[Updated] Russian Hack Alleged to Cause Apple Dev. Center Shutdown

[Update: Apple has issued an official statement clarifying that a security breach has not taken place. “Due to a bug in our account management application, your address information was temporarily displayed incorrectly in your account details on the Apple Developer website. The same incorrect address was displayed to all affected developers. The underlying code-level bug was quickly resolved and your address information now shows correctly. There was no security breach and at no time were the Apple Developer website, applications, or services compromised; nor were any of your Apple Developer membership details accessed by, shared with, or displayed to anyone”.]

Apple’s Developer Center website was down for maintenance for a number of hours yesterday, although the main landing page was still open and navigable during that time. The outage affected a number of online developer resources including Account, Bug Reporter, Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles, Code-level Support, Program Enrollment and Renewals, Software Downloads and Xcode Automatic Configuration. The system status webpage currently reports that maintenance has been completed for the aforementioned services.

Apple’s Developer Center provides resources and services to developers working on the iOS and macOS platforms. At around 11:30 a.m. PST, Apple took a number of core services offline without explanation, only offering the generic notification to developers that, “Due to maintenance, some services are unavailable.”

A number of confused Apple developers took to Twitter to report that their accounts had undergone suspicious modifications. Of particular note was the fact that their developer accounts had suddenly been registered to an incorrect address in St. Petersburg, Russia. The specific address– bul. Novatorov, Saint Petersburg, Leningrad 198216– points to a business district within the city, leading some to surmise that Apple’s developer accounts had been hacked.

The developer portal has been back online as of 3:30 p.m. PST. As of now, Apple has not offered an explanation for the Russian address or the maintenance outage, which came without prior warning and at an inconvenient time– just after Apple had released the tenth beta of iOS 11 for developers. iOS 11, which will bring a bevy of changes including augmented reality capabilities to the iPhone and the iPad, is scheduled for release a week after the tenth-anniversary iPhone event on September 12.

The fact that Apple is due to release its next-generation software platform so soon has also raised questions and prompted speculation about whether the move was an unplanned response to a malicious intrusion by hackers rather than a simple internal malfunction.

This is not the first time that Apple’s developer portal has been down. In 2013, Apple similarly took its Developer Center website offline for days without explanation. The company later sent an email to developers admitting that an intruder had exploited flaws in its security, though it assured them that “sensitive personal information” like credit card data had been securely encrypted and inaccessible. According to that email, Apple was unsure whether the hacker had been able to access developer names, addresses, and email addresses.

Later, a self-professed security researcher in London, Ibrahim Balic, came forward and revealed that he had been behind the intrusion and that he had reported a total of 13 security bugs to Apple.

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5 New Ways to Save iPhone Storage Space in iOS 11

One of the best new features in iOS 11 is that you can more easily manage your iPhone’s storage to free up space. Apple has added new features to iOS 11 that provide storage management recommendations, deletes unused apps when you’re running low on storage space, and much more. Press the right arrow to learn 5 features in iOS 11 that will help you free up storage space on your iPhone.

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Spotify’s New $4.99 Student Bundle Adds Free Hulu Subscription

Spotify and Hulu are partnering to bundle their services at an extremely low price for students, the companies announced Thursday.

The single-subscription bundle includes access to Spotify Premium as well as Hulu’s “Limited Commercials” plan for $ 4.99 per month. Since Spotify Premium already costs $ 5 a month for students, the promotion basically adds on Hulu access for free. At launch, only undergraduate students enrolled in a U.S. Title IV accredited college or university will be eligible. Those with an existing student plan can also switch over to the Hulu bundle.

“In bringing Spotify and Hulu together, we’re now able to offer students — both the millions already on Spotify Premium, and those who are new to Spotify — access to the world’s best music, TV and movie content in the simplest way possible,” Spotify’s Alex Norstrom said in a statement. Currently, the partnership doesn’t suggest any cross-platform content: users will still use each service individually, through their respective apps.

It’s the first time that Spotify has partnered with a TV and movie streaming service, but it’s not the company’s first foray into video and TV content. According to Bloomberg, the music-streaming platform had once tried to offer a selection of TV channels in its own Europe-based video service. Those plans failed, but Spotify did confirm that it would continue to focus on music-oriented videos.

The move is also indicative of Spotify’s battle with Apple Music. While Spotify has nearly twice as many subscribers as Apple’s streaming platform, Cupertino has been making efforts to bring more original video content to the platform. The partnership suggests that Spotify is looking to level the playing field with Apple Music, but has stopped short of building its own TV and video content service from scratch.

Both companies said that they will offer similar bundles to a broader demographic in the future, but didn’t announce any further details about those plans.

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Apple Adds 4 More High-Profile TV Executives to Its Video Team

Amid an avalanche of reports that Apple is on the cusp of making big moves in the TV and video content space, a fresh report published by Variety earlier this week alleges that in addition to its myriad of high-profile hirings earlier this year, the tech-giant has snatched up yet another trio of Sony Pictures Television executives, as well as the former head of publicity for WGN America, in an attempt to even further solidify  the company’s original video content aspirations.

First up we have Kim Rozenfeld, who was formerly the “head of current programming” at Sony Pictures Television. Rozenfeld will reportedly be joining Apple’s video team under the guise of “lead executive on documentary series development,” according to the report, which suggests that Apple might be looking into developing documentary films in some capacity. Interestingly, Rozenfeld will be joining the same team that’s being headed by her former bosses — Sony Pictures co-Presidents, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who Apple hired earlier this year to essentially pioneer its new video content development unit.

Similarly, two other former Sony Pictures TV executives, Max Aronson and Ali Woodruff, will be joining Apple’s video team as co-executive developers of original content. Prior to his role at Apple, Aronson had served as Sony Pictures’ VP of drama development, while Woodruff served as the company’s “director of creative affairs,” according to the report.

Last but not least, Apple has scooped up yet another TV executive from WGN America: the network’s former head of publicity, Rita Cooper Lee, who will be joining Apple’s video unit as a ‘lead communications director’, reporting to the iPhone-maker’s Public Relations and Communications chief, Tom Neumayr.

Apple has been on a lightning streak lately, hiring big names in the television and digital content industries, while courting big Hollywood executives in hopes of getting its video endeavors off the ground. At the most, these developments hint that the tech-giant is indeed serious about getting its content projects going — and that it’s not abashed to invest substantial amounts of capital if it helps get the wheels turning, either. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what all these TV executives bring to the table, and fortunately we should now more by the end of the year.

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Jailbreak Pioneers Say Jailbreaking Is Officially Dead

Jailbreaking iPhones is officially dead, according to the pioneers who first helped make iOS jailbreaking a craze in the first place.

Earlier this year, Motherboard talked to several of those pioneers, including Nicholas Allegra, Michael Wang, and Cydia creator Jay Freeman. Allegra, specifically, didn’t mince words. “I feel like jailbreak’s basically dead at this point,” he told the publication. If anyone could revitalize the nascent underground movement, Allegra contends, it would have been Luca Todesco — someone who announced his departure from the jailbreaking community in March.

Jailbreakers once pushed the iPhone to its absolute limits in the device’s nascent years. The first iterations of the Apple flagship had no App Store, or even any sort of third-party apps at all. The first iPhone, revolutionary as it was, was pretty feature-limited. The first version of iOS didn’t even have a simple game like Snake installed.

Those limitations are what drove early iPhone hackers to break into Apple’s “walled garden.” Some prominent groups, like the non-Apple affiliated iPhone Dev Team, began poking around in iOS’ code, searching for vulnerabilities that they could use to gain greater control over the device. And while there were certainly many malicious attackers doing the same, most jailbreakers did it purely for the sport — and to expand the early iPhone’s range of capabilities.

Over the years, however, Apple has improved added a plethora of additional features to iOS, many inspired by the jailbreaking scene, and the company has significantly beefed up iOS’ security, too. Now, the jailbreak pioneers claim, there’s a lot of effort needed to jailbreak a new version of iOS, with very little payoff.

“What do you get in the end?” Jay Freeman told Motherboard. “It used to be that you got killer features that almost were the reason you owned the phone. Now you get a small minor modification.” It’s also worth noting that if an iPhone is jailbroken, it’s exposed to all kinds of security vulnerabilities as well.

Not only is jailbreaking a lot harder, but the entire scene has changed since its golden years, too. Hackers can now stand to make some serious cash if they sell a vulnerability to zero-day merchants — up to $ 1 million in some cases — and many of the best jailbreak experts have gone on to become security researchers with no interest in releasing future jailbreak software. iPhone security research is now a multi-million dollar industry.

All of this adds up to, in Freeman’s words, Jailbreaking’s “death spiral.” Indeed, iOS jailbreaks are getting fewer and farther between. That’s because there’s less reason to jailbreak an iPhone now, “which means there’s fewer people jailbreaking, which causes there to be less developers bothering to target it. And then you slowly die,” Freeman added.

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