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Palo Alto Networks reports new Mac malware dubbed Complex

Tue, 2016-09-27 15:00

A new piece of Mac malware, dubbed Komplex, has been discovered by Palo Alto Networks. This malware provides a backdoor into the system, like most other recent Mac malware.

The end product of infection is nothing more than a launch agent masquerading as an Apple updater and a hidden executable that’s kept running by that launch agent. The details of how the malware gets installed are still partly unknown. Palo Alto provided information about three different “binder” files, which are executable files that begin the process of installing the malware. However, it’s still not clear how these files get executed on the user’s system.

Palo Alto makes a connection between this malware and other malware created by the Sofacy Group, an organization that is known to target governments. Sofacy appears to be a Russian group, possibly funded by the Russian government, and are considered to be involved in the recent Democratic National Committee hacking. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac (free) detects the dropped components as OSX.Komplex.

AWT News Update: September 27, 2016

Tue, 2016-09-27 15:00

Lots of nice Apple-related stories today on this beautiful Tuesday:

  • FileMaker announces FileMaker Cloud, which -- as you'd surmise -- is a cloud solution for FileMaker databases
  • Fujitsu is warning users of any of its ScanSnap scanners to NOT use them with macOS Sierra. We tell you why.
  • The DarkSky iPhone app now has a website companion to increase its audience and usability
  • YouTube Go will help you watch more videos on the road without going over your data cap...but only in India for now

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Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for September 27, 2016.

FileMaker has been around for a long time, and over the past decade or so much of the work on the venerable database app has been towards creation of complex online systems that usually required a dedicated server machine or even an administrator. Today, FileMaker announced FileMaker Cloud, which takes the administrative and hardware requirements away by hosting FileMaker databases on Amazon Web Services Cloud. The service is available in the US and Canada right now and will be moving to other countries and regions in the future. FileMaker Cloud provides secure and reliable access to custom apps using FileMaker Pro 15.0.2, FileMaker Go 15.0.2 and FileMaker WebDirect. An app can be up and running in the cloud in less than 20 minutes, standard SSL/TLS encryption is supported, and there’s a cloud administration console that provides a dashboard view of system and app performance. We’re sure to hear a lot more about FileMaker Cloud soon.

Have a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner? Well, don’t use your scanner with Sierra until the company fixes a bug. That’s the word from Fujitsu, and the company is extending the warning to owners of ANY ScanSnap scanner. The bug results in scanned pages being turned into blank pages, and existing scanned pages can be deleted. There are other problems — black and white scans are saved as color pages and the size of the files becomes larger. Images that are exported to another app through Quick Menu on macOS Sierra may be displayed as blank pages on the preview screen of the app. Pages may be deleted if you use the Merge Pages function of ScanSnap Organizer. And if you’re using duplex scanning on business cards to enter information into CardMinder, well, it’s not reading the data on the back side of the scanned cards. It looks like Fujitsu really dropped the ball during the macOS Sierra beta testing.

Do you use the DarkSKy app on your iPhone? I’ve loved the app for years, since it’s often spot on in terms of telling you when it’s about to rain or snow. The app uses a proprietary forecasting algorithm to warn you just in time. If you’ve wanted DarkSky on your Mac, you’re in luck. The company has launched DarkSky.net, and it’s great for seeing weather data in ways you’ll not often get on a traditional weather website.

Some day soon, you may be able to watch YouTube videos on the go without running up huge data bills in the process. Google has designed a new app called YouTube Go that’s designed to let you use less data while out and about. First, you can use the offline mode to download content via Wi-Fi and then watch it later without a Wi-Fi connection or even a data connection of any sort. Next, you can use preview mode to view an animated preview GIF of a video to decide if the video is really something you want to watch now. Third, the app provides immediate info on how much data each screen resolution will use so you can dial back if you’re getting close to your data cap. Finally, if you want to send a video to a friend, it can be done via Bluetooth from the app to save their data allowance. There’s only one problem — the YouTube Go app is only available in India right now.

That’s all for today; We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.

Health insurer Aetna will subsidize the Apple Watch and develop watchOS apps

Tue, 2016-09-27 12:02

Aetna will give some customers and employees discounts on the Apple Watch. Beginning this fall, the health care benefits company will make the Apple smartwatch available to select large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season.

Aetna will be the first major health care company to subsidize a significant portion of the Apple Watch cost, offering monthly payroll deductions to make covering the remaining cost easier. In addition to the customer program, Aetna will provide the smartwatch at no cost to its own nearly 50,000 employees, who will participate in the company’s wellness reimbursement program, to encourage them to live more productive, healthy lives.

With support from Apple, Aetna is planning several iOS-exclusive health initiatives, starting with deeply integrated health apps for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch that will significantly improve the ability of consumers to manage their health and increase healthy outcomes, says Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO. The initial solutions under development are among the first health apps designed for multi-device use.

  • Aetna’s iOS-exclusive health apps — due in early 2017 — will aim to simplify the healthcare process through a number of features, including:
  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.

DJI launches the Mavic Pro personal drone

Tue, 2016-09-27 11:10

DJI has launched the Mavic Pro, the company’s first personal drone designed to be taken just about anywhere. Small enough to toss in a bag and easy enough to launch quickly whenever the time and place are right, its folding design compresses the entire drone to practically the size of a water bottle.

It’s equipped with a stabilized 4K camera and a visual navigation system and sports a 4.3 mile (7 km) range and 27-minute flight time, Mavic Pro sets the new standard for compact drones. With four folding arms and propellers that tuck neatly away against its streamlined body, it can be carried in a purse or backpack, saving you the trouble of mounting propellers before a flight. 

It can be operated by the powerful long range remote controller, or simply by your smartphone at shorter range. When controlled by a smartphone, the whole system can be set up and airborne in less than a minute to capture every key moment, according to Frank Wang, DJI's CEO and founder.

DJI's commitment to unparalleled stability, maneuverability and safety is clear in Mavic Pro's new FlightAutonomy system, he adds. FlightAutonomy is Mavic Pro's brain and nervous system, a network of hardware and software consisting of five cameras, GPS and GLONASS navigation systems, a pair of ultrasonic range finders, redundant sensors and 24 powerful computing cores. 

FlightAutonomy can position, navigate and plan routes for Mavic Pro, enabling it to avoid obstacles in various environments, with or without the help of satellite signals. 

As with all DJI drones, Mavic Pro is set to automatically return to its launch location if it ever loses contact with the controller or reaches critically low battery levels. The new Precision Landing feature records a burst of video with two stereo cameras every time Mavic Pro launches, then uses both video and satellite information when it returns to land within an inch of where it took off. If a pilot lets go of the controls, the drone will simply hover in place.

The Mavic Pro’s autofocus camera features a minimum focusing distance of just 19 inches and can be flipped 90 degrees to portrait mode for vertical selfies and video. Mavic Pro records 4K video at 30fps and full 1080p HD at 96fps. Its 12-megapixel camera with Adobe DNG RAW support has been expertly tuned for aerial images. With the help of the gimbal, you can shoot two-second-long exposures in the air.

A new compact remote controller has been designed to provide a fully ergonomic experience with optimum comfort, and can accommodate a smartphone or control Mavic Pro on its own. Its built-in LCD screen displays telemetry data, while there are dedicated buttons for functions such as Return-to-Home and pausing. The video link system, OcuSync, supports a range up to 4.3 miles (7 km) and live view resolutions up to 1080p.

Mavic Pro's U.S. retail price will be $999 with the remote controller included, and $749 without the remote controller. Additional Mavic Pro Intelligent Flight Batteries will cost $89. A Mavic Pro Fly More Combo, which includes a Mavic Pro, two extra Intelligent Flight Batteries, extra propellers, a charging hub, an adapter, a car charger and a shoulder bag, will be available for $1,299.

The Mavic Pro is immediately available for pre-order at dji.com/mavic and will begin shipping Oct. 15. It can also be ordered on Apple.com and will be available in Apple Stores in early November.

iOS 10 tip: "Deleting" those Apple apps you never wanted

Tue, 2016-09-27 11:00

iOS 10 has one feature that people have been asking for since 2007 when the first iPhone appeared on the scene -- a way to "delete" the apps that Apple automatically installs on each and every iPhone or iPad. You'll notice I'm using quotes around the word "delete", and that's because Apple doesn't really let you delete the apps to save storage space -- instead, you're now able to delete the app icon so it's not bothering you.

There's really no special trick for deleting these icons; just use the standard method of deleting any other app:

  • Tap and hold an icon until the Home screen goes into "wiggle mode"
  • If an app is able to be "removed", there's an X in the upper left corner of the app icon. Tap it. 
  • iOS asks if you really wish to delete the app. Tap delete to continue or cancel to stop deleting the app.
  • When you're done getting rid of those apps (or at least their icons), tap the Home button to get out of "wiggle mode". 

What apps do people often want to "delete"? Tips, Stocks, Voice Memos, Watch (if you don't have an Apple Watch...), Calculator (if you have the vastly superior PCalc app), even Find Friends (if you already know where your friends are all the time). 

You still can't delete a few apps; for instance Wallet, Safari, Messages, Phone, Camera, and Photos are among the apps that are so integral to the operation of the iPhone or iPad that they can't be removed. 

What do you do if you want one of those apps back on your device? Easy. Open the App Store app, search for the app (for example, News), and you'll see a download button. Tap it, and the app icon is restored to your device.

Honeywell’s Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat supports Apple’s HomeKit

Tue, 2016-09-27 10:54

Honeywell’s new Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat is the latest of the company’s home products to have Apple HomeKit compatibility for control using voice with Siri, or the new Apple Home app in iOS 10. HomeKit is a framework that allows control of compatible home automation devices through iOS and Siri.

The Lyric T5 joins Honeywell's suite of devices powered by the newly updated Lyric app, including the Lyric Round Wi-Fi thermostat and Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector. By using the location of a smartphone via geofencing technology, the thermostat saves money by going into energy saving mode when someone leaves, and detects when the first person returns to start making the home comfortable ahead of his or her arrival, says Jeremy Eaton, vice president of Honeywell's Home Comfort business.

The geofencing can be customized to a distance of miles away or just around the corner from the home, or customers can set up the Lyric T5 with a more traditional seven-day schedule. The Lyric T5 also features smart alerts for extreme temperatures or humidity inside the home, filter change reminders, and more.

The Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat will be available in October for $149 online and at select retail stores. To learn more, including about other Lyric products and T Series thermostats, as well as how Honeywell is shaping the homes of today and tomorrow, click here.

Typeeto: A free Mac utility for sharing your keyboard with other devices

Tue, 2016-09-27 10:15

We nerds end up getting a lot of different devices, and sometimes it gets crazy if you want to use a Mac Bluetooth keyboard with each one of them for a test. With many keyboards, you have to un-pair from the Mac, then pair with the new device. Want to type on your Mac again? Un-pair from the device, then pair with the Mac again. Eltima Software has a great solution in the form of a free utility for Mac called Typeeto that makes it simple to use a Mac keyboard with an iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Android device, you name it, and switch between devices in seconds

After a quick installation from the Mac App Store, launch Typeeto and you're ready to start adding devices. Doing this requires a one-time pairing through the Mac's Bluetooth System Preference panel, at which point the device appears in the app. You can change the name of a device if you wish, as well as signify what type of device (iPhone, iPad, Android tablet, Apple TV) it is. 





Now here comes the fun part. Let's say you want to type something big into an app on your iPhone, or maybe you're using your iPhone to send a long string of text messages to a friend. Instead of hunting and pecking on the little iPhone keyboard, you open the Messages app on the iPhone, click the Typeeto icon in the menu bar on the Mac, and select the iPhone from the list. In seconds it pairs with the iPhone and you can start typing quickly on the Mac keyboard, with text appearing on the iPhone as if the keyboard was directly attached to it.

Need to switch to another device? Just use the Typeeto menu bar icon to disconnect from the first device, then select the next device. Don't want to use the menu bar icon? It's possible to create keyboard shortcuts so you can switch devices on the fly.

Sure, the "Universal Cut & Paste" of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra makes it simple to copy text on one Apple device and paste it into another, but it's not quite the same as being able to type directly into an app on that other device. Typeeto is fast, easy to use, and best of all, free. 

Apple Q4 Earnings Call to be held on October 27, 2016

Tue, 2016-09-27 08:45

Time flies. It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that Apple held its Q3 earnings call, and now it has announced that the final earnings report of the 2016 Apple fiscal year will be released on October 27, 2016. 

As usual, the company will release earnings after the close of the stock markets on that date, followed shortly thereafter by the live streamed earnings call. If you're not familiar with the format, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri both point out highlights of the previous quarter's financial performance before answering questions from leading Wall Street analysts. 

Expect to hear news on how well the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are selling, as well as hints on how well the Apple Watch Series 2 is doing (Apple never discloses how many are sold). Likewise, if there is a Mac/iPad announcement before October 27, we'll be sure to hear about the early sales performance of those devices.

We'll remind you of the earnings call before the 27th, and provide you with an update on the numbers as soon as they're published by Apple. 

iPhones and iPads have highest SAR of gadgets sold in South Korea

Tue, 2016-09-27 08:25

Apple's iPhones and iPads have the highest electromagnetic radiation specific absorption rate (SAR) of electronic devices sold in South Korea, according to Choi Myung-gil of the country's telecom committee — as noted by ZDNet

He said data from the National Radio Research Agency shows the average radiation SAR for iPhones was 1.166 watts per kilogram (W/kg). Samsung's, in comparison, showed an average of 0.517W/kg, for products launched this year.

SAR is a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to a radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic field. For handsets, it measures the rate of absorption when placed near the ear. In the U.S. the SAR for cell phone radiation has been set by the Federal Communications Commission at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight.

The SARs from products of all manufacturers is steadily rising, raising health concerns, said Cho. He’s asking the South Korean government to put in more efforts to protect public health.

Apple continues to lead in personal computer satisfaction

Tue, 2016-09-27 07:47

Customer satisfaction with personal computers halts a three-year slide, according to new data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The ACSI Household Appliance and Electronics Report 2016 includes desktops, laptops, and tablet computers, as well as household appliances, televisions and computer software.

With its Mac, Apple remains the overall leader in the personal computer industry, unchanged at 84, but Samsung leaps 6% to 83 in its second year of ACSI tracking. Amazon, which manufactures only tablets, gets a 3% boost to 80, while Acer, ASUS and Dell tie for the next spot at 78. HP gains 5% to 77, followed by Lenovo (+3%) and Toshiba (+4%) at 76. The combined score for all other, smaller PC manufacturers falls 4% to the bottom of the category at 73. The Mac has topped the list for over 10 years.

Personal computers gain 1.3%  to 78 on ACSI's 100-point scale. Tablets improve by 4% to 78, reclaiming a slight edge over laptops, which rise 3% to 77. Desktop computers maintain the highest score of 81.

"In an increasingly mobile world, smartphones are the biggest threat to personal computer sales, and tablets have not been the long-term panacea the PC industry was hoping for," says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. "Interestingly, the two companies that lead in smartphone satisfaction also lead the personal computer industry, although they have very different strategies regarding the future of tablets. Apple is targeting business customers on the go with laptop-like features for its iPad, while Samsung tablets occupy their own space as devices for entertainment and browsing – not laptop replacements."

The tech in two iPhone-related patents could be utilized in an Apple Car

Tue, 2016-09-27 07:25

Two Apple patents have popped up that could — and let me emphasize COULD — be related to the Project Titan project, which is rumored to involve an Apple car.

Patent number 9,453,734 is for smart loading of map tiles. Systems and methods are provided for displaying a portion of a map on a mobile device of a user while the user is traveling along a route. Of course, this mobile device is probably an iPhone, but the tech could be utilized in an iPad, CarPlay system, or the dashboard of an Apple automobile.

Whatever the device is, according to the granted patent, it can use a selected route and a current location of the device to load map tiles for parts of the map that are upcoming along the route. In this manner, the user can have quick access to the portions of the map that the user likely will want to view. For example, the map tiles can be loaded for the next 50 Km, and then when the stored tiles reaches only 25 Km ahead, another 25 Km of tiles can be retrieved. The amount of tiles loaded (minimum and maximum amounts) can vary based on a variety of factors, such as network state, distance traveled along the route, and whether the mobile device is charging.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that many mobile devices (and it specifically mentions a smartphone) have a map application that allows a user to view different geographical areas for certain purposes, such as to navigate roads in a certain area, to find out traffic conditions on certain roads, or to find locations of certain stores. A user navigates within the map application to see different areas to zoom out or zoom in to see the map at different resolutions. A user may navigate the map in various ways, such as by using a touch screen. Typically, the mobile device doesn’t store the map, but instead requests map tiles from a server. The requested map tiles would correspond to the geographic area that the user has selected. 

When a user is traveling to a particular destination, he or she may often want to use the map feature. For instance, the user may use the map to determine where to turn next to get to the destination. The might also want to find out information about an exit, e.g., if there is a gas station there or type of restaurants. Or, a user may become lost, and need to use the map to correct course to the destination. However, to do so, the user currently navigates the map application to the desired geographic area to retrieve the desired map tiles from the server. 

Apple says that obtaining map tiles in such a way “can encounter delay, connectivity problems, and run down battery life.” The company wants to change this. 

Patent number 9,456,307 is for an “electronic device with mapping circuitry.” It likely involves using Apple smartphones and tablets for indoor mapping efforts, such as generating virtual models of a room. However, it could also be utilized in a vehicle’s computer vision system.

Whatever the final application, laser distance measuring devices include a laser and a sensor. Conventional laser measuring devices measure only the distance from the device to a given surface. These devices are unable to measure distances between multiple points that are separate from the device and therefore require the user to place the device is specific locations for which measurements are desired. 

Apple says that this can be difficult in, for example, a furnished room with items that restrict access to all parts of the room. Additionally, these devices can be bulky pieces of equipment that require batteries or battery packs and must be purchased and transported separately from other equipment and electronic devices. Apple says it would be “desirable to be able to provide improved electronic devices with mapping circuitry.”

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

Notable apps and app updates for Sept. 27, 2016

Tue, 2016-09-27 07:24

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks.

iOS Apps/Updates

Vitaly Pronkin has introduced DIY Blocky Stickers 1.0. It’s a $0.99 iMessage app exclusively for iOS 10. DIY Blocky Stickers allows you to create your own unique blocky style stickers. Two block sizes and a block split function allow to create highly detailed objects or add finishing touches.

Intellipath Games has launched DetecThink 1.0. In the free game, players areimmersed in a world of detective case work by solving a series of the interactive assignments that include freeing a princess, unlocking a secret suitcase and solving the mystery of a missing crown. The only way to advance through the game is by completing addition and subtraction problems. The difficulty level can be adjusted.

macOS Apps/Updates

einstein's legacy has created Achroma 1.0.1, an image manipulation tool developed exclusively for macOS. 

The app lets you removes colors from your images by providing two conversion modes; you can select from a set of preset color ranges or create your own collection of user-defined color ranges for processing. Achroma also lets you export images in a variety of formats, create interactive slideshow presentations and share images using various internet services.

Achroma requires macOS 10.11 or higher. It’s available for $9.99 from the Mac App Store.

 

Future Macs may watch you watching them thanks to a gaze-based display control

Tue, 2016-09-27 07:03

Future Macs may watch you watching them. Let me explain. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,454,225) for “gaze-based display control.” It involves a method for receiving an image such as the eye of someone looking at a Mac, and identifying, based the image of the eye, a direction of a gaze performed by the user. 

Based on the direction of the gaze, a region on a display coupled to the computerized system is identified, an operation is performed on content presented in the region. The invention relates generally to human-machine interfaces, and specifically to interfaces that combine multiple user interaction modalities. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that a number of different types of user interface devices and methods are available. Common tactile interface devices include a computer keyboard, a mouse and a joystick. Touch screens detect the presence and location of a touch by a finger or other object within the display area. Infrared remote controls are widely used, and "wearable" hardware devices have been developed, as well, for purposes of remote control. 

Computer interfaces based on three-dimensional (3D) sensing of parts of a user's body have also been proposed. A 3D sensor, typically positioned in a room in proximity to the user, provides position information, which is used to identify gestures created by a body part of interest. The gestures are recognized based on the shape of the body part and its position and orientation over an interval. The gesture is classified for determining an input into a related electronic device. 

Three-dimensional human interface systems may identify not only the user's hands, but also other parts of the body, including the head, torso and limbs. Apple thinks gaze detection could be useful as part of a computer user interface. This patent, as well as U.S. patent number 7,762,665, describes a method of modulating operation of a device, comprising: providing an attentive user interface for obtaining information about an attentive state of a user; and modulating operation of a device on the basis of the obtained information, wherein the operation that is modulated is initiated by the device. Preferably, the information about the user's attentive state is eye contact of the user with the device that is sensed by the attentive user interface. 

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

iPhone 7/7 Plus TENC case — AutoHeal thyself

Tue, 2016-09-27 05:30

If you like Just Mobile’s AutoHeal screen protector for the iPad Pro you’ll also appreciate the company’s TENC, a near-invisible, “self-mending” case for the iPhone 7/7 Plus. 

It sports the same “auto-healing smart materials with an advanced fingerprint and dust-resistant smooth-touch coating that consigns sticky-feeling screen protectors to the dustbin of history” and which repairs minor scratches to the case. And it does this while showing your Apple smartphone in all its glory 

The very-reasonably-priced ($24.95) TENC — available in crystal clear, matte clear and matte black — perfectly lines up with the iPhone’s edges (the top two corners are completely covered, and the bottom two corners are covered to the curve). It offers protection while offering easy access to all ports, buttons, switches. 

The TENC’s abrasion resistant coating keeps the case looking sharp. And its flexible material makes it easy to install and remove.

I also like the way the TENC feels. It’s soft to the touch and actually adds some “grippability” when holding my iPhone 7 Plus. The only downside is that it doesn’t protect the tablet’s display. For that you’ll have to pay extra for a screen protector.

Apple should consider buying a 'smart glass' company such as Corning

Tue, 2016-09-27 05:00

Disruptive technologies like touch sensitive screens and smart glass everywhere will be one of the larger competitive issues for Apple in the not-too-distant future. However, purchasing a smart glass manufacturer -- perhaps even Corning itself-- would give Apple a competitive advantage for an "iOS everywhere" type approach. 

Buying a base product manufacturer like Corning wouldn't be outside the realm of what Apple occasionally does. Acquiring a glass manufacturer -- specifically a smart glass manufacturer -- would be right in line with Apple's history and offer the potential for a strategic future. Our favorite tech company could continue its fully integrated approach to extending the Apple ecosystem everywhere.

Corning, especially, would be a great choice. Apple’s iPads and iPhones could be more impact resistant by using the company's Gorilla glass. The company's Willow Glass could enable even thinner Mac displays.

New job listings hint at Nvidia GPUs in future Macs (released after 2016)

Mon, 2016-09-26 15:01

The current Mac lineup relies on AMD graphics;  however, a switch to Nvidia could be in the works for the MacBook Pro and other Macs, if new job listings from the GPU maker is any indication.

As noted by AppleInsider, a series of new available positions advertised by Nvidia seek software engineers for the company's Mac graphics drivers team. Qualified applicants should have experience with Apple's Metal which is featured on new Macs as well as iOS devices.

Introduced at the 2015 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, Metal is a core graphics technology that gives apps near-direct access to the GPU [graphics processing unit]. This means faster and more efficient rendering performance across the system.

While new Macs are almost certain to arrive next month, it's likely that any potential switch to Nvidia would be months or years down the road. Still, “the listings strongly suggest that Nvidia and Apple are working together behind the scenes, potentially to bring Nvidia hardware back to new Macs at some point in the future,” notes AppleInsider.

AWT News Update: September 26, 2016

Mon, 2016-09-26 15:00

Ahhh, back from a nice weekend in the Colorado Rockies, Steve has three fascinating little stories from the world of tech and Apple that you just have to hear!

  • In the near future, you won't need to set up your own Plex media server to use the service, as the company is moving Plex to the cloud
  • Last week, Salesforce.com was being bandied about as a possible suitor for Twitter. Today's possible hot date for Twitter? Think Mickey or Minnie Mouse...
  • A group of developers got a bit silly at a company retreat and decided to test the water resistance of the iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case. Find out how it did!

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Subscribe to the Podcast

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for September 26, 2016.

Media server Plex today announced that it’s moving to the cloud with Plex Cloud. No longer will people need to set up their own Plex server; now the Plex Cloud will be your server. It will be a premium offering and is currently available as an invite-only beta program, but it’s basically quite simple. You just store your stuff — music, videos, photos — in the cloud, with Amazon Drive doing the hard work. You have unlimited storage, and will be able to store and stream media for a few dollars a month. Plex says that most Plex Media Server features are already working on Plex Cloud, but that Camera Upload, Mobile Sync, Cloud Sync, Media Optimizer, DLNA and DVR will be added as possible in the future.

In case you haven’t noticed, Twitter has been looking for a buyer lately. The company really needs one, since up to this point I’m not sure they’ve actually ever turned a profit. Last week, it was Salesforce.com that was in the news as a possible suitor. Today, Bloomberg reports that the Walt Disney Company is working with a financial adviser on making a bid for Twitter. Nick Bilton noted on Twitter that “From (high-up) people I’ve spoken to internally at Twitter, I’ve always heard Disney is the dream suitor.” If you think it’s odd that a company that runs theme parks is possibly making a bid for Twitter, remember that a media conglomerate, owning ESPN and ABC. Twitter is a media company and publishing service, and not really a social network. The two would fit together quite well.

From the “don’t try this at home department” comes this story of water resistance testing. As you know, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are Apple’s first phones that are specifically advertised as being water resistant, and of course bloggers have been dunking them, holding them underwater for long periods of time, basically testing the limited of how water resistant the phones are. Now comes words that a group of folks from development company Squirrels — the people who bring you Reflector and AirParrot Remote — were on a company retreat and decided to test the water resistance of Apple’s iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case. Apple tells people to NOT expose the Smart Battery Case to liquids, and to unplug it if it has been exposed to rain, liquid, excessive moisture, and the like. So the Squirrels team got silly and put the iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case two feet deep into a swimming pool for 30 minutes, one foot deep into Florida Gulf Coast saltwater for an hour, and one foot down into a hot tub for 30 minutes. The result? The Smart Battery Case still worked. Squirrels found out that the Smart Battery case is epoxy sealed, which does a good job of keeping liquids out. The takeaway from this unofficial test? If you accidentally dunk your Smart Battery Case, let it dry out before you plug it in, but it should be just fine.

That’s all for today; We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.

Notable apps and app updates for Sept. 26, 2016

Mon, 2016-09-26 14:51

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks.

macOS Apps/Updates

Mac OS X File Recovery has announced Mac Data Recovery Guru 4.0, an update to its data recovery utility for macOS. The app can recover all common file types from any Mac drive or volume. 

Mac Data Recovery Guru scans any drive, and displays a list of all recoverable files on the disk. Users then select the files they wish to recover, select a destination drive, and click the "Recover" button. Version 4.0 offers the ability to scan disk images that can't mount for file recovery.

Mac Data Recovery Guru requires macOS 10.7 or higher. It costs $89 and is available directly from the publisher's website. A free scan-only download is also available.

einstein's legacy has released LightTable 3.0.1, an update of its unlimited virtual canvas app for macOS X. 

It lets users layout, inspect and compare images. Images can be resized, repositioned, layered and aligned allowing users to discover different storytelling perspectives. Version 3.0.1 introduces gesture-based manipulation of canvas items, consolidates the user interface and provides several stability enhancement bug fixes.

LightTable 3.0.1 require macOS 10.11 or higher and costs $19.99. It’s available worldwide from the Mac App Store.

Obscura: Shoot RAW images with your iOS 10 iPhone (Updated)

Mon, 2016-09-26 11:30

Automatic (L) and manual (R) controls (image via obscuraapp.com)

For most people shooting photos with a digital camera or iPhone, there's not a lot of thought put into what format the file is saved in. Back in the days when storage was limited both in SD cards and smartphones, files were always saved in JPEG format, meaning that they were compressed immediately to save space. But compression has an effect on the quality of digital photos, so professionals save in RAW, uncompressed format. iOS 10 now has the ability to work with RAW files, but the standard Camera app still resorts to JPEG. That's why apps like Obscura (US$4.99) from developer Ben Rice McCarthy are gaining popularity as a way to shoot RAW images with the iPhone or iPad.

Obscura works on the iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and the 9.7" iPad Pro, and provides the type of manual control that usually has professional photographers reaching for their DSLRs. The app provides manual control over ISO (aka "film speed"), exposure, focus and shutter speed, but also has automatic controls for those times you want to just pick up the iPhone and shoot.

The app not only captures in RAW format, but can apply one of 28 filters to the image in real-time, letting you see how they look before you take the photo. One feature I love is the availability of white balance controls, which provide instant correction for different types of lighting. You'll never have a photo tilting at an odd angle (unless you're composing it that way deliberately) thanks to a built-in spirit level, and grid lines are available with a tap for composition. 

Grid lines superimposed at left, list of filters at right. Image via obscuraapp.com

The user interface is also unique when compared to that of the standard Camera app. The exposure and focus controls are adjustable with the swipe of a thumb, pretty much accessible from anywhere when you're setting up a photo. 

I was quite impressed with the real-time filtering; it was just nice to get an idea of what a photo would look like when shot with a warm glow applied or in gray scale. Once you're in filter mode, it's easy to swipe through all of the available filters. The ability to always have the ISO and shutter speed displayed on the "viewfinder" is useful, as higher ISO images tend to be quite grainy. The manual focusing provides much finer control as well, making it possible to shoot images without the "hunting" that the standard Camera app often does when it's seeking focus.

For many iPhone photographers, the standard point-and-shoot capabilities of the Camera app are going to be fine. For those who want the ultimate in manual control, filtering, and the ability to grab photos in RAW format, Obscura is a powerful tool to have.

Update: I was having some issues figuring out how to export my images as .DNG RAW images, and fortunately got an immediate response from the developer. It turns out that the best way of importing the images to a Mac for post-processing is to either use the Photos app and have it import over a USB cable, or do the same with the Image Capture app. Both ways, the photos came over as .DNG where they could be manipulated as RAW.

 

Daily Deal: Develop your own apps with the iOS 10 & Swift 3 Starter Bundle

Mon, 2016-09-26 09:00

Whether you're looking for a new career as an app developer, want to keep your skills as an existing developer sharp, or are just curious about what makes apps tick, we've got a heck of a deal for you this Monday morning. The iOS 10 & Swift 3 Starter Bundle brings a ton of lectures and hours of instruction to you 24/7, and it's only $45. Even better, use the promo code IOS10 while checking out, and you'll get another $10 off!

The bundle includes five complete courses for $45 (or $35 with that promo code!):

The Complete iOS 10 Developer:  Usually priced at $249, this course will help you to

  • Learn the Apple iOS development process as it really is
  • Create useful apps like GPS maps & clocks
  • Discover how to incorporate animations to engage users
  • Develop multiple iOS apps that you can release on the App Store under your own account

iOS 10 Projects: Build amazing apps with Apple's newest iOS

With iOS 10 Projects, you'll build 7 working apps to learn the ins and outs of iOS 10, and:

  • Access 77 lectures & 10.5 hours of content 24/7
  • Create a Rich Media Photo Album using iOS 10's voice transcription & search functionality
  • Build a Group Scheduling app that integrates w/ Messages
  • Integrate a Ride-Sharing app w/ SiriKit for voice activation
  • Design an iOS 10 Lock Screen Widget that helps language learners memorize new vocabulary
  • Create a Daily Alarm Planner using the new UserNotifications framework
  • Code your own Board Game that implements an AI opponent, using the new GKMonteCarloStrategist from GameplayKit
  • Build a Tank War Game using SpriteKit's powerful new Node Tiling system

This course alone is usually priced at $100, and you can get it and four other top-rated development classes for that $45 (or $35!) purchase. 

Swift 3 Fundamentals & Essential Training

Swift 3 is the latest version of Apple's development language for iOS, and there's no better way to build your skill set in Swift 3 than by creating real working apps in the language. This course is normally priced at $55, and you will:

  • Access 44 lectures & 5 hours of content 24/7
  • Get up to speed w/ all the new Swift 3 syntax
  • Build a solid foundation for iOS application development
  • Update your code & use exercises, quizzes, & coding challenges to test your skills
  • Understand general programming concept like control flow, functions, objects, classes & more

iOS 10, Swift 3 Hands On Features

Knowing general iOS programming concepts is great, but it's more valuable to really understand how to use the newest iOS 10 features to create useful, unique apps. Over this course that would normally cost you $50, you'll use objective-C and the new Swift 3 language to construct real apps that utilize the most innovative features of Apple's new operating system.

  • Access 36 lectures & 2.5 hours of content 24/7
  • Use the new messages framework & learn how to get them in the new Messages App Store
  • Learn how to make advanced Messages app extensions
  • Discover the new iOS 10 Siri Kit to program Siri for your app
  • Explore Speech Recognition, allowing you to translate your voice to text
  • Bake App Store SEO techniques directly into your app

Master iOS 10 + Swift 3 & Create Apps

Finally, this class (usually $200) gives you even more experience putting together real apps in order to learn and understand the underlying technology and concepts.  

  • Access 96 lectures & 26.5 hours of content 24/7
  • Explore basic & advanced features of iOS 10 & Swift 3
  • Discuss object-oriented programming in depth
  • Discover the Model View Controller (MVC) concept & table views
  • Work w/ animations, audio, maps, & geolocation
  • Understand how to save data w/ NSCoding & Core Data
  • Download image from the web & save them in Core Data
  • Learn how to work w/ Firebase

The bottom line? If you've ever entertained the thought of learning how to create amazing apps, there's really no better time to do it than right now. Buy the iOS 10 & Swift 3 Starter Bundle priced at just $45, enter in the promo code IOS10 and take another $10 off to bring this training extravaganza to your Mac for just $35.