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Apple Aware of iCloud Login Harvesting in China, Launches Browser Security Guide

Earlier this week, web censorship blog Great Fire suggested that hackers aligned with Chinese authorities were using man-in-the-middle attacks in order to harvest Apple ID information from Chinese users that visited Apple's iCloud.com website.

In a newly released support document (via The Wall Street Journal), Apple has confirmed that it is aware of the "intermittent organized network attacks" on iCloud users, but says that its own servers have not been compromised.
Apple is deeply committed to protecting our customers' privacy and security. We're aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously. These attacks don't compromise iCloud servers, and they don't impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser.
Apple's support document goes on to stress the importance of digital certificates, suggesting that users who see an invalid certificate warning in their browser while visiting iCloud.com should not proceed. The company also outlines how users can verify that their browser is connected to iCloud.com and not a third-party man-in-the-middle website.

Apple asks users to make sure that a green lock icon is visible in Safari and that the message "Safari is using an encrypted connection to www.icloud.com" is displayed when the lock icon is clicked. Apple also has verification instructions for both Chrome and Firefox.

Unfortunately, many of the victims falling prey to the fake iCloud sites are not using secure browsers that issue warnings

Apple Reportedly Preparing Holiday Launch of Apple Pay Loyalty Rewards Program

Apple may have its rumored loyalty rewards program ready for the holiday shopping season, claims Bank Innovation. The loyalty program originally was thought to be launching alongside "Apple Pay 2.0" in October 2015, but recent reports suggest Apple may be pushed it ahead by a year due to merchant demand.
The loyalty program looks like it will come this year, based on Digiday’s timetable. This was unexpected — many had assumed the program would wait until the launch of Apple Pay 2.0, tentatively scheduled for October 2015. It looks like market demand pushed the timetable up to this holiday season, which my sources within the retail industry have said for sme time is “super unlikely.”
A previous report from Digiday, described as being "pretty accurate" by Bank Innovation sources, claims Apple plans to monetize its mobile payment system by integrating iAds with Apple Pay. This iAds portion of the loyalty system allegedly will use iBeacons and Bluetooth LE to push targeted ads with a "tap-to-buy" button to customers while they are visiting a participating merchant.
One way they’ve [Apple] thought up is, say you’re in a Duane Reade, hypothetically. You get a push notification from Pepsi that they’ve worked out a deal with Duane Reade that you can get a free case of Pepsi. Just pick it up and use Apple Pay at the counter.
Apple Pay officially launched yesterday and is compatible with major payment network, including American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. In-store NFC payments will require the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, while those devices and the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

Apple Pay Shown to Work Internationally Using U.S.-Based Credit Cards

Apple Pay launched on Monday with iOS 8.1, allowing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners to make contactless payments via NFC with Touch ID for authentication.

Though the initial launch is occurring in the United States where Apple has focused its efforts on getting credit card companies, banks, and retailers on board, international iPhone owners can also take advantage of Apple Pay if they have a supported U.S.-based credit card, as documented in Whirlpool forums and pointed out by Australian Beau Giles. Users in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere have also successfully used Apple Pay.

To use Apple Pay in countries outside the U.S., Giles notes that iPhone owners need to change the region for their phones from their home countries to the United States. This enables Apple Pay, which will accept participating credit cards issued by U.S. banks.
To show the Apple Pay settings, simply open the Settings app on your iPhone (or iPad mini 3 or iPad Air 2), tap on General, Tap on Language & Region, and tap on ‘Region’. Change it to the United States.

Now you should be able to visit Passbook and see the option to set up Apple Pay.
Once an iPhone is configured with the appropriate U.S. credentials, international owners can use Apple Pay at point-of-sale terminals that support NFC payments. Australians, for example, can use Apple Pay at locations that accept MasterCard PayPass, Visa payWave, or American Express ExpressPay payments.

As Giles points out, the situation is not ideal for natives of countries outside of the U.S., as using a U.S. credit card for these purchases will

2014 Mac Mini Teardown Highlights Increased Difficulty For User Upgradability

iFixIt has conducted its teardown of the brand new Mac mini, finding that the new device is more difficult to open than previous models. They've also discovered that the RAM is soldered onto the machine, which was first discovered late last week.

The team found that gaining entry into the new desktop is more difficult than previous models. Instead of a twistable bottom cover, the new Mac mini requires a plastic opening tool to pop off the cover. Underneath that is a new solid door that blocks easy access to the RAM and fan. The door uses what iFixIt calls "the smallest Torx Security screw" they've ever seen, requiring their tool design team to prototype a new screwdriver to open the desktop.

Inside, the Mac mini now sports a new AirPort card that connects straight to a PCIe slot rather than via a cable. Unlike past Mac minis, the new version only contains one SATA port. Previously, Mac mini users could upgrade their desktops with an extra hard drive. However, iFixIt notes that there is an extra socket that could potentially be used for a SSD blade via a PCIe cable. Oddly, the new Mac mini's power supply is identical to both the 2012 and 2011 models.

Finally, iFixIt gave the new Mac mini a repairability score of 6 out of 10, which is a worse score than the 2012 Mac mini's 8 out of 10. Although disassembly is straight forward, the team noted that the presence of Torx security screws and soldered on RAM made it more difficult to repair than previous

Spotlight Suggestions Sends Minimum Amount of Data to Apple, Exact Location and IP Addresses Not Collected

Following the release of OS X Yosemite with new Spotlight Suggestions, some users noted that Apple's Spotlight privacy policy began offering a warning letting users know that search terms were being uploaded to Apple's servers, with some of the info being forwarded to Microsoft's Bing search engine.

The search terms were being shared with Apple in order to enable Spotlight's new capabilities, which include searching sources like the Mac App Store, Wikipedia, and the web.

When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft's Bing search engine.
While Apple noted directly within Yosemite's Spotlight preferences that the search terms were collected only to improve Spotlight Searches and directed users to turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web searches in System Preferences if they didn't want their data uploaded, the issue still received quite a bit of attention over the course of the weekend, with one developer even uploading a Python script to prevent Apple from collecting data.

Apple has now given a statement on Spotlight Suggestions to iMore, stating that the company is "absolutely committed" to protecting user privacy and that Spotlight Suggestions minimizes the information that's sent to Apple.
"We

iOS 8.1 Brings iCloud Photo Library to All Users, With Images Accessible on iOS Devices, iCloud.com

iOS 8.1, released to the public earlier today, included Apple Pay support as its most notable feature, but it also brought several other updates to the mobile operating system, including iCloud Photo Library. With iOS 8.1, the iCloud Photo Library beta is now available to all iOS 8 users, as is a new iCloud Photos app that can be found within iCloud.com.

First introduced during WWDC, iCloud Photo Library stores all of the photos and videos that a user takes in iCloud, making them available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Macs through iCloud.com. It will also work with the Photos app that Apple is creating for the Mac, which is expected in early 2015.

iCloud Photo Library. You’re never without your camera. Now you’ll never be without your photos. Every photo and video you take now lives in iCloud — giving you the freedom to access your library from any device, anytime you want. So you can view a photo from last week or last year no matter where you are.
iCloud Photo Library is designed to keep all of a user's photos synced on all of their devices at all times. When an image is edited on an iOS device in the Photos app with Apple's built-in editing tools, those changes are immediately uploaded to iCloud and visible on other devices right away.

iCloud Photo Library is also designed to free up valuable storage space on iOS devices. Full high-resolution photos and videos are stored in the cloud, while smaller versions of the images are displayed on devices, taking up far less storage space. iCloud Photo Library uses the iCloud storage space of each user, with 20GB

Apple CEO Tim Cook: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Demand 'Far Outstripping' Supply

Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the balance between supply and demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during today's earnings call, stating that demand is far outstripping supply despite a satisfactory production ramp-up. Cook noted that available data makes it unclear as to when supply will catch up with demand, and that the company was "not close" to having a balance between supply and demand at the end of Q4 2014.

Supplies for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have remained tight since the launch of both devices last month, as new iPhone 6 orders still show a shipping estimate of 7-10 business days while the iPhone 6 Plus is still showing a shipping delay of 3-4 weeks. It is worth noting that the iPhone 6 has been mostly available at Apple's own stores and other retail locations, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a constrained supply in-store.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Apple delayed plans to mass produce the larger 12.9-inch iPad in order to shift its resources towards the iPhone 6 Plus as it has remained unsatisfied with the production output from its suppliers for its larger iPhone. A report from earlier this month also stated that the company is shifting its production balance towards the iPhone 6 Plus which may gradually improve its supplies of the larger

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Apple's 'Creative Engine' Has Never Been Stronger

During today's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that "obviously" the company is working on new products, but that he was going to keep things in the "cone of silence."
I'm not sure what to say. I'm not going to give any hints. We look at a lot of different things and we're fortunate to have a lot of creative people here that want to change the world and have a lot of great ideas.
Cook went on to say that Apple's "creative engine" had never been stronger and the company had never been more passionate, as evidenced with Apple's recent launches of Apple Pay and Apple Watch. Apple Pay, said Cook, is "classic Apple," with the company taking something old and outdated and focusing on making something "very elegant."

Cook also extolled the virtues of Continuity, which allows Macs and iOS 8 devices to integrate in new and innovative ways. "Use your imagination and think about where Continuity goes," said Cook. He went on to say that it would be "incredibly important" going forward for customers.

Cook said that Apple's investors should look at what Apple's done and what it has delivered, along with the skills of the company. Apple is the "only company on the planet" that has the ability to integrate hardware and software at a "world class level" according to Cook, but the company always has "more ideas than resources" to deal with. He also said as a personal investor, he "feels great" about products that are coming up in 2015.

While Cook declined to mention what products Apple might be working on, rumors have suggested the company has several

Apple Acquired 20 Companies Across 2014, 7 In Fiscal Fourth Quarter

During today's fourth quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple purchased 20 companies over the course of 2014, including seven companies during the fiscal fourth quarter. Of the 20 companies purchased, some remain known, but many remain unknown.

Apple's biggest purchase of fiscal 2014 was Beats Electronics, which the company bought for $3 billion in May. With the acquisition, it gained Beats popular line of headphones, the Beats Music music service, and it took on Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, aka Andre Young, as executives.

Other recent known acquisitions in fiscal 2014 include iPad-publishing platform Prss, book recommendation platform BookLamp, radio streaming app Swell, social recommendation service Spotsetter, and low-power display company LuxVue.

Last quarter, Apple announced that it had acquired 30 companies thus far in fiscal 2014, which brings the total number of acquisitions since last October up to approximately 37. While some of those acquisitions were known, many of Apple's acquisitions were kept quiet, going under the radar.

The technology from Apple's acquisitions will undoubtedly make its way into future products and updates, and details on its acquisitions may become apparent over time.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple was "on the prowl" for additional companies to acquire and that Apple is always looking at acquisition space to avoid letting "money burn a hole in our

Apple Reports Q4 2014 Year-End Results: $8.5 Billion Profit on $42.1 Billion in Revenue [Call Concluded]

Apple today announced financial results for the third calendar quarter and fourth fiscal quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $42.1 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $37.5 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.5 billion, or $1.01 per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 38 percent compared to 37 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 60 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on November 13 to shareholders of record as of November 10. The company currently holds $155.2 billion in cash and marketable securities.

For the full fiscal year, Apple generated $182.8 billion in sales, a new record for the firm, with $38.5 billion in net income. In fiscal 2013, Apple made $35 billion on $170.9 billion in sales. In 2014, Apple sold 18.9 million Macs and just shy of 14.4 million iPods, its lowest total for that category since 2004.

It sold a record 169.2 million iPhones on the year, up 150 million from 2012, and the company has now sold more than 590 million smartphones in total. It sold 68 million iPads in 2014 and the company has now sold 237.2 million tablets.
"Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s

Apple Pay With iPhone 6 Demoed in McDonald's Purchase

With Apple Pay enabled through an update to iOS 8.1 earlier today, users are now able to use Apple's payments service in a variety of retail locations. Apple's Apple Pay launch partner McDonald's is one location that's already accepting Apple Pay payments, as demoed in the video below.

Making an Apple Pay purchase is so simple that giving a food order becomes the most lengthy part of the ordering process. As seen in the video created by YouTube user John Ross, McDonald's payment systems are set up to accept contactless payments.

Ross, who is using an iPhone 6 with iOS 8.1 installed, makes his order and then his credit card (stored within Passbook) opens automatically as he nears the payment terminal. While holding a finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, he holds his phone near the point-of-sale system to make the payment for the food. It takes a couple of tries as the cashier appears to forget to press a button, but once a payment is ready to be accepted, it took only seconds for Ross to make the payment.


After the payment was accepted by McDonald's, the Passbook screen displayed a check mark and there was a confirmation beep to let Ross know his payment had gone through. The transaction data was also displayed directly on the Passbook screen after payment was made.

During the transaction, at no point did the cashier see Ross's card or his name, and his card number (replaced with a unique Device Account Number in Passbook) was not stored by McDonald's, keeping the transaction completely private.

Apple Pay is limited to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple to Continue Offering Public Beta Versions of OS X Software

With the release of Yosemite, Apple introduced a public beta test for the first time, allowing more than a million consumers to sign up for and participate in the Yosemite beta. In past years, beta testing new Mac software has been left up to developers and a select number of Apple Seed members.

It appears that Apple found Yosemite's public beta testing to be successful, as the company today sent out an email that suggests it will continue to offer public beta tests for OS X software in the future. In an email that thanks Yosemite testers, Apple says that members of the OS X Beta Program will continue to be offered beta versions of OS X software updates.

Thanks for participating in the OS X Yosemite Beta Program. As you know, OS X Yosemite brings an elegant redesign, continuity features for using your Mac, iPhone, and iPad together, and major enhancements to the apps you use every day. And it's now available for free from the Mac App Store.

Please install the release version of OS X Yosemite. As a member of the OS X Beta Program, you will continue to be offered beta versions of OS X software updates on any Mac that you installed the beta on. However, if you prefer to stop receiving beta updates, please click here.
Over the course of the beta testing period, Apple seeded six separate public betas to beta testers. While public beta testers received fewer updates than developers early on, towards the end of the beta testing period, updates became more frequent and the final beta that was sent out mirrored the third golden master sent to developers.

It is unclear if