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  1. Google found at least seven critical bugs being exploited by hackers in the wild. But after disclosing them days ago, the company has yet to reveal key details about who used them and against whom. Google's elite teams of bug and malware hunters found and disclosed a flurry of high impact vulnerabilities in Chrome, Android, Windows, and iOS last week. The internet giant also said that these various vulnerabilities were all "actively exploited in the wild." In other words, hackers were using these bugs to actually hack people, which is concerning. What's more, all these vulnerabilities are in some way related to each other, Motherboard has learned. That potentially means the same hackers were using them. According to the disclosure reports, some bugs were in font libraries, and others were used to escape the sandbox in Chrome, and others were used to take control of the whole system, suggesting some of these bugs were part of a chain of vulnerabilities used to exploit victim's devices. So far, very little information has come out about who may have been using the exploits and who they were targeting. Often, bugs in modern software are found and are ethically disclosed by security researchers, which means that they are fixed before they are widely exploited to hack people. In this case, however, we know that the bugs were being used for hacking operations. Last year, Google found a series of zero-days—vulnerabilities that at the time of discovery are unknown to the software maker—that spies were using to target the Uighur community. China has conducted a widespread, systemic campaign of physical and technical oppression and surveillance against the Muslim minority. Unfortunately, this time we don't know any details because Google—the only company that has the whole story behind these bugs—has not said much at all about how it found the bugs, who was using them, and whom they were being used against. Notably, an update pushed to iOS 12 (which is two years old) patched the issue on phones dating back to the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. Often, when updates are pushed to such old devices it means the bug is particularly bad, but, again, we do not know the specifics at this time. "The fact that they updated iPhone 6 users means it was bad," said a cybersecurity expert who asked not to be named because he wasn't allowed to speak to the press. "That phone has been end of life for a while." "We're not going to be able to offer much new info," Google spokesperson Scott Westover said in an email on Monday. Apple did not respond to requests for comment. A Microsoft spokesperson said in an email that the company “released security updates in November to address CVE-2020-17087. Customers who have applied the updates, or have automatic updates enabled, are protected.” The company also said that it has not seen evidence of exploitation in the wild. Ben Hawkes, the head of Google Project Zero, the internet giant's team of skilled hackers that is tasked with the mission of finding vulnerabilities in all kinds of software—not just Google's—announced on Twitter over the last 10 days that his team had found all these vulnerabilities (seven in total.) On Oct. 20, Google disclosed the first bug (CVE-2020-15999) in this series of vulnerabilities, a bug in FreeType, an open source font rendering software, was used to target Chrome, according to Hawkes. Then, on Oct. 30, the first bug (CVE-2020-17087) to gather more attention in the press was a Windows bug that allowed hackers to escalate system privileges, meaning the hackers could jump from having control of one app to taking control of the whole victim's system. Finally, last week, Hawkes wrote on Twitter that Project Zero had also found zero-days for Chrome and Android (CVE-2020-16009 and CVE-2020-16010) that were exploited in the wild. The first one of these was used for "remote code execution," technical jargon for hackers taking full control of an application or system. Just three days later, Hawkes announced that Apple had fixed three critical bugs in iOS. Two of them in the kernel, the part of the operating system that has access to almost anything that's happening on the phone, and one of them was also a font bug, vaguely reminiscent of the FreeType one that was disclosed on Oct. 20. This bug, according to Apple, allowed hackers to take control of the victim's phone by sending them a file with a "maliciously crafted font." Shane Huntley, the head of Google's Threat Analysis Group, a team that tracks hackers all over the internet, said on Twitter that these bugs were used for "targeted exploitation in the wild similar to the other recently reported 0days" and that these bugs had nothing to do with the U.S. elections. "This feels like spy shit," Ryan Stortz, a researcher who works the security consultancy firm Trail of Bits, told Motherboard. Stortz said that he has not seen the details of the exploits and vulnerabilities—no one outside of Google and the companies that patched them have—but said that it looks like they could all be part of the same hacker group's bug arsenal. "It's pretty damn rare for bugs like this to be cross platform. I think it’s more likely they found another waterhole site like with the Uighur bugs that had both chains." All these seven bugs are related to each other, according to a source with knowledge of the vulnerabilities, who asked to remain anonymous as they were not allowed to talk to the press. In any case, some of these bugs were very critical and gave hackers a lot of power when they used them. The iOS bugs, for example, were so dangerous that Apple pushed updates not just for the current iOS 14, but also for the older, not usually supported, iOS 12. Source
  2. According to new research by Kaspersky's GReAT team, the online criminal activities of the Roaming Mantis Group have continued to evolve since they were first discovered in April 2018. As part of their activities, this group hacks into exploitable routers and changes their DNS configuration. This allows the attackers to redirect the router user's traffic to malicious Android apps disguised as Facebook and Chrome or to Apple phishing pages that were used to steal Apple ID credentials. Recently, Kaspersky has discovered that this group is testing a new monetization scheme by redirecting iOS users to pages that contain the Coinhive in-browser mining script rather than the normal Apple phishing page. When users are redirected to these pages, they will be shown a blank page in the browser, but their CPU utilization will jump to 90% or higher. Blank page utilizing Coinhive This is caused by the page utilizing the Coinhive mining script shown below. Coinhive Mining Script The day after the GReAT discovered this new page, the attackers reverted back to redirecting to the Apple phishing page, so this appears to be a test that is not ready for full release. Limited hacking of Japanese devices After Japanese researchers started releasing reports regarding Roaming Mantis, the group is making an effort to avoid hacking Japanese devices. On landing pages that users were redirected to, Kaspersky noticed that there was JavaScript that checked if the device's language was set to "ja" or Japanese. If the ja language was detected, the page would not offer any malicious applications or redirects to the visitor. Checking for Japanese Browser Language Spreading via scam adverts on Prezi.com This group appears to also be taking a page out of the Adware handbook by promoting scam sites for adult videos, games, music, and downloads. These scam sites are being promoted through Prezi.com, a presentation sharing site, where the group would create page that contain links to URLS at https://tinyurl.com. When a visitor goes to these urls, though, they will be redirected to various scam sites as shown below. Prezi.com Ads Protecting your devices To protect yourself from attacks like this, make sure that your routers are upgraded to the latest firmware so that any vulnerabilities are patched. Kaspersky also suggests that Android users turn off the ability to install app from third-party sites. "We strongly recommend that Android users turn off the option that allows installation of applications from third-party repositories, to keep their device safe," stated Kaspersky's research. "They should also be suspicious if their phones become unusually hot, which may be a side-effect of the hidden crypto-mining application in action." Source
  3. Apple reportedly acquires startup that could turn iPhones into payment terminals Mobeewave’s tech lets users tap a credit card or smartphone on another phone to process payments Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Apple has acquired a startup with technology that could turn iPhones into mobile payment terminals, Bloomberg reported. Montreal-based Mobeewave has tech that requires only an NFC chip to work, allowing users to tap either their smartphone or a credit card to another phone for payment processing. NFC chips have been included in iPhones since the iPhone 6. And while Apple Pay lets shoppers tap their iPhones to pay at a retail store, adding Mobeewave could allow any iPhone to accept payments without extra hardware like a card reader. According to Bloomberg, Apple paid about $100 million for Mobeewave, and has retained its team of employees. Neither company would comment on the transaction. Rival phone manufacturer Samsung partnered with Mobeewave last year on a pilot point-of-sale program in Canada. And as Bloomberg notes, Samsung’s venture division is an investor in Mobeewave. Apple has acquired several other startups this year so far, including popular weather app Dark Sky in March. It looks to be integrating Dark Sky’s features into its native weather app in iOS 14 and has shut down the Android version of the Dark Sky app as of August 1st. Apple also confirmed in May that it bought VR broadcast company NextVR. Apple reportedly acquires startup that could turn iPhones into payment terminals
  4. (Reuters) - Apple Inc held talks with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and MediaTek Inc along with existing vendor Intel Corp to supply 5G modem chips for 2019 iPhones, according to an Apple executive’s testimony at a trial between Qualcomm Inc and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday. Between 2011 and 2016, Apple relied on San Diego-based Qualcomm as the sole supplier of such chips, which help iPhones connect to wireless networks. Starting in 2016, Apple split the business between Intel and Qualcomm, but in 2018, Apple moved solely to Intel for its newest phones. But Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins testified on Friday that Apple has also considered MediaTek and Samsung, one of its largest rivals in the smart phone market, to supply the chips for the next generation of wireless networks known as 5G. Those networks are expected to start rolling out this year and provide faster data speeds than current 4G networks. The FTC is suing Qualcomm alleging the chip supplier engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices to preserve a dominant position in the premium modem chip market. On the stand at a federal courthouse in San Jose, California, Blevins testified that Apple has long sought multiple suppliers for modem chips but signed an agreement with Qualcomm to exclusively supply the chips because the chip supplier offered deep rebates on patent license costs in exchange for exclusivity. In 2013, Apple broke off work with Intel to start supplying modems for the iPad Mini 2 because Apple would lose its rebates by using Intel’s chips, rendering Intel’s products “economically unattractive” overall. Later that year after cost negotiations with Qualcomm did not go as Apple hoped, Apple kicked off “Project Antique” to secure a second modem supplier, Blevins testified. By 2016 and 2017, Apple introduced Intel’s modems in some of its iPhones but also still used Qualcomm chips. But Apple’s lawsuit against Qualcomm filed in early 2017 caused their business relationship to change “in a very profound and negative manner,” leading to using only Intel’s modems for the phones released last year. “The entire concept of Project Antique was to find a second supplier. No offense to (Intel) but we don’t want to be single supplier with them. We wanted both Qualcomm and (Intel) in the mix,” Blevins said. Blevins also testified Apple considered making Intel the sole supplier of modems for the Apple Watch, which added 4G connectivity in 2017 using Qualcomm chips. Blevins said that talking with Samsung, whose Galaxy and Note devices compete against the iPhone, is “not an ideal environment” for Apple, but that Samsung is currently the largest component supplier to Apple. Blevins did not say whether Apple had reached a decision on a 5G modem supplier or whether it would release a 5G iPhone in 2019. Citing sources, Bloomberg previously reported that Apple would not release such a phone until 2020. Source
  5. (Reuters) - Apple Inc , which slashed its quarterly sales forecast last week, has reduced planned production for its three new iPhone models by about 10 percent for the January-March quarter, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday. That rare forecast cut exposed weakening iPhone demand in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, where a slowing economy has also been buffeted by a trade war with the United States. Many analysts and consumers have said the new iPhones are overpriced. Apple asked its suppliers late last month to produce fewer-than-planned units of its XS, XS Max and XR models, the Nikkei reported, citing sources with knowledge of the request. The request was made before Apple announced its forecast cut, the Nikkei said. The bleaker sales outlook, which Apple attributed to weak China demand, triggered a broad sell-off in global stock markets. Market research firm Canalys estimates shipments fell 12 percent in China last year and expects smartphone shipments in 2019 to dip another 3 percent, to below 400 million for the first time since 2014. Overall planned production volume of both old and new iPhones is likely to be cut to a range of 40 million to 43 million units for January-March period, from an earlier projection of 47 million to 48 million units, the Nikkei reported, citing one source familiar with the situation. Apple did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. The report comes after chip suppliers Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Skyworks Solutions Inc ) flagged weak first-quarter chip demand for smartphones. Samsung surprised the market on Tuesday with an estimated 29 percent drop in quarterly profit, blaming weak chip demand in a rare commentary issued to “ease confusion” among investors already fretting about a global tech slowdown. Apple’s iPhone suppliers include Taiwanese assemblers Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (Foxconn) (2317.TW) and Pegatron Corp (4938.TW). Pegatron declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters, while Foxconn did not reply to a request for comment. There was little reaction to the report among shares of major Apple suppliers, as the market has already digested production cuts after the iPhone maker’s forecast cut, analysts said. Shares of Foxconn, the world’s biggest electronics contract manufacturer, closed up 1.6 percent, while Pegatron closed up 1.3 percent. Apple shares were up 1.3 percent at $152.70 in early trading on Wednesday. Among iPhone component suppliers in Asia, South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd closed up 0.5 percent, while Japan Display Inc was flat. “The Street is already well aware of a soft March guide so this latest report is not a new worry, as investors are starting to look ahead 6-9 months down the road for Apple and gauge how the company emerges from this dark chapter of soft demand,” Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities, said. Source
  6. Apple will unveil new iPhones on September 10, leak suggests A leaked screenshot carries the date—but it was probably that day anyway. Apple revealed the iPhone XS at a similar event on September 12, 2018. Valentina Palladino Apple released the seventh beta of iOS 13 today, and that release contained image files that seem to indicate that Apple will hold its next big iPhone unveiling event on September 10, 2019. A screenshot of iOS in the beta labeled "HoldForRelease" was originally found by iHelpBR but shared on MacRumors and elsewhere. The image includes an iOS Calendar app icon that says September 10 on it. A similar screenshot was found saying September 12 shortly before Apple's iPhone unveiling event last year. That event was held on—you guessed it—September 12. Also this time around, versions of the image with the date on them were found depicting both the iPhone and iPad interfaces. Of course, this date was likely anyway. The current incarnation of Apple almost always holds its iPhone event around the same time each September. The event is commonly in the second week of September and usually on a Tuesday. Last year's event was on a Wednesday presumably because the Tuesday fell on September 11. (It was Tuesday, September 12 in 2017.) The screenshot showing the September 10 date, shared by iHelpBR. iHelpBR Apple is expected to reveal three new iPhones at the event, along with a new Apple Watch. There have also been rumors from the supply chain about an impending 16-inch redesign of the MacBook Pro, though the sourcing on those rumors is not strong enough to report what's coming with any certainty. We'll also see the first public releases of iOS 13 and macOS Catalina in the weeks following the event. Apple has generally released its new operating systems shortly after the event and shortly before the devices actually ship. Thus, mid-September is likely for iOS 13's release. iOS 13 will introduce Dark Mode—previously seen in macOS Mojave—to iPhones and iPads, and it will spin the iPad operating system into a new branch called iPadOS. Its numerous improvements will include multitasking, external storage support, and more. The Reminders app is also set to get a long-needed overhaul, and there will be some notable changes to the Maps app as well. As always, Ars will report on all these developments as they hit. That includes a liveblog on September 10 that should be the final date of the event. Source: Apple will unveil new iPhones on September 10, leak suggests (Ars Technica)
  7. Future iPhones may have both Face ID and in-display fingerprint reader iPhone users may get option to unlock with either fingerprint or Face ID. Enlarge / Setting up Touch ID on an older-model iPhone. Getty Images | Chesnot Apple is testing an in-screen fingerprint reader that could appear in iPhones in 2020 or 2021, a Bloomberg report today said. The feature would be similar to Touch ID, the fingerprint reader integrated into the iPhone home button starting with the iPhone 5S in 2013. Apple replaced Touch ID with Face ID with the iPhone X in 2017, as the company eliminated the home button in order to expand the screen. But this time, users would be able to use either the fingerprint sensor or Face ID instead of just one or the other, according to Bloomberg's sources. "Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint technology for as early as its 2020 iPhones, according to people familiar with the plans," Bloomberg's report said. "The technology is in testing both inside Apple and among the company's overseas suppliers, though the timeline for its release may slip to the 2021 iPhone refresh, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private work." In-display fingerprint readers are already available in other phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 6T. 2020 release depends on testing Apple is considering putting its fingerprint sensor in 2020 iPhones "if testing is successful," Bloomberg reported. So far, "suppliers have proven their ability to integrate the technology into iPhones, but the company has not managed to mass-produce it yet, one person familiar with the development work said," Bloomberg wrote. The in-screen fingerprint reader would work over "a large portion of the display," Bloomberg wrote. Apple "would offer users both biometric options, letting them unlock and authenticate app transactions with either their face or fingerprint." That means the notch at the top of iPhone screens would likely remain. "[T]he Face ID sensor system will need to be retained because its technology forms the basis for more advanced portrait photography and augmented reality features like Animoji," Bloomberg wrote. We contacted Apple today and will update this story if we get a response. Bloomberg's report said that Apple declined to comment. Apple is expected to introduce three new iPhones at an event on September 10. Among other new features, this year's models are expected to have a wider-angle Face ID camera for easier facial authentication. Source: Future iPhones may have both Face ID and in-display fingerprint reader (Ars Technica)
  8. It may be the biggest attack against iPhone users yet. In what may be one of the largest attacks against iPhone users ever, researchers at Google say they uncovered a series of hacked websites that were delivering attacks designed to hack iPhones. The websites delivered their malware indiscriminately, were visited thousands of times a week, and were operational for years, Google said. "There was no target discrimination; simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack your device, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant. We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week," Ian Beer, from Google's Project Zero, wrote in a blog post published Thursday. Some of the attacks made use of so-called zero day exploits. This is an exploit that takes advantage of a vulnerability that the impacted company, in this case Apple, is not aware of, hence they have had "zero days" to find a fix. Generally speaking, zero day attacks can be much more effective at successfully hacking phones or computers because the company does not know about the vulnerability and thus has not fixed it. iPhone exploits are relatively expensive and the iPhone is difficult to hack. The price for a full exploit chain of a fully up to date iPhone has stretched up to at least $3 million. This includes various vulnerabilities for different parts of the iPhone operating system, including the browser, the kernel, and others to escape an application's sandbox, which is designed to keep code running only inside the part of the phone it is supposed to. Beer writes that Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) was able to collect five distinct iPhone exploit chains based on 14 vulnerabilities. These exploit chains covered versions from iOS 10 up to the latest iteration of iOS 12. At least one of the chains was a zero day at the time of discovery and Apple fixed the issues in February after Google warned them, Beer writes. Once the attack has successfully exploited the iPhone, it can deploy malware onto the phone. In this case "the implant is primarily focused on stealing files and uploading live location data. The implant requests commands from a command and control server every 60 seconds," Beer writes. The implant also has access to the user's keychain, which contains passwords, as well as the databases of various end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and iMessage, Beer's post continues. End-to-end encryption can protect can messages being read if they're intercepted, but less so if a hacker has compromised the end device itself. The implant does not have persistence though; if a user reboots their iPhone, it will wipe the malware, Beer explains. But one infection can still of course deliver a treasure trove of sensitive information. "Given the breadth of information stolen, the attackers may nevertheless be able to maintain persistent access to various accounts and services by using the stolen authentication tokens from the keychain, even after they lose access to the device," Beer writes. The information is also transferred to the server unencrypted, the post adds. Previously documented attacks have been more targeted in nature, typically by a text message sent to the target, along with a link to a malicious site, sometimes just for that target. This attack appears to, or at least has the potential to be, broader in scope. "This indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years," Beer added. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Update: This piece has been updated to include more information from Google's blog post. Source
  9. Future iPhones could use the Apple logo as a notification light As per a patent filing (Image credit: Future) Future iPhones could make use of subtle colour-changing decorations on the back of their casings, according to a recently filed Apple patent – maybe even turning the Apple logo on the phones into a notification light. The patent, as spotted by AppleInsider, is for "Electronic Devices with Adjustable Decoration". That essentially means extra layers on top of the phone case that can be controlled by the operating system. Included in the patent details are mentions of incoming communications or calendar alerts, which might change the appearance of different parts of the case. These decorations could also be used to give feedback from the camera. The iPhone 11 screen repair reminders YouTube Music is now the Android default macOS Catalina could appear on October 4 The filing says that the final application of the technology "may include a logo", which suggests some kind of dynamic Apple logo on the next batch of iPhones. That's actually a rumor that's been floating around for years now. The light fantastic While we've focused on iPhones so far, the patent could just as easily apply to MacBooks and other Apple hardware as well. MacBooks of years gone by did have illuminated logos on the lid, but this was effectively killed off by the 2016 MacBook Pro refresh. Before you get too excited about a colour-changing iPhone case, remember that this is just a patent application: tech companies file these applications all the time, and they don't necessarily always end up featuring in actual products. Still, it's one way that Apple might try to change up the look of the 2020 iPhones and the ones that follow - imagine a flashing Apple logo telling you about an incoming call while your phone is flat on a desk and muted. The iPhone design hasn't changed an awful lot in the last two years, which suggests a more significant shift could be happening next year – among the rumors we've heard so far is talk of a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Source: Future iPhones could use the Apple logo as a notification light (TechRadar)
  10. Kuo’s latest report details a more angular design for the next iPhone models. The iPhone 11, which was revealed earlier this month, bears more than a passing resemblance to both the iPhone X and iPhone XS. That's a bit of a bummer, since we'll have been stuck with roughly the same design for three years (not to mention that the notch is still there). Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, says that the design will be replaced with something closer to that of the iPhone 4 for the 2020 lineup of phones. While Apple typically uses the iPhone to introduce new design language, last year's iPad Pro may be taking the lead this time around. Kuo, whose predictions are typically accurate to a degree, describes 2020's reworked design as a segmented metal frame sandwiched between two layers of glass or sapphire. That sounds pretty similar to current iPhones, but Kuo believes the "metal frame surface will be changed to a similar design to the iPhone 4," as opposed to the X's rounded frame. Unifying the designs across iPhones and iPads seems like an obvious step, but Apple usually doesn't change much for its "S" refreshes. The new design may indicate that Apple will simply skip the iPhone 11S and go straight for the iPhone 12 like it did when transitioning from the iPhone 7 to the 8. The new look will be a selling point for customers, but Kuo warns that production prices will likely rise thanks to the reworked frame. Apple has faced more backlash than usual for its high prices, but seemingly has tried to curb complaints with the iPhone 11's $699 base price. Raising prices again won't be well received, so hopefully Apple absorbs most of those increased costs. The iPhone X's silhouette was stunning at the time, but after several years, every design gets old. Whether the next iPhone borrows from the iPad Pro or goes in a completely different direction, it will be sure to create buzz. Hopefully Apple figures out how to get rid of that notch, though. Source
  11. iOS 14 rumored to stay compatible with all iPhones running iOS 13 Everything up to the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE (Image credit: Future) The next version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, will probably launch alongside the iPhone 12 in late 2020 - and a new rumor suggests it will be compatible with all the phones that can run the current iOS 13, from the iPhone 6S/iPhone SE onward. The rumor states that the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE are favored to make it into the compatibility list, according to French site iPhoneSoft, which got the info from a source on the Apple Maps app team. More interesting: the source asserted that next big iPad system update, iPadOS 14, will drop two older tablets from its lineup - the iPad Mini 4 and iPad Air 2, both of which were running A8-era chipsets (the A8 and A8X, respectively). So...what does this say about iOS 14/iPadOS 14? Apple generally bases its OS compatibility on chipset (and RAM), and tends to cut off older generations one chipset at a time. When it opts to do this isn’t entirely predictable, though the company is pretty conservative in its cutoffs, so it’s no surprise that Apple would choose to stretch out support for its older and still-prevalent devices. New iOS versions introduce new features, of course, but also security updates and compatibility with new Apple products. It’s less surprising that iPadOS 14 isn’t keeping on older devices given how it’s still forking away from the general iOS feature set in order to distinguish itself with distinct perks that benefit from the iPad’s greater screen real estate. Of course, Apple could change its mind in the months leading up to iOS 14’s release - iPhoneSoft says as much. Via 9to5Mac Source: iOS 14 rumored to stay compatible with all iPhones running iOS 13 (TechRadar)
  12. SAN FRANCISCO/TAIPEI (Reuters) - Travel restrictions to China because of the coronavirus have come just as Apple Inc’s engineers usually jet off to Asia to perfect the production of this fall’s new iPhones, former employees and supply chain experts told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks wait for checking their temperature in an Apple Store, in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, February 21, 2020. High-volume manufacturing is not scheduled until summer, but the first months of the year are when Apple irons out assembly processes with partners such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co’s Foxconn, two former Apple employees said. “They probably have one assembly line they’re trying things out on,” said one of the former employees who asked not to be named discussing production matters. “Are Apple’s engineers with the Foxconn engineers? If they are, they’re probably making progress. But if they’re not, if they’re quarantined, that could be bad.” While Apple uses other contract manufacturers such as Wistron Corp to make some iPhones, Taiwan’s Foxconn tends to handle the introduction of new models because its capabilities are the most advanced, supply chain experts said. Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, delayed reopening key iPhone factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou after the Lunar New Year holiday but hopes to resume half of its Chinese production by the end of February. Senior Foxconn officials who have been working remotely from Taipei since the holiday have not yet returned to China on a large scale, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, speaking of company officials generally. Apple declined to comment. Foxconn Technology Group said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that the company is following all legally required health and safety practices at its factories to protect employee welfare. “Consistent with this, we are taking a cautious approach in the implementation of our post-holiday production schedules in each of our facilities in China,” the company said. Last week, Apple warned investors it was unlikely to meet revenue targets for the first three months of 2020 and that global iPhone supplies would be limited as manufacturing sites in China were not ramping up production as quickly as expected. Foxconn said this month that the coronavirus outbreak would lower its revenue this year. Earlier this month, United Airlines, which has disclosed that Apple is a major customer, said it was cancelling all fights to China until late April. Apple, meanwhile, said on Jan. 28 that it was restricting employee to travel to China to “business-critical” situations. COLLABORATION CRITICAL For new iPhone models, the transition from prototype to the assembly of millions of units starts in earnest when the Lunar New Year holiday in China ends in late January and early February, people familiar with the process said. At that point, Apple has tested numerous prototypes and is in the late stages of what is called engineering validation, in which Foxconn workers assemble small numbers of devices while engineers from both firms troubleshoot. If delays occur at this stage it would eat into the time Apple needs to finalize orders for chips and other parts, almost all of which are custom-made for the iPhone. Because of the huge volumes needed, “they can’t wait to make component selections”, said Ron Keith, founder of Supply Chain Resources Group, which works with electronics makers such as Alphabet Inc’s Nest. In March and April, Apple engineers typically work with Foxconn counterparts to set up new assembly lines and do trial runs, before making final adjustments in April and May. The aim is to have production lines up and running in June so others can be added progressively to ramp up output. “It’s very complicated. There are so many variables in the environment, including small factors such as air pollution,” one of the people familiar with the process said. Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, a former Apple engineer and founder of Instrumental, a startup focused on factory automation based in Mountain View, California, said on-the-ground engineering collaboration was critical for new products. “You can fly those engineers somewhere else but there’s knowledge about how you make a product in that environment. It’s not that it can’t be taught but it’s a hard thing to move,” she said. While supply chain experts and industry insiders say Apple still has time to keep its annual iPhone schedule on track, travel restrictions have left it in a tough spot. “There is no face-to-face work being done,” an executive at a semiconductor firm that supplies smartphone companies and works with teams in China said, speaking generally about phone production cycles. “And the word is, that’s probably not going to change for another month at best. You’re really talking about two lost months, which in the consumer electronics cycle is huge.” Source
  13. Apple's 2020 iPhones might come with both sub-6 and mmWave 5G When Apple introduced its iPhone 11 series last year, some were surprised at the lack of support for 5G. Of course, the Cupertino firm has always been slower than its competitors to adopt new network technologies. 5G is expected to arrive in Apple's 2020 lineup of iPhones, and it should be available in all three models. According to a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), at least some of the models will have both sub-6GHz and mmWave support, while a lower-end one will be sub-6 only. This is significant, because at this time, there aren't any devices on the market that can do both. 5G is a combination of sub-6GHz low- and mid-band frequencies, and millimeter waves. Millimeter wave technology is fast, providing speeds in the gigabits, but it can be easily blocked. Low-band sub-6 frequencies can penetrate barriers like walls and windows, but it's slower. A robust 5G network will combine all three of those things. Unfortunately, no one is there yet, from a carrier side or a device side. Sprint's 5G network is sub-6GHz-only, while Verizon is only doing mmWave at the moment. T-Mobile is the closest, recently launching nationwide 5G on its low-band 600MHz spectrum, having mmWave in select cities, and on the verge of merging with Sprint. But at the same time, T-Mobile doesn't have any devices that support sub-6 and mmWave. There's another issue here though, which is that Apple usually sells unlocked phones, meaning that users can just pop in whatever SIM they want from whatever carrier. This is also something that's not yet available on the 5G market. All of the 5G phones we have now are tuned to that specific carrier's frequencies. Of course, Apple has until this fall to figure it out, with Kuo predicting that the 2020 iPhones will ship exactly when they always do, at the end of Q3 or beginning of Q4. In the summer of last year, Apple announced that it had acquired Intel's cellular modem division, so it should have a head start. Source: Apple's 2020 iPhones might come with both sub-6 and mmWave 5G (Neowin)
  14. The FBI has court permission to access data on the iPhones, but both are password protected. The FBI has asked Apple for assistance in unlocking two iPhones that belonged to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the Saudi air force trainee alleged to have shot and killed three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola in December. In a letter sent to Apple's general counsel and obtained by NBC, the FBI said that investigators "are actively engaging in efforts to 'guess' the relevant passcodes but so far have been unsuccessful." The FBI has court permission to access data on the iPhones, but both are password protected. Apple said in a statement that it has been cooperating with the government's investigation. The case calls to memory the Apple-FBI legal feud of 2016, in which the Justice Department sought to compel Apple to build a backdoor that would've bypassed the encryption on an iPhone that belonged to Syed Farook, who with his wife Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December 2015. Apple argued it couldn't access the shooter's iPhone 5c because of the device's encryption, but the FBI sought a court order that would've forced Apple to rework its software to bypass the encryption. Apple said at the time that it would "set a dangerous precedent" if it was forced to backdoor one of its products. The government eventually dropped the case when it unlocked the iPhone with the help of an unnamed third party. It was later revealed that the FBI spent over a million dollars to hack the device. Source
  15. Apple has stopped selling the ‘lower priced’ smartphones iPhone SE, 6, 6 Plus and 6s Plus in India. Apple has taken four of its ‘lower priced’ smartphones off the shelves in India, making it more expensive to buy an entry-level iPhone. As part of its new strategy to focus on driving value in India instead of chasing volumes, Apple has stopped selling the iPhone SE, 6, 6Plus and 6sPlus, three senior industry executives said. This will increase the entry level price of an iPhone in India by almost Rs 8,000. The executives said supplies of these models stopped last month. Apple’s distributors and sales team have informed traders that the new entry model will be the iPhone 6s, as and when the existing stock of the earlier models gets sold. The iPhone 6s currently sells for about Rs 29,500, while the iPhone SE, the earlier entry model, used to sell for Rs 21,000-22,000. The four models are out of stock on Amazon India, while on Flipkart, the iPhone SE and 6Plus are out of stock and not all variants of the other two models are available. All four models continue to be listed as available in the US, according to Apple’s website. The decision was taken after Apple improved its revenue and profit in India in 2018-19, even though iPhone sales volumes took a hit, with the focus more on pushing the latest and higher-priced models. An industry executive said Apple India’s sales in the April-June quarter had gone up after it undertook apromotion to drop iPhone XR prices. Apple is yet to file its India financials for FY19 with the Registrar of Companies. In FY18, Apple India’s revenue increased 12% to Rs 13,097 crore while net profit more than doubled to Rs 896 crore, as per RoC disclosures. Cupertino, California-based Apple reduced the number of distributors in India to two from five last year and decided to rein in arbitrary discounts to reinforce the brand’s premium. “Cupertino does not want Apple India to chase volumes by discounting at the cost of profit,” said one leading trade partner of Apple. “These models which are being phased out will increase the average selling price of iPhones in India and boost both profit and revenue.” Apple India declined to comment on the matter. Apple used to assemble the iPhone SE in India along with the 6s and 7. The idle capacity may now be used to expand production of other models, one executive said. Another executive said Apple has certainly not given up on the potential of the Indian market and will continue to roll out affordability programmes like buy-back and cashback offers. The company will localise its upcoming iPhone operating system iOS 13 for the first time for Indian consumers, with support for 22 Indian languages, maps for navigation and virtual assistant Siri, which can now talk and understand Indian English. “These initiatives highlight how Apple still considers India an important market for business. Just that the priority has changed from just selling a box to improving overall-sales experience, brand positioning and financials,” he said. Analysts estimated that iPhone shipments fell in India last year and continue to plunge this year. The company, however, has expanded its iPhone assembling operations in the country and soon plans to start offering the newer and super-premium models too. Source
  16. Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn says it has enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. market outside of China if the current trade war between the two countries intensifies. That's according to Foxconn board nominee and semiconductor division chief Young Liu, who made the comments at an investor briefing in Taipei on Tuesday, reports Bloomberg. As the U.S.-China trade war gets more unpredictable, Foxconn – also known as Hon Hai – will "fully support Apple if it needs to adjust its production," he said. "Twenty-five percent of our production capacity is outside of China and we can help Apple respond to its needs in the U.S. market," said Liu, adding that investments are now being made in India for Apple. "We have enough capacity to meet Apple’s demand." Liu conceded that Apple has not given its Taiwanese partner instructions to move production out of China, but he said Foxconn is "capable of moving lines elsewhere according to customers' need." The Hon Hai senior executive said it will respond swiftly and rely on localized manufacturing in response to the trade war, just as it saw the need to have a base in the U.S. two years ago before the trade dispute began. Foxconn has been considering expanding its production plants in India as a way to diversify its supply chain away from China, where most of the Taiwan-based firm's facilities currently reside. Apple manufactures most of its iPhones through Foxconn, but the latter's growing India base provides security in the face of Apple's vulnerability to rising U.S.-China tensions over trade and technology. Foxconn already has plants in India, and in late 2017 it was reported that the firm would invest around $356 million to expand its facilities there to begin assembling Apple's high-end iPhones. Manufacturing iPhones in India could help Apple lower prices by allowing it to avoid a tariff that adds 20 percent to devices imported from China. Source
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