Despite the release of an updated 9.7” iPad model last week, multiple sources are suggesting that the much-rumoured 10.5” iPad Pro may still be just around the corner. A new report in Forbes cited IHS Markit analyst Rhoda Alexander indicating that the production of the new 10.5” iPad Pro model is expected to commence this month, although she noted that an April launch “still looks somewhat tentative.” This is largely due to the expectation of limited initial production, but Alexander suggests that Apple could do a limited initial launch in a few countries as the company has sometimes done in the past, expanding further “as volume allows.”
Along with the release of iOS 10.3 earlier today, Apple has also updated its iWork suite of productivity apps with several new features, including the ability to open password-protected documents in each app using Touch ID and format text as superscript of subscript and change text background color. Pages 3.1 also allows users to bookmark document sections, use LaTeX and MathML notation, and import and export RTF documents. Numbers 3.1 improves the editing experience for entering data and formulas, adds an action menu for quick access to common tasks, and allows users to add current or historical stock information in spreadsheets. In Keynote 3.1 slide masters and backgrounds can now be changed up, and a new presentation rehearsal view shows current slide, presenter notes, and timer on a single screen.
Apple today released tvOS 10.2 for the Apple TV, adding improvements to scrolling behaviour, support for cross-device movie rentals, and improvements to the Apple TV Remote iOS app. The new “rent anywhere” feature debuted last week in iTunes 12.6 and in iOS 10.3 earlier today, now allows users to rent a movie in from iTunes on their Mac or PC or on their iPhone and iPad and watch it on their Apple TV. When scrolling in a long list, an alphabetical selector will now appear at the right side of the TV screen to allow users to scroll more quickly to a section of the list.
Apple has publicly released watchOS 3.2 for the Apple Watch, adding the long-rumoured Theatre Mode feature along with SiriKit to allow developers to integrate watchOS apps with Siri. The new Theatre Mode feature, which can be enabled from the Control Centre, allows users to mute the sound and disable “Wake Screen on Wrist Raise” with a single button, thereby preventing the Watch from lighting up automatically when the wrist is raised. Haptic notifications are still received unless the user also enabled Do Not Disturb, and the screen can still be lit up manually by tapping on it or pressing the Digital Crown; Apple Watch Series 2 users can also still use the Digital Crown to discretely peek at their Watch screen.
After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public today, featuring a new “Find My AirPods” option along with several improvements to Siri and CarPlay along with some other more minor changes and fixes. “Find My AirPods” allows iOS 10.3 users to user the “Find My iPhone” app to view the last reported location of their AirPods as well as playing a loud sound on one or both AirPods to help locate them. Siri in iOS 10.3 gains support for payment apps, scheduling with ride booking apps, checking car status with automaker apps, and Cricket sports scores. CarPlay users will also gain the ability to quick access recently used apps from the CarPlay screen, as well as several improvements to the Apple Music experience. As expected, iOS 10.3 also adds the cross-device movie rental capabilities debuted in iTunes 12.6 last week, a new unified view for iCloud and Apple ID account information within the Settings app, a “Report Junk” feature for dealing with iCloud Calendar spam, and several other improvements to the Home, Maps, and Podcasts apps.
Wells Fargo has announced a plan to allow customers to use Apple Pay instead of their debit card for withdrawals at some ATMs by the end of the year. The bank currently has a method for using its mobile app to get an 8-digit code for cardless access, but later this year will be rolling out access for NFC-enabled phones to be used instead of a card at more than 5,000 of its 13,000 ATMs nationwide. Once the feature is live, the customer will be able to simply open Apple Pay and hold the phone near any NFC-enabled ATM terminal. The ATM will authenticate the device just as it would the customer’s ATM card and then request a PIN to complete the transaction.
Apple is reportedly “stepping up” its investment in AR glasses, the Financial Times reports. After more than a year with a team exploring whether producing a “head-worn” device is viable, people with knowledge of the process said the company is devoting more resources to move its “science project towards a consumer product.” The sources said AR has overtaken the company’s secretive “Project Titan” car endeavor as Apple’s top priority for its next big product launch. While Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive told the New Yorker he viewed the user’s face as the “wrong place” to implement the technology, CEO Tim Cook said when done right, AR has the potential to produce something so fundamentally life-changing that “we will wonder, when it does, how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our phones today.”
A Beijing court has overturned a previous decision that Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringed on the patent rights of Chinese company Baili, the South China Morning Post reports. Last May the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of Baili’s claim that the iPhones copied the design of that company’s 100C smartphone, but Apple was allowed to continue selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus while the appeal worked through the courts. On Friday, Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court ruled that the iPhone 6 has features that “completely change the effect of the entire product ... and both phones are easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers.” Since filing the lawsuit against Apple in 2014, Baili has completely collapsed, with phone calls to the company ringing unanswered, the company’s websites gone and visits to its registered addresses turning up no company offices. [via 9to5Mac]
Supplier TSMC is already preparing to start production of the A11 chip expected to land in Apple’s next round of iPhones, Chinese-language site Economic Daily News reports. The company is Apple’s sole supplier of the CPUs for its new devices, and is expected to begin building the components next month in order to reach 50 million units by July. Apple split its A9 chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC, but a number of reports claimed the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some benchmark tests. The actual specifications of the A11 chip are still unknown, but TSMC is expected to use the its new 10nm manufacturing process to produce them. The company has already showed it can use the process for large-volume production, creating chips for “MediaTek and HiSilicon Technologies in the first quarter of 2017.” [via DigiTimes]
At least some of the iCloud account credentials that a group of hackers are holding for ransom appear to be legitimate, according to an investigation by ZDNet. A London-based group of hackers calling themselves the “Turkish Crime Family” claimed earlier this week to have gained access to millions of iCloud accounts, threatening to remotely wipe victims’ devices unless Apple paid a large ransom. While Apple later indicated that there had been no breach of its systems, analysts have suggested that the hacker group likely has data acquired from one or more breaches that occurred years ago at sites such as LinkedIn. Due to the obvious naming of iCloud accounts and the number of users who may reuse passwords, a dump of passwords stolen from another site could easily be exploited to hack at least some iCloud accounts.
As expected, Apple has opened up online orders for its new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone SE models along with the new 9.7” iPad. It appears that the (PRODUCT)RED iPhone and iPhone SE models are available for in-store pickup at most Apple Retail Stores today, with online orders expected to arrive by the middle of next week. The new 9.7” iPad, on the other hand, does not appear to be available in stores as of yet; customers are seeing delivery dates for the new iPad into the first week in April, although stock of the new iPad will likely appear in Apple Retail stores sometime next week.
In an unusual move, Apple has taken the Apple Store offline for the second time this week in advance of today’s release of the new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone. Apple took its online store down early Tuesday morning in advance of the announcement of both products, indicating that they would go on sale at 8:01 AM PDT today. As all of the new products were already appearing on the Apple Store on Tuesday, most assumed that the ordering links would simply become active at the scheduled release time, however for whatever reason Apple has chosen to take its store offline again.
Apple has acquired Workflow, a popular automation tool that allows users to tie together various apps on the iOS platform to create macro-like stored procedures, TechCrunch reports. While the financial terms of the deal are not yet available, the report suggests that it was a “solid payday” for the small team of developers. In the deal, Apple is not only acquiring the Workflow app, but also the team of Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, and Ayaka Nonaka, and Nick Frey. Despite the acquisition, Apple will continue to offer the Workflow app on the App Store, making it now available for free.
Nintendo has released a major update to Super Mario Run, adding new playable characters and allowing more courses to be played without purchasing the game, among other improvements. Super Mario Run 2.0 allows players to unlock four additional courses in the free version of the game by completing one of Bowser’s challenges, and adds different coloured Yoshis that can be used in Toad Rally to gain more toads of that particular colour. Players can also get new courses to play in Toad Rally by completing the first four courses, and get new buildings from the Shop using the new blue and green Toads; Nintendo also promises that additional buildings will be added in a coming event. The update also adds an “Easy Mode” that can be used to clear trickier courses, and makes general adjustments to the ease of play in various other areas.
Following yesterday’s report that a hacker group has been threatening to wipe hundreds of millions of iPhones if Apple does not pay them a ransom, Apple has unequivocally stated that there has been no breach of its systems. Although Apple neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the data the hackers claim to have, the company told Fortune that, if the list is legitimate, it was not obtained through any security breach at Apple, suggesting that the “alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.”
Hackers identifying themselves as the “Turkish Crime Family” claim to have access to millions of iCloud accounts and are threatening to remotely wipe victims’ devices unless Apple pays them a ransom, Motherboard reports. The hackers have demanded either $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards or $75,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum to delete the data they claim to have stolen. One hacker provided unverified screenshots of email exchanges with Apple security and access to an email account used to communicate directly with Apple. In one email, a member of Apple’s security team asked, “Are you willing to share a sample of the data set?” The hackers then uploaded a YouTube video of them accessing an elderly woman’s iCloud, prompting Apple to allegedly request that the video be taken down and inform the hackers the company was contacting authorities.
Marriott is holding tryouts for Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa digital assistants to see which would be best to provide voice controls for their rooms, Bloomberg reports. Marriott is testing devices from both companies at its Aloft hotel in Boston, putting them through their paces with tasks like turning the lights on, changing room temperature, closing the curtains and changing TV channels. The Wynn resort in Las Vegas added Alexa-equipped Echo devices to its rooms last December, and Apple is trying to get its own foothold in what could be a valuable showcase for customers in the emerging smarthome business. Apple has also partnered with home builders to begin including HomeKit-enabled devices in new upscale houses in a bid to boost the visibility of its platform. Toni Stoeckl, who oversees Marriott’s lifestyle brands, said the digital assistant they choose will eventually be required to provide more “concierge-like services,” including syncing with a user’s device to provide functions like setting an “automatic wake-up temperature or have the drapes open at a certain time.” Marriott expects to make a decision by this summer.
Apple has released iTunes 12.6 with minor bug fixes and one big new feature: The ability to rent movies in iTunes and watch them on other devices running iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2. The wording in the release notes isn’t specific, but hints at the ability to simply stream a rented movie on any device linked to the Apple ID that rented it. Previously users have always had to actually transfer the rented file from one device to another and could only view it on one device at a time. And while the Apple TV has been able to stream a downloaded movie rental from a user’s computer, it wouldn’t appear in the “Movies” app (like it would if it had been rented on the Apple TV directly), but as a movie in the “Computers” app that is used to access the computer’s regular iTunes library. The iTunes update—combined with the imminent release of a new iPad this Friday—has led to speculation that Apple will release iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 in the next few days to enable this new feature.
Among all its product roll outs and updates today, Apple also revealed Clips, a new app that lets users create videos using photos, music and video clips. The app includes a Live Titles feature that lets users make animated captions over their videos simply by using their voice, providing a simple option for adding subtitles to videos that are perfectly timed to the subject’s words. The app also provides several Snapchat-like options, such as filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. The app can even identify the people in videos to make it easier to send them a copy through Messages, and allows the videos to be posted on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The app is set to be released on the App Store sometime in April.
Apple has rolled out a special edition (PRODUCT)RED version of its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. The phones are identical to Apple’s existing devices, but feature a bright red aluminum finish. The red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are the same price as the rest of Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, but aren’t available in a 32GB size. The iPhone SE also got a storage boost today, doubling the capacities of both models to 32GB and 128GB while retaining the same prices of $399 and $499, respectively. Apple also added new color options for its silicone and leather cases, with the leather now coming in berry, taupe, and sapphire and silicone now coming in azure, camellia, and pebble.