Tag Archives | Mac OS X

Apple Speeds Up Plans To Ditch Boxed Software

No doubt, the launch of Mac OS X Lion through the Mac App Store has garnered the lion’s share of the tech headlines today. But buried deep within that news was something even more dramatic: the discontinuation of nearly every piece of boxed software Apple currently sells.

AppleInsider reports that resellers on Wednesday received “end of life” (layman’s definition: we’re not selling it anymore) notices for several boxed Apple software products including iWork ’09, Aperture 3, and iLife ’11, as well as the Apple Remote Desktop and Jam Packs for Apple’s GarageBand product.

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Mac OS X Lion: All About The Gestures

First up on the WWDC plate was the debut of Mac OS X Lion. It really does seem like this version of Apple’s OS is indeed the melding of its iOS and Mac OS platforms. Gestures will play a big part here in navigation, and Apple has made the decision to move to the full screen app model.

Both we are used to in the mobile (iOS) world, so it only makes sense. So does the new Mission Control feature, which pops up apps much like iOS. In our liveblog, Doug Aamoth of Techland made an interesting comment: “Sounds like Apple *might* be planning a slow, methodical phase-out of the common mouse.” I can’t say I disagree with that.

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Cydia’s Building a Mac App Store, But Why?

The devil will be in the details if Cydia wants to rival Apple’s upcoming Mac App Store.

Mac Cydia will be available “within weeks,” according to Jay Freeman, who developed the Cydia Store for jailbroken iOS devices. Details are light at the moment, but Mac Cydia will likely lack the restrictions Apple will impose on its own store. (The Mac App Store won’t allow in-app purchases, demos, “lite” software or content that Apple deems inappropriate.)

It’s tempting to dismiss Mac Cydia as a solution in search of a problem. The main purpose of Cydia’s iOS store is to give iPhone owners a marketplace with virtually no rules. Mac users are already unrestricted in what they can download and install, so the purpose of a free-wheeling storefront is less obvious. But that doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary.

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Apple Sneaks in Malware Protection in Mac OS X 10.6.4

It’s no secret that Apple prides itself on OS X being “much more secure” than its Windows counterpart, so the fact that the company didn’t publicize the fact that it has added some additional malware protection in Mac OS X 10.6.4 shouldn’t be that surprising. Security firm Sophos discovered the changes while peering around the code of Cupertino’s latest update.

The additional protection was found in a file called XProtect.plist, a list of threats to Apple’s operating system. It is intended to protect against what they call HellRTS, a Trojan horse that comes disgused as iPhoto. Infected computers could find their computers sending out spam, have screenshots taken of their computer activity, and access files among other issues.

Sophos was not too happy that Apple did not announce these changes, saying Mac users should know about this potentially dangerous Trojan. “You have to wonder whether their keeping quiet about an anti-malware security update like this was for marketing reasons,” senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said. He added many users are oblivious to the fact that Mac viruses do indeed exist.

I do not run anti-virus software on my Mac, as I like many have felt that the operating system is pretty much impervious to attack. However, it seems as time goes on, and Macs gets much more popular, so could writing viruses and malware for the OS.

Maybe its time to invest in some protection?


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Microsoft: Silverlight will “Optimize Everywhere”

Microsoft wants Silverlight to be optimized for every platform that it runs on, said Brian Goldfarb, director of developer and user experience platforms at Microsoft, during an interview at the company’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) on Wednesday (Nov. 18).

Silverlight runs on Mac OS X and Windows; it is available on Linux through Mono Moonlight, an open source project that Microsoft supports. I also expect that Moonlight will be running on Android in near future. Goldfarb explained that it was not enough for Silverlight to “run everywhere,” but that it should “light up” specific platforms.

Microsoft needs to consider screen size and other aspects of a device, which is particularly relevant in the mobile space, he explained. There are also mobile platform features such as SMS, phone dialing, and address books that Silverlight could exploit, he added. That would allow Silverlight applications to be customized for smartphones.

Silverlight 4, which Microsoft announced at PDC, will allow applications to access Windows features, hardware, and the local file system. That allows devices such as Webcams to accessed by Silverlight. However, the same level of optimization is not currently being offering for other platforms.

Microsoft will give Silverlight “trusted” access local resources on Macs, meaning that all features work except for COM integration, Goldfarb said. More work is needed to extend Silverlight for non-Windows platforms, Goldfarb admitted, saying that the company was “thinking around” the concept of extensions.

COM is a Windows technology that enables applications that may have been written in different languages to communicate with each other. Microsoft Office makes heavy use of COM. “We are actively evaluating the best way to get COM like features on other platforms,” Goldfarb wrote in a follow up e-mail.

To that end, the company has started an open source project called Managed Extensibility Framework for .NET and Silverlight. The Mono team is working on an equivalent project, Goldfarb said. He expects that Mono will “accelerate dramatically” in the near future, delivering more features to Linux users.

I expect that anything but Windows will be a second-class Silverlight citizen for some time. But Microsoft is making strides toward delivering an optimized experience on other platforms, and in doing so, will gain a foothold on the Web beyond Windows.


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Psystar Selling Software to Build Your Own Hackintosh

psystarPsystar is about to become an even bigger thorn in Apple’s side. The company has announced software that would allow users to run Mac OS X and six other operating systems on a PC called Rebel EFI. If it sounds like virtualization software, you’re pretty much right.

The company is even going as far as to license this technology for use by other PC manufacturers. While I’m pretty sure most companies won’t touch this one with a ten foot pole until the legal issues are straightened out in court, you can buy the software for $49.99 from the company’s online store.

Not sure if you want to fork over the money? Psystar also has a downloadable demo version available, although it only allows for two hours of use. In all cases, the company warns it can not be held responsible for any data loss as a result of its use.

If anybody out there is brave enough to give this software a shot, please let us know. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it. Either way though, you have to hand it to the Psystar folks for showing absolutely no fear in continually taking on the world’s most notoriously closed tech company.


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Apple Details Snow Leopard, and it’s $29

After wowing us with a little hardware, Apple turned its attention to Mac OS X, and its next release called “Snow Leopard.” As it has repeatedly said in the past, this version would be more of a tune up than anything, and Apple’s announcements at WWDC seemed to follow that pattern.

Best yet, you’ll get your hands on this in September for an upgrade price of $29. No, that’s not a misprint. Take that, Microsoft ;)

Installation of the OS will be 45 percent faster, and Apple claims you will regain up to 6GB of lost hard drive space following installation due to better compression

Over 90 percent of the code behind the OS has been rewritten to focus on speed. While the overall design of Finder has not changed much, the code behind it has.

Overall, the focus seems to be on speed, making applications faster. Preview is twice as fast, Mail 2.3 times faster. It seems the only real major change in UI is to QuickTime, which has been redesigned to focus on the content. Controls will fade away to leave just a video window, and sharing features will allow you to select portions of a video that you want to share with others.

In addition to all this, the company is also announcing Safari 4 for Mac and Windows, which is releasing in final form today. It would obviously be included as a standard feature in Snow Leopard.


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Apple Had a Busy Tuesday

Tuesday was a busy one in Cupertino. The day saw three software updates release, including Mac OS X 10.5.7, Safari 3.2.3, and an update to the 4.0 beta. There’s nothing really ground shattering, but there are some highlights to each of the releases. As is typical

Safari 3.2.3 isn’t really much of anything other than a security update, according to the Apple website.

The Mac OS X 10.5.7 update includes your typical security fixes, plus:

  • expanded RAW support
  • video playback/cursor issues in recent Macs with nVidia chips
  • MobileMe syncing improvements with iCal
  • improved consistency with Parental Controls and application restrictions
  • improved printing reliability and stability

See this post from Apple for more information.

Finally, the company updating the release of the Safari 4 beta to ensure compatibility with 10.5.7 as well as to fix several security related problems.


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Keeping Your Mac Malware Free

macmonday(Ed: Sorry we’re a day late this week!)

My post last week on Mac botnets created quite a stir here on the site. The assertion I made (to the consternation of some) was that it was time for the Mac community to swallow their pride and download and employ anti-malware applications. While several of our readers vocally disagree, i continue to hold this position. Simply put, there are too many valid reasons to protect ourselves.

Let me be perfectly clear that I do believe that Macs will never become as malware and virus-ridden as our PC counterparts. It is all but a fact that the Mac OS operating system has been built to a higher degree of security than Windows has only recently begun to even come close to matching.

At the same time, Mac is gaining increasing popularity. Security experts have often argued that it is not only Apple’s more secure code base that immunizes it from attack, but also its small market share. Think about it: if you were writing a virus that was aiming for worldwide attention, which platform would you pick? With Apple’s increasing user base, Macs will become an ever more popular target.

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Get a Bunch of Mac Software for $39, Support a Charity

Unfortunately, we’ve run across this a bit late but a group called MacHeist — probably a nod to the steal of a deal for the amount of software you get for a rock bottom price — is offering a special deal on Mac software with 25% of all proceeds going to charity.

You’ve got one day to snap it up.

The group got it’s start in December 2006 with the first software bundle, which featured 10 software apps and raised nearly $200,000. Another bundle came a year later with 14 applications, raising over $500,000.

Both times the package was offered, it cost $49. However this year, in what the group has called its own “stimulus package,” the price has dropped to $39. Since the event has reached a certain level of donations, again 14 apps are available for download.

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