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Apple releases iOS 10.3.2 beta to developers

Only one day after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has already rolled out a new iOS 10 beta to its registered developers. The first new beta, interestingly numbered iOS 10.3.2, has a build number of 14F5065b and according to the release notes includes little other than fixes for SiriKit car commands. New betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1 were also released to developers today, with similarly sparse release notes indicating only bug fixes and security improvements.

Rumor: Apple may add cellular capability to next Apple Watch, create USB-C/Lightning hybrid

A new blog post from Barron’s suggests Apple is still working on a cellular version of the Apple Watch and is considering creating a hybrid USB-C/Lightning connector to be rolled out in iPhones as early as 2018. After a trip through Asia meeting with members of Apple’s supply chain, analyst Christopher Rolland said the USB-C won’t replace the Lightning jack in 2017’s iPhone line up, but that his contacts “believe Apple may be creating an interoperable hybrid that mixes the best of both technologies.” And while Apple is still working out the battery life and size problems related to delivering a cellular Apple Watch after failing to get one working for 2017, Rolland said the next version will include a SIM card to allow it to make calls independent of the iPhone and provide the ability to sync up with the company’s AirPods.

Apple adds ability for developers respond to apps reviews, tweaks in-app rating prompt rules

Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.

Apple releases iOS 10.3 with Find My AirPods, Siri + CarPlay improvements

After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public today, featuring a new “Find My AirPods” option along with several improvements to Siri and CarPlay along with some other more minor changes and fixes. “Find My AirPods” allows iOS 10.3 users to user the “Find My iPhone” app to view the last reported location of their AirPods as well as playing a loud sound on one or both AirPods to help locate them. Siri in iOS 10.3 gains support for payment apps, scheduling with ride booking apps, checking car status with automaker apps, and Cricket sports scores. CarPlay users will also gain the ability to quick access recently used apps from the CarPlay screen, as well as several improvements to the Apple Music experience. As expected, iOS 10.3 also adds the cross-device movie rental capabilities debuted in iTunes 12.6 last week, a new unified view for iCloud and Apple ID account information within the Settings app, a “Report Junk” feature for dealing with iCloud Calendar spam, and several other improvements to the Home, Maps, and Podcasts apps.

Beijing court overturns ruling that iPhone 6, 6 Plus violated design patents

A Beijing court has overturned a previous decision that Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringed on the patent rights of Chinese company Baili, the South China Morning Post reports. Last May the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of Baili’s claim that the iPhones copied the design of that company’s 100C smartphone, but Apple was allowed to continue selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus while the appeal worked through the courts. On Friday, Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court ruled that the iPhone 6 has features that “completely change the effect of the entire product ... and both phones are easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers.” Since filing the lawsuit against Apple in 2014, Baili has completely collapsed, with phone calls to the company ringing unanswered, the company’s websites gone and visits to its registered addresses turning up no company offices. [via 9to5Mac]

TSMC to begin production of A11 chips for new iPhone in April

Supplier TSMC is already preparing to start production of the A11 chip expected to land in Apple’s next round of iPhones, Chinese-language site Economic Daily News reports. The company is Apple’s sole supplier of the CPUs for its new devices, and is expected to begin building the components next month in order to reach 50 million units by July. Apple split its A9 chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC, but a number of reports claimed the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some benchmark tests. The actual specifications of the A11 chip are still unknown, but TSMC is expected to use the its new 10nm manufacturing process to produce them. The company has already showed it can use the process for large-volume production, creating chips for “MediaTek and HiSilicon Technologies in the first quarter of 2017.” [via DigiTimes]

Apple reveals(RED) iPhone 7, 7 Plus models, doubles storage of iPhone SE

Apple has rolled out a special edition (PRODUCT)RED version of its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. The phones are identical to Apple’s existing devices, but feature a bright red aluminum finish. The red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are the same price as the rest of Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, but aren’t available in a 32GB size. The iPhone SE also got a storage boost today, doubling the capacities of both models to 32GB and 128GB while retaining the same prices of $399 and $499, respectively. Apple also added new color options for its silicone and leather cases, with the leather now coming in berry, taupe, and sapphire and silicone now coming in azure, camellia, and pebble.

Apple extends AppleCare+ purchase timeframe to one year

Apple has extended the amount of time that customers can purchase AppleCare+ after buying a new iPhone to one year, according to a new report by MacRumors. Previously, customers purchasing a new iPhone had up to 60 days to decide whether or not to purchase Apple’s AppleCare+ protection plan, which increases the covered iPhone’s warranty coverage and telephone support to two years from the date of the device’s purchase and provides coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage during the coverage period.

Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.3

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3, only three days after the the sixth beta was released to developers. The seventh beta, featuring a build number of 14E5277a, is available today to both registered developers and members of Apple’s Public Beta program, and the rapid release of new betas suggests that iOS 10.3 is drawing closer to a public release, possibly corresponding with the rumoured release of new iPad models that could arrive as soon as next week.

Apple now selling 32GB iPhone 6 model in Belarus

Following the unusual re-launch of the iPhone 6 in a 32GB model in China earlier this month, Apple now appears to have expanded sales of the “new” 2017 iPhone 6 model to Belarus, AppleInsider reports. Belarusian Apple reseller i-Store is currently taking orders for the device, which is priced at 999 rubles (~$520) and only available in Space Gray. Much like its launch in Asia, the device is identified as “iPhone 6 (2017)” and is in a previously-unavailable 32GB capacity, making it clear that Apple has begun manufacturing limited quantities of the older model in a new capacity, likely targeted for sale as an entry-level model in emerging markets. The 2017 iPhone 6 otherwise has the same specs as the 2014 model, but will run iOS 10 out of the box.

More than 180,000 apps could be rendered useless if iOS 11 dumps 32-bit support

A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stating that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS” has led Sensor Tower to determine that the new restriction could affect about 8 percent of apps on the App Store, effectively rendering them obsolete. While there’s no solid evidence that iOS 11 will be the final cutoff for apps that are 32-bit-only, Apple has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015, and forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015. That means the apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early-2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators.

Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.3 to developers

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3 to registered developers, with a build number of 14E5273a. The rapid beta cycle and increasingly sparse release notes suggest that iOS 10.3 is nearing public release. Unlike most prior beta update cycles, this time around no corresponding watchOS or tvOS betas have been released as of yet. A corresponding public beta update is expected in the near future.

Plex opens up Plex Cloud to all subscribers

Plex has announced that its new Plex Cloud feature, originally released as a limited beta last fall, is now available to all Plex Pass subscribers. The Plex Cloud service expands the capabilities of the company’s media streaming platform, allowing users to store their movies, TV shows, and other media content in the cloud rather than, or in addition to, running their own Plex Media Server at home. Although Plex Cloud integrated with Amazon Drive when originally launched in beta, the fully-deployed Plex Cloud service instead allows you to simply tie into your choice of three major storage providers — Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive — and use whatever paid storage you have available on these services.

Apple releases fifth betas of iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2, and watchOS 3.2 to developers

Apple has released a fifth set of new betas to developers today — iOS 10.3 for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV, and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. iOS 10.3 contains Find My AirPods support, tvOS 10.2 boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 10.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements. The betas are also accompanied by a fourth beta of Xcode 8.3. A public beta for iOS 10.3 should be available in the near future.

Apple ordering 3D imaging components from STMicroelectronics for ‘future iPhone’

Apple has ordered 3D imaging technology from STMicroelectronics slated to be included in a “future iPhone,” iGeneration reports. Sources familiar with the agreement said the 3D imagers are on track to begin production at a plant in Crolles, France as part of a joint collaboration between Apple and STMicroelectronics that began in 2015. Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics, told investors that the company’s recent $1 billion investment in “new products and specialized technologies” was related to “a contract recently taken [which will lead to] substantial revenues expected in the second half of 2017.” Bozotti hasn’t named Apple as its customer, but sources have confirmed that’s the case.

Report: Apple still prototyping ‘iPhone Edition’ that may launch later than September

A new set of rumors from Macotakara claim the tenth-anniversary iPhone rumored to be making its debut this year could be called the “iPhone Edition” and include a dual camera similar to the iPhone 7 Plus in a 5” device that’s the same size as an iPhone 7. The site says that multiple prototypes are still under consideration by Apple, including varieties with or without a home button and varieties with thin-film-transistor LCDs or AMOLED displays. Aluminum, glass and white ceramic are also reportedly under consideration for the chassis, leading to speculation that with so many factors still undecided production on the device might start later than usual. The new report is firm on the idea that “iPhone Edition” will feature wireless charging, but previous reports have claimed Apple is still undecided on which type of wireless charging method to use.

WikiLeaks claims the CIA has dedicated resources aimed at hacking iOS devices

The latest release from WikiLeaks claims that the CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch dedicated considerable resources to create malware intended to ” infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.” The agency allegedly obtained a number of “zero day” attack methods from fellow government agencies like the NSA and FBI, but purchased others from Baitshop and similar cyber arms contractors. While iPhones only make up around 14.5 percent of the global smartphone market, WikiLeaks suggests ” the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites” explains the government’s “disproportionate focus on iOS” as a hacking target.

‘iPhone 8’ to feature flexible printed circuit boards, Apple to move all iPhones to OLED by 2019

Samsung and Interflex are both ramping up production of flexible printed circuit boards to be use in Apple’s ‘iPhone 8’ later this year, The Korea Hearld reports. The FPCB components are used to connect the dedicated chips for components like the display and camera. Previous reports claimed the new OLED ‘iPhone 8’ will be made with a flexible display, but that the phone itself won’t be bendable or foldable because the other internal components can’t flex. While FPCBs don’t fully solve that problem, their inclusion could make the entire device less rigid than previous models.

Apple selling ‘new’ 32GB version of the iPhone 6 on select Asian carriers

Apple is resurrecting the iPhone 6 in a 32GB version in Asia, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. The 32GB gold iPhone 6 is labelled as a “2017” model, which would technically be correct as Apple never previously released a 32GB version of the iPhone 6, meaning these are new devices being manufactured specifically for specific Asian carriers as entry-level devices. According to the report, the new model is expected to launch on Taiwan Mobile on March 10, and has apparently been quietly available in China for the past few weeks. Notably, this new 2017 iPhone 6 model will only be available through select carriers, not on Apple’s online store or in its retail stores. Taiwan Mobile is currently advertising the devices as part of a special limited-edition promotion as the most inexpensive iPhone the company has ever offered — it’s basically being given away for free with a 30-month contract plan. It’s unclear if it may come to other Taiwanese carriers or remain exclusive to Taiwan Mobile; it’s presently also being sold by one carrier in China. It’s very unlikely that the “new” model will extend beyond China, however.

Report: 2017 iPhones to retain Lightning connectors but support Fast Charging via USB-C

A new research note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors sheds some new light on a report earlier this week that Apple could be replacing Lightning connectors with USB-C on this year’s iPhone models. According to Kuo, all three iPhones that are expected to launch this year will continue to use Lightning connectors, but will support USB-C power specifications to provide faster charging, likely similar to the specifications supported by the 12.9” iPad Pro. Kuo notes that the biggest technical challenge Apple is facing “lies with ensuring product safety and stable data transmission during a fast charge” and Kuo suggests that Apple will adopt new TI and Cypress power management chips, and that the rumoured OLED version may support even faster charging thanks to a newer battery pack design. The note doesn’t appear to provide any information on what type of power adapters or cables will be included with the upcoming iPhone models. Although current iPhone models can charge from a USB-C connection — including Apple’s 29W USB-C power adapter — they will still only charge at the same 5V/2.4A rate that Apple’s 12W USB Power Adapter provides, and further Apple has continued to only include a 1A charger with the iPhone, requiring users who desire faster charging to purchase the 12W adapter separately or supply their own higher-current USB power source.

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