A win for Apple in Beijing as court overturns iPhone patent ruling

 Apple has bigger fish frying in the world of intellectual property. But it must be a relief that an IP court in Beijing has handed the smartphone pioneers a win. On Friday, the courts overturned a May 2016 ruling that said Apple had violated design patents of a small, and now defunct, Chinese company called Shenzhen Baili. The disputes were over the exterior design of the iPhone 6 and 6… Read More

We got our hands on the new red limited-edition iPhone 7 Plus

 Earlier this week, Apple announced a red version of its iPhone to support HIV/AIDS charity (RED). This is the first time that Apple has supported the charity through its flagship phone. The phone was made available today in select countries, and we got our hands on one. Take a look at our pics from this limited-edition Apple phone. Read More

Apple Releases Revised Version of iTunes 12.6, Eliminates Strange ‘Profile Page’ Toggle

Apple today released a revised version of iTunes 12.6, which appears to eliminate a hidden option that may have accidentally been built into the software release.

Shortly after the original release of iTunes 12.6 on Tuesday, a reddit user discovered a “Show on Profile Page” toggle on a Playlist edit page.



The toggle didn’t appear to do anything because there’s currently no individual profile page feature in iTunes, and now the non-functional feature has been eliminated from the 12.6 iTunes release, suggesting it was added by mistake and could be destined for some kind of future iTunes profile addition.

It is entirely unclear what a Profile Page might entail, but reddit users speculated that it could be for a future social network or a Spotify-style searchable playlist database.

The new iTunes 12.6 update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free. It includes a “Rent once, watch anywhere” feature that lets iTunes users watch iTunes movie rentals across all devices with the as-of-yet unreleased iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 updates.

Prior to the iTunes 12.6 update, iTunes movies could only be watched on a single device at a time. A movie rented on a Mac transferred to an iPhone would remove the movie from the Mac’s iTunes Library, while a movie rented on an iOS device or Apple TV could not previously be transferred to other devices.

We don’t yet know when the iTunes 12.6 update will become functional, as it is reliant on iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2, but those who are running the betas can use the cross-rental feature. The iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 software updates could come at any time.
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Crunch Report | Amazon Buys Souq

 Amazon buys Souq, the “Amazon of the Middle East,” Apple acquires Workflow, Instagram blurs sensitive photos and adds two-factor authorization while Facebook rolls out mention alerts and reaction emoji and the latest list of Mac exploits from WikiLeaks. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

New WikiLeaks dump: The CIA built Thunderbolt exploit, implants to target Macs

WikiLeaks today dumped a smaller subset of documents from its “Vault 7” collection of files from a CIA software developer server. Yet again, these documents are more important from the perspective of WikiLeaks having them than for showing any revelatory content. The exploits detailed in these new files are for vulnerabilities that have largely been independently discovered and patched in the past. The files also reveal that the CIA likely built one of these tools after seeing a presentation on the exploits of Apple’s EFI boot firmware at Black Hat in 2012.

The latest batch of files, dramatically named “DarkMatter” (after one of the tools described in the dump), consists of user manuals and other documentation for exploits targeting Apple MacBooks—including malware that leveraged a vulnerability in Apple’s Thunderbolt interface uncovered by a researcher two years ago. Named “Sonic Screwdriver” after the ever-useful tool carried by the fictional Doctor of Dr. Who, the malware was stored on an ordinary Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter. It exploited the Thunderbolt interface to allow anyone with physical access to a MacBook to bypass password protection on firmware and install one of a series of Apple-specific CIA “implants.”

The first (and only documented) version of Sonic Screwdriver was released in 2012. It worked only on MacBooks built between late 2011 and mid-2012, and the tool used a vulnerability in the firmware of those computers that allowed commands to be sent via the Thunderbolt adapter to change the “boot path” (the location of the files used to boot the computer). The change would allow a local attacker to boot the targeted MacBook from an external device to install malware that eavesdropped on the computer during normal use. Those implants included “DarkMatter,” the predecessor to “QuarkMatter.” (QuarkMatter is malware that was revealed in the previous WikiLeaks dump, and it infected the EFI partition of a MacBook’s storage device.)

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Apple snaps up Workflow, an iOS automation app for power users

Late yesterday, Apple closed a deal to acquire Workflow, an app for iOS power users that lets you string a series of repetitive actions together to make them easier and quicker to accomplish. In many ways, the app accomplishes for iOS what the Automator app does for macOS. Late last year Apple laid off Sal Soghoian, the product manager in charge of automation-related products like Automator and AppleScript, and eliminated his position; the purchase of Workflow suggests that it could be the future of Apple’s automation-related efforts.

Workflow’s developers—Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka, and Nick Frey—are all being hired by Apple, and they’ll continue to develop Workflow which will continue to exist in the App Store. It used to cost $2.99, but it’s now available to all users free of charge. The amount Apple paid for Workflow hasn’t been disclosed, but TechCrunch reports that it was a “solid payday” for both the developers of the app and its investors.

Apple’s statement about the acquisition highlighted that it had won an Apple Design Award in 2015 for its use of iOS’ accessibility features, which suggests that the Workflow team could also help Apple develop and implement new accessibility features in future versions of iOS.

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Apple Responds to Hack Threats, Says There Were no iCloud or Apple ID Breaches

In response to a ransom threat in which hackers are claiming to have access to more than 600 million iCloud accounts, Apple told Fortune there have been no breaches of its systems.

Instead, if the hackers do have access to iCloud accounts, Apple suggests previously compromised third-party services are at fault. From an Apple spokesperson:

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

Apple’s response follows a report from Motherboard that suggests a group of hackers known as the “Turkish Crime Family” have claimed to have access to hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts.



The Turkish Crime Family has threatened to reset the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe victims’ Apple devices if Apple does not pay $150,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum by April 7. If Apple does not pay in three days, the group plans to increase the amount of money it is asking for.

Originally the group was believed to have access to 300 million icloud.com, me.com, and mac.com email addresses, but that number later jumped to 627 million due to additional hackers allegedly stepping forward to provide account credentials. The hackers say at least 220 million of the login credentials are verified to work and do not have two-factor authentication enabled.

With Apple denying a breach, the iCloud account information has likely been obtained from major hacking incidents that have affected companies like Yahoo. iCloud users who have the same username and password that was used for both a hacked site and for iCloud should change their passwords immediately.

The Apple spokesperson also told Fortune the company is “actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved,” but did not outline what specific steps are being taken to monitor the situation beyond “standard procedure.”

Apple recommends that all iCloud users choose strong passwords, use different passwords for different sites, and turn on two-factor authentication to protect their accounts.
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Apple has acquired Workflow, a powerful automation tool for iPad and iPhone

 Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today — a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. We’ve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak.
I haven’t been able to get financial details for the deal, but if I come up with them… Read More