iPhone warning: Apple blunder spawns new jailbreak, security threats

Apple cancels Siri’s grading program that pried on private conversations
Quality control frequently comes across recordings which should not have existed in the first place.

A rare pubic jailbreak for the most up-to-date version of iOS is circulating online after it was found that the recently released iOS 12.4 undid a patch in iOS 12.3. 

Researchers warn users to be cautious about installing apps from the App Store until Apple releases a patch.

SEE: 10 tips for new cybersecurity pros (free PDF)

Motherboard reports that hackers released a jailbreak for iOS 12.4 on Monday after discovering over the weekend that Apple reintroduced a bug that was patched in iOS 12.3. 

That bug was discovered by Ned Williamson, a Google security engineer who works with Google Project Zero. Apple patched the issue in iOS 12.3 on May 13 and two months later Williamson published an exploit for iOS 12.2 – dubbed SockPuppet – using the bug.

Apple then released iOS 12.4 on July 22 with fixes for several zero-click vulnerabilities also found by Google Project Zero, minus the one Williamson reported. 

Over the weekend a hacker who goes by the name Pwn20wned began refining jailbreaks based on SockPuppet so they support a wider variety of Apple’s A processors used in iOS devices.      

Some hackers like to jailbreak their own iPhones so they modify iOS and install apps outside the App Store. However, Apple cautions against the practice because it does introduce security vulnerabilities.  

Pwn20wnd told Motherboard that an attacker who used the jailbreak could create “perfect spyware” in the form of a malicious iOS app that escapes Apple’s sandbox and can access data from other installed apps.     

People using iOS 12.4 or iOS 12.2 and below should be careful with what they download from the App Store in coming weeks because an app could include the jailbreak, according to security researcher Stefan Esser. 

“I hope people are aware that with a public jailbreak being available for the latest iOS 12.4 people must be very careful what apps they download from the Apple App Store. Any such app could have a copy of the jailbreak in it,” he wrote on Twitter.   

That could be an easier task than normal because of the timing of events. Williamson published his iOS 12.2 exploit well after Apple released iOS 12.3, but that exploit code has now been available for hackers to test for several weeks before a patch is available. Presumably Apple will release a fix in iOS 12.4.1.

“Well let me just say that as far as I remember there was never before source code for a jailbreak publicly available before it was patched,” noted Esser.  

Williamson has also confirmed his exploit for iOS 12.2 does work on iOS 12.4. 

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Apple Card launches in the US, adds Uber to 3 percent cash back list

Apple Card: Now will the masses embrace mobile payment?
Apple’s upcoming credit card relies on the iPhone and offers rewards for contactless payments. Jason Perlow and Jason Cipriani debate if that’s enough for mass mobile payment adoption. Read more: https://zd.net/2xqKX9T

After launching earlier this month through an invite program, anyone in the US can now apply for an Apple Card, Apple’s mainly digital credit card. 

If you want to apply for an Apple Card, you will need an iPhone 6 or newer, running iOS 12.4. Open the Wallet app, tap on the “+” symbol to add a card, and select Apple Card from the list of options. You’ll need to fill out some information, and a few seconds later, you’ll receive a credit limit and APR offer. If you accept, your account is instantly open and ready to use via Apple Pay.

Apple Card users earn Daily Cash, based on how and where the card is used. Using the physical card earns 1%, using Apple Pay for contactless payment earns 2%, and prior to the full launch, only purchases from Apple earned 3%. However, Apple has added Uber and Uber Eats to the list of purchases that qualify for 3% daily cash rewards.

I’ve been using the Apple Card and have been writing about the experience. Everything has been impressively simple and very Apple-like. From managing my account through the Wallet app, activating the titanium physical card, to making payments — it doesn’t feel like a typical credit card. But, it’s important to remember it is a credit card at the end of the day. 

One potential downside to Apple Card is how much it relies on the iPhone. If you lose your phone or decide to switch to Android, routine tasks like making payments will have to be done over the phone, and you’ll lack any insight into monitoring your spending and balance.

Are you applying for an Apple Card now that it’s widely available? Let us know in the comments. 

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Three new colors of Apple’s Powerbeats Pro earbuds available to order later this week

Apple’s AirPods are making people scream in the night
ZDNet’s Chris Matyszczyk tells Karen Roby that some people have become so attached to their AirPods that they cannot bear the idea of losing them. Read more: https://zd.net/2KFKIPv

Later this week, you can order the Powerbeats Pro in ivory, navy, and moss. The new colors were first announced alongside the Powerbeats Pro back in April. However, Apple-owned Beats By Dre only launched the black variant. Beats By Dre promised the additional colors would launch at some point during the summer. 

Orders can be placed starting Aug. 22 on Apple.com. Pricing doesn’t change for the new colors, with Powerbeats Pro priced at $250. Retail availability at Apple stores begins on Aug. 30, the same day orders begin shipping.

Powerbeats Pro uses the same core technology as Apple’s AirPods, leveraging the H1 chip for ease of pairing, extending battery life, always-on Hey Siri commands, and longer range.

The biggest difference, of course, is that the Powerbeats Pro is designed specifically for fitness enthusiasts to wear while exercising.


Apple, Inc.

I reviewed the Powerbeats Pro after they were announced and found them to be well worth the added cost over the AirPods, despite a bigger overall design and charging case.

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page.

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Trump: Tim Cook makes good case that China tariffs harm Apple, aid Samsung

Huawei ban: Winners, losers, and what’s at stake (a whole lot)
ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani and Jason Perlow talk with Karen Roby about how the security and trade brouhaha impacts everything from the future of regional carriers and the bottom lines of tech giants to 5G’s prospects and consumer’s pocketbooks. Read more: https://zd.net/2WzVRbq

US president Donald Trump says he has talked about tariffs on Chinese imports with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who made it clear they affect the iPhone maker more than its South Korean rival, Samsung.  

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Trump said Cook “made a very compelling argument” over the impact of tariffs on Apple in the context of its competition with Samsung, which doesn’t face the same higher costs because its products are made in South Korea. 

“I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook. And Tim was talking to me about tariffs,” Trump told reporters on Sunday

“And you know one of the things that he made a good case is that Samsung is their number one competitor and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they are based in South Korea. And it’s tough for Apple to pay tariffs because they’re competing with a very good company that’s not,” he said. 

A new tariff of 10% on $300bn of Chinese imports was due to come into effect on September 1, but was last week delayed by the Office of the US Trade Representative until December 15. 

Trump announced the new tariffs in August after failing to reach an acceptable trade deal with China. 

The upcoming tariffs apply to cell phones, laptop computers, video-game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing, according to USTR.    

The original timing of the new import duties had caused concerns over their impact on the Christmas shopping season. Apple is also set to release three new iPhone 11 models in the third quarter of the year.   

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on the weekend that Huawei’s temporary license to buy US technology would be extended for a further 90 days. 

The current waiver was set to lapse today. Huawei’s addition to the Department of Commerce’s Entity List bans the company from buying US goods without the special license.   

More on Apple, Huawei and US trade

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Low power? How to extend your iPhone’s battery life

iPhone battery locking: Is there a reason for it?
ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes tells Karen Roby that Apple’s decision to lock batteries to the iPhone’s hardware might give people problems, but there may be a good reason behind the decision. Read more: https://zd.net/2Z1SLKk

iPhone is great, but the battery life leaves so much to be desired. When I compare my iPhone to a handset like the Moto G7 Power, I’m amazed at the poor battery life I’m getting.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help make the iPhone’s battery life better.

Must read: How to clear your iPhone’s RAM

Battery life is always forefront in the minds of people who rely on their iPhone. So, after a lot of testing, and spending a lot of time running my iPhone’s battery flat, I’ve come up with what I believe are the best ways of making your iPhone battery last all day. 

And the nice thing is that both of these methods are quick and simple, and don’t involve making huge changes to iOS.

Low Power Mode

The first one is the simplest one, but also the most effective, and that is to switch on Low Power Mode.

As the name suggests, activating this setting puts your device into low power mode. And it really does work, giving you about three hours of extra battery life. If you are worried about your battery not making it through the day, this is the setting to activate.

However, it achieves this by turning off or reducing mail fetch, background app refresh, automatic downloads, and some visual effects.

What does Low Power Mode affect?

Here’s a list of what Low Power Mode reduces or affects in order to increase battery life:

  • Email fetch
  • “Hey Siri”
  • Background app refresh
  • Automatic downloads
  • Some visual effects
  • Auto-Lock (defaults to 30 seconds)
  • iCloud Photo Library (temporarily paused)

iOS pops up a notification offering to turn on Low Power Mode when your battery goes below 20% and 10%, and will automatically switch it off when the device is charged back up to 80%.

You can also turn this on manually, either from the Control Center panel, or from Settings > Battery.

iPhone Low Power Mode

iPhone Low Power Mode

One thing that I do — if I know I have a long day ahead of me away from a charger — is to switch over to Low Power Mode as soon as I start my day. I find that this gives me the longest possible battery life.

Be aware, if you recharge your battery above 80%, this will automatically disable Low Power Mode, so you will have to re-enable it.

Screen Brightness

Another trick I find that vastly improves battery life is turning down the screen brightness. OK, don’t go bananas with this one and turn it down to the point where the screen is completely unreadable because that would be counterproductive, but toning it down a bit when you are indoors and not in bright sunlight really makes a huge difference to how long your battery will last.

You can either drop the brightness from Settings > Display & Brightness or from the Control Center screen.

Change iPhone screen brightness

Change iPhone screen brightness


Change brightness in the Control Center screen

Tame that display!

Another couple of display-related changes you can make that I find handy — doubly so if you find the iPhone’s screen is too bright — is to head over to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations and make sure that Auto-Brightness is enabled and, if you want to take things further, enable Reduce White Point.


Display Accommodations

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Apple Siri vs Amazon Alexa vs Google Assistant: Tests reveal which is smartest

Apple cancels Siri’s grading program that pried on private conversations
Quality control frequently comes across recordings which should not have existed in the first place.

Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant are all getting better at understanding and answering questions, thanks in part to every tech giant using humans to help improve their AI.

Given that voice is meant to be the next frontier of computer interfaces, investor analysts like Loup Ventures are keen to understand which company has the best interface for voice input.

Last December, the company tested Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana against 800 questions to find out which was superior. 

Google answered 88% of questions correctly, while Apple scored 75%, Alexa scored 72.5%, and Cortana came in with 63%. However, the test was on smart speakers and not smartphones.     

So Loup Ventures recently ran a similar ‘IQ’ test but this time focused solely on assistant capabilities on the phone and dropped Cortana because Microsoft last year decided it was no longer a competitor with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. 

Cortana’s removal and the isolation of assistants to smartphone usage haven’t changed the order of the rankings. 

Google Assistant is still at the top, but now with a score of 92.9% for answering questions correctly. Siri correctly answers 83.1% of questions, while Alexa gets 79.8% correct. 

The questions are typical ones an adult might think to ask a phone, such as, “Where is the nearest coffee shop?”. The questions are designed to test each system’s ability to provide accurate information about local things, businesses, navigation and information, as well as execute commands.

While the smartphone IQ test rankings are the same as the smart speaker test, Loup Ventures analysts Gene Munster and Will Thompson, forgive Alexa’s overall performance, which was negatively influenced by commands because it’s an app rather than fully integrated into the device and operating system. Apple Siri performed best on commands.

“Google Assistant was the top performer in four of the five categories but fell short of Siri in the Command category again. Siri continues to prove more useful with phone-related functions like calling, texting, emailing, calendar, and music,” Loup Ventures writes. 

“Both Siri and Google Assistant, which are baked into the OS of the phone, far outperformed Alexa in the Command section. Alexa lives on a third-party app, which, despite being able to send voice messages and call other Alexa devices, cannot send text messages, emails, or initiate a phone call.”

Loup Ventures argues that assistants on smartphones should be treated differently from smart speakers because they’re used differently and have different interfaces. For example, speakers don’t have screens.    


Google Assistant fares best overall but falls short of Siri in the Command category.  

Image: Loup Ventures

More on Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant

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Latest iOS 13 beta reveals September 10 as potential iPhone 11 launch date

iPhone 11? We think it’s going to be quite boring
All of these small, iterative improvements are nice, but they aren’t particularly compelling, especially if you have an iPhone XS or an XR.
Read more: https://zd.net/2YQSzOL

Like clockwork, Apple has announced a new iPhone every September since 2012. We fully expect Apple to announce the next iPhone — be it iPhone 11, iPhone Pro, or just iPhone — in just a few weeks. 

CNET had previously looked over past Apple events and declared that Sept. 10 was the most likely date for an Apple iPhone event.

On Thursday, Apple released iOS 13 beta 7 to developers, and iHelpBR discovered a couple of images within the operating system that seemingly back up the Sept. 10. 

In the images, the Calendar app’s icon is set to Tuesday, Sept. 10. Adding to the conspiracy, the file name is “HoldForRelease.” Whoops. There’s also another set of images with the date of Sept. 23, which the site speculates is the launch date of iOS 13. 

If that date holds, that means we are just over three weeks away from seeing what Apple has in store for the iPhone line.

Rumors point to three new iPhone models, following the same scheme as last year’s iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, with phones of varying sizes, specifications and prices.

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Apple’s warning: Break Safari’s web-tracking rules and we’ll hit back

iTunes customers sue Apple for allegedly selling their data
The lawsuit claims that Apple has violated the privacy of its users in the quest for profit.

Apple’s Safari WebKit team has posted its official policy outlining its stance on web-tracking prevention, which it’s implemented in Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) technology.

ITP broadly aims to limit marketers from tracking iOS and macOS Safari users across different websites, but without impeding a marketer’s ability to measure the performance of their online ads. 

ITP, first rolled out in 2017, originally targeted third-party cookies, but recent updates also take aim at abuse of first-party cookies.   

The document outlines what Apple considers to be tracking, different types of tracking, the types it will prevent, and how it treats any attempt to bypass its anti-tracking measures. 

The company warns it will treat efforts to circumvent its anti-tracking tech in Safari “with the same seriousness as exploitation of security vulnerabilities”, with its response potentially targeted at a specific organization. 

“If a party attempts to circumvent our tracking-prevention methods, we may add additional restrictions without prior notice,” the WebKit team explains. 

“These restrictions may apply universally; to algorithmically classified targets; or to specific parties engaging in circumvention.”

The policy appears to be a shot across the bow for the likes of Google and Facebook, which use link decoration to bypass ITP. But the policy is also aimed at marketing companies that use shadier privacy-busting practices like browser fingerprinting. 

The WebKit team said in the release of ITP 2.2 that, since introducing ITP, it had noticed unnamed social networks tracking users across sites through ‘link decoration’, which involves adding a ‘click ID’ in the URLs for all outgoing links as a substitute for an actual user ID in cross-site tracking. 

The click ID is stored in a first-party cookie but can be used by a social network to track users across multiple sites, so long as the developer of a destination site has allowed their page to import scripts from the social network. Apple says this is usually achieved by the social network offering developers a new feature to integrate.   

Apple at the time noted that “changes to third-party JavaScript embedded on websites introduced link decoration without web developers’ knowledge”. 

Among the list of techniques it considers tracking includes link decoration, device fingerprinting, and tracking that uses storage on a user’s device, such as “cookies, DOM storage, IndexedDB, the HTTP cache and other caches, HSTS, and media keys”.    

However, Apple also vows to “limit unintended impact” of its anti-tracking measures. Practices that fall into this category include “Like buttons, Google and Facebook login to third-party sites, analytics on a single website, and audience measurement”. 

“We may alter tracking-prevention methods to permit certain use cases, particularly when greater strictness would harm the user experience. In other cases, we will design and implement new web technologies to re-enable these practices without reintroducing tracking capabilities,” the WebKit team notes. 

Apple WebKit says the new policy document was inspired by Mozilla’s Firefox anti-tracking policy in February, which ZDNet reported on in January. 

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Will the new iPhone borrow an Android feature to save money?

One feature that keeps coming up in the rumors and supply chain chatter for the upcoming 2019 iPhone 11 is that Apple could drop Face ID and go back to using a fingerprint reader embedded in the display.

The question is, why?

Must read: The 2019 iPhone 11 will be annoying, boring, and expensive

Apple seemed pretty confident when it introduced Face ID back in 2017, and in 2018 it replaced the Touch ID fingerprint reader on all iPhones and the 3rd-generation iPad Pro.

So why are rumors pointing to Apple introducing an iPhone in-display fingerprint reader?

There are a couple of possibilities.

The first is that Face ID isn’t as good as Apple wants it to be and has decided that a fingerprint is a better way to go. While it’s true that Face ID has generated some privacy and security concerns, and some claim that Touch ID was better, faster, and more reliable, it seems to have been successful.

So, reliability or security doesn’t seem to be behind any potential switch. What else?


The camera array needed for Face ID is expensive, comprising of a laser dot projector and infrared camera.

While an in-display fingerprint reader is not going to be cheap, it is likely to be cheaper than the components needed to make Face ID work. After all, in-display fingerprint readers are already available in a range of Android smartphones, on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Huawei P30 and P30 Pro, and OnePlus 7 Pro.

So Apple would, once again, be copying Android.

But my take on this is that Apple isn’t going to drop Face ID across the board, just on the cheaper handset. And possibly only for an iPhone designed specifically for the Chinese market that would retail around the 5,000 yuan ($730) price point. This is an important point because the average price of smartphones sold in China in 2018 was 2,523 yuan, and handsets priced more than 4,000 yuan accounted for only 13% of the total sales.

With the Chinese market being critical for Apple, it can’t afford to make mistakes here, and trying to sell overpriced iPhones could very well be a mistake.

So yes, Apple could be looking at using in-display fingerprint readers in the iPhone, but I’d expect this to be either the budget version, or, more likely, a budget version aimed at the Chinese market.

Will you miss Face ID, or did you prefer the old Touch ID system?

See also:

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Why 2019 is the best year ever to buy a smartphone: Affordable flagships galore

The best smartphones on the market right now
ZDNet’s Matthew Miller talks with TechRepublic’s Karen Roby, breaking down the best of the best smartphones that are available to consumers right now. Read more: https://zd.net/2AEIxGA

In late 2017, Apple released the iPhone X and while it was a joy to use it also raised the bar for smartphone prices, starting at $999. After seeing flagship sales stagnate over the past year and a half while companies like OnePlus push innovation forward at lower prices, 2019 is the year that smartphone buyers reap the benefits of pricing and technology.

While ZDNet’s Jason Perlow argued that 2019 is the worst smartphone year ever primarily due to price and minor updates, I argue it is the best smartphone year ever with more affordable flagships with stunning camera performance, reliable all-day long battery life, fast performance, and attractive designs that now mean buyers can keep their phones for two or more years without compromise. Chinese smartphone manufacturers continue to push innovation and smartphone technology forward, but that doesn’t mean others are standing by while the US government restricts sales of Chinese companies from the likes of Huawei and ZTE.

Jason stated:

“All in all, this has shaped up to be a pretty unexciting year for smartphones. They lack significant innovation compared to the previous year, and quite frankly they all look dull and even downright ugly with the big camera bulges.” 

I’m not sure which phones Jason has been looking at, but Samsung has lovely Prism and Aura color schemes on its S10 and Note 10 lines, Google provides a fun color with bright power buttons as an alternative to black and white colors, there are four color options for the iPhone XR in addition to black and white, and the OnePlus 7 Pro Almond and Nebula Blue colors are downright gorgeous. The rumored iPhone 11 appears ugly in pictures, but we’ll have to wait and see what it looks like in real life to pass judgement. You also cannot have amazing camera performance without space for sensors and other than the rumored iPhone 11 there’s nothing that obtrusive about current smartphone camera designs.

Affordable flagships

A month after Apple launched the XS and XS Max last fall, it rolled out the iPhone XR at $749. This is $250 less than the XS and $350 less than the XS Max, which is a significant amount. The Apple iPhone XR is the reasonably priced choice and it turns out it is a crowd favorite with colorful back options, the longest lasting new iPhone battery, and a big display to help you get work done.

Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 series in March with the Galaxy S10e currently priced in the $700 range ($750 was the launch price). The S10e is $150 less than the S10 and $250 less than the S10 Plus while still having nearly all the same specifications and functionality. The S10e fits well in small pockets and can even be plugged into an external monitor and power a PC-like experience with Samsung DeX.

Google went a long ways with carrier support with the new Google Pixel 3A launching on Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular at launch. The 3A starts at just $399.99 and has nearly the same camera as the higher priced Pixel 3 with a mid-level processor that still satisfies the needs of most people. It’s an affordable option that is guaranteed to get updates for three years while offering all the functionality you could want in an Android smartphone.

Innovation still exists

OnePlus launched the OnePlus 6T on T-Mobile and followed that up with the OnePlus 7 Pro on the carrier as well. While it would be great to see broader US carrier support from OnePlus, lining up a US carrier is a big win that has resulted in solid sales for OnePlus.

In addition to carrier support, OnePlus was the first to roll out UFS 3.0 support for internal storage while also providing buyers with a beautiful display with 90 Hz refresh rate. Warp Charge 30 provides one of the fastest charging standards available on a phone, beat out only by Huawei’s Super Charge system. It was also one of the first to launch with 12GB of RAM. OnePlus is not sitting idly by and there are rumors that an incremental update, possibly the OnePlus 7T, will launch with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus.

Apple rolled out the iPhone X with a large center display notch in 2017 and over the next couple of years manufacturers tried out different ways to include sensors and a front-facing camera while maximizing the viewable display area. OnePlus pushed the innovation forward even a bit more with a retractable front-facing camera that makes using the OnePlus 7 Pro a sheer joy for work and media experiences.

We have also seen wide adoption of multiple camera lenses on the back of phones so that nearly any phone you purchase today can serve as your only camera with little compromise. This is one area that is sure to continue innovating as sensor makers push things forward too.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one area that demonstrates the power and capability of today’s mobile processors, but hasn’t yet realized its full potential. We see AI primarily being used today for helping us frame and capture better photos. However,  it’s an area ripe for further development as components improve and use cases evolve. Our phones today are smart enough to take care of regular tasks we perform daily. Samsung and Apple gave us a glimpse of what is to come with Siri Shortcuts and Samsung Bixby Quick Commands.

Although the first Galaxy Fold failed, Samsung is planning to release it again next month. Huawei also continues to work on its foldable phone which we should see in the next couple of months. Even though these first generation foldable phones are sure to be only for early adopters, it shows manufacturers are testing new technologies and methods to help us use our handheld computers in new ways.

I’m not sure what people expect their smartphones to do that isn’t being done now and as we look at prices and innovation in 2019 it’s pretty clear this was a fantastic year for smartphones with hints of greater things in 2020. We look forward to full 5G adoption, AI doing more for us without requiring direct user feedback, and so much more. With affordable options being offered by the major players we can also expect more for less in the years to come.

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