Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security researchers to demo 30-pin dock connector hack/malware injection at Black Hat next month

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Date: Friday, June 7th, 2013, 07:57
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, security, Software

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You’re not going to like this.

Per Senor O’Grady over on the Apple Core, a group of researchers from Georgia Tech have discovered a way to hack into an iPhone or iPad in less than a minute using a “malicious charger.” The group plans to present its findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on July 27, 2013.

Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song are presenting a session is called “Mactans: Injecting Malware Into iOS Devices Via Malicious Chargers” at the popular security conference next month. The name “Mactans” comes from Latrodectus Mactans, the highly venomous (and deadly) black widow spider.

According to the synopsis on the Black Hat website, the Mactans session will describe how USB capabilities can be leveraged to bypass Apple’s defense mechanisms built into the iPhone.

Jason’s got the full details, so head on over, take a gander and get ready to never completely trust your iOS device’s 30-pin dock connector again…

Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

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Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
- One Gigabit Ethernet port

- One Firewire 800 port

- One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

- One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

- One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

- Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

- Cable management channel


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The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Hack: How to use your old ADB keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac

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Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 07:46
Category: Hack, Hardware, News

Ok, this could prove to be awesome.

And it’s one of the many reasons I believe the mighty Topher Kessler doth rock on a regular and efficient basis.

Over on CNET, Kessler’s penned a cool hack to use your old Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac.


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The hack centers around tech hobbyist Scott Vanderlind’s find that by adding a small USB controller to the keyboard, he could tap into the device’s ADB connection and send it over USB to any modern device, where it works quite well.

For hobbyists, adapters like the Griffin 2001-ADB iMate are not the only options for converting your ADB keyboard to USB. Granted, there’s a small amount of soldering, a Teensy USB controller, and a quick flash of the keyboard’s firmware to enable the ADB-to-USB conversion of the keyboard’s output.

Still, the process seems to work pretty well with the only hiccup being the need to continually hold the Num Lock key for the number pad to work.

Head on over, take a gander and if you’ve found a cool hack of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T adds premium shared data, data-only options to Mobile Share plans

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Date: Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, 07:52
Category: News

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If you’ve got the money for it, AT&T has a fairly hefty data plan for you.

Per TechHive, the wireless carrier just added three new tiers for its Mobile Share plans, which allow users to share a single pool of data across several devices. Subscribers can now get 30GB per month for US$300, 40GB per month for US$400, and 50GB per month for US$500.

At these tiers, AT&T also adds a per-device charge of US$30 per month for each smartphone, US$10 per month for tablets and gaming devices, and US$20 per month for each laptop or USB data sticks.

Streaming video through services like Netflix is one example of where you might engage in heavy use, especially with data use skyrocketing over LTE. Although if you’re dropping US$300 per month on a bad Netflix habit, that’s a problem.

Previously, AT&T’s top tier was 20GB for US$200 per month. Exceeding the limit meant paying a US$15 per gigabyte overage charge so, while the new plans seem expensive, they do offer a savings to users and businesses that need large amounts of data.

AT&T and Verizon launched their respective shared-data plans last year. Both carriers include unlimited talk and text in these plans, as well as mobile hotspot use on smartphones at no extra charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for Smart Cover wireless charging system

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Patents

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It’s sort of a weird patent application, but apparently it’s been pushed through.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Thursday published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top:

The method as recited in claim 10, the method further comprising: determining that the tablet device is positioned relative to a flat surface at a viewing angle; and enabling a second wireless power receiver circuit only when it is determined that the tablet device is in the portable mode and is positioned relative to the flat surface at the viewing angle and the tablet device is configured to present video by the display. An apparatus for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: means for determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; means for enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and means for wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

13. The apparatus as recited in claim 12, the tablet device further comprising; a battery; a display; and a sensor arranged to detect an external stimulus only when the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the display.

The system described in the patent would be similar to wireless charging systems already available on the market, something that Apple’s Phil Schiller recently described as “more complicated” than Apple’s current solution:

As for wireless charging, Schiller notes that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Satechi releases powered 10-port USB 3.0 hub

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Date: Wednesday, March 13th, 2013, 07:22
Category: Accessory, News

If you were hoping for the mother of all 10-port USB 3.0 hubs with nifty power management controls, this might be it.

Per 9to5Mac, accessory maker Satechi has unveiled a 10-port USB 3.0 adapter complete with three separate banks, power management and includes a 2.1A iPad charging port.

The device is currently retailing for about US$49.99 on Amazon.com and yon nifty video can be seen below:



As always, if you’ve seen anything entirely new, cool or nifty for the Mac road warrior, please let us know in the comments.

Second lockscreen bypass exploit discovered in iOS 6.1, data vulnerable via USB connection

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Date: Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, 07:07
Category: Hack, iOS, News, security, Software

Apple either needs to assign its iOS security people some business hammocks or take their current ones away…

A second iOS 6.1 bug has been discovered that gives access to contacts, photos and more. The vulnerability uses a similar method as the one disclosed previously, though it apparently gives access to more user data when the phone is plugged into a computer.

Per MacRumors and Kaspersky’s Threatpost, the exploit involves manipulating the phone’s screenshot function, its emergency call function and its power button. Users can make an emergency call (911 for example) on the phone and then cancel it while toggling the power on and off to get temporary access to the phone. A video posted by the group shows a user flipping through the phone’s voicemail list and contacts list while holding down the power button. From there an attacker could get the phone’s screen to turn black before it can be connected to a computer via a USB cord. The device’s photos, contacts and more “will be available directly from the device hard drive without the pin to access,” according to the advisory.

Apple was expected to fix the lock screen bug in iOS 6.1.2, but that small release fixed a different bug. Instead, it appears a fix for at least one of the lock screen vulnerabilities will be coming in iOS 6.1.3, currently in the hands of developers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces updated spec, anticipated 10Gb/s speeds for 2014

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 07:32
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to something nifty.

Per CNET and the mighty Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, an updated USB 3.0 specification that promises to double theoretical maximum bandwidth is scheduled to arrive in mid–2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Sunday. The improvements, thanks to revised hardware and more efficient data transfer methods, will double USB 3.0’s speed from 5 gigabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, rivaling the single-channel performance of Thunderbolt.

The news of faster USB speeds will be welcomed by those relying on external solid state or multi-disk hard drives, as some current high-end drives already saturate USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s limit (equivalent to about 640 MB/s). For those not yet interested in faster speeds, the new technology will still be backwards-compatible with older USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices and ports.

The new specification is expected to be finalized by mid-year, but devices taking advantage of it won’t hit the market until early 2014 at the earliest, with “much broader availability of products in 2015.”

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which announced the new specification, is comprised of member companies in the technology field, including HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. Apple, which belatedly introduced USB 3.0 on its 2012 line of Macs, is not a member, although it pioneered Thunderbolt, an alternative high-speed interface.

Thunderbolt also offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gb/s (about 1,280 MB/s) but is dual channel, allowing two transfers up to that speed to occur simultaneously between attached devices. However, the limited number of Thunderbolt-enabled computers and the complicated nature of Thunderbolt chipsets and cables have made the technology significantly more expensive than most other interface options. As a result, it is far less ubiquitous than the backwards-compatible and cheaper USB 3.0 standard.

Users interested in the new USB 3.0 specification will need both updated computers and external devices to support it. New USB 3.0 devices will still work in the absence of both of these conditions, but they will operate at much slower USB 3.0 or 2.0 speeds depending on the exact configuration.

Cables, on the other hand, are another matter. Due to changes in the efficiency of the new specification, existing USB 3.0 cables may not work. “Existing SuperSpeed USB cables are not certified to operate at 10 Gbps; it is possible that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables may be capable of operating at 10 Gbps,” the group said.

Now that Apple has introduced USB 3.0 support, it is likely that the company will move to incorporate the faster USB specification once it is available, especially if Thunderbolt adoption continues to progress at a glacial pace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18354

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 06:12
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18354 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 333.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Resolves an issue with the built-in camera not working with Windows.

- Resolves an issue with some USB devices not working in virtual machines.

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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