New submitter aissixtir sends word that Apple has responded to allegations that the NSA has backdoor access to iPhones. Apple said, "Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. ... Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
iFixit has posted a teardown of Apple's new soda-can-shaped Mac Pro. Despite the unusual form factor, it earned a relatively high repairability score: 8/10. iFixit said, "For being so compact, the design is surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble. Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently." They say it's easy to access the fan and the RAM slots, and while the CPU is buried a bit more deeply, it's still user-replaceable. The Mac Pro doesn't get higher than an 8 because its uses some proprietary connectors and the cable routing is cramped. They add, "There is no room, or available port, for adding your own internal storage. Apple has addressed this with heaps of Thunderbolt, but we'd personally rather use the more widely compatible SATA if we could."
theodp writes "Perhaps people are reading too much into Apple CEO Tim Cook's 'Big Plans' for 2014, but hopes are high that the New Year will bring a biggie-sized iPad. Over at Forbes, Anthony Wing Kosner asks, Will The Large Screen iPad Pro Be Apple's First In A Line Of Desktop Touch Devices?. 'Rumors of a large [12.9"] iPad are many and constant,' notes ComputerWorld's Mike Elgan, 'but they make sense only if the tablet is a desktop for schools.' Elgan adds, 'Lots of schools are buying iPads for kids to use. But iPads don't make a lot of sense for education. For starters, their screens are too small for the kinds of interactive textbooks and apps that Apple wants the education market to create. They're also too small for collaborative work. iPads run mobile browsers, rather than full browsers, so kids can't use the full range of HTML5 sites.' Saying that 'Microsoft has fumbled the [post-PC] transition badly,' Elgan argues that 'the battle for the future of education is likely to be between whatever Google turns the Chromebook into against whatever Apple turns the iPad into.'"
An anonymous reader notes that Apple has renewed its patent attack against Samsung, asking U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh to prohibit Samsung from selling over 20 different phones and tablets. Apple made a similar request after it won a $1 billion judgment in 2012, but Koh did not allow it. An Appeals court later ruled that Apple could resubmit its request if it focused on the specific features at the center of the 2012 verdict, and that's what we're seeing today. Apple's filing said, "Samsung’s claim that it has discontinued selling the particular models found to infringe or design around Apple's patents in no way diminishes Apple’s need for injunctive relief. ... Because Samsung frequently brings new products to market, an injunction is important to providing Apple the relief it needs to combat any future infringement by Samsung through products not more than colorably different from those already found to infringe."
zacharye writes "The new Mac Pro is the most powerful and flexible computer Apple has ever created, and it's also extremely expensive — or is it? With a price tag that can climb up around $10,000, Apple's latest enterprise workhorse clearly isn't cheap. For businesses with a need for all that muscle, however, is that steep price justifiable or is there a premium 'Apple tax' that companies will have to pay? Shortly after the new Mac Pro was finally made available for purchase last week, one PC enthusiast set out to answer that question and in order to do so, he asked another one: How much would it cost to build a comparable Windows 8 machine?"
Frankie70 writes "Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has hit Apple with a small fine and warned the company that it may face a more substantial penalty if it doesn't stop interfering with carriers' iPhone pricing and the prices of the plans carriers sell alongside the iPhone. 'Through the email correspondence between Apple and these three telecom companies we discovered the companies submit their pricing plans to Apple to be approved or confirmed before the products hit the market,' Taiwan's FTC said in a statement."
A couple months ago, Rockstar, a patent-holding consortium backed by Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and others launched a barrage of infringement suits against Google and the makers of Android devices. Google has now launched a counteroffensive, seeking protection from Rockstar's patent trolling. The complaint (PDF) says, "Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation." Google's filing also accuses Rockstar of interfering with their business practices by contacting other companies and trying to convince them not to use Android. It asks for a declarative judgment of non-infringement.
Like many other review sites, it seems that MacWorld can hardly find enough good things to say about the new Mac Pro, even while conceding it's probably not right for many users. 9to5 Mac has assembled a lot of the early reviews, including The Verge's, which has one of the coolest shots of its nifty design, which stacks up well against the old Pro's nifty design. The reviews mostly boil down to this: If you're in a field where you already make use of a high-end Mac for tasks like video editing, the newest one lives up to its hype.
Forbes is one of several news sources reporting that Apple and China Mobile have agreed on a plan that will bring the option of iPhones to tens of millions of customers of the Chinese carrier. A separate article contains something that may be at least as interesting as the deal itself, and that's some speculation on what sort of network China Mobile will be using for all those iDevices.
hypnosec writes "Evad3rs, the famous iOS jailbreak team, has announced an iOS 7 jailbreak that will work in all iDevices including iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and iPad Air running iOS 7.0 through to iOS 7.0.4. The iOS 7 jailbreak was announced without much of a hype, unlike the one for iOS 6. 'Merry Christmas! The iOS 7 jailbreak has been released at http://evasi0n.com/! All donations will go to @publicknowledge, @eff and @ffii,' tweeted evad3rs." Reader FrogBlastTheVentCore adds a note of caution: "They recommend restoring your device to iOS 7.0.4 if it has received OTA updates before attempting to jailbreak."
McGruber writes "Walt Mossberg, principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has written his last column after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products for the newspaper. His final column discusses the dozen personal-technology products that were most influential over the past two decades."
beaverdownunder writes "Apple has agreed to an agreement to ensure staff inform customers of rights under Australian consumer law. Despite the 2011 law requiring retailers to provide a refund option for faulty goods, and free repairs to items reasonably expected to still function properly (this part of the law is intentionally ambiguous), Apple steadfastly stuck to its AppleCare program, denying warranty repairs to units more than one year old (without the purchase of an extension) and only offering replacement or credit for DOA items. Apple has promised to compensate all Australian customers who were charged for repairs during the last two years, and make the terms of the law clear on the Australian Apple website. How this will affect company warranty policy is unclear — under the law, consumers could be entitled to repairs for the life of the product (barring damage, of course)."
New submitter ttyler writes "It turns out a MacBook's built-in camera can be activated without turning on the green LED. An earlier report suggested the FBI could activate a device's camera without having the light turn on, and there was a case in the news where a woman had nude pictures taken of her without her knowledge. The new research out of Johns Hopkins University confirms both situations are possible. All it takes are a few tweaks to the camera's firmware."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Chuong Nguyen reports that Apple is forcing developers to adopt iOS 7's visual UI for their apps, and has advised iOS developers that all apps submitted after February 1, 2014 must be optimized for iOS 7 and built using Xcode 5 ... 'It's likely that Apple is more anxious than ever for developers to update their apps to fit in visually and mechanically with iOS 7, as it's the largest change in the history of Apple's mobile software,' says Matthew Panzarino. 'iOS 7 introduced a much more complex physical language while stripping out many of the visual cues that developers had relied on to instruct users. For better or worse, this has created a new aesthetic that many un-updated apps did not reflect.' Most app developers have been building apps optimized towards iOS 7 since Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in June 2013. Apple has been on a push over the past couple of years to encourage developers to support the latest editions of its OS faster than ever. To do this, it's made a habit of pointing out the adoption rates of new versions of iOS, which are extremely high. Nearly every event mentions iOS 7 adoption, which now tops 76% of all iOS users, and Apple publishes current statistics. In order to optimize apps for the new operating system, they must be built with the latest version of Xcode 5 which includes 64-bit support and access to new features like backgrounding APIs."
Preston Gralla hasn't really been following Microsoft since 1820, but he's been doing it so long that it sometimes seems as if he has. His popular Seeing Through Windows blog on Computerworld.com or possibly his IT World blog, The Power of One, may be the main reasons his name is familiar to a lot of people, but he's also written an amazing stack of IT-related books. Obviously, if you look at the lists of blog posts and books Preston has written, he writes about plenty besides Microsoft, and isn't particularly pro-Microsoft. In fact, when we asked him for tablet-buying advice, he recommended iOS tablets if you have plenty of budget, and maybe an Android tablet (specifically the Nexus 7) if your budget is a little tight. Windows? He didn't recommend Windows at all in this context. (Sorry, Microsoft.)
msm1267 writes "Users of Apple's Safari browser are at risk for information loss because of a feature common to most browsers that restores previous sessions. The problem with Safari is that it stores session information including authentication credentials used in previous HTTPS sessions in a plaintext XML file called a Property list, or plist, file. The plist files, a researcher with Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team said, are stored in a hidden folder, but hiding them in plain sight isn't much of a hurdle for a determined attacker. 'The complete authorized session on the site is saved in the plist file in full view despite the use of https,' said researcher Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky on the Securelist blog. 'The file itself is located in a hidden folder, but is available for anyone to read.'"
mrspoonsi writes "BBC reports: Leading global technology firms have called for 'wide-scale changes' to US government surveillance. Eight firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group. The group has written a letter to the US President and Congress arguing that current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people. It comes after recent leaks detailed the extent of surveillance programs. 'We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,' the group said in an open letter published on its website."
First time accepted submitter cs80 writes "I've been looking high and low for a decent, open-source, cross-platform audio player that can import an existing iTunes library and sort my files based on their ID3 tags. Nightingale, with its iTunes-like interface, would have been the obvious answer, but its file organization feature was pulled for being too buggy. What open-source audio player did you migrate to after dumping iTunes?"
stigmato writes "Once upon a time the MacBook Pro line was well-regarded amongst IT professionals for their quality, performance, serviceability & upgradeability. As appealing as the new Retina displays are, I don't want a device I cannot upgrade or repair. Glued in batteries and soldered in RAM with high prices have made me look to other manufacturers again. What are you buying, /. community? System76? Dell? Old article but still rings true with the latest models. I post this from my 2010 MBP 13" with a 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD in the optical bay, 8GB (possibly 16GB soon) and a user replaced battery."
The reports that Apple was to buy Israeli 3-D sensor maker PrimeSense have turned out to be correct; the BBC reports that Apple has confirmed the purchase, though it is mum both about the price it paid and about where 3D sensors are likely to show up first in the Apple lineup. Also at the Register and Apple Insider, among others.