Apple says its iCloud uses Google Cloud instead of Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella says it all – Mobile first, Cloud first. While we’re not sure about “Mobile first”, Microsoft’s “Cloud first” strategy is serving Microsoft very well. According to Microsoft’s Q3 2017 earnings, Microsoft’s intelligent cloud was up 11% at $6.8 billion. Microsoft Azure revenue increased 93% YoY. The earnings clearly underline the fact that Microsoft is doing a really good job in the cloud and the numbers just keep on increasing.

Even Apple has been publically known for using Microsoft Azure along with Amazon Web Service (AWS) for Apple’s own iCloud. Apple has been silent about Google’s cloud services, although there were several reports about it that were surfaced back in 2016. But now that’s changing.

CNBC spotted a PDF called the iOS Security Guide that was updated by Apple back in January that underlines iOS’ security measures. The new PDF states its iCloud service: “The encrypted chunks of the file are stored, without any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services, such as S3 and Google Cloud Platform.”

Unfortunately, it still remains unconfirmed whether or not Apple uses Google Cloud services outside of media content such as photos and videos for its iCloud. Neither does is provide us with any information as to when the switch actually occurred.

This move by Apple might not hurt Microsoft or even Amazon for that matter, but it definitely benefits Google’s cloud services. Google Cloud Platform is far behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure and it still has a long way to go. But does this move benefit Apple themselves? That is yet to be seen.

Apple Seeds Second Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 update to developers, two weeks after seeding the first beta and two weeks after releasing macOS High Sierra 10.13.3.

The new macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that weren’t addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.3. The update includes support for some features that are also available in iOS 11.3, like Messages on iCloud, which uploads all of your iMessages to the cloud. It will also support Business Chat, a feature coming when iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 are released to the public.

The new macOS update also includes the smoke cloud wallpaper that was previously only available on the iMac Pro, and it introduces a warning when opening up a 32-bit app as part of an effort to phase them out.

In the future, Apple plans to phase out 32-bit Mac apps, just like it did with 32-bit iOS apps. Apple says macOS High Sierra is the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps without compromises.

US Congress targets Apple over iPhone slowing

Apple is set to face a grilling in the US Congress over allegations it slowed older phones to encourage consumers to purchase newer models.

The head of the Senate’s commerce committe, Senator John Thune, has written to Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook to demand an explanation for why Apple slowed down phones with flagging batteries and why it would not provide free batteries if older ones caused so much difficulty to devices.

Mr Thune’s letter follows confirmation from French prosecutors that an investigation is being fronted by the finance ministry’s fraud control department after Apple admitted slowing down old devices with low-capacity batteries.

“Apple’s proposed solutions have prompted additional criticism from some customers, particularly its decision not to provide free replacement batteries,” Thune said, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Apple revealed it had “downclocked” older models’ central processing units (CPU) but said it did so to reduce the strain on dated batteries and stop the devices from unexpectedly shutting down.

The iPhone X
Image: Apple recently released the iPhone X

At the time, the company asserted it would never “do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades”.

Amid a wave of class action lawsuits over the “deceptive, immoral, and unethical” phone slowing, Apple issued an apology and vowed to be more transparent with customers over the capacity of iPhone batteries.

In a post on its website, it said: “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise.”

The admission came after years of speculation from Apple customers that their older handsets were being slowed down in a bid to entice them into an upgrade.

Apple gains app development platform with Buddybuild

Apple has acquired the iOS continuous integration and deployment provider Buddybuild. Buddybuild is a Canadian based application development startup that aims to tie together CI, CD and a feedback solution in one platform.

“We’re excited to share that the buddybuild team has joined the Xcode engineering group at Apple to build amazing developer tools for the entire iOS community,” the buddybuild team wrote in a post.

As part of the acquisition, the company will no longer be accepting new customers, and will be discontinuing its free starter plans and Android app development in the beginning of March this year. The company will still provide its services to existing customers, and work on building, testing and shipping iOS apps to testers.

Buddybuild features a customizable workflow, automated unit and UI testing, one click continuous deployment, user insight, and integrated services. Developers can integrate with popular tools such as GitHub, Slack, JIRA, HipChat and Trello. In addition, it provides a feedback reporter for filing bug reports, crash reports with source context, and instant replay into each bug or crash report.

“For iOS developers, Buddybuild can take care of all the work associated with code signing, and managing provisioning profiles for you. Beta testers and stakeholders get a streamlined, ‘one click’ install experience as buddybuild manages provisioning profiles and devices for you,” the company wrote.

Apple: A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance

A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

How batteries age

All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical aging process.

Device use also affects the performance of a battery over its lifespan. For example, leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause a battery to age faster. These are characteristics of battery chemistry, common to lithium-ion batteries across the industry.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

To help customers learn more about iPhone’s rechargeable battery and the factors affecting its performance, we’ve posted a new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance.

It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.

Preventing unexpected shutdowns

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Customer response to iOS 10.2.1 was positive, as it successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns. We recently extended the same support for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2.

Of course, when a chemically aged battery is replaced with a new one, iPhone performance returns to normal when operated in standard conditions.

Recent user feedback

Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations. Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.

We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical aging of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.

Addressing customer concerns

We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices.

To address our customers’ concerns, to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions, we’ve decided to take the following steps:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

At Apple, our customers’ trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support — and we will never forget that or take it for granted.

Apple confirms slowing older iPhones because of flagging batteries

Apple has admitted that it takes some measures to slow down the performance of older phone. Primate Labs, a company that makes an app for measuring the speed of an iPhone’s processor, published data this week that appeared to show slower performance in the Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models as they aged.

Apple on Wednesday acknowledged that the company does reduce power demands on some phones – which can have the effect of slowing the processor – when a battery is having trouble supplying the peak current that the processor demands.

The problem stems from the fact that all lithium-ion batteries, not just those found in Apple products, degrade and have problems supplying the big bursts as they age and accumulate charging cycles, Apple said in a statement. The problems with peak current draws can also occur when batteries are cold or low on charge.

“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions,” Apple said in a statement. “We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

When an iPhone’s processor makes a big current draw from a flagging battery, the battery can deliver the current in spikes that can potentially damage the phone’s electronics. As a result, iPhones would suddenly shut down to protect the pricey processor from being damaged by the power spikes.

The sudden shutdown problem became widespread among iPhones in late 2016, forcing Apple to issue a software fix that had the net result of slowing phones with an old, cold or low-charged battery, the company said.

The problem can be remedied by replacing the phone’s battery. Apple charges $79 to replace batteries not covered under the phone’s warranty. The company has long faced criticism from repair advocates for making its batteries difficult for users to replace on their own. (Reporting by Stephen Nellis; editing by Diane Craft)

Apple follows Microsoft’s footsteps, plans to launch unified app platform

Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is a unique way that allows an app to run on various Windows 10 devices like the Xbox, Mobile, etc. But this platform has lost its charm since Microsoft killed its mobile platform which was mainly going to be benefitted by this.

It basically offers an API in the core of the OS across devices that can be used by the developer to create their app package that would work on all devices regardless of the screen size. It is basically a common or a unified platform for the apps so that they can run on various Windows 10 devices at the core. Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform will be getting a competitor and the competitor is Apple.

A new report from Bloomberg suggests that Apple is also following the footsteps of Microsoft by unifying its platform for apps. Apple would be creating a unified platform for apps so that developers can create apps for iOS and macOS devices. The project is internally codenamed as ‘Marzipan’ and may get announced at annual WWDC next year, according to an article by Bloomberg. After which developers will be able to create an app package for their apps that would work on any hardware be it iPhone with iOS on a touch interface or on a Mac with macOS on a mouse. This platform may be rolled out as part of its next major updates for iOS and macOS.

According to a statement by CEO Tim Cook, he doesn’t seem to be a fan of this idea at least till when he said it. His statement goes like this, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.” Even this idea was called a compromise by Apple’s software chief. But the idea is really beneficial especially for the apps that never get updated on the macOS. What do you think about Apple’s UWP clone? Let us know in the comments below.

Apple reportedly to buy Shazam for $400m

Apple is said to buy the music recognition app Shazam for about $400m (£300m), rumour reports say.

Shazam, a UK company founded in 1999, allows people to use their smartphone or computer to identify and buy music through a snippet of sound.

Shazam, which says it has more than 100 million monthly users, makes most of its revenue from commissions paid on referrals to Apple’s iTunes Store.

Neither Apple nor Shazam have commented on the reports on the TechCrunch site. If the deal is confirmed, Shazam will become the latest in a string of UK technology firms to be bought up by larger businesses.

The influential Music Business Worldwide site points out that the reported price is significantly lower than the $1bn valuation placed on Shazam during its last funding round in 2015.

By acquiring Shazam, Apple would basically cut out the middleman and save money on commissions.

It would also hurt the competition, since Shazam would no longer be referring people to rivals Spotify and Google Play Music.

The deal would also help the Apple Music service gain ground on Spotify, by making it easier for users to find songs and add them to playlists.

At present, Spotify has 60 million users worldwide, while Apple Music has just 27 million.



Comparing Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana and Siri smart speakers

The smart home assistant race has been building to a fever pitch over the course of the last couple of years. Things really came to head this past two weeks, when Amazon, Google and Sonos all held big events highlighting their latest smart speaker plays, making the already busy field a heck of a lot more crowded.

The burgeoning category can be a tough one to navigate. A lot of picking the right speaker for your own needs comes down to your assistant of choice — that, in turn, has a lot to do with both feature sets and your own mobile operating system loyalties. Each has benefits and drawbacks — Amazon has cornered the home, Apple has done a good job in mobile and Google has straddled the two better than anyone else. And Microsoft, well, a lot of people own Windows computers, at least.

Things can be equally complex from a hardware standpoint, between first-party products and the increasing presence of third-parties like Sony, Sonos and JBL. Devices also run a pretty wide price gamut, from ~$50 to $300. Some focus on premium sound, some feature screens, and some even let you choose between multiple assistants.

Here’s a quick break down to help make navigating these waters seem a bit less treacherous.

[Infogram version] 

Source: TechCrunch

Apple desist iOS 10.3.3 and iOS 11 code signing following iOS 11.0.2 update

Apple on Wednesday stopped signing code for iOS 10.3.3 and the first version of iOS 11, preventing users from installing potentially vulnerable legacy operating systems in favor of the latest iOS 11.0.2 update.

The move comes just two weeks after Apple released iOS 11 to the public with major revisions and new features including a revamped user interface, ARKit, an enhanced Siri backend, support for the H.265 codec and much more. Apple’s new operating system is specially tuned for iPad, with a number of new functions like drag-and-drop multitasking designed to deliver a user experience more akin to a desktop than a tablet.

Unlike past release schedules, today’s code signing stoppage allowed iOS 11 to live for only two weeks, a result of bugs and other issues discovered in the firmware shortly after launch. Apple patched those holes in a quick update just one week following iOS 11’s debut.

Most recently, the company on Tuesday issued iOS 11.0.2, which contained a fix for an issue that caused some iPhone 8 and 8 Plus owners to hear a crackling sound during phone calls. The update also rectified issues relating to photo viewing and opening encrypted email messages.

Apple regularly ceases code signing to prevent users from installing old iOS versions. The strategy is employed as a security measure to ensure users have the most up-to-date, bug-free software running on their iPhone, iPad and iPod. Forcing users to download and install the latest iOS versions also helps ease compatibility issues with cross-platform fucntionality and other software driven features.

With Apple no longer signing code for iOS 10.3.3 and iOS 11, users can only install iOS 11.0.1 from the company’s servers.

Looking ahead, Apple is already working on the first major update to iOS 11. The company last week seeded the operating system’s first point update, iOS 11.1, to developers and members of its public beta program.

Initially thought to be a minor update, iOS 11.1 could surprise and deliver Apple Pay Cash peer-to-peer payments to iPhone and iPad users. Reports this week note Apple is currently testing the payments system internally on devices running the point update, suggesting public release is not far off.