Encryption

Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com) 9

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.
Bug

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple (theguardian.com) 405

New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...
Cellphones

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
Apple

Apple: Losing Out On Talent and In Need of a Killer New Device (theguardian.com) 428

mspohr writes with a link to an interesting (and rather dour) take at The Guardian on the state of Apple, which holds that: "Despite its huge value, Silicon Valley developers are turned off by [Apple's] 'secretive, controlling' culture and its engineering is no longer seen as cutting edge." From the article: "Tellingly, Apple is no longer seen as the best place for engineers to work, according to several Silicon Valley talent recruiters. It's a trend that has been happening slowly for years – and now, in this latest tech boom, has become more acute. ... Or as Elon Musk recently put the hiring situation a little more harshly: Apple is the "Tesla graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," Musk recently told a German newspaper. The biggest issue for programmers seems to be a high-stress culture and cult of secrecy, which contrasts sharply with office trends toward gentler management and more playful workdays."
Facebook

Facebook Introduces Emojis, Live Video (thestack.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced that it would roll out a new live video tool called Live, available immediately for US iPhone users, and expanding to the rest of the world and Android users over the next few weeks. It is also expanding the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'. The 'Live' video service has had a limited testing group since December, according to Product Manager Vadim Lavrusik. Starting today, Facebook users can access the service through the existing Update Status tool, and can control the audience for the video before uploading. Facebook also announced that it will roll out an expansion of the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'.The 'Like' function will now include emojis for Love, Sad, Angry, Happy and Wow. The emoji for 'Yay' was discarded after testing.
Iphone

Apple Court Testimony Reveals Why It Refuses To Unlock iPhones For Police (dailydot.com) 231

blottsie writes: Newly unsealed court transcripts from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York show that Apple now refuses to unlock iPhones for law enforcement, saying "In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform." “Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions. Never has the privacy and security of customer data been as important as it is now,” Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger said at the hearing. “A hypothetical consumer could think if Apple is not in the business of accessing my data and if Apple has built a system to prevent itself from accessing my data, why is it continuing to comply with orders that don’t have a clear lawful basis in doing so?”
Google

Google Paid $1 Billion To Keep Search On iPhone (bloomberg.com) 77

phantomfive writes: As the Google v. Oracle copyright case drags on, Oracle is claiming that Android has generated $31 billion in revenue for Google, $22 billion of which was profit. Court records also show Google paid Apple $1 billion USD to keep their search bar on the iPhone. A revenue sharing agreement was in place as well. At one point, Apple got 34% of the revenue generated by Google searches on iPhones. Both companies later requested that the information be redacted from the record, but once something is released on the internet, it tends to stay there.
Businesses

Trump Says He'd Make Apple Build Computers In the US (businessinsider.com) 875

mrspoonsi writes with Business Insider's report that presidential candidate Donald Trump says he'd like to make Apple "start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries." From the article: Trump's ultimatum to the most valuable company in the world was made towards the end of a 45-minute speech he gave at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday. The most popular candidate in the Republican party said he would impose a 35% business tax on American businesses manufacturing outside of the United States. Apple has manufactured its Mac Pro at a factory in Texas since 2013, but the vast majority of its products (including the iPhone) are largely made and assembled in China. How Trump would force Apple's supply chain, which relies heavily on a vast network of suppliers and large factories throughout Asia, to be brought stateside remains unknown. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called the U.S. tax code "awful for America." If Trump (or anyone) thinks this is a good idea, why start or stop with Apple?
The Almighty Buck

Exploit Vendor Zerodium Puts $100,000 Bounty On Flash's New Security Feature (softpedia.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: Zerodium, the company that buys zero-day bugs from security researchers and then sells them forward to government intelligence agencies, has put out a new bounty, this one on Adobe's Flash Player. The exploit vendor is offering $100,000 to the first researcher that finds a similar zero-day bug, capable of avoiding Flash's newly-released isolated heap memory protection feature. Previously, Zerodium offered $1 million to a security researcher for a zero-day bug in Apple's iOS 9 operating system.
IOS

Apple Faces $5 Million Lawsuit Over Allegedly Slowing the iPhone 4S With iOS 9 (mashable.com) 344

An anonymous reader writes: A $5 million lawsuit filed in New York federal court alleges that Apple's iOS 9 mobile operating software significantly slows down the iPhone 4S. According to the complaint: "The update significantly slowed down their iPhones and interfered with the normal usage of the device, leaving Plaintiff with a difficult choice: use a slow and buggy device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy a new phone. Apple explicitly represented to the public that iOS 9 is compatible with and supports the iPhone 4S. And Apple failed to warn iPhone 4S owners that the update may or will interfere with the device's performance."
Microsoft

Microsoft Makes a Selfie App For the iPhone (theverge.com) 50

New submitter Nanmillerp sends word about Microsoft Garage's newest app which aims to take the best selfies possible. The Verge reports: "Microsoft's newest app for iOS isn't a piece of productivity software. No, it's a selfie app. Unambiguously called Microsoft Selfie, the product is designed to improve photo qualities like color balance, skin tone, and lighting for the most shareable shot possible. It's a more subtle version of Lumia Selfie, Microsoft's previous self-portrait app designed for Windows phones. On a deeper level, Microsoft Selfie appears to be just one of the many ways the company is using machine learning in everyday situations, similar to the software Microsoft released back April that would guess your age based on a photo. Microsoft Selfie's app description says it takes 'age, gender, skin tone, lighting, and many other variables into account' to help alter your self-portraits with 'intelligent enhancements.'"
Cellphones

Switzerland Moves Toward a Universal Phone Charger Standard (vice.com) 401

Press2ToContinue writes: Apple's Lightning cable cartel be damned: Switzerland is moving forward with a plan for a single, universal phone charger across the country, standardizing phone chargers across the board. While the exact standard hasn't been mentioned yet, it wouldn't be hard to guess the standard: Micro USB, used across phone platforms, most especially Android, which has a gigantic chunk of the cell phone market worldwide.

The likely loser? Apple, which has relied on proprietary chargers since introducing the iPhone in 2007. While many companies have tried releasing generic cables, Apple often relies on DRM software to ensure that it's an Apple certified cable, charging $19 a piece for the Lightning charger used by the iPhone 5 and 6 and similar models.

What do you think -- are government-mandated standards for chargers a good idea? Despite the success of the standard household 3-prong electrical plug, doesn't this hamper progress?
China seems to have done most of the work on the wall-circuit side of the equation,several years ago. But as to the "standard" 3-prong plug, any particular plug type is only as universal as the sockets and voltages they supply.
Power

Sony Creating Sulfur-Based Batteries With 40% More Capacity Than Li-Ion (hothardware.com) 151

MojoKid writes: Since the original iPhone was released in 2007, we have seen some incredible advances in smartphone processing power along with a wealth of feature improvements like faster Wi-Fi and cellular speeds and larger, higher resolution displays. However, battery technology, for the most part, hasn't kept up. There are a few major battery suppliers but Sony is currently an underdog, commanding just 8 percent of the market for compact lithium-ion batteries. Its three largest competitors — Samsung (SDI), Panasonic and LG Chem — each command around 20 percent of the market. In an effort to change that, Sony is developing a new type of battery chemistry that can boost runtimes by 40 percent compared to lithium-ion batteries of the same volume. Sony's batteries use a sulfur compound instead of lithium compounds for the positive electrodes, reportedly allowing for much great energy density. Sulfur batteries can also supposedly be made 30 percent smaller than traditional lithium-ion cells while maintaining the same run times. The company is now working to ensure that the new battery chemistry is safe enough for commercial use.
Transportation

iPhone Hacker Geohot Builds Self-Driving Car AI (bloomberg.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: George Hotz, known for unlocking early iPhones and the PlayStation 3, has developed an autonomous driving system in his garage. "Hotz's approach isn't simply a low-cost knockoff of existing autonomous vehicle technology. He says he's come up with discoveries—most of which he refuses to disclose in detail—that improve how the AI software interprets data coming in from the cameras." The article has a video with Hotz demonstrating some basic autonomous driving similar to what Tesla rolled out earlier this year. He's clearly brimming with confidence about what the system can accomplish with more training.
Mozilla

Mozilla Launches Focus By Firefox, a Content Blocker For iOS 9 (mozilla.org) 30

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched an iOS content blocker called Focus by Firefox. It's a "content blocker" because although Focus is capable of blocking some ads, this latest project from the non-profit is aimed at stopping trackers. The free app is made possible thanks to iOS 9's content-blocking feature, which requires some setting up. Like with any content blocker, after you download Focus, you'll have to activate Focus' content-blocking features within your system-wide iOS settings (launching the app will provide a guide to finish configuration). It's worth noting that Focus only works with Safari. Mozilla says, "This was not our choice—Apple has chosen to make content blocking unavailable to third party browsers on iOS." Here is the Focus GitHub repo and its feedback tool.
Businesses

Apple's Legal Fight With Samsung Revealed a Gold Mine of Top-Secret Information (bgr.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes with this story about how the Apple vs. Samsung battle brought to light the inner workings of Apple product development. BGR reports: "Following a contentious patent battle that raged on for nearly five years, Samsung last week finally agreed to pay Apple $548 million in damages for infringing upon a number of iPhone and iPad patents. While Samsung may still be holding out hope that it may someday recover those millions, it seems that we can finally start closing the book on the most widely publicized patent dispute in recent memory, one which saw Apple and Samsung battle it out in courtrooms across all corners of the globe.

One of the more interesting aspects of Apple's legal battle with Samsung is that it gave us an unprecedented look behind the veil of secrecy that typically shrouds all aspects of Apple's product development and day-to-day operations. Over the course of discovery, innumerable court filings, and a fascinating trial, the inner workings of Apple were brought to the forefront for the fist time in history. From photographs of iPhone prototypes to how Apple conducts market research, Apple's legal battles with Samsung provided tech enthusiasts with a treasure trove of previously top-secret information.

With Samsung now agreeing to pony up for damages, we thought it'd be a good time to take a step back, reminisce, and take a look at some of the more interesting nuggets of information the hard-fought patent dispute brought to light."
IOS

Cortana Coming To iOS, For 2000 Beta Testers (informationweek.com) 39

TechCrunch, InformationWeek, PC World, and other sources report that Microsoft's voice-recognition based personal assistant app Cortana is coming to iOS for a small group of beta testers. From TechCrunch: According to the description that accompanies the test build of Cortana for iOS, Microsoft explains how the assistant can help Windows users with iPhones connect the two platforms. For example, Microsoft suggests how you can set reminders on your PC – like a reminder to pick up milk on the way home – then be notified via your iPhone when you’re on the road. ... Testers report that the beta build is being distributed by Apple’s TestFlight. As one blogger and earlier tester points out that could mean only a small number of testers will be brought on initially, given TestFlight’s limitation of 2,000 testers per application. That may also explain why a good many who signed up for Cortana’s beta are saying that have still yet to receive their invite at this time. (A staged rollout is another possibility.)

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