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AI

Apple Won't Collect Your Data For Its AI Services Unless You Let It (recode.net) 35

Apple doesn't like collecting your data. This is one of iPhone maker's biggest selling points. But this approach has arguably acted as a major roadblock for Apple in its AI and bots efforts. With iOS 10, the latest version of company's mobile operating system, Apple announced that it will begin collecting a range of new information as it seeks to make Siri and iPhone as well as other apps and services better at predicting the information its owner might want at a given time. Apple announced that it will be collecting data employing something called differential privacy. The company wasn't very clear at the event, which caused confusion among many as to what data Apple is exactly collecting. But now it is offering more explanation. Recode reports:As for what data is being collected, Apple says that differential privacy will initially be limited to four specific use cases: New words that users add to their local dictionaries, emojis typed by the user (so that Apple can suggest emoji replacements), deep links used inside apps (provided they are marked for public indexing) and lookup hints within notes. Apple will also continue to do a lot of its predictive work on the device, something it started with the proactive features in iOS 9. This work doesn't tap the cloud for analysis, nor is the data shared using differential privacy.Additionally, Recode adds that Apple hasn't yet begun collecting data, and it will ask for a user's consent before doing so. The company adds that it is not using a users' cloud-stored photos to power its image recognition feature.
Graphics

Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display (macrumors.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has officially told several news sites that it plans to discontinue the Thunderbolt Display, which has been available online and in Apple retail stores since it was first introduced in 2011. "We're discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users," said an Apple spokesperson. Rumors suggest that Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor later this year, featuring an upgraded 5K resolution and discrete GPU. The new Thunderbolt Display may even launch alongside next-generation Skylake Retina MacBook Pros, which too are rumored to be released later this year. fyngyrz writes: So, bought into the whole Thunderbolt monitor thing from Apple? Might want to collect a few right now, while you still can. It appears that the Thunderbolt monitor is going the way of the analog [headphone] jack over at Apple. Isn't it fun to be part of an unsuccessful experiment?
Data Storage

SanDisk Made an iPhone Case With Built-In Storage (theverge.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes: SanDisk has made its iXpand Memory Case to alleviate the problem that Apple creates when they release an iPhone in 2016 with only 16GB of on-board storage. The iXpand Memory Case is an iPhone case with flash storage built directly into the case itself that connects/charges via the Lightning port. You won't need a new phone and you won't need to carry around an extra charging dongle, which is the case for many other third-party cases and accessories. Since Apple doesn't make expanding your storage with third-party devices easy, you will need to download/install the companion SanDisk iXpand Memory Case app on your iPhone, which will automatically back-up your camera roll and password-protect your photos and files. If you need some extra juice, you can spend an extra $40 to receive a 1900mAh battery pack that attaches to the case. The iXpand Memory Case is only available with the iPhone 6 and 6s and is available with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB of extra flash storage for $59, $99, and $129, respectively. Oh, and of course there are varying color options: Red, Grey, Sky and Mint. Maybe your phone battery is running low (God-forbid it is dead) and you just so happen to be nearby a KFC in Delhi or Mumbai, KFC has you covered. They have introduced a meal box that doubles as a smartphone charger.
Digital

BitTorrent Adds Music, Video Streaming Options With Re-Launched BitTorrent Now (billboard.com) 29

Dan Rys, reporting for Billboard:As streaming continues to consolidate its foothold as a major force in the music-listening community, more and more players are getting into the increasingly crowded space. Today, BitTorrent announced it is adding an ad-supported streaming option to its BitTorrent Bundle offerings, which is officially re-launching as BitTorrent Now. But before anyone thinks the company is throwing its hat into the ring alongside Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal (or even Netflix and Hulu), BitTorrent Now isn't designed as a full-catalog competitor. Rather, its streaming component will be part of the distribution framework established with BitTorrent Bundle in 2013, giving artists who use its direct-to-fan platform the option to allow fans to stream their releases rather than download them. BitTorrent Now is currently available as an app on Android devices, with iOS and Apple TV apps on the horizon "shortly," according to a rep.
IOS

Apple Says iOS Kernel Cache Left Unencrypted Intentionally, Nothing To Worry About (loopinsight.com) 120

The iOS 10 kernel, which Apple released to enthusiasts last week, is not encrypted, according to a report. Security experts expressed their surprise and puzzlement over this in a report by MIT News. The iPhone maker, after remaining tight-lipped over the matter for a week, has now offered an explanation. In a statement to The Loop, Apple said: The kernel cache doesn't contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we're able to optimize the operating system's performance without compromising security.It is worth mentioning that Apple is talking about kernel's cache, whereas MIT News' original report talks about kernel code.
Cellphones

KFC Introduces Meal Box That Doubles As A Smartphone Charger (indianexpress.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: KFC has introduced a limited edition 5-in-1 Meal Box to select KFC outlets in Delhi and Mumbai. The box has one mighty special feature: it will charge a user's smartphone while they eat. The company has partnered with a Mumbai-based digital agency, Blink Digital, to make the "Watt a Box" concept a reality. In terms of specs, the box features a built-in 6100 mAh power bank, and two USB-ports with the ability to charge Android smartphones and iPhones. KFC has launched a contest on its Facebook page, giving users a chance to win the box. You can watch the "Watt a Box" promo video here on YouTube.
Iphone

'Headphone Jacks Are the New Floppy Drives' (daringfireball.net) 767

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's upcoming iPhone won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The news has already upset many people. The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote on Tuesday that the decision of getting rid of the legacy headphone port is "user hostile and stupid." Apple commentator John Gruber makes a case for why Apple's supposed move is not a bad idea at all. He writes:Patel misses the bigger problem. It's not enforcement of DRM on audio playback. It's enforcement of the MFi Program for certifying hardware that uses the Lightning port. Right now any headphone maker in the world can make any headphones they want for the standard jack. Not so with the Lightning port.He adds that the existing analog headphone jack "is more costly in terms of depth than thickness," and by getting rid of it, Apple could use the extra real estate to stuff in more battery juice. Addressing Patel's point that the move of ditching a deeply established standard will "disproportionately impact accessibility," Gruber adds that "enabling, open, and democratizing" have never been high on Apple's list of priorities for external ports. Gruber also addressed Patel's argument that introducing a Lightning Port-enabled headphone feature will make Android and iPhone headphones incompatible. He wrote: Why would Apple care about headphone compatibility with Android? If Apple gave two shits about port compatibility with Android, iPhones would have Micro-USB ports. In 1998 people used floppy drives extensively for sneaker-netting files between Macs and PCs. That didn't stop Apple from dropping it.As for "nobody is asking" Apple to remove headphone jack from the next iPhone, Gruber reminds: This is how it goes. If it weren't for Apple we'd probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports. The essence of Apple is that they make design decisions "no one asked for".The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around for decades. We can either live with it forever, or try doing something better instead. History suggests that OEMs from across the world quickly replicate Apple's move. Just the idea of Apple removing the headphone jack -- the rumor of which first began last year -- arguably played an instrumental role in some smartphones shipping without the legacy port this year. If this is a change that we really need, Apple is perhaps the best company to set the tone for it. Though, whether we really need to get rid of the headphone jack remains debatable.
Encryption

Kernel of iOS 10 Preview Is Not Encrypted -- Nobody Knows Why (technologyreview.com) 82

Security experts are claiming that iOS 10 preview, which Apple made available to enthusiasts last week, is not secure. iOS 10 is the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. It will be available to standard customers later this year (likely around September). According to security experts, iOS 10's kernel is not encrypted. MIT News reports: Why Apple has suddenly opened up its code is unclear. One hypothesis in the security community is that, as author Jonathan Levin puts it, someone inside the company "screwed up royally." But he and security researcher Mathew Solnik both say there are reasons to think it may have been intentional. Encouraging more people to pore over the code could result in more bugs being disclosed to Apple so that it can fix them.
Businesses

LeBron James Used A Steve Jobs Speech To Motivate The Cavs To Victory (bgr.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: Well, LeBron James finally accomplished what he set out to do when he announced his triumphant return to the Cleveland Cavaliers 2014: he brought an NBA championship to Cleveland. Going into the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers were clear underdogs. And once the Cavs went down three games to one, the odds in Vegas that LeBron and co. could take back the series were as high as +900. Looking back at the Cavaliers' historic championship run and odds-defying victory, ESPN has a fascinating piece up detailing how LeBron sought to find every and anything that could help motivate his teammates and help them believe that an unprecedented comeback was indeed within the realm of possibility. And interestingly enough, one of the sources of inspiration James turned to was Steve Jobs. Specifically, James played portions of Steve Jobs' iconic 2005 Stanford University commencement speech to rally the troops ahead of game 3. "You can't connect the dots looking forward," Jobs passionately said, "you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." You can watch Jobs' aforementioned speech in its entirety here on YouTube.
Android

Taking the Headphone Jack Off Phones Is User-Hostile and Stupid (theverge.com) 594

A WSJ report on Tuesday claimed that the next iPhone won't have the 3.5mm headphone port. A handful of smartphones such as LeEco's Le 2, Le 2 Pro, and Le Max 2 that have launched this year already don't have a headphone jack. The Verge's Nilay Patel has an opinion piece in which he argues that smartphone companies shouldn't ditch headphone ports as it helps no consumer. He lists six reasons:
1. Digital audio means DRM audio :Restricting audio output to a purely digital connection means that music publishers and streaming companies can start to insist on digital copyright enforcement mechanisms. We moved our video systems to HDMI and got HDCP, remember? Copyright enforcement technology never stops piracy and always hurts the people who most rely on legal fair use, but you can bet the music industry is going to start cracking down on "unauthorized" playback and recording devices anyway.2. Wireless headphones and speakers are fine, not great.
3. Dongles are stupid, especially when they require other dongles.
4. Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility.:The headphone jack might be less good on some metrics than Lightning or USB-C audio, but it is spectacularly better than anything else in the world at being accessible, enabling, open, and democratizing. A change that will cost every iPhone user at least $29 extra for a dongle (or more for new headphones) is not a change designed to benefit everyone.5. Making Android and iPhone headphones incompatible is incredibly arrogant and stupid.
6. No one is asking for this.
Books

Apple Starts To Shell Out $400 Million To Customers In eBook Settlement (cnet.com) 30

An anonymous reader writes: Starting today, millions of e-book purchasers will get either credits or checks for twice their losses, said legal firm Hagens Berman, which helped litigate the class action lawsuit. CNET reports: "Apple is on the hook for $400 million in damages plus an additional $30 million to pay the legal fees for Hagens Berman and $20 million to the state attorney generals who became involved in the case. On an individual basis, each plaintiff in the suit will receive $1.57 in credit for most e-books they bought and a $6.93 credit for every e-book purchased that was on the New York Times bestseller list. Consumers who purchased e-books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 are eligible to receive credits deposited directly in their accounts or checks sent through the mail. In August 2011, a lawsuit filed by two individuals accused Apple of conspiring to fix e-book prices with five publishers: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Holtzbrinck Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon and Schuster. The DoJ and the attorneys general of several states joined in with their own suits against the publishers. The lawsuits charged that the actions of Apple and the publishers prevented other e-book sellers from competing on price, thereby increasing the prices that consumers had to pay for e-books. After being found guilty of violating antitrust laws by a U.S. District Judge in 2013 and by an Appeals court in 2015, Apple's request for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied this past March, forcing it to settle with the plaintiffs."
Iphone

Apple Unlikely to Make Big Changes for Next iPhone 227

The next iPhone isn't going to look much different from the last year's iPhone 6s, or 2014's iPhone 6. According to a WSJ report (paywalled; alternate source), Apple will release two new iPhone models with screen sizes 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch, and both the models will look pretty much similar to the last two year's models. There won't be any 3.5mm headphone port in the new iPhone, though, the report adds. The Cupertino-based company plans to introduce major design changes in its next iPhone, using OLED display and eliminating the home button to use the display for fingerprint scanning. From the report: For years, Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive has expressed a desire for the iPhone to appear like a single sheet of glass, according to people familiar with the matter. The current design ideas for the 2017 iPhones are expected to push the handsets in that direction by eliminating much of the bezel around the display, with the OLED screen.
Hardware Hacking

Big Tech Squashes New York's 'Right To Repair' Bill (huffingtonpost.com) 223

Damon Beres, writing for The Huffington Post: Major tech companies like Apple have trampled legislation that would have helped consumers and small businesses fix broken gadgets. New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and, yes, even previously in New York. Essentially, politicians never get to vote on so-called right to repair legislation because groups petitioning on behalf of the electronics industry gum up the proceedings. "We were disappointed that it wasn't brought to the floor, but we were successful in bringing more attention to the issue," New York state Sen. Phil Boyle (R), a sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post.
Communications

Apple Explains Why iMessage Isn't Coming To Android (networkworld.com) 157

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Ahead of Apple's WWDC keynote this year, one of the more bizarre and sketchy rumors we saw take shape claimed that Apple was planning to deliver iMessage to Android. As is typically the case, the rumor mill took this somewhat ridiculous rumor and ran with it. The only problem is that some people were so busy trying to figure out the ramifications of iMessage hitting Android that they didn't take a step back and try and figure out if this is something Apple would even contemplate in the first place. Remember, every move Apple makes is strategic and geared towards making more money, either via device sales or software. That being the case, iMessage on Android would not only be a free app, but it would also eliminate a user-experience advantage of iOS. Interestingly enough, Walt Mossberg of The Verge asked a senior Apple executive about the rumor whereupon the nameless executive all but indicated that iMessage will never be coming to Android. Walt Mossberg writes: "First, he said, Apple considers its own user base of 1 billion active devices to provide a large enough data set for any possible AI learning the company is working on. And, second, having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those device -- the company's classic (and successful) rationale for years."
Apple

Thanks To Apple's Influence, You're Not Getting A Rifle Emoji (buzzfeed.com) 569

Charlie Warzel, reporting for BuzzFeed News: Unicode, the technical organization in charge of selecting and overseeing emojis, debated and ultimately decided to remove a rifle from its list of new emoji candidates in 2016, according to multiple persons who attended its quarterly meeting last May. The decision was led and championed by one of tech's biggest companies: Apple. Apple is one of Unicode's largest member companies and not only has voting rights, but also holds considerable influence. Millions of people use emojis on Apple's software platforms. According to sources in the room, Apple started the discussion to remove the rifle emoji, which had already passed into the encoding process for the Unicode 9.0 release this June. Apple told the consortium it would not support a rifle on its platforms and asked for it not to be made into an emoji. "I heard Apple speak up about it and also Microsoft," one member present at the discussions told BuzzFeed News.

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