Apple has released a new beta for iTunes 12. We took an in-depth look at the first iTunes 12 beta in late July, and we’ll update this story with changes found in the new edition. The latest beta includes a few more cosmetic changes, such as simplifying certain Preferences screens, adding media categories with keyboard shortcuts to the View menu, and improving support for viewing sync settings when multiple iOS devices or iPods are connected.
- October 2, 2014
Apple has appointed Steve Dowling as its new interim head of public relations for the company, Re/Code reports. A long-time member of Apple’s PR team, Dowling has been chosen to lead corporation communications following the retirement of Apple VP Katie Cotton earlier this year. Although a June report indicated that Apple had been looking for a “high-profile external candidate” to fill the position, it seems the company has decided to promote internally, at least for the time being—the Re/Code report notes that the company “will continue to evaluate worthy outside candidates if one should pop up.”
Apple has filed a patent application titled “Browsing remote content using a native user interface,” describing ways in which an iOS application could serve as a second screen controller for an Apple TV. In contrast to Apple’s existing Remote app, this design would present the user with a more full-featured Apple TV or iTunes interface. The specific interface would be determined by the Apple TV and simply rendered by the iOS application in a manner appropriate to its own screen, effectively allowing for the UI to be presented in a variety of different ways appropriate to the content being browsed, searched for, or viewed. The patent application also suggests that users could simultaneously control the media device and search for or browse information from other sources “not available to the media device,” such as the web, and transmit information from the remote to the Apple TV — for example, users could visit an external web page featuring trivia for a movie currently being viewed, and then send that information back to be displayed on the Apple TV. The application also suggests ways in which iCloud or “other network-accessed sources” could store information or user interface templates specific to different devices, and ways to sync such information across multiple devices.
Apple will add a new gold color option to its newest iPad Air likely to be unveiled this month, Bloomberg reports. The gold color, which has been an iPhone color option since last year’s iPhone 5s, is reportedly being added to the lineup to boost sales. Interestingly, the report makes no mention of whether the next iPad mini will also come in gold. Apple declined comment.
- September 30, 2014
Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Monday, October 20. The company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. ET that day. For the third quarter, Apple previously provided guidance for Q4 of revenue between $37 billion and $40 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide live coverage of the results.
- September 30, 2014
Europe’s best-selling computer magazine, Computer Bild, has been blacklisted by Apple PR after posting a video of an iPhone 6 Plus being bent by one of its journalists. In a response to an inquiry from the magazine regarding the build quality of the iPhone 6 Plus, a manager from Apple’s German PR branch responded by telling Computer Bild that they will no longer receive any testing devices nor invitations to Apple events. While the video in question appears to be showing an excessive amount of force being applied to bend the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s punishment is a harsh response, particularly considering that the company has been openly addressing multiple publications testing for iPhone build quality issues. However, such a response is consistent with Apple PR’s unfortunately heavy-handed approach to media relations, and blacklisting is not an uncommon response to publications that even briefly present Apple or specific products in a less-than-ideal light.
Computer Bild has responded with an open letter to Tim Cook, questioning Apple’s response and suggesting an attempt at intimidation by the company, while promising to retain its independent judgment when testing and reviewing devices.
- September 30, 2014
Special tax deals granted to Apple in Ireland may in fact be illegal, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. European Union regulators indicated that the tax deals in question “constituted illegal state support for the companies.” In a letter to the Irish government, regulators stated that they had reached the “preliminary view” that the tax deals with Apple from 1991 and 2007 technically constituted state aid, in that the deals gave Apple an advantage which was “granted in a selective manner.” Apple responded to the allegations as it has in the past, stating that the company has “received no selective treatment from Irish officials over the years,” and that it is “subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland.” An Irish government official stated that Ireland is confident no rules were breached in this matter. While the antitrust investigation is still in the early stages, a final ruling against the tax deals could result in Apple having to pay up to $200 million in back taxes to Ireland.
Apple has released the first beta of iOS 8.1 to registered developers. The latest version features a build number of 12B401 and appears to contain mostly minor tweaks and fixes, including the ability to disable Dictation independently from Siri, and a renaming of “Recently Added” photos back to “Camera Roll.” A report from MacRumors also notes that the beta includes hidden settings for Apple Pay as well as underlying code for iPad Touch ID support.
Apple has announced that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in China starting on Friday, Oct. 17. Pre-orders start a week earlier, on Oct. 10. The two new iPhones have been released in a number of countries since the initial launch on Sept. 19, but the Chinese release was delayed for regulatory reasons, making it unclear when the phones would be available. According to Reuters, Apple received approval for selling the devices after addressing a number of security concerns raised by the Chinese government.
“We are thrilled to bring iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to our customers in China on all three carriers at launch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release. “With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers will have access to high-speed mobile networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for an incredible experience.”
Apple is currently working on iOS 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that such a move away from Apple’s normal development cycle might show that the company won’t tie annual major iOS releases to typical fall hardware releases. Otherwise, Apple may be accelerating its iOS point release development while keeping iOS 9 for release next fall. It’s possible that the upcoming releases of 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 will introduce major new features, such as Apple Pay, split-screen iPad apps, or an update to make iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch.
Paris-based fashion retailer Colette is teasing a “one day only experience” with Apple, to be held September 30th from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM local time. While no other details are available, it seems plausible that this may involve the recently-debuted Apple Watch, particularly since Apple has been working with the fashion industry to style and position the device as a fashion accessory. The invitation image clearly resembles the Apple Watch home screen icon layout, and although it seems unusual that Apple would publicly demonstrate Watch this far ahead of its release, the event could be more focused on showing off the physical aesthetics of the device, special wristband options, or a new distribution option for these products. [via 9to5Mac]
A new report in the Washington Post reveals that new features in iOS 8 intended to limit tracking of iPhones may be more limited than users might expect. According to Apple’s Privacy Page, iOS 8 will protect user’s privacy by “randomizing your device’s MAC address when the device is passively scanning for Wi-Fi networks,” thereby preventing persistent tracking of a device based on the normally-fixed hardware addresses that are common to all Wi-Fi devices.
However, a new post from a principal systems engineer of the WiFi analytics firm AirTight Networks, Bhupinder Misra, reveals that the feature may not be as useful as Apple’s description implies. Misra specifically notes that the privacy feature is limited to the iPhone 5c/5s and likely newer models, and in fact is only operational when the iPhone is in sleep mode and location services are disabled. For example, Misra explains, the device’s actual Wi-Fi hardware address is broadcast whenever a user wakes up their iPhone for just about any reason, such as sending a text message—even if they’re not connecting to a Wi-Fi network but simply relying on their carrier’s cellular data connection.
Although a publicly available iOS Security White Paper from Apple explains some of these limitations, it makes no mention of the requirement that location services be disabled, making it unclear whether this is intentional behaviour or a bug in the feature’s implementation. It is also worth noting, however, that the Wi-Fi hardware address only reveals the identity of a specific device; no personal information about the user of the device is accessible in this manner. In other words, a store could track how often a specific customer had visited their store based on their device’s Wi-Fi address, but would be unable to identify the specific customer with this method unless they connected to the store’s Wi-Fi network and specifically provided personal information in some way, such as signing onto a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching problems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager Josh Williams oversees quality assurance for iOS, and Williams was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said Williams was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. Williams has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.
Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said.
Apple has released iOS 8.0.2 tonight, just one day after releasing and pulling iOS 8.0.1, which was immediately received with complaints of cellular and Touch ID issues from iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. iOS 8.0.2 resolves those problems, and also allows HealthKit apps to be available on the App Store, among other fixes.
Update: Some Australian users are still experiencing cellular and Touch ID problems after installing iOS 8.0.2, according to MacRumors.
Apple has issued an official response to the controversy surrounding alleged problems with iPhone 6 units bending during normal use, stating that it has received complains from only nine customers, and that the iPhones “feature steel/titanium inserts to reinforce stress locations.”
ALERT: Apple says only 9 customers have complained to the company about bent iPhones. (via @jonfortt)— CNBC Tech (@CNBCtech) September 25, 2014
Apple: New iPhones feature steel/titanium inserts to reinforce stress locations and use the strongest glass in the industry. (via @jonfortt)— CNBC Tech (@CNBCtech) September 25, 2014
The company also told the Wall Street Journal that cases of the iPhone 6 bending through normal use are “extremely rare,” and that both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have undergone “a series of tests meant to check the products’ strength and durability to withstand every day, real-life use.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple was informed of an iCloud security vulnerability that could lead to compromised user data as early as March 2014, a new report indicates. E-mails obtained by The Daily Dot reveal that London-based software developer Ibrahim Balic informed Apple on March 26 that he had successfully bypassed a “brute-force” security prevention measure, effectively allowing him to try over 20,000 password combinations on any iCloud account. Balic also informed Apple of the vulnerability using the company’s online bug reporter. Another e-mail dated May 6 shows that Apple was aware of the problem, with a representative continuing to question Balic on the nature of his discovery. Apple came under fire earlier this month with a high-profile celebrity photo hack involving iCloud accounts, and while Balic notes that the nature of the attack bears a “stark resemblance” to the issue he reported, it remains unclear if they are the same vulnerability.
Following reports earlier this week that iPhone 6 Plus users were experiencing problems with iPhones bending in their pockets, Apple Support has responded to an inquiry from The Next Web indicating that bent iPhones could be replaced under warranty if they pass a “Visual Mechanical Inspection” test, but that it is ultimately up to the Genius at any given Apple Store as to whether the device would qualify for a replacement or not. The Apple Support representative also noted that they are “looking into this with an insane amount of detail” although no official warranty policy has yet been confirmed by Apple.
Apple has released a new support document that instructs users on how to downgrade from iOS 8.0.1 back to iOS 8. The document is called “Loss of cellular service or ability to use Touch ID after updating to iOS 8.0.1 on iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.” iOS 8.0.1 was pulled only hours after it was released on Wednesday, after many users reported losing cellular service and the ability to use Touch ID on the the company’s newest iPhones. Apple also notes in the document that 8.0.2 will fix the issue and be released “as soon as it’s ready in the next few days.” It’s also noted that the Health app won’t work for users who reinstall iOS 8 after downgrading — that issue will also be fixed in iOS 8.0.2.
Apple has already released a maintenance update only a week following the company’s release of iOS 8. Listed as “containing improvements and bug fixes,” iOS 8.0.1 notably addresses the issue that affected use of HealthKit by third-party apps revealed last week. Other improvements and fixes include issues with third-party keyboards, apps accessing the Photo Library, reliability of the Reachability feature on the iPhone 6, fixes for unexpected cellular data usage when receiving SMS/MMS messages, and more. The update is now available in Settings, General, Software Update.
Update: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users have reported a complete loss of cellular connectivity and Touch ID functionality following the 8.0.1 update. iPhone 5s and other iPhone users appear to be unaffected, but we would advise users to hold off on this update for the time being.
Update 2: Apple has pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update following widespread reports of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus problems.
A recent change to Apple’s release notes for the Apple TV Software Update 7.0 indicates that iOS 8’s new Peer-to-Peer AirPlay feature will actually be limited to the “Rev A” third-generation Apple TV released in March 2013. Peer-to-Peer AirPlay is a new feature that allows users to wirelessly stream content to an Apple TV from an iOS 8 device or Mac running OS X Yosemite without having to connect to a host Wi-Fi network.
This is the first time a feature was added solely to this model, and not to earlier, supposedly identical 1080p Apple TVs. The newest Apple TV model was quietly released by Apple last year with relatively minor internal upgrades, and at the time Apple said these component changes would not affect any product features. Further, Apple’s Identifying Apple TV models support document still lists both third-generation models as essentially one class of device that was introduced in “Early 2012.” While it’s unclear why Peer-to-Peer AirPlay would be limited to only the Rev A model, it’s worth noting that we have already noted some wireless performance differences in our testing between the original third-generation Apple TV and the “Rev A” model when running the latest 7.0 software update.