AI

Apple Testing Service That Allows Siri to Answer Calls and Transcribe Voicemail 67 67

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is reportedly testing a new feature which would allow Siri to answer your calls and then transcribe the voicemails as text messages. The iCloud service would then send users the text of that transcribed voicemail. Apple employees are testing a voicemail service currently and a public release isn't expected until sometime in 2016 in iOS10.
Security

Researchers Create Mac "Firmworm" That Spreads Via Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapters 95 95

BIOS4breakfast writes: Wired reports that later this week at BlackHat and Defcon, Trammell Hudson will show the Thunderstrike 2 update to his Thunderstrike attack on Mac firmware (previously covered on Slashdot). Trammell teamed up with Xeno Kovah and Corey Kallenberg from LegbaCore, who have previously shown numerous exploits for PC firmware. They found multiple vulnerabilities that were already publicly disclosed were still present in Mac firmware. This allows a remote attacker to break into the Mac over the network, and infect its firmware. The infected firmware can then infect Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters' PCI Option ROM. And then those adapters can infect the firmware of any Mac they are plugged into — hence creating the self-propagating Thunderstrike 2 "firmworm." Unlike worms like Stuxnet, it never exists on the filesystem, it only ever lives in firmware (which no one ever checks.) A video showing the proof of concept attack is posted on YouTube.
The Almighty Buck

Apple and Nike Settle FuelBand Lawsuit 14 14

An anonymous reader writes: Nike and co-defendant Apple have reached an agreement to settle a class action suit that alleged false advertising from the two companies indicating that the FuelBand fitness watch had capabilities to track health. The two companies agreed that Nike would pay $2.4 million out to customers who purchased a FuelBand between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015. Apple was a co-defendant in the case, but only Nike has been found liable for falsely advertising the wristband.
OS X

A Tweet-Sized Exploit Can Get Root On OS X 10.10 129 129

vivaoporto writes: The Register reports a root-level privilege-escalation exploit that allows one to gain administrator-level privileges on an OS X Yosemite Mac using code so small that fits in a tweet. The security bug, documented by iOS and OS X guru Stefan Esserwhich, can be exploited by malware and attackers to gain total control of the computer. This flaw is present in the latest version of Yosemite, OS X 10.10.4, and the beta, version 10.10.5 but is already fixed in the preview beta of El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Speaking of exploits: Reader trailrunner 7 notes that "HP’s Zero Day Initiative has released four new zero days in Internet Explorer that can lead to remote code execution."
Software

Apple Watch Still Waiting On App Developers 213 213

An anonymous reader writes: It's been almost three months since the Apple Watch launched, and the tiny device hasn't taken people's wrists by storm. That's not to say it's a failure — experts estimate Apple has sold between three and five million of them, and we may get more detailed sales information during their earnings call, tomorrow. But many major app developers are still missing from the Watch's catalog, and Apple doesn't have a good way of roping them into the new section of its ecosystem. "I don't know if we could get it all in there in a way that feels good and works well," said a Facebook executive. "Why would you look at a small picture when you can look at a large one on your phone?" said Snapchat's CEO. The app rush that hit phones and tablets is dampened for the Watch. For now, all Apple can do is improve their development toolkit and hope coders can figure out useful new wrist-based interactions.
Patents

Apple Patents Bank Account Balance Snooping Tech 133 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's latest patent filings shows that the company is looking into displaying advertising based on your available bank balance. If Apple moves forward with this type of technology it would be a complete 360 on its previous direction to not monetize everything they know about customers. Tim Cook has even said multiple times that companies are targeting consumers on multiple fronts and that he's completely against using customer information in this manner and it's not the kind of company he wants Apple to be.
Businesses

Silicon Valley Still Wrestling With Diversity Issues 398 398

An anonymous reader writes: As major tech companies come under increased scrutiny over the diversity of their workforces, many of them are focusing solely on the "pipeline" of workers educated in a computer-related field. They're pouring resources into getting kids to code, setting up internships, and even establishing mentoring programs for underrepresented groups. But experts say they're still failing to root out their own internal biases when making hiring decisions. "That bias shows up in recruiting, with companies drawing from the same top universities, where black and Hispanic graduates are still lagging behind other groups. ... The problem is particularly acute at start-ups, where black founders are just 1 percent of venture-invested firms, according to a 2011 survey by CB Insights." The tech companies are under mounting pressure to solve this problem, and the solutions they're pursuing won't show results quickly.
United Kingdom

Man Arrested After Charging iPhone On London Overground Train 674 674

An anonymous reader writes: 45-year-old Robin Lee was arrested after he used a socket on a London Overground train to charge up his iPhone. He was handcuffed and arrested for "abstracting electricity". Robin was then charged with "unacceptable behaviour" after "becoming aggressive" when objecting to his first arrest. The Guardian reports: "Speaking to the Evening Standard, Lee said he had been confronted by a police community support officer on the overground train from Hackney Wick to Camden Road on 10 July. The Overground is part of Transport For London’s wider network that also includes London Underground and the buses. 'She said I’m abstracting electricity. She kept saying it’s a crime. We were just coming into the station and there happened to be about four police officers on the platform. She called to them and said: ‘This guy’s been abstracting electricity, he needs to be arrested’.”
Businesses

FTC Officials Looking Into Apple's Streaming Business Model, Say Sources 53 53

Apple may have a bigger business problem than displeasing Taylor Swift with its new Apple Music service; According to Reuters, U.S. regulators are said (by anonymous sources) to be looking into Apple's treatment of music-streaming rivals, now that the company has gone from selling only downloadable music to competing directly with alternatives like Spotify and Pandora. A slice: While $9.99 has emerged as the going monthly rate for music subscriptions, including Apple's, some streaming companies complain that Apple's cut forces them to either charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins. The Federal Trade Commission is looking at the issue but has not begun a formal investigation, said the three industry sources, who requested anonymity. The agency has had meetings with multiple concerned parties, one source said. The agency meets with companies routinely, and a formal investigation may not materialize.
Twitter

Hacker Group That Hit Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft Intensifies Attacks 40 40

itwbennett writes: The hacker group, which security researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec call Wild Neutron or Morpho, has broken into the networks of over 45 large companies since 2012. After the 2013 attacks against Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft were highly publicized, the group went underground and temporarily halted its activity. However, its attacks resumed in 2014 and have since intensified, according to separate reports released Wednesday by Kaspersky Lab and Symantec.
IOS

Apple Drops Recovery Key From Two-Factor Authentication In New OS Versions 64 64

eggboard writes: If you've ever turned on what's now called "two-step verification" for an Apple ID, you had to create a Recovery Key. Lose this 14-digit code and have your password reset (because of hacking attempts against you), and you might lose access forever to purchases and data, as Owen Williams almost did. Apple confirmed today that starting with its public betas of OS X 10.11 and iOS 9, two-factor authentication won't have a Recovery Key. Instead, if you have to reset a password or lose access to devices, you'll have to go through an account verification process with human beings.
The Courts

Judge Tosses Jury's $533M Patent Verdict Against Apple, Orders New Trial 55 55

An anonymous reader writes: US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap has thrown out a $532.9 million damages award against Apple after a jury found that its iTunes software infringed three patents owned by a Texas company. Gilstrap ruled (pdf) that the damages verdict must be thrown out because of faulty jury instructions and has ordered a new trial to be held solely on the issue of damages.
Cloud

How Apple Music Can Disrupt Users' iTunes Libraries 360 360

An anonymous reader writes: Early adopters of Apple Music are warning others they could get more than they bargained for if they intend to download tracks for offline listening. Since Apple Music is primarily a streaming service, this functionality necessitates turning on iCloud Music for syncing purposes. The way Apple syncs files is to scan your library for known music files, and if it finds one, the service gives your account access to Apple's canonical copy. Unfortunately, this wipes out any custom edits you made to the file's metadata. For those who have put a lot of time into customizing their library, this can do a lot of damage to their organizational system. Apple's efforts to simplify and streamline the process have once again left advanced users with a difficult decision to make.
Graphics

Square Enix Pulls, Apologizes For Mac Version of Final Fantasy XIV 94 94

_xeno_ writes: Just over a week after Warner Bros. pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight due to bugs, Square Enix is now being forced to do the same thing with the Mac OS X version of Final Fantasy XIV (which was released at the same time as Batman: Arkham Knight). The rather long note explaining the decision apologizes for releasing the port before it was ready and blames OS X and OpenGL for the discrepancy between the game's performance on identical Mac hardware running Windows. It's unclear when (or even if) Square Enix will resume selling an OS X version — the note indicates that the development team is hopeful that "[w]ith the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac, and the replacement of OpenGL with a new graphics API in Apple's next OS, the fundamental gap in current performance issues may soon be eliminated." (I'm not sure what "the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac" refers to. OS X gaining DirectX 11 support is news to me — and, I suspect, Microsoft.) Given that the game supports the aging PS3 console, you'd think the developers would be able to find a way to get the same graphics as the PS3 version on more powerful Mac OS X hardware.
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 188 188

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"