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Apple's OS X 10.10.2 to Fix Security Vulnerabilities Exposed by Google's Project Zero

Google's security team, Project Zero, this week disclosed to the public several security vulnerabilities in OS X, some three months after the issue were shared with Apple (via Ars Technica). While Apple has not commented officially on the issues, it appears one has already been patched and iMore reports the remaining two are fixed in OS X 10.10.2, which is currently in developer testing.

Project Zero works to discover security vulnerabilities of various operating systems and software, giving their owners 90 days notice to patch the issues before publishing their findings to the public. In their markup of Apple's OS X, problems involving memory corruption, kernel code execution, and a sandbox escape were all discovered by the team. Ars Technica notes:
At first glance, none of them appear to be highly critical, since all three appear to require the attacker to already have some access to a targeted machine. [...]

Still, the exploits could be combined with a separate attack to elevate lower-level privileges and gain control over vulnerable Macs. And since the disclosures contain proof-of-concept exploit code, they provide enough technical detail for experienced hackers to write malicious attacks that target the previously unknown vulnerabilities.
As the 90-day deadline hit during the week, the group began posting its findings online. Google's notes suggest one of the vulnerabilities was fixed with the release of OS X Yosemite, while the other two remained unaddressed.

But as pointed out by iMore, Apple's incoming OS X 10.10.2 update does indeed include fixes for the

Apple Took Half of U.S. Phone Activations in Q4 2014 as Demand Stays Strong

Both analysts and metrics are suggesting Apple will report record-breaking iPhone sales for the just-ended December 2014 calendar quarter, and new data released today by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reveals the Cupertino company may have set a high bar against its competitors, grabbing half of all phone activations in the United States.

While CIRP's survey included only 500 users and thus may include a significant margin of uncertainty, the data shows Apple's U.S. activation market share increasing from 28 percent in the July-September 2014 quarter to 50 percent in the October-December quarter. The significant jump was clearly fueled by strong consumer interest in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
"The strength of the September 2014 launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus fueled Apple’s dominance in US mobile phone sales this quarter," said Josh Lowitz, Partner and CoFounder of CIRP. "Apple had virtually double the sales of Samsung, and five times that of LG. No other brand accounted for as much as 5% of US sales."
CIRP's survey also found that most of the quarter's iPhone purchases (86 percent) came from loyal Apple customers who upgraded from older iPhones. While Apple retained its customer base, Samsung and LG lost customers, with 25% of Samsung owners and 18% of LG owners who activated a new phone switching to an iPhone.

Sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may continue to be strong in early 2015, with a high numbers of consumers intending to buy an iPhone in the next three months. According to 451 Research’s ChangeWave December survey, more than half of early

Apple May Allow Product Security Inspections by Chinese Government Officials

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly consented to security inspections of the company's products by Chinese government officials, reports The Beijing News [Via ITworld]. The inspections will look for backdoors that provide third-party access to sensitive and private data stored on Apple devices.

These spot inspections were part of an agreement forged between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Lu Wei, director of China's State Internet Information Office. The pair met last year to talk about the security of Apple's products, including the upcoming Apple Watch. Wei expressed concerned that Apple's devices may compromise the security of the Chinese government and the privacy of Apple device owners in China.

During their conversation, Cook reportedly told Lu that Apple's devices do not contain a backdoor to share data with government entities or other third-party services. Despite these assurances, Wu supposedly insisted on these security assessments so the Chinese government can examine Apple's products firsthand.

China increasingly is an important market for Apple with sales in the Asian nation projected to continue to rise in the coming years. Apple recently confirmed plans to open five new retail locations in China over the next five weeks. The company has been heavily promoting these grand openings, making retail head Angela Ahrendts available for interview by Chinese media sources and hiring renowned calligrapher Wang Dongling to design a mural for the upcoming West Lake store in Hangzhou.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the

Photos of 12-Inch MacBook Air Display Show Black Glass Cover, Polished Apple Logo

Just days after a report claiming Apple supplier Quanta Computer has begun ramping up production of the upcoming 12-inch MacBook Air, Chinese site iFanr shares some photos [Google Translate] of what it says is the display assembly for the machine (via SlashGear).

The photos depict the claimed display and metal shell from the upcoming 12-inch machine alongside both a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 9.7-inch iPad, with its sizing appearing to measure up to previously reported dimensions. The display does, however, have two noticeable differences from current MacBook Air. First, instead of a backlit Apple logo on the back of the display assembly as is typically seen on Apple's notebooks, there is a polished metal logo more like those seen on iPads, with iFanr speculating the change could be tied to the device's thinness.

Additionally, the display lacks the grey bezels current MacBook Air models have, instead opting for an apparently all-glass edge-to-edge cover for the display as seen on Retina MacBook Pro models. Paired with black bezels underneath, it is difficult to see where the display ends and the bezels begin unless the screen is turned on. Earlier renderings of the 12-inch MacBook Air based on information from within Apple had shown gray bezels similar to those seen on the current MacBook Air.

Claimed 12-inch MacBook Air display assembly with 13" MacBook Pro
The 12-inch MacBook Air will reportedly have roughly the same footprint as the 11-inch MacBook Air, relying on smaller bezels to compensate for a larger display size. The comparison photos shown by iFanr

Apple CEO Tim Cook Earned $9.2M in Fiscal 2014, Doubling 2013 Compensation

Apple CEO Tim Cook's compensation for fiscal 2014 was $9.22 million, according to a newly released SEC filing. That breaks down to a salary of $1.7 million and non-equity incentive compensation of $6.7 million, double the $4.3M compensation he received in 2013.

Apple's newest executive hire, Angela Ahrendts, received $73 million in cash and stock. That includes a $400,000 salary, a $500,000 bonus, and $70 million in stock. Ahrendts, who joined Apple in May of 2014, was previously making $37 million at Burberry, and her offer package included an RSU award with a value of $37 million to compensate her for her unvested Burberry awards along with an RSU award of $33 million as a new Apple hire.

As for other Apple executives, Eddy Cue and Jeff Williams made over $24 million in stock awards, salary, and non-equity incentive plan compensation. Peter Oppenheimer earned $4.5 million, and Luca Maestri, Apple's new CFO, received $14 million.

Apple had a record year under the guidance of Tim Cook, generating $182.8 billion in sales with $38.5 billion in net income in fiscal 2014, a new high for the company. According to its October forecast Apple expects to see revenue between $63.5 and $66.5 billion for the first quarter of 2015.

Apple will announce its earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2015 on Monday, January 27. MacRumors will provide live coverage of both the earnings release and the conference

Apple Aiming for 19 Hours of Apple Watch Battery Life With 'Mixed Usage'

One of the biggest mysteries about the upcoming Apple Watch is its battery life. Previous rumors have hinted that it will need to be charged once a day, and Apple CEO Tim Cook himself said that users will want to charge it on a daily basis, but concrete battery life information has yet to be revealed.

New details on the Apple Watch's possible battery life have now surfaced from inside sources that spoke to 9to5Mac, revealing information on the battery life Apple was aiming for and what it may actually be able to achieve.

As of 2014, Apple was reportedly aiming for 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use with 19 hours of active/passive use, plus 3 days of pure standby time and four days if the watch was sleeping. That's somewhat in line with early rumors, which suggested Apple was targeting a three to five day battery life for the device. Though Apple was aiming for three to four days of standby time, it may only reach two to three days. Apple is hoping the Apple Watch will last for 19 hours of mixed usage, but it "may not hit that number in the first generation version."

The Apple Watch is equipped with a tiny but powerful S1 chip, and its performance is similar to that of the A5 processor from the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2. It also has a 60-FPS Retina-class display, which, along with the S1 chip, results in a significant amount of power usage.
Apple has also been stress-testing the Apple Watch’s battery life with pre-bundled and third-party applications. Our sources say that Apple is targeting 2.5 hours of “heavy” application use, such as

T-Mobile's 'Smartphone Equality' Program Ends Credit Score Requirement for Loyal Paying Customers

T-Mobile today announced a new program that makes it easier for customers with poor credit to receive discount pricing on devices and other deals previously only available to credit-worthy customers. CEO John Legere kicked off the new "Smartphone Equality" promotion with a video blog that explains the rationale behind the program.


Legere notes that half of Americans do not qualify for most carrier-advertised phone deals due to poor credit or a lack of credit history, and T-Mobile aims to change that by "putting our relationship with you above some number pumped out by a credit bureau, some huge faceless bureaucracy."

With its new "Smartphone Equality" program, T-Mobile is emphasizing the customer's relationship with the carrier instead of their credit score. As part of the initiative, customers who have paid their wireless bill on time for 12 months will be eligible for discounted pricing, including the carrier's popular zero down and no credit check programs. The "Smartphone Equality" program will be available starting next week to eligible customers.

T-Mobile has been shaking up the cellular industry with its ongoing Un-carrier promotions, which broke new ground by removing the cellular contract from a smartphone purchase and offering generous early termination bonuses for customers who switch to T-Mobile. Recently, the wireless carrier introduced its Un-carrier 8 initiative, which includes a new "Data Stash" program that rolls over unused monthly data and makes it available for the following 12 months.

BlackBerry CEO Says U.S. Government Should Force Apple to Expand iMessage to Other Platforms

BlackBerry CEO John Chen yesterday published a blog post adaptation of a letter in which he presses U.S. government officials to support not only net neutrality but also "application/content neutrality". In Chen's view, all apps and content should be available on all platforms, and he points specifically to Apple's iMessage and Netflix's streaming services as examples of discrimination against BlackBerry.

Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them.
Chen believes BlackBerry is a leader for content and application neutrality and pushes U.S. government officials to require these same neutral practices from the Canadian company's competitors. "Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet," writes Chen.

Chen's comments have unsurprisingly been met with ridicule by developers who don't wish to be forced to create apps for platforms where they do not expect worthwhile returns, and many observers have suggested BlackBerry should focus its efforts on creating a compelling ecosystem that would attract users and apps organically.

Apple has historically been quiet on broader issues of net neutrality. The Cupertino company was noticeably absent from a list of more than 100 technology

Google Inks Deal With Sprint, T-Mobile to Become Wireless Carrier

Google has signed deals with Sprint and T-Mobile that will allow it to sell wireless service directly to consumers, reports The Wall Street Journal, adding to a report released by The Information earlier today. The publication's sources suggest that Google's entry into the wireless service industry may be part of an effort to persuade carriers to bolster speeds and cut down on pricing. Positioning itself as a wireless carrier is also part of Google's larger effort to provide better Internet coverage across the United States.

Currently, there are four major carriers in the United States: T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, and while T-Mobile has made efforts to shake up the wireless industry with its Un-Carrier initiatives, wireless service in the United States remains much pricier than in other countries, with subscribers getting less data for more money.

Details on how Google will offer wireless service, its cost, or when it will launch are not known, but like the rollout of its Google Fiber broadband internet service, Google-branded wireless service could launch in a limited number of cities to begin with.
Sprint, of Overland Park, Kan., is the third-largest wireless carrier, while T-Mobile, of Bellevue, Wash., ranks fourth. Under separate agreements with each carrier, Google will resell service on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks, according to people familiar with the plans. Such wholesale agreements are common, essentially allowing sellers such as Google to pitch wireless service under their own brand names.
As it will operate as an MVNO, or mobile virtual

Logic Pro X for Mac Gets Major Update With New Drummers, Tools for Electronic/Hip Hop Music Creation

Logic Pro X for Mac today received its most significant update in the last year and a half, adding a slew of new features to the pro-oriented audio software produced by Apple.

Version 10.1 of the software, which is available for free for existing users, introduces new drummer profiles and more tools to make music creation a simpler task, plus it adds in new sounds with a focus on electronic and hip hop music.

There are 10 new drummer profiles to use in the new version of Logic Pro X, which can be used to produce beats in styles like Techno, House, Trap, and Dubstep, and there's also a new drum machine plug-in for tweaking drum sounds and making mixes. Each drummer has eight preset patterns, but they can be customized and users can create their own patterns as well.

Logic Pro X screenshot courtesy of CNET
The update introduces 200 synth patches and 10 new Mellotron instruments, and features like the piano roll editor have been improved. The Compressor plug-in now has a Retina-ready interface, and there's a plug-in manager to keep frequently-used plug-ins at hand and organized.

An expanded Logic Remote toolset offers a new plug-in view for use with the iPad, with multi-touch gestures able to manipulate tracks using the Visual

One of the First Apple Watch Games Shown off in Mockups from NimbleBit

Though developers have had access to the WatchKit API for the upcoming Apple Watch since the debut of iOS 8.2 in November, we've still learned very little about what apps will be able to do and what kind of apps we can expect to see when the device launches.

We know that common Apple apps like Messages, Mail, and others will be available on the Apple Watch based on what Apple shared in the keynote and on its dedicated Apple Watch website, but third-party developers have not divulged much about their plans for the device, though hundreds of innovative apps and experiences are undoubtedly in the works.

One major game developer, NimbleBit, is working on a new game that will be playable on the Apple Watch. Shared by our sister site TouchArcade, Letterpad is a simple word game that will be available on both iOS and the Apple Watch. The object of the game is to make words related to a specified topic from a grid of nine letters, and a mockup of what the game might look like is below.

Games may not seem conducive to the Apple Watch given its rumored limited battery life (the device will need to be charged on a daily basis) and its small screen, but simple games like Letterpad will translate well to the device. As we've learned from the WatchKit API, the first apps coming out for the Apple Watch will be entirely reliant on the iPhone, powered by the phone itself and projected to the Apple Watch to conserve battery.

This is just a first glimpse of one simple game that will be playable on the wrist thanks to the Apple Watch, and developers likely have a range of unique

Microsoft Debuts 84-Inch Surface Hub Touch Display, HoloLens Augmented Reality Headset

Alongside officially debuting Windows 10, Microsoft today unveiled two new futuristic hardware products, the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset, and the Microsoft Surface Hub, an 84-inch 4K touch screen tablet with multi-touch and multi-pen support, dual camera, and advanced sensors.

The Microsoft Surface Hub runs a version of Windows 10 that's been adapted for the huge 84-inch display, and Microsoft showed the device being used in workplace meetings, as a hub for communication. The screen was used for making drawings and notes, and content projected to the Surface Hub was then shared to all people on a Skype conference call. The Surface Hub was also demonstrated using various Microsoft apps adapted for a larger screen.

Microsoft Surface Hub, image via The Verge
Microsoft has not announced pricing, but the Surface Hub is aimed at enterprise users and is likely to be quite expensive.

The company's second major product debut was the Microsoft HoloLens, which is a headset that uses holographic see-through lenses to allow its users to see and interact with holograms in an augmented reality environment. The HoloLens has spacial sound and advanced sensors to capture location information, allowing for a totally immersive holographic experience, and it has a built-in high-end CPU and GPU, as well as a "holographic processing unit" that processes information and data from the headset's sensors. "HoloLens enables native holographical computing," said Microsoft Kinect developer Alex Kipman.

There are no wires or external connections, and there is no need to