Archive for September, 2015

Following release of iOS 9.0.2, Apple stops signing iOS 8.4.1 and iOS 9.0

Following the release of iOS 9.0.2 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch this morning, Apple has closed the signing window for iOS 8.4.1 and iOS 9.0. This means that users can no longer downgrade from  a more recent version of the operating system to either of those older builds. This is something Apple always does […]

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Chance Miller

September 30th

Apple

Mac

iOS 9.0.2 fixes lockscreen privacy bug that allowed access to photos and contacts

With the release of iOS 9.0.2 this morning Apple has fixed a flaw in the lockscreen that allowed anyone to access photos and contacts without actually unlocking the phone. The bug was widely publicized on Twitter and other social media outlets. Apple highlighted the change as the only security fix in today’s release in a […]

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Mike Beasley

September 30th

Apple

Mac

The eJaculator Is A VR-Based Pleasure Machine For The Lads

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 5.28.01 PM If your girlfriend is in a coma or, at the very least, indisposed, I think we have something you might like. It’s called the eJaculator VR and it consists of a thinger that goes on your whozit and a VR mask that allows you to watch someone, somewhere in 3D and then find pleasure using the rubber thinger with some motors in it. In your life, why should you give valuable time to this thing? Read More

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John Biggs

September 30th

Gadgets

Apple yanks iFixit app from the store, bans developer account in response to Apple TV teardown

APPLE-TV-4-IFIXIT-hero

The electronics repair site iFixit says that after it published its detailed teardown of the upcoming Apple TV hardware, Apple reached out to say that the company had violated the developer agreement and revoked the account that was used to obtain the device.

The iFixit app, which was previously available on the App Store for free, was tied to that developer account, meaning the app’s listing was removed along with the account. iFixit says they knew that Apple could potentially take issue with the teardown, but decided to move ahead with it anyway.

The team behind the app says they have no plans to re-release it at this time, and in some ways Apple may have actually done them a favor. The site had recently been more focused on overhauling its mobile web presence rather than upgrading the iOS app, which was already suffering from new iOS 9-related bugs they may not have had time to fix.

For now, iOS users looking for the latest iFixit guides will have to rely on the mobile website to get them.


Filed under: Tech Industry Tagged: Apple TV, iFixit, teardown

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Mike Beasley

September 30th

Apple

Mac

Skype for Mac now supports Split View on OS X El Capitan

Skype for El Capitan

Just in time for Apple’s official release of OS X El Capitan, Microsoft is out with a new version of Skype with features only available on the new operating system. Available in Skype 7.13 for Mac, the messaging and video chatting app now supports Apple’s new Split View feature for running Skype side-by-side with another full screen app. 

Split View on Skype even works during video calls when running another app next to it. Because Skype already had its own picture-in-picture feature, users may want to disable this to avoid seeing double video streams when using the app next to Skype.

Aside from El Capitan support and features, Skype says it has improved how you add contacts as well:

We’ve also made it easier to automatically add friends that are also using Skype. Just go to Contacts and click Add Contacts. There you’ll see an option to automatically add people you know in your Mac or other address books. You can also verify your mobile number so that people who have it can easily find you on Skype.

Skype 7.13 also includes a fix for an issue that caused Skype to crash, although Microsoft says the El Capitan update may “experience slow performance when switching to a conversation with large number of participants when running Skype” on OS X 10.11.

The latest version requires OS X Mavericks or later; Split View requires OS X El Capitan. You can grab Skype for Mac here.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: el capitan, Microsoft, Skype, Split View

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Zac Hall

September 30th

Apple

Mac

OS X El Capitan Review: Apple Brings Welcome Snow To Yosemite

OS X El Capitan Mac users fondly remember OS X Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion. These two releases were the epitome of Apple’s best work on OS X. Two rock solid iterations that were all about refinements, performance updates and stability. While OS X El Capitan isn’t a true ‘Snow’ release, this year’s OS X follows the same tradition in many ways — and it’s a great thing. Read More

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Romain Dillet

September 30th

Apple

Gadgets

MediaTek outs two new SDKs for building HomeKit accessories with its chips

MediaTek is today launching support for Apple’s new HomeKit platform for iPhone-connected home automation accessories with new SDKs for two of the company’s systems-on-a-chip (SoC) products. That means that manufacturers using the MediaTek chips can now easily support HomeKit for controlling products from iOS apps and Siri.

MediaTek, a pioneering fabless semiconductor company and a market leader in cutting-edge systems-on-chip (SoC), today announced it has released two software development kits (SDKs) that support Apple HomeKit. Apple HomeKit is a framework built into iOS that enables secure home control from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch and lets home accessories work together in smart ways.

The two new SDKs support MediaTek’s MT7688 product, a chip that manufacturers are using for high performance home accessories like webcams and wireless speakers, and the MT7687, a chip being used for lower power Wi-Fi devices like garage doors, power outlets, and thermostats.

Apple officially launched the HomeKit platform back in June with the first batch of products going up for preorder. Since then, other companies have announced incoming support for the platform including hardware bridges that will allow popular existing home automation platforms like Philips’ Hue lights connect to Apple’s framework. Yesterday, 9to5Mac exclusively reported Philips’ HomeKit bridge is planned for release early next month. 

To get a feel for HomeKit in the wild, check out our review of one of the first products to hit the market with HomeKit support, iHome’s $40 SmartPlug.


Filed under: HomeKit Tagged: Accessories, chip, homekit, iOS 9, iPad, iPhone, mediatek, sdks, SoC

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Jordan Kahn

September 30th

Apple

Mac

OS X El Capitan Now Available To Download

OS X El Capitan Apple has just released OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The update is now rolling out to eligible Mac devices. It’s available in the Mac App Store as a free download. If you don’t see the update right away, don’t panic as it could take a few minutes due to App Store propagation. Apple might as well use a queue system to ensure speedy downloads. Read More

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Romain Dillet

September 30th

Apple

Gadgets

Apple releases OS X El Capitan, featuring full-screen Split View, new Notes, revamped Spotlight Search, Safari 9 and more

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.24.07

Apple has officially released OS X El Capitan for the Mac, adding some new improvements as well as bringing parity with changes in iOS 9, released two weeks ago. OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), can be installed on any Mac that runs OS X Yosemite: simply download the free update from the Mac App Store. The release does not feature anything radically new — like the major visual overhaul that came last year — but there are new features as well as a strong focus on overall performance and stability improvements.

Here’s what’s new in Apple’s latest version of the Mac operating system …

Spotlight Search

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Apple has made some significant to changes to Spotlight, the system search function that pops up in the center of the display when you hit Command+Space. First off, in El Capitan, it doesn’t have to be in the center. As silly as it sounds, you can now freely resize and position the Spotlight box to match your own preferences for the first time. Apple has also bolstered the library of possible search terms to include more transient and informational data, like weather, sports scores or even YouTube and Vimeo video results. You can also make your search queries a lot more casual and Spotlight will understand what you mean. Rather than typing with obtuse filter syntax, you can use natural language queries like ‘email from Joshua last year’ or ‘presentations from last week’. These queries work great, are easy to remember and formulate, and work in apps like Finder and Mail as well as the Spotlight search bar.

Notes

El Capitan Notes

Notes will also take advantage of these natural language queries, but the big changes to look forward to here is the significant upgrade in what content can be used to compose notes. Just like iOS 9, you can add maps, embedded web link previews, and checklists to your notes. OS X had some rich text formatting features before, but it’s now fully developed in El Capitan with a variety of text styles and font choices. It’s mostly a port of the iPad Notes app in iOS 9. A neat OS X feature is the attachments browser, which offers an overview of your data by showing only the embedded content rather than the raw text; photos, sketches, maps, web URLs and linked files. Selecting an item takes you to the corresponding note.

Crucially, once you upgrade Notes to use iCloud Drive, El Capitan is required to sync with iOS 9. Yosemite users have no choice but to upgrade their Macs if they want to retain cross-platform harmony. Also keep in mind that sketches can only be created and edited on iOS 9 devices — they are only viewable on OS X.

Safari 9

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.32.33

OS X El Capitan includes the latest version of Safari, version 9. While Safari 9 will be released for Yosemite, there are also some features of the web browser only available on the latest OS. My favorite feature of the new Safari is its tab-based sound muting option. Safari will show a speaker indicator on any tab that is currently outputting audio. You can click this icon to instantly mute the tab. There is a similar control in the URL bar — click it once to Mute All Other Tabs or long-press to see a list of audible tabs and switch straight to them.

Matching Chrome from three years ago, Safari 9 adds Pinned Tabs. Essentially, you can put your favorite websites permanently in your URL bar as ‘small buttons’ on the left side of the tab bar. The websites stay loaded, so you can quickly switch to them at any time. Another appreciated addition in Safari 9 is revamped AirPlay support: rather than streaming your entire Mac desktop to the Apple TV, you can stream just specific videos embedded in pages. This doesn’t work on all websites, unfortunately, but popular websites like YouTube are supported.

Full-Screen Split View

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.16.28

A common workflow in El Capitan will be to use the new windowing features to put Safari at about 2/3rds width, with a smaller utility or social networking app filing the rest of the space. This is thanks to the addition of Split View for full-screen apps.

Hold down on the green zoom button on any window to activate Split View. Drag the window to either the left or right side of the screen to snap it as a ‘full screen’ app, even though that name is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t actually filling the whole width of the screen. You can then choose another full-screen app for the other side of the screen. This now mirrors Split View multitasking on iPad, although you can drag the divider to any arbitrary ratio of content and drag files between windows. It adds a lot more flexibility to workflows and is especially useful on larger-screen iMacs … where having just one app dominate the display was comical. The combined Split View appears as its own space in Mission Control and can be dragged around like a normal full-screen app. Most apps adapt beautifully to the split-screen layout but there are some exceptions; Notes refuses to lose its left-hand column so isn’t really suitable as a skinny-width app unless you’re using a single note window.

It’s also worth noting that the new Mission Control drops window labels and hides desktop previews until you slide your mouse towards the top of the screen, which I personally think is a regression. Text labels show temporarily on hover but you lose the glanceable nature of the old behavior.

Mail 

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Updates to Mail in OS X El Capitan heavily respect the adoption of full screen. In earlier versions of OS X, Mail was not a good Full Screen citizen. Composing a new mail message would open a window outside of the Full Screen space. Yosemite added an integrated compose window and El Capitan builds on this further by adding a tab bar, so you can compose multiple messages at once. Similar to iOS, you can also slide the compose window down to refer to other messages before you finish sending your message.

Mail also has some ‘proactive’ data detection for events, contacts and flights. Relevant data appears in skinny bars at the top of the email so, in one click, you can perform a relevant action. Also like iOS, Mail for Mac now has the same action shortcuts for messages in list view. Swipe table cells to instantly delete or archive messages. It’s less obvious than doing the same gesture on a touch screen, but it works and is a nice time saver.

Performance Improvements

For graphics, Apple has implemented Metal, its high-performance drawing framework, at the core of El Capitan so that it powers all system-level graphics operations. This should provide better frame rates and snappier transitions across the OS — it’s particularly noticeable for the full-screen sliding animation when switching between maximized windows and desktop spaces. Metal is also available to third-party developers, so game creators will be able to use it to push more performance out of the hardware. Apple also claims it has improved the foundations of OS X in other ways to make everything feel faster. The company claims speed improvements from 4x faster PDF rendering to 1.4x faster app launching. Naturally, real-word gains will vary based on a multitude of factors.

Miscellaneous

Like any operating system update, there’s a bunch of minor improvements and refinements across the system. Following iOS 9 and watchOS, OS X gets the San Fransisco font makeover. There are also minor redesigns to many of the stock interface elements, including some moderate shadowing. It’s personal preference of course, but I think it looks way better than the buttons and controls used in Yosemite. Maps gets Transit directions, Photos finally lets you geotag pictures and supports third-party editing extensions, and there’s even a Find My Friends widget in Notification Center. You can even shake the mouse cursor to enlarge it in case you lose track of what you are doing. There also some welcomed additions for Chinese and Japanese users, including a special system font for Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters (which is apparently better for readability), improved trackpad OCR and as-you-type translation of Hiragana into Japanese.

Conclusion

In summary, El Capitan is not the biggest update in Mac history, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a variety of changes and improvements to enjoy. It’s expected for a maturing platform to have less major additions and it doesn’t really matter when the updates are free.

Make sure you backup first in the (frankly unlikely) case something goes wrong, but otherwise you can update any Yosemite Mac right now from the Mac App Store with effectively zero downside. It’s practically a requirement if you use iOS 9 Notes, anyway, to keep syncing working. Let us know what you think of El Capitan in the comments below!


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: el capitan, full screen split view, Mac, Mac OS X, Mail, OS X 10.11, Safari

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Benjamin Mayo

September 30th

Apple

Mac

Amazon’s New Fire HD 8 Adds Removable Memory And More

IMG_5478 It’s a pretty sad state of affairs in the tablet world when removable memory is a way to lead off a review but there you have it – the Fire HD 8, Amazon’s latest addition to its tablet family, has a removable memory slot. This means you can expand things beyond the included 8 or 16 GB of memory that the device comes with. That’s a good thing and Amazon should be praised… Read More

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John Biggs

September 30th

Gadgets
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