Mark Zuckerberg Says Apple’s iMessage is Facebook’s ‘Biggest Competitor by Far’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday singled out Apple's iMessage mobile messaging service as Facebook's "biggest competitor by far." (via CNBC).

The comments were made to investors during an earnings call for the company's third quarter performance, in which the Facebook CEO admitted the social platform was losing out to iMessage in "important" territories like the U.S., where iPhone sales are highest.
"Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call on Tuesday with investors, referring to the messaging service built into the iPhone and other Apple products.

"In important countries like the U.S. where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as a default texting app and it's still ahead," he said.
The Facebook chief said the company had identified a shift in the way users are communicating, with many transitioning from publicly shared content to private messaging, thanks to services like Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple's iMessage.

Zuckerberg also responded to vehement criticism from Apple CEO Tim Cook about companies that use people's personal information as a business model for profit.
"It's worth noting that one of the main reasons people prefer our services, especially WhatsApp, is because of its stronger record on privacy," Zuckerberg said.

"WhatsApp is completely end-to-end encrypted, does not store your messages, and doesn't store the keys to your messages in China or anywhere else. And this is important because if our systems can't see your messages, then that means that governments and bad actors won't be able to access them through us either."
Zuckerberg's reference to China is likely a dig at Apple, which recently transferred its China iCloud services from a hosting location in the United States to servers owned and operated by a state-run Chinese company.

The move means the Chinese government can use its own legal system to ask Apple for users' iCloud data, whereas before the government had to go through the U.S. legal system. Human rights and digital security advocates have questioned whether Apple will be able to maintain and protect its customers' privacy under the new Chinese laws.

During the earnings call, investors learned that Facebook had surpassed analysts' estimates on earnings per share in the third quarter, but had fallen short on revenue and active user projections.


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Apple Business Chat Now Available in UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Many Other Countries

Apple Business Chat, a platform for businesses to provide customer service through iMessage, is now available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The feature launched in the United States earlier this year.


The worldwide expansion coincides with many additional brands adopting Business Chat, including automotive retailer Lithia Motors in the U.S., carrier Vodafone in Germany, retailer Harvey Norman in Australia, investment bank Credit Suisse in Hong Kong and Singapore, carrier KDDI in Japan, and others.

Luxury fashion retailer Burberry and hotel chain NH Hotels are also rolling out customer service through Apple Business Chat in multiple countries.

Apple Business Chat launched in iOS 11.3 in March, enabling iPhone and iPad users to ask for information, schedule appointments, make purchases, and complete other customer service tasks directly in the Messages app.

Business Chats must be initiated on an iPhone or iPad, but they can be continued on any other iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch signed into the same Apple ID. You can start a conversation by searching for a business in Maps, Safari, Siri, or Search and tapping on the Messages bubble where available.

Other brands using Business Chat include Apple itself, DISH, Aramark, Four Seasons, Harry & David, American Express, Discover, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Marriott, Newegg, T-Mobile, Ameritrade, Wells Fargo, and 1-800-Flowers.

Business Chat requires iOS 11.3 or later. Also note that while the feature has expanded to additional countries, availability varies by brand. For example, when we tried to message Apple through Business Chat in Canada, an automatic reply indicated that the feature remains unavailable in that country.


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Apple Business Chat Expands to Dish Network, Philadelphia Phillies, American Express, and Others

Apple Business Chat, which is customer service through iMessage, is expanding to a total of 10 new partners and technology platforms.


Apple on Friday announced that satellite TV provider DISH, concessions operator Aramark, hotel chain Four Seasons, food and gift producer Harry & David, and credit card company American Express are adopting the service.

Here's the rundown from Apple:
  • Aramark is launching a 10-game pilot of "Brew2You" at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. By scanning a QR code on their seat back, fans in three sections can use Business Chat to order beer or water and have it delivered to their seat.
  • DISH Network is deploying Business Chat to customers nationwide, to allow them to contact a live agent to ask questions, make account changes, and schedule an appointment. They can also use their credit card on file to order a pay-per-view movie or sporting event.
  • Four Seasons will enable guests to search for any Four Seasons property and instantly engage Four Seasons Chat, a multi-lingual chat service, helping guests to engage with Four Seasons teams anywhere, at any time, for any need.
  • Harry & David customers can chat with a gift concierge about a product or service, or ask any other questions they might have.
  • American Express is kicking off a pilot program for card members to get account information such as their balance, payment due dates, points balance, as well as ask for a card replacement, dispute a charge, get information about their card benefits, and more.
Apple also announced five new technology platforms supporting Business Chat, including Cisco, eGain, Kipsu, Lithium, and Quiq, that businesses can integrate with to handle routing of inbound communications and so forth.

Apple Business Chat also powered the official concierge service for Cannes Lions in June, with LivePerson.

Apple Business Chat launched in iOS 11.3 in March, enabling iPhone and iPad users to ask for information, schedule appointments, make purchases, and complete other customer service tasks directly in the Messages app.


Other companies using Business Chat include Apple itself, Discover, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Marriott, Newegg, T-Mobile, Ameritrade, Wells Fargo, and 1-800-Flowers. Apple says it has seen "strong interest" in the service.

Business Chats must be initiated on an iPhone or iPad, but they can be continued on any other iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch signed into the same Apple ID. You can start a conversation by searching for a business in Maps, Safari, Siri, or Search by tapping on the Messages bubble where available.


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ElcomSoft’s Latest Tool Can Allegedly Access iMessages in iCloud, But Only in Extreme Circumstances

Russian company ElcomSoft today claimed that the latest version of its Phone Breaker software can remotely access iMessage conversation histories stored in iCloud, although there are several strings attached.


Namely, the person attempting to extract iMessages from an iCloud account would need the following before being able to do so:
  • Elcomsoft Phone Breaker version 8.3
  • The associated Apple ID email and password for the iCloud account
  • The passcode, if an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or system password, if a Mac, of at least one device on the account enrolled in Messages in iCloud, which requires iOS 11.4 and macOS 10.13.5 or later
  • Access to a two-factor authentication method, such as a trusted secondary device, which may or may not have the same passcode or system password, or a SIM card for a phone number that has been authorized to receive one-time verification codes via SMS
It's worth noting that if the perpetrator has obtained physical access to at least one of your trusted secondary devices, and its passcode, they would be able to read at least part of your iMessage history regardless by simply opening the Messages app.

Apple obviously cares very deeply about the security of its customers, but if a bad actor has gained access to another person's Apple ID credentials, your passcode, and at least one of your Apple devices, or your SIM card, there arguably isn't really much the company can do at that point to protect you.

That's why it's so important, as Apple routinely stresses, to set a strong password for your Apple ID, not share that password with others, enable two-factor authentication, and keep careful possession of your devices. It also helps to set a strong alphanumeric passcode on an iOS device, rather than a four-digit one.

Apple says iMessages are protected with end-to-end encryption, and notes that messages can't be accessed by anyone without your device passcode. As an additional safeguard, Apple requires that users have two-factor authentication turned on for their Apple ID accounts to enable Messages in iCloud.


ElcomSoft's tool seems to be taking advantage of the fact that, if iCloud Backups are turned on, a copy of the encryption key protecting iMessages is included in the backup, according to a support document on Apple's website:
If you have iCloud Backup turned on, a copy of the key protecting your Messages is included in your backup. This ensures you can recover your Messages if you’ve lost access to iCloud Keychain and your trusted devices. When you turn off iCloud Backup, a new key is generated on your device to protect future messages and it is not stored by Apple.
Given the extenuating circumstances required, the vast majority of users shouldn't have anything to worry about. But it's a good reminder to maintain strong security practices on all of your devices to stay safe.


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How to Fix the ‘Black Dot’ Unicode Bug Crashing iMessage

Yet another Unicode bug has been discovered that is capable of crashing apps and operating systems, ranging from WhatsApp on Android to iMessage on iOS. We won't share the exact string, to prevent it from spreading further, but it includes black dot (⚫️) and pointing left (👈) emojis and other characters.


Simply put, this particular Unicode string cannot be rendered properly and leads to system crashing. In general, when the bug affects iMessage, the issue can be resolved by deleting the conversation containing the problematic message. The following steps work on iPhone 6s and newer, excluding the iPhone SE:
  • Force close the iMessage app.
  • Ask Siri to send a reply to the sender of the message so that the Unicode string is no longer the most recent bubble in the conversation.
  • 3D Touch on the Messages app icon from the home screen and tap New Message in the menu that pops open.
  • Tap on Cancel in the top-right corner of the New Message screen.
  • Tap on Edit in the top-left corner of the conversation list.
  • Tap the circle to the left of the conversation containing the problematic message. A blue checkmark will appear.
  • Tap on Delete in the bottom-right corner.
If you have an iPhone with Siri but not 3D Touch, ranging from the iPhone 4s to the iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone SE, the steps are slightly different:
  • Force close the iMessage app.
  • Ask Siri to send a reply to the sender of the message as many times as necessary until the bubble containing the Unicode string is bumped off the visible part of the conversation.
  • Open the Messages app.
  • Tap on the back arrow in the top-left corner to return to the conversation list.
  • Tap on Edit in the top-left corner of the conversation list.
  • Tap the circle to the left of the conversation containing the problematic message. A blue checkmark will appear.
  • Tap on Delete in the bottom-right corner.
It may also be possible to delete the problematic message on another device running the iOS 11.4 or macOS 10.13.5 betas via Messages on iCloud.

While this latest Unicode bug was discovered last week, it is only now beginning to receive widespread attention in the Apple community, after it was highlighted on a few popular YouTube channels. We've elected not to provide any links, but the specific string is easily Google-able for those interested.

The bug affects both iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.4 beta, and many other software versions, platforms, and devices. Apple has yet to issue a fix, but it will likely release software updates to address the problem soon.


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T-Mobile Introduces Support for Business Chat in Messages

T-Mobile today announced support for Business Chat in the Messages app on iOS devices, a feature Apple introduced in a beta capacity with the release of iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4.

Apple Business Chat is available for all T-Mobile customers, allowing them to interact with T-Mobile's support staff directly in the Messages app.


T-Mobile says that its customers can access Apple Business Chat by searching for T-Mobile and tapping on the "chat" or "message" icon either through the iPhone's main search window or in Apple Maps.

Business Chat can be used to change a rate plan, change an address, purchase a new smartphone, ask questions, make payments, check plan details, and more. T-Mobile says customers can also send screenshots for "quickly and easily" troubleshooting issues.

Business Chat can also be used across devices, so customer support chats can be conducted and resumed on iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch.

At the current time, Apple's Business Chat feature is limited to the United States. Many other companies have previously announced support for Business Chat, including Zendesk, Lowe's, Discover, Hilton, and Wells Fargo.


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iOS 11.3 Release Notes Appear to Have Leaked With No Mention of Messages on iCloud or AirPlay 2

French developer Pierre Blazquez today shared what he claims are the final iOS 11.3 release notes, supposedly obtained from Apple's servers. His tweet contains images of the release notes in English for the United States.

Apple blog Mac4Ever shared the release notes in French, which we've translated and embedded below in English.

While there aren't too many surprises, it's worth noting that Messages on iCloud is not listed, despite being enabled in the latest iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 betas. Apple did say the feature is included in the betas "for testing and evaluation purposes," so it was never entirely clear if it would be ready for the final release.


AirPlay 2 is also not listed, although the protocol was removed from the later beta versions of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3. Messages on iCloud and AirPlay 2 were also not listed in macOS 10.13.4 release notes leaked last week.

Beyond that, the release notes seemingly confirm Apple's new Battery Health feature on iPhones will still be considered a beta feature in the iOS 11.3 public release, Advanced Mobile Location support where available, App Store review sorting, and improved charging management for always-plugged-in iPads.

As expected, there are also new accessibility features, a wide range of stability improvements and bug fixes, and other enhancements:

Augmented Reality
  • ARKit 1.5 allows developers to place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls and doors in addition to horizontal surfaces
  • Adds support for detecting and incorporating images like movie posters or artwork into AR experiences
  • Supports a higher resolution real-world camera view when using AR experiences

iPhone Battery Health (Beta)
  • Displays information on iPhone maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability
  • Indicates if the performance management feature that dynamically manages maximum performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns is on and includes the option to disable it
  • Recommends if a battery needs to be replaced
  • For more information on batteries and performance, visit this website: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208387

iPad charge management
  • Maintains battery status when the iPad is plugged in for extended periods of time, such as when used in a kiosk or point-of-sale system, or stored in a charging cart.

Animoji
  • Four new Animoji available on the iPhone X: lion, bear, dragon and skull.

Privacy
  • When an Apple feature asks to use your personal information, an icon now appears with a link to access detailed information about how your data will be used and protected.

Business Chat (Beta) — US Only
  • Communicate with companies to easily ask questions, schedule appointments, and make purchases inside the built-in Messages app on iPhone and iPad

Health Records (Beta) — US Only
  • Access health records and view lab results, immunizations, and more in a consolidated timeline in the Health app

Apple Music
  • Provides a new experience in video clips, including a Revised Video Clips section featuring exclusive video playlists.
  • Find friends with similar tastes through Apple Music's improved suggestions, which list the genres that the users and mutual friends follow.

News
  • The main titles now always appear first in "For You."
  • Watch the best videos selected by News editors.

App Store
  • Four options now allow you to sort the customer reviews on the product pages: the most useful, the most favorable, the most critical or the most recent.
  • The Updates tab now shows the version of the app and the size of the file.

Safari
  • Promotes the protection of privacy by notifying usernames and passwords until they have been selected in a web form field.
  • Presents warnings in the smart search field when the user interacts with password entry forms or credit card data on unencrypted web pages.
  • Automatic filling of usernames and passwords is now available in apps' web views.
  • By default, articles shared via Mail from Safari are now formatted using Reader mode, if the drive is available.
  • In Favorites, folders now have icons for the bookmarks they contain.

Keyboards
  • Adds two Shuangpin keyboard layouts.
  • Supports connected physical keyboards using Turkish F layout.
  • Improves Chinese and Japanese keyboards for better accessibility on devices with a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen.
  • Allows you to return to the keyboard with a simple touch after the dictation.
  • Fixes a problem that could cause the capitalization of the first letter of some words by the automatic correction feature.
  • Fixes an issue on the iPad Pro that prevented the iPad Smart Keyboard from working after connecting to a captive Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Fixes a problem that could cause undesirable activation of the digital layout on the Thai keyboard in landscape mode.

Accessibility
  • The App Store now supports accessibility options "Bold Text" and "Large Font" for customizing the display.
  • Smart Reversal now supports images on the web and in Mail messages.
  • Enhances the RTT experience and supports RTT service for T-Mobile.
  • Improves app selection on the iPad for VoiceOver users and selection control.
  • Corrects a problem with the incorrect description of the Bluetooth status icon and the Bluetooth icon by VoiceOver.
  • Fixes a problem that may prevent the end of call button from appearing in the Phone app when using VoiceOver.
  • Fixes an issue preventing access to an app's built-in ranking with VoiceOver.
  • Fixes a problem that may cause distorted audio playback when using real-time listening.

Other Enhancements and Fixes
  • Supports AML technology, which provides more accurate location data to emergency services during an emergency call (in countries where this technology is available).
  • Supports software authentication, which provides developers with a new way to create and activate HomeKit-compatible accessories.
  • Podcasts now plays episodes with a single tap, and you can tap Details to learn more about each one.
  • Improves search performance for users with long notes in Contacts.
  • Improves the performance of Handoff and the universal clipboard when both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Fixes a problem that may prevent incoming calls from activating the screen.
  • Fixes a problem that may prevent or prevent voicemail playback.
  • Fixes an issue that prevents opening a web link in Messages.
  • Fixes a problem that may prevent users from returning to Mail after previewing an attachment to a message.
  • Fixes a problem that could cause the deleted screen to reappear on the locked screen.
  • Fixes a problem that can cause the time and notifications to disappear on the locked screen.
  • Fixes an issue that prevents parents from using Face ID for approving purchase authorization requests.
  • Fixes a problem that could prevent updating of the current weather conditions in Weather.
  • Fixes a problem that could prevent the synchronization of contacts with a vehicle directory when connected via Bluetooth.
  • Fixes a problem that may prevent an audio app from playing content in a vehicle while it was in the background.
iOS 11.3 remains in beta testing, but a public release appears to be imminent, as the software update was seeded for the new iPad yesterday.

Apple recently confirmed that there will be an iOS 11.4 software update, perhaps including Messages on iCloud and AirPlay 2.

Related Roundup: iOS 11

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iMessage Has Emoji-Related Bug Dating Back Several iOS Versions

Apple released iOS 11.2.1 on Wednesday with multiple bug fixes, but an emoji-related issue continues to affect the Messages app on iOS devices.


The bug happens as follows: start a fresh conversation with a new recipient in the Messages app, send a single emoji as the first message, and much of the interface will essentially go blank with the top menu disappearing.

The glitch effectively renders the Messages app unusable until it is force closed and reopened through the multitasking menu.

The bug has affected most iPhone, iPad, and likely iPod touch models since at least iOS 11.1.2. MacRumors is able to reproduce the issue on iOS 11.2, iOS 11.2.1, and the first iOS 11.2.5 beta released yesterday.

The issue is prevalent in both iMessage conversations with blue bubbles and SMS conversations with green bubbles.

While this bug is a minor one, it adds to a growing list of issues that have surfaced over the past several versions of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, including a major Mac vulnerability that provided easy access to the root superuser.

Beyond the root bug, Apple has also dealt with a HomeKit-related vulnerability, an iPhone camera autofocus issue, iOS autocorrect bugs, and iPhone X glitches in cold weather, among other problems, in recent weeks.

We've alerted Apple about this bug shortly prior to publishing this article and we'll provide an update if and when we learn about a fix.


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Android App ‘weMessage’ Lets You Get iMessages on Your Android Smartphone With a Mac

There's no official way to get iMessages on a non-iOS device like an Android smartphone, but a new Android app aims to provide a workaround, at least temporarily. weMessage is designed to allow you to get iMessages on an Android device, but for it to work, a Mac is required.

weMessage uses a weServer app on a Mac, which takes iMessages that are delivered to a Mac and forwards them to an Android smartphone or tablet. As described by the developer on reddit, the weServer app acts as a bridge between a Mac and an Android device, using Accessibility features to tap into Apple's Messages app for the Mac.

weMessage works by using Apple's developer tools that hook into the Messages app, as well as by turning on Accessibility features that will perform the message sending. There was zero reverse engineering involved in the creation of this app, so all messages being sent are legitimate. In addition, I believe this implementation is fair, as you still need to have an Apple device to use iMessage, but it is merely being extended to all devices.
According to the developer, all iMessage features are supported, including group chats, attachments, notifications, Do Not Disturb, content blocking, and more, with notifications enabled by sending messages to the Google Firebase platform.


Unfortunately, while this appears to be a solid attempt at routing iMessages to an Android device based on reddit comments, this is not an app that's likely to last. Similar apps and methods of forwarding iMessages to Android devices have popped up in the past, but have been shut down by Apple.

It's likely Apple will require the developer to shutter the app, and it may soon be removed from the Google Play Store, but in the meantime, it's available for any Android users who also have a Mac and want to experiment with iMessage.

There have been rumors suggesting Apple has considered an iMessage app for Android devices, and Apple even reportedly created detailed mockups of what such an app might look like, but there has not been concrete evidence that an Android iMessage app has ever been in the works.

Apple execs are said to believe that iMessage, as a "superior messaging platform," helps to spur iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales, suggesting iMessage is not likely to expand beyond Apple's devices anytime soon.

The developer behind weMessage was originally charging $2.99, but it's now available to download for free.


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macOS High Sierra Users Report Significant Delays Receiving iMessages and SMS Texts

A bug in macOS High Sierra is causing users to receive iMessages and SMS texts on Macs and other iCloud-connected devices long after they were originally sent, according to reports that have been gradually building up over the last week or so.

First spotted by AppleInsider, a growing number of complaints on Apple's support forums detail the issue, which is affecting Mac owners with iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches. The issue has also been picked up on MacRumors' forums, while at least one MacRumors staff member has experienced the same problem.


On updating to macOS High Sierra, some users report that iMessages only appear on their Mac after a long delay compared to their iPads and iPhones. Others have noticed that notifications are not coming through at all on other devices connected to the same iCloud account.

Some contributors to Apple's support forum and the MacRumors forum have suggested a couple of temporary fixes, including disabling and re-enabling messages, or sending messages on a Mac instead of an iOS device. Recent beta versions of macOS High Sierra don't appear to solve the problem, making reverting to macOS Sierra the only persistent workaround. Meanwhile, a community bug report has been created to alert Apple to the issue.

There's some speculation that the bug could be related to changes to the way iMessages function behind the scenes. Apple is working to bring iCloud syncing to iMessage in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11, so that deleting a message on one device removes it from all devices linked to the same account, for example. The advertised feature was pulled when the two operating systems were launched, but Apple hopes to introduce it later this fall.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra

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