Texas authorities serve Apple a warrant for mass shooter’s iPhone

Authorities are persisting in their efforts to get access to the Texas mass shooter’s iPhone despite having missed an early opportunity. The San Antonio Express-News has learned that Texas Rangers served Apple warrants for data on both the perpetrator’s iPhone SE and a basic LG cellphone. In the case of the iPhone, the state law enforcement unit wants access to both local and iCloud info (such as calls, messages and photos) produced since January 1st, 2016.

It’s not known whether officials have obtained information since the warrants were obtained on November 9th. The company declined to comment to the Express-News citing a policy against speaking about law enforcement matters. In a previous statement, though, Apple said it had offered assistance to the FBI “immediately” after a November 7th press conference on the mass shooting, and vowed to “expedite” its response. The FBI didn’t reach out for help.

The Rangers’ warrant puts Apple in a difficult position. Although at least some iCloud data is accessible with a warrant, the iPhone itself is another issue. Police missed their opportunity to use the shooter’s fingerprint to unlock the phone without a passcode, and the nature of iOS’ encryption makes it very difficult for Apple and anyone else to access locked-down data. In the case of the San Bernardino attack, the FBI paid security experts at Cellebrite to get to a shooter’s files. Apple may once again be faced with a situation where it can’t fully comply with data requests.

Via: AppleInsider, TechCrunch

Source: My San Antonio

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Apple pushes iOS fix for unresponsive iPhone X screens in cold weather

Last week, reports trickled in that the brand-new iPhone X’s screen was unresponsive in cold weather. Apple has rushed out a new iOS update (version 11.1.2) to quick-fix the issue, which is available now to download.

The new update also fixes an issue that distorts Live Photos and videos shot with the iPhone X. It’s the second time in as many weeks that Apple has pumped out an iOS patch to fix an annoying flaw in the mobile operating system. Last week, it was the autocorrect flaw that switched the letter ‘i’ for gibberish.

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Apple pushes out iOS 11.1.1 to fix annoying autocorrect bug

Apple gave its mobile software a facelift when it released iOS 11 back in September, but bugs led the company to push out an 11.1 update a month later to protect user security from that WPA2 Krack vulnerability. Turns out that version introduced another set of squirrely issues, which has led Apple to release iOS 11.1.1 today. You can finally say goodbye to that stupid autocorrect bug switching out the letter ‘i’ for all manner of gibberish.

The update also addresses an issue where the ‘Hey Siri’ feature occasionally stops working. And…that’s it. Even the security content is the same as the 11.1 release, meaning Apple pushed this update out just to fix these two issues. Consider your outrage heard, given that Apple could have waited to fix until the forthcoming 11.2 update; Reportedly, some GPS issues with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are fixed in the 11.2 beta.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Apple

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Apple Clips has better controls and loads of new ‘Star Wars’ effects

Apple’s Clips video creation app is less than a year old, but it’s already getting a big update. Thanks to lots of user feedback and the proliferation of new, more powerful iOS devices, Clips is now more polished than ever, and that’s very good news for people looking to craft their next viral video masterpiece.

The philosophy behind the app hasn’t changed — it’s still all about making fun, short videos without much technical know-how — but Apple worked to make the app even easier to use. Consider the app’s interface: it was never particularly hard to wrap your head around, but Apple’s zeal for simplicity sometimes made the original layout feel a little too basic. While you’ll still use a big, bright record button to add clips to your timeline, a handful of new shortcuts beneath the viewfinder window make it easier to gussy up your work.

Apple also moved its controls for Live Titles (a feature that automatically turns what you’re saying into subtitles) and style transfer filters (which add fun, Prisma-style art effects to your photos and videos) to the left and right of that big record button. These were two of the most popular (not to mention most useful) features in Clips, so I’m glad they’re getting a little more prominence this time.

This time, Clips also packs support for iCloud Drive, so you can start a new video project on an iPhone and pick up where you left off on an iPad without issue. The same project reflects updates made on multiple devices, so there’s no need to worry about version control — something that most average Clips users would probably loathe having to think about.

Interface revamps aside, the biggest new addition is what Apple calls Selfie Scenes. It’s unfortunately exclusive to the iPhone X, and one look at the feature in action confirms why — it uses the X’s TrueDepth camera to isolate your face, paint over it with some sweet artsy filters and replace your current background with something more scenic. Right now, the current batch of scenes includes a neon-soaked city in Asia, a hand-drawn rendition of Paris, an 8-bit city that looks like something out of Rampage and, uh, the Millennium Falcon. Seriously. Apple’s cozy partnership with Disney now means that you can virtually insert yourself into a corridor on the Falcon or the bridge of Supreme Leader Snoke’s Mega-class Star Destroyer from The Last Jedi. Naturally, the view of your face takes on the hazy blue of a Star Wars-style hologram.

Yes, Clips’s use of the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera is a gimmick, but it’s a damned cool one. More importantly, it works well almost all the time — the iPhone X did a mostly great job isolating me and my extremities from my virtual background. There’s also something just a little wild about seamlessly inserting myself into a sci-fi universe I’ve yearned to be a part of since I was 8. It’s just too bad older iPhones don’t have the hardware necessary to make this work for more people. (There’s a small consolation prize for Star War buffs with older iPhones: loads of animated stickers depicting Chewie, Princess Leia, TIE Fighters and more.)

While not every iPhone will get all these new features, Apple’s thoughtful changes to the interface and workflow mean the Clips update is well worth installing — you can find it in the App Store now.

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Apple offered to help FBI unlock Texas shooter’s phone

FBI special agent Christopher Combs complained how the agency couldn’t get into the Texas shooter’s phone during a press conference. Turns out all they had to do was ask Apple for help. In a statement the tech titan has released to the media, it said it “immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone.” Cupertino offered its assistance and even promised to “expedite [its] response to any legal process.” It added that it “work[s] with law enforcement every day” and “offer[s] training to thousands of agents so they understand [its] devices and how they can quickly request information from Apple.”

The company told Business Insider that the FBI has yet to ask for help accessing the phone. That pretty much confirms Reuters’ report that officials missed the 48-hour window that would have allowed them to unlock the device simply by using the shooter’s fingerprint. If the gunman had fingerprint access enabled, Apple could’ve told authorities that they had 48 hours to use his prints to unlock the phone before the feature ceased to function.

Now that it’s past 48 hours, the agency has to find a legal means to get to the phone’s contents. Officials will now have to serve Apple with a court order to be able to get their hands on his iCloud data. It’s unclear if the FBI is already securing a court order, but it might have decided not to work with Apple after having a tough time convincing the company to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Apple refused to open the device for the agency even after the FBI took the company to court. In the end, the feds paid big money for a third-party company’s tool that was able to unlock the device.

Via: CNET, Business Insider, MacRumors

Source: John Paczkowski‏ (Twitter)

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Soderbergh’s experimental ‘Mosaic’ HBO series hits iPhone and Apple TV

Director Steven Soderbergh has made a name for himself by pushing cinematic boundaries, so it’s no surprise that his upcoming series for HBO, Mosaic, isn’t your usual TV fare. Today, he’s launching the Mosaic app on iPhone and Apple TV (with Android and web versions to follow soon), which will let you decide how you watch the show. It’s not quite “choose your own adventure,” since you’re not making any decisions on the show’s outcome. Instead, the app, which was developed by PodOp, lets you determine how Mosaic’s narrative flows.

The first episode introduces you to Olivia Lake, an author played by Sharon Stone. After viewing that, the narrative path branches into two episodes. You could just watch them in parallel, or you could follow the path down all the way to the end, then go back and catch up on what you’ve missed. You can also unlock additional clips, documents and recordings to flesh out the story. HBO is making all 7.5 hours of the series available in the app, but it’s also going to air a six-hour version of the series edited by Soderbergh (naturally) on January 22nd.

“While branching narratives have been around forever, technology now allows, I hope, for a more elegant form of engagement than used to be possible,” Soderbergh said in a statement. “At no point were we reverse-engineering the story to fit an existing piece of technology; the story was being created in lockstep with the technical team. The fluidity of that relationship made me feel comfortable because I wanted it to be a simple, intuitive experience.”

Conceptually, Mosaic sounds similar to what Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz attempted with the fourth season of that show on Netflix. He originally said you’d be able to watch those episodes in any order, but then later backtracked on that suggestion. Francis Ford Coppola also tried something similar with Twixt in 2011, a film that he could “remix” narratively with an iPad. He wanted to tour with the movie and edit it live, but eventually settled for a traditional release.

HBO

For Soderbergh, Mosaic is just the latest in a string of TV experiments. His Cinemax series, The Knick, tackled the early days of medical surgery with an anachronistic synth-heavy score. Soderbergh’s film The Girlfriend Experience is now a TV show, as well, and its second season is also dabbling with branching narratives. Soderbergh says he’s working on two more series using the Mosaic platform. Eventually, he hopes to open it up to other directors.

I’ve only seen part of Mosaic’s first episode, but I’ll definitely be devouring the entire series as soon as I can. It’s unclear if the app will appeal to anyone beyond Soderbergh fans and cinephiles, though. In the age of bingewatching, it seems like more viewers simply want to sit back and consume hours of content without lifting a finger.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Mosaic (iTunes Store), HBO

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Israeli company claims Apple copied its dual-camera tech

Whatever you think of your dual-camera iPhone, there’s one company that’s less than thrilled. Israeli startup Corephotonics is suing Apple for allegedly infringing on patented technology with the cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus (it’s likely none too pleased about the iPhone X, for that matter). Corephotonics says it pitched Apple about a potential alliance, only to be shot down and see Apple implement dual cameras on its own. The plaintiff company even claims that Apple boasted it could infringe on patents without fear. Apple’s negotiator said it would take “years and millions of dollars” before the iPhone maker would have to pay if it did infringe, according to Corephotonics’ version of events.

We’ve asked Apple for comment and will let you know if it can provide its take on the situation.

The case may be more complicated than it seems at first. Apple has its own dual camera patents, so it’s clearly been exploring the idea. Corephotonics may need to show that Apple couldn’t have developed the iPhone’s dual cameras independently. Also, it may have to demonstrate that negotiations played out as described. There have been more than a few lawsuits where plaintiffs swore they’d informed tech giants about patents — Corephotonics’ detailed account of this is uncommon, but the court will likely want more tangible proof.

The one certainty is that this isn’t a fly-by-night lawsuit. Corephotonics got into dual camera technology relatively early, and it has worked with big-name partners like Samsung Electro-Mechanics and OmniVision. Whatever the truth, Apple can’t brush this off.

Source: Reuters

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Apple Watches were crashing when asked about the weather

We hope you didn’t ask your shiny new Apple Watch about the weather on November 4th — you probably got a rude response. Many Series 3 owners reported that their wristwear crashed (specifically, the “springboard” interface restarted) if they asked Siri how the weather was that day. It wouldn’t crash if they asked about weather in subsequent days, but the odd hiccup affected users across North America and Europe. We’ve asked Apple for comment. With that said, there’s already a potential culprit… and it’s a familiar one for iPhone users.

Reddit user rgsteele has theorized that the crashing was related to the end of Daylight Saving Time. If you asked about the time either after DST was over or in areas that don’t observe it (such as the Canadian province of Saskatchewan), you were safe. And sure enough, the issue appears to be over: we’ve checked both before and afterward, and it’s now safe to ask Siri if it’s raining. The Apple Watch didn’t have this issue in previous years, but it’s notable that iOS devices had long-running alarm and calendar bugs related to DST shifts.

There’s no guarantee that the time change is the cause, and it’s not certain how much of the fault would rest in Siri’s servers versus the watch software. However, it’s a safe bet that Apple will want to prevent this from happening again — you don’t want a common voice command bringing everything to a standstill one day out of every year.

Via: MacRumors

Source: Reddit

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Apple reminds iPhone X owners they’re using an OLED display

Apple’s bezel-less “X” is the first iPhone with an OLED screen — a technology known for its greater contrast and saturation, but also for its tendency to get burn-in. To make sure customers understand that their $ 1,000 phone might suffer from image persistence in the future, the tech titan has updated the iPhone X’s display support page to explain how an OLED screen works.

The company explains that the “slight shifts in color and hue” when viewing the screen off-angle (read: not straight on) are perfectly normal. It also says OLEDs exhibit slight visual changes with long-term use, such as showing remnants of a high-contrast image displayed on the screen for extended periods of time even when it’s already showing another image.

Those two are also the most common issues Pixel 2 XL owners have with their Android Oreo devices. By pre-empting potential complaints, Apple is most likely trying to avoid facing a similar debacle. In Google’s case, though, some customers’ complaints might be warranted, since they reportedly got burn-in as soon as a week after their purchase.

Despite the warning, Apple assures customers that their pricey new phones aren’t going to have less-than-perfect displays anytime soon. The company says it “engineered the Super Retina display to be the best in the industry in reducing the effects of OLED “burn-in.” And, as AppleInsider notes, iPhone X uses OLED made by Samsung. The Korean conglomerate also manufactures OLED screens for Pixel 2, which doesn’t suffer from the same issues as its bigger sibling.

Via: Apple Insider

Source: Apple Support

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Apple says ‘tears of joy’ face is the most-used emoji

In an overview of its differential privacy technology, Apple slipped in some super important data regarding the popularity of its emojis. The document included an image ranking the top 10 emojis among US English speakers and taking the number one spot was the “face with tears of joy” emoji. The red heart and “loudly crying face” rounded out the top three.

The image is just a simple chart without any real numbers attached, so there’s no telling just how popular that emoji is over all the rest. Really it was just a demonstration of how Apple uses its differential privacy tools, many of which it described in the overview. In it, Apple said, “There are situations where Apple can improve the user experience by getting insight from what many of our users are doing, for example: What new words are trending and might make the most relevant suggestions? What websites have problems that could affect battery life? Which emoji are chosen most often?” But the company said getting that information while maintaining privacy is a bit tricky but key. To do that, it uses its differential privacy technology, which Apple describes as “a technique that enables Apple to learn about the user community without learning about individuals in the community. Differential privacy transforms the information shared with Apple before it ever leaves the user’s device such that Apple can never reproduce the true data.”

Apple says it uses these tools to improve the usability of features like QuickType and emoji suggestions, lookup hints and Safari energy draining domains, among others. You can check out the full overview here.

With the release of iOS 11.1, Apple added over 70 new emojis, and I’m betting the cursing face one will make a run for one of those top 10 spots pretty quickly just based solely on how often I plan to use it. However, iPhone X users will no longer be limited to the selection of static emojis as the company announced in September that the new phone will include the ability to animate a selection of emojis based on what you say.

Image: Apple

Via: The Verge

Source: Apple

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