A new selection of documents uncovered by WikiLeaks reveals the existence of a “Sonic Screwdriver”, an Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter used to deliver a payload to bypass firmware passwords and inject an Apple-specific malware package to the target Mac. Ars Technica notes that none of this is particularly new, given that this Thunderbolt exploit was discovered around two years ago, and many similar scenarios shared by other tools used by the CIA, but the fact that the CIA is building tools based on discovered exploits should be reason enough to keep your stuff up to date.
The Apple Online Store went down overnight, and when it came back up, there were a bunch of new things. For starters, there’s a new 9.7-inch iPad, which replaces the old iPad Air 2. It has very similar dimensions as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but comes without the pro-features such as Apple Pencil support, the A9X processor, the laminated display, True Tone, or wide colour. It’s also not compatible with the Smart Keyboard, comes in 32GB or 128GB capacities, and starts at $469 for Wi-Fi, or $669 for Wi-Fi and cellular. Order one from 2:01AM AEDT on Saturday.
A report from Bloomberg talks up Apple’s plans for augmented reality, with Apple CEO Tim Cook having previously claimed that AR would be a big deal, and eventually as common as having thee meals per day. Bloomberg writes that Apple is working on a number of AR products, including glasses that could provide information overlays to the wearer from their iPhone, but other AR features could make their way into the products like the iPhone sooner, rather than later.
A report from Fast Company claims Apple is looking to the $3 trillion healthcare market as its next big catch. With many patients in hospitals already used to smartphones, having an iPad to manage your own healthcare while you’re admitted is a normal thing, provided you go to one of a handful of hospitals in the US. Apple says the privacy and security of iOS means that hospitals are choosing Apple products to manage all aspects of health care, including remote-patient monitoring and in-patient care.
The latest iPhone rumour claims the new iPhone model will come with a “mostly flat” display, with perhaps a small curve at the edges. The rumours still seem to claim it will feature an edge-to-edge OLED display, and it’s also said to come with 2.5D cover glass that’s been used since the iPhone 6 to give the glass overlay a slight curve and allow it to sit flush with the case.
The Australian banking cartel that want access to contactless payments on the iPhone have called Apple Pay alternatives “unrealistic” in the Australian market. As reported by ZDNet, the latest submission to the ACCC from the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide banks, say that Android Pay and non-NFC payment technologies are unrealistic in Australia, “which has the world’s highest adoption of contactless NFC card payments and one of the world’s highest iPhone market shares, particularly among customers likely to use mobile payments”. It’s almost as if the banks recognise that people want Apple Pay, and not whatever they’re selling, but don’t want consumers to have access to the former without the latter.
An investigation has found that Apple’s Russian arm fixed prices for iPhones illegally. The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service found that Apple Russia contacted retailers, telling them to hold the price of iPhones, saying that it would contact them if they found their prices to be inappropriate, with Apple also suspected of terminating trade agreements with retailers who refused to comply. No penalty has been set, but it could be as much as 15% of Apple’s sales in Russia.
Mobile marketing firm Fiksu has discovered the existence of previously-unknown iPad models, which TechCrunchs reports is evidence enough of an upcoming refresh. The refresh is widely expected to introduce a new 10.5-inch model alongside the current 12.9 and 9.7-inch iPad Pros, perhaps with an A10X chipset, but it’s unclear whether this refresh will include any kind of hardware upgrade for the smaller iPad mini.
A concept rendering based on the iPhone rumours so far gives us a taste of what this year’s iPhone might look like. The reduction of bezels surrounding the display is the most prominent feature, even though there’s still a small area along the top and bottom of the screen to allow for the earpiece and other electronics. I’m still not sure whether Apple will be going with a curved display, but it looks pretty good in the renders.
A story from Reuters tells us how Siri learns new languages. Siri has the lead on other personal assistants when it comes to being multi-lingual, with Apple’s personal assistant capable of speaking 21 languages localised for 36 countries, which Reuters notes is important feature to have when most of your iPhone sales are outside the US. The story of how Siri will learn Shanghainese, a dialect of Chinese originating from Shanghai, is an interesting read that involves human translation to boost Siri’s accuracy.