News

Test Your Facebook Privacy in a S.N.A.P.

These days, the way you interact on Facebook just might make or break that job opportunity that you have been hoping for. When your potential employer sees those pics of you, that you don’t quite remember, from that thing back in January that you didn’t even want to go to, they start to waver and then don’t call back. I, for one, don’t want this to happen to any of you -- and neither does BIT System Inc., who developed the free S.N.A.P. iPhone app. Social Network Analyzer for Privacy, or S.N.A.P., is designed to point out the holes in your privacy on Facebook.

This app lacks beauty, but truly makes up for it in function.

iTunes U Downloads top 300 Million

In just over three years, iTunes U downloads have topped 300 million and it has become one of the world’s most popular online educational catalogs. Over 800 universities throughout the world have active iTunes U sites, and nearly half of these institutions distribute their content publicly on the iTunes Store. New content has just been added from universities in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, and iTunes users now have access to over 350,000 audio and video files from educational institutions around the globe.

“iTunes U makes it easy for people to discover and learn with content from many of the world’s top institutions,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “With such a wide selection of educational material, we’re providing iTunes users with an incredible way to learn on their computer, iPhone, iPod or iPad.”

Created in collaboration with colleges and universities, iTunes U makes it easy to extend learning, explore interests or learn more about a school. A dedicated area within the iTunes Store, iTunes U offers users public access to content from world class institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford, University of Melbourne and Université de Montréal.

iMac the next Touch Screen Apple Device?

Apple's put a touch interface on so many of its other products, could an iMac be next?

If a patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is any indication, the answer is possibly yes. Patently Apple, a blog that keeps tabs on Apple's USPTO filings, noticed an application on Monday that depicts a hinged-screen version of Apple's iMac desktop that has a touch-sensitive screen. The hinge appears to allow the computer to alternate between a traditional vertical desktop configuration and a flat, iPad-like surface when rocked back on its hinge.

Because this would be a desktop computer and a touch-screen device at the same time, it appears the user can choose whether to use the touch-focused iOS operation system from the iPhone and iPad, or the traditional Mac OSX desktop operating system. Moving between the OSes, according to the application, would be activated by touching specific areas of the iMac's screen.

The patent also describes how an accelerometer would be used for alternating between touch input and mouse/keyboard input when the device is in horizontal surface mode versus vertical desktop mode. While it's true patent applications aren't always good indicators of actual products being developed, this one doesn't seem that much of a stretch.

Kindle 3 ships this Week: Are You getting One?

The third iteration of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader ships Friday boasting a lower price, improved E-ink display, longer battery life, slimmer profile, and faster page turns. The new Kindle, dubbed the Kindle 3, ships in two versions: 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity for $189 or Wi-Fi only for $139. You can also buy the Kindle 3 with Amazon’s new graphite color (first introduced with the new Kindle DX in July) or the Kindle’s standard white.

Many critics are wondering whether the Kindle 3 might be the device that finally convinces people to toss out their trade paperbacks forever in favor of the Kindle. Assuming they haven’t already, that is. Amazon is fond of saying the Kindle is the online retailer’s best-selling item. The problem, however, is that Amazon never provides solid sales figures to reveal exactly how many Kindles are being sold.

Nevertheless, the Kindle 3 looks like it is going to be at least as popular as its predecessors since the newest Kindle is currently back-ordered until September 17.

Apple applies for Patent to Kill Jailbroken Devices

Apple is apparently ramping up its battle to prevent iPhone and iPod owners from jailbreaking their devices.

The company has applied for a patent, titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device," that covers a series of security measures to automatically protect devices from thieves and other "unauthorized users." Unauthorized users apparently applies to those who engage in jailbreaking, which allows devices to run apps not approved by the company producing the operating system--such as Apple, the main target of such bypasses.

The application, which was filed in February 2009 and published Thursday, describes measures to identify "particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior," so that "safety measures" can be taken to restrict the device's functions. Those activities include the "hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card," according to the application. Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via e-mail or text message when such activity is detected.

The application also describes a variety of measures that could be used to help identify the unauthorized user, including the activation of a camera that could capture and geotag the device's surroundings, and perhaps current user, and transmit that information to a remote device.

Nikon announces D3100 DSLR Camera

Nikon announced the D3100, the newest addition to its lineup of DSLR cameras. The D3100 has a 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, three-inch LCD display, and one button 1080p HD video recording. It will be packaged with an image-stabilized AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens, and sold for an estimated $700.

The D3100 debuts some impressive new Nikon features, most notably continuous auto focus in video recording and live view modes. When you activate Live View using the dedicated switch, the D3100's 11-point autofocus system will lock-in on your subject and refocus as necessary when the subject moves around. Face Detection technology also gets a boost in the D3100, with the ability to focus on up to 35 different faces at a time, perfect for those unwieldy group and family shots.

Inside the D3100 is Nikon's new Expeed 2 image processor, which Nikon claims works to improve the camera's performance speeds and overall image quality. The camera's low light abilities are impressive, with an ISO range of 100 to 3200 that can expand up to 12,800 with the Hi-2 setting. The camera also includes new Scene Recognition and Auto Scene Selector features, 3 fps continuous shooting, an optional quiet shutter release, and in-camera editing effects.

By pressing the new dedicated movie button a user can immediately start recording a 1080p AVCHD video at 24 fps, or a 720p video at 24 or 30 fps. The beginning and end of a recorded video can now be trimmed in-camera, and an HDMI port allows for instant viewing on an HDTV. All of those video files can now be record to SDXC memory cards.

The D3100 will available in mid-September, and the four Nikkor lenses will be available in late September.

iLunascape offers more iPad Web Browser Features

Mobile Safari is a pretty good Web browser on the iPad, but Lunascape, makers of a “triple engine browser” for Web developers, thinks it can do better. iLunascape is the company’s new Web browser that brings a new interface, “real” tabbed browsing, and a handful of power user feature to Apple’s tablet.

iLunascape was designed to make Web browsing more convenient on the iPad, so its toolbars and almost all buttons are at the bottom of the display; well within thumbing territory, the company claims. The browser also uses a more traditional tab interface in contrast to Mobile Safari’s “pages,” displaying actual tabs at the bottom of the window.

Besides a unique interface, iLunascape offers a number of features that Apple’s out-of-the-box browser does not. You can snap Web pages as screenshots (saved in the Photos app); set a Home Page that opens in new tabs by default; open search results in a new tab; and set a built-in rotation lock if you want to leave the iPad’s system-wide lock disabled. You can also manually clear iLunascape’s history, cookies, and cache.

iLunascape is available now in the App Store for free and requires an iPad running iOS 3.2 or later.

Canon releases New Pixma Photo Multifunction Printers

Canon has released two new Pixma multifunction printers, the Pixma MG8120 and the Pixma MG6120. Both printers showcase two enhancements to Canon’s Pixma’s line.

The first enhancement is called the Intelligent Touch System, which is implemented through the MG8120 and MG6120 control panels. The control panel uses touch-sensitive buttons, and only the buttons you need to use light up. Canon says this should make the devices quicker and easier to use, and minimize mistakes.

The second enhancement is called Full HD Movie Print. This feature works only with selected Canon EOS digital SLR cameras, or PowerShot point-and-shoot cameras that support HD video recording. Full HD Movie Print allows you to select a frame from a recorded HD video and print it. You can also apply noise reduction to the selected frame so the print doesn’t appear grainy, and resolution enhancement makes lines look smooth, not jaggy.

The Pixma MG8120 is $300, while the Pixma MG6120 is $200. Both devices include a one-year limited warranty.

Apple Manager arrested in Kickback Scheme

A midlevel Apple manager was arrested Friday and accused of accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from half a dozen Asian suppliers of iPhone and iPod accessories in a federal indictment unsealed and a separate civil suit. Paul Shin Devine, a global supply manager, and Andrew Ang, of Singapore, were named in a 23-count federal grand jury indictment for wire fraud, money laundering and kickbacks.

"Apple is committed to the highest ethical standards in the way we do business," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for dishonest behavior inside or outside the company."

The alleged scheme used an elaborate chain of U.S. and foreign bank accounts and one front company to receive payments, the indictment said, and code words like "sample" were used to refer to the payments so that Apple co-workers wouldn't become suspicious.

Devine, 37, of Sunnyvale, is being held by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to the Internal Revenue Service. He could not be reached for comment.

Snow Leopard Graphics Update

The Snow Leopard Graphics Update contains stability and performance fixes for graphics applications and games, including fixes that:

- address frame rate issues occurring in Portal and Team Fortress 2 on certain Macs

- resolve an issue that could cause Aperture 3 or StarCraft II to unexpectedly quit or become unresponsive

SmileOnMyMac unveils New Name, Broader Focus

SmileOnMyMac is getting a new name, though it’s keeping its smile. The developer of Mac productivity tools announced that it’s changing its name to Smile.

The reason for the name change? After developing largely for Mac OS X since 2003, the company now makes software for the iPhone and iPad as well. The mobile version of TextExpander, for example, lets iPhone and iPad users convert short abbreviations into longer text snippets in a multitude of apps. More than 40 apps use the TextExpander SDK to take advantage of that app’s text expansion features.

“Now that we have TextExpander touch for iPhone and iPad, we’ve outgrown the SmileOnMyMac name,” company founder Greg Scown said in an e-mail announcing the new moniker.

Popular Apple Support Discussions going Social, becoming Communities

As a long-time Mac troubleshooting researcher and consultant, one of my favorite and perhaps the most valuable Mac knowledge sites online is Apple's own Support Discussions forums. According to an official post on the site, the forums will be receiving a makeover, becoming more socially inclined by adding feature sets like avatars, homepages, and widgets.

The new-look forum will now be called Apple Support Communities, toting the tag line, "Experience the Power of Apple Support Communities." That power is the unique mix of new and old Mac users from around the world who have frequented the old Discussions forums for years, giving suggestions for just about any Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Apple accessory that may come up.

The iPad is Delicious

Elements, a Dropbox-Powered Text Editor

The iPad has its share of feature-rich word processors like Pages and Documents to Go. But sometimes you just need a text editor, and you need to get your texts onto your Mac with the least amount of friction. Second Gear hears your call, which is why it released Elements, a Dropbox-powered text editor, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Elements is quite simple, really. It lets you create and edit text files that are automatically saved to your Dropbox account. While working on a file, Elements automatically saves your work every 60 seconds. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, Elements lets you work offline and will upload all your changes once you get connected.

Playboy censors iPad App to pass Apple's Morality Test

Playboy, the adult magazine run by Hugh Heffner, has agreed to remove all risqué content from its iPad app in order to avoid breaching Apple’s strict anti-obscenity rules.

Anyone forking out £3.20 for the digital version of the magazine will have to do without the explicit photo spreads that titillated generations of teenage boys.
The Playmate of the Month, one of the magazine’s most popular photo features, will only appear on the iPad as a tasteful headshot.

Playboy agreed to censor its content in order to secure a place in the App Store, from which any software which Apple considers “obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory” is banned.

While Playboy has long trumpeted the strength of its journalism – “I only read it for the articles” is the standard response of men caught with a copy of the magazine by their partners – many iPad users have expressed frustration at the self-censorship.

Apple's Ad Service off to Bumpy Start

Apple Inc. is facing some early challenges in its closely watched mobile advertising foray, with some ad campaigns experiencing delays as agencies attempt to learn the new system amid Apple's tight control over the creative process, according to ad executives.

Since launching its iAd mobile advertising service on July 1, Apple has been slow to roll it out. Of the 17 launch partners Apple named for iAd, only Unilever PLC and Nissan Co. had iAd campaigns for much of July. Of the remaining 17, Citigroup Inc., Walt Disney Co. and J.C. Penney Co.—which tied its campaign to the back-to-school-season—have since launched iAd campaigns and other companies are planning iAd efforts.

Part of the reason some marketers are experiencing delays in getting their iAds to market is that Apple has kept tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making, something advertisers aren't used to, according to several ad executives involved with creating iAds. That has made the creation of the mobile ads laborious, taking about eight to 10 weeks from brainstorm to completion—longer than normal for most mobile ads, executives said. The building of the actual ad, handled by Apple, in some cases is taking two weeks longer than expected, one person added.

At least one company appears to have dropped their iAd efforts for now. Luxury marketer Chanel SA, one of Apple's iAd launch partners, said it doesn't have a campaign planned at this time. But a Nissan spokeswoman said its iAd "has driven exceptional results to date." The company said the rate of users tapping on the banner is five times the click-through-rate of the Nissan Leaf online campaign.

iPhone Exploit Code goes Public

Minutes after Apple issued a security update Wednesday, the maker of a 10-day-old jailbreak exploit released code that others could put to use hijacking iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads.

“Comex,” the developer of JailbreakMe 2.0, posted source code for the hacks that leveraged two vulnerabilities in iOS and allowed iPhone owners to install unauthorized apps.

Apple patched the bugs earlier Wednesday.

iPad OS Update fixes PDF Security Hole

In addition to releasing a fix for its iPhone and iPod touch products, Apple on Wednesday released an update for its iPad operating system, which also fixes a vulnerability in viewing PDF files.

iOS 3.2.2 is compatible with the company’s iPads and is recommended for all users. You can get iOS 3.2.2 by connecting your device to iTunes and checking for a new update.

Adobe adds Flash Video Acceleration for Newer Macs

Those who still can’t shake their Hulu addiction have reason to rejoice—Adobe on Wednesday released an update to version 10.1 of its Flash Player, bringing it to 10.1.82.76. The major feature in this release is the long-awaited addition of hardware-based H.264 decoding for newer Macs. Formerly, the feature was only available via Adobe Labs in the “Gala” beta of Flash.

Unfortunately, because of the way Apple originally configured the API that Flash is taking advantage of, most Macs manufactured before 2009 won’t see any of these added benefits. Computers that will support video hardware acceleration include: MacBooks shipped after January 21, 2009; Mac minis shipped after March 3, 2009; MacBook Pros shipped after October 14, 2008; and iMacs shipped after the first quarter of 2009. The Mac Pro and MacBook Air are not supported at this time.

Issues aside, April tests of the beta from the Macworld Lab on two MacBook Pro models showed impressive processor load decreases in comparison to Flash Player 10.

Apple to replace Overheating iPods in Japan

Apple Inc's Japan unit will replace any iPod nano portable music players that overheat, it said in an online statement, improving an earlier offer to replace only their faulty batteries.

The concession on Tuesday came after Japan's trade ministry put the world's largest technology company under scrutiny, ordering it to publish an "easy to understand" statement on its website explaining how users of the devices could receive replacement batteries and obtain advice.

The first generation models, sold between September 2005 and December 2006, have been responsible for around 60 incidents of overheating in Japan, including four cases of minor burns, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Adobe updates Photoshop Lightroom, Camera Raw

Adobe has updated Lightroom, its digital photography workflow solution, along with Camera Raw. The updates extend raw file support to 12 new camera models, improve on several of the lens correction profiles introduced as part of the Lightroom 3 and Camera Raw 6.1 releases, and add more than 50 new lens profiles to help photographers automatically correct for undesirable distortion and aberration effects.

The updates also improves the color and noise profiles for the following cameras that utilize the DNG raw file format already supported in previous versions of Lightroom and Camera Raw: Casio EXILIM EX-FH100 (DNG) and Leica S2 (DNG). Lightroom 3.2 offers users the ability to publish photos directly to Facebook from within the application, and addresses issues reported by customers on the Lightroom 3.0 release.

The Lightroom 3.2 Release Candidate is available as a free download for Lightroom 3 customers, while the Photoshop Camera Raw 6.2 Release Candidate is available as a free download for Photoshop CS5 customers.

Apple Store Covent Garden Opening Day Photo Tour



This is the iPad room. It's just a bigger version of the iPhone room.

This weekend Apple hosted the grand opening of its largest store in the world, right here in London's Covent Garden. The new store, which houses every Apple product under the sun and employs hundreds of staff members, opened its doors at 10am on Saturday to a crowd of thousands of Apple devotees.

Spread over three separate floors and composed of a blend of original brickwork and shiny glass elevators, the new store features separate chambers for every kind of Apple product, from iPads, Macs, iPods and iPhones to software and accessories.

"Amorphous" Metal Alloys to slip into Apple Products Soon

Future iPhones, iPods, and other Apple-flavored gadgets may be made out of "amorphous" metal alloys thanks to a deal that Apple has made with Liquidmetal Technologies. Liquidmetal revealed that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Apple via an 8K filing it made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, giving Apple access to its entire intellectual property portfolio.

Liquidmetal's technology is used in the fields of sports, medicine, space, jewelry, and of course, electronics. Whereas a typical metal has a crystalline atomic structure (a repeating pattern of crystals), an "amorphous" metal alloy basically has no crystals. This allows manufacturers to tweak the precise configuration of the alloy without worrying about the usual structural or strength limitations.

The agreement between the two companies was signed last Thursday, but was not revealed until the publication of the 8K this morning. Liquidmetal's technology has previously been used in Nokia and Sandisk products, but no more—Apple now has "perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products."

iPhone Executive is Out at Apple

The Apple Inc. executive in charge of the iPhone has left the company following a string of stumbles with the device, and what people familiar with the situation said was a falling out with Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

Mark Papermaster, Apple's senior vice president for mobile devices, has left the Cupertino, Calif., company, an Apple spokesman said Saturday, declining to provide further details. Mr. Papermaster, 49 years old, had joined Apple just 15 months ago from International Business Machines Corp.

Exactly how much the problems with the iPhone 4 played in Mr. Papermaster's exit is unclear. The iPhone 4, a key device for Apple, has been beset by issues such as antenna reception and delayed production of a white version of the gadget. Several people familiar with Mr. Papermaster's situation said his departure was driven by a broader cultural incompatibility.

Executive Leaves after iPhone Antenna Troubles

Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of hardware for the company’s flagship iPhone, has left the company in the wake of widely reported problems with the antenna of the recently introduced iPhone 4. It is not clear if Mr. Papermaster was ousted or left on his own accord.

Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Papermaster declined to comment.

In a statement, an Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, confirmed Mr. Papermaster’s departure. Mr. Dowling said Mr. Papermaster “is leaving the company and Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, is assuming his responsibilities.”

Europeans Realize Dream of a Single Charger for all Cellphones

Cellphone battery dead? No problem: Just borrow a charger from a friend. Oh, wait — you can’t, because your friend doesn’t have the same phone as you, and his charger won’t work with your phone.

That annoyance will end next year, for Europeans at least. Thanks to the efforts of the European Commission, most cellphones sold in Europe will have a one-size-fits-all charger starting in 2011. So far, 10 major cellphone makers, including Apple, Motorola, Samsung and Research In Motion, have signed on to the agreement.

Americans will have to wait.

Apple ordered to publicize iPod Fix in Japan

Japan's trade ministry has ordered Apple Inc's Japan unit to state on its website that users who are concerned about their iPod nano portable music player catching fire can receive a replacement battery.

The ministry ordered Apple to publish an "easy to understand" statement online explaining how users of the devices -- responsible for four cases of minor burns in Japan -- can receive replacement batteries and obtain advice, a spokesman for the ministry said on Friday.

Apple said last week that the issue had been traced to a single battery supplier.

Apple adds ‘Try Before You Buy’ to the iPhone App Store

Apple is always changing up the feature section of its App Store, for both the iPad and iPhone. The company on Friday added a new section that will surely please a lot of users.

As part of a new section highlighting free apps on the App Store, Apple introduced “Try Before You Buy.” This new section gives users the opportunity to download free versions of paid apps and give them a go before making the decision to purchase them.

Beatles, iTunes Deal still at Impasse -- Yoko Ono

Don't hold your breath waiting for Beatles songs to go on sale at iTunes or other online retailers, Yoko Ono said on Thursday. The Fab Four have long resisted the allure of digital downloads, instead selling millions of old-fashioned compact discs last year after remastering the catalog.

Apple Corps, the group's holding company has been unable to agree on terms with EMI Group, which licenses the Beatles' recordings. And then there's the unrelated Apple Inc, owner of iTunes, the world's largest music retailer.

Apple and Apple have had a difficult history over rights to the name. But that trademark dispute was settled in 2007, and speculation has regularly popped up ever since that the two companies would strike an iTunes deal.

"(Apple CEO) Steve Jobs has his own idea and he's a brilliant guy," Ono, the 77-year-old widow of John Lennon, told Reuters. "There's just an element that we're not very happy about, as people. We are holding out.

"Don't hold your breath ... for anything," she said with a laugh.

Unicom to sell iPhone with Wi-Fi in China

China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. plans to start selling a version of Apple Inc.'s iPhone with Wi-Fi capability in China next week, a China Unicom official familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The iPhones that Unicom has offered in China so far have come with the wireless function disabled to comply with previous government regulations, but the missing function has made the phones less attractive to buyers.

Offering an iPhone with Wi-Fi wireless Internet capability could help boost Unicom's sales of the device, which got off to a slow start late last year in a market already crowded with "gray-market" iPhones brought into China from other regions.