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Apple Fixes Broken Twitter Links in Safari in Third Beta of OS X 10.11.4

Apple has fixed an issue that prevented shortened "t.co" links on Twitter from loading in Safari on the third beta version of OS X 10.11.4, seeded to developers for testing on Monday, according to developer Dieter Komendera. The bug affected many users in the MacRumors and Apple Support Communities forums.
Since November, Twitter users who click shortened "t.co" links with the secured HTTPS protocol have encountered a bug that prevents content from loading. Oftentimes, when a "t.co" link is clicked, it opens up a blank web page and hangs at a loading screen for several minutes before giving an error message.

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Safari users have used temporary solutions, including reloading the "t.co" link several times, removing "https" from the URL, clearing Safari's cache, or switching to a different browser, but until now there was no official fix yet for the link loading issue. Chrome and Firefox are not affected, nor are links that do not use HTTPS.

Last month, WebKit Developer Experience Manager Timothy Hatcher tweeted that the problem was lower level than WebKit, Safari's underlying rendering engine, and that Apple had a fix identified. OS X 10.11.4 should be released to the public by no later than the end of March, depending on how many beta versions are tested.

Tags: Twitter, Safari

Apple Recruiting Specialized Engineer to Focus on Apple Watch Clock Faces

A job description for a software engineer on Apple's "Clock Face Team" discovered yesterday points to the possibility of more robust Clock Face and Complications options in a future watchOS update. As discovered by AppleInsider, the listing is specifically seeking a software engineer with 3+ years of software development experience to join the Apple Watch team.

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Responsible for planning and implementing new Clock Faces and Complications for Apple Watch users, the software engineer will work in close proximity to the UI design, iOS Frameworks, and QA teams. Besides the expected timeliness and attention to detail stipulations, the rest of the description for the position at Apple includes the following:
Description

As a member of the team you will have many responsibilities relating to the design, development, and testing of the device software.
  • Collaborating closely with the design team to push the envelope on human-computer interactions.
  • Creating solutions tailored to the constraints of the software and the hardware of a small, low power device.
  • Working closely with the iOS Apps, iOS Frameworks and Hardware teams to create robust and maintainable systems that will stand the test of time.
  • Coordinating with the quality assurance teams to ensure full test coverage as well as to initiate focused testing on critical components.
New Apple Watch Clock Faces and Complications have been assumed to be in the cards for future watchOS updates, but what we still don't know is when they will be released. Last September, Apple released the first major public update for Apple Watch in watchOS 2, which introduced three new Clock Faces: two variations on Photo Album (one that shuffles through a set album, and one that sticks to a specific image) and Time-Lapse.

Currently on watchOS 2.1, the next update to the Apple Watch software (watchOS 2.2) is predicted to debut at a rumored March media event. Recent beta tests of 2.2 don't hint at the inclusion of new Clock Faces and Complications, so there's a possibility users will have to wait a little longer for these additions. The specific details for the event remain nebulous, but so far the "iPhone 5se," iPad Air 3, and new Apple Watch bands are all rumored to be included in next month's yet-to-be-announced Apple event.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2
Tag: Apple job listings
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

New Bill Introduced in U.S. Congress to Block State-Level Efforts to Weaken Smartphone Encryption

passcodeA new bill introduced in U.S. Congress today by representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) would attempt to block state-level efforts to ban sales of strongly encrypted smartphones, reports Ars Technica.

The federal bill will need to pass the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and be signed by the president, in order to become law. If passed quick enough, the bipartisan legislation would set precedent over state-level bills.

California and New York assemblymen have introduced new bills over the past year that would require smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Google to create devices that can be decrypted or unlocked, or be subject to fines.

The virtually identical bills would require any smartphone manufactured after January 1, 2017 and sold in New York or California to "be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider." Apple and others would face a $2,500 fine per phone in violation of the proposed law.

Apple is strongly against government efforts to weaken smartphone encryption. The company ceased storing encryption keys for devices on iOS 8, making it impossible for the iPhone maker to unlock content on passcode-protected devices under police request. Both iOS and Android share these default encryption settings.

In September, FBI Director James Comey expressed concerns that Apple and Google are "marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law." Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook believes providing the U.S. government with back door access means the "back door's for everybody, for good guys and bad guys."

Read the full text of the "ENCRYPT Act of 2016" for more details about the new house bill.

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 Music on Sonos Officially Launching Tomorrow

Sonos today announced that Apple Music will be officially available on Sonos wireless speakers starting tomorrow, ending a two month beta testing period. Sonos customers across the world will be able to stream Apple Music content and directly access Apple Music features including For You, Radio, and My Music.

Over the course of the beta test, which started on December 15, Apple Music on the Sonos platform was tested by hundreds of thousands of listeners. Apple's Eddy Cue commented on the beta test, calling it "great" and an "amazing listening experience."

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"The feedback from Apple Music members on Sonos during the beta period has been great," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. "Sonos plus Apple Music provides an amazing listening experience at home - and we're excited to offer it to all Sonos customers starting tomorrow."
Beginning Wednesday, February 10, streaming Apple Music on Sonos speakers can be done by selecting "Add Music Services" from a Sonos controller app, choosing the Apple Music icon, and logging into the service. An Apple Music subscription or free trial is required.

Apple Music on Sonos has been highly anticipated as it was noticeably absent from the system when Apple Music first launched on June 30. Sonos previously supported the direct streaming of Beats Music and promised to implement Apple Music support before the end of 2015.

Ahead of the announcement of official Apple Music support, Sonos conducted a study on the positive effects of music listening in the home using an Apple Music subscription paired with a Sonos sound system. The study found that families who regularly listened to music in the home spent 67 percent more time together and ate together more often, among other positive effects.

'Huge' Number of Mac Apps Open to Hijacking From Sparkle Updater Vulnerability

A pair of vulnerabilities in the framework that some Mac apps use to receive automatic updates leaves them open to man-in-the-middle attacks, according to a report from Ars Technica covering a security flaw that was first discovered by a security researcher named Radek in late January.

Apps that use a vulnerable version of Sparkle and an unencrypted HTTP channel for server updates are at risk of being hijacked to transmit malicious code to end users. The Sparkle framework is used by apps outside of the Mac App Store to facilitate automatic software updates.

Some of the affected apps are widely downloaded titles like Camtasia, Duet Display, uTorrent, and Sketch. A proof of concept attack was shared by Simone Margaritelli using an older version of VLC, which was recently updated to patch the flaw. The vulnerabilities were tested on both OS X Yosemite and the most recent version of OS X El Capitan.

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Image via EvilSocket

A "huge" number of apps are said to be at risk, but as Ars Technica points out, it is difficult to tell exactly which apps that use Sparkle are open to attack. GitHub users have compiled a list of apps that use Sparkle, but not all use the vulnerable version and not all transfer data over non-secured HTTP channels.

Apps downloaded through the Mac App Store are not affected as OS X's built in software update mechanism does not use Sparkle.

Sparkle has released a fix in the newest version of the Sparkle Updater, but it will take some time for Mac apps to implement the patched framework. Ars Technica recommends concerned users with potentially vulnerable apps installed avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks or do so only via a VPN.

Tag: Sparkle

Apple Stores Now Offering Belkin Screen Protector Application

As of today, Apple Stores across the United States and around the world are offering a new system that allows Apple Store employees to apply Belkin-branded screen protectors for iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus customers. Many stores across the world began rolling out the Belkin ScreenCare+ Application System last week, but the system is officially available in retail stores starting this morning.

Belkin's ScreenCare+ Application System lets Apple Store employees accurately and precisely apply screen protectors using a ScreenCare+ machine. When a customer purchases either a Belkin TrueClear Invisiglass Screen Protector or a Belkin TrueClear Anti-Glare Screen Protector, an Apple retail employee who has been trained in the application method will bring the ScreenCare+ machine from the back of the store.


Using the machine, the employee will clean a customer's iPhone display and then apply the screen protector directly in front of the customer. Should a mistake be made during the application process, a new screen protector will be applied at no cost to the customer.

The Belkin screen protector application service should greatly cut down on the hassle involved with applying a screen protector at home. With Belkin's machine, there's less room for error as alignment is automatic and there's little chance of dust or debris accidentally getting stuck under the screen protector.

ScreenCare+ is available at Apple Stores worldwide, but screen protector application is limited to Apple's latest iPhones – the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus. Belkin's Invisiglass screen protector is made from an ultra-thin, flexible glass that absorbs shock and is shatterproof while preserving the natural feel of the iPhone. The Anti-Glare screen protector reduces glare to improve visibility in bright light while also protecting the iPhone display from damage.

Screen protectors can be purchased from Apple retail stores and applied by Apple Store employees starting immediately.

New Features in tvOS 9.2 Beta 3: Dictation Support and App Store Siri Search

Throughout the tvOS 9.2 beta testing process, Apple has been steadily adding new features. Today's third beta introduced a pair of new features that are quite useful: dictation and App Store search for Siri. We've made a quick video that shows off the new features and how they work on the fourth-generation Apple TV.

With the new dictation option, it's now possible for Apple TV owners to dictate text and spell user names and passwords rather than typing them. After installing tvOS 9.2 beta 3, users are prompted to enable or disable dictation.

After dictation is enabled, the tvOS search bar alternates between a blank search field and an option to hold down the Siri button on the remote to dictate text. While speaking into the remote, a live levels meter is displayed on the screen so you can be sure the dictation feature is activated.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

The first version of tvOS had few options for entering text, requiring users to slowly type in passwords and user names with the on-screen text entry box with the Siri remote. Since then, Apple has added support for the Apple Remote app, with tvOS 9.2 bringing support for dictation and Bluetooth keyboards.

App Store search for Siri is the second new feature in today's beta. With the new Siri support, voice-based searches can be used to find specific apps or app categories, such as games, in the App Store. The feature greatly enhances the process of finding apps on the fourth-generation Apple TV, which was previously limited to text-based searches.

Along with App Store search for Siri, Bluetooth keyboard support, and dictation, tvOS 9.2 includes support for iCloud Photo Library and Live Photos, and allows users to group apps into folders on the Home screen like on iOS devices. It also includes a new look for the App Switcher interface, and brings MapKit for developers.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

tvOS 9.2 is currently available only to developers, but it should see a public release in the spring likely alongside iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, and watchOS 2.2.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: tvOS 9.2
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

Law Firms Consider 'Error 53' Lawsuits Against Apple as Some Stores Authorized for Repairs

iPhone6s-back-frontSeveral law firms are considering lawsuits against Apple following news that the company disables iPhone 6 models that have third-party repairs that affect Touch ID, reports The Guardian. The "Error 53" controversy started last week when news circulated about customers who have had their iPhones disabled and rendered unusable by a mysterious "error 53" message.

It turns out Apple disables the iPhones of customers who have had unauthorized repairs on their devices. As explained in a thorough post from iFixit, a repair made by a third-party service using non-original components cannot pass a Touch ID validation check because mismatched parts don't sync up properly.

According to an Apple spokesperson, when the iPhone's parts can't be properly validated because of a repair done to a component affecting the Touch ID sensor, the error message is triggered in an intentional effort to keep Touch ID and the secure enclave that stores fingerprint information safe. Damaged phones also have the potential to give the error.
"We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure."
A UK barrister told The Guardian disabling iPhones "could potentially be viewed as an offense" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which covers the destruction of property, and a Seattle-based law firm, PVCA said it wants to bring a class action lawsuit against Apple, calling on affected customers to get in contact. PVCA is planning to represent customers for free and has outlined the issue on its website, suggesting Apple is violating consumer laws by forcing customers to use Apple-sanctioned repair services.
We believe that Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third party repair shops. Where you could get your screen replaced by a neighborhood repair facility for $50-80, Apple charges $129 or more. There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products.
Apple may be planning to proactively head off lawsuits and assuage customer outrage. MacRumors has heard from a retail source that certain Apple Stores have received the go ahead from Apple to replace third-party screens and other third-party components to resolve the error 53 issue. The standard out-of-warranty fee is charged for the repairs and the replacement of non-genuine parts with Apple parts is limited to those affected by the error.

It is not yet clear if all Apple Stores have been authorized to repair error 53 iPhones as Apple's only official statement is that it's a security measure required to prevent fraudulent Touch ID sensors from being installed.

Tag: Error 53

Apple Seeds Third OS X 10.11.4 El Capitan Beta to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X 10.11.4 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second OS X 10.11.4 beta and three weeks after releasing OS X 10.11.3. OS X 10.11.4 has been in testing since January 11.

The third OS X 10.11.4 beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or via the Software Update Mechanism in the Mac App Store.

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OS X 10.11.4 offers a couple of new features, such as the ability to support password protected notes in the Notes app, but like the recent OS X 10.11.3 update, it appears to focus primarily on under-the-hood bug fixes and performance improvements with few noticeable outward-facing changes. Almost all of Apple’s OS X updates to date have been smaller updates that improve performance rather than introduce new features.

We’ll update this post with any features or significant changes that are discovered in the third beta of OS X 10.11.4.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.4

Apple Seeds Third Beta of iOS 9.3 to Developers

ios93Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second iOS 9.3 beta and two months after the public release of iOS 9.2. iOS 9.3 has been in testing since January 11.

The third iOS 9.3 beta is available as an over-the-air update and through the iOS section of the Apple Developer Center.

As a major .1 update to the iOS 9 operating system, iOS 9.3 introduces several new features. There's a Night Shift mode to reduce the amount of blue light iOS users are exposed to in the evening by shifting the iPad or iPhone display to a warmer (yellower) color spectrum, and there are several features designed to improve the iPad for Education program, such as multi-user login.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Multiple apps and features are also seeing updates in iOS 9.3. Apple News includes more personalized recommendations, faster updates, a landscape view on the iPhone, and support for in-line video, while Health includes a new Apple Watch-style "Activity" view and Notes has an option to password protect individual entries.

Apple Music for CarPlay offers "New" and "For You" sections for better music discovery, and a Nearby Feature in CarPlay Maps offers more information about what's close by. Paired with watchOS 2.2, an iPhone running iOS 9.3 is able to support multiple Apple Watches, and for iPhone 6s users, there are new Quick Actions for Weather, Settings, Compass, Health, App Store, and iTunes Store.

The second iOS 9.3 beta added a Control Center toggle for the Night Shift feature, and new additions in the third iOS 9.3 beta will be listed below.

What's new in iOS 9.3 beta 3:

Verizon Wi-Fi calling - The third beta of iOS 9.3 adds Wi-Fi calling for Verizon users, allowing them to place calls over a wireless connection when cellular connectivity is poor.

T-Mobile bug fix - Today's beta includes a carrier update for T-Mobile users, fixing a bug that prevented apps from loading over a cellular connection.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3

Apple Seeds Third WatchOS 2.2 Beta to Developers

watchos2Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming watchOS 2.2 update to developers, two weeks after seeding the second watchOS 2.2 beta and two months after releasing watchOS 2.1, the first major update to the watchOS 2 operating system that runs on the Apple Watch. watchOS 2.2 has been in testing since January 11.

The third watchOS 2.2 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on an iPhone running the iOS 9.3 beta by going to General --> Software update. To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the Apple Watch charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS 2.2, along with iOS 9.3, introduces support for pairing multiple Apple Watches with a single iPhone. Both updates are required, with each watch running watchOS 2.2 and each iPhone running iOS 9.3. watchOS 2.2 also includes a revamped look for the built-in Maps app on the Apple Watch with access to the Nearby feature first introduced with iOS 9 and new buttons for quickly accessing directions to home and work.

There are were no other obvious outward-facing changes introduced in the first two watchOS 2.2 betas aside from the changes to the Maps app, but the update undoubtedly includes under-the-hood performance updates and bug fixes to address issues that have been discovered since the release of watchOS 2.1.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2
Tag: watchOS 2.2
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Apple Seeds Third Beta of tvOS 9.2 to Developers

Apple today provided developers with the third beta of an upcoming 9.2 update to tvOS, the operating system that runs on the fourth-generation Apple TV and powers its built-in App Store. Today's tvOS 9.2 beta 3 comes two weeks after Apple released the second beta of tvOS 9.2 and two weeks after the release of tvOS 9.1.1, a minor update to tvOS 9.1. tvOS 9.2 has been in testing since January 11.

tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Those who have already installed the second tvOS 9.2 beta will be able to download the third update over the air.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

tvOS 9.2 is a significant update for the tvOS operating system. It brings support for Bluetooth keyboards, allowing a keyboard to be paired to the Apple TV for text entry. Bluetooth keyboard support is a major feature that was missing from previous versions of tvOS and its addition should make it much easier to do tasks like entering passwords on the fourth-generation Apple TV.

Along with Bluetooth keyboard support, the tvOS 9.2 update introduces support for grouping apps into folders on the Home screen like on iOS devices, plus it includes a new look for the App Switcher interface and it brings support for iCloud Photo Library and Live Photos.

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tvOS 9.2 also introduces MapKit so developers can incorporate maps into their tvOS apps, and it adds Siri support for US Spanish (in the US only) and French Canadian (in Canada only). UK English, Australian English, and US English are also now available as Siri options in the UK, Australian, and US Storefronts when English is set as the tvOS language.

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We'll update this post with any new features that are discovered in the third beta of tvOS 9.2.

What's new in tvOS 9.2 beta 3:

Dictation - There's now support for onscreen text entry via dictation in countries where Siri is available. When updating to tvOS 9.2 beta 3, users will be prompted to enable or disable dictation. With dictation, Apple TV users can dictate text and spell user names and passwords rather than typing them.

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With dictation enabled, the tvOS search bar alternates between a blank search field and an option to hold the Siri button to dictate text.

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While speaking, a live levels meter is then displayed on the screen.

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App Store Siri Search - Siri is now able to search for App Store apps, improving the app discovery process in the App Store. It's now possible to ask Siri to search for an app or to search for a category of apps, such as games and bring up a listing.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: tvOS 9.2
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)