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  1. Meet the new iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad Mini, and see all the hardware and software news from Cupertino. Somehow it’s September already, which means it’s time for new iPhones. Today, as it’s done for the past year and a half, Apple streamed a virtual launch event from its spaceship headquarters in Cupertino, California. (These remote functions could go on for a while, since Apple has pushed back its plan to make employees return to the office until next year.) In addition to four new iPhone models, Apple also showed off some other glittering gadgets—including a new Apple Watch and a revamped iPad Mini—and gave updates about its growing services business and the software that runs on its many devices. Here’s everything Apple announced. Hello, iPhone 13 Photograph: Apple There are four versions of iPhone 13 to choose from. They range from the inexpensive Mini’s 5.4-inch screen to the chonky and feature-packed 6.7-inch Pro Max. Designwise, the visual differences on the new models are minor. At least the notorious notch is a teensy bit smaller. Inside, each phone runs on Apple’s new A15 Bionic chip. It allows for enhanced features like live text analysis, advanced map animations, and instant visual identification of plants and animals, all of which is processed on the device with no help from the cloud. Storage options have gotten a boost too. All the new iPhones start with 128 GB of storage, but for the first time, the Pro phones can be maxed out to 1 terabyte of space. You can read our report on the iPhone 13 for a full look at its new capabilities. The iPhone 13 Mini starts at $699, the regular iPhone is $799, the Pro is $999, and the Pro Max starts at $1,099. Preorders open up on Friday, and all phones will be available on September 24. Apple only briefly touched on the privacy features of the new iPhones during today’s event, perhaps because it was eager to avoid wading into the recent photo-scanning controversy it’s found itself in. Camera Tricks Photograph: Apple Perhaps the most eye-popping update of the whole event was Apple’s new video feature for iPhones called Cinematic Mode. It’s a sort of video portrait mode that automatically changes focus and blurs backgrounds for an adjustable bokeh effect. On Pro-model phones, you can adjust the depth of field and focus even after filming. There’s also the option to film in Apple’s high-quality ProRes format. The iPhone Pro models received updates to their three lenses: telephoto, wide, and ultrawide. There are also some new advanced options for on-device color correcting and photo enhancements that automatically adjust the images based on the colors and skin tones of the subjects. New iPad and iPad Mini Photograph: Apple The tiniest of iPads got a sizable update. Apple has brought the aesthetics of the iPad Mini more in line with its other recently redesigned tablets. It’s thinner, with more softly rounded corners. The screen is now slightly bigger, at 8.3 inches across. To accommodate this wider format, the Touch ID sensor has been moved to the outer rim. The home button is gone, and there is a USB-C port at the bottom now. It really looks like a giant iPhone! It comes with a 5G modem, and cameras that can record in 4K. It’s also compatible with the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil, which charges wirelessly on the side of the tablet. The Mini costs $499, and will be available next week. Apple has also updated its base-model iPad. The cheapest iPad gets an A13 Bionic chip, which the company says gives it a 20 percent performance boost over the past model. The cameras have been updated, particularly the front facing lens. It’s now a 12-megapixel ultrawide that supports Apple’s Portal-esque Center Stage feature, which keeps you tightly in the frame as you move around on a video call. Weirdly, the camera is still placed in an awkward position along the side of the device when you’re in landscape mode. This simplest of iPads only works with first-generation Apple Pencils. It starts at $329 with 64GB of storage. New Apple Watch On the left is the Apple Watch Series 3, followed by the Series 6, and the new Series 7. You can see how the display size has increased over the years. Photograph: Apple The standout feature of Apple’s newest smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 7, is its enhanced display. Otherwise, the updates to one of the world’s most popular health trackers feel iterative this year. Also: Apple hasn’t yet announced a release date for this new watch, which suggests that earlier reports of production delays were accurate. The Apple Watch Series 7 (whenever it ships) will have a “Retina” display, as well as 20 percent more screen area than the previous Series 6 watch. This is due to the reduced size of the bezels, as well as slightly more rounded corners of the watch. The display is also brighter—Apple claims it’s 70 percent brighter indoors when your wrist is down, which allows for more discreet time checks—and supposedly the whole watch is much more durable and dust-resistant. The enlarged screen allows for easier reading of texts on the watch and some other potentially fun input mechanisms. Some of the on-screen buttons in native apps are larger. And there’s now a full keyboard on the watch. Unfortunately, battery life is still the same—about 18 hours per charge—which is one of the biggest drawbacks of the Apple Watch. The company does claim that it charges faster now however. This is not the dramatic redesign of the Watch that had been rumored. But considering how well the Watch has sold, maybe it didn’t really … need the overhaul. It will sell starting at $399 when it ships this fall, while the Series 3 and Series SE watches will sell for $199 and $279. RIP, Series 5 and 6? Get More Fit Photograph: Apple When it launched last year, Apple’s subscription service Fitness+ took advantage of Apple’s complete hardware integration: Start a workout on your Apple TV; track it on your Apple Watch; check your stats on your iPhone. But it lacked one major feature—competing fitness services, like Peloton and Fitbit, have group classes, as well as large social networks that let you easily invite your friends and sweat in unison. Today, Fitness+ announced group workouts. If you’re in a group message thread or FaceTime call, you can simply navigate over to the Fitness+ app and start a class together. Not only can you see your own workout metrics, but you can also see your friends closing their rings or their Burn Bar. You can invite up to 32 friends, or just casual acquaintances, if you don’t know that many people anymore after spending a year and a half in a pandemic. FItness+ also added new workout categories, which includes Pilates and workouts for snow sports that are guided by Ted Ligety, who, as a retired two-time Olympic gold medalist in the combined event and giant slalom, knows quite a bit about core strength and hip stability. Soothing, pandemic-related features include new guided meditations to Fitness+ with themes like “calm” and “kindness.” You can also find the same meditations in the Mindfulness app on your iPhone. If you’re a new subscriber to Fitness+, you get one trial month free—but if you buy an Apple Watch, you get three months free (natch). Fitness+ is also bundled with the Apple One subscription, which includes up to six Apple services for one price. Here’s Everything Apple Announced Today (May require free registration to view)
  2. There are no new features in any of these releases—just security updates. Today, Apple released new versions of its iOS and iPadOS 14, macOS Big Sur, and watchOS 7 operating systems. The updates hit just one day before Apple is expected to reveal its new iPhone and Apple Watch models and the release dates for iOS 15 and watchOS 8. These updates are security-related across the board, and they add no new features or functionality. Specifically, two main issues have been addressed across Apple's platforms, one with Core Graphics and the other with WebKit. In both cases, maliciously crafted content (PDFs or web content) could be used in arbitrary code execution. Apple also says these updates fix an issue that allowed attackers to bypass Apple protections intended to stop code execution via Messages. The updates are labeled iOS 14.8, iPadOS 14.8, watchOS 7.6.2, and macOS Big Sur 11.6. Apple doesn't usually release security updates with a 14.x rather than a 14.x.x version format. Normally, updates with one decimal point add new features in addition to fixing bugs or security vulnerabilities. These updates are the first to Apple's operating systems in several weeks, but they're likely the last during this annual cycle. The company will probably announce launch dates for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 during its livestreamed event tomorrow. Those larger updates will introduce numerous new features announced at the company's developer conference in June—though already, some of the announced iOS 15 features have been pushed back to later updates in the iOS 15 cycle. Apple fixes security vulnerabilities in new versions of iOS, macOS, and watchOS
  3. The pace of change is quickening even as Apple tries to stop it Apple’s app store policies have caused controversy and consternation many times over the years, but few periods have been as active and strange as the last two weeks. For the first time, we are seeing Apple being forced to react directly to lawsuits and regulators with substantial policy changes. The biggest example has of course just happened today: a ruling from judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Epic v. Apple case. Apple must now allow apps to link out to other purchasing options in addition to in-app purchases. But that follows two court case settlements and a new law in South Korea that also have implications for how Apple treats developers. The pace of change is increasing and instead of leading, Apple is reacting. Apple will surely appeal the Epic ruling, but even if it ultimately loses, there’s a good chance that it won’t be enough to appease the legislators and lawyers who are circling Apple’s store as the main way to rein in Apple’s power. And there’s an even better chance that the developers who must try to navigate all those rules will also continue to feel like Apple is spending more effort protecting its profits than empowering developers. Here, then, is a very brief history of the major policy changes and statements Apple has made about the App Store over the years. The impetus for these different changes (or, as Apple tends to call them, “clarifications”) has varied, but the trend has remained the same. Apple has worked hard to keep the fundamental, central model of a 30 percent cut intact while softening it around the edges to appease various constituencies. But just take a look at the timing and cadence of these changes. After a development period from 2007 to 2011 when Apple fills out the features, there’s a large gap when Apple made few notable policy changes. Then, a major shift in 2016 to address some growing discontent among developers. And then, starting in the summer of 2019, there is an ever-increasing cadence of controversies and policy tweaks to address them. As time goes on, policy changes are coming faster and the hairs Apple is splitting are getting thinner. My instinct is to say that enough is enough: Apple should just make a couple of sweeping changes and get it all done at once. Clearly, Apple doesn’t agree. Instead, the company is in a defensive crouch, stepping back only when forced and as little as possible. That might be a good strategy to make sure every regulator feels like it got its pound of flesh and thus minimize the change Apple will have to make, as Steven Sinofsky speculated, but it’s a terrible strategy for making developers — and customers — feel good about the App Store. June 11th, 2007 At WWDC, Steve Jobs says that Apple won’t have the ability for developers to install “native” apps, but instead will need to use web apps. It was the infamous “sweet solution.” Oct. 17th, 2007 Apple changes its mind as it becomes clear that the demand is there (and as the home brew app movement gains momentum). It announces it will release an SDK for the iPhone. July 10th, 2008 The Apple App Store for the iPhone launches with 500 apps and a 30 percent cut of all sales going to Apple. August 7th, 2008 In an interview with Nick Wingfield, Steve Jobs says of the App Store that “we don’t expect this to be a big profit generator.” June 8th, 2009 Apple announces that developers will be able to add in-app purchases using Apple’s payment processing (and 30 percent cut). It limits in-app purchases to paid apps, however. Oct. 15th, 2009 Apple changes its mind and allows in-app purchases to be extended to free apps. It drives a huge shift in business models for many games. Feb. 1st, 2011 Apple begins rejecting apps that don’t use its in-app purchasing system. It rejects Sony’s e-reader app. Apps are not allowed to link out to purchase or subscription pages within their apps, even if the user completes the purchase in a separate browser window. Feb. 15th, 2011 In a big new push to bring news and magazines into Apple’s ecosystem, it launches subscriptions on the App Store for publishers. Fees are still 30 percent, and Apple makes it easy to unsubscribe — and hard for publishers to gather data about their readers. July 28th, 2011 As we learned in discovery for the recent Epic v. Apple case, an Apple executive suggests cutting App Store commission in an internal email on this date. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Jan. 15th, 2014 Apple settles a case with the FTC over in-app purchases and offers consumers $32 million in refunds. It’s a response to a raft of apps using tricky tactics to get in-app purchases. Over time, more parental controls, restraints on those purchases, and oversight on apps are added. Nov. 9th, 2014 Apple changes the button naming on the App Store from “free” to “get,” to better reflect that some games have in-app purchases. June 16th, 2016 In a massive and consequential change to the app economy, Apple introduces a much-expanded model for subscriptions for apps. It was big enough that our article on the event dubbed it App Store 2.0. The changes included dropping Apple’s fee to 15 percent after the first year of subscription revenue. This is also when Apple introduced the concept of the “reader app”, a controversial category that allowed users to access subscription content purchased elsewhere (like Netflix or Kindle) but disallowed linking out to those purchase options. Finally, Apple announced it would begin introducing ads in App Store search. The change was so big that at that year’s WWDC, Apple commissioned a graphic novel where the art told one story but all the text was literally the App Store rules. In one section, we see the story of a son getting a haircut for his father’s funeral while the captions list the “acceptable” business models in the App Store. Nov. 1st, 2016 A 2020 House subcommittee investigation revealed that in 2016, Amazon has a secret deal with Apple that grants it lower fees than were available to other developers. Earlier in 2020, Apple had attempted to claim the deal was an “established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers.” Even if it was “established,” it certainly wasn’t widely known. June 5th, 2018 During its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple quietly updates its guidelines to allow for so-called remote mirroring apps like Steam Link. It didn’t allow for full game services on the App Store, but carved out the ability to mirror a PC on an iPhone or iPad. April 28th, 2019 A controversy grows over Apple’s crackdown on developers who use enterprise tools for managing iPhones to offer parental controls to consumers. Eventually, Apple needed to publicly explain why it was banning those apps. The move was viewed as anti-competitive because Apple had its own parental controls. Apple countered that those enterprise tools could be misused by hackers in a consumer context. May 29th, 2019 Apple publishes a new webpage (since changed) titled App Store Principles and Practices. It was essentially a marketing page designed to explain Apple’s rules for the App Store and why it believed those guidelines protected consumers. June 4th, 2019 In another quiet update during WWDC, Apple updates its guidelines to allow enterprise tools to be used for parental controls, allowing them to use mobile device manager and VPN APIs. July 12th, 2019 Apple begins restoring banned parental control apps to the App Store following the controversy earlier in the year. April 1st, 2020 This is the date we officially learned about the so-called “established” program for video streaming providers to bypass the 30 percent fee for individual video rentals and purchases. June 22nd, 2020 In what turned out to be a big controversy for the App Store, an email app called Hey is banned because it did not offer a way to sign up for the $99 / year service inside the app itself. At issue was that “reader” app category — only those types of apps were allowed to use that business model and Apple said email didn’t count. On this date, Hey made a minor change to its app to skirt Apple’s requirement that apps provide functionality without an outside subscription and so Apple approves the Hey email app. August 6th, 2020 In a new battle, streaming games platforms like Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud are officially banned from the App Store. Apple’s ruling requires every game on the services to be submitted individually — a nonstarter for those services. Ultimately both would eventually return as browser-based apps after Apple quietly added the necessary Safari support for them to work. August 13th, 2020 Apple kicks Fortnite off the App Store following Epic’s gambit to add its own in-app purchases to the game. It would kick off a huge battle — both in the court of public opinion and in actual court. The Epic v. Apple case would turn out to be a major event in the App Store saga, revealing all sorts of internal emails and ultimately leading to consequential rulings. Nov. 18th, 2020 In an attempt to hang on to its 30 percent cut but still grant smaller developers some concessions, Apple introduces the “App Store Small Business Program.” Developers who make less than $1 million per year were allowed to apply to join the program and have their cut reduced to 15 percent. Sept. 11th, 2020 Apple makes it official that streaming game services are allowed in the App Store, but only if each game inside the services are submitted individually. It is still not enough for Stadia and xCloud. June 23rd, 2021 In a new 16-page report, Apple lays out its arguments against allowing sideloading iPhone apps in a report titled “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps,” claiming the practice would make its phones less secure and trustworthy for users. August 26th, 2021 Apple announces another new program offering a lower rate to a subset of developers. Under the new program, news publishers that participated in Apple News to a sufficient degree qualify for a 15 percent cut on their other apps instead of 30. August 26th, 2021 Apple settles a class action lawsuit with developers. In the proposed settlement, the company “clarifies” that developers are allowed to email their users directly with information about how they could subscribe to services outside the App Store. It’s unclear if this is actually a change and even if it is, it’s a tiny one. August 31st, 2021 A new law in South Korea requires both Google and Apple to allow for third-party payment systems on apps in their respective app stores. It’s too soon to see how the companies will react and what the law’s effect both inside and outside South Korea will be. Sept. 1st, 2021 In another lawsuit settlement, Apple concedes to let apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Kindle have a single link out to their payment services inside their apps. It’s a tiny crack in the so-called “anti-steering” rules, but it’s limited to a single link and limited to the so-called “reader apps” category that Apple itself has defined. Sept. 10th, 2021 Apple rules that it won’t allow Fortnite to return to the App Store in South Korea, despite the new law there. Sept. 10th, 2020 In a huge ruling in the Epic v. Apple, the judge says that Apple is “permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.” It is also established that Apple does not have an illegal monopoly. Appeals from both Epic and Apple are expected. The Apple App Store: a brief history of major policy changes
  4. Apple will stream a new product-unveiling event this coming Tuesday, September 14, at 10 am PDT, the company announced today. Invitations went out to press this morning, and marketing SVP Greg Joswiak tweeted a short video teasing the event as well. You can see the image and copy that accompanied the invitation above. As usual, the invitation doesn't reveal much about what to expect. It does note that the event will be an online video stream and not an in-person gathering. That said, we know more or less what to expect. Apple has held an event like this during the same week every year for a while now, and the announcements have always focused primarily on two products: the iPhone and the Apple Watch. This year, rumors abound of an updated version of Apple's AirPods wireless earbuds, too. The new iPhones are expected to come in the same four sizes as last year's models: 5.4 and 6.1 inches for the standard iPhone, and 6.1 and 6.7 inches for the "Pro" models, which have to date included improved camera systems and more expensive materials. Each of the new phones is expected to come with a new, faster A15 processor designed by Apple. Some leakers have claimed that there will be a smaller notch in the screen than other recent iPhones and that at least some of the new phones will sport 120 Hz displays similar to the iPad Pro and some high-end Android smartphones. The new Apple Watch isn't expected to have any major new sensors, but it is due for a modest redesign. While there have been several reliable reports that Apple is also preparing to release new Macs and iPads, the company has in the past often announced those products at another event later in the year, so as not to steal thunder from the iPhone, arguably Apple's most important product. New iPhones also herald the release of a new version of iOS. Apple teased iOS 15 at its developer conference earlier this year. It's currently in beta, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a Golden Master release candidate hit in close proximity to the event. As always, we'll be covering the event live next Tuesday. California streaming: Apple’s next big event is on September 14
  5. Apple issues vague statement promising "improvements" but still plans to scan photos. Apple said Friday that it will make some changes to its plan to have iPhones and other devices scan user photos for child sexual-abuse images. But Apple said it still intends to implement the system after making "improvements" to address criticisms. Apple provided this statement to Ars and other news organizations today: Last month we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material [CSAM]. Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features. The statement is vague and doesn't say what kinds of changes Apple will make or even what kinds of advocacy groups and researchers it will collect input from. But given the backlash Apple has received from security researchers, privacy advocates, and customers concerned about privacy, it seems likely that Apple will try to address concerns about user privacy and the possibility that Apple could give governments broader access to customers' photos. Privacy groups warned of government access It isn't clear how Apple could implement the system in a way that eliminates its critics' biggest privacy concerns. Apple has claimed it would refuse government demands to expand photo-scanning beyond CSAM. But privacy and security advocates argue that once the system is deployed, Apple likely won't be able to avoid giving governments more user content. "Once this capability is built into Apple products, the company and its competitors will face enormous pressure—and potentially legal requirements—from governments around the world to scan photos not just for CSAM, but also for other images a government finds objectionable," 90 policy groups from the US and around the world said in an open letter to Apple last month. "Those images may be of human rights abuses, political protests, images companies have tagged as 'terrorist' or violent extremist content, or even unflattering images of the very politicians who will pressure the company to scan for them. And that pressure could extend to all images stored on the device, not just those uploaded to iCloud. Thus, Apple will have laid the foundation for censorship, surveillance and persecution on a global basis." Apple previously announced that devices with iCloud Photos enabled will scan images before they are uploaded to iCloud. Given that an iPhone uploads every photo to iCloud right after it is taken, the scanning of new photos would happen almost immediately if a user has previously turned iCloud Photos on. Apple has said it will also add a tool to the Messages application that will "analyze image attachments and determine if a photo is sexually explicit." The system will be optional for parents, who can enable it in order to have Apple devices "warn children and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit photos." Apple initially said it would roll the changes out later this year, in the US only at first, as part of updates to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey. Apple's promise to "take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements" suggests the scanning system could be implemented later than Apple intended, but the company never provided a firm release date to begin with. Apple called system an advancement in privacy As we've previously written, Apple says its CSAM-scanning technology "analyzes an image and converts it to a unique number specific to that image" and flags a photo when its hash is identical or nearly identical to the hash of any that appear in a database of known CSAM. An account can be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) when about 30 CSAM photos are detected, a threshold Apple set to ensure that there is "less than a one in one trillion chance per year of incorrectly flagging a given account." That threshold could be changed in the future to maintain the one-in-one-trillion false-positive rate. Apple has argued that its system is actually an advancement in privacy because it will scan photos "in the most privacy-protecting way we can imagine and in the most auditable and verifiable way possible." "If you look at any other cloud service, they currently are scanning photos by looking at every single photo in the cloud and analyzing it. We wanted to be able to spot such photos in the cloud without looking at people's photos and came up with an architecture to do this," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior VP of software engineering, said last month. The Apple system is "much more private than anything that's been done in this area before," he said. Changes to the system could be fought by advocacy groups that have urged Apple to scan user photos for CSAM. Apple partnered on the project with NCMEC, which dismissed privacy criticisms as coming from "the screeching voices of the minority." Apple seemingly approved of that statement, as it distributed it to employees in an internal memo that defended the photo-scanning plan the day it was announced. Amid backlash, Apple will change photo-scanning plan but won’t drop it completely
  6. App store owners won't be able to lock developers into their 30 percent fees. South Korea will soon pass a law banning Apple's and Google's app store payment requirements. An amendment to South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act will stop app store owners from requiring developers to use in-house payment systems. The law also bans app store owners from unreasonably delaying the approval of apps or deleting them from the marketplace, which the country fears is used as a method of retaliation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the law has passed South Korea's National Assembly (the country's Congress equivalent), and President Moon Jae-in is expected to sign the bill into law. In the rest of the world, Apple and Google get a 30 percent cut of most app purchases, in-app sales, and subscriptions, and the companies don't allow developers to use alternative payment options. Once the bill passes in South Korea, app developers will be free to search for a payments provider that offers them the best deal. Google's and Apple's stores do provide some benefits, like user authentication for purchases, friction-free purchases thanks to stored payment information, and easy data hosting and distribution for digital goods. If developers don't need any of those things or are willing to roll their own solutions, standard credit card processors usually only take a 1-3 percent cut of sales. The Verge received statements from both Google and Apple. A Google spokesperson told the site, “Just as it costs developers money to build an app, it costs us money to build and maintain an operating system and app store. We’ll reflect on how to comply with this law while maintaining a model that supports a high-quality operating system and app store, and we will share more in the coming weeks." Apple touted the safety of its locked-down ecosystem, saying, "The proposed Telecommunications Business Act will put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases, and features like “Ask to Buy” and Parental Controls will become less effective. We believe user trust in App Store purchases will decrease as a result of this proposal—leading to fewer opportunities for the over 482,000 registered developers in Korea who have earned more than KRW8.55 trillion to date with Apple." Neither Google nor Apple provides exact app store revenue numbers, but analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates that the App Store facilitated $72.3 billion in global spending in 2020, while Google Play did $38.6 billion. In South Korea, Samsung dominates the smartphone market (and a bunch of other markets—Samsung is around 10-20 percent of South Korea's GDP) with 67 percent market share in Q1 2021, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple picks up most of the rest with 22 percent. In third place, with 10 percent market share, is another Korean company, LG, which quit the smartphone market in July 2021. With such a focus on Android, the bill has apparently been nicknamed the "anti-Google law" in South Korea. The South Korean law is the latest strike against Google's and Apple's app stores. Epic Games, the company behind the hit game Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, has been battling Google's and Apple's app store rules around the world, either with lawsuits or through talks with regulators. In the US, Google is being sued by 36 states, and some states are considering passing their own app store rules. Epic, Spotify, MatchGroup (the owners of Tinder), and several other app developers have formed the “Coalition for App Fairness” advocacy group to push back against exorbitant app store fees. South Korea law forces Google and Apple to open up app store payments
  7. Apple has announced a new free-of-charge service program for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro devices experiencing sound issues caused by a receiver module component. According to the company, the sound problems impact a low percentage of iPhone 12 models that were made over six months between October 2020 and April 2021. "Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro devices may experience sound issues due to a component that might fail on the receiver module," the company said in a new support document. "Affected devices were manufactured between October 2020 and April 2021. If your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro does not emit sound from the receiver when you make or receive calls, it may be eligible for service." Customers with iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro exhibiting sound issues can request to have them serviced for free through: an Apple Authorized Service Provider, an Apple Retail Store, or the Apple Repair Center after arranging mail-in service through Apple Support. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max units not eligible Before asking to have their phones fixed, customers are advised to back up their iPhone to iCloud or their computer. Apple also provides detailed guidance on preparing iPhones before taking them for service to an Apple Store, Apple Authorized Service Provider, or carrier. According to Apple, the list of devices eligible for this new service program does not include iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max models. Additionally, this free-of-charge service program only covers impacted iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro units two years after the first retail sale. "If your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro has any damage which impairs the ability to complete the repair, such as a cracked screen, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the service," the company added. "In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the additional repair." Last October, Apple launched another service program to address AirPods Pro sound issues, including crackling or static sounds increasing in loud environments and faulty Active Noise Cancellation. Apple launches service program for iPhone 12 no sound issues
  8. Looking back at a decade without Jobs — Apple’s biggest decade ever On August 24th, 2011 — ten years ago today — Apple co-founder Steve Jobs resigned as CEO, leaving the world’s newly minted most valuable brand in the hands of his successor Tim Cook. Just six weeks later, Jobs died. Needless to say, Cook had some big shoes to fill: Jobs is remembered as the visionary CEO and marketer behind the Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, and the App Store. A decade later, what has Tim Cook built? The most valuable and profitable company in the world Apple is bigger than oil. A company that turns a web of complex components into sophisticated computing devices now makes more money than those that effectively pump barrels of cash out of the ground. And it’s because Tim Cook meticulously crafted the overseas supply chains to make it so, contracting manufacturers like Foxconn which employ hundreds of thousands of Chinese laborers for Apple’s production lines, and delivering a remarkably steady gross margin for years. In August 2011, shortly before Jobs stepped down, Apple had already briefly passed Exxon to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, on the back of Tim Cook’s efforts as COO and interim CEO. Even in 2019, when Saudi Arabia opened up state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco for trading, it didn’t dominate for long: Apple surpassed it last July on its way to a $2 trillion market cap, and Apple is approaching $2.5 trillion now. It’s more profitable than Saudi Aramco, too. By any metric imaginable, Tim Cook has grown Apple into a behemoth over the past decade. Revenues reached a record $111 billion this holiday season, quadruple what the company saw the same quarter in 2011. Profits more than quadrupled from $6B in Q1 2011 to $28.8B in Q1 2021. The company holds nearly $200 billion in cash, more than double the already-staggering $76 billion it had in 2011, and Apple has more than doubled in size with 147,000 full-time employees — compared to 60,400 the year Jobs stepped down. As of June 2021, Apple now makes an average of $10,000 every second, $3,600 of which is pure profit. How long ago did you start reading this story? Chances are Apple grossed half a million dollars by the time you finish this sentence. All of these numbers reflect how Cook’s Apple relentlessly pumped out premium products that consumers were eager to buy, steadily improving them year by year, at a pace Jobs’ Apple never did. Between 2013 and 2018, Apple sold more iPhones every single year than it did during the five years Jobs was in charge. For some, the dollar signs alone are proof Cook has been a complete success. If you spent $1,000 on Apple stock the week Steve Jobs stepped down, it’d be worth nearly $11,000 today, not including dividends. But measuring Apple by financial performance alone is only half the story. If you were hoping Cook would be a Jobs-esque product visionary, you probably haven’t been quite as impressed. Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Hardware swings As the venerable tech journalist Walt Mossberg wrote for us two years ago, Tim Cook’s Apple has yet to produce a truly game-changing hardware product — nothing on the scale of the iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The biggest new Apple products under Tim Cook are either iPhone accessories like the Apple Watch and AirPods, or products his Apple delivered because they were what customers were asking for — like iPhones with larger screens. “Steve was pretty adamant that big phones aren’t something we’re going to do,” says tech analyst and former Apple marketing director Michael Gartenberg, noting it was part of the discussion around the iPhone 6 Plus launch in 2014. “Tim said consumers want it, we’ve got the capability to do it, so we’re going to do it.” But there have also been some surprisingly public failures, like the unceremoniously canceled AirPower charging pad, the difficult-to-upgrade Mac Pro that Apple admitted was a mistake, and most of all, the shameful five-year saga where Apple’s flagship MacBook laptops had keyboards that just couldn’t be trusted not to break. The iPhone 6 Plus came with a 5.5-inch screen, compared to 4- and 3.5-inch screens on previous devices. Apple’s dust-intolerant butterfly keyboards were first introduced in its 12-inch MacBook in 2015. And whether he was chasing Steve Jobs’ notion of a post-PC world or attacking it on his own terms, Cook’s Apple spent years focused on the iPad at the expense of the Mac, only to discover it was alienating some of its most important fans: the Apple developers it relied on to create iPhone and iPad apps. (It’s particularly egregious when you consider that 2013 Mac Pro and 2016 MacBook Pro were supposed to be Apple’s answers to the idea it’d abandoned Mac power users.) The Apple Watch is now a hit product in a category of one, as Google and others continue flailing to compete. But part of the Apple Watch’s success is simply how expectations lower over time. When it was announced in late 2014 as Cook’s first big new product, it was explicitly introduced as a product innovation on par with the Mac, iPod, and iPhone, with its digital crown touted as “Apple’s most revolutionary navigation tool since the iPod Click Wheel and iPhone Multi-Touch.” The pitch was that it could change your life by changing your health — and that it was a luxury product, too, with an 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition variant starting at $10,000. But Apple had to reboot the entire Watch interface and ditch the ultra-luxury versions before finally finding its footing with the Apple Watch Series 3 in 2017. Even now, there’s not a lot of evidence it’s meaningfully improving people’s health, aside from the occasional anecdotal reports about people whose watches detected a fall or a heart rate spike in time to save their life. The Apple AirPods. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Apple’s AirPods, its second big wearable product under Cook, are also a smash hit. But in many ways, AirPods are symbolic of the entire Cook era, where a seemingly obvious idea, executed at scale and tied tightly to the iPhone, becomes not only a business but also a cultural success. “It’s that process, that continued refinement of Apple, that has been Tim Cook’s genius,” says Gartenberg, pointing out how Cook’s Apple also did the seemingly impossible by transitioning the Mac away from Intel processors practically overnight. While it’s too early to tell, the M1 chip may go down as one of Cook’s biggest swings: his Apple channeled the company’s relentless efforts to improve its Arm-based iPhone processors year after year after year into a new M1 laptop chip that blew away the skeptics, upending our entire concept of laptop performance. Jobs may have bought P.A. Semi in 2008 to reduce the company’s reliance on partners to power the iPhone, but by 2011 Apple hadn’t yet introduced its own CPU cores inside an Apple A-series chip, much less its own graphics. Cook’s Apple made it happen, and Cook took a victory lap this April by adding the new M1 chip into the iPad. Tim Cook smiles in a Mission: Impossible-esque marketing video where he infiltrates Apple to plant an M1 chip in the iPad. Still, both the AirPods and Watch have fundamentally been accessories for the iPhone, not new computing platforms in their own right: standalone Watch apps have not become a booming market. Cook’s biggest promises have mostly yet to pan out: he spent a year after Jobs’ death talking about Apple’s TV efforts, only to totally start over with the Apple TV Plus streaming service. He’s repeatedly said Apple’s greatest contribution to the world would be in health, with the Watch and the Peloton-like Fitness Plus platform the small beginnings of that effort. And while Cook has teased for half a decade that augmented reality might become a new platform — calling it “a big idea like the smartphone,” “profound,” and “critically important” to Apple’s future — it’s largely just been teasers. Very little has come of ARKit, which brought basic augmented reality apps to the iPhone, since its 2017 debut, and Apple’s rumored AR headset has — if understandably — been a year or two away for the last three years in a row. The services turn If Tim Cook stepped down from Apple tomorrow, though, analysts wouldn’t be asking if a product visionary will take his place — they’d be wondering whether the next CEO will continue turning Apple into a services company. In the second quarter of 2016, Cook and Apple CFO Luca Maestri drew financial analysts’ attention to a remarkable fact it had quietly been disclosing for well over a year — Apple was becoming a services company, too. The App Store and the company’s other paid subscriptions were accelerating quarter over quarter and year over year — and they had raked in $4.8 billion in Q1 2015 alone. In 2017, after pulling in over $7 billion per quarter for three fiscal quarters in a row, Apple declared its services business was the size of a Fortune 100 company all by itself. Last quarter, Apple saw a record $17.5 billion in services revenue, nearly half the size of the iPhone and more than double any other hardware category. As emails from the Epic v. Apple trial (#10) revealed, the App Store alone had already eclipsed the company’s entire Mac and iPad businesses in 2016, with only the iPhone towering above it. Add movies, music, books, magazines, paid iCloud storage plans, AppleCare, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV Plus, Apple News Plus, and Apple Fitness Plus, and you’ve got a wide array of services collectively pulling in billions. It’s not clear which of these make a dent beyond the App Store, as Apple stopped talking about Apple Music’s paid subscribers after it hit 60 million in June 2019, and the company still effectively gives away Apple TV Plus for free. But Cook’s sights are set beyond content services, too: with Apple Pay, the Apple Card, Apple Cash, and the upcoming Apple Pay Later, the company seems to be edging into banking as well, locking in a cut of your transactions at the same time it’s locking you into its software ecosystem. The Apple Card. There is one place that Cook’s Apple admirably won’t go: while some of Apple’s service upsells can be highly annoying, Cook has been a champion for user privacy, calling it “a fundamental human right,” and famously fighting the FBI over requests that, privacy advocates agreed, might lead to governments having backdoors into users’ phones. It’s the rare tech giant that isn’t using your data as a revenue stream. Some of Apple’s services play goes back to the days of Steve Jobs. One year before he died, he delivered an internal strategy presentation where he declared 2011 the “Year of the Cloud,” and that Apple should “tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem.” But the majority of Apple’s services today were introduced on Tim Cook’s watch, and Apple Pay in particular should go down as one of the company’s game changing moves — while other phone makers do have a direct equivalent, it was Cook’s Apple that drove instant, seamless, touchless payments across large parts of the world. Growing pains The question now is whether Apple can keep up with its all-encompassing pursuit of growth, because after a decade some cracks are beginning to show. Consumers, competitors, and lawmakers around the world are starting to treat Apple like just another giant company trying to extract revenue any way it can — and as the company has become responsible for a billion devices and 2 million apps, its reputation is starting to take some brutal body blows. Apple has never apologized so much as it has in the past few years, whether it’s for artificially slowing down older iPhones to preserve their batteries, secretly having human contractors listen to Siri recordings, or backing away from forcing a developer to add in-app purchases. Apple’s “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,” one of many privacy ads the company created. Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge Even as Tim Cook continues to push Apple as a privacy company, where what happens on your phone stays on your phone, Apple is grappling with the reality of child porn and making potentially worrying privacy concessions as a result. The company’s embroiled in lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny around the globe alleging the App Store is a monopoly, and while it’s entirely uncertain whether judges will agree, Apple’s own internal emails do a pretty good job of showing how the company values lock-in and favors some developers over others, despite Tim Cook’s testimony under oath. Even as Apple tries to maintain the image of a technological leader that puts people first, the company has deployed an army of lobbyists to kill regulation it opposes in California, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Georgia — where Apple reportedly threatened to pull its investment from a historically Black college if a challenge to its App Store went through. The company has asked the Biden administration to pressure the South Korean government from enacting a similar law. Even as Apple projects an image of its App Store as a trustworthy place to shop, it’s become increasingly obvious that its 500 human reviewers don’t have time to catch the most egregious scams successfully bilking users out of millions of dollars, even though emails show Apple’s been aware of the problem for years. Cook’s all-important supply chains have consistently been under fire, too, with reports that Apple turned a blind eye to labor law violations in China. Although Apple prides itself on a culture of secrecy, it’s currently undergoing a wave of employee activism that might change that culture forever in ways beyond Cook’s control — although the company may be illegally trying to control it anyhow. And even though Tim Cook has touted diversity for many years, and deserves credit for coming out as the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Apple’s own leadership page is still extremely white. It’s possible Tim Cook won’t be the one to solve these problems. He’s been with the company for 23 years, and he recently told Kara Swisher he probably won’t still be there after another decade has passed. But few of them were problems in the Steve Jobs era: many are a function of the Apple that Tim Cook built. Tim Cook’s Apple, ten years later
  9. Apple debuted its first M1-powered Macs including the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini late last year with generally the same design as their Intel versions. Now, a new report claims that Apple is about to release an updated Mac mini with a huge redesign, purportedly powered by the rumored M1X processor. The report comes courtesy of Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, as reviewed by MacRumors, which suggests a refreshed Mac mini will come out in "the next several months" with a processor that's believed to be more powerful than the current M1. While Apple is yet to confirm the M1X, an earlier report from Jon Prosser cited the processor as one of the next big changes coming to Mac mini. Prosser also claimed at the time that Apple was making a thinner version of the small desktop computer with more ports. The latest report now corroborates that claim, with Gurman saying we should expect a high-end Mac mini "with more ports than the current model." Aside from the Mac mini, Apple is also rumored to introduce redesigned MacBook Pro models this fall, also reportedly powered by the M1X chip. The updated MacBook Pro announcement was expected to take place at Apple's WWDC event in June, although it didn't materialize. Apple may release a redesigned Mac mini with a faster 'M1X' processor soon
  10. Phones, iPads, MacBooks and plenty more We know that Apple is planning to launch a wealth of new devices before the end of the year – including the iPhone 13, the Apple Watch 7, the iPad mini 6, a new entry-level iPad, updated AirPods and a couple of MacBooks – but when are they going to be unveiled? According to a new DigiTimes report based on supply chain sources, all of this hardware will be launched in the month of September 2021, across a couple of virtual events that are going to be streamed online. It would be an unusual move for Apple, but it's not entirely out of the question – after all, prerecorded virtual events without any in-person attendees are easier to queue up than ones held in a physical location with an audience. What happened last year Apple traditionally has a lot of hardware to launch in the final third of each year, with the new iPhone usually starting everything off in September. However, last year's launch schedule was heavily impacted by the global pandemic. We got the Apple Watch 6 in September 2020, with the iPhone 12 following in October. Then in November, Apple introduced the M1 chip and the first computers running it: the MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. If the new report is accurate, then Apple is going to try and squeeze a similar amount of activity into a much smaller window of time – and we will of course bring you all the news and announcements as soon as they're made official. Analysis: two September events would be hard for Apple to pull off The iPhone 12 mini. (Image credit: TechRadar) DigiTimes has a decent record of reporting accurate information from the Apple supply chain, but it doesn't always get everything right – and right now it seems unlikely that Apple would decide to push out everything it's been working on in September. While putting together two presentations to be broadcast to the world would be relatively straightforward – Apple could even record everything it needs in one go, before splitting up the clips – it's the logistics of launching so many products so close together on the calendar that would be very challenging. Think adjustments to the Apple Store, and shipping arrangements, and customer support. It would be Apple's busiest September ever, in a time when companies are still trying to handle the pressures of the pandemic. Spreading launches out gives Apple more breathing room to get each one right. That said, Apple might surprise us. As MacRumors points out, it would mean catching the back-to-school rush, and if the hardware is ready to go in September, perhaps Tim Cook and his team feel there's little point in waiting to get it out in the world. Via AppleInsider New rumor points to two Apple hardware launch events in September
  11. Bill would make iOS and Android more open to 3rd-party stores and sideloaded apps. Apple and Google seem to be worried about legislation that would force iOS and Android to be more open to third-party app stores and sideloaded apps. US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced their Open App Markets Act yesterday. Shortly after the senators announced the bill, a group funded by Apple and Google sent a statement to media claiming that the proposed law "is a finger in the eye of anyone who bought an iPhone or Android because the phones and their app stores are safe, reliable, and easy to use." The statement came from the "Chamber of Progress," which calls itself "a new center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology's progressive future." "I don't see any consumers marching in Washington demanding that Congress make their smartphones dumber. And Congress has better things to do than intervene in a multi-million dollar dispute between businesses," said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich, who was formerly a longtime Google lobbyist. Kovacevich played key role at Google The Chamber of Progress' website lists 20 "corporate partners," with Apple and Google being the most relevant ones in this case. Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are also funders. The group says its "partners do not sit on our board of directors and do not have a vote on or veto over our positions" and that "we do not speak for individual partner companies and remain true to our stated principles even when our partners disagree." But the group's lobbying against the new app-store legislation neatly matches the positions of Apple and Google, which have been fighting attempts to make their mobile operating systems more open. Apple issued a statement yesterday that conveyed the same basic message in a less combative way. "At Apple, our focus is on maintaining an App Store where people can have confidence that every app must meet our rigorous guidelines and their privacy and security is protected," the company said, according to CNBC. Google declined to comment when contacted by Ars today but has pointed out that Android is more open to app stores and sideloaded apps than iOS. The Chamber of Progress became active a few months ago and also lobbied against antitrust legislation that could prohibit platform operators like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook from favoring their own products and services and even break up Big Tech companies. Kovacevich's bio on the Chamber of Progress website says he "previously led Google's 15-person US policy strategy and external affairs team" and approvingly quotes a June 2019 Wall Street Journal article that said Kovacevich "helped build [Google's] influence operation into one of the largest in the nation's capital" and was "a central player in Google's efforts to shape perceptions and rules in ways that have been favorable to the business of the search and advertising giant." The bio also says Kovacevich "ran Google's work to close its 2011–2013 FTC antitrust investigation." “Tear down coercive anticompetitive walls” The lawmakers' announcement of their bill said that "Google and Apple have gatekeeper control of the two dominant mobile operating systems and their app stores that allow them to exclusively dictate the terms of the app market, inhibiting competition and restricting consumer choice." The lawmakers summarize the legislation as follows: The Open App Markets Act would protect developers' rights to tell consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; protect sideloading of apps; open up competitive avenues for startup apps, third party app stores, and payment services; make it possible for developers to offer new experiences that take advantage of consumer device features; give consumers more control over their devices; prevent app stores from disadvantaging developers; and set safeguards to continue to protect privacy, security, and safety of consumers. Blackburn said that "Apple and Google want to prevent developers and consumers from using third-party app stores that would threaten their bottom line," while Blumenthal said the two companies "have squashed competitors and kept consumers in the dark—pocketing hefty windfalls while acting as supposedly benevolent gatekeepers of this multi-billion dollar market." "This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance," Blumenthal said. What the bill does The bill covers companies that own or control an app store with at least 50 million US users, obviously targeting Apple and Google. The companies would have to "allow and provide the readily accessible means for users" to "choose third-party Apps or App Stores as defaults for categories appropriate to the App or App Store" and "install third-party Apps or App Stores through means other than its App Store." Apple and Google would also have to let users "hide or delete Apps or App Stores provided or preinstalled by the App Store owner or any of its business partners." Android does allow sideloading and third-party app stores, while Apple locks iOS down more strictly, but both companies could have to change business practices to different degrees if the legislation becomes law. Despite Android's openness relative to iOS, 36 states sued Google last month, claiming it worked to "preemptively quash" competing app stores. The Open App Markets Act would prohibit the app-store operators from requiring developers to use the Apple and Google in-app payment systems and from imposing terms that block or penalize developers who offer the same app at a different price elsewhere. Apple and Google also would not be allowed to preference their own apps in search "unreasonably," which is defined as "applying ranking schemes or algorithms that prioritize apps" simply because they are owned by Apple and Google or their business partners. Clearly disclosed advertising is exempt from that provision. To help third-party software developers, the bill says Apple and Google must provide "access to operating system interfaces, development information, and hardware and software features" to developers "on a timely basis and on terms that are equivalent or functionally equivalent" to the terms that apply to Apple and Google or their business partners. Violations of the bill would be considered unfair methods of competition under US law. The Federal Trade Commission, US attorney general, and state attorneys general would be able to sue companies over violations. Developers who are "injured by reason of anything forbidden in this act" would be able to sue the companies for damages and injunctive relief. Addressing security Apple and Google would likely object to the bill on security grounds. Apple in particular has touted the security benefits of the iOS app model that generally prevents the installation of software from outside the App Store. To address this issue, the Open App Markets Act allows the companies to impose restrictions designed solely for security purposes, although this is nebulously defined. The bill says that actions by app-store operators would not violate the proposed law if they are "necessary to achieve user privacy, security, or digital safety; taken to prevent spam or fraud; or taken to prevent a violation of, or comply with, federal or state law." To obtain this exemption, Apple and Google would have to establish "by clear and convincing evidence that the action described is applied on a demonstrably consistent basis to apps of the covered company or its business partners and to other apps; not used as a pretext to exclude, or impose unnecessary or discriminatory terms on, third-party apps, in-app payment systems, or app stores; and narrowly tailored and could not be achieved through a less discriminatory and technically possible means." App battle on the way The quick response from the Apple- and Google-funded group to yesterday's announcement foreshadows another battle on Capitol Hill if the bill moves forward. Apple in June "launched a substantial public-relations push" against "calls from regulators to open the gates to alternative app stores and sideloaded apps on the iPhone," as we wrote at the time. CEO Tim Cook said that sideloading is "not in the best interests of the user," while another Apple executive claimed that "sideloading in this case is actually eliminating choice" and described sideloading as the app-installation equivalent of "some dark alley or side road." When the 36 states filed their antitrust lawsuit against Google last month, Google called the complaint meritless and said it is "strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others." Meanwhile, a "Coalition for App Fairness," with members such as Spotify, Epic Games, Match Group, Basecamp, ProtonMail, and Deezer, is on board with the Open App Markets Act. "The Open App Markets Act would fix a broken app marketplace by barring app stores from requiring apps to use their in-app payment systems, through which they charge exorbitant fees and block communications between developers and their own customers," the group said. "It would also strengthen consumer freedom by allowing people to choose and install the app store and default apps that make the most sense for them and easily delete preinstalled apps they don't want to use." Apple and Google seem spooked by bill requiring more app stores and sideloading
  12. A new AdLoad malware variant is slipping through Apple's YARA signature-based XProtect built-in antivirus tech to infect Macs as part of multiple campaigns tracked by American cybersecurity firm SentinelOne. AdLoad is a widespread trojan targeting the macOS platform since at least since late 2017 and used to deploy various malicious payloads, including adware and Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), This malware can also harvest system information that later gets sent to remote servers controlled by its operators. Increasingly active since July These massive scale and ongoing attacks have started as early as November 2020, according to SentinelOne threat researcher Phil Stokes, with an increase in activity beginning with July and the beginning of August. Once it infects a Mac, AdLoad will install a Man-in-The-Middle (MiTM) web proxy to hijack search engine results and inject advertisements into web pages for monetary gain. It will also gain persistence on infected Macs by installing LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons and, in some cases, user cronjobs that run every two and a half hours. While monitoring this campaign, the researcher observed more than 220 samples, 150 of them unique and undetected by Apple's built-in antivirus even though XProtect now comes with roughly a dozen AdLoad signatures. Many of the samples detected by SentinelOne are also signed with valid Apple-issued Developer ID certificates, while others are also notarized to run under default Gatekeeper settings. XProtect AdLoad signatures (SentinelOne) "At the time of writing, XProtect was last updated around June 15th. None of the samples we found are known to XProtect since they do not match any of the scanner’s current set of Adload rules," Stokes concluded. "The fact that hundreds of unique samples of a well-known adware variant have been circulating for at least 10 months and yet still remain undetected by Apple’s built-in malware scanner demonstrates the necessity of adding further endpoint security controls to Mac devices." Hard to ignore threat To put things into perspective, Shlayer, another common macOS malware strain that has also been able to bypass XProtect before and infect Macs with other malicious payloads, has hit over 10% of all Apple computers monitored by Kaspersky. Its creators also got their malware through Apple's automated notarizing process and included the ability to disable the Gatekeeper protection mechanism to run unsigned second-stage payloads. Shlayer also recently exploited a macOS zero-day to bypass Apple's File Quarantine, Gatekeeper, and Notarization security checks and download second-stage malicious payloads on compromised Macs. While both AdLoad and Shlayer now only deploy adware and bundleware as secondary payloads, their creators can quickly switch to more dangerous malware, including ransomware or wipers, at any time. "Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable and that is much worse than iOS," said Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software, under oath while testifying in the Epic Games vs. Apple trial in May. New AdLoad malware variant slips through Apple's XProtect defenses
  13. Apple says that more than 215,000 iOS apps were blocked by its App Store's App Review team for privacy violations in 2020, while another 150,00 were rejected because they were spamming or misleading iOS users. The company also blocked 48,000 applications from being published on the App Store due to using undocumented or having hidden features. Ninety-five thousand additional apps were also removed from the App Store for using bait-and-switch tactics where new features and capabilities were added to fundamentally change their functionality after being approved. In total, during 2020, almost 1 million problematic new apps and nearly 1 million app updates were removed or rejected by the App Review team — described as "an essential line of defense" — for various reasons and blocked from landing on the App Store. "In just the last few months, for example, Apple has rejected or removed apps that switched functionality after initial review to become real-money gambling apps, predatory loan issuers, and pornography hubs; used in-game signals to facilitate drug purchasing; and rewarded users for broadcasting illicit and pornographic content via video chat," the company said earlier this week. Apple: $1.5 billion in fraud prevented in a year Apple also says that it could protect its customers from $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions throughout 2020. It also prevented the use of over 3 million stolen cards on Apple's online store platforms and banned roughly 1 million accounts from ever making transactions again. "Financial information and transactions are some of the most sensitive data that users share online. Apple has invested significant resources in building more secure payment technologies like Apple Pay and StoreKit, which are used by more than 900,000 apps to sell goods and services on the App Store," Apple added. "For example, with Apple Pay, credit card numbers are never shared with merchants — eliminating a risk factor in the payment transaction process." Likely a response to Epic Games lawsuit claims While Apple hasn't exactly revealed the reason behind unveiling last year's fraud prevention efforts, the timing suggests that it is linked to its ongoing Epic Games lawsuit. The lawsuit was sparked by Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store in August 2020 after it was 'upgraded' with its own in-app payment system, designed to circumvent Apple's standard 30% fee of all App Store transactions. The presser was most likely issued to shed light on how its payment protection and App Review systems are defending customers and not stifling competition, as Epic Games said in court documents [PDF] filed last year. Epic Games has filed legal papers in response to Apple, read more here: https://t.co/c4sgvxQUvb — Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020 In the antitrust suit filed against Apple, Epic Games is not seeking any damages but only injunctive relief to force Apple to "allow fair competition" on the App Store. Source
  14. The Mac Pro gets Radeon Pro W6800X and W6900X MPX modules. Apple's new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. Here's the numpad variant. And here's a cheaper model without Touch ID. The new Magic Trackpad has a subtly different design. The Magic Mouse is pretty much indistinguishable from its predecessor. Apple is in a slow period between major product launches, but Tuesday marked the launch of a few peripherals and add-ons that might be of interest to certain Mac users. The products include a Touch ID-equipped Magic Keyboard (previously only packaged with the 24-inch iMac) and three new graphics card modules for the Mac Pro desktop. You'll also find updated versions of the Magic Mouse ($79) and Magic Trackpad ($129) at Apple's store, but these are not dramatically different. For example, the Magic Trackpad simply has a subtly different shape to better match the more significantly changed Magic Keyboard. Each of the updated accessories comes with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable for charging. The keyboard has a completely new shape and added features, including a Touch ID fingerprint reader. Touch ID is a biometric authentication feature previously seen only in Apple's laptops and mobile devices. The new Magic Keyboard design was introduced as an exclusive for the M1-equipped, 24-inch iMac that debuted this spring. Since that all-in-one desktop came in a variety of colors, the keyboard is available in the same shades. But it seems that the standalone Magic Keyboard just comes in the standard silver and white motif seen in so many Apple accessories. The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID costs $149, and a variant without Touch ID goes for $99. There are also numeric keypad-equipped versions of both the non-Touch ID and Touch ID keyboards ($129 and $179, respectively). New Mac Pro MPX modules The Radeon Pro W6800X MPX Module for the Mac Pro. The Radeon Pro W6800X Duo MPX Module for the Mac Pro. The Radeon Pro W6900X MPX Module for the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is far from a mass-market consumer product; it's primarily meant for professional video editing bays and the like. But if you're among the few people who own one (or if you manage IT for a team that does), you now have some new upgrade options. The Mac Pro has an upgradeable graphics card, but it uses preconfigured modules rather than off-the-shelf consumer GPUs. There are three new graphics modules available to purchase for the Mac Pro starting today. Each carries the Radeon Pro name. Here are the names and prices: Radeon Pro W6800X with 32GB GDDR6 ($2,400 at configuration, $2,800 standalone) Radeon Pro W6800X Duo with 64GB GDDR6 ($4,600 config, $5,000 standalone) Radeon Pro W6900X with 32GB GDDR6: ($5,600 config, $6,000 standalone) They can be purchased individually or as part of a new Mac Pro configuration. We'll have to wait for some benchmarks to emerge to get reliable insights on performance, but each module includes 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports and one HDMI 2.0 port. The Mac Pro can accommodate two modules, so you could have as many as 4 GPUs if you use a Duo module like the one listed above. With the introduction of these new modules, Apple will no longer offer the AMD Radeon Pro Vega II or AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo modules as configuration options for new Mac Pros at the time of purchase. However, they will still be available as standalone options for Apple's existing customers. Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Listing image by Samuel Axon Apple begins selling Touch ID-equipped Magic Keyboard, new Mac Pro GPUs
  15. The iPhone 12’s strong momentum helps Apple to another huge quarter Apple’s first 5G phones are still selling well in what’s usually a slow season Apple’s string of record-breaking earnings reports continued on Tuesday, with the company posting a strong fiscal third quarter that saw $81.43 billion in revenue. That’s a year-over-year increase of 36 percent and a new all-time record for the June quarter. It also crushes the $73 billion figure that analysts were expecting. Apple recorded a net quarterly profit of $21.7 billion. This quarter is traditionally one of the slower periods for iPhone sales, as consumer interest begins shifting toward the next lineup of devices that Apple is expected to announce in September. But sales were still impressively up — by nearly 50 percent — compared to this time a year ago, reflecting continued momentum for Apple’s first 5G smartphones. Mobile carriers have also continued to aggressively push the iPhone 12 lineup with various promotional discounts and offers. Rumors strongly indicate that the iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max will be iterative upgrades over last year’s phones. The upper-end models could gain a 120Hz display, with the rest of the lineup set for processor enhancements and larger, improved cameras. Apple is also expected to slightly shrink the notch cutout on this year’s iPhones. Mac and iPad sales were both up year over year, by 16.3 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively; CEO Tim Cook said that the Mac had its best June quarter ever, and the iPad’s was its best in “nearly a decade.” In recent months, Apple has shipped a redesigned 24-inch iMac and updated iPad Pro. These devices are the latest to use Apple’s in-house M1 chip, and they rank among some of the most powerful hardware the company has released to date. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a Mini LED display, a technology that is rumored to appear in a revamped MacBook Pro later this year. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and larger-sized iMac have yet to make the transition to Apple’s own silicon. Apple continues to focus heavily on its services, which hit an all-time revenue high in the June quarter. In an effort to continue fueling Apple Music’s growth, Apple rolled out a new lossless streaming tier and Dolby Atmos spatial audio for its premium music service in June. Ted Lasso, one of Apple TV Plus’ marquee originals, just returned for its second season. And Apple launched podcast subscriptions and channels last month, as well. Beta testing is underway for the next wave of Apple’s major software updates, including iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8. They’ll all be officially released this fall. Even as business keeps soaring, Apple continues to face significant regulatory scrutiny over antitrust concerns and the company’s commanding influence over the iPhone’s App Store. It’s barely removed from an acrimonious trial with Epic Games. And with the FTC now led by an antitrust pioneer and lawmakers in the United States considering a range of antitrust legislation, CEO Tim Cook reportedly called Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn against pushing through rushed policies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk took an opportunity to criticize Apple for its “walled garden” during his company’s quarterly earnings call on Monday. “I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy,” he said. “It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which is used by some companies.” Musk then faked a cough and said “Apple.” Apple is believed to still be at work on its own electric vehicle, among other projects like augmented reality glasses that are likely to launch much earlier than the car. The iPhone 12’s strong momentum helps Apple to another huge quarter
  16. Apple bumping up iPhone 13 series production numbers confirmed Orders more than 100 million A15 Bionic chips from TSMC Apple had reportedly placed orders with its contract assemblers like Foxconn, Pegatron and Luxshare for manufacture of around 90 million new iPhone models, a 20% bump up from the 75 million units of iPhone 12 models produced last year. Now, it looks like that Apple's production target of the impending iPhone 13 series could be closer to even 100 million. According to a report from a news site that keeps track of supply chain companies, cnbeta, Apple has placed a humungous order of over 100 million A15 Bionic chips for use in its next-gen iPhones. An order of 100 million A15 Bionic chips doesn't necessarily mean production of 100 million iPhones in its new series. It, however, confirms that Apple is increasing its manufacturing numbers, and is pretty confident of improved demand for its new iPhones that are expected to hit the market in less than 2 months time. It may be recalled that the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi had recently overtaken Apple as the second-largest smartphone maker globally. New A15 Bionic chips to deliver better performance Apple has placed orders for the A15 Bionic chip with the Taiwanese company TSMC. It will use the same 5 nm technology that it puts to use make the A14 Bionic, which powers the existing iPad Air and iPhone 12 models. The new chips, however, will have a tweaked design that will deliver better performance and increased power efficiency. The report also claimed that the A15 Bionic chips will feature the same CPU layout as the A14, with four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance ones. The iPhone 13 series is rumoured to come with ProMotion 120 Hz display with always-on capabilities, larger batteries, and cameras with sensor-shifting stabilization. Reports have it that the iPhone 13 will be revealed through a virtual launch sometime in September. In terms of design, little is expected to change from the iPhone 12, except the design of the rear camera. It'll seemingly have a diagonal lens arrangement on the two cheaper phones, but it's largely set to be similar to last year's handsets. It's also claimed the whole series will get 25W wired charging speeds. Apple bumping up iPhone 13 series production numbers confirmed
  17. Apple and Google’s AI wizardry promises privacy—at a cost Upgraded data protection and less reliance on the cloud could lock users in. Since the dawn of the iPhone, many of the smarts in smartphones have come from elsewhere: the corporate computers known as the cloud. Mobile apps sent user data cloudward for useful tasks like transcribing speech or suggesting message replies. Now Apple and Google say smartphones are smart enough to do some crucial and sensitive machine-learning tasks like those on their own. At Apple's WWDC event this month, the company said its virtual assistant Siri will transcribe speech without tapping the cloud in some languages on recent and future iPhones and iPads. During its own I/O developer event last month, Google said the latest version of its Android operating system has a feature dedicated to secure, on-device processing of sensitive data, called the Private Compute Core. Its initial uses include powering the version of the company's Smart Reply feature built into its mobile keyboard that can suggest responses to incoming messages. Apple and Google both say on-device machine learning offers more privacy and snappier apps. Not transmitting personal data cuts the risk of exposure and saves time spent waiting for data to traverse the internet. At the same time, keeping data on devices aligns with the tech giants' long-term interest in keeping consumers bound into their ecosystems. People that hear their data can be processed more privately might become more willing to agree to share more data. The companies' recent promotion of on-device machine learning comes after years of work on technology to constrain the data their clouds can "see." In 2014, Google started gathering some data on Chrome browser usage through a technique called differential privacy, which adds noise to harvested data in ways that restrict what those samples reveal about individuals. Apple has used the technique on data gathered from phones to inform emoji and typing predictions and for web browsing data. More recently, both companies have adopted a technology called federated learning. It allows a cloud-based machine-learning system to be updated without scooping in raw data; instead, individual devices process data locally and share only digested updates. As with differential privacy, the companies have discussed using federated learning only in limited cases. Google has used the technique to keep its mobile typing predictions up to date with language trends; Apple has published research on using it to update speech-recognition models. Rachel Cummings, an assistant professor at Columbia who has previously consulted on privacy for Apple, says the rapid shift to do some machine learning on phones has been striking. "It's incredibly rare to see something going from the first conception to being deployed at scale in so few years," she says. That progress has required not just advances in computer science but for companies to take on the practical challenges of processing data on devices owned by consumers. Google has said that its federated learning system only taps users' devices when they are plugged in, idle, and on a free Internet connection. The technique was enabled in part by improvements in the power of mobile processors. Beefier mobile hardware also contributed to Google's 2019 announcement that voice recognition for its virtual assistant on Pixel devices would be wholly on-device, free from the crutch of the cloud. Apple's new on-device voice recognition for Siri, announced at WWDC this month, will use the "neural engine" the company added to its mobile processors to power up machine-learning algorithms. The technical feats are impressive. It's debatable how much they will meaningfully change users' relationship with tech giants. Presenters at Apple's WWDC said Siri's new design was a "major update to privacy" that addressed the risk associated with accidentally transmitting audio to the cloud, saying that was users' largest privacy concern about voice assistants. Some Siri commands—such as setting timers—can be recognized wholly locally, making for a speedy response. Yet in many cases transcribed commands to Siri—presumably including from accidental recordings—will be sent to Apple servers for software to decode and respond. Siri voice transcription will still be cloud-based for HomePod smart speakers commonly installed in bedrooms and kitchens, where accidental recording can be more concerning. Google also promotes on-device data processing as a privacy win and has signaled it will expand the practice. The company expects partners such as Samsung that use its Android operating system to adopt the new Privacy Compute Core and use it for features that rely on sensitive data. Google has also made local analysis of browsing data a feature of its proposal for reinventing online ad targeting, dubbed FLoC and claimed to be more private. Academics and some rival tech companies have said the design is likely to help Google consolidate its dominance of online ads by making targeting more difficult for other companies. Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights at University College London, says on-device data processing can be a good thing but adds that the way tech companies promote it shows they are primarily motivated by a desire to keep people tied into lucrative digital ecosystems. "Privacy gets confused with keeping data confidential, but it's also about limiting power," says Veale. "If you're a big tech company and manage to reframe privacy as only confidentiality of data, that allows you to continue business as normal and gives you license to operate." A Google spokesperson said the company "builds for privacy everywhere computing happens" and that data sent to the Private Compute Core for processing "needs to be tied to user value." Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Cummings of Columbia says new privacy techniques and the way companies market them add complexity to the trade-offs of digital life. Over recent years, as machine learning has become more widely deployed, tech companies have steadily expanded the range of data they collect and analyze. There is evidence some consumers misunderstand the privacy protections trumpeted by tech giants. A forthcoming survey study from Cummings and collaborators at Boston University and the Max Planck Institute showed descriptions of differential privacy drawn from tech companies, media, and academics to 675 Americans. Hearing about the technique made people about twice as likely to report they would be willing to share data. But there was evidence that descriptions of differential privacy's benefits also encouraged unrealistic expectations. One-fifth of respondents expected their data to be protected against law enforcement searches, something differential privacy does not do. Apple's and Google's latest proclamations about on-device data processing may bring new opportunities for misunderstandings. This story originally appeared on wired.com. Apple and Google’s AI wizardry promises privacy—at a cost
  18. Apple‘s Tim Cook: Sideloading is “not in the best interests of the user” The interview also touched on privacy, AR, health, and future products. Apple has been under a mountain of scrutiny lately from legislators, developers, judges, and users. Amidst all that, CEO Tim Cook sat with publication Brut. to discuss Apple's strategy and policies. The short but wide-ranging interview offered some insight into where Apple plans to go in the future. As is so common when Tim Cook speaks publicly, privacy was a major focus. His response to a question about its importance was the same one we've heard from him many times: "we see it as a basic human right, a fundamental human right." Noting Apple has been focused on privacy for a long time. He explained: You can think of a world where privacy is not important, and the surveillance economy takes over and it becomes a world where everyone is worried that somebody else is watching them, and so they begin to do less, they begin to think less, and nobody wants to live in a world where that freedom of expression narrows. And when asked about regulatory scrutiny, he pointed to the GDPR as an example of regulation Apple supports and also said Apple would support further expanding privacy-related regulations. But beyond regulations strictly centered on privacy, he wasn't as effusive. "As I look at the tech regulations that's being discussed, I think there are good parts of it and then I think there are parts of it that are not in the best interests of the user," he said. As an example of the latter, he said "the current DMA language that is being discussed would force sideloading on the iPhone." He added: That would destroy the security of the iPhone and a lot of the privacy initiatives that we've built into the App Store, where we have privacy nutrition labels and App Tracking Transparency... these things would not exist anymore. Privacy watchdogs have praised Apple's App Tracking Transparency move even as advertisers have lambasted it, but the nutrition labels have been less of a hit. Many observers have pointed out that the labels are often inaccurate or incomplete. "Android has 47 times more malware than iOS does," Cook claimed. "It's because we've designed iOS in such a way that there's one app store and all of the apps are reviewed prior to going on the store. And so that keeps a lot of this malware stuff out of our ecosystem, and customers have told us very continuously how much they value that, and so we're going to be standing up for the user in the discussions." Tim Cook's Brut. interview. The interview wasn't all about regulation and privacy, though; Cook also responded to open-ended questions about Apple's future product strategy. When asked what he believes Apple's products will look like many years from now, he carefully offered the caveat that no one can really predict where things are headed: We approach the future with great humility because we know we can't predict it. I'm not one of those people that is going to say I can see 20 years out, and 30 years out, and tell you what is going to happen. I can't. I really don't believe anyone can. To back that point, he talked about Apple's path towards putting its own silicon in Macs: We didn't know when we were working on the chip for the iPhone that it would become the heart of the iPad, and we didn't know that it would eventually become the heart of the Mac as it just did in this past year. We didn't know that, but we kept discovering, and we kept pulling the string, and we kept our minds open about where that journey would take us, and it's taken us somewhere that's incredible and that has a great future ahead of it. That said, Cook named augmented reality (AR) and the intersection of health and tech as areas where he sees future potential. He said he sees AR "as a technology that can enhance life in a broad way." And once again hinting at ambitions plans for future AR hardware, he said: "We've been working on AR first with our phones and iPads, and later we'll see where that goes in terms of products." On the health side, Cook said he is "exceedingly optimistic" about the intersection of health and technology: You know, when we started shipping the Watch, we did so thinking about it from a wellness point of view, but we put a heart rate sensor on it, and I was getting tons of emails about people that found out they had heart problems that they didn't know about it. And so we started adding more function to the Watch... and I begin to get even more notes from people that found that they'd had a problem because of this ability to continually monitor themselves. I think the idea of continually monitoring the body, much like happens in your car with warning lights and so forth, I think this is a big idea that has a long road path ahead of it. All of those things make me incredibly optimistic. The mention of a car as inspiration drew a smirk from Brut.'s interviewer, who shortly afterwards asked if Apple plans to design and begin selling a car. "In terms of a car," Cook answered, "I've gotta keep secrets, and there always has to be something up our sleeve." Apple‘s Tim Cook: Sideloading is “not in the best interests of the user”
  19. Apple fixes ninth zero-day bug exploited in the wild this year Apple has fixed two iOS zero-day vulnerabilities that "may have been actively exploited" to hack into older iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices. The two bugs (tracked as CVE-2021-30761 and CVE-2021-30762) are caused by memory corruption and use after free issues in the WebKit browser engine, both found and reported by anonymous researchers. Webkit is a browser rendering engine used by Apple web browsers and applications to render HTML content on desktop and mobile platforms, including iOS, macOS, tvOS, and iPadOS. Attackers could exploit the two vulnerabilities using maliciously crafted web content that would trigger arbitrary code execution after being loaded by the targets on unpatched devices. Impacted devices include older: iPhones (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus). iPads (iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3). and the iPod touch (6th generation). "Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," Apple said when describing the two iOS 12.5.4 vulnerabilities. Steady stream of exploited zero-days Since March, we've seen a neverending stream of zero-day bugs—nine of them in total—showing up in Apple's security advisories, most of them also tagged as having been exploited in attacks. Last month, Apple patched a macOS zero-day (CVE-2021-30713) used by the XCSSET malware to bypass Apple's TCC protections designed to safeguard its users' privacy. Apple also addressed three zero-days (CVE-2021-30663, CVE-2021-30665, and CVE-2021-30666) in May, bugs found in the Webkit engine allowing arbitrary remote code execution (RCE) on vulnerable devices simply by visiting malicious websites. The company also issued security updates to address one more iOS zero-day (CVE-2021-1879) in March and zero-days in iOS (CVE-2021-30661) and macOS zero-day (CVE-2021-30657) in April. The latter was exploited by Shlayer malware to bypass Apple's File Quarantine, Gatekeeper, and Notarization security checks. Apple fixes ninth zero-day bug exploited in the wild this year
  20. Apple is shutting down Dark Sky's iOS app and website in 2022 Apple acquired the hyperlocal weather app, Dark Sky, in 2020 and, at that time, it was highly likely that it would shut down Dark Sky's apps and website in the same year. However, the company also said that there would be "no changes to Dark Sky for iOS" at that time. In 2021, we see that there is a small update to the Dark Sky blog that appears to be adding a new shuttering date for the Dark Sky iOS App, API, and website. Adam Grossman, the co-founder of the Dark Sky weather app, wrote: Support for the Dark Sky App service for existing customers will continue until the end of 2022. The iOS app and Dark Sky website will also be available until the end of 2022. We hear this news shortly after Apple announced an overhaul to iOS' inbuilt weather app during WWDC. While the wording on the website doesn't explicitly say that the service will be "shut down" per se, it does seem that it is reaching its end of life. Previously, the Dark Sky website was scheduled to shut down in August 2020 while the API was scheduled to for the same at the end of 2021. Apple already killed Dark Sky's Android app back in August 2020. Source: Dark Sky via 9to5Mac Apple is shutting down Dark Sky's iOS app and website in 2022
  21. Early tests show Apple’s Private Relay feature does not live up to speed promises Apple introduced a new iOS 15 feature at WWDC called Private Relay. The feature is designed to frustrate companies tracking you on the internet by routing your data via two servers, one belonging to Apple and the other to a 3rd party. When Apple introduced the service they promised it would not reduce your connection speed or “compromise your performance“, something which was frankly hard to believe. Now early tests have shown that promise was indeed too good to be true. Google employee Thomas Steiner has tested the service and showed these results with and without the proxy service. The numbers show download speeds dropped from 400 Mb/sec to 180 Mb/sec while latency increased from an enviable 3ms to a laggy 78ms. Given the Tor-like routing system in use, the numbers are not unexpected. Apple has however made lofty promises, and it should be borne in mind that the service being tested is still in beta, so the company may still manage to pull a rabbit out of the hat at launch time. Early tests show Apple’s Private Relay feature does not live up to speed promises
  22. Apple WWDC 2021: the 15 biggest announcements Catch up on the news from Apple’s big developer conference Apple just wrapped up its WWDC 2021 keynote, and it was jam-packed with news and announcements, including our first looks at iOS 15, the new macOS Monterey, big improvements to FaceTime, and more. Our live blog has moment-by-moment commentary on what Apple announced from Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn. But if you just want to know the big-ticket items from the show, we’ve got you covered right here. iOS 15 brings big improvements to FaceTime, updates to notifications, and more Apple announced iOS 15, which brings improvements to FaceTime such as spatial audio, a new “SharePlay” feature that lets you share media with people on FaceTime virtually, updates to Messages, a new look for notifications, the ability to set different “Focus” statuses, updates to Memories in Photos, a redesign to the weather app, and much more. Apple is building video and music sharing into FaceTime Apple’s new SharePlay feature will let you watch or listen to content with others virtually. Apple is also introducing a SharePlay API so that other developers can build apps that support the feature. Apple is going to use AI to read all the text in your photos Apple’s new Live Text will digitize text in your photos, which can let you copy and paste text from a photo, for example, or call a phone number that’s in a photo. Apple says it uses “on-device intelligence” for the feature. You’ll soon be able to use your iPhone as your ID at the airport Image: Apple Apple’s Wallet will soon let you store your ID in a digital form (in participating US states), which you’ll then use as identification in US airports. iPadOS 15 lets you drop widgets on the homescreen and brings changes to multitasking With iPadOS 15, Apple will let you add widgets to the homescreen and access to the app library, which debuted last year on iPhone with iOS 14. Apple is also introducing improvements to multitasking, with new controls that make it easier to manage your apps, and you’ll be able to build apps with Swift Playgrounds. Apple adds welcome privacy features to Mail, Safari Apple announced new privacy-focused features at WWDC, including that Apple Mail will block tracking pixels with Mail Privacy Protection and that Safari will hide IPs. Apple is also introducing a new section in settings called the “App Privacy Report.” Apple’s Siri will finally work without an internet connection with on-device speech recognition Apple will let Siri process voice requests on device, meaning audio won’t be sent over the web, and Siri can accept many requests while offline. Apple lets users see family members’ Health data Apple is introducing a number of new health-focused features, such as the ability to share health data with your families and with healthcare providers. Apple is making AirPods easier to hear with and find Apple is making some new changes to AirPods, such as making it easier to find them on the Find My network and the ability to announce your notifications. Apple’s iCloud Plus bundles a VPN, private email, and HomeKit camera storage Apple’s iCloud is getting a new private relay service and the ability to create burner emails called “Hide My Email.” These will be part of a new iCloud Plus subscription, which will be offered at no additional price to current iCloud paid users. Apple announces watchOS 8 with new health features Apple’s upcoming watchOS 8 has new health features, including a new Mindfulness app, improvements to the Photos watchface, and more. Siri is coming to third-party accessories Apple will let third-party accessory makers add Siri to their devices, Apple announced during WWDC. The company showed it on an Ecobee thermostat in its presentation. macOS Monterey lets you use the same cursor and keyboard across Macs and iPads Apple’s next big macOS release is called Monterey. One big new feature is the ability to use the same mouse and keyboard across your Mac and your iPad. Apple’s Shortcuts app is also coming to the Mac. And Monterey adds improvements to FaceTime, SharePlay, and Apple’s new “Focus” statuses that are coming to Apple’s other software platforms. Apple redesigns Safari on the Mac with a new tab design and tab groups Apple is redesigning Safari with a new look for tabs and tab groups. And on iOS, the tab bar will be at the bottom of the screen to be in easier reach of your thumb. Web extensions are also coming to iOS and iPadOS. Apple is bringing TestFlight to the Mac to help developers test their apps Apple announced that it will let developers use TestFlight to test their apps on the Mac. The company also announced Xcode Cloud, which lets you test your apps across all Apple devices in the cloud. Apple WWDC 2021: the 15 biggest announcements
  23. Apple adds welcome privacy features to Mail, Safari Say goodbye to IP tracking Apple has always stressed user privacy as part of its core mission. At its WWDC 2021 event, it announced it would be adding a spate of powerful new functions to Mail and Safari, as well as giving users broader insight into what their installed apps are doing with their information. First, Apple’s Mail appears to have declared war on tracking pixels, which can be included in some emails to give third parties insight into if or when their messages were opened — though it didn’t provide much detail on how it will win said war. According to Apple’s manager of user privacy software Katie Skinner, Mail will also now hide user IP addresses by default. Safari, likewise, will hide IPs. More surprisingly, Apple announced it’s adding an App Privacy Report, which will live in settings and provide an overview of, as you might have guessed, privacy-related matters as they relate to installed apps. For example: how often apps use your contacts, microphone, location, or other data and identifiers. The App Privacy Report will also show which third-party domains are receiving your information. Apple adds welcome privacy features to Mail, Safari
  24. Apple announces macOS Monterey update with powerful features Along with the new iPadOS 15 and iOS 15, Apple today announced the macOS Monterey update with several powerful features. The developer beta of macOS Monterey is available to Apple Developer Program today and the update will be available to the general public this fall. Some of the new features included in macOS Monterey include Safari’s new tab design, shared experiences with SharePlay in FaceTime, Universal Control and AirPlay to Mac. You can read about them in detail below. Already the world’s fastest browser, Safari now reimagines the browsing experience with a new tab design that lets users see more of the page as they scroll. A new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the tool bar, and the search field into a single compact design. Tab Groups offer a new way to easily save and manage tabs — great for planning trips, shopping, or storing the tabs users visit daily. Tab Groups also sync across Mac, iPhone, and iPad, so users can continue their project from anywhere and easily share tabs with friends and family. Shortcuts arrives on the Mac to help users automate everyday tasks and achieve peak productivity. Just like on iPhone and iPad, Shortcuts on Mac lets users quickly accomplish tasks with the apps they use the most. With a rich gallery of pre-built actions designed just for Mac, users can instantly share files, make animated GIFs, and more. Power users looking to take things further can use the Shortcuts Editor on Mac to customize shortcuts to match their workflows. Shortcuts is integrated throughout macOS, including the menu bar, Finder, Spotlight, and even hands-free with Siri — making it easy to run shortcuts no matter which app the user is in. Users can easily import existing Automator workflows into Shortcuts and be up and running right away. New features in Notes help users stay organized, collaborate, and create notes from anywhere. Quick Note is a new way for users to jot down notes on any app or website systemwide, making it easy to capture thoughts and ideas wherever inspiration strikes. Users can also add links from an app to their Quick Note to create context, even on a website in Safari or an address in Maps. As users work through projects in Notes with friends or colleagues, they can add mentions, see everyone’s edits in the new Activity View, and categorize their Notes with tags to quickly and easily find them in the new Tag Browser and in tag-based Smart Folders. With Focus, Mac users can stay in the moment by automatically filtering out notifications unrelated to their current activity. Users can signal their status to let others know when they are focusing and not available. When a user has Focus set on one device, it automatically sets across their other devices and can be customized based on their current activity — whether they are preparing for a presentation or wrapping up an assignment for school. FaceTime now includes a suite of new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike. With spatial audio, voices in a FaceTime call sound like they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen, while Voice Isolation ensures the user’s voice is crystal clear and uses machine learning to eliminate background noise, and Wide Spectrum allows all the sound in the area to come through so participants can hear everything. Portrait mode taps into the Apple Neural Engine in the M1 chip to blur the user’s background for a stunning video effect, and a new Grid View shows participants in same-sized tiles. SharePlay is a powerful set of system features that enables users to have shared experiences while on a FaceTime call. Users can share their favorite music, TV shows, movies, projects, and more with friends and family in real time — kicking off a shared listening party, watching movies and shows, collaborating in apps through screen sharing, and more. With an API built for easy adoption, third-party developers can bring their own apps right into FaceTime. Shared with You makes it easy to locate and enjoy all the great content that’s shared through Messages, including photos, videos, articles, and more, right from a Shared with You tab within Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Apple TV app. Universal Control lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience, with no setup required. Users can even drag and drop content back and forth between devices — great for sketching a drawing with Apple Pencil on iPad and placing it into a Keynote slide on the Mac. With AirPlay to Mac, users can play, present, and share just about anything — from the latest movies and games to vacation photos and presentations — from their iPhone or iPad right to their Mac’s stunning Retina display. The Mac’s high-fidelity sound system can also be used as an AirPlay speaker, so users can play music or podcasts on their Mac, or use their Mac as a secondary speaker for multiroom audio. With the new interactive globe in Maps and an amazing, immersive, and detailed city experience, users can enjoy new ways to navigate and explore the natural beauty of the Earth on the Mac’s large, gorgeous display. Live Text uses on-device machine learning to detect text in photos, including phone numbers, websites, addresses, and tracking numbers, so users can copy and paste, make a phone call, open a website, and easily find more information. Visual Lookup also uses machine learning to help users discover and learn about animals, art, landmarks, plants, and more in photos. These features work across macOS, including in apps like Photos, Messages, and Safari. iCloud+ combines everything users love about iCloud with new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, and an innovative new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, at no additional cost. AirPods Pro and AirPods Max deliver a theater-like experience with spatial audio on Macs with the M1 chip. Privacy features like Mail Privacy Protection let users choose whether emails can collect information about their Mail activity, and the Mac recording indicator now shows which app is accessing the Mac’s microphone. New accessibility features let anyone add alternative image descriptions right from Markup, and improved Full Keyboard Access and new cursor customization options provide more flexibility when navigating Mac. Source: Apple Apple announces macOS Monterey update with powerful features
  25. Apple is bringing FaceTime to Windows 10 and Android users via the web At its annual developer event, Apple announced major changes to its mobile platform including the introduction of iOS 15. Along with iOS 15, Apple has also announced that it will be opening FaceTime to Windows and Android users. With the new update, FaceTime will act more in line with other video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype, allowing users to share links to calls to others. These links will work on both Windows 10 and Android. Unfortunately, Apple has not commented on the availability of the FaceTime app so you will have to use a web browser if you intend to join a FaceTime call using an Android or Windows 10 device. Apart from that, Apple has also announced other features for FaceTime. These include a new grid view, a voice isolation tool, spatial audio support and an option to blur background using “portrait mode.” Lastly, Apple is also introducing SharePlay which will allow users to join in and listen or watch a TV show, song or a movie. The feature will support Disney+, HBO Max and Twitch along with Apple TV and Apple Music. All the features including the support for Android and Windows 10 will roll out to Apple users along with the iOS 15 update. Apple is bringing FaceTime to Windows 10 and Android users via the web
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