Everything new in iOS 12.2 beta 6: AirPower support & AppleCare+



Release of iOS 12.2 appears imminent as the sixth beta was recently released to developers with a number of new changes and polish. AppleInsider goes through everything that is new in the latest —and possibly last —iOS 12.2 beta.

iPhone XS Max updated to iOS 12.2

iPhone XS Max updated to iOS 12.2

One of the first changes we come across in the sixth beta of iOS 12.2, is the ability to view AppleCare status. If you head to Settings > General > About you will see a new option for AppleCare. It will show you your current warranty status, whether or not you have AppleCare+.

iOS 12.2 beta 6 AppleCare plans

iOS 12.2 beta 6 AppleCare plans

Tapping into it you get additional details such as when it expires or renews if billing monthly. If you don’t currently have AppleCare+ and are elligble, Apple gives you the option to purchase it. You choose your preference —in our case AppleCare+ or AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss —and then choose how you’d prefer to pay. You can pay each month, or you can pay it off in full.

Most interesting to us, was the official support for AirPower included in the code of iOS 12.2. AirPower has special integrations with iOS such as the flashy animation that appears on your iPhone display with the charging status of your Apple Watch and AirPods. With this support finally added in the latest beta, it appears the release of AirPower is imminent.

The forthcoming iOS 12.2 update is looking to be a massive one with new icons, support for HomeKit TVs, a redesigned remote widget in Control Center, updated Wallet transactions, Apple News launching in Canada, keyboard color picker, and much more.

Apple is likely going to release iOS 12.2 to the masses around the time of its March 25th press event at the Steve Jobs Theater, where it is expected to debut the new video and News subscription services.

Be sure to check out what changed last time in iOS 12.2 beta 4>, beta 3, beta 2, and beta 1.

Find any changes or features we didn’t mention? Shoot me an email at [email protected] or reach out to me on Twitter at @Andrew_OSU.


Apple rolls out third public beta versions of iOS 12.2, tvOS 12.2


Made available just one day after the developer beta, participants of Apple’s public beta program are now able to update their iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch to a new third beta build of iOS 12.2, and the fourth generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4K to tvOS 12.2.

Four new Animoji are included in the iOS 12.2 beta

Four new Animoji are included in the iOS 12.2 beta

The betas are provided to everyone registered to Apple’s Beta Software Program, with the latest build downloadable as an over-the-air update directly to enrolled devices. The contents of the public beta are typically the same as the developer beta that precedes it, in this case one that was issued just one day in advance.

The third beta of iOS 12.2 makes a number of changes to what was seen in the second build, including a redesigned Remote widget in Control Center that makes the buttons at the bottom of the display larger as well as introducing a guide to the trackpad. The About page in Settings has also been rearranged, with the top section including the software version, model name, model number, and serial number of the device along with its set name, bringing the important details together instead of making users search for it elsewhere.

The Wallet app gains an updated UI for recent transactions, as well as a refinement to the Apple Pay Cash card. The News app has a new “Apple News” logo above the date. The update also includes fixes, with the lock screen issue that perpetually showed the battery percentage reverted to show the current date below the time, and the reenabling of Group FaceTime.

AppleInsider, and Apple itself, strongly recommend users don’t install the betas on to “mission-critical” or primary devices, as there is the remote possibility of data loss or other issues. Instead, testers should install betas onto secondary or non-essential devices, and to make sure there are sufficient backups of important data before updating.

Find any changes in the new betas? Reach out to us on Twitter at @AppleInsider or @Andrew_OSU, or send Andrew an email at [email protected].


Apple’s rumored gaming subscription could be a big change for mobile gaming

The suggestion that Apple could launch a subscription service for gaming is an interesting proposition, but is there much weight to the idea? AppleInsider examines ways the service could exist, and whether the rumors make sense at all.

Clash Royale on an iPad Pro

Clash Royale on an iPad Pro

A recent rumor suggested that Apple is planning to create a Netflix-style gaming subscription service. In theory, users would basically pay a monthly fee to gain access to a selection of games, most likely made up of paid titles on iOS, instead of paying the equivalent in in-app purchases for free titles.

Money is a motivator

Mobile gaming on the iPhone and iPad is already extremely profitable for developers producing popular titles, and even for Apple itself. Neil Campling of Mirabaud Securities noted that 82% of revenues from Apple’s App Store come from gaming, making Apple one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, even though the company doesn’t make any games itself.

If Apple doesn’t make any games, where does the revenue come from? Apple takes a 30-percent cut from every digital product sold on the App store, which includes the sale of games as well as in-app purchases, like buying VBucks in the popular free-to-play game “Fortnite.”

Fortnite on an iPad Pro

Fortnite on an iPad Pro

According to a report from Business Insider, Epic Games’ “Fortnite” made over $455 million on just iOS devices in 2018, even though it’s a free-to-play game. That revenue was made solely from in-app purchases, which ultimately means that Apple made around $136 million with its 30-percent cut.

The earnings from “Fortnite” is just a hint of how much revenue Apple is making from all games that offer in-app purchases, especially free-to-play games.

In-app purchases have driven Fortnite's iOS revenue

In-app purchases have driven Fortnite’s iOS revenue

Seeing as though some of the most successful games in the App Store are free with in-app purchases, Apple needs a good reason to compete in a way where users are asked to pay regularly.

Paying to play

There are relatively few ways that games are offered as a subscription today.

First, there are the subscription services where you pay a monthly fee and you gain instant access to play a variety of games without having to purchase them. This includes the console-oriented Xbox One Pass and PlayStation Plus, as well as EA Access.

None of these offer a mobile experience, as they all rely on games being installed on a console or desktop. In fact, there isn’t even a mechanism to offer subscription-based access to a collection of games on iOS at the moment, which would logically require Apple to create it from whole cloth if it wanted to go down this route.

On a per-game basis, there are some that rely on regular payments from users to provide a benefit. For mobile games, this could consist of game currency or extra items, while in some cases it could involve paying to play at all, such as with “World of Warcraft” and other major massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Then there are more expensive cloud gaming services that allow you to do the same thing as the “game collection” subscription, except without requiring you to own a powerful console. All you need is a strong internet connection and a supported device.

Nvidia Geforce Now playing on a MacBook

Nvidia Geforce Now playing on a MacBook

Streaming services like Geforce Now are powered by powerful rendering servers in the cloud, which provides a video stream to your device over the Internet. The input by the user is sent back to the rendering farm, allowing users to play high-end game titles with something as simple as a smart TV and a compatible controller.

A couple of examples are PlayStation Now, GameFly and Nvidia GeForce Now, which we tried out for ourselves. We were able to use the GeForce Now to play the popular title “Overwatch” at over 200 frames per second using nothing but a 12″ Retina MacBook. We even connected it to an LG 5K display and used a mouse and keyboard for a desktop-like gaming experience.

The big benefit is that, potential response time issues aside, it is possible to play a game with an extremely high graphical fidelity that lower-powered hardware simply cannot handle. Rather than upgrading the desktop, some users could get away with subscribing and enjoying the better picture quality at a lower cost, delaying paying for an upgrade for a while.

State of the game

The thing about Apple creating a gaming subscription service is that the hardware is already close enough to the level of a console in terms of quality. Apple’s latest iPhones and iPad Pro are packing some of the most powerful mobile processors ever made.

Even the iPhone XR can play Fortnite

Even the iPhone XR can play Fortnite

The A12 and A12X processors are topping the charts of benchmarks and performance tests left and right, breaking multiple benchmark records while offering very impressive battery life at the same time. There’s obviously no need for a powerful server to render games, but even so they are still more than capable of handling cloud-rendered gaming clients.

Apple’s rumored gaming subscription service will most likely give subscribers access to a bunch of paid games on the App Store, but why would they need to do this if they’re making so much revenue from “freemium” games, or free-to-play games that offer premium in-game purchases?

The App Store is flooded with so many great freemium games, there’s little reason to make a one-time purchase of a paid title that most likely required a lot more investment and development. It’s a lot harder for a game developer to invest a lot more time and money to create a beautiful game that takes advantage of Apple’s powerful processing performance, knowing full well the free-to-play titles are more likely to get the eyeballs of potential players.

And there lies the issue: Apple’s iPhone and iPad hardware is way ahead of almost all of the game titles on the App Store, but there’s simply not enough incentive for a game developer or publisher to put extra money and time into a beautiful game that can really put Apple’s hardware to the test.

Apple's current iOS devices are highly powerful, making them ideal for gaming

Apple’s current iOS devices are highly powerful, making them ideal for gaming

Going down the freemium route and making a mediocre-quality game that can easily rake in tons of cash without as much investment is just too tempting a prospect for many developers.

A gaming subscription service would incentivize and encourage game developers to create more power-demanding games, which would shine a light on the iPhone’s and iPad Pro’s ability to really become a gaming console in its own right, a point Apple has been trying to make with its marketing for years.

On top of that, if developers are given more of an incentive to make higher-quality games, this could also impact the Apple TV. Better games on iPhone and iPad could also be played on the set-top box, which could further prompt the creation of even higher quality games that look good on the bigger screen, and possibly increasing the Apple TV’s market for gaming at the same time.

Playing a game on the Apple TV in 4K resolution

Playing a game on the Apple TV in 4K resolution

Apple’s rumored gaming subscription service could also incentivize free-to-play games by giving a certain amount of in-game currency every month, or offering discounts on purchases of said digital currency, but that’s all up to Apple, assuming these rumors are even true.

Apple already offers Apple Music as a monthly subscription, and has been tipped to create an all-in-one subscription covering Apple Music, News, and its original video content project. There’s a chance that this rumored gaming service could be included in the aforementioned all-in-one subscription.

It isn’t just Apple that’s supposedly exploring the idea, as rumors of a Google-equivalent gaming subscription service have recently sparked up as well. Specific code within the Google Play Store hinted at a new feature called “Play Pass,” which as a name is likely to be linked to some sort of subscription service.

A Google survey has also been spotted, asking participants if the word “Pass” sufficiently described a subscription that offers hundreds of dollars worth of paid apps and games for a monthly fee.

If all of these rumors come to life, the way we buy and use apps and games on mobile devices could be changed forever.


The next HomeKit could have very precise geofencing, accurate to within feet

HomeKit could be more responsive to a user’s needs depending on where they are in a future update, with Apple considering the possibility of adding hyper-local position tracking to the smart home platform with an accuracy of just feet to suggest what items a user wants to control based on their location in the home.

HomeKit enables users to control multiple devices from their iPhone or iPad

HomeKit enables users to control multiple devices from their iPhone or iPad

Apple’s Home app is the central focal point of a user’s HomeKit network, with it used to control automation functions and to remotely change settings and modes on a wide variety of compatible network-connected devices. It is a fairly straightforward system once it is set up, and could even be managed from the compact screen of an Apple Watch if required.

Home is able to divide up devices in a Smart Home into “Rooms,” giving users a quick and easy way to sort through their connected elements, and to trigger multiple items as a group. While using Rooms is simple, Apple believes the concept could be widened further.

In a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday titled “Using in-home location awareness,” Apple suggests a future where users could be provided more items to control in the Home app, with it automatically populating items on the screen depending on the mobile device’s physical location, and without needing to select a specific room.

An example illustration from the patent application showing additional items appearing in the Home app.

An example illustration from the patent application showing additional items appearing in the Home app.

Apple notes that users perform the same or repeated actions with devices while in a particular location, such as closing the garage door from the kitchen when they return home, or changing the temperature on a thermometer while in the living room. However, since an item like a garage door wouldn’t necessarily be considered part of a kitchen, it may not be included within a designated kitchen “room.”

To solve this, the patent application suggests determining the physical location of the controlling device, and presenting items that are typically interacted with by the user while in that particular position.

The method involves the collection of data relating to various signals detected when users perform actions, such as MAC addresses of wirelessly-networked devices, Bluetooth device addresses and that device’s signal strength, IP addresses, universally unique identifiers (UUID) and truncated UUIDs.

A flowchart showing how HomeKit could determine if an accessory should be displayed (left), and graphs showing how location clusters can be determined based on signal strength and usage (right)

A flowchart showing how HomeKit could determine if an accessory should be displayed (left), and graphs showing how location clusters can be determined based on signal strength and usage (right)

In effect, by knowing what items it can sense and the signal strength, the mobile device can determine physically where it is within a home, and in turn which room it is located within. If the mobile device knows it is within range of accessories in a general location, it could also assume the user is in a usual place for specific interactions, if they have previously been performed in that area.

Once it detects the user is in a specific place, the Home app could then automatically offer up control of the usually-controlled items to the user.

The decision to provide more immediate access to certain device controls could also be influenced by other elements, such as if the user is near to a location rather than within it. Light sensors, temperature sensors, and weather sensing could also play a part in whether or not to offer controls, such as the system only automatically offering control of external lights if a light sensor says it’s dark, or the thermostat could be offered up if a temperature sensor says it’s cold.

As with other patents and applications, the publication of such filings is not a guarantee that the concepts described will make an appearance in future products or services, but do indicate where has recently put effort into research and development.

In this case, since Apple has the Home app already in existence, and does not require the need for additional hardware, it is entirely plausible for the features in the patent application becoming a reality in a future update.

HomeKit already includes support for geofencing, which can enable actions to be performed when a user is within or out of range of the home. For iOS 11, multi-person geofencing was introduced, allowing for conditional triggers to be applied if part or an entire group is out of the home, such as turning off all lights if the house is detected as empty.

It is also logical that, if Apple were able to implement location tracking in a home, it could also feasibly add hyper-local geofencing at the same time. This could take the form of lights turning on automatically when a user is in a particular room, or turning off fans or other devices if the user moves to a different floor.

One of the more recent changes made to HomeKit is the introduction of support for Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to enable various HomeKit routines via a custom Siri command.


Disrupt Berlin 2018 heavy on machine learning, picks sperm freezer Legacy as Startup Battlefield winner

A panel of tech industry judges narrowed down a dozen contestants picked from over a thousand applicants to pick up the Disrupt Cup award at Disrupt Berlin 2018. The panel ultimately bypassed other startups putting machine learning directly into consumers’ hands, and ultimately decided on a single winner that wiggled its way past the others to win $50,000 —a Swiss startup named Legacy that freezes men’s sperm when they are healthy and young to archive reproductive ability until the time is right.

Startup Battlefield

Shweta Gupta of ImagoAI presents her company’s case in the Startup Battlefield

Runner Up: Imago AI

Disrupt picked a runner-up winner also connected to seed, this time of the plant variety. Phenox, an app by Imago AI, uses computer vision and machine learning to automate the measurement of crop output and quality for farmers, greatly accelerating the time-consuming process of quantifying desirable plant traits with the goal of developing higher-yielding, more disease-resistant crop varieties.

The startup, based in Gurgaon, India near New Delhi, has developed technology that claims to reduce the time required to measure crop traits by three-quarters, providing a potential alternative to developing new crop varieties using genetic engineering. By accelerating the process of breeding and phenotyping plants, new varieties could be developed that are optimized to thrive in a particular location or climate.

Additionally, its computer vision and machine learning can be used to identify crop diseases and measure in great precision how extensively a particular specimen is affected. The system can take advantage of the cameras on mobile devices to review data literally in the field. The system is also non-destructive, as plants aren’t required to be dug up and tested in a lab.

Winner: Legacy

Legacy works like a sperm bank but enables men who want to preserve their fertility for later to make a deposit from home, using a special container that is picked up by a courier and delivered to a clinic. Once received, the goods are tested and can be stored cryogenically and indefinitely for a one-time payment.

The Geneva, Switzerland, based Legacy offers plans ranging from basic fertility testing to long-term, parallel storage kept redundantly at six secure locations to avoid any loss. Users pay between $1,000 and $10,000 for the storage plans, enabling them to delay having children without any risk of degraded fertility or genetic mutation.

Legacy’s founder Khaled Kteily said he was inspired to develop the “Swiss Bank of sperm storage” after a friend facing cancer treatment complained that existing options for banking his seed seemed less than trustworthy. Beyond potential damage from medical treatments, a man’s ability to produce healthy sperm also degrades over time.

“Every eight months,” Kteily stated, “men produce a new genetic mutation that gets passed on to their children. Birth rates around the world are plummeting and men are responsible for infertility in 30-50 percent of couples. Meanwhile, you can freeze sperm indefinitely with no loss in quality, through Legacy, without having to leave your home and at a tenth of the cost of egg freezing.”

Other Battlefield survivors

Other finalists in the Disrupt Berlin Startup Battlefield included Spike, an app created by Ziad Alame, a diabetic himself, to simplify the work of monitoring and responding to changing blood glucose levels. Beyond simply recording data, the service is designed to proactively help users to coach their behavior, suggesting foods with specific carb counts or recommending specific behavioral changes in response to learning their health patterns over time.

The firm also launched its new Spike Guardian app designed to link people managing their diabetes with friends and family, creating a social network of support that helps others assist them in maintaining their ongoing requirements for carb-counting and insulin injections.

Ziad Alame presents Spike, a tool for helping diabetics manage their condition

The Berlin-based Polyteia is a startup working to help city governments take advantage of the data they have available in various databases. The platform aspires to centralize data and derive meaningful insights that can be used to chart out performance indicators from financial and operational data, optimizing city services based on utilization, and even forecasting future needs.

The final round also included Kalepso, a startup from Montreal, Canada that claims to have a solution to securely encrypting database information with higher performance using differential privacy to enable database analysis without leaking any individual’s private data.


Apple pitched a standardized version of iMessage to wireless carriers, but they didn’t bite

In an editorial bemoaning the lack of interoperability between Apple’s iMessage and common SMS texting systems, former head of iOS development Scott Forstall reveals the company once tried to push wireless carriers toward its version of messaging.

According to Forstall, Apple created iMessage because it wanted “messaging to feel more like a conversation,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Apple included a number of enhancements to traditional text messaging in its first-party solution. Read receipts, dynamic typing indicators, rich photo and video support and other niceties came standard. More recently, the company built on the foundation by adding a dedicated App Store and, importantly, peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments.

The problem, as explained by reporter Joanna Stern, is that iMessage’s major benefits are incompatible with traditional SMS and MMS technology in use by Android and other smartphone operating systems. Further, attempting to switch away from Apple’s walled garden can cause a host of problems, from lost messages to broken group text threads.

Users of Apple’s iOS products are likely familiar with SMS conversations — the “green bubble” text threads in Messages — and their inherent limitations.

Since its inception, iMessage has been viewed as yet another value-added feature designed to keep iOS users within the confines of Apple’s walled garden, and to an extent that appears to be true. However, in researching today’s editorial, Stern discovered Apple once attempted to push the wider industry toward a texting standard that shared features with its in-house platform.

“We approached the carriers to pursue adding features to the existing texting systems and removing the additional customer costs,” Forstall said. “For various reasons, from the difficulty of extending the existing standards, to challenges with interoperability between texting systems and carriers, to the desire of carriers to protect a significant revenue stream, these explorations didn’t pan out.”

It is unclear when Apple proposed the enhancements, but carriers were reportedly surprised to see iMessage introduced as part of iOS 5 in 2011.

Indeed, telcos have been using the same SMS and MMS services for years. As Stern notes, hardware manufacturers are moving toward Rich Communications Services, or RCS, in an attempt to cross-platform features like read receipts and typing indicators, but the technology is not end-to-end encrypted. As such, Apple is unlikely to jump on board, which means iOS users will continue to see green bubbles when they chat with friends using non-iOS or Mac devices.

Though a number of alternative cross-platform, internet-based messaging options exist — Facebook’s WhatsApp or WeChat — Stern says “the dream” is an Android version of iMessage. Apple was on multiple occasions rumored to release such a solution, bridging the gap between the world’s mobile OS duopoly. The company supposedly went so far as to create mockups of a potential Android iteration using Google’s Material Design.

For now, however, Apple seems content to build out its own platform and let others fend for themselves.


Medisafe integration with Apple’s Health Records brings easy medication management to iOS


Medication management app Medisafe this week finalized integration with Apple’s Health Records API, granting nearly five million users in 200 countries quick and easy iOS access to drug-to-drug interaction notifications, pill reminders and more.

Announced on Tuesday, Medisafe’s Health Records support will allow iPhone owners to automatically import and manage prescriptions from participating health systems in the iOS Health app.

Apple threw a spotlight on Medisafe when it revealed the Health Records API in June. At the time, Apple touted the app and platform’s potentially life-saving medication tracking capabilities.

“Medisafe will be able to warn patients of problematic drug-drug interactions because they have the comprehensive view of the patient’s exact medication list from several hospitals and clinics,” Apple said in a press release.

Medisafe expanded on the system in its own statement on Tuesday, saying Health Records’ framework facilitates immediate cross-referencing of prescriptions uploaded by physicians. Notifications occur when a user is prescribed two or more medications, vitamins or supplements that negatively interact with each other, the company says.

According to Medisafe, the app has alerted users to more than 93,171 DDIs, about half of which were severe or life-threatening. That figure will likely rise with support for Apple’s health platform.

“As the only Health Records app featured in Apple’s launch to developers last June, Medisafe has used the Health Records API to bring consumers a private, easy-to-use solution that both helps them stay on track with their meds and safeguards them against harmful drug interactions,” said Medisafe co-founder and CEO Omri Shor.

Health Records debuted alongside iOS 11.3 with initial support from 39 health groups. That number grew to stood at 75 backers in August.

The feature, built into the iOS Health app, makes user health history information portable. Health Records aggregates and stores encrypted patient data, meaning users can review medical records with doctors and caregivers directly from their iPhone or iPad.


Publishers laud Apple News’ human touch, wary about monetization prospects


As Apple attempts to woo major publishers to its Apple News platform, the outlets — many anonymously — chimed in on the effort, saying human-driven article curation and a massive iOS device install base is winning over some converts. At least for now.

Apple News

Speaking with Digiday, publishing executives gave points to Apple for its approach to content curation. Like Apple Music, Apple News relies on human curation in the form of an editorial team tasked with policing content quality.

“They’re attentive, and you have the sense they’re human beings that are trying to nurture a relationship of some kind,” said a publishing executive who is in regular contact with Apple.

Apple News is in many ways the antithesis of Facebook, which is experiencing a media exodus of sorts due to recent troubles over the 2016 elections and a rejiggering of user news feeds designed to quell criticism over conspiracy theories run rampant.

According to the report, certain top-tier news organizations are in constant conversation with Apple’s editorial team. One such outlet, CNN Digital, is in touch with Apple on a daily basis. S. Mitra Kalita, SVP of news, opinion and programming at CNN Digital, says the availability enables the channel to reach a diverse audience.

“This is very much a human interaction,” Kalita said.

She pointed out, however, that monetization options lag behind the competition. Other publishers seemingly agree. New York Post chief digital officer Remy Stern at the Digiday Publishing Summit last week said his publication makes “hundreds” in revenue despite catering to an audience that numbers in the “millions.”

Advertising is typically the main source of revenue for online publications, and Apple’s cloistered platform only recently began allowing publishers to serve Google DoubleClick ads. One anonymous publication is looking to make “a few hundred thousand” dollars this year through Apple News, while the New York Post estimates it brought in only $600 in six months.

Apple is supposedly pushing for publishers to adopt subscription models, a tactic the company is also applying to apps sold in the App Store. How Apple intends to set its strategy apart from the crowd is unclear, and the company has shared little on the matter with publishing partners.

“They’re very condescending in their approach,” one anonymous source said. “It’s, ‘We’re doing this and we’ll tell you when we figure it out.'”

Further, Apple currently takes its customary 30-percent cut of all subscription sales, a larger chunk than Facebook and Google.

That could all change if and when the tech giant rolls out a widely rumored paid service for news and magazines — and potentially video and music content — next year. For now, however, most publishers appear willing to tough it out in hopes that Apple News becomes a key facet in Apple’s booming services business.


Complex iOS passcode bypasses grant access to iPhone Contacts and Photos

A pair of extremely involved passcode bypasses discovered in Apple’s latest iOS 12 can grant attackers access to Contacts and Photo data on a user’s iPhone, including models protected by Face ID.

Unearthed by Jose Rodriguez, the exploits are rather complicated, each containing multiple steps involving Siri, Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader feature and, in one case, the Notes app. Both methods work on iPhones running the latest version of iOS, including models with Face ID or Touch ID biometric security.

The first of the the two videos posted to Rodriguez’s Spanish language YouTube channel explains a vulnerability that allows a potential attacker to bypass both Face ID and Touch ID security protocols.

Demonstrating the process, Rodriguez activates VoiceOver through a Siri request. From there, he calls the target iPhone with a separate device and, with the call dialogue displayed, taps the “Message” button to create a custom text message. Once in Messages, Rodriguez moves the text selector to the “+” symbol, denoting the addition of another contact, then uses the secondary device to text the target iPhone, triggering a notification to appear. Double tapping the screen on the target iPhone while the notification is displayed appears to cause a conflict in the iOS user interface.

Rodriguez confirmed to AppleInsider that the second device is required to perform the bypass.

With the screen now blank, Siri is once again activated and quickly deactivated. The screen remains blank, but VoiceOver’s text selection box is seemingly able to access and navigate Messages’ user menu. Swiping back through the available options and selecting “Cancel” retrieves the original Messages screen, where a nefarious user can add a new recipient. Selecting a numeral from the soft keyboard brings up recently dialed or received phone numbers and contacts that contain metadata associated to that number.

Going further, the entire address book can be accessed if a displayed contact or number presents an “i,” or info, button next to its respective entry. Disabling VoiceOver, again via Siri, and tapping on the “i” icon displays a contact’s information. Performing a 3D Touch gesture on the contact avatar brings up options to “Call,” “Message,” “Add to Existing Contact” or “Create New Contact.” Selecting the latter displays a full list of contacts.

Finally, Photos are retrievable by once again enabling VoiceOver and swiping down to “Camera Roll” on an unseen user menu. Navigating through recent photos, screenshots and other folders via gestures and audio cues allows an attacker to assign individual pictures to a contact’s user icon.

[embedded content]

A second video details a lock screen bypass that, while limited in scope, demonstrates yet another bug exists in Apple’s mobile operating system.

Rodriguez again invokes Siri, but this time creates a new note. After adding a picture to the note, he locks the phone and repeats the process. Tapping on the inserted image in the second note presents a media sharing icon that, when selected, brings up a blank share sheets UI. Asking Siri to enable VoiceOver provides access to an unseen menu containing a user’s default sharing options.

[embedded content]

Apple has yet to address the vulnerabilities in the latest iOS 12.1 beta.

Concerned users can minimize exposure to the apparent bugs by disabling Siri lock screen access in Settings > Face ID & Passcode or Settings > Touch ID & Passcode under the “Allow access when locked” heading. The second attack can be thwarted by enabling password protection for Notes by navigating to Settings > Notes > Password.

Rodriguez discovered a number of lock screen bypasses in past versions of iOS, including an obscure SIM card-related flaw in iOS 6.1.3.


Prices and user experience drive smartphone OS switching, poll suggests


There are countless reasons users may opt to jump from one mobile operating system to another, but the results of a recent poll suggest hardware pricing and user experience are key factors in making such decisions.

PCMag recently conducted a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers to shed light on the mobile switcher phenomenon as it pertains to iOS and Android, the segment’s two dominant platforms.

Only 29 percent of respondents actually admitted to swapping sides, while the rest remained steadfast with their platform of choice. Interestingly, more traded in Android for iOS (18 percent) over those that went from iOS to Android (11 percent). Of those polled, 54 percent had an iPhone, while 27 percent had a Samsung handset running some flavor of Android.

According to the poll, 47 percent of those who moved to iOS (which comes to around 202 people) said they moved to iOS for a better user experience, while 30 percent of those switching to Android said the same thing. Android’s biggest benefit over iOS was cost, where 29 percent of those who went to Android cited the lower prices, presumably attached to hardware.


Other features were less compelling, including better features, better apps, better customer service, and faster software updates.

The survey included a few other bits of information, including the fact that 56 percent of those polled don’t care about the release of new smartphones, while 34 percent buy a new phone when their contract expires. Over half said they only replace their phone when it breaks.