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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

tvos_dictating
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)

Apple Launches Repair Program for Late 2013 Mac Pro Video Issues

Mac-ProApple today launched a new Repair Extension Program that addresses video issues on some late 2013 Mac Pro models, according to an internal notice obtained by MacRumors.

Apple has determined that graphics cards in some late 2013 Mac Pros, manufactured between February 8, 2015 and April 11, 2015, may cause distorted video, no video, system instability, freezing, restarts, shut downs, or may prevent system start up.

Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair eligible Mac Pro models affected by the video issues free of charge until May 30, 2018. Apple lists a turnaround time of about 3-5 days.

Apple says both graphics cards must be replaced on Mac Pros exhibiting any of the problems listed above. AMD's FirePro D500 (high-end model) and D700 (built-to-order) GPUs are affected. AMD's FirePro D300 GPU on the base Mac Pro is not listed.

Customers can book an appointment with the Genius Bar at an Apple Store or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to determine if their Mac Pro is eligible for coverage. Unlike Apple's voluntary recall of some international AC wall adapters last week, Apple is unlikely to publicly announce this repair program on its support website, but it may contact some customers directly.

A lengthy Apple Support Communities topic was posted about Mac Pro video issues in February 2015, and it has since amassed nearly 3,500 views and 50 replies from affected users. One customer claimed Apple agreed to replace his Mac Pro's graphics card after he contacted the company's support team about the issue.

Apple also launched a repair program for 2011-2013 MacBook Pros with video issues in February 2015.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Tag: repair program
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Don't Buy)

iPhone 5se May Come in Silver, Space Gray, and Bright Pink

Apple's rumored iPhone 5se may come in Silver, Space Gray, and a pink shade that's different than the Rose Gold of the iPhone 6s, reports Japanese site Mac Otakara [Google Translate], citing information obtained from a third-party vendor.

The site compares the shade of pink to that of the seventh-generation iPod nano and sixth-generation iPod touch, which is a deep pink that is brighter than the Rose Gold iPhone 6s. Mac Otakara was not able to see the shade of pink firsthand, so its exact tone is not clear, but the vendor said it is not the same color as the iPhone 6s.

pinkipodtouch
Early iPhone 6s rumors said pink would be a color choice for the device, but it turned out that "pink" was actually Rose Gold. Today's rumor, if true, makes a clear distinction between Rose Gold and a deeper pink shade, so it seems unlikely the vendor is making the same mistake.

Other potential colors for the iPhone 5se are not mentioned, but Space Gray, Silver, and Bright Pink is an odd lineup, so there's a possibility that Apple will include other color options. The first "iPhone 6c" rumors pointed towards a brighter color lineup for the device, but later rumors have indicated that it will be available in the traditional Silver, Space Gray, and Gold colors.

With the iPhone 5se just over a month away from a potential unveiling at a March 15 event, we may soon see part leaks or more concrete detail that gives us a better picture of the colors we can expect. Other iPhone 5se rumors point towards an iPhone 5s-style design with the curved cover glass of the iPhone 6, an A9 processor, Touch ID, and an 8-megapixel rear camera.

Related Roundups: iPhone 5se, iPhone 6c
Tag: macotakara.jp

Apple Possibly Working With Energous on Extended Range Wireless Charging for Future iPhones

Amid rumors that Apple is working on extended range wireless charging capabilities for future iPhones, there has been some speculation that Apple has partnered with Energous to implement the technology. Energous is the company behind WattUp, an emerging wireless charging technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away.

Though there's no concrete proof of a relationship between Energous and Apple, a new research report from Louis Basenese of Disruptive Tech Research highlights a large pool of circumstantial evidence pointing towards a potential partnership, so it's worth taking a look at Energous's technology, both in that context and as an example of the wireless charging techniques that are currently being pursued by tech companies.

Basenese posits Apple is working with a partner rather than developing an in-house solution due to the small number of patents the company has filed surrounding wireless charging -- just five, with none filed since 2013. As evidence that partner is Energous, he points towards their common manufacturing partners (TSMC and Foxconn), their membership in ANSI working towards standards for wireless power transfer compliance testing, and most notably, the fact that Energous's RF-based wireless charging system is the only long-distance solution nearly ready to launch.


In early 2015, Energous also inked a deal with an unnamed consumer electronics company, positioned as one of the top five companies in the world. Names weren't mentioned, but that's a short list -- Apple, Samsung, HP, Microsoft, and Hitachi. Basenese believes Apple is the likeliest partner by process of elimination.
From that list, we can easily eliminate HP and Hitachi, as they don't make phones. Since Samsung makes its own chips and WATT is working with TSM, we can cross it off the list, leaving only Apple and Microsoft. In reality, though, Microsoft is an also-ran in the mobile phone market and rumored to be exiting it. So we're left with one company. Of course, the identity will remain a mystery, as AAPL's notorious about insisting on secrecy with partners and employees.
Wireless charging capabilities have been implemented into several smartphones, including those from Apple's direct competitors, but Apple executives have downplayed wireless charging in the past due to its dependence on built-in chips, mats, and close proximity. In a 2012 interview, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said it wasn't clear "how much convenience" magnetic induction and resonance wireless charging systems offered because they still need to be plugged into the wall.

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Users Facing 'Error 53' Bricking Message After Third-Party iPhone 6 Home Button Repairs

Some iPhone 6 users who had their smartphones repaired by third-party technicians are reporting that a mysterious "error 53" message is permanently bricking their iPhones (via The Guardian). Users who have had Touch ID on their iPhone 6 fixed by a non-Apple technician, and agreed to update the iPhone to the most recent version of iOS, are facing an issue which essentially prevents all access to the iPhone.

Freelance photographer Antonio Olmos is one such affected iPhone 6 user who had his iPhone repaired in Macedonia while working. He said "it worked perfectly" after the repair shop finished fixing the broken screen and home button, but once he updated to iOS 9 he got an "error 53" message and could no longer access any of his personal content on the iPhone. An Apple Store in London was shown the issue, and staff there admitted there was nothing they could do for him besides sell him a new iPhone.

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“The whole thing is extraordinary. How can a company deliberately make their own products useless with an upgrade and not warn their own customers about it? Outside of the big industrialized nations, Apple stores are few and far between, and damaged phones can only be brought back to life by small third-party repairers," Olmos said. "I am not even sure these third-party outfits even know this is a potential problem."
Speaking with The Guardian, iFixit's Kyle Wiens said that the issue, while still unclear, appears to be Apple ensuring only genuine components are being used for repairs. Once a third party changes the home button or internal cable, the iPhone checks to be sure that all original components are running the phone, and if there are any discrepancies users face the "error 53" message and can't access their data. Since mentions of "error 53" span a few versions of iOS, it's unclear specifically which software update began the phone-locking error message.

An Apple spokeswoman commented on the issue, referring to protective security features intended to prevent "malicious" third-party components from potentially compromising a user's iPhone as the main reason for the "error 53" message.
“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.”

She adds: “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorized repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”
Other than that, Apple hasn't commented on the issue or outlined exactly what the company can do for those affected by the iPhone bricking error message. Mentions of "error 53" have been around since at least last April, where some users have encountered the issue in software updates as early as iOS 8.3.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tag: Error 53
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

Apple Says U.S. Supreme Court Should Reject Samsung's Appeal Request

In December, Samsung asked the United States Supreme Court to hear a final appeal in its ongoing patent battle with Apple, which would potentially nullify a $548 million settlement awarded to Apple. In a lengthy document filed with the court this afternoon (via Foss Patents), Apple urges the Supreme Court to deny Samsung's request, accusing the company of raising issues that do not "deserve review" in an effort to prolong court proceedings.

applevsamsung
Samsung has claimed that the jury did not adequately understand the patents in question because members weren't provided with enough explanation by the court. The South Korean company has also suggested the case has wider implications that could encourage design patent trolls, an assertion Apple refers to as a "doomsday warning" based on "extreme hypotheticals."
Samsung's effort to make this case seem certworthy depends on a made-up narrative in which Samsung, not Apple, is the innovator, despite the overwhelming evidence that Samsung copied the iPhone's innovative design. [...]

Once Samsung's diversions are swept aside as they should be, the actual issues it presents do not deserve review. The decisions below broke no new legal ground; they simply applied the statute and well-settled law to the extraordinary record of infringement and copying in this case.
Apple goes on to say that Samsung has had its day in court and while the litigation is "high-profile," it is "legally unexceptional" and Samsung has not presented a legitimate reason as to why the court should prolong it.

While Apple doesn't feel Samsung's case is worth the Supreme Court's attention, Facebook, Google, and other technology companies have all urged the court to take on Samsung's appeal to overturn the ruling in Apple's favor. A major concern is the amount that Samsung was forced to pay for its design patent infringement -- nearly $400 million -- and the implication it has for similar disputes in the future.

Samsung has already paid the agreed upon $548 million settlement to Apple, but should the Supreme Court take on the case and rule in Samsung's favor, Apple would be required to pay back the money. Samsung's Supreme Court appeal was a last ditch effort, and should the Supreme Court refuse to hear the case, Samsung will not be able to recoup its money, putting an end to a patent battle that's been going on since 2012.

Apple TV Universal Search Feature Expands to FOX NOW, FXNOW, and NAT GEO

Universal search, which allows users to find content across multiple apps and services using text or Siri voice search, is one of the most useful features on the new fourth-generation Apple TV. At launch, universal search worked with iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, but Apple promised to expand the feature to include additional content sources over time.

Apple has made good on that promise. As of today, searching for content on the Apple TV will encompass the aforementioned apps along with FOX NOW, FXNOW, and National Geographic. Apple also expanded universal search to include PBS and PBS Kids in January.

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Apple maintains a full list of apps that are included in the Apple TV's universal search feature in a dedicated support document. The new channels aren't listed yet, but should be added to the document in the near future.

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Universal search across iTunes, HBO GO, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, PBS, PBS Kids, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, FOX NOW, FXNOW, and NAT GEO is limited to Apple TV users who are located in the United States. Content from these apps will be displayed when a user asks Siri to find a movie or television show or conducts a text-based search.

In Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK, universal search only encompasses movies and TV shows on iTunes and Netflix, and with all other countries, search is only available for movies in iTunes.

Apple plans to continue opening up its universal search API to additional apps going forward.

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