The Tech News Blog

December 23, 2014

Apple Pushes First Automated Security Update for Mac

Apple logo Mac users this week received Apple's first automated security update, which was released to defend against newly identified bugs that could allow hackers remote access.

According to Reuters, the tech giant launched the updated on Monday to fix "critical security vulnerabilities" in OS X's network time protocol (NTP), which is used for syncing computer clocks.

The flaws were revealed last week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute—the latter of which identified a number of potentially affected vendors, including FreeBSD Project, NTP Project, OmniTI, and Watchguard Technologies, Inc.

A number of versions of the NTP Project "allow attackers to overflow several buffers in a way that may allow malicious code to be executed," the Carnegie Mellon/DHS security bulletin said.

Apple, AT&T, Alcatel, Belkin, and a handful of others are currently listed as "unknown." But Cupertino has applied an update, which an Apple spokesman told Reuters is "seamless," and "doesn't even require a restart."

November 2, 2014

Outlook for Mac Gets New Look, Improved Performance

Outlook for Mac

Microsoft has a special Halloween treat for Mac users this year—a new version of Outlook.

The new Outlook for Mac delivers a fresh look and feel to your inbox, along with some performance and reliability tweaks, like a new threading model and database improvements that promise to make email less of a hassle. It also offers a more consistent experience between Outlook on the PC, Web, and mobile devices. Scrolling and switching between tabs should also be better thanks to the new, more modern user interface, Microsoft said.

The new Outlook for Mac is available to all Office 365 customers now. Consumer subscribers can grab the update from the My Account page, and Commercial customers can find it by accessing their Office 365 Portal (Gear icon > Office 365 Settings > Software > Outlook for Mac icon) or visiting the Software page.

Meanwhile, on top of the new version of Outlook for Mac, Microsoft announced it will release a new version of its Office for Mac suite next year. That includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

August 1, 2014

Shazam Now Listening on Apple’s Mac

Shazam Mac

The app that helps you identify songs at a moment's notice is coming to your Mac.

Shazam this week launched a brand-new app for Mac computers, so you won't need to pull out your phone when you're working on your computer and want to find out the name of a song. The app operates "magically" in the background, listening to music being played around the computer, identifying the songs, and creating a playlist as it goes.

Besides just naming your new favorite jams, the app lets you access lyrics, music videos, and iTunes listings with a single click. You can also easily share your favorite songs on social media right from the app.

"Catch the music and TV playing around you without ever digging a phone out of your pocket," Shazam wrote in a blog post Thursday. "Flip the switch, and sit back in awe as it finds songs you should know about."

July 3, 2014

Apple Releases Mac Pro Security Lock… Just No Cable

Mac Pro Security Lock Adapter

The Mac Pro is a pretty device. It's a speedy device. It's, above all else, a costly device. Starting at a mere $2,999 for the "barebones" quad-core, dual-GPU, the svelte, circular, 9.9-by-6.6 inch device looks great sitting on the desktop.

To the more nefarious types out there, it could also look great sitting in their backpacks as they casually stroll (or run) away from your home or office workstation. Suffice to say, it's probably a lot easier to stuff the 11-pound Mac Pro into a bag and haul it off than it is to, say, grab an iMac and casually walk away as if nothing's going on.

To solve the issue of Mac Pro thefts — a statistic, we confess, hasn't exactly been published, but clearly it's something that Apple has had on its mind — Apple is now selling a brand-new lock device. At $49, the "Mac Pro Security Lock Adapter" beats the price of some of the competing locking devices that have sprung up since the Mac Pro's launch last December.

Sort of. For, in Apple's genius, the company is only selling the bracket that one adheres to the Mac Pro , which a person could then attach to a security cable. Apple is not selling the cable itself, which is why competing products like Maclocks' Security Bracket appear a wee bit more expensive on paper ($70) — you're getting the bracket and the cable in that setup.

March 28, 2014

Mac OS X Mavericks Adoption Hits 40 Percent

OS X 10.9 Mavericks alt

If you build it, they will come. And if you offer it for free, they will likely accept it, install it, and start using it much more than previously paid-for updates.

If that sounds a wee bit familiar, you're likely an OS X user. And if you're an OS X user, you've likely been enticed to run the latest version of Apple's operating system — OS X 10.9 Mavericks — in part because it didn't cost you anything to upgrade. The move was a first for Apple, having previously charged a meager amount for its OS upgrades ($20, in the case of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion). According to the latest figures from advertising network Chitika, free was a smart move.

Based on "tens of millions" of ad impressions on its network from U.S. and Canadian OS X users between March 17 and March 23, Chitika found that 40 percent of the sampled OS X users were running Mavericks. According to Chitika, that adoption rate is six percentage points higher than what the company measured for OS X Mountain Lion 14 months after it debuted, and 13 percentage points higher than what Chitika recorded seven months after Mountain Lion's release.

Chitika previously noted that OS X Mavericks achieved nearly a 12 percent adoption rate in only five days after its official launch. It took OS X Mountain Lion nearly one month or so to reach that threshold.

October 22, 2013

Apple Mac Pro Coming in December for $2,999

Apple Mac Pro

Apple announced today that its new Mac Pro will be available in December, starting at $2,999.

The new Mac Pro will be one-eighth the size of the old Mac Pro. There will be Thunderbolt 2, Intel Xeon CPUs, dual AMD graphics processors, and support for 4K displays. The entire top of the Mac Pro is a handle for easy portability. It will be assembled in the U.S.

Starting at $2,999, the new Mac Pro will sport a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon, 12GB of DRAM, dual FirePro D300, 2GB of VRAM each, and a 256GB SSD.

But buyers can opt for a quad, 6, 8, or 12-core Xeon E5, up to 30MB L3 cache, and 40 lanes of PCI Express gen 3. Apple's Phil Schiller, meanwhile, also talked up the fastest ECC memory, dual-workstation GPUs, next-generation Flash, the benefits of Thunderbolt 2, and new-generation video.

Apple first showed off the Mac Pro at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). "This is a machine unlike anything we've ever made both inside and out" Schiller said at the time. There's a "new unified thermal core," which "even sounds cool," he quipped.

August 29, 2013

Report: Text-Based Exploit in OS X, iOS Causing App Crashes

Apple Text Exploit

Jailbreakers are furiously working on a clean patch for an exploitable, text-based bug in Apple's OS X 10.8 and iOS 6 operating systems, which cause application crashes, according to 9to5Mac.

The exploit uses "a string of Arabic characters" to crash applications in the most current versions of Apple's software platforms for Macs and iOS-based devices like iPhones and iPads, 9to5Mac reported Thursday.

The site also published an image of a source page on describing a "DoS Exploit for WebKit engine." Clicking and viewing that 9to5Mac-hosted shot of the core text exploit's publication will not affect computers and devices running OS X 10.8 or iOS 6, the site noted.

Among the affected apps was Twitter, according to one iPhone 5 owner who indicated that the app was crashing on his phone due to the exploit.

Apple was reportedly notified about this exploit "six months ago," the site reported. The company has actually fixed the bug in upcoming versions of its two major OSes, Mac OS X 10.9 and iOS 7, according to 9to5Mac, but "still has not issued a fix for the current public operating systems."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

August 28, 2013

Parallels Access Brings Mac, PC Apps to iPad

Parallels Access for iPadParallels is now available for iPad, bringing Windows and Mac apps to Apple's tablet.

Parallels pushed the app as a way to boost productivity, given that many people now use mobile devices like the iPad for work.

"We are now in an always-on age where people are increasingly demanding access to their applications and data regardless of physical location," Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels, said in a statement. "With Parallels Access, you can tap, swipe and pinch your way around Mac and Windows applications to ultimately be more productive at work, and lead a more connected life."

The Parallels Access app is a free download in the App Store, but an annual subscription requires an in-app purchase of $79.99 for each computer being accessed. The Mac option provides a 14-day free trial, but the PC version is still in beta and available for free for a limited time, so check it out.

"If a Mac user also runs Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac, then Parallels Access will also 'applify' all of its Windows virtual machines and apps so they work like they were made for iPad," Parallels said.

April 29, 2013

Report: Mac OS X 10.9 Taking Page From iOS

MacBook Pro (iFixit)

Apple's next Mac OS X update is likely to arrive this summer, with a few updates that bring it even more in line with iOS, 9to5Mac reported.

OS X 10.9, codenamed "Cabernet," will not be a complete system overhaul. According to 9to5Mac, which cited unnamed sources, new operating system subtleties include Finder tags and a tabbed browsing mode. And, to the benefit of OS X "power users," version 10.9 reportedly allows the ability to run full-screen apps on one monitor, while accessing other desktop spaces on a second screen.

Other changes include a redesigned Safari back-end, for improved page loading, speed, and efficiency, 9to5Mac said, as well as app switching and pausing tricks, which trickle down to CPU and battery-life improvements.

The OS update seems to be more about dressing up existing features than it is about introducing new ones, which TechCrunch pointed out stays in line with Apple's recent OS X development strategy. Most alterations will be reserved for under-the-hood improvements, which won't affect users in a big way.

January 24, 2013

Mac Sales Dip Amidst iMac Constraints, iPad Cannibalization


Mac sales dipped slightly in the fourth quarter, and while Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed part of the drop to iPad cannibalization, supply constraints with the iMac also played a big role, he said.

Apple sold 4.1 million Macs during the quarter, which was down from the 5.2 million it sold during the same time period in 2011.

In a Wednesday conference call with analysts, Cook said the decline is due to three main factors: iMac constraints, the fact that the 2012 fourth quarter was shorter than 4Q 2011, and channel inventory.

Overall, iMac sales were down 700,000 year over year. Apple's revamped iMacs were released in late 2012, but there were "significant constraints" that prevented Cupertino from getting its new desktops to everyone who wanted them. "We believe our Mac sales would have been much higher absent those constraints," Cook said.

Meanwhile, 4Q 2012 was 13 weeks long whereas there were 14 weeks during 4Q 2011. "Last year, in the average week, we sold 370,000 Macs," Cook said.

Finally, channel inventory was down by about 100,000 units without the iMac. "So, if you just take these three factors, they bridge more than the difference ... between this year's sales and last year's sales," Cook concluded.