Censorship

FBI Gripes "We Can't Read Everyone's Secrets" (reuters.com) 130

New submitter rdukb writes: FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that investigators still can't access the phone contents of one of the San Bernadino killers. He went on to argue that the phenomenon of communications "going dark" due to more sophisticated technology and wider use of encryption is "overwhelmingly affecting" law enforcement operations, including, not only the San Bernadino murders, but also investigations into other murders, car accidents, drug trafficking and the proliferation of child pornography. This might increase pressure on Apple to loosen the backdoor restrictions. Will the industry relent and allow Government access to data from these devices?
Desktops (Apple)

Scareware Signed With Apple Cert Targets OS X Machines (threatpost.com) 39

msm1267 writes: A unique scareware campaign targeting Mac OS X machines has been discovered, and it's likely the developer behind the malware has been at it a while since the installer that drops the scareware is signed with a legitimate Apple developer certificate.

"Sadly, this particular developer certificate (assigned to a Maksim Noskov) has been used for probably two years in similar attacks," said Johannes Ullrich, dean of research of the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, which on Thursday publicly disclosed the campaign. "So far, it apparently hasn't been revoked by Apple."

Cellphones

Foxconn Set To Acquire Sharp Corporation For $5.6 Billion (appleinsider.com) 48

Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing/assembly company, is reported to be finalizing a deal to acquire Sharp Corporation for $5.6 billion, with the beleaguered company having finally rejected a proposed government rescue package in favor of the deal. Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, was brought to media attention in 2010, when the company installed suicide nets to stop the high number of employee suicides at company dorms. Although it seems out of the ordinary that one of the world's few producers of LCD panels is negotiating with Foxconn, the deal is expected to go through, making it one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.
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 ...
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple (arstechnica.com) 134

Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.
IOS

7 Swift 2 Enhancements iOS Devs Will Love 123

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Paul Solt outlines how Apple has made good on Swift's emphasis on performance, approachability, and ease in its latest update, offering up seven worthwhile enhancements to Swift 2, along with code samples. 'Many of the enhancements to Swift, through both the Swift 2.0 update and subsequent Swift 2.1 update, have made the language more explicit and intentional, and in turns, Swift 2 code will be safer and easier to maintain for years to come (especially now that Swift is open source). New language constructs (keywords) in Swift 2 improve the readability of control flow — the order in which lines of code are executed. Thanks to these new keywords, collaborating on Swift code will be much more productive and efficient.'
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."
IOS

iOS App Update Technique Puts Users At Risk (csoonline.com) 67

itwbennett writes: An increasing number of iOS application developers use a technique that allows them to remotely modify the code in their apps without going through Apple's normal review process, potentially opening the door to abuse and security risks for users. An implementation of this technique, which is a variation of hot patching, comes from an open-source project called JSPatch. After adding the JSPatch engine to their application, developers can configure the app to always load JavaScript code from a remote server they control. This code is then interpreted by the JSPatch engine and converted into Objective-C. 'JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers,' security researchers from FireEye said in a blog post. 'In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes.'
Media

iTunes Radio Is Now "Apple Music" (and You Need a Subscription) 105

New submitter Kevin by the Beach writes: If you haven't noticed... If you try to play iTunes radio on your devices it is now paywalled (you can get a free three month trial at apple.com/music). The only reason I noticed is that I have an Apple TV which at one time had an iTunes Radio App. That app is no longer. Same is true if you select Music on your iOS devices, if you get to the iTunes Radio menu, you are redirected to sign up for the free trial. This reminds me of why I am forever reluctant to trade the music I have locally (on CDs, hard drives, and a few bits of vinyl I've been unwilling to jettison) for any kind of streaming service, whether it promises perpetuity or good-until-next-payment.
Businesses

Tim Cook: What's Good For the US Dollar Is Bad For Apple 270

theodp writes: For years," Charles Erwin Wilson famously said back in the day, "I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." That was then. This is now. The Washington Post reports that a strong U.S. dollar is the biggest threat to Apple's business around the world. "The dollar has shot up about 22 percent against a trade-weighted basket of other currencies since the middle of 2014," explains Matt O'Brien. "And in Apple's case, that's meant what would have been $100 of foreign sales in September 2014 was just $85 by the end of 2015. That's not good when you get two-thirds of your revenue overseas." Apple blamed the strength of the dollar compared to other currencies for costing it $5 billion in revenue, "For perspective, that difference is the size of an average Fortune 500 company," quipped CEO Tim Cook.
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

Apple To Launch First European Development Center (thestack.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced plans to launch its first iOS app development center in Europe. The location will be in Naples, Italy, with the center aiming to teach youngsters how to code. The announcement was made 21 January and explained how the center would provide students (children and young adults) the practical skills and training required for developing iOS apps for "the world's most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem". The center will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum that will prepare the youths to be a part of Apple's developer community.
Businesses

Tech's Big 5 -- Here to Stay? (nytimes.com) 250

schwit1 tips a piece at the NY Times about the most entrenched companies in consumer technology: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. The article makes the case that these five have a such a strong grip on the modern tech industry that they're destined to stick around for the foreseeable future. From the article: Tech people like to picture their industry as a roiling sea of disruption, in which every winner is vulnerable to surprise attack from some novel, as-yet-unimagined foe. ... But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage. And you can bet on them continuing to win. So I’m coining them the Frightful Five. .... Though competition between the five remains fierce — and each year, a few of them seem up and a few down — it’s becoming harder to picture how any one of them, let alone two or three, may cede their growing clout in every aspect of American business and society. ... In various small and large ways, the Frightful Five are pushing into the news and entertainment industries; they’re making waves in health care and finance; they’re building cars, drones, robots and immersive virtual-reality worlds. Why do all this? Because their platforms — the users, the data, and all the money they generate — make these far-flung realms seem within their grasp."
Sony

Apple, Samsung, and Sony Face Child Labor Claims (amnestyusa.org) 187

An anonymous reader writes: Amnesty International has accused Apple, Samsung, Sony, and other tech companies of failing to do basic checks to ensure minerals used in their products are not mined by children. A new report explains how cobalt is harvested from mines by children as young as seven years old. The cobalt then ends up in lithium-ion batteries sold to device-makers throughout the world. The list of companies who use these batteries also includes Daimler, Dell, HP, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Vodafone, Volkswagen, and ZTE. Amnesty International notes that half the world's cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where many mining operations have terrible track records for accidents and concern for workers' welfare. They say, "the vast majority of miners spend long hours every day working with cobalt without the most basic of protective equipment, such as gloves, work clothes or facemasks to protect them from lung or skin disease." According to UNICEF, about 40,000 kids worked in mines across southern DRC in 2014.
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?
Businesses

Apple Releases 2015 EEO-1 Diversity Data Over Weekend (qz.com) 112

theodp writes: Just days after it came under fire for dismissing a call for diversity as "unduly burdensome and not necessary," Apple quietly released its 2015 EEO-1 diversity report (dated 10/6/2015, reflects the 8/1 payroll). Like other tech companies' diversity disclosures, Apple's EEO-1 raw numbers can't really be reconciled to the percentages based on undisclosed raw numbers that grace the infographic-heavy diversity progress narrative CEO Tim Cook spoke to last August. As to why they keep two sets of diversity books, Apple explains, "The EEO-1 has not kept pace with changes in industry or the American workforce over the past half century. We believe the information we report elsewhere on this site is a far more accurate reflection of our progress toward diversity." Taking this stance allows Apple CEO Tim Cook to boast that "in the United States, we hired more than 2,200 Black employees — a 50 percent increase over last year," while ignoring Apple's EEO-1 report, which indicates that Black employees showed a year-over-year net increase of only 1,475 employees and accounted for only 1.9% of the 4,333 YOY net increase in "Professionals" at Apple (White employees accounted for 50.6%, Asian for 42.1%). If you want to check the math, Apple's EEO-1 data (typed in from the content-copy-not-allowed 2015 and 2014 PDFs) and additional charts can be found in this Tableau workbook.
EU

Apple May Owe $8 Billion To the EU After Tax Ruling (bloomberg.com) 148

Robotron23 writes: An investigation by the EU Commission may make Apple liable for up to $8 billion in back taxes. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates Apple has paid only 1.8% tax on profits between 2004 and 2012 — this ruling increases their liability to 12.5%. This decision comes hot on the heels of a tax avoidance settlement Apple reached with Italy last month for $347 million.
Security

Apple's Gatekeeper Still Broken (csoonline.com) 80

itwbennett writes: This weekend, Apple security expert Patrick Wardle will detail a vulnerability in Apple's Gatekeeper that makes it possible to bypass the anti-malware defense. This is the same vulnerability that was disclosed last April, which Apple said it patched later. Wardle was able to easily bypass Apple's fixes. He says "all Apple did was blacklist the signed apps he was abusing, but didn't fix the underlying issue, which is that, essentially, Gatekeeper functions as a guard that doesn't check" software already on the whitelist.

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