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.
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.
Will cost company $55 million
North Carolina's Claremont City Council has approved an Apple plan to acquire 100 acres of land for a third solar farm in the state, reports say. The farm is expected to generate 17.5 megawatts, and cost Apple $55 million to build. The 100 acres will become a part of Claremont's corporate limits; the project should spawn about 75 jobs, but take about five years to complete.
New toggles appear for Handoff, keeping Messages media
(Updated with T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling support, more) People with access to iOS 8 beta 3 are beginning to share some of the changes in the firmware. Perhaps the most notable is the ability to upgrade from Documents in the Cloud to iCloud Drive, which will let people upload any kind of file and organize their own folders with the amount of space they have received or paid for. Accordingly, the Settings app has a new iCloud Drive section, where people can toggle the whole service on and off, or enable access on a per-app basis. The service will evidently also be available from the web.
July 7 purge will affect testers of iOS 8, Yosemite beta builds
Apple has notified developers testing the latest iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite betas that it will have to erase the content of all CloudKit databases on July 7, both public and private. While the move will not affect most users, anyone testing the iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library or Mail Drop attachment features of either iOS 8 or OS X 10.10 Yosemite will see any data store there wiped. Photos and videos stored on iOS 8-running devices will be preserved, and re-uploaded after the server-side erasure.
Four-digit passcode identifies device on top of user credentials
Apple is either testing or in the process of rolling out two-step verification for its iCloud.com portal, optionally allowing users who want to use the two-factor authentication to enter a random four-digit passcode on their device in order to add it to a list of "trusted" devices. The option is not yet available to Apple ID accounts that have previously set the preference for using two-step verification, but improves security over the default "Apple ID password only" method.
Productivity suite now offers seamless switching between environments
On Tuesday, Apple updated its iWork suite of apps for iCloud -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote -- for better harmonization with the desktop and mobile versions of the apps. The improvements, such as persistent document settings across platforms, are intended to make the transition from working on a document using the desktop app to opening the same file on iCloud more consistent and smoother for users. Screen names for opening shared documents and other areas have also been improved.
Push by EFF to have Internet giants encrypt communications paying off
A statement by Apple to National Public Radio in response to its story about moves the largest Internet providers could do to enhance communication security has revealed a plan to expand end-to-end encryption currently in use to emails sent to other providers. Currently, the company's iMessage offers end-to-end encryption, as does iCloud email (@icloud.com) sent to other iCloud users. However, there is presently no encryption used on email sent to other providers -- a situation Apple says it has already been working on.
Suspects caught withdrawing victims' money from ATM
Russian government officials say they have arrested two people accused of hijacking Apple devices in Australia and demanding ransom money. The scheme was reportedly lead by a 23-year-old man identified only as Ivan; an unnamed 17-year-old is said to have been his accomplice. Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs states that both are from Moscow, and were arrested during "operational activities" conducted by the Interior Ministry. One of them has already been tried in the past.
Could reopen market for stolen iPhones, iPads
Two hackers from the Netherlands and Morocco claim to have found a critical vulnerability allowing them to break iCloud and the Activation Lock feature on iOS devices. The project is said to have taken five months, during which time they analyzed the data flowing between iPhones and iCloud. By spoofing iPhones into thinking they're connecting to Apple servers when they're really connected to a separate computer, the hackers say they can trick a device into undoing Activation Lock.
Charts, image caps see tweaks
Apple has updated iWork for iCloud with several improvements. Most significantly, compatible documents can now measure up to 1GB in size, and collaboration support has been expanded to 100 people. Users can also apply formatting to charts, and create 2D and interactive charts. More color options are available, and the cap on image size has been increased to 10MB.
iCloud 'particularly bad' next to other cloud services
The Norwegian Consumer Council has filed a formal complaint about the terms and condition's for Apple's iCloud, charging that they violate several articles of Norwegian law concerning product marketing. Earlier in 2014, the Council conducted a survey of the terms for several cloud storage services in the Norwegian market, as part of a broader effort at improving terms for all digital services available to Norwegians. Based on data from that survey, the complaint alleges that iCloud's terms are "particularly bad," measuring some 8,600 words and ultimately "convoluted and unclear."
Trouble may also be affecting iMessage
iCloud users in Australia and New Zealand have been experiencing outages for about half a day, according to complaints. Most affected people say they can't reach any iCloud functions, and some people complain that iMessage is failing as well. Apple's System Status page has made no mention of the downtime.
Some iOS 8 features could be pushed into iOS 8.1
Several sources have offered a glimpse into the current status of several Apple projects. At this year's WWDC, for instance, the people say OS X 10.10 will play a more prominent role than iOS 8, as it should feature a major redesign and Apple wants developers to latch in. The company is even said to be allocating iOS interface labor to OS X teams in order to get the framework of v10.10's design done for WWDC.
SSL bug could still be found in Mac servers running PostgreSQL, MacPorts, other add-ons
Apple has confirmed on Thursday that all of its operating systems and key web services, as well as its website and iCloud service, are not affected by the "Heartbleed" SSL flaw that is threatening much of the web. The "Heartbleed" bug, a flaw in the implementation of later versions of OpenSSL -- which is used by many but not all websites to handle secure log-ins and other transactions -- has put as much as two-thirds of the World Wide Web at risk.
Web apps get Retina display enhancements, more
Apple has made some improvements to iWork for iCloud, according to pop-up messages. All three web apps in the suite -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- have been given better support for Retina displays, a new editor tab, and upgraded sharing functions. The latter let people set shared documents as view-only, and open documents directly via iCloud Mail.
iCloud storage tools might not ship
[Updated with alleged icons] If the ports are finished in time, iOS 8 may include versions of OS X's Preview and TextEdit apps, according to claims by questionable sources say. Unlike their Mac counterparts, the iOS apps reportedly won't be able to actually edit images, PDFs, or text documents. They are, however expected to support viewing OS X documents stored in iCloud; for management and editing, people will be directed toward existing apps like iBooks and Pages, says the rumor.
Judge said to be hesitant to go through with measure
A Belgian judge is considering whether to order local ISPs to block access to Apple websites in the country, local reports say. The measure is a possible response to charges of fraud brought by consumer protection group FPS Economy. FPS points out that while Apple has been claiming a standard warranty of just one year, European law mandates a minimum of two, at no extra cost. Apple has been asking Belgians to buy an extended AppleCare warranty to get two years of support.
Web portal could soon become more robust
An unusual URL redirect bug suggests that iCloud.com may soon get access to iCloud Bookmarks. The feature lets people sync Safari bookmarks across platforms, including not just different versions of Safari but also Chrome and Firefox. Currently, people trying to install the Chrome extension from the iCloud Control Panel for Windows will briefly see "iCloud Bookmarks are coming soon. Please check back later" at this URL before being shunted to the Chrome Web Store.
List shows recently-shared documents
Apple has pushed out a major update of the iWork for iCloud suite of web apps. While the apps are still officially in beta, all three have been given a new, iOS 7-style makeover for their template pickers and document libraries. During editing, though, users will still see the old iOS 6-style look.
Company aiming to power all datacenters with renewable energy
Apple has opened up three new positions for its upcoming datacenter in Prineville, Oregon. These include two maintenance technicians, as well as a chief engineer. The company has actually been trying to hire a chief engineer since early 2013, but doesn't appear to have had any success. The person will have to oversee many datacenter operations, including testing and monitoring, and implementing new projects.
Weekly, monthly views let users change app's scope
Sunrise has released a major update of Sunrise Calendar, its popular iOS app. The title lets people merge iCloud, Facebook, and Google Calendar events into a single feed, as well as get notifications, weather forecasts, LinkedIn profiles, and Google Maps directions. Version 2.1 is the first to include a native iPad interface, and takes advantage of the extra screen space through new Week and Month views. The Week view is also accessible to iPhone users.
Apologizes for 'confusion and frustration' caused by previous announcement
AOL will continue supporting iCloud on its Alto webmail service after all, according to an email sent to users. Alto lets people check multiple webmail services simultaneously, such as AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo. In October, however, AOL said it would halt support for email addresses ending in @icloud, @me, or @mac after December 2.
Dropbox chief says iCloud was direct shot at Dropbox
Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston says that late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs settled on killing off the popular file syncing system when Houston declined Jobs' offer of an acquisition. IT Business reported this week on Houston's remarks, which came in the course of a discussion on stage at Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce.com conference in San Francisco. Houston says that the unveiling of iCloud was a direct shot at Dropbox, one he says the company has proudly survived.
Web apps still officially in beta
Apple has made several minor updates to iWork for iCloud. The emphasis is on collaboration features, which now include a list of the people currently working on a project. Likewise, apps will display cursors and selections for each editor.
Fixes bugs in iMessage, Spotlight, other areas
Apple has quietly issued a minor update to iOS, v7.0.3. The firmware adds two new features, primarily iCloud Keychain, which can be used to sync logins, passwords, and credit card numbers between devices. Also new however is Password Generator, which lets Safari suggest complex password for user accounts.
Service on verge of leaving beta
Apple is in the process of bringing iWork for iCloud out of beta later today, a glimpse at iCloud.com suggests. Loading the beta Pages, Numbers, or Keynote web apps currently triggers a notification at the top of the site, promising more features for each app within "a few short hours." Apple is due to hold a press event at 10AM Pacific time, after which the company will presumably flip the switch on completed web apps.
Apps have yet to get iOS makeover
Updated icons for iPhoto and GarageBand within iOS' iCloud Storage Management settings hint that Apple is on the verge of updating the apps, notes AppleInsider. The icons have to be downloaded from Apple servers whenever someone enters the Storage Management panel, suggesting that Apple is laying the groundwork for the updated software. Visually the icons have been changed to adopt the flat, colorful design of iOS 7.
No reason given
AOL is dropping iCloud support from its Alto webmail client, according to a notice being sent out to users. Alto is a multiplatform service, allowing people to check mail for AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, and custom providers. As of December 2nd, however, Alto users with an @icloud, @me, or @mac address will no longer be able to check associated messages there.
Apple Online Store down for scheduled maintenance until 4AM ET
The online store from Apple has been listed on the company's System Status page as down for planned maintenance from approximately midnight Wednesday (eastern time) to 4AM ET. The downtime occurred just after a three-hour partial iCloud.com outage in which users could access most services, but the web Calendar and Reminders applications were nonfunctional. Most iCloud disruptions are brief and only affect a small portion of users, but both of the recent downtimes affected all users.
Ban had stymied German users even after patent found likely invalid
As of 9PM local time in Germany, users in that country are finally -- after 19 months -- able to activate push email services from iCloud. The previous block was due to a patent dispute with Google-owned Motorola Mobility over a patent on a push-type messaging originally granted for beepers, and which has in the intervening months been found invalid for four separate reasons by a court in the UK, and later on in three different courts in Germany.
iCloud stops working for users over base 5GB tier
In keeping with warnings, Apple has today stripped former MobileMe subscribers of an earlier free upgrade to the 25GB iCloud tier. The upgrade was offered to help ease the transition to iCloud, since MobileMe was a paid-only service that included 20GB of data, or more under a family plan. iCloud has both free and paid tiers, but the free one only includes 5GB. The 25GB option normally costs $40 per year.
Set-top gets Chromecast-like content streaming
Apple has released an anticipated firmware update for the Apple TV, v6.0. The main addition is support for iTunes Radio, Apple's new streaming music service, also available on Mac, Windows, and iOS devices. Some other changes include podcast sync, access to shared Photo Streams, and the ability to listen to music purchased from the iTunes Store directly. Version numbers for Apple TV are typically behind that of the iOS release they are drawn from.
iCloud bookmark sync for Chrome still not available for OS X
Amidst the high-profile iOS 7 launch, Apple has also made available a pair of plug-ins for Windows users to enable bookmark syncing. Available today in conjunction with the iCloud Control Panel for Windows 3.0 upgrade are plug-ins for alternative browsers Chrome and Firefox on Windows. Notably, Apple has not added the functionality to Chrome on OS X.
Apple lists feature as 'coming soon' on iOS 7 website
iCloud Keychain support has been removed from the iOS 7 gold master, users note. The option has gone missing from iOS 7's iCloud preferences. Apple has also marked Keychain as "coming soon" on its iOS 7 website, implying that the feature won't be in the public release of the firmware or in any near-term point release.
Feature should return in near future
The Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court has stayed enforcement of an injunction blocking push email for German iCloud users, reports say. The injunction stems from a lawsuit filed by Motorola, and was originally issued by the Mannheim Regional Court in February 2012. With the Karlsruhe ruling, push email should return as soon as Apple can post a bond, meant to ensure that Motorola can collect damages should it win the related lawsuit.
Users encounter error messages at iCloud.com
Apple is restricting some users' access to the iWork for iCloud beta, anecdotes indicate. People trying to launch Pages, Numbers, or Keynote from the iCloud website may find themselves blocked by an error message stating that Apple has had an "overwhelming response," and asking them to "check back soon." The company promises however that documents saved in the Mac and iOS versions of iWork will still be backed up to iCloud.
Rollout no longer gradual
The iWork for iCloud beta is now accessible by all iCloud users. Web versions of the iWork apps -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- were initially restricted to developers, but then gradually began reaching the general public through the beta iCloud site. Today, though, the iWork apps have been independently pushed to iCloud.com.
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.
Apps, icons get new look, interface changes
Apple has redesigned the iCloud.com beta website to take after the look of iOS 7. The overhaul extends from icons and fonts through to many interface elements, such as the layout and buttons in Calendar. The website also operates somewhat differently; instead of having to jump back to the main menu to switch to another app, for instance, clicking the "iCloud" name in the upper-left will pop up a quick-switch panel.
Prevents restores from consuming bandwidth, usability
The iOS 7 beta currently creates "ghost" apps on an iOS device when restoring from an iCloud backup, a report notes. When restoring from iCloud in iOS 6, a device will normally start re-downloading every app automatically once core data is back in place. iOS7, by contrast, will recreate folders but leave grayed-out icons in place of apps; only tapping on one will get an app to download.
Apple still overcoming spam-related issues
Apple is looking to build better protections against spam and other abuse in iCloud Mail, a new job listing suggests. The company is hiring a senior software engineer who will help "define and implement new mail anti-abuse systems" for iCloud. The person is expected to have experience with email and spam technology, and qualities like "a strong background in building high-performance, scalable and extensible systems."
Downtime affects major services
Several Apple online services encountered outages earlier today, according to the company's system status page. Between 11:23AM and 1:54PM Eastern, people may have been "unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore," the page states. "Users may also have been unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup."
Will be reduced to standard 5GB allotment, may affect mail storage
When Apple's MobileMe suite of online services got revamped and changed into iCloud, existing members were provided with 20GB of extra storage space compared to the 5GB normally allotted, for a total of 25GB (which includes email storage, iCloud iOS device backups and other services such as Documents in the Cloud). The company has now sent out reminder notices to such customers letting them know that the additional free storage will be withdrawn and reduced to the standard 5GB on September 30.
Cloud services an increasingly important factor in sales
While some segments of Apple's hardware line did less well -- or in at least one case considerably better -- than expected, the company's quieter but steady growth in cloud-based services ranging from iTunes Stores to iCloud-based services continues to become increasingly important in retaining and attracting buyers. Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, up from 250 million six months ago, and push notifications have doubled during the same period to over eight trillion. Users of iOS also pushed the App Store to new highs in downloads and revenues.
Web version brings iWork to PC, may be free of charge
MacNN readers and staffers have reported receiving invitations from Apple to try out the iWork for iCloud beta, and may expand the program to all those with an iCloud account. The online version of the three iWork apps -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote -- is not believed to be intended to replace the local Mac and iOS versions, but instead complement them with a way to use the programs from any online device -- including, for the first time, Windows computers. Our reviews of the apps found them to be superb implementations of the latest web technologies.
Numbers for iCloud is beautiful, elegant and simple to use
In past two days, we have taken a "first look" at Pages for iCloud and Keynote for iCloud. Both are great examples of Apple’s software-making prowess, and reinforce Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent assertion that it remains ‘laser focused on product innovation’. Not being one for working with numbers, I was not particularly looking forward to looking more closely at Numbers. However, just as Pages and Keynote for iCloud will change your perception of what is possible in a web-based app, Numbers for iCloud will too. Even if you’ve never used a spreadsheet before, you just might actually want to use Numbers for iCloud when it debuts in the fall.
Keynote for iCloud defines Apple's vision for web 3.0
Yesterday we took a look at the Pages for iCloud beta and were highly impressed by what Apple has achieved with its word processing and publishing application. It looks and works very much like a desktop application and pushes the envelope for what has previously been achieved with an entirely web-based app. Keynote is the next of the three iWork for iCloud beta apps in our short series looking at Apple's new iWork for iCloud suite of web apps. Is it possible to recreate a presentation app in the cloud with the full power of a desktop presentation app? It doesn't seem likely, but then it didn't seem likely that we would see what a web-app like Pages for iCloud can do in a browser.