During this year’s WWDC, Apple made several announcements related to iOS, OS X and the App Store that targeted both regular device users and app developers. One of the new Apple Store features introduced at the event was something called app bundles that promises developers they’ll be able to bundle together multiple apps and sell these special packages to iOS users when iOS 8 arrives. The bundles will offer users cheaper access to apps: each bundle will be more expensive than the individual prices of the apps in it, but cheaper for the user than buying each included app separately. Now, these app bundles are finally live in the App Store.
Even though the App Store feature was enabled only after iOS 8 was released, users can also purchase bundles from either iTunes on a computer and devices still running iOS 7.
Purchasing bundles is really easy, and works just like any other regular app purchase from the App Store. Interestingly, if you already own one of the apps included in a bundle, you’ll be able to purchase the remaining ones for a special price, lower than the bundle’s original price.
In addition to purchasing bundles for yourself, you can also gift them to friends and family that have iOS devices, just like with any other apps.
Currently, Apple has already listed several bundles on the App Store, including App Bundles, Game Bundles and Kids Bundles, as seen in the image above (links available in the source section below).
A sneaky method hackers use to crack your iCloud backups won’t work anymore if you’re serious about your security. Overnight, Apple turned on two-factor authentication for iCloud, which will protect against the kind of social engineering exploits that helped hackers steal celebrity photos last month.
Until Wednesday, Apple’s brand of two-factor authentication only protected your Apple ID, preventing people from making purchases from your account. But if thieves were able to guess the answers to your security questions and recover your password, they could easily use third-party software to access your iCloud backup. Your photos, documents, text messages: All of it was up for grabs.
That’s no longer the case. Ars Technica tried to install an iCloud backup with two-factor turned on using the most common software, made by Elcomsoft, and found it no longer worked.
Two-factor authentication works by requiring a second means of verification, aside from your password, to sign in to your accounts. That second method is usually an SMS code sent to your phone, which you then enter to gain access. If you don’t even have two-step verification turned on for your Apple ID, you’re forgiven. Apple buried the option in your settings and the process was cumbersome once you actually found it.
Apple sent out an e-mail to iCloud users with information about its security measures and how to use them. On 1 October, the company will let you generate app-specific passwords for third-party apps with access to your iCloud account, like Microsoft Outlook, BusyCal and Mozilla Thunderbird. The new option prevents those apps from knowing your iCloud password and will keep your account safe.
The new security measures are too little, too late for celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, but turning on two-factor authentication for every account that offers it is the safest way to protect your information.
Apple on Wednesday updated its customer privacy webpage to reflect new security initiatives, highlighting a letter written by CEO Tim Cook, who restated the company's business is in selling products, not harvesting data.
In Cook's letter, which is linked to in a special section on the Apple.com home page, the Apple chief restates his company's focus on consumer privacy, an issue touched upon during an interview with Charlie Rose earlier this week.
"Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay," Cook writes.
Apple's security methods were recently scrutinized after a batch of nude photos supposedly harvested from multiple celebrity iCloud accounts leaked online. In a statement released following the incident, Apple denied rumors of an iCloud breach and attributed the photo theft to "very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet."
In light of the celebrity photo kerfuffle, Apple rolled out more aggressive iCloud security measures, including two-step authentication for iCloud.com and app-specific passwords for software connecting with the cloud service.
Moving to personal data monetization, Cook took the opportunity to tear in to Google's business model, which is based on revenue earned from targeted ads. Unlike the Internet search giant, Apple's advertising business — the iAd network — is built on the same fundamental privacy tenets employed in other products and does not cultivate data from services like Maps, Siri and the new HealthKit framework found in iOS 8.
"Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don't build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don't 'monetize' the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don't read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple," Cook says.
Cook goes on to explain current Apple privacy policies and the need for greater transparency in reporting government data requests, a topic of concern for privacy advocates. In May, Apple announced it would routinely issue data request reports to keep the public apprised of U.S. national security orders and account information requests from various state agencies.
As for the updated privacy policies, Apple says changes "were made predominantly to cover new features in iOS 8, or to provide additional information on current use of data such as your date of birth or information you've provided about others (for example, when sending products or gift certificates to another person). None of these changes are retroactive." Also added was a more detailed description of technologies used for location-based services like GPS and cell tower positioning.
Cook's full letter follows below:
At Apple, your trust means everything to... [Read More]
As noted by The Washington Post, iOS 8 marks a new, more aggressive stance in protecting customer data from prying eyes, as Apple engineered an encryption system even it is unable to break.
In a document (PDF link) meant to guide law enforcement officers in requesting user information, Apple notes that it no longer stores encryption keys for devices with iOS 8, meaning agencies are unable to gain access even with a valid search warrant. This includes data store on a physical device protected by a passcode, including photos, call history, contacts and more.
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its new webpage dedicated to privacy policies. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
The safeguards do not apply to other services including iCloud, however, meaning any data stored offsite is fair game for government seizure. Still, the security implementation will likely be seen as a step in the right direction, especially given the current political climate following revelations of governmental "snooping" activities.
In an open letter to consumers posted on Apple's new privacy policies webpage, CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed the company's stance on personal data, saying the company does not allow server backdoors and only handles with legitimate requests backed by the proper authorities.
"I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services," Cook wrote, adding, "We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."
As part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality of iPhone voice calls, Apple is investigating a unique take on bone conduction technology that uses sensor-laden EarPods and multiple microphones to cancel out unwanted noise.
Apple's technology is outlined in a patent filing titled "System and method of mixing accelerometer and microphone signals to improve voice quality in a mobile device," which was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday.
The invention proposes a set of EarPods, or similar earphone device, be fitted with accelerometers to detect vocal chord vibrations that propagate through a user's skull when they speak. Using output data generated by the sensor and a microphone array disposed within at least one earbud, a spectral mixer creates a mixed signal for parsing out non-vocal noise.
To detect voiced and unvoiced speech, the accelerometer may be tuned to sample low frequency vibrations indicative of such signals. By measuring output signals, the invention effectively creates an accelerometer-based voice activity detector (VAD) capable of distinguishing voiced speech from ambient vibrations.
At the other end of the equation are microphone arrays that monitor acoustic signals for a user's voice. Apple mentions inclusion of both front-facing and rear-facing microphones in a single earbud, as well as optional embodiments with sets of mics installed along the device cable that come together to create a beam forming array.
As with the accelerometer-based VAD, the acoustic version recognizes voiced and unvoiced speech, but at a naturally higher energy level. Apple compensates by conditioning and amplifying the accelerometer VAD signal to levels sufficiently equal to microphone output. This is key to the process as the two signals will be analyzed against one another during the noise canceling operation.
To mitigate errors in voice pickup, the accelerometer and microphone output signals are compared and contrasted, meaning final VAD output is an "and" function of the two VAD systems. Applying threshold analysis to the power signals results in a speech-to-noise power signal that can then be fed to a noise suppression module. To reach an accurate assessment of ambient noise, a spectral mixer generates a final output signal by removing the respective noise power signals from both microphone and accelerometer power signals.... [Read More]
Finally, a switch feeds the final VAD output through for transmission, while a noise
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