News/Rumors

Apple details iOS diagnostics capabilities in response to ‘backdoor’ concerns

Earlier this week, forensic expert, and former jailbreak hacker, Jonathan Zdziarski, attracted attention to suspicious iOS background assets that could allow for covert data collection of users’ information from devices. They could be exploited by law enforcement agencies or hackers to steal sensitive personal data.

Apple of course denied the claim, stating that these so-called ‘backdoor services’ are actually used for troubleshooting.

“As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products of services,” Apple said.

Then the company published a new support document, where Apple offers a limited description of the three services— coincidentally listed in the same order as presented by Zdziarski in his slide deck. The company also provided details of how each works.

Apple (1)

From Apple’s support document:

  1. com.apple.mobile.pcapdpcapd supports diagnostic packet capture from an iOS device to a trusted computer. This is useful for troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with apps on the device as well as enterprise VPN connections. You can find more information at developer.apple.com/library/ios/qa/qa1176.
  2. com.apple.mobile.file_relayfile_relay supports limited copying of diagnostic data from a device. This service is separate from user-generated backups, does not have access to all data on the device, and respects iOS Data Protection. Apple engineering uses file_relay on internal devices to qualify customer configurations. AppleCare, with user consent, can also use this tool to gather relevant diagnostic data from users’ devices.
  3. com.apple.mobile.house_arresthouse_arrest is used by iTunes to transfer documents to and from an iOS device for apps that support this functionality. This is also used by Xcode to assist in the transfer of test data to a device while an app is in development.

Apple has already been mentioned by Edward Snowden’s PRISM leak last summer, which was followed tons of questions concerning the company’s stance on privacy.

 

iPhone, News/Rumors

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts 5.5-inch iPhone 6 delay

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has previously given accurate Apple product information, has issued a note on Sunday, saying that while Apple’s 4.7-inch “iPhone 6″ is still believed to debut this fall, the larger 5.5-inch model could see a serious delay in the release.

According to the analyst, the company is already suffering from production bottlenecks on the 4.7-inch model related to the new technology for the product’s in-cell touch panel, and color irregularity on the redesigned “iPhone 6″ metal casing. The 5.5-inch model will also face these issues.

“These problems will likely be even more complicated with a larger size,” Kuo said. “In addition, from a technical perspective, we don’t expect sapphire cover, used for the first time on the 5.5-inch model, will easily pass the drop test near term. We are conservative about 5.5-inch iPhone launching by end-2014. Even if the product is launched in 2014, it is likely to take place after mid-4Q14, which is later than the September-October of consensus, with shipments being lower than consensus of 15- 20mn units.”

iPhone6

In addition to the aforementioned problems, the device’s sapphire display may not be firm enough in drop tests to go to market yet. Kuo also predicts that when the larger model finally ships, fewer than 15-20 million units will be available.

The analyst believes that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may not go on sales by the end of 2014, or may debut after October in very limited quantities. In addition to delay, he says, that the prices of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will drop alongside the launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

According to the early rumors, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 was facing production issues related to the device’s display and battery life. However, later reports noted that both models would enter production and launch at the same time.

Apple is believed to announce and launch the iPhone 6 in September. The device is expected to include a thinner profile and a faster A8 processor.

News/Rumors

Apple blocks older Flash plug-in versions and posts Safari update

Apple on Thursday issued a security message stating it has blocked old versions of Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in for Safari due to a major security issue.

In a security note, Apple explained: “Due to security issues in older versions, Apple has updated the web plug-in blocking mechanism to disable all versions prior to Flash Player 14.0.0.145 and 13.0.0.231.”

The company said, it has taken action against a recently revealed Flash vulnerability by restricting plug-in access through its Safari Web browser.

Users will see a notification saying, “Blocked plug-in,” “Flash Security Alert” or “Flash out-of-date” when trying to access Flash content in Safari. Clicking on the message brings users to Adobe’s Flash installer page with the latest version of the plug-in availble to download and install.

According to Adobe, the flaw can be met in Flash Player for Mac version 14.0.0.125 and earlier.

The company notes, that the block doesn’t affect third-party browsers.

Flash

Mac users are advised to update to Adobe Flash Player 14.0.0.145 if possible. Version 13.0.0.231is available for computers which aren’t compatible with the newer software.  Re-enabling older Flash versions requires Safari 6.1 or later.

Apple notes:

Please test general website compatibility.

  • Subpixel rendering is now on by default for all web content. Web sites or in-app web views with extremely tight design constraints may render differently.

  • CSS object model getters will return fractional double values based on subpixel layout and rendering metrics instead of rounded integral values.

Please test extension compatibility.

 

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple updates iTunes U with discussions, creation tools and more

As expected, Apple on Tuesday issued a significant update to its iTunes U application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  The new version focuses on improvements for both teachers and students, by adding new discussion options for students and iPad creation tools for teachers.

“Education is at the core of Apple’s DNA and iTunes U is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers and students,” said Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue.”iTunes U features an amazing selection of academic materials for everyone around the world. Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on iPad.”

Enhancements for students allow to collaborate, with the ability to begin class discussions, answer queries and ask questions right within the app. They can also join conversations on new topics. Push notifications for new topics are available, too.

ipad_itunesu

In addition to discussion option, the updated version includes the ability to add content like images and videos captured via the iPad’s built-in camera. Students are also offered to import learning materials from Apple’s iWork and iBooks Author or from any of the over 75,000 educational apps available for the iPad on the App Store.

Teachers can also take part in forum discussions and moderate them by removing any off-topic messages or undesired replies.

According to the Apple’s report, the iTunes U app features over 750,000 individual learning materials and thousands of educational institutions hosting over 7,500 public and thousands of private courses, including the arts, health and medicine, sciences, education, business and others.

69 countries have access to iTunes U courses and 155 countries can download the app itself.

iTunes U version 2.0 is available as a free download from the iOS App Store.

Mac, News/Rumors

Apple introduces $50 Mac Pro security lock adapter

Apple on Tuesday introduced the first official hardware security adapter specifically designed for the late-2013 Mac Pro, providing an easy way for users to secure their desktop.  The $49 adapter attaches to the rear of the Mac Pro without need for any special tools and is compatible with most third-party Kensington locks or similar products.

The adapter latches on to the Mac Pro’s body and aluminum case, giving access to each port and the power cord while preventing the case from being opened.  Apple states, that its in-house design is completely temporary and does not modify or damage the Mac.

Here are the accessory’s highlights from Apple:

  • Enables Mac Pro (Late 2013) to be physically secured with a compatible lock (sold separately)
  • Attaches to Mac Pro without tools or enclosure modification
  • With a third-party lock attached, prevents Mac Pro from being opened, protecting internal components
  • Compatible with most standard Kensington or similar lock products

MacPro_Lock

Since the iPhone maker made up decision not to create a security mechanism or lock attachment point into the Mac Pro’s sleek chassis, third-party solutions with a more advanced setup process started hitting the Mac Pro accessory marketplace.

Apple’s $50 Mac Pro Security Lock Adapter can be purchased on the Online Apple Store, while Apple’s stores are not yet stocking the product.

News/Rumors

Apple airs new ‘Parenthood’ iPhone 5s ad with focus on family

Apple on Sunday aired a a new TV ad to promote the iPhone 5s focusing on the device’s ability to help parents teach, interact and connect with their children through different apps.

The ad is entitled ‘Parenthood,’ and shows how the iPhone can be used to record home video, find a lost dog, monitor the children, and turn off the lights in the living room.  According to reports, it is not BWA’s Media Arts Lab, who is responsible for the latest run of commercials, but Apple’s own in-house ad team.

The video highlights such apps like teeth-brushing tutor MyTeeth, alphabet learning game DRAWNIMAL and pet tracker Pet Manager PRO. The company also paid attention to first party titles including FaceTime, allowing parents to connect with their kids even when you are far from home.

The ad comes ahead of HomeKit Smart Home appliance integration with iOS 8 this fall. HomeKit is expected to allow iOS devices to become a central control and monitoring hub for supported home automation hardware and software. HealthKit will serve in a similar way for fitness products, letting keep self and health data.  The new ad also shows a mother taking her child’s temperature with the Kinsa Smartphone Thermometer, while another mother uses the Nike+ Running app on a stroller-mounted iPhone.

The song features “Life of Dreams” written by singer-songwriter Julie Doiron. The commercial ends with the “You’re more powerful than you think” tagline, which was first used in April’s ‘Powerful’ 5s spot, and again this month with ‘Strength.’

Apple has also updated its iPhone website with its “Powerful” campaign webpage, where the company also added a set of links to apps and music used in the “Parenthood” ad.

News/Rumors

Apple launched cheaper iPod touch model and slashed prices on 32GB & 64GB models

According to a number of sources, Apple has launched its new entry-level 16 GB fifth-generation iPod touch, while also cutting the price on the current 32/64 GB iPod touch, offering them for $249 and $299, respectively.

The update added the 16-gigabyte iPod touch to line with its larger 32- and 64-gigabyte versions, which are all available in different colors, including black, space grey, pink, yellow, blue, and (Product)RED. All three models can be ordered on Apple’s online store and are promised to ship within 24 hours.

The new iPod touch is also offered in six different colors with a rear camera and a lower price tag of $199. The new model now offers the same features as the larger capacity iPods, although the Loop wrist strap can be purchased separately on the 16 GB model and included with 32 and 64 GB models.

iPod touch3

All three have a 4-inch Retina display, a forward facing FaceTime HD camera, and are powered by Apple’s A5 processor. They also run iOS 7 and ship with Apple’s EarPods.

iPod touch

The fifth-generation iPod touch first appeared in October of 2012 and was priced at $299, while the iPod touch lineup was last updated in June of 2013 with 16-gigabyte version available for $229 in one color.

Today iPod isn’t so popular, like it previously was. During its quarterly earnings conference calls, the company said that the iPod touch accounted for more than half of all iPod sales. Meanwhile, last quarter, Apple managed to sale just 2.7 million iPods, a number that is far from a mention from the company as it discussed its financial results.

News/Rumors

Apple iWatch fitness capabilities being tested by professional athletes

Apple has invited professional athletes from the MLB, NHL, and NBA to its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. to test the upcoming “iWatch’s” fitness capabilities in intense training environments. The source says that Apple has teamed up with  LA Lakers player Kobe Bryant, LA Kings player Dustin Brown, and several other famous professional athletes, including a player from the Boston Red Sox, on the testing project.

The athletes are said to have signed non-disclosure-agreements regarding the existence of the upcoming Apple product. Nonetheless, Bryant was spotted at Apple’s headquarters a few weeks ago and was reportedly there to meet with Apple’s design boss Jony Ive. The athletes are probably testing out the multitude of health and fitness sensors built into the device, stated to measure everything from sleep quality to heart rate to give an overall picture of health.

kobeatapple

The iWatch is believed to launch this October and will be available in a variety of sizes. According to The Reuters report, the iWatch will be provided with a 2.5-inch screen. The device will likely feature a slightly rectangular face that protrudes slightly from a band to create an arch shape around the wrist.  KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted, that Apple’s iWatch will be available at multiple price points and in different materials.

Last year, the iPhone maker hired former Nike fitness expert and FuelBand developer Jay Blahnik to reportedly work on the iWatch. According to Gurman, Blahnik joined the team that is testing the device in health and fitness environments.

Another source stated that former Yves St. Laurent CEO Paul Deneve, now a vice president at Apple reporting to Tim Cook, has been working on strategies for selling fashion products in Apple’s stores, while Senior VP of Apple Retail Angela Ahrendts is preparing the device for marketing.

The iWatch is expected to enter manufacturing within the next few months, in time for an October debut.

News/Rumors

iWatch to come in multiple sizes with more than 10 sensors

According to the new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple’s upcoming entry to the smartwatch market will be accompanied by as many as ten or more sensors for collecting health data.

The device is said to be able to utilize over 10 sensors to track health and fitness and will be available in multiple screen sizes.  At WWDC earlier this month, the company introduced a new Health app, tasked to aggregate data from different wearable devices at one place. For the new projects, the iPhone maker has reportedly been hiring medical professionals.

Apple’s smartwatch is expected to launch as early as October and serve as a health-focused device. The new product will likely work with Apple’s new Health application.

According to Taiwanese contract manufacturer Quanta, the manufacture of the iWatch will begin from next month. In total,  Apple is reportedly expecting to ship 10-15 million units of the iWatch by December and potentially 65 million units in the first year.

iwatch1

Reuters also claimed that the iWatch would feature a surprisingly large 2.5 inches diagonally, and wireless charging capabilities in addition to a touch interface. Meanwhile, it is still unclear if the 2.5-inch screen will be one of the “multiple versions” of the watch that hits the market this fall. Earlier rumors had suggested that the product would be available in a 1.3 and 1.6 inch sizes to accommodate various sized wrists.

Apple has not made any major hardware announcement this year, but according to the statement of CEO Tim Cook, the company is working on “some really great stuff” including new device categories. Most of the announcements are scheduled at the end of the year and early next year.

 

News/Rumors

Kanye West: Samsung-Jay Z collaboration drove Apple to buy Beats

Kanye West praised recent deal between Apple and Beats Electronics during a recent appearance at a seminar in Cannes. The rapper also said, that a collaboration between Jay Z and Samsung last year played into Apple’s decision to buy Beats.

Samsung reportedly purchased instant cultural cachet when it worked with Jay Z last year to provide one million free copies of the Brooklyn-based rapper’s latest album to Galaxy phone buyers.

iPhone maker did almost the same, spending $3 billion for acquisition of Beats, West added. He also explained that the company has lost touch with culture since Jobs’ death in 2011 and the acquisition of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s firm is meant to regain some of that lost ground.

“The reason I said I didn’t like Samsung particularly is because throughout my entire life, because of how my parents raised me, I have to work with the No. 1. Samsung is not quite Apple, but it showed that Jimmy and Dre would be able to connect with the No. 1 influencers.”

Beats

During his speech, West also mentioned Instagram, which he has some interest in redesigning.

“Now, you know, Instagram is nice. It’s nice looking. I’m not knocking it. But just in general, everyone spends all of their time looking at their screens or their phones. And just as a simple task, we could clean that up.” Kanye West said his official wedding photo with Kim Kardashian took four days to produce after top photographer Annie Leibovitz pulled out of their wedding one day before the big event. By the way, Kim and Kanye’s wedding photo is the most-liked image ever on Instagram, gaining more than 1.93 million likes, and more than 35,000 comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier said that acquisition of Beats Music would give the company a head start in subscription-based music streaming. Apple also reportedly spend about $500 million for Beats’ music arm.