Worldwide issue disrupting most areas of iCloud services, slowing response time
[Update: Apple says all services now restored as of 9:30AM ET] Some of Apple's iCloud services have been suffering a global, widespread slowdown or outage, beginning around 2:30AM Eastern time and continuing into mid-Thursday morning. The problems have reached into 11 services from Apple's online cloud offering, including iCloud Drive, iCloud Keychain syncing, iCloud Mail syncing, Documents in the Cloud, iCloud Backup, Back to My Mac, Photos, Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod touch/Mac, iMovie Theater, iCloud sign-in, and the iWork for iCloud beta.
Apple achieves only perfect score in ranking of tech companies' use of renewable energy
Apple, once routinely criticized and protested by environmental activist group Greenpeace, has topped the organization's poll of tech companies using renewable energy, and was the only tech company to achieve a perfect score. Citing the company's statement that 100 percent of its US operations and 87 percent of its global operations now use renewable resources (as of the end of 2014), the group says Apple has been "the most aggressive" and transparent about renewable energy use.
Find that email even if it's not still on your iPhone
Searching for old emails on your iPhone used to be enough of a pain that you just didn't bother. Worse, it was also regularly pointless, as the search would take forever and often fail to find something you knew was there. It was bad enough that not only did you get into the habit of waiting until you were back at your Mac or occasionally re-forwarding mails so they'd be at the top of your inbox, you also forgot that things change. Things have changed. Since iOS 7, search is immensely improved. It's still not perfect, but there are ways to work around its remaining issues. This Pointers tutorial is specifically about using Apple Mail with an iCloud account.
May have plans to integrate services into iTunes, Apple TV, iCloud
A new report claims that Apple has purchased FoundationDB for an undisclosed sum. The company was best known for its NoSQL, ACID-compliant database software, which offered super-fast speeds that Apple may want to improve its database-related web services, ranging from Apple TV and iTunes in the Cloud to iCloud generally.
Email not always working between GMail, iCloud accounts
Some users are having issues with iCloud-based accounts, such as those ending with @me.com or @icloud.com not receiving messages from GMail, an issue that Apple is aware of and is working to fix. The problem is inconsistent in nature, but most often marked by a timeout message from Apple's servers that blames "too many rejections" and encourages users to try again later.
importing address book from Outlook to iCloud
This week in the MacNN forums, Senior User "Chinasaur" was asking fellow forum-goers how they would go about importing a .csv file from Outlook.com to iCloud as they have accidentally erased their contacts and this is the only backup they have. So far a solution has yet to be found. Members continue to discuss reasons why someones Mac might have hard system crashes.
Mac and Windows users alike need only an Apple ID to use web versions of productivity apps
PC users that have been curious to try out Apple's suite of productivity programs, formerly known collectively as iWork, are now able to do so from the main iCloud.com website, the feature having been taken out of Apple's beta.icloud.com lab. Earlier this month, Apple made a free 1GB account available to any users who wanted to sign up but did not have an Apple device, but only within the beta site. Now the applications (in their web versions) are available free for anyone with an Apple ID to use.
New program promises delight for iPhoto users, falls short on pro features
After only the vaguest of descriptions and a single preview image, the first beta of OS X 10.10.3 has arrived, and with it comes a brand-new application from Apple. Photos is intended to be the successor to iPhoto and Aperture, but in its initial (and not yet released) first form, it can be said that it mostly borrows Aperture's looks and speed with large libraries, but not a lot else from Apple's former high-end photo manager. Fans of iPhoto, however, are likely to like this -- and there might even be a little gift for developers in Photos as well.
Photos web app gets zoom, quick email sharing
Apple has upgraded the iCloud.com Photos app with a couple of new features, users note. The first is a zoom slider for uploaded content. People can also more easily share photos via email, using a new pop-up window on the site. Access to Photos requires activating the iCloud Photo Library beta through iOS' Settings app, and will remove any images on a device that were synced via iTunes.
Tool would require more complex implementation to be useful
A new hacking tool available on GitHub is claimed to be able to brute-force access to an iCloud account in a way that avoids Apple safeguards. Dubbed iDict, the tool performs "dictionary" attacks on target iCloud email addresses. Normally these would be stopped by Apple's rate-limiting measures for logins, but iDict disguises itself as an iPhone, a device which for whatever reason is exempt from those limits. At present, the malware offers little threat, but could become more menacing.
Could be sign of impending transition
[Updated with indications of potential technical difficulties; Apple says all is fixed] The iCloud.com beta site has suddenly dropped access to the Photos web app, users note. The app first appeared last October, and until this week was actively gaining features. Its icon no longer appears in any menu, and manually entering the app's URL returns an error message.
Company trying to push iCloud subscriptions, plaintiffs suggest
A new lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California on Tuesday, accuses Apple of failing to inform people how much space iOS 8 will consume on a device, while simultaneously prompting them to buy online storage via iCloud. Specifically the suit claims that iOS 8 can occupy as much as 23.1 percent of device memory, but that not many people realize this when making a purchase. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, as well as changes by Apple to comply with state law. The case is being pursued as a class action.
Could open up iCloud Drive-related functions in apps
Apple has quickly reversed course on a policy that broke "Send To" commands in the FTP app Transmit for iOS, app developer Panic now says. The company writes that it got a "nice call from Apple" on Wednesday, and it has resubmitted Transmit to the App Store with Send To restored. This includes the "Send to iCloud Drive" command that formed the basis of Apple's complaint.
Beta site dropped Google content earlier in 2014
Apple has now replaced Google Maps content in the iCloud.com version of Find My iPhone with its own data, checks show. The company dropped Google from the beta iCloud website earlier this year, but left the main site intact until now. The change eliminates most, if not all, remaining Google Maps content from Apple products.
Lack of central team blamed
The introduction of new features in iCloud is being hampered by "deep organizational issues" at Apple, claims the sometimes-reliable The Information. The primary example is said to be iCloud Photo Library, which was announced in June and was initially expected to debut with iOS 8 in September. It missed that target, and even iOS 8.1 only ushered in beta support. It's also allegedly yet to be integrated with the upcoming Photos app for OS X Yosemite.
French, Japanese among new translations
The iCloud edition of iWork has received a number of updates, primarily the addition of new languages. Pages is now usable in Arabic, Hebrew, French, German, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and simplified Chinese; Arabic and Hebrew are bidirectional. Keynote and Numbers, meanwhile, have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and simplified Chinese.
Markdown editor makes rich text writing, blog content, or HTML text easy
Byword ($12 for Mac, $6 for iOS, but currently on sale for $10 and $3, respectively) is a straightforward text editor designed specifically for writing either plain (or rich) text or in Markdown, a style specifically designed for blog writers (or anyone who needs to provide text content with HTML tags for emphasis or embedded images, lists and so forth. It's available for both iOS and OS X, and uses iCloud (or Dropbox if you prefer) to sync documents seamlessly between devices with continual auto-save.
Company may have acquired local startup
Apple has established an engineering office in Seattle, Washington, according to the Seattle Times. The core of the office is said to be a group of former F5 engineers, working on network infrastructure. The engineers also have connections to Union Bay Networks, a cloud computing startup based near Google's Seattle campus. Union Bay's information email address is no longer operating, and at least five people from that firm have changed their LinkedIn profiles to say they switched to Apple in September. In all, seven of nine people at Union Bay have made the jump.
Effort still in earliest stages
For Apple, getting Apple Pay working in China is a major priority, CEO Tim Cook tells China's state-run Xinhua news agency. "China is a really key market for us," he says. "Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list." He adds, however, that the company still has to learn the steps needed to bring Apple Pay to China, and has yet to meet with local banks, merchants, and carriers.
Chinese government so far denying involvement
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China's Vice Premier Ma Kai in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss man-in-the-middle attacks against iCloud users, according to Reuters and China's state-run Xinhua news agency. Reuters notes that the Chinese government has so far denied allegations of involvement, which in particular tied the attacks to the state firewall used to censor Internet access in the country. As for the meeting, Xinhua says only that the pair shared views on "protection of users' information" and "strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields."
Involvement of Chinese government uncertain
Apple is aware of "intermittent organized network attacks" against people trying to sign into iCloud.com, says Dow Jones. It insists, however, that iCloud servers haven't been breached, and that people using iOS or the latest version of OS X -- Yosemite -- should be unaffected. The company doesn't specifically mention China, which is where the browser hijacks are taking place.
Users being redirected to dummy sites
China's state firewall is currently hijacking attempts to visit iCloud.com or Microsoft's login gateway, login.live.com, redirecting people to dummy websites, reports say. People visiting iCloud.com through Firefox or Chrome will see a warning page, but visitors with Qihoo -- the most popular browser in China -- are being forwarded directly to a dummy site with no obvious signs it isn't Apple's. It's believed that the Chinese government may be trying to harvest iCloud and Microsoft logins.
Search engine has scrubbed 'tens of thousands' of links to stolen photos
Google has responded to the letter threatening legal action should Google not purge the Internet of stolen, and sometimes intimate, photos of celebrities. The search engine has denied that it is intentionally profiting on the scandal, and instead has acted quickly and appropriately to takedown requests by removing "tens of thousands" of images from Google search results.
Users can enter IMEI to learn more; technology is on by default in iOS 8
Users who are unsure if their iOS device has the anti-theft feature Activation Lock turned on can now easily check through a new page based on Apple's iCloud site. While the page is currently not linked to the main menu on iCloud.com -- suggesting it may still be undergoing testing -- it offers users a chance to input the devices serial number or IMEI identifier, and returns information on whether the device is protected.
Upgrade to iCloud Drive not recommended until after Yosemite official release
A newly-discovered bug in the "Reset All Settings" control in iOS 8 can cause documents stored in the new iCloud Drive to be permanently deleted. The feature is not recommended to be upgraded to until OS X Yosemite has been officially released -- which is expected to happen sometime next month -- but some iOS 8 users who have upgraded prematurely will be at risk of losing files, such as iWork documents stored in the cloud, if they use the "Reset All Settings" troubleshooting feature.
Help page, error message point to new tech
Apple appears to be working on a Photos app for iCloud.com, two pieces of evidence suggest. The first is an official help page, which shows the app as an option. Perhaps more significantly, visiting beta.icloud.com/#photos triggers an error message stating that the site "can't load Photos" because "there was a problem loading the application." No other URL string triggers a similar message.
Former gets Windows users iCloud Drive ahead of Macs
Apple has issued v4.0 of iCloud for Windows, the client needed for Windows users to sync content such as email, bookmarks, and photos with iCloud. The v4.0 software is a major update, bringing support for iCloud Drive, Apple's Dropbox-like file storage service. Significantly, this means that Windows users are getting access to the feature ahead of Mac owners. It first became an option with iOS 8's debut on Wednesday, but won't hit OS X until Yosemite appears at some point in the next month.
Should make it harder for government agencies to access user data
Part of Apple's strengthened approach to privacy involves stricter encryption in iOS 8, according to the Washington Post, as well as an Apple PDF document. The latter notes that Apple no longer stores encryption keys for devices as of iOS 8, meaning that even if a government agency has a search warrant, the company is unable to break past the security on a passcoded device. That should protect locally-stored content.
New system avoids compromise of Apple ID, limited to 25 active passwords
Starting next month, Apple will add another layer of security to its iCloud service for third-party apps that utilize iCloud storage or other access. The company will allow users to assign up to 25 app-specific passwords for those users who don't want a third-party app to have the user's Apple ID credentials to utilize services such as syncing. The app-specific password approach not only protects the iCloud and Apple ID account, but enhances security for apps that don't support two-step authentication.
Apple takes another step towards securing iCloud
Apple has once again enabled a two-factor authentication option for iCloud.com. It was briefly introduced in June, but then vanished for reasons unknown. Much like its equivalent for Apple IDs, the iCloud.com two-factor system requires verifying identity through SMS or Find My iPhone. Only once this is done can users load the site's apps.
Features relegated to October
Two key iOS 8 features -- SMS Continuity and iCloud Photo Library -- have been pushed to October. The delay was quietly mentioned in a press release from earlier this week. Even when Photo Library does appear, it will only be in beta form. The feature has meanwhile been removed from Apple's iCloud marketing page, and it can't be found in the iOS 8 gold master.
Website for iCloud gains iCloud Drive, Settings icon ahead of launch of iOS 8
On Wednesday, iOS 8 and Yosemite beta visitors to iCloud.com -- the web portal for iCloud web services such as Find My iPhone, Mail and the iWork suite -- saw two new icons on the home screen in preparation for the formal unveiling of the features coming to both OS updates if they had the "iCloud Drive" testing option turned on. Also on Wednesday, users who have paid for additional storage on iCloud were notified that their rates will be adjusted to lower prices under the new pricing plans.
5GB plan still free
In a quiet move, Apple has officially revised the pricing for its paid iCloud tiers. These begin at the previously-announced levels of 99 cents per month for 20GB of storage, and 200GB for $4 per month. New to the pricing chart is the 500GB tier, costing $10 per month, and the highest tier, 1TB, which costs $20 per month. For comparison, Dropbox recently dropped its price for 1TB to $10 per month.
Part of planned security upgrades
Users of Apple's iCloud are now getting email notifications whenever an Apple ID signs into iCloud.com for the first time from a new device. Each message includes a date and time stamp, and is meant to warn someone in case the login is actually by an unauthorized attacker. The update is part of a series of planned security upgrades announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Photos not obtained by iCloud breach, but by password hacking
Apple CEO Tim Cook has formally addressed the recent celebrity selfies scandal, where some of the images obtained by hackers came from the victims' iCloud accounts (alongside other services, those responsible for the collection of the images have recently admitted). In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cook not only acknowledged that some celebrities' accounts were specifically targeted using conventional data-stealing techniques, but promised both educational and engineering improvements.
Includes features previously not available for Windows, such as iCloud Drive
Selected AppleSeed public testers are being contacted by Apple via email and being offered the opportunity to download and test a new beta seed of iCloud for Windows, which was announced earlier this summer at Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference. Candidates need to have a PC running Windows 7 or later, and will gain access to the forthcoming advanced features of iCloud such as iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library.
Claims victims were hit by 'very targeted' attack
Apple has issued a new follow-up statement on this week's celebrity photo leaks via iCloud. "After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," the company writes. "None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find My iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."
Further evidence undermining claims pictures were stolen from Apple's servers
Even as Apple on Monday issued a terse statement saying only that "we take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," concerning the leak of compromising images from 101 celebrities, the 4chan poster who released the compromising images and video has now admitted that the pictures come from a variety of sources. In the meantime, Apple has patched a potential security flaw that could have allowed attackers to brute-force their way into obtaining weak iCloud passwords.
Vulnerability in Find My iPhone authentication system patched today
A script which allowed access to iCloud servers may have been behind the recent celebrity photo leaks, a report suggests. A Python script which discovered the password of an iCloud account has surfaced, with an apparent vulnerability in Find My iPhone potentially allowing attackers to "brute force" attack an account without any lockout or warning to the account owner.
Reports remain dubious on origin of photos, videos allegedly obtained
A plethora of new celebrity nude images have surfaced on the Internet, along with claims that the photos and videos are the result of a hack of iCloud accounts. At least one of the victims of the leak has confirmed the images, but did not confirm the leak came from iCloud and added that the images now circulating were "deleted long ago," saying it would take a lot of "creepy effort" to obtain them.
Developers, testers must use beta 5 or later to continue testing new features
In something of an unusual move, Apple has sent emails to developers informing them that they must keep up to date with iOS 8 and Yosemite betas if they want to continue testing new features, particularly the CloudKit functionality that is part of the forthcoming iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library and MailDrop technologies. The change, which could be due to a change in iCloud sandboxing, will also impact Safari histories and call histories. Developers must be on Beta 5 of either platform in order to continue working with CloudKit.
Affected services included Photos, Keychain, Find My iPhone
Many Apple online services -- and "some" percentage of users -- were caught in a brief but severe outage on Thursday, according to the company's official system status page. This included every iCloud service, such as Photos, device backups, Keychain, Mail, Documents in the Cloud, and web apps. Also impacted were Back to My Mac, Find My Friends, Find My iPhone, and iMovie Theater.
Release reportedly not coming to developers
A sixth beta of iOS 8 has been issued, but only to Apple's testing partners, reports say. The firmware is allegedly being withheld from developers because Apple is so close to the gold master stage. Testing partners must approve or reject beta 6 by September 5, just four days before Apple is expected to announce new iPhones as well as iOS 8's launch date.
Facility presumably meant to support iCloud in South America
Construction of a new Apple datacenter is underway on Curaçao, reports say. Curaçao is an island off the coast of Venezuela, but a constituent country of the Netherlands. The center is said to be nearly complete already; the original company behind the project went bankrupt however, forcing the Unique Infrastructure Group to take over.
Apple tries to assuage privacy concerns
Apple is now hosting Chinese iCloud content on a mainland datacenter operated by China Telecom, the company has confirmed to Reuters. Questions were raised when the city of Fuzhou posted a notice on its website confirming the transfer of content to the datacenter, but then retracted the statement. The message indicated that Apple actually began the project 15 months ago, but only finished it on August 8th.
Repeated outages in space of a month
"Some" iCloud Mail users have been unable to receive messages since about noon Eastern time, according to Apple's system status page. Apple hasn't identified the percentage of users affected, a cause, or when issues might be resolved. The system tracker doesn't usually provide the latter two pieces of information.
Forthcoming feature will see 'more downtime' than in previous betas, but files should be retained
Apple has sent out an email to registered participants in the AppleSeed beta-testing program, most of whom are currently working with the forthcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite, that those who opted to engage the iCloud Drive feature may see "more downtime" than has been previously seen. Still in development, Apple's iCloud Drive is expected to be included in the formal release of Yosemite and iOS 8, and allows users to store any kind of document or image/video file, as well as enable other features.
iTunes and App Store difficulties already resolved
[Updated with spreading service issues] Apple online services have been affected by a pair of problems on Thursday, the company's system status page indicates. Still ongoing is a glitch with iCloud Mail, resulting in "slower than normal response" for some users. Trouble appears to have begun shortly after 2PM Eastern.
Old me.com and mac.com addresses also covered
Apple has started encrypting email traffic between iCloud and third-party services, according to data from a Google transparency website. This includes messages from older me.com and mac.com accounts. The move follows Apple promises in June that encryption would expand beyond iCloud-to-iCloud exchanges, something essential given the greater popularity of services like Google's Gmail.
No ETA for normal service
Apple's iCloud Mail is currently down for a handful of users, according to Apple's system status tracker. Issues appear to have started after 4PM Eastern on Sunday, and are still ongoing, but are only affecting 0.1 percent of the userbase. So far, there is no ETA from Apple for when the glitch might be fixed.