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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Soulskill posted about half an hour ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Businesses 11

jmcbain writes: Yesterday, Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ending December 27, 2014. The company posted $18 billion in profit (on $74 billion in revenue), the largest quarterly profit by any company, ever. The previous record was $16 billion by Russia's Gazprom (the largest natural gas extractor in the world) in 2011. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, along with 5.5 million Macs and 21.4 million iPads.

Apple Agrees To Chinese Security Audits of Its Products

samzenpus posted 5 days ago | from the looking-behind-the-curtain dept.

China 114

itwbennett writes According to a story in the Beijing News, Apple CEO Tim Cook has agreed to let China's State Internet Information Office to run security audits on products the company sells in China in an effort to counter concerns that other governments are using its devices for surveillance. "Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed to the security inspections during a December meeting in the U.S. with information office director Lu Wei, according to a story in the Beijing News. China has become one of Apple’s biggest markets, but the country needs assurances that Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad protect the security and privacy of their users as well as maintain Chinese national security, Lu told Cook, according to an anonymous source cited by the Beijing News."

Researchers Use Siri To Steal Data From iPhones

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the protect-ya-neck dept.

Iphone 55

wiredmikey writes "Using Apple's voice-activated Siri function, security researchers have managed to steal sensitive information from iOS smartphones in a stealthy manner. Luca Caviglione of the National Research Council of Italy and Wojciech Mazurczy of the Warsaw University of Technology warn that malicious actors could use Siri for stealthy data exfiltration by using a method that's based on steganography, the practice of hiding information. Dubbed "iStegSiri" by the researchers, the attack can be effective because it doesn't require the installation of additional software components and it doesn't need the device's alteration. On the other hand, it only works on jailbroken devices and attackers somehow need to be able to intercept the modified Siri traffic. The attack method involves controlling the "shape" of this traffic to embed sensitive data from the device. This covert channel could be used to send credit card numbers, Apple IDs, passwords, and other sensitive information from the phone to the criminal mastermind, researchers said in their paper.

Why Run Linux On Macs?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the horses-for-courses dept.

OS X 591

jones_supa writes Apple has always had attractive and stylish hardware, but there are always some customers opting to run Linux instead of OS X on their Macs. But why? One might think that a polished commercial desktop offering designed for that specific lineup of computers might have less rough edges than a free open source one. Actually there's plenty of motivations to choose otherwise. A redditor asked about this trend and got some very interesting answers. What are your reasons?

'Be My Eyes' App Crowdsources Help For the Blind

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the is-this-a-rabid-wolverine-chewing-on-my-leg? dept.

Software 66

An anonymous reader writes: A new not-for-profit app, Be My Eyes, aims to help the visually-impaired by connecting them with volunteer users who can support them in their daily lives via live video calls. Once downloaded, Be My Eyes asks the user to identify as blind or sighted, to see if you require help or are offering it. When a blind person requests assistance the app scans the system for an available volunteer. The blind user connects with the volunteer over a video call and points to the item they would like described. Be My Eyes was created by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a visually-impaired entrepreneur, at a startup event. Wiberg teamed up with Robocat, the Danish software studio behind Haze and Thermo, to make his vision a reality.

Apple Awarded Gesture-Control Patent

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the nothing-is-obvious-to-the-uspto dept.

Input Devices 105

mpicpp points out a report that Apple has been awarded a broad patent for gesture control of a computer interface (8,933,876). The company inherited the patent after their acquisition of motion-sensor company PrimeSense in 2013. (PrimeSense's technology is used in Microsoft's Kinect gesture control system.) Here's the patent's abstract: A method, including receiving, by a computer executing a non-tactile three dimensional (3D) user interface, a set of multiple 3D coordinates representing a gesture by a hand positioned within a field of view of a sensing device coupled to the computer, the gesture including a first motion in a first direction along a selected axis in space, followed by a second motion in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, along the selected axis. Upon detecting completion of the gesture, the non-tactile 3D user interface is transitioned from a first state to a second state.

Glitch In OS X Search Can Expose Private Details of Apple Mail Users

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the where-are-you-now dept.

Privacy 49

itwbennett (1594911) writes "The potential privacy risk in Apple's OS X Yosemite, first reported by German tech news site Heise and confirmed by IDG News Service, appears when people use the Spotlight Search feature, which also indexes emails received with the Apple Mail email client. Performing a Spotlight search opens email previews that load external images, including tracking pixels that are used to gather data, even when the Mail client is asked not to do this." From the article: A preview of the unopened emails was shown by Spotlight, which revealed to the operator of the server hosting the pixels the receiver’s IP address, current OS version and some details about the browser used as well as the version of Quick Look, a program that let’s users preview a document.

First OSX Bootkit Revealed

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the protect-ya-neck dept.

Security 135

Trailrunner7 writes A vulnerability at the heart of Apple's Mac OS X systems—one thus far only partially addressed by Apple—opens the door to the installation of malicious firmware bootkits that resist cleanup and give hackers persistent, stealthy control over a compromised Mac. The research is the work of a reverse engineering hobbyist and security researcher named Trammel Hudson, who gave a talk at the recent 31C3 event in Hamburg, Germany, during which he described an attack he called Thunderstrike. Thunderstrike is a Mac OS X bootkit delivered either through direct access to the Apple hardware (at the manufacturer or in transport), or via a Thunderbolt-connected peripheral device; the latter attack vector exposes vulnerable systems to Evil Maid attacks, or state-sponsored attacks where laptops are confiscated and examined in airports or border crossings, for example.

Hudson's bootkit takes advantage of a vulnerability in how Apple computers deal with peripheral devices connected over Thunderbolt ports during a firmware update. In these cases, the flash is left unlocked, allowing an Option ROM, or peripheral firmware, to run during recovery mode boots. It then has to slip past Apple's RSA signature check. Apple stores its public key in the boot ROM and signs firmware updates with its private key. The Option ROM over Thunderbolt circumvents this process and writes its own RSA key so that future updates can only be signed by the attacker's key. The attack also disables the loading of further Option ROMs, closing that window of opportunity.

EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the not-for-you dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 220

schwit1 writes The EFF launched a new app that will make it easier for people to take action on digital rights issues using their phone. The app allows folks to connect to their action center quickly and easily, using a variety of mobile devices. Sadly, though, they had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them. Why? Because they could not agree to the terms in Apple's Developer Agreement and Apple's DRM requirements.

Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the clean-up-your-act dept.

Programming 598

mrspoonsi writes Respected developer Marco Arment is worried about Apple's future. In a blog post, he writes, "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future." Arment was CTO at Tumblr, before he left to start Instapaper. "Apple has completely lost the functional high ground," says Arment. "'It just works' was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer." He blames Apple prioritizing marketing for the problems with Apple's software. Apple wants to have new software releases each year as a marketing hook, but the annual cycles of updating Apple's software are leading to too many bugs and problems, he says: I suspect the rapid decline of Apple's software is a sign that marketing has a bit too much power at Apple today: the marketing priority of having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it's an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality."

Sony, Facebook, Google, Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft Now All Have a Hand In VR

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the everyone-is-doing-it dept.

Sony 61

An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Kickstarter breathed new life into consumer virtual reality when it raised more than $2.4 million just three years ago. Now, at the onset of 2015, some of the world's biggest tech companies have a vested interest in the growing consumer virtual reality industry. Road to VR takes a look back at VR in 2014 and the path that lead these tech giants to start taking it seriously.

Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the too-much-room dept.

Data Storage 325

An anonymous reader notes that Apple is being sued over claims that iOS 8 uses too much storage space on the company's devices. "Ever wonder why there never is enough space on your iPhone or iPad? A lawsuit filed this week against Apple Inc. alleges that upgrades to the iOS 8 operating system are to blame, and that the company has misled customers about it. In the legal complaint filed in California, Miami residents Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara accuse Apple of "storage capacity misrepresentations and omissions" relating to Apple's 8 GB and 16GB iPhones, iPads and iPods. Orshan has two iPhone 5 and two iPads while Endara had purchased an iPhone 6. They contend the upgrades to the operating system end up taking up as much as 23 percent of the storage space on their devices."

Putting a MacBook Pro In the Oven To Fix It

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the tales-from-the-IT-kitchen dept.

Portables (Apple) 304

An anonymous reader writes: A post at iFixit explains how one user with a failing MacBook Pro fixed it by baking it in the oven. The device had overheating issues for months, reaching temperatures over 100 C. When it finally died, some research suggested the extreme heat caused the logic board to flex and break the solder connections. The solution was to simply reflow the solder, but that's hard to do with a MBP. "Instead, I cracked open the back of my laptop, disconnected all eleven connectors and three heat sinks from the logic board, and turned the oven up to 340 F. I put my $900 part on a cookie sheet and baked it for seven nerve-wracking minutes. After it cooled, I reapplied thermal paste, put it all back together, and cheered when it booted. It ran great for the next eight months." The laptop failed again, and another brief vacation into the oven got it running once more.

Apple Pay For the UK

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the it's-coming-sometime-and-maybe dept.

United Kingdom 75

An anonymous reader writes about when Apple Pay will be available in the UK. "A major UK bank's concern over data collected by Apple Pay is reportedly stalling negotiations to launch the mobile payments service in the country by 'the first half of 2015.' The Telegraph reports that 'at least one' of the UK's biggest banks is 'uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers.' Apple has been adamant about its approach to collecting users' data via Apple Pay. 'We are not in the business of collecting your data,' said Apple exec Eddy Cue when introducing the service in September. 'So when you go to a physical business and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank.'"

High Speed DIY M&M Sorting Machine Uses iPhone Brain

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the solving-tasty-problems dept.

Cellphones 85

HughPickens.com writes: Canoe Tech reports that M&M sorting machines are a popular project for people who like combining electronics, programming and machine building. Most of them send a single M&M down a chute to a simple color sensor where the color sensor will then take a second or two to figure out the color. A servo motor will then rotate a chute that will direct the M&M into the correct pot. But a new project created by the nameless blogger behind the reviewmylife blog that uses an iPhone 5s as its brain is capable of sensing different colors and so can "sort" the M&Ms as they fall past. The iPhone communicates the information via Bluetooth to an Arduino board, which in turn fires off the correct electro magnet controlled gate. One practical application of the sorter could be creating a bowl of M&Ms — with all the brown ones removed.

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the watch-it-now dept.

Sony 227

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "

De-escalating the Android Patent War

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the can't-we-all-just-bilk-the-USPTO-together dept.

Android 63

In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.

Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the like-USB-but-better dept.

Portables (Apple) 163

New submitter Holi sends this news from PC World: Attackers can infect MacBook computers with highly persistent boot rootkits by connecting malicious devices to them over the Thunderbolt interface. The attack, dubbed Thunderstrike, installs malicious code in a MacBook's boot ROM (read-only memory), which is stored in a chip on the motherboard. It was devised by a security researcher named Trammell Hudson based on a two-year old vulnerability and will be demonstrated next week at the 31st Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg.

Apple Pushes First Automated OS X Security Update

timothy posted about a month ago | from the little-cat-feet dept.

OS X 115

PC Magazine reports (as does Ars Technica) that Apple this week has pushed its first automated security update, to address critical flaws relating to Network Time Protocol: The flaws were revealed last week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute—the latter of which identified a number of potentially affected vendors, including FreeBSD Project, NTP Project, OmniTI, and Watchguard Technologies, Inc. A number of versions of the NTP Project "allow attackers to overflow several buffers in a way that may allow malicious code to be executed," the Carnegie Mellon/DHS security bulletin said. ... The company's typical security patches come through Apple's regular software update system, and often require users to move through a series of steps before installing. This week's update, however, marks Cupertino's first implementation of its automated system, despite having introduced the function two years ago, Reuters said.

Investigation: Apple Failing To Protect Chinese Factory Workers

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the HR-needs-to-be-better dept.

China 201

mrspoonsi writes with the findings of an investigation into working conditions at a factory that makes Apple products. Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation. Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken. It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories. Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions. Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai. One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move. Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."

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