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Apple releases second developers betas for iOS 12, tvOS 12

Apple has released a second set of betas to registered developers for iOS 12 and tvOS 12, following the initial developer preview releases following WWDC at the beginning of the month. iOS 12 beta 2 features a build number of 16A5308e and according to the release notes resolves a number of issues from the first beta, including compatibility with certain third-party apps, accessibility issues, problems confirming Apple Pay payments in some cases, CarPlay alarms, Personal Hotspot, and issues with Phone, FaceTime and Screen Time features. The release introduces new problems as well, including the Weather widget, AirPods, CarPlay compatibility with certain vehicles, FaceTime, Screen Time, and Siri shortcuts. The second beta of tvOS 12 features a build number of 16J5303e and includes a smaller list of resolved and new issues. Both versions are available as over-the-air updates or via direct download from Apple’s developer pages. Public betas for iOS 12 and tvOS 12 aren’t expected to materialize until July, and will likely come following the third developer beta release.

Apple releases third round of iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1 betas to developers

Apple has released a third round of betas for iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1, only one week after the company pushed out its second round of the minor maintenance releases. The release notes remain devoid of any information, indicating that these releases likely just address bugs and other issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy. A third beta of watchOS 4.3.2 is not yet available, although it seems likely that it will appear later this week, as with last week’s release.

Apple confirms security lockdown of Lightning port in iOS 12

Apple has confirmed plans to tighten security in iOS 12 to block the use of external hacking devices such as Grayshift’s GrayKey box by locking down the Lightning port on iOS devices, Reuters reports. A feature recently discovered in iOS 11.4 was designed to prevent the Lightning port from accepting USB device connections when nothing had been connected in seven days, and after the first iOS 12 beta came out, it was discovered that the feature had been adjusted to reduce the time limit down to a mere one hour — meaning that when connecting a USB device to an iPhone running iOS 12, users will be prompted to unlock their iPhone unless a USB device has already been connected in the past hour. While Apple had previously been silent on the issue, this week an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that the feature is being implemented, but clarified that the move is being undertaken to protect all customers, and not specifically to thwart law enforcement efforts, as some have suggested.

Apple releases second round of iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1 betas to developers

Despite last week’s first beta releases of iOS 12 and tvOS 12, Apple is still continuing to run the beta cycle for iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1 in parallel, with second betas for each released today. Notably, watchOS 4.3.2 has not yet received a second beta, although that may still come later this week. As with the first betas, the basically empty release notes indicate that these release are focused on fixing bugs and other issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy.

iOS 12 significantly tightens Lighting port security mode

In addition to the many features highlighted in iOS 12 yesterday, it appears that Apple may also be doubling-down on Lightning port security in iOS 12. A report last month highlighted a new “USB Restricted Mode” that showed up in iOS 11.4 after briefly appearing in earlier betas, designed to lock down data communications through the Lightning port if an iPhone hadn’t been unlocked in at least seven days.

Apple unveils iOS 12, doubles down on performance and adds new AR, Screen Time features

As expected, Apple took the wraps off of iOS 12 today at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, with Craig Federighi taking the stage to highlight what’s new in the company’s latest flagship operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Federighi began by emphasizing that iOS 12 will be “doubling down on performance” and highlighting several metrics where iOS 12 will be improving performance, particularly on older devices. iOS 12 will be available to all of the same devices supported by iOS 11 — all the way back to the 2013 iPhone 5s — making it the largest base ever supported by an Apple release.

Apple releases first betas of iOS 11.4.1, tvOS 11.4.1, and watchOS 4.3.2

Only one day after the release of iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, Apple has already rolled out the first betas of iOS 11.4.1, tvOS 11.4.1, and watchOS 4.3.2 to registered developers. The release notes for the new versions are basically devoid of any information at all, suggesting that they are focused almost entirely on fixing bugs and other issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy.

Apple releases iOS 11.4 with Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support

Apple has released iOS 11.4 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, adding the long-awaited support for Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2. Messages in iCloud allows users to store and sync their Messages across multiple devices via iCloud, a feature which was initially promised in iOS 11, and made an appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas before being pulled from the final release. The update also includes support for AirPlay 2, which allows audio streaming to multiple AirPlay 2 compatible speakers — a list that presently only includes the Apple TV and HomePod running the corresponding tvOS 11.4 or HomePod 11.4 updates, respectively. HomePod 11.4 also brings stereo pairing to HomePod speakers, allowing users to set up two of them in a stereo configuration. Users can also now ask Siri to play music in any room or group of rooms using AirPlay 2, and music can be streamed throughout the house without any need to manually group speakers.

Sixth iOS 11.4 beta appears

Only three days after Apple pushed out a fifth beta of iOS 11.4, a sixth iteration has just appeared, with the increasing frequency suggesting a final iOS 11.4 release may be just around the corner. The sixth beta offers no significant changes from the last version, and shows only a small change in build number 15F5079a versus 15F5077a, indicating that it’s probably mostly about polishing and fixing relatively minor bugs at this point.

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has just posted a fifth set of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, again only a week after the fourth round of betas went out. Unsurprisingly, the release notes at this point list only extremely minor changes since the last beta, and it remains unclear whether iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 will in fact incorporate AirPlay 2, which also made a brief appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year before being removed before the final release, a fate similar to that of Messages in iCloud, which is still listed in the release notes as being included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Another new Unicode text bug discovered affecting iOS Messages

The iPhone is prone to another Unicode text bug, being dubbed the “black dot” bug. Outlined in a new video by EverythingApplePro (via 9to5Mac), the bug was first discovered on WhatsApp on Android, although it affects several other platforms as well, including the iOS Messages app. The bug was originally spread with the “black dot” emoji, but actually relies on the crafting of Unicode text strings that contain thousands of invisible Unicode characters that cause the receiving device to churn through CPU cycles in an attempt to process them, and such a string received as an iMessage will cause the recipient’s Messages app to repeatedly crash, much like other special-text bugs recently encountered.

Lightning port security mode looks to return in iOS 11.4

When Apple rolled out the first iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year, one smaller feature mentioned in the release notes was a new security protocol that would lock down a user’s Lightning port if it hadn’t been used for anything other than charging for more than a week. Specifically, Apple noted that users would be required to re-enter their device passcode to authorize a Lighting-connected USB accessory if it has not been connected to the device for more than a week. Although much like AirPlay 2 and Messages in the Cloud, this feature never made it into the final iOS 11.3 release, Elcomsoft notes that it’s back in the iOS 11.4 betas, with a report on exactly how it works and some of the ramifications of the new feature for iOS forensics.

Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Less than a week after Apple released the third betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, the company is back with its fourth round of developer betas. As expected, the release notes list only very minor changes, and although Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support remain in place in iOS 11.4 beta 4, it’s unclear whether these will still make it into the final release. At this point, AirPlay 2 is only available with Apple TV devices running the tvOS 11.4 beta, although the HomePod will presumably get a similar 11.4 update by the final release — Apple is not making beta software available for the HomePod at this point.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has released a third round of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1. The release notes reveal only minor changes and fixes compared to the prior betas. iOS 11.4 brings back Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support — at least in the betas — but it remains unclear whether these features are planned to actually be included in the final release of iOS 11.4 or are once again being included solely for testing purposes; the release notes still state that Messages in iCloud is included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

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.

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.

Pair of patents provide look at waterproof Lightning connector, crumb-proof keyboard

A pair of patents show Apple’s interest in improving the seals on its devices, starting with a Lightning connector that creates a water-tight seal when inserted. Discovered by Patently Apple, one version of the Lightning connector features a tapered shape made of a “deformable material” that molds itself to the Lightning port to lock moisture out and keep the internal connections free from moisture.

Report: Cellebrite has tools that can break into any device running iOS 11, including iPhone X

Cellebrite — the security firm that made headlines after rumors surfaced that it was responsible for breaking into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone in 2016 — is now able to get into any iPhone running iOS 11, even the iPhone X, Forbes reports. The company hasn’t made any flashy public statements about the breakthrough, but its latest marketing materials claim the company can unlock and extract data from “Apple iOS devices and operating systems, including iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11.” Sources said Cellebrite is telling customers its engineers have devised ways to get around Apple’s most up-to-date security features, and it’s likely that the company’s tech was used to crack an iPhone X for the Department for Homeland Security last November. Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the news.

Shure hints at iOS 11.3 coming this week in since-deleted tweet

While Apple has only given a “Spring” release timeline for iOS 11.3, audio tool manufacturer Shure seems to have let the cat out of the bag that the update is coming this week, according to PiunikaWeb. In a weekend response to a customer question about problems with a specific condenser microphone, Shure’s Twitter account replied that “iOS 11.3, due out next week, resolves it.” The tweet has since been deleted, so time will tell is Shure was just speculating or actually has inside knowledge of Apple’s release timeline.

New iOS 11 bug crashing iPhones when a special character is received

A bug in iOS 11.2.5 has been discovered that’s will crash the iPhone when a specific Indian-language character is received in a text message or e-mail, The Verge reports. Originally discovered by Italian blog Mobile World, the bug affects iPhones running iOS 11.2.5 as well as Messages and Safari on macOS, and has been confirmed as affecting not only the built-in Messages and Mail apps, but also third-party apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Outlook, and Gmail. The crash is triggered when the device receives the Indian language Telugu character, which will cause the iOS Springboard to crash and prevent the affected app such as Messages to open as a result of trying and failing to load the character, at least until the point at which another message is received.

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