A new unicode "bug" that impacts iOS 11 and iOS 10's messages app was revealed this week by EverythingApplePro on YouTube.
The video says the issue was originally discovered on Android phones in India via the Whats App app, but the bug has a bigger impact on Apple's Messages app in iOS.
The "hack" involves sending a message with a specific set of unicode characters that includes the "black dot" emoji (I won't reveal the exact character string in this podcast)
It's a text rendering bug.
Basically it's a messages containing a massive amount of invisible unicode characters
I assume this overloads the text renderer in iOS.
When received the text appears in notifications innocuously enough, but once opened in the Messages app you get a blank screen and the messages app is locked up.
Even hard quitting the app from the app switcher doesn't fix the issue.
A hard reset of the phone also will not resolve the issue.
This is just another in a long line of unicode bugs that have hit iOS over the past couple year. It's maybe embarrassing, but not really too dangerous.
It's also not some systemic QA problem at Apple. Bugs exist, they get found, they get patched, end of story.
BTW there is also some evidence that this same bug could wreak havoc on macOS, tvOS, or watchOS (or any other OS) also.
If you do get hit by this there is a way to work around the bug.
Fully close/quit the Messages app from the App Switcher
Then force press the Messages app and tap New Message, then cancel
It will return you the messages list.
Then swipe and delete ANY messages that contain the black dot string.
And just to add to our fears students from Berkeley have demonstrated how malicious commands for Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa can be hidden in recorded music or innocuous-sounding speech.
This is actually not new. In 2016 they showed how commands could be hidden in white noise played in YouTube videos or over speakers.
What's new is they can now hide the commands inside recordings of music or spoken text (like podcasts)
So your Amazon Echo may hers commands to add items to your shopping list or to open your front door smart lock.
There's no evidence of these kinds of attacks in the wild "yet".
Apple's HomePod cannot unlock doors and iPhones and iPads must be unlocked before Siri will act on commands that access sensitive data or open apps and websites.
Siri also is trained to a users specific voice, so fooling it would be more difficult. Still some users don't lock their phones and some commands, say sending text messages, can still often be used when the phone is locked.
Bigger concerns come into play now that voice assistants can be used to say, send mobile payments, to another user. OF course in those cases there is typically a confirmation that needs to happen by clicking a button on the device or authenticating (again not from the lock screen).
Setting > Siri & Search > 'Allow Siri When Locked'
Apple seeks FAA approval for drones
Apple is among the applicants long with 200 other companies like Airbus, Amazon, Intel, and Qualcomm looking to win the rights to conduct drone flights that fall outside the current FAA regulations.
The program is a pilot and would allow companies to do things like fly drones at night, fly over crowds of people and beyond an operator’s line of sight.
The U.S. Transportation Department awarded ten state, local or tribal governments with the rights to host the experiments and those governments selected companies to partner in the testing.
Apple is partnered with North Carolina's Department of Transportation who will be conducting test flights and Apple will be using drones to capture aerial images to improve Apple Maps.
Apple has also commented that privacy is a top priority and that they will blur faces and license plates prior to publication.
What's interesting there is that currently Apple Maps only has "Fly over" which doesn't show that level of details
Apple has been operating Minivans with cameras driving streets for a while now. The belief is they're planning a "street view" feature for a future Maps update.
Bloomberg claims Apple is looking to allow people to sign up for select video subscription services from inside their dedicated TV app on iOS and Apple TV.
Right now you have to subscribe to services like HBO, Starz, Showtime, etc. via their individual apps.
New new model would be much more like what Amazon does in their Prime Video app.
The piece claims Apple plans to roll out this feature in the next year.
They piece also says that video from these service might play directly from the TV app rather then being handed off to their individual apps. Basically creating or more seamless and integrated experience.
The piece doesn't discuss how the payments and fee structure would work. Currently Apple takes a cut of subscription revenue inside each apps in-app purchase mechanism tied to iTunes. It's unclear if that would change or if Apple's cut, currently rumored to be around 15 percent, would change.
The piece also doesn't mention Apple's own original content video service which is believed to be coming sometime in 2019.
Apple cancels Irish data center plans.
Apple has decided to stop it's plans to build a massive $1 billion dollar data center in Athenry, Ireland.
Apple originally applied to build the data center in 2016 and it was initially approved by Irish planning councils.
It was then met with resistance and challenges over concerns about the center’s environmental impact and effect on the electrical grid that caused years of delays.
A few local residents appealed the planning councils approval and ultimately had their appeal denied. Then they petitioned the High court for a review of the case.
The High Court decided the objectors could ultimately restart the appeal process and Apple decided it had had enough.
An Apple spokesperson told The Independent, "Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre."
We don't know what those "other" plans are exactly.
Apple does operate another major data center in Cork, Ireland and around the same time they announced plans to try and build the center in Athenry they also started a project in Viborg, Denmark. The Denmark center is complete and will actually be used to provide some heat to local area homes.
Apple has placed a major focus on the environment in recent years, and announced recently that all Apple facilities worldwide run on 100% renewable energy. Surprising that the Irish data center was met with challenges to it's environmental sustainability.
On the environment front, Apple this week also announced a collaboration with aluminum producers, Alcoa and Rio Tinto in an effort called Elysis
The companies are working together to develop a process for carbon-free aluminum smelting.
They are hoping to achieve larger-scale production and commercialization of the process by 2024 and have plans to license the technologies.
Apple press release says the new production process, "replaces carbon with an advanced conductive material, and instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen."
For it's part Apple has pledged $10 million USD to the effort.
It's no surprise given the amount of aluminum Apple uses that this is a great project and effort for them to support.
iPhone SE 2 rumors continue
The rumors got deeper this week when an accessory maker showed off a phone render and a screen protector that displayed an iPhone 5S style chassis but a screen with no home button, reduced bezels, and a notch.
The schematics also showed a case that was 4.8-inches by 2.2-inches, which track closely to the iPhone SE which is currently 4.87 x 2.31 inches.
So now we sort of have a few iPhone SE 2 scenarios forming.
Just a processor bump and no major design changes.
A bump and small redesign adding a glass back to support wireless charging.
A major redesign bringing in an iPhone X like design.
Of all of these to me the second one seems most likely.
Then there's the release date.
Original rumors pointed to March. Didn't happen.
More recent stuff says May or June.
There have been recent regulatory filings for new devices.
If there is a major overhaul then the new SE might not appear until we also get the other updated iPhone models in September.
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Feedback, commentary, opinions
A quick keyboard lawsuit comment
Basically nothing to see here, move along.
Yes the new keyboard is divisive, Rene Ritchie. You love it or hate it.
At the end of the day Apple was probably better off sticking with the old design as it wasn't technically "broken" and there are enough people who hate the new one that they are not buying.
Yes, there have been some issue with the design, but I don't think anything outside the norms for ANY new design.
I know of some people who have been plagued by issues, but even more whom had NO issues. I don't have a large sample size, but my inbox isn't flooded with messages either.
Lawsuits happen with ANY issue with ANY Apple product, almost all are class actions and the only person who wins are the lawyers.
Family members can't stream in TV app
There was some frustration in the house this week related to our iCloud Family Share plan
Most of the time, for Apps, iTunes purchases, iCloud Storage, etc. it's awesome.
I love the ability for my kids to have their own iCloud and iTunes accounts and my ability to monitor and control their purchases.
We can also now fairly easily access and download each others purchased content including Apps, movies, tv shows, music, and books.
Thing fell apart this week though when my kids told me they could not access ANY of our video library for streaming inside the new TV app.
I was shocked. Sure enough in my TV app I tap Video and then from the drop down choose 'Movies' and all my purchased movies are there fro downloading or streaming.
On their devices, nothing.
The only way they can get the content is through iTunes and going to the shared family purchases. They then have to "download" the movies and tv shows and their devices have limited space.
This sucks and is something Apple needs to change.
I could go into their devises and just use my iTunes account for the TV app, but that defeats the whole purpose of having a Family Sharing plan.