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Posts Tagged #iOS

iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

This morning, Apple released iOS 12.1.4, an incremental update that fixes several security issues including the Group FaceTime eavesdropping bug from last month. The Group FaceTime service has also been re-enabled for devices running iOS 12.1.4 or higher.

The eavesdropping bug, discovered accidentally in January by a 14-year-old from Arizona, caused certain Group FaceTime calls to automatically connect even if the recipient did not answer the call. This flaw allowed macOS or iOS users to be eavesdropped on by any malicious FaceTime user. The bug was disclosed privately to Apple by the teen and his mother at least a week before it went public, but it appears that Apple did not clearly or immediately respond to the bug reports they filed.

Shortly after the bug went viral on January 28th, Apple took the Group FaceTime service offline as a temporary fix before a patch could be released. On February 1st, with Group FaceTime still offline, Apple announced that the bug had been fixed server-side and that a client-side software update to fully resolve the issue would be available the week of February 4th.

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Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

This September, iOS 12 brought software optimizations to a wide range of Apple devices, but one seemingly minor change to the iPad keyboard has confused users and prompted a slew of complaints. For no clear reason, Apple reversed the layout of the “.?123” and emoji keys in the bottom left of the keyboard, throwing off users who expected to find their punctuation and number keys in the usual location.

Notably, iOS 12.0.1 brings a fix for some charging and Wi-Fi issues that iPhone XS users have experienced, but it also restores the iPad keyboard to its pre-iOS 12 layout. This should be a welcome change for users who are accustomed to touch-typing on their iPad keyboards.

iOS 12.0.1 is immediately available for download on all supported devices.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in Op-Ed

Apple released iOS 12 to the public this Monday, where it immediately became available for download on a sizable list of supported devices. As announced at WWDC this year, iOS 12 is a conservative release intended to prioritize performance improvements and bug fixes over shiny new features.

As it turns out, iOS 12 delivers on those promises.

New Life for Old Hardware

Apple’s continued support for the iPhone 5S and iPad Air directly contradicts the idea that the company intentionally sabotages older hardware.

Ever since the release of iOS 7 for the iPhone 4 and the release of iOS 8 for the iPhone 4S, it’s been clear that new iOS releases have the potential to cripple old hardware. However, this isn’t 2014 anymore, and Apple is supporting a much more capable lineup of devices. It’s also clear that Apple is trying to provide a more consistent and usable experience across all supported devices.

iOS 12 is remarkably fast on an original iPad Air, a device that was sold so long ago that it originally shipped with iOS 7. There’s no fooling anyone into thinking that an Air with iOS 12 is a brand-new iPad, but it turns an almost-obsolete tablet into a very usable device.

On my iPhone 7, iOS 12 feels just as fast as it did with iOS 10, which is what it originally shipped with back in 2016. There’s less dropped frames than in iOS 11, and this is the first time I can remember an iOS update making my phone feel faster instead of making it feel slightly out of date. It doesn’t hurt that almost all the new features in iOS 12 are supported across Apple’s entire lineup as well, with the exception of ARKit which requires an A9 processor or later (iPhone 6S or newer).

In the end, it’s great to see Apple committing to a better user experience for new and old iOS customers. There’s never been a better time to own an older iPhone.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

Messages in iCloud, Apple’s hotly anticipated cloud-syncing feature for the Messages app, has arrived on macOS a few days after debuting on iPhone and iPad in iOS 11.4. Messages in iCloud is an aptly named new iCloud feature that allows iMessages and regular SMS messages to live in iCloud rather than be stored locally per-device.

On iPhone, Messages in iCloud is available in iCloud Settings as another small toggle switch and requires two-factor authentication to be active before it can be enabled. Enabling Messages in iCloud can free up space on your device, streamline the process of deleting messages across all your Apple devices, and make it easy to sync your text message history to a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac. However, you may need to upgrade your iCloud storage plan if you like to keep a large amount of old messages and attachments, since iCloud’s 5 GB free tier may not be sufficient for heavy users.

The macOS High Sierra 10.13.5 update brings these new features to the Mac as well as the usual round of security updates. However, rather than being located in the iCloud section of System Preferences, the setting for Messages for iCloud on Mac is located in the Messages app settings pane. Refer to Apple’s official support page for instructions on enabling Messages in iCloud for both Mac and iPhone.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

The proximity sensor on several iPhone models appears to have been temporarily affected by the iOS 11.3 update released in March this year. The proximity sensor, which is located near the earpiece and the front-facing camera, is supposed to detect when the phone has been placed near a user’s ear so that the screen can be blanked to prevent unwanted touch input. However, after the iOS 11.3 update, some proximity sensors appear to be constantly stuck on, causing the screen to go black even when the phone is not engaged in a call.

I confirmed the issue on my iPhone 7 after trying to figure out why the screen was randomly turning black. You guessed it: I was placing my finger over the proximity sensor by mistake. Upon further investigation, it turned out that I could replicate the strange behavior in any app and even on the home screen.

The Fix: Force Restart

Fortunately, a force restart fixed the proximity sensor issues, even though a regular shutdown/restart did not. To force restart your iPhone, refer to Apple’s help page on the subject:

iPhone X or iPhone 8

Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

iPhone 7

Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.

iPhone 6s and older

Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.

The Forums Agree

It appears the proximity sensor issue has already made its appearance in the Apple forums:

Posted on by Arnon Erba in Op-Ed

(Editor’s note: This is not my favorite take on the Apple-FBI case. There are still several reasons why the existence of an iPhone backdoor, no matter how complex, would be a threat to the security of all iPhone users. This article was meant to emphasize the fact that the FBI’s desired solution in the 2016 case was not a remote backdoor but instead a tool that could unlock iPhones only if they were possessed in person. However, this article glosses over several facts, like the potential for phones to be stolen or removed during customs checks or the potential for abuse by less scrupulous foreign governments if the proposed tool was ever leaked. There are certainly situations in which the possibility of a government seizing a cell phone without proper legal precedent is a reality.)

If you’ve been on the Internet in the past couple months, you’ve most likely read about the Apple-FBI debate surrounding the San Bernadino iPhone. This post isn’t intended to be a full breakdown of the case, so if you’d like to catch up on what’s happened so far, I would recommend reading articles from Wired, The Verge, Macworld, and any other sites, including Apple’s Customer Letter. Sometime in the future, I hope to write a more in-depth breakdown covering what’s going on, so keep an eye out for future posts. With that aside, I wanted to bring up something that might make the case seem a little less dramatic for all of us security-conscious iPhone users out there, and will make sense to anyone who’s read up on the FBI’s request of Apple.

There are two important notes about the FBI’s request that make the idea of a custom built iPhone passcode-breaker seem a little less scary. One, to actually use the passcode-guessing software that the FBI wants Apple to build, the FBI (or any law enforcement agency, for that matter) would need full, unfettered, and long-term physical access to the phone. This is not a software backdoor that would allow remote access to the iPhone; rather, it’s a tool that would require extensive time and physical access to use. To use the tool, law enforcement would have to physically confiscate your phone, and at that point we can assume that you’ve done something to generate probable cause.

The second point to consider is that the FBI is banking on the possibility that the passcode on the San Bernadino iPhone is short enough that it can be brute-forced. Logistically, the passcode needs to be four digits to be easily cracked. If you use an iPhone with a six-digit passcode – or better yet, a custom alphanumeric code – the passcode-breaking software will still work, but the time required to successfully brute-force the passcode would generally make the attack unfeasible.

Bottom line: if you have a four-digit passcode, and you feel that you’re in imminent danger of having your iPhone confiscated by the police, you might need to worry about your security. Or, you could stop doing whatever it is that would make you a police suspect in the first place. Ed: this is an over-generalization regarding the circumstances in which a cell phone could be confiscated by a government. The rest of us can just set up six-digit passcodes and continue on with our lives.