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Thursday, March 27, 2008, 05:50 pm PT (08:50 pm ET)

Apple hiring for Mac, iPhone handwriting; AirPort, Mac Pro updates

Not content with its Inkwell technology, Apple has started a search for a handwriting recognition engineer to improve Mac OS X and, potentially, the iPhone. Also, the company has issued separate updates for AirPort Extreme on Tiger systems as well as newer Mac Pro workstations.

Apple seeks handwriting engineer for Mac OS X, iPhone

The listing for a position at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, spotted by Mac Rumors, asks for a veteran programmer of neural net code and pattern recognition who preferably has experience with writing in Apple's Cocoa programming interface.

A successful candidate would primarily improve the main operating system, Apple says in its description. However, this and future developments may branch out to include both the iPhone and "other applications," according to the company.

Handwriting technology has mostly been left untouched in Mac OS X since the launch of version 10.2 Jaguar in 2002, when the Mac maker added its Inkwell technology for pen tablets.

Apple doesn't list specific goals in its posting, but is known to be rapidly expanding the amount of research conducted into touchscreen technology beyond that already found in the iPhone and iPod touch.

The company recently filed a patent application for a next-generation surface that would allow curved input areas capable of recognizing a user's grip on a pen, and is still slated to introduce a multi-touch handheld later this year that would support more advanced commands than those found in the two devices already on the market.

AirPort Extreme Update 2008-001 for Tiger

Apple has issued a software update (1.3MB) for the AirPort Extreme hardware on systems running Mac OS X Tiger.

The update is said to improve the reliability of wireless connections for Intel-based Macs running version 10.4.11 or later.

Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.3

Also released is an EFI firmware patch for early 2008 Mac Pro systems (1.76MB).

The refresh improves the stability of the newer computers and requires Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 or newer.