Yesterday WikiLeaks published the second batch of its Vault 7 documents, Dark Matter, revealing information about Apple-related hacks used by the CIA. This time around, the documents focus on hacks for MacBooks and iPhones, and comes two weeks after the initial batch of documents came to light.
Apple previously said that it had addressed "many of the issues" from the first Vault 7 leaks, and now the company has said much the same regarding the second batch. Despite promises from Julian Assange, it seems that WikiLeaks has not been in contact with Apple to provide further details about the exposed vulnerabilities.
It's only a couple of weeks since WikiLeaks unleashed the first batch of its Vault 7 CIA documents, revealing the agency's spying and hacking capabilities. Now the organization has released a second cache of files dubbed Dark Matter, and they show that the CIA has developed tools for hacking Apple products.
Bold and exciting names like Sonic Screwdriver, DerStarke, Triton and DarkSeaSkies are the monikers given to attack the firmware of MacBooks and iPhones. What's particularly interesting about the documents is that they appear to show that the CIA had the ability to exploit Apple hardware and software a full decade ago.
Automation tools like IFTTT continue to be popular, and as if to prove this, Apple has just bought the iOS app Workflow. Working in a similar way to Automator for macOS, Workflow brings task-oriented automation to iPhone and iPad users.
There's good news to top off the acquisition revelation. Apple is not only keeping Workflow up and running rather than shutting it down, it's also hanging onto the original team of developers behind the app. Even better, Apple is making Workflow available free of charge, dropping the previous $2.99 price tag.
When it comes to Google, many people are concerned about privacy, and rightfully so. Look, the company makes money through advertising and data collection. In other words, if you rely on the search giant's services, such as Gmail and Maps, the company probably knows a lot about you -- including the locations that you visit.
While exposing your location is normally something people try to avoid from a security perspective, today, Google is making it easier to do so. No, the search giant isn't doing it without your permission -- it is actually a very cool new feature. The company is enabling Google Maps users to share their real-time location with others. The reason that this is cool (and not scary) is that the user can choose with whom they share the location, and for how long it is shared. Your phone will even keep you notified that you are sharing your location -- just in case your plans change and you forget to shut it off. In other words, it is totally optional.
A year ago, I wrote about popSLATE 2, a crowdfunded case for iPhone that looked amazing. The proposed product put a second shatterproof E-Ink screen on the back of the phone, and doubled as a battery pack.
I was so impressed with it, I immediately backed the campaign. There’s always a risk when funding products on the likes of Indiegogo (which this was) and Kickstarter, especially when it comes to technology devices, and sadly despite raising over $1.1 million (1371 percent of its funding goal), popSLATE has announced that the company has gone bust, meaning that backers won’t receive the new product and there will be no refunds.
Even though Apple released the first iOS device with a 64-bit processor three and a half years ago, there are still nearly 200,000 titles in the App Store that have not been optimized for those iPhones and iPads. And that will soon turn into a major problem for developers and users alike.
Starting with the next version of iOS, Apple plans to drop support for apps that are not updated to support 64-bit iPhones and iPads, a move which is expected to affect roughly 187,000 titles based on a Sensor Tower report.
Yesterday WikiLeaks unleashed Vault 7 online, revealing a wealth of information about the CIA's hacking tools and techniques. Included in the data dump was the suggestion that the CIA was actively exploiting vulnerabilities in iOS and other software to listen in on people. Apple has responded by saying that "many" of these security holes have been fixed.
Importantly, the company is unable to say that all of the vulnerabilities being used -- or that have been historically used -- by the CIA have been addressed, but it does insist that it "will continue work to rapidly address" problems that are found. A number of iOS security flaws have been exploited by the CIA to surveil individuals, or even take remote control of devices.
In 2017, if you aren't leveraging cloud storage for your iPhone or iPad, you are doing something wrong. By uploading photos and other files to iCloud or Dropbox, for example, and then deleting them locally, you can increase the amount of available local storage. With that said, sometimes you do not want to use the cloud exclusively.
If you need to expand the available local storage on your iPhone or iPad, there are many flash drives that connect either wirelessly or using a lightning connector. SanDisk has two such popular offerings -- the iXpand Flash Drive (which connects using lightning) and the Connect Wireless Stick. The problem, you see, is that both were limited to a maximum of 128GB, while newer iOS devices came with up to 256GB internally. Today, SanDisk announces that both drives are being upped to 256GB to match the current max found on Apple's mobile devices.
Google's Gboard keyboard made its debut on iOS, and it was a few months before the company brought the app to its own Android platform. Today a major update to the iPhone version of the keyboard sees the arrival of voice typing, meaning that users will be able to dictate messages rather than typing by hand.
In addition, the update introduces new emoji, support for additional languages, as well as easy access to Google Doodles and information about them.
Android or iOS? Or both? It’s a question anyone who’s been involved in building a mobile app will have asked. Android is still the major player in the development world, due to the simple fact of the size of the market, but it’s foolish to write anything that’s grown from Apple off.
As with just about every trend in technology, it appears that flexibility and fluidity is the choice route. Here are five things developers will need to consider to stay relevant in 2017 and beyond.
IT security has never been more prominent at the forefront of people's minds than it is currently. With a sadly regular supply of hacking horror tales, Internet users are now exercising a great deal of care with the information they share through their networks. Stronger passwords and a reluctance to add personal details are among the more common measures to have become widely implemented.
Another option which people are leaning towards is that of secure messaging apps, a selection of which are profiled in the infographic below by ERS IT Solutions. There doesn’t yet exist a messaging app that is completely impenetrable to hackers, but there are those which distinguish themselves for their encryption of messages so that even if they are intercepted, the messages can’t be deciphered by unsolicited parties.
One of the things that the iPhone is missing compared to some of its main Android rivals is wireless charging support. While this may not sound like a major omission, many consumers nowadays -- especially buyers in this segment -- expect a modern smartphone to have this technology. And it looks like Apple might finally offer it.
In what can only be considered as a big first step towards an iPhone with wireless charging support, Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the group responsible for promoting the Qi standard that is prevalent in devices that offer wireless charging -- like the Samsung Galaxy S7.
In 2014, Apple introduced the first big iPhone, the iPhone 6 Plus. Since then, the company has offered a phablet version for each new incarnation of its hugely successful device. While Apple doesn't say how many buyers prefer it over the standard model, reports show that it accounts for a significant portion of sales.
In US, the Plus models have gained considerable traction, with Consumer Intelligence Research Partners saying that they made up 35 percent of the iPhone installed base as of 31 December 2016. And their popularity is growing, as a year prior that figure stood at 25 percent.
The measure of Apple fiscal first quarter 2017 isn't record revenues ($78.35 billion) but comparison to major competitors: More than three times Google ($26.06 billion) or Microsoft ($24.1 billion). Amazon announces tomorrow, Groundhog Day. Will the retailer's CEO, Jeff Bezos, see his shadow? The 3x multiplier nearly applies to net income: $17.89 billion, versus $6.64 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively, for the two rivals. Looked at differently, compared to Apple's same quarter in fiscal 2010, seven years later, profits exceed total revenues ($15.68 billion). That's an astounding comparison.
The results defy pundits' prognostications, including my own, about gravity pulling the company back to Earth. iPhone, as major source of revenue, can only stay up for so long, before slowing smartphone sales wreck havoc. That said, credit where it's due: CEO Tim Cook is, as I've asserted before, a logistics and manufacturing genius. He is a strategist, but not an innovation leader like predecessor Steve Jobs. Cook masterfully manages his inheritance, but he, nor Apple observers, should get lost in the quarter's glow: iPhone remains boon and bane.
Apple edged Samsung to take the top spot in the smartphone market in the final quarter of 2016, thanks to very strong iPhone shipments. The Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor moved 78.3 million units, having a share of 17.8 percent, while its South Korean rival only managed to ship 77.5 million smartphones, which equates to a market share of 17.7 percent. Total shipments for the quarter were 438.7 million units, according to a Strategy Analytics report.
This is not the first time that Apple beats Samsung, but it is rare for it to happen. Samsung usually has a comfortable lead over its rivals, including Apple, but thanks to the Galaxy Note7 recall it failed to repeat that performance last quarter. You can follow the saga here, but the gist of it is that the company had to pull millions of devices as a result of its mistakes, and that had a serious effect on its showing in the last part of 2016.