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  • U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

    Squiff writes U2 and Apple are apparently collaborating on a new, "interactive format for music," due to launch in "about 18 months." (A direct interview is available at Time, but paywalled.) Bono said the new tech "can't be pirated" and will re-imagine the role of album artwork. Marco Arment has some suitably skeptical commentary: "Full albums are as interesting to most people today as magazines. Single songs and single articles killed their respective larger containers. ... This alleged new format will cost a fortune to produce: people have to take the photos, design the interactions, build the animations, and make the deals with Apple. Bono’s talking point about helping smaller bands is ridiculous ... There's nothing Apple or Bono can do to make people care enough about glorified liner notes. People care about music and convenience, period. As for “music that can’t be pirated”, I ask again, what decade is this? That ship has not only sailed long ago, but has circled the world hundreds of times, sunk, been dragged up, turned into a tourist attraction, went out of business, and been gutted and retrofitted as a more profitable oil tanker."

    300 comments | yesterday

  • Inside Shenzen's Grey-Market iPhone Mall

    jfruh writes Despite being largely manufactured in China, iPhones are still too expensive for most Chinese to afford — new ones, anyway. That's why thousands come to a bustling marketplace in Shenzen that specializes in older grey-market iPhones. Many of them are damaged phones that have been refurbished by enterprising merchants. From the story: "Reselling iPhones can be a lucrative business. The Shenzen mall, called Open World Communication City, is based in the Huaqiangbei district, which attracts buyers from around the world who come here to shop for cheap devices and components. But some of the business is shady. Earlier this year, a person who claimed to have worked at the mall posted pictures online showing how dealers can refurbish an iPhone 5 to make it look like an 5s."

    52 comments | yesterday

  • Apple's "Warrant Canary" Has Died

    HughPickens.com writes When Apple published its first Transparency Report on government activity in late 2013, the document contained an important footnote that stated: "Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us." Now Jeff John Roberts writes at Gigaom that Apple's warrant canary has disappeared. A review of the company's last two Transparency Reports, covering the second half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014, shows that the "canary" language is no longer there suggesting that Apple is now part of FISA or PRISM proceedings.

    Warrant canaries are a tool used by companies and publishers to signify to their users that, so far, they have not been subject to a given type of law enforcement request such as a secret subpoena. If the canary disappears, then it is likely the situation has changed — and the company has been subject to such request. This may also give some insight into Apple's recent decision to rework its latest encryption in a way that makes it almost impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police.

    224 comments | yesterday

  • A Beginner's Guide To Programming With Swift

    Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Earlier this year, Apple executives unveiled Swift, which is meant to eventually replace Objective-C as the programming language of choice for Macs and iOS devices. Now that iOS 8's out, a lot of developers who build apps for Apple's platforms will likely give Swift a more intensive look. While Apple boasts that Swift makes programming easy, it'll take some time to learn how the language works. A new walkthrough by developer David Bolton shows how to build a very simple app in Swift, complete with project files (hosted on SourceForge) so you can follow along. A key takeaway: while some Swift features do make programming easier, there's definitely a learning curve here.

    66 comments | yesterday

  • Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

    SternisheFan writes with this selection from a story at the Washington Post: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user data. The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal dilemma: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that makes it almost impossible for the company – or anyone else but the device's owner – to gain access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers. The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails, recordings or other documents. Apple once kept possession of encryption keys that unlocked devices for legally binding police requests, but will no longer do so for iOS8, it said in a new guide for law enforcement. "Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its Web site. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

    491 comments | yesterday

  • Apple Locks iPhone 6/6+ NFC To Apple Pay Only

    Ronin Developer writes From the Cnet article: "At last week's Apple event, the company announced Apple Pay — a new mobile payments service that utilizes NFC technology in conjunction with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner for secure payments that can be made from the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch. Apple also announced a number of retailers that would accept Apple Pay for mobile payments at launch. However, Cult of Mac reports that NFC will be locked to the Apple Pay platform, meaning the technology will not be available for other uses. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the lock down of the technology, saying developers would be restricted from utilizing its NFC chip functionality for at least a year. Apple declined to comment on whether NFC capability would remain off limits beyond that period." So, it would appear, for at least a year, that Apple doesn't want competing mobile payment options to be available on the newly released iPhone 6 and 6+. While it's understandable that they want to promote their payment scheme and achieve a critical mass for Apple Pay, it's a strategy that may very well backfire as other other mobile payment vendors gain strength on competing platforms.

    320 comments | 2 days ago

  • iOS 8 Review

    An anonymous reader writes: Apple is releasing iOS 8 today, and Ars Technica has posted one of their huge, thorough reviews of the updated operating system. They have this to say about the UI: "iOS 8 tries to fit a whole lot more stuff onto a single screen than iOS 7 did. The operating system was clearly developed in anticipation of iPhones with larger screens." The biggest new feature is Extensions: "Older versions of iOS limited what third-party applications could do to communicate with external services and other third-party applications. ... Extensions remove some (but not all) of those barriers." The biggest examples of extensions are custom keyboards, a feature iOS users have been requesting for years. Downsides to iOS 8 include increased storage and processing requirements, which are bad news for older iPhones, and a host of new bugs associated with the new features.

    210 comments | 2 days ago

  • Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

    Sockatume writes: If you've been browsing Apple's site leading up to the iPhone 6 launch, you might've noticed something a little odd. Apple has edited the handset's protruding camera out of every single side-on view of the phone. (The camera is, necessarily, retained for images showing the back of the device.) The absence is particularly conspicuous given the number of side views Apple uses to emphasize the device's thinness.

    422 comments | 3 days ago

  • Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

    Apple CEO Tim Cook insists that Apple doesn't read -- in fact, says Cook, cannot read -- user's emails, and that the company's iCloud service wasn't hacked. ZDNet presents highlights from Cook's lengthy, two-part interview with Charlie Rose. One selection of particular interest: Apple previously said that even it can't access iMessage and FaceTime communications, stating that such messages and calls are not held in an "identifiable form." [Cook] claimed if the government "laid a subpoena," then Apple "can't provide it." He said, bluntly: "We don't have a key... the door is closed." He reiterated previous comments, whereby Apple has said it is not in the business of collecting people's data. He said: "When we design a new service, we try not to collect data. We're not reading your email." Cook went on to talk about PRISM in more detail, following the lead from every other technology company implicated by those now-infamous PowerPoint slides.

    191 comments | 3 days ago

  • Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

    Ronin Developer writes Apple has listened to the complaints of those who object to having received a pushed copy of U2's latest album as part of their recent campaign. While nobody has been charged for the download, some objected to having it show up in their purchases and, in some cases, pushed down to their devices. While it is possible to remove the album from your iTunes library, it takes more steps than most would like to take. Apple has responded and released a tool to make it possible to remove the album from your iTunes library in a single step.

    320 comments | 3 days ago

  • Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

    snydeq writes: Faster innovation, better security, new markets — the case for opening Swift might be more compelling than Apple will admit, writes Peter Wayner. "In recent years, creators of programming languages have gone out of their way to get their code running on as many different computers as possible. This has meant open-sourcing their tools and doing everything they could to evangelize their work. Apple has never followed the same path as everyone else. The best course may be to open up Swift to everyone, but that doesn't mean Apple will. Nor should we assume that giving us something for free is in Apple's or (gasp) our best interests. The question of open-sourcing a language like Swift is trickier than it looks."

    180 comments | 3 days ago

  • Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices

    Zanadou writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2's latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it's also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time. Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn't chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an "iTunes in the Cloud" purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your "iTunes in the Cloud" purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list. Other reactions include rapper Tyler, The Creator saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was like waking up with an STD. Update: 09/16 15:06 GMT by T : Note: Apple has released a fix.

    609 comments | 4 days ago

  • Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build

    jones_supa writes Google has revealed that it's launching the finished 64-bit version of Chrome 39 for OS X this November, which already brought benefits in speed, security and stability on Windows. However at this point the 32-bit build for Mac will cease to exist. Just to make it clear, this decision does not apply to Windows and Linux builds, at least for now. As a side effect, 32-bit NPAPI plugins will not work on Chrome on Mac version 39 onwards. The affected hardware are only the very first x86-based Macs with Intel Core Duo processors. An interesting question remains, whether the open source version of Chrome, which is of course Chromium, could still be compiled for x86-32 on OS X.

    129 comments | 5 days ago

  • Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

    SternisheFan notes reports about why Apple didn't use sapphire glass screens in the latest iPhones as many expected. Sapphire screens were part of the iPhone 6 design until the glass repeatedly cracked during standard drop tests conducted by Apple suppliers. So Apple abandoned its sapphire plans before the iPhone 6 product launch September 9. VentureBeat has learned that recent supplier channel checks by an IDC analyst yielded several reports of the sapphire failures and Apple's decision against using the glass material. As we heard on Tuesday in Cupertino, both the iPhone 6 and the larger iPhone 6 Plus will ship with screens made of "ion-strengthened" glass. This was apparently Apple's second choice. IDC analyst Danielle Levitas says it isn't clear when exactly the drop-test failures took place, or when Apple abandoned plans for sapphire-screened iPhones. She says the poor drop-test results, combined with the relative high cost of sapphire glass, could have made plans to ship sapphire glass phones too risky. One researcher who covers GT Advanced Technologies, the company that was to produce the glass for the iPhone 6, wrote in a research note earlier this week that plans for the sapphire screens were cancelled in August, just weeks before the September 9 launch. The new Apple Watches (except the "Sport" version) do use sapphire for their screens. Levitas believes that the glass for the smaller 1.5-inch and 1.7-inch watch screens was less likely to break in drop tests.

    205 comments | 5 days ago

  • Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

    MojoKid writes: Historically speaking, we typically see impressive performance gains each time Apple releases a new custom processor for its mobile products. Certainly that was true of the A7 SoC, the world's first 64-bit smartphone processor. So, can we expect the same kind of performance bump from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which sport the new custom A8 SoC? Maybe not. The iPhone 6 recently surfaced in results for the Basemark X benchmark and armed with a dual-core 1.4GHz Cyclone CPU and A8 GPU, the iPhone 6 scored 21,204.26 and a earned a place at the top of the chart, though not by much. By comparison, the iPhone 5s scored 20,253.80 in the same benchmark. In other words, the iPhone 6 is currently less than 5 percent faster than the iPhone 5s, at least as far as the Basemark X benchmark is concerned.

    207 comments | about a week ago

  • iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

    Even after the months of hype and speculation, the behind-the-scenes development and manufacture, and then the announcement Tuesday, it seems Apple's servers weren't quite ready for the workout they got from would-be early adopters of its newest iPhone. Preorders through Verizon Wireless and AT&T largely started without a hitch at midnight, though some customers on Twitter have since complained about issues. Those problems were nothing compared to the issues experienced by Sprint and T-Mobile customers. The Sprint and T-Mobile sites were still down for many users nearly two hours after presales were slated to start. Access to Sprint's site faded in and out, while the T-Mobile site continued to display a form to register for a reminder for when the preorders began. Some people joked on Twitter that they "might as well wait for the iPhone 6S now." Apple's store itself was down for a few hours, too.

    222 comments | about a week ago

  • Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

    SternisheFan points out an article that walks us through the process of using forensic tools to grab data from iPhones and iCloud using forensic tools thought to have been employed in the recent celebrity photo leak. There are a number of ways to break into these devices and services depending on what kind of weakness an attacker has found. For example, if the attacked has possession of a target's iPhone, a simple command-line toolkit from Elcomsoft uses a jailbreak to bypass the iPhone's security. A different tool can extract iCloud data with access to a computer that has a local backup of a phone's data, or access to a computer that simply has stored credentials.

    The discusses also details a method for spoofing device identification to convince iCloud to restore data to a device mimicking the target's phone. The author concludes, "Apple could go a long way toward protecting customer privacy just by adding a second credential to encrypt stored iCloud data. An encryption password could be used to decrypt the backup when downloaded to iTunes or to the device, or it could be used to decrypt the data as it is read by iCloud to stream down to the device."

    85 comments | about a week ago

  • Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

    Today at Apple's September press conference, they announced the new iPhone 6 models. There are two of them — the iPhone 6 is 4.7" at 1334x750, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5" at 1920x1080. Both phones are thinner than earlier models: 5S: 7.6mm, 6: 6.9mm, 6 Plus: 7.1mm. The phones have a new-generation chip, the 64-bit A8. Apple says the new phones have a 25% faster CPU, 50% faster GPU, and they're 50% more energy efficient (though they were careful to say the phones have "equal or better" battery life to the 5S). Apple upgrade the phones' wireless capabilities, moving voice calls to LTE and also enabling voice calls over Wi-Fi. The phones ship on September 19th, preceded by the release of iOS 8 on September 17th.

    Apple also announced its entry into the payments market with "Apple Pay." They're trying to replace traditional credit card payments with holding an iPhone up to a scanner instead. It uses NFC and the iPhone's TouchID fingerprint scanner. Users can take a picture of their credit cards, and Apple Pay will gather payment information, encrypt it, and store it. (Apple won't have any of the information about users' credit cards or their purchases, and users will be able to disable the payment option through Find My iPhone if they lose the device.) Apple Pay will work with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards to start. 220,000 stores that support contactless payment will accept Apple Pay, and many apps are building direct shopping support for it. It will launch in October as an update for iOS 8, and work only on the new phones.

    Apple capped off the conference with the announcement of the long-anticipated "Apple Watch." Their approach to UI is different from most smartwatch makers: Apple has preserved the dial often found on the side of analog watches, using it as a button and an input wheel. This "digital crown" enables features like zoom without obscuring the small screen with fingers. The screen is touch-sensitive and pressure sensitive, so software can respond to a light tap differently than a hard tap. The watch runs on a new, custom-designed chip called the S1, it has sensors to detect your pulse, and it has a microphone to receive and respond to voice commands. It's powered by a connector that has no exposed contacts — it magnetically seals to watch and charges inductively. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone of the following models to work: 6, 6Plus, 5s, 5c, 5. It will be available in early 2015, and will cost $349 for a base model.

    730 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Under the Apple Hype Machine, Amazon Drops Fire Phone Price To 99 Cents

    Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X. In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.

    134 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case

    The Washington Post carries a story from the Associated Press that says the big companies hit hardest by Judge Lucy Koh's ruling in the "No Poaching" case have not suprisingly appealed that ruling, which found that a proposed settlement of $324.5 million to a class-action lawsuit was too low. The suit, filed on behalf of 60,000 high-tech workers allegedlly harmed by anti-competitive hiring practices, will probably enter its next phase next January or March. (Judge Koh is probably not very popular at Apple in particular.) If you're one of those workers (or in an analogous situation), what kind of compensation or punitive action do you think is fair?

    200 comments | about two weeks ago

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