Apple has announced improvements to Siri’s privacy protections, following online backlash over the news that Apple contractors were listening to audio snippets caused by Siri activation. Apple’s statement on the issue begins with some preamble about how Siri protects your privacy, and how any captured data was only used for the express purpose of making Siri better, but the bottom line is that Siri audio recordings will no longer be retained. If you choose to opt-in to help improve Siri, your audio recordings will only be listened to by Apple employees, who will have no way to identify any individual from the recording itself, and you’ll be able to opt-out again at any time you choose.
Just like that, Apple has patched a security vulnerability that allowed the jailbreaking of devices running the latest version of iOS. The iOS 12.4.1 update resolves a kernel vulnerability that allowed apps to execute code with escalated privileges, that somehow became un-patched with the iOS 12.4 release despite being fixed in iOS 12.3. Corresponding updates tvOS 12.4.1, watchOS 5.3.1, and macOS Mojave 10.14.6 supplemental update goes along with this morning’s iOS update, although the release notes for those versions make no mention of any such security issue.
A rumour from Bloomberg says Apple will launch its streaming video service AppleTV+ in November. Pricing for Apple’s original video content will start at US $10 per month, although it’s also possible Apple will be offering an extended free trial period while it builds its content library. A small selection of shows will be offered when the service launches globally, with additions to its library coming over the next few months.
The latest watchOS 6 has given us the first hints of new Apple Watch hardware, with images of the Apple Watch setup screen clearly showing two new variants of Apple Watch that we haven’t seen before. The new 44mm titanium and ceramic cases described in the images give us a taste of what could be just around the corner for the Apple Watch, and I know quite a few people that will be excited to see the return of the ceramic Apple Watch, but titanium should be pretty interesting to see, too.
Apple locks batteries on the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR to the device, preventing third-party battery replacements (even with genuine Apple parts) from being correctly recognised by iOS, resulting in no battery health information being displayed. Apple’s statement to iMore’s Rene Ritchie on the issue says that it wants to protect customers from damaged, poor quality, or used batteries, saying that the informational message does not impact the usage of a device after an unauthorised repair.
An Apple Newsroom post tells us about Apple’s partnership with Tiffany and Co to source gold sustainably, from local miners that are committed to restore and improve the land that they’re operating on when they’re done. Apple says they’re continuing to use recycled materials wherever possible, like the aluminium in the Mac mini and the MacBook Air, but at the same time ensuring that they’re responsibly sourcing materials that are harder to reuse.
At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Apple announced the launch of the macOS bug bounty program. Apple says its new macOS bug bounty program will run alongside its iOS bug bounty program, applying to Macs as well as the Apple TV and Apple Watch. Apple also said it would be increasing the size of its bug bounty payouts, up from the current maximum of US $200,000 per bug to $1 million, with a 50% bonus also up for grabs if the issue is reported before general availability (i.e. during developer/open beta periods).
IFixit reports that Apple’s latest iPhones contain a software lock that prevent genuine Apple batteries from being correctly recognised by the device. Genuine battery replacements performed by unauthorised third parties will always display a "service" battery health message, with a warning saying that the iPhone was unable to verify that the device has a genuine Apple battery. This issue only affects the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR, but it’s still another way Apple are discouraging third-party repairs, forcing consumers to pay Apple to repair their devices for them.
It’s a bit of a stretch in terms of timeline, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest research note claims Apple may debut an iPhone with in-screen Touch ID as soon as 2021. According to Kuo, who has now released a rumour that isn’t about this year’s or even next year’s iPhone, it’s possible that the critical technical issues that prevent Apple from releasing a device with both Touch ID and Face ID will be solved over the next 12-18 months, allowing for an iPhone with both authentication methods built in.
Back in June, the New York Times wrote about how Apple Park is mostly impervious to earthquakes thanks to base-isolation technology. The relatively rare system allows buildings to move when seismic activity happens, preventing them from being shaken out of place when the earth moves underneath them. While 9,000 buildings in Japan use the technology, Apple Park is one of only 175 buildings in the US to have it installed, but it seems like a great idea for your multi-billion dollar HQ.