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AT&T and Verizon tracking customer web activity

New reports reveal that both AT&T and Verizon have been using unique identifying information to track web activity for their respective mobile customers. According to Wired, Verizon has been “subtly altering” web traffic from its wireless customers for the past two years in order to insert a unique identifier header, or UIDH, that allows the company to identify users on the web and target its Internet advertising. This “perma-cookie” — as termed by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation — allows any web server to build a profile of a user’s Internet habits. Since Verizon is able to take advantage of its unique position as the Internet Service Provider to actually modify traffic midstream, this method also has the potential to circumvent existing privacy tools such as private browsing sessions and “do not track” restrictions. At this time, there is no way to turn off this UIDH feature, according to a Verizon spokesperson. The company notes that it does not use the feature to create customer profiles, but only targeted ads for those users who have not opted out of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising program. Verizon customers can choose to opt out by visiting https://www.vzw.com/myprivacy, however Hoffman-Andrews points out that because the UIDH is broadcast to every web site that a Verizon user visits, other ad networks could begin leveraging the identifier themselves to profile Verizon users’ web activity even without the company’s involvement.

AT&T also appears to have begun testing its own unique mobile tracking solution, according to another report from Forbes. While AT&T claims to only be “testing” the system for now, the company claims to be building in its own privacy measures by rotating the unique identifier every 24 hours. However, the security researcher who discovered the tracking, Kenneth White, states that this is “categorically untrue,” noting that he has found three identifying codes sent by AT&T that were persistent. An AT&T spokesperson declined to reveal how long the test had been running, saying only that it has been a “little while” and claims that customers will be able to opt out of any future AT&T programs that might use this code, noting that unlike Verizon, AT&T will not include the code at all for customers who have chosen to opt out. Users can see if they’re affected by visiting http://205.234.28.93/mobileoptout/ using a cellular data connection from their AT&T mobile device.

In either case, users can check to see if their devices are broadcasting a mobile identifier by visiting http://lessonslearned.org/sniff, a site setup by Kenneth White, the security researcher who discovered the tracking. [via MacRumors]

Cook discusses Apple Pay, Watch, iPod classic at WSJD Live

Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed at the Wall Street Journal’s inaugural WSJD Live conference in California last night where he talked about Apple’s latest initiatives and directions, including Apple Pay and Apple Watch. Cook described last week’s Apple Pay launch as very successful; more than one million credit cards were activated in the first 72 hours, and Visa noted that more credit cards have been activated in Apple Pay than in all other contactless payments combined. Cook also noted that he’d be talking with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba about a possible Apple Pay partnership “later this week.”

Regarding Apple Watch, Cook was a bit evasive on the battery life question, reiterating a previous claim that Apple “think[s] people are going to use it so much you will end up charging it daily,” and that the key to Apple Watch was that it needs “to look really cool” as opposed to being “geeky.” Cook also touched on Apple’s involvement in the TV marketplace, stating that “We are living in the 1970s” when it comes to the television paradigm, and suggesting that Apple is working on something in this area, although he once again declined to go into specifics beyond saying “that there can be something great done in the space.” Asked about the discontinuation of the iPod classic, Cook noted that Apple could no longer get the parts for the existing 2009 model, and huge engineering would have been required to update it, which wasn’t worth it in light of small consumer demand. Cook also said that Apple would continue to go as low as it could on iPhone prices while “maintaining the customer experience.”

Apple looking to expand NFC use beyond Apple Pay

A new report from The Information (subscription required) notes that Apple is presently in talks regarding expanding NFC use in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to go beyond mobile payments. While the NFC chip in the new iPhone models is currently restricted to use by Apple Pay, this new report suggests that the company is seeking partnerships to implement the technology into areas such as building security and public transit, conceivably to let people use iPhones as replacements for business ID cards and metro passes. The report specifically notes that Apple has already been in talks with HID Global and Cubic, two companies that develop electronic solutions in these areas. [via 9to5Mac]

iPad Air 2 unboxing and comparison gallery posted

iLounge has posted an unboxing gallery for Apple’s new iPad Air 2. In a full photo gallery, we take a closer look at the newest full-sized iPad, along with photos comparing the newest Air to other Apple devices.

More pictures will be added as the day progresses, and be sure to check back for our full review of iPad Air 2, coming soon.

Apple updates Pages, Numbers, Keynote for iCloud Drive


Following yesterday’s release of OS X Yosemite, Apple has released updates to its three iOS iWork apps—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—adding support for iCloud Drive and the new iOS 8 and Yosemite Handoff feature. The updates also include support for third-party storage providers in iOS 8 and note “updated file formats” that make it easier to send documents via services such as Drobox and Gmail. Additional new features have also been added such as more color options with a custom color mixer in the iPad versions, the ability to take photos and videos directly from within the apps, and accessibility, usability, and language improvements. Keynote also introduces a feature that allows users to pair with nearby iOS devices using Multipeer Connectivity.

iOS 8.1 gets official, adding Apple Pay, photo features (Oct. 20)

Following earlier beta releases of iOS 8.1, Apple today formally announced the release of the first point update to September’s iOS 8.0. iOS 8.1 adds support for Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as bringing back user-requested features, including the Camera Roll. Apple is also using iOS 8.1 to debut the iCloud Photo Library tied in with the public beta of Photos, the new OS X Yosemite photo management and editing app designed to replace iPhoto and Aperture.

During his introduction of iOS 8.1, Apple’s Craig Federighi also noted that 48% of the installed base are on iOS 8.0 after roughly a month, which sounds low, but is nearly twice as high as the last release of Android after nearly a year. iOS 8.1 will be available on October 20.

Apple Pay to launch Oct. 20 in U.S., 500 new banks on board

Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, has been confirmed for an October 20, 2014 launch in the United States. A collection of previously-announced retailers will be the first to have Apple Pay in their stores.

Five hundred additional banks have signed up to support Apple Pay since it was announced, including all of the major networks and a number of major retailers signing on to support by year’s end. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted today that Apple Pay payments can also be made online, not just at retail stores.

Later in the event, Apple also introduced Apple Pay for the iPad Air 2, however, it explicitly omitted any reference to NFC capabilities for in-store purchasing using iPads. The suggestion was that Apple Pay can only be used for iPad online purchases.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus come to 36 more countries and territories this month

Apple announced that it will release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 36 more countries and territories by the end of the month. The new iPhones will be available in a total of 69 countries by October’s end, and Apple claims more than 115 countries will have the new iPhones by the end of 2014 — the fastest iPhone rollout ever. Starting on Friday, October 17, the phones will launch in India, Monaco, and China, while rolling out to more countries over the next few weeks. Chinese site Tencent claims more than 20 million preorders for the new iPhones have already been processed in China.

Users reporting iOS 8 Bluetooth connectivity problems

Many users are having issues with Bluetooth connectivity following the update to iOS 8 earlier this month, as noted in a recent report from MacRumors. Reports from numerous users on the Apple Support forums and MacRumors forums indicate problems with connecting not only to car audio systems but also headphones, speakers, headsets, and more. Some have reported that Apple support is aware of the incompatibility issue with “some car/navigation Bluetooth” systems, pertaining at least to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and has said it is working on a fix. The problem with car audio systems appears to affect a wide variety of models, including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, and more. iLounge’s editors have experienced problems with the iPhone 6 Plus but not older iPhone models, although there are reports that other users of older devices are in fact experiencing similar problems. There have also been developer reports that Apple may have already addressed this issue in the iOS 8.1 beta released earlier this week.

Pioneer NEX in-dash receivers support CarPlay with firmware update

Pioneer has announced that a new firmware update enables Apple CarPlay in five of its NEX in-dash multimedia receivers, as it becomes the first company to make an aftermarket CarPlay system available. While the company initially said CarPlay compatibility would be available in “early summer” this year, Pioneer has still beaten nearly everyone else to CarPlay inclusion, including Apple’s automotive partners — Apple quietly changed its CarPlay page recently to withdraw promises to 2014 availability. Pioneer’s NEX receivers range in price from $700 to $1400, and CarPlay will also be compatible with the company’s new $600 AppRadio 4. The firmware update is available for free on Pioneer’s firmware downloads page.

“Reset All Settings” in iOS 8 may also erase iCloud Drive content

A serious bug has been reported with the “Reset All Settings” option in iOS 8 that may result in at least some iCloud Drive based documents being deleted. According to several MacRumors readers, using the option found under Settings, General, Reset has caused documents to be permanently removed from iCloud Drive across all other iOS devices. The “Reset All Settings” option has been around since the early versions of iOS, and as the name implies is designed to reset all user-configurable settings on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch back to their factory defaults, without actually deleting any data from the device or the cloud. While it is unclear what iCloud Drive data is being impacted by this bug, it appears that at least Apple’s own Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps are impacted.

Apple releases first iOS 8.1 beta to developers

Apple has released the first beta of iOS 8.1 to registered developers. The latest version features a build number of 12B401 and appears to contain mostly minor tweaks and fixes, including the ability to disable Dictation independently from Siri, and a renaming of “Recently Added” photos back to “Camera Roll.” A report from MacRumors also notes that the beta includes hidden settings for Apple Pay as well as underlying code for iPad Touch ID support.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus hit China Oct. 17, pre-orders Oct. 10

Apple has announced that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in China starting on Friday, Oct. 17. Pre-orders start a week earlier, on Oct. 10. The two new iPhones have been released in a number of countries since the initial launch on Sept. 19, but the Chinese release was delayed for regulatory reasons, making it unclear when the phones would be available. According to Reuters, Apple received approval for selling the devices after addressing a number of security concerns raised by the Chinese government.

“We are thrilled to bring iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to our customers in China on all three carriers at launch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release. “With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers will have access to high-speed mobile networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for an incredible experience.”

Report: iOS 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 in simultaneous development

Apple is currently working on iOS 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that such a move away from Apple’s normal development cycle might show that the company won’t tie annual major iOS releases to typical fall hardware releases. Otherwise, Apple may be accelerating its iOS point release development while keeping iOS 9 for release next fall. It’s possible that the upcoming releases of 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 will introduce major new features, such as Apple Pay, split-screen iPad apps, or an update to make iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch.

Report: iOS 8 anti-tracking features more limited than initially publicized

A new report in the Washington Post reveals that new features in iOS 8 intended to limit tracking of iPhones may be more limited than users might expect. According to Apple’s Privacy Page, iOS 8 will protect user’s privacy by “randomizing your device’s MAC address when the device is passively scanning for Wi-Fi networks,” thereby preventing persistent tracking of a device based on the normally-fixed hardware addresses that are common to all Wi-Fi devices.

However, a new post from a principal systems engineer of the WiFi analytics firm AirTight Networks, Bhupinder Misra, reveals that the feature may not be as useful as Apple’s description implies. Misra specifically notes that the privacy feature is limited to the iPhone 5c/5s and likely newer models, and in fact is only operational when the iPhone is in sleep mode and location services are disabled. For example, Misra explains, the device’s actual Wi-Fi hardware address is broadcast whenever a user wakes up their iPhone for just about any reason, such as sending a text message—even if they’re not connecting to a Wi-Fi network but simply relying on their carrier’s cellular data connection.

Although a publicly available iOS Security White Paper from Apple explains some of these limitations, it makes no mention of the requirement that location services be disabled, making it unclear whether this is intentional behaviour or a bug in the feature’s implementation. It is also worth noting, however, that the Wi-Fi hardware address only reveals the identity of a specific device; no personal information about the user of the device is accessible in this manner. In other words, a store could track how often a specific customer had visited their store based on their device’s Wi-Fi address, but would be unable to identify the specific customer with this method unless they connected to the store’s Wi-Fi network and specifically provided personal information in some way, such as signing onto a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Video Review: Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Our video review of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus gives viewers a look at some of the ground covered in our comprehensive site review of both devices. We hope this gives consumers even more background and information on the new iPhones as you see them up close and in action. Please read our full review for many more details.

Report: Same manager in charge of iOS 8.0.1 and Apple Maps releases

Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching problems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager Josh Williams oversees quality assurance for iOS, and Williams was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said Williams was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. Williams has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.

Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said.

Apple releases iOS 8.0.2 (Updated)

Apple has released iOS 8.0.2 tonight, just one day after releasing and pulling iOS 8.0.1, which was immediately received with complaints of cellular and Touch ID issues from iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. iOS 8.0.2 resolves those problems, and also allows HealthKit apps to be available on the App Store, among other fixes.

Update: Some Australian users are still experiencing cellular and Touch ID problems after installing iOS 8.0.2, according to MacRumors.

Apple says only nine customers have complained about bending iPhones

Apple has issued an official response to the controversy surrounding alleged problems with iPhone 6 units bending during normal use, stating that it has received complains from only nine customers, and that the iPhones “feature steel/titanium inserts to reinforce stress locations.”

 

The company also told the Wall Street Journal that cases of the iPhone 6 bending through normal use are “extremely rare,” and that both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have undergone “a series of tests meant to check the products’ strength and durability to withstand every day, real-life use.” [via 9to5Mac]

Bent iPhones may qualify for warranty replacement

Following reports earlier this week that iPhone 6 Plus users were experiencing problems with iPhones bending in their pockets, Apple Support has responded to an inquiry from The Next Web indicating that bent iPhones could be replaced under warranty if they pass a “Visual Mechanical Inspection” test, but that it is ultimately up to the Genius at any given Apple Store as to whether the device would qualify for a replacement or not. The Apple Support representative also noted that they are “looking into this with an insane amount of detail” although no official warranty policy has yet been confirmed by Apple.

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