Apple’s unreleased iBeacon hardware exposed in user manual published by FCC

Way back in July, Apple registered FCC certification for a new piece of iBeacon Bluetooth hardware. Naturally, 9to5Mac covered the release of wireless certification documents for the hardware. It was unclear by those filings the nature of the product, whether it was targeted at use in Apple Stores, some form of developer testing equipment or something else entirely. The product was never made publicly available for purchase, for unknown reasons.

However, time has elapsed such that the rest of Apple’s submitted documents are now available to the public. Vitally, this includes a user manual which immediately signals that this iBeacon hardware was meant for developers, presumably to test iBeacon integration in their own apps. It’s unclear, though, if this is meant to be used ‘in the wild’. Read on for an exposition on the workings of this mysterious device.

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GoodReader app forced to remove some iCloud Drive features to comply with App Store policies (update: reversed!)

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UpdateGoodReader 4.8.1 has now been released and the iCloud functionality has returned without explanation. It is unclear what prompted the reversal, although it is likely that Apple has once again backtracked on a public App Store decision.

Continuing the string of controversy regarding App Store approval in recent weeks, an update pushed through by GoodReader ($4.99, iPhone and iPad) earlier today shows that the company has been forced to remove some significant iCloud Drive features, in order to comply with iCloud Drive usage guidelines and remain in the App Store.

Specifically, the GoodReader update removes the ability to add folders, remove folders or move files around the iCloud Drive storage location. The update notes reference a ‘usage policy’, although it is unclear what document the company is referring to.

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Security researcher rewrites Mac firmware over Thunderbolt, says most Intel Thunderbolt Macs vulnerable

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A security researcher speaking at the Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg demonstrated a hack that rewrites an Intel Mac’s firmware using a Thunderbolt device with attack code in an option ROM. Known as Thunderstrike, the proof of concept presented by Trammel Hudson infects the Apple Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) in a way he claims cannot be detected, nor removed by reinstalling OS X.

Since the boot ROM is independent of the operating system, reinstallation of OS X will not remove it. Nor does it depend on anything stored on the disk, so replacing the harddrive has no effect. A hardware in-system-programming device is the only way to restore the stock firmware.

Apple has already implemented an intended fix in the latest Mac mini and iMac with Retina display, which Hudson says will soon be available for other Macs, but appears at this stage to provide only partial protection…  Read more

Apple increases app prices in Russia in response to changing exchange rates

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Apple has today informed developers that it has changed the pricing of apps and In-App Purchases in the Russian App Store, following changes to exchange rates. The recent ruble-dollar rates have fluctuated so widely in recent weeks that Apple has been forced to take the Russian Apple Online Store down completely, as it reviews pricing for its products. 

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Apple seeds third OS X 10.10.2 beta highlighting fixes for WiFi, Mail, & VoiceOver

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Apple has seeded a new build of pre-release OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 highlighting focus ares including WiFi, Mail, and VoiceOver. The third tester preview of OS X 10.10.2 brings the build number up to 14C81f following build 14C78c released earlier this month. We’ll update with any notable changes spotted in the new release for testers. Read more

GarageBand, Star Walk, Threes and more apps go (RED) until December 7th, all proceeds going to charity

A range of apps have been updated today with limited-time promotions, in aid of the (RED) charity. Apple has participated in the event with an update to GarageBand, offering a limited-edition In-App Purchase that makes over 300 new drum, guitar, synth and bass loops available as an In-App Purchase. All proceeds from the sale of this expansion pack go directly to the (RED) charity, which sends the money to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The In-App Purchase, which is priced at $0.99, will be available until December 7th.

Other notable developers are also participating, many of which including exclusive additional content. For example, Threes has been updated, with a fresh red theme and updated icon. Monument Valley has added one special (RED) level, Star Walk has added exploration of Mars, The Red Planet. The popular drawing app, Paper, has also participated with a red application theme and icon. The ‘Over’ app has made special edition font and artwork packs available for purchase. djay and Heads Up! are also taking part in the event. Like GarageBand, 100% of proceeds of app and IAP sales go to the (RED) fund.

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Here’s why beacon networks are the way to go for retailers & app developers supporting iBeacon

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If you’re a retailer, you have two options when it comes to deploying Bluetooth beacons. You can deploy the hardware yourself and build an accompanying mobile app for the experience, or you can open the experience to existing apps that users already have on their device using a beacon network. Some retailers have decided they want to own the experience and have everything go through their own mobile app, but new data suggests that might not be the way to go. Read more

Free 50-minute video tutorial video shows you how to make an Apple Watch app

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If you want to get quickly up to speed on the basics of creating an Apple Watch app following the release of WatchKit, developer Nick Walter has put a free 50-minute video tutorial online. You can also sign up for a full online course for just $39 on Kickstarter – saving $161 on the likely launch price.

Walter gained a certain amount of fame recently when Forbes reported that he made $66,000 in one month following a similar Kickstarter campaign for a course in making iPhone apps …  Read more

Apple WatchKit third-party apps require a connected iPhone to function, ‘fully native’ apps coming later in 2015

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Apple has just released a flood of information about how apps on Apple Watch work, through the WatchKit framework. There are three types of integrations currently possible: WatchKit apps, Glances and actionable notifications. Although they sound similar,  the development process for WatchKit apps are actually very different to that of normal iOS apps for iPhone and iPad, as much of the computation is done on the connected iPhone rather than rendered by the watch’s hardware itself.

The interface elements and interaction patterns for WatchKit apps revolve around a core set of user interface components and layouts. Arbitrary views are not supported, which is a big departure from how iOS apps are constructed.

The constraints are in place because although the Watch renders the UI, any other coding logic is actually managed by the connected iPhone through a WatchKit extension, that silently runs on the iPhone. For instance, animations are pre rendered as an image sequence on the phone GPU before being sent OTA to the watch for display. Apple has announced that fully-native Watch apps will debut later in 2015, which will likely loosen these restrictions somewhat.

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