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MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors - Mac Blog



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Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 03:24:05 PST

 



Google Responds to Reports of Unexpected Account Sign-Outs

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 03:23:09 PST

(image) Google has responded to multiple reports of users being unexpectedly logged out of their Google accounts, in order to assuage fears that the logouts were security related.

The unexpected sign-outs began on Thursday night and continued through Friday, affecting multiple services including Gmail, Chromecast, YouTube, and Google Play.
During routine maintenance, a number of users were signed-out from their Google accounts. This may have resulted in you being signed out of your account or seeing a notification about "A change in your Google account" or "Account Action Required".

We hear your concerns that this appeared to potentially be phishing or another type of security issue. We can assure you that the security of your account was never in danger as a result of this issue.
Google said the issue with its Google Accounts engine also caused some Google Wifi and OnHub devices to automatically revert to factory settings. "Unfortunately, these devices need to be set up again," said Google. "We'd like to share our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience." Instructions on re-setting the Wi-Fi devices can be found here.

The only information confirmed by the local police force referenced "a police operation" that was ongoing on the corner of King and George streets between 1:36 PM and 1:50 PM local time today. A police dog was also seen entering the Apple Store, but once it left and the police appeared finished at the scene at around 2:24 PM, a line was allowed to queue back on the street for re-entry into the store.
Shoppers were evacuated from the store as around six police cars appeared at the building in the city’s CBD. Officers and a police dog were seen entering the store as a crowd gathered outside.

Ashley, one of those evacuated, tweeted that he “heard store employees talking about a bomb threat, not a drill” and police were “very firm in telling people to leave immediately.”
Since customers have now been allowed to re-enter the location, it appears that the officers didn't find anything of potential harm in the store.


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Touch Bar Support in Microsoft Office for Mac Rolls Out to All Users

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:49:00 PST

Starting today, Microsoft Office users who own one of Apple's new 2016 MacBook Pro models can update their Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software to gain new Touch Bar integrations.

Touch Bar support for Microsoft Office was first announced at Apple's October keynote event where the updated MacBook Pro with Touch Bar debuted. At that time, Microsoft outlined the Touch Bar's capabilities, highlighting unique capabilities for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

In Microsoft Word, the Touch Bar can be used with Word Focus Mode, which hides all on-screen ribbons and commands to put the focus on your work. The Touch Bar puts "the most relevant Word features" at a user's fingertips, allowing for quick style changes.

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In PowerPoint, the Touch Bar makes it easier to manipulate graphic elements. A Reorder Objects button creates a graphical map of all the layers, so users can quickly find an object and move its position. There are also special controls that are available in Slideshow View.

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With Excel, the Touch Bar displays the most recently used functions when the equals sign is typed into a cell, so it's quicker to do things like sum a range of numbers. The Touch Bar also provides access to borders, cell colors, and recommended charts.

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Microsoft has also added new capabilities to the Touch Bar during its testing period. The Touch Bar can also be used to insert comments, photos, and hyperlinks into Word, it includes view-specific controls in PowerPoint, and there's an object rotation slider for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Last week, Microsoft previewed Touch Bar support, providing it to its "Office Insider" beta testers, but now the service is ready to roll out to all Office users.

Touch Bar support is currently only available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but Microsoft also plans expand it to Outlook and Skype for Business in the near future.


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Apple Tops 'World's Most Admired Companies' List for Tenth Year in a Row

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:57:46 PST

Apple has been awarded the number one spot on Fortune's annual list of the "World's Most Admired Companies." The 2017 list marks Apple's tenth consecutive win as the most admired company in the world according to Fortune, which collected the data from 3,800 executives, analysts, directors, and industry experts to end up with the final ranking.

After Apple, the top five slots are rounded out by Amazon, Starbucks, Berkshire Hathaway, and Disney. Last year, Alphabet ranked in second place but the company has fallen down to sixth in 2017. One of Apple's direct rivals in the hardware and software space, Microsoft, has been placed in the ninth spot in a tie with Facebook.

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Fortune ranks companies through a collection of "key attributes of reputation," including areas like innovation, people management, social responsibility, and quality of products/services. This year, however, Apple's industry rank wasn't reported "due to an insufficient response rate in the computer industry."

Like in previous iterations, Fortune started the list by looking at a collection of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue, along with 500 non-U.S. companies with revenue of $10 billion or more. The list was then further whittled down to 680 companies in 28 countries, and Fortune survey collaborator Korn Ferry Hay Group began asking the 3,800 experts to rank companies on the nine criteria.


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Minecraft Player Spends 232 Hours Building Apple Campus 2

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 10:43:33 PST

Apple's spaceship-shaped campus in Cupertino, California has been under construction for several years and is one of the most expensive, ambitious buildings in the United States.

While Apple has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the campus, which is slated to open later this year, Minecraft player Alex Westerlund has been building a Minecraft version of Apple's second campus.

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UzcA7ROISCg" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">

According to Westerlund, building the campus in Minecraft took him 232 hours over the course of a year. He used construction plans along with topographical maps to create an accurate rendition of the campus, down to the land it's built on.

As can be seen in the video, the ring-shaped main building has been faithfully recreated, with its curved glass windows, massive doors, solar panels, window awnings, and more. Westerlund says the main building is "absolutely massive" at 469 blocks across, with every hill, path, and orchard placed according to construction plans.

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The courtyard of the building includes trails, two cafes, a cafeteria patio, cherry trees, a fitness center, and a fountain, while the interior features atriums and a huge cafeteria built to match a publicly released rendering.

Apple's real second campus is nearing completion. According to the latest drone video, construction crews are hard at work on landscaping and are wrapping up work on solar panels and a nearby research and development facility. The campus is expected to be finished in 2017, but exactly when employees will move in remains unclear.

Westerlund tells MacRumors that as Apple continues work on its campus, he'll continue to flesh out his virtual version, putting in up to four hours of active building time per day.


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Apple's 'Arrogance' Impedes Major Acquisitions as Analysts Look to Potential Targets in Online Video

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 08:02:21 PST

In an in-depth new look at Apple's merger and acquisitions tactics published today by Bloomberg, Apple's "arrogant" culture of deal negotiations is put on display. According to sources who have worked with Apple in M&A, the company struggles repeatedly to pull off big deals "because of a series of quirks," including a refusal to work with investment bankers, inexperience with large takeovers, and an "aversion to risk." Apple is more interested, and more confident, in building its own services rather than outright purchasing them from a competitor, with occasional exceptions like the 2014 acquisition of Beats and later launch of Apple Music. “The first step in M&A is having some conviction about what it is you want to do,” said Eric Risley, managing partner at Architect Partners LLC who has negotiated deals with Apple. “Apple probably more than most feels that they’re very capable of building things" rather than buying them, he added. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. According to analysts and investors, Apple's next big move should be the acquisition of an online video streaming service. The company has began making strides towards beefing up Apple Music's original video content division, with Carpool Karaoke: The Series and Planet of the Apps coming this spring, but analysts believe it needs something "akin to Netflix or Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video." In order to reach a forecast of $50 billion revenue in its services business by 2021, Erick Maronak, chief investment officer at Victory Capital Management, said that the company is "going to have to pursue something bigger than a Beats-like acquisition." This might include other possible "blockbuster" acquisitions like Walt Disney Co. or Tesla Inc, according to Baird analyst William Power. Netflix is also mentioned multiple times as a logical acquisition target for Apple, with multiple investors and analysts saying the company "needs at least one big acquisition in online video." But even here, some analysts and investors argue for a big acquisition, especially in online video streaming. Apple has started distributing videos through the Music service, and pooling other providers’ video in its mobile TV app, but it has no service akin to Netflix or Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video. On Friday, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said Apple needs at least one big acquisition in online video. To reach its $50 billion target, the company must find an extra $13 billion in services revenue over the next four years -- beyond what it can generate itself. Netflix Inc. ended 2016 with sales of less than $9 billion, so even buying that business may not be enough, the analyst said. Looking behind the scenes at the process Apple goes through to acquire a company, the Apple deals team is said to be made up of around a dozen people and led by Apple's head of M&A Adrian Perica. Most deals "take place at the behest of the company's engineers," so the team meets with Apple engineers who advise them on which potential acquisition targets are attractive and include talented engineers that would add value to Apple. Its acquisition strategy works well for smaller startups, which it acquires frequently, but the company faces a challenge for bigger deals. Apple refuses to work with investment bankers in an attempt to work directly with the other company's management teams. This results in an air of arrogance, according to Eric Risley, who has negotiated deals with Apple, further stating that "they’re used to being able to muscle their way in and get attractive economics." The company's overall attitude "puts off sellers," as well as its inexperience with integrating larger companies. Some analysts point towards the "lukewarm" launch of Apple Music after the Beats acquisition as proof of this struggle. Still, some investors remain adamant that for Apple to succeed, particularly in its attempts at creating and producing orig[...]



Microsoft Follows Apple By Hiking Price of Surface Book Laptops in the U.K.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 04:01:16 PST

Microsoft has increased the price of its Surface Book laptops in the United Kingdom, following the impact of the country's decision to leave the European Union on the pound sterling (via TechCrunch).

Previously, the company had limited its cost adjustments to enterprise products, but the significant drop in the strength of the pound since the E.U. referendum last June has now seen Microsoft follow Apple's lead and hike the prices of its consumer laptops.

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The price rises mean the base model of the Surface Book in the U.K. now costs £150 more at £1,449 ($1,800), putting it at the same price as the base model of a 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar.

The price changes, which came into effect today, only affect products and services purchased by individuals, or organizations without volume licensing contracts.
"In response to a recent review we are adjusting the British pound prices of some of our hardware and consumer software in order to align to market dynamics," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.
Back in October, Apple raised sterling prices for its entire Mac line-up by around 25 percent. The cost of a 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro went from £999 to £1,249 overnight, despite being superseded by a brand new model starting at £1,449. Similar price increases were seen across aging Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro lines, while just last month, Apple also increased the price of iOS apps by the same percentage.

Microsoft has repeatedly positioned the Surface Book as an alternative laptop for newcomers and unsatisfied MacBook owners, with time-limited "trade-up" offers for disillusioned Mac owners and TV ads describing capabilities of the Surface Book as things a Mac "just can't do".


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Sophisticated 'Xagent' Malware for Stealing Passwords and iPhone Backups Now Targets Mac Users

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:13:05 PST

A new version of Xagent, malware reportedly created by Russian hacking group APT28, has been discovered, and this version targets Mac users.

As outlined in a blog post by antivirus company Bitdefender (via Ars Technica), Xagent has previously been used to infiltrate Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux devices, but now Macs are vulnerable to attack as well. This is the first version of Xagent that's believed to be able to infiltrate Macs.

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The Mac version of Xagent is described as a backdoor that can be customized to do things like log passwords, detect system configurations, execute files, take screenshots of the display, and access iOS backups stored on the Mac.
The sample we are discussing today has been linked to the Mac OSX version of Xagent component from Sofacy/APT28/Sednit APT. This modular backdoor with advanced cyber-espionage capabilities is most likely planted on the system via the Komplex downloader.

Once successfully installed, the backdoor checks if a debugger is attached to the process. If it detects one, it terminates itself to prevent execution. Otherwise, it waits for an Internet connection before initiating communication with the C&C servers.

After the communication has been established, the payload starts the modules. Our preliminary analysis shows most of the C&C URLs impersonate Apple domains.
APT28 is the cyberespionage group that has been accused of hacking into the U.S. Democratic National Committee last year and interfering with the 2016 presidential election.

Bitdefender isn't entirely sure how the Mac version of Xagent is being distributed to users, but it could be spread via a macOS malware downloader called Komplex, which exploits a vulnerability in the virus-like MacKeeper software. Research on the malware is ongoing.

Mac users concerned about Xagent should avoid downloading anything that doesn't come from the Mac App Store or a well-known developer.

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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