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Television

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps' (venturebeat.com) 62

theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.
Iphone

PSA: Pokemon Go Has Full Access To Your Google Account Data (techcrunch.com) 104

An anonymous reader writes: If you're an iPhone user and have installed Pokemon GO, you may have noticed that the app grants itself full access to your Google account. It can read your email, location history, documents and pretty much every else associated with your Google account. (You can check to see for yourself here.) Given the nature of the game, it's understandable for it to request a lot of permissions, as it needs your precise location, ability to access the camera and motion sensors, read and write the SD card, and charge you money when you run out of Pokeballs or eggs. But full access to your Google account is pushing it, even if Niantic or Nintendo has no malicious intentions. If you're concerned about these permissions, you can always sign-up using a Pokemon Trainer account, assuming the servers are permitting. Google describes full account access as such: "When you grant full account access, the application can see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account (but it canâ(TM)t change your password, delete your account, or pay with Google Wallet on your behalf). This 'Full account access' privilege should only be granted to applications you fully trust, and which are installed on your personal computer, phone, or tablet."
Android

Pokemon Go Leads to Reckless Driving, Injuries, and A Corpse (chicagotribune.com) 130

Since its release Wednesday night, Pokemon Go has already gone on to become the top-grossing game in the three countries where it's available, and Forbes contributor Tero Kuittinen calls it "the first example of an AR product becoming a national obsession." An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Some fans are now tweeting about playing the game while driving, and the Chicago Tribune quotes one user who says "Pokemon Go put me in the ER last night... Not even 30 minutes after the release...I slipped and fell down a ditch." In Australia the game has been leading some players to their local police station, and a woman in Wyoming reports that the game actually led her to a dead body floating in a river. And at least one Pokemon Go screenshot has gone viral. It shows a man capturing a Pokemon while his wife gives birth.
The app's popularity has created lagging servers and forced Niantic to delay its international roll-out, meaning "Those who have already downloaded the game in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand can still play it, while those in the U.K., the Netherlands and other countries will have to wait." Meanwhile, Motherboard warns that a malicious sideloaded version of Pokemon Go is being distributed that actually installs a backdoor on Android devices, and also reports that some players are already spoofing their GPS coordinates in order to catch Pokemon without leaving their house.
Iphone

Carrying A Gun-Shaped iPhone 'Makes It Much Less Likely You'll Catch Your Plane' (cnet.com) 235

HughPickens.com writes: A passenger at London Stansted Airport seemed to think it was a good idea to have a gun-shaped iPhone case in his back pocket as he prepared to board a plane... [T]he police speculated on Twitter that they could proceed with charges against him for either a public order offense or for possession of an imitation firearm in a public place tweeting with the hashtag #dontbedaft that "Bringing this to an airport makes it much less likely you'll catch your plane."

[In 2015] the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey offered this warning on Facebook to potential users: "Please folks -- this cell phone case is not a cool product or a good idea. A police officer's job is hard enough, without having to make a split second decision in the dark of night when someone decides without thinking to pull this out while stopped for a motor vehicle violation..."
One Twitter user responded, "On what planet is this a smart thing to do?" But the New Jersey prosecutor has asked their followers on social media to share their own opinions.
Displays

Apple Patents Augmented Reality Display, May Be Building A VR Headset (roadtovr.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Road to VR: Apple has just been granted another AR/VR related technology patent, to add to their growing list. In this case it's a transparent, high field of view display which looks to be aimed at the augmented reality sector and, alongside other mounting evidence, could indicate Apple is preparing to enter the immersive technology race sooner rather than later... Anticipation that the company is working on 'something' AR/VR behind the scenes at Cupertino has been stoked by a series of company acquisition and staff hires. Most interestingly however are the trail of patent applications made by Apple.
This week's new patent specifies a "Peripheral Treatment of Head-mounted Displays" to deliver an image to the wearer's eyes through a transparent display medium.
Security

Apple Devices Held For Ransom, Rumors Claim 40M iCloud Accounts Hacked; Apple-Related Forums Compromised (csoonline.com) 73

Steve Ragan, reporting for CSOOnline: Since February, a number of Apple users have reported locked devices displaying ransom demands written in Russian. Earlier this week, a security professional posted a message to a private email group requesting information related a possible compromise of at least 40 million iCloud accounts. Salted Hash started digging around on this story after the email came to our attention. In it, a list member questioned the others about a rumor concerning "rumblings of a massive (40 million) data breach at Apple." The message goes on to state that the alleged breach was conducted by a Russian actor, and vector "seems to be via iCloud to the 'locate device' feature, and is then locking the device and asking for money."In a separate report, the publication reports that three websites owned by Penton Technology -- MacForums.com, HotScripts.com, and WebHostingTalk.com -- have been compromised and their databases are now being sold on the Darknet. While nothing is confirmed, there is a possibility that some of the rumored 40M compromised Apple ID credentials may have come from these forums, or from LinkedIn's recent hack.
IOS

Apple To Release Public Betas of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra Today 88

The next version of Apple's desktop operating system, macOS Sierra, will be made available in a public beta later today. Enthusiasts can also try their hands at iOS 10, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system today. Both the new operating system versions offer a range of new features and improvements. Sierra, for instance, features Siri voice assistant which will assist users with locating files, answering queries, and search for images and information just by asking. iOS 10 lets users write a message in their own handwriting, and has a feature called "Raise to Wake" which wakes up the device when a user picks up their iPhone. Notifications have gotten more powerful, and now show photos and videos as well. You will find the macOS Sierra preview here, and iOS 10 preview here. More information on Apple's beta program here.
Microsoft

Microsoft Targets The iMac With New All-In-One Surface PCs, Reports Say (networkworld.com) 140

New submitter Miche67 writes: Two reports say Microsoft is working on an all-in-one (AIO) PC under the Surface brand. If that's true, it would put it in competition with HP and Dell, which have their own AIO lines, as well as put it in competition with Apple's iMac. Network World reports: "Both DigiTimes and Windows Central picked up on the story, each citing their own sources. DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based publication with connections to the PC industry over there (but also a very mixed record of accuracy) said the new devices would come in the third quarter of this year. Windows Central, which is a little better when it comes to rumors, said it did not have a solid release date." Business Insider was able to find a patent filing by Microsoft for a desktop PC that supports the rumored AIO design. "The device is evidently targeting a 'modern and elegant' design and is meant to be something akin to a premium appliance or furniture," Windows Central wrote. Intel's release date of the new Kaby Lake line of processors around Q3 of this year complicates things. While Kaby Lake is said to be more mobile-friendly with less power consumption and heat, they would make for a good choice for an AIO machine. However, it would be pushing it for Microsoft to release its AIO machines in the same quarter that Kaby Lake is due. On a semi-related note, a programmer at Building 88 recently confirmed that Microsoft will release Surface 5 devices next year powered by Kaby Lake processors. He posted pictures of four device holders marked "2017" on his Twitter account.
Businesses

Walmart Now Lets You Pay With Phone At All 4,600 US Stores Via Walmart Pay (cnet.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: Walmart will now let customers make purchases with their phone at all 4,600 of its stores in the U.S. The feature is called Walmart Pay and it works by letting the cashier scan a QR code on a customer's phone screen to complete their payment. The technology is different than Apple, Samsung, and Android Pay, which involves tapping your phone next to a payment terminal with NFC. The company wants to make shopping easier and faster, and with its own payment app, Walmart can get insights into consumer behavior, though it says it won't use the data without a shopper's permission. Walmart says no payment information is stored on users' phones or at registers -- card information is stored on Walmart servers. Note: Samsung Pay also uses magnetic secure transmission (MST) to make purchases. When a smartphone with Samsung Pay is held against a register with a magnetic stripe terminal, the phone emits a magnetic signal that simulates the magnetic strip found on the back of a credit or debit card.
Desktops (Apple)

EasyDoc Malware Adds Tor Backdoor To Macs For Botnet Control (theregister.co.uk) 68

An anonymous reader writes: Security firm Bitdefender has issued an alert about a malicious app that hands over control of Macs to criminals via Tor. The software, called EasyDoc Converter.app, is supposed to be a file converter but doesn't do its advertised functions. Instead it drops complex malware onto the system that subverts the security of the system, allowing it to be used as part of a botnet or to spy on the owner. "This type of malware is particularly dangerous as it's hard to detect and offers the attacker full control of the compromised system," said Tiberius Axinte, Technical Leader, Bitdefender Antimalware Lab. "For instance, someone can lock you out of your laptop, threaten to blackmail you to restore your private files or transform your laptop into a botnet to attack other devices. The possibilities are endless." The malware, dubbed Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor, sets up a hidden Tor service and PHP-capable web server on the infected computer, generating a .onion domain that the attacker can use to connect to the Mac and control it. Once installed, the malware grants full access to the file system and can run scripts given to it by its masters.A report on AppleInsider says that malware can also control the FaceTime camera on a victim's computer. But thankfully, Apple's Gatekeeper security prevents the unsigned app from being installed.
Iphone

iPhone 7 To Start at 32GB Storage, Says WSJ (time.com) 235

An anonymous reader writes: It appears Apple has finally decided to do something about the not-so-enough 16GB storage on its base iPhone model. According to a report on WSJ, the Cupertino-based company's next smartphone -- expected to be named iPhone 7 will have 32GB internal storage on the base model.For years, Apple has offered a 16GB iPhone version for those who were on a budget or just didn't necessarily need too much storage. But as we moved forward -- the iPhone got better cameras and improved video recording capability and apps became more sophisticated and ate more storage -- we really reached a point where 16GB wasn't enough for most people. In many cases, people were unable to update their iPhone to the latest version of iOS because there wasn't enough storage left on the device. It's a welcome move, and something millions of people will appreciate.
Crime

'New Way of Stealing Cars': Hacking Them With A Laptop (marketwatch.com) 159

retroworks writes: The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled), CBS and Marketwatch all lead the morning with stories about the newest method of stealing (late model) cars. No need for hacking off the ignition switch and touching the wires to create a spark (controversial during broadcasts in 1970s television crime criticized for "teaching people to steal cars"). Thieves now use the laptop to access the automobile's computer system, and voila. "Police and car insurers say thieves are using laptop computers to hack into late-model cars' electronic ignitions to steal the vehicles, raising alarms about the auto industry's greater use of computer controls. The discovery follows a recent incident in Houston in which a pair of car thieves were caught on camera using a laptop to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and steal it from the owner's driveway. Police say the same method may have been used in the theft of four other late-model Wranglers and Cherokees in the city. None of the vehicles have been recovered." The article concludes with the example filmed of a break-in in Houston. The thief, says the NICB's Mr. Morris, likely used the laptop to manipulate the car's computer to recognize a signal sent from an electronic key the thief then used to turn on the ignition. The computer reads the signal and allows the key to turn. "We have no idea how many cars have been broken into using this method," Mr. Morris said. "We think it is minuscule in the overall car thefts but it does show these hackers will do anything to stay one step ahead." No details on modifying the program to run on Android or iPhone -- there's not yet "an app for that."
IOS

Apple To Encourage Organ Donation With Health App (cnet.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Apple announced today that its updated Health app, which will be available as part of iOS 10, will allow people to sign-up to be organ donors. The app will use its Medical ID feature, which has been used in the past to keep track of medical and health information, to include the ability to register as a donor of organs, eyes and tissues. The registrations will be forwarded to the National Donate Life Registry, an organization managed by Donate Life of America. All you need to do is tap the registration button in the Health app to volunteer as an organ donor. That adds your status as a donor to an "emergency information" screen that can appear even when the phone is locked. Tapping another button brings up information on organ donation. The demand for organs greatly exceeds the supply, as more than 120,000 Americans are currently waiting for a transplant -- every 10 minutes a new person is added to that waiting list, according to Apple. The feature is currently available for developers, but will be rolling out to the public in the public beta soon.
Google

Comcast Will Let Netflix Onto Its X1 Platform 43

Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode:Cable giant Comcast will allow popular web video streaming service Netflix onto its X1 platform. (Editor's note: both the companies confirmed the move to the publication.) Sources said the deal to be on the cable giant's set-top box would be akin to the arrangement that Netflix has cut with smaller cable operators in the United States and bigger ones across the globe. Netflix also has deals with Apple, Roku and Google's Chromecast; its app is offered on these Internet TV services. It also is embedded in smart televisions.It's an enormous step, given the long and sometimes contentious history between the two companies against a backdrop of increased consumer usage of internet-delivered video. From the report:Back in 2012, for example, Peter Kafka reported that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was "once again accusing Comcast of violating 'net neutrality' principles by favoring its own web video service over those from Netflix, HBO and Hulu, when it comes to data usage."
Google

Google Twists the Knife, Asks For Sanctions Against Oracle Attorney (arstechnica.com) 78

Google isn't done with its victory over Oracle. Court filings suggest that Google will be filing a motion for sanctions against Oracle and its law firm, Orrick, Sutcliffe & Herrington. The Mountain View-based company is apparently irked that Oracle attorney disclosed the financial agreements between Google and Apple. From an Ars Technica report: Speaking in open court, Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that Google's Android operating system had generated revenue of $31 billion and $22 billion in profit. She also disclosed that Google pays Apple $1 billion to keep Google's search bar on iPhones. "Look at the extraordinary magnitude of commerciality here," Hurst told a magistrate judge as she discussed the revenue figures. The $1 billion figure comes from a revenue-split that gives Apple a portion of the money that Google makes off searches that originate on iPhones. The revenue share figure was 34 percent, "at one point in time," according to Hurst. Google lawyers asked for the figure to be struck from the record. "That percentage just stated, that should be sealed," Google lawyer Robert Van Nest said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "We are talking hypotheticals here. That's not a publicly known number."
Google

Tech Overtakes Finance Among Top Global Companies (cityam.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes:Technology has stolen a march on finance, with the success of companies such as Alphabet and Microsoft helping the innovative sector surpass the traditional world of financial services among the world's top 100 companies over the past year. Technology firms in the list notched up a combined value of $3bn compared to financial firms' $2.7bn and the $2.6bn value of consumer goods companies. Apple held its position at the top of the ranking, compiled by PwC, despite losing $121bn in market value over the past year to the end of March, and the overall value of the world's top 100 firms falling four per cent -- the most significant decrease since the financial crisis, with a cash value of $668bn. Alphabet closed the gap on Apple in second place, narrowing its market capitalisation from $350bn to just $86bn, while Microsoft rounded out the top three. Facebook was in sixth position while Amazon entered the top 10 for the first time. Tech firms have better weathered more choppy conditions in the global markets, particularly conditions in China and Europe's struggle with economic growth.
Music

That Digital Music Service You Love Is a Terrible Business (fortune.com) 240

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Fortune: Rdio goes bankrupt, Pandora hangs out a 'For Sale' sign and then gets rid of its CEO, artists and labels ramp up their criticism of YouTube. Now we have Tidal in acquisition talks with Apple, while Spotify complains about Apple treating it unfairly... the digital music business is becoming an industry in which only a truly massive company with huge scale and deep pockets can hope to compete... Rdio went bankrupt last year in large part because it couldn't afford to make the licensing payments the record industry requires of streaming services. Deezer, a European service, postponed a planned initial public offering partly because its business is financially shaky for the same reason... [Rhapsody] is still racking up massive losses... Spotify has found it almost impossible to make money, primarily because of onerous licensing payments...

[A]ll the available evidence seems to show that the digital-music business, at least the way it is currently structured, simply isn't economic. The only way for anyone to even come close to making it work is to make it part of a much larger company, like Apple or Amazon or Google. That way they can absorb the losses, they have the heft to negotiate with the record industry, and they can find synergies with their other businesses. In other words, music as a standalone business appears to be dead, or at least on life support.

The article links to an essay by a former eMusic CEO arguing high royalty rates make it impossible to have a profitable business, and the music industry "buried more than 150 startups -- now they are left to dance with the giants."
Stats

Linux Grabs More Than 2% of Desktop Market Share (w3counter.com) 249

LichtSpektren writes: W3Counter's stats for June 2016 are in, and Linux desktop accounts for 2.48% of all web visits from tracked websites... (Android is counted separately from "Linux desktop.")
Meanwhile, NetMarketShare shows Linux with a 2.02% share of the desktop market. And StatCounter shows a more detailed breakdown of the top 7 operating systems, with Windows 7 at 42.02%, Windows 10 at 21.88%, OSX at 9.94%, Windows 8.1 at 8.66%, Windows XP at 6.5%, and another 4.06% for "Unknown" (which is roughly tied with "Other") -- beating Windows 8.0 at 3.52%. In May they also reported another thought-provoking statistic: that Firefox's browser usage had surpassed that of IE and Edge combined for the first time.
Portables (Apple)

Man Who Teaches People How To Repair Their MacBooks Alludes To Apple Lawsuit (gamerevolution.com) 150

New submitter alzoron writes: After the failure of New York's Fair Repair Act, independent third-party unauthorized Apple repair shops seem to be under attack. Louis Rossmann, owner of Rossman Repair Group, INC has uploaded a somewhat vague video alluding to his Youtube site, where he posts videos about repairing out of warranty repairs, possibly being shut down. Several sources (Reddit, Mac Kung Fu, 9to5Mac) have been speculating about this and whether or not Apple is behind this. Game Revolution reported on the video (Link is to cache version of the site since the report has since been removed), breaking down each section of the video. 6:52: Louis informs viewers that they can download YouTube videos. 7:41: Louis mentions that YouTube channels have a "finite lifespan," often because a large corporation has the power and money to shut them down. 8:42: Louis shares that he's happy when he's lived a difficult life so that he can be strong for the immense challenge that is ahead. 10:06: Louis shares that he is going to have to fight from his point onward. 11:22: Louis states that all his videos may soon be gone. 11:32: Louis mentions that his business may disappear. Given what Louis has mentioned, it's apparent that Louis has been threatened by Apple likely for condemning its policies to a growing subscriber base, but also for showing users how to repair its hardware without going through Apple support.

UPDATE 7/1/16: The headline has been updated to clarify that the lawsuit is unconfirmed. We'll continue to update the story as it develops.
IOS

Apple Slams Spotify For Asking For 'Preferential Treatment' (buzzfeed.com) 181

On Thursday, Spotify made major accusations against Apple of playing unfair to its music service. The Swedish-based music company said that Apple didn't approve a new version of Spotify's iOS app because "it didn't want competition for Apple Music." The Cupertino-based company has responded to the accusations. In a letter sent to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez on Friday, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell rebutted the streaming music service's allegations, adding "we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," Sewell wrote. BuzzFeed News reports:"Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor," Sewell explains. "Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple." And as for Spotify's suggestion that Apple is treading on dangerous, anticompetitive ground, well, Sewell doesn't seem too concerned. "There is nothing in Apple's conduct that 'amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.' Far from it," Sewell, writes after wryly observing that not only has Apple's platform generated "hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify"; but that the Spotify App currently in the App Store is still in violation of Apple's guidelines. "I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store's rules," he quips.Apple commentator John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball:Cry me a river. Spotify has long charged $12.99 via in-app subscriptions to get around the 30 percent "App Store tax". And Apple has now cut the long-term subscription split from 70-30 to 85-15. And Spotify is the streaming service most at war with artists over their abysmal royalty rates. Read between the lines and the real message here is that Apple Music is kicking Spotify's ass.

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