Category Archives: os x

Nasty Mac vulnerability allows remote attack, survives OS X reinstallation & even drive format

bios

A serious vulnerability in Macs more than a year old would allow an attacker to take permanent control of the machine, retaining control even if the user reinstals OS X or reformats the drive.

The vulnerability was discovered by security researcher Pedro Vilaca, who found a way to reflash the BIOS – code stored in flash memory, not on the drive. This means that the machine remains compromised even if the hard drive is physically replaced … 

Vilaca built his attack method on a known vulnerability that required physical access to the machine, allowing firmware to be rewritten by connecting a Thunderbolt device. It had previously been suggested that the NSA used this method to monitor surveillance targets, intercepting shipments of Macs to their addresses and installing the firmware modification.

This new approach means that no physical access is needed. The attack code could be installed via any one of a number of existing security vulnerabilities found in Safari and other web browsers.

The BIOS is normally set to read-only, preventing it from being modified or replaced, but Vilaca found that this protection is – for reasons unknown – removed when pre-mid-2014 Macs wake from sleep.

It means that you can overwrite the contents of your BIOS from userland and rootkit EFI without any other trick other than a suspend-resume cycle, a kernel extension, flashrom, and root access.

The researcher says that Apple apparently fixed the hole in mid-2014 models, but has not released firmware updates for older machines. The only reassuring note is that while a mass-exploit would be possible, Vilaca considers it most likely to be used in targeted attacks against individuals.

The only protection against the vulnerability is to never allow your Mac to sleep.

Via ArsTechnica. Image: Trammell Hudson.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: Apple Inc, BIOS, EFI, hack, Mac, Mac vulnerability, OS X, Safari (web browser), Security, vulnerability, Vulnerability (computing)

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Reading Roundup: Everything to know (so far) about iOS 9 and OS X 10.11

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve published several articles detailing the future of iOS (the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch’s operating system), OS X (the Mac’s operating system), and Watch OS (the software that runs on the Apple Watch). Here’s a list of links to the stories we’ve written thus far about the new operating systems, and we’ll keep updating this page as we publish new and relevant details.

iOS

Apple plans to refresh iOS 9, OS X 10.11 using new Apple Watch font: This story details Apple’s plans to utilize a new typeface for iOS 9, taking a page out of the design language for the Apple Watch.

– Apple’s planned iOS 9 ‘Home’ app uses virtual rooms to manage HomeKit accessories: This article discusses Apple’s testing of a new application called “Home” that will be used to manage various HomeKit devices within the home.

Maps Transit

Apple readies Transit subway, train + bus guides for iOS 9 Maps, deploys robots for indoor mapping: After not being ready for release last year, Apple is apparently finally ready to take the wraps off of its Transit directions service for the iOS Maps application. This story also details Apple’s indoor mapping initiative and special robots roaming the Apple Cupertino campus.

 Future of iPad: Dual-app viewing mode, then J98/J99 ‘iPad Pros,’ multi-user support: In this story, we detail three major iPad-centric initiatives, including planned multi-user software support, a split-screen app viewing mode coming in iOS 9, and a pair of 12-inch iPads with enhanced industrial designs.

 iOS 9 & OS X 10.11 to bring ‘quality’ focus, smaller apps, Rootless security, legacy iPhone/iPad support: This extensive story reveals Apple’s plans for using its 2015 Mac and iOS updates as a time to introduce significant performance, optimization, and bug fix-based enhancements. Apple is also planning on supporting older iPhones and iPads, while boosting their performance simultaneously.

iOS 9 supports ‘iPhone 6S’ Force Touch, may enhance iMessage, Keyboard & Apple Pay: This story discusses how iOS 9 builds in support for the upcoming Force Touch Display feature in the next iPhone hardware upgrade. We also discuss Apple’s plans for adding new features to iMessage, the iPhone and iPad keyboard, and Apple Pay’s next stop.

iOS 9 Transit Maps to launch in a handful of cities in North America, Europe & China: This article builds upon our initial report about the mass transit mapping feature coming in iOS 9, and specifies which regions the service will initially launch in.

Apple’s ‘Proactive’ to take on Google Now with deep iOS 9 search, Augmented Reality Maps, Siri API: This expansive story provides an in-depth look at Apple’s development of a significant new iOS initiative internally named “Proactive.” Combining major upgrades to Siri, Spotlight, and Maps, “Proactive” is a long-term Apple strategy to combat the Google Now feature found on Android devices.

OS X

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– Apple plans to refresh iOS 9, OS X 10.11 using new Apple Watch font: This story details Apple’s plans to utilize a new typeface for OS X 10.11, taking a page out of the design language for the Apple Watch.

 iOS 9 & OS X 10.11 to bring ‘quality’ focus, smaller apps, Rootless security, legacy iPhone/iPad support: This extensive story reveals Apple’s plans for using its 2015 Mac and iOS updates as a time to introduce significant performance, optimization, and bug fix-based enhancements. We also share the first details about Apple’s upgraded Swift programming language and platform for developers. Apple is also planning to add some new features to the Mac, including a Control Center panel that swipes out from the left side of a Mac’s display.

Watch OS and Apple TV

applewatchstainlesssteelblack

– Apple readies first significant Apple Watch updates, ’TVKit’ SDK for Apple TV: This story details the first significant updates coming to the Apple Watch, including upgrades for third-party complications and better Apple TV remote support. Speaking of the Apple TV, this article also details Apple’s plans for a new iOS-based Apple TV to debut at WWDC.

Stay Tuned

As the early June Worldwide Developers Conference gets closer, we’ll publish a thorough roundup of everything to expect, so keep an eye out for that as well.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac Tagged: App Store (iOS), Apple Inc, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, IBooks, iOS, iPad, iPhone, IPod Touch, iTunes, OS X

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Apple drops discoveryd in latest OS X beta following months of network issues

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.56.16 PM

After many complaints from the developer community about poor networking performance on Yosemite, the latest beta of OS X 10.10.4 has dropped discoveryd in favor of the old process used by previous versions of the Mac operating system. This should address many of the network stability issues introduced with Yosemite and its new networking stack.

The discoveryd process has been subject to much criticism in recent months as it causes users to regularly drop WiFi access and causes network shares to list many times over, due to bugs. Many developers, such as Craig Hockenberry, have complained about the buggy software and workarounds have been found to include substituting the older system (called mDNSResponder) back into Yosemite.

discoveryd would cause random crashes, duplicate names on the network and many other WiFi-relate bugs. In the latest beta, Apple appears to have applied the same fix as the enthusiasts by axing discoveryd completely.

Looking at Activity Monitor on OS X 10.10.4 seed 4, discoveryd is no longer loaded by the system — instead relying on mDNSResponder. The ‘new’ process is really the one Apple used to use pre-Yosemite and did not have these problems.

It is still unclear why the change in the networking stack was ever made given that the old process worked so well and the new process had so many issues. There has been some speculation that the new stack is related to AirDrop and Handoff functionality although testing showed that these features still worked when the system was reverted back to the old process.

Regardless, it will please many to see that Apple has finally addressed these complaints, even if it embarrassingly involves going back to the old system rather than fixing the new code. OS X 10.10.4 will be released to the public in the coming months.

Apple is focusing on performance and stability for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, so it will be interesting to see whether discoveryd makes a comeback in Apple’s next-generation operating system.


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, bugs, discoveryd, fixes, flaws, Network, OS X, problems, yosemite

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Apple releases new OS X 10.10.4 betas to developers and AppleSeed participants

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 12.58.00 PM

Apple has just released a new beta seed of the upcoming OS X 10.10.4 update. Users who are part of the company’s AppleSeed beta program and registered Mac developers can download the operating system from the Updates tab of the App Store or the Mac Developer Center.

This is the fourth developer seed that has been released. It comes with a build number of 14E26a. The previous build was released on May 11th with a build number of 14E17e.

The upcoming OS X 10.10.4 currently highlights improvements to security and performance. Meanwhile, the current iOS 8.4 beta also in development includes an all-new Music app with changes to iTunes Radio, iBooks, and will support Apple’s upcoming subscription music streaming service as we’ve reported.

Changes

This beta removes the often criticized discoveryd networking software in favor of the old mDNSResponder.


Filed under: Developers, Mac Tagged: 10.10.4, appleseed, beta, developers, OS X, OS X 10.10, OS X 10.10.4

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Designer shows why Apple is adopting San Francisco as its new system font

san-francisco

When Apple launched the Watch, it also designed a new system font to go with it: San Francisco. The typeface was specifically designed to combine a clean look with readability on the small display of the Apple Watch.

We exclusively revealed last week that Apple doesn’t intend to limit San Francisco to the watch: it instead plans to adopt the new typeface for Macs, iPhones and iPads. San Francisco is expected to replace Helvetica Neue as part of iOS 9 and OS X 10.11. Designer Wenting Zhang features the font in a look at “the beautiful details of the type forms that often get overlooked” … 

The Type Detail project is aimed at typography fans, so you won’t find explanations of the technical terms use in the visual analysis, but it does reveal a few of the details that make San Francisco easy to read even in very small sizes.

One of the keys to readability is what is described as the large x-height: lower-case letters are around 75% of the height of capitals, making lower-case letters larger than in a typical font. The ‘eye’ of letters like e and a – the gap between the tail and the rest of the letter – are also larger than usual.

The site shows what the typeface looks like in a range of sizes, weights and styles, and says that it is similar to Open Sans and Arial.

Don’t expect too many new features in either iOS 9 or OS X 10.11: multiple sources tell our Mark Gurman that both updates will focus more on quality and stability than headline features. If you don’t want to wait for OS X 10.11, you can download a modified version of the font now and install it as your system font in Yosemite.

Via TNW


Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch Tagged: Apple Inc, iOS, iOS 9, OS X, OS X 10.11, San Francisco

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Apple plans to refresh iOS 9, OS X 10.11 using new Apple Watch font

iOS_9_SF_2

Apple is currently planning to use the new system font developed for the Apple Watch to refresh the looks of iPads, iPhones, and Macs running iOS 9 “Monarch” and OS X 10.11 “Gala,” according to sources with knowledge of the preparations. Current plans call for the Apple-designed San Francisco font to replace Helvetica Neue, which came to iOS 7 in 2013 and OS X Yosemite just last year, beginning with a June debut at WWDC…

The slightly flashier and somewhat more readable San Francisco font first appeared on the Apple Watch, which was shown in September 2014 and released last month. Given the considerably smaller displays used on 38mm and 42mm Apple Watches, Apple developed the San Francisco font “specifically for legibility,” according to a description of typography on the Apple Watch Human Interface webpages for developers. San Francisco scales more dynamically to “maintain clarity and legibility” regardless of text size.

OSX10.11Users have already hacked OS X Yosemite to use San Francisco

Ever since switching to particularly thin weights of Helvetica Neue in iOS 7, Apple has been chastised for using a font that emphasizes clean lines over readability, and San Francisco is intended to solve this. According to the sources familiar with the decision to move to the San Francisco type face on iOS and OS X, Apple higher-ups also believe that the new look will serve to refresh its familiar operating systems, helping iOS and OS X to avoid becoming stale. However, some Apple engineers have told us that they are not fans of the new font, which may look particularly rough on non-Retina screens.

Installing a new system-wide font is also not as simple as it may seem. The change requires Apple to tweak all of its pre-bundled applications across iOS and OS X to fit the new font. It also requires additional quality assurance testing to ensure that the font does not unintentionally alter usability at different font sizes, or across third-party App Store apps. Multiple Apple employees tell us that new daily builds of OS X 10.11 and iOS 9 began including the new font toward the end of March. Apple will likely also push developers to redesign their apps ahead of the new font’s general release this fall.

Keyboard

Some third-party developers have already started to redesign their apps for San Francisco, which began to stretch beyond the Apple Watch when the new 12-inch MacBook debuted with keyboard characters printed in the new font. While Apple is certainly well into the process of redesigning its two main operating systems to match the Apple Watch’s typography, sources did warn that Apple could ultimately choose to retain Helvetica Neue this year and push back or cancel its plans for San Francisco. The WWDC keynote will be held on Monday, June 8th.


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices, Mac Tagged: Apple Inc, Apple watch, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Font, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iTunes, Operating system, OS X, redesign, revamp, San Francisco, typeface

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Apple releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 beta build 14E17e to developers

Screenshot 2015-05-11 10.02.15

Alongside today’s new iOS 8.4 beta, Apple has released yet another beta build of the upcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 to developers. Today’s build is labeled as build number 14E17e, and it is available via Software Update in the Mac App Store for developers running earlier versions of the beta. A new Public Beta for AppleSeed users is available as well. It is possible that 10.10.4 will be released in June alongside iTunes 12.2 (with the new Apple streaming music service). For the focus areas, Apple tells developers to pay special attention to the Photos application, the Migration Assistant, and Arabic and Hebrew language support.


Filed under: Mac Tagged: 10.10.4, OS X, OS X 10.10.4, os x yosemite

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