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Encryption

Feinstein-Burr Encryption Legislation Is Dead In The Water (slashdot.org) 108

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Reuters: After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, key U.S. lawmakers pledged to require technology companies to give law enforcement agencies a "back door" to encrypted communications and electronic devices. Now, the push for legislation is dead only months after the terrorist attack. In April, Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein released the official version of their anti-encryption bill with hopes for it to pass through Congress. But with the lack of White House support for the legislation as well as the high-profile court case between Apple and the Justice Department, the legislation will likely not be introduced this year, and even if it were, it would stand no chance of advancing, said sources familiar with the matter. "The short life of the push for legislation illustrates the intractable nature of the debate over digital surveillance and encryption, which has been raging in one form or another since the 1990s," reports Reuters. Technology companies believe security would be undermined if it were to create a "back door" for law enforcement, while law enforcement agencies believe they need to monitor phone calls, emails, text messages and encrypted data in general for security purposes.
Google

Google Boosts Mobile Web Speed On Apple Devices With Accelerated Mobile Pages (fortune.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Google iOS app for devices like the iPhone and iPad now supports the search giant's Accelerated Mobile Pages project, created to increase the loading times of news articles on the Internet. Now when users search for news from their Apple devices using the Google app, they should see streamlined news articles from media companies like The Washington Post that chose to participate in Google's web project. The AMP project is a Google-led initiative to standardize the software code behind each news article on the mobile web. AMP was designed to remove years of accumulated software code that has built up on online publishers' websites. As of Friday, iOS users should see a lightning bolt graphic and the letters "AMP" next to news articles from participating publishers in the "Top Stories" section of their search results in the Google app.
Businesses

Apple Not Allowed To Open Stores In India (reuters.com) 233

ffkom writes: Reuters reports: "India has said Apple Inc must meet a rule obliging foreign retailers to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods if it wishes to open stores in the country, a senior government official told Reuters. A change in legislation last year exempted foreign retailers selling high-tech goods from the rule, which states 30 percent of the value of goods sold in the store should be made in India. However, Apple's products were not considered to be in this category, said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter." Now just imagine what Apple stores in the U.S. would look like if 30% of their offerings had to be made in the US... "They did ask for a waiver but didn't provide any material on record to justify it. The decision was taken only after a thorough examination of their application," the source said. Apple planned to open at least three stores in India by the end of 2017. Separate sources said Apple talked with the Indian government about a relaxation of the rule before it filed an application to open stores in the country in January. In a report from The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled), one of India's government officials said, "We are sticking to the old policy. We want local sourcing for job creation. You can't have a situation where people view India only as a market. Let them start doing some manufacturing here." Currently, Apple sells its products "through a network of Indian-owned distribution companies and retailers."
Facebook

Facebook Could Be Eavesdropping On Your Phone Calls (news10.com) 164

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is not just looking at user's personal information, interests, and online habits but also to your private conversations, revealed a new report. According to NBC report, this may be the case as Kelli Burns, a professor at University of South Florida states, "I don't think that people realize how much Facebook is tracking every move we're making online. Anything that you're doing on your phone, Facebook is watching." the professor said. Now how do you prove that? Professor Kelli tested out her theory by enabling the microphone feature, and talked about her desire to go on a safari, informing about the mode of transport she would take. "I'm really interested in going on an African safari. I think it'd be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps," she said aloud, phone in hand. The results were shocking, as less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was about a safari story out of nowhere, which was then revealed that the story had been posted three hours earlier. And, after mentioning a jeep, a car ad also appeared on her page. On a support page, Facebook explains how this feature works: "No, we don't record your conversations. If you choose to turn on this feature, we'll only use your microphone to identify the things you're listening to or watching based on the music and TV matches we're able to identify. If this feature is turned on, it's only active when you're writing a status update." I wonder how many people are actually aware of this.
Iphone

Apple Sued Over iPhones Making Calls, Sending Email (fortune.com) 134

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: A company that seemingly does nothing but license patents or, if necessary, sue other companies to get royalties, has taken aim at Apple. But here's the kicker: the lawsuit alleges that Apple's last several iPhones and iPads violate a slew of patents related to seemingly standard features, including the ability to place calls as well as sending and receiving emails. A total of six patent infringement claims were brought against Apple by Corydoras Technologies on May 20, according to Apple-tracking site Patently Apple, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit. According to Patently Apple, the counts against Apple cover every iPhone dating back to the iPhone 4 and every iPad dating back to the iPad 2. In addition to taking issue with Apple's devices placing calls, the lawsuits also allege that the tech giant violates patents Corydoras holds related to video calling, which is similar to Apple's FaceTime, as well as displaying a person's geographic location through a feature like Find My iPhone and the ability to block unwanted calls. Last year, Apple was ordered to pay $533 million to Smartflash LLC for allegedly violating three patents related to copy protection.
China

Xiaomi Revenues Were Flat in 2015 (fortune.com) 55

Scott Cendrowski, reporting for Fortune: Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker and second highest-valued startup in the world at $45 billion, barely grew sales at all last year. Revenue for 2015 reached 78 billion yuan ($12.5 billion), a 5% rise from 2014's 74.3 billion yuan. Taking into account the falling value of the Chinese currency, the yuan, sales rose 3% in U.S. dollar terms. Xiaomi has been mum about the 2015 sales total since founder Lei Jun gave a revenue target of 100 billion yuan ($16 billion at the time) at a government meeting in March last year. Flat sales growth represents a dramatic change of fortune for Xiaomi, which until recently appeared to be enjoying the momentum befitting China's hottest startup. It was coming off sales growth of 135% in 2014, and in early 2015 founder Lei Jun said at a press conference that Xiaomi's new smartphone was even better than Apple's iPhone. However the phone, the Mi Note, amassed early user complaints about hot temperatures and didn't become the mega-seller the company might have hoped.CNBC's Jay Yarrow said "The Apple-killer is dying." For the uninitiated, Xiaomi rose to fame in 2013-14 when the company took the world by storm with its cheap-priced handsets, TVs, speakers, power banks, and cameras. These devices offered top-of-the-line specifications for their respective echelon. The company has been called out before for allegedly copying Apple's iOS design in its MIUI Android-based operating system. In the past two years, Xiaomi has expanded its business to several Asian regions, and intends to sell a number of gadgets in the United States and Europe among other regions starting later this year. The company has also expanded its product portfolio, making weighing scale, rice cooker, suitcase and a range of other items.
AI

Avoiding BlackBerry's Fate: How Apple Could End Up In a Similar Position (marco.org) 214

It's almost unbelievable today that BlackBerry ruled the smartphone market once. The Canadian company's handset, however, started to lose relevance when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. At the time, BlackBerry said that nobody would purchase an iPhone, as there's a battery trade-off. Wittingly or not, Apple could end up in a similar position to BlackBerry, argues Marco Arment. Arment -- who is best known for his Apple commentary, Overcast and Instapaper apps, and co-founding Tumblr -- says that Apple's strong stand on privacy is keeping it from being the frontrunner in the advanced AI, a category which has seen large investments from Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon in the recent years. He adds that privacy cannot be an excuse, as Apple could utilize public data like the web, mapping databases, and business directories. He writes: Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for. If they're right -- and that's a big "if" -- I'm worried for Apple. Today, Apple's being led properly day-to-day and doing very well overall. But if the landscape shifts to prioritise those big-data AI services, Apple will find itself in a similar position as BlackBerry did almost a decade ago: what they're able to do, despite being very good at it, won't be enough anymore, and they won't be able to catch up. Where Apple suffers is big-data services and AI, such as search, relevance, classification, and complex natural-language queries. Apple can do rudimentary versions of all of those, but their competitors -- again, especially Google -- are far ahead of them, and the gap is only widening. And Apple is showing worryingly few signs of meaningful improvement or investment in these areas. Apple's apparent inaction shows that they're content with their services' quality, management, performance, advancement, and talent acquisition and retention. One company that is missing from Mr. Arment's column is Microsoft. The Cortana-maker has also placed large bets on AI. According to job postings on its portal, it appears, for instance, that Microsoft is also working on Google Home-like service.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Opens First 'Next Generation' Retail Store (usatoday.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has opened its new flagship store on Thursday in San Fransisco, throwing the curtain back on a design that puts a premium on hanging out over shopping. About 20 percent of the new store's space features an open Forum area where visitors can learn about Apple's various products. The new design is rolling out to stores in Brussels, Memphis and Guilderland, N.Y. "This is the next generation of Apple retail," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online operations, told media. "Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we're thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco," she said. "We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs." The new stores were designed by Ahrendts and Apple's design chief, Jony Ive. "Among the other big changes in evidence is morphing Apple's Genius Bar to Genius Grove; the addition of a new Boardroom area dedicated to small business customers; and the advent of a new staff position, Apple Creative Pro, tasked with helping consumers with specific questions on music, photography, videos and the like," writes USA Today. "In addition, some of Apple's most significant store locations, include the [Apple Union Square in San Fransisco], will feature a public Plaza that will be open 24/7 and feature free Wi-Fi as well as occasional concerts and other performances." Oh, and you can't forget about the new 6K video wall, which display broadcasts various Apple products.
The Almighty Buck

Warren Buffett Buys $1 Billion Stake In Apple (cnn.com) 120

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Buffett, disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that it purchased more than 9.8 million shares in Apple during the first quarter. It marks Berkshire's first investment in Apple. Berkshire acquired its position at an average price of about $109 a share. Apple's stock price has since fallen to just above $90, meaning that Berkshire's stake in Apple is now worth about $888 million. The Apple purchase is the second big tech investment by Berkshire, which has been steadily adding to its stake in IBM during the past few years. Until recently, Buffett had been famous for his lack of investments in the tech sector. But Apple fits perfectly in Buffett's wheelhouse. The company is a leader in its market and the stock is extremely cheap, trading for just 11 times this year's earnings estimates. Apple also has a pristine balance sheet, with $232.9 billion in cash. At the end of April, billionaire investor Carl Icahn sold his entire stake in Apple, citing the risk of China's influence on the stock. Last week, Didi, China's ride-sharing service and rival to Uber, announced Apple invested $1 billion in the company. There's been a lot of money shuffling taking place as of late as Apple tries to reinvigorate the market after it had its first earnings decline in more than a decade.
Iphone

Apple To Launch Startup Accelerator, Three Apple Stores In India, Says Report (factordaily.com) 22

Apple plans to set up three of its own retail stores -- the iconic Apple Store -- in India, reports FactorDaily. The stores will be setup in Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai in the next 18 months. The report adds that Apple also plans to unveil a startup accelerator in the country which would incubate ideas largely around apps built for iOS. The publication claims that these announcements will be made public later this week when Apple CEO Tim Cook visits India. With the growth of iPhone sales starting to decline, and India being one of the handful places to show an increasingly growing interest in its phone, Apple has shifted its focus in the recent months to actively target Indian market.
Bug

Apple Says It Doesn't Know Why iTunes Users Are Losing Their Music Files (theverge.com) 214

Earlier this month, an Apple Music user James Pinkstone claimed that the online music streaming service deleted 122GB of music from his library for no apparent reason. Several Slashdot readers noted they had also faced a similar issue or knew someone who had. The iPhone maker has now acknowledged a bug in iTunes that is apparently causing the glitch, however, it adds that it doesn't really know why "some" users are facing this issue. The Verge reports: The company confirmed that "in an extremely small number of cases, users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission." However, Apple was unable to reproduce the bug, indicating it doesn't really know what's going on here. The company adds: We're taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause. We have not been able to reproduce this issue, however, we're releasing an update to iTunes early next week which includes additional safeguards. If a user experiences this issue they should contact AppleCare.
The Almighty Buck

Apple Invests $1 Billion In Uber's Chinese Rival Didi (bloomberg.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi, making one of its biggest bets on software and services and dealing a blow to Uber Technologies Inc.'s ambitions in the country. The iPhone maker will help Uber's largest rival build up a ride-sharing platform that handles more than 11 million rides a day and serves about 300 million users across China, Didi said in a statement on Friday. Executive Officer Tim Cook has highlighted higher-margin services as a growth area and suggested he would use some of its $200 billion-plus cash hoard for investments. The investment in one of China's largest online companies will allow Apple to forge alliances in its single largest market outside of the United States. Didi, incorporated as Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., is in the process of raising more than $2 billion at a valuation of about $25 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. It operates in 400 Chinese cities and works with more than 14 million Chinese car owners. The company is Uber's most potent rival and has formed an international coalition with Lyft Inc. in the U.S., India's Ola and Southeast Asia's Grab to fight the globally expanding San Francisco firm. Apple is hoping to reinvigorate lackluster iPhone sales in China with its $1 billion investment in Didi. The last big investment the company made was when it acquired Beats for $3 billion in 2014.
Encryption

FBI Has Sights On Larger Battle Over Encryption After Apple Feud (bloomberg.com) 171

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: FBI Director James Comey said the FBI is exploring how to make broader use of the hack, used to access a San Bernardino terrorist's encrypted iPhone, while bracing for a larger battle involving encrypted text messages, e-mails and other data. The tool could "in theory be used in any case where there's a court order" to access data on an iPhone 5c running Apple's iOS 9 OS, Comey told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. However, accessing content on a phone, known as "data at rest," is only part of the challenge that encryption poses for U.S. investigators. Software applications and other services that encrypts texts, e-mails and other information in transit over the Internet, known as "data in motion," are "hugely significant," especially for national security investigations, Comey said. He said criminals are increasingly using services that encrypt data in motion, and he didn't rule out litigation against companies such as WhatsApp. "WhatsApp has over a billion customers, overwhelmingly good people," Comey said. "But in that billion customers are terrorists and criminals, and so that now ubiquitous feature of all WhatsApp products will affect both sides of the house." As for whether or not there will be litigation against WhatsApp down the road, Comey says, "I don't know." The FBI is trying to figure out how to allow "law enforcement around the country with court orders to be able to use our tool," Comey said. It's "tricky," he said, because using the tool to help state and local criminal investigations could mean that it would have to be revealed in a court preceding if there isn't a procedure in place to prohibit testimony about how it works.
AI

Siri Voice Actress Doesn't Use Siri (huffingtonpost.com) 82

An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."

Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."
In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.
Iphone

LAPD Hacked An iPhone 5s Before The FBI Hacked San Bernardino Terrorist's iPhone 5c (latimes.com) 47

According to recently released court papers, Los Angeles police investigators found a way to break into a locked iPhone 5s belonging to April Jace, the slain wife of "The Shield" actor Michael Jace. The detectives were able to bypass the security at around the same time period the FBI was demanding Apple unlock the iPhone 5c belonging to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. LAPD detective Connie Zych wrote on March 18, the department found a "forensic cellphone expert" who could "override the locked iPhone function," according to the search warrant. There's no mention of how the LAPD broke into the iPhone or what OS the iPhone was running (Note: iOS 8, which features improved encryption and security features, came out months after the killing). The information stored on the iPhone should help in the criminal case against Jace's husband, who is charged with the May 19, 2014, killing.
Businesses

SAP Partners With Apple To Expand iOS In The Enterprise (techcrunch.com) 19

SAP has announced a partnership with Apple to bring iOS to SAP's enterprise customers. Steve Lucas, president for SAP's Digital Enterprise Platform, says SAP is firmly an enterprise company which has built a cloud platform to access all the software it has developed -- ERP product, SuccessFactors or Concur. With the new deal, Apple hopes to take a bite out of Microsoft's territory by selling hardware to companies who traditionally shop for PCs. In an effort to push iOS to its customers, SAP has announced a new set of apps for the iPhone and iPad that take advantage of data stored in SAP tools. They're providing an iOS SDK for its in-memory database product, SAP HANA, to allow organizations to build their own customized apps using the data stored in HANA. SAP is also offering SAP Academy for iOS as a way for SAP programmers to learn to use the HANA iOS SDK. The deal between Apple and SAP echoes the deal from a couple years ago between Apple and IBM.
Iphone

Apple Loses Exclusive Rights To 'iPhone' Trademark For Non-Smartphone Products In China (appleinsider.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AppleInsider: Adding to the company's problems in the region, Apple has lost exclusivity on the use of the "iPhone" trademark in China, and must now share it with Beijing-based leather products maker Xintong Tiandi Technology, reports said on Tuesday. On March 31, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court rejected an Apple appeal of an earlier ruling, according to Quartz. Xintong Tiandi is already selling a number of "IPHONE" products, including purses, passport cases, and most notably phone cases. The company registered its trademark in China in 2007, the same year as the Apple iPhone launched in the United States. That was, however, still five years after Apple registered the iPhone name in China for computer products, something which formed the basis of a 2012 complaint to the country's trademark authorities. In 2013 the government ruled that because Apple couldn't prove the name "IPHONE" was well-known prior to Xintong Tiandi's registration, the public wouldn't link its use in a way that would harm Apple interests. In rejecting Apple's appeal, the High People's Court further noted that the company didn't sell the iPhone in mainland China until 2009. This comes after Apple reported its first earnings decline in more than a decade.
Iphone

Slashdot Asks: What Do You Think Is The Most Influential Gadget Of All Time? (macrumors.com) 397

TIME has published a list ranking the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, from cameras and TVs to music players, smartphones, and drones. Can you guess what was the number one most influential gadget on the list? That's right, the Apple iPhone. "Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007," according to TIME. "The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks."

There's a lot of interesting gadgets on the list that have had a profound impact on mankind in some form or another, for better or worse. Do you agree with TIME's number one choice? What do you think is the most influential gadget of all time?
Iphone

Tim Cook Defends Apple, Teases Exciting New Products In The Pipeline (bgr.com) 225

anderzole quotes a report from BGR: Apple's earnings report last week saw the company report a year over year decline in profits for the first time since 2003. The biggest contributing factor to the decline, not surprisingly, is that year over year iPhone sales dropped by 16%. Notably, Apple's most recent quarter represents the company's first iPhone sales decline in history. Consequently, the usual contingent of pundits and analysts have come out of the woodwork, all exclaiming that we've reached 'peak iPhone' and that Apple at this point has nowhere to go but down. In an effort to inject a bit of good news and all-around optimism to a particularly negative Apple news cycle, Tim Cook earlier today appeared on CNBC with Jim Cramer where the Apple CEO teased that Apple's still has a lot of innovation left to do and some interesting items in the product pipeline. "We've got great innovation in the pipeline," Cook said to Cramer. "New iPhones that will incentivize you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones. We are going to give you things you can't live without that you just don't know you need today. That has always been the objective of Apple is to do things that really enrich people's lives. That you look back on and you wonder, how did I live without this."
Crime

The Government Wants Your Fingerprint To Unlock Phones (dailygazette.com) 224

schwit1 quotes this report from the Daily Gazette: "As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom. There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home. The phone contained Apple's fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it.

It marked a rare time that prosecutors have demanded a person provide a fingerprint to open a computer, but experts expect such cases to become more common as cracking digital security becomes a larger part of law enforcement work. The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair?"

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