Apple Exploring North Carolina, Northern Virginia for New Campus

For the last several months, Apple has been exploring locations for a new campus focusing on technical support, and according to new reports, sites in North Carolina and Northern Virginia are under consideration.

The Washington Post says Apple has explored opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, an area Amazon is also considering for its new campus.

Image of Apple Park via drone pilot Duncan Sinfield


Apple told economic development officials in Northern Virginia that it is seeking four million square feet of space to accommodate 20,000 jobs, and officials proposed several potential sites.

The sites proposed by Northam’s staff for Apple include office buildings and development sites in Crystal City, privately owned Loudoun County land near the Center for Innovative Technology and the Scotts Run development in Tysons.

Two of those locations, Crystal City and the Loudoun land, are part of sites Northam also pitched to Amazon. Both companies plan to make a decision this year.

Separately, the Triangle Business Journal says that Apple is considering establishing its new campus in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Research Triangle Park, a 22 million square foot research park, has become an attractive site for tech companies and is known as North Carolina’s technology hub due to its proximity to NC State, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly met with North Carolina governor Roy Cooper and commerce secretary Tony Copeland while Cook was in town over the weekend to give the commencement speech at Duke University.

Apple in January said that it would invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy and create 20,000 jobs over the next five years, partially through the launch of a fourth major campus. At the time, Apple said that the campus would not be built in California or Texas, which is where its current campuses are located.

The company declined to provide additional details on the campus’ location, and has since been exploring its options and negotiating with various states for tax cuts and other benefits.

Apple’s upcoming campus will not be like its major corporate campuses in Northern California, One Infinite Loop and Apple Park, as it is expected to be focused on housing customer service and technical support employees.

Apple CEO Tim Cook in March said that Apple is “not doing the beauty contest thing” for its new campus, taking a dig at Amazon’s decision to announce 20 finalist cities as the potential locations for its own new campus. “That’s not Apple,” he said.

“From our point of view, we didn’t want to create this contest, because I think what comes out of that is you wind up putting people through a ton of work to select one, so that is a case where you have a winner and a lot of losers. I don’t like that,” Cook added at the time.
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Apple Releases Xcode 9.3.1 Update

Apple today released an updated version of Xcode, Xcode 9.3.1. The new version of Xcode comes over a month after the release of Xcode 9.3, which was launched alongside iOS 11.3 back in late March.

Xcode 9.3.1 is a minor bug fix update. According to Apple’s release notes, it addresses an issue that could cause a user to have to log in with their Apple ID repeatedly and it fixes a bug that could cause Xcode to hang when using Playgrounds.

Xcode 9.3, the previous update, introduced a new Energy organizer designed to help developers detect when an app or app extension is using too much battery life on a user’s device.

The software also brought a new 64-bit testing mode for macOS 10.13.4, which is designed to let developers test software for 64-bit compatibility as Apple prepares to start phasing out 32-bit Mac apps. As of Xcode 9.3, Xcode support for macOS 32-bit support has been depreciated.

Xcode 9.3.1 will be followed by Xcode 9.4, which is currently in beta testing. Apple has seeded two betas of Xcode 9.4 to developers thus far.
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Apple Has Applied to Participate in Pilot Program Allowing Expanded Operation of Drones

Apple has applied to participate in a new pilot program that would allow the company to operate drones in ways that are typically restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, according to Reuters.

DJI Mavic Air


The report states that the U.S. Department of Transportation will announce 10 winning state or local government bodies for inclusion in the program today, and each has partnered with companies who will play a role in the tests. At least 200 companies are said to be vying to be part of the program.

The initiative, introduced by the U.S. government last year, will allow for a larger range of testing, including flying drones at night, over people, and beyond an operator’s line of sight, within the United States.

The list of winners, which appears to have been determined, is said to include companies that plan to test drones for delivering packages, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight, and for various uses at airports, but it’s unclear what Apple’s intentions will be if selected.

Back in December 2016, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reported that Apple planned to use drones to improve Apple Maps. The company itself does not sell any drones, aside from those made by other companies like DJI and Propel.
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Contact Management App ‘Cardhop’ Gains Support for Smart Groups, Printing Options and More Languages

Cardhop, the popular contacts management app from Flexibits, makers of Fantastical, today received its first major update to introduce new features and new functionality.

For those unfamiliar with Cardhop, it’s designed to turn the standard Apple Contacts app on the Mac into an interactive communications hub, providing you with tools to email, message, tweet, and interface with all of your contacts from one central location.



Today’s 1.1 update to Cardhop introduces Smart Groups, a feature that lets you create a group of contacts based on specific search criteria that updates automatically from details like company, location, link domains, and more.

So, for example, if you add several contacts from the same company, you can have them all grouped up in one easy to access spot.

With printing support, you can print customized envelopes, labels, and lists of contacts, and there’s now an option to include a timestamp when you use Cardhop’s “Notes” feature to add details about a contact.

There are new template preferences for customizing fields and labels for contacts, and when you type into a name field, you’ll now see suggestions for other names in your contacts list.

Finally, today’s update introduces full support for French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese, plus it includes a range of bug fixes and performance improvements.

“We’re very excited to present our first major update for Cardhop,” said Michael Simmons, Co-founder of Flexibits. “With 5 new languages, printing, smart groups, and much more, Cardhop is even more so the contacts app you’ll actually want to use.”

Cardhop for Mac can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $19.99. [Direct Link] It’s also available from the Flexibits website, where you can get a free 21 day trial to test it out.
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Apple Announces $100 Billion Share Repurchase Program

During today’s second quarter earnings release, Apple said that it is launching a new share repurchase authorization of $100 billion, with a 16 percent increase in quarterly dividend.

Apple expects the execution of its previous $210 billion share repurchase authorization to wrap up by the end of the current quarter, three quarters earlier than originally expected. From Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Recent corporate tax reform makes it possible for us to executive our program more efficiently. Given our strong confidence in Apple’s future, we’re announcing a significant update. Apple’s Board approved an additional $100 billion share repurchase authorization, as well as a 16 percent increase in quarterly dividends, effective with the next divided later this month.

Following tax reform in the United States that will allow Apple to repatriate its overseas cash at a lower tax rate, Apple has said that it wants to reduce its net cash balance to zero, a goal it will accomplish through share buybacks, increased dividend payouts, acquisitions, and investments into research and development.

Apple CFO Luca Maestri said that Apple wants to maintain the cash it needs to fund day to day operations, invest in the future, and provide the flexibility it needs to respond strategically to opportunities that arise.

Maestri also said that Apple plans to executive its share buyback program thoughtfully, efficiently, and at a fast pace. Apple will provide updates on the program at the end of every quarter.

After the news of Apple’s $100 billion share buyback program, Apple stock is up 4 percent in aftermarket trading.
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Five Useful Mac Apps Worth Checking Out – April 2018

Apps designed for the Mac don’t typically receive as much attention as apps for iOS devices, so we’ve launched a monthly series that highlights useful, interesting Mac apps that are worth checking out.

This month’s app selection, outlined in the video and the post below, includes apps for managing and organizing your files, getting info about your Mac, accessing your favorite content quickly, and more. Many of the apps we’ve included this month were chosen by our forum members.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

  • DaisyDisk ($9.99) – DaisyDisk is an app that’s been around for quite some time, but it was just recently updated with extended support for Apple File System (APFS), the file system on macOS High Sierra. DaisyDisk is designed to show you all of the files on your Mac, so you can see what’s eating up your disk space. Using simple drag and drop gestures, you can delete unnecessary content, freeing up storage.
  • Hazel ($32) – Hazel is a little bit more expensive than the typical Mac apps we feature, but it has a unique function – it automatically sorts and organizes all of your files. You can assign Hazel to watch folders on your Mac, such as the download folder, and using user-specified rules, Hazel will organize all incoming files into categories like Movies, Music, Pictures, Old Files, New Items, and more. Hazel can be used to open, archive, tag, rename, and upload files, and there are tools for cleaning up support files when you delete an app.
  • Shortcut Bar ($8.99) – Shortcut Bar is a simple menu bar app that lets you access your favorite files, folders, apps, web bookmarks, and text snippets, essentially putting all of the files and apps you use most on your Mac right at your fingertips.
  • Station (Free) – Station is an app that’s designed to house and aggregate all of your web applications in one easy to access location. Instead of having dozens of tabs open with things like Gmail, Twitter, Instagram, and Slack, you can relocate them all to Station for quicker, more streamlined access. Station is, essentially, a web browser that has a more thoughtful layout for accessing web apps.
  • iStat Menus (Free) – iStat Menus is a fairly well-known app that’s worth checking out if you haven’t already. It provides a wealth of information about your Mac that’s accessible through your menu bar. You can track battery life and health, processor usage, memory usage, network details, weather information, and more, and it can send notifications based on your custom parameters. Want to know if your CPU usage has exceeded 60 percent for over 10 seconds or if your internet is down? iStat Menus can do that. It’s free to download, but unlocking full functionality costs $9.99.

Do you have favorite must-have Mac apps that we haven’t highlighted yet? Let us know what they are in the comments and we might feature them in a future video. Many of this month’s picks came from our forum members.

For more of our Mac app picks, make sure to check out our lists from February and March.
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Award-Winning Cablewings Add Power Cord Storage Back to Your Mac’s Charger

German company brezzl today announced it is now accepting pre-orders for its Cablewings cable management solution for Apple power adapters.

Cablewings


Cablewings are small plastic pieces that attach to an Apple power adapter and have small spikes that can hold a wrapped up power cord. They are compatible with Apple’s USB-C power adapters for all 2015 and later MacBook and 2016 and later MacBook Pro models, and they also work with Apple’s iPad and iPhone chargers.

The product is inspired by Apple’s older Mac power adapters that used to have pop-out cable holders. Apple’s latest USB-C power adapters for MacBooks no longer have this feature, as the power cord is no longer affixed to the charger.

Apple’s previous Mac power adapters with pop-out cable holders


Cablewings are a simple but useful product, especially for those who travel, and recently received a 2018 Red Dot Design Award in Germany. They are a rather pricy $18 each or available in a two-pack for $30 in the United States, with prices varying in other countries. Orders are estimated to begin shipping in June.
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Maker of ‘GrayKey’ iPhone Unlocking Box Suffers ‘Brief’ Data Breach, Receives Money Demands

Grayshift, the company that makes the GrayKey iPhone unlocking boxes that have been sold to multiple law enforcement agencies across the United States, recently suffered a data breach that allowed hackers to access a small portion of the GrayKey code, reports VICE‘s Motherboard.

GrayKey box, via MalwareBytes


Last week, unknown hackers leaked portions of the GrayKey code and demanded two bitcoin from Grayshift with the threat of additional data being leaked. According to Motherboard, the code in question “does not appear to be particularly sensitive,” but Grayshift did confirm that a “brief” data leak had occurred.

Indeed, Grayshift told Motherboard in a statement “Due [to] a network misconfiguration at a customer site, a GrayKey unit’s UI was exposed to the internet for a brief period of time earlier this month.”

“During this time, someone accessed the HTML/Javascript that makes up our UI. No sensitive IP or data was exposed, as the GrayKey was being validation tested at the time. We have since implemented changes to help our customers prevent unauthorized access,” the statement added.

Grayshift says that no sensitive IP or data was exposed, and Motherboard confirms that the leaked code appears to be related to the user interface that displays messages on the GrayKey, but it’s clear that Grayshift security is not airtight, raising questions about what kind of data might be accessible to hackers.

The GrayKey is a small, portable gray box equipped with dual Lightning cables. An iPhone is plugged into one of the cables to install proprietary software that’s able to guess the passcode to an iPhone in as little as a few hours to a few days, based on the strength of the passcode.

GrayKey, which is priced starting at $15,000, can crack the latest iPhones running modern versions of iOS, including iOS 11. While the box is designed to provide law enforcement officials with easy access to locked iPhones for criminal investigations, there have been fears that the GrayKey technology could fall into the wrong hands.

The box has been sold to multiple law enforcement agencies across the country, and the data breach that Grayshift suffered, however inconsequential, is not at all reassuring for those who are worried about the security of the GrayKey boxes. The underlying functionality that allows the GrayKey to crack iPhones could be discovered and replicated, and the GrayKey boxes themselves are said to download data from cracked iPhones, which could also be at risk in a data breach.

According to Motherboard, Grayshift has not paid the extortionists their two bitcoin fee, as the Bitcoin addresses provided have received no funds. An additional Bitcoin address promising to provide interested parties with GrayKey information has also not received funds.

Grayshift says that “changes” have been made to help customers prevent unauthorized access to GrayKey boxes in the future, but Motherboard discovered another exposed GrayKey device broadcasting similar code.

Using the computer search engine Shodan, Motherboard found a seemingly exposed GrayKey device, broadcasting similar chunks of code to the open internet.

“To brute force a complex alphanumeric passcode, upload a custom password dictionary. If a dictionary is not uploaded, GrayKey will not attempt to brute force custom alphanumeric passcodes,” one section of the apparent device’s code reads.

The technology used for the GrayKey will likely be outdated at some point through updates to the iOS operating system, but as far as we know now, it’s still functional for even the latest versions of iOS and the newest iOS devices, including the iPhone X.

Those worried about GrayKey and similar technologies can implement stronger and more secure passcodes and passwords that are more difficult to guess through brute forcing to prevent these kinds of tools from working. A 6-digit numeric passcode, Apple’s default, can be guessed in as little as 11 hours, but an 8-digit numeric code can take over a month, while a 10-digit numeric code can take years.

Security experts recommend alphanumeric passcodes that are at least seven characters long with numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols included. The longer the password, the more secure it is from GrayKey-style guessing methods. For more information on Grayshift’s data breach, check out Motherboard‘s full report.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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