An anonymous reader writes China is backing away from U.S. tech brands for state purchases after NSA revelations, according to Reuters. This confirms what many U.S. technology companies have been saying for the past year: the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China. From the article: "A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee -- among others -- have been dropped from the Chinese government's list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday. The number of approved foreign technology brands fell by a third, based on an analysis of the procurement list. Less than half of those companies with security products remain on the list."
An anonymous reader writes: Smartflash LLC has won a patent lawsuit against Apple over DRM and technology relating to the storage of downloaded songs, games, and videos on iTunes. Apple must now pay $532.9 million in damages. An Apple spokesperson did not hesitate to imply Smartflash is a patent troll: "Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system." The trial happened in the same court that decided Apple owed VirnetX $368 million over FaceTime-related patents back in 2012.
HughPickens.com writes AP reports that in an effort to undercut Apple's hit service Apple Pay, Google is teaming up with three wireless carriers by building its payment service into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA. Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed but Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online.
The biggest challenge however is one that both Apple and Google face: Only a small fraction of the 10 million or so retail outlets in the U.S.–220,000 at last count–have checkout readers that can accept payments from either system. Both wallets use a radio technology called Near Field Communication to send payment, and it's expected to take years for most stores to be upgraded. What's at play? The big tech companies and carriers seem convinced that our phones will eventually replace our wallets. For carriers, that could make mobile wallet technology table stakes over the next few years as they compete for consumers.
stephendavion writes Amid deeper investigations into how Apple may be using its operations in Ireland as a means for tax avoidance on tens of billions of dollars in profit, the iPhone maker has announced that it will spend nearly $2 billion (€1.7 billion) to develop two new 100% renewable energy data centers in Europe. The centers — which will use wind power and other green fuel sources — will be located in Athenry, Ireland, and Viborg, Denmark. Apple said that they will power services such as apps in the App Store, Siri and iMessage. Both locations will run on 100 percent renewable energy and Apple said they will have the 'lowest environmental impact' of its data centers thus far. It will also be following in the footsteps of companies like Facebook, which has also built sustainable data center operations out in Europe.
9to5 Mac reports that In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the
first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. The article goes on to say Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple.
The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features.
An anonymous reader writes "Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems is suing Apple in federal court for allegedly poaching five employees to help it develop a competing battery business. The suit accuses the workers, including A123's former chief technology officer, of breaking noncompete and nonsolicit agreements. "It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123," according to the lawsuit. The news adds some credibility to rumors that Apple is getting into the automotive market. "
An anonymous reader writes Filed in 2008, published in 2013, and legally granted to Apple this week, the company's patent for a 'Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display' could have "broad ramifications" for mobile VR headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard, says patent attorney Eric Greenbaum. "This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD," he said. "There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it as leverage in forming strategic partnerships."
mpicpp sends word of a patent newly awarded to Apple, #8,957,835, which describes a head-mounted apparatus that uses an iPhone (or iPod) as a display. The device "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device." It sounds a bit like Samsung's Gear VR headset, and many outlets are reporting it as being a virtual reality device. However, the patent itself doesn't mention VR, and it was filed in 2008, long before the VR rush of the past few years. That said, Apple has recently been trying to hire engineers with experience developing VR-related software, so it's something they could be evaluating.
An anonymous reader writes: A report at the Financial Times (paywalled) says Apple is on an aggressive hiring push to pick up automotive experts. Recent rumors suggest Apple is putting together a transportation research lab, and nobody outside the company is quite sure why. It's unlikely they's want to build an entire car themselves, but quite possible they see a big space for Apple technology within motor vehicles, much as Google seems to. They already have CarPlay, and it will doubtless grow, but we still don't have anything approaching a dominant platform for car software. Whatever they're working on, it looks like the competition for more robust computer technology in cars is heating up.
chicksdaddy writes: President Obama travels to Stanford University on Friday to join Apple CEO Tim Cook in talking about the need for more private-public sector cooperation to fight cyber crime. But technology industry executives attending the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection complain that a major obstacle to cooperation is a lack of legislative action that clarify the rules of the road for private firms when it comes to sharing information about customers with the government and each other.
The controversy over government surveillance has put the ball in the government's court, said Michael Brown, RSA's Global Public Sector Vice President. "They need to articulate what amount of access to private information is 'appropriate and legal' for law enforcement and the government," Brown said. "It's not just about 'when, where, and how.' They also need to clearly articulate 'why' – for example: this is a matter of public safety and this is the only way we can get this information."
Also on the to-do list, say executives: a re-writing of the 80s-era Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and a federal data breach notification law that creates a consistent, national standard. Currently, 48 states have passed such laws, creating a compliance mess for private firms that discover they have leaked customer data.
An anonymous reader writes: Apple is making a huge investment in solar energy, sending $848 million to First Solar's California Flats Solar Project. The deal will supply Apple with energy for 25 years. Construction of the new 2,900-acre solar farm will start this summer and finish by the end of 2016. Apple's share of the energy produced will be about 130 megawatts, while another 150 MW will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric. "The iPhone maker already powers all of its data centers with renewable energy. Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer, has advocated taking more steps to combat climate change."
itwbennett writes The Manhattan District Attorney's office has indicted five people for using personal information stolen from around 200 people to fund the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Apple gift cards, which in turn were used to buy Apple products. "Using stolen information to purchase Apple products is one of the most common schemes employed by cybercrime and identity theft rings today," District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. "We see in case after case how all it takes is single insider at a company—in this instance, allegedly, a receptionist in a dentists' office—to set an identity theft ring in motion, which then tries to monetize the stolen information by purchasing Apple goods for resale or personal use," he said.
walterbyrd writes Apple is in talks with TV programmers to put together its own over-the-top pay TV service, Recode says. According to the site's industry sources, Apple's proposed service would be comprised of bundles of programming, secured through deals with content providers and sold direct to consumers, rather than a full TV lineup. Apple has reportedly already shown demonstrations of the proposed service to people in charge of TV programming, but Recode says the talks 'seem to be in early stages,' with the pricing and release date still yet to be set.
An anonymous reader writes: I run Firefox with NoScript and FlashBlock at home. Browsing is easy, and I only have to enable scripts on a few sites. If they have 20+ scripts, I just surf somewhere else. Fast forward to the mobile experience. I had an Android device, but now I have an iPhone. In addition to the popup problem, and the fake "X" on ads, the iPhone browsers (Safari, Chrome, Opera) will start to show a site, then they will lock up for 10-30 seconds before finally becoming responsive. If I switch back to another app and then return to the browser, Safari and Chrome have a little delay, but Opera delays 20+ seconds before becoming responsive again.
Firefox is not available on the iPhone, so I can't simply run NoScript. Chrome does not appear to have a NoScript equivalent for mobile. What solutions are you using to make mobile browsing work?
mrspoonsi writes Apple announced it will spend about $2 billion to build a new data center in Mesa, Arizona. It will be housed in buildings formerly used by GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which went bankrupt last year after failing to supply sapphire display covers for the iPhone 6. The data center will be powered entirely by renewable energy. It will be a "command center for our global networks." Apple has said it would help find work for people affected by GTAT's bankruptcy. It's possible some of those former GTAT employees might help construct the new command center. When Apple initially partnered with GTAT to make sapphire displays, the company invested millions in a sapphire production facility. It makes sense that Apple would want to do something with the building if it couldn't make sapphire there.
HughPickens.com writes James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that in 1998 Bill Gates said in an interview that he "couldn't imagine a situation in which Apple would ever be bigger and more profitable than Microsoft" but less than two decades later, Apple, with a market capitalization more than double Microsoft's, has won. The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But according to Stewart, Apple's vision was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Where Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person's desk, Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket. "Apple has been very visionary in creating and expanding significant new consumer electronics categories," says Toni Sacconaghi. "Unique, disruptive innovation is really hard to do. Doing it multiple times, as Apple has, is extremely difficult." According to Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson, Microsoft seemed to have the better business for a long time. "But in the end, it didn't create products of ethereal beauty. Steve believed you had to control every brush stroke from beginning to end. Not because he was a control freak, but because he had a passion for perfection." Can Apple continue to live by Jobs's disruptive creed now that the company is as successful as Microsoft once was? According to Robert Cihra it was one thing for Apple to cannibalize its iPod or Mac businesses, but quite another to risk its iPhone juggernaut. "The question investors have is, what's the next iPhone? There's no obvious answer. It's almost impossible to think of anything that will create a $140 billion business out of nothing."
itwbennett writes: Although Apple has never officially acknowledged issues surrounding Yosemite and Wi-Fi connectivity, the company is clearly aware of the problem: Leading off the improvements offered in the update 10.10.2 update released Tuesday was 'resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect,' according to the release notes. Despite this, Apple's support forum was filled with tales of frustrated users. And Mac owners aren't the only Apple users experiencing wireless connection failures after updating their OS. Wi-Fi connectivity issues have also dogged iOS 8 since Apple released the mobile OS on Sept. 17.