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Forums: new iPhone and iOS 8 first impressions

09/19, 3:49pm

new iPhone and iOS 8 first impressions

As the long lines outside of Apple stores world-wide finally start to move, and new iPhones start landing in the hands of Mac fans everywhere, MacNN forum-goers with phones in-hand begin to post their first impressions in the thread titled "Incoming iPhone" which was started late last week. Also today, reports are starting to come in that iOS 8 is a bit sluggish and buggy, with some even stating that it's the worst release yet. Of course, people always say that.

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Apple uses iOS 8 as first large-scale use of its new CDN, firm says

09/19, 9:30am

Update downloads peaked at 3Tbps

The deployment of iOS 8 on Wednesday was Apple's first large-scale test of its new content delivery network, or CDN, says research firm DeepField. At its high point, iOS 8 downloads reportedly consumed 3Tbps, compareable to about 25 HD movies being downloaded simultaneously by as many users. DeepField notes that at least in North America, the launch was almost entirely dependent on Apple CDN servers.

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Briefly: GarageBand for iOS 2.02, new iOS 8 keyboard apps

09/18, 12:47pm

GarageBand for iOS updated, adds iOS 8 support

Music production app GarageBand has received an update for iOS, including support for iOS 8. Users can use their iOS device to "play" a collection of instruments and record musical pieces.

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Apple document: iOS 8 no longer stores encryption keys

09/18, 10:50am

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.

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Briefly: Dropbox's iOS 8 updates, 1Password's 'freemium' model

09/17, 10:39pm

Dropbox updated to accommodate iOS 8

Cloud storage platform Dropbox has released an update for its iOS app, in light of the release of iOS 8. Dropbox allows users to store their files remotely, and its iOS app provides access to any file saved to one's cloud account. Dropbox v3.4 includes a restored automatic back-up functionality for iOS 8, which was briefly not working for those who installed the latest iOS release.

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Briefly: iPhone 6/iOS 8 e-book available; Apple Camera Raw updated

09/17, 9:40pm

Official iPhone User Guide updated on iBooks for iPhone 6 line, iOS 8

Following the arrival of iOS 8 on Wednesday, Apple has updated its official iPhone User Guide (a free e-book download available from the iBookstore) to cover its release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as offer a tour of all the new and changed features of iOS 8. The e-Book can be read on the iBooks app for iOS, or on the OS X version of iBooks for Mavericks and later. The guide covers all iOS 8-compatible iPhone hardware, from the iPhone 4S to the latest iPhone 6 models as well as offering iOS 8 tutorials, including the new Health app.

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OS X 10.9.5 released, iMovie for iOS updated for iOS 8

09/17, 8:30pm

Mavericks updated includes Safari 7.0.6, fixes VPN and SMB server bugs

In what is likely the final numerical update for OS X Mavericks, Apple has released version 10.9.5 just one day after it was seeded to AppleCare representatives. The release notes indicate that it improves the reliability of VPN connections requiring USB smart cards, and access to files on SMB servers. The patch also includes Safari 7.0.6, though it was released separately about a month ago, alongside v6.1.6 for older operating systems for security patches. The company also updated iMovie for iOS to add iOS 8 compatibility.

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Apple acknowledges HealthKit bug, promises fix

09/17, 5:03pm

Compatible titles should return to App Store by end of September

Apple has confirmed the existence of a bug in HealthKit that resulted in the removal of related apps from the App Store. In an email to the Financial Times' Tim Bradshaw, the company states that it has "discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We're working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update, and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month."

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New iOS 8 now live, brings Health app, Extensions, Continuity, more

09/17, 1:21pm

Over-the-air updates may be impossible for some users

As planned, Apple has released iOS 8 via iTunes and as an over-the-air update. The latter may be difficult or impossible for some users, as it requires roughly 5.7GB of free space on an iPhone, and 6.9GB on an iPad. In any event, users must have at least an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or fifth-generation iPod touch.

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Dropbox halts automatic backups over iOS 8 compatibility issue

09/17, 7:02am

Update pushed to Dropbox, Carousel over automatic upload failure

Users of Dropbox on iOS are unable to back up data to the cloud storage service, due to a compatibility issue with iOS 8. The company claims the issue prevents users of the latest Apple mobile operating system from automatically backing up all of their photographs and videos to the service, with only a few of the latest files able to be uploaded successfully.

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T-Mobile confirms it will upgrade 'Test Drive' iPhones to iOS 8

09/15, 9:30pm

New iPhone 6 will become default 'test drive' model once availability normalizes

US carrier T-Mobile is still running its "Test Drive" promotion, which offers to send a no-obligation iPhone 5s and a week's worth of access to non-customers to help them evaluate if they want to switch networks. On Monday, the carrier acknowledged that it will be upgrading the "test drive" iPhones to iOS 8 beginning just days after its debut on September 17. The company also said it will eventually move to the iPhone 6 as its default model for the "test drive" promotion, pending sufficient availability.

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Stanford, Duke to start medical trials using Apple's HealthKit

09/15, 1:29pm

Institutions aim to improve speed, accuracy

In the next few weeks, two major US hospitals -- linked with Stanford University and Duke University, respectively -- are embarking on medical trials using Apple's HealthKit platform, according to Reuters. Doctors at Stanford say they're working with Apple on tracking blood sugar for children with diabetes. Duke, meanwhile, is planning a pilot to track blood pressure, weight, and other statistics for patients with cancer or heart diseases.

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Apple updates iTunes 12 beta for OS X Yosemite testers

09/11, 2:23am

Minor cosmetic tweaks a-plenty, but no new major features

Following its update of the iOS 8 beta to Golden Master status, Apple on Wednesday also updated iTunes 12, being tested as part of the OS X 10.10 Yosemite public and developer betas. The new version, which still carries the same v12.0 moniker, does not list any significant changes but testers have reported minor tweaks, ranging from a new transparency in the sidebar to a variety of tiny cosmetic changes.

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Briefly: Google Voice updated for iOS 7, Fleksy for iOS 8 to launch

09/11, 1:19am

Google Voice for iOS updated, supports Hangouts integration

Google Voice has updated its app for iOS, offering a revised user interface to match iOS 7 guidelines. Google Voice allows users to send free text messages to US phones, and make cheap international calls with an account. Voicemail messages can be accessed with transcription. Google Voice v1.6.0 additionally includes support for Google Voice integration in Hangouts, as well as bug fixes and performance enhancements. Free to download, Google Voice for iOS requires iOS 6.0 or later.

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Integrated SwiftKey coming to iOS alongside release of iOS 8

09/10, 4:02pm

Exploits hooks in new OS

The system-integrated version of SwiftKey's mobile keyboard will be coming to iOS next week with the launch of iOS 8 on September 17, the developer has confirmed. A SwiftKey iOS app -- Note -- already exists, but is largely self-contained. The new app will take advantage of iOS 8's support for system-wide third-party keyboards.

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Swift programming language reaches GM status for iOS

09/10, 9:07am

OS X GM only coming with Yosemite

The Swift programming language has attained gold master status for iOS, Apple has announced. "You can now submit your apps that use Swift to the App Store. Whether your app uses Swift for a small feature or a complete application, now is the time to share your app with the world. It's your turn to excite everyone with your new creations," the company adds.

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Briefly: iTunes updated to v11.4; two new Apple TV ads for iPhone

09/09, 9:10pm

Apple updates iTunes to 11.4 for syncing with iOS 8-running devices

Apple on Tuesday updated its iTunes software for Macs running Snow Leopard (10.6.8) and higher (as well as for Windows users) so that it will work with mobile devices running iOS 8, in advance of the latter's September 17 arrival. The update also benefits developers and Appleseed testers who have been working with iOS 8 for some time already, in preparation for its release. The release notes simply say that the update allows users "to sync movies, music, and more to devices running iOS 8." It is available through Software Update.

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Gold masters of iOS 8, Xcode 6 reach developers

09/09, 4:20pm

Likely to be final pre-release versions of each

Apple has started seeding the gold master versions of iOS 8 and Xcode 6 to developers. The former is build 12A365, while the latter is 6A313. Both should be the identical to the versions that reach the public, barring the discovery of serious bugs that might prevent the software from working, or create serious security issues.

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Forthcoming iOS 8 to go live on September 17

09/09, 3:07pm

Two days ahead of new iPhones

During today's Apple press event, the company quickly mentioned that iOS 8 will be available to download free starting on September 17. The oldest devices compatible with it will be the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and fifth-generation iPod touch. It will come preloaded on Apple's newest devices, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

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Mayo Clinic to demonstrate HealthKit at Apple iPhone/iWatch event

09/09, 10:26am

Will have to build on earlier WWDC showing

The Mayo Clinic will make an appearance at today's Apple press event in order to demonstrate integration with iOS 8's HealthKit platform, according to the Star Tribune. Mayo was one of the first partners announced for HealthKit at WWDC, where an example given was a patient recording their own blood pressure, and unusual readings being automatically forwarded to a doctor. It's unclear what exactly will be shown today, but presumably a more elaborate demonstration will be involved.

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Video of functioning 4.7-inch iPhone seen running iOS 8

09/06, 9:53pm

Home screen icon appears to confirm changes coming to Passbook

A functioning version -- perhaps a genuine finished unit, or a cleverly-disguised Goophone -- of the allegedly forthcoming 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has been demonstrated in brief video clips. Going beyond any previous demo, the unit appears to function normally, is clearly running iOS 8 and is activated. The home screen shows the Health application (briefly demo'd in a different video) and the modified Passbook app icon, which now has a fourth red "stripe" resembling a payment card, seemingly confirming the idea that a mobile payment system will be introduced at the September 9 event.

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Sources: iOS 8.0.1 already in preparation for testing partners

09/05, 10:37am

Likely to fix leftover glitches

Even though iOS 8 has yet to be released, Apple is already on the verge of seeding iOS 8.0.1 to its testing partners, sources say. The firmware is expected to be seeded shortly, and carry unspecified enhancements to iOS 8.

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Analysts raise AAPL targets on iPhones, iWatch, iOS 8 excitement

09/03, 7:00pm

Cantor Fitzgerald, Piper Jaffray push expections to $120 and beyond

The long-awaited but finally-approaching arrival of larger-screen iPhone models and Apple's probable entries into health, home automation and mobile payments have some Wall Street analysts believing Apple's oft-repeated mantra that its forthcoming product and services pipeline is the strongest the company has had in years, if not ever. In new notes to clients, both Cantor Fitzgerald and Piper Jaffray have raised targets for AAPL to new all-time highs.

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Apple sets out rules for HealthKit, HomeKit, other new iOS 8 tech

09/03, 10:44am

Health data not allowed on iCloud

Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to define rules on how several new iOS 8 technologies can be used. With HealthKit, for example, developers are not only prevented from selling data to advertisers and brokers, but blocked from storing that information in iCloud. Apps using HomeKit are barred from collecting data for advertising or data mining, and must state in marketing that their primary purpose is home automation.

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Apple to turn off CloudKit for older iOS 8, OS X Yosemite betas

08/26, 12:31am

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.

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Beta 6 of iOS 8 exclusive to testing partners, report says

08/19, 11:26am

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.

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AgileBits announces sale, free update on 1Password for iOS

08/07, 9:07pm

Forthcoming iOS 8 upgrade with Touch ID support will be free for current owners

According to a new announcement from AgileBits, makers of the iOS and Mac password management app 1Password, the forthcoming version for iOS 8 will be a free update to existing users. In conjunction with that, and a new report that Russian hackers may -- or may not -- have collected over a billion unique email account credentials, the company has opted to put its iOS version on sale for $10, a cut of $15 from its normal $25 price. The iOS 8 update for 1Password, expected this fall, will add extensions and Touch ID support to the password manager.

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Apple warns testers of iCloud Drive outages, ongoing maintenance

08/05, 7:54pm

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.

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iOS 8 beta 5 changes include SMS Relay support, several Health tweaks

08/04, 4:47pm

Many changes simply UI refinements

Users are beginning to discover some of the changes in iOS 8 beta 5, which was released earlier today. Many of these appear to affect the Health app. On top of supporting spirometry data, there are for example several new icons, and users can now export the app's information. Privacy settings for the app have appeared within Settings.

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Apple seeds fifth betas of iOS 8, Xcode, OS X Yosemite to developers

08/04, 1:45pm

Apple TV, OS X Server, Configurator get matching updates

Apple is now seeding its fifth betas of iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and Xcode to developers, as well as a preview of OS X Server 4.0, and fourth betas of new Apple TV firmware and Configurator 1.7. Relatively little is known about their content so far, although notes for the iOS 8 beta add that "spirometry data types are now available in HealthKit;" spirometry is the measurement of lung capacity. Xcode has received Swift-related improvements involving ranges and easier scripting.

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AgileBits' 1Password previews iOS 8 extension, Touch ID support

07/30, 9:07pm

Password vault app could work with third-party apps, merchants

AgileBits, makers of the security and password vault 1Password, are among the first to implement and preview an iOS 8 extension and third-party Touch ID support, allowing other app makers to utilize the program's stored passwords outside of the 1Password app itself. Apple announced the concept of iOS extensions at June's Worldwide Developer Conference, which enables one app to use tools or services found in a different app in a secure manner.

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Users of iOS iPhoto may lose Journals, Books, Slideshows in iOS 8

07/25, 3:04pm

App to be discontinued

Beginning with iOS 8 beta 4, Apple is warning owners of iPhoto for iOS that some features may not make the transition to its replacement, at least at first. Much as with iPhoto on the Mac, users will eventually be migrated over to an all-new, native Photos app, a huge overhaul of the existing iOS Photos app. When trying to run iPhoto in the current beta of iOS 8, an error message now appears stating that iPhoto isn't supported; instead, people are offered the choice to migrate data to Photos, with the exception of "layouts and text added to Books, Journals and Slideshows."

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Apple 'tentatively' planning mid-September event for iPhone 6, iOS 8

07/23, 12:10pm

5.5-inch iPhone might wait until later showcase

Apple is "tentatively" scheduling a press event for mid-September to reveal the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and final launch details of iOS 8, sources say. The people add that the second and third weeks of September are the most likely target, but that uncertainties about manufacturing timetables are a factor. The 5.5-inch iPhone may also be shown at the event, but that has likewise yet to be decided.

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Apple seeds fourth preview betas of iOS 8, OS X Yosemite [u]

07/21, 2:25pm

OS X gets iTunes 12, iOS 8 gets new Tips app

(Updated with other beta releases, more Yosemite changes) Apple is now seeding its fourth betas of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite to developers. Perhaps the most significant change is in the latter, which includes the first beta of iTunes 12. The updated media player uses a flatter, streamlined design more in keeping with Yosemite, and is the first version to support Family Sharing, something also present in iOS 8. While Yosemite is still only accessible to developers, sources claim that the first public beta could go live later this month, after Apple has put more polish on it.

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Fourth iOS 8 beta for developers, testers anticipated on July 21

07/16, 10:51am

Gap between betas shrinks back to two weeks

Apple is currently planning to seed iOS 8 beta 4 to developers on July 21, an inside source has claimed. That date would be two weeks after Beta 3. There was a three-week gap between the second and third betas, which may have been needed to cope with flaws hampering the OS' basic performance.

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Closer look: iOS 8 preview

07/16, 9:11am

Apple iOS 8 sets up iPhone and iPad for the future

Last year Apple delivered iOS 7, which was a massive upgrade. Not only did it bring an all-new look as well as add several new dimensions to the user interface, it also brought full compatibility with Apple's industry-leading 64-bit chip technology. This year, Apple used its WWDC 2014 to unveil iOS 8, its next-gen mobile OS. A lot of foundational work was laid in iOS 7 and iOS 8 looks to build on this adding several new and powerful features to the front end and back end. Apple is calling iOS 8 its biggest release to date, which is some statement when set against the backdrop of what it achieved with iOS 7. But when you factor in over 4,000 additional APIs and an all-new in-house developed programming language in Swift, plus some potentially revolutionary new frameworks in HealthKit and HomeKit, iOS 8 could well be the most significant iteration of iOS yet.

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New iTunes 11.3 brings iTunes Extras for HD movies

07/10, 12:03pm

iOS users will have to wait for iOS 8

Apple has released iTunes 11.3 for Mac and Windows users. The main addition is support for iTunes Extras associated with HD movies, granting access to things like galleries, commentaries, behind-the-scenes clips, and short films. Not every movie has Extras, since these require special formatting on the part of content creators, but even previously-purchased titles can get Extras for free if they're added later.

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Briefly: Swift language updated, iOS 8 Health app improved

07/07, 6:50pm

Health app now leverages iPhone 5s M7 motion co-processor

Another notable change found as testers pore over the latest iOS 8 beta is that the Health app is now connected to the M7 motion co-processor found in the iPhone 5s. As a result, the app can now keep track of steps taken without the aid of any third-party apps or hardware. Upon opening the revised Health app, users will find the previous week's worth of step data (which is continuously monitored by the M7) pre-populated. Users can remove "sets" of steps if desired, and sort all Health data by day, week, month or year.

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Third iOS 8 beta changes include iCloud Drive, App Analytics [u]

07/07, 3:06pm

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.

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Apple seeds third OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 betas to developers [u]

07/07, 1:45pm

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.

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Apple warns developers of upcoming wipe of CloudKit databases

07/04, 10:00pm

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.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook talks voice messaging in analyst meeting

07/02, 3:44pm

Fuels speculation of voice messaging on iWatch

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently advocated voice messaging in a private talk, according to a new memo by UBS analyst Steven Milunovich. "When we visited with Tim Cook, he said that walking down streets in China one sees people speaking into their phones sending voice rather than text messages," the note reads . "Porting this capability to the [i]watch makes sense as it is easier to send a voice message from a device already on the wrist than pulling out a phone. It also could aid penetration of China, which Cook said has a ways to go."

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Third beta of iOS 8 may not arrive until July 8, say sources

06/26, 11:32am

Could be connected to major glitches in beta 2

The release of iOS 8 beta 3 won't happen until July 8, sources say. Beta 2 was seeded to developers on the 17th, about two and a half weeks after the first beta emerged from WWDC. A July 8 update would come a full three weeks after its predecessor.

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Weather data switch in iOS 8 linked to deal by Weather Channel CEO

06/20, 4:37pm

Weather Channel supplying more tech, data than Yahoo

The shift from Yahoo to the Weather Channel for iOS 8's Weather app is the result of a "very crafty deal" by Weather Channel CEO and former Yahoo board member David Kenny, says Re/Code. Yahoo has long been Apple's partner for iOS weather, even though all it's been doing is repackaging the Weather Channel's raw information. To entice Apple to cut out the middle partner, the Weather Channel is said to have offered things it wasn't offering Yahoo, including a nine-day forecast, a conditions summary, and more "weather specificity" related to a user's location.

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Near-full manual control allowed in iOS 8 for third-party photo apps

06/19, 2:21pm

Should bring iOS 8 up to par with Android, Windows Phone

Third-party photography apps should get near-total camera control with iOS 8, reports note. The firmware's new AVCaptureDevice APIs are said to let apps manually adjust focus, shutter speed, ISO levels, white balance, exposure compensation, and even several different forms of exposure bracketing. Of those, iOS 8's stock Camera app is only due to receive exposure compensation as an exclusive option.

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Developer unlocks hidden 'City Tours' feature in iOS 8 Maps

06/19, 11:04am

Option does guided Flyover views

A developer, Pierre Blazquez, has successfully unlocked the "City Tours" feature Apple has promised for iOS 8 Maps. Until now the feature has been relatively unknown, since it's inactive in the current iOS 8 beta, and was only mentioned in a slide during Apple's WWDC keynote earlier this month. Blazquez explains that he turned the function on through a hidden debug screen.

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Apple TV beta software drops support for second-gen model

06/18, 6:26pm

Existing services to continue functioning for foreseeable future

As hinted at through the introduction of the iCloud-based Family Sharing feature, the latest beta of iOS for Apple TV (along with the corresponding Beta 2 of iOS 8) doesn't support second-generation Apple TV units, which were the first model to sport the small-black-box look of the current (third) generation devices. The second-generation models can be distinguished from the later version by not having support for 1080p output, and by having an Apple A4 SoC -- the same model that powers the iPhone 4, which is also no longer supported as of iOS 8.

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Apple TV software update adds new iCloud Family Sharing functionality

06/17, 10:10pm

Shared feature between OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 makes family media sharing simpler

A new feature discussed at the Worldwide Developer's Conference has appeared in the first beta of the iOS 8 version of Apple TV softwre, released on Tuesday. The new feature is the iCloud-based Family Sharing function, which allows up to six family members to access purchased iTunes content from any of the registered devices in the household running OS X 10.10 Yosemite or iOS 8, both of which will be released this fall. The change allows a household to access everyone's media purchases without changing accounts.

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Beta 2 of iOS 8 integrates Podcasts app, ports QuickType to iPad

06/17, 3:50pm

Safari sees several minor changes

The second iOS 8 beta includes some minor but still important changes, users note. Podcasts, for instance, is no longer a separate app, but supplied with the OS and impossible to remove, as with iBooks since beta 1. Apple initially spun Podcasts off of the core Music app in a previous edition of iOS.

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Apple seeds second betas of OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, Xcode 6

06/17, 1:46pm

Feature additions yet to be discovered

Apple has begun distributing second betas of OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, Xcode 6, and updated Apple TV firmware to developers. Relatively few details are available so far. The Yosemite beta is listed simply as build 14A261i, and in release notes for the iOS 8 code, Apple states only that it "contains bug fixes and improvements."

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