Facebook Considering Optional End-to-End Encryption for Messenger

facebook-messenger-logoFacebook is planning to introduce an optional end-to-end encryption mode for its Facebook Messenger chat platform, currently used by more than 900 million people, reports The Guardian.

Citing sources "close to the project," The Guardian says the encryption will be an opt-in feature because turning it on will impact some of the new machine learning features being built into the Messenger app like chat bots. Google's upcoming "Allo" messaging app also offers an opt-in end-to-end encryption option it calls "incognito mode."

Many major technology companies have taken a stronger stance on privacy, embracing end-to-end encryption following Apple's standoff with the FBI. Earlier this year, the FBI demanded Apple unlock the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook by bypassing Apple's own passcode security features.

Apple refused, and the FBI eventually found an alternate way to access the iPhone, but the dispute has scared technology companies into bolstering security. Dozens of major technology companies supported Apple during its fight with the FBI, all of whom were concerned about the precedent the FBI's demand could set.

Popular Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp enabled full end-to-end encryption in April, and in March, Swiss software developer Proton Technologies released ProtonMail, an email app offering end-to-end encryption. Apple is also rumored to be working on enhanced security measures for its software and hardware, and apps like Telegram Messenger have grown in popularity.

It is not clear exactly when Facebook might introduce new encryption options for Messenger, but the feature is said to be planned "in the coming months." Facebook declined to comment on the rumor, saying it does not respond to rumor and speculation.

Bug in iOS Allows for Unlimited Zooming in Photos App

The Photos app for iOS allows users to zoom into images using pinch gestures, but the zooming capabilities are limited and don't let users to zoom all the way in to a photo. There is, however, a bug in iOS that allows zooming beyond the current limit, shared this morning by iDownloadBlog.

In the iOS Photos app, opening a photo and then using the "Edit" feature and the "Crop" tool to rotate the photo by 90 degrees appears to remove the zooming limit. After rotating the photo sideways, a second edit can be done to rotate it back to the correct angle, leaving the bug intact and allowing for further zooming.

ioszoomcapabilities
Max normal zoom in Photos on left, extra zoom through Photos bug on right

Unlimited zooming is only available on a photo that's been rotated through the Crop tool, and exiting the Photos app or switching over to another image resets the photo so the zoom bug no longer works. A video demonstration is below.


Zooming in beyond the current thresholds in the Photos app is of little practical use in most cases, because the image becomes extremely pixellated, but it could be useful to people who want to zoom into a specific area of an photo just a bit further.

The zooming bug works on iPads and iPhones running iOS 9.3.2 and the iOS 9.3.3 beta. It is not clear when it will be fixed as it's likely a bug that's not a main priority.

Apple TV App Store Now Hides Downloaded Apps From Top Charts

In an effort to further improve app discoverability, Apple recently implemented a change to the way Top Charts work on the Apple TV. When viewing the Top Paid, Free, and Grossing Charts in the tvOS App Store, Apple TV users no longer see entries for apps they've already downloaded and installed on their set-top box.

Individualized, custom Top Chart rankings are now available for all Apple TV users, allowing them to see a dynamic list that changes with each app they download. This behavior is exclusive to the Apple TV App Store and is not reflective of how Top Charts work for iOS devices and Macs.

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App developer Equinux noticed the change last week, after discovering one of their popular apps was no longer listed in the Top Charts. Equinux thought the app had fallen from the charts at first, before noticing it was simply hidden on Apple TV devices where it was already installed.
In turns out, Apple now hides an app in the charts once you've installed it. Give it a try: Go install TV Pro Mediathek (VOD for German TV content) from the App Store (currently #3 Top Grossing in Germany) and then go back in to the App Store: boom - it's gone from the charts and the next-placed app has moved up.

This tvOS top charts algorithm change even affects featured apps on the start page: TV Pro Mediathek no longer shows up in its featured slot on the start page of the German App Store once you've installed it.

Apple's intention with the change is presumably to make the charts appear 'fresher' and users see more apps that they haven't installed yet.
When the Apple TV first launched in October, app discovery was a major issue. Apple has since made an effort to make it easier for Apple TV users to find apps through the implementation of app categories, Top Charts, and web previews.

Since late 2015, Apple's App Stores have been under the control of Phil Schiller, who took over from Eddy Cue. Schiller now oversees the app ecosystem across iOS devices, Macs, the Apple TV, and the Apple Watch, while Cue focuses on other software and services. Under Schiller's leadership, Apple has improved search algorithms and sped up app review times.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: App Store, tvOS
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Mophie Launches Wireless 'Charge Force' Battery Cases and Charging Pads

Mophie today introduced a new line of iPhone battery cases that support wireless charging through a bundled-in charging pad. Called the "Charge Force," Mophie's new wireless charging ecosystem begins fueling up a device the moment it's set down on a compatible charge pad, and prioritizes an iPhone's charge before moving over to the battery case.

mophie charge force 2
The new Charge Force-compatible cases aren't limited to Mophie's pad, either, giving users the ability to charge up their iPhone anywhere that supports Qi and "virtually all wireless charging standards." The company also announced its own series of charging pads, including a vertical one for an office desk, a vent mount for the car, and a basic flat model for the home. Powerful magnets hold the iPhone in place securely at any angle, even on a bumpy road trip in a vehicle.
“Wireless charging is being integrated into our lives at coffee shops, restaurants, airports, in furniture, cars and so on,” said Shawn Dougherty, mophie COO and Co-Founder. “By providing a diverse range of wireless charging options, we’ve taken the performance and convenience of mobile power even further.”
On the iPhone battery case side of things, Mophie said that all of the latest juice pack products support Charge Force so users can take advantage of wireless charging with juice pack's "compact design." There aren't any differing design options to choose from at launch, however, with a simple black colorway available for those interested who have either an iPhone 6/6 Plus or iPhone 6s/6s Plus.


A bundle with a juice pack case and Charge Force charging base for the smaller, 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 6s costs $99.95, while the same bundle for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus will run users $129.95. Those bundles come with the basic home charging base, which is sold separately for $39.95. Alternative pads for a desk and a car vent are available for $59.95 each.

Tag: Mophie

T-Mobile Debuts $30 Tourist Plan Featuring 2GB of 4G LTE Data

TMobile-Tourist-PlanT-Mobile has announced a new $30 prepaid Tourist Plan for international visitors to the U.S. that offers 1,000 minutes of domestic calling, unlimited domestic and international texting to over 140 countries and regions, and unlimited 2G data with the first 2GB at 4G LTE speeds.

Tourists visiting the U.S. can visit a T-Mobile store with an unlocked GSM smartphone, sign up and pay for the plan, and receive a free SIM card to access the carrier's network. The one-time, one-line plan lasts 3 weeks and cannot be renewed after automatically expiring at 11:59 p.m. on the 21st day of service.

International phone numbers cannot be ported to the U.S., so T-Mobile will assign customers a new U.S. number when they sign up for the Tourist Plan. International calling from the U.S. to other countries is not included in the plan and cannot be added as an additional feature, but customers can use Wi-Fi-based calling services.

The Tourist Plan includes 200MB of U.S. data roaming, but other T-Mobile perks such as Mobile Without Borders, Binge On, and Music Freedom are not included. The plan permits tethering, with Mobile Hotspot using data from the 2GB allotment of 4G LTE data, followed by slower speeds afterwards.

The new plan is available June 12. Postpaid and T-Mobile@Work customers are ineligible.

Tag: T-Mobile

'Workflow' for iOS Gains Apple Music Playlist Support, 20+ New Actions

Popular automation app Workflow has been updated with a number of new features and now provides added support for over 20 new actions.

For anyone not familiar with the app, Workflow is an automation tool that lets users create a variety of workflows to accomplish tasks like creating GIFs from a series of photos, pulling images from a web page, translating an article, calculating a tip, and more.

Workflow 1.5
Users can create their own workflows or download them from the Workflow gallery and other third-party sites.

With the release of Workflow 1.5, the Workflow Composer has been optimized, a search function has been included, and a number of new app actions have been added, introducing enhanced support for integration with the iTunes and App Stores, Safari browser, Ulysses, and more.

For example, the dedicated "Search App Store" action lets users search the App Store and scrape details of selected iOS apps (such as price, release date, and artwork), which can then be passed into subsequent actions inside a workflow.

Additionally, Workflow includes new Apple Music actions that enable users to create playlists and add songs to an existing playlist in their Apple Music library. Support for project management tool Trello has also been included in the latest version.

Workflow 1.5 costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Lightning-to-Headphone Adapters Appear Ahead of iPhone 7 Launch

While interest in the possible new features of the iPhone 7 remains as high as ever, perhaps the most controversial potential change to Apple's upcoming device is the removal of one long-standing feature – the headphone jack.

Rumors suggest that Apple will drop the 3.5mm audio jack to make its next-gen iPhone even thinner, and rely on an upgraded Lightning port, currently used only for charging, to transmit sound to wired headphones. Elsewhere, at least one competing smartphone maker has already announced its intention to drop the headphone jack.

MacRumors recently ran a Twitter poll that showed 59% of 7,542 respondents preferred the 3.5mm headphone jack over an all-in-one Lightning connector.

Lightning to headphone accessory
In anticipation of the divisive potential switch, Macotakara notes that Chinese accessory maker Tama Electric is now advertising three Lightning-to-headphone jack adapters, two of which also include a micro-USB port for charging while using headphones.

The Tama accessories have no price listing and don't seem to be ready for shipping yet, and are unlikely to be sold as certified Made for iPhone accessories anytime soon, but could offer a sign of things to come. While Lightning headphones are already available on the consumer market, Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapters are unlikely to be pitched as iPhone accessories until closer to the iPhone 7 launch in September.

Lightning to headphone adapters

Other rumors suggest Apple will release Lightning-equipped EarPods to support the new audio output on future iOS devices, and push Bluetooth as an alternative way to connect headphones to the device.

It's not all bad news for headphone jack fans though, as the latest claimed leak of an iPhone 7 spare part making its way through the supply chain appears to show a Lightning cable assembly with a headphone jack included.

Along with the above-mentioned rumored features, Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will also include an upgraded A-series processor and it could include features like an improved camera. Other rumors specific to the iPhone 7 Plus have suggested it could include a 256GB storage option, a 3,100 mAh battery, and 3GB RAM.

(via AppleInsider.)

Related Roundup: iPhone 7

India Turns Down Apple's Request to Sell Used iPhones

iPhone-trioIn March, Apple submitted a formal request to the Indian government in relation to selling refurbished iPhones in the country. Today, however, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that she is "not in favor" of accepting that proposal (via The Economic Times).
On Apple's proposal to import refurbished phones and sell in India, Sitharaman said, "We would not be in favour of whatever you may call them -- used but refashioned, remodelled, updated... used goods. We are not in favour of bringing them here."
The decision comes just days after the Indian government decided not to exempt Apple from a local rule requiring that 30 percent of goods sold by foreign companies be manufactured or produced within the country. India last year exempted retailers selling state-of-the-art goods from the rule, prompting Apple to file a new application in hopes of opening single-branded retail stores in India.

Apple is opportunistic about increasing its presence in India, where its market share is estimated to be only around 2 percent. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who visited India earlier this month, said the country provides a "really great opportunity" for growth, particularly after sales in the U.S. and China have slowed. Apple's revenue grew 56 percent in India last quarter, passing the $1 billion mark for the first time.

India has price-sensitive consumers, however, so Apple's inability to sell refurbished iPhones in the world's second most populous country may hinder it efforts to grow in the region. Cook has admitted that iPhones are too overpriced in India, compared to equivalent U.S. pricing, due to local tariffs.

"The duties and the taxes and the compounding of those takes the price and it makes it very high. Our profitability is less in India, it's materially less — but still I recognize that prices are high," said Cook, in an interview with Indian network NDTV. "We want to do things that lower that over time, to the degree that we can … I want the consumer in India to be able to buy at a price that looks like the U.S. price."

At least for now, those plans will seemingly not involve the sale of refurbished iPhones.

Tag: India

Twitter for iOS Gains Support for Peek and Pop 3D Touch Gestures

twitterThe official Twitter app for iOS was today updated to version 6.54, quietly adding expanded 3D Touch support. As noticed by MacStories, the update enables Peek and Pop gestures within the Twitter app itself, allowing Twitter users with an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus to preview content through a "Peek" and then quickly open it up with a "Pop."

Peek and Pop gestures are available for previewing tweets, pictures, links, and user profiles, and with a swipe up on a Peek gesture, there are quick tools for sharing, reporting, muting, and blocking.

Twitter previously featured 3D Touch support, but it was limited to Home screen Quick Actions, allowing users to do things like search, create a new tweet, or send a direct message.

Twitter can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Twitter

Jawbone Ceases Production of Fitness Trackers, Seeks Buyer for Speaker Business

It appears speaker and fitness tracker company Jawbone is struggling and could be on the verge of going out of business, with news today suggesting production has ceased on all of its current products.

According to a report from Tech Insider, Jawbone has fully ended production on its line of fitness trackers and has sold the remaining inventory to a third-party reseller, and a report from Fortune says the company is also seeking a buyer for its speaker business.

jawboneup24
Jawbone has reportedly struggled to sell its fitness trackers in an increasingly competitive market, forcing it to offer all remaining UP2, UP3, and UP4 tracking accessories to a third-party reseller at a discounted price in order to keep the business afloat.

As for its speaker line, Jawbone is said to be courting potential buyers and liquidating its remaining speaker inventory. Jawbone has not commented on either decision, leaving it unclear whether the company will aim to produce additional fitness trackers in the future, but Fortune says Jawbone is selling its speaker business so it can focus on health and wearables.

jawbonejambox
Jawbone has been floundering for several months as interest in its fitness trackers and speakers has dwindled. No new products have been released since the early months of 2015, and in November, Jawbone laid off 15 percent of its global workforce, closed offices in New York, and downscaled its operations in Sunnyvale and Pittsburgh.

The company did raise $165 million in funding in January, but its valuation dropped from $3 billion to $1.5 billion.

Update: The Verge says Jawbone is still developing a new "last chance" wearable product. It won’t be a fitness tracker, instead offering clinical-grade health tracking related to heart monitoring. Jawbone is said to be planning to announce the product this summer.

Update 2: Jawbone denies claims that it is going out of business, telling Engadget that it remains committed to creating new wearable products.
Speculation that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether is false. This speculation appears to emanate from wrongful insinuations made in a blog post in which the reporter has since posted a "Correction." Unfortunately, other media picked it up before the reporter posted a correction and spread this false information. Jawbone remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products. The company has never been more excited about its pipeline of technology and products and looks forward to sharing them when ready. We manage our inventory positions according to internal business processes, and strategic product lifecycle objectives. This situation is no different and we will continue to support all of our products in the marketplace.


Tag: Jawbone

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bundle of 'Eve' HomeKit Products From Elgato

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with Elgato to give away the full line of Elgato Eve HomeKit-connected products, including the Eve Room, Eve Weather, Eve Energy, and Eve Door & Window, which perform a range of functions from monitoring a room to motion sensing to turning "dumb" products smart.


Eve Room, designed for use inside a home, can tell you the temperature and humidity in the room, plus it can measure air quality. A sensor inside analyzes volatile organic compounds and it will let you know when air quality declines because of cooking, smoking, cleaning products, and more.

everoom
Eve Weather is similar to Eve Room, but meant to be used outside. It doesn't include air monitoring capabilities, but it will give you accurate temperature and humidity readings outdoors and over time. It's IPX3 water resistant, so it can stand up to the elements.

eveweather
Eve Energy is a smart outlet that allows whatever's plugged in to be controlled via Siri. It also measures the amount of energy being consumed, so it's ideal for products that can potentially use a lot of power, like space heaters or fans.

eveenergy
The final product, Eve Door & Window, monitors whether a door or window is open or closed and how long it was open or closed. It's ideal for making sure a door in the house is secure when away, and it also enables motion-based HomeKit features.

evedoor
The Eve line of devices connect to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth and can be controlled through the Elgato Eve app. No hub is required and in addition to being able to be controlled through the Eve app, the products are also compatible with Siri and can be accessed in other HomeKit apps and when away from home with an Apple TV. With the Eve products, you can ask Siri a long list of questions like "What's the temperature in the living room?" or "Is the fan on?" or "Is the door open?"

I reviewed the Elgato Eve lineup when the products first became available last year. I had problems with them because HomeKit was still in the early stages of development, but since then, there have been a number of under-the-hood changes that have improved the functionality of HomeKit products. The Bluetooth-enabled Eve Weather and Eve Room are now some of my most reliable HomeKit devices.

The full line of Eve products can be purchased from Amazon. The Eve Energy is priced at $50, the Eve Door & Window is $40, the Eve Room is $80, and the Eve Weather is $50. One MacRumors reader will be able to get all four products for free through our giveaway. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (May 27) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 3. The winner will be chosen randomly on June 3 and will be contacted by email. The winner has 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before a new winner is chosen.

Following Poor Performance on Galaxy Phones, 'Samsung Pay Mini' Reportedly Heading to iOS

samsung pay 1Samsung is planning to launch its mobile payments service Samsung Pay as a downloadable iOS app, according to a new report from South Korea's ETNews. Called Samsung Pay Mini, the app will allow iPhone users to enter their credit card information to make payments within online stores.

Not many details were given about the initial launch, but the app seems to be limited to South Korea and available only as an online payment option with no retail support yet. The rollout in South Korea could begin as early as June.

Samsung's reason behind introducing support for its mobile wallet onto iOS is reportedly due to Samsung Pay's poor performance on the company's line of Galaxy smartphones. An expansion to Apple's iOS ecosystem is hoped to help bolster Samsung Pay usage beyond its current limited scope.
“By releasing SamsungPay Mini, Samsung Electronics has completed a versatile platform that absorbs online and mobile payments.” said a high-ranking representative of a card company. “Besides of online payments, SamsungPay Mini will be a catalyst for Samsung Electronics in tying together variety of additional businesses.”
According to sources within the IT and financial industries, the company plans for the new app to be free and work on all Android devices as well as Apple's iPhone. During the initial launch in South Korea, Samsung Card, Lotte Card, and Hana Card have all agreed to support Samsung Pay Mini. KB Card and a few other companies have mentioned interest in joining the service, as well, but beyond South Korea, there was no mention of a wider Samsung Pay Mini launch.

On Apple's side of the mobile payment market, the Cupertino company has been expanding Apple Pay's presence in multiple countries ever since its launch in 2014. This morning, Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey described how the company is "working rapidly" to get its mobile wallet into "every significant market" Apple is currently involved in.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Samsung Pay