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European Union announces an end to wireless roaming charges in June

The European Commission has announced that negotiators have come to a deal that will put an end to wireless roaming charges in European Union member countries as of June 15, 2017. Representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission have agreed on how wholesale roaming markets will be regulated such that Europeans will be able to travel within the EU without incurring any additional charges for roaming to different countries, effectively creating a “roam-like-at-home” system where travelers will be able to place calls, send text messages, and use data on their mobile devices anywhere in the EU at the same prices they pay in their home country. Regulators also agreed to wholesale caps on rates for voice calls and text messages, as well as a staged reduction over the next five years for wholesale data charges; these new wholesale caps represent the maximum charges that customers will pay while roaming if they exceed their contract limits.

Report: Removed Activation Lock website may have facilitated hacking of locked iOS devices

Apple’s sudden removal of the Activation Lock status checker from its website could have been in response to its use in hacking locked iOS devices, MacRumors speculated in a new report. A video posted by REWA Technology illustrates a process for finding valid serial numbers using the Activation Lock status checker and using those numbers to unlock an iPhone or iPad. Apple hasn’t confirmed any reason for shutting down the website, but since September, some users trying to activate new or restored iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus models have reported finding their phones locked to another Apple ID, and only Apple has been able to fix the problem. The full video of the hacking method used can be seen below, but without the steady supply of valid serial numbers previously available from Apple’s website, the process is now useless.

Apple deletes ‘Check Activation Lock Status’ page from iCloud website

Apple has deleted the Activation Lock checker from its website, effectively removing one method which helps customers verify that used products haven’t been stolen. First spotted by 9to5Mac, the change is also reflected in Apple’s Find My iPhone support documentation, which used to recommend running the serial number of a device though the ‘Check Activation Lock Status’ page on iCloud before buying it. Now the page that once hosted the verification tool ends in a 404 error.

Apple releases first iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2 betas

Following yesterday’s release of iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1, Apple has rolled out its first betas of iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2. Featuring a build number of 14E5230e, the iOS 10.3 beta adds Location and Play Sound for AirPods as part of the Find My iPhone feature, allowing users to initiate a high volume sound emission from AirPods to aid in locating them, although there is no mention in the release notes of the “theater mode” that was rumored to be included in iOS 10.3. The release notes for iOS 10.3 beta 1 also mention that new SiriKit car commands are in development — although the notes do not expand on the feature — and that the emergency SOS feature remains supported only in India. Enhancements to WebKit will allow web developers to create alternative page styles that respect the “Reduce Motion” setting on iOS devices.

The release notes for tvOS 10.2 beta 1 note that the update now adds accelerated scrolling support for UIKit and TVMLKit apps that will allow users to scroll through large views of content much more quickly using large swipes of the Siri Remote, as well as an index that can be accessed by swiping on the far right side of the Siri Remote. Device Enrollment and Mobile Device Management support has also been expanded for provisioning Apple TVs in enterprise and education environments.

Apple releases iOS 10.2.1

Apple released iOS 10.2.1 to the public today. The update for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch offers bug fixes and performance improvements — a minor update, all things considered. We’ll let you know of any particularly notable improvements or surprising new features. iOS 10.2.1 is rolling out now, so it should be available shortly if you don’t see it yet. As always, it can be downloaded through iTunes, or over-the-air in Settings > General > Software Update.

KGI: 3D Touch upgrade coming in new iPhone, Touch ID and facial recognition upgrades in future model

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors to expect Apple to make big changes in order to make the new OLED displays work in the company’s next iPhone. Kuo expects to see a redesigned 3D Touch system since the existing pressure sensors would be incompatible with a flexible display panel, with the company switching to a “film sensor” that is more sensitive to the amount of pressure being applied to the screen. He also claims the company is developing a new optical fingerprint scanner to replace the current Touch ID sensor.

Report: ‘iPhone 8’ to include upgraded water resistance

A new report from The Korea Herald claims that Apple is planning to add the highest possible level of dust and water resistance to next year’s iPhone. Citing “multiple sources,” the report indicates that the “iPhone 8” will feature an IP68 rating similar to Samsung’s current Galaxy S7, allowing it to handle submersion in about 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone 7 was certified with an IP67 rating, which makes it certified for only about 3 feet of water for the same amount of time, by comparison. The report notes that, according to an industry source, the higher rating will be one of the “drastic upgrades marking the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this year.”

Apple releases fourth iOS 10.2.1 beta

Apple quietly released a fourth beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers late in the day on Thursday. The new beta features a build number of 14D27 and eliminates virtually all of the “known issues” in the release notes, suggesting that a public release is imminent. The single listed issue remaining simply notes that the Emergency SOS feature which debuted in iOS 10.2 continues to only be supported in India, which appears to be a test area that Apple is using for the new feature. watchOS 3.1.3 and tvOS 10.1.1 have not received new beta updates, and there also still appears to be no sign of the iOS 10.3 beta that was rumored to appear this week.

FBI releases heavily redacted information about cracking iPhone

The FBI has released 100 pages of documents related to its efforts to break into a locked iPhone owned by terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, but most of the useful information has been redacted, The Associated Press reports. The release excludes the name of the group paid to unlock the phone, the cost of the services rendered, and the method used to unlock the phone, essentially shedding very little light on how the government gained access to the device. The documents do reveal that the FBI signed a nondisclosure agreement with the vendor who finally unlocked the phone, and show that at least three other companies expressed interest in the job but couldn’t deliver a solution fast enough.

Apple releases iOS 10.2.1 beta 3, tvOS 10.1.1 beta 2, watchOS 3.1.3 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the third beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers today, after a holiday break of sorts — the second beta was released before Christmas. A public beta release should soon follow. While a recent tweet claimed an iOS 10.3 beta would introduce “theatre mode” this week, that seems unlikely to happen so soon. Additionally, Apple has also released both the second betas for tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3 to developers.

Apple celebrates 10 years of the iPhone

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone, which he called “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” Apple is celebrating the iconic iPhone by heralding the many ways the device has changed the industry. Essentially creating the smartphone as we know it, the iPhone was the first device to introduce or popularize many of the features users take for granted today.

Instagram adds iPhone 7 Wide Color Support, Live Photos in Stories

Instagram has added support for wide color capture on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, along with the ability to convert Live Photos into Boomerangs in Instagram Stories. Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger tweeted the news out yesterday, noting in particular that the features are being rolled out in the existing Instagram app, with no update needed.

Instagram originally announced that it would be adding support for the new camera features in iPhone 7 at Apple’s event back in September, including the wider colors and Live Photos in Boomerang Stories announced today, along with a special color filter and one-finger zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus. Support for wide color capture and display should simply begin working, and users can add Live Photos to their Boomerang Stories by opening the Instagram Stories camera, swiping from the bottom of the screen to upload from the camera roll, and then selecting a Live Photo from the thumbnails that appear at the bottom of the screen. A 3D Touch on the screen will allow the Live Photo to be previewed as a Boomerang that can be shared in the current Story. [via TechCrunch]

Apple reports iOS 10 now on 76 percent of iOS devices

According to a recent update to Apple’s App Store Developer Page, over 76 percent of compatible iOS devices are now running iOS 10 as of Jan. 4, 2017, suggesting that iOS 10 is being adopted at a somewhat faster rate than iOS 9 was last year, which took until March to reach 79 percent of devices. The metrics presented on Apple’s App Store Developer page are measured based on App Store usage, and are therefore limited to those devices actually downloading apps from the App Store. [via iPhone in Canada]

Leak claims iOS 10.3 beta to arrive next week with ‘Theatre Mode’

In a pair of tweets, tech writer Sonny Dickson claims that the first iOS 10.3 beta will be released on January 10 and will include a new “Theatre Mode.” Dickson claims the feature will have a popcorn-shaped control center icon—hinting that like its name suggests, Theatre Mode would be intended for video viewing—but didn’t provide much more information on Twitter. In a brief conversation with 9to5Mac, Dickson said it’s possible Theatre Mode could be a version of the Dark Mode option that already exists on tvOS and macOS.

Apple seeking relaxed labeling in India, Chinese suppliers reportedly won’t shift to U.S. production

Apple is petitioning the Indian government to relax its product labeling rules for iPhones manufactured in India, The Economic Times reports. Apple’s concern is that the Indian regulatory requirements to print product-related information directly onto devices will clutter up the iPhone’s minimalist design; it’s said to be among several concessions Apple is seeking from India after expressing its intention to begin manufacturing there. Apple wants to instead provide those required product details either in software or on the product packaging, rather than having to etch them directly onto the iPhone itself.

Rumor: 5” iPhone to feature vertical ‘iSight Duo’ camera

A supplier in Taiwan is claiming Apple could add a 5” iPhone to its lineup next year, featuring a dual camera setup that stacks the lenses vertically instead of horizontally, Macotakara reports. The supplier claims Apple has plans to release the mid-sized iPhone alongside its current iPhone and iPhone Plus sizes in a “7s” generation. Unlike other reports that Apple is working on a third, more impressive iPhone, this source believes all three models will have the same basic internal specifications, but adds that the new “iSight Duo” vertical cameras are under consideration, at least in the 5” model.

Rumor: Leaked documents point to three iPhones coming in 2017, including high-end OLED model

Manufacturing documents allegedly leaked from Chinese suppliers claim Apple is working on releasing three iPhone models in 2017, with the deluxe version codenamed “Ferrari,” Chinese blog cnBeta reports. The documents—obtained from a Weibo user known to leak information from Apple’s supply chain—line up with previous rumors that Apple will be releasing a modestly updated iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus alongside a radically redesigned iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED screen. The source claims the flashier model will feature a divided internal design, with a thinner two-tier motherboard connected to the Wi-Fi and cellular communications systems by a flexible cable to save space. The SIM card is also expected to move to the bottom of the device as we’ve previously seen in the iPad Pro, freeing up some room inside the case. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases second developer beta of iOS 10.2.1

Apple has released the second beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers, which appears to be focused primarily on bug fixes and minor improvements. A corresponding tvOS 10.1.1 beta has not yet been released, and new watchOS betas remain conspicuously absent.

Apple asks users to send company Health app data for research

Apple’s Health app is asking users to send their data to a reporting program which will use the information to improve the company’s health-related offerings. If a user opts in, Apple will gain access to workout and activity information from their iPhone and Apple Watch, which the company says will be used to “understand the effectiveness of health and fitness features on Apple devices.” Apple claims the data won’t be used for any other purpose and that it won’t include any personally identifiable information. The company will also gather some location data and information about what other fitness apps are installed on a user’s devices.

Report: Special OLED ‘iPhone 8’ will feature curved plastic screen

Sources claiming to be familiar with Apple’s design plans say the upcoming flagship “iPhone 8” will feature a curved plastic OLED screen, The Korea Herald reports. The sources said Samsung can produce just under 100 million of the curved screens for Apple, which would necessitate the move to plastic, since glass OLED displays are typically only used in flat panels. The phones aren’t expected to be foldable because of rigid internal components, but the source floated the possibility that Apple could set itself apart from other OLED phones by adding “new sensing technology, which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device.” Display suppliers LG and JDI are expected to round out Apple’s screen orders next year, supplying the flat LCD screens for the remaining 2017 iPhone lineup. LG is said to be working on supplying Apple with foldable OLED screens, but that arrangement isn’t expected to begin until 2018.

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