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Everything you need to know about Apple’s newest products, leaks and hacks

There’s been a lot of Apple news this week. Here is a roundup of the most important stories.

2017 product updates

On Tuesday, Apple held an official press event and unveiled updates to its product line. Here is what was announced:

New RED iPhone 7

The red iPhone 7 marks ten years of collaboration between Apple and the global charity (RED). If you’re out of the loop, (RED)’s critical work provides access to life-saving HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to more than two-thirds of the world’s HIV-positive population.

100 percent of all money raised by (RED) goes directly to Global Fund HIV/AIDS grants that provide testing, counselling, treatment and prevention programs with a specific focus on eliminating transmission of the virus from mums to their babies. Since it was founded in 2006, (RED) has generated more than US$465 million for the Global Fund, with a significant chunk coming directly from Apple.

Apart from the colour, this is same as any other iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and is available for Aussies on 25 March. In addition, Apple has updated the iPhone SE, upgrading the storage to 32GB and 128GB models.

iPhone with red back cover

New cases

There are six new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus case colours (three in leather, three in silicone).

Line up of Apple's silicone cases

A new iPad

This one is a little confusing. The iPad 2 Air 2 has been discontinued and Apple has unveiled a new 5th generation 9.7 inch model, simply called “iPad.” Can we please have a new name?
As well as having an uninspiring name, the new iPad is apparently thicker and heavier than the Air 2. BUT at least it’s cheaper and more powerful than previous models.

New Apple Watch accessories

These include a bunch of new colour options, and some new premium leather and metal bands similar to the new iPhone cases. Also, customers will be given the option to purchase Nike+ sport bands separately.

Free apps

Apple announced a new app called Clips that allows users to combine video clips, photos and music with animated captions, effects and filters. It will be free to download in iOS 10.3 when it releases next month.

Apple also revealed that its free learn-to-code app Swift Playgrounds is now available in five additional languages (Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German and Latin American Spanish).

That’s all for this week’s event. Not exactly world-changing, Apple is undoubtedly saving the BIG news for an event later in the year. Moving on…

Another free app

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Yesterday, Techcrunch reported that Apple had finalised a deal to acquire Workflow, an app that let’s you chain strings of commands and automate tasks. We know Apple has had its eye on this one for a while because the app won an Apple Design Award in 2015.

I’ve just downloaded it for zero dollars from the Aussie App store and had a play and it seems useful and easy to use.
For example, you can automate some morning tasks including a timer that will help you make sure you brush your teeth for at least two minutes. Gotta keep those pearly whites clean, people. Consider it a nice little Friday gift. You’re welcome!

A new patent

Yesterday, Apple Insider dug up a new Apple patent application that details a Macbook-like shell that can be powered using an iPhone or iPad. Once in, the iPhone or iPad can serve as the laptop’s CPU and possibly the trackpad.

We’re not sure if Apple will pursue this idea, but it has patented the idea for safekeeping. Just saying.

Apple Insider's Apple patent

CIA leaks

Also yesterday, Wikileaks published some new documents that show the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been developing tools to infect Apple products since 2009. The tools reportedly target Apple’s firmware, including one that infiltrates Macbooks via the Thunderbolt port.

Unless you’re using an iPhone 3 in 2017, you shouldn’t have a problem, according to an Apple spokesperson, who explained:

“We have preliminarily assessed the Wikileaks disclosures from this morning. Based on our initial analysis, the alleged iPhone vulnerability affected iPhone 3G only and was fixed in 2009 when iPhone 3GS was released. Additionally, our preliminary assessment shows the alleged Mac vulnerabilities were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013. We have not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information.

We are tireless defenders of our users’ security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users.”

Turkish Crime Family

On Wednesday, a group of hackers who identify themselves as “Turkish Crime Family” tried to extort Apple over alleged iCloud and Apple email account hands.

Motherboard reports that Turkish Crime Family provided screenshots of alleged emails between the group and members of Apple’s security team. The hackers claim that they have access to somewhere between 300 million and half a billion accounts in total. In return for deleting the data, they are asking for $75,000 in Bitcoin or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards. (Seems a bit fake cheap, doesn’t it?)

In response, an Apple spokesperson told Motherboard that there have not been any breaches of Apple’s systems. This, along with the fact that the hackers’ story has some inconsistencies and that they appear to be feeding news outlets makes it likely that the hack is a hoax.

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