Exploit still requires user permission to install, downplayed by experts
A new exploit has been developed that could threaten Mac security by leveraging vulnerabilities in firmware rather than software, making the worm nearly impossible to remove. While sounding more ominous than any threat since the original firmware-based Thunderstrike (which was limited to a proof-of-concept with no reported attacks), leading security experts say this new threat is also very low-risk.
Fixes issue with flash storage that could cause data corruption
Apple on Wednesday issued a firmware update for the recently-released "mid-2015" MacBook Pro Retina 13- and 15-inch models. The update, aimed at only the MacBook Pro models with the Force Touch trackpad as a distinguishing feature, fixes a problem with flash storage that could, in rare cases, cause data corruption, according to Apple. The 1.9MB file is available directly from Apple and the Mac App Store's update section.
Patch fixes issues with USB keyboards and sleep
Apple has released a firmware update today for the late-2012 Mac mini, the model just before the current models. The 4.4MB EFI Firmware Update (version 1.8) will automatically appear in the Software Update portion of the Mac App Store for users with affected machines, and fixes "an issue that may prevent a USB keyboard from being recognized after the system wakes from sleep."
Conditions needed to make exploit work are untenable, but possible
A new vulnerability -- albeit one that is extremely unlikely to happen "in the wild" -- has been discovered by security researcher Pedro Vilaca, where a flaw in pre-2014 Macs could conceivably allow an attacker access to a portion of OS X that has access to the Mac's Open Firmware and EFI (what PC users might call the BIOS of the machine) and possibly exploit other vulnerabilities to perhaps overwrite it with malicious firmware.
Wi-Fi home monitoring camera adds new motion masking feature
Cloud home monitoring start-up Spotcam has announced a new motion-masking feature for its Wi-Fi home monitoring camera system. A feature available in professional security camera systems, Spotcam's motion masking can be acquired by users through updating to the latest firmware. The camera can then be configured to only monitor motions for a specified area, and ignore other locations within its field of view. Notifications of movement can be received via email or the mobile app, and motion detection alerts are triggered for unmasked zones only.
Camera RAW, Thunderbolt Display firmware, Safari, Epson printers
On Thursday, Apple issued a number of new builds of Safari for the last three versions of OS X, a new firmware update for the current Thunderbolt Display, an update to Camera RAW, and updates for printer drivers for Epson printers. The Thunderbolt Display firmware update covers a "rare" issue that can cause some displays to go dark, according to the company. The update, to version 1.2, also brings "improved reliability when connecting external displays to the display."
New research to be published at Black Hat points out inherent insecurity of USB
A pair of researchers are going to discuss a giant security flaw that illustrates how the Universal Serial Bus (USB) firmware can be exploited. Security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell have developed "BadUSB," a malware package resident in USB firmware that can be used as an attack vector to install any manner of software on a PC, with little or no warning to the user, and - as of now -- no effective way to stop the attack or spread of the malware.
Previous update caused system crashes, unstable or unbootable machines
Apple released a new update for MacBook Air EFI firmware today, updating to version 2.9.1 for "Mid-2011" models of the notebook. The company states that the update fixes a few issues for owners facing problems with waking from sleep and fans running at full speed in a specific instance. The update replaces a previous version that caused a number of additional problems for owners.
Sony's PlayStation announces upcoming 3D Blu-ray support for PS4
Sony's PlayStation has announced that its next system update for PS4 will include support for 3D Blu-ray releases. The firmware update, v1.75, is anticipated to arrive next week, according to PlayStation Europe's tweet from earlier today. This information was released in light of Microsoft's announcement of Xbox One's upcoming 3D Blu-ray support.
Can sometimes fail to install, leaving computer unusable
A firmware update, issued on Monday for "Mid-2011" MacBook Air models running OS X 10.9.2 and later, apparently has a bug in either the code or the downloaded file, which is causing reports of system crashes and occasionally a failure to install properly, leaving MBA owners unable to boot the machine. The purpose of the firmware update was to correct two "wake from sleep" issues that affected only "mid-2011" MBAs running 10.9.2 or later. Some users have found that an SMC reset can restore the units to functional status.
Fix prevents excessive battery drain when lid is closed during operation
Apple on Monday issued a MacBook Air SMC Update version 2.0 specifically for the next-to-most-recent (otherwise known as the Mid-2013) MacBook Air models. The update, which requires users be running either OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 or later or OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.5), corrects an issue that may "cause the battery to drain faster than expected when the lid is closed," says the company. The 804KB update file revises the firmware of the MacBook Air, and thus the computer must be plugged into a power source for safe updating.
Latest Chrome beta for Android improves Chromecast support
Google has announced that it has begun rolling out a Chrome 35 beta for Android users today. Featuring improved Chromecast support, users can now send some video clips from the browser to a Chromecast-equipped TV. Additionally, Chrome now offers full-screen videos and improved support for multi-window devices. The update is available through Google Play.
Compression utility software company releases beta of ZipShare web app
WinZip, the maker of the popular file compression utility, has introduced a beta version of its new web app. Named ZipShare, the cloud platform lets users 'zip' and share files from a hard drive or from cloud storage providers. The service will also feature file management, encryption, and file sharing, and is designed to work like a plug-in to various cloud platforms. Currently in beta, a commercial launch is planned for later this spring, with basic file sharing available at no cost and varying service levels available at a monthly rate starting at $10.
Lens camera firmware improves ISO, video resolution
Sony's QX Smart Lens range of "Lens Cameras" have received a firmware update, improving a number of functions. At the same time, images have surfaced suggesting that Sony is preparing to offer a mount for the cameras, expanding the range of devices the QX10 and QX100 can be attached to from smartphones to include tablets and phablets.
Firmware update version 2.0.3 now available for Canon EOS-1D X camera users
Canon's EOS-1D X DSLR camera has received a firmware update that is now available. Bringing new levels of accuracy and versatility to the EOS-1D camera's AF and exposure systems, more customization options are also available. Improved low-light performance and an expanded minimum shutter speed in auto ISO are included as well.
Third-party batteries, grips not compatible with latest DSLR firmware
The latest firmware update for some Nikon digital cameras has apparently caused some unexpected issues for some owners. Reports have surfaced suggesting that the update, which is supposed to help the camera more accurately detect the remaining charge for a specific battery used on some DSLR and Coolpix cameras, is now preventing third-party batteries and battery grips from working on the cameras.
Only for 'late 2013' iMacs, fixes Power Nap and USB issues
On Thursday, Apple launched a firmware and software update for the most recent models of iMac, known as the "late 2013" or "Haswell" versions. The first is an SMC update that resolves an issue with Power Nap (a feature that is new to iMacs, but has been included with select MacBook Pro models for a while), and an OS X 10.8.5 "Supplemental Update" that further resolves miscellaneous USB issues only for late 2013 iMacs that came with an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M.
SMC update addresses battery bug
Apple has released several firmware updates for its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air notebooks. The MacBook Pro Retina SMC update v1.1 addresses an issue that is said to cause slow frame rates when playing graphics-intensive games with the 15-inch model, along with separate issues relate to Power Nap, waking from sleep and fan control.
New iOS 7 outpacing even iOS 6 in rapid adoption by users
As anticipated, new buyers of the iPhone 5s and 5c are finding themselves prompted to download an iOS firmware update, v7.0.1, Apple officially states that the patch deals with "bug fixes and improvements," but it's believed to be focused on a problem involving the 5s' Touch ID sensor and iTunes purchases. It's unknown what if any changes the code makes for the 5c.
Deals with Time Capsule, IPv6 and Wi-Fi connection issues
On Tuesday, Apple issued a firmware update for its line of Airport Wi-Fi routers, including the AirPort Base Station, Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme. The new version, 7.6.4, is available through the Airport Utility program itself as well as Apple's support website. The update addresses three issues, including a problem that could cause Airport Time Capsules to falsely report that the backup disk is in use; another that sometimes caused the devices to report that the backup disk is in use, along with two other issues.
Operating system now takes up less space, option to move apps to microSD
Samsung has started to roll out a software update for the Galaxy S4 which will help save space on the smartphone. Following complaints from users, the update will free up the amount of available storage from 9.15GB to 9.23GB on the 16GB model, and will also add a function to allow for apps to be moved to the microSD card, instead of being stored on the built-in memory.
Fixes a rare issue for much-used batteries
Users owning a 15- or 17-inch MacBook Pro that is either the "Mid-2010" or the "Early 2011" models will soon see an SMC firmware update for their machines that will update the firmware to version 1.7. The upgrade addresses "a rare issue on some Apple notebooks where a battery that has accumulated more than 1,000 charge cycles may unexpectedly shut down or stop functioning," according to the company. Apple rates the batteries as being good for 1,000 or more cycles.
Sporadic reports of lower thermal thresholds, GPU underclocking
According to scattered reports on the Apple Support Forums, some users who have applied Apple's latest extensible firmware interface (EFI) update are experiencing reduced frame rates while running graphically-intensive applications on the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphic chipset. The problems are inconsistent, and temporarily fixed by a SMC reset. The issue mostly affects waking a computer from sleep, gaming, or using Windows in Boot Camp.
Firmware v2 adds in-camera editing, extra controls
Canon has issued a firmware upgade for its EOS 7D DSLR. Firmware v2 adds a number of improvements to the three-year old camera, allowing greater control of image settings and functionality. Changes include a higher maximum RAW burst rate, now up to 25 RAW files or 130 JPEGs, as well as a number of new in-camera editing functions.
Sony drops new PS Vita firmware update, v.1.66
Sony has issued its second PS Vita update in the past three days. The new update takes the PS Vita to firmware version 1.66 after just issuing version 1.65 just Monday. The 1.65 update was live for just a short while before Sony pulled it because it caused an error in adhoc wireless multiplayer on PSP games.
Alters graphic cards' firmware
Apple has updated Software Update and its support website with a small update called iMac Graphic FW Update 3.0 which it says will fix "a graphics issue that will cause an iMac to hang under certain conditions" for Intel-based iMacs running OS X Lion. The bug apparently exists inside the firmware for the graphics card in recent iMacs, as the company issued a similar update last June.
Sony releases firmware update for PS3, 4.10
Sony has released its latest firmware update for the PS3 taking it to version 4.10. The new update is referred to as being minor, but brings with it a change in the Terms of Service following the PlayStation Network (PSN) being folded into Sony’s larger Sony Entertainment Network. The move continues a trend towards Sony developing a more cohesive and integrated online platform that brings together its movie, music, TV and gaming content.
Previous generations of MacBook Air, MBP, iMac
[Update: MacBook Pro eligibility corrected] Apple late today issued further EFI firmware updates to allow previous-generation MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMacs to access Lion Internet Recovery, a technology that lets users re-download and reinstall Lion when the hard drive containing the recovery partition has completely failed and no other backup medium is available. The models updated today include the MacBook Air (late 2010), the mid-2010 aluminum iMacs and the mid 2010 MacBook Pros.
Airport and TC updated to v7.6, MBP to v1.5
Late on Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for the MacBook Pro (all models), as well as the Airport and Time Capsule wireless base stations (802.11n capable models only). The update to the MacBook Pros, which brings the firmware up to version 1.5, resolves an issue where the MBP may shut down under heavy load when the battery charge is very low, even if the unit is actually plugged into power at the time.
Previous version unstable, caused issues
Apple has again released an update for the firmware of its Apple TV device, re-releasing v4.4.1, which was pulled on Monday after users reported serious problems with their devices after installing the update. The new version has fixed the issue, and now does what the original v4.4.1 was supposed to do -- resolve an issue present in v4.4 that caused some Apple TVs to be connected to iTunes in order to update.
Fixes intermittent display flickering
Apple has added a firmware update specific to the 24-inch LED Cinema Display that addresses an issue that can cause intermittent flickering when connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac. The update, which does not yet have the normal accompanying technote, may not resolve a flickering issue if a Mini DisplayPort extender cable is used, according to the company. Users on Apple's support forums have been complaining about the flickering problem for months.
Intel: Firmware update promised in two weeks
Intel is promising a fix for its 320-series SSD drives within two weeks, in the form of a firmware update. Macworld reported today that the chipmaker has isolated the issue that saw a number of the 320-series solid state drives fail after a power outage, resulting in a Bad Context 13x Error. The firmware fix promises to avoid future issues but will not recover lost data for owners currently suffering from the issue. Intel has come under fire for its slow response to the issue, which was first reported months ago and acknowledged by Intel in late July.
Only for the 27-inch LED-backlit model
Today Apple issued a firmware update for the 27-inch LED Cinema Display (the model introduced on July 27th) which addresses intermittent audio dropouts some users have experienced while using the display, which had been previously addressed in a technote on Apple's support site. Under certain cirumstances, audio would cut out, and require unplugging the display or restarting the computer. This is not the same update as the LED Cinema Display Software Update 1.0, issued this past September.
EFI update for both 11- and 13-inch Airs
Apple has finally released an EFI Firmware Update for the latest MacBook Air notebooks released earlier in the year. The download is said to resolve an issue that sometimes caused the device to become unresponsive, along with a separate glitch that resulted in a black screen when users attempted to wake or boot the notebook.
i-Function set for all NX-series lenses
Samsung has announced that its NX10 DSLR camera will soon support the company's i-Function lenses. An upcoming firmware update will allow users to take advantage of the lens technology, which communicates directly with the camera body to control settings from the lens itself.
Update for 15- and 17-inch mid 2010 models
Apple has released an EFI firmware update for recent 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro models. Version 1.9 provides a bug fix for an issue that sometimes caused systems to freeze during startup or occasionally stall during normal operation. The EFI download also improves compatibility with number of external displays.
Firmware expected sometime in summer
A YouTube video posted by the Polish site MakoweABC shows the iPhone OS 4.0 beta, including the new multitasking features and folder creation. The host demonstrates how to launch several apps and bring up the multitasking toolbar with a double press of the home button. Each of the app icons are listed on the bottom of the screen, allowing users to terminate each app by tapping and holding on the icon.
Keynote available as video podcast
Apple has posted a video podcast of its April 8 special event, which focused on a variety of new features introduced with iPhone OS 4.0. The upcoming firmware will finally enable multitasking, enabling iPhone users to simultaneously run several applications. Users will also be able to take advantage of additional features such as gift apps, playlist creation, video tap-to-focus, and 5x digital zoom.
Downloads available for Mac and Windows
Apple on Wednesday released updates to its AirPort utilities for Mac and Windows systems, along with a firmware update for Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme Base Station devices. AirPort Utility 5.5.1 has been improved with a number of bug fixes, helping to prevent problems when importing settings or propagating MAC address control lists using an extended network.
Firmware paired with licensing agreement
Apple on Monday released the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK GM (Golden Master), which will serve as the final version of the kit. Developers can also now download the official iPad 3.2 firmware and corresponding licensing agreement. The agreement hints at terms for future firmware upgrades.
Download available for 27-inch iMacs
Apple on Monday released a firmware update for 27-inch iMacs released late last year. Confirming earlier reports, the latest download is a second firmware update designed to address issues involving intermittent display flickering. The company in December released a graphics firmware update that was also claimed to prevent image corruption and flickering, although it was reportedly unsuccessful for many users.
Download geared for latest iMacs
Apple on Wednesday released a Bluetooth firmware update designed for users running Windows via Boot Camp. The download is said to improve the wireless performance with Vista and XP on the latest 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs released earlier this month, although specific details have not been provided.
Update available for latest 160GB models
Apple has released a firmware update, v2.0.3, for the latest 160GB iPod classic. The update adds support for Genius Mixes, the iTunes feature that automatically creates playlists. Tracks are analyzed and combined into several genre-based mixes that can be listened to via iTunes or directly from the iPod.
MacBook Air update
Apple on Friday released a System Management Controller (SMC) firmware update for its MacBook Air devices. The latest version expands compatibility for newer service-replacement batteries. Users can download the updater, close any open applications and follow the installation steps before restarting the machine.
AirPort BS Firmware 7.4.2
Apple on Tuesday evening release an update to its software for its wireless router devices. The Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.4.2 (with 802.11n support) fixes five specific problems, according to the company: (1) some problems with extending and maintaining connectivity with extended networks; (2) an issue with clients that enable 802.11 "Power Save;" (3) Fixes connectivity issues with some third-party devices; (4) an issue when the base station is configured for PPPoE; and (5) some Back To My Mac issues with connectivity and support for third-party routers. Apple recommends that AirPort Utility 5.4.2 or later be installed before upgrading to Firmware version 7.4.2 (including the version 5.4.2 for Windows).
Apple has released firmware updates for the most recent MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air models. An EFI update is available for each notebook, offering improved stability and bug fixes, although the exact reasons for the release remain unclear. Users can also download an SMC update which is claimed to improve the sensing and accuracy of the MagSafe adapter indicator light on all models, along with the battery charge indicator lights on the MacBook and MacBook Pro.
Glass trackpad fix
Apple has released a software update that is designed to fix the glass trackpad problems with the new aluminum MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Owners had reported that the device would occasionally fail to recognize the click input. After downloading the update through the Software Update feature, the computer should be connected to the AC power source before executing the program. The company has not provided any details regarding the nature of the problem, but claims that the update addresses the issue.
Forums iPhone paranoia
Forum roundup: MacNN forum goers today discuss the release of the new iPhone firmware 2.1 upgrade. One forum member contemplates the usefulness of the iPod touch and iPhone in this thread. Paranoia expressed in one story about a perceived security flaw in the iPhone is debated in the thread titled "your iPhone is watching you". Members discuss the Genius feature in iTunes 8 in response to a question posed about blocking data sharing. One Dedicated MacNNer is having problems with OS X frequently freezing and finds some tips and advice in this thread.
D3, D300 firmware updates
Only a few days after its D700 announcement (pictured at right), Nikon has released v2.0 firmware for its D3 digital SLR (Windows/Mac), bringing improved autofocus performance, improved Auto White Balance, and an issue that caused the battery indicator to blink, regardless of actual battery charge (which the company claims happened in "rare circumstances"). Nikon says that the firmware update incorporates a number of other fixes, including (1) allowing the aperture setting to be adjusted from the computer when shooting LiveView mode using Camera Control Pro 2 (ver. 2.2.0) or later with a PC-E lens. Other fixes include more "Vignette control" settings and fixes, more world-time options, new options for "Choose image area," and a new "Copyright information" item that has been added to the setup menu.
802.11n wireless firmware
Apple on Monday released an update to its 802.11n wireless AirPort products, including its wireless Time Capsule backup solution: The Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n. The update says that Firmware 7.3.2 updates include bug fixes and that it requires AirPort Utility 5.3.2. AirPort Utility 5.3.2 -- both of which were released in early June and can be obtained via an automatic software update or as a manual download.