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iPhone 7 release date rumours & new features

David Price | June 23, 2016
Apple to ditch usual upgrade cycle, save features for iPhone 8 | iPhone 7 headphone jack 'safe for now' according to reports.

iPhone 7 new features: iPhone 7 to be 'unhackable'

An odd and confusing rumour currently going round claims that Apple is working on new features that will make its iPhones impossible to hack - even for Apple's own engineers. This is an apparent response to the FBI's ongoing attempts to get Apple to break into an iPhone 5c used (but not technically owned) by one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shootings.

I say confusing, because it's unclear what this will involve, and many of the current iPhones' security measures are unverified. Yes, it's understood that Apple could in theory (but is refusing to) install custom firmware on the 5c and bypass the built-in protections that stop hackers from brute-forcing the passcode. But until now it was also understood that the Secure Enclave on the iPhone 5s and later would prevent Apple from using the same methods on later models.

The Times' article implies that Apple intends to go still further with hardware protections on the iPhone 7, although it's also possible that it intends to add software features in an iOS update and retrospectively improve the 5c's ability to withstand hacking attacks.

In any case, the publicity of Apple's battle with the FBI has ensure that privacy is high on the news agenda, and it would be understandable if the company (or one of its rivals) chose this year to announce a smartphone with market-leading privacy protections. Interestingly, however, pollsters have found that a majority of Americans actually take the FBI's side in this case, suggesting that privacy may not be a priority for everyone. (Or maybe we each care only about our own privacy, rather than as an abstract principle.)

iPhone 7 new features: Waterproofing - and official waterproofing this time

The Samsung Galaxy S7, unveiled at MWC 2016, has full IP68-standard waterproofing (after getting rid of the feature for the S6k, to fans' disappointment). This adds additional pressure for Apple to make the iPhone 7 waterproof.

It's been claimed on the Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo that Apple is testing out waterproof designs for the iPhone 7. (Mac Otakara, which picked up on the claims, says that dustproofing is also being looked at, although we can't spot any mention of this in the original posts. Perhaps it's an issue related to translation.) This is reportedly and unsurprisingly at a very early stage - "volume production is very low!", the (translated) post points out - but is being assessed ahead of work starting on prototype designs.


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