Leaked internal memo shows Apple blocking AppleCare employees’ vacation time between Sept. 15 – 28, next-gen iPhone, iOS 7 launches cited

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Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013, 06:18
Category: iPhone, News, retail

When a company blacks out employee vacation days, they’re up to something.

Per AppleInsider, AppleCare employees have been restricted from taking time off for a two-week period, from Sept. 15 through 28 — a span during which Apple is expected to launch its new iPhone lineup, as well as the revamped iOS 7 mobile operating system.

An internal company document purportedly shows time off available for AppleCare employees for the latter half of September. As can be seen in the calendar, available time off drops off significantly starting Sunday, Sept. 15, and continues through Saturday, Sept. 28.

The image provided shows the calendar being accessed via virtual private network from an internal Apple employee domain. Potentially identifying portions of the picture have been cropped out.

Apple is generally expected to make its new iPhone models available for sale on Friday, Sept. 20, just over a week after the company is gearing up to hold a media event to introduce the new devices. Based on prior years’ release schedules, it’s likely that iOS 7 a few days prior, perhaps on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Between the debut of new iPhones and the launch of a different-looking operating system in iOS 7, AppleCare telephone support will likely have their hands full. As such, Apple has restricted employee time off for a two-week span covering not only the expected launch, but a full week after.

Developers have had their hands on iOS 7 since the new platform was unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The platform has a cleaner and more colorful look than its predecessor, with simpler icons and graphics, but it also packs in new features and functionality, such as a revamped Notification Center and quick-access Control Center.

Built-in apps and functions such as Photos, Camera, Weather, Safari, multitasking and Siri also sport new designs that may initially confuse new users once they are prompted to update to iOS 7.

As for hardware, Apple is set to hold an event on Sept. 10 that will focus on the company’s new iPhones. Specifically, Apple is expected to introduce a new high-end “iPhone 5S” with an integrated fingerprint sensor under the home button, as well as a more affordable “iPhone 5C” with a plastic back available in a range of colors.

The iPhone is Apple’s most popular product, and 2013 is expected to be the first time the company launches two new models at the same time, which sets the stage for the company’s biggest product debut ever.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Access debuts, brings Parallels features to iPad

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:28
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

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You can’t knock a company that also goes in a subscription-based direction.

Per AppleInsider, Parallels, the company known for its virtualization software, rolled out a new iPad app and subscription service on Tuesday called Parallels Access that promises to run both Mac and PC programs on Apple’s tablet with near-native performance.

With Parallels Access, the company has built a completely new way to naturally interact with desktop applications on an iPad. A number of developers have fielded similar apps that promise full remote control functionality from Apple’s tablet, but many resort to clunky interfaces that draw users out of the “iPad experience.”

Unlike other apps, Access offers the full gamut of iPad gestures, with taps, swipes and pinches all supported by almost any desktop program. To bridge the gap between computer and tablet, the system translates mouse clicks and movement into iPad-friendly gestures.

Parallels claims its new product can handle a variety of tasks, including business programs, streaming video and even games. Internet speeds are supposedly a non-factor, though degradation may be expected when connecting over cellular networks.

The system is actually split into two parts: the iOS app and a Mac or PC client that runs on the host computer. Access authenticates via a Parallels account and links the two devices with a 256-bit AES secured SSL connection.

At the heart of Access is the App Launcher, which is basically a Springboard-like layout of compatible desktop applications. Programs can be added or deleted from this view in much the same way as iOS.

The App Switcher seamlessly moves users between programs, a necessary tool since Access only works in “full screen” mode. Parallels calls this method “applifying.”

Navigating within running programs is an intuitive experience thanks to the combination of SmartTap and the iOS magnifying glass. SmartTap is a contextual cursor control that, in tandem with magnifying glass, allows users to perform advanced mouse actions like drag and drop.

One difficult maneuver that many VNC and other remote desktop apps have trouble with is scrolling. Access’ gesture translation engine doesn’t appear to suffer from the same problems, making in-window navigation less of a chore.

The app’s keyboard is also tweaked from the standard iOS version, offering users dedicated keys for functions, arrows, and even the “Windows” button.

Those interested can try Parallels Access for free for 14 days on a Mac and 90 days on a Windows machine. Subscription pricing is set at US$79.99 per year for each computer running a registered client. The iPad app and Mac or PC clients can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Parallels’ webpage, respectively.

Leaked Nuance e-mail to developer community points to September 10th release date for iOS 7

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Date: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

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September 10th seems to be the day for iOS 7′s release.

Per Owened and The Verge, an email sent to developers from speech recognition software company Nuance (in this case, those using its SpeechKit 1.4.5 speech services) on Monday suggests iOS 7 could be available to the public on Sept. 10, the same day Apple is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone.

Technology from Nuance was recently confirmed to be part of the Siri voice-recognizing assistant, meaning the company works closely with Apple and could be privy to upcoming launch information.

There is, however, some confusion over the email’s use of iOS 7 “GA,” which means general availability, a term often confused with “GM,” or golden master. Traditionally, Apple has released GM versions of iOS to developers alongside a new iPhone’s release, with the GA rolling out a week later.

Apple is expected to announce both a next-generation “iPhone 5S” and a lower-cost “iPhone 5C” at a special event on Sept. 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iBooks 3.1.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t kvetch about this kind of update.

Late Tuesday, Apple released version 3.1.1 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This version of iBooks improves compatibility with iOS and iCloud.

iBooks 3.1.1 requires a compatible iOS device and iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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

Review: Colin McRae Rally for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:37
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software

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Review: Colin McRae Rally iOS
By Mr. S

Rally racing is a mystery to most. A marginalized sport that has a hard time in certain countries finding mass appeal. Like other european sports, it has had an especially hard time in the United States where the name “Colin McRae” is about as well known as canadian metal band Anvil.

Take a trip to Finland, Scotland or Darkur and you will see the exact opposite. Rally is king, and its master drivers are lauded as superhuman for their ability to drive with total precision through some of the most technically challenging road courses known to man. These are not well-groomed good ol’ boys taking left turns as fast as possible. These were chip-toothed men of true grit risking their lives for the sake of perfection. For those who understand rally racing, it’s the drivers who receive the most admiration, because it takes a special kind of man to take a 90 degree corner at 70 mph on a dirt road the width of a Mini Cooper surrounded by trees that could turn your car into scrap metal the moment you slip up. That’s the kind of legend Colin McRae was. He was the Flying Scot, and until his untimely death in 2007 he was one of the most exciting drivers since Ari Vatanen.


Pay in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.

Play in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.


Getting to know rally and the men who participate in it is imperative to understanding why Codemasters was smart to take extreme care in making the Colin McRae series of racing games. The equivalent would be something like putting Michael Jordan on the cover of your NBA game; players are going to be expecting perfection and anything less will be bollocks. Not even the king of simulation, Gran Tourismo, with its amazing rally mode can match what Codemasters has done with this amazing series. Racing legend Hans Stuck famously drove his cars with only a small piece of cloth on his seat. He says “Its important I have a physical connection with my vehicle, I need to feel the sliding.” It’s that same attention to “feel” that makes Colin McRae exceptional, and it’s why this iOS port is amazing. Even though it’s just a quick port of a thirteen-year-old game for the original Playstation and PC.

And this game does not try to hide its age. Tree textures pop in and out, levels are basically ugly skinny corridors with hyper-flat surfaces, and objects that you should be able to crush or roll over stop you dead. The once-fun animated menu system with a funky 90’s soundtrack cool enough to warrant its own YouTube OST video was taken out to save space. All we’re left with is a Fisher Price style main menu with a whopping three icons and one lonesome techno track looping.

All of this is forgiven, though, because they didn’t label it as a port or “HD” remake. They simply named it “Colin McRae Rally”, but more importantly they left in everything that makes the Colin McRae Rally experience fun.


Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.

Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.


Codemasters made sure every little detail is pitch-perfect from how gravel sounds in a wheel well to how your wheels screech and pick up grip when sliding sideways onto a paved road. They even included the oft-overlooked and distinctive sound of a handbrake being used. While the audio is well-designed, it’s the physics that really steal the show. Rally cars have an insane amount of power, and this game does a really good job of putting that power in the hands of the player. You can see your suspension working when you slam on the breaks or take a corner hard, you can feel the difference in handling when you change gear ratios. It all works together to solidify that you are indeed flying down a european backroad at speeds that would make most men weep.

It’s the love for rally that really shines through in the Colin McRae series, and thankfully this iOS port brings that love of the sport and the attention to detail that comes with it to the App Store. For racing fans burned out on Real Racing, it’s an absolute must.

Colin McRae Rally retails for US$2.99 on the App Store and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Georgia Institute of Technology security researchers prove App Store security flaw via “Jekyll and Hyde” attack

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:18
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

The good news is that it’s getting a bit harder to sneak malware into the App Store.

The bad news is that it can still be done and Apple might need to invest in more security/screening features.

Per 9to5Mac and Ars Technica, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology managed to get a malicious app approved by Apple and included in the App Store by using a ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ approach, where the behaviour of a benign app was remotely changed after it had been approved and installed.

It appeared to be a harmless app that Apple reviewers accepted into the iOS App Store. They were later able to update the app to carry out a variety of malicious actions without triggering any security alarms. The app, which the researchers titled “Jekyll,” worked by taking the binary code that had already been digitally signed by Apple and rearranging it in a way that gave it new and malicious behaviors.

The researchers presented their findings in a paper at the USENIX Security Forum.

“Our method allows attackers to reliably hide malicious behavior that would otherwise get their app rejected by the Apple review process. Once the app passes the review and is installed on an end user’s device, it can be instructed to carry out the intended attacks. The key idea is to make the apps remotely exploitable and subsequently introduce malicious control flows by rearranging signed code. Since the new control flows do not exist during the app review process, such apps, namely Jekyll apps, can stay undetected when reviewed and easily obtain Apple’s approval.”

An Apple spokesman stated that changes have been made to iOS as a result of the exploit, but it’s not yet clear whether the change is to iOS 7 or the older iOS 5 and 6 versions that had been attacked. The researchers only left their app in the store for a few minutes and said that it was not downloaded by anyone outside the project in that time.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller tweeted back in March about a study revealing the rising incidences of malware on Android. The study showed that Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware in 2012, while iOS came in at less than 1 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Waze realtime incident data now incorporated into Google Maps following acquisition earlier this year

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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This is one of the better sides of companies buying each other out.

Per AppleInsider, crowd sourced traffic data from Waze, a company that Google acquired earlier this year, is now included in the official Google Maps application for iPhone and iPad.

The company announced on its official Lat Long blog on Tuesday that real time incident reports from Waze users will appear in the official Google Maps apps for both iOS and Android in the U.S. and U.K., as well as France, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Google has also updated the Waze app for iOS, as well as Android, to add Google Search functionality. Google’s data now joins other search providers in being integrated into Waze.

Finally, Google also announced that the Waze Map Editor has been updated with Google Street View and satellite imagery. This will make it easier for users in the Waze community to correct map errors. Google announced it had acquired Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service, in June.

Google announced in June that it had acquired Waze, a popular cross-platform, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service to bolster its own Google Maps. As of April, Waze had more than 40 million people actively using its service and contributing data.

The Waze iOS application was highlighted by Apple >last year following the launch of iOS 6, when the company promoted alternative mapping applications and apologized for the substandard quality of its own Maps.

Google, in turn, has been working to greater monetize users of its own mapping software on iOS, as the company rolled out new banner ads for the official Google Maps application earlier this month.

If you’ve seen the realtime incident reporting in action and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

WatchESPN app updated to version 1.7, adds Live Toolbar, dual-stream viewing, other features

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Date: Friday, August 16th, 2013, 09:49
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, News, Software

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I’m not completely indifferent to sports and I’ll support the Boston teams until the day I die.

My mom, on the other hand, will gladly run out, try to flip a police car over and light it on fire whether the Red Sox win, lose or tie in a playoff game.

That being said, the WatchESPN app for iOS received an update on Thursday that adds a new way to watch in-app content among other new features.

Per AppleInsider, the new update for WatchESPN brings the app to version 1.7, and gives iPad owners access to a new Live Toolbar. Users can now stream scores and on-demand videos from sporting events at the same time that they’re watching live programming on ESPN.

The Live Toolbar includes ESPN’s TV lineup, scores from games, and top videos. It’s available on the iPad and iPad mini only.

The update also allows users connecting from colleges and military networks to get access to ESPN3 events automatically. Additionally, it adds compatibility with ESPN on ABC events and compatibility for devices running iOS 7.

Version 1.7 of WatchESPN is available as a free download in the App Store. The 9.0MB download requires an iPhone, iPod, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 7 Golden Master to partners, employees on September 5th

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Date: Thursday, August 15th, 2013, 07:47
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

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Apple’s long-awaited iOS 7 release is getting that much closer to a ship date.

Or at least there’s now a Golden Master date.

According to Boy Genius Report, Apple is preparing to release the final beta release of iOS 7, beta 6, sometime next week followed by a final Gold Master release ahead of Apple’s expected September 10th iPhone event. This time frame would mark two weeks from the release of beta 5, and Apple was on a two week schedule prior to the Developer Center outages. BGR is also claiming that Apple plans to seed a final GM version of the software on September 5th to employees and partners and release it to developers after the event early next month:

“After iOS 7 beta 6, Apple will be seeding a GM (gold master) version for its employees and partners to test starting around September 5th. This will mostly likely be the software that is released to the public later on in the month of September, barring any major bugs or problems that might be discovered… After Apple and its partners are comfortable with the gold master build, the company will release it to developers on September 10th, the day of the company’s iPhone event.”

It’s not hard to predict that a GM is just around the corner, as Apple would clearly want to have it ready for its reported September 10th iPhone event. No specific source has been identified as having provided a specific source of the information, but a release of the final iOS 7 version on September 10th to developers is a given if Apple continues in the tradition of years past.

Apple releases AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4

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Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013, 08:47
Category: News, Software, wireless

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This might help out.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4 on Tuesday, a maintenance release for the company’s line of Wi-Fi routers that squashes three bugs. One affects Apple’s Time Capsule models, another deals with IPv6 issues, and a third fixes iOS device connectivity.

This update is available for all Apple 802.11n Wi-Fi base stations including AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule. It contains fixes that:
- Resolve an issue that may cause AirPort Time Capsule to report that the backup disk is in use.

- Resolve an issue that may cause an IPv6 Tunnel error.

- Resolve an issue that may intermittently cause a loss in Wi-Fi connectivity with iOS devices.

Note: This firmware update is for all 802.11n AirPort base stations.

Users can find the update in AirPort Utility on their Macs. The update may show up immediately in the form of a dialog box. If not, you can click Edit within AirPort Utility and look for the Update button.

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