Hackers try to extort Apple by threatening to wipe iPhones

Someone claiming to be a group of hackers called themselves the “Turkish Crime Family” has apparently been trying to extort money from Apple. As Motherboard reported a few days ago, the group claims to have login details for hundreds of millions of Apple accounts and is threatening to remotely wipe devices via iCloud unless it’s paid $ 75,000 in Bitcoin or $ 100,000 in iTunes gift cards. Today, ZDNet says that it was able to verify 54 accounts revealed by the hackers, although it’s still unclear how many other accounts they have or how they came by them.

In a statement, Apple said its systems have not been breached, and the alleged list appears to have been obtained from other sources. It also says it’s “actively monitoring” to prevent unauthorized access and is working with law enforcement.

Apple:

There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.

We’re actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved. To protect against these type of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication.

Because of shared passwords, hackers frequently use details obtained in other breaches to try and access more valuable accounts, which may be happening here. Previously, we’ve seen hackers try to extort users directly this way, using Find My iPhone to remotely lock devices until they’re paid. We’ve contacted Apple and will update this post if there are any other details.

Now that at least some of the information has been verified, it seems like a good time for anyone who has (or used to have) an Apple or iCloud account to update and lock down their security settings. Even if these hackers (or someone else) has obtained a password for your account, using two-factor authentication should keep them from being able to access details or remotely wipe devices.

Instructions on setting up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID can be found here. Additionally, if you haven’t changed your password in a while, or have ever shared it with an account anywhere else, it’s a good idea to change it to something strong and unique. Visit Apple’s password reset page at https://iforgot.apple.com/ (check for the secure padlock and correct URL in your address bar) to do that now.

Source: ZDNet

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop

The notion of using a phone to power a computer isn’t new — we’ve seen companies like HP and Motorola try, and ultimately fail, to make it a reality for years. But that’s not stopping Apple from considering the idea. The USPTO issued a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop, AppleInsider reports. As usual, the patent idea likely won’t end up turning into full-fledged product (it was originally filed last September). But it gives us an idea of how Apple is looking at the future of mobile devices and ultraportables.

The patent filing shows off multiple forms of a potential “electronic accessory.” One features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. Another concept describes sliding an iPad in the screen area to power the accessory. Apple also considers plugging additional batteries and GPU hardware in the accessory base to buoy the performance of the iPhone or iPad.

This might all seem a bit crazy, but it makes sense for Apple to be considering new ways to use its mobile hardware. Both the iPhone and iPad are getting faster every year, and such a nimble accessory could give Apple some intriguing ways to combat the rise of convertible, touchscreen-equipped PC laptops. We’re in a world where Microsoft’s Surface devices are demonstrating far more innovation when it comes to portable computing, and where Apple is being forced to respond with its iPad Pro line. It’s about time for the Cupertino company to try something new.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: USPTO (1), (2)

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple acquisition hints at deep automation in iOS

You’ve had a number of built-in options to automate tasks on the Mac over the years, such as AppleScript and Automator, but you’ve had to turn to third-party apps like IFTTT to do similar things on iOS. You might not have to lean so much on outside help going forward, though. Apple has confirmed that it just acquired Workflow, an app that lets you easily run multi-step, multi-app tasks from your iPhone or iPad. You can upload your latest photo to a cloud service by pushing a button, for instance, or tell a family member when you expect to get home.

Unlike with many buyouts, Apple isn’t planning to shut Workflow down right away. The app is not only sticking around the App Store, but is now free. We wouldn’t count on it lasting forever (Apple eventually shut down HopStop, for instance), but Apple won’t necessarily disrupt your life for the sake of its long-term plans.

Neither Apple nor Workflow has outlined what they might do together, but there are a number of possibilities. On a basic level, it hints at the chance of built-in automation for some tasks in iOS — you might just tap a button to accomplish a number of tasks. That could be particularly appealing to iPad power users treating their tablet more like a computer. It may be helpful for home automation, too, by further streamlining control over all your appliances. Just don’t expect to see any Workflow features show up in iOS in the near future. Apple has likely already settled on the core features for iOS 11 by this point (WWDC is just a few months away), so any OS-level integration may have to wait until much later.

Source: TechCrunch

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple doubles the storage of the iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4

The new, limited-edition red iPhone 7/7 Plus and upgraded 9.7-inch iPad aren’t the only things Apple has to share today. The company is also increasing the storage across all iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4 configurations. The lowest-capacity 4-inch iPhone SE is now 32GB, up from 16GB, and the 64GB model has been scrapped in favor of a 128GB version. Basically, Apple has doubled the storage and finally killed off the last 16GB iPhone, but good news: The prices haven’t changed. The new 32GB iPhone SE costs $ 399/£379 (the same price as the old 16GB device), while the 128GB model comes in at $ 499/£479. Both will go on sale this Friday, March 24th.

For the iPad Mini 4, Apple has simply done away with the 32GB and 64GB models, introducing a new, lone 128GB config. You’re getting an even better deal here, since you’re only expected to pay as much as the 32GB was worth for quadruple the storage — though it makes sense customers should get more bang for their buck since the internals of the Mini 4 are lagging behind Apple’s other iPads. The 128GB tablet goes on sale today for $ 399/£419 for the WiFi-only model, and $ 529/£549 if you add LTE connectivity.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

Engadget RSS Feed

Russia finds Apple guilty of fixing iPhone prices

Google isn’t the only American company facing regulatory trouble in Russia. The country’s antitrust body has ruled that Apple is guilty of fixing prices for iPhone 5 and 6 variants at 16 local retailers. Reportedly, the company tracked prices at these stores and would ask them to raise the price if it was ever deemed “unsuitable.” If they didn’t comply, Apple supposedly had the authority to terminate their reseller deals without so much as an explanation.

Apple has 3 months to contest the decision once it’s published in full later in March. It’s not clear what the proposed penalty will be, but Google was hit with a relatively modest 438 million ruble (currently $ 7.4 million) fine. Execs aren’t likely to lose sleep over the financial side of the ruling, then. Officials add that Apple has mended its ways with a policy that should prevent future trouble.

We’ve asked Apple for comment. However, a spokesperson tells the Financial Times that the company “worked closely” with the antitrust agency and is “glad to put this matter behind us.” Apple isn’t likely to fight this verdict, in other words — unlike in its e-book case, it’s more interested in moving on (and protecting sales in a major market) than fighting to the bitter end.

Via: Financial Times, 9to5Mac

Source: FAS (translated)

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple says it’s already patched ‘many’ Wikileaks iOS exploits

Less than 24 hours ago, Wikileaks published a large cache of documents detailing top secret CIA operations conducted by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. Included in the 8,761 documents and files, referred to was Vault 7, are references to zero-day exploits that were reportedly being used to track and control iPhones but also Android phones and Samsung smart TVs.

While the authenticity of some of Wikileaks’ claims are still in question, Apple has confirmed that some of the threats towards its mobile operating system are very real. In a move to reassure customers, the company issued a statement noting that it has already taken steps to patch “many” of the 14 iOS vulnerabilities listed and is working to “rapidly address” the rest.

An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch: “Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we’re constantly working to keep it that way. Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system. While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities. We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates.”

Apple hasn’t specified which exploits it has patched or when it expects the remainder to be fixed, but the statement does stress the importance of keeping your devices updated. Apple has reiterated time and again that it values the privacy of its customers, so it’s likely that upcoming software updates could be expedited to ensure iPhone and iPad users are protected.

Source: TechCrunch

Engadget RSS Feed

Report: Apple might be revamping its iPad lineup in March

Japanese website Macotakara reports that Apple’s upcoming March event will see the release of a new line of iPad Pros as well as 128GB iPhone SE and a new bright red color choice for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The company is expected to unveil iPad Pros in 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch models.

That could mean that Apple is replacing the iPad mini 4 with the 7.9-inch Pro, refreshing the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models. and introducing a whole new model, the 10.5. However there have been some conflicting reports as to whether Apple really will do that. Both Barclays and KGI Securities failed to mention the 7.9-inch model in their predictions so it could be that the 10.5-inch will actually replace the mini 4. As DigiTimes points out, the 10.5’s screen width would be the same as the iPad mini’s screen height and, with that rumored edge-to-edge display, would fit in the same overall footprint.

Still, Macotakara is saying that the 7.9-inch will use the Smart Connector, a 12MP iSight camera, True Tone flash and display, just like its larger counterparts. The 10.5 and 12.9 inch versions will reportedly run on A10X chips while the smaller models will use the A9X.

Macotakara’s report also states that Apple plans to release an iPhone SE with 128GB of onboard storage as well as red variants of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, potentially as a licensing tie-in with Product Red. We might see new Watch bands in March as well given that the company similarly refreshed those at last year’s “Loop You In” event.

And while Macotakara is generally trusted as a source for advanced Apple announcements, there is no guarantee that the company will actually announce all of this stuff. We’ll simply have to wait until March to find out.

Via: Macrumors

Source: Macotakara

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple reportedly buys an AI-based face recognition startup

Those rumors of Apple exploring facial recognition for sign-ins might just have some merit. Calcalist reports that Apple has acquired RealFace, an Israeli startup that developed deep learning-based face authentication technology. The terms of the deal aren’t public, but it’s estimated at “several million dollars.” Cupertino would mainly be interested in the promise of the technology than pure resources, in other words.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the reported deal and will let you know if it has something to add. However, RealFace recently took its website down and left nothing but a skeleton server behind.

Apple is no stranger to buying companies with some form of facial recognition tech. However, a focus on authentication would be both new and logical. If Apple wants to reduce its dependence on fingerprint readers for password-free iPhone logins, it needs a face detection system that will quickly and consistently sign you in across most situations, not just ideal conditions. RealFace’s AI tech is supposed to be highly accurate, so it might not be as finnicky or easily duped as some implementations.

Via: Times of Israel

Source: Calcalist (translated)

Engadget RSS Feed

iPhone 7 turns around slowing sales for Apple

iPhone sales were bound to start dropping sooner or later, but today’s earnings news from Apple sees a turnaround: iPhone sales are back up after a year. In the first full quarter with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on the market, Apple sold 78.3 million smartphones. That’s up about five percent from a year ago, when the company moved 74.8 million iPhones. Historically, a new iPhone model has guaranteed that sales would be up as well — and even though the iPhone 7 is a rather iterative model, it was enough to do the trick.

As the iPhone goes, so goes Apple’s overall financial health. This quarter (the company’s first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year), revenue of $ 78.4 billion and profits of $ 18.4 billion are massive numbers and both increases on a year ago.

The Mac was another winner this quarter — but just barely. The company sold 5.37 million Macs, up a small 1.4 percent over the year-ago quarter. It’s not surprising that the first MacBook Pro refresh helped out the overall line, although it’s a pretty small bump over last year. The iPad wasn’t so lucky, with sales of 13.1 million representing yet another down quarter. That’s 19 percent less iPads than Apple sold a year ago, and we’re now looking at three full years of declining iPad sales. While Tim Cook has continued to say the product is how Apple defines the future of computing, the numbers don’t lie, and it’ll be interesting to see if he addresses the continued drop today.

Apple is continuing to decline to say how many Apple Watches it sells, so all we have to go on there is Tim Cook’s word — the CEO said that it was a record quarter for Apple Watch revenue. However, revenue in the “other products” category (which covers things like Beats, the iPod, Apple TV and accessories in addition to the Apple Watch) declined year over year, so the Watch wasn’t quite enough to make up for losses in other product categories.

The last big part of Apple’s business is is services business, which covers things like Apple Music, iCloud, the App Store and so on. It was a big winner this quarter, continuing the trend we saw in 2016. Apple says that the $ 7.17 billion in revenue from services is a record, though in terms of overall revenue it’s now just slightly behind the Mac ($ 7.24 billion) in terms of how much overall cash it pulls in.

As usual, Apple will be holding a call with CEO Tim Cook and we’ll be updating this post with anything else we learn. Elephants in the room include the iPad, when the company might get more AirPods to consumers, and what the response has been to the new MacBook Pro. We’re guessing he’s going to say that customers just love it.

Source: Apple

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple wants to make app developers less thirsty for reviews

Apple may finally be putting an end to the annoying slew of review requests that often pop up while you’re using an app. According to Recode, the iPhone maker is working on a mechanism that limits the number of times that developers can ask for reviews and ratings to three per year.

Apple is also working on an option within the phone’s settings to disable all such requests, said Recode, as well as adding a way to let users submit ratings and reviews without leaving the apps they’re in. That convenience should encourage more user feedback, which should assuage the concerns of those who might be worried about the potential new feature. Developers depend on positive ratings to get their apps discovered in Apple’s store.

These updates will be part of an upcoming iOS 10.3 release that will also let developers directly reply to reviews within the app store, under what will reportedly be called the Reviews API. The iOS 10.3 developer beta, made available today, will also include a feature to let you use Find My iPhone to search for your missing AirPods.

Source: Recode

Engadget RSS Feed