Sources close to Apple say the company is in talks to launch a mobile virtual network operator service in the U.S. and Europe, Business Insider reports. An MVNO would let Apple sell service for data, calls and texts directly to users, leasing the space from existing cellular carriers but allowing users to hop from one carrier to another to guarantee the best service available in the area. The service is still very much in a test phase, with telecom sources saying it could take at least five years to fully launch even if it proves viable. Apple has been in talks with various telecoms for years over the service, with sources calling plans for the virtual Apple network an “open secret.” A 2006 patent shows Apple’s long-standing interest in the concept of allowing its devices to jump from carrier to carrier, and the company’s rumored plan to use Siri to transcribe voicemails would help chip away at existing barriers to the company’s ability to offer its own cellular service. Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 already feature built-in SIM cards that are compatible with multiple carriers, and the company is currently in discussions with the GSMA, aimed at a new “common architecture” to simplify allowing devices to operate on multiple carriers’ networks.
Two new leaks further speculation that new iPhones will be Force Touch-equipped and have slightly thicker bodies. Alleged renders of the new iPhone 6S posted by uSwitch seem to reinforce previously leaked schematics suggesting the new iPhone will be slightly thicker than the original. The images are purported to be CAD renders sent by Apple to third-party case manufacturers ahead of the new phone’s release, which show that the new iPhone 6s will increase in thickness from 6.9 mm to 7.1 mm. The iPhone 6S Plus will get a similar boost, from 7.1 mm thick to 7.3 mm. uSwitch attributes the increase in thickness to Apple wanting to ensure their new phones don’t bend, but more leaks posted by French site NowhereElse suggest the increase in size may be to accommodate Force Touch technology.
Those images of an alleged iPhone 6S prototype show a rectangle cut out of the metal plate that usually separates the screen from internal components. The site speculates that the minor difference could be making room for Force Touch technology — expected to be one of the major changes coming in the iPhone 6S. But the rectangular space also bears a striking resemblance to the space left inside the Apple Watch for its taptic engine, so time will tell what actually ends up occupying that space.
Apple has released a second iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers. Featuring a build number of 12H318, this second release, like the first, provides no release notes, and likely simply addresses unresolved issues with Apple Music and other features from last month’s iOS 8.4 release. The latest build has not yet appeared for direct download on the Apple Developer site; it is currently only available as an over-the-air update to those running the first iOS 8.4.1 beta released two weeks ago,
T-Mobile has added Apple Music to its Music Freedom program, allowing listeners to stream Apple Music songs without counting against their data limit. The carrier is also offering customers the ability to lease an iPhone for $15 a month and allowing anyone picking up an iPhone before Labor Day to upgrade to the next model later this year at the same rate. “Now, every single customer who gets a new iPhone 6 this summer as part of this deal can simply swap it for the next iPhone, if they upgrade before the end of the year,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere wrote on the company’s blog. [via CNET]
Police in Beijing have busted a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones — some of which reached the United States — and arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation, Reuters reports. The group set up a factory in January under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop and hired hundreds of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components for export as iPhones. Police raiding the facility on May 14 found 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories. Beijing police said the investigation began after they received a tip from U.S. authorities who had seized some of the fake iPhones. Apple declined to comment, saying the investigation was still ongoing. Knock-off Apple products in China have been a problem for years, pushing Apple to organize a team in 2008 to combat counterfeiters. In 2011, Chinese bloggers uncovered several unauthorized retailers that carefully replicated the look and feel of an Apple Store, right down to the employee uniforms. Since then, the Chinese government has taken stiffer action to protect intellectual property rights, cracking down on fakes and pushing firms to apply for trademarks and patents.
Apple has released the second public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, corresponding to the fourth developer beta released earlier this week. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 allows non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website 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.
After quietly dropping Home Sharing in iOS 8.4 and later tweeting that it would be working to bring it back in iOS 9, it appears that Apple has taken at least a partial step in this direction. iOS 9 beta 4, released earlier today, returns the Home Sharing option under Music in the iOS 9 Settings app, although the feature doesn’t yet appear to yet be implemented in the actual Music app. At this point, it remains unclear exactly how Home Sharing will be implemented in the new Music app and how it will interact with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, but the appearance of this option in the latest beta suggests that Apple is at least working to address the omission.
Popular email provider FastMail has announced that it is now offering full support for push email in the native iOS Mail app. While, like many other email providers, FastMail had previously released a dedicated iOS app for its service, it is the first third-party email provider to implement native push e-mail in the built-in iOS Mail app since MobileMe (now iCloud) and Yahoo Mail first introduced the capability in 2008. However, while iCloud only provides the pushing of new messages, FastMail’s implementation goes beyond this, pushing out updates for any changes to the user’s mailbox or other folders, so that the iOS Mail client gets updated instantly when messages are read, deleted, or moved using other devices. FastMail indicates that the new feature is automatically enabled for all accounts on its service and doesn’t require any special configuration on the iOS device; existing FastMail users should simply begin seeing e-mail updates pushed to their devices, and new users can setup their FastMail account in the iOS Mail app in the same way as any other generic IMAP account.
Apple has released the fourth developer beta of iOS 9. Featuring a build number of 13A4305g, the fourth iOS 9 beta lacks specific release notes, but likely continues to focus on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5305d has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed, along with new betas of Xcode 7 and Apple Configurator.
A newly introduced technology may soon make the dedicated fingerprint scanner in the iPhone’s home button obsolete, as Sonovation announced that it has created ultrasonic biometric sensors capable of reading fingerprints through Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Rumors have circulated about Apple looking to do away with the home button, and Sonovation claims to have developed the technology to make such a move possible — it’s unknown how far along Apple may be in developing its own version of such a method. Sonovation CTO Rainer Schmitt says the new scanners — bonded directly onto the glass display material — are “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security and ease-of-integration into mobile and IoT devices.” The company didn’t provide much in the way of details about how the new scanner works, but it claims 3D scanning can take place even when a finger is wet, dirty or oily without compromising accuracy. [via The Next Web]
Facebook, Google, Dell, HP, eBay and other Silicon Valley giants have joined forces against Apple, asking a judge to reconsider a ruling ordering Samsung to pay $548 million to Apple for infringing on the company’s hardware patents, Inside Sources reports. In a “friend of the court” briefing filed on July 1, the coalition said forcing a company to pay a portion of its profits for an entire line of smartphones or smart TVs — over a patent infringement on only one component out of the hundreds used in the device — would create a chilling effect on development in the industry. “Under the panel’s reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer’s profit or to consumer demand,” the group said.
In 2012, Samsung was found guilty of copying both the internal components and exterior look of the iPhone and ordered to pay more that $1 billion to Apple. A subsequent appeals ruling threw out the $382 million awarded to Apple for Samsung copying iPhone external design elements for its own Galaxy phones, but upheld all of the damages awarded over infringement on patents covering internal components. That left Samsung to pay the “total profit” to Apple, to make up for the potential iPhone profits lost to the competing product — and that worries other companies that see the potential for the decision to creep from hardware cases to those involving software products and online platforms. In June, Samsung asked for another review of the case on the grounds that letting the ruling stand would “invite overprotection and overcompensation for design patents,” but Apple has argued that the companies supporting Samsung – Google in particular, which owns the Android OS installed on Samsung’s Galaxy – have a direct stake in the fight and shouldn’t be viewed as objective observers. “Google has a strong interest in this particular case, is not an impartial ‘friend of the court,’ and should not be permitted to expand Samsung’s word limit under the guise of an amicus brief,” Apple told the court.
A new iOS phishing scam has been discovered that attempts to extort money from iPhone and iPad users by deceiving them into believing that their device has been compromised. As reported by the New York Daily News and The Telegraph, a number of iOS device users in both the U.S. and U.K. have encountered the scam, which presents a pop-up message in Safari advising them that their device has crashed for reasons such as a “third-party application in yourphone” or “unwanted websites visit” [sic] and advising them to call a number that in some cases is identified as Apple technical support. After calling the number, users are being asked to pay amounts ranging from $19 to $80 to fix the issue. The differing pop-up messages suggests that there may more than one group exploiting the issue. While this sort of scam has plagued desktop browsers for years, it has only recently begun affecting iOS users; some more isolated instances were reported late last year, although the scams appear to have resurfaced more actively over the past few days, and this the first time they have been reported in the U.K.
The issue can be avoided by ensuring that pop-ups are blocked in the Safari browser by enabling Safari, Block Pop-ups in the iOS Settings app. However, users who are already experiencing the issue will need to enable Airplane Mode to disable their Internet connection and then use the Clear History and Website Data option under the Safari settings. An Apple support document provides more guidance on securing Safari.
Following the general release of iOS 8.4 to the public at the end of June, Apple has now released an iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers. The new beta features a build number of 12H304 with no release notes provided, although it seems likely that it addresses issues with Apple Music similar to yesterday’s iTunes 12.2.1 update along with any other new or unresolved issues from the iOS 8.4 public release.
Apple has released the public beta of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan in its new iOS Public Beta program that began earlier this year. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 will allow non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website 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.
T-Mobile has announced an expansion of its free roaming coverage across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada as part of a new “Mobile without Borders” initiative. The new plan provides calling to land lines and mobile phones and 4G LTE data access across all three countries at no additional cost to subscribers, making the company’s Simple Choice plan the first and only wireless plan that spans the entire continent. The new plans will take effect on July 15, after which calls to, from and between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will be included at no additional charge, and T-Mobile users traveling to Canada or Mexico will be able to use 4G LTE data straight from their existing plan rather than incurring additional roaming charges, effectively allowing those customers to use their phone service just like when they’re in the U.S. While users won’t yet be able to tap into their Data Stash when roaming, T-Mobile’s announcement does indicate that is also expected to arrive “starting later this year.”
As expected, Apple has released a third beta of iOS 9 to developers, adding full support for Apple Music, which debuted last week with the release of iOS 8.4. Featuring a build number of 13A4293f, the third iOS 9 beta also includes a number of under-the-hood improvements from the second beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5293f has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.
Apple is planning a much larger initial production run of its new iPhone models, asking suppliers to deliver between 85 million and 90 million units by December 31, The Wall Street Journal reports. Those totals include updated versions of both 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone models, dwarfing last year’s initial production run of 70 million to 80 million for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. After strong sales of Apple’s first larger-screen smartphones, the company seems to be betting that the addition of Force Touch in updated models will bring users back for an upgrade. Apple is considering adding a third assembler, Winstron Corp., to meet the increased demand, according to people familiar with the matter. Last year, Apple’s reliance on Foxconn and Pegatron Corp. resulted in long waits for customers hungry for the larger display phones.
A week after Apple quietly dropped the popular Home Sharing feature from the Music app in iOS 8.4, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has promised the company is “working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9.” In a tweet, Cue confirmed that Apple is trying to bring back the missing feature, which allows an iOS device to stream music from a computer running iTunes on a local Wi-Fi network. With Home Sharing going missing just as Apple Music debuted, some have speculated that the feature was removed because it competed with the new streaming service and the company’s paid iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library options. Home Sharing is still available in the Videos app, and other than Cue’s tweet, Apple hasn’t hasn’t commented on the change.
An alleged schematic revealed by Engadget Japan alludes to the iPhone 6S as being slightly thicker than the iPhone 6. If true, the 6S will be 7.1 mm thick, a very slight increase over the existing iPhone 6’s 6.9 mm profile. The increase in size could be explained by rumors that Force Touch will be making its iPhone debut in the new model. Sources have claimed that any change to the 6S won’t be big enough to alter how existing iPhone 6 accessories fit.
An examination of photos of an iPhone “6S” prototype shows that baseline models of the new phone could still start at 16GB of storage, 9to5Mac reports. Analysts agreed that a Toshiba memory chip spotted in the photos has a 16GB capacity, though whether that chip will actually ship with production models is unknown. The guts of the new model feature fewer chips and the ones that remain are notably smaller, hinting at Apple’s attempt to reduce power use while maintaining functionality. For all the changes inside, the photos seem to back up rumors that, despite adding Force Touch, the new iPhone’s size is identical to the iPhone 6, so using existing cases and other accessories shouldn’t be a problem. A leaked document from last week claimed that the new phone’s upgraded 12-megapixel camera will be able to record 4K video.