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California bill would require ‘back door’ access to encrypted phones

Following New York’s introduction of a very similar bill, California is now considering a bill that would require smartphones to have a “back door” for access to encrypted content, ZDNet reports. Assembly Bill No. 1681, which has been presented as legislation for “Human Trafficking Evidentiary Access,” would “require a smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Any smartphone that couldn’t be decrypted on demand would subject a seller or lessor to a $2,500 fine. If the bill became law, iPhones (and many other smartphones) could not be sold in California if their current encryption features remained intact. The bill was introduced by California assembly member Jim Cooper, who told Ars Technica, “For the industry to say it’s privacy, it really doesn’t hold any water. We’re going after human traffickers and people who are doing bad and evil things. Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

iOS 9.3’s Night Shift may get Control Center button

Apple’s Canadian preview page for iOS 9.3 reveals something the American preview page didn’t — a toggle for the upcoming Night Shift mode within Control Center. First spotted by Reddit user nickjosephson, the Canadian page shows a small lamp button for Night Shift, next to the brightness slider within an iPad’s control center. The toggle allows a user to select between “Turn On For Now” or “Turn On Until Tomorrow.” The new Night Shift mode makes screen colors warmer at night, to minimize the affect of blue light on a user’s sleep cycle. While this toggle hasn’t appeared yet in any released iOS 9.3 beta, the image is still up on the page, which makes us think we’ll be seeing it sooner rather than later.

Video shows purported 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’

A new video purports to show Apple’s upcoming 4” iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 6c. The video, posted by M.I.C. Gadget, shows a phone that looks almost exactly like the iPhone 6s. M.I.C. Gadget claims the iPhone is “one of the first demo examples from Foxconn,” but noted that they don’t have additional tech specs or information about the device. The validity of such videos should always be taken with a grain of salt, but this isn’t completely dubious. Though it’s not always easy to judge scale, this alleged iPhone does appear to be a bit smaller than the 4.7” iPhone 6s. It’s been rumored that a 4” iPhone with a metal body would be coming this spring, and a familiar design wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Apple introduces new, free Music Memos app

Apple has introduced a new free iOS app geared toward songwriters, Music Memos. The company sent out a press release and has also set up a webpage dedicated to the app. As Apple describes the app, Music Memos “can record any musical instrument through the iPhone’s built-in microphone in a high-quality, uncompressed format, then name, tag and rate it to start building a library of your ideas. The app can analyze rhythm and chords of acoustic guitar and piano recordings, and instantly add drums and a bass line to provide a virtual, customizable backing band that plays along to match the feel of your song. Music Memos can even provide basic notation that displays the chords that were played.” Think of it as a Voice Memos app for songs. Though the app may not be showing up in the App Store yet on your iOS device, it is indeed already available for download through iTunes. Music Memos requires iOS 9.1 or later, and it works on any compatible iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Apple releases iOS 9.2.1

Apple has released iOS 9.2.1, a minor update that contains security updates and bug fixes. Also included is a “fix for an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server.” The update is available now through Settings > General > Software Update. Apple just released the iOS 9.3 public beta last week.

Apple investigating iPhone 6s/6s Plus battery percentage issue

Apple has released a support document acknowledging a battery percentage issue on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. As the document notes, “If you change the time on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus manually or change time zones when traveling, you might notice that the battery percentage doesn’t update.” The document instructs users to restart the iPhone, then turn on Set Automatically in Settings > General > Date & Time. Apple says that it is “aware of this issue and is investigating the cause and a solution.”

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 1.1

In an unusual move, Apple has released a minor update to its iOS 9.3 beta released earlier this week. Rather than carrying a “beta 2” designation, the new beta appears in the iOS Software Update as “iOS 9.3 beta 1.1” — the first time we’ve seen a point release of a beta. Designated as build 13E5181f — a very minor update from the original beta’s 13E5181d build number, the release notes indicate that the new beta fixes “some cases of an issue customers encountered while updating to 13E5181d that caused devices to freeze on the Apple logo.” The new “beta 1.1” is available via an over-the-air software update or direct download from Apple’s iOS Developer Site, where it simply remains listed as “iOS 9.3 beta” with no mention of the “.1” update.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 public beta

Following the release of the iOS 9.3 Developer Beta earlier this week, Apple has now released iOS 9.3’s first beta for non-developers through its Apple Software Beta Program. In contrast to recent public betas, iOS 9.3 includes a number of new features and enhancements that will likely generate more interest from early adopters. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

New York bill would force Apple to build a ‘back door’ into iPhone encryption

The New York State Assembly is presently considering a new bill that would require Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to build “back doors” into their devices which would allow them to decrypt data upon request from law enforcement, according to a new report by Onthewire. New York state bill A8093, originally drafted last June, would require that any smartphone manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that is “sold or leased in New York” must be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Should the legislation pass, anybody selling a non-compliant smartphone — that is, one manufactured in 2016 that cannot be unlocked or decrypted — could be subject to a civil penalty of $2,500, and would be prohibited from passing that penalty on in the price of the smartphone.

Report: Apple contracting with Samsung to supply flexible OLEDs

A new report in Korea’s etnews indicates that Apple and Samsung Display are very close to an agreement for the display maker to supply Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screens to Apple for its next-generation iPhones. The report suggests that the undertaking will require an investment of $7.47 billion in plant facilities and equipment, and will begin receiving orders from Apple as early as the end of the first quarter for between 30,000 and 45,000 sheets per month, with production likely ramping up to an additional 45,000 sheets per month in 2017. The report suggests that Samsung Display will be the primary supplier of flexible OLED screens to Apple, but not necessarily the exclusive supplier. A past report claimed LG would also supply OLED screens, while another report claimed Japan Display would be the supplier, and that the screens wouldn’t appear on iPhones until 2018.

Apple releases iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2, watchOS 2.2 betas

Apple has simultaneously released new betas for iOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch — iOS 9.3 beta 1, tvOS 9.2 beta 1, and watchOS 2.2 beta 1 are all now available to developers. The new iOS beta is available from the developer center. A public beta will likely be made available in the near future. Apple’s tvOS 9.2 includes the long-awaited addition of Bluetooth keyboard support to Apple TV, while the new iOS and watchOS betas enable the pairing of multiple Apple Watches to one iPhone.

Report: Apple developing new cord-free Beats earphones

Apple is currently prototyping an entirely new design for Beats Bluetooth earphones, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. Expected to launch alongside the iPhone 7 later this year, the new earphones will apparently be completely wireless, omitting even a cable to connect the left and right earpieces. Sources cited in the report suggest that the headphones will follow a concept not unlike the Motorola Hint and Bragi Dash. The earphones are also expected to include a noise-cancelling microphone system to facilitate better communication with Siri, and include multiple ear sleeve sizes for accommodate variations in users’ ear canals. An included carrying case will double as a rechargeable battery to power up the headphones when they are not being used. The new wireless headphones are expected to be a premium option that will almost certainly be sold separately from the iPhone 7.

The same sources have also corroborated recent reports that the iPhone 7 will eliminate the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, requiring wired headphones to connect to the Lightning connector instead. New Lightning-based EarPods will be released to support this as well, although it remains unclear whether Apple will continue to bundle EarPods with the iPhone or require them to be purchased separately.

Fast Company: iPhone 7 will be waterproof, drop headphone port, could support wireless charging

Numerous reports have suggested the upcoming iPhone 7 will drop the 3.5mm headphone port, and now Fast Company claims that will indeed be the case. The publication also claims the newest iPhone will be waterproof, as some have suggested. Additionally, the report claims the upcoming phone “will very likely support wireless charging.” A source told Fast Company that Apple will work with its audio chip partner Cirrus Logic to adapt the iPhone audio chipset to work with the Lightning port. The iPhone will also use some kind of noise-cancelling technology — the tech will reportedly enable Apple’s newest phone to remove background noise in both music playback and phone calls.

The source also believes that Apple will sell a pair of noise-cancelling Lightning earphones separately, rather than packaging it in with the iPhone. Regarding the waterproofing feature, Fast Company’s report does come with the caveat that Apple could pull waterproofing “very late in the development process,” as has happened before.

Report: iPhone 7 Plus to have 256GB model, larger battery

A new report claims that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 Plus will have an larger 256GB option, in addition to a bigger battery, further differentiating the larger 5.5” iPhone from the 4.7” iPhone 7. The report comes from Chinese site MyDrivers — the site also recently reported that a 4” iPhone will be arriving in April. It’s unclear if all the iPhone 7 Plus’ base storage capacities would increase, or if the 256GB will simply be an extra model. (We personally wouldn’t mind seeing both new iPhone 7 models starting at a 32GB base capacity at least, given the space now needed for larger apps and photos.) The larger battery claim — that the 7 Plus will get a bump to 3100 mAh from its current 2750 mAh battery in the iPhone 6s Plus — seems questionable, given Apple’s penchant for thinness, though the company could seek improved battery life through a number of other ways, as well.

Apple accused of deliberately crippling older iPhones with iOS 9 upgrade

A new class action lawsuit alleges that Apple deliberately slowed down older iPhones with its latest iOS 9 upgrade as part of a planned obsolesce strategy, AppleInsider reports. The lawsuit was filed with a New York district court on Tuesday and seeks $5 million in damages, claiming that Apple was aware of potential compatibility issues when it released the iOS 9 software update for the iPhone 4S. The Plaintiff, Chaim Lerman, is accusing Apple of engaging in “deceptive trade practices” and “false advertisement” by claiming iOS 9 was compatible with older models, stating that the reality is that the update “significantly” interferes with iPhone 4s performance and that since users are preventing from downgrading once iOS 9 has been applied, owners are left with “an inoperable device” with no choice but to buy a newer model.

Report: Samsung and LG to supply OLED screens for future iPhone models

Apple appears to be planning to source OLED displays from LG Display and Samsung Electronics, according to a new report from Reuters. The article, based on a report from the Electronic Times, adds more weight to other recent reports that Apple is testing AMOLED displays in a new Taiwanese lab in preparation to use the new screen technology in its next-generation iPhones as early as 2018. The report indicates that both LG and Samsung are close to a final agreement with Apple, although Japan Display was also reported to be in similar negotiations earlier this month. The new report also suggests that Apple will likely provide some funding to help with the investments, which are expected to require a combined $12.8 billion in capital expenditures to build up OLED production capacity to meet the new demand.

Report: China Mobile points to new 4” iPhone in April 2016

A China Mobile roadmap of the cellular company’s future plans reveals a reference to an upcoming 4” iPhone coming in April 2016, Chinese website MyDrivers reports. The report refers to the rumored iPhone as the “iPhone 7c” — it seems unlikely that Apple would release a “7c” before releasing any other version of iPhone 7, however. While the name is still in question — iPhone 6c seems to be a strong possibility — this is just the latest in a recent line of reports saying Apple would indeed release a new 4” iPhone in the new year. It’s believed the new iPhone will resemble an “upgraded iPhone 5s,” and will have an aluminum body, instead of the iPhone 5c’s plastic exterior. It’s also been reported that Apple is planning a March event, in which the company may unveil this new iPhone along with the Apple Watch 2.

Report: Apple to pay Ericsson 0.5 percent of iPhone/iPad revenue in patent deal

Swedish company Ericsson has announced that it has settled a patent dispute with Apple, Reuters reports.
Investment bank ABG Sundal Collier “believed the deal meant Apple would be charged around 0.5 percent of its revenue on iPads and iPhones by Ericsson,” as it stated in a note to clients. The “broad agreement” covers 2G, 3G, and current 4G-LTE technologies, Ericsson Chief Intellectual Property Officer Kasim Alfalahi said. Apple declined comment on the story.

Apple Hi-Res Audio coming in 2016?

Apple is planning to introduce higher-resolution audio in 2016, according to Macotakara. The Japanese blog claims Apple’s own Hi-Res Audio would be 96kHz/24-bit quality. The updated audio option could come to iTunes and possibly Apple Music this year, but we must note this has been rumored for some time — a similar report from the same source surfaced in May 2014. There’s also some debate about how much of an advantage higher bit-rate audio would make for most listeners. This report also claims third-party companies are preparing more Lightning audio products for 2016, as it’s been rumored that Apple could drop the standard headphone jack from the iPhone 7, forcing listeners to use Lightning-based or Bluetooth audio options.

Apple patent application reveals method for weatherproofing iPhone connectors

A new Apple patent application reveals that Apple may be working on a new method of weatherproofing iPhone connectors such as the Lightning port and audio jack, lending more credence to recent rumors that the company is working on making the next-generation iPhone waterproof. The patent application, titled Electronic device with hidden connector, describes using a layer of self-healing elastomer to protect sensitive electrical contacts in headphone and Lightning ports. Connectors would be able to penetrate the elastomer material to make electrical contact, but the material would re-seal itself upon removal of said connectors. Multiple examples are provided in the application, including applying the material to the opening of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, lining the inside of the cylinder, or filling the audio jack completely with the material. The patent application was first filed in June 2014, and while rumors of a weatherproof iPhone 7 have been circulating recently, it’s unclear whether the methods described in this patent would be applied to the iPhone 7, some unspecified future device, or if they will make it into any future Apple device at all. [via AppleInsider]

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