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Medicine

Apple Has a Secret Team Working On Non-Invasive Diabetes Sensors (cnbc.com) 94

schwit1 quotes a report from CNBC: Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter. Such a breakthrough would be a "holy grail" for life sciences. Many life sciences companies have tried and failed, as it's highly challenging to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin. The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways, the people said.

schwit1 adds: "From a business aspect, the most interesting part of this venture might be how Apple combines its penchant for secrecy with maneuvering through those regulatory pathways. It's one thing to introduce another new bit of consumer electronics kit. It's an entirely other thing to get a medical device past the FDA."

Businesses

Are Chromebooks Responsible For PC Market Growth? (theverge.com) 130

From a report on The Verge: IDC claims the PC market is "up slightly," recording its first growth in five years. It's a tiny growth of just 0.6 percent, but it's a flattening of the market that Microsoft and its PC maker partners have been looking for after years of decline. While percentage growth looks good on paper, it doesn't always tell the whole story. Over at Gartner, another market research firm that tracks PC sales, the story is a little different. Gartner claims PC shipments declined 2.4 percent in the recent quarter. There's a good reason for the disparity between IDC and Gartner's figures, and it involves Chromebooks. IDC's data includes Chromebooks and excludes Windows tablets, even machines with a detachable keyboard like the Surface Pro. Gartner counts Windows-based tablets as PCs and excludes Chromebooks or any non-Windows-based tablets. Without IDC providing the exact split of Chromebooks sold vs. Windows- and macOS-based machines, it's impossible to know exactly how well Google's low-cost laptops are selling. However, IDC also claims that Chromebooks are doing well with businesses. The US commercial PC market "came out strong mostly backed by growth of Chromebooks," says IDC. Gartner has no opinion on Chromebooks as the company refuses to track them as PCs.
Businesses

Qualcomm Says Apple Broke Contract, Hindered Performance of Its Chipsets (arstechnica.com) 92

Qualcomm has filed a 139-page rebuttal of a lawsuit lodged by Apple in January in which the US chipmaker counterclaimed that the iPhone giant was "misrepresenting facts and making false statements." From a report on ArsTechnica: It alleged that Apple had "breached" and "mischaracterized" deals it had in place with Qualcomm and accused the Tim Cook-run firm of interfering with the chipmaker's "long-standing agreements" with iPhone and iPad manufacturers, such as Foxconn. In a statement, Qualcomm said, "Apple effectively chose to limit the performance of the Qualcomm-based iPhones by not taking advantage of the full potential speed of which Qualcomm's modems are capable. Apple's actions were intended to prevent consumers from realizing that iPhones containing Qualcomm chipsets performed far better than iPhones containing chipsets supplied by Intel."
AI

A Big Problem With AI: Even Its Creators Can't Explain How It Works (technologyreview.com) 388

Last year an experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors. The car didn't follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it. Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it's also a bit unsettling, since it isn't completely clear how the car makes its decisions, argues an article on MIT Technology Review. From the article: The mysterious mind of this vehicle points to a looming issue with artificial intelligence. The car's underlying AI technology, known as deep learning, has proved very powerful at solving problems in recent years, and it has been widely deployed for tasks like image captioning, voice recognition, and language translation. There is now hope that the same techniques will be able to diagnose deadly diseases, make million-dollar trading decisions, and do countless other things to transform whole industries. But this won't happen -- or shouldn't happen -- unless we find ways of making techniques like deep learning more understandable to their creators and accountable to their users. Otherwise it will be hard to predict when failures might occur -- and it's inevitable they will. That's one reason Nvidia's car is still experimental.
Security

McAfee: Big Spike In Mac OS Malware In 2016, Mostly From Adware Bundling (fortune.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: Security firm McAfee released a report this week that showed a big jump in 2016 regarding malware hitting the Mac operating system. The McAfee report said there were 460,000 malware instances affecting the Mac OS in the fourth quarter of 2016, an over 700% jump from the previous year during the same quarter.

McAfee's new report confirms similar research by other cybersecurity firms in recent years that show an increased prevalence of malware affecting Apple computers. Essentially, as more people buy Apple computers, there are more possibilities for malware to infect the machines. But while an over 700% surge in malware may sound frightening, it should be noted that "the big increase in Mac OS malware was due to adware bundling," the report's authors wrote.

Iphone

The iPhone 7 Has Arbitrary Software Locks That Prevent Repair (vice.com) 199

Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: Apple has taken new and extreme measures to make the iPhone unrepairable. The company is now using software locks to prevent independent repair of specific parts of the phone. Specifically, the home buttons of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not user replaceable, raising questions about both the future repairability of Apple products and the future of the thriving independent repair industry. The iPhone 7 home button will only work with the original home button that it was shipped with; if it breaks and needs to be replaced, a new one will only work if it is "recalibrated" in an Apple Store.
The Courts

Apple Taken To Court For Refusing To Fix Devices (bbc.com) 130

Australia's consumer watchdog has begun legal action against Apple over claims it refused to repair iPads and iPhones previously serviced by third parties. From a report on BBC: It alleges that Apple made "false, misleading, or deceptive representations" about consumers' rights under Australian law. The case follows complaints that users were "routinely refused" repairs after an error disabled their devices. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began an investigation after users complained about Apple's so-called "error 53", which disabled some users' devices after they downloaded an update to their operating system.
China

Forget Apple. Xiaomi CEO Now Wants to Be More Like Costco (bloomberg.com) 33

Xiaomi says it's misunderstood. Once compared with Apple for its sleek smartphones and charismatic leadership, the Chinese startup is seeking an image makeover as it tries to recover from a sales-growth slide. From a report: And the brand its billionaire co-founder Lei Jun wants to be compared with: Costco Wholesale Corp., the Issaquah, Washington-based warehouse retailer that sells everything from wine and diamond rings to bulging boxes of cereal and fruit at knockdown prices. Xiaomi's revenue will probably reach $15 billion this year as the Beijing-based maker of products ranging from pens and air purifiers to TVs and smartphones adopts a new business model and fine-tunes operations, Lei, 47, said in a recent interview. "We are not Apple," Lei, clad in a black polo shirt and blue jeans, said at Xiaomi's Bengaluru office in India, its biggest overseas market. "We have the same value system as Costco. We want users to enjoy better products at an affordable price."
Communications

IoT Garage Door Opener Maker Bricks Customer's Product After Bad Review (arstechnica.com) 421

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Denis Grisak, the man behind the Internet-connected garage opener Garadget, is having a very bad week. Grisak and his Colorado-based company SoftComplex launched Garadget, a device built using Wi-Fi-based cloud connectivity from Particle, on Indiegogo earlier this year, hitting 209 percent of his launch goal in February. But this week, his response to an unhappy customer has gotten Garadget a totally different sort of attention. On April 1, a customer who purchased Garadget on Amazon using the name R. Martin reported problems with the iPhone application that controls Garadget. He left an angry comment on the Garadget community board: "Just installed and attempting to register a door when the app started doing this. Have uninstalled and reinstalled iPhone app, powered phone off/on - wondering what kind of piece of shit I just purchased here..." Shortly afterward, not having gotten a response, Martin left a 1-star review of Garadget on Amazon: "Junk - DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY - iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products." Grisak then responded by bricking Martin's product remotely, posting on the support forum: "Martin, The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. I'm happy to provide the technical support to the customers on my Saturday night but I'm not going to tolerate any tantrums. At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036... will be denied server connection."
Desktops (Apple)

The Mac Pro Is Getting a Major Do-Over (mashable.com) 240

Apple is moving away from the current, cylinder-shaped design used on its Mac Pro desktop, but that replacement will take until next year to hit shelves. From a report: "The Mac Pro, the current vintage that we introduced, we wanted to do something bold and different. In retrospect, it didn't well suit some of the people we wanted to reach," admitted Apple SVP Craig Federighi. "So many of our customers were moving to iMac that we saw a path to address to many, many more of those people," he added. "With the current generation Mac Pro, which some customers love, others may not, one of the things that's certainly clear and true about that is the team tried to do something different, something bold and we always want to encourage the Mac team that whatever products you make, that make customers happy, that we do bold work. Because the Mac's always been about that. It's been about not being conventional thinking, not me-too-stuff," said Phil Schiller. [...] While we'll have to wait until 2018 for the Mac Pro rebirth ("Want to do something great... that will take longer than this year to do," said Schiller), iMac fans can expect a significant update this year, including some new configurations designed specifically for Pro users who already fans of the all-in-one design. [...] Schiller was somewhat less emphatic when I asked if he was willing to make any "courageous" decisions about Mac Pro ports. I thought I saw a little discomfort flicker across Schiller's face as he reacted to that word and he told me that Apple wasn't making promises about ports on the Mac Pro. Port decisions, he said, are made at a product level. "Just because on one product we removed something, doesn't mean we're going to remove it elsewhere," he told me. More on this here.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Will Ship A Pro iMac Later This Year, It Won't Feature Touchscreen (buzzfeed.com) 163

Apple's expected update to its iMac line will arrive later this year with some previously unexpected additions: pro models. From a report: "We have big plans for the iMac," Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said during a recent reporter roundtable at the company's Machine Shop hardware prototyping lab. "We're going to begin making configurations of iMac specifically with the pro customer in mind." Just what those configurations will entail, Apple won't yet say. Nor will it comment on the possibility of an iMac Pro moniker for the more powerful machines in the lineup. Company executives are, however, quite happy to confirm a feature the pro iMac will not have: touchscreen. "No," Schiller said when asked if Apple would consider building such a thing. "Touch doesn't even register on the list of things pro users are interested in talking about. They're interested in things like performance and storage and expandability."
Movies

Apple Wants To Sell Premium TV Channels in a Bundle (recode.net) 43

Apple isn't done trying to sell you pay TV. From a report on Recode: Here's Apple's latest proposal: It wants to sell consumers a premium TV bundle, which combines HBO, Showtime and Starz. Apple already sells each of those channels individually. But it has approached the three networks about rolling them up into a single package, as conventional pay TV operators sometimes do. The difference: Traditional pay TV operators, like Charter, usually require consumers to subscribe to a basic level of TV channels before it will sell them a premium bundle. Apple could sell the bundle as standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV settop box. Apple doesn't have a bundle deal in place with any of the premium networks, industry sources say. Apple currently sells HBO for $15 a month, Showtime for $11 a month, and Starz for $9 a month.
Businesses

Apple To Develop Its Own GPU, UK Chip Designer Imagination Reveals In 'Bombshell' PR (anandtech.com) 148

From a report on AnandTech: In a bombshell of a press release issued this morning, Imagination has announced that Apple has informed their long-time GPU partner that they will be winding down their use of Imagination's IP. Specifically, Apple expects that they will no longer be using Imagination's IP in 15 to 24 months. Furthermore the GPU design that replaces Imagination's designs will be, according to Imagination, "a separate, independent graphics design." In other words, Apple is developing their own GPU, and when that is ready, they will be dropping Imagination's GPU designs entirely. This alone would be big news, however the story doesn't stop there. As Apple's long-time GPU partner and the provider for the basis of all of Apple's SoCs going back to the very first iPhone, Imagination is also making a case to investors (and the public) that while Apple may be dropping Imagination's GPU designs for a custom design, that Apple can't develop a new GPU in isolation -- that any GPU developed by the company would still infringe on some of Imagination's IP. As a result the company is continuing to sit down with Apple and discuss alternative licensing arrangements, with the intent of defending their IP rights.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Steve Wozniak's Biographer Pranked By Woz's Mom? (groovypost.com) 11

An anonymous reader writes: Gina Smith is the co-author of Steve Wozniak's 2006 biography. On the day that Steve Jobs died, she posted a poignant story Woz had shared about their early days in Silicon Valley, remembering how Jobs sold his Volkswagen van while Woz sold his calculator to raise funds to build the first Apple 1 computer kit.

The post includes a picture of 22-year-old Steve Jobs standing next to young Steve Wozniak. But there's also an unexpected figure in the background wearing a black ski hat and glasses. It's "tourist guy," the figure from a 9/11 meme whose stoic face was spliced into the background of everything from the explosion of the Hindenburg to the Kennedy assassination, and even into the original Star Trek and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. The picture is attributed to Margaret Wozniak. So does that mean Steve Wozniak's biographer got pranked by Woz's mom?

Interestingly, in 2011 the tourist guy actually apologized for creating the original fake World Trade Center image. "I assumed my friends would recognise me and call me to see if I was alright, but they didn't, they posted it on to other friends and suddenly it was all over the world... I am ashamed that even now the police still get calls about it."
Power

Study Shows Laptop Batteries Often Don't Last As Long As They Say (digitaltrends.com) 87

A new study conducted by Which? magazine has found that "the battery life claimed by laptop manufacturers rarely lives up to reality. "Although Apple's battery life claims were the closest to reality, in the case of some other manufacturers, their laptops lasted hours less than the stated time," reports Digital Trends. From the report: In its testing, Which looked at the battery life claims of 67 different laptop models from manufacturers as diverse as Asus, Apple, Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba -- some of the world's most popular laptop makers. It found that while Apple's average claim of 10 hours was proven correct -- and was even slightly better in some cases -- Dell's claims were overstated by more than four hours, and HP, close to five. The times listed in the header image are the average claimed battery life for all of the laptops Which? has tested over the past year versus the times it recorded in its internal testing. That involved charging the laptops to full, then running them down to nothing three times, using online web browsing via Wi-Fi or watching local videos to do so. Out of all laptops tested, the only manufacturer to understate battery claims was Apple. In one case, it claimed that its MacBook Pro 13 could achieve 10 hours of usage, while tests suggested it could go for as long as 12 hours. At the other end of the spectrum though, there were some really egregious overstatements. The Lenovo Yoga 510 has a claimed battery life of five hours -- it only lasted two hours and seven minutes. The HP Pavilion 14-al115na is supposed to be able to run for nine hours, but was only capable of four hours and 25 minutes. The Acer E15 claimed six hours but ran for just under three hours.

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