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Bug

New iOS Update Fixes Unexpected Shutdown Issue On iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (techcrunch.com) 45

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch: Over the past couple of iPhone versions users have complained of "unexpected" shutdowns of their devices. Some iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus devices could basically go dark unexpectedly, forcing a user to have to plug them into an outlet to get them to power back on. Apple has been working on this very annoying bug and it says it has come up with a fix of sorts that should mitigate the problem on a majority of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices. The fix is actually already on your iPhone if you have installed iOS 10.2.1 -- something that around 50 percent of iOS users have already done. After letting the fix simmer on customer devices, Apple now has statistics to share on how it has improved the issue, citing 80 percent reduction on iPhone 6s and 70 percent reduction on iPhone 6 devices.
Iphone

iPhone Owners in US Spent $40 Each on Apps in 2016 (cnet.com) 130

Zoey Chong, writing for CNET: iPhone users in the US are spending more and more on apps and in-app purchases. Spending climbed to an average of $40 per person last year, according to research released Monday by Sensor Tower. This is up from $35 in 2015. Gaming continued to lead the way, accounting for more than 80 percent of Apple App Store revenue in the US. Spending in that category increased from $25 on average per person in 2015 to $27 last year. This may not be the biggest surprise, given that 2016 witnessed the rise of Pokemon Go, which crossed $1 billion in revenue worldwide last month.
Android

99.6 Percent of New Smartphones Run Android or iOS (theverge.com) 91

The latest smartphone figures from Gartner show how much iOS and Android are dominating the smartphone market. According to the report, Android and iOS accounted for 99.6 percent of all smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. For comparison, this figure was 96.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: Of the 432 million smartphones sold in the last quarter, 352 million ran Android (81.7 percent) and 77 million ran iOS (17.9 percent), but what happened to the other players? Well, in the same quarter, Windows Phone managed to round up 0.3 percent of the market, while BlackBerry was reduced to a rounding error. The once-great firm sold just over 200,000 units, amounting to 0.0 percent market share. It's worth noting that although, in retrospect, this state of affairs seems inescapable, for years analysts were predicting otherwise. Three years ago, Gartner said that Microsoft's mobile OS would overtake iOS for market share in 2017, while BlackBerry would still be hanging around as sizable (if small) player.
Programming

Apple Announces WWDC 2017, To Be Held in San Jose On June 5-9 (daringfireball.net) 63

Apple said today it will kick off this year's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5. Much like every year, the developer conference is the place where we can expect to see what's coming to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS later this year. This year, the event is being held in a different venue: the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, the original home of WWDC. John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball: First, announcing early really helps people who have to travel long distances to attend, particularly those from outside the U.S. The San Jose Convention Center is the original home of WWDC -- that's where it was held from 1988 through 2002. (WWDC 2002 was the year Steve Jobs held a funeral for Mac OS 9 during the keynote.) San Jose is way closer to Apple headquarters. San Francisco is about an hour drive from 1 Infinite Loop. The San Jose Convention Center is only five minutes away from Apple's new campus. Schiller emphasized to me that this is a big deal: more Apple employees from more teams will be present, simply because they won't have to devote an entire day to being there. (This could be a particular boon to WWDC's developer labs, where attendees can get precious face time with Apple's engineers.)
Iphone

Apple's iPhone 8 To Replace Touch ID Home Button With 'Function Area' (appleinsider.com) 114

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: Apple will ditch the home button when it debuts a new 'iPhone 8' model later this year, and will dedicate the extra screen real estate to an area for virtual buttons, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Adding detail to his previous predictions regarding the next-generation handset, Kuo in a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider said the full-screen design will allow Apple to integrate a "function" area never seen in an iPhone. The device is expected to adopt a 5.8-inch OLED panel in a form factor similar to the current 4.7-inch iPhone 7. Despite having extended screen real estate as compared to current iPhone models, the actual active display area on "iPhone 8" will be closer to 5.15 inches on the diagonal, with the remaining bottom portion dedicated to system functions like virtual buttons. While Kuo failed to elaborate on an exact implementation, the note suggests Apple plans to hardcode a set of always-on, static system controls into iOS. Whether the so-called "function area" is capable of switching to an active display mode for in-app activities like watching videos or playing games, remains to be seen. With the deletion of current Touch ID technology, Kuo believes "iPhone 8" will incorporate new bio-recognition assets to take over device security and Apple Pay authentication duties. The analyst did not offer predictions on the type of biometric tech Apple intends to use, but a report earlier today said the company could integrate a 3D laser scanning module capable of facilitating facial recognition and augmented reality applications. Kuo in a note last month said Apple might integrate a dual biometric system utilizing optical fingerprint readers and facial recognition hardware.
Security

Russian Cyberspies Blamed For US Election Hacks Are Now Targeting Macs (computerworld.com) 251

You may recall "APT28", the Russian hacking group which was tied to last year's interference in the presidential election. It has long been known for its advanced range of tools for penetrating Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. Now, researchers have uncovered an equally sophisticated malware package the group used to compromise Macs. From a report on ComputerWorld: The group -- known in the security industry under different names including Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm, and APT28 -- has been operating for almost a decade. It is believed to be the sole user and likely developer of a Trojan program called Sofacy or X-Agent. X-Agent variants for Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS have been found in the wild in the past, but researchers from Bitdefender have now come across what appears to be the first macOS version of the Trojan. It's not entirely clear how the malware is being distributed because the Bitdefender researchers obtained only the malware sample, not the full attack chain. However, it's possible a macOS malware downloader dubbed Komplex, found in September, might be involved. Komplex infected Macs by exploiting a known vulnerability in the MacKeeper antivirus software, according to researchers from Palo Alto Networks who investigated the malware at the time. The vulnerability allowed attackers to execute remote commands on a Mac when users visited specially crafted web pages.Further reading on ArsTechnica.
Businesses

Angry Birds Is the Most-Banned Mobile App By Businesses (fortune.com) 47

Barb Darrow, writing for Fortune: Corporate IT pros face the unenviable task of trying to protect valuable data from threats that change all the time. One vector of attack is clearly smartphones and tablets that employees use both for work and pleasure. To that end, mobile device management firm MobileIron just came out with its latest tally of the ten most blacklisted apps, based on a survey of 7,800 companies worldwide. Angry Birds tops the list of most-banned apps at companies worldwide, as well as in Australia, the U.S., and government sectors tracked by MobileIron in its twice-yearly Mobile Security and Risk Review. The survey covers the use of Android, iOS, and Windows devices from Oct. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016.
Microsoft

Cortana Now Reminds You To Do the Things You Promised in Emails (theverge.com) 134

From a report: Microsoft is adding a new feature to Cortana today that will remind you to keep your promises. Suggested reminders lets Cortana remind you when you've promised to do something in an email. Microsoft is using machine learning to highlight phrases in emails where you might promise your boss something, or make a commitment to a friend or family member. The result is a reminder that pops up telling you "don't forget you mentioned this." Cortana's suggested reminders will be available in the US first on Windows 10 PCs, and Microsoft is planning to bring them to iOS and Android in the coming weeks. Microsoft is supporting Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts for these reminders, and other accounts like Gmail will be supported soon. You'll need to connect an Outlook.com or Office 365 account to Cortana to enable the feature, and you'll start receiving reminders once the service detects your promises and commitments.
Censorship

Tor's Ooniprobe, Now Available On Android and iOS, Helps People Track Internet Censorship (cnn.com) 27

In 2012, researchers at Tor announced Ooniprobe, an open-source tool to collect data about local meddling with the computer's network connections, and also whether the government was censoring something. The team has now released a new app, available for Android and iOS, which makes it easier than ever to tell what your government is up to on the web. From a report on CNN Money: The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which monitors networks for censorship and surveillance, is launching Ooniprobe, a mobile app to test network connectivity and let you know when a website is censored in your area. The app tests over 1,200 websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. You can decide how long to run the test, but the default is 90 seconds and would test between 10 and 20 websites depending on bandwidth. Links to blocked websites are listed in red, while available sites are green. Service providers, sometimes controlled by the government, don't always shutdown the internet entirely -- for instance, Facebook.com might be inaccessible while CNN.com still works. "Not only we will be able to gather more data and more evidence, but we will be able to engage and bring the issue of censorship to the attention of more people," Arturo Filasto, chief developer for the Ooniprobe app, told CNNTech.
IOS

Dozens of Popular iOS Apps Vulnerable To Intercept of TLS-Protected Data (arstechnica.com) 53

Researchers at Sudo Security Group Inc. discovered seventy-six popular applications in Apple's iOS App Store that had implemented encrypted communications with their back-end services in such a way that user information could be intercepted by a man-in-the-middle attack. According to Ars Technica, the applications could be fooled by a forged certificate sent back by a proxy, allowing their Transport Layer Security to be unencrypted and examined as it is passed over the internet. From their report: The discovery was initially the result of bulk analysis done by Sudo's verify.ly, a service that performs bulk static analysis of application binaries from Apple's App Store. Will Strafach, president of Sudo, verified the applications discovered by the system were vulnerable in the lab, using a network proxy configured with its own Secure Socket Layer certificate. In the post about his findings being published today, Strafach wrote: "During the testing process, I was able to confirm 76 popular iOS applications allow a silent man-in-the-middle attack to be performed on connections which should be protected by TLS (HTTPS), allowing interception and/or manipulation of data in motion. According to Apptopia estimates, there has been a combined total of more than 18,000,000 (Eighteen Million) downloads of app versions which are confirmed to be affected by this vulnerability."

The data exposed by the vulnerability in each of the applications varied in sensitivity. For just less than half -- 33 of the applications -- the risk was relatively low, as most of the data was "partially sensitive analytics data," Strafach said. These apps included a number of third-party "uploader" apps for Snapchat (which exposed Snapchat usernames and passwords) and the Vice News app, among others. In 24 cases, the exposed data included login credentials or session tokens that would allow an attacker to hijack the account associated with the application, though those accounts were not tied to highly sensitive data. However, the remaining 19 applications left sensitive data exposed to attack. In these cases, Strafach "confirmed ability to intercept financial or medical service login credentials and/or session authentication tokens for logged in users."

Desktops (Apple)

Microsoft Is Disabling Older Versions of Skype For Mac and Windows On March 1 (venturebeat.com) 113

If you're using an older, outdated version of Skype, you may want to consider updating soon. Microsoft said today that starting on March 1 people will no longer be able to sign in to version 7.16 of Skype for Window desktop and older versions, and version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and older versions thereof. VentureBeat reports: "If you're one of those users, all you'll need to do is download the new update," the Skype team said in a blog post. This isn't the first time Skype is retiring old software. But that doesn't mean the upcoming move won't rankle some people. Version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and version 7.16 of Skype for Windows both came out less than a year and a half ago -- in December 2015. So it's not as if this is very old software. Still, Microsoft has been doing a lot to improve Skype in the past year. It's been migrating the app to its Azure public cloud infrastructure, and adding chatbots. Current versions of Skype -- like version 7.44 for Mac -- come with amenities like better previews of websites and better support for emoticons and other content in the input box for chats. "We've poured our energy and passion into creating something truly special, and this is just the beginning," Skype said.
IOS

Lawsuit Claims Apple Forced Users To iOS 7 By Breaking FaceTime (appleinsider.com) 90

According to Apple Insider, a class-action lawsuit has been filed in California that claims Apple broke FaceTime in iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7. The lawsuit says Apple forced users to upgrade so it could avoid payments on a data deal with Akamai. From the report: When FaceTime launched in 2010, Apple included two methods of connecting one iPhone to another. The first, a peer-to-peer technology, transferred audio and video data over a direct connection, while a second "relay method" used third-party servers run by Akamai to shuttle data back and forth. Initially, calls routed through Akamai's relay servers only accounted for only 5 to 10 percent of FaceTime traffic, but usage quickly spiked. On Nov. 7, 2012, a jury found Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime call technology in infringement of patents owned by VirnetX. Along with a $368 million fine, the ruling meant Apple would have to shift away from peer-to-peer to avoid further infringement. Apple began to incur multi-million dollar monthly charges from Akamai as a result of the change. Testimony from the 2016 VirnetX retrial pegged relay fees at about $50 million between April 2013 and September 2013, rates that according to today's lawsuit were of concern to Apple executives. After eating rising relay service charges for nearly a year, Apple saw a chance to slow down or completely negate the fees in iOS 7. Among other system improvements, the next-generation OS included a method of creating peer-to-peer FaceTime connections without infringing on VirnetX patents. The only problem, according to the lawsuit, was that users continued to operate devices running iOS 6. Citing internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX trial, the lawsuit alleges Apple devised a plan to "break" FaceTime on iOS 6 or earlier by causing a vital digital certificate to prematurely expire. Apple supposedly implemented the "FaceTime Break" on April 16, 2014, then blamed the sudden incompatibility on a bug, the lawsuit claims.
Security

Hacker Dumps iOS Cracking Tools Allegedly Stolen From Cellebrite (vice.com) 86

Last year, when Apple refused to unlock the security on an iPhone 5c belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, the FBI turned to an Israeli mobile forensics firm called Cellebrite to find another way into the encrypted iPhone. Now Motherboard reports that a hacker has released files allegedly from Cellebrite that demonstrate how cracking tools couldn't be kept private. From a report: Now the hacker responsible has publicly released a cache of files allegedly stolen from Cellebrite relating to Android and BlackBerry devices, and older iPhones, some of which may have been copied from publicly available phone cracking tools." The ripped, decrypted and fully functioning Python script set to utilize the exploits is also included within," the hacker wrote in a README file accompanying the data dump. The hacker posted links to the data on Pastebin. It's not clear when any of this code was used in the UFED. Many of the directory names start with "ufed" followed by a different type of phone, such as BlackBerry or Samsung. In their README, the hacker notes much of the iOS-related code is very similar to that used in the jailbreaking scene -- a community of iPhone hackers that typically breaks into iOS devices and release its code publicly for free.
IOS

The Future of iOS is 64-Bit Only -- Apple To Stop Support For 32-Bit Apps (computerworld.in) 105

Your ability to run 32-bit apps on an iOS device is coming to an end. As several other Apple news sites have reported, Apple has updated the pop-up warning in the iOS 10.3 beta to say that the 32-bit app you're running "will not work with future versions of iOS." The warning goes on to say that the "developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility." From a ComputerWorld article (edited for clarity): In October 2014, Apple told developers that all new apps created after February 1, 2015 must have 64-bit support. Shortly after, Apple announced that all updates to apps must also be 64-bit compatible. Any 32-bit apps submitted to Apple after June 2015 would be rejected. Last September, Apple announced that it was going to remove apps from the App Store that did not "function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated." Presumably, this would include apps that did not meet the 64-bit requirement. Apple does not state which version of iOS will be 64-bit only, but since this is a major development, you can probably assume that this will happen in iOS 11. An announcement will likely be made during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this summer. The switch to 64-bit only support means that older iOS devices built on 32-bit architecture will not be able to upgrade to the new iOS. This includes the iPhone 5, 5c, and older, the standard version of the iPad (so not the Air or the Pro), and the first iPad mini.
Businesses

Apple Sets a New Record For iPhone Sales (theverge.com) 131

Apple has reported strong financial results for the first quarter of 2017. According to CEO Tim Cook, the "holiday quarter results generated Apple's highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way." The company took in $78.4 billion in revenue and sold 78 million iPhones. The Verge reports: Apple reported a profit of $17.8 billion, and said its earnings per share were boosted by the high demand for the larger models of its iPhones, which have higher margins. On the earnings call, Chief financial officer Luca Maestri said that customer satisfaction with iPads, and the new iPad pro, was very high. He predicted strong growth in that category. But the sales figures don't reflect that optimism, with unit sales and revenue from iPad both down around 20 percent year over year. With over a billion iOS devices active around the world, Apple has been able to shore up its flagging hardware sales growth with an increase in revenue from services to those devices. This includes money from Apple Pay, iCloud storage, Apple Music, and App Store sales. It was by far the fastest-growing segment of Apple's revenue this quarter, climbing 18 percent to $7.17 billion since the same period last year. Cook said Apple is aiming to double service revenue over the next four years. Maestri said Apple's App Store had double the revenue of Google's Play Store in 2016. Apple has more than $200 billion in cash parked overseas. Cook said on today's call that he was optimistic about tax reform in the U.S. happening this year, and that this might allow Apple to bring a lot of that money back home. "With our toe in the water, we're learning a lot about the original content business," Cook said, hinting at one way Apple might deploy all that capital.
Chrome

Google Open-Sources Chrome For iOS (venturebeat.com) 39

Google has uploaded its Chrome for iOS code into the open-source Chromium repository. In other words, Chrome for iOS has now been open-sourced like Chrome for other platforms, letting anyone examine, modify, and compile the project. From a report: Chromium is the open-source Web browser project that shares much of the same code as Google Chrome, and new features are often added there first. Google intended for Chromium to be the name of the open-source project, while the final product name would be Chrome, but developers have taken the code and released versions under the Chromium name. Eventually, many browser makers started using it as a starting point; Opera, for example, switched its browser base to Chromium in 2013. Since its inception, Chromium was a desktop-only affair. That changed in May 2015 with the open-sourcing of Chrome for Android.
Businesses

Dropbox Finally Brings Its Google Docs Competitor Out of Beta (theverge.com) 26

Dropbox today made Paper -- its note-taking app that it's emphasizing is a tool that's built for managing workflow as well -- global. In addition to the launch of Paper, the company said that users will also be able to automatically generate presentations in Keynote and other applications through the app. From a report: Dropbox's software is similar to Google's suite of workplace cloud apps. Paper -- itself a minimal document editor and writing tool like Google Docs -- is the focal point, while all of Dropbox's other services and features now plug into and augment the experience. Paper is Dropbox's latest attempt to court businesses away from Microsoft and Google, or at the very least to encourage companies to pay for Dropbox services on top of what they already use institutionally. It's part of Dropbox's ongoing shift away from consumer storage and apps and toward enterprise software that is both more lucrative and self-sustaining. The company shut down its Mailbox email app and Carousel photo storage service back in 2015. In place of its consumer focus, Dropbox has been pouring more resources into Paper and other projects that make its mobile apps and website a place to perform work, instead of a barebones destination for files.
Android

Ask Slashdot: A Point of Contention - Modern User Interfaces 489

Reader Artem Tashkinov writes: Here are the staples of the modern user interface (in varying degree apply to modern web/and most operating systems such as Windows 10, iOS and even Android):
  • Too much white space, huge margins, too little information
  • Text is indistinguishable from controls
  • Text in full-CAPS
  • Certain controls cannot be easily understood (like on/off states for check boxes or elements like tabs)
  • Everything presented in shades of gray or using a severely and artificially limited palette
  • Often awful fonts suitable only for HiDPI devices (Windows 10 modern apps are a prime example)
  • Cannot be controlled by keyboard
  • Very little customizability if any

How would Slashdotters explain the proliferation and existance of such unusable user interfaces and design choices? And also, do you agree?

Twitter

Twitter Scrambles For Next Big Feature, Bets On Merging Tweets, Hashtags, Moments (adweek.com) 47

Twitter is introducing a long requested feature: A better way to discover people, events and trends. The company is introducing Explore, a tab that the company says will be a home for the most popular and relevant content on the platform. From a report: In a blog post today, product designer Angela Lam said the addition will house Trends, Moments, Search and live video. "Over the past year, we've been exploring different ways to make it simpler for people to find and use Trends, Moments, and Search," Lam wrote. "During our research process, people told us that the new Explore tab helped them easily find news, what's trending, and what's popular right now." Explore -- which will begin rolling out for iOS today and for Android within the next few weeks -- is similar to what Twitter has been testing with some users a few months back. The news also comes just a few weeks after CEO Jack Dorsey used his own account to crowdsource suggestions for what users think Twitter could do to improve the experience.
Iphone

Apple Is Releasing a Find My AirPods Feature (theverge.com) 98

For those of you worried about losing an AirPod or two, you may soon be able to find some peace of mind. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is adding AirPods support to the Find My iPhone app with the release of iOS 10.3, which will be released in the coming weeks. The Verge reports: Inside the app, AirPods owners will be able to see either the current or last known location of their headphones (although it seems like Apple will determine that based on where the case was last seen, not the actual earbuds). That location data is going to be pretty broad, so it'll really only be good for confirming whether your AirPods are at home or got left behind at work or a coffee shop -- it's not granular enough to say where within your home they might be. To help out with the trickier issue of locating missing headphones that have been separated from their case, Apple is able to blast sound out of each earbud (so long as it has some remaining power). That's by no means an assurance that you'll find a lost earbud, especially if you drop it outside, but it could be pretty helpful if one goes missing around the house.

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