A number of Australian Apple device owners have discovered that their devices have been hacked, and are being held hostage for ransom, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. iPad, iPhone, and Mac owners have reported seeing messages stating their device was hacked, and would be unlocked if they sent money to a PayPal account. In some known cases, the message “Device hacked by Oleg Pliss” has prompted users to send $50 or $100 to a PayPal account. Dozens of users have reported seeing similar messages.
According to the report, users with a passcode were able to unlock their devices after receiving the message, but those without a passcode on their devices were unable to do so. A PayPal spokesman said no PayPal account was linked to the email address given, also noting that any money sent by hacked users would be refunded. Users have received little help from carriers, and have been told to contact Apple, which has yet to comment. The hacker appears to be exploiting an insecurity within Find My iPhone.
Update - May 28: Apple released a statement on the issue: “Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident. Impacted users should change their Apple ID password as soon as possible and avoid using the same user name and password for multiple services. Any users who need additional help can contact AppleCare or visit their local Apple Retail Store.” [via ZDNet]
Apple has expanded its in-store iPad trade-in program to a number of European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Both the UK and Spanish Apple sites are referencing the program, with iPhoneAddict.fr and Macerkopf.de verifying the program’s launch in France and Germany, respectively. Apple only started accepting the iPad in its Reuse and Recycling program last month. Both eligible iPads and iPhones can now be traded in toward the purchase of new iOS devices; current-generation devices are generally not eligible for trade-in. [via 9to5Mac]
Today’s OS X update, 10.9.3, has re-added the ability to sync contacts and calendars with iOS devices via iTunes over a USB or Wi-Fi connection. Apple had quietly removed this feature in Mavericks, presumably as part of the deprecation of OS X SyncServices, directing users to iCloud instead for syncing. It has returned in this latest OS X update, possibly due to pressure from users concerned about the use of cloud-based services, although it is unclear if Apple has returned to the prior SyncServices model or simply developed a new synchronization architecture for this purpose.
Alongside updates to its iTunes software, Apple today released new versions of two of its iOS apps: Podcasts and iTunes Connect. Podcasts 2.1 sees a number of improvements to episode browsing, Siri integration, and more. A new Unplayed tab lists podcasts that haven’t yet been listened to, while the Feed tab shows episodes available to download or stream. Podcast episodes can now be set to be automatically deleted after being played.
Among other new features, Siri can now play specific podcasts and stations, CarPlay support has been added, and links can be shared using AirDrop.
iTunes Connect, a developer tool, has been completely redesigned for iOS. Additionally, it can now be used to access music, movies, and TV shows developers have made available in the iTunes Store, in addition to apps.
Apple will likely add split-screen multitasking to iPad in iOS 8, 9to5Mac reports. Sources claim that iPad users will be able to use two iPad applications at the same time. The new feature may also allow users to drag content — text, images, or video, for instance — from one app to the other. According to the report, multitasking has been designed with the 9.7” screen in mind, and it’s unknown if the feature would be intact on an iPad mini. The feature would work “exclusively” in landscape mode, and could feature prominently in the long-rumored larger iPad.
Comparing $19 Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapters and clones sold on eBay and elsewhere for $3, Ken Shirriff elucidates the risks unknowingly assumed by buyers of knockoff accessories. Cosmetically all but identical from the outside, the iPad chargers actually differ dramatically inside, with the Apple version providing a more stable flow of 2-Amp power with overheating and electrocution protection. By contrast, the clone produces only around 1-Amp power despite branding to the contrary, and cuts corners on everything from stability of the current to protection against temperature, moisture, and other electrical failures. Beyond supplying an inadequate flow of power to quickly recharge an iPad, Shirriff notes that the counterfeit charger’s board “is unsafe. If you use the charger in a humid bathroom and a drop of water condenses across the 0.6 mm gap, then zap!”
Counterfeit and other low-quality power adapters have been blamed for a number of iPhone-related electrocutions and deaths, most notably but not exclusively in China. In response to concerns, Apple offered to replace knockoff chargers last year for the equivalent of $10 U.S. in local currency. Similar concerns over sparking and exploding iPad chargers have been raised, as well.
Apple is now offering three years of AppleCare+ coverage for schools buying iPads for educational purposes, according to AppleInsider. The three years of coverage are being offered for $99 — the standard price for two total years of coverage for non-education buyers. It’s noted that the offer doesn’t apply to teachers or students buying an iPad for personal use. The deal is a boon for schools, which don’t have a reason to upgrade devices often, especially considering the higher cost of purchasing many iPads at once.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has already started to supply Apple with fingerprint sensors for its new devices, cecb2b.com reports. According to the report, TSMC started sending Apple fingerprint sensors in mid-April for the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and third-generation iPad mini. Xintec and Suzhou Jing Fang are reportedly taking care of the assembly. It’s been rumored that Apple’s Touch ID will be included in the new devices — recently, iOS 7.1 code was found to contain a reference to the iPad family within Touch ID resources.
Security researcher Andreas Kurtz wrote a blog post in late April noting that iOS 7 does not actually encrypt email attachments from the Mail app, as Apple claims. The issue reportedly remains in the current iOS 7.1.1. Kurtz was told by Apple that the company was aware of the issue, “but did not state any date when a fix is to be expected.” It’s possible a patch will be issued in the near future, but for now, it’s advisable to send sensitive files using other, more secure means. [via 9to5Mac]
Microsoft has announced that Office for iPad now allows printing via AirPrint. All three Office for iPad apps — Word, Excel, and Powerpoint — have been updated to version 1.0.1, enabling users to print Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations with any AirPrint printer. The Powerpoint update also includes SmartGuides, which helps users easily align pictures, shapes, and text boxes. Excel has also added AutoFit to adjust multiple rows or columns at the same time.
A reference to the iPad family was reportedly found in iOS 7.1 code within Touch ID resources, prompting further speculation the touch sensor will be coming to new iterations of the iPad. The code was posted in a tweet by a French developer with the Twitter name @bp_unicorn. It’s been speculated for some time that the new iPads will have Touch ID — analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed new iPad Air and iPad mini devices would have Touch ID this year. Kuo also said the devices would both have an A8 processor and the new iPad Air will come with a 8MP camera. [via iDownloadBlog]
A new Apple support document reveals that some iOS 6 users must upgrade to iOS 7 in order to get FaceTime to work properly. Those iOS 6 users who have seen FaceTime call issues pop up after April 16, 2014 may be affected by a bug “resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date.” The only course of action to fix FaceTime is to update to iOS 7. People using iOS 7.0.4 or later or iOS 6.1.6 won’t be affected by this issue. [via MacRumors]
Apple left iOS users vulnerable by not fixing security weaknesses in iOS at the same time as in OS X, former Apple employee Kristin Paget wrote in a blog post. Paget points out that an OS X fix included a number of the same issues which popped up about three weeks later in Apple’s recent iOS 7.1.1 update. “Is this how you do business?” Paget wrote. “Drop a patch for one product that quite literally lists out, in order, the security vulnerabilities in your platform, and then fail to patch those weaknesses on your other range of products for *weeks* afterwards? You really don’t see anything wrong with this?” Paget asks readers to compare previous updates of iOS and OS X to see how security patches differ over time between the two operating systems. [via Ars Technica]
Along with minor tweaks and bug fixes, today’s release of iOS 7.1.1 sees Apple continuing to make it clear which apps support in-app purchases. Now, the Top Grossing chart in the App Store lists when an app has in-app purchases.
This is the latest step the company has taken to point out which apps may eventually cost more than their initial purchase price.
iOS 7.1.1, an update to Apple’s mobile operating system, is now available for download. The update lists improvements to Touch ID fingerprint recognition, the virtual keyboard, and Bluetooth keyboard usage.
While complaints regarding iOS 7.1’s keyboard space key have been fairly widespread, the update appears to address keyboard responsiveness issues rather than design.
Apple has expanded its in-store Reuse & Recycling program to iPad, 9to5Mac reports. Previously, only iPhones could be traded in for credit toward other iPhones. Now, iPads can be traded in for credit, and credit from iPhones and iPads can be applied to a newer version of either device. It’s noted that Apple is less lenient on used iPad conditions — for example, stores won’t accept an iPad with a cracked screen, but will accept an iPhone in the same condition. Apple won’t accept trade-ins of its newest current devices — iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, and iPhone 5s and 5c — or its retired devices.
Alleged leaked pictures of the next-generation iPad Air show a new integrated display. The photos, posted by Dutch site One More Thing, show the LCD layer integrated into the glass display, and the site says it appears the device may be even thinner than the current iPad Air.
If the overall dimensions stay the same, an integrated display could give Apple a bit more room for internal components, including a larger battery. It’s rumored that the new iPad will come with Touch ID and an A8 processor. [via MacRumors]
Apple is now selling refurbished iPad mini with Retina display models for the first time in its online store. The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacity Wi-Fi models are being sold in both silver and space gray. Prices for the refurbished models are $339, $419, and $509, respectively. No refurbished Wi-Fi + Cellular options are currently available. [via 9to5Mac]
Yahoo is attempting to make its search engine the default option on Apple’s iPhone and iPad Safari browsers, Re/Code reports. Though it is a major goal for Yahoo, it “has not happened as yet officially and no deal is imminent.” Currently, Google is the default search on iOS, though users can change that to Yahoo through setting adjustments.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly has the attention of some Apple executives, including SVP of design Jony Ive. One source said “it will take more than pretty pictures” to get Apple to switch from Google as the default browser, as Apple aims for providing a top-notch user experience. It’s notable that Apple already uses Yahoo to power its iOS weather and stocks apps.
Apple is partnering with Shazam on a song discovery feature that will appear in a future iOS update, Bloomberg reports. The new feature will not require a separate download, and it will also incorporate Siri so that an iPhone user has the option of doing a voice search for what song is playing. It’s likely the app will then be able to link users to iTunes to purchase the song — as the report notes, Apple has been considering several options on how to tweak iTunes, with a number of rumors and reports already floating about. Though it’s pointed out that Apple will preview iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference next month, it’s unclear if the new feature will be a part of the next major iteration of iOS, or if it will come in a separate update.