Home  ›  Phones  ›


Phones & Info News Forums  

Governments Demand, Receive Push Notification Data from Apple, Google

Wednesday, 11:38 AM   by Rich Brome

A US Senator has written a public letter bringing to light the practice of governments demanding smartphones' push notification records from Apple and Google, and receiving that information. The US government has prevented Apple and Google from disclosing this practice, but Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is asking the Department of Justice to allow Apple and Google to disclose information about this to their customers. Already, in response to the letter, Apple has acknowledged the practice and pledged to include information about it in its next transparency report. On both iPhones and Android phones, app push notifications are routed via Apple or Google servers.

Apple Bringing Qi2 Support to iPhone 13, 14

Wednesday, 11:24 AM   by Rich Brome

iOS 17.2 adds support for the new Qi2 wireless charging standard to the previous two generations of iPhones. Qi2 is based on Apple's proprietary MagSafe, which itself is based on the older Qi standard. MagSafe and Qi2 both feature magnets to ensure proper alignment, as well as faster charging speeds compared to Qi. The iPhone 15 series already supports Qi2. iOS 17.2 also includes a fix for wireless charging issues that some iPhone 15 owners have experienced in certain models of cars.

Apple, Goldman Sachs to End Apple Card Partnership

Nov 28, 2023, 6:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple plans to part ways with Goldman Sachs — the financial giant behind the Apple Card credit card — in the next 12–15 months, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is not clear if Apple has another financial institution lined up to take over, or how the Card might change, or possibly be discontinued.

Sunbird Pulls its iMessage App for Android

Nov 21, 2023, 12:40 PM   by Rich Brome

Sunbird has pulled its app from the Google Play Store, and Nothing has pulled its version of the app, following significant privacy issues. Sunbird offered a way for Android users to communicate with iPhone users via Apple's proprietary iMessage platform. However several researchers and journalists discovered that the app wasn't encrypted in ways Sunbird promised, and other people's private messages could be accessed with relative ease. Services like Sunbird will become less necessary in a year, when Apple adds support in iOS for the RCS rich messaging standard already used by most Android phones.

Apple Caves on Messaging, Will Support RCS Industry Standard

Nov 16, 2023, 1:26 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Nov 17, 2023, 10:45 AM

Apple has issued a statement announcing that it will support RCS — the industry standard for enhanced messaging — in late 2024, which likely means in iOS 18. This will enable features like read receipts, typing indicators, and high-quality media with users of other platforms, including Android. Android already supports RCS as its default enhanced messaging platform. Green bubbles on iPhones won't be going away, though. Apple confirmed that blue bubbles will continue to be exclusive to iMessage messages. Google and some governments have been pressuring Apple to provide this kind interoperability in recent months. The full statement from Apple, provided to 9to5Mac, reads: "Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users."

Apple Won't Charge for Satellite SOS Service Before 2025

Nov 15, 2023, 11:46 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Nov 15, 2023, 12:11 PM

iPhone 14 owners who activated their phone prior to today will receive three free years of Emergency SOS via Satellite service instead of the usual two. Other iPhone 14 and 15 owners will continue to receive two free years of service. The move implies that Apple's plans to start charging for the service in late 2024 have been delayed. Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite service lets users reach emergency services when out of cellular range. It can also be used to share the user's location with friends and/or family while off the grid.

Nothing Brings iMessage to its Phone (2)

Nov 14, 2023, 11:40 AM   by Rich Brome

Starting Friday, owners of the Nothing Phone (2) will be able to download a new app that will let them access Apple's iMessage platform. The Nothing Chats app is based on the Sunbird service, an app that currently has a 150,000-person waitlist. Nothing's deal with Sunbird lets Nothing Phone (2) users cut the line. According to Sunbird CEO Danny Mizrahi, "for the next few months the only way to get Sunbird is to have a Nothing Phone (2)." The app is a beta version, and indeed the Washington Post found several limitations, such as no message editing, limited Tapbacks and group chat support, and occasionally unreliable message sending. Still, the effort marks the first time an Android phone maker has attempted to support Apple's proprietary messaging platform.

EU Could to Force Apple to Open iMessage

Nov 8, 2023, 12:48 PM   by Rich Brome

Google and a group of European mobile operators are petitioning the European Union to force Apple to open up its proprietary iMessage platform. The EU has a new Digital Markets law going into effect next year that seeks to regulate "gatekeeper" services of a certain size. Apple is arguing that iMessage falls outside the scope of the law due to the variety of alternative messaging options available. Google, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and others have written a letter arguing that iMessage qualifies as a "core platform service". The decision could hinge on whether iMessage is an important channel for businesses to communicate with their customers.

Apple Watch Series 9 Detects Finger Gestures, Brings Siri On-Device

Sep 12, 2023, 3:17 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has announced Apple Watch Series 9, a major upgrade of the internal components to enable new features. The new S9 chip includes a quad-core neural engine with twice the machine learning performance. This enables the Siri voice assistant to run locally on the device instead of relying on the cloud. This, in turn, allows Siri to query and update personal health data. Another major new feature is the finger double-tap gesture. Using the new neural engine and nearly all of the Watch's sensors, the Series 9 can detect when you touch your thumb to your index finger. Doing this twice quickly can trigger certain actions, such an answering a call, pausing music, snoozing an alarm, or taking a photo with the Camera Remote app. The new neural engine also enables a new dictation engine that's 25% more accurate. A new UWB chip (the same second-gen chip as in the new iPhone 15 series) enables precision finding for locating a lost iPhone. The UWB also allows the Watch to automatically pop up media controls when you approach a HomePod. The display has been improved to reach 2000 nits of brightness, twice as bright as before. It can also get as dim as 1 nit, for dark environments like a theater. The Apple Watch also now supports NameDrop (which lets you share contact info by bringing two Apple devices close together.) The new Apple Watch Ultra 2 brings all of these improvements and features to the Ultra, and further boosts display brightness to 3000 nits, making it the brightest display Apple has ever put in any product. Apple says the new watches are its first products that are 100% carbon neutral (depending on band choice). Apple is eliminating leather from its lineup, including watch bands. Instead it has come up with FineWoven, a "luxurious and durable microtwill" that has "a suedelike feel". All new Apple products are being designed to incorporate more recycled material than ever, including watch bands, and Apple has partnered with Nike and Hermès on several new non-leather bands that are more environmentally friendly. As usual, the standard Apple Watch comes in two sizes. The Series 9 starts at $399, while the Apple Watch Ultra 2 starts at $799. All of the new watches are available for order today, with full availability next Friday, Sept. 22nd.

iPhone 15 Series Goes All-In on USB-C and Dynamic Island

Sep 12, 2023, 2:19 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has revealed the iPhone 15 series, which moves to a USB-C connector and brings several key features from last year's Pro models to the more-affordable standard models. These include the pill-shaped sensor cutout in the display that Apple calls Dynamic Island, a brighter display that can reach 2000 nits, a 48 megapixel main camera, and the A16 Bionic processor chip. The Pro models move to a titanium outer frame and a new A17 Pro chip that uses a cutting-edge 3nm manufacturing process. The A17 Pro has faster graphics with ray-tracing as well as a 2x faster Neural Engine for on-device machine learning. As with last year, both standard and Pro models come in two sizes: a 6.1-inch display and a 6.7-inch display. The larger models also include a larger battery. The larger iPhone 15 Pro Max also steps up from a 3x tele camera to a 5x. That camera features 3D sensor-shift OIS, a first in a phone. The titanium frame on the Pro models is stronger and lighter, granting them lighter weight and a slightly smaller physical size due to thinner bezels around the display. All models feature durable ceramic shield display glass and a frame with slightly rounded edges for a more comfortable feel in hand. The industry-standard USB-C connector replaces Apple's proprietary Lightning connector. On the iPhone 15 series, it supports charging, data, audio, and video (up to 4K). Apple is launching new wired earbuds and AirPods Pro for the new connector. On the Pro models, the connector supports USB 3 for data rates up to 10 Gbps. The Pro models can even record ProRes video directly to external storage. The 48 megapixel main cameras that are now standard across the lineup have a new default mode that captures both a 48 megapixel image and a higher-quality 12 megapixel image using pixing binning, then combines them to output a 24 megapixel photo with a better balance of quality and resolution. The standard models do not include a dedicated telephoto camera (like the Pros), but still offer 2x tele mode thanks to the higher-resolution main sensor. Video mode supports smooth zooming while filming. In standard Photo mode, the camera app now automatically detects a portrait situation (including of a pet) and captures a depth map. This lets you turn the photo into a portrait with bokeh (blurred background) after the fact, and even choose which part is in focus. Apple has also added a new nano-coating to the camera lenses to reduce lens flare in photos, a common complaint with recent iPhone models. A new, 2nd-generation UWB chip has longer range and enables a precision finding feature for other people you know with iPhones. A new "Voice Isolation" feature powered by machine learning eliminates background noise coming from your side while on a phone call. The emergency satellite features have been expanded to include roadside assistance from AAA; that service is now included with a AAA membership. The Pro models have a few other tweaks, such as a customizable action button replacing the silent switch, and rear glass that's easier to remove for better repairability. The Pro models can also capture 3D "Spacial Video" for Apple's new Vision Pro AR headset, plus log encoding for professional video capture and color grading. Finally, the Pro models support Wi-Fi 6E and Thread. The iPhone 15 starts at $799 while the larger Plus starts at $899, both with 128 GB of storage. The iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 (128 GB) while the 15 Pro Max starts at $1199 (256 GB). The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus come in black or one of four pastel colors: blue, green, yellow, or pink. The Pro models come in black, white, blue or "natural titanium". Pre-orders start this Friday, with full availability a week later on Sept. 22.

continued ▻

Apple to Continue Using Qualcomm Modem Chips in iPhones

Sep 11, 2023, 7:27 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has extended its contract with Qualcomm to supply 5G modem chips for iPhones through 2026. Apple has been attempting to develop its own 5G modem chips, and purchased Intel's phone chip business in 2019 for $1 billion to further that effort. While rumors suggested Apple planned to debut its own 5G chips this year or next, the new deal with Qualcomm suggests that project is delayed. Apple could still debut its own 5G chip before 2026, but may phase in the change over time, across different iPhone models and/or different markets. Apple used modems from different suppliers in the iPhone 7 series, with the Qualcomm modems offering superior performance.

Apple Issues Urgent iOS Patch for Major Security Vulnerability

Sep 8, 2023, 7:37 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 8, 2023, 7:43 AM

Apple has released iOS 16.6.1 for iPhones, which fixes an "actively exploited zero-click vulnerability". All iPhone and iPad owners should update their OS software immediately, as this is one of the most severe types of security issues. The vulnerability can be exploited with zero interaction from the victim; the attacker merely needs to send an iMessage with a maliciously crafted image. The Citizen Lab discovered the vulnerability — which they have dubbed "Blastpass" — being actively exploited in the wild and used to install NSO Group's Pegasus "mercenary spyware", which gives the attacker nearly complete access to the target device. Citizen Lab notes that iPhones in Lockdown Mode would not have been vulnerable to this exploit. Lockdown Mode is an existing feature of iOS that cuts off likely attack vectors. It's designed for people likely to be targeted for who they are or what they do. This particular exploit involves "a validation issue" with the PassKit API in Wallet, in combination with a buffer overflow issue in Apple's image-processing framework. Buffer overflows are a common cause of security vulnerabilities across most OSes.

Apple Commits to Arm Through 2040

Sep 6, 2023, 7:30 AM   by Rich Brome

New filings related to Arm's planned initial public offering (IPO) reveal that Apple has signed a deal with the company that "extends beyond 2040". Apple licenses Arm chip technology which it then customizes to create the A-series processor chips that are the heart of iPhones and iPads. More recently, Apple also moved its Mac computers to M-series "Apple Silicon" chips which are also based on Arm technology. Other major mobile chip companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek also license Arm technology as the basis for their chip designs. As Arm prepares to go public, Apple is among the strategic investors who has agreed to buy shares in the IPO.

Qualcomm Invests in Non-Arm Chip Designs

Aug 7, 2023, 9:57 AM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm is one of several major electronics companies teaming up on a new joint venture to advance the RISC-V architecture. RISC-V is an open-source alternative to the Arm architecture, which is the basis for the chips that power most mobile devices today. Arm is a British company that develops reference designs for the cores at the heart the chips that power most phones. Both Qualcomm and Apple currently license Arm designs for their own chips. Earlier this year, Google announced long-term plans to make Android compatible with RISC-V architectures. Qualcomm says "initial application focus will be automotive, but with an eventual expansion to include mobile and IoT." The new company will be based in Germany. Other partners in the joint venture include Bosch, Infineon, Nordic Semiconductors, and NXP.

iOS 17 Public Beta Now Available

Jul 12, 2023, 1:28 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released the first public beta test version of iOS 17 for iPhones. The software was announced a month ago and the final version is due this fall. The update brings a long list of small new features, including StandBy, Live Voicemail, Check In, Offline Maps, better auto-correct, and new protections against unwanted nude images. As usual, beta software tends to have bugs and should not be installed on a device you depend on. People wishing to try out the software can head to the Apple Beta Software Program web site to sign up and enroll a specific device to receive the iOS 17 beta.

iOS 17 Brings Comprehensive Protection Against Unwanted Nude Images

Jun 7, 2023, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple's forthcoming iOS 17 will include a suite of new options to protect both children and adults from inappropriate and/or unwanted sexual content. The features are a significant expansion of the technology already available via Communication Safety. Currently, parents can enable Communication Safety for their kids, which intervenes when it detects nudity in photos in the Messages app, either sending or receiving. In iOS 17, this protection expands to video content, AirDrop, FaceTime video messages, Contact Posters in the Phone app, and the Photos picker. In addition, a new API lets developers add Communication Safety to third-party apps. For adults, this same technology has been repackaged as a separate feature called Sensitive Content Warning. It only applies to receiving images and videos in Messages, AirDrop, a FaceTime video message, and the Phone app when receiving a Contact Poster. It's an optional feature that can be turned on in Privacy & Security settings. When enabled, sensitive photos are blurred by default, but can still be viewed with an extra step. Both Communication Safety and Sensitive Content Warning use on-device processing, so no content is uploaded to Apple nor any other party.

iPhones Gain News Powers Paired with TVs

Jun 5, 2023, 1:19 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 5, 2023, 2:06 PM

Apple today announced two distinct new features that will let iPhones do more with full-size TVs. FaceTime on tvOS lets you make FaceTime calls on your TV with Apple TV. Continuity Camera lets your iPhone or iPad provide the camera for the call. The feature supports Center Stage, which automatically adjusts the framing to keep you centered. Separately, AirPlay for Hotels will make it easier to watch your own media on the full-size TV in select hotels. Simply scanning a QR code displayed on the TV will automatically connect your iPhone to the hotel Wi-Fi and pair the phone with the TV for displaying content. The feature will roll out starting later this year.

iOS 17 Adds StandBy, Live Voicemail, Check In

Jun 5, 2023, 12:44 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 5, 2023, 1:59 PM

Apple has announced iOS 17, due in the fall. It includes a long list of new features. StandBy is a new interface mode that activates when you turn the iPhone 90º while idle. It acts like a home smart display, offering a clock, widgets, photos, music, and a special interface for Siri. The Phone app adds contact Posters, which let you customize a full-screen photo with text for each contact, displayed during incoming calls and across the OS. Live Voicemail displays a live transcript as someone leaves you a voicemail message. FaceTime now includes video voicemail. Autocorrect now uses more intelligent machine learning, considers sentence context, and adds sentence auto-complete and personalized learning. Apple also promises fewer "ducking" mistakes. Check In lets someone receive automatic updates on your trip to a safe destination. It provides interactive prompts if you're running late. If you're late and not responding, (and therefore potentially in trouble,) it automatically lets your trusted contact know, along with location and battery level. Messages lets you refine searches, and "catch up" jumps to the last unread message for you. AirDrop now includes NameDrop for sharing contact info, and AirDrop can now be triggered by simply bringing two iPhones very close together. Journal is a new app for journaling. It includes machine-learning-powered Suggestions based on your activity to inspire a new journal entry. Apple has also improved Siri to respond to just "Siri", instead of "Hey Siri". Finally, the Maps app now supports Offline Maps. The first developer beta of iOS 17 is available today.

Apple Previews Major New Accessibility Features for iOS

May 17, 2023, 9:34 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple today previewed several new accessibility features that are coming to iPhone and iPad later this year. The major new features address those with speech, cognitive, and vision disabilities. Live Speech lets users type to speak out loud. The feature works during phone or FaceTime calls, or on its own for in-person conversations. It includes bookmarks for quick access to frequently-used phrases. Personal Voice is an enhancement to Live Speech that lets users create a voice that sounds like them. This is for users at risk of losing their ability to speak, such as those with a recent diagnosis of ALS. Assistive Access replaces most of iOS with a dramatically simplified interface for those with cognitive disabilities. It presents large tiles for Music, Calls, Messages, Photos, and Camera, and a simplified interface within each of those apps. A trusted supporter can customize the experience. "For example, for users who prefer communicating visually, Messages includes an emoji-only keyboard and the option to record a video message". Point and Speak will read aloud any text that your finger points to when using Detection Mode in the Magnifier app. "For example, while using a household appliance — such as a microwave — Point and Speak [will] announce the text on each button as users move their finger across the keypad." Detection Mode already announces and describes whatever is in front of the camera, and is a feature of the existing Magnifier app, which helps those with low vision navigate their physical environment. Other improvements include phonetic suggestions for similar-sounding words in Voice Control, and adjustable speech rate for Siri (0.8x – 2x) in VoiceOver.

Apple and Google Collaborate on Anti-Stalker Tech

May 2, 2023, 11:56 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple and Google have announced a new industry standard that will enable cross-platform alerts when people are potentially being tracked without their consent using any popular Bluetooth location-tracking device, regardless of manufacturer. For example, this would allow someone to receive an alert on their Android phone when an unknown Apple AirTag seems to be following them, or the same for an Apple iPhone and a Samsung SmartTag. Current anti-stalker features are either siloed in one company's ecosystem or require the manual download and use of a special app. This new standard will eventually come baked right into both iOS and Android. Besides Apple and Google, "Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification, which offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers, should they choose to build these capabilities into their products." Today marks the start of a three-month comment period on the draft standard. The companies plan to finalize the standard by the end of 2023 and implement it "in future versions" of iOS and Android.

Apple Ups Commitment to use Recycled Materials

Apr 13, 2023, 1:08 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has set an ambitious new target of using 100% recycled cobalt in all Apple-designed batteries by 2025. Also by 2025, the company promises to use 100% recycled rare earth elements in its magnets, as well as 100% recycled tin solder and gold plating in its circuit boards. The company is also working to eliminate all plastic — even screen films, labels, and lamination — from its packaging by 2025. The company has already made significant progress toward these goals. In 2022, 25% of all cobalt and 73% of rare earth elements found in Apple products came from recycled material, as well as 38% of tin used in circuit boards. Apple's product packaging already consists of only 4% plastic, mostly in labels and lamination.

iOS Update Brings New Emoji, HomeKit Fixes

Mar 27, 2023, 4:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released iOS 16.4, an update to its smartphone software that brings bug fixes as well as new emoji. Shaking face and pushing hand (left and right) have been added, as well as wireless (Wi-Fi), and the Khanda, the symbol of the Sikhism. Other new symbols include Donkey, Moose, Goose, Wing, Jellyfish, Hyacinth, Pea Pod, Ginger, Folding Hand Fan, Hair Pick, Flute, and Maracas. Finally, the heart emoji also now comes in pink, light blue, and grey. The update also promises to fix issues upgrading to the new version of the HomeKit system that brings compatibility with the new Matter industry standard for smart homes.

iPhone 14 Now Comes in Yellow

Mar 7, 2023, 12:18 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has introduced a new yellow color option for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. It "will be available to pre-order this Friday, March 10, with availability starting Tuesday, March 14."

iOS 16.3.1 Fixes Important Security Issues

Feb 14, 2023, 1:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released security patches for most of its devices and OSes, including iOS, that users should install immediately. They fix several issues, including one where "processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution."

Apple Brings Audiobooks to Smaller Titles Using AI Narration

Jan 5, 2023, 12:49 PM   by Rich Brome

More obscure book titles will now be available in audiobook format in Apple Books thanks to a new AI-powered digital narration service. Commissioning voice actors and producing audiobooks can be expensive, so typically only very popular, mainstream books get the audio treatment. This new service makes audiobooks practical for independent publishers and smaller titles. In Apple Books, such titles are already available and carry the label "Narrated by Apple Books".

New Qi2 Wireless Charging Standard Builds on Apple's MagSafe

Jan 4, 2023, 11:02 AM   by Rich Brome

The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) has announced Qi2 (pronounced "chee two"), a new version of the popular Qi wireless charging standard. It incorporates the magnetic alignment technology that Apple added to its Qi charging devices, which Apple calls MagSafe. Apple is a WPC member and contributed MagSafe as the basis for the new Magnetic Power Profile in Qi2. This enables perfect alignment for faster charging. Better alignment also improves energy efficiency and safety. Qi2 will remain backward-compatible with Qi, but users may experience faster charging when using a Qi2 Certified phone on a Qi2 charger.   Qi2 Certified mobile phones and chargers are expected to be available for the 2023 holiday season.

Apple Will Offer End-to-End Encryption for Cloud Data, Including Backups

Dec 9, 2022, 12:45 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple is introducing several new security-focused features this week. The optional features give users new ways to secure their accounts and protect their data. A feature Apple calls Advanced Data Protection for iCloud will let users end-to-end (E2E) encrypt nine additional types of cloud data, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos. This is beyond the 14 categories already E2E encrypted by default. E2E ensures that personal data stays encrypted in transit to/from the cloud, and while stored in the cloud, in such a way that not even Apple can decrypt it. Data would also be protected in the event Apple suffers a cloud security breach. This could present a challenge for law enforcement, which sometimes subpoenas Apple for iCloud data of suspects, including iPhone backups. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is in beta now, and will be available to US users by the end of the year. Apple will also now support hardware security keys for two-factor login using Apple ID. Hardware security keys provide a much higher level of security compared to other types of two-factor authentication. This feature "will be available globally in early 2023." iMessage Contact Key Verification is intended for "users who face extraordinary digital threats — such as journalists, human rights activists, and members of government". The feature helps users "verify that they are messaging only with the people they intend". A unique Contact Verification Code confirms user identity and can be confirmed via other channels, including in person. Users with the feature enabled will also "receive automatic alerts if an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop". This feature will be available "globally in 2023."

TSMC to Make 3nm Chips in US

Nov 28, 2022, 10:05 AM   by Rich Brome

TSMC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of the world's most advanced chips, will bring its newest, most advanced chip production to US soil. The company had already announced plans for a 5-nanometer chip plant in Arizona. (The most advanced chips in Apple and Android phones currently use 4-nanometer technology. In chips, smaller is better.) Now TSMC will also build a next-generation 3-nanometer plant at the same Arizona location. The company is spending $12 billion on the 5nm plant, which is expected to start production in 2024. The company's founder, Morris Chang, made the announcement about the 3nm plant, adding that "the cost of manufacturing chips in the US will be at least 55% higher than in Taiwan". However Apple and other major customers are increasingly looking to diversify their supply chains globally. Regional tensions between Taiwan and China present a risk for companies like Apple and Qualcomm when all of the most advanced chips are made exclusively in Taiwan.

Apple Launches Satellite SOS Service

Nov 15, 2022, 12:58 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Nov 15, 2022, 2:28 PM

Apple's new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is now available to use in the US and Canada. The feature is exclusive to the new iPhone 14 series. It enables short messages to be sent to local emergency dispatchers where and when cellular and Wi-Fi are unavailable. The feature includes a demo mode that lets users try out the feature connecting to a real satellite, but without bothering emergency services. There is also one non-emergency feature: users can share their location with others while off-grid using the Find My app. Apple promises to launch the service in France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK by December.

Square Launches Tap to Pay on iPhone

Sep 29, 2022, 10:11 AM   by Rich Brome

The Square Point of Sale app now fully supports Tap to Pay on iPhone, allowing any iPhone (11 or newer) to act as a payment terminal able to accept NFC (tap) payments without any additional hardware. Previously, merchants needed a separate hardware accessory to accept any kind of in-person card or tap payments. Tap to Pay on iPhone is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, as well as physical credit and debit cards with a contactless chip. The feature carries no additional cost to the seller. Apple announced Tap to Pay on iPhone in February. Stripe and Shopify also support the feature.

iOS 16.0.2 Fixes Major Bugs

Sep 22, 2022, 4:06 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple released iOS 16.0.2 today. It fixes two high-profile bugs: one that cause the camera to loudly "vibrate and cause blurry photos" when using third-party apps on iPhone 14 Pro models, and another that caused excessive security prompts when copying and pasting between apps.

iOS 16 Available Now

Sep 12, 2022, 12:15 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released the final version of iOS 16 as free update for iPhone 8 and newer. The new software has many new features, the most obvious of which is a completely new, customizable lock screen.

iOS 16 Coming Monday

Sep 8, 2022, 10:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has quietly (in a footnote) announced that iOS 16 will be available as a free update on Sept. 12th. iOS 16 brings a new, more customizable lock screen as well as message editing and more.

Apple Watch Goes Ultra

Sep 7, 2022, 4:31 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has refreshed its Apple Watch lineup with Series 8, a new Watch SE, and added a larger, more rugged Apple Watch Ultra for athletes and extreme adventurers.

  • Apple Watch Series 8 has two main upgrades over Series 7: temperature sensors and Crash Detection. The temperature sensors are primarily for detecting ovulation. Two sensors, (one to compensate for ambient changes,) take readings every five minutes during sleep. This is used to detect biphasic shift, so the watch can provide retrospective alerts about ovulation. It can also detect cycle deviation, which could indicate a serious health issue. Crash Detection uses upgraded sensors to detect a severe car crash and automatically call for help. The features uses an "improved" 3-axis gyroscope, high-g-force accelerometer, and the barometer (to detect airbag deployment). It samples 3000 times per second, but only when it detects you are in a moving car. When it detects a crash, it calls 911, shares your location, and calls your emergency contacts. The design and other features are similar to the Series 7. Color choices (for aluminum) are: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Product Red. It starts at $399 for the smaller 41mm size, in aluminum, without cellular. Add $30 for the larger 45mm size. Add $100 for cellular. Add $300 for stainless steel. It ships Sept. 16th.
  • Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen.) is just $249, or $299 with cellular. It also gains Crash Detection, and it's powered by the same 8th-gen chip as the Series 8, making it 20% faster than the 1st gen. Watch SE. It will be available in Midnight, Starlight, or Silver. Like the Series 8, you can order today and it ships Sept. 16th.
  • Apple Watch Ultra (shown) has a flat sapphire crystal face and ultra-rugged titanium body. It adds a new, customizable action button, alongside larger standard controls designed to work with gloves. Improved GPS now supports the L5 band for better performance in challenging areas such as urban races. A new compass app includes waypoints on the face and automatic backtracking. A bigger battery offers 36 hours of battery life. It's twice as waterproof, able to withstand depths of up to 100m, and designed for SCUBA diving at up to 40m. It automatically shows a depth gauge when submerged, and Apple teamed with Huish Outdoors to develop Oceanic+, an app that turns the watch into a dive computer. Its rugged cred includes MIL-STD 810H rating for low pressure (altitude), high temperature, low temperature, temperature shock, rain, humidity, sand and dust, freeze/thaw, ice/freezing rain, shock, vibration, and more. It has three mics and two speakers for clearer calls (cellular is standard). Those speakers can emit an 86 dB emergency siren that can be heard 600 feet away. A software update coming this fall will enable a new 60-hour low-power mode, as well as automatic detection when you arrive at a running track, for more accurate run tracking in that environment. It also includes all of the features of the Series 8. Apple designed three new types of bands for the Ultra, tailored for different activities. The Alpine Loop is for "outdoor adventurers", and is rugged and secure. The Trail Loop is for "endurance athletes", and is light, thin, stretchy, and easy to adjust. The Ocean Band is for "water sports and recreational diving", and has a stretchy design that can fit over a wetsuit, with a titanium buckle to keep it secure. The Apple watch Ultra comes in one size (49mm) and one color (titanium). It costs $799 and ships Sept. 23rd.
Apple also revealed that watchOS 9 will bring new features to older Apple Watches. Series 4 and newer will gain a new Low Power mode. Series 5 and newer with cellular will gain international roaming on over 30 carriers globally.

2nd-Gen AirPods Pro Improve ANC, Transparency Mode

Sep 7, 2022, 3:01 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has revealed its 2nd-generation AirPods Pro, now with ANC (active noise cancellation) that can cancel 2x the noise. It has has a revamped transparency mode called Adaptive Transparency, which samples outside sound 48,000 times per second so it can react quickly to dampen sudden loud noises. These features are thanks to a new Apple H2 chip, which also improves battery life 33%, to 6 hours of listening time. You can now adjust volume by swiping up or down on the stalk. The case is also upgraded, offering 6 more hours of battery life (for 30 total), precision finding when lost thanks to a U1 UWB chip, and a speaker that can also help locate the case when lost. The case can also now charge from a Apple Watch charger. A Personalized Spatial Audio feature uses the TrueDepth camera on your iPhone to create a 3D map of your unique ears, enabling more personalized sound. Finally, a new XS ear tip size enables a better fit for some users. The AirPods Pro 2nd Gen. will run $249 and ship Sept. 23rd.

iPhone 14 Plus Offers a Big Screen For Less

Sep 7, 2022, 2:29 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has revealed the iPhone 14 series, with new features, improved specs, and new size options. In place of a Mini option, the iPhone 14 will come in the same 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screen size options as the Pro models. The larger model is called the iPhone 14 Plus, while the Pro models keep the same screen sizes and naming scheme (Pro and Pro Max) as last year. All of the new iPhone 14 models include at least 2x better low-light performance on all cameras, including front cameras. They also include Emergency SOS via Satellite and Crash Detection, and move completely to eSIM, eliminating physical SIM cards. The Pro models move from a notched display design to a "pill" shape for the TrueDepth camera-and-sensor system, which changes shape via software in a feature Apple calls Dynamic Island. Emergency SOS via Satellite uses a low-bandwidth satellite data network. It requires you to point the phone at the satellite, which the interface guides you through. It only supports short messages sent at low speed, even using 3x compression. Messages may take 15 seconds or up to a few minutes to send. The interface guides you through creating a concise message that contains the info emergency responders will need to provide help. For 911 call centers that can't receive text messages directly, Apple will call that center and relay your message. The service also supports non-emergency usage, but only in the form of location sharing. The feature will be available first in the US and Canada starting in November, and will be free for the first two years. Crash Detection utilizes a new high dynamic range gyroscope and dual-core accelerometer to automatically detect a car crash and alert emergency services. The new dual eSIM works with all major US carriers and can be set up even without Wi-Fi. The 12 megapixel main camera has a larger sensor and faster lens for 49% better low-light performance in low light via hardware alone, while Deep Fusion has been improved and renamed Photonic Engine, boosting low-light performance 2x on all cameras, for a total boost of 2.5x on the main camera. The front camera is also improved and now has auto-focus. A new Action Mode provides gimbal-like stabilization for video. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus do not feature an all-new chip like the Pro models, instead using an A15 Bionic chip like last year's models. However, Apple has redesigned the aluminum body to provide better thermals, which may improve peak chip performance. Apple says the iPhone 14 Plus has the best battery life ever for an iPhone. The 14 series will come in five colors: blue, purple, Midnight, Starlight, and Product Red. The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have all the features of the standard iPhone 14 models, plus the new Dynamic Island display design, always-on display, better display specs, better cameras, a new A16 Bionic chip, and stainless steel bodies. The Dynamic Island takes up 30% less space than Apple's notch. Via software, the black pill area can expand a little to the sides to show background activity status, or split in two to show two different activities. For more important alerts or interactive controls, it can expand vertically as well. An API will allow third-party apps to access the Dynamic Island display area, such as a sports app showing a live-updating game score. The always-on display uses LPTO dimming and refresh down to 1 Hz to keep battery life in check. Unlike some always-on displays, it supports widgets and can show wallpaper over the whole display. The display also has thinner bezels and is (Apple claims) the brightest display on any smartphone, offering up to 2,000 nits peak brightness outdoors. The main camera is now 48 megapixel, enabling a high-quality 2x tele mode while leaving the dedicated telephoto camera to 3x. The camera also offers a 48-megapixel ProRAW mode. The wide camera offers 3x better low-light performance, while the other cameras offer 2x better. A sophisticated new LED flash offers nine discrete LEDS shining through a special lens that lets it effectively "zoom" to match the current focal length. The new A16 Bionic chip engages the whole chip for photography, able to perform 4 trillion operations per photo. It uses a 4nm manufacturing process that improves power efficiency. The Pro and Pro Max will be available in black, silver, gold, and purple. The iPhone 14 will start at $799, the iPhone 14 Plus: $899, the iPhone 14 Pro: $999, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,099. All models will be available with 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage, while the Pro series also gets a 1 TB option. Pre-orders start Friday, September 9th. Most models ship September 16th, except the 14 Plus which will ship October 7th.

continued ▻

Apple Issues Critical iOS Security Update

Aug 19, 2022, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

A potentially serious security flaw has been found in iOS and Apple's WebKit web browser software. It is recommended that all iPhone users update to iOS 15.6.1 immediately to fix the issue. The same issues affect most Apple software, including iPadOS and macOS. Apple hasn't released many details, giving users time to update before more bad actors get details they could use to exploit it. But Apple says it "is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited." Presumably this means an advanced attacker, such as a state, may have already used this zero-day exploit on a high-profile target. Most users are not at risk yet, but that could change quickly as details emerge. The issue is an "out-of-bounds [memory] write issue" that gives an application the ability "to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges". Basically, it's one of the more serious security issues you can find in modern software. The issue was reported to Apple by an anonymous researcher.

Apple Tweaks iMessage's New Edit and Unsend Features

Jul 28, 2022, 9:07 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released the fourth beta version of iOS 16, and it makes significant changes to the way Edit and Unsend work in the Messages app. There is now just a two-minute window to unsend an iMessage, down from 15 before. There is also now a full edit history available to all parties. Further, iMessage editing is now limited to five edits. As before, editing is only available for 15 minutes after the initial iMessage is sent. The final version of iOS 16 is expected to be released this fall.

iOS 16 Public Beta Now Available

Jul 11, 2022, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has made a beta version of the forthcoming iOS 16 available to the public. As usual, Apple cautions users to back up their data first and avoid installing beta software on critical devices.

iOS 16's Lockdown Mode Protects Your Phone From Spies

Jul 6, 2022, 3:28 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has revealed a new feature in iOS 16 aimed at "the very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats". The new Lockdown Mode disables certain features and functionality that are most commonly used by the world's most advanced "mercenary spyware" to infiltrate specific phones. Some governments purchase this expensive mercenary spyware from companies like NSO Group, and use it to hack into phones of journalists, activists, rival politicians, and officials of foreign governments. At launch, Lockdown modes will disable most message attachments, link previews, certain complex web technologies (like just-in-time JavaScript compilation), wired connections when iPhone is locked, configuration profiles, and mobile device management (MDM). It will also block incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request. Apple is also creating a new bug bounty category for anyone who can bypass Lockdown Mode, with bounties of up to $2 million, the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry. Finally, Apple is making a $10 million grant "to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware." The grant is being made via the Dignity and Justice Fund, established and advised by the Ford Foundation.

Subscribe to Phone Scoop News with RSS Follow @phonescoop on Threads Follow @phonescoop on Mastodon Phone Scoop on Facebook Follow on Instagram



All content Copyright 2001-2023 Phone Factor, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Content on this site may not be copied or republished without formal permission.