Apple releases external Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 06:28
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a good operating system beta.

Per AppleInsider, work on OS X 10.7.5, the next performance and maintenance update for Lion, is far enough along that Apple is preparing to issue a preview of the software to its developers for testing.

A pre-release build of OS X 10.7.5 is set to be released to a limited number of members of Apple’s development community in the coming days, sources familiar with the software indicated on Monday. Public testing among all members of the Apple Developer Connection will likely begin soon after.

Details on what fixes or updates OS X 10.7.5 might include remain unknown. But any changes are likely to be relatively insignificant, as Apple is gearing up to launch the next major version of its Mac operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, next month.

The last update to Lion, OS X 10.7.4, was publicly released in early May. It included a fix for a potential security flaw in FileBug.

OS X 10.7.4 also quietly added support for Retina display Macs, more than a month before Apple officially announced its next-generation MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina display. That notebook began shipping last week with OS X 10.7.4 installed, featuring high-resolution support for icons and native applications.

Apple announced last week that Mountain Lion will arrive on the Mac App Store in July for US$19.99. Those who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and the date Mountain Lion hits the App Store will be eligible for a free upgrade to OS X 10.8.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 firmware upgrade

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Late Monday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 firmware upgrade for its Thunderbolt-equipped Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The update, a 510 kilobyte download, adds support for the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter.

In addition to the direct download, Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 is available through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature. The update requires a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 19.0.1084.53

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Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 05:30
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 19.0.1084.53 for the Mac. The new version, a 38.6 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- Supports the Mac transition to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Google Chrome 19.0.1084.53 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

CrossOver updated to 11.1.0

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Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 09:05
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.1.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

New Game Support:
- Support for Diablo III.

Application Enhancements:
- Smoother installation process for some versions of Microsoft Office.

- Printing fix for Project 2007.

- Fixed an error saving certain documents in Excel 2010.

CrossOver Enhancements:
- Printing how honours duplex settings.

- Printing fixes to non-letter sized paper.

- Improvements to Spanish-language translations.

- Fixed an error where IE6 in a Win98 bottle would complain it was not registered.

- Fixed an error which would cause CrossOver’s ‘Welcome’ screen not to appear in some situations on Mac OS X Lion.

- Fixed a problem which caused Windows applications to have slightly (four) fewer graphics shaders available than they could have, which could produce graphics glitches in games.

CrossOver 11.1.0 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.

Perian development to end, final version to fix remaining bugs

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 13:39
Category: News, Software

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Perian, the iconic, free, incredibly useful open source video utility project that’s allowed QuickTime to handle nearly every video format possible, will soon be coming to an end.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the project’s developers have stated that Perian is reaching the end of the road.

Today, the Perian dev team announced that the software will no longer be updated. They will release all the source code to Google Code or Github, but the team is moving on.

For now, Perian continues to work with OS X Lion. From here, however, it’s unsure whether it will make the leap to Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

The dev team is no longer accepting contributions and requests that you send any money in their honor to Ronald McDonald House, Child’s Play, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Apple releases Flashback removal tool for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:21
Category: News, security, Software

If you’ve yet to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 or Mac OS X 10.7, there’s some good news.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released a pair of security updates for the older operating system: Leopard Security Update 2012-003 and Flashback Removal Security Update.

The Leopard Security Update disables older versions of Adobe Flash Player that don’t contain the latest security updates, prompting you to upgrade instead. That mirrors an update Apple offered for Safari on Snow Leopard and Lion last week.

The Flashback Removal Security Update finds and removes the most common variants of that malware; the updater may need to restart your Mac to complete the removal of any malware.

Both updates are available directly from Apple’s website or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5.8 to install and run.

If you’ve tried the updates/malware removal tools and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Kaspersky Lab to help advice Apple on Mac OS X security

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 10:08
Category: News, security, Software

It never hurts to ask for a helping hand.

Per computing.co.uk, Apple has invited Kaspersky Lab to consult on potential OS X security issues following the aftermath of the largest malware outbreak on the platform.

Kaspersky has begun analyzing the OS X platform at Apple’s request, the company’s chief technology officer, Nikolai Grebennikov, said in an interview with Computing. The Kaspersky executive has publicly called Apple out for not taking security seriously enough.

“Mac OS is really vulnerable, and Apple recently invited us to improve its security,” Grebennikov said. We’ve begun an analysis of its vulnerabilities, and the malware targeting it.”

As one specific security issue with OS X, he noted that Apple has blocked Oracle from directly updating Java on the Mac. Instead, Apple handles the updates, and they typically arrive months after Oracle issues its own patches.

Mac-centric Java development is set to move to Oracle following the latest runtime updates built in-house at Apple. Apple dropped Java from the default installation of OS X 10.7 Lion after the company announced its plans to deprecate the software’s release from the Mac platform.

In April, Oracle released its first Java Development Kit and JavaFX Software Development Kit for Mac users. They arrived one and a half years after Apple announced the depreciation of its own edition of Java for Mac.

Kaspersky’s newfound partnership with Apple comes on the heels of the Flashback malware botnet, which was believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of Macs at its peak. The presence of Flashback was greatly diminished after Apple released a series of software updates to squash the malware, including a Java update and a separate removal tool.

Grebennikov cited the Flashback malware as “a huge sign that Apple’s security model isn’t perfect.” He also predicted that the first malware targeting Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which powers the iPhone and iPad, will arrive in the next “year or so.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.7.4 update resources point towards Retina Display features in upcoming Macs

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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The cool stuff, it’s en route.

Per AppleInsider, assorted resources within the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update issued on Wednesday is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple’s built-in TextEdit application. In Mac OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application’s icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled.

With the quality of the TextEdit icon increased greatly to 1,024-by-1,024 pixels, the file size of the icon also grew from just 209 kilobytes in OS X 10.7.3 to 1.7 megabytes in 10.7.4.

Other applications also saw their icon file sizes grow, such as the Address Book, from 279 kilobytes to 484 kilobytes, and Dashboard, from 130 kilobytes to 226 kilobytes. However, those applications do not feature Retina display 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons.

The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup. Apple’s new iPad, released in March, packs 3.1 million pixels onto its 9.7-inch display, giving it a higher resolution than a high-definition 1080p television.

Apple has been making behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X to prepare for anticipated Retina display Macs for some time. Some application icons, like the App Store and LaunchPad, have included 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons since OS X 10.7 Lion was in beta.

In February, it was discovered that Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update for Lion added more high-DPI user interface elements. Various cursors were upgraded to higher-resolution versions, like the pointing-finger cursor for browsers, the “grabby hand,” and the camera cursor for taking screenshots.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but those were only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the user interface resolution doubling that Apple has done with Retina displays on the iPhone and iPad.

Double-resolution icons can also be found in various applications in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system set to arrive this summer.

One report from last year claimed that Apple is planning to launch a new MacBook Pro with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel Retina display this year. That would be exactly twice the resolution of the 1,440-by-900-pixel display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s next-generation Macs are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Intel announced last September that Ivy Bridge chips would include support for screens with a 4K resolution, providing up to 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Safari 5.1.7 nixes outdated Flash versions, focuses on security-based issues

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 06:32
Category: News, security, Software

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When in doubt, go with the update.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released an update to its Safari web browser that automatically disables old versions of Adobe’s Flash Player as they don’t have the most up-do-date security features.

After pushing out OS X Lion 10.7.4 which included Safari version 5.1.6, Apple rolled out a separate update for the browser that can be downloaded by Mac OS X 10.7.3, Mac OS X 10.7.4 and Windows users.

According to the Safari 5.1.7 support page, the update is meant to disable older versions of Flash that pose a security risk as they lack the latest vulnerability patches.

Safari 5.1.7 will scan a Mac’s Flash assets for out-of-date software, disable it if found and inform the user via a dialog box. A link to Adobe’s website is integrated into the dialog so that users can easily locate and install the most current Flash Player.

If users need to roll back to a previous version of Flash, they must navigate to the “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins (Disabled)” folder on their Mac, drag “Flash Player.plugin” into the active “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins” folder and restart the browser.

Apple has become increasingly leery about third-party applications, perhaps due to the recent Flashback malware debacle that affected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide. One of the trojan’s first iterations was discovered in 2011 when it disguised itself as a Flash Installer, though the exploit had nothing to do with Adobe’s software.

Most recently, Apple released a Java update to cope with Flashback and even created a dedicated removal tool for those Mac owners who didn’t already have Java installed on their computers.

The Safari update comes in at 44.98MB download and can be acquired via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security hole found in FileVault under Mac OS X 10.7.3

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 06:04
Category: News, security, Software

Ok, this isn’t the best news in the world…

Per Crytome, Apple’s legacy FileVault Mac encryption system in OS X 10.7.3 has a security flaw that could allow malicious users to access stored passwords. According to the post, the issue only applies in specific configurations to users who have updated to OS X 10.7.3, in which a system-wide debug file that displays login passwords in plain text is created.

“Thus anyone who can read files accessible to group admin can discover the login passwords of any users of legacy (pre LION) Filevault home directories who have logged in since the upgrade to 10.7.3 in early February 2012,” Emery explained.

The login data can also be viewed by booting a Mac into FireWire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk. The information can also be accessed by booting the Lion recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition.

Users can protect themselves from these methods by using the whole disk encryption capabilities of FileVault 2. Emery explained that this requires that a user know at least one login password before they can access the main partition of the disk.

Further protection can be achieved by setting a firmware password that must be supplied before a user can boot the recover partition or external media, or enter firewire disk mode.

“Having the password logged in the clear in an admin readable file *COMPLETELY* breaks a security model — not uncommon in families — where different users of a particular machine are isolated from each other and cannot access each others’ files or login as each other with some degree of assurance of security,” Emery wrote.

The bug was introduced with Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update, which was issued in early February. The latest version of Lion came with Wi-Fi connectivity fixes and Windows file sharing compatibility.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.