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Apple releases version of iOS 9.3 for older devices affected by Activation Lock issue

Apple has released a new version of iOS 9.3 with build number of 13E237, designed specifically for older iOS devices. The first finished public release of iOS 9.3 had an issue during the activation process. Users of such devices — including the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and earlier devices — who were unable to recall their Apple ID info could find their devices rendered inaccessible. This new build is meant to provide a fix for that problem. We’re also awaiting an iOS update for everyone that will provide a fix for the current hyperlink bug seen in Safari and elsewhere after updating to iOS 9.3, but it appears like we’ll have to wait a little longer on that front.

Report: Wireless charging, AMOLED screens could come to 2017 iPhones

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting a drastic redesign of the iPhone coming in 2017, including wireless charging, AMOLED displays and a “completely new form factor design” with narrower bezels. Kuo has pushed up his estimate for Apple’s release of AMOLED displays in iPhones, now backing previous rumors that customers will see the technology next year in a 5.8-inch iPhone that will completely replace the 5.5-inch iPhone, provided Apple can get enough of the larger AMOLED displays in time.

Hyperlink bug in iOS 9.3 causing apps on iPhone 6s/6s Plus models to freeze, crash

After updating to iOS 9.3, multiple iPhone 6s/6s Plus users have reported problems clicking hyperlinks in Safari, Mail, Messages, Notes and other apps. Some users are finding the links just don’t redirect anywhere while others are seeing their apps freeze or crash, according to multiple posts in Apple’s technical support forum. We have experienced the problem in Safari firsthand, with the hyperlinks going nowhere and occasionally freezing the app — so far we haven’t seen the behavior in other Apple apps ourselves. Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the issue but reportedly told one forum user “they’re aware of the problem and that their engineers are working on an update (presumably, iOS 9.3.1), and that the update should arrive within the next two days.” Apple’s Support Twitter account also seems to be attempting to offer help to users who contact the account, with apparent mixed results. Some users have had luck restoring hyperlink functionality in Safari by disabling JavaScript, but found the problem still persists in Mail, Notes and other apps that contain links. So far the problem seems isolated to 6s and 6s Plus models, leading to speculation that the issue could be tied to 3D Touch.

Happy Easter weekend from iLounge!

iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule today as we spend time with our families this Easter weekend. We will return to our full publishing schedule next week, as we await the release of Apple’s 9.7” iPad Pro and iPhone SE. And if you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out our comprehensive Instant Expert iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 articles.

Report: Apple working on original TV series about apps

Amidst rumours that have been swirling about Apple’s desire to unveil original TV programming, a new report from The New York Times indicates that the company may be making its first foray into the arena with a show about apps. Apple announced earlier today that it’s working with Will.i.am and veteran TV executives Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens to create a new unscripted show that highlights the “app economy.” Apple executives have declined to discuss any specifics around the show, including even a title, timeline, or how the show will be delivered to viewers. Although it’s notably the company’s first original effort outside the music category — as Dr. Dre’s upcoming show is — Apple SVP Eddy Cue noted that this latest entry does not represent any “broader ambition” by Apple in terms of original productions or streaming video, although he notes Apple will “continue to explore exclusive projects similar to the series about apps or its push into music programming.” This particular project was apparently initiated as a result of a pitch by Ben Silverman, executive producer of several recent hit TV series’ such as “Jane the Virgin” and “Marco Polo.” Silverman worked with Cue to make “The Office” available on iTunes nearly a decade ago.

Sony to bring ‘full-fledged’ games to iOS

Sony has announced plans to develop mobile games for the “smart device market” under a newly-formed subsidiary, ForwardWorks Corporation. The new mobile gaming arm will “leverage the intellectual property” of a number of PlayStation games and characters in developing gaming applications for the iOS and Android platforms, although it appears that it will be focusing these releases on the Japanese and Asian markets. While Sony seems to clearly be following the lead of Nintendo, which debuted its first game Miitomo in the Japanese App Store earlier this month, in contrast to Nintendo’s efforts, it appears ForwardWorks will be delivering “full-fledged game titles” for users to “casually enjoy” on their mobile devices. [via TechCrunch]

Reports detail Apple’s extensive cloud infrastructure projects

Apple has been migrating more of its cloud computing to Google, but a new report from The Information claims the company is aiming to create its own extensive set of data centers and servers to bring all of its cloud services in-house. Last week CRN reported Apple has quietly been moving much of its cloud computing to the Google Cloud Platform and away from Amazon Web Services, whose infrastructure it uses to run online services like iCloud. Anonymous sources said Apple is now spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google’s services after becoming dissatisfied with AWS being unable to quickly load photos and videos on users’ iOS devices.

Report: Israeli software company helping FBI crack iPhone

Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is said to be the company helping the FBI in its efforts to crack the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reports. Cellebrite officials refused to comment, but the company has been providing the FBI with decryption technology since 2013. Yesterday, a judge approved a two-week postponement of the FBI’s court action against Apple as the government explores a “third-party” method of unlocking the iPhone.

Google reportedly developing iOS keyboard

Google has been developing its own third-party keyboard for iOS that would incorporate the company’s search engine, The Verge reports. Sources said the keyboard has been in circulation among employees for months and is designed to boost the search traffic from Apple devices by providing one-button access to picture, GIF and traditional web searches. Like its Android counterpart, Google’s iOS keyboard also employs gesture-based typing, allowing users to drag their finger from one letter to the next and have Google guess their intended word.

Report: iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro both include 2GB of RAM

Both the iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro will include 2GB of RAM alongside their A9 and A9X processors, according to a tweet from TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino. This further puts the iPhone SE on par with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of raw processing power, although the 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in slightly less powerful than its larger counterpart, which includes 4GB of RAM. Panzarino also notes that the A9X in the standard-sized iPad is underclocked in comparison to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, although it’s worth noting that the smaller tablet can likely get away with less RAM and CPU power to drive the smaller display, which includes only slightly more than half the pixels of the larger model — 3,145,728 as opposed to 5,595,136.

iPhone 5/5s cases to fit iPhone SE; companies debut cases for iPhone SE + new iPad Pro

After Monday’s big iPhone SE reveal, Apple’s online store seems to be acknowledging that most 5/5s cases will work with the new SE. Cases that were once listed as being for iPhone 5/5s are now shown as compatible with 5/5s/SE. All of Speck’s existing iPhone 5/5s cases are compatible with the SE, and the company will make its CandyShell Clear ($35) case, pictured above, available in the new size starting in April. A number of other companies have debuted cases for Apple’s newest devices.

Report: Apple in ‘advanced talks’ to acquire GPU company

Apple is reportedly in “advanced talks” to acquire British chip design company Imagination Technologies, primarily know for the PowerVR line of GPUs used in Apple devices, Ars Technica reports. Apple has owned a significant number of shares in Imagination Technologies since 2008 — the same year Apple acquired chip designer PA Semi and took over the design process for its own CPU cores. Buying out Imagination Technologies would move GPU design in-house as well. Imagination Technologies has been struggling in recent months, cutting 350 jobs just last week. When reached for comment, the company refused to deny a planned takeover by Apple.

U.S. may have found way to crack terrorist’s iPhone without Apple’s help

U.S. prosecutors have postponed their showdown with Apple by two weeks to try a “third party” method for unlocking the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, Reuters reports. A federal judge granted the Department of Justice’s request to stall the hearing until April 5 while the FBI tries the newly discovered method to unlock the phone, which is at the center of a case which has seen Apple refusing to cooperate with the FBI’s request to develop new software for disabling the phone’s password security features. Until Monday, the government insisted it had no other way to access the iPhone, and lawyers supporting Apple said the timing of the request for delay suggests the DOJ feared it would lose a legal battle based on the assertion that it had tried every other way to get into the phone. “From a purely technical perspective, one of the most fragile parts of the government’s case is the claim that Apple’s help is required to unlock the phone,” said Matt Blaze, a professor and computer security expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “Many in the technical community have been skeptical that this is true, especially given the government’s considerable resources.” The government’s use of the All Writs Act had also recently come into doubt after a judge ruled the AWA couldn’t be used to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone in a similar case.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 with Night Shift, Notes + CarPlay improvements, much more

Apple officially announced the release of iOS 9.3 today during the company’s special event in Cupertino, and the update is now available. Originally released in January to developers, and then later as part of the company’s public beta program, iOS 9.3 is an unusually feature-packed update for a point iOS release, as we observed in our early analysis of the betas.

Apple reduces iPad Air 2 pricing to $399, drops 128GB model

With today’s unveiling of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple has dropped the pricing of the iPad Air 2 to $399 and $499 for the 16GB and 64GB versions, respectively. The 128GB version of the iPad Air 2 has also been removed from the lineup, forcing users who want a larger-capacity 9.7-inch iPad to opt for the new iPad Pro instead — albeit it for only $50 more than the 128GB iPad Air 2 previously sold for. The new pricing actually puts the iPad Air 2 pricing on par with the iPad Mini 4, although the smaller tablet retains its 128GB version at $599. All models continue to be available in both Wi-Fi only versions, or Wi-Fi + Cellular versions for an additional $130.

Apple unveils 9.7-inch iPad Pro, adds 256GB capacities to Pro lineup

Apple has announced a new 9.7-inch version of its iPad Pro, essentially upgrading the standard-sized iPad tablet to a “Pro” model, with features matching the 12.9-inch version debuted last fall. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will include the same features as its larger counterpart, including the 64-bit A9X CPU and M9 motion coprocessor, support for the Apple Pencil and a new, smaller-sized version of the Apple Smart Keyboard, while the new screen is both a “Wide color display” and “True Tone Display,” the latter of which will automatically measure the color temperature of ambient light to produce a natural paper-white color under any set of lighting conditions.

Apple announces four-inch iPhone SE starting at $399

As expected from recent reports, Apple today announced the new 4-inch iPhone SE. Apple VP Greg Joswiak took the stage to highlight the new addition to the company’s iPhone lineup, explaining that, despite the popularity of larger-screened iPhone models, a market for a 4-inch iPhone still exists, as “some people love smaller phones” and many users are still new to the iPhone entirely, especially in markets such as China.

Apple formally unveils tvOS 9.2 update

Apple has officially announced the availability of tvOS 9.2, a new feature update for the company’s fourth-generation Apple TV. First released to developers in January, tvOS 9.2 adds several new features for Apple TV users, including support for using Siri for dictation into text fields — including speaking or spelling out passwords — as well as for searching the tvOS App Store. The update also adds the ability to organize apps into home screen folders, similar to the folder implementation on iOS devices, support for Live Photos taken on the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and new iPhone SE, and the ability to access a user’s entire iCloud Photo Library from the set-top box. tvOS 9.2 is expected to be available later today.

Apple reduces Apple Watch pricing, debuts new Apple Watch bands

Today at Apple’s special event in Cupertino, CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple is reducing the price of entry for the Apple Watch to $299, which will become the new price of the 38mm Sport Edition. The 42mm Sport Edition will now be priced at $349. The price reduction affects only the Sport Edition models — the various stainless steel versions remain in the $549 to $1049 range, depending on band selection.

Cook also announced a new selection of Apple Watch bands, including a woven nylon band series, as well as new colors for the sport and leather bands, and a new space black Milanese Loop band. Interestingly, Cook claimed that “about a third” of Apple Watch users regularly change their watch bands.

Apple announces CareKit

During today’s Apple Event, the company expanded its HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives with a new service dubbed CareKit. The new system will allow users to share health information with care providers and loved ones in order to better facilitate doctor-patient communication. Like ResearchKit, CareKit will be a framework rather than a specific app, allowing third-party developers to tie into the data and services provided by the CareKit APIs. CareKit is scheduled to become available to developers in April.

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