Apple unveils iOS 7 at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:20
Category: iOS, News, Software

Make no mistake about it, iOS 7 is en route.

And it looks a whole lot different than what you’re used to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday took the wraps off a drastically redesigned iOS 7 that marks a new direction for the company’s mobile operating system.

Virtually everything about the look and feel of iOS has changed with version 7, including a refined typography, all new icons, and a dynamic color scheme. The new operating system was spearheaded by Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive, and engineering head Craig Federighi.


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“iOS 7: The biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook declared.

As you move an iPhone in your hand, a new parallax feature will actually move the wallpaper in the background, allowing users to “see behind” the icons on their home screen.

All of the built-in applications have been completely rebuilt with a new look, including Messages, Calendar, and even the phone application.

In a demonstration of the new weather application, Federighi showed how dynamic weather effects are shown in the background, giving a visual representation of the current conditions.

A new gesture allows for easier one-handed use, letting users swipe from the left side of the screen to go back. Folders have also been expanded to allow multiple pages and hold more applications.

An updated Notification Center is slightly transparent, removing its previous textured appearance. Notification Center is also available from the lock screen as well, without the need to unlock the device.

In addition to an all-new look, iOS 7 is also a major feature release, he said. Among those features is Control Center, which allows quick access to settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and even a built-in flashlight. Control Center is available from anywhere, including the lock screen.

Multitasking has also been enhanced “for all apps with great battery life,” Federighi said. iOS 7 notices users’ pattern of use, giving applications background cycles based on how often users access them.

Swiping between open applications is now a full-screen affair, offering users a larger preview of the application as it is currently open.

An updated Safari for iOS 7 has a new full-screen mode that allows users to focus on content. A smart search field also has one-tap access to favorite websites, along with a new tabbed interface. Users are also no longer limited to just 8 tabs.

New AirDrop functionality will allow users to quickly share content with friends nearby with peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. AirDrop will be supported on the iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch.

“No need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others,” Federighi joked.

An updated Camera application comes with built-in filters, while enhancements to the Photos application allow individual pictures to be organized into “moments.” Photos are automatically organized based on data such as where and when they were captured.

Users can even zoom out to a year-by-year view. Enhanced by the Retina display, users can “scrub” through their yearly photos to narrow down what they’re looking for. And new Shared Photo Streams also allow group sharing of photos and video via iCloud.

Additional features include the following:
- A new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature that requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased.

- Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark.

- FaceTime audio for high quality calls over a data network.

- Notification sync, so when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices.

- Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you.

- Tencent Weibo support for users in China, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters.

- The ability for businesses to more efficiently deploy and manage iPhones and iPads;

- Enhanced in-car integration, bringing an Apple designed experience into the car for the first time.

Apple has released an iOS 7 beta to its developer community (available at developer.apple.com).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security researchers to demo 30-pin dock connector hack/malware injection at Black Hat next month

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 7th, 2013, 07:57
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, security, Software

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You’re not going to like this.

Per Senor O’Grady over on the Apple Core, a group of researchers from Georgia Tech have discovered a way to hack into an iPhone or iPad in less than a minute using a “malicious charger.” The group plans to present its findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on July 27, 2013.

Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song are presenting a session is called “Mactans: Injecting Malware Into iOS Devices Via Malicious Chargers” at the popular security conference next month. The name “Mactans” comes from Latrodectus Mactans, the highly venomous (and deadly) black widow spider.

According to the synopsis on the Black Hat website, the Mactans session will describe how USB capabilities can be leveraged to bypass Apple’s defense mechanisms built into the iPhone.

Jason’s got the full details, so head on over, take a gander and get ready to never completely trust your iOS device’s 30-pin dock connector again…

Developer locates data speed-throttling code in iOS for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint devices

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Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013, 06:49
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

You might not like this.

Per Joseph Brown’s iTweakiOS and Cult of Mac, specialized code exists on iPhones and iPads operating on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which limits the devices’ network settings to effectively caps data bandwidth.

Brown took snapshots of the iOS code managing the three carriers’ network settings as applied to an iPhone 5, all of which appear to hamstring the handset’s cellular data capabilities. For example, an AT&T iPhone 5 was limited to HSDPA “Category 10,” which tops out at 14.4Mbps. The second-largest U.S. carrier’s network is capable of supporting up to HSDPA+ speeds that reach 21.1Mbps.

As for Verizon, Brown found throttling code on the telecom’s versions of the iPhone and iPad relating to its 4G LTE network. Sprint, it seems, does not have such limitations enabled for its high-speed data offerings. Apple devices running on the 3G networks owned by both Verizon and Sprint, however, are also affected by similar limitations.

Because Apple is in complete control of the code running all of its devices, it can be posited that the company instituted the bandwidth caps at the behest of its partner carriers.

“[…] from previous statements released by AT&T and many tech orginizations [sic], iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS,” Brown writes. “The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to ‘even out’ the network, even if it means Galaxy users out perform Apple devices by such large scales.”

In his testing, Brown did not find evidence of throttling on devices operating on T-Mobile’s network.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Mass production of second-gen iPad mini could be delayed until November

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Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, 07:45
Category: News

You may have to wait a bit longer for the second-generation iPad mini.

Per Electronista, mass production of a fifth-generation iPad, which was expected to start in July or August, has been delayed a month to November. The reason for the delay is unknown, but it’s speculated that Apple may be staggering the launch of the Mini so it has less of an impact on full-sized iPad sales. Alternately, suppliers may simply be unable to cope with starting Mini production in October.

A problem with starting Mini production in November, though, would be that Apple would likely deprive itself of holiday sales, since it would only have limited units at best by Black Friday, if it wasn’t forced to ship in December or January instead. It would also affect the number of iPads forecast to ship by the end of 2013, which is anywhere between 80 to 100 million units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Developer finds Facebook apps may be draining batteries too quickly on iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, 07:40
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If your iPhone’s battery life seems to be going the way of the dodo, the Facebook app might be to blame.

Per Cult of Mac, the iOS developer behind Home Remind has published a blog post about the Facebook apps for iPhone, iPad and Facebook Messenger. He says that according to his testing, the Facebook apps consume way more CPU time than is strictly necessary. Excessive CPU time can lead to battery drain.

The developer used Apple’s own Mac-based app, Instruments, to look at what was running on his iPhone, and found that his Facebook app was activating, doing something for ten seconds, then going back to sleep. It did this all day long during his test. He tested the Messenger app and the Facebook iPad app, and found the same pattern.

If that’s the case, the Facebook app is never truly going to sleep and then terminating like a good app. As a result, it’s using up CPU time, and a lot of your battery.

According to the blog post, Facebook is able to do this because it meets the criteria for two types of apps that Apple allows to run in the background: audio apps and voice over IP apps. Facebook apps are operating under these two backgrounding apps privileges, and, as such, are actively chewing up your battery time.

The developer doesn’t say that Facebook is doing this on purpose, and it hoping to make the company aware of the problem, so that they could possibly fix it in an update. Until then, he says, there are only two options.

You can delete the Facebook apps from your iPhone or iPad, and then just use the web version of Facebook, or you can force-quit the app when you’re not using it by double clicking the home button, tapping and holding the Facebook icon in the multitasking bar, and then tapping the little red minus icon. That way, he says, Facebook apps will well and truly be terminated.

If you’ve seen this battery drain on your end or have two cents to throw in on the issue, please let us know in the comments.

United States Treasury Department clears way for iPhones to be sold in Iran

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 07:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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At long last, the iPhone is finally coming to Iran.

Per the cool cats over at The Mac Observer, the United States Treasury Department has lifted some sanctions on selling communication devices mobile phones in Iran, which means Apple can finally begin selling its popular iPhone in the country. The decision will make it easier for people in Iran to legitimately buy iPhones, iPads, and other electronics, and is a move on the part of the U.S. to help push for political freedom in the country.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranians deserve access to information and to communicate with each other without fear of government retribution.

The agency released the following statement:

“To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications. This license allows U.S. persons to provide the Iranian people with safer, more sophisticated personal communications equipment to communicate with each other and with the outside world. This General License aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information.”

While the policy change is good news for some people in Iran, it isn’t good news for everyone in the country. The U.S. isn’t allowing companies to export products to Iran’s government, or to people or organizations on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

The policy change will hopefully help curb incidents where companies in the U.S. refuse to sell products to people they think are Iranian nationals. Apple came under fire in 2012 when the National Iranian American Council accused the company of racial profiling over retail store employees refusing to sell iPhones to customers that spoke Farsi or appeared to be of Iranian descent.

The incidents didn’t appeared to be widespread, but did underscore the confusion that comes with government-imposed sales sanctions.

The U.S. reversal on the Iranian sanctions comes a few weeks ahead of elections in the country. Apple may not be able to ramp up sales in Iran quickly enough to get iPhones and iPads into people’s hands, but the door is now open for the company to move forward into a new market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 7 to include long-awaited AirDrop file sharing feature

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:57
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Granted, no one has ANY REAL IDEA as to what iOS 7′s interface will look like, but there’s some cool new and improved features rumored to be coming down the pipe.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is currently testing versions of iOS 7 internally that include the AirDrop WiFi-direct file sharing tool from the Mac, according to sources close to the story.

Like the rumored Flickr and Vimeo integration that’s been making the rounds, it is very simple for Apple to remove any single feature from the new operating system ahead of the mid-June unveiling.

Additionally, Apple has scrapped AirDrop late in software development from iOS before. Last year, we reported that Apple was developing an AirDrop tool to take advantage of the new WiFi hardware inside of Apple’s latest iOS devices. Because Apple has postponed the feature before, we believe it is possible that the feature could be pushed back again…

Sources say that the AirDrop functionality is currently integrated into the standard iOS share menu. AirDrop will work between two iOS devices and potentially between an iOS device and a Mac. The feature will make it easier than ever to transfer, for example, a photograph or document from one person’s iPhone to another person’s iPad.

While iCloud synchronization works well for sharing photos and documents between two iOS devices owned by the same person, the AirDrop feature will allow seamless individual file exchanges between iOS devices belonging to different people. Apple launched this functionality between Mac computers in 2011 with OS X Lion.

Notably, this potential addition will increase feature parity between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Android has included peer-to-peer file sharing for multiple releases of the software, but the implementation can be confusing due to fragmentation. For example, Samsung has its own unique fork of peer-to-peer file sharing while Google’s stock Android builds include its own implementation. AirDrop for iOS will be seamless in that it will work the same way on all of Apple’s supported products.

Finally, rumors have also pointed towards improved in-car-integration for Maps and Siri – something I think most iOS users can appreciate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon runs out of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, rumors hint at new model to be announced at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

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When the inventories run low, there’s generally some cool stuff around the corner.

Or the retailer REALLY needs to order some more stock.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after new details surfaced suggesting that Apple could introduce a slimmed-down version of its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display next week, one of the company’s largest resellers — Amazon.com — is sold out of the current entry-level model.

The high-profile stockout comes just a week before Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote presentation — a stage frequently used to unveil new products and innovations. This year, the company is expected to showcase its new next-generation operating system software for the Mac and iOS devices — OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 — in addition to highlighting some new Mac notebooks powered by Intel’s new Haswell processors

Well-connected industry watch Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Sunday that Apple plans to launch a slimmed-down 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at WWDC. He said the tweaked design will feature a thinner chassis, giving the professional-grade notebook a more portable form factor.

In addition, it’s said that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will sport an improved FaceTime HD camera, which could move from a current resolution of 720p to 1080p, or “full HD.” For his part in attempting to predict Apple’s future product plans through insight into the company’s operations out East, Ming-Chi Kuo sports one of the industry’s most respectable track records in recent years.

Amazon’s stockout applies to Apple’s entry-level 13-inch model, sporting a 2.5-gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor and 128 gigabytes of flash storage. Low inventory levels at authorized resellers are often one of the first signs of new hardware on the horizon, as Apple draws down its available inventory ahead of a new product launch.

While the entry-level model is sold out, Amazon still has remaining inventory of the higher end models with 256 gigabytes of flash storage, at processor speeds of 2.5 gigahertz and 2.6-gigahertz.

In addition, other resellers still have inventory of the two default configurations of Apple’s larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which are the 2.4-gigahertz model with 256 gigabytes of storage and 8 gigabytes of RAM, and the 2.7-gigahertz variety with 512 gigabytes of storage and 16 gigabytes of RAM. The latest rumors have not offered any indication that Apple plans to update the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro next week, suggesting that a refresh to add Intel’s Haswell processors may come at a later date.

However, Apple is expected to bring Haswell to its MacBook Air lineup at WWDC next week, with new models sporting dual microphones for better voice recognition. AppleInsider was first to report on widespread stockouts of MacBook Air models at resellers in recent weeks leading up to WWDC.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop corroborated rumors of new Macs at WWDC last week when he signaled that updated hardware will likely be unveiled. The company is also planning to show off new versions of iOS and OS X, but is not expected to launch any new iPhone or iPad models.

Stay tuned for up to the minute coverage come WWDC next week.

Leaked iPad 5 component image points toward thinner, lighter design

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Date: Friday, May 31st, 2013, 08:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, Pictures

It’s a leaked component shot, but it might say something about the design of the next-gen iPad.

Per AppleInsider and Apple.pro, a new image has emerged that shows what looks to be a full-size fifth-generation iPad’s front panel, again showing design cues taken from the iPad mini.


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The image shows the rear side of what appears to be the front casing for an as-yet-unreleased iPad 5. The panel bears all of the holes and markings that typify Apple’s tablets — including a hole for the Home button and FaceTime camera — and the connector for the touchscreen component.

The panel bears the same thin bezel seen with Apple’s iPad mini, which observers expect will serve as the design guidepost for the next full-size iPad. Images and video of potential iPad 5 cases have borne the same design cues, with a thinner overall body.

The next full-size iPad is expected to retain the screen size of its predecessors, if only to application development for the device easy. Recent rumors suggest that Apple may add a centered rear microphone to the device to help in audio recording.

The rumored new iPad’s thinner bezels are said to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner. The new iPad, new iPad mini, and the next generation of iPhones and iPods are all expected to arrive some time in the fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple building GPU team from former AMD engineers according to LinkedIn profile spot checks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 07:24
Category: Hardware, News

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per MacRumors, Apple has hired at least a dozen former AMD graphics engineers for its Orlando offices in recent months, according to a spot check of employees’ LinkedIn profiles.

The majority of hires, which include a graphics architect, hardware engineer and others, occurred in January of this year.

AMD laid off a number of employees last year in a corporate reorganization, and fired more in January. It seems likely that Apple hired a number of the laid off Orlando AMD engineers for a new team it’s building in the region.

The company has also posted new job listings for Site Managers to head GPU teams in both Orlando and Cupertino.

These hires and new listings are in addition to job listings posted last month for chip engineers for its Orlando Design Center.

Apple’s interest in GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPUs coincides with an effort to develop more of its technology in-house. Apple is a licensee for ARM and Imagination Technology, which power the company’s iPhones and iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.