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August 11, 2014

Apple Patent Suggests Siri-Like Virtual Assistant for OS X

Siri

It's always fun to watch people who treat Apple's Siri like a best friend. You know who we're talking about—that one friend who uses Apple's digital assistant for just about everything. Siri, set the timer for 10 minutes. Siri, what is my friend's address? Siri, read my last email. With these people, poor Siri should get paid overtime.

Or, if Apple's latest patent application results in a successful product launch, perhaps Siri should find a new job entirely. According to a report from Apple Insider, Apple has applied for a patent that covers a desktop version of a Siri-like virtual assistant.

"Methods and systems related to interfaces for interacting with a digital assistant in a desktop environment are disclosed," reads the patent application. "In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked on a user device by a gesture following a predetermined motion pattern on a touch-sensitive surface of the user device. In some embodiments, a user device selectively invokes a dictation mode or a command mode to process a speech input depending on whether an input focus of the user device is within a text input area displayed on the user device."

"In some embodiments, a digital assistant performs various operations in response to one or more objects being dragged and dropped onto an iconic representation of the digital assistant displayed on a graphical user interface," it continues. "In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked to cooperate with the user to complete a task that the user has already started on a user device."



July 24, 2014

How to Get the Mac OS X Yosemite Beta

OS X Yosemite

A beta version of Apple's newest operating system - Yosemite - is now available for testing. Access opens today, but Cupertino will only grant passes to the first 1 million people who request them, so act fast to be assured a place in line.

Note that not all the features that Apple showed off during WWDC will be available in the beta "since the beta software is unfinished." For a more polished product, you should wait until the fall, when Yosemite will be released as a free upgrade.

But if you love finding bugs in pre-release software, here's how you can get your hands on the Yosemite beta.



June 2, 2014

Big Upgrades for Apple Mac OS X Yosemite

WWDC

Apple today unveiled a new version of its Mac OS X software, dubbed Yosemite.

Developers will get access to Yosemite today, while the public will get it in the fall. Like the previous version, Mavericks, it will be a free upgrade.

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering at Apple, joked during his Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) presentation that Apple execs took a road trip to hunt for the best follow-up name to Mavericks. After passing on Mac OS X Oxnard, OS X Rancho Cucamonga, and OS X Weed, they landed on Yosemite.

As for what Yosemite includes, Federighi talked up the "clarity and utility" of the operating system.

One of the big additions is dubbed Continuity, which allows for Air Drop to work between iOS and Mac.

"Let's say you're composing an email on your phone and you walk up to your Mac, your Mac will notice and prompt you right on the dock," Federighi said. "Click it and you can pick up that message right on your Mac."

It works the other way, too. If you're working on a document on the Mac, a little icon will appear on your iPad. Just swipe up, and continue working on the tablet.



April 23, 2014

Apple Recruits Beta Testers for Next OS X Mavericks Update

Apple OS X Mavericks Desktop/Credit: Apple

Apple on Tuesday launched beta testing for OS X 10.9.3, giving interested parties a chance to test drive the next update to the company's Mac operating system.

The OS X Beta Seed Program requires an Apple ID and is free to Mac users signing up to participate and prepared to adhere to a confidentiality agreement associated with the beta testing process. Apple did not reveal when OS X 10.9.3 will be released as a general update to Macs running OS X, currently updated at version 10.9.2, or Build 13C64.

Apple's OS X 10.9 "Mavericks" operating system was released last October and the 10.9.3 update now in beta testing is also known as Build 13D45a.

Customers who download the beta seed of the OS X 10.9.3 update will be required to "provide feedback to Apple directly" via automated dialog boxes and other correspondence methods, Apple said. The OS X Beta Seed Program is distinct from Apple's Mac Developer Program, which furnishes additional tools for developers of software for OS X, the company said.



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.



February 25, 2014

Apple Patches Critical OS X ‘Gotofail’ Security Hole

Apple logo

Apple on Tuesday issued an update for OS X that fixes a serious SSL security hole the company already fixed in its iOS devices late last week.

The so-called "gotofail" flaw, which stemmed from an extra line accidentally added in Apple's source code, could let an attacker on the same network as a victim eavesdrop on all user activity. Apple on Friday pushed out an update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but experts warned that Mac desktops and laptops were still at risk.

Tuesday's security update, OS X version 10.9.2, fixes the bug in both OS X Mavericks and the older Mountain Lion; older versions of Mac OS X are not believed to be affected. To get the update, head to your Mac's Apple menu and select Software Update. Users should install the update as soon as possible.



February 24, 2014

Apple Security Bug Could Let Hackers Intercept Encrypted Data

Apple logo

Apple on Friday quietly pushed out an update for its mobile devices to fix a major security flaw that could allow attackers to intercept encrypted email and other data. Experts warn that Mac desktops and laptops are still at risk.

The flaw, which relates to how iOS 7 validates the SSL certificates intended to protect websites, could let an attacker on the same network as a victim eavesdrop on all user activity. Apple did not reveal too much information about the problem, though experts who have studied the bug said hackers could launch so-called man in the middle attacks to intercept messages as they pass from a user's device to sites like Gmail, Facebook, or even online banking.

"An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS," Apple said in its advisory.

As PCMag's Security Watch blog noted, SSL certificate validation is "critical" for establishing secure sessions with websites.

"By validating the certificate, the bank website knows that the request is coming from the user, and is not a spoofed request by an attacker," PCMag's Fahmida Rashid wrote. "The user's browser also relies on the certificate to verify the response came from the bank's servers and not from an attacker sitting in the middle and intercepting sensitive communications."



December 2, 2013

Windows 8 Makes Gains, 8.1 Tops Mavericks

Windows 8.1

Windows 8 is edging toward 10 percent market share, but its predecessor still dominates the world of desktop operating systems.

According to November stats from Net Applications, Windows 8 had 6.66 percent of the global market, while the updated Windows 8.1 had 2.64 percent, for a total of 9.3 percent.

That's up ever so slightly from October, when Windows 8 stood at 9.25 percent of the market, with 7.53 percent of users on Windows 8 and 1.72 percent on Windows 8.1, which debuted mid-month.

Windows 7 is still the most popular OS at 46.64 percent, which is about the same market share it had last month. The aging Windows XP is holding strong at No. 2 with about 31 percent, followed by Windows 8.

Vista is sandwiched between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, both of which top Apple's new OS Mavericks 10.9, which had 2.42 percent of the market in November.



November 3, 2013

OS X Mavericks Hits 10% Adoption Rate, Analytics Firms Say

Apple OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple's latest iteration of OS X is off to a good start, with multiple reporting firms all suggesting that the installation base for Mavericks has hit around 10% or so of the total OS X installation base — corroborating each others' numbers is a good thing.

According to Computerworld's Gregg Keizer, California metrics firm Chitka was the first out the gate with a number, suggesting that Mavericks had surpassed a 10% installation rate within five days of the operating system update's free launch.

A word about that: It's likely that the free upgrade is partially the reason for Mavericks' quick adoption. Or, at least, it's a fair guess — Mountain Lion, the previously released "big update" to OS X, took all of a month or so to reach the adoption levels that Mavericks has seen within 10 days, and it cost Apple users $20 to upgrade.

As TechCrunch's Alex Wilhelm notes, adoption rates for operating systems can be a bit of an "imprecise" measurement, which partially explains why there's a bit of a gap between Chikita calling the 10% figure and fellow analytics firm NetMarketShare coming out of the gate with its own 10% figure. According to the latter, as of this article's writing, OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) is now up to a 0.84% share of the global PC installation base and a 10.9% share among all OS X users, period.



October 25, 2013

OS X Mavericks Reaches 5.5 Percent of Macs in 24 Hours

Apple OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple's move to give away OS X Mavericks, its new operating system, for free seems to be paying off when it comes to user adoption.

Some 5.5 percent of Mac users downloaded and installed Mavericks during its first 24 hours of general availability, "significantly" outpacing its predecessor Mountain Lion, which was released in July 2012, according to new stats from online advertising firm Chitika. In comparison, Mountain Lion reached just 1.6 percent of Macs in its first 24 hours and took approximately four days to reach Mavericks' day-one level.

"While Mountain Lion wasn't particularly expensive ($19.99), it's likely the lack of a price tag on Mavericks spurred additional users to upgrade in the early going," Chitika said.

Chitika took a sample of millions of U.S. and Canadian Mac OS X-based online ad impressions on its network from Oct. 22 to Oct. 23 and compared it to the 24-hour Mountain Lion data it gathered last year.

"Those in the tech industry saw Mavericks' pricing as a means for Apple to use its OS as more of a service-delivery mechanism rather than a product in itself, very similar to the company's strategy with iOS for mobile devices," Chitika said. "With these results in mind, it's evident that at least on the OS front, Apple's free desktop software strategy is paying dividends from an adoption standpoint."