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In China, Some Apple Users Opt For iPhone Makeover Rather Than Buy New ( 88

Instead of buying a new iPhone model, some Chinese iPhone owners are giving their old models a makeover to look like the latest version -- a trend that could dent Apple's efforts to boost sales in what has been its biggest growth driver. Catherine Cadell, reporting for Reuters: Online sites offer shoppers makeover kits, false cameras and even dust plugs to hide the removed headphone jack to give their iPhone 6 or 6S the appearance of the iPhone 7 -- Apple's latest flagship product which launched last month. The makeover quirk mirrors a broader view among some Chinese users that the iPhone 7 doesn't have enough new features to convince them to trade up. "I don't have the money to upgrade, and the (iPhone) 7 is just so-so," said a Beijing-based sales worker, who said he was getting a Shenzhen firm to replace his iPhone 6 back casing with a fake iPhone 7 shell. "I'm changing it to show off," he said, giving only his surname Gao as he wasn't sure that what he was doing was legal. Searches on platforms including Alibaba's Taobao showed a range of products to transform older phones to an iPhone 7 -- from stickers and engraving services to replacing the outer casing and even some of the hardware.

Apple's Annual Sales Fall For First Time Since 2001 ( 206

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Apple just posted its first annual sales decline since 2001, the year it launched the iPod and kicked off a tremendous run of groundbreaking products. The tech company revealed Tuesday that annual sales fell to $216 billion in the 2016 fiscal year ending September 30, from a record $234 billion in 2015. The sales decline is closely connected to the falling sales for the iPhone, which remains Apple's largest source of revenue. Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones in the September quarter, down from 48 million iPhones in the same quarter a year earlier. That marks the third consecutive quarter when iPhone sales and overall revenue have declined from a year prior. Many analysts have raised concerns that the global smartphone market is saturated. Customers are taking longer to replace their phones. And Apple's latest iPhone is a dead ringer for the previous two models, eliminating some of the desire to upgrade. The good news is that this sales decline may prove to be a blip and not the new norm. Apple is projecting that it will post sales of $76 billion to $78 billion in the upcoming quarter, up from $74.8 billion a year earlier.

Apple Has Created 'Detailed Mockups' of iMessage For Android ( 140

One of the biggest features on iOS that isn't available on Android is iMessage, an instant messaging service that allows users to send information over Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, and other forms of internet access to other iOS or OS X users. Earlier this year, there were been rumors swirling around the possibility of the service coming to Android due to Apple's increased focus on services, "which means opening up certain avenues beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms." Today, Daring Fireball's John Gruber has added fuel to the fire by mentioning that he's "heard from little birdies" that a handful of "detailed mockups" of iMessage for Android have been shared around Apple. MacRumors reports: The user interface of the Android app is said to have gone through numerous designs, from one that looks identical to the version on iOS, to another that has a "pure Material Design," using Google's design language it developed a few years ago. Gruber still thinks iMessage on Android "might happen sooner or later," mainly because of iMessage's new monetized Messages App Store, which could net Apple increased income in its already profitable services category if it translated the app to Android. Apple undoubtedly created mockups for all types of products and services, the vast majority of which never make it to release, and it's unclear exactly how far along the iMessage for Android preliminary designs were at the time of their circulation through Apple, or when exactly that occurred. Still, Gruber notes that while an Android version of iMessage "may never see the light of day," even the existence of such mockups "strongly suggests that there's no 'of course not' to it."

The Phone Hackers At Cellebrite Have Had Their Firmware Leaked Online ( 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Cellebrite, an Israeli company that specializes in digital forensics, has dominated the market in helping law enforcement access mobile phones. But one apparent reseller of the company's products is publicly distributing copies of Cellebrite firmware and software for anyone to download. Although Cellebrite keeps it most sensitive capabilities in-house, the leak may still give researchers, or competitors, a chance to figure out how Cellebrite breaks into and analyzes phones by reverse-engineering the files. The apparent reseller distributing the files is McSira Professional Solutions, which, according to its website, "is pleased to serve police, military and security agencies in the E.U. And [sic] in other parts of the world." McSira is hosting software for various versions of Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), hardware that investigators can use to bypass the security mechanisms of phones, and then extract data from them. McSira allows anyone to download firmware for the UFED Touch, and a PC version called UFED 4PC. It is also hosting pieces of Cellebrite forensic software, such as the UFED Cloud Analyzer. This allows investigators to further scrutinize seized data. McSira is likely offering downloads so customers can update their hardware to the latest version with as little fuss as possible. But it may be possible for researchers to take those files, reverse-engineer them, and gain insight into how Cellebrite's tools work. That may include what sort of exploits Cellebrite uses to bypass the security mechanisms of mobile phones, and weaknesses in the implementation of consumer phones that could be fixed, according to one researcher who has started to examine the files, but was not authorised by his employer to speak to the press about this issue.

Seth's Blog: Hardware is Sexy, But It's Software that Matters ( 78

American author and entrepreneur Seth Godin argues that though hardware is nice and dandy, it is the software that matters. And not just software that runs on a computer, "but the metaphorical idea of rules and algorithms designed to solve problems and connect people," he writes. Godin has used the piece to note how Apple has increasingly grown focused on hardware, and as a result, it's not putting much effort to fixing its software. He writes, "Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it's free, no competitors. Keynote, a presentation program that hasn't been improved in years. iOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty. iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon. No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they've stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new." From the article: Software can change faster than hardware, which means that in changing markets, bet on software. It's tempting to treat the user interface as a piece of fashion, some bling, a sort of jewelry. It's not. It's the way your user controls the tool you build. Change it when it stops working, not when you're bored with it. Every time you change the interface, you better have a really good reason.John Gruber disagrees. He writes: Software, in general, is much better than it used to be. Unlike 1995, we don't lose data due to bugs very often. (For me personally, I can't even remember the last time I lost data.) But our hardware is so much better than our software, the contrast is jarring. An iPhone is a nearly perfect object. Sleek, attractive, simple. The hardware is completely knowable -- there are only five buttons, each of them easily understood. iOS, however, is effectively infinite. The deeper our software gets, the less we know and understand it. It's unsettling.

Apple Releases iOS 10.1 With New Portrait Mode For iPhone 7 Plus ( 50

Apple has released iOS 10.1 to the public today for all iOS 10 users, and with it comes several new features, a long list of bug fixes, and various other under-the-hood improvements. One of the biggest new features introduced is a new "Portrait" mode, which uses the dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus to create shallow depth of field portrait photos with plenty of background bokeh. MacRumors reports: To achieve the blurred look, the image signal processor in the device uses the wide-angle camera to create a depth map while the telephoto captures an image, dissecting the different layers of the photo to decide what to blur with an artful "bokeh" effect. It works on people, pets, and objects, but it does require good lighting to achieve the proper results. The update also [...] brings Transit directions to Japan for the first time. There have been some tweets to the Messages app. It's now possible to play Bubble and Screen effects in Messages with Reduce Motion enabled, something that wasn't previously possible. There's also a new option to replay Bubble and Screen effects. It's important to the note that the "Portrait" mode is still in beta, and will not work flawlessly. Mac Rumors has a full list of the changes made to iOS 10.1 embedded in their report, which you can view here.

Most 'Genuine' Apple Chargers and Cables Sold on Amazon Are Fake, Apple Says ( 191

Apple says it bought Apple chargers and cables labeled as genuine on and found that nearly 90 percent of them to be counterfeit. The revelation comes in a federal lawsuit the company filed against a New Jersey company over what Apple says are fake products that were sold on Amazon. Engadget reports: When Apple got in touch with Amazon about the issue, the website told the former that it got most of its chargers from Mobile Star LLC. The iPhone-maker stressed that since counterfeit cables and chargers don't go through consumer safety testing and could be poorly designed, they're prone to overheating and catching fire. They might even electrocute users. Tim Cook and co. are now asking the court to issue an injunction against the defendant. They also want the court to order the seizure and destruction of all the fake chargers in addition to asking for damage

'Adding a Phone Number To Your Google Account Can Make it Less Secure' ( 105

You may think that adding a backup phone number to your account will make it prone to hack, but that is not always the case. Vijay Pandurangan, EIR at Benchmark (and formerly with Eng Site Lead at Twitter) argues that your phone number is likely the weakest link for many attackers (at least when they are trying to hack your Google account). He has shared the story of his friend who had his Google account compromised. The friend in this case, let's call him Bob, had a very strong password, a completely independent recovery email, hard-to-guess security questions, and he never logged in from unknown devices. Though Bob didn't have multi-factor authentication enabled, he did add a backup phone number. On October 1, when Bob attempted to check his email, he discovered that he was logged out of his Gmail account. When he tried to login, he was told that his password was changed less than an hour ago. He tried calling Verizon, and discovered that his phone service was no longer active, and that the attacker had switched his service to an iPhone 4. "Verizon later conceded that they had transferred his account despite having neither requested nor being given the 4-digit PIN they had on record." The attacker reset Bob's password and changed the recover email, password, name on the account, and enabled two-factor authentication. He got his account back, thanks to support staff and colleagues at Google, but the story illustrates how telco are the weakest link. From the article: Using a few old Google accounts, I experimented with Google's account recovery options and discovered that if a Google account does not have a backup phone number associated with it, Google requires you to have access to the recovery email account OR know the security questions in order to take over an account. However, if a backup phone number is on the account, Google allows you to type in a code from an SMS to the device in lieu of any other information. There you have it: adding a phone number reduces the security of your account to the lowest of: your recovery email account, your security questions, your phone service, and (presumably) Google's last-ditch customer service in case all other options fail. There are myriad examples of telcos improperly turning over their users' accounts: everything from phone hacking incidents in the UK to more recent examples. Simply put, telcos can be quite bad at securing your privacy and they should not be trusted. Interestingly, it appears that if two-factor-auth via SMS is enabled, Google will not allow your password to be reset unless you can also answer a security question in addition to having access to a phone number.

iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Significantly Outperforms Intel LTE Modem, Study Finds ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple elected to use LTE modems from two different sources, Qualcomm and Intel. The A1778 and A1784 iPhone models use a GSM-only Intel XMM7360 modem while the A1660 and 1661 iPhone models use a GSM/CDMA-compatible Qualcomm MDM9645M modem. Apple's decision has already caused some disappointment among customers because the GSM-only Intel modem is not compatible with as many carrier networks as the GSM/CDMA Qualcomm modem, and now independent testing conducted by Cellular Insights suggests there are some significant performance differences between the two modems, with the Qualcomm modem outperforming the Intel modem. Using an RS TS7124 RF Shielded Box, two RS CMW500, one RS CMWC controller, and four Vivaldi antennas, Cellular Insights created a setup to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower using two iPhone 7 Plus devices, one with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm modem. The goal of the test was to measure the highest achievable LTE throughput starting at a Reference Signal Received Quality of -85dBm (a strong signal) and gradually reducing the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker. Three LTE bands were tested: Band 12, Band 4 (the most common band in North America), and Band 7. In all three tests, both the iPhone 7 Plus models offered similar performance in ideal conditions, but as power levels decreased, Cellular Insights saw "unexplainable sharp dips in performance" in the Intel modem, finding a gap "north of 30%" in favor of the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus. In the charts, the Qualcomm modem maintains noticeably higher throughput speeds than the Intel modem as signal strength decreases. According to Cellular Insights, in every single test, the iPhone 7 Plus with a Qualcomm modem "had a significant performance edge" over the iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem.
Data Storage

32GB iPhone 7 Has 8 Times Slower Storage Performance Than 128GB Model ( 159

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple isn't telling you everything about its phones. Few weeks back, GSMArena reported that the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had significantly slower storage performance than the 128GB and 256GB models of the device. In a new video, Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger conducted a series of speed tests that confirm the discrepancy in storage speeds between the different configurations of Apple's phone -- and it turns out the 32GB iPhone is about eight times slower than the larger capacity storage version of the device. For his first test, Hilsenteger used the free PerformanceTest Mobile app to compare the read and write speeds of the iPhone. While there was little difference between the read speeds of the 32GB and 128GB models, there's a huge disparity when it comes to write speed. The 32GB iPhone writes at 42MB per second, which is nearly eight times slower than the 128GB version's 341MB per second. Hilsenteger then performed a real-world speed test, which included transferring movies from a MacBook to the iPhone using a USB cable. While the 256GB model took two minutes and 34 seconds to complete the 4.2GB file transfer, the 32GB iPhone 7 needed a total of three minutes and 40 seconds for the same transmission.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Rumored To Remove Old-School USB Ports On Next MacBook Pro ( 314

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: First the headphone jack, now the USB port? Rumor has it that Apple may get rid of the USB 3.0 port and the Magsafe port (where the charger plugs in) on the next generation of MacBooks. Japanese tech site Macotakara, which accurately predicted that Apple would kill the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, now also claims that the USB port is on the way out. The move would be similar to Apple's latest 12-inch MacBook and its streamlined profile. There's also word that Apple may discontinue the 11-inch MacBook Air to focus instead on the 13-inch laptop. Discontinuing the 11-inch MacBook Air would also potentially boost sales on the 12-inch MacBook. If these rumors are in fact true, then the new MacBooks will have only a USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Both of these ports are about the size of the part of an iPhone charger that plugs into the phone. But since most laptop accessories still plug in via the USB port, Apple owners might have to use an adaptor, or upgrade their technology. Meanwhile, the new MacBooks would likely be charged through the USB-C port or Thunderbolt 3 port. Currently, Apple already sells a USB-C dock with other USB and HDMI ports for $79. The USB-C port uses USB 3.1 Standard, according to PCWorld, which will connect to a wide variety of accessories, such as external hard drives, cameras, and printers. The USB 3.1 can also transfer data between the host computer and the peripheral accessories at a speed of 10 gigabits per second, which is twice as fast as the USB 3.0. Apple is expected to reveal the new Macs at an October 27th event in Cupertino, California.
Desktops (Apple)

Report: Apple To Unveil New Macs At An October 27th Event In Cupertino ( 142

According to Recode's sources, Apple's updated Macs will be unveiled at an event in Cupertino on October 27th. Recode reports: The move had been long expected, given that the company released MacOS Sierra last month but had yet to introduce any new computer models sporting the software. It also comes just in time for Apple to have the new products on sale for the full holiday season. Apple has gone a long time without making significant changes to any of its Mac models, with most experts encouraging customers to hold off all but essential new purchases until the lineup was updated. Tops among the rumors have been reports that Apple will introduce a new MacBook Pro sporting a row of customizable touchscreen keys. The Mac event is expected to take place at or near Apple's Cupertino campus rather than in San Francisco, where the company held many recent events, including the iPhone 7 announcement.
The Almighty Buck

Apple is 'Intransigent, Closed and Controlling' Say Banks ( 284

Apple is increasingly trying to get banks to implement its Apple Pay mobile payments solutions, but some banks are avoiding Cupertino giant's offer, saying that the company is "closed and controlling". From a report on Financial Review: Three of Australia's big four banks have described technology giant Apple as being "intransigent, closed and controlling" and accused it of attempting to freeload on their contactless payments infrastructure while slowing innovation in digital wallets. In an increasingly acrimonious dispute, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corp and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are arguing that the engineering of Apple iPhones prevent them from delivering mobile wallets to millions of customers. This is because Apple Pay is the only application that works with the iPhone's "near field communication" (NFC) antenna, which communicates with payment terminals. In their latest, 137-page submission filed with the competition regulator, the banks argue that by locking them out, "Apple is seeking for itself the exclusive use of Australia's existing NFC terminal infrastructure for the making of integrated mobile payments using iOS devices. Yet, this infrastructure was built and paid for by Australian banks and merchants for the benefit of all Australians."

1 In 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Owners To Switch To iPhone 7, Says Analyst ( 212

Branding Brand recently conducted a post-recall study asking Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users which smartphones they would consider upgrading to. While 40 percent of them said they are ready to jump ship to a different manufacturer, 30 percent of respondents said they are likely going to be switching to the iPhone. However, according to one analyst, that number could be even higher. Softpedia reports: KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that approximately 50 percent of those who ordered a Note 7 are now very likely to go for an iPhone 7, as customer trust is collapsing in the Samsung ecosystem and all these buyers are no longer planning to stick with phones manufactured by the South Korean firm. Between 5 to 7 million Note 7 orders are likely to transfer to Apple, the analyst says, and the iPhone 7 Plus is expected to be the main model benefitting from this transition. Other Android phone manufacturers, including Huawei, are also likely to benefit from Samsung's fiasco, and Google itself could also record an increase in Pixel sales following the Note 7 demise. But Apple will certainly take the lion's share here, mostly thanks to the iPhone 7 Plus currently being positioned as a direct rival to the Note 7.

Will The iPhone 8 Include Augmented Reality? ( 55

Earlier this month Mashable wrote "it's now even more obvious what [Apple] is working to bring to the masses, and it's probably not, as some rumors have indicated, virtual reality." They cited CEO Tim Cook's recent predictions that augmented reality "is going to become really big" -- he said it again on Thursday -- and BuzzFeed noted that Apple "has quietly put into place the components of what could prove to be an AR ecosystem: The iPhone 7 Plus has...a two-camera system capable of gathering stereoscopic data and generating image depth maps... In Apple Watch, the company has a spatially-aware, wearable device outfitted with an accelerometer and GPS. In its new AirPod wireless earphones, Apple essentially has a pair of diminutive, spatially-aware microcomputers -- each one with an Apple W1 wireless chip (the company's first), two accelerometers, two optical sensors, beam-forming microphones, and an antenna... And sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company has recently been taking meetings with immersive content companies like Jaunt.
Their article also lists AR companies that Apple's bought over the last three years -- plus their patents for a "head-mounted display" and a "peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays." BGR adds that Tim Cook "likes to tease future products," and points out that Cook has even said Apple is working on AR features "behind the curtain". This casts a new light on those rumors of an all-glass case for next year's iPhone 8. Will the whole body of the phone become part of an Augmented Reality display system? (And could AR also explain Apple's aggressive push for wireless headphones?)

Apple To Obsolete iPhone 4 and Late 2010 MacBook Air On October 31 ( 114

Apple will make all iPhone 4 models, the late 2010 13-inch MacBook Air, third-generation AirPort Extreme, and mid-2009 AirPort Time Capsule obsolete come October 31, MacRumor claims, citing a different report. From the report: Apple products on the vintage and obsolete list are no longer eligible for hardware service, beyond a few exceptions. Apple defines vintage products as those that have not been manufactured for more than five years but less than seven years ago, while obsolete products are those that were discontinued more than seven years ago. Each of the products added were released between 2009 and 2010. The report specifically pertains to Apple's vintage and obsolete products list in Japan, but the new additions will more than likely extend to the United States, Australia, Canada, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions.

Apple's Redesigned London Store Has Untethered iPhones ( 76

Apple is putting a lot of faith into its customers' hands. The company is stopping the practice of tethering iPhones to demo desks. (It's a common practice, and pretty much everyone does it for their top smartphones). From a CNET report, which describes Apple's redesigned London store: Perhaps the most interesting feature of the store is that when it opens to the public at the weekend the devices won't be tethered to the tables as they were previously, and are in other stores around the world. Apple says this is to allow people to hold them properly, try cases on them and even see how they feel in your pocket. It's a bold move, especially given the lack of visible security in the building. We couldn't spot a single CCTV camera, although any phone taken out of the store will set off an alarm. If not returned, the phones will also be rendered unusable.

Samsung Will Credit You $100 If You Exchange Your Note 7 For Another Samsung Phone ( 123

In an effort to presumably stop customers from jumping ship to the iPhone 7 or other non-Samsung device, Samsung is offering up to $100 in credit to every customer who exchanges their Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone. Mashable reports: The company said so in its updated Note 7 recall page which plainly states that the recall has now been expanded to "all Galaxy Note 7 devices," and asks consumers with a Note 7 to power it down and return it to the place of purchase. Bear in mind that the new offer, which goes live on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. ET, is only for U.S. customers, as users in other parts of the world have different recall programs in place. Furthermore, if you've already exchanged your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you "will receive up to a $75 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets in addition to the $25 you previously received." Even if you exchange your Note 7 for another brand or ask for a refund, you will still receive a $25 bill credit from select carriers and retailers -- again, less any incentive credits you've already received. "As a sign of our appreciation for your patience and loyalty, we are offering up to a $100 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets if you exchange your Galaxy Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, less any incentive credits already received," Samsung wrote.

4Chan Hackers Claim To Have Remotely Wiped John Podesta's iPhone and iPad ( 269

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: For the past several days, WikiLeaks has been publishing thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and the leaks are starting to cause some serious damage. Gizmodo reports: "Many of the leaked emails contained contact info, cell phone numbers, and account data, none of which was redacted by Wikileaks before being posted. With this information accessible to anyone with the time and energy to read through it all, users on 4chan's /pol/ (politically incorrect) board were able to gain access to Podesta's Twitter account, tweeting a message in support of Trump. Imageboard posters also stumbled on an email containing Podesta's Apple ID -- and appear to have exploited it. 'iPad/iPhone info and data wiped out,' a post on Endchan claimed, show screenshots of what seems to be the hacker gaining access to Find My iPhone using Podesta's credentials. If Podesta's Apple ID was compromised, it stands to reason that his iCloud account was similarly vulnerable. And sure enough, Redditor's on r/The_Donald claim Podesta's iCloud data was downloaded. A hacker known as CyberZeist also appears to have uncovered the passwords to dozens of senators' email addresses, as well as social security numbers and credit card info for many Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and acting Chair of the DNC Donna Brazile. The information was posted to pastebin.

Class Action Lawsuit Grows Over iPhone 6 Plus 'Touch Disease' ( 210

Nearly 10,000 people have joined a class action lawsuit against Apple over the screen-freezing "touch disease" afflicting many iPhone Six Plus phones. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard: Lawyers who filed a class action lawsuit against the company in California earlier this fall have signed on three additional law firms to support their case, and an additional class action lawsuit related to the issue has been filed against Apple in Utah... Apple will not perform logic board-level repairs for consumers, which require soldering and reseating of millimeter-size components. This means the only Apple-sanctioned "fix" for a touch diseased phone is to buy a new one... Apple has been replacing touch diseased iPhone 6 Pluses with $329 refurbished ones, some of which are showing symptoms of touch disease within days or weeks of being replaced.
Despite contacting Apple five separate times, the reporter has yet to receive any official response, although "I have gotten hundreds of emails from consumers who have had to buy new phones to replace their broken iPhone 6 Pluses."

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