Apple has released the second developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and watchOS 2.2.1. As with the prior beta, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. 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 has agreed to pay $24.9 million to a Dallas company that claims Siri’s voice technology violates one of its patents, Albany Business Review reports. The years-long case alleged Siri was developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2007, four years before Apple introduced the voice assistant with the iPhone 4s. Dallas-based Dynamic Advances licensed the patent from Rensselaer and stands to gain $5 million from Apple after dropping its case, with the remaining $19.9 million to be paid after other, undisclosed conditions are met.
The FBI has told CNN that it found no useful information on San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, but said the lack of information actually provided some answers. At issue was an 18-minute gap during which authorities couldn’t account for the actions of Farook and his wife. The iPhone hack eliminated the possibility that the couple used the phone to engage in communication with a third party, allowing the FBI to rule out contact with other ISIS supporters.
Apple has published a Report on Government Information Requests covering how it handled demands for information from law enforcement agencies received during the second half of 2015. The company said the “vast majority” of those requests were for information about lost or stolen devices, about which Apple complied 80 percent of the time within the United States. Totals outside the U.S. fluctuated between 52 and 80 percent.
The code behind Apple’s WWDC map has led to speculation that the company is preparing to release a web version of its MapKit framework, allowing users to embed an Apple Map view into a website, 9to5Mac reports. The map includes the pan and zoom features you’d expect from Apple’s MapKit, which is currently exclusive to iOS and Mac apps. With a built-in core of users already accustomed to Apple Maps on their devices and recent expansions in map research and development, the company’s entry into the web could pose the first serious challenge to Google Maps, which is now used nearly any time a map is required on a web site.
Sources who visited Apple’s “iTunes Lounge” at the Sundance Film Festival said the company is courting “triple A-list” talent for original TV series to be launched on an “exclusives” app for Apple TV and sold on iTunes, Fast Company reports. The stealthy conversations at Sundance led to meetings in Los Angeles where Apple executives heard pitches for original TV shows from producers who kept things so quiet they were reportedly referring to Apple as the United Fruit Company. Five different sources who have spoken directly to Apple executives or have been briefed on Apple’s plans said the company is still “disorganized” in its approach and hasn’t yet presented a unified strategy for its original programming.
It appears that Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference through Siri. Asking Siri “When is WWDC?” gets the response, “The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held June 13 through June 17 in San Francisco. I can’t wait!” It’s possible this response went live earlier than expected, as Apple hasn’t updated its WWDC website yet to reflect this year’s dates, at least as of this writing. It’s assumed that Apple will debut iOS 10 at the event, and there will also likely be some buzz about the possible introduction of new hardware as the event gets closer.
Bill Campbell, a trusted mentor in the tech world and a longtime member of Apple’s Board of Directors, has died, Re/code reports. Campbell’s death comes after a long battle with cancer. Campbell resigned from Apple’s board in 2014, and was replaced by Susan L. Wagner. A 2014 Fortune interview with Campbell, which came as he was stepping down from the board, details his relationships with past and present Apple CEOs John Sculley, Tim Cook, and of course, Steve Jobs — Campbell was known to some as “Steve’s guy” while on Apple’s board.
In the latest round of speculation around Apple’s car project, German website Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claims that the company’s secretive Berlin facility is staffed by 15 to 20 “top-class” employees of the German automotive industry. Sources familiar with the matter said the small team operates the lab as an incubator for ideas on future vehicles, after leaving traditional car companies where they were held back by management.
A number of possible changes to the App Store being explored by Apple in recent weeks include the possibility of implementing a Google-like “paid search” feature, Bloomberg reports. Among the possibilities being considered by a secret team at Cupertino would be a plan to charge developers a fee to have their apps more prominently displayed in search results for specific terms, similar to the business model used by Google. The effort, reportedly being spearheaded by former iAd chief Todd Teresi, would be intended to cash in on the increasingly large marketing budgets of major app developers, which have become significant sources of revenue for companies such as Facebook and Twitter. Teresi’s team is said to consist of about 100 Apple employees, including many engineers from the now-defunct iAd advertising group, suggesting that this strategy may mark a directional shift for that group into pursuing other advertising and marketing-related opportunities, after recent reports that the advertising service suffered at the hands of Apple’s strict customer privacy policies.
Apple has released its 2016 Environmental Responsibility Report, covering fiscal year 2015 with details on the company’s efforts toward becoming more eco-friendly throughout its operations. The report highlights three priorities that Apple has focused on to maximize its positive environmental impact, including using renewable energy sources and driving energy efficiency in the company’s products and facilities, conserving precious natural resources, and leading in the use of safer materials in both its products and its manufacturing processes.
Apple has announced that it will be ending the iTunes Allowance program as of May 25, 2016. The allowance feature, which has been available on the iTunes Store for over a decade, was designed to allow parents to setup iTunes Store accounts for their children and automatically add a fixed amount of credit to the account each month. Apple has suggested that users instead move to the new Family Sharing feature debuted in iOS 8, which allows purchases by children on a shared family account to require approval by a parent on an item-by-item basis. Users can also still send iTunes Gifts electronically, either as a dollar amount or for specific items, and of course traditional iTunes Store Gift Cards remain an option as well. Apple notes that users will not be able to create new iTunes Allowances as of April 13, 2016, and existing allowances will automatically be cancelled as of May 25, 2016, with any unused credit remaining in the recipient’s account until it’s used, in the same manner as credit from an iTunes Gift or Gift Card.
A new Washington Post story claims a group of independent hackers sold the FBI information that helped crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, contradicting earlier reports that Israeli tech firm Cellebrite was the company behind the hack. People familiar with the matter said a group of researchers who specialize in hunting for vulnerabilities in software sold knowledge of a previously unknown iOS flaw to the FBI for a one-time flat fee. The information was used to create a new piece of hardware that allowed the FBI repeatedly guess the iPhone’s four-digit PIN without triggering the security feature that erases all the data on the phone.
Apple has drawn the ire of the Reddit community after suddenly dropping popular third-party Reddit clients from the app store over their ‘not safe for work (NSFW)’ filters. Apple informed the creators of Narwhal, Antenna, Eggplant and BaconReader that their apps were removed from the app store for violating clause 18.2 of the App Review Guidelines, which prohibits apps from displaying “user generated content that is frequently pornographic.” Rick Harrison, co-creator of Narwhal, told MacStories it was odd that third-party Reddit apps were removed after being available for months but Reddit’s official app, which launched last week, wasn’t pulled despite Apple contacting Reddit over the same concerns. “I reached out to Reddit asking them if they knew anything, and they informed me that they did not request Apple to pull these apps, and they were also receiving issues from Apple about 18.2,” Harrison said. “I think that Apple did not pull their app because they are a big company and were recently featured. As shown time and time again, Apple does not really care whatsoever about indie developers. From taking 30 percent of barely any revenue to rejecting apps based on features that have been available for 18+ months.”
Dozens of users have taken to Apple’s customer support page to complain about problems with call quality when using their iPhone SE over Bluetooth. Those pairing their device with car Bluetooth systems are reporting scratchy and distorted audio when using their phone to make calls. Some also reported poor audio quality when using their phones for GPS navigation in the car, and one user said his Jawbone Bluetooth headset experienced similar audio problems when connected to the iPhone SE. The phone audio quality is fine when not paired to Bluetooth, and the connectivity issue doesn’t seem to affect music streaming over Bluetooth.
The Delhi High Court has directed Apple to stop using ‘Split View’ to describe its multitasking feature that allows users to run two apps side by side in iOS 9, The Economic Times reports. Vyooh, a vendor for Microsoft, developed a similar software in 2006 under the name Splitsview to allow users to work within multiple windows. The company filed an objection to Apple’s use of a similar name for a similar product, leading the court to rule that Apple cannot use the term ‘Split View’ on any of its products or services in India. Apple declined to comment, but is appealing the ruling.
While still not publicly confirming that it was the firm that helped the FBI crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, Cellebrite has offered to help a father gain access to his deceased son’s iPhone 6, CNN reports. Leonardo Fabbretti said his 13-year-old son Dama had given him Touch ID fingerprint access to the phone before his death from bone cancer, but that the phone now required his son’s passcode to unlock after a restart. Fabbretti asked Apple for help unlocking the phone, but was told the company couldn’t access the device without his son’s passcode. After hearing the story, Cellebrite reached out to Fabbretti, and on Friday a forensic analyst delivered a promising update during a meeting in northern Italy. “They were able to download the directories with the iPhone’s content, but there is still work to be done in order to access the files,” Fabbretti said.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals that Apple’s history in working with the FBI goes back as far as 2008, when the company reportedly not only assisted the FBI in accessing the data on a locked iPhone, but actually had its lawyers assist in drafting the court order to do so. While the government reportedly had no means of compelling Apple to cooperate back then — other than the All Writs act used in the more current case — Apple basically voluntarily offered its assistance on the basis of the government providing the necessary paperwork. The case in question was a horrific child molestation case where the FBI needed evidence from the perpetrator’s iPhone, which was taken to Apple’s headquarters in California by a New York State Police investigator. There, the iPhone passcode was bypassed while the investigator watched. The case contrasts sharply with Apple’s more recent standoff with the FBI, but it’s also important to consider that 2008 model iPhone models did not encrypt data at all, nor provide any of the other advanced security features now commonplace on modern iPhone models, making for significantly different technical and ethical considerations.
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.
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.