I'm not easily impressed. Lots of tech products see the light of day each year, but only a few I consider to be truly great. And by that I mean technology that I want to have in my life, that brings value, and, last but not least, that makes me feel good. The subjective factor is just as important, I believe, when it comes to the things that I have to look at and interact with on a daily basis. That's just the way it is, and I'm fine with it.
Because of this, a pretty long list can get really, really short in no time. My colleagues have already shared their favorite tech products of 2014 with you, and now the time has come for me to do the same. It's BetaNews tradition, after all. So, without further ado, here they are.
When it comes to security, Apple can and should do better. It is one of the biggest offenders, after all, making quite a few serious mistakes in this area. One of its most-important services, namely iCloud, has been instrumental in this year's celebrity photo leaks scandal, better known as The Fappening. And, more recently, a weakness in its OS X deployment software for iOS apps has exposed hundreds of thousands of iPads and iPhones to the WireLurker malware. And these are just two examples. Unsurprisingly, as the year draws to an end, security remains a talking point in Apple's case.
Let's start with the good news, first. Apple has pushed an update for OS X 10.10 Yosemite, 10.9.5 Mavericks, and 10.8.5 Mountain Lion, seemingly for the first time, to quickly fix a critical vulnerability discovered in NTP (Network Time Protocol), a protocol which is widely used to synchronize device clocks with dedicated servers. Normally, OS X updates are not applied automatically, but this one is apparently so critical that it is.
In the grand scheme of things, we aren't far removed from a time when most people thought the Earth was flat. Yes, we went from thinking a boat could sail off of the edge of the world, to landing a spacecraft on a comet -- crazy, right?
When Google Earth was first released, it was a mind-boggling program. It allowed users to easily navigate a virtual Earth; a high-tech globe, if you will. While people take it for granted, the search-giant's offering remains wonderful. Unfortunately for developers, Google is killing the Earth API.
The latest monthly report from internet security specialist Doctor Web shows that whilst Windows and Android users have no cause for complacency, November saw substantial numbers of malicious programs aimed at Mac OS X and Linux platforms.
Trojans remain the most popular form of attack making up 8.7 percent of all malware detected. Trojan.InstallCore.12, which installs different adware, toolbars and browser extensions, ranks first. BackDoor.Andromeda.404, which downloads other malicious programs into an infected system when commanded to do so by intruders, ranks second.
It's only a few weeks since Apple launched Yosemite and there's already an update available. Today, Apple pushes out the OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 update to address issues that had been found in the initial release. This is a fairly minor x.1 update, and there are only ten entries in the changelog for most users, while enterprise users have two more updates and additions.
Described -- of course -- as "recommended for all OS X Yosemite users", the update fixes a problem with Time Machine that made older backups invisible. It also addresses issues with the Notification Center, and problems with entering Japanese text. It "improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac".
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but boy oh boy, don't tell that to Satya Nadella. To many, Microsoft represents a dinosaur in technology, but as the fictional Jurassic Park showed us, dinosaurs can be brought back to life and thrive in modern times. In other words, even though Microsoft never died, its image was in decline, but it has been resurrected by doing and saying all the right things.
Today, Microsoft continues its upwards trajectory by announcing that .NET is going open source. While this isn't Microsoft's first open source rodeo, this is certainly the biggest. Hell, it is even bringing .NET to both Linux and OS X! Competitors beware; Microsoft is a Tyrannosaurus Rex and is showing its teeth.
The new internet protocol known as Multipath Transmission Control Protocol enables easy privacy invasion, but also secures today’s networks.
On the internet, your traffic is not your own -- no matter how you roam. New multipath technologies, including one found hidden dormant in the internals of the newest Mac operating system, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, may provide consumers with more tools to gain control of their online communications. However, this freedom comes at a price, which network operators may not be willing to pay.
In spite of some incidents here and there, both iOS and OS X are mostly safe from malware. Obviously, that assumption only holds true assuming that users do not go out of their way to get into trouble by jailbreaking their devices and messing with cracked apps or software grabbed from shady places. It is common sense, really -- the security measures that Apple enforces can only go so far to protect users in uncontrolled environments. (The same thing can also be said in regards to Android and Windows, but that is a different story.) And if you need any more proof of just how important it is to stick to trusted sources, this is it.
In the past six months, hundreds of thousands of iOS and OS X users have been affected by the WireLurker malware family, according to security research firm Palo Alto Networks, after using Chinese third-party app store Maiyadi App Store to download OS X software. Go figure!
Anyone who has ever used a modern-day Mac will tell you that Apple gets its trackpads right. Sure, they look nice and feel great to the touch, but, most importantly, they are also properly supported in OS X. It offers myriad gestures to help users navigate as efficiently as if they were using a mouse. In fact, the trackpad is designed to feel like an integral part of the system, not as a bolt-on, as there are lots of things that can be done faster with it, like locating a window or opening the notifications panel.
The same cannot be said about Windows PC trackpads. They truly feel like bolt-ons. And it is not because they are poorly put together, but rather because the drivers never seem to be good enough to reveal the trackpads' true potential. Microsoft, however, wants to change that in Windows 10, as the upcoming operating system will support Mac-like trackpad gestures. Finally.
There are times when you may want to avoid using App Store or the built-in recovery mode to install OS X 10.10 Yosemite. So, Apple continues to give you the option of creating a bootable USB drive. You can use it anytime and anywhere to get the operating system running, quickly, on any compatible Mac. An Internet connection is not even required as everything you need is already on it.
Creating a bootable OS X 10.10 Yosemite USB drive is very easy. All you need is a Mac, as the tools provided for the process are only available in OS X, and a USB drive with a capacity of 8 GB (or more, depending on what you have lying around), as the setup file is rather large. I will also explain how to use a dedicated third-party tool, in case you decide that this option suits you better.
Apple's OS X is a great operating system, but guess what? So is Windows. Yes, each are great in different ways, and it is OK to like both. Even if you prefer one over the other, it is silly to make fun of someone else's choice. In other words, don't be a fan-boy or bully.
Today is not about Windows however, as it is Apple's day to shine. The fruit-logo company has seen much success with OS X over the years; yes, success. Even though the operating system holds a very small percentage of the desktop market, it has impacted our overall culture and is instantly recognizable. Today however, Apple releases version 10.10 of OS X, dubbed Yosemite and it is quite possibly the most radical change to the Mac operating system. You see, much like iOS7, OS X is getting a "flat" overhaul.
In addition to the expected iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, Apple today announced the latest update to the iMac range. The iMac with Retina 5K display's killer feature is the screen which packs a breath-taking 14.7 million pixels into its 27 inches. With a resolution of 5120 x 2880, the new iMac has two thirds more pixels than a 4K display, and four times the number of pixels found on a regular 27 inch iMac. Despite the colossal number of pixels involved, Apple has switch to ultra-efficient LEDs to keep power consumption, and heat production, down.
The system comes with AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics as standard, but this can be upgraded to AMD Radeon R9 M295X graphics. This is backed up by 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive, and there is the option of upgrading various components if you're happy to part with a little extra cash.
Apple has admitted that most OS X users have nothing to be concerned about when it comes to the bug that has been dubbed "worse than Heartbleed".
In a statement the firm admitted that it is already working on a software update for advanced UNIX users that repairs the major exploit that can be used by hackers to gain access to connected devices by inserting malicious code into the "Bash" command shell in OS X and Linux.
Opera has released Opera 24 FINAL, a major new release of its web browser for Windows and Mac. It comes with three changes of note, two of which are restricted to Windows users only.
The headline new feature, which covers all platforms, sees Opera gain tab preview. By rolling the mouse over any non-active tab, users will -- after a short pause -- see a pop-up thumbnail of that tab's current contents.
DrawWiz is an easy-to-use app, Windows and Mac program which instantly generates professional sketches of female cartoon characters.
There's no artistic ability required, fortunately. The app provides hundreds of pre-drawn elements -- situations, face shapes, hair styles, eyes, nose, mouth -- and all you have to do is pick the ones you need.