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Late Night 'Motor Noises' Heard From Apple-Leased Sunnyvale Campus

Loud "motor"-sounding noises are being heard at a Sunnyvale campus where Apple leases at least one building, reports AppleInsider, speculating that the sounds could be coming from a secret car testing facility. Apple occupies a single building in a 7-building campus at North Wolfe Road and Central Expressway in Sunnyvale, which it leased in 2014.

AppleInsider has previously suggested that in addition to its known offices at the location, where it conducts research and development, Apple is also operating under a shell company known as SixtyEight Research. SixtyEight Research is a mysterious "market research" operation that also leases one of the buildings on the campus, and given the lack of information available about the company, it could potentially be a front for the site where Apple works on its Apple Car.

Campus where Apple leases a building, via San Jose Mercury News

In recent months, a resident who lives near the 7-building campus has complained to the city of Sunnyvale about "motor" noises emanating from the area late at night. Major renovations undertaken by Apple have been underway at the site since last year, so it is unclear if the resident was simply hearing ongoing construction sounds.
"(Do) there have to (be) motor noises at 11:00 p.m. at night like last night?" the resident wrote to the city of Sunnyvale. "Even with the windows closed I could still hear it."
There continues to be no confirmed link between Apple and SixtyEight Research, or clear evidence that Apple is using the facility for its Apple Car development, but Apple has plans to build a 10-foot security fence around the area to hide its activity.

The rumored car being developed by Apple under the name "Project Titan" is still in the early stages, but Apple is said to have hundreds of employees working on the project. Over the past few months, Apple has hired dozens of new employees with expertise in the auto industry, poaching them from companies like Ford, Tesla, GM, and more.

Recently, "Project Titan" lead Steve Zadesky announced plans to leave the company, and Apple is said to have implemented a temporary hiring freeze ahead of his planned departure. Apple executives are also said to be unhappy with the progress being made on the Apple Car, so its future could be in question. Rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to have the final design of its car established by 2019 or 2020.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

iPhone 7 Processor to Be Manufactured Solely by TSMC [Updated]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reached a deal with Apple to be the only manufacturer for the iPhone 7's processor, likely called the A10, reports The Electronic Times [Google Translate]. TSMC won over Apple largely because of its 10-nanometer manufacturing process. The chip will reportedly go into full production in June.

While TSMC's 10-nanometer process is one reason the company was awarded with a deal over rival Samsung, another likely has to do with the company's more advanced device packaging techniques, which allow for better power performance and efficiency. However, at its conference call last month, TSMC said that it was hoping to ramp up 10nm production in 2017, with a slow start to production coming in the second half of 2016.

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Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear

Apple used both Samsung and TSMC to manufacture the chips for the iPhone 6s, which caused some controversy as early benchmarks indicated that TSMC's A9 chip outperformed Samsung's in battery life. Apple revealed that, according to its internal testing, the variance in performance was only 2 to 3 percent.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are expected to debut in September, and new details about the devices have been steadily dripping out. Last week, MacRumors shared some details on the phone's design, including that it would have a flush rear camera and a lack of antenna bands on its back. Other rumors indicate that the 7 Plus may feature a dual-lens camera system and that it may be waterproof and not have a headphone jack.

Update: This article has been updated with information from TSMC's recent conference call, in which they stated that they hoped 10-nanometer production would ramp up in 2017 after getting a slow start in the second half of 2016.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: TSMC, A10

Apple Releases Third OS X 10.11.4 El Capitan Beta to Public Beta Testers

OS X El Capitan LogoApple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X 10.11.4 update to public beta testers, just a few days after releasing the third OS X 10.11.4 beta to developers and more than two weeks after releasing OS X 10.11.3.

The third beta is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store for those who are enrolled in Apple's beta testing program. Those wishing to join the program can sign up on Apple's beta testing website.

OS X 10.11.4 appears to focus largely on under-the-hood bug fixes, security enhancements, and performance optimizations with few noticeable outward-facing changes. OS X 10.11.4 offers password protected notes in the Notes app, an import function for importing Evernote notes into the Notes app, and it includes Live Photos support for the Messages app.

Apple is likely to release OS X 10.11.4 in the spring, alongside iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, and tvOS 9.2.

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

Apple Seeds Third iOS 9.3 Beta to Public Beta Testers

ios93Apple today released the third beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3 update to public beta testers, just a couple of days after seeding the third iOS 9.3 beta to developers. iOS 9.3's third public beta comes three weeks after Apple released iOS 9.2.1, a minor update, to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the third iOS 9.3 update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on their iOS device.

Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to both iOS and OS X betas. For an in-depth walkthrough on downloading the iOS 9.3 beta, make sure to check out our how to.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

iOS 9.3 is a major update to the iOS 9 operating system, introducing a long list of new features and improvements. iOS 9.3's biggest new feature is Night Shift mode, which is designed to automatically cut down on the amount of blue light an iOS user is exposed to at night by shifting to more yellow tones for the iPhone or iPad's display. With iOS 9.3, there's a number of changes for educational users, and the iPhone is now able to pair with multiple Apple Watches.

The update also includes new 3D Touch Quick Actions for stock apps like Weather, Settings, Compass, Health, App Store, and iTunes Store, plus it introduces password protection for individual notes in the Notes app. News in iOS 9.3 includes in-line video playback, landscape mode on the iPhone, and more personalization, while the Health app introduces a new Apple Watch-style "Activity" interface. iOS 9.3 beta 3 adds support for Verizon Wi-Fi Calling and introduces a fix for a T-Mobile bug that prevented apps from loading over a cellular connection.

A full list of changes in iOS 9.3 can be found in our "What's New" post. iOS 9.3 will launch to the public this spring.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3

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."

Apple-Music-Sonos
"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.

sparklevulnerability
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