AWT News Update: March 24, 2017

We're going into the weekend with a bit of news; some of it is upbeat, while some should be taken seriously:

  • Apple has added over 30 more financial institutions to its list of Apple Pay providers
  • A second update of iTunes 12.6 was released this week after a non-functional control was spied by a number of users. That control could be pointing to a future profiles functionality for Apple Music
  • ZDNet confirms that at least some of the iCloud credentials being held for ransom by the so-called "Turkish Crime Family" hacker group are valid -- it's time to change your iCloud password if you haven't lately

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Note to Apple News readers: you’ll need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for Friday, March 24rd, 2017.

Just a reminder to join us on Monday night for our new live streaming show, AWT TV. We’ll be talking all things Apple and tech, and invite you to join us, watch, and participate in the live chat.

Apple has added over 30 banks and credit unions to the list of financial institutions supporting Apple Pay. The banks are primarily in the US, China and Australia. One of the major US banks added to the list was actually on there by mistake for a while in February. Santander, which is a major international banking player, had been added to the US list in late February and was removed immediately. Santander is a backer of Apple Pay in Spain and the UK, and the re-addition of the bank to the US list increases the organization’s clout in the Apple Pay world.

No, you’re not confused. You really did update iTunes to version 12.6 twice this week. If you haven’t seen the second update, it’s available through the Mac App Store or the Apple Software Update tool on Windows systems. What changed? Well, on the first update, some users who were attempting to edit Apple Music playlists noticed a non-functional toggle switch marked “Show on Profile Page”. It is thought that the toggle may indicate that Apple Music subscribers will get their own profiles in the future, similar to those found in Apple Music competitor Spotify. Profiles can be used to let people connect with each other or publish public playlists, essentially allowing users to curate their own playlists that may be better than those provided by the Apple Music staff. Apple Music was initially announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference, so this may be something that will be announced to the public — and turned on — in June.

Although Apple reported yesterday that iCloud accounts had not been compromised by the so-called “Turkish Crime Family” hacker group based in London, ZDNet reports that least some of the iCloud account credentials that are being held for ransom are legitimate. ZDNet asked the hacker group for a sample set of accounts, and was given 54 user names and passwords. They were then able to test those for verification purposes and found all of the accounts to be currently valid. However, only 10 of the people contacted confirmed that the passwords were accurate and have since changed them. All of the people contacted were based in the UK, and the hackers refused to hand over any US-based account information for testing. ZDNet thinks that based on responses from some of the people contacted, the breaches may have taken place between 2011 and 2015. If you haven’t changed an iCloud.com, me.com or mac.com password in the past two years, you may want to do so now.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back Monday afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.