iMessage sees exponential growth
Apple is currently handling about 40 billion iMessages (including push notifications) per day, and about 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls, CEO Tim Cook disclosed earlier today during the company's annual shareholders meeting. That indicates exponential growth during 2013, since in January of that year, the company was only up to 2 billion iMessages a day. Apple just recently added audio-only FaceTime calls as an option for iOS and OS X, which could grow traffic even further.
Southwest Airlines to allow in-flight iMessages for $2
Southwest Airlines is allowing users of Apple's iOS devices to send iMessages while in flight for just $2. A post on the company's blog revealed that the airline will be rolling out in-flight iMessaging for $2 per day for users with a device running iOS 5 or later. The feature was enabled on Southwest flights on Wednesday, and it joins a number of other digital-oriented features the airline has rolled out of recent.
Research group says mad-in-the-middle attack could be used
Apple is denying that it could or would want to intercept iMessage traffic, according to an official statement. In a white paper issued Thursday, security firm QuarksLab argued that despite Apple assurances in the past, Apple could use a man-in-the-middle attack to provide US agencies like the NSA or the FBI with demanded information. The attack would exploit the company's control of encryption keys to convince senders and recipients that they're communicating with each other, when in reality they're passing information through an unsecure point where Apple can listen. QuarksLab says it's not suggesting that Apple does listen, simply that it has the option if compelled.
Says problem is not widespread, but will soon issue patch to correct it
Following widespread reports of iMessage issues for some users who have upgraded to iOS 7, the company on Tuesday said it was aware of the problem and working on a fix. The official statement from the company says the problem is affecting "a fraction of a percent" of users, but with Apple's enormous mobile userbase, this amounts to millions of people even if Apple's accounting is accurate. The problem seems most likely to strike those who upgraded after the first updates.
Not affecting all users, but restart appears to clear up the issue
After upgrading to iOS 7, some users are finding that the Messages app doesn't reliably send out texts as a fallback when an iMessage can't be sent, and in some cases doesn't reliably send or receive iMessages. While the problem was first reported when iOS went live, reports have increased as hesitant users capitulated upon the release of v7.0.2. A simple fix usually just involving rebooting the device appears to work for most, but a slightly more elaborate fix seems to cure the issue permanently.
Traffic funnels through Chinese server
An app hosted on Google Play is letting Android users communicate with people on iOS or Mac devices over iMessage, reports note. Simply dubbed iMessage Chat, the app appears to work by pretending to be a Mac mini when it contacts Apple's iMessage server. It may potentially be dangerous though, since users have to enter their Apple ID, all traffic received from Apple is funneled through a server in China, and the app has the ability to download and install software in the background, which could potentially be a vector for malware.
Downtime in progress for several hours
Several of Apple's online services continue to be non-functional for some users after they went down at 12:30AM Eastern, according to Apple's system status tracker. Perhaps the most critical ones are iMessage and iCloud backup, but several other iCloud functions are also out. These include Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud, and iPhoto Journals.
Can affect Messages app thanks to group MMS, SMS use
While under normal circumstances most users would never see an unwanted or "spam" message in the OS X and iOS program Messages, Apple has now set up abuse reporting mechanism to help deal with those who have the issue. Using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, users can send a screenshot of the unwanted message, phone number or email address of the spammer or harrasser, and time/date info on the message. Unwanted or spam SMS and MMS messages should still be reported to users' cellular providers rather than Apple.
Half-hour outage was the first serious problem since April
The iMessage system used by millions of Apple owners to send free SMS-like messages and multimedia files was temporarily offline earlier today for about a third of users, from approximately 12:35PM to 1:11PM Pacific Time (3:35-4:11PM Eastern). The outage meant that text and files would "fall back" to being sent by traditional SMS or MMS using the carrier of the mobile device if sent to an account with a phone number associated with it, but might fail if sent to an email address only. Apple offers the free iMessage service as part of both iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion.
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."
Bug existed as far back as December, documented on Apple forums
A strange bug in Apple's iMessage service is manifesting itself. Messages of a certain length are rendering the final word of the text invisible (but still present) following sending the message to both sender and recipient. Two phrases induce the bug for some users -- "I could be the next Obama" followed by a space causes the display oddity. The phrase "the best prize is a surprise" also causes the odd display problem.
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.
iMessages sent via SMS still vulnerable, agency says
The US Drug Enforcement Administration is complaining that it can't intercept content on Apple's iMessage service, even with a warrant, according to an internal note obtained by CNet. "On February 21, 2013, the DEA San Jose Resident Office (SJRO) learned that text messages sent via iMessages between Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iMac) are not captured by pen register, trap and trace devices, or Title III interceptions," the DEA writes. "iMessages between two Apple devices are considered encrypted communication and cannot be intercepted, regardless of the cell phone service provider."
Jailbreak devs targeted, reveals flaw in Messages app
A flaw in the Messages application used widely on iOS devices has been revealed through a denial-of-service (DoS) attack on a group of jailbreak app developers. The program is subject to simple "flood" type attacks in which an attacker automatically sends messages incredibly rapidly, effectively rendering an account useless. Grant Paul, who goes by "chpwn" on Twitter and was one of the half-dozen victims in the attacks, said that the problem is that "Apple doesn't limit how fast messages can be sent," thus filling up the inbox and requiring the user to clear notifications and text in order to use the app.
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.
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.
Problems not omnipresent amongst users
Some users of Apple's iMessage service are having problems with delayed messages, or even messages failed to be delivered at all, according to complaints. In some circumstances people are getting read receipt notification errors. The issue in fact appears to be inconsistent as a rule, affecting some people but not others, and even those with trouble are occasionally getting a reprieve.
Deals with Exchange, Thunderbolt, iMessage glitches
Apple has posted the finished version of OS X 10.8.1, its first update to Mountain Lion. The code is purely a maintenance release, solving a variety of bugs. Some notable examples include the Migration Assistant suddenly quitting, issues with Microsoft Exchange servers and Mail, and audio not playing properly via a Thunderbolt Display. One prevented iMessages from being sent.
RIM may bring BlackBerry services to iOS users
RIM may break a longstanding policy against apps for non-BlackBerry platforms if a job listing is an indicator. The position for a Senior iOS Mobile Developer wants someone who can design and write enterprise iPad and iPhone apps. As proof that apps themselves are important, any potential hire has to show examples of published App Store titles.
iPhone overcomes BlackBerry Canadian bias
A hybrid of new data collected by both IDC and Bloomberg has shown that the BlackBerry is no longer the top-selling smartphone in Canada. Despite a home zone advantage, RIM was outsold in all of 2011, at 2.85 million iPhones to 2.08 million BlackBerrys. The result was a stark reversal of 2010, when RIM had shipped about 500,000 more smartphones; RIM had been shipping five times as many phones in 2008, when the iPhone 3G was just new to the country.
Hints at Facebook integration in future tech
Apple would like to integrate Facebook more deeply into its products, CEO Tim Cook suggested at Apple's annual shareholders meeting today. "Facebook: friend. We do a lot with them, our users use Facebook an enormous amount...I've always thought that the two companies could do more together," Cook commented during the meeting's Q&A session. "We've integrated Twitter...It's been great for Twitter, but it's been great for our users." He also noted that iMessage traffic has been "incredible" so far.
Mac OS X Mountain Lion adds iMessage, Reminders
In a surprise step, Apple on Thursday gave developers a preview version of OS X Mountain Lion, the next significant update to the core OS. The new version is directly influenced by iOS 5 and includes Notification Center, Reminders, Notes, Game Center, and Twitter integration, with iCloud syncing where it's relevant. AirPlay Mirroring is also new to the Mac and shares exactly what's on screen through an Apple TV.
Bug keeps messages flowing to stolen iPhones
A flaw in the iMessage protocol that causes it to continue to route messages to an iPhone even after its SIM has been removed and deactivated has gotten the attention of Apple in a very direct way: a customer demand to be compensated for the problem, which the company has allegedly done. TheNextWeb reports that an unnamed customer who had her iPhone stolen but which continued to receive iMessages has now received an iPod Touch as compensation.
iMessage pairing glitch persists
Some OS X 10.7.3 users are reportedly suffering from an odd application crash bug. Affected people will see apps crash often, with the unusual twist of error messages that feature the word "CUI" stamped over them. A 9to5Mac source claims that the company has already sent out an email to a v10.7.3 test group, asking them if they've run into the problem and requesting bug reports if so.
RIM CEO hints BBM may be open to iOS and Android
RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins has continued his interviewing with hints the company might not be as closed to the possibility of BlackBerry Messenger on other mobile platforms as once thought. He told CrackBerry that he was still committed to the core BlackBerry platform and there weren't immediate plans, but that the company "should never rule this [possibility] out." The company did have staff exploring the possibility, but it would only go ahead if it was logical.
Deactivating old SIMs, Apple IDs only solutions
A flaw in iMessage has been allowing stolen iPhones to continue receiving and sending messages for their original owners, even after a remote wipe, reports note. Although iMessage is also nominally associated with a person's Apple ID, changing a linked password and/or email address may have no effect. It's believed that iMessage may be pulling old phone numbers from a cache, and using that data to manage messages. Switching a SIM card to a new iPhone may in fact take iMessage traffic with it.
Apple may take more iOS features to Mac soon
An as yet unverified rumor asserts that Apple's "Back to the Mac" philosophy will continue with two more key additions. A 9to5 tip had both AirPlay Mirroring and iMessage in development. Although code references have alluded to iMessage coming to iChat, Apple was supposedly working on both a stand-alone app and an integrated client to determine which was better, possibly the same strategy used for FaceTime.
BlackBerry PlayBook may lack e-mail until Feb 17
The promised BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 update might not arrive until February if rumors from within RIM prove true. Despite promises by company CEOs that the update would be available soon after it was shown off at BlackBerry DevCon last week, BGR understood the tablet wouldn't get native e-mail and other basics until mid-February, possibly February 17. RIM's problems overcoming the one-device limit inherent to the BlackBerry has reportedly proven tougher to overcome than once thought.
Facebook Messenger gets big iOS update
Facebook has posted a significant 1.5 update to Facebook Messenger (App Store) to put it more on par with iMessage. Apart from more explicit iOS 5 support itself, the app now has live typing notices much like its Apple counterpart. It gives quicker access to those who message frequently and makes distinctions between those who are online at the desktop versus mobile.
RIM gives little clue as to outage cause
RIM during an emergency conference call to discuss its rapidly worsening BlackBerry outage provided only some extra detail as to the nature of the issue. Along with acknowledging the messaging backlog, software CTO David Yach said there was no sign of a hack causing the problem. He was adamant that the company had been properly testing its backups and that the failure caught it by surprise.
RIM revives BlackBerry in Eastern hemisphere
(Update: new failure) RIM's Eastern hemisphere BlackBerry outage was restored early Tuesday morning. The company said that services had been brought back online and apologized for the drop. No cause was given, however, despite over 20 hours of outages in Africa, Asia, Europe, and hte Middle East.
BlackBerry Messenger faces large-scale problems
BlackBerry owners on Friday were dealt more unfortunate news Friday after many reported losing access to Internet services. Both BlackBerry Messenger and e-mail faced outages, primarily in Canada and Latin American countries. RIM was "investigating" as of Friday afternoon but didn't have a cause or an estimated time for a fix.
iMessage may cross-pollinate between Mac, iOS
Calls for iMessage to reach the Mac may have been answered through discoveries made Wednesday. Elements for "timeDelivered" and "timeRead" receipts are in the framework of Lion's version of iChat that aren't needed for iChat's existing support but do reflect what iMessage would need. Although not certain, MacRumors extrapolates to anticipate that iChat will eventually get active iMessage support.
Samsung plans cross-platform ChatON service
Samsung in an unusual step for the run-up to the IFA show this week chose to unveil its own cross-platform messaging service. ChatON will supply group chat but also some distinctive features, such as a "trunk" of photos and videos shared in a chat that can all have comments, the option of commenting on friend profiles, and special messages with images, music, and handwritten parts. Users will even have a form of analytics with ranks for those they talk to the most frequently.
Skype acquires GroupMe for messaging strategy
Microsoft's soon-to-be acquisition Skype on Sunday said it had itself bought GroupMe. The deal with the year-old startup gives it access to mobile group messaging. Skype has been quiet as to the exact intentions but plans to fold in the "best in class text-based communications."
Microsoft hiring for market-disupting WP7 plans
Microsoft has posted a job listing alluding to plans for what it hopes is a revolutionary Windows Phone feature. A Software Development Engineer in Test would join to handel a "top secret project" inside the team. The company was deliberately secretive as to details but planned to "GO BIG! DISRUPT THE MARKET!" with whatever its plans would be.
RBC reckons iCloud, iMessage likely to be popular
A new study by RBC analyst Mike Abramsky suggested Apple could get rapid adoption of the core services it rolled out with iOS 5. A full 76 percent of the 1,500 iPhone owners asked were either somewhat or very likely to use iCloud. Its value as online storage was likely to partly nullify one of Android's advantages and improve the "loyalty and stickiness" of iPhone users that might have otherwise jumped ship.
Macs to gain MMS-esque texting ability?
An error message in the Lion version of Mail may have revealed a heretofore undisclosed new feature in Mac OS X Lion modelled after the iMessage feature coming to iOS devices with the release of iOS 5. The Spanish-language site Macquecitos reported that a reader had seen a dialog box advising the user to update a Mail plug-in to a version that was "compatible with Mail 5.0 and Message 5.0."
Google said to have worked on message rival
Google has at least at one point been developing an equivalent to BlackBerry Messenger and Apple's iMessage, an insider mentioned Thursday. Details of the system were few, but it's implied it would be much more than just the existing Google Talk and other IM apps. The WSJ clue made no mention of whether it was still active or a dead project.
Price targets as high as $510 follow Apple Keynote
Apple's WWDC Keynote, announcing iCloud, iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion, has sparked positive reaction from numerous Apple-focused financial analysts, with raised target prices between $460 and $510 per share. The analysts predicted increased sales of the iPad 2, acceptance of Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match service and the popularity of iOS 5 on refreshed hardware in the fall as part of the reason for their enthusiasm for Apple going into the remainder of the year.
iMessage hits RIM with BBM-alike on iOS
Apple made clear its intentions to steal away BlackBerry users by launching its own equivalent to BlackBerry Messenger in iOS 5. iMessage offers much of the same SMS-free messaging as its RIM equivalent, even including delivery and sending receipts, group messaging, and live typing notices. Group messaging works, and conversations sync across devices so a user can start on an iPhone and finish on an iPad.
Developer SDK seed out now, final in fall
Apple today previewed iOS 5, the next version of its firmware for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The firmware represents a major overhaul, for instance completely changing the notification system to more closely resemble a mix of Android and webOS. Notifications are no longer temporary, but viewable in a Notification Center by swiping down from the top of the screen. The notifications themselves are no longer pop-up bubbles, but text that briefly swivels down while users are busy in another app.