit a brick-and-mortar store to see whether the smartphone is in stock.

Prior to the June 19 launch, AT&T and Best Buy said that they had exhausted their pre-order supplies of the iPhone 3GS.

Microsoft Announces Windows 7 Pricing, Upgrades, Release Date

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Date: Friday, June 26th, 2009, 04:00
Category: News

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Microsoft let the Windows 7 details fly on Thursday with news of lower Windows 7 upgrade prices as well as a concession that lets owners of the now 8-year-old Windows XP move up to the new operating system at a lower price.

According to AppleInsider, Microsoft detailed the pricing for the three editions of Windows 7 that customers would be likely to find in stores.

In a bid to placate those upset by elevated Vista pricing, some versions of Windows 7 will be less expensive than Vista has been in the past. At retail, a Home Premium upgrade will cost US$120 (US$40 less than it did when Vista was new) while its stand-alone version has dropped a similar amount to US$200. Buying a copy of Professional will retail for US$200 (upgrade) or US$300 (full) as it has in the past, but Windows 7 Ultimate will cost US$220 to upgrade versus the US$260 for Vista Ultimate in 2007. A full copy of the new Ultimate release costs US$320 versus US$400 two years ago.

Customers eager enough to pre-order the new OS before it ships on October 22nd will pay even less. Starting Friday, advance orders for Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional upgrades will retail for US$50 and US$100 each in the United States and should last until July 11th or until stock runs dry. Many PC vendors, including HP, will also offer upgrades to Windows 7 for free or for a small cost on any PC sold from Friday until Windows 7 comes preloaded on the new computers.

Microsoft also announced that those using the now two generations old Windows XP OS can upgrade their OS rather than pay full retail pricing. However, due to the change in architectures between Windows XP and 7, buyers will have to perform a clean install rather than the in-place upgrade Vista owners can use.

Current builds of Windows 7 function well under Apple’s Boot Camp technology and are expected to be supported by virtualization programs such as Parallels Desktop and VMware.

Apple To Buy Additional 2.2 Million Shares of Imagination Technologies

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Date: Friday, June 26th, 2009, 04:45
Category: Hardware, News

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Apple may be expanding in component companies once again, as Macworld UK is reporting that Apple has upped its stake in British outfit Imagination Technologies, the London-based company that developed the technology used in the 3G iPhone’s graphics chips

Imagination Technologies has stated that Apple is to acquire 2.2 million of its shares at £1.4275 (about US$2.351 per share.

Apple already owned shares in Imagination’s technology. On 18 December 2008, Imagination revealed in a filing with the London Stock Exchange that Apple acquired 8,200,000 shares, equal to a 3.6% stake in the company.

London-based Imagination Technologies develops intellectual property found in systems-on-chip (SOCs), including its Meta processor cores and PowerVR graphics engines.

A graphics chip based on PowerVR provides the graphics for Apple’s 3G iPhone and other companies, including Samsung Electronics and Intel, have licensed Imagination’s graphics technology.