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.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 to arrive with additional power-user features, iOS elements

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Date: Monday, April 29th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Rumor, Software

The feature rumors about OS X 10.9 have begun.

Per 9to5Mac, the upcoming operating system, which is internally codenamed “Cabernet,” will focus on various “power-user” enhancements and take core features from iOS, according to sources. Unlike operating system updates such as OS X Leopard and OS X Lion, OS X 10.9 will likely not be an overhauled approach to how the operating system feels and functions.


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The new operating system is purported to include major enhancements to the Finder application such as tags and tabbed browsing modes. Those additions are notable as many pro-users have relied on third-party solutions and hacks to enable these features. Additionally, the new operating system will include a new Safari web browser with a redesigned backend for improved page loading, speed, and efficiency…

Third-party TotalFinder tool:
The ability to keep a different “Space” or full-screen app open on a different monitor (in multiple monitor setups) is another important power-user feature coming in 10.9. This feature was forecasted by Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi last year.

In October, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi became involved in an e-mail exchange in which a user complained about the lack of proper multi-monitor support in OS X Mountain Lion. The Apple executive said that Apple is “absolutely aware of [its] customers’ passion on this topic,” according to the e-mail exchange.

OS X 10.9 will also apparently see some user-interface changes, but the changes will not be drastic ones.

The upcoming operating system is said to incorporate some level of Siri functionality, but it is unclear if full Siri-support is still in the cards for OS X 10.9 or if the functionality will be glued to future hardware updates (for instance, iPhone 4 versus iPhone 4S). The shake-up at the top of Apple’s overall software group shifted around multiple iOS and OS X projects, so anything on the roadmap prior to this shakeup could have been altered, according to a person familiar with the situation.

OS X Mountain Lion added many app-based features from iOS, such as Messages, Notes/Reminders, Game Center, and AirPlay, but the additions in OS X 10.9 from iOS will focus more on system fundamentals. According to one source, Apple has been testing a new multi-tasking system for OS X that is similar to the quick-app-switcher function on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. The multitasking feature will be functional for applications in the background, according to this person. Additionally, Apple could use app-pausing technologies from iOS to pause background application processes in OS X. This is significant as full performance could be given to foreground apps, which could help optimize battery life on Apple’s notebook computers. It is unclear if this feature will make the cut for 10.9′s public release.

Apple will also likely announce Xcode 5.0 later this year. Apple’s new version of its developer app suite is said to be redesigned and include improved application testing tools. Perhaps hinting at this is Apple’s own WWDC press release:

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Apple’s last two operating systems shipped in the summer, which suggests it is likely that 10.9 will also see a summer release. OS X 10.9 was originally scheduled to be previewed earlier this year, but Apple decided to introduce the operating system alongside iOS 7 at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. Recent rumors have indicated that Apple moved resources away from OS X 10.9 development in order to focus on iOS 7. This likely contributed to Apple moving back the next OS X’s debut.

As previously noted, the operating system seems to have already been fairly widely distributed inside Apple, based on views to the 9to5Mac web site with computers running OS X 10.9.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple job postings, logs hint towards Siri integration in upcoming OS X 10.9 operating system, iLife, iWork suites

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Date: Thursday, February 7th, 2013, 08:06
Category: News, Siri, Software

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Sometimes it’s the job postings that give the future away.

Per MacRumors, builds of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.9 have been appearing in site logs since November, the logs hinting at possible Siri integration into the operating system.

A recent Apple job posting reinforces the rumor that Siri might be bundled with the next version of OS X. In its listing for a Siri UI Engineer, Apple specifies that candidates should possess “Familiarity with Unix, especially Mac OS X” and a “Passion for the Macintosh platform and writing simple, elegant software that is easy and fun to use.”

The listing, which does not include a specification for experience with iOS aside from knowledge of Apple’s development APIs, states that the engineer will be in charge of implementing the content that appears within Siri’s conversational view. The position will also require collaboration with other Siri teams.

To quote the posting:
“This is a broad-ranging task – we take every application that Siri interacts with, distill it down to fundamentals, and implement that application’s UI in a theme fitting with Siri. Consider it an entire miniature OS within the OS, and you get a good idea of the scope!

Of course, each of these little “snippets” corresponds to an individual application, so you will have extensive cross-functional work with many other teams. You’ll need to work with them to enable access to their data and behaviors, and wire them up to your implementations. As a result, strong API design is needed to keep communications ideal.”

As of mid-January, OS X 10.9 activity has increased considerably, suggesting the new operating system, with Siri included, may be imminent.

Job postings for Apple’s iLife/iWork team also surfaced this week. iWork’s last major update was in 2009, while iLife was last updated in 2010. An overhaul of the apps could potentially include Siri integration, allowing for voice commands for simple tasks such as photo and music editing.

Apple has been upgrading OS X on a yearly basis. 10.8 Mountain Lion was released in July of 2012, a year after 10.7 Lion was released in July of 2011. The first developer preview of OS X 10.8 appeared in February, and OS X 10.9 could follow a similar timeline.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly disables Oracle’s Java 7 Update 11 fix via XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X

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Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, security, Software

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When it comes to Java, there’s always an argument to be had between Apple and Oracle.

Per MacGeneration, the recently released Java 7 Update 11 has been blocked by Apple through its XProtect anti-malware feature in OS X.

Oracle issued the latest update to Java earlier this month to fix a serious zero-day security flaw. The threat was so serious that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had recommended that all Java 7 users disable or uninstall the software until a patch was issued.

Apple took action on its own and quietly disabled the plugin through its OS X anti-malware system. As noted by the article, Apple has again updated its OS X XProtect list, this time to block Java 7 Update 11.

Because Oracle has yet to issue a newer version of Java that addresses any outstanding issues, Mac users are prevented from running Java on their system.

Over the last few years, Apple has moved to gradually remove Java from OS X. The company dropped the Java runtime from the default installation for OS X 10.7 Lion when the operating system update launched in 2010. Java vulnerabilities have been a common exploit used by malicious hackers looking to exploit the OS X platform.

Most notably, the “Flashback” trojan that spread last year was said to have infected as many as 600,000 Macs worldwide at its peak. Apple addressed the issue by releasing a removal tool specifically tailored for the malware, and also disabled the Java runtime in its Safari web browser starting with version 5.1.7.

Mozilla releases Firefox 18.0.1 update

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Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 07:25
Category: News, Software

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Never knock a decent update on a web browser you’re fond of.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 18.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 36.6 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

Bugs Fixed:
- Problems involving HTTP Proxy Transactions.

- Unity player crashes on Mac OS X (bug 828954).

- Disabled HIDPI support on external monitors to avoid rendering glitches (bug 814434).

New:
- Faster JavaScript performance via IonMonkey compiler.

- Support for Retina Display on OS X 10.7 Lion and up.

- Preliminary support for WebRTC.

Changed:
- Experience better image quality with our new HTML scaling algorithm.

- Performance improvements around tab switching.

Developer:
- Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.

- Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.

HTML5:
- Support for W3C touch events implemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.

Fixed:
- Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).

- Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).

Firefox 18.0.1 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 to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Oracle releases updated Java 7 Update 11 security fix, now available for download

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 08:28
Category: News, security, Software

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Following up on the discovery of a Java 7 flaw that prompted Apple to disable the software in OS X, Oracle issued a statement saying it is currently working on a fix and released a patch over the weekend.

Oracle released the statement late Friday following a U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommendation that all Java 7 users disable or uninstall the software until a patch was issued, reports Reuters. Taking action on its own, Apple quietly disabled the plugin through its OS X anti-malware system shortly after hearing of the exploit.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that Java’s most-recent vulnerability is being “attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits.”

For its part, Oracle noted in its statement that the flaw only affects the most up-to-date version of Java 7 and Java software designed to run in Internet browsers.

Java and Apple have had a rocky relationship over the past few years, including a move to drop the Java runtime from OS X 10.7 Lion’s default installation when the OS debuted in 2010. Another flaw in Oracle’s internet plugin was responsible for the most widespread Mac malware ever when the “Flashback” trojan reportedly affected some 600,000 OS X machines in April 2012.

Apple continued efforts to deprecate Java from OS X over the past year, culminating in the company’s final official in-house Java update issued in May 2012. From that point, all responsibility for future updates was handed over to Oracle.

Oracle on Sunday released a fix to a Java 7 flaw discovered on Friday. Users can download the release here.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

From the release notes:
“The fixes in this Alert include a change to the default Java Security Level setting from “Medium” to “High”. With the “High” setting, the user is always prompted before any unsigned Java applet or Java Web Start application is run.”

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

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard install DVDs surface in Apple online store, available for $19.99

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Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012, 08:45
Category: News, retail, Software

snowleopard

In as much as it’s useful to keep operating systems on thumb drives and recovery partitions, there are times where you miss having an emergency DVD on hand.

That being said, this should be useful.

Discovered by French web site MacGeneration and the mighty Mac Observer, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has returned to Apple’s Online Store as a physical disc purchase after being removed upon the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in July.

Snow Leopard, released in August of 2009, was the first Apple operating system to run exclusively on Intel processors. It was also the last version of OS X to include Rosetta, Apple’s translation software that allowed applications written for PowerPC-based Macs to run seamlessly on Intel-powered machines.

Most importantly for owners of older Macs, Snow Leopard represented a crucial transition point for Apple. The Mac App Store, which launched in early January 2011 exclusively on Snow Leopard 10.6.6, inaugurated a new era of digital software distribution. Starting with the launch of OS X 10.7 Lion in July 2011 and continuing with Mountain Lion in July 2012, the primary method for Mac owners to receive new versions of OS X became the Mac App Store (there were indeed other methods of acquiring a new version of OS X, such as the short-lived official USB installer or by making your own, but these were limited options for relatively advanced users).

For users who had already upgraded their eligible Macs to Snow Leopard, the upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion was simple: purchase and download it from the Mac App Store. But if users were still on OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.4 Tiger, they would first have to install Snow Leopard to gain access to the Mac App Store, and then purchase and download Lion or Mountain Lion.

As a result, Apple kept OS X Snow Leopard for sale in its online store until the launch of Mountain Lion when, for reasons unknown, the company removed it. Now, thankfully, the Snow Leopard installation DVD is back for US$19.99, and is currently in stock with free shipping.

While it is true that most Mac owners who are eligible to upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion have already done so (or have at least upgraded to Snow Leopard), for the remaining holdouts who want to try a newer version of OS X, or for current users who want a copy of Snow Leopard in case they ever need to run a PowerPC app via Rosetta, now is the time to snag it while it’s still available.

CrossOver updated to 11.2.2

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 10:16
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular virtualization program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.2.2. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This release fixes a bug which caused applications doing 3D drawing to fail to launch under CrossOver on Mac OS X 10.8.2 and 10.7.5. Because of this failure, many games, and some other applications, would not run using CrossOver on OS X 10.8.2 and 10.7.5. If you are using any version of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or 10.8 (Mountain Lion), you should install this upgrade to ensure that CrossOver continues to function.

CrossOver 11.2.2 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Initial tests show forthcoming OS X 10.8.2 update may help resolve battery life issues

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Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:30
Category: News, Software

They may not be scientific tests, but they prove a point.

Per the intensely cool cats at The Mac Observer, a set of tests published on Monday claim to show significant a boost in MacBook battery life using a new developer build of OS X Mountain Lion, with the latest beta showing an 85-minute increase from the current 10.8.1.

The unscientific test from The Mac Observer pitted numerous revisions of OS X, from 10.6 Snow Leopard to 10.8.2 Mountain Lion developer build 12C35, against each other to determine how the operating system effects battery life.

The test used a 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro running a 2.0 GHz i7 processor with 8 GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 6490M GPU and two internal hard drives, an OCZ Vertex 4 64 GB SSD and a Seagate Momentus 750 GB HDD.

Each operating system was tested at full charge, with all applications and services disabled save for Wi-Fi, screen adjusted to 50 percent brightness with display set for continuous use and screen saver disabled. A moderate workflow was simulated using a custom Automator application, which repeated until the battery was fully drained.

Using OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard as a baseline, the compiled test data showed a significant hit to battery performance with the introductions of 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion. Upon release, Lion lost over 40 minutes of battery life and took three revisions to regain Snow Leopard power efficiency. In contrast, Mountain Lion saw a huge 105 minute loss in battery performance when it was released in July, with the latest 10.8.1 version moving the OS only 30 minutes closer to baseline.

With OS X 10.8.2, however, battery life is not just brought back in line with Snow Leopard levels, but the OS actually outperforms its predecessor by eight minutes. This marks an 88.5 minute savings in power consumption from the most recent 10.8.1 version of Mountain Lion.

It was previously reported that Apple’s Mountain Lion was causing battery life issues for many users, with some MacBook Air owners seeing their batteries lasting half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed. Subsequent tests of the latest public version of OS X, Mountain Lion 10.8.1, showed Apple engineers were working on a fix as battery life was substantially improved. If Monday’s tests are accurate, OS X 10.8.2 will bring further battery life improvements, perhaps besting even the legacy OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

While the final public version of OS X 10.8.2 may not boast power savings identical to the home-brew test, the developer builds are promising and show Apple is taking an aggressive stance in solving the battery degradation issues seen at Mountain Lion’s launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the current OS X 10.8.2 beta and have any feedback about battery life under the forthcoming operating system revision, please let us know in the comments.

Oracle releases patch for Java 1.7, works to close hole on discovered security flaw

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Date: Friday, August 31st, 2012, 06:33
Category: News, security, Software

With any luck, the patch fixed the issue.

Per AppleInsider, Oracle on Thursday released a patch for the Java 1.7 runtime, plugging a recently discovered security hole that allowed malware to take over any operating system when a user visits a malicious website.

In an update to its “CVE-2012-4681″ security alert, Oracle addressed three separate vulnerabilities and one “security-in-depth” issue affecting Java 7.

It was reported on Monday that a new zero-day exploit had been discovered and proven to be effective within the Java 1.7 runtime, which includes the latest Java 7 update, in browsers on any operating system.

According to researchers, the flaw allows malware to breach the security of a Mac or PC by having a user visit a compromised website hosting the attack code. Because Java came bundled with older versions of OS X like Leopard or Snow Leopard, Macs running the legacy software are potentially more vulnerable to the attack than those with the latest 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Apple removed Java from OS X last year with the release of 10.7 Lion after a security flaw in Oracle’s software allowed the infamous Flashback trojan to affect a reported 600,000 Macs. As a safety precaution, users must now authenticate browser requests to download and install Java, proactively blocking potential exploits.

From Oracle’s alert:
“If successfully exploited, these vulnerabilities can provide a malicious attacker the ability to plant discretionary binaries onto the compromised system, e.g. the vulnerabilities can be exploited to install malware, including Trojans, onto the targeted system. Note that this malware may in some instances be detected by current antivirus signatures upon its installation.”

The patch for Java 1.7 can be downloaded directly from Oracle’s java.com web site, while more information about the security issues can be found at the company’s security page

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.