Apple opens Maps development center in Hyderabad, India

May 19, 2016 - 1:32 PM - by sparkyscott21

WaveRock facilities in Hyderabad, India

Hot on the heels of revealing plans for an iOS app design and development facility in Bengaluru, Apple on Thursday local time announced the opening of an office in Hyderabad tasked with accelerating development of Maps products for iOS, Mac and Apple Watch.

The new development center will create up to 4,000 jobs, with employees set to work on Maps updates and new features to be applied to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, the company said.

"Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations."

As detailed in a February report, Apple is taking up residence on the Waverock campus positioned in Hyderabad's tech corridor. At the time, reports claimed Apple was spending $25 million on the project, though the figure has not been confirmed.

As part of the announcement, Apple revealed that it supports more than 640,000 iOS app developer jobs and related positions in India.

On Tuesday, plans for an upcoming iOS design and development accelerator in Bengaluru were announced. When the facility opens in 2017, local developers will be able to hone their coding skills with the help of industry experts.

The pair of announcements come as Cook tours India, the second leg in a trip to Asia that began with a stop off in China. He is rumored to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week.


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Apple quietly toughens rules forcing passcode unlocks of Touch ID devices

May 19, 2016 - 1:31 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple has silently added another condition under which an iPhone or iPad user has to unlock their device with a passcode, despite having Touch ID enabled, according to a report.

iOS will now ask for a passcode if it hasn't been unlocked that way for six days, and Touch ID hasn't been used in the last eight hours, MacWorld said. A quoted Apple spokesperson claimed the rule has been in place since iOS 9 was released in Sept. 2015, but MacWorld noted this is inconsistent with the iOS Security guide, which only mentioned the change starting May 12. Apple declined to offer an explanation.

The company has several such rules in place, the two most common forcing a passcode unlock if a device is rebooted or hasn't been unlocked for 48 hours. Others require a passcode after new fingers are added to Touch ID, a person tries five unsuccessful Touch ID logins, or someone issues a remote lock via Find My iPhone.

If the discovered rule is genuinely new, it's not clear how or when Apple might have made the change, since iOS 9.3.1 was released in March and 9.3.2 arrived earlier this week.

Regardless, the tactic is presumably a means of reinforcing the security of Apple devices. It could potentially have an impact on U.S. law enforcement, which has already begun seeking court orders compelling people to unlock iPhones with their fingerprints.


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Developers report trouble registering 9.7" iPad Pros for testing

May 19, 2016 - 1:26 PM - by sparkyscott21

Some developers are experiencing trouble registering 9.7-inch iPad Pros with their official Apple developer accounts, according to complaints on the company's forums.

Several developers noted in a support thread that their Pros won't register even though other iOS devices will. Another person said he was able to register a Pro for one of his teams, but not for others, and that the situation had been ongoing for over a week.

A few forum posters proposed that the issue might be connected to iOS 9.3.1, but the glitch appears to be affecting people using Monday's iOS 9.3.2 update as well.

Pro owners may in fact want to avoid 9.3.2, as the update has reportedly been "bricking" some units. Affected devices will ask to be plugged into iTunes, but can't successfully be restored, leaving owners to turn to Apple for troubleshooting or simply a replacement.

The 9.7-inch Pro was released in March, and condenses most of the features of the 12.9-inch model — such as an A9X processor, Smart Connector, and Apple Pencil support — into a smaller package, while adding new touches like a "True Tone" display and rear flash. It's also meant to replace the iPad Air 2, formerly Apple's flagship iPad, making developer support critical.


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iOS 9.3.2 update 'bricking' some Apple iPad Pros, complaints say

May 18, 2016 - 11:42 AM - by sparkyscott21

Trying to install Apple's iOS 9.3.2 update is causing some iPad Pros to become unusable, according to media reports and complaints on Apple's support forums.

Affected people will find their tablet asking to be plugged into iTunes, but unable to be restored, a number of support forum posters have said. Ireland's The Journal noted that this can be accompanied by an "Error 56" message, which Apple identifies as a generic hardware error.

While the issue appears to be restricted to iPad Pros, there also seems to be no immediate workaround other than taking a device to an Apple Store for help or a replacement. There are likewise no signs that an official fix is in development, though Apple is likely aware of the problem.

iOS 9.3.2, released on Tuesday, was itself intended to solve a variety of bugs. These included things like Bluetooth problems on the iPhone SE, failed dictionary lookups, and MDM servers being unable to install custom B2B apps.

Because the iPad Pro is a relatively new device — even the 12.9-inch model only dates back to November — every owner is still on Apple's default one-year warranty, and should be able to get free service for defects.


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Apple sent senior engineers to customer's house to investigate music deletion issue

May 18, 2016 - 11:36 AM - by sparkyscott21

James Pinkstone, whose blog post about an apparent iTunes music deletion bug went viral last week, said on Tuesday that Apple flew two senior software engineers across the country in attempts to troubleshoot the issue.

This past Saturday, two Apple employees, identified only a "Tom" and "Ezra," flew from California to Pinkstone's house in Atlanta, Ga., in hopes of exposing a potentially devastating iTunes issue that wiped 122GB of music, some of it original compositions, from the musician's laptop ten days earlier.

Earlier this month, Pinkstone said iTunes removed most, but not all, locally stored tracks without his express consent, a nightmare scenario for users who have spent years, or even decades, curating their music library. An Apple Support representative was unable to pin down an exact cause, but speculated Apple Music compatibility issues might be to blame.

Last Friday, Apple issued a statement confirming that "an extremely small number" of users had reported similar problems. While the company could not reproduce the issue, it said an updated version of iTunes with "additional safeguards" would be released to address user concerns. The update was pushed out on Monday as iTunes version 12.4, but it appears Apple is no closer to identifying what, exactly, is going wrong.

This past weekend Tom and Ezra had Pinkstone reactivate his Apple Music account and proceed through the usual iTunes track syncing procedure that uploads unmatched files to iCloud for streaming access. Throughout the process, a specialized version of iTunes tracked potential code abnormalities, while the two engineers discussed options and next steps with a team back in California.

Tom and Ezra left Saturday afternoon, instructing Pinkstone to continue using the software as he would normally, for example buying songs, importing tracks and customizing playlists. They returned on Sunday to pick up the data logs.

After hours of troubleshooting and a real-world stress test, Apple was unable to reproduce the problems Pinkstone described in his initial complaint. The company is not yet ready to chalk it up to user error, however.

"One of the things on which Tom, Ezra, and I seemed to agree was that Apple is not off of the hook yet. Their software failed me in a spectacular, destructive way; and since I rang that bell, many people have come forward with similar stories," Pinkstone writes. "Some may be a result of user error, but I have a hard time believing all are."

Apple may not have a solution in the can, but the company is obviously making a concerted effort to find one. Perhaps most telling is Apple's willingness to send out two senior engineers — cross-country — to a customer's home over what amounts to a software bug. Few companies would do the same.


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Apple confirms reports of iTunes music deletion issue, 'safeguards' coming this week

May 16, 2016 - 12:10 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple in a statement Friday said it is investigating reports of a supposed Apple Music compatibility bug that deletes local music files without user permission, adding that an updated version of the media management software is expected for release next week.

Earlier this month media outlets latched onto a blog post from freelance composer James Pinkstone, who claimed iTunes deleted some 122GB of music from his laptop, including original works. After speaking with Apple support representatives, Pinkstone came to the conclusion that the mishap had roots in the way Apple Music and iTunes handles music files.

Specifically, Pinkstone believes Apple Music scanned his iTunes library, matched those tracks with streaming copies — or uploaded originals — then automatically removed the local files. If true, this technique poses an obvious problem for users who later unsubscribe from Apple Music.

As some have pointed out, however, iTunes' song matching mechanism does not remove local files without user authorization.

Apple provided comment on the matter to The Loop.

"In an extremely small number of cases users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission," Apple said. "We're taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause. We have not been able to reproduce this issue, however, we're releasing an update to iTunes early next week which includes additional safeguards. If a user experiences this issue they should contact AppleCare."

It is unclear why Pinkstone's library was erroneously removed from his computer (luckily he had a backup), though members of Apple's Support Communities forums suggest the culprit could be a database bug in the latest version of iTunes.


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