OS X 10.8.2 beta focuses on improving Power Nap, other features

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Date: Thursday, September 6th, 2012, 07:45
Category: News, Software

Come OS X 10.8.2, your Mac will take more efficient naps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple seeded a new OS X 10.8.2 beta on Wednesday, asking developers to focus on a number of areas including the Power Nap feature introduced with Mountain Lion.

Build 12C43 of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 beta was seeded with no known issues, however it appears Apple is looking to improve operability of the Power Nap feature introduced with the operating system in July.

Power Nap enables Macs to stay up to date and allows for the automatic backup of data while the computer is in sleep mode. Time Machine and iCloud syncing are supported, though compatibility is limited to mid-2011 or later MacBook Airs and the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The newest 12C43 build comes one week after Apple seeded the second 10.8.2 beta, asking developers to focus on system-wide Facebook sharing integration.

As always, if you’ve gotten your mitts on an early copy of the beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

How-To: Remote lock, remote wipe and restore data to a Mac via iCloud

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 06:11
Category: How-To, iCloud, News

You might want to take a gander at this.

Following last week’s news that Wired journalist Mat Honan had his Mac remotely wiped as part of a devastating attack by hackers, a lot of interest has been focused on how to both remotely wipe your Mac’s data via iCloud as well as restore your data via iCloud.

Jim Tanous has stepped up to the plate over at the Mac Observer and offered a useful step by step guide as to how to remote lock, remote wipe and restore data to your Mac as well as recover data from a damaged hard drive.

Take a look, see what you think and be careful out there.

Apple to add “Wi-Fi Plus Cellular” feature in iOS 6

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 11:38
Category: iOS, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a new feature that appears to be making its way to iOS 6 this fall aims to automatically detect these hiccups and toggle your iPhone back to cellular data until the Wi-Fi network clears up. This way, some of your most important data and applications will keep on syncing.

Dubbed ‘Wi-Fi Plus Cellular,’ the feature is listed under General->Cellular systems setting pane in the latest beta of iOS 6. If it makes it into the final release of the software, you’ll be able to tell your iPhone to automatically revert back to cellular data to keep your iCloud Documents, iTunes purchases, Passbook and Reading Lists up to date.

In much the same way, it will also attempt to keep your FaceTime video conferences from dropping on an iPhone 4S or greater (the FaceTime toggle does not show up on iPhone 4 or earlier). It’s not yet clear, however, how individual carriers will handle cellular data use for FaceTime, as an earlier finding from within the iOS 6 betas indicated that AT&T may charge for the capability, which is currently limited to WiFi in iOS 5.

Either way, the potential new feature underscores Apple’s drive to equip customers with the best possible user experience where things ‘just work.’ It’s joined by other additions in the latest iOS 6 beta that are similarly designed to keep users connected, including a Bluetooth Sharing feature and an option to be notified when someone subscribed to one of your shared calendars makes an update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Users complain of shorter battery life after Mountain Lion install, Apple reportedly launching investigation of issue

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 12:15
Category: battery, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This is either the end of the world or a firmware update that may need to happen.

Per AppleInsider, a number of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners who updated to the recently-released OS X Mountain Lion are complaining of battery performance issues, with some reporting their batteries only last half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed.

Since the first complaints surfaced in an Apple Support Communities thread started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion launched, the number of reportedly affected MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners has grown to the point where Apple has supposedly initiated an investigation. As of this writing the thread, titled “Battery life dropped considerably on Mountain Lion” now stands at 15 pages.

While most users are seeing battery life drops of about one to two hours, some cases claim performance has fallen to less than 50 percent as their machines are only capable of staying on for a little over two hours.

Community members have been trying a variety of methods to remedy the issue, from re-installing the software to turning off some of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, but the attempts have yet to produce a fool-proof solution. Some members have seen limited success in resetting the machine’s system management controller (SMC), though the battery issue crops up again after continued use.

Many users are reporting heightened CPU temperatures even when the machine is at idle, possibly pointing to a backend program management problem, while others are seeing battery drain when the system is sleeping.

Apple has taken notice of the complaints and, according to one community member, sent out a questionnaire on Friday in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.

OS X Mountain Lion launched last week, bringing with it over 200 new features including tighter iCloud integration, the Messages app, Notification Center, Facebook integration, Dictation, AirPlay Mirroring and Game Center.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And, as always, if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple shutters iWork.com web site, grace period for file transfer ends

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Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, 14:13
Category: News, Software

Sometimes the store just closes.

Per MacRumors, Apple finally brought an end the grace period that had allowed users to retrieve their Gallery photos and iDisk files from the iWork.com web site and to transition their accounts to iCloud following the June 30 shutdown of the service.

As of today, visitors to MobileMe.com are no longer given the option to convert their accounts to iCloud or to retrieve old photos and files, with Apple now simply pointing users to iCloud.

Also in line with previous announcements, Apple has officially discontinued its iWork.com service, automatically redirecting visitors to the main Apple home page. While the service was to officially shut down as of the end of the day yesterday, it did continue to function until just a short time ago.

Apple confirms iCloud error, some users unable to access older email messages

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:42
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Ok, this is somewhat awkward.

On Tuesday, Apple issued a system status update on the iCloud Support web page that confirmed that some users may be affected by a temporary error where older emails are inaccessible.

The message, posted under “iCloud: Mail & Notes” shortly after noon PST on Tuesday, said select iCloud users may not be able to access older email messages, though sending and receiving new messages should be unaffected.

Apple has promised the issue would be resolved “ASAP” but gave no indication of what exactly caused the error.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.5 build, iCloud Control Panel beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 05:24
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock the development cycle.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday seeded new builds of OS X Lion, Lion Server and the Windows-only iCloud Control Panel beta to developers with no known issues.

In the new builds, noted as 11G30 for both OS X Lion and Lion Server, Apple is asking developers to focus on graphics performance and quality as there are no known issues with the release.

Work on the server side is a bit more substantial as developers have been tasked with focusing on Password Server, Profile Manager, Webmail (RoundCube), Server App, System Image Utility, Software Update Server, Web Sharing and Workgroup Manager. No known issues are present in the server build.

iCloud Control Panel:
- The second seed for version 2.0 of iCloud Control Panel brings a host of new features to the Windows-centric software including consolidation of Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks enablement into a single checkbox and overall stability enhancements.

- This seed build of iCloud Control Panel 2.0 includes all the same features as Seed 1, with the following changes:

- Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks are now enabled with a single checkbox.

- Shared Photo Streams can now be explicitly enabled and disabled through the Control Panel.

- Shared Photo Streams UI in Explorer view has been substantially improved.

- Addressed an issue where Push Notifications could crash or stop working.

There are a few known issues with the second iCloud Control Panel beta:
- The seed is available in English only

- If you sign out of the control panel and sign in as another iCloud account, you may need to restart your computer to use Shared Photo Streams with your second iCloud account.

- If you are unable to sign out of the iCloud Control Panel, open the task manager and stop the ApplePhotoStreams.exe process.

- Portrait JPG images may create low-resolution versions and not have proper orientation.

- Both the OS X Lion and Lion server seeds as well as the iCloud Control Panel are available for developer download today.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new beta and had a chance to play with it, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update v1.0, adds Power Nap feature to Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 15:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

In the wake of an enormous operating system release, you can always expect some updates.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Friday rolled out a firmware update for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display enabling Mountain Lion’s new Power Nap feature two days following the new operating system’s release.

The update, a 190 kilobyte download entitled “MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update,” comes on the heels of a Thursday firmware release which brought the same functionality to mid-2011 MacBook Airs and is available via OS X 10.8′s Software Update feature and enables the new Power Nap feature that comes with Mountain Lion.

Limited to newer MacBook Air models and the MacBook Pro with Retina display, Power Nap keeps Macs up to date and allows for the automatic backup of data while the machine is sleeping. The automatic data-refreshing service, which handles Time Machine and iCloud syncing, is both silent and power-efficient.

This update fixes several sleep/wake issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro with Retina display (Mid 2012) computers and is recommended for all users running OS X v10.7.4. It also enables Power Nap support for users running OS X v10.8 or later.

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

Apple releases SMC firmware updates, enables Power Nap feature for mid-2011, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, July 26th, 2012, 06:47
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

At long last, your mid-2011 and mid-2012 MacBook Air notebooks will be able to nap.

Per AppleInsider, a pair of firmware updates released by Apple on Wednesday enable the Power Nap in certain MacBook Air models that were promised the feature but found it missing when OS X Mountain Lion launched on Wednesday.

Apple rolled out the new firmware via Software Update in conjunction with the release of OS X Mountain Lion after the company previously noted Power Nap may not be able to work on certain Macs without such an update.

First outlined in June during Apple’s WWDC, Power Nap enables Macs to stay up to date and allows for the automatic backup of data while the machine is sleeping. The automatic refreshing of data, including Time Machine and iCloud syncing, is reportedly silent and power efficient though compatibility is limited to Macs with solid state drives like the MacBook Air.

When OS X Mountain Lion was released earlier in the day, some MacBook Air users noticed that the touted feature was missing. The problem has apparently been remedied in the Software Update which is for some “MacBook Air SMC Firmware Update 1.6″ for the mid-2011 MacBook Air and “MacBook Air SMC Firmware Update 1.5″ for the mid-2012 MacBook Air.

After the firmware is download through Software Update the Power Nap feature can be found in the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences once installed.

The firmware updates can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new firmware and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.