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New U.S. Guidelines Could Halt Use of SMS for Two-Factor Authentication

The US National Institute for Standards and Technology has released a new draft of its Digital Authentication Guideline, which sets the rules that all authentication software eventually follows. In the document, NIST deprecates the implementation of SMS as a method with which users validate a second level of security on various accounts, "no longer" allowing its use in future guidelines as it is considered not secure enough (via TechCrunch).

Two-factor authentication via SMS (left) and an alternative trusted iOS device (right)
Setting up two-factor authentication through text messages is one of the most popular ways users add another layer of security onto an account, on top of a basic password, including those for Apple's own software, like Apple ID and iCloud. Other than SMS, Apple allows users to implement two-factor authentication through a simple push notification sent to another "trusted device," or a phone call.
If the out of band verification is to be made using a SMS message on a public mobile telephone network, the verifier SHALL verify that the pre-registered telephone number being used is actually associated with a mobile network and not with a VoIP (or other software-based) service. It then sends the SMS message to the pre-registered telephone number. Changing the pre-registered telephone number SHALL NOT be possible without two-factor authentication at the time of the change. OOB using SMS is deprecated, and will no longer be allowed in future releases of this guidance.
The new guidelines also make a point for companies to ensure that two-factor

Safari in iOS 10 Offers Improved Animated GIF Viewing and Stops Noisy Autoplay Videos

In iOS 10, Apple plans to make some changes to the way videos are handled, putting a stop to irritating autoplay videos and offering improvements to animated GIFs. The changes will come in the form of updated policies for "video" elements, as outlined today by Apple software engineer Jer Noble on the Webkit blog

As iOS 8 and iOS 9 users know, an animated GIF encoded using "video" tags requires users to tap on the GIF to play it as a video would play, creating a frustrating user experience. When viewing such a GIF, it's currently necessary to load the image, tap it to play, and wait for it to be displayed full screen. In iOS 10, the user experience is being simplified.

Going forward, Webkit will allow videos with no audio element or a muted audio element to honor autoplay attributes, so GIFs and videos in this format will no longer require a tap to play automatically. Videos that use the "video playsinline" element will also be able to play inline without the need to enter fullscreen mode.

At the same time, videos that do have an audio element will be automatically paused and will require a user gesture to play, cutting down on irritating advertisements and other spam-type videos. Autoplay video elements will play only when on screen and will pause whenever they are not visible, which will help to preserve battery life.
Starting in iOS 10, WebKit relaxes its inline and autoplay policies to make these presentations possible, but still keeps in mind sites' bandwidth and users' batteries. [...]

We believe that these new policies really make video a much more useful

iPhone Rumored to Include Iris Scanning Capabilities Starting in 2018

Apple is working on iPhones with iris scanning capabilities that could debut in 2018, reports DigiTimes in a wider piece about increasing interest in advanced biometric functionality in smartphones.

Iris scanning would potentially be used in place of Touch ID as a way to verify a user's identity, performing functions like making payments and unlocking an iOS device. Each person's iris, or the circular colored muscle of the eye, contains a complex and random pattern that is unique to each individual.

An iris recognition machine at the Schiphol Airport
Apple has been rumored to be looking into iris scanning in the past and it is a technology that is gaining interest in the smartphone arena. Samsung is said to be planning to debut its iris recognition technology as soon as next month with the introduction of the Galaxy Note 7.

Current iris scanning implementations have some notable benefits over Touch ID, including no need for direct contact to unlock a device and faster unlock speeds, but there are also drawbacks such as poor functionality in low lighting and issues with performance following alcohol consumption and eye surgery.

DigiTimes is not always a reliable source of information, so the rumor should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes Apple is planning on introducing new biometric features in a future iPhone, which could include either facial or iris scanning. Kuo's rumor pertained to the 2017 iPhone, but it's always possible such an advanced feature won't be ready to debut until a later

Apple Appoints Bob Mansfield to Oversee Electric Vehicle Team

Apple has appointed former longtime executive Bob Mansfield, who last served as Senior Vice President of Technologies at the company, to oversee development of its widely rumored electric vehicle, according to The Wall Street Journal. All senior managers on the project now report to him.

Apple announced that Mansfield was retiring in June 2012, but a few months later said he would remain with the company as an advisor. He last worked on Apple's "Special Projects" team, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and has made regular appearances on campus despite stepping down from day-to-day work four years ago.
Until recently, Mr. Mansfield—who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos—had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people said. Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield, they said.
Apple has reportedly recruited hundreds of engineers from the likes of Tesla, Ford, GM, and elsewhere to work on the so-called Apple Car, codenamed "Project Titan" internally. The electric vehicle could be street-ready between 2019 and 2021 according to various reports, with R&D based in Sunnyvale, California. Many question marks remain about the extent of the vehicle's design, autonomous capabilities, and other features.

Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 and has been instrumental in the company's recent success, overseeing the development of past MacBook

Apple Stock Forecasted to Rise as Lifetime iPhone Sales Reach 1 Billion

Apple will report its fiscal third quarter earnings results tomorrow, and both the company and analysts project a year-over-year decline in iPhone sales and overall revenue for a second consecutive quarter.

Apple expects third quarter revenue of between $41 billion and $43 billion, which would be up to 18 percent lower than the $49.6 billion in revenue it posted in the year-ago quarter. The consensus among analysts is around $42.1 billion in revenue, which is essentially the midpoint of Apple's guidance.

Analysts estimate that Apple sold at least another 40 million iPhones during the June quarter, raising lifetime sales of the smartphone to some 987 million. Applying that sales rate to July -- just over 13 million iPhones per month -- it is likely that Apple will have sold its billionth iPhone between now and the end of this month.

The milestone comes at a time when iPhone sales are on the decline for the first time since the smartphone launched in 2007, an arguably inevitable lull following the smash-hit success of the larger-screened iPhone 6 series. The decline has affected Apple shares, which are down around 21 percent from a 52-week high of $123.91.

Nevertheless, many Wall Street firms expect iPhone growth to resume in 2017. The good news could extend to Apple's stock, as The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that its "shares have been punished more than enough" and are due for a rally. It said the decline in iPhone sales "appears priced in."
Still, Apple has been punished more than enough. The iPhone slump appears priced in. And while the next

First Alleged Leaked Images of 12.9-inch 'iPad Pro 2' Surface

Amidst the recent flurry of videos and images of iPhone 7 mockups coming out of China, one pair of pictures that emerged over the weekend claims to offer evidence of Apple's successor to the first iteration 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Sent in to AppleInsider and said to originate from a Chinese supplier, the combined image below shows a device identified with model number MH1C2CD/F, which has yet to be assigned to an iPad by Apple so far.

While the identifier proves little, the nomenclature is in line with Apple's existing numbering convention for its iPad Pro range, and Apple is due to refresh its largest tablet this fall.

AppleInsider notes that the device's screen shows a 12GB capacity, which is just enough for installing an OS and apps for internal testing and debugging, suggesting the device could be a pre-production model or prototype.

Based on previous updates to the company's tablet range, customers can expect a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro to feature a faster A10X processor and a better camera, with a good chance it will inherit the True Tone display seen in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. 3D Touch is also a possibility, although Apple would need to have overcome the challenges involved in porting the technology to a larger screen.

Apple is also expected to launch thinner and lighter MacBook Pro models this fall, with some rumors suggesting a dynamic OLED touch panel could feature as part of a planned redesign.

CarPlay Now Available in All 2017 Ford Vehicles Equipped With SYNC 3

Ford has announced that its SYNC 3 infotainment system, which includes CarPlay and Android Auto, is now available across its entire 2017 lineup of cars, SUVs, light trucks, and electric vehicles in the United States.

The expansion brings CarPlay to already-released 2017 models such as the Fusion, Mustang, and Explorer, while other models like the 2017 F-150, Focus, Edge, and Super Duty will arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year.

Ford confirmed in January that it would be adding CarPlay and Android Auto to all of its 2017 vehicles in North America equipped with BlackBerry's QNX-based SYNC 3 platform, starting with the 2017 Escape in May.

Ford has also added Spotify, Pandora, Ford PASS, AccuWeather, and AAA member services to SYNC AppLink.

In December, Ford retroactively added Siri Eyes Free support to 5 million 2011-2016 vehicles through a SYNC 3.8 software update. The automaker says more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles are on the road worldwide today, although that figure likely includes older SYNC platforms incompatible with CarPlay and Android Auto.

Ford is also adding CarPlay and Android Auto to its 2016 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 this year.

CarPlay brings Maps, Phone, Messages, Music, Podcasts, and a number of third-party apps, such as Spotify, to a vehicle's dashboard. Apple's in-car software platform can be controlled with Siri and your vehicle's built-in controls for convenient access to common iPhone features. It is compatible with iPhone 5 and later models.

CarPlay widely launched in the second half of 2015, and the rollout

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Launch Predicted to Be Week of September 12th [Updated]

Well-known mobile phone leaker Evan Blass has this morning predicted which week of September that Apple will announce the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Blass, who has accurately leaked images and details about unreleased smartphones on Twitter (@evleaks) in the past, tweeted today simply "iPhone 2016 release: week of September 12th."

Blass is better known for leaking Android-based smartphone details ahead of their official confirmation, but his prediction for the iPhone 7's launch falls in line with Apple's typical September iPhone announcements – the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launched on September 9th, 2015 – making it a pretty safe bet.


Blass's prediction follows a tweet by the blogger four days earlier in which he claimed the internal codenames for Apple's upcoming iPhones are "Sonora" and "Dos Palos", without specifying which is which (both are names of cities in California, though the former could refer to the Mexican state). Apple's codenames for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were "N71" and "N66", respectively.

This year's iterations of Apple's flagship smartphones are widely expected not to feature major design changes aside from the removal of the headphone jack, as the company is said to be deviating from its standard tick-tock upgrade cycle in order to introduce major new features in next year's 10th anniversary "iPhone 8" which take time to develop.

This year the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 is expected to get an improved camera and optical image stabilization, while the larger 5.5-inch

Pokémon Go Set App Store Record for Most Ever Downloads During its First Week of Availability

Ultra popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go set a new App Store record during its first week of availability, seeing more first week downloads than any other app in App Store history. Apple unveiled the statistic to iMore's Rene Ritchie this morning.


Pokémon Go was first released in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States on July 5, rolling out to other countries over the course of the next two weeks. Pokémon Go is now available in 30 countries around the world.

Despite server issues and in-game bugs that have yet to be resolved, Pokémon Go has become a smash hit, luring players outside to explore their neighborhoods in search of Pokémon. Last week, Pokémon Go had earned an estimated 7.5 million downloads in the United States alone, hauling in more than $1.6 million each day, and at two weeks, that number had grown to 21 million daily active users.

On the instant success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo shares jumped more than 25 percent, and businesses and restaurants near PokéStops, where players can collect items and find Pokémon, have reported significant increases in foot traffic.

In Japan, Pokémon Go today launched with a McDonald's sponsorship deal, hinting at future methods Niantic will use to monetize the game. In Japan, McDonald's locations are marked as "Gyms" where players can battle each other for control of the spot to earn daily prizes and experience.

Over

iPhone 7 Again Said to Ship With Lightning-to-3.5mm Headphone Dongle

With just over six weeks remaining until Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, leaked photos and rumors surrounding the smartphones are starting to become clear and consistent.

Deutsche Bank is the latest group to add its expectations to the mix, issuing a research note obtained by Business Insider that corroborates several previously rumored features coming in this year's refresh.

New photo of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus rear shell molds (Image: KK低调 on Weibo)
The bank, which allegedly made supply chain checks, believes the 4.7-inch model will have an improved camera and optical image stabilization, while the larger 5.5-inch model is set to gain a dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM.

Both models are also expected to have no headphone jack, a touch-sensitive home button with haptic feedback, a new darker color, "professional class" waterproofing, and improved sound, possibly by way of stereo speakers.

Perhaps the most interesting bit is Deutsche Bank's belief that the iPhone 7 will ship with a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone jack dongle in the box, rather than Lightning-based EarPods as previously speculated.

Many aftermarket Lightning-to-3.5mm adapters are bulky and clunky looking due to the need for a digital-to-analog converter, however, so it remains to be seen if Apple could create a dongle that meets its high standards of design.

Every single one of Deutsche Bank's predictions have surfaced previously:

- No 3.5mm headphone jack: WSJ, Fast Company, Mac Otakara, and many others
- Dual-lens camera for iPhone 7 Plus: Ming-Chi Kuo, Mac Otakara

Apple Takes Top Spot in FutureBrand's Ranking of World's Favorite Companies

FutureBrand recently released the results of a survey that questioned 3,000 consumers about the 100 biggest companies in the world, asking them to score each company on 18 different factors like trust, innovation, individuality, and price premium. The 2016 results crowned Apple as the top company in the world, "in terms of perception strength, rather than financial strength" (via CNET).

Some of the highest marks Apple received this year surrounded its individuality, authenticity, and purpose, while it scored less well in resource management, wellbeing, and respect among the consumers surveyed. Compared to the second-place entry in the Top 100 listing, Microsoft, Apple edges out ever so slightly in personality and consistency, while customers questioned believed Microsoft to be more innovative than Apple.
Technology companies occupy the top two spots in this year’s rankings and enjoy strong perceptions across our measures. Six of the twenty four ‘future brands’ are in the technology sector – one fewer than in 2015.

A ‘future brand’ is a brand that is more likely to succeed in the future, not just one that is strong now. This is because it perfectly balances strong perceptions of its purpose in the world with the experience it delivers.
Apple's 2016 win comes after it lost the top spot to Google last year, but a bit of behind-the-scenes reorganization seems to be the reason for the search engine company's egress from FutureBrand's list this year. Since Google is considered wholly part of parent company Alphabet, only the latter could appear as a contender for

CharityBuzz to Auction Off Unique 'Celebration' Apple-1, Could Fetch Up to $1M

During the summer of 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created and sold 175 Apple-1 computers, marking the launch of what is now one of the most valuable, influential companies in the world. Only 60 or so of those original machines are still in existence, fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

This Monday, auction site CharityBuzz is set to auction off one of the rarest Apple-1 computers, which could fetch up to a million dollars.

Dubbed the "Celebration" Apple-1 by computer historian Corey Cohen, the machine CharityBuzz will sell features a blank "green" PCB board that was never sold to the public and was not part of a known production run. CharityBuzz describes it as an original Apple-1 ACI cassette board, pre-NTI, with Robinson Nugent sockets, a period correct power supply, and an early Apple-1 BASIC cassette labeled and authenticated by original Apple employee Daniel Kottke.

It also comes with original Apple-1 manuals, original marketing materials, and Apple-1 and Apple-1 ACI Cassette Board schematics, described as the "most complete documentation set" of all known Apple-1 boards.
According to Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple, "Only a few Apple I's, on blank (not green) PC boards, may have been manually soldered, although I'm not sure of it. We arranged the wave soldering with the company that made the PC boards. But we may not have wanted to wave solder a run (of maybe 10 or more board) until we manually soldered one or two to debug them."
The Apple-1 is not in working condition but could be restored to full functionality with minor