“Working prototype” version of Office for iPad pictured, slated for submission to App Store soon

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Date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 07:45
Category: iPad, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad since, well, the release of the iPad.

And it could hit very soon.

Matt Hickey of The Daily was offered the first glimpse at a “working prototype” of Office for iPad on Tuesday.

“Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online,” he said. “But it’s unclear if Microsoft will support other Office apps at launch or at all.”

The design side of the project is said to have already wrapped up, but an exact launch date remains unknown. It was said that the project “could be released in the coming weeks.”

Citing anonymous sources, the report added that Microsoft Office for iPad will “soon be submitted to Apple for approval.” No pricing or other details were provided.

The Daily first indicated last November that Microsoft was preparing a new version of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad. In addition, an updated version of Office for OS X Lion users was also revealed, and is expected to become available on Apple’s Mac App Store.

Apple currently offers its competing iWork productivity suite on the iPad as three standalone applications. Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are each available for US$9.99 on the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases public beta of Messages for the Mac, looks to replace iChat and integrate functionality with iOS version

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 06:03
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple announced the public beta of its new Mac Messages application with cross-platform support for iOS will be a major feature of the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, users can get their hands on an early beta immediately.

According to AppleInsider, the Messages beta is now available for download direct from Apple for free. Apple’s official site advertises that it will give users “a taste of what’s coming in OS X Mountain Lion,” set to be released in late summer 2012.

“When you install Messages, it replaces iChat,” Apple said. “But iChat services will continue to work. And Messages brings iMessage to the Mac — just like on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5.”

The Messages beta requires users Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and offers the following features:

– Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.

– Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.

– Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re tried the beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cautions against “Beta test iPhone 5” scam, tells users to be wary of unsolicited offer

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPhone, News

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Per the Apple discussion boards and iPodNN, a recent scam spam has spread from email and forums to Twitter, Facebook and now text messaging. Users have reported seeing unsolicited texts and social-network posts claiming that “Apple” is seeking 1,000 testers for text messaging on the iPhone 5. The links go to the websites celltestnkeep.com or cellphonetesters.com and ask for email or a text message “code” to sign up.

The notoriously secretive Apple would not, of course, openly solicit for public testers of a forthcoming product (it rarely even acknowledges a forthcoming product at all), nor use a third-party company to do so. Users who “sign up” will be asked for additional information. The “promotion” is a scam operation that sells the data collected to spammers and other criminal organizations. The text messages have appeared for users of other phone platforms as well as iOS users.

Scams promoting free “iPhone 5” units were popular on social-networking and forum sites up until the announcement of the iPhone 4S. Speculation that Apple may introduce a new model sometime later this year has apparently reached a sufficient level of mainstream consciousness that spammers are seeking to attract gullible consumers who want to get the jump on the next version of Apple’s most popular product.

The call to “test text messaging” is particularly ironic since iOS 5 introduced a new iOS service called iMessage that bypasses normal SMS traffic, circumventing a source of carrier income. Apple mobile devices that register their phone numbers or email addresses in iOS 5 can send and receive SMS-like text, image or video messages to and from other iOS devices or groups at no charge. The system works over Wi-Fi or 3G (and in the latter case does use 3G data).

AT&T is advising users to contact Apple when they receive such a text message. The company cannot block users from receiving the unsolicited text message, though Canada has recently introduced anti-spam laws that require mandatory opt-in before unsolicited electronic messages can be sent.

In other news, if you’ve already fallen for the iPhone 5 tester scam, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you just a few blocks away…

Rumor: Apple purportedly testing upcoming iPad model with 8-inch screen

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:49
Category: iPad, Rumor

The next iPad could feature a smaller form factor.

And there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be working with suppliers to test a new iPad model with a smaller form factor, sporting an 8-inch screen rather than the 9.7-inch size found on current models.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the publication reported on Tuesday that Apple officials have shown some suppliers designs for a device with an 8-inch screen size. It was said that Apple is qualifying potential suppliers to manufacture the device.

“One person said the smaller device will have a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2,” authors Lorraine Luk and Jessica E. Vascellaro wrote. “Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.”

The report also came with a caveat, noting that Apple works with suppliers to test new designs regularly, but that such a device may never see the light of day.

Tuesday’s report comes on the heels of an initial story from the publication, which claims that Apple plans to add 4G long-term evolution high-speed data connectivity to the third-generation iPad. The LTE iPad will reportedly operate on networks from both Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., and it would be the first 4G device from Apple.

Apple is expected to hold a media event on March 7 to announce its third-generation iPad. The new device is expected to sport the same 9.7-inch screen size as the current generation model, but will have a higher-resolution “Retina Display” similar to the pixel density found on the iPhone 4S screen.

Rumors of a so-called “iPad mini” are not new and have persisted for years. But Apple has long downplayed the prospect of such a device, calling the screen size too small to be functional and criticizing competitors who released 7-inch touchscreen tablets.

In October of 2010, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs slammed rivals who were building 7-inch tablets, saying the screen size was too small for users. He said that manufacturers of those devices would need to ship sandpaper with their 7-inch tablets so users could file down their fingers to the point where they could hit smaller targets on the screen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

LTE-ready micro-SIM cards arrive in AT&T stores, help lay groundwork for LTE-capable iPads

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Date: Friday, February 10th, 2012, 06:07
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

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You’ve been wanting an iPad with LTE access for a while now and your patience is about to pay off.

Per a recent sighting at an AT&T store by Phone Arena, the store’s sales staff seemed to be looking to get rid of older cards and replace them with the new versions fully capable of talking to the 4G network. An included memo didn’t specifically attach the cards to any one device.

The cards are almost certainly being brought in time for the Nokia Lumia 900, which like its smaller Lumia 800 sibling should use micro-SIM cards to get online. Other LTE phones in the near term are so far expected to use full-size SIM cards.

Even so, this helps lay the groundwork for future devices that are increasingly likely to include LTE iPads and iPhones. Apple was the primary impetus behind the existence of the micro-SIM card format, and it has shown increasing signs that it’s preparing for LTE through testing and carriers that anticipate Apple deals once the iPhone gets LTE. Code exploration has strongly suggested an LTE iPad was getting close.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises iOS Developer Program requirements, begins asking for Retina Display-compatible screenshots across the board

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: iOS, News

It looks like the Retina Display might be arriving for additional advices.

Which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday notified members of its iOS Developer Program that they will be required to provide high-resolution, Retina Display compatible screenshots when initially submitting or updating an app through iTunes Connect.

The note sent out to third-party software developers says that any future updates will not be approved by Apple unless 960×640 pixel screenshot is included, a change from the company’s earlier policy which supported Retina Display screenshots but did not require them.

Previously, non-Retina Display images and apps were scaled up from their native 480×320 pixel resolution on devices that sport the high-resolution display, and many apps in the App Store have yet to support to the higher pixel count.

Currently, the only Apple products to boast the Retina Display are the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the fourth generation iPod touch, however speculations that the much-rumored next-generation iPad will include its own high-resolution display have been cropping up since early last year.

The iPhone 4 was the first device to use the 960×640 pixel screen, with the display being introduced to the current iteration of the iPod touch in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T begins data throttling on “Unlimited” data plans at 2GB mark

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 08:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s as if the wireless carriers WANT you to be disgruntled with them.

Per iLounge, AT&T has begun to throttle—or downgrade the data speeds of—customers on unlimited data plans that go over 2GB in data usage for the month.

As AT&T customer John Cozen wrote on his blog, “I received a message during my last billing cycle, warning I was in the top 5% of my region and would experience reduced data speeds next time I reach that level of data use. I immediately checked my data usage on the AT&T iOS app. 2.1 GB. Less than I expected considering AT&T offers a 3GB plan for US$30 a month. The same amount I’ve paid for the unlimited data plan since signing up with them many years ago. AT&T no longer offers an unlimited data plan, anyone still on it has been grandfathered in.”

“Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” said Emily Edmonds, Director, AT&T Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of AT&T smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this change on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple cites misdirected iMessages as result of incorrect configuration, not iOS 5 bug

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Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2012, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If iOS 5’s iMessages app is giving you fits, Tim Cook is here to tell you why. Per The Loop, reports of iOS 5 iMessages being sent to the wrong recipient are the result of a misconfigured phone, not an issue with the operating system or Apple’s cloud services, the company indicated.

The report notes that a situation where messages from an Apple Store employee were being directed to another user’s iPhone were the result of the employee failing to follow directions while troubleshooting the customer’s device.

The employee installed his personal SIM card in the customer’s phone, linking the device to his Apple ID account in a way that resulted in his subsequent iMessages, including photos, being relayed to the customer’s device.

The report cited Apple representative Natalie Harrison as saying, “this was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM. This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

Apple noted that to prevent such a situation, users should “toggle iMessage on and off” in the Settings app of any iOS 5 device configured to their Apple ID before it is given away or sold.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.