Iphone

Apple Is Seeing 'Strong Demand' For Replacement iPhone Batteries (reuters.com) 83

In a letter addressed to the U.S. lawmakers, Apple said earlier this month that it was seeing "strong demand" for replacement iPhone batteries. The company added that it may offer rebates for consumers who paid full price for new batteries. From a report: Apple confirmed in December that software to deal with aging batteries in iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE models could slow down performance. The company apologized and lowered the price of battery replacements for affected models from $79 to $29. In the letter released Tuesday, amid nagging allegations that it slowed down phones with older batteries as a way to push people into buying new phones, the company said it was considering issuing rebates to consumers who paid full price for replacement batteries.
Android

Android Oreo Passes 1 Percent Adoption After 5 Months, Nougat Finally Takes First Place (venturebeat.com) 98

According to Google's Platform Versions page, Android 8.0 Oreo mobile operating system finally has 1.1 percent adoption. Like Android Nougat before it, Android Oreo took five months to pass the 1 percent adoption mark. VentureBeat reports: On the bright side, Nougat this month has passed Marshmallow, meaning the second newest Android version is now the most widely used. The latest version of Android typically takes more than a year to become the most-used release, and so far it doesn't look like Oreo's story will be any different. Google's Platform Versions tool uses data gathered from the Google Play Store app, which requires Android 2.2 and above. This means devices running older versions are not included, nor are devices that don't have Google Play installed (such as many Android phones and tablets in China, Amazon's Fire line, and so on). Also, Android versions that have less than 0.1 percent adoption, such as Android 3.0 Honeycomb and Android 2.2 Froyo, are not listed. The two next-oldest Android versions are thus set to drop off the list sometime this year. The Android adoption order now stands as follows: Nougat in first place, Marshmallow in second place, Lollipop in third, KitKat in fourth, Jelly Bean in fifth, Oreo in sixth, ICS in seventh, and Gingerbread in last. All eyes are now on Oreo to see how slowly it can climb the ranks.
Google

Google Enables Pixel Visual Core For Better Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp Photos (theverge.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google's Pixel Visual Core, the hidden image-processing chip inside the Pixel 2 family of phones, is getting an update today that lets it work its machine learning magic in third-party apps. Already enabled via Android 8.1 for the Pixel 2's main camera app, the Visual Core is now going to be operational within any other camera app that employs the relevant Google APIs. That means your Instagram photography and Snapchat Stories will get the benefit of the same improvements in processing speed and efficiency. I have been using a Google Pixel 2 XL since before the Android 8.1 update that initially flipped the Visual Core to being active, and I can't say I've noticed a huge difference in the speed or operation of the camera. It was sterling before 8.1, and it's been the same since. But the way Google explains it, the Visual Core is likely to be more helpful and impressive in third-party apps because it will allow the company to run its proprietary HDR+ algorithm in those other apps: "Pixel Visual Core is built to do heavy-lifting image processing while using less power, which saves battery. That means we're able to use that additional computing power to improve the quality of your pictures by running the HDR+ algorithm."
Iphone

iPhone X Bug Leaves Some Users Unable To Answer Calls (betanews.com) 65

Mark Wilson writes: A number of iPhone X users are complaining about a bug that leaves them unable to answer incoming calls. Reports of the bug are spreading through Apple's support forums, and the company says it is looking into the problem. People who are experiencing the bug say that when they receive a call, their iPhone X rings, but the screen does not wake up. While the problem has been around for a couple of months, complaints seem to be growing in number at the moment.
Cellphones

Finland Will Introduce a Mobile 'Driver's License' App (yle.fi) 61

The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation reports: Simo Karppinen, Unit Head at the Finnish Transport and Safety Agency Trafi, says it plans to roll out an app that will function as a free digital driving license by the end of summer. The agency said it expects many Finns to take up the use of the digital driving license as soon as it is released. The digital license has been in use by a test group who report successfully using the app where proof of identity is required, such as picking up postal packages. Other uses for the digital license include informing the owner of license renewal dates... The digital driving license will not record the location of its user or serve as a tracking device.
Slashdot reader Kiuas writes that it's being used as a supplement for traditional card licenses rather than a replacement, because "Current Finnish law mandates that all driver's licenses are handed out in a physical form. So everyone will still get a physical driver's license, but those who wish to do so can now leave their card at home and use the app instead.
Iphone

Apple Launches Free Repair Program For 'No Service' IPhone 7 Bug (betanews.com) 61

Mark Wilson writes: Apple has launched a new repair program aimed at iPhone 7 users who are experiencing a "No Service" problem. Apple says that affected models that were sold since September 2016 will be repaired free of charge. The company explains that the No Service bug only affects a "small number" of handsets, and it is caused by a failed component on the main logic board...

Apple says that the problematic iPhone 7s were sold in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, and the US between September 2016 and February 2018. The specific model numbers are A1660, A1780 and A1779 and anyone whose phone is displaying a "No Service" message even when signal is available is told to contact their nearest Apple Authorized Service Provider, Apple Retail Store or Apple Technical Support.

United States

Hawaii Missile Alert Worker Fired, Will Sue State for Defamation (khon2.com) 172

This week Hawaii finally fired the employee who issued a false missile alert warning to the entire state, while the head of the state's emergency management agency resigned, another official quit, and a fourth was suspended over the incident. But new details also emerged about the incident:
  • The New York Daily News reports that the warning officer missed those words "because someone in the office picked up the receiver instead of hitting the speaker." And he insists that "I'm really not to blame in this. It was a system failure. And I did what I was trained to do. I can't say that I would do anything differently based on what I saw and heard." His lawyer adds that "The place was a circus and they got their scapegoat... All that was missing were clowns and balloons."
  • The fired worker now plans to sue the state of Hawaii for defamation, and possibly also for libel and slander, according to his lawyer, "because they lied about what happened." He also says that his client has already received numerous death threats.

Cellphones

NIH Study Links Cellphone Radiation To Cancer In Male Rats (techcrunch.com) 130

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: New studies from the National Institutes of Health -- specifically the National Toxicology Program -- find that cell phone radiation is potentially linked with certain forms of cancer, but they're far from conclusive. The results are complex and the studies have yet to be peer-reviewed, but some of the findings are clearly important enough to warrant public discussion. An early, partial version of this study teasing these effects appeared in 2016, but these are the full (draft) reports complete with data. Both papers note that "studies published to date have not demonstrated consistently increased incidences of tumors at any site associate with exposure to cell phone RFR [radio frequency radiation] in rats or mice." But the researchers felt that "based on the designs of the existing studies, it is difficult to definitively conclude that these negative results clearly indicate that cell phone RFR is not carcinogenic."

The studies exposed mice and rats to both 900 MHz and 1900 Mhz wavelength radio waves (each frequency being its own experiment) for about 9 hours per day, at various strengths ranging from 1 to 10 watts per kilogram. For comparison, the general limit the FCC imposes for exposure is 0.08 W/kg; the absolute maximum allowed, for the extremities of people with occupational exposures, is 20 W/kg for no longer than 6 minutes. So they were really blasting these mice. The rodents were examined for various health effects after various durations, from 28 days to 2 years. At 1900 MHz: Equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in lung, liver and other organ tissues in both male and female mice.

Android

LG Settles Bootloop Lawsuit With $425 Cash Or a $700 Rebate Toward a New LG Phone (androidpolice.com) 38

Early last year, a class-action lawsuit was filed against LG over bootloop issues affecting their G4 and V10 smartphones. Now, according to a settlement website set up by the law firm Girard Gibbs, members of the lawsuit have received a settlement offer. The only catch is that the settlement is only for plaintiffs of the initial case. Android Police reports: LG is offering plaintiffs either $425 as a cash settlement or a $700 rebate toward the purchase of a new LG phone. That's pretty generous, and it's clear that's going to help offset some of the anger LG's created with this whole incident. If you're one of the plaintiffs, you don't have to mail in your broken phone or anything, you just get the settlement offer, straight up. Members of the class will be contacted shortly with instructions on how to take advantage of the settlement. Payments will be distributed beginning in March.
Iphone

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Models (macrumors.com) 75

Apple today has added refurbished iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models to its online store for the first time in the United States. MacRumors reports: iPhone 7 models are available in all three storage capacities, including 32GB for $499, 128GB for $589, and 256GB for $679, reflecting savings of 10 percent off Apple's current prices for brand new models. All five colors are currently in stock, including Black, Jet Black, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold. iPhone 7 Plus models with 32GB or 128GB of storage are available for $599 and $689 respectively, which is also 10 percent off. There are no 256GB models in stock. Available colors include Black, Gold, and Rose Gold. Apple says all refurbished iPhone models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged with a new white box and all manuals and accessories. Apple also installs a new battery and replaces the outer shell, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between a refurbished and brand new iPhone. Any refurbished iPhone model comes with Apple's standard one-year warranty effective on the date the device is delivered. The warranty can be extended to up to two years from the original purchase date with AppleCare+, at a cost of $129 for the iPhone 7 and $149 for the iPhone 7 Plus in the United States.
Security

Equifax Releases Credit Locking App That Doesn't Work (arstechnica.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, the beleaguered credit reporting agency Equifax launched a new service to protect people from the risks of identity theft that the company vastly magnified with a breach of over 145 million people's credit records last year. The service, called Lock & Alert, is fronted by a mobile application and a Web application. It is intended to allow individuals to control access to their credit report on demand. "Lock & Alert allows You to lock and unlock your EIS credit report ('Equifax credit report')," the services' terms of service agreement states. "Locking or unlocking your Equifax credit report usually takes less than a minute." Except when it doesn't.

As Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported, the new service -- which is different from a "freeze" in some ways that are not clear from a legal and regulatory standpoint -- has not been working for some (and possibly all) mobile app users. The idea of the "lock" is that it can be undone in an instant with a swipe of the screen, without incurring a charge to freeze or unfreeze the report or having to provide a PIN number. But attempts by Siegel Bernard to lock her husband's credit report resulted in application timeouts.

Businesses

Apple: We Would Never Degrade the iPhone Experience To Get Users To Buy New Phones 282

Apple today responded to reports that the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are probing its decision to throttle older iPhones, confirming that the U.S government has asked questions. From a report: Apple said it would never intentionally "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades." Apple acknowledged in December that it was secretly slowing the speeds of iPhones in an effort to help preserve aging batteries. In response to consumer backlash, the company dropped the price of battery replacements for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from $79 to $29.
Verizon

Verizon Drops Plans To Sell Huawei Phones Due To US Government Pressure (bloomberg.com) 69

Bloomberg reports that Verizon has dropped all plans to sell phones by Chinese manufacturer Huawei due to pressure from the U.S. government. The decision comes after AT&T walked away from a deal earlier this month to sell Huawei smartphones in the U.S. Bloomberg: Huawei devices still work on both companies' networks, but direct sales would've allowed them to reach more consumers than they can through third parties. The government's renewed concern about Chinese spying is creating a potential roadblock in the race between Verizon and AT&T to offer 5G, the next generation of super-fast mobile service. Huawei is pushing to be among the first to offer 5G-capable phone, but the device may be considered off-limits to U.S. carriers who are beginning to offer the next-generation service this year in a few cities. U.S. security agencies and some lawmakers fear that 5G phones made by companies that may have close ties to the Chinese government could pose a security risk.
Iphone

US Government Investigates Apple Over iPhone Battery Slowdowns (phonedog.com) 123

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PhoneDog: The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Apple about its updates that slowed performance on iPhones with older batteries. Sources speaking to Bloomberg say that the agencies are looking into whether Apple violated securities laws regarding disclosures about its updates that throttled older iPhones. So far, the DOJ and SEC have requested information from Apple. Because the investigation is still early, it's unclear if the agencies will actually take an action against Apple. Apple apologized for not being more clear about its actions after the news of its performance-throttling updates came out, but we've still seen class action lawsuits and now this investigation come out. The good news is that Apple will be more transparent about iPhone battery health and performance in the future, but for now, it'll have to deal with the DOJ and SEC.
Bug

Apple is Postponing Release of New Features To iOS This Year To Focus on Reliability and Performance: Report (axios.com) 106

For a change, Apple plans to not push new features to iOS devices this year so that it could focus on reliability and quality of the software instead, Axios reported on Tuesday. From the report: Apple has been criticized of late, both for security issues and for a number of quality issues, as well as for how it handles battery issues on older devices. Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite. Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.
IOS

There May Not Be An iPhone SE 2 After All (theverge.com) 58

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note today that casts doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the second quarter of 2018. If there is a successor, customers can expect a minor update that amounts to a run-of-the-mill spec boost and no new features like wireless charging or Face ID. The Verge reports: According to Kuo, between the three phones Apple released last year (iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X) and the three phones rumored to be released this fall, the company may not have enough development resources for an SE follow up as a fourth phone for 2018. That said, Kuo also does acknowledge that a basic processor update could still happen, but it seems that SE fans should keep expectations low. The iPhone SE still fills an interesting place in Apple's lineup. It uses the same design as the iPhone 5, which was released in 2012, with the 2015 internals of an iPhone 6s. This means the current model would get a boost in processor speed -- something that will likely continue to get worse with the presumed release of iOS 12 this fall. But SE is still popular for its low price and smaller size among consumers. Compared to the giant 6-inch-plus phones Apple is rumored to be releasing this year, it could make sense to keep an updated version of the smaller SE around.
Cellphones

Trump Team Considers Nationalizing America's 5G Network (axios.com) 383

JoeyRox writes: "Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation's mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios." This is based on a PowerPoint presentation Axios has in their possession. Two options are described -- a national 5G network funded and built by the Federal government, or a mix of 5G networks built by existing wireless providers. A source suggests the first option is preferred and essential to protect against competition from China and "bad actors". The presentation suggests that a government-built network would then be leased out to carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
The PowerPoint presentation was produced by a senior National Security Council official, and argues that the move is necessary because "China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure," and "China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain."

It also suggests America could export its secure 5G technology to protect its allies, and "Eventually this effort could help inoculate developing countries against Chinese neo-colonial behavior."
Government

Washington Bill Makes It Illegal To Sell Gadgets Without Replaceable Batteries (vice.com) 384

Jason Koebler writes: A bill that would make it easier to fix your electronics is rapidly hurtling through the Washington state legislature. The bill's ascent is fueled by Apple's iPhone-throttling controversy, which has placed a renewed focus on the fact that our electronics have become increasingly difficult to repair.

Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed "in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove."

Operating Systems

Apple Prepares MacOS Users For Discontinuation of 32-Bit App Support (arstechnica.com) 180

Last year, Apple announced that macOS High Sierra "will be the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromise." Now, in the macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 beta, Apple is notifying users of the impending change, too. "To prepare for a future release of macOS in which 32-bit software will no longer run without compromise, starting in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, a user is notified on the launch of an app that depends on 32-bit software. The alert appears only once per app," Apple says in the beta release notes. Ars Technica reports: When users attempt to launch a 32-bit app in 10.13.4, it will still launch, but it will do so with a warning message notifying the user that the app will eventually not be compatible with the operating system unless it is updated. This follows the same approach that Apple took with iOS, which completed its sunset of 32-bit app support with iOS 11 last fall. Developers and users curious about how this will play out will be able to look at the similar process in iOS for context. On January 1 of this year, Apple stopped accepting 32-bit app submissions in the Mac App Store. This June, the company will also stop accepting updates for existing 32-bit applications. iOS followed a similar progression, with 32-bit app submissions ending in February of 2015 and acceptance of app updates for 32-bit apps ending in June of 2015.
Cellphones

Jack White Bans Cellphones At Concerts For '100% Human Experience' (nme.com) 294

Singer and guitarist Jack White has banned the use of mobile phones at upcoming live shows. NME reports that the policy will be strictly enforced, requiring concert-goers to lock up their smartphones in pouches." From the report: White embarks on a tour of the U.S. from April, with a statement announcing that shows would be "phone-free," confirming: "No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed." "We think you'll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON," the statement adds. "Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show. You keep your pouch-secured phone on you during the show and, if needed, can unlock your phone at any time in a designated Yondr Phone Zone located in the lobby or concourse." "For those looking to do some social media postings, let us help you with that. Our official tour photographer will be posting photos and videos after the show... Repost our photos & videos as much as you want and enjoy a phone-free, 100% human experience."

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