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Microsoft Office for iOS Updated With iCloud Drive Support

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Microsoft today released an update for its suite of Office apps on Apple's iPhone and iPad App Store for users running iOS 8. The 1.6 updates bring, along with the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements, full support for saving and syncing documents via Apple's iCloud Drive service (via The Verge). 

Microsoft says users of its most popular software like WordExcel, and PowerPoint can now open, edit, and save their work to iCloud as a storage option in the "Places" section of each iOS app. 

Microsoft Word
The additional storage method doesn't require users to have an Office 365 subscription and comes as an alternative to Microsoft's own cloud storage option, OneDrive. As pointed out by The Verge, light restrictions on a few file types may hinder iCloud's usage on Microsoft's iOS apps, however.

There’s also restrictions on filetypes, so while you can see a thumbnail preview of text in a document created with TextEdit on a Mac (stored on iCloud), you can’t access the document or edit it. Overall, it’s a fairly basic feature addition, but one that will please (and possibly frustrate) those who use iCloud on a regular basis.

Microsoft most recently added a similar feature to flesh out its iOS offerings with apartnership with Dropbox that let users open, edit, and save their documents using the popular document-saving cloud app. The WordExcel, and PowerPoint apps launched on the iPhone in early November, bringing free document creation and basic editing to the service. 

Microsoft Word [Direct Link], Microsoft Excel [Direct Link], and Microsoft PowerPoint[Direct Link] can all be downloaded from the App Store for free.

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Apple Two-Step Verification Now Available for iMessage and FaceTime [Updated]

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Apple's two-step verification system now covers FaceTime and iMessage, reports The Guardian. Signing into an iMessage or FaceTime account protected by two-step verification will ask users to input an app specific password, which can only be obtained by logging in to an Apple ID account on the web with an authentication code, thereby preventing any unauthorized login attempts. 

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Two-factor verification is an opt-in system that was first introduced in March of 2013 to increase the security of Apple ID accounts. Prior to today, a verification code was only required for making changes to an account, signing into iCloud, or making iTunes/App Store purchases from a new device. 

Two-factor authentication for iCloud is a recent addition that was implemented in September following the breach of several celebrity iCloud accounts, leading to a slew of leaked photos. The hacking incident led Apple to improve the security of iCloud and it also prompted the company to send out security emails when a device is restored, iCloud is accessed, or a password change is attempted. 

Last month, a Medium post highlighting some of the remaining shortcomings of two-factor authentication was shared by several technology sites, which may have inspired Apple to update the service to protect iMessage and FaceTime accounts. The post pointed out that it was still possible to log into iMessage, FaceTime, iTunes, the App Store, and into the website using an account with two-factor authentication enabled without being asked for a verification code. 

It seems two-factor authentication for iMessage and FaceTime may still be rolling out to users, as MacRumors was able to log into iMessage and FaceTime accounts with two-factor authentication enabled without a code. 

Update: Two-factor authentication for iMessage and FaceTime seems to be more widely available now, and it appears that logging into an account requires an app specific password rather than a code to prevent unauthorized entry attempts.

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Apple Rejecting Violent App Screenshots for Infringing Long-Standing Policy

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Apple has been rejecting a number of apps with screenshots that depict violence or guns from being released or updated on the App Store, as reported by Pocket Gamer. As a result, developers have been forced to modify their app screenshots to either completely remove or blur any violent materials in order to get through the approval process. 

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Tempo [Direct Link] screenshot with a blurred gun to adhere to Apple's guidelines


Apple has long required developers to ensure all front-facing App Store materials are appropriate for children, although it has been more aggressively enforcing its stance against violent screenshots in recent weeks. Earlier today, Instapaper developer Marco Arment pointed towards language in the App Store Review Guidelines that clearly spells out Apple's kid-friendly requirements.

"The App Store has parental controls and requires all apps to bear age-appropriate content ratings. While violence, etc. has always been permitted in apps, Apple has always required that all app metadata — title, description, icon, and screenshots — be kid-proof with the lowest rating. [...] It’s right there in the rules: 3.6 Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected"

Despite cracking down on violent imagery, Apple told The Loop that it is being more liberal as of late in terms of what images and screenshots it permits to be shown on the App Store.

"I spoke with Apple about this today and they told me the company is being more liberal lately with what it allows in the App Store for images and screenshots. I don’t know the specifics of individual games, but overall, Apple is being more lenient of late."

Modern Combat
Nevertheless, it is clear that Apple has been quite inconsistent with enforcing its App Store review guidelines over the years. Look no further than Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour [Direct Link], which heavily features violence in its promotional images. Developers have expressed frustration over strict guidelines since the App Store launched in 2008, but Apple remains committed to exercising fine-tuned control over the storefront to ensure the best experience possible for all users.

"We're really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living too. If it sounds like we're control freaks, well, maybe it's because we're so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are, too."

The tighter enforcement comes on the heels of Apple increasing the maximum app sizefrom 2GB to 4GB. Developers that have apps rejected for sensitive content are permitted to resubmit for approval after making the necessary changes.

 

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iOS 8.4 in Development With Possible Support for New Music Service

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Along with iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, both of which have been seeded to developers in beta form, Apple is also said to be working on an iOS 8.4 update. According to 9to5Mac, the beta is codenamed "Copper," and set to be released later this year at some point after the Apple Watch becomes available for purchase in April. 

Given the release timing after iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, it's possible that iOS 8.4 will be the update that introduces Apple's new streaming music service. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple's existing Beats music service will be rebranded, revamped with alower price tag, and integrated into iOS and OS X. A timeline is unclear, but Apple could be aiming for a June launch, sometime around its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. 

iOS 8.4 began appearing in MacRumors site logs towards the end of January, with usage spiking up at the beginning of February. The number of visits from devices running iOS 8.4 from both Apple IPs and non-Apple IPs remains relatively low, however, suggesting that development on iOS 8.4 is in the very early stages. 

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Visitors to MacRumors.com via Apple's networks from devices running iOS 8.4



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Overall visitors to MacRumors.com from devices running iOS 8.4


iOS 8.2 has been in developer testing since November, and iOS 8.3, with wireless CarPlay support, a new emoji picker, and Apple Pay for China was just seeded to developers this morning. Along with its iOS 8 projects, Apple is also working on iOS 9, an update that may heavily focus on stability and optimization.

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Apple Working On Project That Will 'Give Tesla a Run for its Money' Says Employee

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Following last week's news of a mysterious Apple-leased vehicle roaming the streets of Northern California, an Apple employee has given some details to Business Insider, suggesting Apple is working on a project that will "give Tesla a run for its money."

After writing about how the van could be used for a self-driving car, we got an unsolicited email from an employee at Apple about "vehicle development" at the company. [...] 

"Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," the person said. "I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."

According to the site's source, who was verified to be an Apple employee, Tesla employees are "jumping ship" and choosing to work at Apple because of this unidentified project. 

Last week's pictures unveiled a van that appeared to have multiple cameras on the top, similar to the vehicles Google uses for mapping. Given the van's similarity to other mapping vehicles, rumors have suggested that it is likely for an unspecified mapping project. Apple has been working to improve Maps in recent months, and it's possible the company is working on a feature that would compete with Google Street View. 

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Photo of Apple van via Claycord


Other speculation has ranged a bit more towards the fantastical, suggesting that Apple is perhaps working on a self-driving car, but this seems unlikely due to Apple's tendency to focus on just a few products at a time. "We have zero issue coming up with things we want to do, said Tim Cook last January. "We must focus on the very few that deserve all our energy." 

As Business Insider suggests, one probable project that could pique the interest of former Tesla employees is CarPlay. CarPlay, which brings an iOS-style interface to in-car infotainment systems, is still very much in the early stages. In the future, CarPlay, which is being built directly into many cars, could expand to offer a Tesla-style feature set. With the Tesla iPhone app, Tesla owners can turn on heating, lock and unlock doors from afar, flash the lights, and more. 

Deeper integration between iOS and in-car systems is also easily imaginable, given Apple's desire to allow users to transition easily from device to device, as with its new "Continuity" iOS 8/OS X Yosemite feature. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at anexpansion of Continuity and suggested it would be incredibly important going forward. "Use your imagination and think about where Continuity goes," he said. 

Given the ambiguity of the employee's statement, it is, of course, possible that the project in question is not even car-related and is something all together different. 

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk directly contradicted the Apple employee's suggestion that Tesla employees are tempted by what Apple has to offer. In a reportoutlining the many employees Tesla has poached from Apple, Bloomberg spoke to Musk, who said "very few people" had left Tesla for Apple, despite Apple's offer of a $250,000 signing bonus and 60 percent salary increase.

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