Rumor: AppleCare training schedule now pointing towards June launch of Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 05:30
Category: Rumor, Software

No one ever said it was easy to keep a secret.

Per AppleInsider, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division of AppleCare is allegedly hiring and training new staff on certain aspects of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, possibly hinting that a release date is soon to arrive.

According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, AppleCare EMEA is hiring a number of new employees who will serve as customer support for the new operating system that has yet to receive an official launch date.

The source went on to say that Mountain Lion may be just a few weeks from launch as internal training recently commenced regarding certain facets of the operating system. Apple usually restricts the operating window of support staff training to a minimum before large product release presumably to avoid leaks.

Though purely speculation, the training could point to a OS X 10.8 debut at WWDC 2012 which is scheduled to take place from June 11 to June 15.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was announced on Feb. 16 with an expected release date of summer 2012. Beyond the basic information provided on Apple’s website, developer previews have revealed that the new OS will offer a bevy of new features like Messages and more comprehensive integration with iCloud that will further blur the line between OS X and iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

- Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

- Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

- Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

- Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

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

Skype iOS app updated to 4.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, 06:29
Category: News, Software

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Let’s face it: updates never hurt.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Skype has released version 4.0 of its app for iPad and iPhone. The new version lets you pre-position your video preview as you like, provides automatic restarts crashes and offers improved accessibility and overall stability along with some minor UI improvements and bug fixes.

The version change can be found for both Skype for iPhone/iPod touch and Skype for iPad.

Skype 4.0 for iOS requires iOS 4.3 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.

Google Drive service launched, users begin with 5GB of free online storage space

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 06:21
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock free cloud space.

Per Google’s official blog, the company launched its long-rumored Google Drive service was officially launched on Tuesday, offering users 5 gigabytes of free cloud-based file storage.

Google Drive was presented as a service that allows users to “create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” It allows users to upload and access all file types, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and more.

Users can start at drive.google.com/start#home and the Google Drive application can also be installed on a Mac or Windows PC to sync files locally. A Drive application is now available for Google Android devices, while the company said it is “working hard” on a version of Drive for iOS devices.

Storage can be upgraded to 20 gigabytes for US$5 per year, 80 gigabytes for US$20, 200 gigabytes for US$50, 400 gigabytes for US$100, and one terabyte for US$256.

Upgrading to a paid account will also give Gmail users a boost on their e-mail storage through Google to 25 gigabytes. Storage used in Gmail does not come out of space allotted for Google Drive.

In comparison, Apple’s iCloud service, which launched last October, comes with 5 gigabytes for free, while users can buy an additional 10 gigabytes for US$20 per year, 20 gigabytes for US$40, or 50 gigabytes for US$100.

Google said that Drive allows users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Using the new service, users can also share content easily, and add and reply to comments on anything, including PDFs, images, or video files.

Of course, the company’s search technology is also a part of the package, granting the ability to search by keyword and filter by type, owner and more. Google Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition technology.

Drive also ties in with other Google products, allowing users to attach photos from Drive to posts in the Google+ social networking service. Soon, users will also be able to attach files from Drive directly to e-mails in Gmail.

Google also boasted that drive is an “open platform,” which will allow third-party developers to enable new features. Some of the additions mentioned by the company include the ability to send faxes, edit videos, and create website mockups.

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

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.214 beta update

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Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 06:48
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.214 for Mac OS X, a 10.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new beta version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Texture streaming.

- Background Updater for Mac.

- Driver gating hardware acceleration relaxed to 2006.

- MouseEvent.RELEASE_OUTSIDE.

- ApplicationDomain.getQualifiedDefinitionNames().

- Improved Mac App Store Support.

- Simulator Support for iOS.

- Aspect Ratio Enhancements.

- ADT support to package 144×144 size icons has been added in AIR 3.3.

- Capabilities.screenDPI now returns appropriate DPI value for high resolution iPads.

Flash Player 11.3.300.214 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Rumor: Apple internally seeding iPhone unit with 1GB of RAM, upgraded iPod touch device

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 09:48
Category: Hardware, iPod, Rumor

With one iOS device update out of the way for 2012, Apple is working on updates to the iPhone and iPod touch. While these updates are expected, some additional iOS device details have leaked.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has internally seeded a prototype next-generation iPhone with the iPhone 4 design. The actual next-generation iPhone is specifically said to not include the iPhone 4/4S design, but Apple is testing these new devices in older casings to throw off leaks. The purpose of the prototype iPhone that we heard about is to test a variation of the “A5X” chip in an iPhone. The A5X processor in the new iPad was specifically built to drive the new Retina Display, so that chip wouldn’t make much sense in an iPhone.

Instead, the iPhone prototypes feature a variation of the A5X’s S5L8945X architecture. Like the A5X-powered iPad, these new iPhone prototypes are packing 1GB of RAM. This prototype is labeled N96 internally, so it’s not certain if this internal codename will carry over to the actual next-generation iPhone. Again, this iPhone is an internal-only unit built for testing the performance of a new chip in an iPhone, not an actual phone that Apple will produce.

The iPod touch was an interesting product for Apple last year as it was the only iOS device to not receive internal nor cosmetic changes (save for a new white model). However, it looks like Apple is still interested in the iPod touch and wants a future for it. According to a file inside of an internal iOS 5.1 build, Apple is working on a fifth-generation iPod touch that is labeled iPod 5,1 internally. No specifics have been confirmed regarding the new iPod touch hardware, but the jump from 4,1 (the current internal iPod touch label) to 5,1 indicates major internal changes, at the very least. Perhaps Apple is finally moving to an A5 or A5X-like chip in the iPod touch. After all, the iPod touch is one of the most popular gaming devices on the market, and Apple’s dual-core iOS device processors offer top-of-the-line graphics performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security hole discovered in Facebook, Dropbox apps for iOS, physical connection needed to exploit it (updated)

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 07:26
Category: security, Software

You’re probably not going to like this.

According to security researcher Gareth Wright and The Next Web, a fairly prominent security hole has been discovered in the popular Facebook and Dropbox iOS apps. The good news is that someone would have to have physical access to your iPhone, and you’d have to allow them to plug it into their Mac, then allow them to do a bunch of business on your phone to grab a plain text file from inside these apps, then they’d have to go and do something malicious on your Facebook or Dropbox accounts.

Although many have reported jailbreak is required to access this hole, that is simply not true. A Mac app like iExplorer, which allows you to open app folders on an iPhone, will allow you to access the security hole.

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, it works like this: iOS apps use .plist files (aka property list files), to store all sorts of little things about an app. In this case, Dropbox and Facebook are using an unencrypted property list to apparently store both the oauth key and its secret counterpart.

By using iExplorer to find the right plist, that file can be copied and dropped into another device, which would then be able to access your account as though you had already logged in. Using a property list in this way leaves us scratching our heads.

Facebook issued a comment saying they will patch this soon and a representative with Dropbox offered the following comment:

“Dropbox’s Android app is not impacted because it stores access tokens in a protected location. We are currently updating our iOS app to do the same. We note that the attack in question requires a malicious actor to have physical access to a user’s device. In a situation like that, a user is susceptible to all sorts of threats, so we strongly advise safeguarding devices.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on external controller for iOS gaming

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Date: Monday, April 2nd, 2012, 06:51
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

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It never hurts to have a good peripheral.

Per AnandTech, Apple is reportedly working on a physical controller to similarly enhance gameplay on its iPad and other mobile devices.

In his review of Apple’s new iPad and its gaming graphics prowess, AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi reported that he has been made aware of “an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market,” but said his sources were unable to determine whether the company has made a definitive decision to follow through on its efforts.

Regardless, Lal Shimpi believes such devices may soon be a necessary accompaniment for hardcore mobile gamers, especially as smartphones and tablets come close to equalling the performance of existing game consoles.

He adds that the iPad maker may also be feeling some pressure to this end from rival Google, which has baked in basic wired and wireless controller support into its Android operating system since the release of Honeycomb 3.0 roughly one year ago.

Along with their Android counterparts, iOS devices have emerged as a new frontier for game developers, with one research firm indicating that the two platforms saw their combined share of U.S.-based game software revenue rise more than threefold from just 19% in 2009 to an estimated 58% by the end of last year.

Their success has come at the expense of incumbents Nintendo and Sony, who saw their respective share of software sales slip from 70% to 36% and 11% to 6%, respectively, over the same period.

The situation faced by Nintendo and Sony shows signs of worsening this year, with Sony recently reporting a staggering loss of US$1.2 billion for the December quarter shortly after Nintendo reported the first ever operating loss (US$575 million) in its corporate history.

Meanwhile, Apple has quietly been assembling an arsenal of seasoned gaming executives to help leverage its momentum in the gaming space as it takes a head-on approach to combating encroachment from Google and others.

Most recently, the company was reported to have lured Robin Burrowes away from heading up Microsoft’s overseas XBox Live team. His hiring followed the recruit of Nintendo’s public relation’s chief Robert Saunders last year, as well as Nick Grange — who also at one point ran public relations for Xbox, as well as for gaming heavyweights Activision and Electronics Arts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Swedish security firm’s video demonstrates simplicity of bypassing iOS, Android passcodes, reaping data from stolen devices

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Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, security

The goal isn’t to make you paranoid (which, according to the movie “End of Days”, is just reality on a finer scale), but to help show you what’s out there.

Per Forbes, Swedish security firm Micro Systemation has posted the following video as to how quickly both iOS and Android-based devices can be cracked, the firm’s XRY 6.2 software suite cracking the device’s passcode, dumping its data to a Windows PC, decrypting it and showing tender morsels of information such as the user’s GPS location, files, call logs, contacts, messages, even a log of its keystrokes.
The report said the firm uses the same kind of exploits that jailbreakers use to gain access to the phone. Once inside, they have access to just about everything.

Take a gander at the video and try to be careful out there:



As always, please let us know what’s on your mind via the comments.

Apple insists iPad 3 battery functions as designed, disputes charging analysis claims

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Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 05:43
Category: iPad, News

This may be someone’s fault, but Apple insists everything’s hunky dory.

Concerns about the iPad’s battery arose last week when an analysis was publicized claiming that the new iPad “prematurely” reports that it is fully charged by two hours. Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate claimed that the iPad actually finished its charging cycle some two hours after it reports a full charge.

That’s by design, Apple’s Michael Tchao said to All Things D on Tuesday. All iOS devices, including the new iPad, will display that they are 100 percent charged just before the device reaches a fully charged state. The device will then continue charging, then discharge a bit, and recharge once again — a cycle that will continue until the device is unplugged.

“That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao said. “it’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”

Apple’s battery percentage display is simplified so that users are not confused by the constant cycle of charging and discharging while a device is plugged in. But Apple’s approach allows all of its iOS devices to maximize their potential battery life.

Apple has boasted that the new iPad offers the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, even with the inclusion of a new quad-core graphics processor and 3.1-million pixel Retina Display. The new high-speed 4G LTE model also offers 9 hours of battery life when using a wireless network.

In particular, the Verizon model of the new 4G LTE iPad can serve as a mobile hotspot for more than 24 hours when sharing a high-speed data connection with external devices over Wi-Fi. That’s upwards of five times longer than most standalone 4G LTE hotspots.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.