iTunes Backup Passwords 'Much Easier' to Crack in iOS 10, Apple Working on Fix

iOS 10 uses a new password verification mechanism for iTunes backups that makes them easier to crack, according to testing performed by Elcomsoft, a company that specializes in software designed to access iPhone data. Encrypted iTunes backups created on a Mac or PC are protected by a password that can potentially be brute forced by password cracking software. The backup method in iOS 10 "skips certain security checks," allowing Elcomsoft to try backup passwords "approximately 2500 times faster" compared to iOS 9 and earlier operating systems. Obtaining the password for an iTunes backup provides access to all data on the phone, including that stored in Keychain, which holds all of a user's passwords and other sensitive information.At this time, we have an early implementation featuring CPU-only recovery. The new security check is approximately 2,500 times weaker compared to the old one that was used in iOS 9 backups. At this time, we are getting these speeds: iOS 9 (CPU): 2,400 passwords per second (Intel i5) iOS 9 (GPU): 150,000 passwords per second (NVIDIA GTX 1080) iOS 10 (CPU): 6,000,000 passwords per second (Intel i5)In specific terms, security analyst Per Thorsheim of Peerlyst says Apple has switched from using a PBKDF2 hashing algorithm with 10,000 iterations to using a SHA256 algorithm with a single iteration, allowing for a significant speed increase when brute forcing a password. Image via Peerlyst In a statement given to Forbes, Apple confirmed it is aware of the issue and is working on a fix."We're aware of an issue that affects the encryption strength for backups of devices on iOS 10 when backing up to iTunes on the Mac or PC. We are addressing this issue in an upcoming security update. This does not affect iCloud backups," a spokesperson said. "We recommend users ensure their Mac or PC are protected with strong passwords and can only be accessed by authorized users. Additional security is also available with FileVault whole disk encryption."As Apple points out, this security oversight is limited to backups created on a Mac or PC and does not affect the security of iCloud backups. Most users likely do not need to worry about this issue as it requires access to the Mac or PC that was used to make the backup. Apple has updates for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra in the works, and it's possible a fix will be included in the new versions of the software. iOS 10.1 and macOS Sierra 10.12.1 were seeded to developers and public beta testers earlier this week.Related Roundup: iOS 10 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 24 September 2016 | 2:13 pm

Snapchat Announces 'Spectacles,' $130 Sunglasses That Record 10 Seconds of Video at a Time

Snapchat has announced its first hardware product, a one-size-fits-all pair of sunglasses called Spectacles that can record 10 seconds of video at a time, reports The Wall Street Journal. The glasses will cost $130 and launch this fall in three colors: teal, black and coral. Video will sync wirelessly to a paired iPhone or other smartphone. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel in Spectacles, Photo by The WSJ The glasses record when you tap a button near the hinge, and each tap records 10 seconds of video footage from its 115-degree-angle lens. The lens was designed to be wider than smartphone cameras, more closely mirroring the natural view of human eyes. The video is recorded in a circular format, as Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel argues that the square and rectangle form that photos and videos currently come in are a vestige of early photos being printed on paper. Snapchat has been developing Spectacles for years, and Spiegel has been testing the device himself for a year. He tells The WSJ that one of the advantages of Spectacles is not having to hold a smartphone in front of your face because it's "like a wall." Re-watching first-person footage is like reliving a memory, Spiegel argues. He remembers testing a prototype in early 2015 while hiking with his fiancée, supermodel Miranda Kerr. “It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”Spiegel refers to Spectacles as a "toy," and that the best use of it would be to wear it at an outdoor concert or barbecue "for kicks." The company is taking a slow approach to launch with limited distribution, similar to Google Glass. Spiegel says Snapchat wants to "figure out if it fits into people's lives and seeing how they like it." When asked why they made the product and decided to enter the hardware market, Spiegel said "because it's fun." Snapchat has also changed its company name to Snap, Inc as it has expanded its portfolio past its Snapchat app, similar to how Apple changed its name from Apple Computer. Spiegel thinks of the newly-dubbed Snap, Inc as a camera company rather than a social media company, The WSJ notes. He studied the early histories of Kodak and Polaroid and how they pitched portable cameras to the public. Spectacles gives Snap control of a physical camera, bypassing the smartphone cameras, like that of the iPhone, at the heart of Snapchat thus far. Spiegel hints to The WSJ that there could be "far-reaching implications" if Snap controlled the hardware its users take pictures and video with. Tags: wearables, Snapchat, Snap Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 11:06 pm

Apple to Offer 'Spoken Editions' of Written News on iTunes

Apple is planning on turning news stories and articles from popular news sites into audio podcasts called "Spoken Editions," reports TechCrunch. Spoken Editions will be short broadcasts that transform content from publishers into spoken word instead of written word, making it possible for customers to listen to their favorite news sites. An early leak on iTunes suggests Apple has already teamed up with several publishers, including Wired, TIME, and Forbes, offering dedicated "Spoken Edition" sections on company iTunes pages. Wired, for example, will launch Spoken Editions for "Business," "Science," and its homepage. TIME has will offer a Spoken Edition called "The Brief." Forbes, .Mic, Bustle, Playboy, OZY, and - yep - TechCrunch (which I discovered while browsing our iTunes page, of all things), will have Spoken Editions, it seems, as all popped up for a time on iTunes. The links to all the publishers' Spoken Editions have since been pulled, after our discovery and outreach.Some digging by TechCrunch suggests many of the publishers' Spoken Edition podcasts were created by SpokenLayer, a company that creates streaming audio and podcasts for media brands using text. SpokenLayer already works with a host of publishers like Forbes, Huffington Post, TIME, Reuters, and more, with audio recordings distributed on iTunes, SoundCloud, and other sources. Spoken Editions will include audio ads, with revenue shared between the publisher and SpokenLayer, and the company makes an effort to make sure each brand sounds unique. "We make sure Wired sounds like Wired and any other publication sounds like those publications," SpokenLayer CEO Will Mayo told TechCrunch. Spoken Editions are set to launch soon, rolling out in early October.Tags: iTunes, Spoken Editions Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 6:32 pm

Apple Restricts iPhone 7 Reservations to Upgrade Program Members

Apple recently updated the confirmation email it sends to customers who reserve an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus to clarify that in-store reservations are now limited to iPhone Upgrade Program members in the United States. Apple allows upgraders to reserve an iPhone through its iPhone Upgrade Program reservation system for pick up in store, but many customers were able to bypass the program and pay in full or with carrier financing instead upon arriving at their local Apple retail store. Old wording:Can I change to a different form of payment for the iPhone Upgrade Program? Yes. You can also upgrade your iPhone to carrier financing or purchase it at full price. Ask a Specialist for more information.New wording:Can I change from the iPhone Upgrade Program to a different form of payment? Yes. You must be currently enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program, so that you can upgrade your iPhone to carrier financing, or purchase at full price. Ask a Specialist for more information.MacRumors reader DSTOFEL was one of many customers previously able to reserve an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus online and pay for it outright at an Apple Store without enrolling in the iPhone Upgrade Program:I did this last Sunday and it went off without a hitch! I used the iPhone Upgrade Program reservation link to reserve my iPhone 7 at my local Apple Store. I was not a member of the iPhone Upgrade Program at the time and had no plan to join it. I showed up at the store, they had my phone and I just told them I wanted to purchase at full price. Not a problem!But since the change in wording, it appears that Apple has already turned away some non-upgraders attempting to purchase an iPhone through the Upgrade Program reservation system without signing up for the program. MacRumors reader vsp attempted to purchase an iPhone 7 for full price last night, for example, but an Apple retail employee allegedly would not let him:I just tried this earlier today and wasn't able to purchase one I reserved with a different carrier. According to the clerk, they received notice yesterday that some of the iPhones were reserved for people enrolled in the Upgrade Program and they couldn't sell to me outright.While many other MacRumors and Reddit users have faced the same situation since yesterday or so, some customers have still managed to reserve an iPhone and pay in full or with carrier financing. For that reason, your mileage may vary, and non-upgraders are recommended to call their local Apple retail store and request to speak with a manager before placing a reservation. For its part, Apple's reservation page has always noted that a 24-month installment loan through Citizens Bank, which finances the iPhone Upgrade Program, is required -- this change just cements it. In other countries where the iPhone Upgrade Program does not exist, such as Canada, all customers are able to use Reserve and Pick Up regardless of their payment method of choice.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Tags: Reserve and Pickup, iPhone Upgrade Program, Apple retail Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 4:57 pm

Apple Watch Series 2: A Swimmer's Perspective

As a lifelong swimmer, I found the addition of 50-meter water resistance and swim workout tracking in the Apple Watch Series 2 to be a welcome improvement that made the new watch a must-have upgrade for me. While the original Apple Watch was not rated for swimming, many users had no issues regularly using it in the water, although its lack of built-in swim tracking features limited its usefulness. With Apple Watch Series 2, Apple has not only upgraded the water resistance with new gaskets and seals to make it suitable for swimming, but added new Pool Swim and Open Water Swim workouts to help track your progress. As part of the Apple Watch Series 2 introduction earlier this month, Apple highlighted how it worked with swimmers in the company's fitness labs to develop the software to accurately track swim workouts, from using the accelerometer in the watch to measure arm movements to tracking energy expenditures during workouts. So how well does the new Apple Watch work when you take it for some swims in a pool? Let's take a look. Getting Started Swim tracking is managed in the same Workout app as other types of exercise, with both pool and open water swim workout options to choose from and a variety of different goals available for each workout. When you launch a pool swim workout from the Apple Watch, the first screen lets you input the length of the pool you're going to be swimming in. The default value in the U.S. is 25 yards, which is the most common pool length, but you can adjust this manually down to the exact yard as needed. A force press on the screen lets you change between yards and meters. The next screen is where you set your goal for the workout. As with other types of workouts, you can swipe left and right on the watch to choose between calories burned, time or distance, or simply set an open goal. If you've previously completed swim workouts, the watch displays your best performances for each of the metrics, giving you a reference for setting new goals. In the Pool Once you've selected your pool length and workout goal, you're ready to go. Hit the Start button and the watch will give you a three-second countdown and you're off. During your swim workout, the Apple Watch can display up to four different metrics. By default, these include workout duration, active calories burned, laps completed, and distance. Using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, however, you can customize the display to rearrange the order of the different metrics or replace some of them with other options including average pace, total calories burned, and heart rate. Alternatively, you can set your Apple Watch to display only a single metric at a time and use the Digital Crown to change metrics during the workout. One unique aspect to swim workouts is that once the workout begins, the Apple Watch screen automatically locks to prevent accidental taps that can occur as water interferes with the touch sensing. If you want to pause your workout at any point, simply press the Digital Crown and the side button simultaneously. Pressing them again resumes the workout tracking. As detailed during its introduction earlier this month, the Apple Watch Series 2 has a clever feature to help clear water from its speaker, using vibrations of the speaker itself to expel water from the speaker cavity when your workout is complete. Once your workout is paused and you're finished, turning the Digital Crown expels the water from the speaker and unlocks the screen, which then allows you to swipe right and end the workout, resume the workout, or re-lock the display. How Well Does It Work? So how well does the swim workout tracking work? The answer is very well if your goal is to simply swim back and forth to rack up yardage. The watch accurately senses individual strokes and both open turns and flip turns at the ends of the pool to calculate the distance you've traveled, elapsed time, and calories burned, and I found the active calories burned metric calculated by the watch to be close to figures estimated by other sources for various types of swimming activity. Apple notes that the heart rate sensor may not function properly during swimming activities as water may interfere with the measurements, but that calories burned continue to be estimated using the watch's accelerometer. In my experience, however, the heart rate sensor continued to function very well in the water, accurately capturing my heart rate throughout my workouts. Where the Apple Watch's swim tracking starts to fall short is for people looking to do more varied swim workouts based around swim sets and focused exercises like stroke drills and kicking. The Apple Watch's tracking is linked to its ability to sense arm motion, which means if you're doing a kick set, it won't pick it up at all. Or if you're doing specialized drills to work on your technique, such as one-arm strokes, if may not track accurately if you don't have a regular stroke rhythm. The Apple Watch's pace calculation also becomes less useful if you're doing interval-based sets, as it's simply going to tell you the interval you were going on instead of your actual swimming pace unless you manually pause the workout as you finish each repeat and resume before starting the next one. That quickly becomes tedious, especially as I found myself having to visually check the watch's screen each time to make sure it was pausing and resuming correctly, as pressing the crown and side button didn't always register properly. It would be great if the watch could sense when I've stopped at the wall to rest and automatically pause my workout and then resume once I push off the wall on my next swim. It obviously starts to get tricky differentiating random arm movements while resting from the start of a new swim with only an accelerometer to go on, but I feel like there could be some improvements made here. I'd also love a way to edit workouts after the fact to include untracked activities such as kick sets and drills, even if it's just adding in the yardage. For now, I'm using a third-party app like MyFitnessPal to create a second workout to estimate my calories burned for the portions of my workouts the Apple Watch can't track. Finishing Up Your Workout At the end of your workout, the Apple Watch app displays a summary of your session, including the time of day the activity took place, dominant stroke used, distance, workout time, pool length, laps completed, average pace, average heart rate, and both active and total calories burned, as well as the weather at your location. All of that data gets synced over to the Activity app on your iPhone, where it's visible in the Workouts tab. A bonus view on the iPhone lets you break down the average pace number and see your pace for each 100-yard segment of the workout. And of course the exercise and calorie data also automatically syncs over to the Health app on the iPhone, as well as third-party apps hooked into HealthKit, to help track your overall health status. Open Water Swimming Aside from pool swims, the Apple Watch Series 2 can also track open water swims in the Workout app. I'm not as much of a fan of open water swimming and so I haven't had a chance to test that function out, but it operates in a similar fashion to pool workouts, allowing you to set a goal for time, distance, or calories, or leave an open goal. As with pool swims, you can customize the metrics shown on the Apple Watch's display during a workout using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. The default metrics are duration, active calories, burned, average pace, and distance, but these can be rearranged or swapped out for total calories burned and heart rate metrics from your iPhone. Once you hit "Start" it will track your swimming progress, and as long as you are using a freestyle stroke it will use GPS to plot your location and speed while the accelerometer tracks your calories burned. Once your open water swim is completed, you can view a map of your route within the Workout entry in the Activity app on your phone. Wrap-up Plenty of serious and not-so-serious swimmers and triathletes already wear fitness watches to track their workouts, but this is my first foray into wrist-worn swim tracking. I like the tracking the Apple Watch can provide in pool swims to help keep tabs on my yardage, heart rate, and calories burned, and it's something I'll likely continue playing with. It's great for tracking long workouts with a minimum of stopping. If you're doing sets of short swims or varied sets involving drills or kicking, it can be frustrating to have that activity go untracked or to have to manage pausing and unpausing the tracking to separate swimming from resting intervals. Frequent focusing on the watch to ensure it's tracking accurately and at the right times can also divert your attention from the actual swimming, although that will likely improve over time as I gain familiarity with using the watch in the pool. For those reasons, the Apple Watch Series 2 may not yet become an everyday swim tracker for me, although I'll keep experimenting with it to figure out the best way to incorporate it into my workouts to provide the best data with minimum disruption to my workout focus. Where the new Apple Watch could be a major benefit, however, is for open water swimmers. The lengthy freestyle swims are ideal for tracking with the Apple Watch, and the watch's GPS should make it a great tool for tracking those lake and ocean swims where it's difficult to estimate how far you've swum. It's certainly not the first GPS swim tracking watch, but for open water swimmers it's a great addition to an Apple Watch they can wear throughout the day to provide a host of other functions.Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3 Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 2:21 pm

UPS Working to Expedite iPhone 7 Deliveries Following Weather and Mechanical Delays

Yesterday, we reported that some iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus shipments have experienced irregular movement or delays during delivery between China or South Korea and their final destinations in the United States. UPS has since confirmed to MacRumors that a small number of deliveries were impacted due to a mechanical problem and weather delay, while it is still investigating the reason for erroneous tracking notices.UPS experienced a mechanical problem on one flight and a weather delay on another flight containing iPhones. The cargo was redirected, but not in time to avoid minor delays in residential deliveries of these packages. None of the phones were returned to their origin or routed on extraneous legs of the journey to their final destination. We are still investigating the reason for the erroneous tracking notices. When the packages receive their next physical scan at a UPS facility, the ups.com tracking information will be updated to reflect the next planned delivery date. UPS is working to expedite these deliveries as rapidly as possible. The updated delivery date may be improved and another status update posted. To be informed of latest status, consumers can request text or email notification by selecting the “Notify me with Updates” feature when tracking their shipment on ups.com.Apple began accepting iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus pre-orders on September 9, and it took less than 20 minutes for supplies of popular models to begin selling out. iPhone 7 Plus and Jet Black models have been most constrained, but some customers originally quoted October to November delivery dates for Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus models have seen their orders ship sooner than expected.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Tag: UPS Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 1:57 pm

Second Wave iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Launch Kicks Off in Dozens of Countries Around the World

Following their September 16 debut in more than 25 countries around the world, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus are seeing their second wave launch today, debuting in a number of additional countries across Europe and the Middle East. The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus are now available for purchase in the following locations: Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. With today's second wave launch, Apple's latest devices have rolled out to more than 55 countries, and will expand to India in the near future with an October 7 launch date planned. In many countries, supplies of the iPhone 7 and especially the iPhone 7 Plus are likely to be severely constrained, as Apple has been struggling to meet demand. In the United States, Apple had no iPhone 7 Plus stock available for walk-in customers on launch day, with all supplies having gone to pre-order customers. Wait times are up to three to five weeks for the most popular iPhone models, like the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus, in many countries, with lower two to three week shipping estimates for other devices. The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus feature better water resistance, much improved cameras (with a dual-camera for the 7 Plus), faster processors, brighter, more vivid displays, a redesigned Home button powered by a new Taptic engine and no headphone jack. The Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2, and Apple Watch Edition are launching in new countries today as well, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guam, Hungary, Jersey, Kuwait, Macau, Monaco, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and the US Virgin Islands. Apple Watch Hermès Series 2 models are also available as of today in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Macau, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the UK and the US.Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3, iPhone 7 Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 1:25 pm

Apple Submits Mystery 'Wireless Device' With Bluetooth and NFC to FCC

Earlier this week, we spotted an Apple filing for a nondescript "wireless device" pass through the FCC ID database. Apple characteristically requested permanent confidentiality for most of the documents in the filing, including photos, user manuals, and schematics, so the entry largely remains a mystery. What we do know is the device has a model number of A1844, which does not line up with any existing Apple products. A regulatory label shows the device has two Torx screws on the back plate of the device, which appears to have at least two slightly curved edges. The device has an electrical rating of 5.5V to 13.2V. Test reports completed by UL Verification Services also reveal the wireless device has Bluetooth and NFC, although Wi-Fi is not mentioned. Some websites have speculated the filing could represent a new Apple TV, but the device appears to be smaller based on the artwork -- although there are no exact measurements for scale. The device also has oddly specific regulatory text etched directly on the back of the device, including a wiring guide, which would be uncharacteristic of Apple to include on the exterior of a consumer-facing product. Perhaps, then, the wireless device is for internal use. Back in 2014, an FCC filing revealed Apple's first-party iBeacon hardware, for example, which the company uses in its retail stores. Originally introduced at WWDC 2013, iBeacon technology enables iOS devices to communicate with transmitters via Bluetooth LE in order to deliver relevant information to apps and services when a user is nearby. Without any supplemental information, the FCC filing will likely remain a mystery. At this point, virtually any wild speculation is fair game, ranging from a new AirPort Extreme to Apple's widely rumored Siri-enabled speaker for smart homes, although the latter product is reportedly still being prototyped.Tag: FCC Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 11:26 am

Apple Releases iOS 10.0.2 With Fixes for Headphone, Photos, and App Extension Bugs

Apple today released the first official update to the iOS 10 operating system, just 10 days after releasing iOS 10 to the public and two days after seeding the first iOS 10.1 beta. iOS 10.0.2 can be downloaded as an over-the-air update on all devices running iOS 10. Today's update includes fixes for several minor bugs that have been discovered since the operating system was released. A bug that caused the new Lightning EarPods designed for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to stop working properly has been addressed. EarPods have been timing out after a short period of time when listening to music, rendering the remote unresponsive and unable to control volume, access Siri, and answer phone calls. The update also resolves an issue that caused Photos to quit for some users when activating iCloud Photo Library and fixes an issue that prevented enabling some app extensions. iOS 10 is a major update that includes features like a redesigned Lock screen experience, a revamped Messages app with a full App Store, a Siri SDK for developers, new looks and features for Maps and Apple Music, and tons more.Related Roundup: iOS 10 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 10:57 am

Apple Watch Hermès Series 2 Models Officially Launch Today

Apple Watch Hermès Series 2 models, released on a pre-order basis last week, are now officially available for purchase both online and in stores. Apple offers seven different Hermès models designed with handcrafted leather, including three with Single Tour bands, two with Double Tour bands, one with a Single Tour Deployment Buckle, and one with a Double Buckle Cuff. Prices range between $1,149 and $1,499 in the United States. The new models serve as a refresh to last year's original Apple Watch Hermès lineup, released in October 2015. The new Series 2 models have the same custom Hermès watch face, but beyond that and the bands, the Hermès models are identical to regular Apple Watch models. Apple Watch Hermès Series 2 models can be purchased through Apple's website in many countries, while in-store availability is limited to select Apple Store and Hermès locations in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington D.C.Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3 Tags: Apple Watch Hermès, Apple retail Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 8:45 am

Apple 'Pressing Ahead' Into Prototype Testing for Echo-Like Smart Home Device Powered by Siri

Apple is said to be "stepping up plans" for its connected smart home device powered by Siri, which would rival the technology that Amazon has made popular in its Alexa-enabled Echo speaker system (via Bloomberg). After two years of research and development, the Apple device is said to be in prototype testing, but because Apple hasn't officially finalized any plans it "could still scrap the project." Similar to Echo, the Siri device is said to be able to control smart home accessories like lights, locks, and curtains all through voice activation, and would most notably be the first new piece of Apple hardware introduced since the Apple Watch, and the iPad before that. To compete with Amazon -- and Google's own similar device called "Google Home" -- Apple will introduce "more advanced microphone and speaker technology," according to people close to the project. This could potentially include an ecosystem-wide upgrade to Siri's current functionality. Beyond the home device, Apple is researching new ways to improve Siri on iPhones and iPads, two people said. With an initiative code-named “Invisible Hand,” Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added. Currently, the voice assistant is able to respond to commands within its application, but Apple’s goal is for Siri to be able to control the entire system without having to open an app or reactivate Siri. For example, a user would be able to ask their iPhone to open a web page and then share it with a friend without the need to ever launch the Siri interface. Other examples from Apple’s current research include being able to print a PDF by speaking “print” while reading it or saying “help” in order for the system to help the user navigate a particular task or application. Apple has also been researching opening this ability to third-party apps, the person said. A few prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially fueled by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, "which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person’s emotional state." Otherwise, the device will be able to perform all of the Siri actions expected of the personal assistant, including responding to text messages, playing music, searching the internet, and more. Apple Maps integration is a possibility, which Apple is considering so Siri could alert you exactly when to leave the house for an appointment. Before it moved to a standalone speaker unit, Apple considered introducing Siri into a voice-activated feature on the new Apple TV, but the company decided on a more reliable button addition to the Apple TV remote over shouting commands across a room to activate Siri. In its original testing in 2014, Apple crafted a small and a large version of the Siri speaker, said to be like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, "but those early efforts may not translate into a final product." The prototype phase has advanced to the point of Apple engineers testing the device in their own homes, according to the individuals with knowledge of the project. As Bloomberg pointed out, while this is not an exact measure of when the Siri speaker might launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook was known to test out the original iPad at his home "for roughly six months before its introduction." Apple employees also tested out the fourth-generation Apple TV about a year before its launch in 2015. Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line. Its most recent device launches for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 2 have all faced the expected initial shortages most Apple products encounter in their first few weeks on the market, but Apple has chosen not to reveal first weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 7 because it feels the results are "no longer a representative metric" due to demand outweighing supply.Tags: Siri, Amazon Echo Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 23 September 2016 | 8:00 am

At Least 500 Million Yahoo Accounts Hacked in Late 2014

Yahoo today confirmed that "at least" 500 million Yahoo accounts were compromised in an attack in late 2014, leaking customer information like names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birthdates, hashed passwords, and both encrypted and unencrypted security questions and answers. Yahoo does not believe unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information was accessed, as that data is not stored in the system that was hacked. According to Yahoo, account information was stolen by a "state-sponsored actor" and the company is working with law enforcement on a full investigation. Starting today, Yahoo will notify all affected users and is asking them to change their passwords immediately if passwords have not been changed since 2014. All compromised security questions and answers have also been invalidated. Yahoo has laid out a set of recommendations for all customers who might have had data stolen:-Change your password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for your Yahoo account. - Review your accounts for suspicious activity. - Be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a web page asking for personal information. - Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails. - Additionally, please consider using Yahoo Account Key, a simple authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password altogether.Yahoo first said it was investigating a data breach earlier this summer after hackers started selling account access online. The full scope of the attack was not revealed until today and could potentially affect Yahoo's sale to Verizon.Tag: Yahoo Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 2:02 pm

Apple Acquires Machine Learning Startup Tuplejump

Apple recently acquired its third machine learning company since 2015, purchasing India-based company Tuplejump, reports TechCrunch. Tuplejump focused on simplifying data management techniques and creating tools to make it easy to deal with large quantities of data. From an archive of the now-defunct Tuplejump website:A few years ago people realised that the volume of data that businesses generate was becoming unwieldy. A new set of technologies to handle this huge amounts of data cropped up. We were one of the early adopters of these 'big-data' technologies. Having helped Fortune 500 companies adopt these technologies we quickly realised how complicated they were and how much simpler they could get. Thus started our quest to simplify data management technologies and make them extremely simple to use. We are building technology that is simple to use, scalable and will allow people to ask difficult questions on huge datasets.According to TechCrunch, Apple purchased Tuplejump for its "FiloDB" open source project designed to use machine learning concepts and analytics on massive amounts of data in realtime. It appears FiloDB will continue on as an open source project. Apple confirmed the acquisition of Tuplejump with its standard statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Other recent machine learning acquisitions include Perceptio and Turi. Apple is employing machine learning techniques across its operating system, using the technology for features like object and facial recognition in Photos, the new "Portrait" mode in the iPhone 7 Plus, major Siri improvements, and more.Tags: Apple acquisition, Tuplejump Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 12:41 pm

Apple Releases First macOS Sierra 10.12.1 Beta for Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS Sierra update to public beta testers, one day after seeding the beta to developers and two days after releasing the first version of macOS Sierra to the public. Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the macOS Sierra beta through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store. Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to both iOS and macOS Sierra betas. Betas should not be installed on a primary machine due to the potential for instability. macOS Sierra 10.12.1 appears to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that have popped up since macOS Sierra was first released. It also includes album support in Photos for the new Portrait feature in iOS 10 on the iPhone 7 Plus. macOS Sierra is a major update that introduces features like Siri support, cross device copy paste, improved iCloud functionality, the ability to unlock a Mac with the Apple Watch, an Optimize Storage option, and more.Related Roundup: macOS Sierra Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 12:17 pm

Apple Releases First iOS 10.1 Beta to Public Beta Testers With Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming iOS 10 update to public beta testers for testing purposes, just under two weeks after releasing iOS 10 to the public and one day after providing the iOS 10.1 beta to developers. Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the iOS 10 beta update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on their iOS device. Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to both iOS and macOS Sierra betas. Betas are not stable and include many bugs, so they should be installed on a secondary device. iOS 10.1 introduces a "Portrait" mode for the iPhone 7 Plus, which was first shown off when the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debuted on September 7. Portrait mode is designed to mimic the kind of shallow depth of field images that can be taken with a high-end DSLR, with a front subject that stands out over a blurred background. The two cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus capture images, which are scanned by the built-in image signal processor. Machine learning techniques are use to recognize people and/or foreground images, keeping people and main objects in while applying an artful blue or "bokeh" to the background. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Portrait mode is an iPhone 7 Plus-only feature because it requires two images to create a depth map. iOS 10.1 also likely includes bug fixes and behind-the-scenes updates to address issues that have popped up since release. iOS 10 offers features like a redesigned Lock screen, a Siri SDK to allow third-party apps to integrate with Siri, and a completely overhauled Messages app with stickers, a full App Store, Digital Touch, Bubble Effects, and more. Other new additions include a dedicated "Home" app for HomeKit users, new facial and object recognition capabilities in Photos, and redesigned Maps and Apple Music apps.Related Roundup: iOS 10 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 12:13 pm

UPS Shows Some iPhone 7 Shipments Bouncing Back and Forth Between U.S. and Asia

An increasing number of customers who ordered the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus have noticed irregular movement on their shipments, as confirmed by multiple tipsters who have contacted us. The peculiar UPS tracking information has also been documented by several Twitter and Reddit users. MacRumors reader Daniel G., for example, has seemingly seen his iPhone 7 Plus order move between Shanghai, China and Anchorage, Alaska, only to end up back in China. The shipment even made a brief stop in Osaka, Japan, before heading to Louisville, Kentucky en route to Long Island City in Queens.My iPhone got stuck in China, was sent to Alaska, sent back to China, and is now in Japan. I called Apple and they noted I am one of several who has called about this issue. I placed my order on September 11th. Original shipping estimate said the 27th to the 29th. This was soon changed to September 19th, and then 20th. Once it was delayed, it said shipping date unknown. Apple said they would look into it and call me back.Other MacRumors readers said likewise in discussion topics titled "My iPhone is on a travel adventure" and "Waiting for UPS." Reddit user AlphaAnger, too, shared a nearly identical scenario:I preordered the iPhone 7 from the Apple website and it shipped out at the beginning of the week. Anyone else's iPhone just taking a tour of China and Korea? My UPS says it just keeps going back and forth between Korea and China with no estimated ship date.Twitter user Minton, who shared the UPS tracking information pictured above, has seen his iPhone order travel from Zhengzhou, China to Incheon, South Korea to Louisville, Kentucky, at which point it was seemingly sent back to Hong Kong. The entire movement took place within a span of just three days.My iPhone went from China -> Korea -> United States -> Hong Kong? That doesn't seem right. @UPS @Apple pic.twitter.com/1CdS4290S2— minton (@minton) September 21, 2016Minton is not alone, as several Twitter users have noticed similarly irregular movement on their iPhone orders this week.According to UPS, the iPhone I ordered keeps flying back and forth between Zhengzhou, China, and Icheon, South Korea. Seems inefficient. pic.twitter.com/r7PaDlZwga— Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) September 21, 2016My iPhone 7 travel adventure courtesy of @UPS: China > South Korea > Kentucky > Hong Kong > Alaska > .... — Charlie K. (@callmesailor) September 21, 2016In some cases, shipments have moved between the U.S. and Asia in only a few hours, which is unrealistic even when accounting for time zone differences. UPS has allegedly told some customers the irregular movement is related to paperwork, but weather and mechanical issues could also be involved. Whatever the underlying reason may be, the issue appears to be slowing down iPhone deliveries for at least some customers in the United States. Some customers on Twitter have complained that their new iPhone is "stuck in Korea," while others have vented their frustrations towards UPS's customer service account. Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Tag: UPS Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 11:48 am

Intel's Mobile Processor Roadmap May Force Graphics Changes for Apple's 15-Inch MacBook Pro in 2017

While many Mac notebook users have been long awaiting refreshes for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups based on Intel's 6th-generation Core "Skylake" processors, a recently leaked April roadmap for Intel's processors beyond Skylake posted to the AnandTech forums raises questions about future updates for the 15-inch MacBook Pro in particular. The update bottleneck for future Mac notebooks is primarily related to the performance of Intel's integrated graphics, and it appears that an emphasis on processing cores over graphics by Intel may force Apple to make some changes to its graphics strategy down the road. The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro run exclusively on integrated graphics bundled with Intel's chips, while since late 2013 the 15-inch MacBook Pro has come in two versions, a lower-end configuration with only integrated graphics and a higher-end configuration that adds a dedicated graphics chip for higher performance. 15-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with both types of graphics can automatically switch between the two depending on whether better performance or better battery life is required. Given the importance of integrated graphics for Apple's notebooks, Apple has typically used chips including Intel's "GT3" or "GT3e" tier for graphics performance, with the "e" suffix on GT3e denoting embedded DRAM on the chip for improved performance compared to the GT3 tier. These tiers are powerful enough to provide reasonably strong graphics performance for a notebook. Looking at Intel's roadmap for chips beyond Skylake, the 15-inch MacBook Pro runs into a problem as Intel appears to have no plans for any quad-core chips with integrated graphics higher than the "GT2" tier, which typically has about half the raw power of the GT3 tier, to be launched in the next-generation "Kaby Lake" processor family. As a result, the currently available Skylake "H-series" chips appropriate for the 15-inch MacBook Pro that we're expecting to see in an update as soon as next month may remain Intel's lead offerings for these types of high-performance mobile chips until the introduction of new "Coffee Lake" chips in the second quarter of 2018. Even then, initial Coffee Lake chips will include only GT2-level graphics that may not be powerful enough for Apple's needs. The situation is a bit better for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, which use 28-watt and 15-watt versions of the "U-series" processors respectively. The leaked roadmap indicates that Kaby Lake versions of these chips with GT3e graphics are scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2017, making them available for updated notebooks perhaps in the middle of next year following Skylake updates within the next month or two. Rounding out the Mac notebook lineup is the MacBook, which was updated in April with Skylake processors. Kaby Lake versions of those "Y-series" chips have already been launched, so they are ready to be used in next-generation MacBooks whenever Apple decides to release them. Those Kaby Lake Y-series chips will be part of Intel's lineup until late 2017 when new Cannon Lake chips based on a smaller 10 nm process are scheduled to debut. So what exactly is this Coffee Lake family coming in early 2018? As outlined by The Motley Fool, it appears to be based on the Cannon Lake architecture that has been under development for some time, but manufactured on the current 14 nm process rather than the next-generation 10 nm process of Cannon Lake.What Intel seems to be doing here with respect to Cannon Lake and Coffee Lake (aka 14-nanometer Cannon Lake) appears to be the result of good planning and an honest internal assessment of the health of the company's upcoming 10-nanometer manufacturing technology. As I have written before, I believe that the reason that Intel is keeping its high performance notebook and desktop processors on its 14-nanometer technology is cost. By late 2017/early 2018 (when Coffee Lake is expected to launch), Intel's 14-nanometer technology should be quite mature, while the company's 10-nanometer technology will have barely just begun production.As a result, Coffee Lake would be Intel's fourth processor family to come from its 14 nm process, following Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake. It's not entirely clear how Apple will deal with the apparent high-end integrated graphics stagnation at Intel when it comes to future MacBook Pro updates, but there are a few possibilities including a return to dedicated graphics chips across the 15-inch MacBook Pro lineup or perhaps significant enough improvements in Intel's GT2 tier to make it a viable primary option for low-end configurations. It's possible Intel will also be able to release some additional "refresh" Skylake chips with faster CPU speeds to extend the lifecycle of that family, but there's only so much that can be squeezed out of the current design. With the MacBook Pro set to receive a redesign at its next update as soon as next month, Apple could also be planning larger changes to the machine's internals than the largely drop-in chip upgrades we've seen in recent years, a shakeup that could make predicting Apple's plans from Intel's roadmaps a bit more difficult.Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Retina MacBook Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Don't Buy), Retina MacBook Pro (Don't Buy), MacBook (Neutral) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 9:40 am

iPhone 7 Plus Seeing its Widest Availability Yet Across United States

Just one week after Apple said there would be no iPhone 7 Plus stock on launch day for walk-in customers, in-store availability of the dual-camera smartphone has reached its widest level yet across the United States. iPhone Upgrade Program members can use Apple's online reservation system to secure their model for in-store pickup, or visit an Apple location as a walk-in customer. iPhone 7 Plus stock at Apple Stores in the U.S. on Thursday iStockNow, a website that uses Google Maps to visualize the real-time status of iPhone availability at Apple Stores, currently shows iPhone 7 Plus models in select colors and storage capacities available in dozens of states, such as California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, the Carolinas, and Texas. Jet Black models, however, remain out of stock at stores across the country. iPhone 7 Plus stock at Apple Stores in the U.S. on Tuesday iPhone 7 Plus models in select storage capacities and colors, sans Jet Black, are also available in Canada at Eaton Centre in Toronto, Markville Shopping Centre in Markham, Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Masonville Place in London, Rideau Centre and Bayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa, and Place Sainte-Foy in Québec City. Availability in western provinces should be updated around 8:00 a.m. local time. Reserve and Pick Up in Canada is not tied to the iPhone Upgrade Program, and simply allows customers to reserve and pay for an iPhone at a local Apple Store, with a 30-minute check-in window. Activation is available for carriers like Bell, Rogers, and Telus, or customers can buy an iPhone outright and use their own SIM card. Make sure to have a piece of government-issued ID with you upon pickup. iPhone 7 Plus availability could change at any time. iPhone 7 models remain more widely available in both the U.S. and Canada.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Tags: Reserve and Pickup, Canada, Apple retail Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 22 September 2016 | 9:04 am

Hands-On With the New 'Portrait' Mode Beta Feature in the iPhone 7 Plus

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 Plus, one major feature it focused on was a new "Portrait" mode that allows the device's camera to simulate a shallow depth of field effect, similar to what can be achieved with a high-end DSLR. Portrait mode wasn't ready to go when the iPhone 7 Plus shipped, but Apple promised to introduce it at a later date and did so today, with the release of iOS 10.1. Available as a beta feature, Portrait mode is built into iOS 10.1, and we went hands-on with it to see how well it performs. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Portrait mode uses the 56mm lens to capture the image and uses the wider 28mm lens to generate a depth map of a scene. Using the small differentiations between the 28mm and 56mm lenses, the iPhone separates the different layers of an image and uses machine learning techniques to apply a blur that simulates a shallow depth of field. When shooting, Portrait is similar to other modes in the camera app, with a timer to take an image and a Tap to Focus tool to set the focus. One helpful feature is the ability to see the depth effect live before snapping a photo. In order for the Portrait effect to work properly, you need good lighting and a subject that's properly placed -- it can't be too close or too far away. Portrait mode is in beta, and is currently only available for developers running iOS 10.1. This Friday, Apple will also make iOS 10.1 available for public beta testers, so Portrait mode will be more widely available. There are some issues and quirks that still need to be worked out during the beta testing process, but as a first effort, Portrait mode can produce some impressive images.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 21 September 2016 | 5:59 pm

Apple's iOS 10.1 Beta Includes Promised Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus Users

Today's new iOS 10.1 beta, available now to developers, includes a new "Portrait" camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users, which was shown off at the iPhone's debut event but wasn't quite ready for release. Portrait mode is designed to mimic the kind of shallow depth of field images that can be taken with a high-end DSLR, with a front subject that stands out over a blurred background. To achieve this look, Apple's built-in image signal processor scans a scene, using machine learning techniques to recognize the people in the image. From there, it creates a depth map of the image from both of the two cameras included in the device, keeping the people in focus while applying an artful blur or "bokeh" to the background. According to TechCrunch, Apple's Portrait option was built on technology acquired from camera company LinX. Portrait mode is using the 56mm lens to capture the image while the wide-angle lens gathers perspective data to build the depth map and divide the image into layers. Once it has this 9-layer slice, it can then pick and choose which layers are sharp and which get a gaussian (randomish) blur effect applied to them. Once the telephoto lens detects the subject, using autofocus and other stuff we'll talk about in a second, the image processor inside the iPhone 7 will then apply blur in greater and greater amounts to the layers that are further away from that subject.It's in beta, so there are some quirks Apple will need to work out. Apple has said that Portrait won't be used all the time, and it does appear to require good lightning and the right focusing distance between objects to function properly. It will take some experimentation to get good shots with Portrait. Portrait mode is a new feature in the camera app that can be found alongside other video and photo taking options like "Video" and "Panorama." It even includes a Live Preview effect that lets you see what the image will look like before you take it, something that's unique to the iPhone.Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 21 September 2016 | 12:33 pm