Apple Will Release a Special iPhone for Security Research Purposes

Apple will release a special modified iPhone for research purposes only. With new software installed within its operating system, this modified iPhone is set to be a part of Apple’s bug-bounty program. While Apple’s bug-bounty program was initially introduced in 2016, this is the first time such iPhones will be used for this service.  

These new iPhones will be included in Apple’s iOS Security Research Device Program and will only available to the security research team. The program supplies security researchers with this uniquely modified iPhone to which these analysts will use to help with making security-related improvements. This would make it easier for ‘experienced bug hunters’ to work on Apple products. 

These modified iPhones will have “advanced debugging capabilities and a root shell, among other modifications designed to make the software more open and accessible for researchers,” says Lisa Eadicicco of Business Insider

In August, Apple announced that the new Research Device Program is one of many updates in their bug-bounty program. They have yet to announce how many applications they will accept into this program. Apple will pay a $1 million reward to researchers who find flaws and to whoever could take control of a device with no user interaction involved. The company will expand their bug-bounty program, so it will include most of Apple’s products, such as the Apple Watch, Mac computers, and their Apple TV, in addition to the current iOS.

iPhone Settings Changes That Will Help Your Battery Life Last Longer

Our iPhone batteries never last long enough because we rely on it for nearly everything. From searching up places to eat, to ordering an Uber, to relying on our device for hours of scrolling through social media – we never have enough battery life that lasts for an entire day. To combat quick battery drainage, there are small adjustments you can make to your phone just from a few Settings adjustments! Switching to Low Power Mode, turning off your location services, turning off automatic downloads, lowering your screen brightness and disabling push notifications all help you save more power to get the most use out of your phone. 

Another modification you can make to your iPhone is limiting the Background Refresh feature. With this feature you have the option to turn it off or only use Wi-Fi. To do this you would first go into your Settings, and then tap on General, and click on Background App Refresh. You could also pick and choose which apps you want to refresh instead of having all of them refresh automatically. To do this, just follow the same steps as above, but instead of clicking the Background App Refresh, start scrolling down to see the apps that are on your iPhone and turn off/on the ones you want!

To check which apps take up most of your battery life, you would go to your Settings app, then click on Battery, and then scroll down to the subsection where it states Battery usage by app. This shows you the percentage of the apps you use and how much of your battery life each app is eating up.

A few other small tips to help with your phone’s battery are: 

  • Enabling airplane mode in areas with poor reception
  • Using Wi-Fi instead of cellular internet when you have access to it (However, be wary of Unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Avoid conducting online business that involves inputting personal or sensitive information when on public Wi-Fi).
  • Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you are not using it 
  • Turning off your Location Services

iOS 13 Features iPhone Users Can Look Forward To

Image Source: Apple.com

This year’s WWDC Conference showcased Apple’s newest features for the upcoming iOS 13 update set for release this Fall. A bunch of new tools are on the way, including a dark mode, swipe-able keyboard for easy texting, photos application redesign and plenty more.

Here are some updates all iPhone users can look forward to with the new iOS 13 software:

DARK MODE

One exciting feature – dark mode for iPhone – will allow users to switch to a visually appealing dark aesthetic that’ll be great for using your phone during nighttime. Dark mode appears to be implemented across the entire iOS system as demonstrated in apps such as music, photos, maps, and calendar.

Image Source: Apple.com

SWIPE-TO-TEXT KEYBOARD

iPhone users are well aware that swiping for text writing was essentially nonexistent…until now. Apple unveiled the swipe-able keyboard, calling it “QuickPath Typing”, which is said to work just as well as regular keyboard tapping. The QuickPath typing feature also comes with spelling suggestions as well.

Image Source: Apple.com

PHOTOS AND CAMERA APPLICATIONS

Apple’s iOS update also brings new features of photo editing to its photos application, allowing iPhone users to change light intensity in portrait lighting, for example. Other editing features include vignette, vibrance, and noise reduction. Users can also change video orientation if a video was shot incorrectly.

Photos will also organize your images in a more easy-to-find design: by sorting photos by year, month, and date. As you scroll through your photos, live photo captures and videos also play.

FIND MY

Apple has combined two of its applications – Find My Friends and Find My Phone – into its new application named Find My. If a user loses his/her offline device, a secure Bluetooth beacon may be used to locate a missing or stolen phone.

SIGN IN WITH APPLE

Apple is adding a privacy feature – Sign-in with Apple – for apps that ask you to log in using an account. The purpose of this feature is to block any third party applications from accessing or tracking user data. Authentication of user credentials during app logins will be done through Face ID check through using Sign-in with Apple. Users also have the option of hiding their email address and instead using Apple’s randomly generated email that will forward information to your actual email address, thereby limiting any application’s access to your real email.

Apple also added a feature to block location tracking via WiFi and Bluetooth.

SIRI VOICE UPDATE

The newest iOS promises a more natural sounding Siri voice assistant, as Apple has used AI to smooth out Siri’s voice responses with less speech gaps.

To view more iOS 13 features, check out Apple’s iOS 13 preview page here.

How to Minimize Your Chances of Receiving Spam Calls on Your iPhone

The amount of spam calls have increased over the years, as 29.2% of all calls placed in 2018 were spam (compared to 3.7% in 2017). Now in 2019, nearly 50% all calls placed will be robocalls. Since there is no current permanent solution to not receiving robocalls, there are easy ways to prevent it.

A few options are:

Set your number in the Do Not Call Registry:

Placing your number in the National Do Not Call Registry prevents your phone from being reached by telemarketers who honor the Registry. Marketers are legally obligated to refrain from calling you. It may take up to a month to be eliminated from spammer’s call lists. However, charities and similar organizations can still contact you.

Let an app screen your calls:

Certain phone service providers offer services or apps for iPhones to help block spam calls. These are a few providers that offer apps:

  • T-Mobile: Scam Block
  • Sprint: Premium Caller ID
  • Verizon: Call Filter
  • AT&T: Call Protect

There are also third party applications to block robocalls such as YouMail, Truecaller, Hiya, and RoboKiller.

Block specific phone numbers on your iPhone:

iPhones provide you with the option to block phone calls. Side note: it is a manual process, so you have to block the numbers one by one. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start from the home screen, and click on the phone call icon
  • Go on to the Recents tab
  • Click on the i on the side of the phone number
  • At the bottom, tap on Block this Caller

Rely on iPhone’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature:

This is your last option as another feature your iPhone has: the Do Not Disturb function. When you turn on this feature, you will not receive any type of notification besides the ones you allow. Here’s how to turn on the Do Not Disturb feature:

  • Start from the home screen and click on the Settings icon
  • Click on the Do Not Disturb
  • Tap on “Allow Calls From” and click on “All Contacts” unless you decide you want to pick and allow specific contacts
  • Go back on to the main page and you are good to go!

Foldable iPhones Could Be Apple’s Next Project

Apple’s recently published patent application has sparked some interest from iPhone enthusiasts. The patent images reveal blueprint images of an iPhone drawn with a folding mechanism concept. Apple’s patented design was filed last October, and while there is no official announcement of a foldable iPhone in the making, the patent’s images reveal that the company has also been thinking of its own take on the folding phone trend.

Image Source: Apple

Foldable phones have been a project many companies have been undertaking, such as Royole and their Flexpai phone, Xiaomi with their double folding prototype, and the recently released Samsung Galaxy Fold that’ll cost consumers a hefty price of $1980.

In a series of images provided within the published patent, Apple’s folding design relies upon use of hinge mechanisms either allowing the depicted device to fold in half or in thirds. Apple’s patent states how “[i]t would be desirable to be able to use [the] flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices.”

This released patent information indicates that perhaps foldable iPhones may indeed be a device in development, although Apple has yet to confirm this. Back in March of 2018, CNBC had released a report that revealed how Apple was planning on releasing its own foldable phone in 2020.

6 Security Tips to Keep in Mind When Using Device Apps

Nowadays, data breaches are happening more and more frequently, and an app you’ve once entrusted to keep your data and privacy safe can put your information at risk of being stolen through malicious hackers using security exploits, or through the developers’ means of using a third-party application to harvest your data. As you download your favorite applications from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, you’ll want to keep these security tips in mind:

  1. Using a password manager can help keep your accounts secure

Password manager applications are there to assist us when there are many accounts to keep track of. Often times, users rely upon using the same passwords which puts them at risk during massive data breaches. Easy-to-guess passwords like “Password” and “123456” are still among the top worst choices for users’ accounts, and slightly changing passwords to include a symbol or number is not always the best line of defense against hackers guessing your codes.

Using a password that is created by a random string of numbers and letters is assuredly a strong way of protecting your accounts. However, remembering these passwords comes as another issue at hand.

To help store your passwords in a secure and encrypted space, users can take advantage of password manager apps.

  1. Use a VPN when you use public WiFi

A virtual private network (VPN) can help keep your data secure when on public WiFi. VPNs can secure transactions and keep users anonymous when on the internet, ultimately masking any data transmissions.

When looking for a VPN provider via an app store, make certain you read the app’s data collection policies.

  1. Be aware of what permissions you grant to applications

Users should always be wary of what information apps ask to gain access to, such as contacts lists, location, and photos. A good form of practice is to always question an app’s request for certain permissions. For instance, if a note-keeping application asks for photo access, users should question the app’s motives in harvesting photo data.

It is also important to take note of any unusual behavior after certain application downloads. If your battery life performance drops or you notice your phone acting slower than usual, the malicious app could be collecting data in the background.

  1. Do your research on specific applications you want to download

Before you decide to download an app onto your phone, another good practice is to search the application on Google and see if it was involved in any recent data breaches or scams.

If previously involved in a data breach, take note of the way a company/developer handles the occurrence. A developer should take extreme precautionary measures to make certain this does not affect its users again, while also making sure the app’s security is heightened after a breach has already happened.

  1. Keep your phone’s software updated

Often times, OS updates are released to patch any device vulnerabilities that may allow hackers to access your data via malicious application downloads. By updating your device regularly, you can reduce the risk of hackers using data exploits to their advantage.

  1. Download legitimate applications from a trustworthy source, such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store

Most applications found within Apple’s and Google’s stores “meet a standard quality of data protection and [are]…required to produce a dedicated privacy policy [to]…protect your data,” says Stephen Hart in an interview with CNET.

It is better to avoid any untrustworthy sources outside of reputable app stores, as a user runs the risk of downloading an app that may contain a virus onto their device.

Well-Known iPhone Apps Record Your Phone Screen Without Your Knowledge

Recent investigative reporting through TechCrunch revealed that a third-party application–Glassbox–has been assisting companies in collecting screen sessions (i.e. recording your screen) from users’ iPhones without their consent. This “session replaying” is essentially programmed into the application one uses on their mobile device, and can record your every press and swipe, even taking screenshots of what you’ve engaged with on the mobile app.

Travel sites such as Air Canada or booking sites like Expedia and Hotels.com are all guilty of utilizing Glassbox–a finding that is alarming considering the fact that such sites have users input personal and financial information during ticket or booking reservation purchases.

TechCrunch also revealed how such sites failed to mention the technology used for screen recording in their privacy policies. Neither of the apps also ask for user consent in collecting screen sessions. TechCrunch’s investigation stems from the App Analyst’s discovery on Air Canada’s Glassbox use. As no information is disclosed to these application users, who is to say that other apps–both within iOS and Android–are not engaging in similar practices?

What is interesting–and particularly scary–to see is how session replay data is not masked, as sensitive information inputted by the user is susceptible to an interception cyber attack. In the previous year, Air Canada had suffered a data breach of its own mobile application, which exposed 20,000 users’ passport information.

Glassbox provided comment to The Verge:

“TechCrunch’s piece was interesting but also misleading. Glassbox and its customers are not interested in ‘spying’ on consumers,” the company said. “Our goals are to improve online customer experiences and to protect consumers from a compliance perspective. Since its inception, Glassbox has helped organizations improve millions of customer experiences by providing tools that record and analyze user activity on web sites and apps. This information helps companies better understand how consumers are using their services, and where and why they are struggling.

We are strong supporters of user privacy and security. Glassbox provides its customers with the tools to mask every element of personal data. We firmly believe that our customers should have clear policies in place so that consumers are aware that their data is being recorded — just as contact centers inform users that their calls are being recorded.”

iPhones Set to Upgrade to 5G by 2020

As the saying goes: out with the old, and in with the new. 5G connectivity is coming to wireless carriers soon, as Motorola, LG, and OnePlus all plan to make the shift in 2019. As for iPhone users, 5G may not be available until 2020, as reports suggest. The upgraded cellular network system is said to have faster download speeds, a feature we all can appreciate.

A report from Fast Company places the timing for the new phone release in 2020, further stating that an Intel 8161 5G modem chip is to be used rather than the 8060 5G chip. Sources stated that the 8060 5G chip was causing heating issues for the phone, to which Apple still needs to address. As a backup solution to implementing 5G, Apple has been working with MediaTek for potentially using their chips instead.

The 2018 iPhones currently use Intel’s modems, but reports state that the 2020 models will discontinue using Intel’s Bluetooth and WiFi chips.

In a comment to The Verge, Intel explained how their 5G plans with Apple “have not changed for 2018 through 2020,” further saying that they “remain committed to [their] 5G plans and projects” with their customers.

Time will tell which chips Apple decides to use for their future iPhone models, but for now we’re excited to hear about this change in cellular networking.

Trump Asks Apple to Start Producing in the US to Avoid Being Hit by Tariffs

Image Source: iStock.com/Lobro78

 “The more we make things in America, the stronger America becomes,that’s why we will always live by two crucial rules – buy American and hire American.” This is the statement Trump made in the Made in America Showcase. Trump began pointing out companies that should move their manufacturing process from China to the U.S. Since this week, Apple has announced the rise of taxes on certain Apple products such as the Apple Pencil and Apple Watch which are not manufactured in the U.S. If the manufacturing plant move to the U.S. fails, Apple products made in China will become more expensive than it is right now. Trump suggested this in the following tweet made on Saturday:

Later, Apple asked Foxconn and Pegatron – two manufacturing partners producing Apple products – to come up with a plan and didn’t get any positive response. Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn, has already started their report and has stated that it will be costly to move the whole process to the U.S. The only reason Apple might consider this step would be because President-elect Donald Trump has publically asked to start making iPhones in the U.S. rather than China. Trump enthusiastically said during the rally in March that he will push for Apple computers and phones to become a product of the U.S. Apple has sold nearly 232 Million iPhones in 2015, and with further sales to come, Trump believes this move will “make America great again.”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, promised Trump they will build “Three big plants, beautiful plants” in the U.S. As stated in this article, last year they spent one billion on the glass used in screens for the iPhones. Due to such plans to build the plants, more workers are said to be hired, and greater investments are to be made for domestic manufacturing promotion. Foxconn, an Apple supplier, has already established a U.S. headquarter in Wisconsin for producing LCD panels which will create 3,000 employment opportunities in the company. According to Nick Statt from TheVerge, “Foxconn plans to spend $10 billion over the course of the next three years on the 20,000-square-foot plant. Even after moving their manufacturing process to the U.S., Apple products still won’t get any cheaper. Since China is huge on manufacturing tech products for cheap, moving will not be much of a benefit in any way since manufacturing will be more costly in the U.S. In China, the production of an iPhone costs roughly $190 per phone, but in the U.S., the price sets at around $600 –  a huge difference. Trade lawyer Scott has already predicted that the price of iPhones will be more expensive than before due to the high cost of production in the U.S.

Apple Maps is Getting Rebuilt From the Ground Up

Apple is finally ready to quit joking around when it comes to their GPS. The company is going to completely overhaul the mapping data in the US over the next year. The new data will begin to roll out very slowly in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, the updated mapping data will only be available on the iOS 12 beta and for San Francisco and the Bay Area. They did mention that it will become available later to all of Northern California by Fall and eventually to all iOS users.

Previously, Apple Maps used to depend on partners like TomTom and OpenStreetMap for core maps and directions, which was largely based on driving directions that didn’t really work for transit and walking directions. Now, Apple will be collecting data from sensor-packed vans and drones, making all the Parking structures and buildings more visually detailed. The company will also be using your iPhone to gather information on both pedestrian and traffic data for Maps. The team has even delivered copies of road signs and put bus route line numbers in the same order as you’d see them at the station.

The company is really trying to fix the issues it’s been having over the past years for the benefit of making its GPS system much easier to read. In case you’re wondering, the company is promising that these strategies Maps will be working through will not diminish your battery life, and neither will it make sensitive information easier to breach. Most importantly, Apple is trying to make its Maps more of a priority to give you a better reason to skip Google’s own GPS platform.