Ars Technica testing shows evidence of lowered battery life under Mountain Lion for some MacBook Pro users

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 05:56
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Well, patches and updates DO tend to exist for a reason…

Per Ars Technica and a test conducted by the web site, there may be evidence that Apple’s new operating system is draining batteries significantly faster than the previous OS X Lion, as the publication’s test unit lost some 38 percent of runtime after having installed Mountain Lion.

In a series of unscientific tests, a MacBook Pro with Retina display was run on battery power both with and without Mountain Lion installed. Ars was able to hit just over eight hours of runtime with Lion and the integrated Intel HD4000 GPU, meaning the computer wasn’t leveraging the discrete and power-hungry NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M. With Mountain Lion installed and using the same settings, however, runtime dipped to around five hours.

The test was conducted a number of times, each using the same applications under what was described as a “daily workload.” Being used actively were Safari, Chrome, Twitter, iChat, TextEdit, Photoshop, Mail and Outlook, among others while Dropbox and gfxCardStatus ran in the background. As far as systems settings, Wi-Fi was activated while Bluetooth was turned off and screen brightness was set to half-strength.

Mountain Lion’s Activity Monitor was used to check CPU usage and, while there were occasional spikes when reading or writing files, loading web pages or other user-initiated operations, the processor was usually below five percent capacity. This is contrary to one account from an Apple Communities forum member who noted a heightened CPU temperature when the computer was idle.

A 49-page Apple Support Communities thread fist started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion was released, chronicles a number of battery issue complaints from users who recently installed Apple’s new OS.

A few forum members suggested the problem lies with one of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, while others have found limited success with resetting their machine’s system management controller, but a legitimate fix has yet to be discovered.

Interestingly, only certain machines are affected by the purported battery drain issue and some users are even reporting their battery life increased after installing the new operating system.

Apple has yet to release an official statement, but a number of forum members affected by the issue claim Apple representatives reached out to obtain system information in an attempt to remedy the problem.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Safari 6.0 update

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Date: Thursday, July 26th, 2012, 06:11
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released Safari 6.0, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 40.2 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Smart Search Field: Safari now has one field for typing both searches and Web addresses.

- Offline Reading List: Safari saves entire webpages in your Reading List so you can catch up on your reading even when you don’t have an Internet connection.

- Do Not Track: Safari can send the websites you visit a request not to track you online.

- Password pane: Manage your saved website logins with the new Password pane.

- Baidu: The leading Chinese search engine Baidu is now a built-in option for Chinese users.

Safari 6 for OS X Lion also includes improvements to stability, compatibility, usability and security, including changes that:

- Make the swipe to navigate gesture work with PDFs.

- Restore the state of Reading List when Safari is launched.

- Fix an issue that affected full screen video in webpages that have positioned content.

- Restore the user’s previous cookies after Private Browsing without requiring a Safari relaunch.

Safari 6.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run and can also be located and downloaded via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple releases OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on Mac App Store

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Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 07:27
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it.

And it’s here.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-awaited OS X Mountain Lion upgrade through the Mac App Store. The download is 4.05GB, and retails for US$20.

The software incorporates a number of apps previously exclusive to iOS, including Notes, Reminders, Game Center, and the Notification Center. It also more deeply integrates iCloud, and introduces Gatekeeper, a new security system designed to prevent malware from being installed. In all, Apple claims that over 200 new features have been added including the following:

Messages:
- Send messages from your Mac to friends with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

- With iMessage, you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone or iPad.

- Messages also supports traditional instant messaging services like AIM, Yahoo! Google Talk and Jabber.

iCloud:
- Documents in the Cloud lets you create and edit your documents on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

- The new Reminders app makes managing tasks easy. Jot down your thoughts with the new Notes app. And iCloud keeps your Reminders and Notes up to date across all your devices.

Safari:
- Type both searches and web addresses in the new Smart Search Field.

- Pinch to see tabs with Tab View and swipe to switch between them.

- iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.*

Notification Center:
- New notifications appear in the top right corner of your screen.

- Open Notification Center from anywhere in OS X to see recent notifications.

- Configure your notifications to receive just the ones you want.

Sharing:
- Share links, photos, videos, and other files right from the app you’re in.

- Share with Mail, Messages, and AirDrop.

- Sign in to Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo once to start sharing.

- Tweet right from your apps with the Tweet sheet.

Game Center:
- Play live multiplayer and turn-based games against friends on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.

- Log in to the Game Center app to see friends in your gaming network.

- Check out leaderboards and achievements.

- See what games your friends play and track your progress against them.

Other Mountain Lion features:
- Dictation lets you talk anywhere you can type–no setup or training required.

- AirPlay Mirroring shows your Mac screen on your HDTV with Apple TV.

- Power Nap keeps your Mac up to date while it sleeps so it’s instantly ready to go.

- Gatekeeper makes it safer to download apps from the Internet by giving you control over which apps can be installed on your Mac.

- New features for Chinese users include improved text input, leading search engine Baidu as an option in Safari, sharing to microblogging service Sina Weibo and video websites Youku and Tudou, eight new fonts, and a new Chinese dictionary.

OS X 10.8 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 and access to the Mac App Store to download and install.

If you guys have downloaded, installed and played with OS X 10.8, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Upcoming OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) to feature automatic security updates

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:26
Category: News, security, Software

If you don’t click “Software Update” that often, Apple will do it for you come Mountain Lion.

On Monday, Apple indicated that the company’s upcoming OS X Mountain Lion will feature an automatic security check feature that will ensure users have the most up-to-date software protection amid a growing number of Mac-targeted malware.

As reported by AppleInsider, an update to the Mountain Lion Developer Preview shows a new automated system that runs a daily check with Apple’s servers to make sure OS X 10.8 users have the most current security patches and protections against known malware and viruses.

Called “OS X Security Update Test 1.0,” the automated feature will run either daily or whenever a Mac restarts and has the ability to download and install updates in the background, making the task of manually performing checks less of a necessity.

The new feature also creates a “more secure connection” to Apple’s servers possibly hinting to new encryption technology or more stringent default settings. Also included are the usual stability and general updates for the operating system set for launch in July.

Apple is making security a priority in the next iteration of OS X to counter new threats that continue to crop up as Macs gain a larger user base. In April the highly-publicized Flashback trojan used a Java exploit to spread onto an estimated 600,000 Macs around the world prompting Apple to release both a Java disabler for Safari and a standalone malware uninstaller.

In a related action, Apple notedly toned down the language of its OS X web page, changing the statement that the Mac “doesn’t get PC viruses” to “It’s built to be safe.”

Coming exactly one week after OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 was released, the new Security Update is available through the Mac App Store and comes in at 1.15 GB.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

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.

Apple releases Safari 5.1.7 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:59
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released Safari 5.1.7, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Improve the browser’s responsiveness when the system is low on memory.

- Fix an issue that could prevent webpages from responding after using a pinch to zoom gesture.

- Fix an issue that could affect websites using forms to authenticate users.

- Disable versions of Adobe Flash Player that do not include the latest security updates and provide the option to get the current version from Adobe’s website.

Safari 5.1.7 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.4 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:09
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for this.

Late Wednesday, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.7.4 update. The update, a 693 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Resolve an issue in which the “Reopen windows when logging back in” setting is always enabled.

- Improve compatibility with certain British third-party USB keyboards.

- Addresses permission issues that may be caused if you use the Get Info inspector function “Apply to enclosed items…” on your home directory. For more information, see this article.

- Improve Internet sharing of PPPoE connections.

- Improve using a proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file.

- Address an issue that may prevent files from being saved to an SMB server.

- Improve printing to an SMB print queue.

- Improve performance when connecting to a WebDAV server.

- Enable automatic login for NIS accounts.

- Include RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras.

- Improve the reliability of binding and logging into Active Directory accounts.

- The OS X Lion v10.7.4 Update includes Safari 5.1.6, which contains stability improvements.

The Mac OS X 10.7.4 updater requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS x 10.7 or later.

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

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

- Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

- Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

- Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

- Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

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

Symantec estimates Flashback trojan could have netted authors $10,000 a day during its peak

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Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, 09:58
Category: News, security, Software

Ok, so maybe crime DOES pay…

Per Symantec’s company blog, the malware known as “Flashback” that was believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of Macs may have paid out as much as US$10,000 a day to its authors.

The estimate comes from Symantec, which said in a post to its official blog that the primary motivation behind the malware was money. The Flashback Trojan includes an ad-clicking component that will load itself into the three major browsers for Mac — Safari, Firefox and Chrome — and generate revenue for the attackers.

“Flashback specifically targets queries made on Google and, depending on the search query, may redirect users to another page of the attacker’s choosing, where they receive revenue from the click,” Symantec explained.

Peering into the Trojan’s code, the security firm found a redirected URL that generates the authors of the code 8 cents per click. If a user conducts a Google search, Flashback will “hijack” the ad click from Google, taking money away from the search giant and granting “untold sums” to the authors of the Trojan.

A previous analysis of a different Trojan found that a botnet with just 25,000 infections could generate up to US$450 per day. At its peak, the Flashback Trojan was estimated to have infected 600,000 Macs worldwide, which means the authors could have earned as much as US$10,000 per day.

The presence of Flashback has greatly diminished since Apple released a series of software updates last month aimed at squashing the malware, including a Java update and a separate removal tool.

The Flashback Trojan was first discovered by another security firm, Intego, last September. The software attempts to trick users into installing it by appearing as Adobe’s Flash Player installer package.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you haven’t downloaded and installed Apple’s anti-flashback removal tool via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, there’s no time like the present.