Apple Freezes Snow Leopard APIs, Mac OS X 10.6 Upgrade Steps Closer to Release

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Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Software

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Over the weekend, Apple distributed a new beta of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system that altered the programming methods used to optimize code for multi-core Macs, telling developers they were the last programming-oriented changes planned ahead of the software’s release.
The company is said to have informed recipients of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard build 10A354 that it has simplified the application programming interfaces (APIs) for working with Grand Central, a new architecture that makes it easier for developers to take advantage of Macs with multiple processing cores.
According to AppleInsider, Grand Central works by breaking complex tasks down into smaller blocks, which are then routed efficiently to a Mac’s available cores for faster processing. This allows third-party developers to leverage more of a Mac’s hardware resources without having to be well-versed in multithreaded programming.
Sources close to the story say the Grand Central “dispatch” methods were tweaked/simplified within build 10A354. Apple has also apparently told developers that “no further API changes are planned for Snow Leopard.”
This means developers can now press forward with Snow Leopard versions of their applications with confidence that further Apple-instated changes won’t force them to make significant alterations to their code between now and the time the software hits the market. It can also be seen as a sign that the the operating system upgrade is one step closer to reaching a final developmental stretch that will focus on stability and optimization.
Other reputed changes include the addition of Chinese handwriting recognition support for Macs that include a multi-touch trackpad.
In support of the handwriting recognition software in Snow Leopard, Apple also reportedly tweaked the system’s Language & Text Preference Pane to include support for bidirectional text.
Apple has apparently also included a new codec due to debut with Snow Leopard called MPEG-4 High Efficiency AAC (or HE-AAC). The company has stated that the codec is an extension of the Low Complexity AAC (or AAC-LC) codec that’s optimized for low-bitrate steaming of audio and podcasts.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is expected to hit the market sometime this summer with a near-finalized version likely to make a public appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference next month in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Apple this weekend also equipped developers with Mac OS X 10.5.7 build 9J61, which corrected one more minor issue with the impending Leopard update.

Rumor: Boot Camp Under Mac OS X to Include Windows HFS+ Drivers

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Date: Monday, May 11th, 2009, 08:04
Category: Rumor

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Mac OS X 10.6 is en route and according to MacRumors, evidence has been discovered showing a new version of Apple’s Boot Camp Utility under a Mac OS X 10.6 build offering support for Windows HFS+ drivers.
Such a change would allow Windows installations to read Mac OS X HFS+ formatted partitions and make it easier for Snow Leopard users to exchange files between Mac and Windows partitions without the assistance of third-party utilities.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0 Build 3844 Released

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Date: Thursday, May 7th, 2009, 07:49
Category: Software

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Virtualization software maker Parallels released Parallels Desktop for Mac build 3810 on Wednesday. The new version, a 174.6 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), contains the following fixes and changes:

  • Improved 3D graphics in Windows virtual machines.
  • Problems with Palm synchronization in Windows virtual machines — fixed.
  • Random disconnection of USB 1.1 devices in Linux virtual machines — fixed.
  • Invisibility of the text mouse pointer on black background in Windows virtual machines — fixed.
  • Problems with SMB shares in native Windows Boot Camp installations that have Parallels Tools installed — fixed.
  • Problems with Shared Networking on Snow Leopard host computers — fixed.
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0 retails for US$79.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

    New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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    Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
    Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

    Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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    The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

    One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

    Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

    This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

    VirtualBox 2.2.2 Out the Door

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    Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 10:51
    Category: Software

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    VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 2.2.2. The new version, a 57.9 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Host and guest clipboard: fixed a number of issues affecting hosts and guests running the X window system.
  • Guest Additions: make sure the virtual mouse autodetection works on first reboot after installing the Additions on X.Org server 1.5 and later.
  • Guest Additions: properly report process identity number of running services.
  • Guest Additions: clean up properly if the X Window server terminates.
  • Linux Additions: fixed installation path for OpenGL libraries in some 64-bit guests (bug #3693).
  • Solaris Additions: fixed installation to work when X.Org is not installed on the guest.
  • Solaris Additions: fixed a bug that could panic the guest when unmounting a busy shared folder.
  • Windows Additions: fixed mouse pointer integration of some Windows guests (2.2.0 regression, bug #3734).
  • Windows Additions: fixed installation on Windows Server 2008 Core (bug #2628).
  • Main: do not try to use older versions of D-Bus (Linux hosts only, bug #3732).
  • VMM: fixed out-of-memory conditions on Windows hosts (bug #3657).
  • VMM: fixed occasional hangs when attaching USB devices during VM startup (2.2.0 regression; bugs #3787).
  • VMM: fixed guru meditation related to memory management (software virtualization only).
  • Virtual disks: fix possible data corruption when writing to diff images, incorrect detection of redundant writes.
  • GUI: reworked network settings dialog.
  • GUI: properly show the detailed settings dialog of NAT networks (bug #3702).
  • GUI: HostKey could not be changed (2.2.0 regression, bug #3689).
  • GUI: fixed memory textfield size (Windows hosts only; bug #3679).
  • GUI: fixed crash when selecting a shared folder path (Windows hosts only; bugs #3694, #3751, #3756).
  • VBoxManage modifyhd –compact: implemented again for VDI files, and now supports relative paths (bug #2180, #2833).
  • VBoxManage snapshot discard: made it work again (2.1.0 regression; bug #3714).
  • NAT: on some Windows host, the guest didn’t receive a DHCP lease (bug #3655).
  • NAT: fixed release assertion during poll() (bug #3667).
  • Clipboard: fixed random crahes (X11 hosts only, bug #3723).
  • Shared Folders: fixed incorrect permissions for Solaris guests.
  • Shared Folders: fixed wrong file sizes with Solaris guests.
  • CBindings: fixed possible memory leak while releasing the IVirtualBox and ISession Objects.
  • Solaris hosts: fixed host-only network interface incompatibility with nwam/dhcpagent (bug #3754).
  • Windows installer: fixed several install and uninstall issues (bugs #3659, #3686, #1730, #3711, #3373, #3382, #3701, #3685, #3710).
  • Mac OS X hosts: preliminary support for Snow Leopard.
  • VirtualBox 2.2.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

    VMWare Releases Fusion 2.0.3

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    Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 08:23
    Category: Software

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    Late Thursday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 2.0.3 of its Fusion software for the Mac.
    Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.
    The new version, a 286 megabyte download, offers the following new features and fixes:

  • Resolves an issue where driverless printing stops working for users that run Mac OS X 10.5.6, and installed Apple Mac OS X Security Update 2009-001. The shared printers would disappear from Windows. If you configured your printer differently as a workaround, turn on driverless printing feature again by clicking Virtual Machine > Settings, selecting Printers, and selecting the Enabled check box.
  • Provides experimental support for Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server as a guest operating system. You can now run the current Snow Leopard Server builds (32-bit kernel) in a virtual machine.
  • Resolves an issue with driverless printing, where the Enabled check box on Virtual Machine > Settings > Printers might get deselected automatically.
  • The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

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