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Report: iPhone 6S to look ‘nearly identical’ to iPhone 6

A new report from 9to5Mac reveals that the exterior design of this year’s “iPhone 6S” models will look substantially the same on the outside despite a collection of internal changes. Citing “a proven source familiar with Apple’s supply chain,” the report claims, as others have, that Apple is planning on bringing Force Touch to the new models. However, the design of the iPhone 6S will be identical to the current iPhone 6 in terms of thickness and width, although it was less clear whether the same would apply to the iPhone 6S Plus. The new models will, however, reportedly include a different internal mounting structure for the new logic board and components, meaning casings will not be interchangeable between the devices. The design of the rear casing seems to quash the rumours of a dual-lens camera system, since it sports the same holes for camera, microphone, and LED flash as the current iPhone 6. Other design features such as the antenna lines, connectors, speakers, and microphones remain present.

Apple Music makes much-anticipated debut with iOS 8.4 release

Apple has released iOS 8.4, and with it, Apple Music makes its much-anticipated debut within the redesigned Music app. Apple Music’s DJ-curated Beats 1 station will begin broadcasting at 12 p.m. Eastern time. The full scope of Apple Music features will eventually cost $10/month, but all the features are available to users free of charge for the first three months. iOS 8.4 also includes iBooks improvements and bug fixes.

Apple suppliers now making iPhones with Force Touch

Apple has started production on new iPhone models that include Force Touch, Bloomberg reports. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the new iPhones have the same 4.7” and 5.5” measurements as the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Higher-volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month, with assembly expected to go smoothly, because the phones also have the same exterior design as the 6 and 6 Plus. The only potential problem is the supply and yield of the new Force Touch-capable displays, which could cause production snags or influence the timing of the new iPhone’s release, one source said. Apple didn’t comment on the story, but it was reported months ago that Apple would be adding Force Touch to new iPhone models, and iOS 9 will support the new technology.

Apple already publishing iOS 9 Tips in latest developer betas

Apple has already begun pushing out tips specific to iOS 9 in the second iOS 9 beta released yesterday. The built-in Tips app, which first appeared last year in the fourth iOS 8 beta, provides push-based tips to help illustrate useful features specific to Apple’s latest mobile operating system. So far, two iOS 9 specific tips have appeared in the latest beta, the first explaining how users can now search for a player or team to get the latest sports scores, and the second outlining the new scrubber in the iOS 9 Photos app that can be used to quickly compare pictures. Additional iOS 9 tips will likely appear as the iOS beta cycle continues, which will provide a ready-to-go collection of tips in the app by the time iOS 9 is released to the public in the fall.

Apple releases second iOS 9, watchOS 2 betas to developers

Apple has released second betas of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 to developers, continuing the beta cycle for its next-generation mobile operating systems announced at WWDC for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and the Apple Watch. Featuring a build number of 13A4280e, the second iOS 9 beta features a number of under-the-hood improvements from the first beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. The latest watchOS beta has a build number of 13S5255c and is installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.

These releases are also accompanied by a second beta of Xcode 7 to support the new APIs and development environment. Apple has also been releasing iOS 8.4 betas in tandem with the iOS 9 development cycle, with the 8.4 version expected to be released within the next week to support Apple’s new Music service, although at this point iOS 8.4 remains in its fourth beta version released two weeks ago; it is unclear if another beta or “GM” version will be released prior to the final public release.

Cook: Chinese tastes influence Apple’s designs

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple’s product designs are influenced by China’s consumer tastes, Bloomberg reports. As many have already suggested, the decision to release a gold iPhone last year was a reflection of that color’s popularity among Chinese users, Cook told the Chinese edition of Bloomberg Businessweek. Greater China has become Apple’s second-largest market after the U.S. Without releasing exact sales figures, Cook also disclosed that the Apple Watch is off to a promising start and drawing much more interest from app developers than either the first iPhone or iPad initially saw. A data analytics firm recently estimated the company has already sold 2.79 million Apple Watch units.

Apple takes App Analytics out of beta, adds new features

Apple has announced that its App Analytics tools for iOS Developers have been taken out of beta and are now available to all iOS Developers to assist in providing insight into how their App Store apps are performing in terms of performance, stability, and sales. New features have also been added to App Analytics, allowing developers to track crashes, paying users, and ratios. App Analytics are reported as anonymized, aggregate data from all iOS 8 users who have opted into “App Analytics” reporting during the iOS Setup process.

With the new, finalized App Analytics, crash data can now be viewed on a daily basis to measure the stability of apps, and data can be filtered by platform, app version, and operating system to help pinpoint causes and improve the user experience by addressing stability issues. Data on paying users has been improved to now be tracked by Apple ID instead of on a per-device basis, providing developers with a more precise look at how many individual purchases have been made. Number of paying users can be reported on a day-to-day basis so that developers can determine the impact of changes in spending within apps. Filtering by source can also allow users to see if users are being directed from a particular campaign or website. A new “Ratios” feature allows developers to view any two measures as a ratio so that they can gain more insight into app performance and marketing efforts, useful for tracking conversion rates, sales per paying user, sessions per active device, and more. App Analytics are available for all iOS Developers through the iTunes Connect portal for all users with a Sales, Finance, or Admin role.

FCC to fine AT&T $100M for misleading unlimited data plans

The Federal Communications Commission has announced its intention to fine AT&T $100 million for “misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans.” According to the FCC, AT&T “severely” slowed data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans, and the company “failed to adequately notify” customers that speeds could be slower than advertised. Millions of customers were said to be affected by the slowed data. As the FCC notes, AT&T no longer offers unlimited plans to new customers, but many long-time customers have retained the unlimited plan from when it was offered in the past. The company has been charged with violating the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule. AT&T said in a statement that it would “vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,” claiming it has been “fully transparent” with customers.

Apple loses anti-competitive lawsuit in Taiwan

Apple has been fined nearly $650,000 after losing an anti-competition lawsuit in Taiwan, Reuters reports. The country’s Fair Trade Commission fined Apple in 2013 for requiring telecom partners to get the company’s approval for iPhone prices, subsidies, advertising content and price differentials between old and new phone models. Under Taiwanese law, once telecoms take possession of a phone, they can set prices however they see fit, the commission said. Apple countersued, but a judge ruled against the company. The commission claims this is the first case of a jurisdiction successfully defeating Apple’s practice of dictating pricing terms to its telecom partners. Apple could still appeal the decision; the company declined to comment when contacted.

Apple investigated for anti-competitive practices in Canada

Canada’s Competition Bureau is looking into alleged anti-competitive practices in Apple Canada’s contracts with cell phone carriers, The Toronto Star reports. The bureau has filed requests for iPhone sales records from Rogers, Bell and Telus after court-ordered disclosures from Apple Canada last December left bureau investigators dissatisfied, a source says. A judge is expected to rule on the request today, and a bureau spokesman was careful to point out that there is no conclusion of wrongdoing by Apple Canada at this time. If the court finds Apple’s contracts with cell carriers unfairly prevent promotion of competing handsets, the carriers could renegotiate the terms of those deals as those respective contracts with Apple expire. Apple couldn’t be reached for comment.

iOS 9 keyboard hints at ‘iPad Pro’

A tweet from developer Steve Troughton-Smith shows Apple has made big additions to iOS 9’s keyboard, hinting at the release of a long-rumored 12” iPad. When set to larger resolutions while running iOS 9, the iPad keyboard now adds Tab and Caps Lock keys and an entirely new top row of symbols that’s traditionally found above the numbers on a standard keyboard. Curly braces and a pipe symbol are also added in their usual places, next to the “P” key. The top row of symbols is also duplicated below the numbers on the second keyboard page, which manages to contain enough keys to eliminate the need for the third screen of keys.

Apple is also bringing full support for audio plug-ins to iOS 9, 9to5Mac reports. The support will allow Audio Units effects and instrument apps currently available on OS X to be ported over with only slight changes.

iOS 9 code hints at 1080p front camera in future Apple devices

Developer Hamza Sood has tweeted a photo of internal code from the first iOS 9 beta that hints at a 1080p front-facing camera in new Apple devices — possibly the next iPhones. The code suggests the addition of a front flash and support for taking panoramic photos and 240fps slow-motion video. The front camera for current iOS devices tops out at 720p and has no flash. It’s been rumored that Apple’s next iPhones will see a dramatic leap forward in camera technology.

Apple releases iOS 8.4 beta with redesigned Music app

Apple has released its fourth beta of iOS 8.4 to developers. The new iOS 8.4 beta notably includes a redesigned Music app. With Apple Music set to debut on June 30, we should see iOS 8.4 on that date or before.

Cadillac adding Apple CarPlay to 2016 models

GM has announced that Cadillac’s 2016 models will include Apple’s CarPlay for in-car iPhone integration. The company announced in May that 2016 Chevy models will also support CarPlay. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said “every major car brand” is committed to supporting CarPlay in some fashion. During Monday’s WWDC keynote, Apple announced wireless CarPlay would be coming to iOS 9.

Apple debuts iOS 9, introduces Proactive Assistant

At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco today, Apple took the wraps off iOS 9, the next version of its mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As expected, iOS 9 was introduced primarily as building on the “foundations” of the operating system to improve battery life and stability, however several other new features were demonstrated, most notably improvements to Siri and a new Proactive Assistant feature. The Proactive Assistant will be able to provide more contextually relevant apps and information based on the user’s location and usual routines, such as bringing up an appropriate playlist when the headphones are plugged in during workout times, setting reminders for getting into the car, creating reminders based on the user’s current context such as a web page or iMessage, and automatically adding appointments from emails and looking up phone numbers from incoming calls based on information contained in emails. Search suggestions in Siri and Spotlight also become more contextually relevant based on trends, who the user has contacted, appointments, reminders, and more, and a new search API allows for content to be searched within third-party apps, deep-linked to bring up the specific information searched for directly in the app, along with a backlink to search results.

Passbook has been renamed “Wallet” and Apple Pay has also been enhanced, and in addition to launching in the U.K. in July, support is being added for loyalty and reward cards from a wide variety of stores, which will be presented based on location. The Notes app has also received a number of enhancements including a toolbar with formatting options for styles, a new feature to add checklists in Notes, and improvements to importing photos directly into Notes. A new drawing mode has also been added to allow users to sketch in Notes, and the iOS 9 Share Sheet will allow items such as web page links to be easily added to Notes as rich links. A new attachments view will also allow users to quickly see a list of attachments in Notes and access them directly from that view.

Apple confirms Apple TV to act as HomeKit hub

A new support document confirms the long-standing rumor that Apple TVs (third-generation or later) will allow users to control HomeKit devices using Siri even when they’re away from home. Devices running iOS 8.1 or later will be able to control HomeKit devices locally after downloading an app for each family of devices and entering a unique HomeKit code. After setup, Siri will be able to control the HomeKit products inside the house, but the iOS device may need to be unlocked when giving commands to certain products. For Siri to control a user’s home remotely, the same Apple ID will have to be logged in on the user’s iOS device and an Apple TV running software version 7.0 or later. For HomeKit devices to be grouped, they’ll need to be configured through the same third-party app before Siri can control them as a unit. The document includes a link to HomeKit compatible products and instructions for reconfiguring your HomeKit settings if you move or lose the device you use for control. Notably, Siri can’t be used to unlock your door, presumably for safety purposes.

Apple issues workaround for Messages text string bug

Apple has issued a workaround for the recent Messages bug, which causes iPhones to reboot and Messages to repeatedly crash after a specific, strange string of unicode characters is received via text. In an official support document, Apple recommends using Siri to re-open the Messages app. Users are instructed to ask Siri to “read unread messages,” then to reply to the malicious message. Messages should then be able to open again, and users can delete the message, or the entire conversation. Apple notes that an upcoming software update will fix the issue.

Apple may debut new ‘Proactive’ assistant with iOS 9

Apple is planning to expand Siri and Spotlight functionality in iOS 9 to provide a more effective personal assistant, 9to5Mac reports. Dubbed Proactive, the service is expected to be similar in concept to Google’s Google Now service that is available on Android devices and in Google’s iOS app, leveraging services such as Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to provide relevant information to the user based on their data and device usage patterns. Integration with Apple Maps is also expected to allow the service to display points of interest, which will apparently be presented in a new augmented reality interface. The new service will reportedly be an evolution of the Spotlight search feature in iOS, and appears to be designed to be accessible from a panel to the left of the home screen — similar to where Spotlight was located prior to the iOS 7 design refresh two years ago.

Google Search will soon surface content from iOS apps

In the coming weeks, search results from the Google app and Chrome browser will begin including suggestions to use relevant apps available on iOS devices, according to a blog post from Google. In the above sample photograph, a search for a restaurant suggests using the OpenTable app to book a reservation. Clicking on the suggestion opens the app and guides it to the correct restaurant. The upgraded indexing of apps is starting with a “small group of test partners,” but who those partners are and what types of searches will suggest using their apps isn’t clear.

iOS bug allows peculiar string of characters in Messages to reboot iPhones

A bug in banner notifications through the Messages app allows a string of characters sent via iMessage or SMS to crash an iPhone, MacRumors reports. Receiving the string of symbols and Arabic characters causes an iPhone to crash and quickly reboot after the message pops up in a notification. After the reboot, Messages will crash immediately upon opening, unless it’s being opened to the conversation containing the offending message. Even then, trying to navigate to another conversation in Messages will crash the app. Reddit users found that replying to the original message solves the problem if the Messages app opens directly to the conversation containing the offending message. But if Messages opens to the conversation list view, the app will crash when opened until another message is received.

If you can’t get someone else to send you a message, sending yourself a message through Siri or through the Share sheet in another app is an option to resolve the issue. While the character strand is very specific and unlikely to be sent by accident, a quick search proves plenty of people have already started using the message maliciously. Until Apple rolls out a fix, turning off previews for Messages will help mitigate the immediate effects of receiving the message, and if someone is repeatedly sending the message to shut down your iPhone, blocking them is always an option.

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