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iOS is a smartphone OS created by Apple, used exclusively on Apple iPhones. It is a closed platform that only runs apps approved by Apple, usually downloaded from Apple's App Store.

by:  Apple

Apple Loosens Some Repair Restrictions

Jun 27, 2024, 2:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has quietly issued a new paper revealing plans to make it easier to repair iPhones and improve functionality when using third-party parts. Currently, when an iPhone detects that a third-party part has been installed, it disables certain features that require calibration. This includes True Tone — which auto-adusts white balance on the display — and battery health metrics. Those restrictions will be lifted starting later this year. Instead, a small warning will be displayed. Apple will also stop requiring a device serial number when purchasing parts via Apple's Self Service Repair store. The changes come as a wave of new "Right To Repair" laws are being passed in multiple US states and countries abroad.

iOS 18 Brings Fast Pairing to 3rd-Party Wireless Accessories

Jun 21, 2024, 1:06 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has quietly introduced a way for third-party wireless accessory makers to implement a new pairing process on iPhone and iPad that's as fast and easy as the one Apple uses for its own AirPods. This "AccessorySetupKit" API is new in iOS 18, currently available in beta for developers. Once users have the manufacturer's app installed, pairing can be as simple as turning on the accessory and bringing it near the phone. A pop-up automatically appears on the phone, and one tap can complete the process, without having to open an app or go into Bluetooth settings. Apple has recently come under government scrutiny in multiple parts of the world for abusing its market position and platform control.

New York State Launches Mobile ID App

Jun 11, 2024, 3:09 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 17, 2024, 4:35 PM

New York is newest US state to offer an official, standards-compliant mobile ID (MiD). The new New York Mobile ID app is available for both Android and iOS. The dedicated app is required for both setup and use; New York's solution is not yet compatible with Apple Wallet nor Google Wallet. During setup, the user scans both their physical ID card and face. The app can then display a personalized QR code any time identity and/or age need to be verified. The code is scanned by the person requesting verification using any standard-compliant verification app. They then choose what information to request, the ID holder gives permission on their device, then the requested information (and that info only) is transmitted wirelessly and automatically verified with the NY DMV. The ID holder does not need to hand over their phone at any time. The verifying device must have an internet connection, but the device of the ID holder can be offline. The TSA currently accepts mobile ID at 28 airports, including all terminals of JFK and LaGuardia in New York City. Businesses that need to check ID can start accepting mobile ID at any time, but verification apps are not yet in widespread use. New York's app is similar to that of California, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, and Virginia. States with mobile IDs that can also be added to mobile wallets are currently: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland.

Apple Intelligence Promises Personalized AI, Requires iPhone 15 Pro

Jun 10, 2024, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple today launched Apple Intelligence, its big generative AI effort. Apple Intelligence focuses on personalized on-device AI, but also includes a limited cloud component for more advanced requests, and the option to use OpenAI's ChatGPT for certain types of requests. The on-device component maintains a private "semantic index" of your data like your recent messages, calendar, contacts, and more. This allows Siri to answer new kinds of requests more intelligently, using the context of that data and what's on your screen at the moment. Siri also now maintains conversational context across multiple requests, and can be queried via text instead of voice. New system-wide Writing Tools work across all apps. They can proofread, summarize, and rewrite. Any selected text can be rewritten in any style of your choice. New options offer to summarize long emails or messaging threads for you. Genmoji uses on-device generative AI to create any new emoji you can cream up. More advanced image generation is available via Image Playground, available in Messages and other Apple apps, some third-party apps, and as its own standalone app. Image Playground lets you create a small image based on any prompt. If the image includes a person, you can ask it to make them look like someone specific in your contacts. It will not generate photorealistic images, though, offering only "animation", "illustration", and "sketch" styles. Apple is also introducing a "Cleanup Tool" in Photos that can remove unwanted objects from photos using generative fill, much like Google's Magic Eraser. A new Priority Notifications feature uses the semantic index to understand and highlight which notifications are actually important, and a Reduce Interruptions option hides all non-Priority notifications. When a request cannot be handled on-device, Apple Intelligence sends only the necessary info to Apple's own "Private Cloud Compute" servers for processing, where Apple promises your data is not saved or logged. Apple Intelligence is free to use. Basic use of ChatGPT is also free, and you can link a paid OpenAI account to Apple Intelligence so you can access more advanced ChatGPT features right from Siri. The ChatGPT integration is multimodal, offering both text and images as input and output. Apple says it's working to integrate other models besides ChatGPT. On phones, Apple Intelligence requires the A17 Pro chip, which means it will only work on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, not the standard iPhone 15, nor any older models. It will also be available on tablets and computers using any M-series chip

iOS 18 Overhauls Home Screen, Messaging, Photos

Jun 10, 2024, 1:01 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 10, 2024, 1:06 PM

Apple just announced iOS 18 for iPhones. The update will bring a slew of new features, with the biggest changes coming to home screen icons, messaging, and the Photos app. You'll now be able to put app icons anywhere, even at the bottom of the screen. Icons also have a special dark mode appearance, and a monochrome appearance that lets you customize them all to the color of your choice. Other new features let you lock or hide specific apps (and their data) so they're unavailable when you hand your phone to someone else. Finally, there's a new option for extra-large app icons. A major new service is Messages by Satellite, which lets you communicate via iMessage or SMS over a satellite connection even in non-emergency situations. Like Apple's existing SOS service, it requires that you point your phone at a certain part of the sky, which it guides you through. This feature offers end-to-end encryption. As promised, Messages now supports RCS for rich messaging compatibility with Android phones. iMessage will also now let you Tapback with any emoji, and apply formatting and animations ("Text effects") to your text. Finally, Messages will now let you schedule messages to be sent automatically at a later time. The Photos app gets a complete redesign, with a single home screen that shows the photos grid in the upper half and Collections below that. New automatic Collections include Recent Day and Trips, as well as People and Pets to group photos by who's in them. The grid has date tools and filters. Maps gains topographical maps, including offline hiking maps. Tap to Cash lets you send money to someone else just be tapping your phones together. Apple Wallet also gains enhanced event tickets that automatically include venue info, including maps. The Mail app gains new automatic Categorization. A new Game Mode minimizes background activity for better performance, and improves audio latency. Control Center also gets a major upgrade with third-party Controls, multiple pages of controls, and the ability to re-arrange and even resize controls. Third-party Controls can be assigned to lock screen shortcuts or the physical action button on iPhones that have one. A new feature of macOS called iPhone Mirroring lets you wirelessly view and use your iPhone from your Mac. It also integrates your iPhone notifications with your Mac notifications. Apple also introduced whole new password manager called Passwords, that's available for iOS and many other platforms. A beta version of iOS 18 will be available to developers today. Apple promises a public beta next month, and the final version this fall.

Google Launches a Smartwatch for Kids

May 29, 2024, 10:46 AM   by Rich Brome

The Fitbit Ace LTE is a new kids smartwatch from Google with a focus on exercise and movement. Like most smartwatches for kids, it lets parents keep in touch with their kids via voice and text, and a companion app (Android and iOS) for parents lets them track real-time location and manage allowed contacts. When kids move and exercise more, they unlock time to play games built in to the watch. Physical activity is also reflected in the "Noodle" activity ring on the home screen, and customizable "Eejie" virtual pets. Parents can also view physical activity data in the app, as well as set a schedule for "School Time" mode. Different wrist bands unlock new content. Google promises to continue releasing new games and bands. A future update will add a Tap To Pay feature "so kids have safe and easy access to pocket money." The watch is water resistant up to 50 meters and has a battery that lasts more than 16 hours. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and a rubber bumper is included. The Fitbit Ace LTE only works with a special service plan from Google that runs $10/month. Paying annually gets you a free collectible wrist band, and signing up for an annual plan before the end of August gets you 50% off service. The watch itself goes on sale June 5th and costs $230.

Eye Tracking Coming to iPhones

May 16, 2024, 10:42 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has announced several new accessibility features coming to iOS and iPadOS later this year. Eye Tracking will let you control your iPhone using just eye movements. Dwell Control will let users activate elements and access "additional functions such as physical buttons, swipes, and other gestures solely with their eyes." Eye Tracking uses the front-facing camera and on-device machine learning. Another feature called Vocal Shortcuts will let users "assign custom utterances that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete complex tasks." Finally, Music Haptics lets users who are deaf or hard of hearing experience music via taps, textures, and refined vibrations generated by the iPhone's Taptic Engine. The feature will work in Apple Music and third-party apps can support it with a new API.

iOS 17.5 Out Now with Cross-Platform Unwanted Tracking Protection

May 13, 2024, 4:01 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released the final version of iOS 17.5 to the public. The most notable new feature is support for the new Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers cross-platform specification. This anti-stalking technology will let you know if a Bluetooth tracking device is moving with you that is not yours. iOS previously had this feature for its own AirTags, but now it will work with trackers designed for Google's ecosystem as well. iOS 17.5 also brings a number of important security fixes, so most iPhone users should upgrade as soon as possible. iPhone users can update to 17.5 by going to Settings, General, Software Update, and choosing "Update Now".

TextNow Intros Ad-Supported "Free Essential" Data

May 7, 2024, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 7, 2024, 12:25 PM

TextNow, purveyor of free mobile service supported by ads, is expanding from voice and texting to free data. The new TextNow Free Essential Data offering lets customers access email (Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, etc.), navigation (Google Maps, Waze, etc.), and rideshare (Lyft, Uber) apps for free. The only charge is a one-time purchase of a SIM card for $5. Voice and texting are also free and unlimited. When customers need mobile data for other apps, they can purchase general data passes for $1/hour, $5/day, or $40/month. A new TextNow SIM card can be ordered from within the TextNow app, available for both Android and iOS.

Beats Launches Smaller, More Affordable Earbuds

Apr 30, 2024, 2:25 PM   by Rich Brome

Beats today announced the all-new Beats Solo Buds true wireless earbuds, as well as an update to its iconic headphones, the Beats Solo 4. The Beats Solo Buds are the brand's smallest earbuds yet, and will sell for just $80. They have Class 1 long-range Bluetooth, one-touch pairing for both iOS and Android, and Apple Find My. The earbud buttons are customizable. Unusually, the only batteries are in the buds themselves; the case is for charging the buds via USB-C but does not have a battery itself. The buds can provide up to 18 hours of battery life and a five-minute charge gives up to one hour of play time. They come with four sizes of ear tips. The Beats Solo Buds will be available in June in Matte Black, Storm Gray, Arctic Purple, and Transparent Red. The Beats Solo 4 bring Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking to the iconic over-ear headphones. They also support wired audio via USB-C or 3.5mm ports. Battery life has been improved to 50 hours. The Beats Solo 4 are available for order starting today for $200. They come in Matte Black, Slate Blue, and Cloud Pink.

Apple Expands Repair Program with Support for Used Parts

Apr 11, 2024, 10:46 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 11, 2024, 4:19 PM

Apple is expanding its third-party and self-repair programs to allow the use of used genuine Apple parts when repairing iPhones. The company will also no longer require a device serial number when ordering parts. A new feature will prevent used parts from working fully if they came from a device reported lost or stolen (a device with Activation Lock or Lost Mode enabled). Apple's unique Parts and Service history, located within Settings on iOS, shows repair information and will soon "show whether a part is a new or used genuine Apple part." The use of used parts will come to "select iPhone models this fall". In the interest of "iPhone user's privacy, security, and safety", there are still restrictions on biometric sensors used for Face ID or Touch ID, but "future iPhone releases will have support for used biometric sensors." Apple apparently still uses some form of "parts pairing", a controversial practice. But "beginning this fall, calibration for genuine Apple parts, new or used, will happen on device after the part is installed", a new process that should significantly streamline third-party repairs and self-repair.

Fairphone's New Bluetooth Earbuds are First with Replaceable Batteries

Apr 10, 2024, 9:51 AM   by Rich Brome

Fairphone has launched the Fairbuds, the first Bluetooth true wireless earbuds with easily-replaceable batteries, in both the earbuds and the charging case. The Fairbuds are also designed to be easily repairable and come with a three-year warranty. The buds have active noise cancelling (ANC), 11mm titanium drivers, and a dedicated app for both iOS and Android to fine-tune sound profiles (EQ). They offer up to six hours of battery life from the buds alone and another 20 via the charging case. The buds have three microphones each, capacitive touch controls, and an IP54 dust/water rating (light rain and sweat). The Fairbuds are also made with 70% recycled materials. "For now", they are only available in Europe, for €149.

Apple Brings Qi2 Support to iPhone 12

Apr 3, 2024, 10:34 AM   by Rich Brome

The iPhone 12 launched with support for fast 15-watt wireless charging, but only with Apple MagSafe chargers. Macworld reports that iOS 17.4 quietly introduced support for fast wireless charging with third-party chargers using the Qi2 standard.

Oregon Right-to-Repair Law Bans Parts Pairing

Mar 28, 2024, 10:11 AM   by Rich Brome

Oregon has officially passed its own "right to repair" law, joining California, Minnesota and New York. Oregon's law goes further than other states', however, by banning "parts pairing", a practice where components are linked to a specific device serial number. Apple has increasingly deployed this practice with its devices, including iPhones, making them more difficult to repair. Even when properly replacing a part with a genuine replacement, that the device may refuse to use that component, or use it with limited functionality, or throw up a warning to the user that the part is "unidentified". This part of the law goes into effect with products made after January 1, 2025. Other parts of the law take effect sooner. Companies will have to provide parts, tools, and documentation necessary for repairing smartphones made starting July 1, 2021, a date that aligns with the new California and Minnesota right-to-repair laws.

Qualcomm Intros Another Chip for Almost-Flagship Phones

Mar 21, 2024, 5:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 mobile platform, a chipset for high-end phones that are just below "flagship" class. This new chip sits just above the existing Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 in the lineup, and right below the just-announced Snapdragon 8s Gen 3. It brings a long list of improvements compared to last year's Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 that it replaces. Among these are many firsts for the 7 series, such as on-device generative AI, dual NPU with INT4 precision for always-on AI sensing, a low-power ISP for Always-On Camera, cognitive triple 18-bit ISP, UFS 4.0 storage, support for up to 24 GB of RAM at up to 4,200 MHz, Wi-Fi 7 with HBS, Bluetooth 5.4 with dual antennas, and Frame Motion Engine 2.0 for double-frame-rate gaming. It also has 15% improved CPU and 45% improved GPU performance. It has an Arm Cortex-X4 prime core running at up to 2.8 GHz, 4 performance cores, and 3 efficiency cores. It uses a Snapdragon X63 modem (like the Snapdragon 7 Gen 3) and FastConnect 7800 for local radios (like the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3). Qualcomm expects phones using the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 to reach the market in the "coming months".

Tap to Pay on iPhone Comes to Venmo, Zettle

Mar 7, 2024, 11:33 AM   by Rich Brome

PayPal announced that it now supports Tap to Pay on iPhone for Venmo business profile and PayPal Zettle users in the US. This allows small businesses to accept NFC tap payments directly with just an iPhone; no extra hardware required. Customers need only their usual contactless payment method, be it a physical card or their phone (Apple Pay or Google Pay); customers do not need the Venmo app, for example. In both apps, the new feature fully supports taxes, tips, receipts, and refunds. Apple announced Tap to Pay on iPhone in early 2022, and Square added support for it in late 2022.

iOS 17.4, Out Today, Brings Transcripts to Apple Podcasts

Mar 5, 2024, 2:33 PM   by Rich Brome

iOS version 17.4 is officially available for iPhones starting today. One major new feature of the update is podcast transcripts in the Apple Podcasts app. The feature improves accessibility and gives users a new option in other scenarios where listening to audio may be difficult. Text stays in sync with audio, highlighting the current word. Crucially, it also includes a search feature, which lets you search for any word or phrase and tap it jump to that part of the podcast. Starting today, transcripts are available for English-, French-, Spanish-, and German-language podcasts with iOS 17.4. Transcripts will automatically be available for new episodes shortly after episodes are published; previously released episodes will be transcribed over time.

Apple Upgrades iMessage Encryption for Quantum Threat

Feb 21, 2024, 11:48 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple announced that it is upgrading the end-to-end encryption in iMessage to guard against the threat that future quantum computers may be able to easily defeat today's traditional encryption. Although no such quantum computer is known to exist today, it is possible that today's encrypted messages could be intercepted, stored, and decrypted by a future quantum computer; hence the need to move to post-quantum cryptography (PQC) today. Apple's new "PQ3" messaging protocol does this, along with several other security enhancements. The protocol includes periodic "rekeying", to ensure that even if a one key is compromised, only part of a conversation could be decrypted. It also utilizes a hybrid approach that combines PQC and a more traditional ECC algorithm, so that if flaws are found in the new PQC algorithm, content is still protected by proven ECC encryption. Support for PQ3 is included in iOS 17.4. PQ3 will fully replace the existing protocol within all supported conversations this year.

Apple Launches its own Free Sports App

Feb 21, 2024, 11:19 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple today launched Apple Sports, a free iPhone app for tracking sports scores and related info. Users can customize their scoreboards by following their favorite teams, info that is synced with the Apple TV app and Apple News. Besides scores the app also shows upcoming games, play-by-play information, team stats, lineup details, and live betting odds. For in-progress games, tap to watch the game live, via Apple TV and "connected streaming apps". It currently includes MLS, NBA, NCAA basketball, NHL, Premier League, and more. It will also support MLB, NFL, NCAAF, NWSL, and WNBA as those leagues start their upcoming seasons. The app is available today for the US, Canada, and UK.

Apple Changes Position, Will Allow Streaming Games in App Store

Jan 25, 2024, 1:42 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple is changing its App Store rules to allow game-streaming services as well as "mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins" in iOS apps. "Developers can now submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog." Apple previously prohibited this type of app, requiring a whole separate app to be submitted for each game. Apple will still apply all of its other App Store rules to all experiences available from within the app. Such apps will need to carry the age rating of the highest age-rated content available within that app, so a single game rated 17+/Mature available could cause a whole game platform to be rated 17+, for example. The changes will also permit scenarios such as one app that offers individual chatbot subscriptions via Apple's in-app purchase mechanism. Apple also promises to "provide enhanced discovery opportunities" for these new experiences within apps.

Apple vs. Epic Battle Over App Store Comes to an End

Jan 16, 2024, 12:34 PM   by Rich Brome

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of Epic Games vs. Apple, leaving in place the most recent rulings of lower courts and effectively ending the years-long legal battle over Apple's App Store rules in the U.S. The end result is that Apple will not be forced to open iPhones to competing app stores and payment systems within iOS. However Apple is being forced to allow app developers to direct their customers to alternative subscription and payment options outside its ecosystem, such as on the web. Central to the issue is the 30% commission that Apple collects on in-app purchases in iOS apps.

New Case Adds Keyboard to iPhone Pro

Jan 5, 2024, 2:39 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2024, 3:19 PM

Clicks is a new case accessory for recent iPhone Pro models that adds a full physical QWERTY keyboard to the bottom of the phone. By disabling the software keyboard when in use, it frees up the lower half of the display for content while typing. It also provides faster access to shortcuts, including Home and Search. The keyboard is backlit and the device provides pass-through Lightning or USB-C connections for easy phone charging. The wired connection also offers a reliable link between the keyboard and the phone, and doesn't require a separate battery for the keyboard. Clicks is a creation of Michael Fisher (known as MrMobile), and Kevin Michaluk (known as CrackBerry Kevin), "together with a team with mobile experience from companies including Apple, BlackBerry, and Google." Clicks is available for order starting today two colors: yellow and gray. Three models are available: Clicks for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro sell for $139 and ship on Feb. 1 and mid-March, respectively. A model for the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max ships in early spring for $159.

Beeper Mini's Newest (Cumbersome) Workaround Will be its Last

Dec 21, 2023, 1:29 PM   by Rich Brome

Beeper Mini has a new solution for using iMessage on an Android phone, but it requires a jailbroken iPhone left plugged in and turned on, as well as a Mac or Linux computer. Apple has found ways to shut down previous versions of Beeper Mini that did not require this extra hardware. Beeper says of its new solution: "we believe we’ve created something that Apple can tolerate existing." However, if Apple does shut down the new version of the service, Beeper says it will abandon the project.

Apple and Google Launch Phone Diagnostic Tools

Dec 15, 2023, 12:45 PM   by Rich Brome

Within days of each other, Apple and Google have both announced new diagnostic software that allow users to troubleshoot common issues with their own iPhones or Pixel phones. The new Apple Diagnostics for Self Service Repair tool starts with a web site where users enter their device's serial number. On Google Pixel phones, a Pixel Diagnostic App can be accessed by entering a special code (*#*#7287#*#*) in the Phone app. The tool is already available on all Pixel phones, but Google now seems to be supporting consumer use of a tool previously intended only for qualified technicians. Both Apple and Google have relatively new programs that enable technical-minded consumers to order parts and tools, and repair their own phones. These new software tools should help users diagnose issues, identify the correct parts to order, and verify repairs.

Google Making Maps Location History Private, Even from Police

Dec 15, 2023, 11:38 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is changing how Maps stores your location history, moving it on-device by default and encrypting it when saved to the cloud. This change means even Google can't access that data, which also means Google will no longer be able to respond to "geo-fence" warrants from police wanting to know who was in a given area at a given time. Other companies — notably, mobile network operators — may still have customer location data that can be compelled by police, but Google Maps will no longer be a source of this information. Maps already offers a variety of options giving users control over their location data in its Timeline feature. Users can delete all history and set an auto-delete time period. Timeline is off by default, and when activated, now defaults to keeping only three months of data instead of 18. A new feature will let users delete data for specific locations. Users will be able to manually upload an encrypted copy of their location history to the cloud to preserve that data when switching devices; but otherwise it will stay on-device. The changes will apply to both Android and iOS versions of Maps. Users will see a notice in the app when the change reaches their account.

iPhone Gaining Protections Against Phone Thieves That Know Your Passcode

Dec 12, 2023, 2:50 PM   by Rich Brome

The new beta version of iOS rolling out today includes a new feature called Stolen Device Protection, designed specifically to help iPhone owners retain control of their online accounts after their phone is stolen, even in cases where the thief knows the phone's passcode. Because a passcode can serve a fallback when biometric unlocking fails, thieves can use it to unlock a stolen phone and change the Apple ID password, prevent password resets, block Find My features, and access saved passwords for third-party apps, including some banking and financial apps. The new feature — which is optional and turned off by default — requires two successful biometric scans one hour apart to make those critical changes, and does not accept the passcode as a fallback. The extra protections apply only when the phone is away from known locations like "home" or "work". The new feature should help prevent thieves from causing financial damage beyond the stolen phone, but also make this particular type of phone theft less attractive as more people enable this feature.

iOS 17.2 is Available Now

Dec 11, 2023, 4:10 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple's latest update for iOS — version 17.2 — brings support for Spatial Video capture on iPhone 15 Pro models. It also adds Qi2 wireless charging support for certain older models.

Governments Demand, Receive Push Notification Data from Apple, Google

Dec 6, 2023, 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

Dec 6, 2023, 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.

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.

iOS 17 Officially Available

Sep 18, 2023, 12:12 PM   by Rich Brome

The final version of iOS 17 is now available to download. iPhone users with an iPhone Xr/Xs or newer (including the iPhone 11 series, 12 series, etc.) can now go to Software Update in Settings to upgrade to the new OS. iOS 17 was announced in June and has a number of new features, including: Contact Posters, StandBy, Check In, NameDrop, Live Voicemail, offline maps, smarter auto-correct, and the ability to respond to just "Siri" instead of "Hey Siri". It also has new protections against unwanted nude images. Beta versions have been available since July.

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.

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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.

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.

Motorola Defy Satellite Link Now on Sale

Jun 29, 2023, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 29, 2023, 2:11 PM

The motorola defy satellite link from Bullitt is now available in the US for $150. In North America, the price includes a free trial of the Premium messaging plan (300 non-emergency messages per month) until October 1st, and one year of the Essential plan (30 non-emergency messages per month) for free. The unique device adds satellite connectivity to any Android or iOS smartphone via Bluetooth. This allows that smartphone to send and receive text messages as well as provide location updates in places there is no cellular coverage. Messaging happens in the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app. Message recipients without that app receive a message as a simple SMS to their existing phone, and are invited to download the associated Android or iOS app to respond. Once the free trial(s) expire, there are various annual messaging plans available, starting at $5/month for 30 messages/month. All plans includes SOS Assist, with 24/7 access to emergency response centers. Retailers include AT&T, REI, Bass Pro.com, B&H Photo, Nomadic Supply, BlackOvis.com, and GoHunt.com.

Venmo Lets Businesses Accept NFC Payments Using Just a Smartphone

Jun 28, 2023, 3:38 PM   by Rich Brome

Venmo is rolling out support for accepting payments with Tap to Pay for business users on both iOS and Android. The feature uses the NFC function built into many smartphones and requires no extra hardware. "Small business owners can onboard in just a few simple steps and start accepting contactless cards and digital wallets through their Venmo business profile. Tap to Pay on Android will be available for all Venmo business profile users in the coming months.... Tap to Pay on Android is also now available for all PayPal Zettle users in the U.S. ... In addition, Tap to Pay on iPhone is now available to select Venmo business profile and PayPal Zettle users, with plans to make it available to all Venmo business profile and PayPal Zettle users in the U.S. soon."

OnePlus' New Mid-Range Phone Has a 108 Megapixel Camera

Jun 15, 2023, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

OnePlus has launched the OnePlus Nord N30 5G in the US, offering well-rounded mid-range specs but two unusual features: a 108 megapixel main camera and 50-watt fast charging. It's available from T-Mobile, Metro, and unlocked. The Samsung main camera sensor operates in 9-pixel-binning mode by default, outputting high-quality 12 megapixel images even in low light. Or it can use the extra pixels to offer up to 6x zoom. The two other rear cameras are a 2 megapixel macro camera and 2 megapixel depth camera. The front camera is 16 megapixel. The 6.72-inch LCD display offers FHD+ resolution and 120 Hz refresh. It's powered by a Snapdragon 695 chip paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (expandable by up to 1 TB). Other features include NFC, a headset jack, and stereo speakers. OnePlus promises one OS upgrade and three years of bi-monthly security updates. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $264, Metro is selling it for $280, and OnePlus is selling it directly for $300. It is approved for use with AT&T and has basic support for AT&T's 4G/5G network. For a limited time, OnePlus is throwing in a free pair of OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Bluetooth earbuds (worth $59), a free year of Google One, and 20% off a case. The Nord N30 is available starting today. The same phone is available in other markets as the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G.

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.

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