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Apple announces Product(RED) Gift Cards for Black Friday

In addition to the new Product(RED) app collection announced earlier today, Apple has released information on the Product(RED) iTunes Gift Cards that it will be giving out with qualifying purchases on Black Friday, with a percentage of each Gift Card donated to the (RED) Global Fund. Qualifying products include the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, all iPad Air and iPad mini models, iPod touch, iPod nano, Apple TV, all current iMac and MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models, and Beats Headphones and Speakers. iPhone and iPad buyers will receive a $50 gift card, Mac buyers a $100 card, and iPod, Apple TV, and Beats buyers will receive a $25 card. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus purchases are limited to two gift cards per household, as are iPad Air and iPad mini purchases. [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple plans to integrate Beats Music directly into iOS

Apple will integrate its Beats music subscription service directly into a future iOS update, according to a new report from Financial Times. Citing sources familiar with the situation, the report notes that the inclusion of the paid Beats service in an iOS software update could happen “as early as March” of next year. Although Apple has in the past debuted new services such as iBooks and Podcasts as standalone apps with their own update cycle, only later choosing to bake them into the core OS, music services such as iTunes Radio have traditionally been incorporated directly into the iOS “Music” app, suggesting that a redesigned music subscription service would be implemented in a similar manner, rather than as the separate app that currently exists for Beats Music.

After acquiring Beats earlier this year, Apple began working toward integrating the company’s Beats Music subscription service with its own music services, appointing Beats Music chief Ian Rogers to head up iTunes Radio, working to negotiate better subscription music rates with the labels, and reportedly planning to reposition Beats Music into a future service under the iTunes brand. Apple also notably included a Beats Music channel in an Apple TV update earlier this fall.

Apple opens up Lightning port to third-party manufacturers, begins accepting HomeKit plans

Apple will soon allow third-party manufacturers to use its Lightning port, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Although Apple has long allowed accessory makers to produce accessories that connect to the Lightning and Dock Connector ports on iOS devices, it has not traditionally permitted third-party manufacturers to include the female versions of these ports in their accessories. For example, battery cases can include a Lightning connector for an encased iPhone, but must charge using some other form of connection, usually Micro-USB.

During Apple’s annual briefing for companies in its Made-for-iPhone/iPad (MFI) program, Apple revealed new Lightning connectors as well as specifications for female Lightning ports that manufacturers will be able to use in their own accessories. This will allow third-party accessory makers to reduce costs and create an easier product experience for users by providing a consistent charging connector between an accessory and an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. In addition, the new Lightning connector provides a lower profile design that should allow for easier compatibility with accessories such as docks and cases. Apple plans to make the new Lightning port and connector designs available to third-party manufacturers starting in early 2015.

Also during the summit in Shenzhen, Apple officially began accepting plans for HomeKit products for approval, according to another 9to5Mac report. As Apple’s MFI approval process is one of the final steps before third-party manufacturers are allowed to announce new products, this move suggests that new products designed to work with iOS 8’s HomeKit features may start to be revealed in the near future.

Apple releases iOS 8.1.1

Apple has officially released iOS 8.1.1 to the public, a minor maintenance release that notes “bug fixes” as well as “stability and performance improvements” for the older iPhone 4S and iPad 2 models. iOS 8.1.1 is available as an over-the-air update or by updating via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

US government posts iOS Masque Attack alert

The U.S. Government’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has posted an official alert regarding the iOS Masque Attack disclosed earlier this week. The notice summarizes the vulnerability, specifically noting that the vulnerability works “under a limited set of circumstances” and that “in order for the attack to succeed, a user must install an untrusted app, such as one delivered through a phishing link.” The bulletin goes on to reiterate the solutions provided by the original report: specifically that users should not install apps from sources other than Apple’s App Store or their own enterprise organization, should never click install from an app pop-up that appears on a web page, and if iOS shows an “Untrusted App Developer” alert, click on “Don’t Trust” and remove the app.

Cook discusses Apple Pay, Watch, iPod classic at WSJD Live

Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed at the Wall Street Journal’s inaugural WSJD Live conference in California last night where he talked about Apple’s latest initiatives and directions, including Apple Pay and Apple Watch. Cook described last week’s Apple Pay launch as very successful; more than one million credit cards were activated in the first 72 hours, and Visa noted that more credit cards have been activated in Apple Pay than in all other contactless payments combined. Cook also noted that he’d be talking with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba about a possible Apple Pay partnership “later this week.”

Regarding Apple Watch, Cook was a bit evasive on the battery life question, reiterating a previous claim that Apple “think[s] people are going to use it so much you will end up charging it daily,” and that the key to Apple Watch was that it needs “to look really cool” as opposed to being “geeky.” Cook also touched on Apple’s involvement in the TV marketplace, stating that “We are living in the 1970s” when it comes to the television paradigm, and suggesting that Apple is working on something in this area, although he once again declined to go into specifics beyond saying “that there can be something great done in the space.” Asked about the discontinuation of the iPod classic, Cook noted that Apple could no longer get the parts for the existing 2009 model, and huge engineering would have been required to update it, which wasn’t worth it in light of small consumer demand. Cook also said that Apple would continue to go as low as it could on iPhone prices while “maintaining the customer experience.”

Apple updates Pages, Numbers, Keynote for iCloud Drive

Following yesterday’s release of OS X Yosemite, Apple has released updates to its three iOS iWork apps—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—adding support for iCloud Drive and the new iOS 8 and Yosemite Handoff feature. The updates also include support for third-party storage providers in iOS 8 and note “updated file formats” that make it easier to send documents via services such as Drobox and Gmail. Additional new features have also been added such as more color options with a custom color mixer in the iPad versions, the ability to take photos and videos directly from within the apps, and accessibility, usability, and language improvements. Keynote also introduces a feature that allows users to pair with nearby iOS devices using Multipeer Connectivity.

iOS 8.1 gets official, adding Apple Pay, photo features (Oct. 20)

Following earlier beta releases of iOS 8.1, Apple today formally announced the release of the first point update to September’s iOS 8.0. iOS 8.1 adds support for Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as bringing back user-requested features, including the Camera Roll. Apple is also using iOS 8.1 to debut the iCloud Photo Library tied in with the public beta of Photos, the new OS X Yosemite photo management and editing app designed to replace iPhoto and Aperture.

During his introduction of iOS 8.1, Apple’s Craig Federighi also noted that 48% of the installed base are on iOS 8.0 after roughly a month, which sounds low, but is nearly twice as high as the last release of Android after nearly a year. iOS 8.1 will be available on October 20.

Users reporting iOS 8 Bluetooth connectivity problems

Many users are having issues with Bluetooth connectivity following the update to iOS 8 earlier this month, as noted in a recent report from MacRumors. Reports from numerous users on the Apple Support forums and MacRumors forums indicate problems with connecting not only to car audio systems but also headphones, speakers, headsets, and more. Some have reported that Apple support is aware of the incompatibility issue with “some car/navigation Bluetooth” systems, pertaining at least to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and has said it is working on a fix. The problem with car audio systems appears to affect a wide variety of models, including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, and more. iLounge’s editors have experienced problems with the iPhone 6 Plus but not older iPhone models, although there are reports that other users of older devices are in fact experiencing similar problems. There have also been developer reports that Apple may have already addressed this issue in the iOS 8.1 beta released earlier this week.

“Reset All Settings” in iOS 8 may also erase iCloud Drive content

A serious bug has been reported with the “Reset All Settings” option in iOS 8 that may result in at least some iCloud Drive based documents being deleted. According to several MacRumors readers, using the option found under Settings, General, Reset has caused documents to be permanently removed from iCloud Drive across all other iOS devices. The “Reset All Settings” option has been around since the early versions of iOS, and as the name implies is designed to reset all user-configurable settings on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch back to their factory defaults, without actually deleting any data from the device or the cloud. While it is unclear what iCloud Drive data is being impacted by this bug, it appears that at least Apple’s own Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps are impacted.

Apple releases first iOS 8.1 beta to developers

Apple has released the first beta of iOS 8.1 to registered developers. The latest version features a build number of 12B401 and appears to contain mostly minor tweaks and fixes, including the ability to disable Dictation independently from Siri, and a renaming of “Recently Added” photos back to “Camera Roll.” A report from MacRumors also notes that the beta includes hidden settings for Apple Pay as well as underlying code for iPad Touch ID support.

Report: iOS 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 in simultaneous development

Apple is currently working on iOS 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that such a move away from Apple’s normal development cycle might show that the company won’t tie annual major iOS releases to typical fall hardware releases. Otherwise, Apple may be accelerating its iOS point release development while keeping iOS 9 for release next fall. It’s possible that the upcoming releases of 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 will introduce major new features, such as Apple Pay, split-screen iPad apps, or an update to make iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch.

Report: Same manager in charge of iOS 8.0.1 and Apple Maps releases

Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching problems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager Josh Williams oversees quality assurance for iOS, and Williams was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said Williams was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. Williams has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.

Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said.

Apple releases iOS 8.0.2 (Updated)

Apple has released iOS 8.0.2 tonight, just one day after releasing and pulling iOS 8.0.1, which was immediately received with complaints of cellular and Touch ID issues from iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. iOS 8.0.2 resolves those problems, and also allows HealthKit apps to be available on the App Store, among other fixes.

Update: Some Australian users are still experiencing cellular and Touch ID problems after installing iOS 8.0.2, according to MacRumors.

Apple releases iOS 8.0.1 (Update: with serious problems)

Apple has already released a maintenance update only a week following the company’s release of iOS 8. Listed as “containing improvements and bug fixes,” iOS 8.0.1 notably addresses the issue that affected use of HealthKit by third-party apps revealed last week. Other improvements and fixes include issues with third-party keyboards, apps accessing the Photo Library, reliability of the Reachability feature on the iPhone 6, fixes for unexpected cellular data usage when receiving SMS/MMS messages, and more. The update is now available in Settings, General, Software Update.

Update: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users have reported a complete loss of cellular connectivity and Touch ID functionality following the 8.0.1 update. iPhone 5s and other iPhone users appear to be unaffected, but we would advise users to hold off on this update for the time being.

Update 2: Apple has pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update following widespread reports of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus problems.

Report: iOS 8 adoption rate estimated at 30%

Several research and analytics firms have reported that iOS 8 adoption has reached 30% following the first weekend of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, based on in-app analytics reported by Fiksu, Mixpanel, Appsee, and Chitika. While this number is up from the estimated 15% adoption following the initial iOS 8 public release last week, it still falls short of the almost 50% of users that had updated to iOS 7 by this time last year. The higher adoption rates of course include the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which come with iOS 8 preinstalled, which would account for at least some of the increase. Stats from Appsee also notably indicate that 2% of users are still on iOS 6.0. Apple has not yet released any official numbers for iOS 8 adoption. [via 9to5Mac]

 

Apple HealthKit not ready for prime time? (Update: Yes)

Some iOS developers have reported that Apple has been removing HealthKit compatible apps from the App Store following their rollout earlier today ahead of the public iOS 8 release due to issues with the HealthKit framework. Affected apps include titles such as Carrot Fit, MyFitnessPal, and WebMD, all of which disappeared shortly after releasing updates for the new Health features in iOS 8.

 

Another large health-releated app developer has also apparently delayed launching HealthKit integration in its apps due to delays from Apple. It is not known what the specific problem is or when these apps will reappear on the App Store. Apple also had a problem with iOS 8 extension support in apps released over the past few days, resulting in some updates needing to be re-issued earlier today, although it is unclear if the two issues are in any way related. [via 9to5Mac]

Update: Tim Bradshaw of Financial Times just tweeted a “full statement” received from Apple via e-mail, which states: “We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.”

Apple releases iOS 8

As expected, Apple has released its latest operating system for iOS devices, iOS 8. The update is now available in Settings, General, Software Update. Apple describes it as “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store, with hundreds of new features.” We published our review of iOS 8 on Tuesday. Our iOS 8 Instant Expert feature is already up, as well, filling you in on everything you need to know about iOS 8.

Apple medical trials will provide HealthKit insights

Two major U.S. hospitals are preparing to launch trials with Apple’s new HealthKit framework, Reuters reports. The trials will involve diabetics and chronic disease patients, and are expected to provide some insight into how HealthKit will work on iPhones in actual practice. Doctors at Stanford University Hospital indicated that they are working with Apple to facilitate tracking of blood sugar levels for children with diabetes. Young patients with Type 1 diabetes will be sent home with iPod touches that will be used to monitor blood sugar levels between doctor visits, using a glucose monitor made by DexCom that will measure levels using a tiny sensor inserted under the skin of the abdomen. Information will be sent via a hand-held receiver to a mobile app on the iPod touch. Another trial is being conducted at Duke University, where a pilot program is under development to track blood pressure, weight and other data for patients with cancer or heart disease.

Both trials are expected to focus primarily on improving the accuracy and speed of reporting data—a process normally done mostly by phone and fax—allowing doctors to be in a better position to warn patients of potential problems. Apple is said to be in talks with other U.S. hospitals for additional trials, although Stanford and Duke are among the furthest along. Both pilot programs are expected to roll out over the coming weeks.

Apple delaying SMS Continuity until October?

New information found on Apple’s page on iOS 8 Continuity suggests that the company may be delaying the activation of the iOS 8 SMS Continuity feature until some time in October, possibly to coincide with the expected release of OS X Yosemite. Originally announced and demonstrated at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, SMS Continuity will allow users with an iPhone and other iOS or OS X device to send and receive traditional SMS text messages from their iPad or Mac. While the feature seems to have worked reasonably well with earlier iOS 8 and Yosemite betas, iLounge readers and editors have noted that the feature no longer seems to function in the iOS 8 GM, and Apple’s iOS 8 Preview Page now shows it as “Coming in October”; a discussion thread at Macrumors reveals several other users having similar problems, with suggestions that the feature may in fact have been disabled on Apple’s servers sometime in the past couple of days.

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