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Apple releases iTunes 11.0.2 with new Composer view, improved Playlist responsiveness, bug fixes

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 5.13.00 PM

Apple has released iTunes 11.0.2 this afternoon with a number of enhancements and fixes. Notably, the new update adds a Composer view for Music, improved responsiveness when handling large playlists, and a bug fix for purchases that do not show up in iTunes. Various other performance enhancements are also included. You can grab it from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store now.

Apple Employees' Macs Compromised by Chinese Hackers

ApplelogoA number of Macs owned by Apple employees were compromised by the same China-based hackers that targeted Facebook employees recently, reports All Things D. The malware entered the systems through the Java plug-in, which Apple has blocked recently due to unpatched security vulnerabilities. Reuters was the first to report the disclosure.
"Apple has identified malware which infected a limited number of Mac systems through a vulnerability in the Java plug-in for browsers," the company said in a statement to AllThingsD. "The malware was employed in an attack against Apple and other companies, and was spread through a website for software developers. We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network. There is no evidence that any data left Apple. We are working closely with law enforcement to find the source of the malware."
Apple will also be releasing a standalone malware removal tool to clean infected machines.

The New York Times published an article yesterday laying out how a number of recent hacking attacks against U.S. corporations could be linked to the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

Macs have traditionally been viewed as significantly more secure than Windows machines, though in the past year there have been a number of compromised machines from the Flashback malware and issues with Java.

Apple Employees Hacked By Visiting iPhoneDevSDK

As reported by The New York Times, the software development website responsible for seeding malicious software to Mac computers at Apple, Facebook, and presumably Twitter has been revealed by a person who was involved with the investigation at Facebook.

The compromised site, iPhoneDevSDK, is an online forum designed for software developers. The site is still infected, and visiting it is not recommended.

At this time, it is unknown if the site had any involvement in the attacks, though it is likely that it was the work of third party hackers given the site's prominent standing as a dedicated community for iPhone developers.

Apple this morning announced that a small number of its employees' computers had been compromised through the Java plug-in vulnerability, an issue that has now been fixed with the Java update and malware removal tool released by Apple this afternoon.

Mac users can determine whether or not they have been affected by the security flaw by installing the Java update, which will notify a user if malware is found. Apple says that the Java update and malware removal tool will "remove the most common variants of malware."

As noted by The Next Web, iPhoneDevSDK is currently in maintenance mode.

Jony Ive on How Product Naming Influences Design Philosophy [Mac Blog]

jonathan_iveJust a couple days after a clip of Jony Ive's appearance on BBC's Blue Peter was revealed, journalist Tom Davenport (via CNET) says he's found an insightful portion of the clip that was cut out. In the new segment, Ive talks about how product naming philosophy can affect the design process.
If we're thinking of lunchbox, we'd be really careful about not having the word 'box' already give you  bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. You think of a box being a square, and like a cube. And so we're quite careful with the words we use, because those can determine the path that you go down.
As mentioned previously, Ive was a fan of Blue Peter while he was growing up and talks about a design he saw on the show that's stuck with him over the years. This is just another look at Ive's design process, which he's started talking about more and more over the years as Apple's profile has risen and as Ive and his team have received more accolades, which includes his knighting last May.

Last October, Ive was promoted to head of the Human Interface team and is playing the Steve Jobs role at the company. Former Apple employee Loren Brichter, who went on to create iOS game Letterpress, had said he was excited about Ive's new role because of how he could possibly apply his design philosophy to iOS.

iOS 6.1.2 Released with Fix for Battery Life Bug [IPSW Direct Download Links]

iOS 6.1.2 OTA Download

iOS 6.1.2 has been released by Apple. The minor update to iOS includes a resolution for a battery drain bug that impacted users of Exchange servers which also caused excessive data usage, and presumably also fixes the passcode bypass bug that exists in prior iOS 6 versions, though that has yet to be confirmed. The brief release notes mention only this for the 6.1.2 update:

Fixes an Exchange calendar bug that could result in increased network activity and reduced battery life.

Users of Microsoft Exchange who experienced the excessive data use and battery life problems should be the first to update, but anyone troubled by the potential of someone bypassing the lock screen should also update soon. If neither of these apply to you, it's still good maintenance policy to stay current with OS updates.

iOS 6.1.2 is available for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad 2, iPad Mini, and iPod touch 4th and 5th generations.

Download iOS 6.1.2

As usual, the simplest and fastest way to get an iOS update is using Over-The-Air updates. As an OTA delta update, iOS 6.1.2 weighs in around 12.8MB, and with a reasonable broadband connection your device will be updated in just a few minutes. Using Over the Air updates is simple:

  • Open Settings, tap General, then go to "Software Update"
  • Choose "Download and Install", be sure to have at least 50% of battery life remaining on the iOS device before attempting OTA

Installing this update through OTA brings up a new Terms & Conditions agreement that surely nobody will read, tap "Agree" and be on your way. Using OTA is the simplest way to update iOS, but you can also update devices by connecting them to iTunes and letting it automatically update, or for more advanced users, using the firmware files outlined below.

iOS 6.1.2 IPSW Direct Download Links

For those who would rather have access to firmware files, the IPSW links below are hosted by Apple. Right-click and choose "Save As", ensuring the file extension is .ipsw in order for it to work properly. Though updating with IPSW isn't too complicated, it is not considered a necessary procedure to know how to do, and most users should stick with the easier OTA or iTunes update methods.

IPSW files are quite large and may take a while to download.

Users concerned about maintaining the possibility of jailbreaking their devices should avoid the update for now until a specific update for the Evasion tool is released to handle the newer iOS version.