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Apple releases fourth beta of iOS 8

As expected, iOS 8 beta 4 has been released to registered developers, and is available as an over-the-air update as well as a download from Apple’s developer portal. This release comes two weeks after the third beta. We’ll update this story if any major changes are found.

Forensic scientist notes iOS ‘back doors’

Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist and the author of five iOS-related books, has posted slides from a recent conference talk titled “Identifying Back Doors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.” Zdziarski’s talk, which he gave at the recent HOPE/X conference in New York, reveals an overview “of a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device,” including “suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier.” While Zdziarski characterizes iOS devices as “reasonably secure,” there are undocumented services that can bypass backup encryption, and can be accessed via USB and wirelessly — over WiFi and “maybe cellular.” He notes the “personal nature of the data” is carried in a raw format, which would make it useless for tech support.

Notably, Zdziarski claims that commercial forensic software manufacturers are taking advantage of these backdoor iOS services to develop forensic tools that law enforcement agencies can use to easily extract data from seized devices. He notes that Apple is allowing packet sniffing without permission and is “dishing out a lot of data behind our backs.” Although Zdziarski raises suspicion to the nature of these services and notes that they “shouldn’t be there,” several of the services he identifies are in fact well-known internal Apple processes for handling things such as device activation, background iCloud and iTunes backup, and iTunes synchronization—processes that by design need to function without requiring the user to first unlock their device. For more details, the slides are available here. [via ZDNet]

Eighth annual iTunes Festival announced

Apple has announced the eighth annual iTunes Festival, a concert series held in London at the Roundhouse. There will be 30 days of concerts throughout September, which will be broadcast live to an iOS app, iTunes on the desktop, and Apple TV. This year’s artists include Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Beck, and Blondie. Apple held its first ever U.S. edition of the iTunes Festival at SXSW in March. More information is available on iTunes.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Bio Inc.

Bio Inc. ($2) is a new game from DryGin Studios that’s being billed as a “biomedical strategy simulator.” The game challenges players to create the ultimate illness. It is decidedly not for everyone.

Some have compared Bio Inc. to Plague Inc., for obvious reasons. But where Plague Inc. tasks you with developing a plague to bring about the end of humanity, Bio Inc. is focused on one patient at a time. You name a person, see his health weaknesses, and set about trying to kill him by assailing him with a wide range of ailments. It’s a morbid premise that becomes more macabre as the game progresses.

EU criticizes Apple for in-app purchases (Update)

The European Commission said that Apple has “provided no concrete and immediate solutions” to in-app purchase problems, Reuters reports. Payment approvals within the App Store are still a sticking point for the EU. Google, on the other hand, was praised by the commission for taking measures to improve their in-app payment issues. “Over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked,” an Apple spokesman said. “We will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.” Apple drew heat from Italian authorities in May for advertising free apps that required in-app purchases for continued use. The company could face legal action if the company is seen as breaking EU consumer protection law.

Update: Apple issued a response to Engadget, in which the company points out the strides it has made regarding clarifying in-app purchases. The statement concludes: “Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.”

Sue Wagner joins Apple board of directors as Bill Campbell retires

Apple has announced the retirement of one of its longest-serving members on its board of directors, Bill Campbell, and the election of Susan L. Wagner of BlackRock to the board. Campbell has been with Apple since 1983, and is behind only Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula in length of tenure on the board.

Wagner co-founded BlackRock, an asset management company, where she served in various roles including vice-chairman. She’s on the board of several companies, including BlackRock, DSP BlackRock, Swiss Re, Wellesley College, and Hackley School. “Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” Tim Cook said in Apple’s press release. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.”

Apps of the Week: Overcast, Ingress, Endless Numbers 1.2 + more

New Apps

Google Analytics (free) — Google has released a new Google Analytics app that allows users to access their web and app data from an iOS device. For those not in the know, Google Analytics is a popular service that offers website owners detailed site traffic statistics. The app offers Real Time reports, which lets users monitor recent changes.

Overcast: Podcast Player (free) — There is no shortage of thoughtfully designed podcast apps made to replace Apple’s own app, which has been through many ups and downs since it was released. The latest, and perhaps most hotly anticipated, is Marco Arment’s Overcast. The app is currently iPhone-only, available as a free download. It’s fully usable as-is, although a $5 in-app purchase unlocks a number of features that enhance the experience, such as cellular downloads, a sleep timer, and unlimited playlists. The key features that help differentiate this one from the others on the market, apart from aesthetic design, are both audio engineering tricks that get unlocked when you spend the money. Smart Speed is a really cool tool; rather than increasing the speed of the podcast and making the speakers sound like chipmunks, it’s able to detect gaps and edit out the silence, saving you time in listening. Voice Boost does just what its name says, making it easier to listen to podcasts in cars or other environments where there’s background noise, without having to pump up the volume. Both Smart Speed and Voice Boost can be used for five minutes at a time before you decide to buy.

New Games

daWindci Deluxe ($3) — Mimimi Productions has released a new version of its popular, Apple Design Award winning daWindci game with daWindci Deluxe. The upgraded game — in which players paint wind, hurricanes, and lightning on screen to guide a hot air balloon through levels — now features full Retina support and new wind drawing mechanics. All new particle effects, crisper textures, and post effect shaders have also been added to the game. Considering the original daWindci is still $4, this is the one you want.

iPhone 6: 1810 mAh battery, improved color 13MP camera?

Two new reports claim the iPhone 6 will be getting an upgraded battery and camera. NowhereElse located a picture of the alleged iPhone 6 4.7” model battery, which has a stated capacity of 1810 mAh. The iPhone 5s had a 1560 mAh cell, so this would be a reasonable upgrade, albeit offset by the likely greater power demands of a larger display. It’s still unclear how much of an effect the expanded capacity would have on overall battery life due to factors such as A8 chip power consumption.

Another report, sourced from a Chinese web forum, claims the iPhone 6 will have a 13MP Sony Exmor sensor. The report claims the Sony Exmor RS IMX220 sensor will be used, however, iLounge’s research suggests that Sony’s Exmor RS IMX220—a 20MP sensor—is likely too large to fit inside the new iPhone, and the 13.1MP IMX214 is a more likely possibility. Relative to the iPhone 5s, the new camera would offer 4208x3120 resolution, improved color accuracy and less visual noise in low-light conditions, as well as support for high-resolution HDR videos, 4K videos, and full-resolution HDR panorama images. [via G for Games]

iTunes Pass service extends to U.S., other countries

After launching in Japan on Tuesday, Apple’s new iTunes Pass credit system has been rolled out in the United States, as well as Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The system allows iTunes customers to refill their iTunes Store balance by having an Apple Store Specialist scan a QR code on a pass in Passbook; once payment is issued, the credit is automatically applied. To add iTunes Pass to Passbook, one must open the iTunes Store app on an iPhone or iPod touch, scroll down to the bottom, and then tap Redeem.

NFL Sunday Ticket to stream on iPad, iPhone with no satellite subscription (Update)

A DirecTV promotional page for NFLSundayTicket.TV reveals a plan in which iOS and Mac users can receive the NFL Sunday Ticket package without a satellite subscription for the 2014 NFL season. An NFLSundayTicket.TV Digital package allows users to stream live, out-of-market NFL games to a computer, tablet, or phone for $200, with a student discount available. More expensive plans allow for console streaming and additional features. Curiously, a list of compatible devices references a number of iPhones, but not iPhone 5s or 5c, and a number of iPads, but not the iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display. It seems obvious that this is an oversight, and the new devices should support this new NFL Sunday Ticket plan. [via Apple Insider]

Update: It appears that not all addresses are eligible for NFLSundayTicket.TV — a pop-up form verifies eligibility. Although it seems the service is limited to apartment dwellers, university students, and other locations which are unable to get DirecTV, we even found some apartment residences as being deemed ineligible. At this point it’s not completely clear who is eligible without filling out the form, as the site’s FAQ only claims the service is “available to people in select areas, residence types, and enrolled in select universities.”

Apple agrees to $450 million settlement in e-book case

In the latest chapter of the e-book price fixing saga, Apple has agreed to pay a settlement of $450 million to resolve U.S. state and consumer claims, pending appeal in New York State, [via Reuters reports. Of that amount, $400 million is intended for consumers. Though the settlement was announced in June, the terms were not disclosed until now. If the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reverses the ruling, the settlement amount could drop to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or be eliminated altogether.

Paul McCartney re-releases five classic albums as iPad apps

Five classic Paul McCartney albums have been re-released as standalone iPad apps by Concord Music Group. All five albums include remastered audio and extra content, including interviews, photos, and video clips. The albums are: McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney, and the follow-up Ram, which also credits Linda McCartney; two McCartney/Wings albums — Band on the Run and the live Wings over America; and McCartney’s second official solo album, 1980’s McCartney II. All of the apps are $8 — a less expensive price than all of the respective albums within the iTunes Store. [via The Guardian]

Apple, IBM partner up for giant iOS business solution push

Apple and IBM have announced a new global partnership to bring “IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad.” The partnership, which aims to “transform enterprise mobility,” will introduce more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions for iPhone and iPad, unique IBM cloud services for iOS, a new AppleCare service level focused on the enterprise, and new IBM offerings for device activation, supply, and management. The agreement, which is being called IBM MobileFirst for iOS, will see IBM selling iPhones and iPads with built-in industry-specific solutions.

A new class of business apps, IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions, will target retail, banking, healthcare, travel, transportation, telecommunications, and insurance. Those apps will be available this fall “and into 2015.” The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will give business users on-premise software solutions necessary for end-to-end enterprise capability.

In an interview with Re/code, Tim Cook said of the new partnership, “We’re good at building a simple experience and in building devices. The kind of deep industry expertise you would need to really transform the enterprise isn’t in our DNA. But it is in IBM’s.” Explaining their ability to work together today despite once fiercely competing for customers and mind share, Cook also noted that Apple and IBM “do not compete on anything. And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself.” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty called Apple the “gold standard for consumers.”

PayPal 5.5 app update scans, stores loyalty cards

PayPal’s most recent update of its free iOS app has notably added the ability to digitize and store loyalty cards. Version 5.5 lets users carry virtual versions of an impressive variety of loyalty cards within the app. After selecting the specific retailer from a long but easily searchable list of participating vendors, including regional supermarkets, restaurants, and shops, you simply scan your loyalty card’s barcode or punch in the ID number to add a card to the app. The app’s login process has also been sped up, as well. This new update goes head-to-head with Apple’s Passbook, and considering the collection of supported vendors, compares favorably to say the least.

Report: Former White House press secretary Jay Carney a candidate for Apple PR chief (Update)

In an article about Uber, Re/Code reports that name of former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney is “being bandied about” for the open PR chief position at Apple. Carney, who is also reportedly being considered for a job at Uber, would replace longtime Apple vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton, whose retirement was announced in May. A June report noted that Apple was looking for “high-profile external candidates” to fill the position.

Update: Jim Dalrymple of The Loop has issued a “nope” to the Carney-Apple connection.

Apple launches iTunes Pass credit system in Japan

Apple has launched a new Passbook feature in Japan called iTunes Pass, allowing iTunes Store customers to add purchasing credit at Apple’s retail Stores. Once the pass has been added to the user’s iPhone or iPod touch, a Specialist at the Store can scan a code on the screen, accept payment, then credit the payment toward the iTunes Store account—a process that seems rather challenging compared with just buying Store credit directly from the device. “Balance is updated on the fly, available immediately,” notes Apple. It’s rather unusual for Apple to launch a feature like this in only one country, so it’s not clear if it’ll be rolling out to other countries, or if its perhaps a test of a future mobile payment system. [via 9to5Mac]

NY Post: Apple to rely on Iovine for marketing help

Apple may part with longtime ad agency partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab after 30 years, as the company may look to Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine “to help it regain its marketing mojo,” the New York Post reports. According to the report, unnamed ad executives believe Apple might “put its entire account up for grabs.” One business executive noted that Beats’ marketing acumen was a reason Apple purchased the company. It’s worth noting that a June report, which gave an in-depth look at Apple’s shifting marketing strategies, made only one brief mention of Iovine, and not as someone the company was looking toward for marketing help. That report also stressed an ongoing competition between TBWA/MAL and an Apple in-house ad team.

Report links original iPad to nickel allergies

  • July 14, 2014
  • iPad

A new report in Pediatrics investigates an increase in nickel allergies that may be linked to the iPad, the Washington Post reports. The article cites the specific case of an 11-year-old boy with a rash. His skin tested positive for nickel, which doctors traced back to a 2010-vintage iPad “he had used with increasing frequency the past six months.” After using a case, his rash “significantly improved.”

Very little has been said previously about nickel as an iPad enclosure material; research suggests that it may have been used in aluminum alloys for some Apple products, including certain MacBooks and iPads, or may have made contact with otherwise aluminum devices during the manufacturing process. Symptoms of a nickel allergy may include a rash, skin bumps, itching, redness in skin color, dry patches of skin, or blisters and draining fluid in some severe cases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Apple had no comment.

It’s unclear at this time how widespread this problem is, but we recommend using a full-coverage case on an iPad — especially on iPads used by children. See our iPad case reviews for comprehensive details about what’s on the market.

Apple responds to Chinese iPhone tracking concerns

Apple has issued a response on its Chinese website to concerns about iPhone location tracking raised by Chinese state-run media. The new post from Apple, titled “Your Location Privacy,” explains how the company uses location data, and how it offers customers choices over data collection. Curiously but perhaps not surprisingly, Apple offers a gracious note to China Central Television’s criticism in the piece: “We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important.” Apple notes that it does not access a user’s location cache, nor does it create backdoors for government agencies or allow access to the company’s servers.

National Federation of the Blind praises Apple, looks to improve app accessibility

Responding to the fallout from last week’s problematic Reuters article, Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, commented on Apple within a blog post. Riccobono called the original Reuters story “provocative and poorly reported,” and Reuters issued a partial correction for the story. He writes that “Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date,” suggesting that the company’s operating systems are indeed addressing the needs of sight-impaired users. But he also points out the federation is asking Apple “to do more,” as the federation recently issued a resolution in which the organization called upon Apple to work with them in order to “ensure the accessibility of all apps,” which may develop incompatibility issues, reducing their functionality and creating issues for some users.

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