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Apple releases new iOS, watchOS, tvOS betas

Apple has released a new round of developer betas for iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The release notes for the new versions are relatively sparse, and the very minor version numbers — 9.3.2, 2.2.1, and 9.2.1, respectively — would suggest that these are primarily maintenance releases and do not likely include any new features worth noting. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

Apple News Twitter account starts promoting stories

The Apple News account on Twitter appears to be up and running, promoting stories as of last night. So far the feed has sent out a handful of sports and news items with links that direct users back to the Apple News app. Anyone clicking on story links from a device without Apple News or in a country where Apple News isn’t available will be redirected to the affiliate news provider’s site instead.

Siri security issue lets users bypass iPhone 6s/6s Plus lock screen (Update: Apple issues fix)

A newly discovered security flaw in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus allows users to bypass the lock screen and gain access to contacts and photos. The exploit only works on 3D Touch-equipped phones set to allow Siri access to Twitter, Contacts and Photos, but if all of those variables are in place, gaining access to a user’s photos is relatively easy.

If a Twitter search run through Siri yields a tweet that contains an email address, a 3D Touch gesture can then be used to call up the contextual menu with options to send mail to the address or add it to contacts. Choosing to add the address to contacts allows access to the phone’s existing contact list, and using the contact list’s option to add photos to a contact, the user can browse the phone’s photos without ever entering a passcode. To guard against the potential intrusion, users need only disable Siri’s Twitter integration under Settings > Twitter. [via Apple Insider]

Update: Apple has tweaked Siri to stop the personal assistant from allowing access to Twitter searches from a locked iPhone. A spokesman confirmed to the Washington Post that the company pushed out a fix to make Siri force users to unlock their phone before delivering Twitter search results. The update was handled on Apple’s on servers, so it won’t require any action from users.

French agency: Apple owes 48.5 million euros over illegal contracts

A French watchdog agency claims Apple should pay 48.5 million euros in damages over illegal contracts with cellular carriers, French website BFMTV reports. The Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud has filed a complaint with the Commercial Court in Paris alleging Apple’s contracts with carriers are “significantly unbalanced” in favor of Apple, in violation of the Commercial Code.

Siri improves MLB knowledge, but results are hit-or-miss

In honor of Opening Day in the MLB, Apple has rolled out some improvements to Siri’s baseball knowledge, but we’ve found there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The personal assistant is supposed to be able to provide more detailed statistics, including historical data going back to the beginning of baseball records, but simple questions like, “What was Ty Cobb’s best single-season batting average?” returned, “I don’t know who leads the league in batting average,” so she can’t even answer the question we didn’t ask, much less the one we did.

Apple’s plan to sell used phones in India meets strong opposition

Apple’s latest push to sell used iPhones in India is meeting strong resistance from a consumer group backed by rival Samsung, Bloomberg reports. Apple’s 2015 application was rejected, and the company’s recent request has drawn opposition from technology executives who say allowing the sale of used phones will turn India into a dumping ground for electronic waste. “Make in India could turn into Dump in India,” said Sudhir Hasija, chairman of Karbonn Mobiles, referencing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program that encourages local manufacturing.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.1

Following reports earlier this week of a hyperlink bug which was causing freezes and crashes on some iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units, Apple has released iOS 9.3.1, a minor update that promises to fix the issue. As usual, the update is available now through Settings > General > Software Update, or can be installed using a Mac or PC via iTunes.

Unboxing the iPhone SE

We’ve just gotten our hands on Apple’s iPhone SE and have posted a number of unboxing and comparison photos, looking at the new 4” iPhone model alongside its larger siblings, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Be on the lookout for our full, independent, comprehensive iPhone SE review, coming on Monday.

Apple claims ruling in patent case was unconstitutional

Apple has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a $120 million verdict against Samsung, claiming the three-judge panel that reversed the jury’s decision in February violated the U.S. Constitution, Reuters reports. In a petition filed Monday, Apple’s attorney said the panel’s use of its own outside research to overturn the judgment undermined Apple’s Seventh Amendment right to have a jury decide the case.

MLB coaches get iPad Pro devices with custom software

Apple is providing coaches with 12.9-inch iPad Pro devices running custom software through a new multi-year deal with Major League Baseball, The Wall Street Journal reports. The tablets will run a custom iOS app called Dugout, developed by the MLB’s Advanced Media division. The app will be loaded with player statistics, stat breakdowns, interactive data and game footage pertinent to the team’s matchup each day, with future iterations expected to support real-time data updates. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he hopes the iPads will help speed up the pace of games and make baseball more attractive to a younger generation drawn to fast-action sports. [via Apple Insider]

Apple faces new security challenge after FBI hacks iPhone

Now that the FBI has cracked San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone without Apple’s assistance, the company is left with the daunting task of fixing a security vulnerability it knows nothing about. Unlike other security issues where Apple is working to solve a known problem, the company has so far received no information from the FBI about the method used to break into the device. To complicate issues further, The New York Times reports Apple’s security operations have been in a state of transition since late last year, when Dallas DeAtley, leader of the Core OS Security Engineering team and the manager responsible for most government data extraction requests, left that team to work in a different part of the company.

Apple Q2 earnings call set for April 25

Apple has announced that it will release its Q2 financial results on Monday, April 25. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q2 of revenue between $50 billion and $53 billion, and gross margin between 39 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.

Apple responds to Justice Department dropping iPhone lawsuit

Apple has issued a public response after the U.S. government dropped its lawsuit demanding the company’s assistance in hacking into a terrorist’s iPhone, with the company saying it will continue to aid law enforcement while also continuing to increase the security of its products. “From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent,” Apple said. “As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.”

Justice Department drops lawsuit after cracking iPhone without Apple’s help

The U.S. Justice Department said it gained access to the information on San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone without Apple’s help and has dropped its lawsuit against the company, Reuters reports. Last week prosecutors asked for a delay the day before a court showdown with Apple, saying the FBI was working with a third party to gain access to the phone. While reports claimed Israeli company Cellebrite was the third party working on breaking Apple’s encryption, law enforcement officials haven’t publicly revealed the party responsible for the hack, or what was found on the phone. “The FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple required by this Court Order,” DOJ spokeswoman Melanie Newman said in a statement. Apple had requested that the FBI share information on how it accessed the phone, but an unnamed law enforcement source refused to tell CNN whether the FBI would make good on that request. “We can’t comment on the possibility of future disclosures at this point,” the official said. Apple declined to comment on the news.

Apple releases version of iOS 9.3 for older devices affected by Activation Lock issue

Apple has released a new version of iOS 9.3 with build number of 13E237, designed specifically for older iOS devices. The first finished public release of iOS 9.3 had an issue during the activation process. Users of such devices — including the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and earlier devices — who were unable to recall their Apple ID info could find their devices rendered inaccessible. This new build is meant to provide a fix for that problem. We’re also awaiting an iOS update for everyone that will provide a fix for the current hyperlink bug seen in Safari and elsewhere after updating to iOS 9.3, but it appears like we’ll have to wait a little longer on that front.

Report: Wireless charging, AMOLED screens could come to 2017 iPhones

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting a drastic redesign of the iPhone coming in 2017, including wireless charging, AMOLED displays and a “completely new form factor design” with narrower bezels. Kuo has pushed up his estimate for Apple’s release of AMOLED displays in iPhones, now backing previous rumors that customers will see the technology next year in a 5.8-inch iPhone that will completely replace the 5.5-inch iPhone, provided Apple can get enough of the larger AMOLED displays in time.

Hyperlink bug in iOS 9.3 causing apps on iPhone 6s/6s Plus models to freeze, crash

After updating to iOS 9.3, multiple iPhone 6s/6s Plus users have reported problems clicking hyperlinks in Safari, Mail, Messages, Notes and other apps. Some users are finding the links just don’t redirect anywhere while others are seeing their apps freeze or crash, according to multiple posts in Apple’s technical support forum. We have experienced the problem in Safari firsthand, with the hyperlinks going nowhere and occasionally freezing the app — so far we haven’t seen the behavior in other Apple apps ourselves. Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the issue but reportedly told one forum user “they’re aware of the problem and that their engineers are working on an update (presumably, iOS 9.3.1), and that the update should arrive within the next two days.” Apple’s Support Twitter account also seems to be attempting to offer help to users who contact the account, with apparent mixed results. Some users have had luck restoring hyperlink functionality in Safari by disabling JavaScript, but found the problem still persists in Mail, Notes and other apps that contain links. So far the problem seems isolated to 6s and 6s Plus models, leading to speculation that the issue could be tied to 3D Touch.

Report: Apple working on original TV series about apps

Amidst rumours that have been swirling about Apple’s desire to unveil original TV programming, a new report from The New York Times indicates that the company may be making its first foray into the arena with a show about apps. Apple announced earlier today that it’s working with Will.i.am and veteran TV executives Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens to create a new unscripted show that highlights the “app economy.” Apple executives have declined to discuss any specifics around the show, including even a title, timeline, or how the show will be delivered to viewers. Although it’s notably the company’s first original effort outside the music category — as Dr. Dre’s upcoming show is — Apple SVP Eddy Cue noted that this latest entry does not represent any “broader ambition” by Apple in terms of original productions or streaming video, although he notes Apple will “continue to explore exclusive projects similar to the series about apps or its push into music programming.” This particular project was apparently initiated as a result of a pitch by Ben Silverman, executive producer of several recent hit TV series’ such as “Jane the Virgin” and “Marco Polo.” Silverman worked with Cue to make “The Office” available on iTunes nearly a decade ago.

Reports detail Apple’s extensive cloud infrastructure projects

Apple has been migrating more of its cloud computing to Google, but a new report from The Information claims the company is aiming to create its own extensive set of data centers and servers to bring all of its cloud services in-house. Last week CRN reported Apple has quietly been moving much of its cloud computing to the Google Cloud Platform and away from Amazon Web Services, whose infrastructure it uses to run online services like iCloud. Anonymous sources said Apple is now spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google’s services after becoming dissatisfied with AWS being unable to quickly load photos and videos on users’ iOS devices.

Report: Israeli software company helping FBI crack iPhone

Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is said to be the company helping the FBI in its efforts to crack the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reports. Cellebrite officials refused to comment, but the company has been providing the FBI with decryption technology since 2013. Yesterday, a judge approved a two-week postponement of the FBI’s court action against Apple as the government explores a “third-party” method of unlocking the iPhone.

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