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Apple patent hints at improvement to let Siri recognize specific voices

A new Apple patent spotted by Patently Apple would train Siri to recognize specific voices, creating the potential to limit who the digital assistant recognizes and add new controls. Once configured, a customized combination of a specific phrase and a user’s voice—which Apple’s patent refers to as a “lexical trigger”—would be required to get Siri to respond. Current voice-activated digital assistants respond to specific speech, but not to specific speakers, creating circumstances where a user’s request can be picked up and acted upon by other devices in earshot. In addition to limiting that type of confusion, the change could allow users to place restrictions on everything from who can use Siri’s search on an unattended iPhone to who is allowed to rent movies from an Apple TV.

Reports: iPhone 8 won’t cost more than $1,000, but launch may be delayed to October or November

Problems with the iPhone 8’s 3D sensors and OLED screen lamination could delay the phone’s launch to October or November, the Economic Daily News reports [via DigiTimes]. While Apple’s new iPhones usually begin shipping in late September/early October, several reports have claimed that Apple’s extensive prototyping and desire to add new features could push production of the device to begin later than usual. This latest claim suggests that the 3D sensors rumored to be bringing depth sensing and facial recognition capabilities to the iPhone 8 have led to “technical issues.”

Apple releases minor iOS 10.3.1 security update

One week after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has now pushed out a small iOS 10.3.1 update, noting that it “includes bug fixes and improves the security your iPhone or iPad.” While no details of specific improvements are otherwise listed in any release notes, Apple’s About the security content of iOS 10.3.1 support article suggests that it was pushed out to address a Wi-Fi vulnerability that could allow an “attacker within range ... to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip.”

Apple fixed 911 call bug with iOS 10.3 update

Apple’s iOS 10.3 update has solved a vulnerability that allowed iPhones to be tricked into repeatedly dialing 911, The Wall Street Journal reports. Meetkumar Desai was arrested last fall after designing the code, but a link to the code that went viral on Twitter led to pranks causing 911 operators in more than a dozen states to be overwhelmed by accidental 911 calls. The code relied on an iPhone feature that allowed users to place a call simply by pressing a phone number, but the latest update requires users to press a confirmation button before the phone will dial the number. The update will prevent the exploit from being successful even on apps that hadn’t already issued their own fix for the problem.

Barclays predicts True Tone display for all 2017 iPhones, 3D sensors for iPhone 8

The latest investor update from Barclays claims Apple will include True Tone displays in all 2017 iPhone and add new 3D sensors to the iPhone 8 to facial recognition and augmented reality functions, 9to5Mac reports. The researchers said all three of the iPhone models expected to launch later this year will feature the True Tone display first seen in the 9.7” iPad Pro, allowing the devices to use an ambient light sensors to adapt the colors in the display to the light in the room to deliver the best possible color quality. While the OLED screen rumored to be coming in the iPhone 8 will set it apart from the lower-end models, adding True Tone to the full lineup could be a key selling feature in convincing users to upgrade if they’re looking for a reason to justify choosing the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus.

MLB.com At Bat and NHL now allow users to personalize Home Screen icons

One of the lesser-known new features in iOS 10.3 is the ability for third-party apps to offer alternative home screen icons, and today the first major apps have been updated for these new capabilities, reports TechCrunch. Both MLB.com At Bat and NHL now provide the ability for users to change the default home screen icon to reflect their favourite team’s logo. Both apps will prompt the user initially to select an icon to use when first re-entering the app or setting up their favourite teams for the first time, however users can change the icon to another team at any time from the app’s settings. Interestingly, for whatever reason icons don’t yet appear to be available for all teams (sorry, Leafs fans).

Apple pulls over-the-air iOS 10.3 update for iPhone 5, 5c; iOS 10.3.2 seems to end support for them

Apple has pulled back the over-the-air update to iOS 10.3 for iPhone 5 and 5c devices without giving any reason, AppleInsider reports. The update was available for a few hours before mysteriously disappearing, despite there being no noted outcry of users who had tried and failed to install the update on the devices. The update can still be installed through the standard process using iTunes, and seems to function fine on an iPhone 5c.

In a related development, The Apple Post has discovered that the beta version of iOS 10.3.2 appears to end support for devices with 32-bit processors — like the iPhone 5 and 5c. The beta only contains restore images for 64-bit devices, hinting at the possibility that 32-bit devices are about to lose support. Apple announced back in 2014 that new apps or app updates would have to support 64-bit processors, and recent speculation has swirled around iOS 11 ending support for 32-bit devices. A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stated that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS.” Given the new findings in the iOS 10.3.2 beta, the change could come sooner than expected. If so, the 4th generation iPad would also be unsupported as it features a 32-bit processor.

Apple releases iOS 10.3.2 beta to developers

Only one day after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has already rolled out a new iOS 10 beta to its registered developers. The first new beta, interestingly numbered iOS 10.3.2, has a build number of 14F5065b and according to the release notes includes little other than fixes for SiriKit car commands. New betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1 were also released to developers today, with similarly sparse release notes indicating only bug fixes and security improvements.

Rumor: Apple may add cellular capability to next Apple Watch, create USB-C/Lightning hybrid

A new blog post from Barron’s suggests Apple is still working on a cellular version of the Apple Watch and is considering creating a hybrid USB-C/Lightning connector to be rolled out in iPhones as early as 2018. After a trip through Asia meeting with members of Apple’s supply chain, analyst Christopher Rolland said the USB-C won’t replace the Lightning jack in 2017’s iPhone line up, but that his contacts “believe Apple may be creating an interoperable hybrid that mixes the best of both technologies.” And while Apple is still working out the battery life and size problems related to delivering a cellular Apple Watch after failing to get one working for 2017, Rolland said the next version will include a SIM card to allow it to make calls independent of the iPhone and provide the ability to sync up with the company’s AirPods.

Apple adds ability for developers respond to apps reviews, tweaks in-app rating prompt rules

Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.

Apple releases iOS 10.3 with Find My AirPods, Siri + CarPlay improvements

After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public today, featuring a new “Find My AirPods” option along with several improvements to Siri and CarPlay along with some other more minor changes and fixes. “Find My AirPods” allows iOS 10.3 users to user the “Find My iPhone” app to view the last reported location of their AirPods as well as playing a loud sound on one or both AirPods to help locate them. Siri in iOS 10.3 gains support for payment apps, scheduling with ride booking apps, checking car status with automaker apps, and Cricket sports scores. CarPlay users will also gain the ability to quick access recently used apps from the CarPlay screen, as well as several improvements to the Apple Music experience. As expected, iOS 10.3 also adds the cross-device movie rental capabilities debuted in iTunes 12.6 last week, a new unified view for iCloud and Apple ID account information within the Settings app, a “Report Junk” feature for dealing with iCloud Calendar spam, and several other improvements to the Home, Maps, and Podcasts apps.

Beijing court overturns ruling that iPhone 6, 6 Plus violated design patents

A Beijing court has overturned a previous decision that Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringed on the patent rights of Chinese company Baili, the South China Morning Post reports. Last May the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of Baili’s claim that the iPhones copied the design of that company’s 100C smartphone, but Apple was allowed to continue selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus while the appeal worked through the courts. On Friday, Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court ruled that the iPhone 6 has features that “completely change the effect of the entire product ... and both phones are easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers.” Since filing the lawsuit against Apple in 2014, Baili has completely collapsed, with phone calls to the company ringing unanswered, the company’s websites gone and visits to its registered addresses turning up no company offices. [via 9to5Mac]

TSMC to begin production of A11 chips for new iPhone in April

Supplier TSMC is already preparing to start production of the A11 chip expected to land in Apple’s next round of iPhones, Chinese-language site Economic Daily News reports. The company is Apple’s sole supplier of the CPUs for its new devices, and is expected to begin building the components next month in order to reach 50 million units by July. Apple split its A9 chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC, but a number of reports claimed the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some benchmark tests. The actual specifications of the A11 chip are still unknown, but TSMC is expected to use the its new 10nm manufacturing process to produce them. The company has already showed it can use the process for large-volume production, creating chips for “MediaTek and HiSilicon Technologies in the first quarter of 2017.” [via DigiTimes]

Apple reveals(RED) iPhone 7, 7 Plus models, doubles storage of iPhone SE

Apple has rolled out a special edition (PRODUCT)RED version of its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. The phones are identical to Apple’s existing devices, but feature a bright red aluminum finish. The red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are the same price as the rest of Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, but aren’t available in a 32GB size. The iPhone SE also got a storage boost today, doubling the capacities of both models to 32GB and 128GB while retaining the same prices of $399 and $499, respectively. Apple also added new color options for its silicone and leather cases, with the leather now coming in berry, taupe, and sapphire and silicone now coming in azure, camellia, and pebble.

Apple extends AppleCare+ purchase timeframe to one year

Apple has extended the amount of time that customers can purchase AppleCare+ after buying a new iPhone to one year, according to a new report by MacRumors. Previously, customers purchasing a new iPhone had up to 60 days to decide whether or not to purchase Apple’s AppleCare+ protection plan, which increases the covered iPhone’s warranty coverage and telephone support to two years from the date of the device’s purchase and provides coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage during the coverage period.

Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.3

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3, only three days after the the sixth beta was released to developers. The seventh beta, featuring a build number of 14E5277a, is available today to both registered developers and members of Apple’s Public Beta program, and the rapid release of new betas suggests that iOS 10.3 is drawing closer to a public release, possibly corresponding with the rumoured release of new iPad models that could arrive as soon as next week.

Apple now selling 32GB iPhone 6 model in Belarus

Following the unusual re-launch of the iPhone 6 in a 32GB model in China earlier this month, Apple now appears to have expanded sales of the “new” 2017 iPhone 6 model to Belarus, AppleInsider reports. Belarusian Apple reseller i-Store is currently taking orders for the device, which is priced at 999 rubles (~$520) and only available in Space Gray. Much like its launch in Asia, the device is identified as “iPhone 6 (2017)” and is in a previously-unavailable 32GB capacity, making it clear that Apple has begun manufacturing limited quantities of the older model in a new capacity, likely targeted for sale as an entry-level model in emerging markets. The 2017 iPhone 6 otherwise has the same specs as the 2014 model, but will run iOS 10 out of the box.

More than 180,000 apps could be rendered useless if iOS 11 dumps 32-bit support

A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stating that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS” has led Sensor Tower to determine that the new restriction could affect about 8 percent of apps on the App Store, effectively rendering them obsolete. While there’s no solid evidence that iOS 11 will be the final cutoff for apps that are 32-bit-only, Apple has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015, and forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015. That means the apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early-2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators.

Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.3 to developers

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3 to registered developers, with a build number of 14E5273a. The rapid beta cycle and increasingly sparse release notes suggest that iOS 10.3 is nearing public release. Unlike most prior beta update cycles, this time around no corresponding watchOS or tvOS betas have been released as of yet. A corresponding public beta update is expected in the near future.

Plex opens up Plex Cloud to all subscribers

Plex has announced that its new Plex Cloud feature, originally released as a limited beta last fall, is now available to all Plex Pass subscribers. The Plex Cloud service expands the capabilities of the company’s media streaming platform, allowing users to store their movies, TV shows, and other media content in the cloud rather than, or in addition to, running their own Plex Media Server at home. Although Plex Cloud integrated with Amazon Drive when originally launched in beta, the fully-deployed Plex Cloud service instead allows you to simply tie into your choice of three major storage providers — Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive — and use whatever paid storage you have available on these services.

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