This Week in App News

As always, here’s Mac AppStorm’s weekly roundup of news and this week, it isn’t related to Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. Enjoy!

Apple patches up Flashback trojan with official fix

Since Apple officially recognised the FlashBack Trojan back at the start of the month (and simultaneously releasing a patch for OS X to shut up any security holes), a new Java security update was released on Thursday which removes all common variants of the virus. The patch is available through the OS X Software Update and is highly recommended for all Mac users with Java installed.

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Apple released Java for OS X 2012-003 on Thursday, fixing and removing the FlashBack trojan.

The update also rectifies the Java website plug-in and stops Java applets being automatically executed (from now on, a pop-up request box will appear asking if you want to execute a Java applet on a webpage). This can, however, be disabled in the Java preferences pane if you want to execute all applets automatically.

Apple’s official response to the problem has come a little late according to some people, especially seeing as Oracle (the developers of Java) recognised and fixed the problem back in February and since FlashBlack was discovered, third-party developers have released their own tools to find out whether your Mac is infected with the FlashBack virus as well as automatically removing it for you. For OS X users without Java installed, Apple has also released an official utility which will detect and remove any variants of the bug.

To find out more about the update, head over to the official post on Apple’s support website. If you’re an OS X user sans Java, click here to download the FlashBack removal tool.

iTunes 11 with iOS 6 support and improved iCloud in the works

Apple is reportedly working on the next major update to iTunes, version 11, which is said to include bank-end code improvement, support for iOS 6 devices, increased iCloud integration and support for a revamped iTunes store.

iTunes 11

Apple is rumoured to be working on iTunes 11 (image courtesy of 9to5Mac.com)

The new version of iTunes will apparently focus less on interface changes (such as those seen in previous updates to iTunes such as version 9) and will concentrate on providing under-the-hood improvements which should optimise performance, however it is possible that some UI improvements are seen to integrate with the upcoming release of OS X Mountain Lion this summer.

There is the promise of improved iCloud integration as well including a preference panel to control features such as iTunes in the Cloud, iOS backups over iCloud and iTunes Match, a new subscription service which allows you to sync any existing songs on your hard drive with all your iOS devices. Owing to Apple’s recent acquisition of Chomp back in February, a new way of discovering apps based on categories, this feature may also find its way into iTunes 11.

Apple usually stick to a yearly product release cycle (iOS 5 was announced back in June and released in October) so we can probably expect iTunes 11 to be announced at Apple’s annual WWDC conference this June. However the company is known for pulling out some surprises (look at the announcement of Mountain Lion) so really anything is possible. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

Office 2011 SP 2 released

Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 for Office 2011 for Mac, which fixes a number of key bugs as well as provides an overall improvement in performance. The most notable of these are improved sync performance with Exchange servers, performance improvements whilst deleting multiple items, improved displaying and sending of email content and improved IMAP account sync, which will come in useful to anyone who uses Outlook 2011 with Gmail or another IMAP client.

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Office 2011 SP2 brought with it a lot of improvements and bug fixes

Although the updates have mostly focused on Outlook (which still doesn’t match up to the Windows version in terms of performance), the whole range of Office programs have been updated to feature greater compatibility with the fullscreen mode on Lion (a little late, in my opinion!) and SkyDrive integration (similar to Apple’s iCloud) has also been improved.

You can grab SP2 either from Microsoft’s website or via AutoUpdate in Office 2011. For the full list of improvements, head over to the Office 2011 SP2 page on Microsoft Support.

Nuance releases Version 3 of its popular PDF converter software

When it comes to professional PDF editing and converting, Adobe Acrobat has pretty much been the de-facto option…up till now. Nuance has just released the third version of its PDF Converter for Mac software which, according to the company, is designed to compete directly with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

The new version features improved and more accurate Word to PDF conversion, built in cloud services allowing you to edit and save PDFs directly from the app either through Evernote or through Nuance’s own PaperPort Anywhere service as well as compliance with PDF security encryption protocols, such as 128 and 256-bit AES encryption. 

PDF Converter also makes it easier to fill out PDF forms with the new, built-in FormTyper service, meaning that the user can convert a non-fillable form (even on paper if it is uscanned in) and convert it into a fully fillable one with a few mouse clicks, which can then be converted, saved and emailed. There is also greater cross-platform compatibility with PDF forms as well with text fields, checkboxes and radio buttons. 

Nuance PDF Converter version 3 is priced at $99 (a fraction of Acrobat Pro, which retails at $449) and is available for instant purchase and download from their website.  If you’re not convinced, you can download a 30-day trial as well to test some of the features before buying. 


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