Next version of OS X to be more iOS-like than ever with Mountain Lion

Next version of OS X to be more iOS-like than ever with Mountain Lion

Apple significantly accelerated the upgrade cycle for Mac OS X on Thursday, announcing just seven months after the release of Lion that the next major version of OS X will be available in summer 2012. Dubbed Mountain Lion (we note no mention of a version number, like 10.8), the new OS will bring even more iOS-like features to the Mac, including Messages, Notes, and Reminders. Registered Mac developers have access to the first developer preview starting today.

Mountain Lion will offer increased integration between iOS and OS X. A new Messages app replaces iChat, which can send messages, video, and images between Macs and iOS devices (yes, iMessage has come to the desktop). According to Apple, Messages will continue to support AIM, Jabber, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Talk. A beta version of Messages is available to all Lion users starting today (thought at the time of publishing the download is currently unavailable).

Notification Center on Mac OS X Mountain Lion is hidden under the Desktop.
Notification Center on Mac OS X Mountain Lion is hidden under the Desktop.

Mountain Lion will also include Mac versions of Notes, Reminders, Game Center, Notification Center, Share Sheets, OS-wide Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring. Many of the new apps, such as Notes, Reminders, and Messages, will sync seamlessly with iOS devices and other Macs connected to your iCloud account. Game Center will enable live multiplayer gameplay between Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

A Share Sheet makes it easy to tweet about a webpage in Safari.
A Share Sheet makes it easy to tweet about a webpage in Safari.

Share Sheets will let users share and tweet links, photos, and videos from any app that supports them, including Safari, Quick Look, Preview, and more. Third party developers will be able to add Share Sheet support to their own apps as well. Notification Center will centralize alerts from apps like Mail, Calendar, and Reminders, as well as offering a centralized API for developers to send alerts as well (so long, Growl). Finally, AirPlay Mirroring enables any Mac to send a 720p video stream to an Apple TV (though apparently not to an iOS device).

AirPlay Mirroring sends a 720p stream of your desktop to any Apple TV.
AirPlay Mirroring sends a 720p stream of your desktop to any Apple TV.

Mountain Lion includes additional improvements, like updated iCloud support. In addition to offering a single sign-in to set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, and Find My Mac, improved iCloud Documents APIs will make it easier to keep files stored in iCloud updated across Macs and iOS devices. There’s also improved Chinese language support, including access to common services like Baidu, QQ, Youku, Tudou, Sina weibo, as well as enhancements to Chinese input.

An interesting new feature called Gatekeeper is designed to offer improved security for installed third-party apps. Essentially, Gatekeeper can be configured to install apps from any source, from developers with a special developer ID provided by Apple labeling them as “trusted,” or strictly from the Mac App Store. Users have expressed concern since the introduction of the Mac App Store that Apple would eventually limit all app downloads to those from the Store; while Gatekeeper could be viewed as another step towards that goal, we think it provides some level of granularity in controlling what sources a user can get apps from. Furthermore, it will likely be a welcome feature in enterprise settings, where admins could limit access as required by security policies without completely eliminating the ability for users to install apps themselves.

Gatekeeper will let users set their Mac to install any app, apps from
Gatekeeper will let users set their Mac to install any app, apps from “trusted” sources, or Mac App Store only.

Developers gain access to “hundreds” of new APIs, many of which debuted on iOS 5, such as GLKit for integration OpenGL support. Other APIs include GameKit, 64-bit QuickTime, and enhanced multitouch. Mountain Lion will also include a revamped graphics subsystem and improved address space layout randomization for better security.

As noted, Mac OS X Mountain Lion is expected to be released this summer, and will likely be a $29.99 purchase via the Mac App Store.

Apple unleashes OS X Mountain Lion Preview to Mac Developer Program

You may still be purring your way through our in-depth preview, but Mountain Lion is now officially out of the bag, with Apple releasing a preview version of its latest OS X to the members-only Developer Program. If you’re up to date on those $99/year dues, you can head on over to the Member Center to get your OS 10.8 fix, and start checking out those shiny new Messages, Reminders, Notes and Notification Center apps. Or kick up your feet and bring your desktop to the big screen with AirPlay Mirroring. If you have the Apple-approved credentials to proceed, you can find all that and more by making your way over to our source link just below.

The FBI Might Cut Off the Internet For Millions of People on March 8th

In an unprecedented move, the FBI may cut off Internet access to millions of people on March 8th to try to rid the country of a Trojan. Millions of computers are infected worldwide—maybe even yours.

The DNSChanger Trojan originated in Estonia and might be lurking undetected on as many as a half-million computers in the United States, according to Brian Krebs. It has been found on the computers at half of all Fortune 500 companies and at 27 government agencies. The Trojan changes an infected computer’s DNS settings to send users to fraudulent websites. What’s more, the worm is particularly malicious in that it also prevents you from visiting security websites that might diagnose or fix the problem. While the men authorities suspect are behind the Trojan have been arrested, the Feds, working in concert with the Estonian government, have yet to put the final kill on the worm’s botnet.

That’s where the Internet shutdown comes in. The FBI has a court order allowing it to set up temporary replacement DNS servers so that those with infected computers or networks can get the worm off of their systems. The court order, however, expires on March 8th. Unless that order gets extended, anybody who hasn’t cleaned up their act before it expires, might get cut off from the Internet altogether.

Luckily, it turns out kicking DNSChanger is manageable—as long as you know you’ve got a problem. To learn more about checking your computer or network for the Trojan check out theDNS Changer Working Group and the FBI. [Krebs on Security via BetaBeat via Geekosystem]

Apple drops the ‘Mac’ from OS X

Apple today announced Mountain Lion, a new version of their popular desktop OS that comes with a slew of new tablet-based features for the desktop. Some noticed, however, that the company had also stopped calling it “Mac OS X,” instead choosing to call it “OS X Mountain Lion.”

The Verge confirmed that Apple has dropped the “Mac” part of the name and prefers Mountain Lion from here on to be called “OS X Mountain Lion.” Apple is using the “Mac” brand to specifically talk about hardware now, similar to how Apple seperated iOS out from the iPhone and iPad a few years back.

It’s obvious that simple is better for Apple, and we’re sure the change will cause less confusion for potential Apple buyers. What’s interestinfg is that Apple actually ditched the “Mac” in OS X when Lion came out last year, and the branding was also absent from the App Store. Mountain Lion marks the completion of that transition.

Microsoft’s India Store has been compromised, passwords saved as plain text

Microsoft has online stores for each localized region and the store in India has been compromised. As of 12:30 PM EST was still offline. WPsauce.comwas able to grab a couple screenshots before the site went down that revealed that EvilShadow team was responsible for the breach, although the hackers are not design experts as blue text on black backgrounds makes getting your message across a bit harder on the eyes.

Image Credit: Hackteach

The real damage from this breach of security is that the database of the site has been compromised and to make things even worse, the passwords were saved as plain text. If you have ever created an account on Microsoft’s store for India, it is imperative that you change your password immediately on all other websites that use similar phrases or logins.

A breach of security such as this is bad enough publicity for Microsoft but the fact that they did not adhere to industry best practices for securing sensitive data is rather alarming considering how often consumers use the same or similar passwords on multiple websites.

Windows 8 Metro version of Firefox in development

Windows 8 will come with Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer 10 for web browsing duties but if you want a secondary choice, it looks like Mozilla will be offering its own version of Firefox for Microsoft’s next operating system. Mozilla revealed today via its MozillaWiki web site that it plans to release a version of its popular Firefox web browser that will work with Windows 8’s Metro interface, with the first public concept release coming as soon as February.

According to the announcement:

The feature goal here is a new Gecko based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment. Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.

The MozillaWiki has yet another page that goes into further detail on the organization’s plans for Firefox to run on Windows 8’s Metro UI. Mozilla will also release a version of Firefox that will run on Windows 8’s “Classic” UI, stating:

Classic is very similar to the Windows 7 environment at this time, it requires a simple evolution of the current Firefox Windows product. Metro is an entirely new environment and requires a new Firefox front end and system integration points.

With Microsoft planning to launch the Consumer Version of Windows 8 on February 29, the first concept version of Firefox for Windows 8 Metro could be released on that same day or shortly thereafter. Public alpha and beta versions of the browser should be released in the second half of 2012.

The H.265 codec brings Ultra HDTV resolution in 2013

Just got a new, shiny 50” Full HD (1080p) TV set for your home video needs? Prepare to purchase something newer, shinier and with a much, much higher resolution soon. The Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding reached a new milestone for the H.265 video codec during the past week, and is about to unleash the new “monster” video standard within the next year.

The H.265 video codec, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC, is being designed to replace the current H.264 standard used for high definition and Full HD (1920×1080) video encoding and decoding. The Joint Collaborative Team, a collaboration effort between the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T, has just achieved a “committee draft” in a meeting in San Jose.

The new video standard is expected to provide a huge difference in data transmission and streaming efficiency compared to the previous one, with one of the speakers present at the meeting suggesting a 67% improvement.

H.265 will be designed to support new, still to be created video delivery and streaming technologies from day one, including devices working at 4K and Ultra HDTV (also known as 8K or 4320p) resolutions. Just to put things in perspective, the Ultra HDTV definition contains about 16 times the amount of pixels present in a 1080p video stream.

Before appearing on the market as a proper video standard, H.265 will have to achieve two more milestones: the draft international standard meeting is expected to be held within six months from now and the final standard ratification should arrive in January 2013.

Google-Motorola merger approved in US and Europe

The massive $12.5 billion merger of Google and smartphone and tablet maker Motorola Mobility went over two major hurdles today. First, The European Commission announcedthat it has given its approval for the merger, which was first announced in August 2011.

In its decision, the European Commission said that it approved the combination of Google and Motorola “mainly because it would not significantly modify the market situation in respect of operating systems and patents” for smartphones and tablets.

Google posted up its own blog post announcing the merger approval, stating:

As we outlined in August, the combination of Google and Motorola Mobility will help supercharge Android. It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences.

That doesn’t mean that the European Commission is giving the combination of Google and Motorola a blank slate. In the press release, Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President, stated, “… the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”

Later on Monday, the US Justice Department announced its own approval of the deal. It stated, “The division concluded that the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics.”

The Google-Motorola merger still has to be approved by regulators in China, Taiwan and Israel before it becomes official.

You Can Have $15 or a Bumper Case from Apple’s Antennagate Settlement

Apparently, the “you’re holding it wrong defense” didn’t work as well as Apple had hoped. The company has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit and will give US iPhone 4 buyers their choice of $15 or a bumper case.

The suit was originally filed in 2010 and alleged that “the case and antenna design has led to a substantial degradation in signal quality and dropped calls when the phone is used in a normal and foreseeable fashion by users.”

Customers that purchased an iPhone 4 will be able to redeem their payout from when the site goes live. Apple will also alert affected customers via email by April 30th. Anyone that bought an iPhone 4 before Friday should be eligible though There’s no word if that applies to customers who have already accepted a free case from Apple.

Webmail shows declines in 2011

According to a new study from comScore, the decline in web based e-mail (webmail) is only accelerating, and the trend isn’t going to be reversed any time soon. comScore attributes the shift mainly to the growing use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, where it tends to be more convenient to use built in e-mail software, as opposed to websites like Hotmail and Gmail.

According to the study, webmail usage declined by -34% for the 18-24 demographic, and by -31% for people between 12-17. The only group that saw much growth was the 45-54, where webmail growth saw a 15% increase, which shows a marked increase in luddism in that segment – or in all the other segments, depending on how you look at it.

Email clients existed long, long before the likes of Hotmail and others made it possible to access your mail account from any browser. This offered considerable advantages at the time, since it ensured that you were looking at exactly what was in your inbox at that moment, but many of those advantages have disappeared over the years. Since most smartphones are always connected to the network, email clients are just as effective as webmail was in the days of old, even if you’re a long way from home. Still, what looks like progress to people who have grown up on Hotmail might seem like a regression through the eyes of more ‘experienced’ users.

All of this shouldn’t be taken to mean that people are sending fewer e-mails – far from it. In fact, the study found that email is actually benefiting from the growth of mobile. Mobile email saw tremendous growth in the last year. What all of this does mean, however, is that the business models of businesses like Gmail and Hotmail are at stake.

Plenty of people are still using their services. The problem is that they aren’t accessing them from the web, and they aren’t seeing the ads that bring in the money. Having more users sending more email than ever before might sound like a good thing, but it actually becomes a liability for companies when those users rarely, if ever, log into their webmail client and see their ads. Maybe it’s time for the return of ads in the text?