Apple releases firmware updates for late-2010 MacBook Air, mid-2012 MacBook Air, mid-2012 MacBook Pro and mid-2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:06
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Pretty much everything in the known universe was updated on Wednesday.

And assorted firmware updates for your MacBook…those tend to be important, so let’s go through them.

On Wednesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.9 for its mid-2012 MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 4 megabyte download, resolves an issue which can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads and requires an Intel-based mid-2012 MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

The company also released MacBook Air SMC Update 1.7 for its late-2010 MacBook Air notebook. The update, a 668 kilobyte download, enables Power Nap support on MacBook Air (Late 2010) computers, is recommended for all users running OS X v10.8.2 or later and requires an Intel-based late-2010 MacBook Air running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

Second to last, the company also released MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.0 for its mid-2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook. The update, a 5.2 megabyte download, resolves an issue which can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter and requires an Intel-based MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

Finally, the company also released MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.5 for its mid-2012 MacBook Air notebook. The update, a 5 megabyte download, fixes an issue where Turbo Boost does not activate when using Boot Camp, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter and requires an Intel-based mid-2012 MacBook Air running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

As always, these updates can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. Be sure your computer is plugged in while the firmware updates take place and you should be home free.

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

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 10:21
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for this for a while now.

On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.8.2 of its OS X Mountain Lion operating system. The new version, a 665 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
– Single sign on for Facebook.
– Adds Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
– See Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
– Facebook notifications now appear in Notification Center.

Game Center:
– Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
– Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
– Added Facebook “Like” button for games.
– Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
– Adds Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
– iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
– You can now add passes to Passbook (on your iPhone or iPod touch) from – Safari and Mail on your Mac.
– FaceTime can now receive calls sent to your phone number.
– New shared Reminders lists.
– New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
– Dictation now supports additional languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
– Dictionary app now includes a French definition dictionary.
– Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

General fixes:
– Adds an option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
– Unsent drafts are now opened automatically when launching Mail.
– Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone.
– URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center.
– Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used.
– Adds SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari.
– Adds a new preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages.
– Resolves an issue that may cause the “Enable Autodiscover” checkbox to always remain checked.
– Enables access to the Mac App Store when Parental Controls are enabled.
– Support for @icloud.com email addresses.
– Resolves a video issue with some VGA projectors when connected to certain Mac notebooks.
– Addresses an issue that may prevent Active Directory accounts from being locked out.
– Resolves an issue that may cause the policy banner to re-appear prior to logging in.
– Improvements to SMB.
– Addresses an issue with NIS users when auto-login is enabled.
– Addresses an issue in which the Keychain may not be accessible.
– Ability to pre-authenticate a FileVault protected system.
– Addresses an issue that may cause Xsan to not automatically start after migrating from Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

OS X 10.8.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8 to install and run, the update itself being attainable by using OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new operating system and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.5 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 10:41
Category: News, Software

It may not be quite as snazzy as the iOS 6.0 release, but it’s still helpful to have updates.

On Wednesday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.7.5. The new operating system update, a 1.14 gigabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– The 10.7.5 update is recommended for all OS X Lion users and includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac. It also includes Gatekeeper, a new security feature that helps you keep your Mac safe from malicious software by giving you more control over what apps are installed on your Mac.

– Resolve an issue where icons in Launchpad may get rearranged after a restart.

– Improve Wi-Fi reliability for iMac (Late 2009 and newer).

– Resolve an issue using Spotlight to search an SMB server.

– Improve compatibility connecting to Active Directory servers.

The Mac OS X 10.7.5 update is available for free and can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Mac OS X 10.7.5 requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.4 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.

Skype 5.11.0.33 public beta released

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Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Skype released a public beta (version 5.11.0.33) of its VoIP application. The new version, a 31.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Sharing Instant Messages with friends on Messenger. You can now sign in with your Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID), and see presence as well as send and receive IM messages from your friends who are using Messenger, Xbox, Hotmail or Outlook.com.

– Improved Facebook integration. You can now sign in directly with your Facebook account, without needing to first create a Skype account.

– Different conversations can now be opened in separate windows by selecting this option in Preferences (General -> Open conversation in new window when I double-click in the sidebar).

– Link Microsoft and Facebook accounts to a Skype account. If you sign in with a Microsoft or Facebook account you will be offered the option to link your Skype account. If you choose the link option then Skype will display a combined list of friends. This is an area we are still working through so please let us know about your experience.

Skype 5.11.0.33 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.0

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 07:42
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.0. The new version, a 96.6 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

New Features:
– Improved Windows 8 support, in particular many 3D-related fixes.

– GUI: VM groups (bug #288).

– GUI: expert mode for wizards.

– GUI: allow to alter some settings during runtime.

– Support for up to 36 network cards, in combination with an ICH9 chipset configuration (bug #8805).

– Resource control: added support for limiting network IO bandwidth; see the manual for more information (bug #3653).

– Added possibility to start VMs during system boot on Linux, OS X and Solaris; see the manual for more information (bug #950).

– Added experimental support for Drag’n’drop from the host to Linux guests. Support for more guests and for guest-to-host is planned. (bug #81).

– Added support for parallel port passthrough on Windows hosts.

– Enhanced API for controlling the guest; please see the SDK reference and API documentation for more information.

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:
– Mac OS X hosts: sign application and installer to avoid warnings on Mountain Lion.

– VMM: fixed a potential host crash triggered by shutting down a VM when another VM was running (only affected 32-bit hosts and 64-bit OS X hosts, 4.1 regression, bug #9897).

– VMM: fixed a potential host crash under a high guest memory pressure (seen with Windows 8 guests).

– VMM: improved VM context switch performance for Intel CPUs using nested paging.

– VMM: added support for FlushByASID features of AMD CPUs (Bulldozer and newer).

– VMM: fixed unreal mode handling on older CPUs with VT-x (gPXE, Solaris 7/8/9; bug #9941).

– VMM: fixed MP tables fixes for I/O APIC interrupt routing relevant for ancient SMP guests (e.g. old OS/2 releases).

– VMM: support recent VIA CPUs (bug #10005).

– VMM: fixed handling of task gates if VT-x/AMD-V is disabled.

– VMM: page fusion fixes.

– GUI: network operations manager.

– GUI: allow taking screenshots of the current VM window content (bug #5561).

– GUI: allow automatically sorting of the VM list.

– GUI: allow starting of headless VMs from the GUI.

– GUI: allow reset, shutdown and power off from the Manager window.

– GUI: allow to globally limit the maximum screen resolution for guests.

– GUI: show the full medium part on hovering the list of recently used ISO images.

– GUI: do not create additional folders when a new machine has a separator character in its name (bug #6541).

– GUI: don’t crash on terminate if the settings dialog is still open (bug #9973).

– GUI: consider scaled DPI values when display fonts on Windows hosts (bug #9864).

– GUI: if a bridged network interface cannot be found, don’t refuse to start the VM but allow the user to change the setting immediately.

– Snapshots: fixed a crash when restoring an old snapshot when powering off a VM (bugs #9364, #9604, #10491).

– Clipboard: disable the clipboard by default for new VMs (see the manual for more information). It can be enabled at any time using the VM menu.

– Settings: sanitize the name of VM folders and settings file (bug #10549).

– Settings: allow to store the iSCSI initiator secret encrypted.

– NAT: improvements for the built-in TFTP server (bugs #7385, #10286).

– NAT: fixed memory leak when disabling the NAT engine (bug #10801).

– E1000: 802.1q VLAN support (bug #10429).

– Storage: implemented burning of audio CDs in passthrough mode.

– Storage: fixed audio CD passthrough for certain media players.

– Storage: implemented support for discarding unused image blocks through TRIM for SATA and IDE and UNMAP for SCSI when using VDI images.

– Storage: added support for QED images.

– Storage: added support for QCOW (full support for v1 and readonly support for v2 images).

– Storage: added readonly support for VHDX images.

– USB: don’t crash if a USB device is plugged or unplugged when saving or loading the VM state (SMP guests only).

– Solaris additions: added support for X.org Server 1.11 and 1.12.

– Solaris additions: switched to using an in-kernel mouse driver.

– Windows hosts: no need to recreate host-only adapters after a VirtualBox update.

– Windows Additions: fixed memory leak in VBoxTray (bug #10808).

VirtualBox 4.2.0 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple releases iTunes 10.7 update

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 06:42
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.7 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 165 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Adds support for iOS 6 running on compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models.

– Also adds support for the latest iPod nano and iPod shuffle models.

iTunes 10.7 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Google releases Picasa 3.9.11.6 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 10:47
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, software giant Google released Picasa 3.9.11.6, the latest version of its photo organization program for the Mac. Once installed, Picasa imports (without moving or copying) photos from the iPhoto library as well as other folders and external hard drives on your Mac. The program also includes assorted editing tools for straightening, text generation, red eye removal, collage creation and Photoshop-like effects and adjustments. The new version, a 33.9 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed Sync/upload to re-upload on image size or metadata changes.

– Fixed reading jpg files saved by Gimp.

– Fixed Reading some png files with metadata errors.

– Fixed some errors storing faces in XMP data.

– “Save as” and “Save a Copy” are now re-enabled when switching away from two-up AA mode.

– The size option for uploads is now saved in the album data.

Picasa 3.9.11.6 requires 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.

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.22

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Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 07:40
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.22. The new version, a 96.6 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

– VMM: fixed a potential host crash triggered by shutting down a VM when another VM was running (only affected 32-bit hosts and 64-bit OS X hosts, 4.1 regression, bug #9897)

– VMM: fixed a potential host crash under a high guest memory pressure (seen with Windows 8 guests).

– VMM: respect RAM preallocation while restoring saved state.

– VMM: fixed handling of task gates if VT-x/AMD-V is disabled.

– Storage: fixed audio CD passthrough for certain media players.

– USB: don’t crash if a USB device is plugged or unplugged when saving or loading the VM state (SMP guests only).

– RTC: fixed a potential corruption of CMOS bank 1.

– Mac OS X hosts: installer fixes for Leopard (4.1.20 regression).

– Windows Additions: fixed memory leak in VBoxTray (bug #10808).

VirtualBox 4.1.22 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple making changes with iCloud Notes and Reminders, adding more comprehensive Lost My iPhone feature in forthcoming updates

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Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:27
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Some upcoming iCloud features could prove incredibly useful and interesting.

Per AppleInsider, the upcoming iCloud Notes and Reminders apps are virtually identical to their iOS and OS X Mountain Lion siblings. The new Reminders web app offers a cloud-based version of events synced with iOS mobile devices and desktop Macs, although it does not support location based reminders (simply ignoring any “geofence” reminder settings triggered to go out when entering or leaving a particular location).

Notes gets a similar web treatment, although unlike its iOS and OS X counterparts, there’s no way to change the default font from Noteworthy. Notes on the web also reflects the stitched leather binding of its iOS counterpart rather than the plainer version in OS X.

In addition to the two new apps, iCloud Mail and Calendar are both getting minor updates. The new Mail adds support for VIP inboxes introduced in Mountain Lion’s Mail this summer.

Mail also uses iOS style scroll bars that are skinnier and translucent, in strange contrast to iCloud’s Calendar app, which continues to use a standard scroll bars with a full gutter and arrow buttons.

The only apparent change in Calendars is the removal of the Reminders list, which is now its own app. Similarly, the iCloud Contacts app hasn’t changed at all, so it retains the odd “bookmark” control for accessing contact groups that Apple has removed from both the OS X and iOS 6 versions of the app.

Also left apparently unchanged is Apple’s support for saving and accessing iWork documents from the web. Overall, the company’s web strategy for iCloud seems very conservative, given that both Google and now Microsoft have made web versions of their office apps a prominent part of their software strategy.

One final feature Apple has added to iCloud’s web portfolio is a new “Lost Mode” within Find My iPhone. The new feature is an enhancement over the previous version, which only offers to lock the device and optionally send it a message.

If your iOS 6 device goes missing, you can click on Lost Mode and the app prompts you to enter a phone number and message, locks the device remotely and will track the device every time it moves, reporting changes in location via email updates. It will also draw each location change on the map, showing a trail of where the device has shown up.

Devices that haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 6, along with Macs registered to use iCloud’s Find My Mac, continue to support the old Lock feature, without updates or live tracking.

Notably, Apple is still using Google Maps within iCloud rather than its own Maps that will launch with the new iOS 6 update later this week. The company may transition over to its own map services at some point.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.