MacRumors

A year ago, it was revealed that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was reexamining regulations regarding the use of digital devices like the iPad or Amazon Kindle during taxi, takeoff and landing of commercial aircraft.

Today, The New York Times reports that the industry group working with the FAA to study the issue hopes to loosen restrictions by the end of the year. However, there are still details to work out regarding what devices will be acceptable during flight and what 'airplane mode' means.

united pilots ipad 1

According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.

One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) promised at the end of last year to introduce legislation to force the FAA to loosen its restrictions if it doesn't choose to do so on its own. The senator was particularly frustrated because airline pilots can use iPads in the cockpit in all phases of flight, while customers are restricted to seemingly arbitrary altitude limits.

This weekend at a PAX East panel, Firaxis announced that it is in the process of porting its critically acclaimed strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown to iOS and that it will be available sometime this summer.

xcomios
While speaking with Joystiq, XCOM: Enemy Unknown Lead Designer Jake Solomon said that gamers can expect a similar experience to the console and PC versions of the game.

"It is a straight port. We have not made any gameplay exceptions," XCOM: Enemy UnknownLead Designer Jake Solomon told us. "You play the exact same game [as on PC or consoles], it's just now fully playable on an iPhone or an iPad."

Solomon also said that the game would include the Elite Soldier DLC and that the "full game" is being ported over to iOS devices. This would be a relatively major milestone for iOS gaming, as it represent a full port of a high-profile console and PC game that was released just six months ago.


The move comes a month after the game was announced for Mac with a launch date of April 25. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a re-imagining of the classic 1994 strategy game "X-COM: Enemy Defense" and was developed by Firaxis and published by 2K Games for consoles and PC.

In the game, players are tasked with leading secret government organization XCOM to defend the world against aliens. They oversee base management in addition to combat strategies while maintaining relationships with countries to fund their organization and save the world.

Although no price has been announced, Soloman said that it will be at a "premium price point," which would likely put it in the $15 range.

The Verge reports that the first volume of Mari Yamazaki's manga adaption of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography has launched in Japan, appearing in the May issue of the girl-focused Kiss anthology.

The first thing you'll notice in these opening pages is that Yamazaki has pulled off the artwork beautifully; far from the spiky-haired caricatures that may come to mind when you think of manga, Jobs has been brought to life in a semi-realistic monochrome style that is never off-putting, but stays in the Japanese manga tradition.

jobs_manga_1
The Verge summarizes this first volume as including fifteen pages of Steve Jobs trying to convince Walter Isaacson to write his biography before jumping into Jobs' childhood and moving through to his college years.

Once Jobs is of college age, Yamazaki swiftly transforms him into the type of character any schoolgirl reader could fall in love with. In one memorable two-page spread, Jobs goes from accepting a bribe of $5 and candy from his influential teacher Imogene Hill, to replying "Sure!" when encouraged to try LSD by a long-haired peer in college corridors.

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The first volume ends as Jobs meets Steve Wozniak for the first time, setting the stage for their partnership and the formation of Apple.

Yahoo has also posted a preview of the first volume showing Jobs and Isaacson discussing the possibility of a Steve Jobs biography.

wifislam_logoThe Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has acquired indoor location company WifiSLAM, paying around $20 million for the firm. Apple has confirmed the purchase, but declined to offer any details on its plans for the acquisition.

The two-year-old startup has developed ways for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals. It has been offering the technology to application developers for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social networking apps. The company has a handful of employees, and its co-founders include former Google software engineering intern Joseph Huang.

Apple has been beefing up its location expertise over the past several years through acquisitions, including small firms such as Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies. With its purchase of WifiSLAM, Apple seems to be adding a new focus on indoor location tracking.

The cornerstone of Apple's mapping effort so far has been its Maps app in iOS 6, which replaced Google as the default mapping application on iOS devices. Apple's Maps app has, however, suffered from significant criticism and the company has been working hard to improve its mapping products.

The Verge is reporting that the Apple ID login system has been compromised and passwords can be reset using only the user's email address and date of birth. Users who have activated the new two-step verification process are not affected by the hack.

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We've been made aware of a step-by-step tutorial (which remains available as of this writing) that explains in detail how to take advantage of the vulnerability. The exploit involves pasting in a modified URL while answering the DOB security question on Apple's iForgot page. It's a process just about anyone could manage, and The Verge has confirmed the glaring security hole firsthand.

Out of concerns for user security, The Verge did not share any information about how to perform the hack, and Apple has not publicly commented on the issue.

Users who attempted to activate two-step verification but are put into a three-day waiting period are vulnerable to the attack, and concerned users can log into their Apple ID accounts and change their birthdate to something less easily guessed.

The two-step verification system for Apple ID accounts was introduced yesterday and is supposed to provide users with a login sequence that is nearly impossible to hack for someone without physical access to the user's devices.

Update 1:29 PM: Apple has taken its iForgot password reset system offline.

iforgot_offline
Update 8:48 PM: Apple's iForgot system is active once again, and iMore has confirmed that the issue has been fixed.

angry_birds_in_app_purchaseAs noted by The Guardian, Apple today rolled out a new "Offers In-App Purchases" disclosure directly underneath the Buy/Free button for App Store apps supporting the feature. The addition helps make clear to potential purchasers that free or even paid apps may require additional purchases in order to unlock the apps' full functionality or for other benefits such as acquiring in-game currency.

The new tagline is currently only appearing in the desktop version of the App Store that sits within iTunes. For now, it's not shown in the iOS App Store app, nor does it appear on webpages for iOS apps.

Apple confirmed to The Guardian that the message is a new addition to the App Store. Its location – directly below the icon and "Free" button on each app's page – makes it even easier for people to identify that an app uses in-app purchases (IAP) before downloading it.

Apple just recently settled a lawsuit over the issue of children being able to make unauthorized in-app purchases sometimes totaling as much as thousands of dollars. With today's move, Apple is clearly attempting to make it even more clear to users before they download or purchase an app whether it includes In-App Purchase content.

The report notes that Apple could easily use the new disclosure to deploy a filter that would allow parents to restrict their children's downloads to only free apps with no In-App Purchase content, but the company has not yet taken that step.

Update: The notifications are now on the iOS App Store as well.

Yesterday, word surfaced of new malware targeting major browsers on the Mac platform with adware capable of injecting advertising into users' browsing experiences. The malware, known as "Yontoo", masquerades as a video plug-in or download accelerator in order to trick users into installing the package.

yontoo_xprotect
As noted by security firm Intego, Apple has already updated its "Xprotect" anti-malware system to recognize Yontoo and warn users who attempt to install it on their machines.

Apple has decided the Yontoo Adware has fallen too far on the side of undesirable behavior, as they have released an update to the XProtect.plist definitions file to provide Mac OS X with basic detection for the Yontoo adware as OSX.AdPlugin.i. In testing, it appears this detection is very specific and potentially location-dependent. This extra specificity is likely there so as to catch only the surreptitious installations of this file.

Apple routinely uses its Xprotect anti-malware tools introduced in OS X Snow Leopard to provide rudimentary protection against threats, and has expanded its efforts in OS X Mountain Lion with the introduction of Gatekeeper to allow users to restrict app installation to software from identified developers registered with Apple, or even to only apps installed through the Mac App Store.

Apple has also been using Xprotect to enforce minimum version requirements for plug-ins such as Java and Flash Player, forcing users to upgrade from earlier versions known to have significant security issues.

NewImage
Blizzard today announced Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a new free-to-play collectible card game set in the Warcraft universe. In a first for Blizzard, it will be available on the iPad in addition to the Mac and PC. It appears that players will be able to play multiplayer games across platforms.

Set in the World of Warcraft universe, each Hearthstone deck will revolve around heroes of nine of the MMO's classes. At least 300 cards will be available at launch, and you'll be able to earn or buy packs. Also, you'll be able to put together your own decks and be able to "disenchant" duplicates and craft better, presumably original cards from them.

The competitive side of the game will feature one-on-one fights via Battle.Net, which, if you didn't know, is the service Blizzard uses for its PC games. We're not sure what the iPad version will use -- details are still coming out from the event.

Hearthstone is due out later in 2013, with the iPad version coming after the initial PC and Mac release. Users can register for the beta on Blizzard's website.

Nowhereelse.fr reports [Google translation] that it has spotted a pair of alleged parts for the iPhone 5S. The parts appear to have been posted by Japanese vendor Moumantai.

The first part is the device's home button, which looks very similar to the home button on the iPhone 5 with the exception of the flex cable used to connect to the main logic board. The cable on the iPhone 5S is much longer than seen in the iPhone 5 and is routed differently through the device's body.

iphone_5s_home_button
Apple has been rumored to be adding a fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 5S in the area of the home button, but if such a feature is to be integrated into the home button itself somehow, it does not seem to be apparent from this part.

The second part is claimed to be the vibrator for the iPhone 5S, although the image shows the vibrator attached to a flex cable that also appears to support the volume buttons and mute switch along the side of the device. The cable appears to be of a more compact layout than the corresponding iPhone 5 part.

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Part leaks from the iPhone 5S have so far been difficult to find, although speaker enclosures for both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 allegedly surfaced several months ago. The legitimacy of those claims has, however, remained unconfirmed.

Related Forum: iPhone

The New York Times reports that regulators with the European Union are taking a close look at contracts between Apple and its iPhone carrier partners, seeking to determine whether Apple's strict terms amount to anti-competitive behavior. In particular, Apple's practice of requiring carriers to commit to selling a certain number of iPhones has placed pressure on the carriers to promote the iPhone above other alternatives.

[S]ome of Apple’s competitors complain that the big purchases Apple requires from carriers strongly pressure them to devote most of their marketing budgets to the iPhone, leaving little money to promote competing devices, said an executive at one of Apple’s rivals, who declined to be named to avoid jeopardizing carrier relationships.

Apple’s practice of telling carriers how many phones they must sell and threatening to penalize them shows just how powerful the iPhone has become as a bargaining chip. Other manufacturers typically allocate fewer handsets to each carrier than they estimate it can sell to ensure that there is little, if any, leftover inventory, an executive at one rival handset maker said.

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Carriers are of course not required to carry the iPhone, but customer demand for the device means that most carriers believe they have little choice and must agree to Apple's terms in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.

The European Commission has not yet launched a formal investigation of Apple over its contract terms, and it is unclear what its next steps will be, with spokesman Antoine Colombani simply noting that the competition regulators are "monitoring the situation". For its part, Apple says only that its contracts are compliant with all local laws.

Related Forum: iPhone

iphone_3gs_obliqueRBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani has released a new research report today citing supply chain checks as the basis for predicting a June or July launch for both the iPhone 5S and a lower-cost iPhone, in line with other recent reports. Daryanani says, however, that the lower-cost iPhone appears set to omit a Retina display.

Our supply-chain checks indicate that AAPL is working to launch multiple new phones in the June/July time-frame this year. Specifically, AAPL will launch the iPhone5s and a more affordable but lower-end iPhone at the same time, in either late CYQ2 or early Q3. The low-end iPhone will have the same 4" form factor as the iPhone5 but will have plastic casing and no retina display. With a lower price-point, AAPL will be able to target a growing and important part of the Smartphone market (sub-$400 price-band).

Daryanani's claim of no Retina display for the lower-cost iPhone conflicts with reports from reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has claimed several times that the cheaper iPhone's 4-inch display will carry the same 326 pixels per inch seen on all Retina iPhone displays released to date.

Daryanani's claims also raises suspicion because Retina displays are a long-established feature of Apple's iPhone lineup, with all the iPhone models currently offered by Apple supporting the feature. This includes the iPhone 4, which is offered for free with a two-year contract in the United States, although this new low-cost iPhone is said to be seeking to bring prices even lower to attract customers in markets where carrier subsidies are uncommon.

Just yesterday, Apple announced to developers that all apps submitted to the App Store must support both Retina resolution and the larger 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch as of May 1. Apps can, of course, also support devices such as the iPhone 3GS using non-Retina displays.

Related Forum: iPhone

At an Australian Parliament inquiry into high markups on technology goods and services today, Apple Australia Vice President Tony King blamed rights holders for international price disparities in the company's digital content, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The pricing of this digital content is based on the wholesale prices which are set through negotiated contracts with the record labels, movie studios and TV networks," said Mr King, who is Apple's vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia.

King went on to say that "the content industry still runs with perhaps old-fashioned notions of country borders or territories or markets" and that it creates confusion for customers. He also said that Apple's iTunes pricing in Australia is "comparable to other Australian physical and online stores."

When asked by Labor MP Ed Husic, who is a member of the committee conducting the inquiry, whether Apple could influence the price of digital content in Australia, King said that it was up to the rights holders. King also said that Apple would love to see "cheaper, lower prices in the Australian market," according to News.com.au.

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Earlier today, MacStories noted that markups in Australia average as much as 61.4% for music, 33.5% for movies and 25.9% for TV shows when a subset of content offerings is compared to prices in the United States once Australia's Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been accounted for. Markups for Apple's hardware products are more reasonable, with Mac, iPad and iPod prices in Australia generally falling within 10% of U.S. prices. The iPhone line, however, can go as high as a 16% markup for the iPhone 5 and 4S, while the iPhone 4 is actually slightly cheaper in Australia than it is in the United States.

King said that Apple had gone to great lengths to make sure that its hardware products are priced at "parity" in Australia, which takes into account Australian GST as well as the cost of delivering its products to the country.

Adobe and Microsoft were also questioned as part of the inquiry following summonses being issued last month, with Adobe explaining that it charges Australian customers $1000 extra for a software suite because users are receiving a "personalized" service on their local website. Microsoft said its prices, which include a $2000 increase for a software suite, were based on market competition and that users would vote with their wallets if they didn't agree.

google_android_logosThe Financial Times is reporting that Google's Android unit is working on a smart watch. With Samsung confirming that it is working on a smart watch and rumors about Apple's "iWatch" continuing to circulate, it appears that the three companies are set to battle in a new mobile device segment.

The report unsurprisingly suggests that Google views the smart watch as a more mainstream wearable accessory than the Google Glass project that has garnered significant attention in recent months.

While Glass is being created in its X Lab, home to experimental “moonshot” projects such as the self-driving car, Google’s smart watch is being developed by its Android unit, according to a person briefed on the project, to act as an extension to the smartphones using that operating system. The project is separate from Samsung’s efforts, the source said, although there is no indication of when it might launch.

Apple reportedly has 100 product designers working on an "iWatch", experimenting with curved glass and possible features such as biosensors. Apple's smart watch is also said to run a "full" version of iOS, which would make it easier for developer access. However, battery life is said to be the big challenge for Apple, with current prototypes needing to charge every two days, half of Apple's goal.

Tag: ft.com

mailboxSix weeks after launching, Mailbox today announced that it had fulfilled one million reservations for its popular mail management app.

Before the app went live, Orchestra, the company behind Mailbox, implemented a reservation system in order to deal with demand. Though highly criticized, Mailbox experienced only a few significant outages during the weeks after the app launched.

Last Friday, Dropbox revealed that it had purchased Mailbox for a reported $50 to $100 million and as a result, reservations were able to be fulfilled faster thanks to Dropbox's established infrastructure.

Mailbox also launched its first major update today, adding a new shake to undo feature that will return the last deleted or archived message back to the inbox. The update also includes user interface enhancements, bug fixes, and performance optimizations.

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What's New in Version 1.1.0
- Shake to undo!
- UI enhancements
- Bug fixes and performance optimizations

Though fulfillment times have improved, the wait list for Mailbox still sits at over 450,000 users. Mailbox is a free app for the iPhone that can be downloaded from the App Store. [Direct Link]

NewImageApple has informed app developers that it will no longer allow apps to use the unique device identifier or UDID after May 1, according to a post on Apple's developer website.

Instead, Apple requests developers use the new 'Vendor or Advertising identifiers' that were introduced in iOS 6. Developers will also be required to support both the Retina display and the iPhone 5's 4-inch display, beginning on May 1.

Using Identifiers in Your Apps
March 21, 2013

Starting May 1, the App Store will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs. Please update your apps and servers to associate users with the Vendor or Advertising identifiers introduced in iOS 6. You can find more details in the UIDevice Class Reference.

Make Your Apps Look Great on the Retina Display and iPhone 5
March 21, 2013

Starting May 1, new apps and app updates submitted to the App Store must be built for iOS devices with Retina display and iPhone apps must also support the 4-inch display on iPhone 5. Learn about preparing your apps by reviewing the iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

Apple announced in 2011 that it would be phasing out developer access to UDID's, and instead create a non-identifying marker for advertisers to use. A year ago, it was reported that Apple began quietly rejecting apps for the use of the UDID, but this public announcement suggests Apple has gotten more serious about shutting down use of the identifier.

Apple had been under increased pressure to change how the UDID works due to the privacy implications of a developer knowing which particular iOS device is being used to access their app. Apple and several app developers were sued over the use of the UDID to track users across different apps. While the UDID doesn't specifically identify a user, the sharing of UDIDs across ad networks and apps can help piece together a valuable picture of activity and interests of the user of a specific device. Apple seems to be requiring apps to generate their own unique identifiers for each installation to avoid this ability to share such information across apps.

SpeedtestOokla has updated its Speedtest.net iOS app with iPhone 5 support, the ability to remove advertising with a $0.99 in-app purchase, improved server selection and easier sharing -- since the whole point of an app that measures the connection speed is so users can gloat to their friends.

The app allows users to check their ping, upload and download speeds from servers located all over the world.

What's New in Version 3.0

- Completely new interface with full iPhone 5 support
- Option to permanently remove advertising
- Easier result sharing
- Improved server selection and saving
- Sortable results
- See your testing location in results detail
- This release is English only and translations will come in the next update

Speedtest
Speedtest.net Mobile Speed Test is a free download from the App Store. [Direct Link]

jonathan_iveLast October, Tim Cook tasked Jony Ive with leadership of the company's Human Interface teams in addition to his role as head of Industrial Design.

This suggested that the company's hardware and software user interfaces could become more complementary with one executive in charge of everything that users see and touch.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this is indeed the case, with mobile software teams being briefed about new hardware prototypes earlier in the design cycle. Additionally, Ive is now sitting in on the human interface team's review sessions to examine new designs.

Some suggested that in Apple’s next mobile operating system, Ive is pushing a more “flat design” that is starker and simpler, according to developers who have spoken to Apple employees but didn’t have further details. Overall, they expect any changes to be pretty conservative. For the past few years, Apple has unveiled versions of its mobile operating system in the summer.

Design is one example of the increased “collaboration across hardware, software and services” that Apple said it was aiming for when Cook pushed senior vice president and mobile software chief Scott Forstall out of the company last year.

In addition to Ive's command of the physical and software interface teams, Craig Federighi is looking at combining some Mac and iOS software teams when there is particular overlap, such as the calendar teams, while keeping the majority of the Mac and iOS engineering teams separate, the paper reports.

Related Forum: iOS 7

podcastsApple has updated its Podcasts app, adding a much desired iCloud syncing feature along with the ability to create custom stations and On-The-Go playlists.

With custom stations, users can compile their favorite podcasts into lists that will be automatically updated when new episodes are released, and a new option allows listeners to decide whether custom stations begin playing the newest or oldest unplayed episodes.

Podcasts, which was released in June of last year, received significant criticism for its inability to sync with iTunes, a problem that has been remedied with the new update. In its original form, the Podcasts app garnered quite a few negative reviews for its shortcomings, giving the app a two star rating in the App Store. Version 1.2 appears to address many of the issues users had with the app.

-Create custom stations of your favorite podcasts that update automatically with new episodes
-Choose whether your stations begin playing with the newest or oldest unplayed episode
-Your stations are stored in iCloud and kept up-to-date on all of your devices
-Create an On-The-Go playlist with your own list of episodes
-Playlists synced from iTunes now appear in the Podcasts app
-The Now Playing view has been redesigned with easier to use playback controls
-Addressed an issue with resuming playback when returning to the app
-Additional performance and stability improvements

Stations are stored in Apple's iCloud and will be synced across all iOS devices. Playlists created in iTunes now sync with the Podcasts app, and a bug has been fixed that prevented playback from resuming correctly after exiting the app.

Podcasts users may also notice a few changes to the app's interface, which is now similar in style to the native iTunes music app. Apple has done away with the skeuomorphic push-buttons and removed the reel-to-reel player hidden underneath the image for finer controls.
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Old design on the left, New design on the right

Podcasts
for the iPad and the iPhone is a free app that can be downloaded from the App Store. [Direct Link]