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Apple releases iOS 11.3.1, fixing iPhone 8 replacement display problem

Apple has released iOS 11.3.1, addressing the issue with third-party display replacements reported earlier this month. According to the release notes, the update “addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 8 devices because they were serviced with non-genuine replacement displays.” The update notes also repeated the same cautionary warning first shown in iOS 11.0.3 last fall, stating that “non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly.”

New iPhone SE could launch in May, sans headphone jack

An updated iPhone SE may in fact be coming as early as next month, according to a new report by Mac Otakara [via MacRumors]. Speaking with case makers at the Global Sources Mobile Electronics trade show in Hong Kong this week, the Japanese website was told that a second-generation iPhone SE would still maintain the same physical size as the current iPhone, but could eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack and possibly even move to a glass back with wireless charging capabilities, although case makers seem less certain on that last point.

Report: Apple considering dual-SIM 6.1” LCD iPhone model

Another new report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that Apple may have plans this year for a dual-SIM iPhone model, 9to5Mac reports. The new investor note by Kuo suggests that the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone rumoured earlier this year, could be available in a version that would support dual-SIM technology, meaning that it would support two physical SIM card slots, and no eSIM support. This latest update adds to an earlier report that suggested Apple was considering a dual-SIM option for a new 6.5” OLED “iPhone X Plus” also rumoured to be in the pipeline for release later this year, which Kuo also corporate in his investor note, adding however that dual-SIM support will not be coming to the smaller 5.8-inch OLED version. Kuo also expects that the dual SIM iPhone would be priced higher than single SIM models, suggesting that the standard 6.1” LCD iPhone could sell for as low as $550, while the dual-SIM version might be priced in the $650 to $750 price range.

Report: New iPhone models may be coming this spring, likely iPhone SE updates

New regulatory filings discovered by Consomac (via 9to5Mac) suggest that several new iPhone models may be launching in the near future. References to new iPhone models were found yesterday in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, which has a solid reputation for accuracy in revealing products about a month before they ship, suggesting that new models could appear as early as May or June. Although the filing provides few useful details, logic suggests that this will be a smaller update, since Apple’s flagship iPhones are not expected to debut until the fall. While some reports have suggested it could be a slightly tweaked iPhone X, it seems much more likely that this would be the “iPhone SE 2” that we’ve been seeing sporadic rumours about over the past few months. More recent reports on an updated iPhone SE, however, have suggested that Apple may not have the resources for a major update, and that the most we’re likely to see is minor improvements such as a faster processor and lower price.

Israel joins the list of countries investigating Apple over iPhone slowdown issue

Israel has added its voice to the chorus of governments who have been looking into Apple’s handling of the iPhone slowdown issues revealed late last year, Reuters reports. Israel’s Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority revealed this week that it is investigating Apple “over a failure to disclose to consumers that its software could slow performance in some iPhones,” adding in a statement that it has already questioned Rony Friedman,  the head of Apple’s operations in Israel. The Israeli agency holds the power to levy significant fines in civil proceedings, however a spokesman for the agency said it was too early to discuss that possibility. A spokesman for Apple in Israel has declined to comment.

Third-party screen repairs causing iPhone 8 touchscreens to fail in iOS 11.3

Customers are once again experiencing problems with third-party screen repairs and iOS updates on Apple’s latest iPhone models, Motherboard reports. From information gleaned from repair shops, Apple’s iOS 11.3 update has been “killing touch functionality” in iPhone 8 models that have been repaired using aftermarket screens — iPhones that worked perfectly fine with the repaired screens prior to the update. According to Michael Oberdick of Ohio-based iPhone repair shop iOutlet, the repair community believes the problem is being caused by a small microchip that powers iPhone screens, and that some unknown component in the iOS 11.3 update kills touch functionality with that chip. Third-party screen suppliers have apparently solved the problem, but it requires the chip to be physically replaced in each affected iPhone.

Report: Apple working on triple-lens rear iPhone camera

Apple may be planning to include a triple-lens rear camera in a 2019 iPhone model, according to Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (via MacRumors). The report claims that the new camera will still have a 6P lens design with 5x zoom, although it’s unclear on whether that’s a optical zoom or merely a digital or hybrid zoom; only the dual-lens iPhone models currently offer optical zoom capabilities by using the second lens for a 2X zoom — it’s conceivably possible that a third lens could similarly provide a 5X zoom. A three-lens rear camera could also provide even more improvements to low-light performance, if the use of such camera systems on competing phones are any indication.

Apple unveils (PRODUCT)RED Edition iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Folio for iPhone X

Apple has once again released new (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition versions of its current iPhone models — in this case the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The new colours are similar to last year’s (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, although they of course feature the new glass back design and more interestingly this year Apple has also chosen to go with a black front bezel versus the white bezel used in last year’s models. The new versions are otherwise identical to the standard iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, essentially just adding a new color option to help bolster mid-season sales and continue Apple’s tradition of supporting the (RED) Global Fund in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Future iPhones may include curved OLED displays and touchless UI

Apple has long term plans in the works for future iPhone models that include touchless gesture control and curved screens, according to a new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. Citing people with knowledge of the matter, the report notes that the new features are part of projects that are already in the works at Apple for possible implementation the next two to three years, and would be ways of helping the iPhone stand out more in the crowded smartphone market. Touchless control would be a UI enhancement that would let users perform some tasks simply by placing their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it, representing an entirely new way to interact with the iPhone, responding based on proximity of a finger to the screen in much the same way that 3D Touch responds to finger pressure.

Apple releases first iOS 11.4 developer beta

Only four days after the public release of iOS 11.3, Apple has already begun testing of iOS 11.4, releasing the first beta to developers yesterday afternoon. The release notes for the initial iOS 11.4 beta list few significant changes, although they note the return of Messages in iCloud — a feature that was promised for iOS 11 last fall and introduced to beta testers in the entire iOS 11.3 beta before being omitted from last week’s final release. However, Apple once again indicates that the feature has been included only “for testing and evaluation purposes,” suggesting that it may still not be rolled into the final iOS 11.4 release either. The same conditions also apply to Messages in iCloud as for the earlier betas — users will be prompted to turn the feature on after upgrading to the iOS 11.4 beta, however users who have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled will have the feature activated automatically. No other new features are highlighted in the iOS 11.4 beta, which appears to still be lacking the AirPlay 2 features which briefly appeared in early iOS 11.3 betas before disappearing near the end of the cycle.

Update: AirPlay 2 has in fact returned in the first iOS 11.4 beta, but requires an AirPlay 2 compatible target device on your network, such as an Apple TV running the new tvOS 11.4 beta. HomePod doesn’t work as an AirPlay 2 target, and will likely require its own HomePod software update to enable the feature.

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.

GarageBand gets new “Toy Box” educational sound pack, TrueDepth facial control

Following today’s education event in Chicago, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS unveiling a free new education-themed sound pack, “Toy Box”, along with support for controlling musical effects using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.  The new sound pack includes over 400 Apple Loops, three drum kits, ten keyboard instruments, and five Live Loop grids, focused on education with sounds such as animals, vehicles, and counting to ten in different languages. TrueDepth camera support allows iPhone X users to control effects like guitar wah and synth parameters using facial expressions, and the update also adds a Modern Wah guitar stompbox effect.

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 reveals law enforcement routinely unlocks iPhones with dead people’s fingers

A new report by Forbes has revealed that it’s a rather common practice for law enforcement agencies to use the fingers of deceased suspects to attempt to unlock their iPhones. In the report, FBI forensics specialist Bob Moledor outlined a 2016 case where an agent used the finger of a suspect who had been shot by police following a stabbing rampage to attempt to unlock an iPhone found on the deceased. While Moledor added that this particular attempt didn’t work — the report speculates it may have been an iPhone 5 rather than an iPhone 5s — it was the first known case of law enforcement officials attempting to use a deceased person’s finger to unlock an iPhone using Touch ID.

Apple confirms fix is in the works for bug that allows Siri to access hidden notifications

In a statement provided to MacRumors, Apple has confirmed that it already has a fix underway for a bug reported earlier this week in which Siri could bypass privacy restrictions on third-party messaging apps, allowing for otherwise hidden messages to be read aloud, even when an iPhone is locked.

Canada’s mandatory National Public Alerting System to go live April 6

Canada’s new National Public Alerting System is scheduled to go live on April 6, and according to a new report from CTV News, the service will be mandatory for all users with no opt-out options available. While a report suggested that most wireless providers were pushing for an opt-out option that would allow end users to disable the alerts, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has decided that consumers will not be able to turn off the warnings. CRTC spokesperson Patricia Valladao emphasized that “There is a high importance that people—want it or not—receive these alerts,” a decision supported by Public Safety Canada, with assistant deputy ministry Patrick Tanguy adding that “When you’re getting those alerts your life is at risk. So it’s not there’s potentially a danger, there is a danger.”

Siri bug allows access to hidden messages on iPhone by asking Siri to read them

A bug discovered by Mac Magazine allows users to access hidden messages on an iPhone just by asking Siri to read them aloud. Apple has long allowed users to hide their notification previews in Messages — displaying only that a new message was received and keeping the contents private until the device was unlocked, and more recently extended this capability to third-party apps. The bug — spotted in both iOS 11.2.6 and the beta of iOS 11.3 — doesn’t affect Apple’s own Messages app, but it does allow messages in third-party apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Skype to be read aloud to anyone who asks Siri to do so, even when the device is locked. Apple has been made away of the bug but hasn’t commented publicly on the issue. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple thought to have two-year lead in 3D smartphone sensors

Most android devices won’t have 3D sensors comparable to this in the iPhone X until 2019, giving Apple a two-year lead in the burgeoning field expected to be worth billions over the next few years, Reuters reports. Three major parts producers said Samsung and others are too far behind Apple to get the tech into customers’ hands this year, leaving Apple out ahead on facial recognition, gesture sensing and immersive experiences for gaming and online shopping. Parts manufacturers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG said Android producers are struggling to get access to the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers that are central to Apple’s Face ID components.

Leaker’s latest photo shows ‘Blush Gold’ iPhone X he claims is in production

Well-known Apple product leaker Benjamin Geskin has posted photos of a “Blush Gold” iPhone X that he claims is in production now. The tweet includes a professional-looking shot of the back of the iPhone X in a copper-gold color and another grainier shot of a SIM tray in a different gold color. But Geskin has already been wrong about the number of colors the iPhone X would feature at launch and others have jumped the gun on speculation about the gold option being released, so we’ll have to see if the prediction materializes this time. The iPhone X currently only comes in silver and space gray.

Report: Apple developing its own MicroLED screens in secret California manufacturing facility

For the first time, Apple is developing its own MicroLED screens for testing purposes, Bloomberg reports. Sources claim Apple has made a “significant investment” in the program designing and producing the new displays at a secret California manufacturing facility near the company’s headquarters. MicroLED screens can be built slimmer than OLED displays while still delivering a brighter display that consumes less power thanks to different light-emitting compounds, but that makes them much more difficult to produce. Apple almost pulled the plug on the project a year ago and is still a few years away from putting its own screens in Apple products, but the move further emphasizes the company’s current trend toward trying to bring the design of more of its components in-house. In the meantime, Digitimes is expecting Apple’s screen suppliers to field up to 270 million orders in 2018, which will far exceed Apple’s best annual iPhone sales of all time.

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