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  • iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

    Even after the months of hype and speculation, the behind-the-scenes development and manufacture, and then the announcement Tuesday, it seems Apple's servers weren't quite ready for the workout they got from would-be early adopters of its newest iPhone. Preorders through Verizon Wireless and AT&T largely started without a hitch at midnight, though some customers on Twitter have since complained about issues. Those problems were nothing compared to the issues experienced by Sprint and T-Mobile customers. The Sprint and T-Mobile sites were still down for many users nearly two hours after presales were slated to start. Access to Sprint's site faded in and out, while the T-Mobile site continued to display a form to register for a reminder for when the preorders began. Some people joked on Twitter that they "might as well wait for the iPhone 6S now." Apple's store itself was down for a few hours, too.

    222 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

    SternisheFan points out an article that walks us through the process of using forensic tools to grab data from iPhones and iCloud using forensic tools thought to have been employed in the recent celebrity photo leak. There are a number of ways to break into these devices and services depending on what kind of weakness an attacker has found. For example, if the attacked has possession of a target's iPhone, a simple command-line toolkit from Elcomsoft uses a jailbreak to bypass the iPhone's security. A different tool can extract iCloud data with access to a computer that has a local backup of a phone's data, or access to a computer that simply has stored credentials.

    The discusses also details a method for spoofing device identification to convince iCloud to restore data to a device mimicking the target's phone. The author concludes, "Apple could go a long way toward protecting customer privacy just by adding a second credential to encrypt stored iCloud data. An encryption password could be used to decrypt the backup when downloaded to iTunes or to the device, or it could be used to decrypt the data as it is read by iCloud to stream down to the device."

    85 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

    Today at Apple's September press conference, they announced the new iPhone 6 models. There are two of them — the iPhone 6 is 4.7" at 1334x750, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5" at 1920x1080. Both phones are thinner than earlier models: 5S: 7.6mm, 6: 6.9mm, 6 Plus: 7.1mm. The phones have a new-generation chip, the 64-bit A8. Apple says the new phones have a 25% faster CPU, 50% faster GPU, and they're 50% more energy efficient (though they were careful to say the phones have "equal or better" battery life to the 5S). Apple upgrade the phones' wireless capabilities, moving voice calls to LTE and also enabling voice calls over Wi-Fi. The phones ship on September 19th, preceded by the release of iOS 8 on September 17th.

    Apple also announced its entry into the payments market with "Apple Pay." They're trying to replace traditional credit card payments with holding an iPhone up to a scanner instead. It uses NFC and the iPhone's TouchID fingerprint scanner. Users can take a picture of their credit cards, and Apple Pay will gather payment information, encrypt it, and store it. (Apple won't have any of the information about users' credit cards or their purchases, and users will be able to disable the payment option through Find My iPhone if they lose the device.) Apple Pay will work with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards to start. 220,000 stores that support contactless payment will accept Apple Pay, and many apps are building direct shopping support for it. It will launch in October as an update for iOS 8, and work only on the new phones.

    Apple capped off the conference with the announcement of the long-anticipated "Apple Watch." Their approach to UI is different from most smartwatch makers: Apple has preserved the dial often found on the side of analog watches, using it as a button and an input wheel. This "digital crown" enables features like zoom without obscuring the small screen with fingers. The screen is touch-sensitive and pressure sensitive, so software can respond to a light tap differently than a hard tap. The watch runs on a new, custom-designed chip called the S1, it has sensors to detect your pulse, and it has a microphone to receive and respond to voice commands. It's powered by a connector that has no exposed contacts — it magnetically seals to watch and charges inductively. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone of the following models to work: 6, 6Plus, 5s, 5c, 5. It will be available in early 2015, and will cost $349 for a base model.

    730 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Under the Apple Hype Machine, Amazon Drops Fire Phone Price To 99 Cents

    Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X. In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.

    134 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case

    The Washington Post carries a story from the Associated Press that says the big companies hit hardest by Judge Lucy Koh's ruling in the "No Poaching" case have not suprisingly appealed that ruling, which found that a proposed settlement of $324.5 million to a class-action lawsuit was too low. The suit, filed on behalf of 60,000 high-tech workers allegedlly harmed by anti-competitive hiring practices, will probably enter its next phase next January or March. (Judge Koh is probably not very popular at Apple in particular.) If you're one of those workers (or in an analogous situation), what kind of compensation or punitive action do you think is fair?

    200 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak

    Hamsterdan notes that Apple has posted an update to its investigation into the recently celebrity photo leak, which was attributed to a breach of iCloud. Apple says the leak was not due to any flaw in iCloud or Find My iPhone, but rather the result of "a targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions." Despite this, Wired reports that hackers on an anonymous web board have been openly discussing a piece of software designed for use by law enforcement. Whether it was involved in the celebrity attacks or not, it's currently being used to impersonate a user's device in order to download iCloud backups.

    "For Apple, the use of government forensic tools by criminal hackers raises questions about how cooperative it may be with Elcomsoft. The Russian company’s tool, as Zdziarski describes it, doesn't depend on any 'backdoor' agreement with Apple and instead required Elcomsoft to fully reverse engineer Apple’s protocol for communicating between iCloud and its iOS devices. But Zdziarski argues that Apple could still have done more to make that reverse engineering more difficult or impossible." Meanwhile, Nik Cubrilovic has waded into the data leak subculture that led to this incident and provides insight into the tech and the thinking behind it.

    311 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps

    mrspoonsi writes One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don't. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store's iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. "Before you develop your app, it's important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps," explains Apple on a new webpage called "Common App Rejections." Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.

    132 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

    swinferno writes with news about the leak of hundreds of private celebrity photos over the weekend. Hundreds of revealing pictures of female celebrities were leaked overnight after being stolen from their private collections. Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and pop star Ariana Grande were among the celebrities apparently shown in the pictures, which were posted on infamous web forum 4chan. It's unclear how the images were obtained, but anonymous 4chan users said that they were taken from celebrities' iCloud accounts. The accounts are designed to allow iPhone, iPad, and Mac users to synchronize images, settings, calendar information, and other data between devices, but the service has been criticized for being unreliable and confusing. Earlier this year, Jennifer Lawrence herself complained about the service in an interview with MTV.

    336 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

    An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible partnership between Apple and major credit card companies. Apple plans to turn its next iPhone into a mobile wallet through a partnership with major payment networks, banks and retailers, according a person familiar with the situation. The agreement includes Visa, MasterCard, and American Express and will be unveiled on Sept. 9 along with the next iPhone, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger.

    187 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Judge Lucy Koh Rejects Apple's Quest For Anti-Samsung Injunction

    The Associated Press, in a story carried by The Financial Express, reports that Federal Judge Lucy Koh has has rejected Apple's attempt to block the sale of several older Samsung smartphones that copied features in the iPhone. Wednesday's rebuff comes nearly four months after a jury awarded Apple Inc. $119 million in damages for Samsung's infringements on technology used in the trend-setting iPhone. The amount was well below the $2.2 billion in damages that Apple had been seeking in the latest round of legal wrangling between the world's two leading smartphone makers since the tussle began four years ago. The Register also carries the story, and notes Perhaps because the ongoing battle was turning the two companies into law firms rather than tech titans, the two agreed to abandon all patent lawsuits outside the USA earlier this month. However, Apple still wanted the infringing features extirpated from American stores, and was seeking to have phones nobody bought banned as ammo for future battles.

    30 comments | about three weeks ago

  • 3 Years In, a "B" For Tim Cook's Performance at Apple

    Cult of Mac has taken a look at the three years since Tim Cook began his job as Apple's CEO, and rates him a "solid B." Cook might be neither as charismatic or volatile as Steve Jobs was, but he's made some interesting moves and statements. One factor (an area in which Cult of Mac gives Cook an A) is employee happiness, something for which Jobs was not always known: Cook’s highest “grade” on this hypothetical report card may come from Apple employees. Though the lanky 53-year-old is reportedly short on small talk, his people skills have earned him a 93 percent approval rating from a sampling of almost 2,000 people who work at Apple on website Glass Door, where anonymous employees can rate their satisfaction with the overall work environment as well as give thumbs up or down for the CEO.

    90 comments | about a month ago

  • Apple CarPlay Rollout Delayed By Some Carmakers

    Lucas123 writes: Some car makers are delaying the implementation of Apple's CarPlay iPhone interface for vehicle infotainment systems. The delays, which are prompting manufacturers such as Mercedes, Volvo and Honda to push their announcement from 2014 to 2015, appear to be related to a few snags in the integration process or in choosing which model cars should have the middleware. At the same time, many of the automakers rolling out CarPlay are also implementing Android Auto, which will provide a vehicle head unit user interface for Android smartphones. Analysts believe the addition of Android Auto earlier this year may also be causing delays because manufacturers want to be able to announce availability of both platforms in their new model vehicles.

    76 comments | about 1 month ago

  • Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

    stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"

    181 comments | about a month ago

  • Apple Begins Storing Chinese User Data On Servers In China

    An anonymous reader writes Reuters reported on Friday that Apple "has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China." Apple has claimed that the move is meant "to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service", but given China's track record with censorship and privacy, the explanation rings hollow for some skeptics. Nevertheless, Apple assures its Chinese users that their personal data on China Telecom is encrypted and that the encryption keys will be stored offshore. Only time will tell if Apple will be able to resist Chinese government requests to access its China-based servers.

    92 comments | about a month ago

  • Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

    Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Given the hundreds of thousands of apps currently on offer, it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long. In an August 10 blog posting, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée offered Apple CEO Tim Cook some advice: Let humans curate the App Store. 'Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide,' he wrote. 'A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa.' Whether or not such an idea would effectively surface all the good content now buried under layers of Flappy Bird rip-offs is an open question; what's certain is that, despite Apple's rosy picture, developers around the world face a lot of uncertainty and competition when it comes to making significant money off their apps. Sure, some developers are making a ton of cash, but the rising tide doesn't necessarily float all boats. If you had the opportunity, how would you revamp/revise/upgrade/adjust/destroy the App Store to better serve the developers who put apps in it?

    249 comments | about a month ago

  • The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

    angry tapir (1463043) writes Apple has done well to insulate its iOS mobile operating system from many security issues, but a forthcoming demonstration shows it's far from perfect. Next Wednesday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology will show how iOS's Achilles' heel is exposed when devices are connected over USB to a computer or have Wi-Fi synching enabled. The beauty of their attack is that it doesn't rely on iOS software vulnerabilities, the customary way that hackers commandeer computers. It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.

    72 comments | about a month ago

  • Murder Suspect Asked Siri Where To Hide a Dead Body

    An anonymous reader writes A Florida man currently on trial for murder reportedly attempted to use Siri to garner ideas about where to bury the body of his dead roommate. According to police allegations, a University of Florida student named Pedro Bravo murdered his roommate via strangulation in late September of 2012 over a dispute involving Bravo's ex- girlfriend. According to a detective working the case, Bravo subsequently fired up Siri on his iPhone and asked it "I need to hide my roommate."

    160 comments | about a month ago

  • Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

    An anonymous reader writes: Apple has released a diversity report on the genders and races of its employees. As is common in the tech industry, the majority of Apple's workforce is male — only three out of 10 employees around the globe are female. Broken down, males compose 65 percent of non-tech workers, 80 percent of tech workers, and 72 percent of Apple's leadership.

    According to CEO Tim Cook, he's unhappy with Apple's diversity numbers and says Apple is working to improve them: "Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They're not new to us, and we've been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we're committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products."

    561 comments | about a month ago

  • Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

    jjoelc (1589361) writes One year after their last release "Luna", Elementary OS (a Linux distribution with a very heavy emphasis on design and usability which draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X) Has released the public beta of their latest version "Freya." Using core components from Ubuntu 14.04, "Freya" sports many improvements including the usual newer kernel, better hardware support and newer libraries.Other updates include a GSignon-based online accounts system, improved searches, Grub-free uEFI booting, GTK+ 3.12, an updated theme, and much more. This being a beta, the usual warnings apply, but I would also point out that the Elementary OS Team also has over $5,000 worth of bugs still available on Bountysource which can be a great way to contribute to the project and make a little dough while you are at it.

    209 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Skype Reverses Decision To Drop OS X 10.5 Support, Retires Windows Phone 7 App

    An anonymous reader writes Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard users recently found that Skype no longer works on their system: despite upgrading to the latest version they still can't sign in. We got in touch with the Microsoft-owned company and after two days, we got confirmation that a solution was in the works. "We have a Skype version for Mac OS X 10.5 users which will soon be available for download," a Skype spokesperson told TNW. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Windows Phone 7. In a support page titled "Is Skype for Windows Phone 7 being discontinued?," the Microsoft-owned company answers the question with a "yes" and elaborates that it is "permanently retiring all Skype apps for Windows Phone 7." Again, this isn't just old versions going away, or support being removed, but the apps themselves have disappeared.

    99 comments | about a month and a half ago

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