Businesses

How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft 357

Posted by timothy
from the paper-beats-rock dept.
HughPickens.com writes James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that in 1998 Bill Gates said in an interview that he "couldn't imagine a situation in which Apple would ever be bigger and more profitable than Microsoft" but less than two decades later, Apple, with a market capitalization more than double Microsoft's, has won. The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But according to Stewart, Apple's vision was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Where Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person's desk, Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket. "Apple has been very visionary in creating and expanding significant new consumer electronics categories," says Toni Sacconaghi. "Unique, disruptive innovation is really hard to do. Doing it multiple times, as Apple has, is extremely difficult." According to Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson, Microsoft seemed to have the better business for a long time. "But in the end, it didn't create products of ethereal beauty. Steve believed you had to control every brush stroke from beginning to end. Not because he was a control freak, but because he had a passion for perfection." Can Apple continue to live by Jobs's disruptive creed now that the company is as successful as Microsoft once was? According to Robert Cihra it was one thing for Apple to cannibalize its iPod or Mac businesses, but quite another to risk its iPhone juggernaut. "The question investors have is, what's the next iPhone? There's no obvious answer. It's almost impossible to think of anything that will create a $140 billion business out of nothing."
Networking

Wi-Fi Issues Continue For OS X Users Despite Updates 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-motivation-to-fix dept.
itwbennett writes: Although Apple has never officially acknowledged issues surrounding Yosemite and Wi-Fi connectivity, the company is clearly aware of the problem: Leading off the improvements offered in the update 10.10.2 update released Tuesday was 'resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect,' according to the release notes. Despite this, Apple's support forum was filled with tales of frustrated users. And Mac owners aren't the only Apple users experiencing wireless connection failures after updating their OS. Wi-Fi connectivity issues have also dogged iOS 8 since Apple released the mobile OS on Sept. 17.
Handhelds

The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the interactive-chopping-boards dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."
Businesses

Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever 521

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
jmcbain writes: Yesterday, Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ending December 27, 2014. The company posted $18 billion in profit (on $74 billion in revenue), the largest quarterly profit by any company, ever. The previous record was $16 billion by Russia's Gazprom (the largest natural gas extractor in the world) in 2011. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, along with 5.5 million Macs and 21.4 million iPads.
China

Apple Agrees To Chinese Security Audits of Its Products 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-behind-the-curtain dept.
itwbennett writes According to a story in the Beijing News, Apple CEO Tim Cook has agreed to let China's State Internet Information Office to run security audits on products the company sells in China in an effort to counter concerns that other governments are using its devices for surveillance. "Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed to the security inspections during a December meeting in the U.S. with information office director Lu Wei, according to a story in the Beijing News. China has become one of Apple’s biggest markets, but the country needs assurances that Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad protect the security and privacy of their users as well as maintain Chinese national security, Lu told Cook, according to an anonymous source cited by the Beijing News."
Iphone

Researchers Use Siri To Steal Data From iPhones 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
wiredmikey writes "Using Apple's voice-activated Siri function, security researchers have managed to steal sensitive information from iOS smartphones in a stealthy manner. Luca Caviglione of the National Research Council of Italy and Wojciech Mazurczy of the Warsaw University of Technology warn that malicious actors could use Siri for stealthy data exfiltration by using a method that's based on steganography, the practice of hiding information. Dubbed "iStegSiri" by the researchers, the attack can be effective because it doesn't require the installation of additional software components and it doesn't need the device's alteration. On the other hand, it only works on jailbroken devices and attackers somehow need to be able to intercept the modified Siri traffic. The attack method involves controlling the "shape" of this traffic to embed sensitive data from the device. This covert channel could be used to send credit card numbers, Apple IDs, passwords, and other sensitive information from the phone to the criminal mastermind, researchers said in their paper.
OS X

Why Run Linux On Macs? 592

Posted by timothy
from the horses-for-courses dept.
jones_supa writes Apple has always had attractive and stylish hardware, but there are always some customers opting to run Linux instead of OS X on their Macs. But why? One might think that a polished commercial desktop offering designed for that specific lineup of computers might have less rough edges than a free open source one. Actually there's plenty of motivations to choose otherwise. A redditor asked about this trend and got some very interesting answers. What are your reasons?
Software

'Be My Eyes' App Crowdsources Help For the Blind 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-this-a-rabid-wolverine-chewing-on-my-leg? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new not-for-profit app, Be My Eyes, aims to help the visually-impaired by connecting them with volunteer users who can support them in their daily lives via live video calls. Once downloaded, Be My Eyes asks the user to identify as blind or sighted, to see if you require help or are offering it. When a blind person requests assistance the app scans the system for an available volunteer. The blind user connects with the volunteer over a video call and points to the item they would like described. Be My Eyes was created by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a visually-impaired entrepreneur, at a startup event. Wiberg teamed up with Robocat, the Danish software studio behind Haze and Thermo, to make his vision a reality.
Input Devices

Apple Awarded Gesture-Control Patent 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-is-obvious-to-the-uspto dept.
mpicpp points out a report that Apple has been awarded a broad patent for gesture control of a computer interface (8,933,876). The company inherited the patent after their acquisition of motion-sensor company PrimeSense in 2013. (PrimeSense's technology is used in Microsoft's Kinect gesture control system.) Here's the patent's abstract: A method, including receiving, by a computer executing a non-tactile three dimensional (3D) user interface, a set of multiple 3D coordinates representing a gesture by a hand positioned within a field of view of a sensing device coupled to the computer, the gesture including a first motion in a first direction along a selected axis in space, followed by a second motion in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, along the selected axis. Upon detecting completion of the gesture, the non-tactile 3D user interface is transitioned from a first state to a second state.
Privacy

Glitch In OS X Search Can Expose Private Details of Apple Mail Users 49

Posted by timothy
from the where-are-you-now dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "The potential privacy risk in Apple's OS X Yosemite, first reported by German tech news site Heise and confirmed by IDG News Service, appears when people use the Spotlight Search feature, which also indexes emails received with the Apple Mail email client. Performing a Spotlight search opens email previews that load external images, including tracking pixels that are used to gather data, even when the Mail client is asked not to do this." From the article: A preview of the unopened emails was shown by Spotlight, which revealed to the operator of the server hosting the pixels the receiver’s IP address, current OS version and some details about the browser used as well as the version of Quick Look, a program that let’s users preview a document.
Security

First OSX Bootkit Revealed 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Trailrunner7 writes A vulnerability at the heart of Apple's Mac OS X systems—one thus far only partially addressed by Apple—opens the door to the installation of malicious firmware bootkits that resist cleanup and give hackers persistent, stealthy control over a compromised Mac. The research is the work of a reverse engineering hobbyist and security researcher named Trammel Hudson, who gave a talk at the recent 31C3 event in Hamburg, Germany, during which he described an attack he called Thunderstrike. Thunderstrike is a Mac OS X bootkit delivered either through direct access to the Apple hardware (at the manufacturer or in transport), or via a Thunderbolt-connected peripheral device; the latter attack vector exposes vulnerable systems to Evil Maid attacks, or state-sponsored attacks where laptops are confiscated and examined in airports or border crossings, for example.

Hudson's bootkit takes advantage of a vulnerability in how Apple computers deal with peripheral devices connected over Thunderbolt ports during a firmware update. In these cases, the flash is left unlocked, allowing an Option ROM, or peripheral firmware, to run during recovery mode boots. It then has to slip past Apple's RSA signature check. Apple stores its public key in the boot ROM and signs firmware updates with its private key. The Option ROM over Thunderbolt circumvents this process and writes its own RSA key so that future updates can only be signed by the attacker's key. The attack also disables the loading of further Option ROMs, closing that window of opportunity.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS 220

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
schwit1 writes The EFF launched a new app that will make it easier for people to take action on digital rights issues using their phone. The app allows folks to connect to their action center quickly and easily, using a variety of mobile devices. Sadly, though, they had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them. Why? Because they could not agree to the terms in Apple's Developer Agreement and Apple's DRM requirements.
Programming

Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive 598

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
mrspoonsi writes Respected developer Marco Arment is worried about Apple's future. In a blog post, he writes, "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future." Arment was CTO at Tumblr, before he left to start Instapaper. "Apple has completely lost the functional high ground," says Arment. "'It just works' was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer." He blames Apple prioritizing marketing for the problems with Apple's software. Apple wants to have new software releases each year as a marketing hook, but the annual cycles of updating Apple's software are leading to too many bugs and problems, he says: I suspect the rapid decline of Apple's software is a sign that marketing has a bit too much power at Apple today: the marketing priority of having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it's an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality."
Sony

Sony, Facebook, Google, Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft Now All Have a Hand In VR 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the everyone-is-doing-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Kickstarter breathed new life into consumer virtual reality when it raised more than $2.4 million just three years ago. Now, at the onset of 2015, some of the world's biggest tech companies have a vested interest in the growing consumer virtual reality industry. Road to VR takes a look back at VR in 2014 and the path that lead these tech giants to start taking it seriously.
Data Storage

Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8 325

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-much-room dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Apple is being sued over claims that iOS 8 uses too much storage space on the company's devices. "Ever wonder why there never is enough space on your iPhone or iPad? A lawsuit filed this week against Apple Inc. alleges that upgrades to the iOS 8 operating system are to blame, and that the company has misled customers about it. In the legal complaint filed in California, Miami residents Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara accuse Apple of "storage capacity misrepresentations and omissions" relating to Apple's 8 GB and 16GB iPhones, iPads and iPods. Orshan has two iPhone 5 and two iPads while Endara had purchased an iPhone 6. They contend the upgrades to the operating system end up taking up as much as 23 percent of the storage space on their devices."
Portables (Apple)

Putting a MacBook Pro In the Oven To Fix It 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the tales-from-the-IT-kitchen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A post at iFixit explains how one user with a failing MacBook Pro fixed it by baking it in the oven. The device had overheating issues for months, reaching temperatures over 100 C. When it finally died, some research suggested the extreme heat caused the logic board to flex and break the solder connections. The solution was to simply reflow the solder, but that's hard to do with a MBP. "Instead, I cracked open the back of my laptop, disconnected all eleven connectors and three heat sinks from the logic board, and turned the oven up to 340 F. I put my $900 part on a cookie sheet and baked it for seven nerve-wracking minutes. After it cooled, I reapplied thermal paste, put it all back together, and cheered when it booted. It ran great for the next eight months." The laptop failed again, and another brief vacation into the oven got it running once more.
United Kingdom

Apple Pay For the UK 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-coming-sometime-and-maybe dept.
An anonymous reader writes about when Apple Pay will be available in the UK. "A major UK bank's concern over data collected by Apple Pay is reportedly stalling negotiations to launch the mobile payments service in the country by 'the first half of 2015.' The Telegraph reports that 'at least one' of the UK's biggest banks is 'uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers.' Apple has been adamant about its approach to collecting users' data via Apple Pay. 'We are not in the business of collecting your data,' said Apple exec Eddy Cue when introducing the service in September. 'So when you go to a physical business and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank.'"
Cellphones

High Speed DIY M&M Sorting Machine Uses iPhone Brain 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the solving-tasty-problems dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Canoe Tech reports that M&M sorting machines are a popular project for people who like combining electronics, programming and machine building. Most of them send a single M&M down a chute to a simple color sensor where the color sensor will then take a second or two to figure out the color. A servo motor will then rotate a chute that will direct the M&M into the correct pot. But a new project created by the nameless blogger behind the reviewmylife blog that uses an iPhone 5s as its brain is capable of sensing different colors and so can "sort" the M&Ms as they fall past. The iPhone communicates the information via Bluetooth to an Arduino board, which in turn fires off the correct electro magnet controlled gate. One practical application of the sorter could be creating a bowl of M&Ms — with all the brown ones removed.
Sony

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "
Android

De-escalating the Android Patent War 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-bilk-the-USPTO-together dept.
In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.