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Apple: Celeb photo hack ‘very targeted attack’ on accounts

In response to allegations that iCloud played a role in the recent release of many private celebrity photos, Apple has confirmed that “certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.” Despite the account intrusions, Apple claims that none of its systems, including iCloud and Find my iPhone, were breached. The company also claims it has already investigated the photo theft for more than 40 hours. To protect against such attacks, Apple suggests that users select a strong password and enable two-step verification.

Apple investigating “iCloud” celebrity photo hack

Apple is “actively investigating” a recent celebrity photo hack that may have involved its iCloud service, Re/Code reports. The hack has leaked a large number of private, revealing photos of various celebrities, and iCloud has come under fire. Actress Kirsten Dunst tweeted a sarcastic “Thank you iCloud,” with some choice emoji. “We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said.

It’s unclear, however, how culpable Apple really is at this point; some reports have suggested that the leak included iPhone images alongside videos and Android images that presumably wouldn’t have come from iCloud servers. As reported by TheNextWeb, it’s possible that a hacker used a brute force password attack — a vulnerability that Apple notably didn’t patch until Monday. While Apple does its own investigation, the FBI is conducting the official investigation of the hack, The Telegraph reports. Apple does offer two-step verification that could have thwarted the hacker, but it’s not a surprise to see many not using the feature. We’ll see what comes of the investigation, but it calls Apple’s account security into question — bad timing, considering the company will reportedly debut its own mobile payment system as soon as next week.

Apple to add 3X Retina Display support to iPhone 6?

Apple may be adding support for a “triple-resolution” Retina Display into iOS 8 according to a new discovery by iOS Developer James Thomson. In a series of tweets this afternoon, Thomson indicated that he had discovered a bug in iOS 8 beta 5 that loads a 3X asset instead of a 2X asset, and further explained that this only happens specifically with 3X assets and not other resolutions like 4X, suggesting this indicates a deliberate decision in the iOS 8 code, rather than a matter of simply selecting the highest-resolution asset available.

Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac originally reported in May that Apple was testing a 1704x960 screen resolution for the iPhone 6 that would be achieved by tripling each pixel from a “base resolution” of 568 x 320. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber added his speculation earlier this week suggesting different screen resolutions may be used and that the higher resolution would only apply to the larger 5.5” iPhone 6 in order to maintain a proper Retina Display pixel density. It still remains unclear what hardware Apple may ultimately intend to use this on, since although the iPhone 6 is scheduled for release next month, it is expected that new iPad models will also be appearing during the iOS 8 lifecycle, including a rumoured 12.9” iPad which may also require a higher pixel density for the larger display.

iPhone 6 logic board leak shows NFC, A8 chips

Another new report has surfaced adding more weight to rumors that the upcoming iPhone 6 will include NFC support. Field & Volk has released photos to Sonny Dickson alleged to be of the iPhone 6 logic board, which appear to show NFC chips along an Apple A8 chip, which will reportedly be a 2GHz dual-core CPU. A report from Wired earlier this week indicated that Apple plans to include an NFC-based mobile payment system, which seems to have been further confirmed by this morning’s Financial Times report that Dutch chipmaker NXP will be supplying Apple with the necessary NFC hardware.

Massive report reveals Apple’s PR strategies

A new nine-part report at 9to5Mac reveals techniques Apple has used to “quietly manipulate coverage over the years.” The comprehensive article relies on interviews with journalists, bloggers, and PR pros — including some ex-Apple workers. Part one of the article discusses all of the prep that goes into Apple events, including how Apple plans for things to go awry, recounting once when an audience member fainted and was taken out by paramedics mid-Jobs keynote, and what happens backstage when things go badly.

Part two details all of Apple’s internal PR teams, including the Momentum and Buzz Marketing team, which “works with major sports leagues to integrate the iPad into coaching toolkits, helps music events integrate iPads into festivities, and gets organizations to deploy iBeacon-integrated apps for attendees.”

Part three notes that despite its detached public attitude, Apple actively monitors all media mentions of the company, even having employees checking tabloids for photos of celebrities holding iPhones. The company also actively pushes journalists and bloggers to go after negative reports about Apple in the press, providing them with links and information to undermine stories. Additionally, it plays journalists and publications against each other to get the best coverage, at one point telling Brian Lam of Gizmodo that he was getting an iPhone before the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, and pushing Newsweek and Time to fight over an exclusive cover story.

Report: iPhone 6 to feature NFC mobile payments

Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 will come with its own mobile payment system, and the solution will use NFC, Wired reports. Use of near field communication has been rumored in the iPhone for years — speculation began around the time of the iPhone 4 in 2010, and every iPhone since has been accompanied by an NFC report that never came true. Talk about the use of NFC in the iPhone has heated up again in recent weeks, though considering the device’s history, there have been plenty of reasons to remain skeptical. However, with Apple’s known interest in mobile payments — and the apparent upcoming introduction of such a service — perhaps the time has finally come for iPhone NFC. There’s also been discussion about Apple using its iBeacon platform for mobile payments; it’s possible that iBeacon could still be involved in some way.

Report: Apple to unveil iWatch with new iPhones on September 9

Apple plans on unveiling its new wearable device alongside its two new iPhones on September 9, Re/Code reports. As expected, the new device will “make good use of” Apple’s new HealthKit and HomeKit platforms, though how the latter will be implemented isn’t quite clear. The wearable device has generally been referred to as iWatch, but the true name is still unknown at this point. According to the report, Apple will likely still hold an event in October — that event would undoubtedly introduce new iPads, at the very least.

Bloomberg: Apple now plans 12.9” iPad for early 2015

Apple suppliers are getting ready to manufacture a new iPad with a 12.9-inch screen by the first quarter of 2015, Bloomberg reports. Such a device has already been rumored for some time — previous reports claimed Apple was testing a larger iPad, with one late 2013 report claiming the company was testing five different 12.9-inch iPad prototypes for a release of two possible versions of such a device. Talk about the device has been quiet for some time until now, as the larger iPad was originally expected to see release sometime this year. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller declined comment on the new report.

LA Unified School District suspends iPad contract

L.A. Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy has suspended the school system’s highly-publicized contract with Apple to provide iPads to students, the Los Angeles Times reports. The contract would have provided all students in the country’s second-largest school system with iPads, but recent accusations claim that Deasy and deputy superintendent Jaime Aquino had “especially close ties” to Apple executives. “Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.,” Deasy wrote in a memo to the Board of Education. “Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the (project).”

A district technology committee found numerous problems with the bidding process, including that Aquino appeared to conspire with executives from Pearson — the company that was to provide curriculum on the devices — within an email. “I believe we would have to make sure that your bid is the lowest one,” he wrote. Aquino was formerly an executive with a Pearson affiliate before joining the L.A. school system. Despite the new controversy, Deasy reportedly believes Apple and Pearson will still participate as bidders in the new process for the school’s technology contract.

Apple launches iPhone 5 battery replacement program

Apple has launched a new program to replace “a very small percentage” of iPhone 5 units that “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.” Replacements will be made free of charge. The affected devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013, and are only within a limited range of serial numbers. A serial number checker on Apple’s webpage for the program lets users see if their devices are eligible. The replacement process has already started in the U.S. and China, with a launch in other countries on Friday, August 29.

Apple removes Secret app from Brazilian App Store

Apple has removed the app Secret from the Brazilian App Store, according to 9to5Mac. A Brazilian judge recently ordered the removal, after ruling that the app violates an article in the Brazilian constitution which prohibits anonymous freedom of expression. The judge also ordered that Apple must remotely disable the app from users’ phones, but it’s unclear whether the company will proceed with that step. Secret allows users to write and share anonymous posts with people nearby.

iOS 8 beta suggests 1472x828 resolution, more icons for iPhone 6 Home Screen?

An iOS 8 preference list file has been found with an iPhone resolution of 736x414, reports 9to5Mac, which would translate to a Retina “2X” screen resolution of 1472x828. At a 4.7” screen size, this would be around 359 pixels per inch (PPI), versus a 307 PPI resolution for 5.5” — the latter just enough pixel density to qualify as a Retina display. If displayed on a 4” screen, this would equal 422 PPI. Previously, 9to5Mac reported in May that Apple was testing a 1704x960 resolution for the next-generation iPhone, which we noted at the time oddly fell just shy of the “full HD” 1920x1080 resolution found in virtually all HDTVs and many competing smartphones. It’s possible that either or both reports are wrong, however, the 736x414 resolution comes directly from Apple’s latest Xcode 6 SDK betas for iOS 8.

If the new numbers are accurate, it suggests that Apple — rather than merely tripling every pixel from 320x568 as was previously suggested, increasing the level of detail while keeping the same balance of on-screen elements — may instead be adding 94 pixels of width and 168 pixels of height to the existing iPhone UI. Conceivably, that resolution could enable one additional column and one or two additional rows of Home Screen icons, adding 11-16 more icons to the Home Screen for a total of 35-40. It might also mean additional coding work for game developers, as on-screen art would need to be manually adjusted to fill the extra pixels. 9to5Mac reports, though, that the preference list file suggests the resolution will display the same number of icons—20—as on the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s.

Report: Apple releases iOS 8 beta 6 to testing partners

Apple has released the sixth beta of iOS 8 to its testing partners, including cellular wireless providers, according to BGR. This beta has not gone out to the standard broad array of developers, reportedly since the sixth beta has arrived too close to iOS 8’s anticipated Gold Master release in September. The report also claims this carrier build has already been rejected as a potentially final version due to an issue with using YouTube in Safari. A number of fixes can be seen in the beta’s release notes, for resolving issues with Continuity, Mail, Messages, Photos, Push Notifications, and more.

Apple to debut reversible USB Lightning cable?

A few allegedly leaked photos of reversible USB cables have popped up in recent days, with reports claiming that Apple’s new Lightning to USB cables could include the feature. The most recent photo comes from Sonny Dickson, who has leaked real Apple parts in the past, depicting a USB connector that would work with any standard Type A USB port, but could be inserted upside down or right-side up. It’s notable that Apple has filed a recently-revealed patent for a reversible USB connector, discussing a “tongue” with contacts on its top and bottom, potentially capable of determining which side’s contacts are being used and deactivating the other side’s contacts. [via 9to5Mac]

FLA cites Quanta for further Apple labor problems

The Fair Labor Association has released new reports containing audits of two Apple supplier factories, both Quanta facilities, in Shanghai and Changshu, China. Both audits were done in August 2013. Issues cited include workers being charged hiring fees, given excessive consecutive work hours, not receiving pay for sick leave, and factories keeping incomplete information for chemical substances. Apple released a statement to TechCrunch, in which the company notes the Quanta facilities in question were included in its 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report.

The statement also notes that, “In the year since the FLA’s visit, we have worked closely with Quanta to drive meaningful improvements in areas identified by both the FLA and Apple. Apple conducted four follow-up inspections on top of the annual audits of both facilities, to ensure the needed corrections are in place.” Apple reports Quanta has averaged 86 percent compliance with its 60-hour workweek through the end of July this year.

Apple adds more vice presidents to executive webpage

Apple has added five new vice presidents to its executive profile webpage. The newly listed VPs include Paul Deneve, Vice President of Special Projects, Lisa Jackson, VP of Environmental Initiatives, Joel Podolny, VP and Dean of Apple University, Johny Srouji, VP of Hardware Technologies, and Denise Young Smith, VP of Worldwide Human Resources. According to the bios, all of the newly listed positions report to CEO Tim Cook. Full bios are available on the webpage, which now lists a total of 15 Apple executives in all; the additional profiles appear to be an effort to enhance the company’s public-facing executive diversity. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple shareholder files class action over anti-poaching agreement

An Apple shareholder has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple’s board and the estate of Steve Jobs, Patently Apple reports. The lawsuit is based on another suit involving Apple’s anti-poaching agreement with Google, Adobe, Intel — that case recently saw the defendants’ settlement proposal rejected. This new suit claims that Apple’s decision to enter the anti-poaching agreement damaged the company’s value. The suit, filed by shareholder R. Andre Klein, accuses Apple of breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, and waste of corporate assets.

Report: Apple meets with Thai officials regarding iPhone 6 announcement

Thai officials revealed on Wednesday that Apple received approval to sell two new iPhone models in the country, and a new report notes that a seemingly displeased Apple has met with those officials about the disclosure. The translated report, from Thai Rath, also makes a point to note that the new devices may or may not be called “iPhone 6,” leaving some doubt into what the names of the new devices will actually be; “iPhone Air” has previously been floated as a possible alternative. Though Apple may be upset, it doesn’t seem the disclosure will likely affect the sale of the new phones in Thailand. The report suggests the phone could launch in Thailand in early October, after first hitting the market in late September. [via MacRumors]

Apple bans benzene, n-hexane in iPhone, iPad assembly

Apple has banned the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in final assembly of its iPhones and iPads, the Associated Press reports. The company has drawn criticism in the past for using both potentially hazardous chemicals — workers reported n-hexane-related sicknesses in 2010, and by 2011, workers at an Apple manufacturing partner wrote a letter regarding their concerns and health issues due to n-hexane exposure. Though Apple claims an investigation at 22 factories revealed no evidence that either chemical endangered workers, the company is requiring all factories to test substances for the two chemicals on top of the general ban. “This is doing everything we can think of to do to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives. “We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.” Apple also released a new message from Jackson on the company’s decision to ban the two controversial chemicals.

Report: Apple, HP talked enterprise before IBM announcement

Hewlett Packard and Apple reportedly had talks about a possible enterprise partnership before Apple announced its IBM deal, according to The Information. HP has developed an enterprise mobile search product interestingly nicknamed “Enterprise Siri.” The main gist of the report is that HP has been discussing an enterprise deal with Google’s Android unit, as the partnership would develop Google Now into a voice tool that could search for company information. It’s unclear how serious the discussions were between Apple and HP. [via Business Insider]

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