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Apple Daily: Apple Releases Major Updates for Both Mac OS X and iOS 8

It’s apparently patch day at Apple, and the Cupertino company has loosed major updates for both Max OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 out into the wild. In today’s Apple Daily, we go over the highlights of each.

Apple Releases OS X 10.10.3, and the Full Release for Photos for Mac

So long, Aperture. Today Apple released the long-awaited OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 patch, which brings the long-awaited Photos for OS X to Apple’s desktop line. The program marks a bit of a halfway point between the tool-rich Aperture and the comparatively bare-bones design of iPhoto. Still, it excels in other areas, such as in an impressive auto-fix feature, and an iOS-like option to keep full-res versions of photos on your Mac and low-res copies available for preview.

The update also brings a detailed emoji picker that allows you to change the skintone of various emoji for the sake of racial diversity, as well as support for Google two-step authentication, which should remove most of the need to enter passwords for specific apps such as Calendar and Gmail.

According to Apple, the update also:

- Adds Spotlight suggestions to Look up
– Prevents Safari from saving website favicon URLs used in Private Browsing
– Improves stability and security in Safari
– Improves WiFi performance and connectivity in various usage scenarios
– Improves compatibility with captive Wi-Fi network environments
– Fixes an issue that may cause Bluetooth devices to disconnect
– Improves screen sharing reliability

Apple Releases iOS 8.3

Today iOS 8.3 is also available for download, and it’s a hefty update full of features that could greatly enhance the experience of using an iPhone or iPad depending on where you’re from and how you use your devices. Among the most notable additions are racially diverse emoji as with the Mac update, new languages for Siri, two-factor authentication for Google, and a whole truckload of bug fixes.

The racially diverse emoji specifically pertain to the “human”-type emojis that show runners, swimmers, and the like, and you can now adjust them to show most every skin tone you prefer. The update also brings Turkish, Russian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, and Thai support to Siri, in addition to a New Zealand localization option for English speakers.

The patch also allows you to set up CarPlay more easily over a wireless connection, and if you’re in China, rejoice — you can now use Apple Pay in your country as of the update.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: More Apple Watch Information; Apple Releases Patch for FREAK

Plenty of details about the Apple Watch are still emerging in the wake of yesterday’s event, and today we learned some specifics about battery replacements for the device and how many songs and photos we’ll be able to store on it. In addition, Apple released a patch for yet another vulnerability, although there’s a good chance you’ve already downloaded it.

Apple Watch Will Have Replaceable Battery, Will Support 2GB in Music Files

Apple’s “Spring Forward” event may be over, but there’s still a bit of new information trickling out that Tim Cook and friends didn’t relate during the actual presentation. One big bit of news that TechCrunch managed to secure after the event is that the Apple Watch’s battery will, in fact, be replaceable. It’s currently not known, however, how much the process will cost and whether owners can send in the device remotely or whether they’ll have to visit an Apple Store for the service. TechCrunch also tried to find out if Apple would offer any kind of CPU replacement or RAM upgrade, but Apple had not followed up with a reply.

Elsewhere, 9to5Mac learned that, of the 8GB of storage allotted for an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to use 2GB of that for music stored locally on the device and 75MB for photos. Much more is available through a paired iPhone, of course, but these are the limits you’ll have if you stick to the Apple Watch itself. In addition, you’ll be able to sync the songs to your Apple Watch through the use of the companion app released with iOS 8.2. Depending on the quality of the digital files, that amounts to around 200-500 songs and approximately 100 photos.

Apple Releases Patch for FREAK Vulnerability

Exactly a week ago the Washington Post reported that researchers had uncovered a new security flaw in Apple and Google devices known as FREAK (Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys), which potentially allowed hackers to access the devices. The vulnerability reportedly was the result of old U.S. government policies that forbade companies from exporting strong encryption. As a result, the companies created weak “export-grade” RSA keys for international shipments.

That all has changed now, though, and Apple has included fixes that disable the obsolete keys for the devices in several patches. If you downloaded iOS 8.2 yesterday, for instance, it’s in there for the iPhone 4s, iPad 2, the fifth generation iPod, and all later models. The update is also available for Apple TV via patch 7.1 and for Macs running OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5, Mavericks 10.9.5, and Yosemite 10.10.2.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Releases Tiny Patch to Fix Serious Mac OS X Security Flaw

There’s a new “critical security issue” out there affecting the Network Time Protocol service on OS X, but Apple already has a patch ready for you to install. The Cupertino company is asking that anyone who’s running Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion download the update “as soon as possible.” And you should. After all, it’s just a little tiny thing.

Specifically, it weighs in at a mere 1.4 MB, so you shouldn’t spend hours worrying about whether you want to bother downloading it. Just do it. Fascinatingly enough, the vulnerability itself was discovered by the Google Security Team back on December 19, and the U.S. Government alerted users of it only a couple of days later.

The dangers of the vulnerability are a little complex and the government’s ICS-CERT site is a little vague about the whole affair:

“Google Security Team researchers Neel Mehta and Stephen Roettger have coordinated multiple vulnerabilities with CERT/CC concerning the Network Time Protocol (NTP),” ICS-CER’s site says. “As NTP is widely used within operational Industrial Control Systems deployments, NCCIC/ICS-CERT is providing this information for US Critical Infrastructure asset owners and operators for awareness and to identify mitigations for affected devices.”

The big danger here is that “Exploits that target these vulnerabilities are publicly available,” and malicious-minded folks can exploit those vulnerabilities remotely. You can download the patch right now by selecting Software Update from the Apple menu or by going directly to the updates section of the Mac App Store; it should be listed as the latest Security Update.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Releases Video Showcasing the Making of Its Latest Holiday Ad

The latest in Apple’s phenomenal run of holiday ads came out earlier in the week, and it focuses on a granddaughter who uses Apple’s technology to create a contemporary duet with an old recording of her grandmother’s. Today Apple released a followup video discussing how the ad was made, showing that its latest short is not just about bridging the gaps between two generation of people, but also between two generations of technology.

Specifically, the ad features a young woman (played by musician Dana Williams) who finds her grandmother’s recording of “Love Is Here to Stay” (sung by Rhiannon Giddens) that was made with a 1940s “Voice-O-Graph” machine. The ad (or “film,” as Apple calls it on its website) implies that her grandmother made it for her husband, who was apparently stationed overseas at the time.

The story might be sentimental fluff, but there’s a shred of truth to what we’re seeing on screen, particularly since Apple used an actual working Voice-O-Graph in the possession of Third Man Records. Giddens sung the part for the original recording, and then Williams recorded her own vocals and mixed the two together in GarageBand. Williams claims in the short documentary that she uses Apple’s GarageBand for most of her her music, and that she likes it because “anyone who’s not tech savvy like myself can find their way around it.”

The ad itself is somewhat understated, especially in comparison to last year’s “Misunderstood,” which won Apple its first Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial since its iconic “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” short, created in 1998 at the height of the “Think Different” campaign. While “Misunderstood” focuses on an introverted teen’s use of his iPhone’s video capabilities, “The Song” highlights GarageBand and the iPad mini.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Reportedly Planning to Bundle Beats Music with Future Releases of iOS

Apple spent all that money on Beats earlier this year, and they really, really want you to see what the service has to offer. And just to ensure that you have no excuse not to try it out, the company’s reportedly going to start bundling it with iOS starting sometime next year. According to the Financial Times, that could happen as early as March.

The report echoes some of the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time now, such as how Apple might merge the service with iTunes at some point in the future. It also claims that users should be able to send Beats music from their iPhones to their Apple Watches (which also hints that March might also mark the release date for Apple’s long-awaited piece of wearable tech).

Apple is thought to have bought Beats specifically for a head start into the music-streaming business, but according to some estimates, it’s only been able to reach around 119,000 subscriptions. (That’s barely an improvement from the 110,000 Beats reportedly achieved on its own.) It’s possible those numbers could improve if Apple bundles Beats with iOS as stated, but probably not as much as they would if the service were a part of iTunes itself.

Still other reports claim that Apple may knock the cost of a Beats subscription down to .00 a month in order to compete with existing streaming giants like Spotify and Google Play Music. As things stand, a Beats subscription currently costs .99 per month or .99 for an entire year.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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