Apple announces macOS 13 Ventura, the next major software update for the Mac

Apple announces macOS 13 Ventura, the next major software update for the Mac

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—As expected, Apple has used the stage at its WWDC 2022 keynote to reveal the features and changes coming to macOS in the next major software update for the platform, macOS 13 Ventura.

Ventura’s headlining feature is a new multitasking interface called Stage Manager. It’s being billed as a way to fight window clutter on a busy desktop—enter Stage Manager mode, and one of your windows floats to the center of the screen, pushing your other windows into a compressed navigation column on the left of the screen. Click a different app window on the left, and it will fly to the center of the screen, knocking the app you were using before into the navigation column.

Spotlight also gets some handy quality-of-life updates, adding the ability to Quick Look search results directly from the Spotlight window, and the ability to run Shortcuts from within Spotlight. Safari picks up the ability to share groups of tabs with other users, letting all users add and remove tabs. The browser is also adding a FIDO-compliant security technology called PassKeys, which aim to replace passwords with cryptographically generated keys that sync between devices using iCloud Keychain. Sites that support PassKeys can be opened using TouchID or FaceID.

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#apple, #mac, #macos, #macos-13, #tech, #wwdc-2022

MacBook buying guide: The right M1 laptop for each use case

Two 2021 MacBook Pro models side-by-side.

Enlarge / Two 2021 MacBook Pro models side-by-side. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Over the past two years, Apple has completed an overhaul of its entire laptop lineup. That means it’s as good a time as any for people who have been holding out on upgrading an older MacBook to dive in.

But which MacBook is the best one to pick up? That depends a lot on your specific use case, and that’s what we’ll explore here today.

Typically, buying guides pick the diamonds out of the rough—the “rough” being hundreds of subpar products. But when recommending a MacBook, it’s a simpler affair. There aren’t that many of them to pick from. But because they typically cannot be upgraded, there are some consequential choices you’ll need to make before buying.

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#14-inch-macbook-pro, #16-inch-macbook-pro, #apple, #features, #macbook, #macbook-air, #macbook-pro, #macos, #tech

iOS 15.5 and macOS 12.4 bring updates to Podcasts, digital payments, and more

Apple's Studio Display received a firmware update today to improve its webcam performance.

Enlarge / Apple’s Studio Display received a firmware update today to improve its webcam performance. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple released new software updates for all of its platforms on Tuesday. That includes the following:

  • iOS 15.5 for iPhones and the iPod touch
  • iPadOS 15.5 for iPads
  • macOS 12.4 for Macs
  • watchOS 8.6 for the Apple Watch
  • tvOS 15.5 for the Apple TV
  • HomePod Software 15.5 for HomePods
  • Studio Display Firmware 15.5 for the Studio Display
  • Switch Playgrounds 4.1 for iPad and Mac

These are almost certainly the last updates before the company’s annual developer conference, which is scheduled to kick off on June 6. Among other things, Apple will announce iOS and iPadOS 16, macOS 13, and watchOS 9 at the conference, but those updates won’t arrive until later this year.

iOS 15.5

Today’s iOS update offers just enough new user-facing features to earn that 15.x label instead of 15.x.x, which is usually reserved for bug fixes and the like.

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Apple’s iWork 12.0 adds new features to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

Pages on macOS.

Enlarge / Pages on macOS. (credit: Samuel Axon)

On Thursday, Apple released its first feature updates for the iWork suite in several months: Pages, Keynote, and Numbers 12.0.

There are new versions of all three apps on both iOS and macOS. Judging from the version number, you’d expect these to be major new releases, but they only add a few features.

On macOS, the significant change is support for Shortcuts, Apple’s automation tool. For example, Pages now features “Open Document” and “Create Document” actions. Numbers offers the same but adds the “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table” action. As for Keynote, you can also open and create with the presentation app, but you can also specify to open a presentation in either Rehearsal Mode or Show Mode.

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App lets you crank the new MacBook Pro’s brightness to over 1,000 nits

Vivid on a MacBook Pro and Pro Display XDR.

Developers Jordi Bruin and Ben Harraway have released an application called Vivid that allows Apple’s new MacBook Pro models and Pro Display XDR to achieve double the brightness systemwide—something that previously wasn’t possible.

For background: Apple says the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro’s MiniLED display can reach 1,600 nits of peak brightness on highlights or 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness. That’s nearly unrivaled in consumer laptop or desktop displays—it’s more in the realm of what you’d expect from a high-end television.

But while certain HDR video content will take advantage of that on highlights, the normal desktop computing experience isn’t much brighter than what you get on another monitor. macOS keeps things around 500 nits tops unless the content you’re specifically watching calls for more—and most content doesn’t.

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Boot up classic Mac OS in your browser window with the “Infinite Mac” project

The Infinite Mac project emulating a classic System 7 Mac.

Enlarge / The Infinite Mac project emulating a classic System 7 Mac. (credit: Infinite Mac)

For retro computing enthusiasts, there’s no substitute for unearthing ancient hardware and computing like it’s 1999. But as with old video games, emulation offers a much more convenient way to run old software. Now, running System 7 or Mac OS 8 on a virtual 68k Mac is more convenient than ever, thanks to a clever project dubbed “Infinite Mac.”

What makes the project unique isn’t necessarily the fact that it’s browser-based; it has been possible to run old DOS, Windows, and Mac OS versions in browser windows for quite a while now. Instead, it’s the creative solutions that developer Mihai Parparita has come up with to enable persistent storage, fast download speeds, reduced processor usage, and file transfers between the classic Mac and whatever host system you’re running it on. Parparita details some of his work in this blog post.

Beginning with a late 2017 browser-based port of the Basilisk II emulator, Parparita wanted to install old apps to more faithfully re-create the experience of using an old Mac, but he wanted to do it without requiring huge downloads or running as a separate program as the Macintosh.js project does. To solve the download problem, Parparita compressed the disk image and broke it up into 256K chunks that are downloaded on demand rather than up front.

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#macos, #tech

Apple rushes out patches for two zero-days threatening iOS and macOS users

Apple rushes out patches for two zero-days threatening iOS and macOS users

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Apple on Thursday released fixes for two critical zero-day vulnerabilities in iPhones, iPads, and Macs that give hackers dangerous access to the internals of the OSes the devices run on.

Apple credited an anonymous researcher with discovering both vulnerabilities. The first vulnerability, CVE-2022-22675, resides in macOS for Monterey and in iOS or iPadOS for most iPhone and iPad models. The flaw, which stems from an out-of-bounds write issue, gives hackers the ability to execute malicious code that runs with privileges of the kernel, the most security-sensitive region of the OS. CVE-2022-22674, meanwhile, also results from an out-of-bounds read issue that can lead to the disclosure of kernel memory.

Apple disclosed bare-bones details for the flaws here and here. “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited,” the company wrote of both vulnerabilities.

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#apple, #biz-it, #ios, #ipados, #macos, #zerodays

iOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3 are here with Universal Control and more

The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light.

Enlarge / The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple pushed out the public releases of all its operating systems, including iOS/iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. These releases include new features across all platforms, not just bug fixes or security updates.

As usual, the iOS and iPad update (iOS and iPadOS 15.4) is the most major in terms of number and breadth of changes. The two biggest new features are arguably Universal Control support for the iPad and the ability to use Face ID while wearing a protective face mask.

To use Face ID with a mask, users must opt in to the capability in Settings. And Universal Control, which allows users to control both a Mac and an iPad seamlessly with the same input devices, requires both an iPad and a Mac on the latest software releases.

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Apple fixes Mac battery drain, WebKit vulnerability in software updates

A 14-inch laptop on a table

Enlarge / The 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has released updates for iOS/iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS that primarily address bugs and security vulnerabilities.

iOS 15.3.1 is a minor update, feature-wise, for most users. It fixes a problem with Braille displays and addresses an arbitrary code execution vulnerability.

Apple’s iOS update notes are as follows

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Mac malware spreading for ~14 months is growing increasingly aggressive

Stylized illustration a door that opens onto a wall of computer code.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Mac malware known as UpdateAgent has been spreading for more than a year, and it is growing increasingly malevolent as its developers add new bells and whistles. The additions include the pushing of an aggressive second-stage adware payload that installs a persistent backdoor on infected Macs.

The UpdateAgent malware family began circulating no later than November or December 2020 as a relatively basic information-stealer. It collected product names, version numbers, and other basic system information. Its methods of persistence—that is, the ability to run each time a Mac boots—were also fairly rudimentary.

Person-in-The-Middle attack

Over time, Microsoft said on Wednesday, UpdateAgent has grown increasingly advanced. Besides the data sent to the attacker server, the app also sends “heartbeats” that let attackers know if the malware is still running. It also installs adware known as Adload.

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#biz-it, #macos, #malware, #social-engineering, #uncategorized

macOS 12.3 will break cloud-storage features used by Dropbox and OneDrive

Psychedelic illustration of two hills.

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

If you’re using either Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive to sync files on a Mac, you’ll want to pay attention to the release notes for today’s macOS 12.3 beta: the update is deprecating a kernel extension used by both apps to download files on demand. The extension means that files are available when you need them but don’t take up space on your disk when you don’t. Apple says that “both service providers have replacements for this functionality currently in beta.”

Both Microsoft and Dropbox started alerting users to this change before the macOS beta even dropped. Dropbox’s page is relatively sparse. The page notifies users that Dropbox’s online-only file functionality will break in macOS 12.3 and that a beta version of the Dropbox client with a fix will be released in March.

Microsoft’s documentation for OneDrive’s Files On-Demand feature is more detailed. It explains that Microsoft will be using Apple’s File Provider extensions for future OneDrive versions, that the new Files On-Demand feature will be on by default, and that Files On-Demand will be supported in macOS 12.1 and later.

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#biz-it, #dropbox, #macos, #onedrive, #tech

Apple fixes major bugs in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS software updates

An iPad with the screen on

Enlarge / The 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple released several new operating system updates to the public: iOS 15.3, iPadOS 15.3, macOS Monterey 12.2, watchOS 8.4, tvOS 15.3, and HomePod Software 15.3.

The update notes for these releases are some of the leanest I’ve seen. iOS, iPadOS, and macOS simply state that the update “includes bug fixes and security updates” and is “recommended for all users.”

iOS and iPadOS 15.3 do not add any new user-facing features. Rather, they fix several key security issues. The most notable is a previously reported Safari vulnerability that allowed websites that use the common IndexedDB API to access the names of databases from other websites. Note that this also affected other browsers on iOS and not just Safari (that’s because all iOS web browsers must use WebKit). macOS 12.2 fixes the same bug in the desktop version of Safari. (Unlike iOS, there are macOS web browsers that were not affected.)

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Booby-trapped sites delivered potent new backdoor trojan to macOS users

Close-up photograph of a Macintosh laptop keyboard.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Researchers have uncovered advanced, never-before-seen macOS malware that was installed using exploits that were almost impossible for most users to detect or stop once the users landed on a malicious website.

The malware was a full-featured backdoor that was written from scratch, an indication that the developers behind it have significant resources and expertise. DazzleSpy, as researchers from security firm Eset have named it, provides an array of advanced capabilities that give the attackers the ability to fully monitor and control infected Macs. Features include:

  • victim device fingerprinting
  • screen capture
  • file download/upload
  • execute terminal commands
  • audio recording
  • keylogging

Deep pockets, top-notch talent

Mac malware has become more common over the years, but the universe of advanced macOS backdoors remains considerably smaller than that of advanced backdoors for Windows. The sophistication of DazzleSpy—as well as the exploit chain used to install it—is impressive. It also doesn’t appear to have any corresponding counterpart for Windows. This has led Eset to say that the people who developed DazzleSpy are unusual.

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#backdoor, #biz-it, #exploits, #macos, #malware

Apple’s iOS 15.2 and macOS 12.1 updates hit supported devices today

The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light.

Enlarge / The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light. (credit: Samuel Axon)

As has now become a custom, Apple has released new OS updates for virtually all of its devices in one giant volley today. The releases include iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2, macOS Monterey 12.1, watchOS 8.3, and tvOS 15.2

All of these are now publicly available on supported devices. All but tvOS are x.x feature updates, meaning that they actually add new features instead of just fixing issues.

Depending on the OS, those features may include SharePlay, Apple Music Voice Plan, the App Privacy Report panel, and more.

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#apple, #ios, #ios-15-2, #ipados, #macos, #macos-12-1, #tech, #tvos, #tvos-15-2, #watchos, #watchos-8-3

Firefox 95 for Windows and Mac introduces RLBox, a new sandboxing tech

A minimalist view of the Firefox web browser.

Enlarge / A minimalist view of the Firefox web browser. (credit: Firefox)

Mozilla has released the latest version of Firefox, Firefox 95, for Windows and macOS. It’s available now for all users on both platforms.

The Firefox team says the new macOS version reduces CPU usage during event processing and that power usage is reduced while streaming video from sites like Netflix, “especially in fullscreen.” macOS users will also get a faster content process startup and will enjoy memory allocator improvements for better overall performance.

On both macOS and Windows, Mozilla has “improved page load performance by speculatively compiling JavaScript ahead of time.” There’s also a way to move the picture-in-picture toggle button to the opposite side of the video on both platforms, plus a handful of fixes.

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#firefox, #firefox-95, #macos, #mozilla, #tech, #web-browser, #windows, #windows-10, #windows-11

Amazon’s new Prime Video app for Mac enables local downloads on desktop

The Amazon Prime Video app for macOS.

Enlarge / The Amazon Prime Video app for macOS. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Amazon has released a Prime Video app that runs natively on the Mac. The app offers many of the same features as the mobile app but is available in the Mac App Store.

The app is free to download but requires an Amazon account to access content. That content includes both shows and movies that stream free with Amazon Prime Video, as well as purchases and rentals from Amazon’s entire catalog. In fact, there’s a prominently placed toggle button labeled “Free to me” in the top-right corner of the app. Checking this means that you’ll just see content that is free with Prime.

The app is broken up into home, store, find, downloads, and my stuff tabs.

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#amazon, #amazon-prime, #amazon-prime-video, #apple, #mac, #mac-app-store, #macos, #macos-big-sur, #macos-monterey, #streaming-video, #tech

PSA: Apple isn’t actually patching all the security holes in older versions of macOS

The default wallpaper for macOS Catalina.

Enlarge / The default wallpaper for macOS Catalina. (credit: Apple)

News is making the rounds today, both via a write-up in Vice and a post from Google’s Threat Analysis Group, of a privilege escalation bug in macOS Catalina that was being used by “a well-resourced” and “likely state-backed” group to target visitors to pro-democracy websites in Hong Kong. According to Google’s Erye Hernandez, the vulnerability (labeled CVE-2021-30869) was reported to Apple in late August of 2021 and patched in macOS Catalina security update 2021-006 on September 23. Both of those posts have more information on the implications of this exploit—it hasn’t been confirmed, but it certainly appears to be yet another front in China’s effort to crack down on civil liberties in Hong Kong—but for our purposes, let’s focus on how Apple keeps its operating systems up to date, because that has even wider implications.

On the surface, this incident is a relatively unremarkable example of security updates working as they ought to. Vulnerability is discovered in the wild, vulnerability is reported to the company that is responsible for the software, and vulnerability is patched, all in the space of about a month. The problem, as noted by Intego chief security analyst Joshua Long, is that the exact same CVE was patched in macOS Big Sur version 11.2, released all the way back on February 1, 2021. That’s a 234-day gap, despite the fact that Apple was and is still actively updating both versions of macOS.

For context: every year, Apple releases a new version of macOS. But for the benefit of people who don’t want to install a new operating system on day one, or who can’t install the new operating system because their Mac isn’t on the supported hardware list, Apple provides security-only updates for older macOS versions for around two years after they’re replaced.

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2021 MacBook Pro review: Yep, it’s what you’ve been waiting for

The 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro stacked on top of the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Enlarge / The 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro stacked on top of the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple MacBook Pro (2021)

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Apple has long offered an application called Time Machine that lets you revert the software on your computer to the state it was in before something went seriously wrong. In many ways, the new MacBook Pro is a hardware Time Machine of its own; you could say it makes it seem like the past five years never happened.

The 2021 MacBook Pro is notably bulkier, more flexible, and more powerful than its predecessor. It clicks “revert” on a whole bunch of changes that have been generally unpopular, like the inclusion of the Touch Bar in place of physical function keys and the singular focus on Thunderbolt as the port of choice.

The new laptop also has the most advanced CPU,  GPU, and NPU ever included in a consumer laptop and display technology that has never been seen in mainstream consumer products. So maybe it’s not so much like the past five years never happened; it’s more like we’ve slipstreamed into an alternate timeline where Apple never changed course at a critical juncture when a lot of people felt it shouldn’t have.

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Microsoft reports SIP-bypassing “Shrootless” vulnerability in macOS

The worm says, "I've got root!"

Enlarge / The worm says, “I’ve got root!” (credit: Andreus / Getty Images)

The Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team released a blog post yesterday describing a newly found macOS vulnerability that can abuse entitlement inheritance in macOS’s System Integrity Protection (SIP) to allow execution of arbitrary code with root-level privilege. The vulnerability is listed as CVE-2021-30892 and has been given the nickname “Shrootless.”

To explain how Shrootless works, we need to review how SIP functions. Introduced back in 2015 with OS X 10.11 El Capitan (and explained in detail on pages eight and nine of our review), SIP attempts to do away with an entire class of vulnerabilities (or at least neuter their effectiveness) by adding kernel-level protections against changing certain files on disk and certain processes in memory, even with root privilege. These protections are (more or less) inviolable unless one disables SIP, which cannot be done without rebooting into recovery mode and executing a terminal command.

The Shrootless exploit takes advantage of the fact that, while root privilege is no longer sufficient to change important system files, the kernel itself still can—and does—alter protected locations as needed. The most obvious example is when installing an application. Apple-signed application install packages have the ability to do things normally prohibited by SIP, and that’s where Shrootless slides in.

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macOS 12 Monterey: The Ars Technica review

Psychedelic illustration of two hills.

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

Big Sur was a landmark release of macOS, in ways both technical and symbolic. It introduced a major new redesign, it was the first version of macOS to run on Apple’s own in-house processors in addition to Intel’s, and it was the first version of macOS in nearly 20 years to change the version number. Coming off that, this year’s release was bound to feel a little small.

Welcome to Monterey, macOS version 12.0.

Monterey feels of a piece with maintenance-mode macOS updates like El Capitan or Sierra or High Sierra—change the default wallpaper, and in day-to-day use you can easily forget that you’ve upgraded from Big Sur at all. It’s not that there aren’t any new features here—it’s just that improving any operating system as mature as macOS involves a lot of tinkering around the edges.

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#features, #gadgetology, #macos, #macos-monterey, #tech

Apple intros 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros with display notches, M1 Pro, and M1 Max

The new MacBook Pro.

Enlarge / The new MacBook Pro. (credit: Apple)

Nearly a year after announcing the first, low-end M1 Macs last November, Apple has finally unveiled its higher-end Macs. New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models will include the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, faster successors that build upon the foundation of the original M1, as well as more ports, and a slight redesign. This marks the most significant change to the MacBook Pro since the Touch Bar was introduced back in 2016.

Both MacBook Pro models will be available for ordering today, and they’ll begin shipping next week. The 14-inch model starts at $1999, which will get you a version of the M1 Pro with an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. The 16-inch model will start at $2,499, which includes the full version of the M1 Pro with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. Color options remain relatively staid: you can get silver or space gray, but not the rainbow of color options you get with the 24-inch iMac.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro uses a 16.2-inch display with a 3456×2234 pixel resolution, while the 14-inch model uses a 14.2-inch display with a 3456×2234 resolution. Both screens use mini LED backlighting and slimmer bezels almost all the way around the screen, albeit at the expense of an iPhone-style display notch at the top of the screen for the improved 1080p webcam. Both screens also support Apple’s ProMotion feature, increasing the typical 60 Hz refresh rate up to a smoother 120 Hz.

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#apple, #m1x, #m2, #mac, #macbook, #macbook-pro, #macos, #tech

The MacBook Pro will soon get a resolution bump, macOS beta suggests

The 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro with the lid closed

Enlarge / The 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon)

The seventh beta of macOS Monterey contains what appear to be references to new screen resolutions suitable for the MacBook Pro line, as discovered by MacRumors.

In a list of supported graphics resolutions within macOS, there are two new resolutions: 3,456 by 2,234 and 3,024 by 1,964. Each carries a “Retina” marker, which Apple typically only applies to its own devices’ screens.

The aspect ratio for these new resolutions is very close to the current aspect ratios on the MacBook Pro computers sold today, but they’re lower than what we currently see in the iMac line, suggesting that they aren’t for Apple’s desktops. Further, the numbers fit nicely with a move to true 2x Retina, as opposed to the scaling approach presently used for Retina displays.

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Apple rolls major Safari redesign out to Macs ahead of Monterey release

Safari's new look (and some light fixtures?)

Enlarge / Safari’s new look (and some light fixtures?) (credit: Apple)

This week, Apple released Safari 15 for macOS Big Sur and Catalina. Among other things, the new update includes a major design overhaul—plus the ability to roll back to the old layout and look if you’re not a fan.

Apple released major software updates for all of its platforms except macOS on Monday. The updates were timed closely with the release of new iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models.

But last week’s product launch event didn’t include Macs, which are expected to get some more focused attention by the end of the year, alongside an announcement about the release date of macOS Monterey.

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#apple, #macos, #macos-big-sur, #macos-monterey, #safari, #safari-15, #tech, #web-browser

Apple users warned: Clicking this attachment will take over your macOS

Apple users warned: Clicking this attachment will take over your macOS

Enlarge (credit: Dmitry Chernyshov)

A code execution bug in Apple’s macOS allows remote attackers to run arbitrary commands on your device. And the worst part is, Apple hasn’t fully patched it yet, as tested by Ars.

Those shortcut files can take over your Mac

Independent security researcher Park Minchan has discovered a vulnerability in the macOS that lets threat actors execute commands on your computer. Shortcut files that have the inetloc extension are capable of embedding commands inside. The flaw impacts macOS Big Sur and prior versions.

“A vulnerability in the way macOS processes inetloc files causes it to run commands embedded inside, the commands it runs can be local to the macOS allowing the execution of arbitrary commands by the user without any warning / prompts,” explains Minchan. “Originally, inetloc files are shortcuts to an Internet location, such as an RSS feed or a telnet location; and contain the server address and possibly a username and password for SSH and telnet connections; can be created by typing a URL in a text editor and dragging the text to the Desktop.”

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#apple, #biz-it, #bug, #code-execution, #macos, #rce, #remote-code-execution, #tech, #vulnerability

Apple fixes security vulnerabilities in new versions of iOS, macOS, and watchOS

The back of the iPhone 12 mini

Enlarge / The iPhone 12 mini. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple released new versions of its iOS and iPadOS 14, macOS Big Sur, and watchOS 7 operating systems. The updates hit just one day before Apple is expected to reveal its new iPhone and Apple Watch models and the release dates for iOS 15 and watchOS 8.

These updates are security-related across the board, and they add no new features or functionality at all.

Specifically, two main issues have been addressed across Apple’s platforms, one with Core Graphics and the other with WebKit. In both cases, maliciously crafted content (PDFs or web content) could be used for arbitrary code execution. Apple also says these updates fix an issue that allowed attackers to bypass Apple protections intended to stop code execution via Messages.

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#apple, #ios, #ios-14, #ios-14-8, #ipados, #ipados-14, #ipados-14-8, #macos, #macos-big-sur, #macos-big-sur-11-6, #tech, #watchos, #watchos-7, #watchos-7-6-2

macOS Big Sur 11.5.2 is here, but it doesn’t seem to do much

An iMac with a keyboard and trackpad

Enlarge / The front of the 24-inch iMac with Apple’s M1 chip. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple released a new version of its Mac operating system, macOS Big Sur. The new update is labeled macOS Big Sur 11.5.2, but there aren’t any new features or major security updates. Rather, macOS 11.5.2 focuses on “bug fixes.” In fact, these are Apple’s release notes for the latest version of Big Sur, in their entirety:

macOS 11.5.2 includes bug fixes for your Mac.

As you can see, the release notes do not specify which bugs have been fixed and mention no new features. Apple maintains a support page where it details the security updates within a given release, too. But that’s bare for this release. “This update has no published CVE entries,” it says.

While Apple often (but not always) releases software updates for many or all of its platforms at the same time, macOS was alone today—at least in terms of public releases. Today also saw major new beta releases of iOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey, and more.

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#apple, #mac, #macos, #macos-11-5, #macos-11-5-2, #macos-big-sur, #tech

Parallels Desktop 17 is here and ready to run Windows 11 on M1 Macs

Parallels Desktop 17 has arrived with support for macOS Monterey and Windows 11. Further, the popular virtualization software for Macs is now a universal binary, making deployment a little less complicated for many IT professionals.

Note that you can only run ARM versions of Windows (10 or 11) on Macs with Apple Silicon chips like the M1. Both Windows 10 and 11 for ARM are available as Insider Preview builds. On the other hand, Parallels can run versions of Windows going back as far as XP if you’re running it on an Intel Mac. A number of Linux distros are also supported, though Intel Macs gain access to more of those than M1 Macs do.

If you have access to those Insider Preview builds, you can run most Windows applications on your M1 Mac, Parallels’ developers say, because Windows on ARM can run both 32-bit and, more recently, 64-bit x86 applications. That said, even on machines it’s designed to run on, Windows on ARM can be occasionally fussy about x64 apps. So your mileage will likely vary depending on what you’re trying to do.

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Apple says it will begin scanning iCloud Photos for child abuse images

Later this year, Apple will roll out a technology that will allow the company to detect and report known child sexual abuse material to law enforcement in a way it says will preserve user privacy.

Apple told TechCrunch that the detection of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is one of several new features aimed at better protecting the children who use its services from online harm, including filters to block potentially sexually explicit photos sent and received through a child’s iMessage account. Another feature will intervene when a user tries to search for CSAM-related terms through Siri and Search.

Most cloud services — Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft to name a few — already scan user files for content that might violate their terms of service or be potentially illegal, like CSAM. But Apple has long resisted scanning users’ files in the cloud by giving users the option to encrypt their data before it ever reaches Apple’s iCloud servers.

Apple said its new CSAM detection technology — NeuralHash — instead works on a user’s device, and can identify if a user uploads known child abuse imagery to iCloud without decrypting the images until a threshold is met and a sequence of checks to verify the content are cleared.

News of Apple’s effort leaked Wednesday when Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University, revealed the existence of the new technology in a series of tweets. The news was met with some resistance from some security experts and privacy advocates, but also users who are accustomed to Apple’s approach to security and privacy that most other companies don’t have.

Apple is trying to calm fears by baking in privacy through multiple layers of encryption, fashioned in a way that requires multiple steps before it ever makes it into the hands of Apple’s final manual review.

NeuralHash will land in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, slated to be released in the next month or two, and works by converting the photos on a user’s iPhone or Mac into a unique string of letters and numbers, known as a hash. Any time you modify an image slightly, it changes the hash and can prevent matching. Apple says NeuralHash tries to ensure that identical and visually similar images — such as cropped or edited images — result in the same hash.

Before an image is uploaded to iCloud Photos, those hashes are matched on the device against a database of known hashes of child abuse imagery, provided by child protection organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and others. NeuralHash uses a cryptographic technique called private set intersection to detect a hash match without revealing what the image is or alerting the user.

The results are uploaded to Apple but cannot be read on their own. Apple uses another cryptographic principle called threshold secret sharing that allows it only to decrypt the contents if a user crosses a threshold of known child abuse imagery in their iCloud Photos. Apple would not say what that threshold was, but said — for example — that if a secret is split into a thousand pieces and the threshold is ten images of child abuse content, the secret can be reconstructed from any of those ten images.

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It’s at that point Apple can decrypt the matching images, manually verify the contents, disable a user’s account and report the imagery to NCMEC, which is then passed to law enforcement. Apple says this process is more privacy mindful than scanning files in the cloud as NeuralHash only searches for known and not new child abuse imagery. Apple said that there is a one in one trillion chance of a false positive, but there is an appeals process in place in the event an account is mistakenly flagged.

Apple has published technical details on its website about how NeuralHash works, which was reviewed by cryptography experts.

But despite the wide support of efforts to combat child sexual abuse, there is still a component of surveillance that many would feel uncomfortable handing over to an algorithm, and some security experts are calling for more public discussion before Apple rolls the technology out to users.

A big question is why now and not sooner. Apple said its privacy-preserving CSAM detection did not exist until now. But companies like Apple have also faced considerable pressure from the U.S. government and its allies to weaken or backdoor the encryption used to protect their users’ data to allow law enforcement to investigate serious crime.

Tech giants have refused efforts to backdoor their systems, but have faced resistance against efforts to further shut out government access. Although data stored in iCloud is encrypted in a way that even Apple cannot access it, Reuters reported last year that Apple dropped a plan for encrypting users’ full phone backups to iCloud after the FBI complained that it would harm investigations.

The news about Apple’s new CSAM detection tool, without public discussion, also sparked concerns that the technology could be abused to flood victims with child abuse imagery that could result in their account getting flagged and shuttered, but Apple downplayed the concerns and said a manual review would review the evidence for possible misuse.

Apple said NeuralHash will roll out in the U.S. at first, but would not say if, or when, it would be rolled out internationally. Until recently, companies like Facebook were forced to switch off its child abuse detection tools across the bloc after the practice was inadvertently banned. Apple said the feature is technically optional in that you don’t have to use iCloud Photos, but will be a requirement if users do. After all, your device belongs to you but Apple’s cloud does not.

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iPadOS 14.7 and macOS Big Sur 11.5 come with plenty of bug fixes and security updates

The front of the 2019 iPad Air

Enlarge / The front of the 2019 iPad Air, which has since been replaced with a more modern design. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has released new versions of its iPadOS and macOS operating systems just a couple of days after the company updated iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

The iPadOS update adds some new features and shares a lot with its iOS counterpart, while the macOS release is a modest one that focuses on a couple of bug fixes.

It’s unusual for an iPadOS update to arrive after an iOS update, and it’s likely that Apple delayed iPadOS at the last minute to address some issue, but we don’t know for sure. In any case, the update is here now.

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macOS Monterey’s public beta is live

Yesterday Apple unleashed a whole bunch of new public betas on the world: iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. Today the company is back with another big software puzzle piece announced at WWDC in June.

Following three weeks of developer beta, the public beta version of macOS 12.0 Monterey is now live for download (i.e. has begun a rollout that often takes a little time to make its way to everyone).

Any beta version of an operating system comes with the usual caveats/caution against downloading it on your primary machine, but at very least, this ought to be sufficiently more stable than what first rolled out to developers in June. Listen, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

I don’t always open these sorts of writeups with system compatibility, but it probably ought to be singled out for Monterey. After all, this is the first full new OS release since the company made the first Apple silicon Macs available last year. Naturally, it will be available for all of the systems sporting a first-party Apple processor.

Intel Macs are more of a grab bag, though support goes back for several years, in most cases.  A nod to Macrumors, who compiled the following list,

  • iMac‌ – Late 2015 and later
  • ‌iMac‌ Pro – 2017 and later
  • ‌MacBook Air‌ – Early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro – Early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro – Late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini – Late 2014 and later
  • MacBook – Early 2016 and later

The dates are shifted up by a year or so from the Big Sur compatibility break down, which makes some sense.

Okay, so what do you get if you bite the bullet and download today? The biggest changes come to Safari, FaceTime, along with the addition of the Universal Control feature that unifies peripherals across devices and Shortcuts, an iOS feature that will replace macOS mainstay, Automater.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Some initial thoughts — Let’s start with Safari. The browser gets some key updates with every major macOS refresh, but this is one of the largest in recent memory. There was some concern following the keynote that the updates would only introduce confusion for many users. And certainly it’s true that people hate disruptions to their workflow – this is likely one of a handful of reasons I’ve never seriously concerned switching to Safari as a default every day browser. Change is hard, friends. Of course, change is also a necessary part of evolving. In either case, I haven’t been using Monterey intimately enough to offer something more definitive on the Safari experience.

There’s a pretty radical difference up front:

Image Credits: Brian Heater

It might not seem like much, but after so many generations of the task bar serving as the driving force, it’s admittedly a pretty bold change at the center of the browser. Your mileage will vary, of course, but the idea at the heart of it is tying the field to the individual tabs, rather than having it more of a constant presence. There’s more control of of the tabs, as well, in the form of Tab Groups, which allow you to essentially bookmark a bunch of sites together, so you can group them into things like Home and Work (assuming those ever become separate things again).

If you know anything about how Apple makes software, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that those groups get synced across devices via your Safari account. This is the kind of feature that could break either way for folks — it either means getting more organized or just creating a whole bunch of news groups of infinite tabs.

Image Credits: Apple

The additions to Facetime are a pretty welcome pandemic no-brainer. The biggest addition is a code a lot of third-parties attempted to crack over the past year, bringing the ability to stream movies and TV shows on FaceTime calls with friends, in order to watch together. Again, it’s a very pandemic-friendly product that will likely continue to have appeal, since teleconferencing certainly isn’t going anywhere.

In addition to Apple products like TV+ and Music, it will work with a bunch of launch partners, including, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+ and PlutoTV. The company is also opening its API to developers, because, honestly, this thing really needs YouTube and Netflix.




#apple, #apps, #macos

These macOS Monterey features won’t work on Intel Macs

A page on Apple’s website has revealed that several features of macOS Monterey, the new version of the software that runs on Macs, won’t work on legacy Macs with Intel processors.

Rather, those features will require the Apple-designed M1 chip (or presumably its upcoming successors) found in new Macs the company has introduced since late last year.

That means that the following Macs in Apple’s lineup will be needed to use the features in question:

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Here are some macOS Monterey features the WWDC keynote didn’t mention

A laptop computer displays a video call as well as web browsing.

Enlarge / A promotional image of macOS Monterey. (credit: Apple)

As is always the case with each Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple’s 90-minute presentation yesterday covered what Apple deems the biggest features of its new operating systems. But the company by no means covered every change coming to Macs.

We’ve singled out a few changes that didn’t get much fanfare yesterday but are nonetheless interesting or exciting for macOS or iOS users. This is by no means a complete list of changes. Fortunately, if you want that, the Apple website offers an “all new features” page for macOS.

That said, here are some changes we thought were worth surfacing real quick as WWDC rolls on.

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Apple’s RealityKit 2 allows developers to create 3D models for AR using iPhone photos

At its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced a significant update to RealityKit, its suite of technologies that allow developers to get started building AR (augmented reality) experiences. With the launch of RealityKit 2, Apple says developers will have more visual, audio, and animation control when working on their AR experiences. But the most notable part of the update is how Apple’s new Object Capture technology will allow developers to create 3D models in minutes using only an iPhone.

Apple noted during its developer address that one of the most difficult parts of making great AR apps was the process of creating 3D models. These could take hours and thousands of dollars.

With Apple’s new tools, developers will be able take a series of pictures using just an iPhone (or iPad or DSLR, if they prefer) to capture 2D images of an object from all angles, including the bottom.

Then, using the Object Capture API on macOS Monterey, it only takes a few lines of code to generate the 3D model, Apple explained.

Image Credits: Apple

To begin, developers would start a new photogrammetry session in RealityKit that points to the folder where they’ve captured the images. Then, they would call the process function to generate the 3D model at the desired level of detail. Object Capture allows developers to generate the USDZ files optimized for AR Quick Look — the system that lets developers add virtual, 3D objects in apps or websites on iPhone and iPad. The 3D models can also be added to AR scenes in Reality Composer in Xcode.

Apple said developers like Wayfair, Etsy and others are using Object Capture to create 3D models of real-world objects — an indication that online shopping is about to get a big AR upgrade.

Wayfair, for example, is using Object Capture to develop tools for their manufacturers so they can create a virtual representation of their merchandise. This will allow Wayfair customers to be able to preview more products in AR than they could today.

Image Credits: Apple (screenshot of Wayfair tool))

In addition, Apple noted developers including Maxon and Unity are using Object Capture for creating 3D content within 3D content creation apps, such as Cinema 4D and Unity MARS.

Other updates in RealityKit 2 include custom shaders that give developers more control over the rendering pipeline to fine tune the look and feel of AR objects; dynamic loading for assets; the ability to build your own Entity Component System to organize the assets in your AR scene; and the ability to create player-controlled characters so users can jump, scale and explore AR worlds in RealityKit-based games.

One developer, Mikko Haapoja of Shopify, has been trying out the new technology (see below) and shared some real-world tests where he shot objects using an iPhone 12 Max via Twitter.

Developers who want to test it for themselves can leverage Apple’s sample app and install Monterey on their Mac to try it out.

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macOS 12 Monterey upgrades Continuity with Universal Control

During the WWDC conference today, Apple unveiled the new macOS 12 Monterey. A major feature in the macOS update is Universal Control, which builds upon the Continuity features first introduced in OS X Yosemite. For years, it’s been possible to open a news article on your iPhone and keep reading it on your MacBook, or to copy and paste a link from your iPad to your iMac. But Universal Control takes these features further.

With Universal Control, you can use a single mouse and keyboard to navigate across multiple Apple devices at once. This functionality works across more than two devices – in the demo video, the feature is used to seamlessly move across an iPad, MacBook, and iMac. Users can drag and drop files across multiple devices at once, making it possible, for example, to use a multi-screen setup while editing video on Final Cut Pro.

What’s possible in Universal Control isn’t necessarily new – this has been made possible before through third party apps. Plus, in 2019, Apple debuted Sidecar, which allowed users to connect their iPad as a second monitor for their MacBook or iMac. But, Universal Control improves upon Sidecar – and maybe renders it obsolete – by allowing users to link any Apple devices together, even if it’s not an iPad. Though this update may not be ground-breaking, it’s a useful upgrade to existing features.

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Apple is bringing Shortcuts to the Mac and starts transition from Automator

Apple has announced the next major version of macOS at WWDC 2021 — macOS Monterey. Among other features, Apple is going to release Shortcuts on macOS. It’s going to look and work a lot like Shortcuts on iOS and iPadOS.

“The Mac has a long history of automation with command line, shell scripts, Apple scripts and Automator. And on iOS, we've made automation even easier with Shortcuts,” SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said. “And this year we're bringing Shortcuts to the Mac.”

In the new Shortcuts app, you can see a gallery of popular shortcuts. It’s going to be interesting to see what exactly you can trigger with shortcuts, but you can expect to be able to launch apps, create GIFs, send a message, create an email, launch a website, etc.

After that, you can trigger your shortcuts in the right column of the Finder, in the menubar and in Spotlight. You can also trigger them with Siri.

With this announcement, Apple is also setting the stage for the end of Automator. “This is just the start of a multi-year transition Automator will continue to be supported, and you can import Automator workflows into beginning one with shortcuts,” Federighi said.

If you read between the lines, it sounds like Apple doesn’t plan to add new features to Automator. Shortcuts is the future of automation on macOS, iOS and iPadOS.

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Apple unveils macOS 12 Monterey

The past year has seen some of the most dramatic updates to Macs in recent memory. At last year’s WWDC, Apple announced its long-awaited move from Intel chip’s to its own first party silicon. By the end of the year, the company launched the first three M1 Macs, along with Big Sur, one of the biggest updates to macOS.

At this morning’s kickoff to WWDC, the company unveiled macOS 12 — named, you guessed it, Monterey. Universal Control is the top line new feature here, which further bridges the gap between desktop and tablet. Sticking the iPad next to a Mac, you can move the cursor between devices using the same trackpad and keyboard. The feature works on up to three devices at once.

AirPlay to Mac also blurs that let’s you cast content directly to your big desktop screen — that’s nice for weirdos like me who don’t have a TV. Shortcuts are also now available on macOS, allowing for simpler automation that the existing Automater. Users will be able to import Automater workflows directly to the desktop version of the popular mobile app. It will be a multi-year transition, but rip Automater — you will be missed (kind of). Shortcuts will be coming to Siri, Spotlight, the menu bar and Finder to start.

Safari is getting some updates, of course. The biggest piece of news on the browser front is the arrival of Tab Groups — which is more or less as it sounds. Users can group tabs into bundles, which can be shared with other users. That’s a lot of content and will probably require a rethink of many users workflows. But at least the tab bar itself is getting cleaner and more streamlined.

Also new are desktop extensions that can now be with iOS and iPadOS. Desktops also now support Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro, while LaunchPad now features a games folder to get that content all in one place.

Some nice additions, but as expect, Monterey doesn’t represent as big an update as Big Sur. There are some nice new features here, but it seems likely that much of the big news is happening under the hood, as the company continues to refine the Apple Silicon experience across its new systems.


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Apple announces macOS Monterey, the next Mac desktop operating system

In a virtual presentation at the WWDC 2021 conference today, Apple executives outlined the company’s plans for macOS Monterey, the latest major software release for the Mac family of computers.

The new name follows Apple’s California landmark-based naming scheme for recent macOS releases, dating back to the launch of OS X Mavericks in 2013.

As for what’s included in the update, macOS Monterey introduces a new feature called “Universal Control,” which allows users to share control of Mac and iPad devices with a single mouse and keyboard. Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi demonstrated the ability to set an iPad near a Mac, move the cursor of the latter toward the former, and have the iPad automatically recognize it. This makes it possible to directly drag and drop files between the devices, for instance. Apple demonstrated this feature working across an iMac, MacBook, and iPad in concert.

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Live from Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote

And we’re back. Well, not back-back. But we’re here in the San Jose McEnery Convention Center of the mind. The parking is awful and the hotels all got booked up five months ago, so we’re taking the CalTrain in from Redwood City (of the mind).

We’ve got a full house at this morning’s virtual kick off to Apple’s annual developer conference. And good thing, too. It’s shaping up to be a packed event. You can read more about that here. You can also check out Apple’s own livestream here. And, of course, we’ll be breaking out the biggest news into bite-sized chunks.

As always, the kickoff event is focused on Apple’s (numerous) operating systems: iOS/iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS and, perhaps, a new homeOS. Often times that also comes with some new hardware. After all, you’ll need something to run those operating systems on.

Matthew will be leading the show, with help from various the TC team. Things kick off today at 10AM PT/1PM ET.


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24-inch iMac review: There’s still no step three

The 2021, 24-inch iMac with Apple's M1.

Enlarge / The 2021, 24-inch iMac with Apple’s M1. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Much has been written about people embracing nostalgia for comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new 24-inch iMac’s bright colors and simplistic design, Apple seems to be indulging in the pangs of nostalgia, too.

But the new iMac’s nostalgia is only skin deep. Inside, it has arguably the most advanced CPU currently sold in consumer devices: the M1. This chip is equally at home in an iPad and a Mac, yet the M1 delivers performance that rivals or beats some of the best desktop chips available in some cases.

Even though the M1 offers enough performance to attract power users, this new iMac isn’t really for them. Rather, the 24-inch iMac is first and foremost about simplicity. It’s a computer that promises users they won’t have to think about how to configure or maintain a system. It’s a computer that’s more concerned about fitting into the room than it is about taking you somewhere else.

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What to expect from WWDC 2021

All things considered, Apple put together a pretty slick all-virtual WWDC last year. Where other companies like Microsoft and Google have opted for a more live (or live-style) experience, the company was parading its execs through a series of smooth drone shots and slick transitions. And with the first year under its belt, it will be fun to see how the company outdoes itself.

As far as news goes, the WWDC keynote kickoff is always packed — and this year is no different. In fact, there’s a good chance that we could see even more. In addition to the standard developer-focused updates to iOS/iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, tvOS and the like, we could well see some new hardware dropping at the event.

As ever, we’ll be breaking the news live, and this time out, we’re bringing back the liveblog. So, you know, lots of different ways to follow along live. The event kicks off at 10AM PT/1PM ET on Monday, June 7.

Speaking of, you can also check out the YouTube livestream here:

As usual, iOS is the tentpole attraction here — if nothing else, because Apple sells more iPhones than anything else. That was certainly the case last year, when the company’s latest 5G devices provided much needed relief in an otherwise flagging mobile market.

At least right off the bat, iOS 15 doesn’t look like as radical an update as the latest version of Android. But a lot can happen between today and Monday morning. The top line issue (at least for now) seems to be updates to notifications. According to reports, the new version of the mobile operating system will offer customizable notifications based on status — meaning things like sleeping, working and driving.

The operating system is also believed to be getting a whole slew of new accessibility features.

Apple 2021 iPad Pro overview

Image Credits: Apple

Perhaps even bigger news is a long-awaited update to iPadOS 15. The dated software was a sticking point in our latest iPad Pro review, and it seems the company is finally making some key strides to further distance its tablet operating system from the mobile one. For most intents and purposes, the current execution is effectively a scaled-up version of iOS for the tablet.

Not a ton of details yet, but the home screen is reportedly set to get some major updates, including widgets. One imagines the company will be pushing to make better use of all that added real estate. It should also be getting some of the new iOS updates, including those new notifications and a big overhaul for iMessage.

a new iPhone 12 package on top of a MacBook Pro package.

YOKOHAMA, KANAGAWA, JAPAN – 2020/10/31: In this photo illustration a new iPhone 12 package on top of a MacBook Pro package. (Photo Illustration by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

After the big overhaul that was Big Sur, we’re expecting smaller waves from macOS 12. The big news here may be hardware. Rumors surround an update to Apple’s blazing-fast M1 chip. The M1X (as it’s currently being called) could well arrive alongside brand new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, which would finally put a little sunlight between the high and low end of Apple’s laptop line.

Apple Watch Series 5

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Also, watchOS seems due for a big update, even if information is pretty scant so far. New health features are always a sure bet — especially now that Apple is competing with the newly combined Google and Fitbit (not to mention that recently announced assist from Samsung).

Then there’s homeOS, the most intriguing mystery of the bunch. Job listings have pointed to the mysterious operating system — that could have just been a typo (later changed to “HomePod” in the listing).

Image Credits: Apple

This being a rumor roundup, we’ll point the compelling possibility that it might be something larger — perhaps a more unifying home operating system designed to work with existing and forthcoming Apple home products. Perhaps something that integrates a bit more closely with tvOS. A longstanding rumor centers around a new Apple TV device, but so far we’ve not seen a lot of confirmation on that front.

Other rumors involve a new Mac Mini (though we just saw a refresh late last year). Rumors around Beats Studio Buds are enticing as well. After all, when LeBron is seen sporting your unannounced hardware, people are going to talk. Traditionally, however, Apple has opted to let the Beats team do its own announcements, saving these big events for its own self-branded audio products like AirPods.

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WWDC 2021: What to expect from Apple’s next keynote

Apple kicks off its annual developer conference, WWDC, with a keynote presentation on Monday. As was the case last year, WWDC will be an online-only affair, but don’t let that fool you: We think this is going to be an eventful keynote. Expect multiple interesting announcements for users living in or following Apple’s ecosystem of hardware, software, and services.

The focus of WWDC is almost always on Apple’s software, and rightly so. This is an event primarily meant to engage with developers and encourage them to create new software experiences for Apple’s various platforms.

For that reason, we should, of course, expect detailed information about the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

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No, it doesn’t just crash Safari. Apple has yet to fix exploitable flaw

No, it doesn’t just crash Safari. Apple has yet to fix exploitable flaw

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Apple has yet to patch a security bug found in iPhones and Macs despite the availability of a fix released almost three weeks ago, a researcher said.

The vulnerability resides in WebKit, the browser engine that powers Safari and all browsers that run on iOS. When the vulnerability was fixed almost three weeks ago by open source developers outside of Apple, the fix’s release notes said that the bug caused Safari to crash. In fact, a researcher from security firm Theori said the flaw is exploitable, and despite the availability of a fix, it still hasn’t made its way into either iOS or macOS.

Mind the gap

“This bug yet again demonstrates that patch-gapping is a significant danger with open source development,” Theori researcher Tim Becker wrote in a post published Tuesday. “Ideally, the window of time between a public patch and a stable release is as small as possible. In this case, a newly released version of iOS remains vulnerable weeks after the patch was public.”

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#apple, #biz-it, #exploits, #ios, #macos, #tech, #vulnerabilities, #zerodays

Actively exploited macOS 0day let hackers take screenshots of infected Macs

Gloved hands manipulate a laptop with a skull and crossbones on the display.

Enlarge (credit: CHUYN / Getty Images)

Malicious hackers have been exploiting a vulnerability in fully updated versions of macOS that allowed them to take screenshots on infected Macs without having to get permission from victims first.

The zeroday was exploited by XCSSET, a piece of malware discovered by security firm Trend Micro last August. XCSSET used what at the time were two zerodays to infect Mac developers with malware that stole browser cookies and files; injected backdoors into websites; stole information from Skype, Telegram, and other installed apps; took screenshots; and encrypted files and showed a ransom note.

A third zeroday

Infections came in the form of malicious projects that the attacker wrote for Xcode, a tool that Apple makes available for free to developers writing apps for macOS or other Apple OSes. As soon as one of the XCSSET projects was opened and built, TrendMicro said, the malicious code would run on the developers’ Macs. An Xcode project is a repository for all the files, resources, and information needed to build an app.

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#biz-it, #macos, #macs, #malware, #tech, #transparency-consent-and-control

Apple just dropped a whole bunch of OS updates and WWDC info

How’s your Monday going? If you’re Apple, the answer is probably somewhere between “very busy” to “gaaaaaaah.” The company just dropped a whole bunch of new OS updates today, including iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, all ahead of the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off (virtually) on June 7.

Indeed, iOS and iPadOS are the headliners here — if for no other reason than the fact that they’ll impact the most devices. The public release of iOS/iPadOS 14.6 brings a couple of biggish features, including the addition of paid podcast subscriptions and Apple Card Family, both announced at a recent hardware event.

The former allows podcasters to charge for subscriptions to their show (imagine that!), with Apple taking a 30% commission for the first year. That will halve in a year. The latter, meanwhile, makes it possible for Apple Card owners to effectively split a card, with the various responsibilities that entails.

CEO Tim Cook noted at the time of announcement:

One of the things that became apparent to us in the beginning [of launching Apple Card] was a lack of fairness in the way the industry calculated credit scores when there were two holders of a credit card. One of you got the benefit of building a good credit history, and the other did not. We want to reinvent the way this works.

MacOS 11.4 brings support for additional graphics cards, a number of bug fixes and, like the new iOS, support for paid podcast subs. Ditto that last part and Apple Card Family for the new watchOS 7.5, along with support for additional health features in Malaysia and Peru, as well as expense tracking for the Apple Card. TVOS/HomePod 14.6, meanwhile, are getting bug fixes and some color balance changes for the former.

Along with all of this, the company also announced the slate of programming for this year’s virtual WWDC. Things will kick off on June 7 at 10 a.m. PT with the keynote. That’s where the big news on the latest version of all of the above will be announced — and, hopefully, some hardware, as well. At 2 p.m. the company will be offering more information with its annual Platforms State of the Union.

The full schedule is available here.

#apple, #apps, #events, #ios, #macos, #tvos, #wwdc, #wwdc-2021

Apple 24-inch M1 iMac review

Last September we concluded our 27-inch iMac review thusly,

“The big open question mark here is what the future looks like for the iMac — and how long we’ll have to wait to see it. That is, of course, the perennial question for hardware upgrades, but it’s exacerbated by the knowledge of imminent ARM-based systems and rumors surrounding a redesign.”

It was, as these things go, less than a full-throated endorsement of Apple’s latest all-in-one. We certainly weren’t alone in the assessment. It was a weird liminal zone for the computer — and Macs in general. At WWDC in June, the company had taken the unusual step of announcing its move from Intel to its own in-house chips without any hardware to show for it.

The reasoning was sound. The company was looking to help developers get out ahead of launch. It was going to be a heavy lift — the first time the Mac line had seen such a seismic shift since 2005. Fifteen years is a long time, and that’s a lot of legacy software to contend with. While the move wouldn’t outright break every piece of MacOS software, it was certainly in devs’ best interest to optimize for the new hardware, by way of the Mac Mini developer kit the company was offering. The full transition to the new silicon, Apple noted, would take two years.

Apple M1 chip

Image Credits: Apple

In November, the company debuted the first M1 Macs: a new Mac Mini, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. We spent several thousand words reviewing all three systems, but ultimately Matthew put it pretty succinctly, “Apple’s new M1-powered MacBook shows impressive performance gains that make Intel’s chips obsolete overnight.”

Which is, you know, a rough look for an all-in-one launched a mere two months before. That goes double for a system that hadn’t seen a fundamental redesign in some time. Two months after launch, the 2020 iMac was already starting to feel old.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Fast-forward to last month, when Apple announced the new iMac amid a flurry of hardware news. This, it seems, was the iMac we’d been waiting for. The new system brought the most fundamental redesign in a decade, with an ultra-compact new form factor, improvements to audio and video (a big sticking point in the remote work era) and, perhaps most importantly, the new M1 chip.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The biggest thing the 2020 system has going for it is that it’s, well, big. Having used a 27-inch iMac for much of my day-to-day work throughout the pandemic, I’m honestly surprised by how much I miss those extra three inches. I’d initially assumed that added bit of screen real estate was going to be fairly negligible once you’ve passed the 20-inch threshold, but turns out, like anything else, it takes some getting used to.

There’s an immediate upside, too, of course. I was genuinely surprised by how compact the new design is, compared to past iMacs. In spite of adding 2.5 inches to the display size over the 21.5-inch, the new system is an extremely thin 11.5 mm (or 14.7 when the stand is factored in).

The overarching theme for the system is “cute.” This is not a word I often apply to technology. Words like “cool” or “sleek” are generally go-tos here. But I’m at a loss for a better word to describe what feels like a true spiritual successor to the iMac G3. The colorful line of all-in-ones ushered in Steve Jobs’ second triumphant stint with the company, arriving at the tail end of a decade in a year personified by the Volkswagen’s New Beetle.

Of course, the design language has evolved dramatically in the nearly quarter-century since the first iMac arrived, owing to changing styles and, of course, ever-reducing component sizes. The flat-panel design arrived early this century and settled into the most recent design around 2012. Sure