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Sixth iOS 11.4 beta appears

Only three days after Apple pushed out a fifth beta of iOS 11.4, a sixth iteration has just appeared, with the increasing frequency suggesting a final iOS 11.4 release may be just around the corner. The sixth beta offers no significant changes from the last version, and shows only a small change in build number 15F5079a versus 15F5077a, indicating that it’s probably mostly about polishing and fixing relatively minor bugs at this point.

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has just posted a fifth set of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, again only a week after the fourth round of betas went out. Unsurprisingly, the release notes at this point list only extremely minor changes since the last beta, and it remains unclear whether iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 will in fact incorporate AirPlay 2, which also made a brief appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year before being removed before the final release, a fate similar to that of Messages in iCloud, which is still listed in the release notes as being included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Another new Unicode text bug discovered affecting iOS Messages

The iPhone is prone to another Unicode text bug, being dubbed the “black dot” bug. Outlined in a new video by EverythingApplePro (via 9to5Mac), the bug was first discovered on WhatsApp on Android, although it affects several other platforms as well, including the iOS Messages app. The bug was originally spread with the “black dot” emoji, but actually relies on the crafting of Unicode text strings that contain thousands of invisible Unicode characters that cause the receiving device to churn through CPU cycles in an attempt to process them, and such a string received as an iMessage will cause the recipient’s Messages app to repeatedly crash, much like other special-text bugs recently encountered.

Lightning port security mode looks to return in iOS 11.4

When Apple rolled out the first iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year, one smaller feature mentioned in the release notes was a new security protocol that would lock down a user’s Lightning port if it hadn’t been used for anything other than charging for more than a week. Specifically, Apple noted that users would be required to re-enter their device passcode to authorize a Lighting-connected USB accessory if it has not been connected to the device for more than a week. Although much like AirPlay 2 and Messages in the Cloud, this feature never made it into the final iOS 11.3 release, Elcomsoft notes that it’s back in the iOS 11.4 betas, with a report on exactly how it works and some of the ramifications of the new feature for iOS forensics.

Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Less than a week after Apple released the third betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, the company is back with its fourth round of developer betas. As expected, the release notes list only very minor changes, and although Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support remain in place in iOS 11.4 beta 4, it’s unclear whether these will still make it into the final release. At this point, AirPlay 2 is only available with Apple TV devices running the tvOS 11.4 beta, although the HomePod will presumably get a similar 11.4 update by the final release — Apple is not making beta software available for the HomePod at this point.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has released a third round of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1. The release notes reveal only minor changes and fixes compared to the prior betas. iOS 11.4 brings back Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support — at least in the betas — but it remains unclear whether these features are planned to actually be included in the final release of iOS 11.4 or are once again being included solely for testing purposes; the release notes still state that Messages in iCloud is included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Apple releases iOS 11.3 with Battery Health, Health Records, Business Chat and more

Apple has announced the final public release of iOS 11.3, featuring a significant number of updates for a point release. Originally previewed in late January, iOS 11.3 promises new augmented reality experiences, new Animoji for iPhone X users, a new Business Chat feature that will allow businesses to communicate with customers via iMessage, a Health Records feature that helps users of participating medical institutions more easily view their medical records, enhanced data and privacy controls, and the Battery Health feature that will ensure users know when their performance is being throttled due to aging batteries on older iPhones.

Tim Cook announces new 9.7” iPad that’s compatible with Apple Pencil

During today’s education event in Chicago, Tim Cook announced the new 9.7” iPad that is compatible with Apple Pencil. The $329 base device (or $299 when bought by schools) is the first non-Pro iPad to make use of the Apple Pencil and also features an A10 Fusion chip, but leaves out the Smart Connector and True Tone display of the iPad Pro. During the event Apple also touted a new line of low-cost accessories from Logitech in keeping with the affordability theme. Alongside the new iPad, Apple released updated iWork apps that are all compatible with Apple Pencil and showcased education applications for AR apps by dissecting a frog on the iPad using an Apple Pencil. The new models will be available to order starting today and ship sometime this week.

QR code exploit could use iOS Camera app to misdirect users to malicious sites

Infosec has discovered a potential exploit using the QR code-reading capabilities of the iOS Camera app that would allow one URL to be displayed while directing users to another hidden link. The simple code tweak allows those generating a QR code to set their link to display a safe-looking or familiar URL in the iOS confirmation box that pops up when a QR code is scanned, only to deliver the user to another URL entirely that was placed later in the code. The issue has been reported to Apple but hasn’t been fixed yet.

Report: Cheaper iPad expected to launch soon may work with Apple Pencil

Well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will double its shipments of the Apple Pencil this year, possibly by making a new, cheaper iPad expected to launch this week compatible with the accessory, 9to5Mac reports. Until now the Apple pencil has only worked with the much more expensive iPad Pro line, so it’s been a boon to artists and designers, but not a big seller for the tablets that tend to make their way into the hands of children. That could change during tomorrow’s education event at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, if Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals a low-price iPad that’s Apple Pencil-ready. Kuo also said it’s possible the iPhone will eventually support the Apple Pencil as well, but didn’t firmly commit to that coming in the near future.

Apple expected to launch new low-cost iPads at next week’s education event

Apple is expected to unveil at least one new low-cost iPad model at next week’s education event, Bloomberg reports. The event, announced last week, is being held on Tuesday at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, and is the first time Apple has held an education-related event since 2012 when it unveiled textbooks and the iBooks Author tool. According to Mark Gurman, Apple will be showing off a new version of its entry-level iPad, presumably an update to the fifth-generation iPad which debuted around this time last year starting at the previously unheard of price of $329. While there has been speculation that Apple may lower the price even further this year or introduce Apple Pencil support to the lower-end iPad, Gurman doesn’t provide any insight into that.

Report says new iPad Pro could feature slim bezels, Face ID; throws cold water on iPhone SE update

A new report from the Economic Daily News backs up previous rumors that Apple plans to release an updated pair of iPad Pro devices this June at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. A source said the display will measure about 11”  — which could possibly just take the same footprint of the current 10.5” iPad Pro and shave down the bezels to create a slightly larger display. The 12.9” model is also expected to get a refresh, and both are rumored to be getting Face ID support and faster eight-core A11X processors. The report also throws more cold water on rumors that Apple will be releasing an updated iPhone SE in the first half of the year, claiming that the three iPhones to be released later this year is all we’re likely to see.

Pair of patents provide look at waterproof Lightning connector, crumb-proof keyboard

A pair of patents show Apple’s interest in improving the seals on its devices, starting with a Lightning connector that creates a water-tight seal when inserted. Discovered by Patently Apple, one version of the Lightning connector features a tapered shape made of a “deformable material” that molds itself to the Lightning port to lock moisture out and keep the internal connections free from moisture.

Amazon brings Alexa calling and messaging features to the iPad

Amazon has expanded access to its Alexa calling and messaging options to the iPad and other tablets, Engadget reports. The feature already allowed Echo owners to communicate with iPhone users with the Alexa app installed, but today’s change opens it up to the iPad as well. The Alexa app can even call out from the iPad to any smartphone or tablet in the device’s contact list, provided it’s running the Alexa app, too — so the update isn’t limited to communicating with those with Amazon devices.

Report: iPad Pro with Face ID could debut at WWDC

A new report from Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang in Barrons suggests that Apple’s rumoured Face ID enabled iPad Pro models may make their debut at this year’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference in June. Zhang expects that the new devices could offset some persisting weaknesses in iPhone X sales, and estimates that the new iPad Pro would be ready for mass production with a release date in late Q2 2018. Rumours of Face ID coming to the iPad Pro first appeared last October from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, suggesting that the inclusion of a TrueDepth camera would not only enable Face ID but would open up many more possibilities for developers. A WWDC release date doesn’t seem entirely out of the question in light of the fact that last year’s iPad Pro models were unveiled at the same time, although Apple has also more commonly unveiled major new iPad releases during its fall events in recent years. [via MacRumors]

Apple releases fourth watchOS 4.3 developer beta, new public betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3

Apple has released a fourth watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the fourth developer betas released earlier this week. Featuring a build number of 15T5199f,  the sparse release notes don’t suggest any significant changes since the prior beta. watchOS 4.3 is expected to bring iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation. The latest beta also appears to resolve issues with weather information in Greater China and accuracy in the battery complication.

Report: Cellebrite has tools that can break into any device running iOS 11, including iPhone X

Cellebrite — the security firm that made headlines after rumors surfaced that it was responsible for breaking into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone in 2016 — is now able to get into any iPhone running iOS 11, even the iPhone X, Forbes reports. The company hasn’t made any flashy public statements about the breakthrough, but its latest marketing materials claim the company can unlock and extract data from “Apple iOS devices and operating systems, including iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11.” Sources said Cellebrite is telling customers its engineers have devised ways to get around Apple’s most up-to-date security features, and it’s likely that the company’s tech was used to crack an iPhone X for the Department for Homeland Security last November. Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the news.

Shure hints at iOS 11.3 coming this week in since-deleted tweet

While Apple has only given a “Spring” release timeline for iOS 11.3, audio tool manufacturer Shure seems to have let the cat out of the bag that the update is coming this week, according to PiunikaWeb. In a weekend response to a customer question about problems with a specific condenser microphone, Shure’s Twitter account replied that “iOS 11.3, due out next week, resolves it.” The tweet has since been deleted, so time will tell is Shure was just speculating or actually has inside knowledge of Apple’s release timeline.

Apple releases third watchOS 4.3 developer beta, new public betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3

Apple has released a third watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the third developer betas released yesterday. While the release notes are sparse, it appears from the betas that watchOS 4.3 will be bringing iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation. The latest beta also appears to resolve issues with weather information in Greater China and accuracy in the battery complication.

Regulatory filings and code in iOS 11.3 beta hint at new iPad models

A set of new regulatory filings with the Eurasian Economic Commission shows Apple has registered two new iPads, Consomac reports. The devices, listed as tablets running iOS 11, were registered with serial numbers that don’t correspond to any existing iPads. Last month, developer Filipe Espósito dug up references to an “iPad_Modern” in the iOS 11.3 beta that echoes the earlier use of “iPhone_Modern” to refer to the iPhone X, but it’s still unclear if a new iPad would have the look and/or features of the iPhone X. Regardless of what form they end up taking, Apple has been approved by the EEC to sell two new iPads likely to debut relatively soon.

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