Tag Archive: Apple


Apple poised for iPhone 5 launch

Technology giant Apple has fuelled rumours it will launch a new version of its best-selling iPhone by announcing a “special event” only hours before two of its competitors unveiled two new devices.

The secretive firm sent out invitations for the event next week ahead of Wednesday’s announcement in New York by Nokia and Microsoft where they revealed details of two new phones which will run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

The Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820 are the Finnish company’s attempt to claw back lost ground since it lost its position as the world’s biggest phonemaker to Samsung.

The firm described the 920 as its “flagship” product and it boasts a high powered camera described as the equivalent of “a standalone SLR camera” and can be recharged without being plugged in.

The Apple emails, sent on Tuesday to selected journalists, invite them to an event on Wednesday September 12 and includes the line “it’s almost here”.

It also features a figure 12 with a shadow that appears to be the number 5 – seemingly confirming the company will announce the arrival of the iPhone 5.

The events typically involve Apple executives unveiling new products at their California base – which are carried by videolink live to a central London location.

It is around a year since the firm unveiled the iPhone 4S complete with voice recognition software and an A5 chip allowing it to use much faster graphics for gameplay and to download data twice as fast.

The 4S also has an eight megapixel camera with five lenses, one more than the iPhone4, which results in sharper pictures and allows users to take HD video.

The new phone is expected to sell well. Thousands of gadget fans queued to get their hands on the iPhone 4S when it first went on sale.

Source: The Press Association

Apple patches serious security holes in iOS devices

Apple has shipped a high-priority iOS update to fix multiple security holes affecting the browser used on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

The iOS 5.1.1 update fixes four separate vulnerabilities, including one that could be used to take complete control of an affected device.

Here’s the skinny of this batch of updates:

  • A URL spoofing issue existed in Safari. This could be used in a malicious web site to direct the user to a spoofed site that visually appeared to be a legitimate domain. This issue is addressed through improved URL handling. This issue does not affect OS X systems.
  • Multiple security holes in the open-source WebKit rendering engine. These could lead to cross-site scripting attacks from maliciously crafted web sites. These vulnerabilities were used during Google’s Pwnium contest at this year’s CanSecWest conference.
  • A memory corruption issue in WebKit. Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue was discovered and reported by Google’s security team.

This patch is only available via iTunes. To check that the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has been updated:

  1. Navigate to Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Select About. The version after applying this update will be “5.1.1″.

Ryan says: As always, do not update to 5.1.1 if your iPhone is unlocked or jailbroken already or if you plan doing this in the future.

BlackBerry maker RIM offers its software for Android, iOS users

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has allowed apps Google’s Android operating system to run on its BlackBerry Playbook tablet thanks to an emulator. Now it seems to want to return the favor by offering its software to Android and Apple’s iOS users.

According to a story from Ars Technica, RIM is offering its device management software to both its major competitors. The company made the announcement today that it would make the software available to Android and iPhone owners, which would allow users to manage those devices alongside BlackBerry devices using the software.

The new software is called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and gives a lot of the same device management controls that BlackBerry customers enjoy (like remote phone locking and wiping and security features) to non-BlackBerry phones. It’s an acknowledgment on RIM’s part that it’s slowly losing its dominance in the field of business. While BlackBerry devices are still used heavily in enterprise, companies are also allowing employees to bring their own phones and use them.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows RIM to continue to support its devices among businesses, even if its users also have other devices. RIM is aiming to become the “de facto platform” for device management among enterprise users, according to Alan Panezic, VP of enterprise product management at RIM. So while BlackBerry devices might be losing their market share, RIM doesn’t intend to be forgotten: it may just have to change the way it does things.

RIM has its work cut out for it, though. Its BlackBerry devices still curry a lot of favor among the government and businesses, but it’s losing traction to the widespread popularity of Android, and Apple’s iPad is popping up more and more in business settings. It probably didn’t help that BlackBerry devices suffered a worldwide outage in October. But the popularity BlackBerry does enjoy, as Ars Technica points out, largely comes from its management capabilities. Now Android users are going to have access to those same capabilities, which could help RIM maintain some popularity, especially if those capabilities become as popular on other devices as they have been on BlackBerrys.

On the other hand, if RIM gives up the things that make its handsets unique – by allowing millions upon millions of Android users to have those same capabilities without buying a BlackBerry – it could very well have a huge negative impact on the BlackBerry. We’ll have to wait and see if RIM’s gamble pays off, but in the meantime, Android users are going to have access to some potentially cool new software.

RIM says it’ll be releasing BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the first quarter of 2012.

Source: Appolicious

Apple security expert finds apps-software bug

A software flaw in Apple Inc’s iPhones and iPads may allow hackers to build apps that secretly install programs to steal data, send text messages or destroy information, according to an expert on Apple device security.

Charlie Miller, a researcher with Accuvant Labs who identified the problem, built a prototype malicious program to test the flaw. He said Apple’s App Store failed to identify the malicious program, which made it past the security vetting process.

There is as yet no evidence that hackers have exploited the vulnerability in Apple’s iOS software. But Miller said his test demonstrated that there could be real malware in the App Store.

“Until now you could just download everything from the App Store and not worry about it being malicious. Now you have no idea what an app might do,” Miller said.

Miller said he proved his theory by building a stock-market monitoring tool, InstaStock, that was programed to connect to his server once downloaded, and to then download whatever program he wants.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Miller, who in 2009 identified a bug in the iPhone text-messaging system that allowed attackers to gain remote control over the devices, said that he had contacted the company about the vulnerability.

“They are in the process of fixing it,” he said.

Miller is scheduled to present his detailed research at the SyScan ’11 security conference in Taiwan next week.

 

 

Source: Reuters

Apple Has 1,000 Engineers Working On Chips For The Post-PC Era

As we ponder what will happen to Apple without Steve Jobs, I keep coming back to a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a veteran Silicon Valley CEO who knew Jobs. This was just after Jobs had resigned as CEO of Apple. We got to talking about why Apple is so well-positioned in the post-PC era, and this executive zeroed in on something you don’t hear too often. “Steve Jobs told me he has 1,000 engineers working on chips,” he said. “Getting low power and smaller is the key to everything.”

The number was startling when I first heard it. I knew that Apple started building its own chip design team in 2009, but figured it had to be a few hundred people at most, not 5 percent of Apple’s non-retail workforce. (Apple employs more than 50,000 people worldwide, 30,000 of them in its retail stores). Apple started designing its own chips because Intel and AMD were still stuck in the PC era. Apple needs chips that are powerful enough, but also very low power.

Battery life is one of the most important features of a mobile device. Apple’s latest A5 processor, which first appeared in the iPad 2, will now power the iPhone 4S as well. Not only is the A5 twice as fast as the A4 in the current iPhone 4, but it slightly improves the battery life with 8 hours of talk time (versus 7 hours).

Not only are Apple’s processors extremely power efficient, but Apple is also removing the hard drives from its products and replacing them with flash memory chips. It’s not just iPhones and iPads, the MacBook Air’s storage is also flash. All of Apple’s products are moving in this direction. When you combine these two fundamental changes at the silicon level, “form factor no longer becomes an issue,” explained the Silicon Valley CEO.

You can put a computer into anything. Mobile phones and tablets, certainly. TVs, perhaps. But what else? It is only limited by the imagination of Apple’s engineers and what makes sense from a product point of view.

When Jobs retired, TechCrunch writer MG Siegler cautioned against focusing too much on the next iPhone. Jobs left Apple knowing that a string of post-PC products will be introduced in the years ahead. MG wrote:

It’s the longer roadmap that should really be the grand finale in the Jobs’ fireworks show.

Talking to sources in recent months, there has been one common refrain: that the things Apple is working on right now are the best things the company has ever done. These are things that will “blow your mind”, I’ve been told.

Jobs himself said when he resigned, “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.” Now we get to see what he meant by that. Jobs rebuilt Apple from the silicon up. It is the company itself which is his greatest product. And like all of his products, everything fits together: the chips, the hardware, the software, the industrial design, the developer platform, the tightly controlled manufacturing, the marketing, the retail stores.

This machine is proving adept at making and selling mobile computers—phones and tablets. But remember also that we are just at the beginning of the post-PC era. The iPhone launched 4 years ago, the iPad only a year and a half ago. It is becoming practical to put a computer into anything. Of course, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And if anything, Apple is very disciplined about choosing what not to do (another Steve Jobs trait). But if you believe that post-PC devices will include more than just phones and tablets, it is not such a crazy idea that one day Apple will be churning them out as well.

Source: TechCrunch

KDE takes on Android, Apple’s iOS on smartphones and tablets

If another group was trying to take on Android and Apple’s iOS on smartphones and tablets, I’d dismiss them. RIM, BlackBerry’s parent company, is having a heck of a time getting anyone to buy into PlayBook and while HP TouchPad users loved it,HP killed the TouchPad after only a few weeks. So, why should anyone think that KDE, makers of one of the two most popular Linux desktops, should stand a chance with Plasma Active? Well, because KDE has a long history of delivering the goods with minimal resources.

So what is it? Plasma Active is not, like Android, iOS, or webOS, an operating system. It’s a KDE 4.x style interface and application programming interface (API) designed for touch devices. The Plasma Active Team states that “Plasma Active is innovative technology for an intelligent user experience (UX). It is intended for all types of tablets, smartphones and touch computing devices such as set-top boxes, smart TVs, home automation, in-vehicle infotainment. The goals for this KDE open source project are:

  • A fast embedded UX platform with minimal memory requirements
  • Customizable and modular to support different form factors
  • An interface that adapts as users change Activities.

In their GrandMaster Plan, the developers go into more detail about how they’ll do this: “Plasma Active runs on the proven Linux desktop stack, including the Linux kernel, Qt and KDE’s Plasma Framework. The user interface is designed using Plasma Quick, a declarative markup language allowing for organic user interface design based on Qt Quick. Plasma Active uses existing free desktop technology and brings it to a spectrum of devices through a device-specific user interface. Classical Plasma Widgets can be used on Plasma Active as well as newly created ones. The key driver for the development of Plasma Active is the user experience. Collaboration is made easy through high-level development tools and a well defined process. ”

“The first release of Plasma Active fully focuses on tablet computers. Plasma Active Tablet’s user experience is designed around the web, social networks and multimedia content.” Today, Plasma Active runs on MeeGo and the openSUSE-based Balsam Professional (German language site). There are also OS images for Intel-based tablets, and package builds for ARM and x86 platforms. The group is working flashable images for ARM platforms. The interface will also run on Oracle’s VirtualBox virtual machine. If you want to try it you can find downloads and instructions at the Plasma Active Installation page.

According to Sebastian Kügler, one of Plasma Active’s leading developers Plasma Active is “certainly meant as a replacement for iOS and Android, a completely open, community-driven project with strong backing by a group of (SMB-sized) businesses. We hope this appeals to many hardware vendors, and have in fact already started talking with some. The feedback so far was very good, and the concepts seem to appeal with potential partners. There is definitely demand for an open system without lock-in in the market for devices.”

Kügler also told me that they “have started investigating Tizen, [Intel and the Linux Foundations’ proposed replacement for MeeGo] but at this point, there is too little information out, and too many unknowns. We do see Tizen as a potential and likely target platform, but before Intel and Samsung release an SDK, our hands are tied. It’s not stopping us, since in the meantime, we can still run our stuff on MeeGo and Balsam, and we are investigating, together with the Mer team [Another mobile Linux operating system] how to get Plasma Active onto Mer.

That’s all well and good but does KDE have any industry support for this? Kügler replied, “My employer, open-slx backs this project, and we are actively working towards creating a wider ecosystem of companies around Plasma Active, to make good commercial support available, next to the community resources. This includes OEMs, ODMs and companies that can deliver support around Plasma Active, for example integration with new hardware platforms, support for custom-build OS images, 3rd party software, end-user support, etc.”

To that, I might add that unlike other such mobile projects, KDE starts with a large number of open-source applications that already run with it. That’s an advantage that neither RIM nor HP had. Personally, it’s hard for me to see a competitor to Android or iOS getting traction, but I’ve learned over the years not to bet against the KDE team.

Source: ZDNet

Android climbs to 43% in US, iPhone still at 28%

Android is still growing in the US, but is taking all its share from non-iPhone rivals, Nielsen found on Monday. Google was up from 40 percent in July to 43 percent in August, but Apple was still at the 28 percent it has held since June. Most of that decline came from Microsoft, which took the “other” category down from 13 percent to 11 percent.

RIM’s BlackBerry also lost a point to 18 percent. It may have been helped by a slew of BlackBerry 7 phones shipping the same month, such as the Bold 9900 and 9930.

Google still had added momentum in the Nielsen research. Among those who had bought a smartphone in the past three months, 56 percent were buying Android. Apple still wasn’t under threat with a static 28 percent, but there had been extra pressure on Microsoft and RIM, which collapsed to about six and nine points. Both audiences may have been in holding patterns for most of the summer as they either waited for later BlackBerry 7 launches or for Windows Phone 7​.5 (Mango) in October.

Android may see a rare share reversal in October. The year so far has been unusual as Apple’s first where a new iPhone didn’t ship in the summer. Possibilities exist that iphone sharecould start growing again as Apple fills pent-up demand, most of all if a Sprint iPhone 5 ships and eliminates another shelter for Android.

Smartphones should also still be on track to become the dominant cellphones in the US, researchers said. They were now up to 43 percent of total ownership and at 58 percent among those who had bought in the past three months. Ownership is expected to cross the 50 percent mark before the end of the year as the iPhone 5, and more Android devices like the Galaxy S II tip the balance.

Source: Electronista

Adobe Gives Up on Flash for iPhone and iPad

The Flash plug-in for browsers has been the de facto king of Web video, interactive websites and annoying ads that get in your face since it was owned by Macromedia. So when it was announced the iPhone would be shipping without Flash — and wouldn’t ever have Flash on it — a lot of people freaked out. Why was Steve Jobs being so mean? Android phones are getting Flash!

As the owner of one of those Android phones that has the Flash player installed, though, I can tell you why the iPhone’s not getting Flash: It’s awful. It runs horribly, and horribly slow. It’s a crapshoot whether it works at all, on my phone from last year, and that’s just to play a Web video. And Flash games like Robot Unicorn Attack? Right out.

Fortunately, a lot of these games and videos are available through apps like the YouTube one. That’s how iPhone owners watch them. And it seems Adobe has finally accepted that.

Introducing the Flash Media Server

Don’t be fooled by the headline on Boy Genius Report’s article. Adobe’s not bringing Flash anything to iPhones or iPads. Instead, website owners can buy these Flash Media servers for upward of $995, and they’ll convert Flash movies into a form that iGadgets can use.

There are a number of downsides with this plan. One, it doesn’t work on all websites; only the ones with owners who paid Adobe hundreds or thousands of dollars. And two, it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. How many bloggers and restaurant owners are going to want to shell out $995 to $4,500 just so iPhone owners can watch ads in their web browsers instead of YouTube?

If anything, Adobe’s given people a reason to use HTML 5 video, or movies that play outside of Flash Player. Flash was fun while it lasted, but it’s going the way of the dinosaur. This “media server” thing is just an expensive kludge to artificially extend its lifespan, by milking businesses that are addicted to it.

But iPhones can’t browse the full web!

Actually, iPhone owners will have a better web browsing experience than most Android phone owners. Instead of having their battery life drained by a choppy Flash video — one that would just crash low-end smartphones like mine — they’ll get web movies in a format their iPhone can play without breaking a sweat.

Let’s face it: It’s been four years since the iPhone came out, and roughly three years since the first Android phone did. Adobe has had plenty of time to make Flash do its thing, and/or beg, plead, and cajole Apple into putting Flash on the iPhone. The Flash Media Server products show that it’s given up, at least on the “persuade Apple” part. And the poor quality of the Flash experience on Android smartphones and tablets suggests that it may be wise for Adobe to give up there as well.

Source: Yahoo! Contributor Network

SkyDrive client app coming for Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android too?

A few days ago we just told you about a potential official SkyDrive app might be coming for Windows Phone, and today we’ve received tips pointing to possible SkyDrive client apps being developed for other platforms too. LiveSide reader Nikhil Jain left us a tip in the comments saying that a SkyDrive client for Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android is also in development, in addition to the Windows Phone app. While Nikhil didn’t mention any sources, after doing a bit of digging we found an interesting Microsoft job postingfor the Windows Live Devices & Roaming Experience (DRX) team which seems to confirm Nikhil’s claims. Here’s an excerpt from the job posting:

The Windows Live DRX team produces the SkyDrive client applications that fuel our customers thirst for stable, secure and available online storage. DRX is building experiences to deliver all of your content from the cloud and your devices to any of your devices anywhere anytime. Our team develops clients for Windows, Windows Phone, iPhone, Mac and Android. We are looking for developers that are looking for their next challenge to build the highly distributed platform and multi-platform clients for the SkyDrive suite of products delivered through Windows Live and Windows.

For those of you who doesn’t know what the Windows Live DRX team do, they’re best known (or so they say) for developing Windows Live Mesh for the Wave 4 release back in 2010. If the DRX team is now working on SkyDrive client applications (for both Windows and other platforms), does that mean these “SkyDrive client applications” are actually some form of Windows Live Mesh? If you recall, the cloud-based “synced storage” component for the current Windows Live Mesh has one major shortfall – it is not integrated with the actual Windows Live SkyDrive in any way. Would this news also mean the synced storage for Mesh will finally be integrated with the actual SkyDrive?

If we trace back to the history of Windows Live Mesh, you might remember that the origin of Windows Live Mesh – which happens to be called Live Mesh – had a vision of being able to run across a variety of platforms and devices, including mobile, Mac, Xbox and Zune. The following video (thanks Avatar X!) from the Microsoft keynote during the 2008 Web 2.0 Expo might give you a good reminder of what Live Mesh could’ve been like:

 

 

Source: Liveside.net

Microsoft quietly finding, reporting security holes in Apple, Google products

Researchers at Microsoft have been quietly finding — and helping to fix — security defects in products made by third-party vendors, including Apple and Google.

This month alone, the MSVR (Microsoft Security Vulnerability Research) team released advisories to document vulnerabilities in WordPress and Apple’s Safari browser and in July, software flaws were found and fixed in Google Picasa and Facebook.

The MSVR program, launched two years ago, gives Microsoft researchers freedom to audit the code of third-party software and work in a collaborative way with the affected vendor to get those issues fixed before they are publicly compromised.

The team’s work gained prominence in 2009 when a dangerous security hole in Google Chrome Frame was found and fixed but it’s not very well known that the team has spent the last year disclosing hundreds of security defects in third-party software.

Since July 2010, Microsoft said the MSVR team identified and responsibly disclosed 109 different software vulnerabilities affecting a total of 38 vendors.

More than 93 percent of the third-party vulnerabilities found through MSVR since July 2010 were rated as Critical or Important, the company explained.

“Vendors have responded and have coordinated on 97 percent of all reported vulnerabilities; 29 percent of third-party vulnerabilities found since July 2010 have already been resolved, and none of the vulnerabilities without updates have been observed in any attacks,” Microsoft said.

This week’s discoveries:

  • A vulnerability exists in the way Safari handles certain content types. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to cause Safari to execute script content and disclose potentially sensitive information. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability would gain sensitive information that could be used in further attacks.
  • A vulnerability exists in the way that WordPress previously implemented protection against cross site scripting and content-type validation. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to achieve script execution.

Source: ZDNet

TouchPad’s Lesson: Tablets Cost Too Much

Sure, HP’s TouchPad fire sale could take sales away from low-volume tablet makers and further solidify Apple’s market share. Then again, maybe those low-volume tablet makers — HP included — have been hurting themselves with a pricing structure that isn’t attractive to most consumers.

After dropping the TouchPad’s price to $99 for the 16Gb model and $149 for the 32GB variation, HP has sold an estimated 350,000 units this weekend. That’s comparable to launch weekend sales for Apple’s tablet. Granted, HP’s tablet is discontinued and on clearance, but it shows that many consumers are willing to forget about the iPad, if the price is right.

Here’s the problem with the current system: many entry-level tablets cost somewhere around $500 and that’s the same price as the iPad. I’m guessing most consumers that decide to spend a $500 on a tablet will opt to get an iPad. If other manufacturers want to be competitive with Apple’s tablet, which is in many ways the definitive device on the market, they need to give consumers a reason to pick up their device instead.

That hasn’t really been done until now.

HP offering its discontinued tablet for a one-fifth the cost of Apple’s tablet seems to have registered with many price-conscious and deal-hunting consumers.

Sure, I get that everyone likes a deal, myself included. (I picked up a TouchPad at my local BestBuy yesterday.) Obviously, HP’s price drop is a unique situation that other tablet makers probably don’t want to emulate, but maybe more thought should go into the tablet designing process than “let’s make
something like the iPad, that costs the same amount as the iPad.”

If nothing else, the fire sale shows that there is a lot of consumer interest in tablets and a lot of missed opportunities by other tablet makers. There are some tablet options under the $300 price point, but not too many that are mainstream.

Source: PC World