Improvements to HealthKit, potential new FaceTime cameras, much more
Despite non-disclosure agreements signed by developers at WWDC, pirates and leakers are starting to make and reveal discoveries found in the first beta for iOS 9, which is expected to launch this fall to accompany the next round of iPhone and iPad hardware. Among the changes and improvements revealed in the code for the beta are hints of new higher-resolution FaceTime (front-facing) cameras, cellular-only Handoff, and notable women's health additions to HealthKit and the Health app.
Superb tool for recording anything on your Mac's screen
Seriously, how often are you ever going to need to record a video of what's on the screen of your Mac? Unless you are the sort who routinely demonstrates things, you know it's not a very big number of times -- but we're going to tell you that it is precisely the same number of times that you should be using ScreenFlow 5.01.
Good podcasts are a lot of work, but can bring fame, acclaim
Last Wednesday on Pointers, we talked about the many reasons one might want to do some voice-oriented recording of a more serious nature on one's Mac or iOS device, such as interviews or as part of creating a YouTube video. We also made some entry-level recommendations on decent mics (the built-in mic on most Macs is fine for FaceTime calls, but its limitations show up quickly when trying to do something professional-sounding) and capturing software. This time around, we'll talk about the mechanics of making a podcast.
Extra layer of security should stop hackers, attackers from gaining access
Almost two years after it first added the option of two-factor verification to its iTunes and iCloud accounts, Apple has activated the extra layer of security for its iMessage and FaceTime services, further protecting users from the possibility of attackers gaining access. The extra step, if enabled, requires verification on another device beyond the usual name and password authentication.
Beats out BlackBerry, Google, Facebook and Microsoft in security show-down
In a recent "scorecard" report ranking the security and safety of various popular messaging systems, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said that while no system was completely secure against "sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance," Apple's iMessage and FaceTime and the end-to-end encryption they offer made it the best of the "mass-market options" for secure communications, beating out BlackBerry Protected and BlackBerry Messenger and other big-name messaging systems.
Claims decision contradicts statutes, Supreme Court precedent
Patent holding firm VirnetX has filed a motion with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, requesting a rehearing of a September decision tossing a $368.2 million verdict against Apple, and asking it to reinstate a District Court's damages award in full. In a press release, VirnetX says the decision was "contrary to the patent statute and Supreme Court precedent." It also asserts that it should receive damage payments on the basis that the District Court properly construed the claim term "secure communication link."
HEVC implementation likely assisted by hardware boost, offers high-quality video calls
In addition to the more publicly-known features found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's tech specs page for the new models has revealed that they support H.265 video encoding and decoding, otherwise known as High Efficiency Video Coding. It allows the same quality of video as H.264, but using only half as much bandwidth -- allowing FaceTime video-conferencing calls to maintain the necessary quality on cellular networks without requiring large amounts of data. It could foreshadow the option of multi-party FaceTime calls on broadband.
Major apps identified as culprits
A number of iOS apps -- including Facebook Messenger, Gmail, and Google+ -- have a security vulnerability that could allow malicious parties to force an iPhone to auto-dial, observes Romanian developer Andrei Neculaesei. iOS supports a tel:// URI that can make a call automatically, even though developers are allowed to bypass confirmation prompts for the dialer if they want. Through a vulnerable app and the right web code, a person could potentially be tricked into dialing a toll number. A FaceTime variant could let someone capture images of a person before disconnecting.
Apple argued some VirnetX claims were too vague
US District Judge Leonard Davis has issued pre-trial rulings blocking Apple attempts to preemptively invalidate some VirnetX patent claims, and in other cases use invalidity as a defense, reports say. For the former, Apple's argument had been that many of VirnetX's claims are too vague to justify patenting, including the use of terms like "secure name service," "secure name," or "unsecured name."
Apple support pushes iOS 6 users to upgrade to iOS 7
Apple has released a minor update for the OS X version of FaceTime, v1.0.5. The patch is aimed directly at resolving connection problems some people have been experiencing, particularly in OS X Snow Leopard. The file is a 17.6MB download at the Mac App Store.
iOS 6 users still dealing with FaceTime woes
Apple appears to have fixed a problem that prevented owners of the first-generation Apple TV from accessing iTunes, according to comments on the product's support forums. The outage began over the weekend, but was resolved just earlier today. It's not clear what caused the issue, or why it would only affect first-gen Apple TVs.
Update expected to include FaceTime improvements, fix for SSL vulnerability
Apple has started seeding a pre-release version of OS X 10.9.2 to some of its own staff, sources tell AppleInsider. The code is listed as build 13C64, and is thought to foreshadow an imminent public release. Significantly the update is said to include a number of important changes, including the ability to block individuals in Messages, audio calls and call waiting for FaceTime, and a promised fix for SSL security.
Domain names mostly connected to Aperture, FaceTime, other apps
Apple has acquired another batch domains from ICANN, reports note. The latter this week opened up access to more generic top-level domains; Apple secured 16 .camera and .photography addresses, specifically one of each for names including "aperture," "apple," "facetime," "imovie," "iphoto," "isight," "photobooth," and "retina." Apple is presumably holding the domains to prevent squatters from exploiting them.
Second case still ongoing
VirnetX is seeking to add Apple's most recent slate of products to a lawsuit against FaceTime devices, according to an announcement. The patent holding firm says it has submitted a petition to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, one which would add the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPad Air, Retina iPad mini, fifth-generation iPod touch, and the latest Mac notebooks and desktops to the list. VirnetX has accused Apple's FaceTime of violating a patent for peer-to-peer VPN technology.
FaceTime alone responsible for 1.4 percent of all upstream data
A new study from analysis and tracking firm Sandvine shows that some of Apple's web services - in particular, its iTunes stores - are among the most popular such services in North America, and growing rapidly. Since May, iTunes has grown more than 60 percent, from 1.9 percent of all downstream traffic to 3.27 percent. FaceTime, which is considered a wholly upstream service, was ahead of Dropbox and just behind Facebook in terms of upstream traffic.
FaceTime, iTunes Match, other iCloud features briefly affected
Several of Apple's online services were briefly impacted by outages earlier today, according to Apple's System Status page. The worst affected the iTunes Store, the iBookstore, and the Mac and iOS App Stores between 1:28 and 2:57PM Eastern time, preventing some people from making any purchases. During the same time period, people may have been unable to use iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match, or restore purchases from an iCloud backup.
Apple allegedly spending $2.4M per month to reroute video calls
A rare patent suit loss for Apple back in November of last year is costing the company dearly both in money and reputation as it struggles to work around the affected patents owned by VirnetX for its FaceTime video calling service. In addition the $368 million Apple will pay VirnetX for past infringement of a VPN patent (pending appeal), Apple is now working around the patent to avoid further infringement, and the company's solutions to that are both expensive and not working as well, causing customer complaints.
Hammers home emotional themes of recent campaign
Apple has started airing a new TV spot for the iPhone (below), "FaceTime Every Day." The commercial continues the tone of its "Designed by Apple" and "Music Every Day" ads, trying to forge an emotional connection instead of concentrating on feature details or prices. The clip meshes together a series of vignettes of people using FaceTime in emotional circumstances, such as touring a new home or coping with the aftermath of a fight. At the end of the ad, Apple claims that more people do video calls on the iPhone than on any other phone.
Apple hopes to lock down new, flatter icon
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published on Saturday a new trademark application from Apple covering the new FaceTime logo that debuted with the bet a of iOS 7. Due to the "flatter" look Apple is adopting with the newest version of its mobile operating system, the company will likely need to file trademark applications for a number of its service icons. The Cupertino company apparently filed the application earlier this week under the number 85968558.
Nine states confirmed for video chat activation
According to reports, AT&T has commenced the effort to enable Apple FaceTime support and Google+ video chat for all customers on its cellular network, not just those on a capped mobile sharing plan. The move starts to fulfill a promise the company made in May to allow customers even on grandfathered "unlimited Internet" plans to use the service.
Quiet on passive 'backdoor' surveillance
Apple has issued a rare follow-up public statement on the ongoing crisis over the National Security Agency's PRISM spying program. Reports revealed that the NSA is using PRISM to collect communications data from internal servers at major technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. All of the companies have denied providing a government backdoor; Apple in particular was quick to claim that it had "never heard of PRISM," even though the Washington Post says the company fought against joining PRISM for five years before finally participating. Apple added that it doesn't "provide any government agency with direct access to our servers -- and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order."
Includes Safari 6.0.5
Apple has released a completed v10.8.4 update for OS X Mountain Lion. The release solves numerous issues, such as compatibility problems when connecting to enterprise Wi-Fi networks, and support for Microsoft Exchange in Calendar. FaceTime calls should now properly connect to non-US phone numbers, and Macs should go to sleep after using Boot Camp.
FaceTime, Google Hangouts primary beneficiaries of new policy
AT&T has made a statement regarding the future of video chat applications on its LTE network. According to the telecom company, all "pre-loaded video chat apps" will be available for all of its wireless customers "regardless of data plan or device" by the end of the year. The move is a turnaround from previous decisions by the company to prohibit use of FaceTime and now Google Hangouts chat on mostly grandfathered unlimited data plans.
New downtime shorter than previous
Apple's iMessage and FaceTime services experienced another outage earlier today, according to the company's system status page. The outage is listed as having affected "some users" between 10:45AM and 12:07PM Eastern time. As of this writing, all of Apple's online services are once again operating normally.
AT&T, Verizon users affected, no estimated time of repair
[Updated with recovery information] Apple is reporting that "some users" are affected by an outage affecting both iMessage and FaceTime communications. Users on the Apple Support forums are claiming that both services and display a "waiting for verification" message in lieu of sending the message or syncing a FaceTime call between participants.
Apple must pay additional $330K per day until case details settled
A US District Court has upheld an earlier judgment which awarded VirnetX over $368 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, Seeking Alpha reports. Apple has been denied a request for a new trial, and must now moreover pay VirnetX $330,211 per day until royalties and other details are settled. The two parties have 45 days to come to their own royalty agreement before Judge Leonard Davis intervenes.
Puts video calls on iPhone 4S, supporting iPads
(Updated with Free Press intention to file a Net Neutrality complaint for unlimited data plan omission) Following up on a silent rollout, AT&T has formally announced plans to enable FaceTime calls with any tiered data plan. The carrier previously lifted a policy restricting FaceTime to Mobile Share plans, but still required a device with a tiered plan and LTE, blocking out the iPhone 4S. "We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks," reads a blog post by AT&T's senior VP for voice and data, Mark Collins.
Christmas-centric spot shows off family videoconferencing
On Friday, Apple launched a new TV ad promoting both the iPad and iPad mini by cleverly showing both products as they might be used in a FaceTime video conference, with a man's granddaughter playing the ukelele and singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas," a wistful 1943 hit for Bing Crosby written by Walter Kent and Kim Gannon (based on a poem by Buck Ram). The grandfather's iPad shows the young lady, while her iPad mini shows her grandfather's reaction.
People with iPhone 4S or unlimited plans now reporting access
In spite of earlier statements by the carrier, AT&T appears to be extending cellular FaceTime to all compatible devices on its network, note forum posters at MacRumors. It had been announced that while cellular FaceTime would no longer be restricted to Mobile Share plans, the option would still require a tiered data plan and a device with LTE. By definition that would block the iPhone 4S and/or anyone on a grandfathered unlimited plan; anything earlier than the 4S is unsupported because of Apple's own restrictions in iOS 6.
iTunes Match still broken for some users
Apple's iTunes Match storage and streaming service is currently down for at least some users, says AppleInsider. Trying to play content hosted on Match only results in tracks sticking at the "0:00" mark. The trouble notably follows outages of iMessage and FaceTime, which hit users of Macs and iOS devices on Sunday.
Still restricted to tiered-plan, LTE-equipped devices
AT&T has changed its mind and will allow FaceTime calls over cellular without a Mobile Share plan, according to an announcement. The option will still be relatively restricted however, limited to LTE-equipped devices on tiered data plans. This excludes people with grandfathered unlimited data, as well as owners of any Apple hardware older than the third-generation iPad; exceptions are being made for people on special plans for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Cellular FaceTime should open up within the next eight to 10 weeks.
Action awaiting formal filing
The Federal Communications Commission will investigate if a formal complaint is filed against AT&T over its FaceTime restrictions, according to chairman Julius Genachowski. He tells The Verge that if an effort to resolve the problem earlier "doesn't lead to a resolution and a complaint is filed, we [the FCC] will exercise our responsibilities and we will act." AT&T has come under fire for limiting cellular FaceTime calls, a feature built into iOS 6, to costly Mobile Share subscriptions.
Also upgrades Game Center, FaceTime, Messages
Apple has posted OS X 10.8.2, a major update for Mountain Lion. The main addition is Facebook integration, which was originally expected at the launch of the OS. The feature allows not only quick sharing of links and photos, but also the ability to receive Facebook alerts in the Notification Center. More hooks extend into Game Center, where people can "Like" games, and use Facebook as a source for friend recommendations. Scores can now be shared to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages; friends can be challenged to beat scores and achievements.
Restrictions may break FCC 'Open Internet' policies
Three organizations have announced their intent to file a complaint with the FCC over AT&T's FaceTime policies, which restrict cellular FaceTime to Mobile Share plans, reports say. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute are all participating, arguing that AT&T's "decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn't need is a clear violation of the FCC's Open Internet rules." The groups add that while the policies hurt all of AT&T's customers, the deaf and people with foreign relatives are dealt an extra blow.
Counters ATT push for more expensive plans
(Updated with news of device support) Sprint and Verizon are repeating earlier statements that unlike AT&T, their subscribers will be able to use FaceTime over cellular without upgrading plans. AT&T is forcing users to move to more expensive shared data plans if they want 3G/4G FaceTime, in spite of similar apps being unrestricted. The difference may be that FaceTime is integrated into iOS, making it more easy to access and thus more likely to consume bandwidth.
Cricket becomes first US prepaid carrier to announce iPhone 5
Cricket has announced that it will start selling the iPhone 5 on September 28th. That makes it the first US prepaid carrier to say it will get the phone, although it will get the hardware a full week after national post-paid iPhone carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Cricket hasn't provided any other information, but will likely use the same pricing scheme it did for the iPhone 4S, charging $500 for a 16GB phone plus a $55 monthly fee for unlimited service. There is no word yet on when other US prepaids, namely Virgin Mobile, will get the 5.
Major upgrades over iPhone 4S
Apple today announced the iPhone 5. The device is said to be built entirely out of glass and aluminum, and is 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S at 7.6mm. One of its signature features though is a larger display, measuring 4 inches with a resolution of 1136x640. To accommodate the change Apple is updating all of its apps; any third-party apps that haven't been updated will display in the center of the screen. The display also uses a full sRGB color gamut, and should have 44 percent more color saturation.
Claims limitations don't violate net neutrality rules
AT&T has posted an official response to complaints about the carrier's new FaceTime policy, which restricts 3G use of the app to people with a Mobile Share plan. Wi-Fi use is still unhindered. "The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones," an AT&T blogger claims.
FCC talking with AT&T about limiting FaceTime to certain plans
One of the new features in Apple's iOS6 release due this fall is an enhancement to the FaceTime video call feature, allowing it to function on any cellular network. Friday, AT&T announced that the privilege only extends to users on its new "Mobile Share" programs, and not for users grandfathered on the unlimited or tiered data plans. Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Internet law group, believes that preventing other customers from using FaceTime violates net neutrality rules by blocking a service that competes with its own.
FaceTime over Wi-Fi still available
AT&T announced today that only customers paying for one of its Mobile Share plans will be able to use Apple's FaceTime feature over a cellular connection. The carrier touts FaceTime as "an added benefit" of its new data plans, and users with individual or family plans will have to rely on Wi-Fi connections in order to make use of the video call feature. Previously, the carrier had indicated that AT&T might charge customers extra if they wanted to use the feature over 3G.
AT&T could face net neutrality charges for 3G FaceTime fees
In the wake of the discovery of a dialog box implying AT&T will charge for FaceTime over 3G above and beyond existing wireless fees, Sprint has gone on record opposing the move. Sprint remains "committed to our unlimited data, and that means not charging for data consumption based on the application." When queried earlier this week, AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson said that it was "too early" to address FaceTime fees, and AT&T was working closely with Apple on the developer build of iOS 6. Verizon's statement was even more terse, saying only that "the timing of any pricing conversations related to future versions of iOS is premature.”
In-development feature stability being worked on
Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was asked about the report that AT&T might charge customers extra if they want to use FaceTime over 3G. The feature was announced during Tim Cook's Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote speech, to a muted carrier response.
Screen suggests users dial 611 to add service for FaceTime
Cell provider AT&T has seemingly made the decision to charge users for using Apple's FaceTime technology on its wireless network. An error page similar to the tethering dialog appears when AT&T customers attempt to engage the FaceTime over cellular network feature when running the latest iOS 6 beta. The same error message does not occur when trying to activate the feature on a Verizon iPhone.
Hardware said to resemble oversized Thunderbolt Display
A "well-placed" source has seen a prototype of Apple's upcoming TV set, claims Cult of Mac. Visually the hardware is said to resemble Apple's current Thunderbolt Display, but with a size "much larger" than 27 inches. The centerpiece is actually an iSight camera, which will allegedly support Siri voice commands and FaceTime video calls.
Braven speakers support FaceTime, iChat, Skype
Braven, which used to be called Spar, has just introduced a new Bluetooth speaker range that aims to differentiate itself from the others out there thanks to a couple of uncommon features. All three can be daisy-chained to provide stereo or surround sound, and they can also be used to charge phones or other portable devices through their USB ports. The wireless range is Bluetooth's typical 33 feet, and the auxiliary port also allows connecting other sources.
OS prepped for fifth-generation iPhone
Strings in the iOS 5.1 firmware make reference to 4G phone calling, and using FaceTime over 4G, notes Cydia developer Krishna Sagar. One message in the code reads, "Enabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 4G?" Others refer to enabling and disabling 4G on FaceTime calls, as well as regular voice ones.
Carriers likely to blame
Apple is continuing to limit FaceTime calls to Wi-Fi connections, even on 4G-equipped iPads, The Verge notes. Attempting a FaceTime call on 4G brings up the same error message Apple has used with 3G iPhones and iPads. "Connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime," a pop-up warns.
Microsoft-Skype deal near wrapped up in US
Microsoft's buyout of Skype could be formally completed in the US this week, multiple tips indicated Tuesday. They explained to AllThingsD that it was "likely" the deal would be done in the next few days. The agreement already has American and European approval and is likely just waiting on formalities.
Details encryption measures
FaceTime and iOS as a whole should be compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) security rules, an Apple spokesperson suggests. The standard is important in the US healthcare industry as in order for devices to qualify for government funding, they must ensure that only authorized people will be able to access Electronic Protected Health Information, or EPHI. Encryption is effectively mandatory.
Carriers may now have special iOS 5 builds
An as yet unverified rumor Tuesday has the "most prominent" iPhone carriers getting special late-beta releases of iOS 5 for testing. These supposedly differ from beta 7 in having 3G-capable FaceTime, which 9to5 understands is a "high priority" for testing. As with tethering and other carrier-dependent features, though, it might not be enabled when iOS 5 arrives.