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.
Transition still ongoing
Apple is quietly swapping out Google Maps data in the Find My iPhone web app for its own Maps content, users note. While the change isn't complete -- some locations, such as Austin, are still using Google data -- at least some now cite "Data from TomTom, others" instead. iCloud.com is one of the last vestiges of Google Maps in Apple products, the other being listings for Apple Stores.
Precise changes so far undocumented
[Updated with Yosemite changes] Apple has started seeding third previews of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 to developers. The former is listed as build 14A283o, and can be downloaded via the Mac App Store or the Mac Dev Center. Beta 3 of iOS 8 is identified as build 12A4318c, and available either as an over-the-air update or through the iOS Dev Center. To go with it, Apple is pushing out new betas of Find my iPhone and Find My Friends.
May improve odds with lost and stolen devices
The iOS 8 incarnation of Find My iPhone includes a new "Send Last Location" option, notes AppleInsider. A description explains that toggling it on will send the last location of a device to Apple once the battery drains "to a critical level." It's not known how this information will be shared with device owners, or how long it will persist.
iOS 7-based update locks out non-developers
A newly-released version of the Find My iPhone iOS app, 2.0.3, is breaking some access to the service. Most people trying to launch the updated app will see an error message, insisting that they "must be a registered iOS developer and have iCloud configured on iOS 7.0 Beta" to make it past the login screen. Devices can still be tracked via the Find My iPhone web app.
Stolen iPhone used in Boston Bomber tracking
According to several recent news reports, an iPhone's GPS chip was used to help track the Boston Bombers to Watertown. Time, the New York Times, and Boston.com all have reported that after the bombing the two suspects stole a Mercedes and proceeded to flee the crime. However, what the thieves didn't realize is that the car itself was equipped with an mbrace tracking system and that an active iPhone had been left inside. None of the sources directly mention Find My iPhone, but it is likely that the device finding service played a part in the location of the stolen car.
Incident cracks smartphone theft ring
Tracking a stolen iPhone led to an elaborate chase through the streets of San Francisco earlier today, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Around 6:30 AM, two armed robbers stole an iPhone from a person on a street in the neighborhood of Ocean View. Using a GPS tracking app -- possibly Find My iPhone -- police were able to narrow the phone's location down to a place in Noe Valley. When the suspects spotted police closing in, they ran, and one of them tried to climb over a gate near St. Paul's Catholic Church.
Mistake wipes out Wired writer's digital footprint
A writer for Wired, Mat Honan, says he has confirmed with both Apple and the hacker that victimized him that his iCloud account was recently compromised by a "social engineering" trick with AppleCare. The hacker managed to get an AppleCare support staffer to skip security questions, and then reset Honan's password, giving the hacker complete access to anything tied to Honan's iCloud account or email address. This included not only personal and Gizmodo Twitter accounts, but also Honan's Gmail account, which was completely wiped out. Making matters even more severe, the hacker used Find My iPhone to perform remote wipes of Honan's Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Whole host of Apple apps get updates
Complementing the introduction of Find My Friends and AirPort Utility, Apple has launched two more iOS apps, plus updates to several existing titles. The first of the new apps is Cards, a previously announced program that lets users insert custom text and photos into 21 basic designs and have real-world greeting cards mailed to addresses around the world. This costs $3 when mailing within the US, or $5 when sending a card to an international address.
Most iCloud functions still locked
As promised, Apple's iCloud service has today gone live. The most conspicuous sign of this is the activation of iCloud.com, which no longer has any beta labels. For most people however web functions are currently limited to Find My iPhone, since iOS 5 or an iCloud-compatible version of OS X Lion is required to tap into Mail, Contacts, Calendar, or iWork. iOS 5 should go public later today, likely around 10AM Pacific time, or 1PM Eastern; Apple has not said when OS X 10.7.2 will become available for Lion owners.