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Apple's First Retail Store in Queens, New York Opens July 11

Apple has announced that its first retail store in Queens, New York, located at the Queens Center shopping mall in the Elmhurst neighborhood, will have its grand opening on Saturday, July 11 at 10:00 AM local time. The new Apple Store at 90-15 Queens Boulevard will be open between 10:00 AM and 9:30 PM on Monday-Saturday and between 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM on Sunday.

Apple Store Queens Center
Apple's first retail store in Queens will mark its eight location in New York City, with six existing locations in Manhattan and one in Staten Island. Apple is also planning to open its first retail store in Brooklyn, having signed a long-term lease for a 20,000 square-foot building at 247 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, although those plans are running behind schedule after the store missed its original April 2015 grand opening target.

Apple Store Queens Center NY
Apple Store at Queens Center under construction in late May (Twitter/Joe Calati)

Apple recently opened its new Upper East Side store in Manhattan at 940 Madison Avenue, on the corner of 74th Street, on the site of a former banking complex built in 1921 that previously housed luxury retailer VBH. The company also plans to renovate its iconic Fifth Avenue store and temporarily relocate to the vacating FAO Schwarz toy store in the same General Motors Building plaza.

'Hacking Team' Data Breach Confirms Firm's Ability to Infiltrate Jailbroken iPhones

Cybersecurity firm Hacking Team experienced a data breach earlier today, resulting in 400 GB of its documents being leaked onto the Internet, reports The Guardian. The documents confirm Hacking Team's ability to infiltrate and monitor jailbroken iPhones on behalf of government law enforcement agencies like the NSA, as noted by Macworld.

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Much has been speculated before and after Edward Snowden’s release of a trove of National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013 about the capabilities of the United States’ agencies as well as those of allies and enemies. The Hacking Team dump reveals quite a bit more about the routine functions of third-party suppliers into that ecosystem, including specifically enumerated capabilities.

iOS users should therefore take note that the long-running concern that jailbroken iPhones and iPads were susceptible to vulnerabilities that could include access by so-called state actors appears to be confirmed by the data breach.
Hacking Team's software would need to be installed on a jailbroken iPhone, but the firm has the ability to jailbreak and infect a phone with its software via a malware-infected trusted computer the phone is connected to. In the firm's pricing list [PDF, requires Chrome], it's revealed hacking an iOS device costs €50,000 ($55,242) and includes "features" like Skype, WhatsApp and Viber chats, location, contacts and lists of calls. However, this service also includes a prerequisite of a jailbroken iPhone.

Hacking Team uses a legitimate Apple enterprise signing certificate, which is used by corporations to create software that can easily be installed on employee devices, combined with jailbroken iOS devices to bypass iOS app installation protections. Additionally, Hacking Team developed the ability to create a malicious Newsstand app that could capture keystrokes and install monitoring software.

Last year, researchers working independently of each other at Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab discovered components of Hacking Team's tools and how they were used by government agencies to steal data from mobile devices, but the full extent of the software hadn't been confirmed until now.

Data breaching software and Apple devices have been in the news before, most famously in last year's celebrity iCloud data breach, where it was discovered that hackers were using ElcomSoft Phone Password Breaker, software intended for government and law agencies, to steal usernames and passwords to access iCloud backups.

While much of the discussion around government agencies and citizen data has revolved around mass collection, Hacking Team's software is designed to attack individual devices rather than a vast network. It's likely that the exploits detailed in Hacking Team's documents will be addressed and patched up in future iOS and Mac software updates.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Apple Working to Add Home Sharing for Music in iOS 9

homesharingWith the release of iOS 8.4 and the new built-in Apple Music service, Apple removed Home Sharing for music on iOS devices, a move that many Home Sharing users have been upset about.

It was unclear if Home Sharing for music would be re-added in the future, but according to iTunes chief Eddy Cue, Apple is planning to add Home Sharing to iOS 9. In response to a tweet about the removal of Home Sharing for music, Cue tweeted "We are working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9."

Wording in the release notes for the last iOS 8.4 beta suggested that Home Sharing and Genius Mixes were "not currently available," hinting that the features could return at a later date, and it appears that is indeed Apple's plan.

While Home Sharing for music has been removed in iOS 8.4, the feature is still available for video. Home Sharing for music also remains available on the Mac and the Apple TV. It is unclear when Home Sharing for music will be introduced in iOS 9, but the next beta is expected later this week.

In recent weeks, Apple has been embracing social media, with Eddy Cue answering several questions about Apple Music and related services. Cue also used Twitter to announce Apple's plans to pay artists during the Apple Music free trial after an open letter from Taylor Swift, and he informed users about an upcoming iOS 9 beta seed that will add Apple Music to the new operating system.

Related roundup: iOS 9 , Tag: Home Sharing

Apple Retail Stores to Offer Third-Party Accessories in New Apple-Style Packaging

Apple is planning to introduce new co-designed packaging for many of the third-party accessories that it sells in its stores, according to retail store information shared by 9to5Mac. Apple has reportedly been working with several third-party accessory manufacturers on packaging design, helping to create a new look for boxes to better fit in with the packaging that's used for Apple's own products.

Companies participating in Apple's revamped packaging efforts include Tech21, Sena, Incase, Mophie, Logitech, and Life Proof. When these products are sold in Apple Stores, they'll be sold with simple, no-frills white boxes with minimal labeling as seen in photos.

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According to the memo, the packaging will be mostly white to match the Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch boxes, while they will also include simpler fonts, new photography, higher-quality materials, and more consistent compatibility labeling. This shift is yet another in a string for third-parties that has included new environmental guidelines and a ban on leveraging early iPhone leaks.
Apple's new head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, has been working to revamp the Apple Store experience in recent months, streamlining the purchasing process and reimagining both product discovery and customer-employee interactions. The packaging redesign is part of a larger effort to overhaul Apple's in-store accessory lineup, limiting the number of products that are sold for a more refined look.

News of the revamped packaging was first shared by Mac Otakara [Google Translate] in June, and a sneak preview of what the accessory sections of Apple's retail stores might look like can be seen at the company's Upper East Side store in New York.

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Apple's Upper East Side store, image via Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

Apple Store accessory sections are expected to begin seeing changes starting next week, which is when the new packaging will be introduced.

Purported Schematic Suggests 'iPhone 6s' Could Be Slightly Thicker, Retain Home Button

A purported schematic for the so-called "iPhone 6s" obtained by Engadget Japan (via BGR) reveals that the next-generation smartphone could have a thickness of 7.1mm, a slight increase or equal to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which measure 6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively. The schematic also suggests that the "iPhone 6s" will still have a home button, while all other buttons and ports remain unchanged.

iPhone 6s Schematic Engadget Japan
The slight 0.2mm increase in thickness could be the result of Apple adding pressure-sensing Force Touch technology to the next iPhone, enabling the smartphone's display to distinguish between a light tap and firmer press and complete different actions accordingly. The "iPhone 6s" is also rumored to adopt 7000 Series aluminum, which could possibly contribute to marginally different dimensions.

The schematic is consistent with leaked photos of the "iPhone 6s" rear shell, which confirm that the handset will have only minor design changes. In particular, the Lightning connector, speakers, microphones, headphone jack, volume rocker, mute button, sleep/wake button, SIM card slot, antenna lines and cutout for the rear-facing camera and LED flash are all identical to the iPhone 6.

The lack of exterior design changes on the "iPhone 6s" is unsurprising given that "S" model iPhones have historically looked almost identical to the iPhone released one year prior. The iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S, for example, each had virtually the same design as the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 respectively. Instead, the focus of the "iPhone 6s" will likely be on internal improvements.

Leaked photos of the "iPhone 6s" logic board reveal that the smartphone will likely feature Qualcomm’s MDM9635M chip, capable of theoretical LTE download speeds up to 300 Mbps, double the max speed of 150 Mbps in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The next iPhone is also rumored to feature an A9 processor with 2GB of RAM, an updated NFC chip for Apple Pay and an improved 12-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015) , Tag: schematic

'iPhone 6s' Logic Board Suggests 16GB Base Model and Updated NFC Hardware

New images of the logic board from the next-generation "iPhone 6s" have been obtained by 9to5Mac, a few days after the site shared photos from an unnamed source which showed that a new, updated Qualcomm LTE chip could be in store for the iPhone this year. Today's images suggest that, on top of the Qualcomm chip's faster LTE speeds and increased energy efficiency, the iPhone 6s will include fewer chips that are collectively more efficient, updated NFC hardware for Apple Pay, and likely the same 16GB entry-level capacity seen on current iPhones.

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The Toshiba flash memory chip shown in the photos has a 16GB capacity based on the "G7" in the part number, and was built using a 19nm production process. This suggests that the new line of iPhones this year will once again offer a starting storage option of 16GB, likely supplemented with the same 64GB and 128GB options at higher price points seen currently.

While many have complained 16GB is not enough entry-level storage as HD video and space-hungry apps have proliferated, recently Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller claimed the company's cloud-focused services, like the just-launched Apple Music, help alleviate some of the storage stresses on low-end storage configurations. Other changes with iOS 9 such as smaller iOS update sizes and app thinning to load only the app assets needed for a particular device, will also help trim down storage needs.

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On the NFC side of the new iPhone, the new chip inside the iPhone 6s is again from NXP but with a new 66VP2 part number compared to the 65V10 part in the iPhone 6. Chip teardown experts at Chipworks were unclear, however, exactly what kind of improvements such a chip will bring to the new line of smartphones, although they posit it could be eliminating the need for a separate secure element processor altogether and folding the two into one chip.

Echoing earlier rumors, today's images suggest once again that the iPhone 6s will remain identical in look and shape to its predecessor, as seen in a case maker's design drawings and logical for the continuation of the "S" generation trend. Any changes in dimensions would be negligible, leaving the device compatible with nearly all existing iPhone 6 cases and accessories.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015)

How Apple Music's Liking System Works to Customize 'For You' Recommendations

Apple Music's main draw is its focus on curation and its ability to learn about your music preferences to provide recommendations that suit your tastes. Apple's new Music app focuses heavily on content discovery, with an entire "For You" section dedicated to recommendations.

According to Apple, its music experts "handpick songs, artists, and albums based on what you listen to and like," and this content is what populates the "For You" section. Apple's explained that "For You" recommendations get better over time based on "whether you love a song or not," but the company hasn't explicitly spelled out how to best use likes and listens to better tailor Apple Music to your tastes.

To clear up confusion on how recommendations work, The Loop's Jim Dalrymple has spoken directly with Apple to get some insight on how the "Like" feature in Apple Music works to affect recommendations, and he's penned a useful guide on liking from the information he obtained, which is well worth reading.

Any song played from Beats 1 radio, a default radio station, a curated playlist, or from a search can be liked by expanding the miniplayer and tapping the heart icon. You can essentially heart anything that's playing via Apple Music.

likingapplemusic
As Dalrymple explains, tapping the heart button on a song you like influences the content that's then displayed in the "For You" section of Apple Music. As more content is liked, the feature gets a better idea of each individual user's tastes, and is able to offer up a more tailored selection of music. Music that's added to a library and music that's played in full also affects "For You."
Tapping the heart does affect "For You," the section of Apple Music that's custom built with playlists, albums and songs tailored to your individual tastes. For You also takes into account music you add to your library and full plays you listen to. Skips aren't really taken into account, because there are so many reasons you may skip a song--maybe you're just not in the mood for it right now.
Radio stations created from individual songs, done by tapping on the hamburger button when any song is playing and choosing "Start Station," work a bit differently. Instead of displaying a heart, these playlists display a star. Tapping the star allows you to choose "Play More Like This" or "Play Less Like This" to tune a radio station to your particular tastes at that time without affecting overall "For You" recommendations.

playlesslikethisapplemusic
Pressing on any album or playlist recommendation in "For You" gives you an option to customize the section even more, by choosing "I Don't Like This Suggestion." It appears that this customization option is limited to iOS devices for the time being, as Apple Music on Mac doesn't offer this menu.

dislikesuggestionsapplemusic
Apple Music's ability to offer up intensively tailored song recommendations over time may be one of the reasons why Apple insisted on giving users a three month trial to experience the service. Regularly liking songs and culling the "For You" section of recommendations that aren't suitable should vastly change the quality of suggestions over the course of the next few months.

'iPhone 6s' Again Rumored to Feature 12MP Camera With 4K Video Recording

A sketchy and unconfirmed internal document posted by an alleged Foxconn employee on Chinese microblogging website Weibo (via PhoneArena) corroborates rumors that the next-generation iPhone could feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with 4K video recording and 240 FPS slow-motion capabilities.

Weibo iPhone 6s Documents
Weibo user KJuma has since removed the pair of leaked documents he shared on the Twitter-like service, but not before the images began making their rounds on the web. The documents also corroborate multiple rumors claiming the so-called iPhone 6s ("N66") and iPhone 6s Plus ("N71") will have 2GB of RAM.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, issued a note to investors in May with eleven predictions for the next iPhone, and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor and A9 processor with 2GB of RAM were among the new features he listed.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015) , Tags: Foxconn, 4K, 240 FPS

Jony Ive Officially Takes 'Chief Design Officer' Title at Apple

Apple senior executive Jonathan Ive has officially assumed the role of "Chief Design Officer" at Apple effective today, after being promoted from his previous role of "Senior Vice President of Design" nearly six weeks ago. Apple has updated Ive's executive profile on its leadership website to reflect the design chief's new position as Apple's third active C-level executive alongside CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri.
Jonathan Ive is Apple’s Chief Design Officer, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Jony is responsible for all design at Apple, including the look and feel of Apple hardware, user interface, packaging, major architectural projects such as Apple Campus 2 and Apple’s retail stores, as well as new ideas and future initiatives.
Jony Ive Chief Design Officer
Apple announced in a company-wide email last month that Ive would be promoted to Chief Design Officer on July 1 and turn over his day-to-day management of the company's design teams to Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, who have both been elevated to vice president positions. Ive will remain responsible for all of Apple's design, with a focus on redesigning Apple Stores and other larger projects.
Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.
Apple has also added executive profile pages for design vice presidents Howarth and Dye.

Dye Howarth Apple PR Bios
Ive spoke with The Telegraph journalist Stephen Fry last month about his decision to relinquish some of his control, stating that he is still in charge of Apple's design departments without needing to focus on administrative and management work, responsibilities that will now fall under his lieutenants Howarth and Dye. The move had been widely expected for several years.
When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets."
Ive has been a full-time Apple employee since 1992, and rumors about him scaling back at the company have gained momentum over the years. Ive in the past has expressed his desire to spend more time in his native England, where he grew up, and his promotion will enable him to travel more often and possibly work remotely at times. Ive and his family currently live in an upscale neighborhood in San Francisco.

iOS 8.4 Removes Home Sharing for Music

homesharingJust a day after the release of iOS 8.4, which includes Apple's brand new music service Apple Music, many users on both the MacRumors forums and Apple Support communities are finding that the update removes Home Sharing for music on iOS devices. This breaks the ability for users to share their iTunes Library over Wi-Fi from their mobile devices.

Apple yesterday updated a Home Sharing support document to note that Home Sharing on iOS devices is only limited to video. Thus far, Home Sharing for music still appears to be available for both Mac and Apple TV. Additionally, while the Music page in iOS' Settings once listed a Home Sharing option prior to iOS 8.4, the option is no longer there in the new Apple Music settings page in iOS 8.4.

As pointed out by AppleInsider, the release notes for iOS 8.4 beta 4 mentioned that Home Sharing and Genius Mixes were "not currently available", offering the possibility that the feature could return in future versions of iOS.

While the possibility of Home Sharing for music returning on iOS devices is there, it's unclear whether Apple would return the option for non-subscribers of Apple Music. The music service includes the ability to sign up for a $14.99-a-month family plan, which allows access for up to 6 people.

Trent Reznor Shares his Thoughts on Apple Music: 'The Experience is What Matters'

Following Tuesday's launch of Apple Music, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor spoke with music site Pitchfork about his thoughts on the service and his role in its development. Reznor joined Apple in 2014, following the company's acquisition of Beats Music, where Reznor served as Chief Creative Officer.

Ahead of the Apple Music launch, rumors suggested Reznor was leading development of the service alongside Jimmy Iovine, playing a major role in the redesign of the new Music app.

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Image of Trent Reznor via Pitchfork

According to Reznor, his role in the creation of Apple Music shifted over time. While he initially worked on design alongside Apple's design team and iTunes engineers, he shifted to concentrating on marketing in recent months, helping to explain the service and Apple's goals to artists.

Reznor compared his experience working with Apple to his experience working at Beats Music before the acquisition, calling Apple a "respectful, collaborative environment" with ideas that fit into his own thoughts on music.
When I sat down with the people at Apple, I found a very respectful, collaborative environment that wanted to take some of the tentpoles that mattered to us at Beats Music, which really was trying to make an experience that didn't feel like data. Something that felt organic and respectful to music rather than just, "We're just delivering assets to your mobile device." They treated music in a way that put an emphasis on curation and taste.
In earlier interviews, Reznor suggested that no streaming service had hit "the right formula" before Apple Music, a sentiment that he again shared with Pitchfork. With endless music available at our fingertips, he believes the experience is the most important aspect of any streaming service. With Apple Music, the goal was to improve upon the impersonal, "less than optimal" experience being offered by competitors.
What we tried to do with Apple Music is make the experience around the catalog feel like people that love music have touched it in the various ways it gets presented to you: playlists that noticeably feel better, radio stations that were programmed by people, recommendations that feel less like a computer and more like someone made you a mixtape and you like their taste.
Apple Connect, Apple's social networking service, was also developed to improve the listening experience by introducing tools to let artists share music and video that "lives outside the paywall." Apple wanted to give artists a way to be involved in the way music is consumed. "We wanted to create a place where the people making the art could feel like they could have a center," Reznor said.

Released yesterday, Apple Music has a deep focus on curated content. The new Music app delivers recommendations based on personal tastes and playlists created by editors, while the accompanying Beats 1 radio features all music chosen by DJs like Zane Lowe.


Reznor's full interview, which includes additional details on his role in the development of Apple Music, his thoughts on music, and Apple's aim with the new service, is available at Pitchfork and well worth a read.

Apple Maps Vehicles Surveying 13 More U.S. States Later This Month

Apple's fleet of vehicles collecting street-level mapping data in the United States will begin surveying 13 more U.S. states between July 15 and July 31, including Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wyoming. Apple Maps vehicles have been spotted in 15 states to date and will have reached 28 states in total after this next wave.

Apple Van New Jersey
Apple Maps vehicle driving in Monroe Township, New Jersey in May 2015

Apple confirmed last month that it is driving vehicles around the world to collect data to improve Apple Maps, and the mapping imagery is almost certainly being used to create a Google Maps "Street View" competitor. Apple Maps vehicles are also taking photos of businesses and storefronts in major metropolitan areas to replace current imagery provided by third-party sources such as Yelp.

The cities and counties in the 13 U.S. states where Apple Maps vehicles will survey…

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