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Report: New Apple Watch to feature internal improvements, same look

Well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting this year’s second-generation Apple Watch will look mostly the same externally, but feature improved internal components, Apple Insider reports. Kuo said those hoping for a thinner Apple Watch will likely have to wait until 2017, with this year’s upgrade focused on “spec improvements with limited changes to form factor design.” This jives with a January report stating that the next Apple Watch would be a “minor revision.” Kuo didn’t mention any specifics about what new features Apple could include, but previous reports have speculated about the appearance of a FaceTime camera, better battery, and improved outdoor display.

Apple helped FBI access iPhone data as far back as 2008

A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals that Apple’s history in working with the FBI goes back as far as 2008, when the company reportedly not only assisted the FBI in accessing the data on a locked iPhone, but actually had its lawyers assist in drafting the court order to do so. While the government reportedly had no means of compelling Apple to cooperate back then — other than the All Writs act used in the more current case — Apple basically voluntarily offered its assistance on the basis of the government providing the necessary paperwork. The case in question was a horrific child molestation case where the FBI needed evidence from the perpetrator’s iPhone, which was taken to Apple’s headquarters in California by a New York State Police investigator. There, the iPhone passcode was bypassed while the investigator watched. The case contrasts sharply with Apple’s more recent standoff with the FBI, but it’s also important to consider that 2008 model iPhone models did not encrypt data at all, nor provide any of the other advanced security features now commonplace on modern iPhone models, making for significantly different technical and ethical considerations.

FBI purchased tool to unlock iPhone; White House declines support of encryption legislation

FBI Director James Comey has revealed that the FBI purchased “a tool” from a private party to crack the San Bernardino iPhone, according to a report from CNN Money. Specifically, in formally announcing that litigation between the government and Apple has ended, Comey stated that “the government has purchased, from a private party, a way to get into that phone, 5C, running iOS 9.” Comey also added that he knows “a fair amount” about the people that the FBI purchased the tool from, that he has a “high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it,” and that the private party’s motivations align with those of the FBI. He also revealed that the tool purchased by the FBI only works on a “narrow slice of phones” that does not include the iPhone 5s or later models, possibly due to Apple’s new Touch ID and Secure Enclave architecture on those devices. The FBI Director also noted that the government has not yet decided whether to reveal the details of the hack to Apple, as he assumes Apple will fix the vulnerability if it is revealed to them, and the FBI will be “back where we started from.”

Reddit releases official iPhone app

Reddit has released an official iPhone app for its popular online service, allowing users to more easily access Reddit content while on the go. The app allows users to browse all of Reddit directly, search and discover new communities by topic or interest, submit comments, images, links, and posts, and access messages, comment replies, post replies, and mentions. The app also provides the ability to customize Reddit with themes, including a night theme, and see content in either compact or card view layouts. Reddit is also gifting three months of Reddit Gold, its premium membership program, to users who log in to the new mobile app during launch week.

Hermés Apple Watch bands to be sold separately

Hermés is expanding its collection of Apple Watch bands with new colors, and the high-end bands will also soon be available for separate purchase for the first time. The bands were previously only available with the Apple Watch Hermés edition, which required buying the watch and band together. Hermés’ website has a section for the Watch bands which will be sold separately, along with their prices. Band availability differs from the 38mm to 42mm model, and prices range from $340-$690, dependent on each strap’s style. Apple’s own website also lists the bands as “coming soon,” and Elle Australia claims the bands will be available April 19.

Apple releases new iOS, watchOS, tvOS betas

Apple has released a new round of developer betas for iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The release notes for the new versions are relatively sparse, and the very minor version numbers — 9.3.2, 2.2.1, and 9.2.1, respectively — would suggest that these are primarily maintenance releases and do not likely include any new features worth noting. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

Apple News Twitter account starts promoting stories

The Apple News account on Twitter appears to be up and running, promoting stories as of last night. So far the feed has sent out a handful of sports and news items with links that direct users back to the Apple News app. Anyone clicking on story links from a device without Apple News or in a country where Apple News isn’t available will be redirected to the affiliate news provider’s site instead.

Siri security issue lets users bypass iPhone 6s/6s Plus lock screen (Update: Apple issues fix)

A newly discovered security flaw in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus allows users to bypass the lock screen and gain access to contacts and photos. The exploit only works on 3D Touch-equipped phones set to allow Siri access to Twitter, Contacts and Photos, but if all of those variables are in place, gaining access to a user’s photos is relatively easy.

If a Twitter search run through Siri yields a tweet that contains an email address, a 3D Touch gesture can then be used to call up the contextual menu with options to send mail to the address or add it to contacts. Choosing to add the address to contacts allows access to the phone’s existing contact list, and using the contact list’s option to add photos to a contact, the user can browse the phone’s photos without ever entering a passcode. To guard against the potential intrusion, users need only disable Siri’s Twitter integration under Settings > Twitter. [via Apple Insider]

Update: Apple has tweaked Siri to stop the personal assistant from allowing access to Twitter searches from a locked iPhone. A spokesman confirmed to the Washington Post that the company pushed out a fix to make Siri force users to unlock their phone before delivering Twitter search results. The update was handled on Apple’s on servers, so it won’t require any action from users.

French agency: Apple owes 48.5 million euros over illegal contracts

A French watchdog agency claims Apple should pay 48.5 million euros in damages over illegal contracts with cellular carriers, French website BFMTV reports. The Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud has filed a complaint with the Commercial Court in Paris alleging Apple’s contracts with carriers are “significantly unbalanced” in favor of Apple, in violation of the Commercial Code.

Starz launches subscription app for iOS, Apple TV

STARZ has launched the STARZ Play app for iOS devices and Apple TV, offering a standalone subscription to cord cutters for $9 a month and free access to existing cable subscribers. The app allows up to four users to watch simultaneously, supports universal search through the Siri remote and is the first premium cable app to allow full download rights “for most titles.” Which titles are exempted isn’t clearly specified.

Siri improves MLB knowledge, but results are hit-or-miss

In honor of Opening Day in the MLB, Apple has rolled out some improvements to Siri’s baseball knowledge, but we’ve found there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The personal assistant is supposed to be able to provide more detailed statistics, including historical data going back to the beginning of baseball records, but simple questions like, “What was Ty Cobb’s best single-season batting average?” returned, “I don’t know who leads the league in batting average,” so she can’t even answer the question we didn’t ask, much less the one we did.

Apple’s plan to sell used phones in India meets strong opposition

Apple’s latest push to sell used iPhones in India is meeting strong resistance from a consumer group backed by rival Samsung, Bloomberg reports. Apple’s 2015 application was rejected, and the company’s recent request has drawn opposition from technology executives who say allowing the sale of used phones will turn India into a dumping ground for electronic waste. “Make in India could turn into Dump in India,” said Sudhir Hasija, chairman of Karbonn Mobiles, referencing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program that encourages local manufacturing.

iFixit posts teardown of 9.7-inch iPad Pro

iFixit’s teardown of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro found, unsurprisingly, that the smaller tablet packed all the features previously found in the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro in a smaller package, but noted a few minor internal differences. The device’s smaller size meant squeezing the four stereo speakers back along the margins rather than giving them the huge enclosures that dominated the larger model’s interior, and the display cable is configured differently as well, now attaching at the bottom right corner.

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FBI testing new unlocking method on more iPhones

After successfully cracking the San Bernardino iPhone without Apple’s help, the FBI is now said to be testing to determine whether the technique can be used to unlock other versions and models of the iPhone, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. Apple is still trying to identify the security flaw that allowed the FBI to gain access to the iPhone in question, and the FBI has not been forthcoming with any details about the technique that was used or even what it found on the iPhone, and this latest report suggests that it may take officials “many more months” to decide what to do with these new capabilities.

Sprint users having LTE connectivity problems after iOS 9.3 update

A number of iPhone users on the Sprint network have reported problems connecting to LTE networks following the recent iOS 9.3 update. Users on Twitter and reddit are saying that their iPhones are only connecting to 3G, and that resets are not solving the problem in most cases. While the specific iPhone models are not entirely clear, most of the affected users appear to be using the latest devices. Sprint has also reportedly been sending out text messages to subscribers acknowledging the problem, noting that it’s “working quickly” on a fix. It’s not clear if the iOS 9.3.1 update addresses this issue, but it seems unlikely to be the case, and the problem is more likely related to a Sprint Carrier Update configuration file that was pushed out to Sprint users around the same time as the iOS 9.3 update was released. [via MacRumors]

iFixit’s iPhone SE Teardown reveals some interchangeability with iPhone 5s parts

iFixit has posted its teardown of the iPhone SE, confirming many of the findings that Chipworks made in yesterday’s teardown, as well as highlighting how many of the parts in the new 4” iPhone SE are actually identical to those found in the iPhone 5s, allowing many of them to be interchanged between models. iFixit noted that the displays between the two models are “pretty much identical” when compared side-by-side, and that the 5s display can in fact be used in the SE, which means that the older replacement parts and instructions can be used with the new iPhone model. The speaker, vibration motor, and SIM card tray are also identical to those used in the iPhone 5s. While all of the internal chips have naturally been upgraded — mostly to their iPhone 6s counterparts — other dissimilarities were also found, with iFixit observing that the larger 1624 mAh battery is not interchangeable with the one from the iPhone 5s as it uses a different connector. While the battery is a minor capacity increase from the 1560 mAh version found in the iPhone 5s, it’s not quite up to the 1715 mAh power found in the iPhone 6s. Similarly, while the iPhone SE camera sports the same capabilities as its iPhone 6s counterpart, iFixit found that the cameras were not interchangeable between the two models, and while the Lightning connector assembly in the iPhone SE looks basically identical to the iPhone 5s version, the connectors are a “smidge different” and the connectors can’t be used interchangeably.

Kanye West backtracks, releases song on Apple Music (Update: whole album now on Apple Music)

After notably claiming his new album would “never never never be on Apple,” Kanye West has made one of the album’s tracks available on Apple Music. West has been continually tinkering with tracks on “The Life of Pablo,” which was previously only available on Tidal. One track from the album, “Famous,” is now available to listeners on Apple Music, with Pitchfork noting the rapper has tweaked the lyrics on the new version. Known for his over-the-top Twitter rants — among other things — West hasn’t publicly commented on his abrupt about-face on using Apple to distribute his music.

Update: West’s “The Life of Pablo” album is now available to stream on Apple Music, after being initially announced as a Tidal exclusive. Notably, the album isn’t the same as what’s been heard on Tidal. It’s a updated version of the album, which has already undergone other changes both pre- and post-release — so there’s a good chance that the version of “Pablo” currently on Apple Music won’t be a final version.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.1

Following reports earlier this week of a hyperlink bug which was causing freezes and crashes on some iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units, Apple has released iOS 9.3.1, a minor update that promises to fix the issue. As usual, the update is available now through Settings > General > Software Update, or can be installed using a Mac or PC via iTunes.

Unboxing the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple’s newest 9.7-inch iPad Pro is here and we’ve posted a quick first look at Apple’s new standard-sized Pro tablet with an unboxing and comparison gallery. The images highlight what’s in the box along with differences between the new device and its brethren, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4. We’ve noticed Apple is now using what looks to be a thinner version of the font for the word “iPad” on the back of the new Pro. Look for our full iPad Pro review next week once we’ve had a chance to put it through its paces.

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