Merry Christmas from the PowerPage

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, December 25th, 2010, 06:00
Category: Announcement

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The tree’s lit, the presents are waiting to be unwrapped and the friends and relatives are en route for brunch later in the day. With that in mind, Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the crew here at O’Grady’s PowerPage, who will be taking the day off to savor the egg nog, cookies and iOS apps before returning on December 27th to bring you the latest in mobile news coverage for the Mac.

If you have a spiffy holiday story, please share it with us in the comments.

And, in keeping with the holiday spirit, we present the Narwhal Song:



Apple updates Remote app to version 2.1, includes AirPlay features

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010, 13:25
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Sometimes it’s the little software updates that prove the coolest.

Per Macworld, Apple has released version 2.1 of the Remote application for its iOS-based devices.

The new version, which can be snagged via the App Store, includes the following fixes and changes:

- AirPlay video support to control iTunes on your computer to stream videos to an Apple TV.

- Internet radio control to play thousands of internet radio streams in iTunes on your computer.

- The ability to control iTunes on your computer to play Movies and TV shows that are rented from the iTunes Store.

- Addresses issues connecting to an iTunes library or Apple TV.

- Includes stability and performance improvements.

Remote 2.1 requires iOS 3.1.2 or later to install and run and is available for free.

Apple to shut down Mac OS X Downloads web site on January 6th, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, December 21st, 2010, 14:06
Category: News, Software

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The Mac App Store is en route and things are changing in preparation for its launch.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has revealed to developers that it will be shutting down its Downloads page for Mac OS X on Jan. 6, the day of the Mac App Store launch, as it focuses on the Mac App Store as “the best destination” for Mac OS X apps.

The company announced last week that the Mac App Store will debut in 90 countries on Jan. 6. Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the store at the October “Back to the Mac” media event, promising that the store would open within 90 days.

In an email to developers, Apple revealed its plans to remove downloadable apps from the company’s Mac OS X Downloads site, instead redirecting users to the Mac App Store.

“Thank you for making the Mac OS X Download site a great destination with apps that offer users new ways to work, play, learn, and create on their Mac.

We recently announced that on January 6, 2011, the Mac App Store will open to users around the world, presenting you with an exciting, new opportunity to reach millions of customers. Since the introduction of the App Store in 2008, we’ve been thrilled with the incredible support from developers and the enthusiastic response from users. Now we’re bringing the revolutionary experience of the App Store to Mac OS X.

Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site. Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store.

We appreciate your support of the Mac platform and hope you’ll take advantage of this new opportunity to showcase your apps to even more users. To learn how you can offer your apps on the Mac App Store, visit the Apple Developer website at http://developer.apple.com/programs/mac.”

For years, Apple’s Mac OS X Downloads site has served as a repository for Mac OS X apps. Though the site promotes a number of third-party applications, Apple also uses the page to feature several of its own Mac OS X applications, such as iTunes, Safari and iWork.

Like the App Store on iOS devices, developers will receive a 70% share of sales through the Mac App Store, with Apple keeping 30%. Unlike iOS, the Mac App Store will not be a “walled garden,” leaving developers free to offer their apps through other avenues. Developers have been encouraged to use their own websites for demos, trial versions, or betas of their software, since the Mac App Store will only accept “fully functional, retail versions” of apps.

Evidence of Mac App Store support has been found in developer builds of Mac OS X 10.6.6. The store will be available to Mac OS X Snow Leopard users as a free download through Software Update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking to hire additional software engineers to boost iOS navigational features

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Date: Monday, December 20th, 2010, 04:21
Category: News, Software

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A quartet of job postings on its employment web site (1, 2, 3, 4) shows that Apple is looking to hire at least four new employees for its iOS development team. The description for the full-time job based in Santa Clara Valley, Calif., calls for “outstanding engineers to deliver the next generation of Apple products.”

“Seize this ground floor opportunity to help us build the world’s best hosted platforms at massive scale,” it reads.

Per AppleInsider, Apple seeks job candidates with “valuable knowledge” related to the development of navigation software, as well as “deep knowledge of Computational Geometry or Graph Theory.” Candidates are required to have at least 3 years’ experience of developing “high quality, robust software systems.”

The hires, and the mention of navigation software, could signal that Apple is gearing up to build its own personal navigation tools into the iOS mobile operating system. Apple’s chief competitor in the mobile space, Google, introduced its own turn-by-turn software for Android devices over a year ago.

A cloud-based navigation solution could also be a major use for Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina. Another job listing posted this week for an iOS software engineer notes that it looking for an employee to manage and automate “distributed image processing on a server cluster.”

“The position is with an emerging and rapidly growing product team building software used by millions of Apple customers in rapidly growing markets worldwide,” the description reads. “The candidate will be part of a team that develops and maintains a complex array of global content.”

iOS 4 also includes a video out feature that could allow remote control and display of an iPhone, a feature that has already been taken advantage of by BMW. It’s possible that Apple’s solution could seamlessly integrate turn-by-turn directions with a vehicle using this method.

Apple has also shown interest in developing its own unique mapping solution for the iPhone, with two key acquisitions related to maps: Placebase and Poly9.

In April of this year, Apple began integrating its own databases for location-based services following the release of the iPad and iOS 3.2. Previously, Apple relied on databases maintained by Skyhook Wireless and Google for location services.

The iOS Maps application still relies on Google for map imagery as well as its “Street View,” but the change could signal that Apple plans to rely solely on its own technology in the future. In addition, in 2009, Apple indicated it wanted to hire someone who would help take the iPhone’s Maps application “to the next level,” with the intention of changing how users use Maps and find things.

“We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way,” that job listing read. “We’ve only just started.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Latitude released for iPhone

Posted by:
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.

Apple quietly removes jailbreak API detection code in iOS 4.2

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This is a bit weird but maybe it makes sense in the long run.

Per Network World, less than six months after introducing it, Apple has quietly disabled its jailbreak detection API (Application Programming Interface) through the iOS 4.2 software update, according to a new report.

The publication reported that the API, which was released in June as part of a mobile device management (MDM) bundle for iOS 4.0, has been disabled in iOS 4.2, leaving perplexed vendors to question why. The API had previously allowed third-party MDM applications, such as AirWatch or Sybase’s Afaria, to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files, author John Cox wrote.

Third-party MDM vendors had created their own utilities to check for jailbreaks, but Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted MDM applications direct access to iOS system information.

“We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Sybase vice president of engineering Joe Owen. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Though jailbreaking an Apple device voids its warranty, the U.S. government recently legalized the process through a handful of exemptions to preexisting laws forbidding it.

Since the release of iOS, Apple has gone back and forth with the jailbreaking community, both sides working to one up each other with each new update. As vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited by the hacking community, Apple rushes to patch the issues, while hackers secretly move on to the next flaw.

In August, hackers released a high publicity browser-based jailbreak for the iPhone 4 that drew attention to a glaring security flaw that could have exposed users to malicious software just by visiting website.

As hackers became aware of the jailbreak detection API, they may have begun circumventing it, adding another layer to the tug-of-war between jailbreakers and Apple.

“Whatever [Apple] adds [in the OS] to detect the jailbreak, if it is to be queried from the iOS kernel, it must be accessible and have the ability to be changed,” security consultant Jeremy Allen told Cox. “Meaning, if it is going to be a useful detection method it can also be circumvented. It is a fairly intractable problem to solve 100%.”

The use of jailbreaking to pirate App Store software has been a major concern for Apple and developers. Also at stake is Apple’s relationship with carriers, who often sell iPhones locked to their networks. In the U.S., for instance, the iPhone is only available through AT&T, though Verizon is expected to begin selling the iPhone early next year. Users looking to use their locked iPhones on other carriers often jailbreak and unlock their handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HP adds AirPrint functionality to six printers via firmware updates

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 13:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The AirPrint feature has been released with iOS 4.2.

Now it’s time to find a printer that actually supports this.

Per AppleInsider, HP this week updated the firmware of six of its printers, enabling compatibility with Apple’s AirPrint, which allows printing directly from iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The company added the functionality to six of its Officejet line of printers with firmware updates released on Thursday, the new models consisting of the following:
- Officejet 6500A e-AiO

- Officejet 6500A Plus e-AiO

- Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A Premium e-AiO

The addition of six new printers makes a total of 18 printers from HP that are now compatible with AirPrint. Five existing printers offer AirPrint functionality out of the box, while another seven had previously released firmware updates that added the ability to print from iOS 4.2.

AirPrint was originally intended to work from any printer shared through a Mac or PC. In early builds of iOS 4.2, iTunes 10.1 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 issued to developers, printers could be shared over a local network to iOS 4.2 devices.

That functionality was eventually removed, and now only HP printers with support for direct wireless printing without sharing through a Mac or PC work with AirPrint. However, a number of fixes and workarounds have been released that allow users to share a printer once again.

There were rumors that a legal dispute led Apple to remove the printer sharing feature from Mac OS X 10.6.5, iTunes 10.1 and iOS 4.2 at the last minute. Apple’s own website now only promises that AirPrint allows users to “print mail, photos, web pages, and more directly to a printer on a wireless network.”

If you have one of these printers, try the firmware update and let us know how this process goes.

BBC planning subscription-only iPlayer app for iPad in 2011

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 10:05
Category: iPad, News, Software

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You love the BBC.

And the BBC loves your iPad.

Per paidContent:UKthe BBC has announced that it plans to begin the international launch of its lauded iPlayer catch-up service by first rolling out a paid subscription service for iPad users.

While iPlayer itself is free, it’s included as part of the annual license fee that U.K. residents pay to support the ad-free, non-profit BBC (the fee currently works out to around US$20 per month). Because of that, the service is not currently available to users outside the U.K.

BBC.com’s managing director Luke Bradley-Jones says that iPlayer’s global rollout will only be available via a paid subscription at launch, though the organization is talking with advertisers about supporting free areas of the service, as well as examining additional models such as pay-per-view and download-to-own. Prices for the service have not yet been revealed.

The iPlayer application is currently available in the U.K. only via Web browser; while an iPlayer iOS app has been developed, it has yet to be released. Still, the service proven popular, registering 139 million requests in the month of October, compared to Hulu’s 260 million.

The app, in turn, could bring UK-only shows (including the mighty “Dr. Who”) to international viewers, the BBC taking a chance in the pay-for-streaming-video marketplace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know.

Users report HDMI handshaking, connectivity issues with second-gen Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 05:32
Category: Apple TV, News

It’s a nifty thing, but perhaps a bug fix is in order.

Per AppleInsider, some early adopters of Apple’s second-generation Apple TV are reporting issues with streaming HD rentals and problems completing “HDMI handshakes” between the new Apple TV and their HD TVs.

Several discussion threads on Apple’s support forums related to issues with HD rentals not loading and HDMI connectivity problems have reached hundreds of posts in length as increasing numbers of Apple TV owners report having trouble with the device.

Users reported that Apple TV displays HD rental wait times of hundreds of minutes, while other video, such as trailers, HD Netflix movies, and YouTube begin playing after just a few minutes. “At one point, the HD movie was going to take over 3,000 minutes to load,” wrote one user.

Though a portion of the users have resolved the issue by upgrading to higher bandwidth Internet, others report the problem occurring even with high-speed connections capable of handling HD video.

Another Apple support thread details potential compatibility issues between Apple TV and a number of HD TV sets. Users report frequent “HDMI handshakes” between the TV and Apple TV, with the picture returning with inverted colors. A user-compiled list of TVs affected includes models by Philips and Sony.

The Apple TV 4.1 firmware update, which was released last week alongside iOS 4.2, does not appear to resolve either issue.

Apple unveiled the revamped US$99 Apple TV in September with a focus on ‘the cloud’ and streaming media. With just 8GB of onboard storage, Apple’s new set top box serves as a hub for content streamed from the Internet, computers, or iOS devices.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Apple explains iOS 4.2 security fixes

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Date: Wednesday, November 24th, 2010, 08:41
Category: News, security, Software

Following Apple’s Monday release of iOS 4.2 for iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices, the company outlined its security fixes in a Knowledge Base entry posted online.

Per Macworld, many of the patches protect against malicious attackers running code on your device, which could in theory be used for all sorts of malicious purposes. Vulnerabilities were corrected for WebKit, Configuration Profiles, CoreGraphics, FreeType (in PDF rendering), and more to prevent against this type of attack.

iOS 4.2 also includes a fix for iAd content display, to prevent attackers in what Apple calls “a privileged network position” to force phone calls from your device without your permission. A separate fix for Mail corrects an issue where carefully-crafted HTML emails could track whether you viewed a message, even if you had turned off remote image loading in Settings.

The update also addresses a situation where your MobileMe password could become visible to an outside user in a privileged network position when using the Photos app to send images to the service. iOS 4.2 also corrects a race condition that could force the Reset Safari option to take a full 30 seconds to remove your saved Web passwords–during which time a speedy user with access to your device could still log in to those sites.

So, there you have it. And if you’ve noticed any major changes in iOS that you’d like to comment on, let us know.