Google Chrome updated to 12.0.742.60

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Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011, 04:46
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 12.0.742.60 for the Mac. The new version, a 36.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- Contains a number of UI tweaks and performance fixes.

Google Chrome 12.0.742.60 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google launches cloud-based music service, demos upcoming version of Android

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Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, 03:48
Category: News

Google launched the invite-only beta of its new cloud music streaming service Tuesday, along with Android movie rentals, and Honeycomb 3.1 for tablets. It also previewed Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major Android release, and promised that devices will receive future Android updates for 18 months after they launch, through a new agreement with carriers and device makers.

Per AppleInsider, the company launched its new Music service, a streaming product that will remain free while in beta. Initially, the service is only available to those who are given an invite.

The license-free cloud product allows users to upload their library of music to Google’s servers, and stream those tracks to Android devices and computers, on both Windows and Mac. The Music Beta software allows users to upload all of the music within their iTunes library and access it on the go.

The search giant unveiled the new product as part of its I/O 2011 conference on Tuesday. It boasted that the music service, when synced to the cloud, means users will never have to sync with a cable again.

Music Beta by Google also lets users “pin” their music for offline use, allowing content to be accessed when a data connection may not be available. Music Beta can be used on Android devices running Froyo or Gingerbread.

Google also unveiled movie rentals for Android devices, with thousands of movies available to rent for US$1.99 A new movies application for Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom allows users to watch movies on the go as well.

Like with music, users can “pin” their movie and download it, even if it’s rented and streaming, for playback when a data connection may not be available, such as on a plane ride.

Movies are now available on the Android market, and the official Movies application is available as part of today’s Honeycomb 3.1 release, while smartphone users with Android 2.2 will receive the application in the next few weeks.

Google also announced that an update for Honeycomb, its tablet-centric mobile operating system, is available today for Verizon customers. Those who own a Motorola Xoom will be able to update to Android 3.1.

The new update adds the ability to make Android devices act as USB hosts. In one example, they showed an Xbox 360 wired controller being used with an Android tablet via USB.

With the update, users can also stretch widgets horizontally or vertically to make them fit their needs.

Android 3.1 will also come to Google TV this summer, and bring the Android Market with applications. Google also revealed that there are now more than 200,000 applications available on the Android Market.

Google’s philosophy with the next major release of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, will be “one OS everywhere,” across a range of devices. That would mean that Android phones and tablets would be running the same operating system, unlike the current landscape where Honeycomb is restricted only to tablets.

Google said it would have an “advanced app framework” in the next release of Android, allowing developers to scale their software to different platforms. They also boasted that their mobile operating system will “all be open source.”

Ice Cream Sandwich is also said to include a new user interface, new widgets, and new applications. It said the next user interface would be “state of the art.”

In one demonstration, Google showed off 3D headtracking on a Motorola Xoom using the hardware’s forward facing camera.

Google also vowed to streamline the updating process for Android devices. Carriers and device makers have agreed to provide new updates for 18 months after devices are launched, provided the hardware can support the newer versions of Android.

The company also showed off a new standard called Android Open Accessory. Using this, external can be connected to Android handsets and be supported by third-party software.

The search giant provided a demonstration of Android Open Accessory by connecting an Android phone to a stationary bike. It also demonstrated home automation integration called Android @ Home, with Android-compatible lightbulbs from Lighting Science set to go on sale by the end of the year.

If you’ve received an invitation to Google’s new music service and had a chance to play with it, please let us know.

Google Chrome updated to 12.0.742.30

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Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 09:21
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 12.0.742.30 for the Mac. The new version, a 36.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- Finished implementing support for hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, which allows web developers to apply slick 3D effects to web page content using CSS.

- In addition to protecting you against malware and phishing websites, Chrome now warns you before downloading some types of malicious files.

- You now have more control over your online privacy. Many websites store information on your computer using forms of local data storage such as Flash Local Shared Objects (LSOs). In the past, you could only delete Flash LSOs using an online settings application on Adobe’s website, but we’ve worked closely with Adobe to allow you to delete Flash LSOs directly from Chrome’s settings.

- Improved screen reader support in Chrome. Many people who are blind or visually impaired use a screen reader, a special type of software that describes the contents of the screen using synthesized speech or braille. It’s a very important technology for people who would otherwise be unable to use a computer, so we’ve added preliminary support for many popular screen readers including JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver.

- We’ve removed the Google Gears plug-in, as promised on the Google Gears blog in March. We’re excited about the potential of HTML5 to enable powerful web applications, and we hope that Google Gears rests in peace.

The full changelog can be found here and Google Chrome 12.0.742.30 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

“MAC Defender” trojan goes live, prompts users for credit card information

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 04:20
Category: News, security, Software

Security firm Intego announced Monday that a fake antivirus program for Mac OS X has been discovered in the wild. While the threat potential remains low, inexperienced users could be fooled into paying to remove fake viruses “detected” by the software, and in the process, could end up giving credit card information to scammers.

Per Ars Technica, the fake antivirus software calls itself “MAC Defender,” perhaps the first hint that it should not be trusted (Apple makes “Macs,” not “MACs”). The developers have incorporated what’s known as “SEO poisoning” to make links to the software show up at the top of search results in Google and other search engines. Clicking the links that show up in search results brings up a fake Windows screen that tells the user a virus has been “detected,” another clue that something is fishy. JavaScript code then automatically downloads a zipped installer for MAC Defender.

If the “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” option is turned on in Safari, the installer will be unzipped and run. Since the installer requires a user password, it won’t install without user interaction. However, inexperienced users may be fooled into thinking the software is legitimate.

Intego notes that the application is visually well designed and doesn’t have numerous misspellings or other errors common to such malware on Windows, though it does seem to contain some sketchy grammar. The software will periodically display Growl alerts that various fake malware has been detected, and also periodically opens porn websites in the default browser, perhaps leading a user to believe the detected malware “threats” are real. Users are then directed to an insecure website to pay for a license and “clean” the malware infections. However, buying the license merely stops the fake alerts from popping up, but your money and credit card info is now in the hands of hackers.

While MAC Defender wouldn’t likely fool an experienced user, Intego notes that its appearance in the wild is yet another opportunity to detail some useful security precautions. Don’t let your browser automatically open downloads. If your browser asks if you want to run an installer even though you didn’t try to download one, click “cancel.” And never give your password to run installers you aren’t 100% sure about.

On a final note, if you or anyone you know happens to know who created this thing, feel free to kick them in the shins at your earliest convenience.

Google Earth 6.0.2.2074 released

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:33
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version 6.0.2.2074 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 23.8 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

- Fixed a problem where we were over fetching certain kml layer data and running into issuing of using large amounts of memory and slowness during zooming in.

- Fixed an issue of ruler tool disappearing. In 6.0 beta, when measuring using the path tool, if you break to add a place-mark then you go back to the path and click “save” the path and ruler tool disappears all together.

- Fixed an issue with incorrectly measuring long distances. Improved navigation in Street View inside buildings.

- Fixed a crash with elevation profile if there was empty gx:value node in KML.

- Optimized amount of terrain and imagery data fetched while viewing photo overlays.

- Fixed an occasional crash while viewing 3D buildings. Fixed broken fly-to links within local kml files.

- Fixed an issue where new place-marks added were with absolute altitude instead of being clamped to ground.

- Fixed an issue where the title for panoramio pictures no longer appeared when hovering over panoramic icons with your mouse if scale legend was enabled.

- Fixed an issue when there was occasionally a missing wall in 3D buildings.

- Optimized amount of data fetched in Street View.

- Fixed an issue where tilt by holding “shift” and moving the scroll wheel only worked in one direction on Mac.

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google Chrome updated to 9.0.597.84

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 05:33
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 9.0.597.84 for the Mac. The new version, an 32.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software.

- With Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant), web pages that you frequently visit will begin loading as soon as you start typing the URL. (“Look, Mom – no enter key!”). If supported by your default search engine, search results appear instantly as you type queries in the omnibox.

- Lastly, the Chrome Web Store is now open to all Chrome users in the United States. As part of this, we’ve now added a link to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page, along with two sample apps. (If you don’t use these sample apps, they will automatically disappear after some time).

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Korean wireless carriers deny Nexus S handset, say iPhone remains safe

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Date: Friday, December 31st, 2010, 09:04
Category: iPhone, News

Korean cell carriers are turning service for down the Nexus S handset both because of Google’s control but also because of Apple, insider tips said late Thursday. According to The Korea Times, both KT and SK Telecom are reportedly upset that Google’s insistence on a pure Android experience won’t let them promote their own proprietary apps and services. Google’s control of the marketing for the Android 2.3 flagship also wouldn’t give them the marketing angle they would like.

The iPhone is also cited as a reason for the lack of any plans. Even SK Telecom, which has often had Nexus S maker Samsung’s blessing as the anti-iPhone carrier, reportedly doesn’t believe that the official Google phone would have any effect. “The Nexus S won’t make a huge impact enough to break the current iPhone stronghold,” an anonymous official from the carrier said.

KT has still said it has “no plans,” though its position may be mixed. Most of its smartphone performance is based on the iPhone, even though it was the only carrier to sell the Nexus One in Korea. The Android device has sold at much lower levels, at 50,000 units since July, but KT is believed willing to keep talking with Google to “recover ailing corporate ties” with Samsung. The electronics chain has allegedly been abusing its dominant position to retaliate against KT for iPhone competition, such as by withholding better phones and dictating harsh marketing requirements.

The absence of HDMI video out and a microSDHC slot were similarly cited as factors in a Korean market that often favors feature-heavy devices, but it’s not certain how likely this might be given that the iPhone has thrived without either. Samsung’s Galaxy S has sold very well in the country despite the absence of an HDMI port.

The similarity between the Nexus S and the Galaxy S may ultimately be the main factor, as the Nexus S’ primary advantages are mostly limited to its newer, unmodified OS, its front-facing camera and its support for NFC wireless.

If you have any experience with the Korean wireless marketplace and want to hurl your two cents in, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple could produce second-gen iPad with HSPA, EVDO models slated for March release date

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Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 06:16
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the second generations of a device where things get really interesting.

Per Electronista, Apple is looking to ship three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65% of shipments and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.

The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give the unit away for free.

Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.

Apple might also be eager to advance the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30% of which would be Wi-Fi, 40% HSPA and 30% EVDO. Additional shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn’t have to push it back to a previously cited April target.

The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly taking hold of as much as 65% to 75% of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google’s partners a much stronger platform.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Google Latitude released for iPhone

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, News, Software

On Monday Google’s Latitude app finally became available for the iPhone, the app fully supporting iOS 4 and optionally providing constant position updates in the background on an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. Privacy is still a focus as users can selectively turn off both background updates, hand-pick a location or turn off positioning altogether.

Per Electronista, the official release comes roughly a year and a half after Google was forced to release an HTML5 version for the iPhone after Apple rejected the original version for reportedly being too similar to Apple’s own Maps tool. Critics have argued that the initial block was motivated by attempts to punish Google for Android, where Latitude has been a native part of Google Maps itself for most of the platform’s history.

It’s widely suspected that a loosening of App Store rules, prompted by Adobe-backed FTC and EU investigations into approval processes, may have changed Apple’s approach. Apple recently allowed Google Voice after a similar delay and what’s believed to be for identical reasons.

If you’ve played with Latitude and have any feedback, let us know.