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  1. Apple Inc. fights the world’s biggest tax case in a quiet courtroom this week, trying to rein in the European Union’s powerful antitrust chief ahead of a potential new crackdown on internet giants. The iPhone maker can tell the EU General Court in Luxembourg that it’s the world’s biggest taxpayer. But that’s not enough for EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager who said in a 2016 ruling that Apple’s tax deals with Ireland allowed the company to pay far less than other businesses. The court must now weigh whether regulators were right to levy a record 13 billion-euro ($14.4 billion) tax bill. Apple’s haggling over tax comes after its market valuation hit $1.02 trillion last week on the back of a new aggressive pricing strategy that may stoke demand for some smartphones and watches. The company’s huge revenue -- and those of other technology firms -- have attracted close scrutiny in Europe, focusing on complicated company structures for transferring profits generated from intellectual property. A court ruling, likely to take months, could empower or halt Vestager’s tax probes, which are now centering on fiscal deals done by Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. She’s also been tasked with coming up with a “fair European tax” by the end of 2020 if global efforts to reform digital taxation don’t make progress. “Politically, this will have very big consequences,” said Sven Giegold, a Green member of the European Parliament. “If Apple wins this case, the calls for tax harmonization in Europe will take on a different dynamic, you can count on that.” Vestager showed her determination to fight the tax cases to the end by opening new probes into 39 companies’ tax deals with Belgium on Monday. The move addresses criticism by the same court handling the Apple challenge. A February judgment threw out her 2016 order for them to pay back about 800 million euros. At the same time she’s pushing for “fair international tax rules so that digitization doesn’t allow companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax,” according to a speech to German ambassadors last month. She urged them to use “our influence to build an international environment that helps us reach our goals” in talks on a new global agreement to tax technology firms. Apple’s fury at its 2016 EU order saw Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook blasting the EU move as “total political crap.” The company’s legal challenge claims the EU wrongly targeted profits that should be taxed in the U.S. and “retroactively changed the rules” on how global authorities calculate what’s owed to them. The U.S. Treasury weighed in too, saying the EU was making itself a “supra-national tax authority” that could threaten global tax reform efforts. President Donald Trump hasn’t been silent either, saying Vestager “hates the United States” because “she’s suing all our companies.” “There is a lot at stake given the high-profile nature of the case, as well as the concerns that have been raised from the U.S. Treasury that the investigations risk undermining the international tax system,” said Nicole Robins, a partner at economics consultancy Oxera in Brussels. Apple declined to comment ahead of the hearing, referring to previous statements. The European Commission also declined to comment. Ireland said it “profoundly” disagreed with the EU’s findings. Richard Murphy, a professor at London’s City University, said the EU’s case “is about making clear that no company should be beyond the geographic limits of tax law.” “Selective attempts to get round the law -- which is what tax avoidance is -- are unacceptable when companies seek the protection and support of that same law” in the rest of their business,” Murphy said. Vestager has also fined Google some $9 billion. She’s ordered Amazon to pay back taxes -- a mere 250 million euros -- and is probing Nike Inc.’s tax affairs and looking into Google’s taxation in Ireland. The first hints of how the Apple case may turn out will come from a pair of rulings scheduled for Sept. 24. The General Court will rule on whether the EU was right to demand unpaid taxes from Starbucks Corp. and a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV unit. Those judgments could set an important precedent on how far the EU can question tax decisions national governments make on how companies should be treated. “It’s very clear that the largest companies in the world -- the frightful five I call them -- are hardly paying taxes,” said Paul Tang, a socialist lawmaker at the European Parliament. “Cases like these, Amazon in Luxembourg or Apple in Ireland, started to build public and political pressure” for tax reform in Europe. The legal battles may go on for a few years more. The General Court rulings can be appealed once more to the EU’s highest tribunal, the EU Court of Justice. Meanwhile, Apple’s back taxes -- 14.3 billion euros including interest -- sit in an escrow account and can’t be paid to Ireland until the final legal challenges are exhausted. For Alex Cobham, chief executive of the Tax Justice Network campaign group, the issue is already in the past and “it’s not even the biggest tax scandal that Apple has” after reports on other structures it may use. Tax reforms under discussion “will ensure much closer alignment of taxable profits and the real economic activity” generated by them. The cases are: T-892/16, Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe v. Commission, T-778/16, Ireland v. Commission Source
  2. He stepped down the day Apple revealed key plans for its new streaming service. Image: Disney CEO Bob Iger Bob Iger, the long-time Disney CEO, has resigned from Apple's board of directors. Apple made the announcement on Friday in an SEC filing, where it revealed that Iger stepped down on September 10th -- which happens to be the day the company shared launch details for Apple TV+, its upcoming video streaming service. Disney is, of course, getting ready to debut a streaming service of its own, Disney+, on November 12th for $6.99 a month in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. Apple TV+, meanwhile, will arrive on November 1st for $4.99 per month in over 100 countries. This is what Apple CEO Tim Cook had to say in 2011, when Iger joined as a board member: "His strategic vision for Disney is based on three fundamentals: generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology and expanding into new markets around the world, which makes him a great fit for Apple." Fast forward to now and, when you consider how Apple and Disney are about to be rivals in the entertainment space, Iger's move shouldn't come as a surprise. Still, his departure is a major loss for the Cupertino company. "It has been an extraordinary privilege to have served on the Apple board for 8 years, and I have the utmost respect for Tim Cook, his team at Apple and for my fellow board members," Iger said in a statement today. "Apple is one of the world's most admired companies, known for the quality and integrity of its products and its people and I am forever grateful to have served as a member of the company's board." Source
  3. Well, well, well, isn’t this Apple rumor just delicious. Image: Director, producer and writer J.J. Abrams attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby Theatre on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. This week, it was announced that J.J. Abrams had, with his wife and business partner Katie McGrath, inked a multi-year agreement with WarnerMedia to develop exclusive content, games, and other media through their production company Bad Robot in a deal that is believed to be worth around $250 million. But the Hollywood Reporter reported Friday that numerous companies had a horse in this race, including Apple. According to the report, Abrams and McGrath met with Apple executives about a potential partnership and were offered a deal in the ballpark of $500 million. But that handsome bid reportedly fell through over exclusivity restrictions, namely that Apple wanted to keep the visionary director all to itself. Imagine, for a moment, telling Abrams that he could no longer do Star Wars. Put another way, Apple didn’t want to share its toys. But evidently, the concerns didn’t stop there. Unlike WarnerMedia, which baited Bad Robot with opportunities that include television, games, theatrical releases, and other digital media, Apple couldn’t offer the same assurances about theatrical distribution. The Hollywood Reporter also cited speculative rumors that Bad Robot was unimpressed with Apple’s March event at which it teased out its new services—including Apple TV+ and Arcade—though the report said sources close to both parties “categorically deny that his decision to sign with WarnerMedia had anything to do with that presentation.” Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the report. Bad Robot’s newly signed deal with WarnerMedia builds on a yearslong existing relationship the company has with Abrams. In a statement this week, Abrams said he was “grateful for the chance to write, produce and direct work for this incredible company, and to help create films and series with a diverse and vast collection of inspiring storytellers. We can’t wait to get started.” Apple, meanwhile, is selling us... well, whatever this turns out to be. Source
  4. Apple releases first trailer for new sci-fi series See, starring Jason Momoa Steven Knight created the series, which features blind and low-vision cast members. Aquaman star Jason Momoa plays the lead role in See, a new sci-fi series on Apple TV Plus. At today's Apple event, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the first trailer for See, an original 10-episode sci-fi series for the company's forthcoming streaming service, Apple TV Plus. "This morning, I want to share with you one of the most imaginative, thrilling, and thought-provoking dramas ever," Cook said. "See stars Jason Momoa and takes place hundreds of years into the future in a world without sight," adding, "We worked with blind and low-vision cast, crew, and consultants for authenticity." Per Variety, "See takes place in the distant future, after a deadly virus decimated humankind. Those who survived emerged blind. Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see. He must protect his tribe against a powerful yet desperate queen who wants the twins destroyed." The series is created and written by Steven Knight, of Peaky Blinders fame, and directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed 2007's I Am Legend and three films in the Hunger Games franchise (Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2). Judging from the trailer, he's bringing that same singular dystopian vision to See. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. "Centuries from now, almost all humans have lost the ability to see," we hear a child say in a voiceover. "Some say sight was taken from them by God to heal the Earth. For the few who remain, vision is only a myth." So what happens when the power of sight returns unexpectedly, with the birth of twins? One might think that would be a good thing, but many now deem sight to be magical or evil. "The evil of light once almost destroyed the world!" a queen declares. So Baba Voss and his tribe go on the run with the sighted children, knowing others will come for them—unless they give up the babies. And if you think Jason Momoa is going to go along with that, guess again. "These children are a gift," says Baba Voss. "They will bring knowledge. They will begin a new world." So the tribe will fight as one—as a family—to protect the children, and their own future. See is expected to debut alongside the soft launch of Apple TV Plus on November 1, 2019. The service will cost $4.99 per month. It will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, and other platforms. Listing image by Apple Source: Apple releases first trailer for new sci-fi series See, starring Jason Momoa (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  5. Fruity firm denies abuses uncovered by undercover staff An investigation by China Labor Watch has found Foxconn's Apple 11 factory is "routinely" and "repeatedly" breaking Chinese labour laws which limit employment of temporary staff. The exhaustive investigation saw several people working in the factory to uncover abuses, with one individual placed there for more than four years. The report found a big increase in Foxconn's use of dispatch workers – short-term staff hired during peak season – since 2016. Some of these are university and secondary school students forced to work overtime or risk losing qualifications – as detailed in a previous report. Dispatch workers are hired via third-party companies. These staffers are promised bonuses for signing up to make iPhones, but this money is often not paid, the report stated. Chinese law restricts dispatch workers to 10 per cent of total staff and their overtime is meant to be limited to 36 hours a month. Both of these limits are being ignored by Foxconn, according to the report, with dispatch staff making up as much as 50 per cent of total staff at peak times. Dispatch workers are paid more than permanent staff but have far fewer rights and are dismissed when peak demand is over. Hiring temporary staff means Foxconn does not have to increase wages across the board in order to attract more staff. Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, said: "Apple and Foxconn know that the issue with dispatch workers is in violation of labor laws, but because it is profitable to hire dispatch workers, they haven't addressed the issue. They have allowed these violations to continue over the years." Other claims in the report China Labor Watch also alleged that staff X-raying phones to check they have been assembled correctly wear a radiation-monitoring device but no protective equipment, which is among several claims in the report that both Foxconn and Apple have denied to several media orgs, with Cupertino branding them "mostly false". Both Apple and Foxconn have, however, confirmed they employed too many temporary workers. The report also accused Apple's supplier of failing to follow the law for its permanent staff. This included allegations that staffers were not allowed to resign during peak season, that if they wanted to quit during the three-month probation period they had to give three days' notice, and that they needed permission to not work overtime. China Labor Watch noted that Apple had happily removed 25,000 applications from its store and has shifted Chinese users' iCloud accounts to local data centres in order to follow Chinese law, but seemed unwilling to also fulfil its legal obligations to Chinese factory workers. The Zhengzhou Foxconn factory, known as "iPhone City", sprawls over 1.4 million square metres and produces half the world's iPhones. Wages have stayed stable over the time of the investigation at a base salary of $239 a month, which is not enough to provide for a family in Zhengzhou. While social insurance payments have increased, they still fall short of legal requirements and safety training has been reduced, China Labor Watch claimed. In 2018, the factory employed 88, 000 people, 49,000 of whom were dispatch workers without contracts. Staff can choose to sleep in eight-person dormitory rooms and pay $21 a month but they are usually full in peak season, and most staff rent nearby apartments. The full report is available here. We have contacted Apple and will update this story if it responds. Source
  6. A July algorithm change gave third-party apps a better chance. Did you notice that Apple's software was suddenly less dominant in the App Store this summer? There's a good reason for that. Apple confirmed to the New York Times that it changed App Store search algorithms in July so that its own apps didn't overwhelm the top results. For more than a year, its own titles would dominate searches for basic terms, even when the apps in question weren't related to a given query -- you sometimes had to scroll through 14 apps before you got to a third-party result for "podcast," for example. Apple attributed the behavior to a search engine feature that sometimes grouped apps by developer, with popularity also playing a role. If a given search included multiple Apple apps, the algorithm would decide that people were looking for a particular Apple app and pop up more software from that developer. The problem, as you might guess, is that users would frequently tap on Apple's titles -- sometimes because they were looking for the preinstalled apps on their phones, company engineers said. When Apple noticed that the algorithm was stuffing the results, it first stopped that behavior for some searches and, in July, disabled the practice for all Apple apps. Apple executives maintained that it wasn't intentionally gaming the system, but also that the algorithm was working properly. "This wasn't a mistake," senior VP Phil Schiller said. Instead, they characterized the change as a boost for third-party developers. Others don't see it that way, though. Some third-party app makers noted that they've been buried in App Store search results -- Stitcher said it didn't even see the "podcast" search term as a significant download source. And when Spotify was down to 23rd in searches for "music" at one point, it's hard to ignore the service's allegations against Apple for allegedly privileging Apple Music over competing services. The US Supreme Court also allowed a lawsuit accusing Apple of price fixing and abusing a monopoly over iOS app distribution. Apple has maintained that the App Store isn't a monopoly. Apple isn't the only tech giant facing scrutiny over claimed favoritism. Google has faced regulatory action for allegedly preferring its own products in search results. The company is clearly facing more pressure to address prioritization than it has in the past, though -- this might address some gripes that would otherwise reach the courts. Source
  7. In a few days — on Tuesday, Sept. 10 to be exact — Apple will announce the new iPhone 11 and 11 Pro and new Apple Watches. As always, Apple's livestreaming the big event on its website via Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers, as well as on Apple TV. And now for the first time ever, the event will also stream live on YouTube. The "special event" will be broadcast on Apple's YouTube channel starting at 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET) at this link here. As the No. 2 search engine after Google, it doesn't make sense for Apple to not livestream its event on YouTube, where everyone watches video and expects to find it. This is a new change for Apple, which previously resisted streaming its events on rival Google's platforms in favor of its own. However, in recent years, Apple's embraced social platforms, likely in a bid to reach younger audiences. For example, the company's posted more videos to its YouTube channel and Instagram account than in past years. Additionally, the company's also started inviting more influencers and YouTubers to its events. These "tastemakers" have massive social audiences and are arguably more valuable as unofficial mouthpieces for young consumers than jaded technology journalists whose jobs are to thoroughly report on Apple and review its products. Apple is expected to announce three new iPhones at the event: a 6.1-inch "iPhone 11" to replace the iPhone XR and a 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch "iPhone 11 Pro" to succeed the iPhone XS and XS Max. Both iPhones will reportedly get camera upgrades, with the iPhone 11 sporting a dual camera system with a main camera and 2x telephoto lens and the iPhone 11 Pro rocking a triple camera system with a main, 2x telephoto, and new ultra-wide lens. Apple will also use the iPhone event to introduce new Apple Watches made of titanium and ceramic materials. We're also hearing about a Tile-like item tracker that uses augmented reality. It's not just new hardware, either. Tim Cook and company are expected to also announce pricing details for its upcoming Apple Arcade games service and launch date and pricing for Apple TV+. Mashable will be covering the Apple event live. Stay tuned because it's gonna be lit. Source
  8. Apple takes flak for disputing iOS security bombshell dropped by Google Apple statement alienates the security community when the company needs it most. Enlarge Maurizio Pesce Apple is taking flak for disputing some minor details of last week’s bombshell report that, for at least two years, customers' iOS devices were vulnerable to a sting of zeroday exploits, at least some of which were actively exploited to install malware that stole location data, passwords, encryption keys, and a wealth of other highly sensitive data. Google’s Project Zero said the attacks were waged indiscriminately from a small collection of websites that “received thousands of visitors per week.” One of the five exploit chains Project Zero researchers analyzed showed they “were likely written contemporaneously with their supported iOS versions.” The researcher’s conclusion: “This group had a capability against a fully patched iPhone for at least two years.” Earlier this week, researchers at security firm Volexity reported finding 11 websites serving the interests of Uyghur Muslims that the researchers believed were tied to the attacks Project Zero identified. Volexity’s post was based in part on a report by TechCrunch citing unnamed people familiar with the attacks who said they were the work of nation—likely China—designed to target the Uyghur community in the country’s Xinjiang state. Breaking the silence For a week, Apple said nothing about any of the reports. Then on Friday, it issued a statement that critics are characterizing as tone-deaf for its lack of sensitivity to human rights and an overfocus on minor points. Apple officials wrote: Last week, Google published a blog about vulnerabilities that Apple fixed for iOS users in February. We’ve heard from customers who were concerned by some of the claims, and we want to make sure all of our customers have the facts. First, the sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones “en masse” as described. The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community. Regardless of the scale of the attack, we take the safety and security of all users extremely seriously. Google’s post, issued six months after iOS patches were released, creates the false impression of “mass exploitation” to “monitor the private activities of entire populations in real time,” stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised. This was never the case. Second, all evidence indicates that these website attacks were only operational for a brief period, roughly two months, not “two years” as Google implies. We fixed the vulnerabilities in question in February — working extremely quickly to resolve the issue just 10 days after we learned about it. When Google approached us, we were already in the process of fixing the exploited bugs. Security is a never-ending journey and our customers can be confident we are working for them. iOS security is unmatched because we take end-to-end responsibility for the security of our hardware and software. Our product security teams around the world are constantly iterating to introduce new protections and patch vulnerabilities as soon as they’re found. We will never stop our tireless work to keep our users safe. One of the things most deserving of criticism was the lack of sensitivity the statement showed for the Uyghur population, which over the past decade or longer has faced hacking campaigns, internment camps, and other forms of persecution at the hands of the Chinese government. Rather than condemning an egregious campaign perpetrated on a vulnerable population of iOS users, Apple seemed to be using the hacking spree to assure mainstream users that they weren’t targeted. Conspicuously missing from the statement was any mention of China. Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at UC Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute, summed up much of this criticism by tweeting: “The thing that bugs me most about Apple these days is that they are all-in on the Chinese market and, as such, refuse to say something like ‘A government intent on ethnic cleansing of a minority population conducted a mass hacking attack on our users.’" The statement also seemed to use the fact that “fewer than a dozen” sites were involved in the campaign as another mitigating factor. Project Zero was clear all along that the number of sites was “small” and they had only a few thousand of visitors each month. More importantly, the size of the campaign had everything to do with decisions made by the attackers and little or nothing to do with the security of iPhones. Two months or two years? One of the few factual assertions Apple provided in the statement is that the websites were probably operational for only about two months. A careful parsing of the Project Zero report shows researchers never stated how long the sites were actively and indiscriminately exploiting iPhone users. Rather, the report said, an examination of the five attack chains made up of 14 separate exploits suggested that they gave the hackers the ability to infect fully up-to-date iPhones for at least two years. These points prompted satiric tweets similar to this one from Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade, a researcher at Alphabet-owned security firm Chronicle: “‘It didn’t happen the way they said it happened, but it happened, but it wasn’t that bad, and it’s just Uyghurs so you shouldn’t care anyways. No advice to give here. Just move along.’” Satire aside, Apple seems to be saying that evidence suggests that the sites that Google found indiscriminately exploiting the iOS vulnerabilities were operational for only two months. Additionally, as reported by ZDNet, a researcher from security firm RiskIQ claims to have uncovered evidence that the websites didn't attack iOS users indiscriminately, but rather only visitors from certain countries and communities. If either of those points are true then it’s worth taking note, since virtually all media reports (including the one from Ars) have said sites indiscriminately did so for at least two years. Apple had an opportunity to clarify this point and say precisely what it knows about active use of the five iPhone exploit chains Project Zero found. But Friday’s statement said nothing about any of this, and Apple representatives didn’t respond to a request to comment for this post. A Google spokesman said he didn’t know precisely how long the small collection of websites identified in the report were operational. He said he’d try to find out, but didn’t respond further. In a statement, Google officials wrote: “Project Zero posts technical research that is designed to advance the understanding of security vulnerabilities, which leads to better defensive strategies. We stand by our in-depth research which was written to focus on the technical aspects of these vulnerabilities. We will continue to work with Apple and other leading companies to help keep people safe online.” A missed opportunity Former NSA hacker and founder of the firm Rendition Infosec Jake Williams told Ars that ultimately, the time the exploit sites were active is immaterial. “I don’t know that these other 22 months matter,” he explained. “It feels like their statement is more of a straw man to deflect away from the human rights abuses.” Also missing from Apple’s statement is any response to the blistering criticism the Project Zero report made of Apple’s development process, which the report alleges missed vulnerabilities that in many cases should have been easy to catch with standard quality-assurance processes. “I’ll investigate what I assess to be the root causes of the vulnerabilities and discuss some insights we can gain into Apple's software development lifecycle,” Project Zero researcher Ian Beer wrote in an overview of last week’s report. “The root causes I highlight here are not novel and are often overlooked: we'll see cases of code which seems to have never worked, code that likely skipped QA or likely had little testing or review before being shipped to users.” Another key criticism is that Apple's statement has the potential to alienate Project Zero, which according to a Google spokesman has to date privately reported more than 200 vulnerabilities to Apple. It’s easy to imagine that it wasn’t easy for Apple to read last week’s deep-dive report publicly documenting what is easily the worst iOS security event in its 12-year history. But publicly challenging a key ally on such minor details with no new evidence does not create the best optics for Apple. Apple had an opportunity to apologize to those who were hurt, thank the researchers who uncovered systemic flaws that caused the failure, and explain how it planned to do better in the future. It didn't do any of those things. Now, the company has distanced itself from the security community when it needs it most. Source: Apple takes flak for disputing iOS security bombshell dropped by Google (Ars Technica)
  9. Own a rifle? Got a scope to go with it? The government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you. That’s because Apple and Google have been ordered by the U.S. government to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered. It's an unprecedented move: never before has a case been disclosed in which American investigators demanded personal data of users of a single app from Apple and Google. And never has an order been made public where the feds have asked the Silicon Valley giants for info on so many thousands of people in one go. According to a court order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 5 September, investigators want information on users of Obsidian 4, a tool used to control rifle scopes made by night vision specialist American Technologies Network Corp. The app allows gun owners to get a live stream, take video and calibrate their gun scope from an Android or iPhone device. According to the Google Play page for Obsidian 4, it has more than 10,000 downloads. Apple doesn't provide download numbers, so it's unclear how many iPhone owners have been swept up in this latest government data grab. If Apple and Google decide to hand over the information, it could include data on thousands of innocent people who have nothing to do with the crimes being investigated, privacy activists warned. Edin Omanovic, lead on Privacy International's State Surveillance programme, said the order would set a dangerous precedent and scoop up “huge amounts of innocent people’s personal data.” “Such orders need to be based on suspicion and be particularized - this is neither,” Omanovic added Neither Apple nor Google had responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. ATN, the scope maker, also hadn't responded. Why the data grab? The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department is seeking information as part of a broad investigation into possible breaches of weapons export regulations. It's looking into illegal exports of ATN's scope, though the company itself isn't under investigation, according to the order. As part of that, investigators are looking for a quick way to find out where the app is in use, as that will likely indicate where the hardware has been shipped. ICE has repeatedly intercepted illegal shipments of the scope, which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), according to the government court filing. They included shipments to Canada, the Netherlands and Hong Kong where the necessary licenses hadn't been obtained. "This pattern of unlawful, attempted exports of this rifle scope in combination with the manner in which the ATN Obsidian 4 application is paired with this scope manufactured by Company A supports the conclusion that the information requested herein will assist the government in identifying networks engaged in the unlawful export of this rifle scope through identifying end users located in countries to which export of this item is restricted," the government order reads. (The order was supposed to have been sealed, but Forbes obtained it before the document was hidden from public view). It's unclear just whom ICE is investigating. No public charges have been filed related to the company or resellers of its weapons tools. Reports online have claimed ATN scopes were being used by the Taliban. Apple and Google have been told to hand over not just the names of anyone who downloaded the scope app from August 1 2017 to the current date, but their telephone numbers and IP addresses too, which could be used to determine the location of the user. The government also wants to know when users were operating the app. Innocents ensnared The request is undeniably broad and would likely include all users of the app within America, not just users abroad who might indicate illegal shipments of the gun appendage. Tor Ekeland, a privacy focused lawyer, said it amounted to a "fishing expedition." (The DOJ hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication). "The danger is the government will go on this fishing expedition and they'll see information unrelated to what they weren't looking for adn go after someone for something else," Ekeland said. He said there's a long history of that kind of behavior from the U.S. government. And he warned that the government could apply this demand to other types of app, such as dating or health apps. "There's a more profound issue here with the government able to vacuum up a vast amount of data on people they have no reason to suspect have committed any crime. They don't have any probable cause to investigate but they're getting access to data on them," Ekeland added. Even those who've worked in government surveillance were stunned by the order. "The idea that this data will only be used for pursuing ITAR violations is almost laughable," warned Jake Williams, a former NSA analyst and now a cybersecurity consultant at Rendition Infosec. "Google and Apple should definitely fight these requests as they represent a very slippery slope. This type of bulk data grab is seriously concerning for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the download of an application does not automatically imply the 'intended use' of the application. For instance, researchers often bulk download applications looking for interesting vulnerabilities." He said that if the request was granted it may also have a "serious chilling effect on how people use the Google and Android app stores." "The idea that Google could be compelled to turn over, in secret, all of my identifiers and session data in its possession because I downloaded an application for research is such a broad overreach it's ridiculous." Source
  10. Apple in iOS 13 introduced a change that limits data collection practices using VoIP APIs, which has consequences for messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. According to a new report from The Information, the makers of encrypted messaging apps like Signal, Wickr, Threema, and Wire are now scrambling to overhaul their software to protect key privacy features that they believe may be compromised by the changes. In a statement to The Information, an Apple spokesperson said that Apple is working with developers to alleviate their concerns. "We've heard feedback on the API changes introduced in iOS 13 to further protect user privacy and are working closely with iOS developers to help them implement their feature requests." Julia Weiss, a spokesperson for Threema, said that Apple's changes may actually result "in the opposite of the privacy goals the changes were supposed to achieve." What Apple is doing is limiting the PushKit API, which was designed to be used for VoIP calls but over time, has also been used for other purposes such as collecting data and, in the case of messaging apps, encryption. In iOS 13, the PushKit API is limited to internet calls, with Apple eliminating its other uses. Encrypted messaging apps currently use the VoIP APIs Apple is restricting for decrypting messages on the iPhone in the background, and the change disables that functionality. App developers will be able to work around Apple's changes, but Tom Leavy, a VP at encrypted Messaging app Wickr said that it's a "significant engineering effort" that was unexpected. Makers of encrypted messaging apps are said to be exploring "alternative tools" in iOS to work, but they're said to be "way inferior" to the existing PushKit option. Apple is giving app developers until April 2020 to comply with the changes to the PushKit API, but developers who want to update their apps for iOS 13 and take advantage of new features must follow PushKit restrictions sooner. Source
  11. What to expect from Apple’s September 10 “By Innovation Only” event New iPhones and an Apple Watch are almost certain, but there could be more. Enlarge / This image accompanied invitations Apple sent to the press for the September 10 event. Apple At 10am Pacific on September 10, Apple will host its annual iPhone event in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's campus in Cupertino, California. We're expecting new iPhones and a new Apple Watch to be sure, and as has been the case for recent Apple launches, there have been reliable leaks of details about both. With the event less than a week away, let's look at what we know so far—what will be different about the new iPhones? What features are coming to the Apple Watch? And will Apple actually deliver a "one more thing" announcement on top of the usual this time? We're doubtful about really big surprises at this point. The days of surprising revelations seem to be over; the company has settled into a fairly predictable product-release schedule, and most major details about new products—be they hardware or software—tend to show up in reports in tech and business publications around the Web. That said, sifting through all the bad reports to find the reliable ones can be a real task. So can framing each report in terms of how likely it is to come to pass. That's what we've tried to do here. Let's start with the iPhone. Once again, three new iPhones The new iPhones are all about the cameras. But let's start with the names. A Bloomberg report citing sources familiar with Apple's plans says that three iPhones will again launch. They'll be direct successors to each of the 2018 phones—the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR. The two high-end phones—follow-ups to the XS and XS Max—will carry the "Pro" label, a la the iPad Pro or MacBook Pro. We expect the sizes and basic form factors to stay pretty close to the same, so "iPhone Pro" and "iPhone Pro Max" wouldn't be surprising. Not as much is known about the name of the XR replacement, but iPhone 11 is certainly possible. One other possibility—and this is pure speculation based on past Apple naming conventions—is that the company might simply rebrand that model as the "iPhone." Above all else, the upgrades this year are about cameras. The flagship feature, probably exclusive to the iPhone Pro models, will be greatly improved optical zoom and low-light photography, as well as the capability to take much wider-angle photos. Video recording is also likely to improve. Apple will introduce a completely different camera array on the back, and this will probably represent the biggest change to the devices' appearance apart from the logo change we'll get into momentarily. That means a triple-camera lens system for the Pro models and a dual-camera system for the cheaper model. It will be the first time every iPhone Apple introduces in a given year will come with optical zoom, and it seems possible that Apple will include an OLED in all three models for the first time, not just the two flagships. Below: The iPhone XS Max from our review last year. Expect a very different camera array and a differently positioned logo. But the 2019 iPhone flagship will otherwise be similar. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. You can also expect this year's set of announcements to herald the death of 3D Touch, a power-user feature that Apple introduced in earlier iPhones to allow for nuanced, contextual behaviors beyond a simple tap. Many users aren't even aware of some of the powerful things you can do with 3D Touch, and Apple already omitted it from the iPad Air this year and the iPhone XR before that. In its place is Haptic Touch, a technique that is a little less efficient for some use cases in that it involves holding down a UI element for a period of time. Other planned improvements include a wider-angle Face ID camera for easier facial authentication, better water resistance, a faster A13 processor, and the ability to wirelessly charge AirPods directly from your phone—something Samsung already introduced with much fanfare in its phones. Don't expect 5G in Apple's iPhones this year; Qualcomm's current 5G modems aren't ready for iPhone primetime, and Apple ultimately wants to make its own. But 5G will likely be the headlining feature in 2020's iPhones. This last bit hardly counts as a major feature, but it is a departure from convention: several alleged leaks from the supply line and the iPhone case ecosystem, collected and shared by 9to5Mac, indicate that Apple may move the location of the Apple logo on the back of the iPhone this year. Since the very first iPhone, the logo has been centered in the top half of the phone's back. Many in those two communities (the supply line and case-makers) are moving forward with either the knowledge or the assumption that Apple will move it to the very center of the back—that is, not just centered horizontally but vertically as well. Apple Watch series 5—or something, anyway Little is known about what Apple has planned for this year's Apple Watch, but that might be because the company doesn't have much planned at all. Don't worry—watchOS 6, which will launch alongside any new Watch, is a major upgrade. But in terms of hardware, all we know so far is that Apple's own software beta releases include images that indicate the Watch will be offered in titanium and ceramic materials, which are not currently offered. Below: Images of the Apple Watch series 4 from our review last year. A new Watch is not likely to be radically different. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. It's even possible that Apple will not actually position this as an Apple Watch series 5. It may instead keep the series 4 nomenclature and simply offer these new materials as options for the existing Watch. For better or worse, this is one of the big mysteries of this year's event. We'll have to wait and see. iOS 13, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6—all the OSes While Apple already detailed its slate of operating system updates earlier this year, the company will announce launch dates for many, if not all, of them at the September 10 event. Historically, iOS and watchOS updates have typically gone out to the public within a week or so of the event, with macOS following only a few days later. We won't get into too much detail about these new releases here. We already covered them when they were first announced at Apple's developer conference in June—and we'll have reviews for both iOS 13 and macOS Catalina not too long after they launch to the public. But the short version is that iOS 13 brings a Mojave-like Dark Mode to iOS devices, as well as a new branch of iOS called iPadOS with new power-user features for Apple's tablets. Catalina's flagship feature will be Catalyst—the introduction of iPad apps to the Mac. Catalina will also include some major new changes to which apps will run on macOS and under what conditions: 32-bit apps will be deprecated completely, and app-signing processes for third-party developers will be a focus. Finally, watchOS 6 will bring an on-Watch App Store, menstrual-cycle tracking, and activity trends for following fitness outcomes over time. Maybe: Apple TV 4K This rumor just broke Wednesday: Apple may be close to releasing a refresh of its Apple TV 4K streaming media box for the home theater. The updated version would have either Apple's A12 or A12X CPU—the same included in the 2018 iPhones or in the 2018 iPad Pro, in the case of the A12X. The A12X (or even the A12) would dovetail nicely with Apple's plans to launch Apple Arcade, its games subscription service. Below: Photos of the Apple TV 4K from our 2017 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. In fact, we don't see much need for improvement regarding performance as it pertains to any other function of the Apple TV 4K besides games; the current model performs admirably with all of its supported streaming content, and its user interface is generally quite zippy. But if the focus is on games, then Apple needs to replace the current remote, which has proven unpopular with many users and a serious limitation to the complexity of games viable on the platform. The Apple TV 4K does support more traditional wireless gaming controllers from third parties like SteelSeries, but we found when interviewing developers that not including an optimal gaming controller right in the box is one of the main reasons the Apple TV 4K hasn't taken off as a gaming device. Below: Photos of the Apple TV 4K's remote from our 2017 review. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. The leak didn't give a timeline, so even if it's real, this product might come later. But given that the Apple TV 4K shares a lot in common with the iPhone in terms of both CPU architecture and operating system (the Apple TV's tvOS is based on the iPhone's iOS), and considering that the current Apple TV model was announced at the iPhone event in 2017, it wouldn't be out of left field for Apple to reveal the new streaming box at Tuesday's event. Probably not just yet: New iPads, AirPods, or Macs There have been a plethora of reliable reports about Apple's future Mac and iPad plans, including the imminent arrival of a 16-inch MacBook Pro that would be the first to make major design changes to the current Apple laptop lineup; internals refreshes for the iMac, Mac mini, and MacBook Air lines; the already-announced Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR; and refreshed iPad Pros and entry-level iPads. Below: Photos of the new Mac Pro from our hands-on earlier this year. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. While some of these products are surely not far around the corner, we don't expect Apple to announce them next week. The company has established a fairly predictable cadence in recent years, and in that cadence, the focus of the September event is iPhones. Apple will likely release minor refreshes to the Mac lineup (CPU bumps and the like) without event fanfare, and major updates like the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro redesign will probably come in another event held in October. We'll explore those products more in the coming weeks. Apple is also working on new AirPods that would feature noise cancelling and water resistance, according to multiple reports from multiple sources, including the aforementioned Bloomberg article. But it's likely they won't be ready to ship this September, and they might even slip into next year. Still, the AirPods could at least be revealed next week rather than in an October event if Apple feels they are ready to showcase. Source: What to expect from Apple’s September 10 “By Innovation Only” event (Ars Technica)
  12. The company says a crack may form along their displays' edges. If you find a crack suddenly forming on your Apple Watch's display, you may want to check if it's eligible for free repair. Apple has launched a screen replacement program for Apple Watch Series and Series 3 devices, admitting that a crack may form along the smartwatch's edges until the damage makes its way around the whole display. The tech giant made sure to note that it happens "under very rare circumstances." Even so, it will swap broken screens with new ones free of charge for Series 2 and 3 aluminum devices, including Nike+ models, sold within a certain time period. You can check Apple's support document for more details on eligible devices, but to summarize, the company will repair these models for free: Watch Series 2 sold between September 2016 and September 2017, Watch Nike+ Series 2 sold from October 2016 to October 2017, Watch Series 3 GPS and GPS+Cellular sold from September 2017 to September 2019, and Watch Nike+ Series 3 GPS and GPS+Cellular sold between October 2017 and September 2019. You can either arrange to mail in your device by contacting Apple Support or walk into an Apple Authorized Service Provider or retail store. Take note that your device will be sent to an Apple Repair Center whichever method you choose, because the company has to verify that it's eligible for the program. Source
  13. It may be the biggest attack against iPhone users yet. In what may be one of the largest attacks against iPhone users ever, researchers at Google say they uncovered a series of hacked websites that were delivering attacks designed to hack iPhones. The websites delivered their malware indiscriminately, were visited thousands of times a week, and were operational for years, Google said. "There was no target discrimination; simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack your device, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant. We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week," Ian Beer, from Google's Project Zero, wrote in a blog post published Thursday. Some of the attacks made use of so-called zero day exploits. This is an exploit that takes advantage of a vulnerability that the impacted company, in this case Apple, is not aware of, hence they have had "zero days" to find a fix. Generally speaking, zero day attacks can be much more effective at successfully hacking phones or computers because the company does not know about the vulnerability and thus has not fixed it. iPhone exploits are relatively expensive and the iPhone is difficult to hack. The price for a full exploit chain of a fully up to date iPhone has stretched up to at least $3 million. This includes various vulnerabilities for different parts of the iPhone operating system, including the browser, the kernel, and others to escape an application's sandbox, which is designed to keep code running only inside the part of the phone it is supposed to. Beer writes that Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) was able to collect five distinct iPhone exploit chains based on 14 vulnerabilities. These exploit chains covered versions from iOS 10 up to the latest iteration of iOS 12. At least one of the chains was a zero day at the time of discovery and Apple fixed the issues in February after Google warned them, Beer writes. Once the attack has successfully exploited the iPhone, it can deploy malware onto the phone. In this case "the implant is primarily focused on stealing files and uploading live location data. The implant requests commands from a command and control server every 60 seconds," Beer writes. The implant also has access to the user's keychain, which contains passwords, as well as the databases of various end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and iMessage, Beer's post continues. End-to-end encryption can protect can messages being read if they're intercepted, but less so if a hacker has compromised the end device itself. The implant does not have persistence though; if a user reboots their iPhone, it will wipe the malware, Beer explains. But one infection can still of course deliver a treasure trove of sensitive information. "Given the breadth of information stolen, the attackers may nevertheless be able to maintain persistent access to various accounts and services by using the stolen authentication tokens from the keychain, even after they lose access to the device," Beer writes. The information is also transferred to the server unencrypted, the post adds. Previously documented attacks have been more targeted in nature, typically by a text message sent to the target, along with a link to a malicious site, sometimes just for that target. This attack appears to, or at least has the potential to be, broader in scope. "This indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years," Beer added. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Update: This piece has been updated to include more information from Google's blog post. Source
  14. Apple gives third-party repair shops more access to authorized parts The program provides parts and resources for out-of-warranty iPhones. Enlarge David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images Apple has been a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to iPhones and independent repair shops. Earlier this month, we discovered that people are running into problems with third-party iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max repairs due to a particular chip on the battery. And repair specialists like iFixit have repeatedly called Cupertino's design decisions "user-hostile." But on Thursday, Apple announced a new independent repair program for out-of-warranty iPhones. "To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer in a press release. "When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right. We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested." Independent repair shops can apply to Apple to join the program for free, although there are certain requirements like requiring Apple certifications for technicians. (Apple says the certification process is also free.) Once accepted to the program, repair shops will have access to genuine Apple parts and tools, training, diagnostics, and other resources. Additionally, these third-party repair shops will have access to those parts and resources at the same price as authorized Apple repair shops. Apple says that over the past year it piloted the program successfully with 20 businesses in North America, Asia, and Europe. Source: Apple gives third-party repair shops more access to authorized parts
  15. Wozniak has added his voice to the call to break up big tech companies. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said he's in favor of breaking up big tech companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google. These tech companies are using their power in one market to subsume other markets, he told Bloomberg Wednesday. "I am really against monopoly powers being used in unfair antitrust manners ... and I think that's happened a lot in big tech and that they can get away with a lot of bad things," he said. "I'm pretty much in favor of looking into splitting up companies, I mean I wish Apple on its own had split up a long time ago and spun off independent divisions." His comments come as US tech giants face multiple antitrust investigations, and increasing calls to break up big tech companies, including from Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Wozniak also criticized tech companies for using humans to listen to voice assistants, pointing to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, saying it infringes on privacy. Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon have all been caught out for doing so. The Apple co-founder lastly detailed his work across four startups at the moment, including a blockchain company working in Malta. "I like startups," he said. "Young companies with an idea, trying to make something out of it, you know much more than the big, huge tech companies." Source
  16. Apple apologizes for Siri audio recordings, announces privacy changes going forward Apple will no longer keep Siri recordings by default Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Apple has issued a formal apology for its privacy practices of secretly having human contractors listen to recordings of customers talking to its Siri digital assistant to improve the service. “We realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize,” Apple’s statement reads. The company also announced several changes to Siri’s privacy policy: First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve. Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time. Third, when customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri. Apple was one of several major tech companies — including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — that was caught using paid human contractors to review recordings from its digital assistant, a fact that wasn’t made clear to customers. According to The Guardian’s report, those contractors had access to recordings that were full of private details, often due to accidental Siri triggers, and workers were said to each be listening to up to 1,000 recording a day. In the aftermath of that report, Apple announced that it would suspend the grading program that would see those recordings reviewed. “We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge at the time. Previously, Apple policy would keep random recordings from Siri for up to six months, after which it would remove identifying information for a copy that it would keep for two years or more. Per today’s announcement, both the non-optional recording and the subsequent grading policies are now being suspended for good. Apple says it will no longer keep audio recordings from Siri unless a user specifically opts in. And in cases where customers do choose to give Apple their data, only Apple employees will have access (not, it would seem to imply, hired contractors). The company additionally promises that it will work to delete recordings of accidental triggers, which The Guardian’s report claims were the main source of sensitive information. According to Apple’s statement, the company plans to resume grading Siri recordings under those new policies later this fall, following a software update that adds the new opt-in option to its devices. Source: Apple apologizes for Siri audio recordings, announces privacy changes going forward
  17. With only weeks remaining before the official release of iOS 13, Apple surprised developers today with a beta version of iOS 13.1. Today’s update appears to contain plenty of bug fixes, but also includes audio sharing support, enabling a single device to output music simultaneously to two pairs of AirPods. The developer beta is particularly noteworthy because a number of nontrivial bugs have persisted throughout the iOS and iPadOS 13 beta cycle, some of which may well ship with the final OS release next month. Some of the bugs affect core first-party apps such as Mail and Safari, while others may limit the functionality of third-party apps. Traditionally, Apple triages beta releases to eliminate their biggest issues before general release, in some cases temporarily delaying nonessential features that are particularly challenging to implement. Audio sharing support, which calls for synchronized Bluetooth connections to multiple devices, appears to have met the nonessential threshold this year, but will in iOS 13.1 enable iPhone 8 or later, iPad (5th generation) or later, and iPod touch (7th generation) devices to connect simultaneously to two pairs of AirPods and Beats PowerBeats Pro headphones. Another new iOS 13.1 feature, support for encoding HEVC videos with alpha channels, enables videos to be recorded with backgrounds that can be made transparent or invisible, for compositing or editing purposes. It may have been added to facilitate realtime editing of video backgrounds — a specialty of Apple-acquired developer Spektral — or to ease green screen-style compositing of live video with still photo or pre-rendered backgrounds, like Apple’s iMovie and Clips applications. Apple’s iOS 13.1 developer beta is available now through the software update mechanisms on iPhones. It’s unclear whether it will also become available as a public beta prior to the general release of iOS 13, which is expected to take place shortly after an annual Apple media event next month. Updated at 10:54 a.m. Pacific: Apple has also released a developer version of iPadOS 13.1, specifically for its tablet devices, which can similarly be accessed through the over-the-air software update mechanisms on iPads. Like the iOS 13.1 release, it’s a roughly 400MB patch to existing iPadOS 13.0 installations. Source
  18. Remember CB radios and Walkie Talkies? These two-way radios were used extensively by long haul truckers and, well, kids all around the U.S. playing war games and other spy games, at least as I remember it. Apple was reportedly working on a similar concept with Intel that would bring the Walkie Talkie fully back to life. The CB (Citizen’s Band) radio was popular in the 1970s, particularly with long haul truckers, but became famous with movies like Smokey and the Bandit or songs such as Convoy by C.W. McCall which climbed to #1 in the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1976, according to Wikipedia. At the same time, the small, handheld two-way radio known as a “Walkie Talkie” became popular. Well, the Walkie-Talkie concept of “push-to-talk radio” made its way to mobile phones via the Zello app. Instead of dialing the phone, or using a two-way radio, your phone can serve as a Walkie-Talkie using the internet or mobile data. Zello is available for iOS, Android, PC, and Windows downloads here and it works cross-platform. Quick sidenote: My perception of the term, Walkie Talkie, was forever changed by Brian Regan, an American stand-up comedian, who offers a short perspective (in the above YouTube video) on how tough military members landed on this term. Back to this MacRumors post: Apple was working on a 900Mhz Walkie-Talkie option with Intel (meaning no internet needed to use): Apple Reportedly Shelves 'Walkie-Talkie' Feature Allowing iPhone-to-iPhone Messaging Without Wi-Fi or Cellular. This would be a super-useful functionality across a wide range of uses, from true emergencies, to staying in touch with nearby family and friends. The MacRumors writer points out this is a different challenge than the one that Apple Watches have — a problem that Zak Doffman (Forbes) reported and explained here: Apple Disables Walkie-Talkie App After Finding Apple Watch Eavesdropping Hack. So, if you have been looking for a good way to stay connected to your kids or friends without a full dial, you can test Zello. Millions are using it (and rating it highly) to connect one-on-one or with private group. There are public groups you can join, too, sort of like the CB Radio of old where lots of people can join in the conversation (obviously caution is in order for children). Important to note that this is an international platform so you can enjoy conversations or language lessons from around the globe. According to the mobile app pages, these are some of the many features: • Free live voice over any network or Wi-Fi connection • See who’s available or busy • Send photos, text or location to friends instantly • Replay messages later, even if your phone was off • Cross-platform • Free with no ads • Won’t spam your friends • Lets you delete your account If you want to catch someone quickly, PTT is a great way to do it. If you read some of the many reviews on either iOS or Android, you will get a sense for how families and individuals, near and far, are using this app to maintain communications. Source
  19. The chip makers claims TSMC violates its patents. The competition between semiconductor giants is getting ugly, and it could have an unfortunate impact on many of the devices you buy. GlobalFoundries has sued the Taiwanese firm TSMC for allegedly violating 16 patents tied to its chip production business, including ones for semiconductor interconnects and the common FinFET design used in newer processors. The multiple lawsuits (plus complaints at the US International Trade Commission) claim 20 tech companies are infringing on its concepts, and they're definitely names you'll recognize. Apple, ASUS, Google, Lenovo, NVIDIA, OnePlus and Qualcomm are all accused of treading on GlobalFoundries' technology, although Moor Insights' Patrick Moorhead believed their inclusion was mainly meant as leverage against TSMC. The consequences could still be serious. In one of the ITC complaints, GlobalFoundries called for import bans on many of Apple's devices with mobile chips, including the iPhone XS, AirPods, Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple TV 4K. It would still be highly damaging for others. NVIDIA's GPU business revolves heavily around assembly at TSMC, for instance, such as the 12-nanometer chips at the heart of the GeForce RTX line. If GlobalFoundries prevailed, these companies might have no choice but to halt sales, at least until they find alternative production channels. In explaining the lawsuit, GlobalFoundries played heavily on the nationalism fueling the current trade war between the US and China. It characterized the lawsuits as "protecting" investments in US and European chip production while portraying TSMC as part of manufacturing's "shift to Asia." It also claimed that the suits would ensure a "competitive industry" for its customers. The reality may be more complicated. While it's true that TSMC is a dominant force in chipmaking with responsibilities for nearly half of all outsourced chip production, GlobalFoundries also bowed out of developing chips at 7nm and smaller processes. It effectively ceded competition in that space to rivals like TSMC with claims that it couldn't afford to spend the billions of dollars needed to keep up. It's not clear if a successful fight with TSMC would be enough to restart those efforts. As with some similarly broad legal battles, this may be as much about using patents as another source of income as it is a dispute over intellectual property. Source
  20. It would have let iPhone users send texts short distances without cellular coverage. Apple has put its plans for a 'walkie talkie' iPhone feature on hold, The Information reports. The technology would have allowed people with iPhones (in a certain vicinity) to send messages over long-distance radio waves when cellular networks weren't available. It would have functioned a bit like a walkie talkie for text messages and allowed iPhone users to communicate in remote areas. This is the first time we've heard of the technology, which went by Project OGRS at Apple. It reportedly used the 900 megahertz radio spectrum, often used by the utility, oil and gas industries. Sources told The Information that it was designed to use Intel cellular modems. It's unclear why Apple shelved the project, but it could have something to do with Apple exec Rubén Caballero leaving the company earlier this year. Sources told The Information that Caballero was in charge of the project and considered it "his baby." It could also have something to do with Apple's plans to switch to Qualcomm modems. Hopefully, this isn't the last we see of the walkie talkie feature. Apple already has a Walkie Talkie Watch app. And a similar iPhone feature would likely be a popular addition. Source
  21. Cook appears to be the first tech CEO to speak out about the fires. As fires continue to consume the Amazon rainforest for a fourth week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged aid from his company without specifying a dollar amount. "It's devastating to see the fires and destruction ravaging the Amazon rainforest, one of the world's most important ecosystems. Apple will be donating to help preserve its biodiversity and restore the Amazon's indispensable forest across Latin America," Cook tweeted on Monday. Apple didn't immediately respond to request for comment. Cook appears the first tech CEO to extend aid to the Amazon. He also donated money on behalf of Apple in the wake of the destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this year. The Notre Dame fire started April 15 and Cook tweeted Apple's solidarity the next day. World leaders addressed the Amazon fires at the G7 summit over the weekend and pledged a $20 million aid package. Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance also pledged $5 million in aid. Some Twitter users have been angered by the lack of media coverage and overall attention that the rainforest fires have gotten in comparison with the Notre Dame fire. Social media users also called out billionaires for a lack of donations. Within 48 hours of the Notre Dame fire, donations poured in from French billionaires, IBM, Apple, Disney and University of Notre Dame. Source
  22. Apple has fixed a security flaw for a second time after it accidentally reintroduced an old bug in a recent software update. Released Monday, iOS 12.4.1 contains a security fix that was first patched months earlier in iOS 12.3. Apple rolled out a fix in May, but accidentally undid the security patch in its latest update, iOS 12.4, in July. In a brief security advisory published after the software’s release, Apple said it fixed a kernel vulnerability that could have allowed an attacker to execute code on an iPhone or iPad with the highest level of privileges. Apple’s latest security advisory for iOS 12.4.1 Those privileges, also known as system or root privileges, can open up a device to running apps that are not normally allowed by Apple’s strict rules. Known as jailbreaking, apps can access parts of a device that are normally off-limits. On one hand that allows users to extensively customize their devices, but it can also expose the device to malicious software, like malware or spyware apps. Spyware apps often rely on undisclosed jailbreak exploits to get access to a user’s messages, track their location and listen to their calls without their knowledge. Nation states are known to hire mobile spyware makers to remotely install malware on the devices of activists, dissidents and journalists. Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by agents of the Saudi regime, is believed to have been targeted by mobile spyware, according to reports. The company accused of supplying the spyware, Israel-based NSO Group, has denied any involvement. Apple confirmed it pushed out a fix in its security notes, which included a short acknowledgement to Pwn20wnd, the team that confirmed last week that its jailbreak was working again. The same kernel vulnerability was fixed in a supplemental update for macOS 10.14.6. Source
  23. Apple has advised owners of its new credit card "Apple Card" to keep the product away from leather and denim. Keeping the card in a leather wallet or in the pocket of a pair of jeans could cause "permanent discoloration." This announcement has caused an outpouring of jokes after people read how easily the card could be damaged. One twitter user said on Thursday, "Guess I will have to throw out all my denim jeans and no longer use my leather wallets." Another pointed out sarcastically, "Clean with special cloth, Don't put in your wallet or pocket. Seems reasonable." The Apple Card is a relatively plain matte white credit card made of titanium, which was designed to stand out against other credit cards. With Apple Cards making its way into the hands of consumers across the U.S. this week, Apple offered up a few tips for cleaning, caring for and storing the titanium card with its specialized finish. A "How to clean your Apple Card" explainer was posted to Apple's website as a Support Pages document on Tuesday, describing what steps users should take to maintain the condition of their shiny new credit card. If and when the card gets grimy, Apple suggests wiping it gently with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free microfiber cloth. As a second step, users can moisten a microfiber cloth with isopropyl alcohol and wipe again. Basic household cleaners, compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia or abrasives should not be applied to Apple Card, Apple said. They also said certain fabrics like leather and denim (two very common fabrics that people may keep credit cards near) could permanently discolor the card's matte white finish, which is achieved through a multi-layer coating process. That same coating might be damaged if it comes in contact with hard surfaces or materials. As AppleInsider noted in its unboxing and hands-on last week, the white layer covers the face and back of the Apple Card. Logos for Apple, Goldman Sachs and Mastercard are etched through the finish and into the titanium card below, while the cardholder's name is printed on the front surface. Because it's a credit card with a magnetic stripe, Apple Card should also not be stored or placed near magnets as the strip could become demagnetized. The new credit card was announced in March as part of Apple's push into services. The company also announced a new television streaming platform, gaming portal and enhanced news app. Source
  24. If you are looking for the best wireless earbuds for your phone’s music, then Samsung is going to be very quick to point out that its Galaxy Buds have picked up the first ‘excellent’ rating for sound quality by a wireless device. Meanwhile Apple is going to be licking its wounds as the AirPods sit in a lowly 49th place in the same chart. Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 The rankings come from Consumer Reports’ study of the market, and it picks out a number of key features. Kim Eun-jin reports for Business Korea: The Galaxy Buds were ranked first with 86 points, while AirPods, which are used by about 60 percent of wireless earphone users, came in 49th with 56 points. Consumer Reports ranked the wireless earphones based on an evaluation of their sound quality and designs. In terms of sound quality, only the Galaxy Buds received the “Excellent” grade. Consumer Reports said that the Galaxy Buds were one of the first portable Bluetooth earphones to achieve the highest sound quality grade. The first is the aforementioned sound quality. Given the AirPods hang in the ear in the exact same way as a brick designed to look like Douglas Adams does not, and the Galaxy Buds fill the outer ear with optional ‘wings’ this should not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has experienced both. Power was also highlighted. Not only do the Galaxy Buds offer more battery capacity with the six hours of advertised audio time reachable, the carry case (which tops up to allow for another seven hours) comes with wireless charging as standard. Finally there’s the price. Once you pick and mix from Apple’s options to build a similar package of AirPods to the Buds, you realise that Samsung’s package significantly cheaper. The report also acknowledges that Apple is the market leader here with sixty percent of the wireless earbuds market. As with most Apple products, you don’t have full feature parity, and what you do you have is more expensive than the competition. Source
  25. Apple is delaying its plans to limit third-party tracking and ads in apps designed for children, reports The Washington Post. The company's decision comes following an inquiry from The Washington Post about app developers who are unhappy with the changes and what it means for the way free apps for children function. Earlier this year, there were reports suggesting Apple would limit third-party ad tracking in apps aimed at kids to better protect their privacy, and Apple formally announced changes in June. Apple initially planned to roll out these changes in September, but is now holding off to give developers more time to adjust to the new rules. Following an inquiry from The Washington Post, Apple said Friday that it now plans to delay the rule changes. "We aren't backing off on this important issue, but we are working to help developers get there," Apple spokesman Fred Sainz wrote in an emailed statement. The statement said some developers had asked Apple to clarify the new rules, but that "generally we have heard from them that there is widespread support for what we are trying to do to protect kids." Apple's new App Store guidelines prevent apps for kids from using third-party analytics services, which can collect a lot of data about usage habits. Apple is also "severely curtailing" ad sales in kids apps. In order to help keep kids' data private, apps in the kids category and apps intended for kids cannot include third-party advertising or analytics software and may not transmit data to third parties. This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019. Gerald Youngblood, the developer behind the Tankee video gaming app for kids, told The Washington Post that Apple's new rules could limit Tankee's ability to show ads, thus impacting his decision to make the app free. Tankee shouldn't be lumped in with the apps that are negligent and fail to protect children, Youngblood said. "We thought they were going to shut down these apps that are ignoring privacy and targeting kids," he said. "We were built with privacy as a foundation." Several other app developers and creators echoed concerns about the changes, including Dylan Collins, the chief executive of SuperAwesome, a company designed to help developers navigate child-privacy laws. "This will simply kill the kids app category," he told The Washington Post. Apple has not said how many children's apps collect personally identifiable information on children, making it unclear how widespread the issue is. Rather than blanket banning all tracking and cutting down on ads, developers want Apple to mandate that all kids apps use advertising and analytics vetted for safety. Developers also take issue with the fact that the new rules don't prevent developers themselves from collecting data or showing ads, it simply limits third-party options. Developers say that Apple's new restrictions will simply incentivize them to start developing apps technically made for adults, even if the users end up being children. Apple's Phil Schiller told The Washington Post that Apple initially tried contacting developers and advertising software operators to ask them to remove inappropriate ads, but that approach ultimately failed. Schiller went on to say that Apple spoke to some developer ahead of implementing the new rules. "We gathered enough data that we're doing the right thing," said Schiller. It's not clear how and when Apple will ultimately implement the app changes that it outlined in June, and it's not known if the company plans to make alterations before rolling out new guidelines. The Washington Post's full article has more detail on how the changes could impact apps designed for kids and it's well worth checking out if you're a developer or a parent. Source
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