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Apple releases first tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1 betas

Alongside the first iOS 11.4 developer beta, Apple has also released new betas for tvOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1. Both versions appear to be relatively minor updates focused on bug fixes, with very sparse release notes listing no new features, and in the case of watchOS 4.3.1 not even any known issues.

Apple releases first iOS 11.4 developer beta

Only four days after the public release of iOS 11.3, Apple has already begun testing of iOS 11.4, releasing the first beta to developers yesterday afternoon. The release notes for the initial iOS 11.4 beta list few significant changes, although they note the return of Messages in iCloud — a feature that was promised for iOS 11 last fall and introduced to beta testers in the entire iOS 11.3 beta before being omitted from last week’s final release. However, Apple once again indicates that the feature has been included only “for testing and evaluation purposes,” suggesting that it may still not be rolled into the final iOS 11.4 release either. The same conditions also apply to Messages in iCloud as for the earlier betas — users will be prompted to turn the feature on after upgrading to the iOS 11.4 beta, however users who have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled will have the feature activated automatically. No other new features are highlighted in the iOS 11.4 beta, which appears to still be lacking the AirPlay 2 features which briefly appeared in early iOS 11.3 betas before disappearing near the end of the cycle.

Update: AirPlay 2 has in fact returned in the first iOS 11.4 beta, but requires an AirPlay 2 compatible target device on your network, such as an Apple TV running the new tvOS 11.4 beta. HomePod doesn’t work as an AirPlay 2 target, and will likely require its own HomePod software update to enable the feature.

ACLU launches petition for Apple and other tech companies to sign ‘Security Pledge’

The American Civil Liberties Union has released a petition calling on Apple and other tech companies to sign a four-point “Security Pledge” promising to take key steps to protect their customers’ privacy, security, and liberty. The pledge requires companies to commit to ensuring all users have access to their personal data and control over it, ensuring data is protected against breaches and other unauthorized disclosures, limit the amount of data collected to only what is strictly necessary, and ensure that all data collection and related policies are implemented in such a way as to avoid discrimination.

Catalyst unveils Waterproof Case for HomePod

Catalyst has announced Waterproof Case for HomePod, a 100 percent waterproof case for Apple’s smart speaker that allows users to not only confidently use their HomePod by the pool or in other outdoor settings without worrying about water damage, but to even use it underwater. The case is designed to meet IP68 waterproof standards for immersion of up to 33 feet, and designed with a double O-ring and marine-grade stainless steel latches to hold the case securely together and sealed. Featuring True Sound Aquaphonic acoustic technology, the case promises to deliver clear sound transmission and voice recognition — apparently even underwater — and is tuned for bass resonance appropriate to poolside use. The Catalyst Waterproof case can also withstand drops of up to 6.6 feet, and made with a clear polycarbonate top housing to show off the HomePod’s design, and also provides pass-through of the top touch surface controls.

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