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Apple to pay $113 million to settle latest ‘batterygate’ investigation

States argue that the company knew it could profit off of consumers who thought they needed a new phone

Apple has agreed to pay $113 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the battery throttling scandal, better known as “batterygate.” 

In 2017, a barrage of customers accused Apple of deliberately slowing the speed of older iPhones. Apple said the feature was designed to protect and extend the lifespan of aging devices, but customers contended that Apple was in the wrong because it didn’t state upfront that it would slow the speed of older models.

To make amends, Apple offered $29 battery replacements and tweaked its settings to make its battery-management practices more clear to users -- but that didn’t stop the lawsuits from pouring in. The company agreed to a $500 million class action settlement earlier this year, and now it has agreed to a second settlement. 

The tech giant will pay an additional $113 million as part of a settlement with 34 states. In this suit, state attorneys general argued that Apple concealed the battery-throttling feature from iPhone owners knowing that it could profit off of consumers who thought they needed to buy an entirely new iPhone rather than just a new battery.

“Big Tech must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. “I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies to account if they conceal the truth from their users.”

Apple has not admitted wrongdoing, and the settlement doesn’t require it to do so. 

Apple has agreed to pay $113 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the battery throttling scandal, better known as “batterygate.” In 2017, a barrage...
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Apple opens up pre-ordering for new iPhone 12 models

The devices are expected to presell quickly

Apple has begun accepting orders for its new iPhone 12 models, as well as its HomePod Mini smart speaker. 

The company’s iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini are set to become available in stores November 13, but Apple announced on Friday that it has started accepting preorders for the devices. Apple’s new smart speaker, which will hit shelves on November 16, is also available to order for $99. 

Apple traditionally rolls out new iPhones in September, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays. This year, the tech giant held an event in October to let consumers know what new models were on the way. 

The new iPhone 12 Pro Max, which boasts the largest display ever on an iPhone at 6.7 inches, starts at $1,099. Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple says the Pro Max offers better low-light camera performance. 

The iPhone 12 Mini packs in many of the same features consumers will find on the regular iPhone 12, but in a “thinner, lighter” package. Prices for this option start at $699.

Both of the new models are expected to be in short supply due to manufacturing issues linked to the pandemic. Quick pre-order sellouts are expected. 

Apple has begun accepting orders for its new iPhone 12 models, as well as its HomePod Mini smart speaker. The company’s iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12...
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Apple iPhone 12 may be in short supply due to chip shortage

Reports suggest that the shortage could make it harder for Apple to meet holiday demand

If an iPhone 12 happens to be on your holiday gift list, it might be a good idea to order it as soon as possible. Apple may be facing a shortage of a key chip for the device, according to published reports.

Bloomberg News quotes insiders who say the tech giant is having trouble getting access to enough computer chips that manage the iPhone’s power usage. That shortage, they say, could make it harder for Apple to meet the demand for the recently released device.

Apple introduced the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini last month, both offering 5G speed and an array of technology upgrades. Both devices are available for pre-ordering on Friday. The phones feature the A14 Bionic chip -- “the fastest chip in a smartphone” -- an advanced dual-camera system, and a Super Retina XDR display with the Ceramic Shield front cover that the company claims will increase drop performance by four times. 

iPhone 12 models also introduced MagSafe, which the company says offers high-powered wireless charging and an “all-new ecosystem” of Apple-made and third-party accessories that attach to the new iPhones.

Priority delivery

Bloomberg’s sources tell the news agency that Apple has been told it will get priority delivery of the power-managing chips from its suppliers. Unfortunately, the entire industry has faced a periodic shortage of all types of microchips because the pandemic has slowed production and snarled supply chains.

When Apple reported quarterly earnings in October, CEO Tim Cook warned investors that Apple, along with the rest of the industry, was running up against supply constraints that were posing challenges to production. 

At the time, he did not mention a type of computer chip that is in short supply. He said the issue was also providing headwinds for the production of other Apple devices. Cook said it is hard to estimate how long the supply problems might last.

According to Bloomberg, Apple secures most of its iPhone chips from Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. It says Apple designed the power-management chip in-house.

If an iPhone 12 happens to be on your holiday gift list, it might be a good idea to order it as soon as possible. Apple may be facing a shortage of a key c...
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Apple launches replacement program for faulty AirPods Pro

The company said some consumers have reported ‘sound issues’

Apple has announced that it is aware of "sound issues" on some AirPods Pro, so it has launched a free service program to replace faulty earphones.

On a support page created Friday, the company said that a “small percentage” of consumers have experienced crackling or static sounds while using their earphones or have found that they offer ineffective active noise-cancellation. 

Apple said the affected units were manufactured before October 2020.

The tech giant has launched an AirPods Pro exchange program that will allow consumers to replace faulty AirPods Pro at no cost. However, Apple says the devices must have one of the following flaws:

  • Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone; or

  • Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise.

According to MacRumors, ‌AirPods Pro‌ users first began reporting sound issues in April. Most users complained about the issues listed above.

Apple has announced that it is aware of "sound issues" on some AirPods Pro, so it has launched a free service program to replace faulty earphones.On a...
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Apple announces new ‘Express’ store openings

The tech giant wants to make it easier and safer for customers to pick up items

Apple has announced that it will open up more “Express” stores to make it easier for consumers to pick up orders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reports. 

At “Express” locations, consumers will see a wall built in front of the main Apple store with sales counters protected by plexiglass. Customers can quickly pick up an order they placed online or speak with an Apple associate behind the glass for in-person service. 

The retailer started testing the store format last month in California, calling it “a swifter way for us to serve customers.” 

“It allows us to maintain all the appropriate social distancing and maintain all of our health protocols within our stores,” retail SVP Deirdre O’Brien told Reuters.

Apple has now opened 20 Express stores across the U.S. and Europe and plans to have more than 50 Express locations by the end of October. The launch of the new format coincides with the launch of the company’s new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, as well as the holiday season. 

The retailer’s past efforts to keep customers safe during the pandemic have included temporarily closing all of its retail stores outside of China. Apple has reopened most of its stores in recent months, although some have temporarily closed again due to spikes in COVID-19 cases. A list of the stores currently open can be found on Apple’s website

Apple has announced that it will open up more “Express” stores to make it easier for consumers to pick up orders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Reuter...
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It’s official: Apple’s new iPhone 12 is here

To stay ahead of the competition, Apple has loaded the new models with plenty of upgrades and features

As forecast, Apple’s new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have made their debut, and they pack quite a punch. At the top of the list of upgrades is 5G speed. 

But Apple knows that speed alone won’t be reason enough for consumers to pick up the new device. Its competitors, like Samsung, are already producing 5G phones to keep up with quickly expanding 5G networks. To get as far ahead of the competition as possible, Apple is also adding the A14 Bionic chip -- “the fastest chip in a smartphone” -- an advanced dual-camera system, and a Super Retina XDR display with the Ceramic Shield front cover which it claims will increase drop performance by four times. 

iPhone 12 models also introduce MagSafe, which the company says offers high-powered wireless charging and an “all-new ecosystem” of Apple-made and third-party accessories that attach to the new iPhones.

Pricing and Availability

All of these new bells and whistles don’t come cheap. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models starting at $799 and $699, respectively. Consumers can also go the monthly route for $22.87 a month for the iPhone 12 and $18.70 for the iPhone mini. If consumers have another device to trade in, the total price could drop to $549 and $449, respectively.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 begin Friday, October 16, with availability beginning Friday, October 23. The iPhone 12 mini will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, November 6, and will appear in stores beginning Friday, November 13.

Other features

On top of the upgrades in speed, camera, etc., here’s other iPhone features ConsumerAffairs found that might be of interest: 

  • Color: The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini come in five aluminum finishes, including blue, green, black, white, and red.

  • Extended battery life: Apple claims that its new Smart Data mode should extend battery life by “intelligently assessing 5G needs and balancing data usage, speed, and power in real time.”

  • More responsive: People who use their phones for things like video games and streaming are a good target for the iPhone 12. Apple promises higher quality streaming and more responsive gaming capabilities, as well as real-time interactivity within apps.

  • More resistant: For the clumsy among us, Apple has come to the rescue. Both new iPhone 12 models have water resistance up to approximately 20 feet for up to 30 minutes. The company says they are also durable enough to withstand everyday spills from drinks like coffee and soda.

  • iOS 14: The cherry on top might be the newest Apple operating system -- iOS 14 -- that’s built into the iPhone 12. The latest system software offers new ways to customize the Home Screen and a new App Library that automatically organizes all of a user’s apps into one simple, easy-to-navigate view. “iOS 14 also brings new ways to discover and use apps with App Clips, powerful updates for staying connected in Messages, greener ways to explore cities with Maps, and enhanced privacy features for even more transparency and control,” the company promised.

Extra perks

To sweeten the deal, Apple has a number of bonuses it’s going to pass along to iPhone buyers. Those include:

  • One year of Apple TV+ for free and three months of Apple Arcade for free. (Note: this is a limited time offer.)

  • U.S. customers get 3 percent cash back when they buy directly from Apple using an Apple credit card. If they choose Apple Card Monthly Installments, they can pay over time and interest-free.

  • Every person who buys an iPhone from Apple will also be offered a free Online Personal Session with an Apple Specialist. This professional can help users get comfortable with their new device and show off some of the cool things it can do. 

As forecast, Apple’s new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have made their debut, and they pack quite a punch. At the top of the list of upgrades is 5G speed....
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Apple to hold its own ‘special day’ October 13 to potentially unveil new iPhones

Changes to the new devices’ size, audio, and camera are expected

Not to be outdone by Walmart, Amazon, or Target’s special single-day promotions, Apple has jumped on the bandwagon with a “speed” event of its own on Tuesday, October 13.

Analysts -- or should we say people who know how to interpret Apple’s teaser campaigns -- believe the company’s invitation to the event, which included the phrase “Hi, Speed,” likely means the company is going to unveil its long-awaited iPhone 12 with 5G service.

This year’s release date is later than usual for iPhones. Apple usually rolls out new devices in mid-September, but company executives had cautioned investors that new models likely wouldn’t be available until October. 

What’s to expect in the way of new iPhones

If you’re an Apple person, here’s what you can start dreaming about:

Size: MacRumors says it’s placing its bets on four iPhones in three different sizes -- the most affordable being the ‌iPhone 12‌, which will come in 5.4, and 6.1-inch size options. If the 5.4-inch version makes the party, it will be the smallest ‌iPhone‌ that Apple has released in a while, and word has it that it could even be called the "‌iPhone 12‌ mini." 

For iPhone lovers who think that size matters when it comes to phones, MacRumors expects there to be a 6.1-inch iPhone 12‌ Pro and a 6.7-inch ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro Max, the largest display size that Apple has ever offered.

Camera: To stay ahead of the photography curve, it’s also expected that the new iPhones will have upgraded camera technology, featuring scanner technology that was introduced in the recent iPad Pro release.

Audio: Apple watchers say it’s possible that the company will also release new AirPods with over-ear wireless headphones and tags so users can find lost items using wireless pings.

Speed: Another copy-and-paste inclusion from the latest iPad Pro may be quicker 5-nanometer A14 chips, which should boost the phone’s performance and prowess.

Missing in action: iPhone users have been slowly weaned off accessories that Apple used to bundle with every iPhone. Two of those are the power adapter and earbuds. “Because 5G technology is expensive, Apple is planning to eliminate the power adapter and earbuds that traditionally come with an ‌iPhone‌, instead offering a separate power adapter for purchase,” MacRumors Juli Clover forecasted.

“A braided Lightning to USB-C cable could be included, however, and the power adapter rumor has been all but confirmed by the Series 6 Apple Watches, which were also shipped without a power adapter.”

Not to be outdone by Walmart, Amazon, or Target’s special single-day promotions, Apple has jumped on the bandwagon with a “speed” event of its own on Tuesd...
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Mac users may not be able to stream 4K content from Netflix without latest security chip

More consumers may need to get updated devices to access advanced content

Apple Mac owners who want to use their computers to stream Netflix 4K, ultra high definition (UHD) content might be in for a rude awakening. Reports indicate that when Apple’s next system software is released -- macOS Big Sur -- Netflix will only stream in 4K to Macs that have a T2 security chip. Apple has not confirmed a release date for Big Sur, but it’s widely believed that it will be available sometime this fall.

Apple started producing Macs with the T2 chip in 2018. The basic list of the models that have the chip built in are:

  • iMac introduced in 2020

  • iMac Pro

  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019

  • Mac mini introduced in 2018

  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later

  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 or later

If your Mac was purchased in the last two years but isn't on that list, Apple has an easy method to find out if your device has the T2 chip.

Two other small caveats are that you can only stream 4K content through Apple’s Safari browser. Other browsers -- Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox -- apparently will limit you to 720p on a Mac. 

Additionally, only Netflix Premium subscribers will reportedly have to worry about the conundrum since 4K content is only available on that subscription level. If you are on that plan and still experience issues, ConsumerAffairs found this list of FAQs and workarounds on Netflix’ site.

Why is this happening?

The simplest explanation ConsumerAffairs could find for this situation is that the T2 chip has the ability to process High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) twice as fast as its predecessor, the T1 chip. 

Consumers can expect more devices and services to be HEVC-ready -- traditional TVs, cable, satellite, fiber, tablets, and smartphones. HEVC is so well-loved that it won a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award in 2017 for having a significant effect on television technology.

Netflix does offer 4K streams in its Premium plan. With high definition becoming a bigger thing, video lovers can expect to see more content in that format and from favored streaming services like YouTube.

Apple Mac owners who want to use their computers to stream Netflix 4K, ultra high definition (UHD) content might be in for a rude awakening. Reports indica...
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Consumers report GPS and battery issues with Apple Watches and iPhones

The tech giant is suggesting that users restore their devices

Is your iPhone or Apple Watch’s battery life not what you think it should be, or is its GPS app not recording locations during activities like you expect it to?

You’re not alone. MacRumours reports that a good number of online support threads are complaining about the same things.

Most of the complaints say that when an Apple Watch user records, say, a workout on their device, but with their ‌iPhone‌ at home, the Activity app only shows the starting point of the workout. Some users have also griped about a battery issue for Apple Watch devices running system watchOS 7 and ‌iPhone‌ ‌iOS 14. 

The potential symptoms

  • Battery drain: Increased or what the user thinks is excessive battery drain on the ‌iPhone‌ and/or Apple Watch.

  • Apps won’t launch or load data: Health-related apps like Activity and Heart Rate fail to launch or load data on the Apple Watch and/or on the ‌iPhone‌.

  • Workout route maps: Missing in the Fitness app on ‌iPhone‌ for earlier GPS-enabled workouts connected to your Apple Watch.

  • Inaccurate data storage volume: The Health app or Fitness app shows what a user might consider to be an inaccurate amount of data storage on the ‌iPhone‌ and/or the Apple Watch.

  • Sound level data missing: The environmental sound levels data or the headphone audio levels data from Apple Watch is missing in the Health app on ‌iPhone‌.

Apple’s recommendations 

The support threads were ripe with fixes, but Apple has suggested the following advice if a user is experiencing two or more of the symptoms listed above: 

  • Unpair the Apple Watch;

  • Do a backup of both the ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch;

  • Then, erase all content and settings on both devices and restore from the backup. 

Apple provides steps to accomplish these tasks in this support document published Thursday.

Is your iPhone or Apple Watch’s battery life not what you think it should be, or is its GPS app not recording locations during activities like you expect i...
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Apple announces new appeals process for app developers

Developers can now challenge the company’s rulings about whether apps violate guidelines

App developers will now have a bigger voice on the Apple App Store platform. The company announced on Monday that it is rolling out an appeals process that will allow developers to dispute whether their apps violate Apple’s guidelines. 

The new process, which was first announced by the company at an annual conference back in June, may represent a big shift for developers. In an update on its site, Apple indicated that it will be streamlining how it addresses certain issues and taking suggestions about how it can improve its platform.

“For apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. You’ll instead be able to address guideline violations in your next submission,” the company told developers. 

“In addition to appealing decisions about whether an app violates guidelines, you can suggest changes to the guidelines. We also encourage you to submit your App Store and Apple development platform suggestions so we can continue to improve experiences for the developer community.”

Repair shops more plentiful

This isn’t the only change that Apple has made recently. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would be authorizing more repair shops to work on devices like iPhones and Mac computers. 

The move followed many years in which Apple and those same repair shops butted heads about the latter’s right to repair the company’s devices. Critics accused the company of providing preferential treatment of brands like Best Buy by demanding outrageous commitments in terms of repair volume.

App developers will now have a bigger voice on the Apple App Store platform. The company announced on Monday that it is rolling out an appeals process that...
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Apple broadens its independent repair program to include Mac computers

More authorized repair shops means more options for consumers

Apple is expanding a major portion of its repair program. On Monday, the company announced that its existing repair arrangement that allows independent repair shops to work on iPhones is now going to include Mac computers, as well.

While the company didn’t come right out and say it, COVID-19 had to have a play in the decision. When a consumer goes to Apple’s repair site, they’re confronted with a heads-up that “Apple support options are currently limited. Thank you for your patience and understanding.” 

Only last month, Apple announced plans to convert retail staff to online assistance in the face of the pandemic.

No more playing favorites

In Reuter’s reporting of the shift, Apple’s recasting of how repairs are handled comes after many years of complaints from right-to-repair groups that had criticized the company for playing favorites with companies like Best Buy. 

The biggest beef from those groups whas that Apple provided genuine parts and training manuals to them and completely cut others out of the picture. Another major complaint -- especially from smaller shops -- was that Apple’s repair authorization program demanded a commitment to a certain volume of repairs that they’d have a hard time honoring.

Apple’s strict standards didn’t stop others from pretending to be Apple-authorized, though. If a consumer is looking to replace a battery in their MacBook Pro and searches for “repair my Mac near me,” they’d be hit with a number of repair shops that say they can offer that service. 

However, when ConsumerAffairs checked out some of those shops, many didn’t show up in Apple’s database of Authorized Service Providers and Independent Repair Providers.

Hopefully, all that will change soon. With the enhancement of its independent repair program, Apple will begin distributing parts and providing free training courses to independent repair shops, giving them all the tools they need to perform out-of-warranty work.

Apple is expanding a major portion of its repair program. On Monday, the company announced that its existing repair arrangement that allows independent rep...
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Apple’s iOS 14 to include tracking protection, new digital car key

The company announced several improvements at its Worldwide Developers Conference

Apple announced on Monday that its upcoming iOS 14, which is set to launch this fall, will include a number of new privacy features. 

At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which was online-only due to the coronavirus crisis, the tech giant said iOS 14 will include new protections against user tracking on apps and websites. 

The new software will feature indicators that let users know when an app is using their microphone or camera. If either is activated, users’ iPhones will show an orange dot in the upper right corner of the screen.

"All of our product work is grounded in a set of privacy principles," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. 

New labels for app permissions 

Apple has also integrated new labels for app permissions. Users will see how much data an app requests before downloading it, as well as what developers plan to do with their data. Under iOS 14, app developers must self-report whether the information they will collect falls under the category of "Data Linked To You" and "Data Used to Track You." 

"For food, you have nutrition labels," said Erik Neuenschwander, Apple's user privacy manager. "So we thought it would be great to have something similar for apps. We're going to require each developer to self-report their practices."

With this feature, users can choose to grant permissions for a day, when in use, or forever. 

CarKey function

Apple also revealed that iOS 14 will allow some users to unlock their car using a functionality called CarKey. Those with vehicles that support the new feature will be able to pair their phone with their car and use the device to unlock and start it. 

For the feature, near-field communication (NFC) will be used to securely communicate with a user’s car. The information collected for this functionality will be stored in the same place that Apple stores credit card information in iPhones, meaning it’s protected by Face ID or Touch ID and Apple won’t know when a user locks or unlocks their car. 

Federighi said car keys have “been around for over 100 years but they've become big, bulky and ripe for reimagining.” The new digital key will first be available for the 2021 BMW 5 Series, and Apple plans to expand it to other car models after that. 

Apple announced on Monday that its upcoming iOS 14, which is set to launch this fall, will include a number of new privacy features. At its annual Worl...
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European Commission announces two Apple investigations

The EU wants to make sure Apple isn’t breaching competition rules through its App Store rules or Apple Pay service

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that it will launch two new antitrust probes: one into Apple’s App Store rules and another into Apple’s “Apple Pay” platform. 

The watchdog group said the investigations will focus on determining whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. 

Apple charges companies that put their apps on the app store 30 percent from in-app purchases and 30 percent on subscriptions for the first year. Companies are then charged 15 percent from there on out. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said it appears that Apple “obtained a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices.” 

Ensuring compliance with competition rules

Spotify, one of Apple’s competitors, has taken issue with Apple’s policies in recent years, saying in a March 2019 complaint that the tech giant deliberately limits consumer choice and stifles innovation. 

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Apple essentially acts “as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.” A complaint on the matter was also lodged by Kobo, an e-reader company that competes with Apple Books.  

Vestager said the EU is looking to ensure that Apple’s rules don’t “distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books.” 

Apple Pay investigation

In an effort to ensure Apple isn’t breaching EU competition rules through its Apple Pay service, the group will be looking into Apple’s terms and conditions for integrating Apple Pay in apps and websites, the company’s limitation of access to NFC technology, and alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay. 

“It appears that Apple sets the conditions on how Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites,” Vestager said. “It also reserves the ‘tap and go’ functionality of iPhones to Apple Pay. It is important that Apple’s measures do not deny consumers the benefits of new payment technologies, including better choice, quality, innovation and competitive prices.”

The EU reserves the right to shut down tech services and charge U.S. tech firms 10 percent of their annual revenues. Separately, the Commission is planning to file an antitrust charge against Amazon in the coming weeks for allegedly using data from third-party sellers to directly compete against them.

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that it will launch two new antitrust probes: one into Apple’s App Store rules and another into Apple’s “Appl...
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Apple phones that were looted display messages that they are being tracked

Stolen iPhones won’t work outside of Apple stores

Apple Stores were impacted by looting and protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and have subsequently been closed. 

Now, those who looted or purchased stolen iPhones are finding that they don’t work; in fact, they may even be tracked by Apple or U.S. authorities. The problem could affect consumers who purchase second-hand iPhones in the coming months. 

Those with devices that were allegedly looted from Apple stores found that they had been automatically disbaled and displayed messages like, “Please return to Apple Walnut Street. This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.” 

Apple’s mission

Apple has used special OS images on demo devices in the past, as well as a software “kill switch” that disables them when they go out of range of the store’s Wi-Fi. 

Company CEO Tim Cook said in a memo to employees that “there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.”

Cook added that “at Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.”

For now, Apple hasn’t said when it plans to reopen its stores. 

Apple Stores were impacted by looting and protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and have subsequently been closed. Now, tho...
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Apple agrees to settle suit claiming it ‘broke’ FaceTime on older devices

The company will pay $18 million to settle the class-action lawsuit

Apple has agreed to pay $18 million to settle a 2017 lawsuit accusing it of deliberately breaking FaceTime in iOS 6 in order to get users to upgrade to iOS 7.

The suit claimed the company disabled FaceTime on the iPhone 4 and 4S in an effort to trim costs. Due to a 2012 patent dispute, Apple was previously relying on third-party servers for its peer-to-peer method of direct connection, which cost it millions of dollars. 

Apple eventually created new peer-to-peer technology and released it in iOS 7. Plaintiffs in the case claimed Apple’s motive in “breaking” FaceTime was to cut costs, since it would no longer need to support users who did not upgrade to iOS 7. 

‘We broke iOS 6’

Apple claimed in the suit that a bug caused a compatibility issue. According to AppleInsider, an Apple engineering manager said in an email chain: 

"Hey, guys. I'm looking at the Akamai contract for next year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to reduce relay utilization.” 

Another engineer said, "It was a big user of relay bandwidth. We broke iOS 6, and the only way to get FaceTime working again is to upgrade to iOS 7."

Apple has agreed to pay $18 million to settle the case, however a majority of the money will go towards attorney fees and expenses, according to Law360. Class action members will only get $3 per affected device.

Apple has agreed to pay $18 million to settle a 2017 lawsuit accusing it of deliberately breaking FaceTime in iOS 6 in order to get users to upgrade to iOS...
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Apple unveils more affordable iPhone SE

The new device features upgrades to the screen and processor

Without a formal unveiling event, Apple announced on Wednesday that it’s launching a new, more affordable iPhone. 

The second-generation iPhone SE looks practically identical to the 2017 iPhone 8, but it’s set to cost $399 compared to its predecessor’s $449 starting price. The new device also features a suite of new features, including a more powerful processor and screen enhancements.

In an announcement, Apple called the new device its “most affordable” yet and outlined several features consumers can expect to find. 

“The new iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks,” the company said. “iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.” 

Camera upgrades

Apple’s A13 processor helps the new iPhone SE take “amazing photos with Smart HDR, stunning portraits with Portrait mode including all six Portrait Lighting effects,” Apple said. “And with QuickTake, users can easily transition to video recording without switching out of Photos mode.” 

Features carried over from the iPhone 8 include wireless charging, a physical home button with Touch ID instead of facial recognition, and IP67 water and dust resistance. 

The $399 base model comes with 64 GB of storage; the mid-level model comes with 128 GB of storage and costs $449, and the top tier model comes with 256 GB of storage and costs $549. Consumers who purchase the new device are also eligible for a free year of Apple TV+.

“The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price; the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president for worldwide marketing, said in a release.

Online pre-orders for the new device will begin on Friday, and consumers can receive them as early as April 24. The new phone is available in black, white, and red color schemes.

Without a formal unveiling event, Apple announced on Wednesday that it’s launching a new, more affordable iPhone. The second-generation iPhone SE looks...
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Apple calms senators’ suspicions over COVID-19 screening site and app

The tech giant says it will only use what’s necessary and delete all personal information once the pandemic has ended

Apple should be breathing a little easier today. It appears that the company has allayed the fears of the Senate Finance Committee -- the group that sets national health policy -- regarding the committee’s concerns over the tech giant’s COVID-19-related website and app.

In Apple’s original announcement, it underlined that it will collect "some information" to help improve the site, but it stumbled by not identifying exactly what that information would include.

That faux pas caught the Committee’s eye, and when it started poring over Apple’s announcement, more questions came to light. To get those answers, it spared no time in going straight to the top of Apple’s org chart. 

“While we acknowledge Apple’s statements regarding user privacy and that the questionnaire tools ‘do not require a sign-in or association with a user’s Apple ID, and users’ individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization,’ we are nonetheless concerned for the safety and security of Americans’ private health data,” Sens. Menendez, Blumenthal, Harris and Booker wrote to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

Concerns and answers

Triggering the Senators’ concerns were several things, including:

  1. Is Apple’s screening site and app governed under the terms of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

  2. What personal data is Apple going to retain?

  3. Will Apple promise that it will not share or sell any of the data gathered?

  4. What cybersecurity safeguards does Apple have to secure the personal data?

  5. Will the website be accessible to those with disabilities?

Regarding HIPPA 

As a quick background, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) supervises the stream of healthcare information and guarantees how personally identifiable information is maintained and shared.

In Apple senior government affairs director Timothy Powderly’s response to the Senate, he stated that the company’s tools are not covered by the health privacy law HIPAA -- specifically the governance of HIPAA regarding when a company can disclose data to a third party. Powderly went on to say that there aren’t any third parties involved in collecting the information, since “data (is) entered into the website and app directly by users.”

Retention of personal data

Reminding the Committee that it does not currently collect any information entered into the website and app by individuals, Apple responded that its COVID-19 resources are no exception.

“Guided by this principle, Apple currently collects only the information necessary to support the operation of the COVID-19 website and app, such as users’ usage of the tool and app; this information does not include information entered by individuals,” wrote Powderly.

“Apple only retains this information for so long as is necessary to support the operation of the COVID-19 website and app. Information no longer needed is deleted or rendered permanently unrecoverable in accordance with industry standards.”

Will Apple commit to refraining from sharing or selling the data collected on the website and app to third parties?

There was no pussyfooting from Apple here. 

“Yes, no data collected from either the website or app will ever be sold to third parties,” Powderly said.

How Apple will protect the user data

Apple’s answer was a little technical, but its bottom line response was that the company has developed layers of “technical and administrative safeguards” to protect data as it’s being transported. It has also restricted access to that data to authorized personnel only.

Accessibility of the website to those with disabilities

Again, the answer was another straightforward “yes” from Powderly. 

“Apple’s COVID-19 app and website support features such as Apple’s VoiceOver technology, a screen reader which describes exactly what’s happening on the screen of an Apple device so that individuals can navigate just by listening, as well as Switch Control and Voice Control, which support individuals with physical motor limitations to use devices without touch,” he wrote.

Apple should be breathing a little easier today. It appears that the company has allayed the fears of the Senate Finance Committee -- the group that sets n...
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Apple slapped with €1.1 billion fine, France’s largest antitrust penalty ever

The company says it plans to fight the sanction

Apple is quickly learning not to mess with France. On Monday, French antitrust officials ordered the tech company to pay a fine of €1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) for what France considers anti-competitive practices.

The new fine comes only weeks after France fined Apple €25 million for its iPhone slowdown fiasco.

Creating cartels

The French Competition Authority -- Autorité de la concurrence -- claimed that Apple’s offense was the creation of cartels within its distribution network and the abuse of economic dependence on its “Premium” independent resellers. Those wholesalers are Tech Data and Ingram Micro, which were also fined €76.1 million ($79.68 million) and €62.9 million ($69.99 million), respectively, for their role in the cartel practices.

“During this case, the Authority deciphered the very specific practices that had been implemented by Apple for the distribution of its products in France (excluding iPhones), such as the iPad,” Isabelle de Silva, President of the French Competition Authority, wrote.

“First, Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products. Secondly, so-called Premium distributors could not safely carry out promotions or lower prices, which led to an alignment of retail prices between Apple's integrated distributors and independent Premium distributors.”

The war of words begins

The message the Authority sent certainly had to get Big Tech’s attention. The fine Apple was slapped with is the highest penalty ever imposed on a company doing business in France. 

“Apple had committed an abuse of economic dependence on its premium retailers, a practice which the Authority considers to be particularly serious,” de Silva said.

“The French Competition Authority’s decision is disheartening,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC. “It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards 30 years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal.”

Apple is quickly learning not to mess with France. On Monday, French antitrust officials ordered the tech company to pay a fine of €1.1 billion euros ($1.2...
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Apple lays down the law in new app store guidelines

The company says that developers who don’t want to play can take their app elsewhere

With an eye towards the safety of children and the curtailment of spamming and offensive content, Apple put developers on notice that it’s going to be taking a hard line on which apps it will let in its app store going forward.

The company says it won’t only be rejecting apps over their content; it will also be looking to crack down on the triggers that developers build into apps that, for example, steal user data or cheat the system in any way.

“When people install an app from the App Store, they want to feel confident that it’s safe to do so -- that the app doesn’t contain upsetting or offensive content, won’t damage their device, and isn’t likely to cause physical harm from its use,” Apple told its developers in its updated App Store Review Guidelines. “If you’re looking to shock and offend people, the App Store isn’t the right place for your app.” 

Some of the more high-profile changes include the ability for apps to now use notifications for ads, stricter rules for dating and fortune-telling apps, and a new rule that allows Apple to reject apps that help users evade law enforcement.

Nope -- not in our App Store

Apple's new app screening raises the bar on the following:

Kid-oriented apps

Upfront and center, Apple tells developers that any app must comply with laws like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and any other applicable regulations or laws. 

“We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps,” Apple said. “Parental controls work great to protect kids, but you have to do your part too. So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.”

In Apple’s new law of the land, an app can only ask for birthdate and parental contact information as a way of complying with these statutes and nothing else. If a developer builds an app that asks for personal information, they better be ready to prove that the need for those details also complies with those privacy statutes.

Apple is also putting the squeeze on a developer’s dream of cashing in on kids, Going forward, it is banning third-party analytics or third-party advertising from child-oriented apps. 

Objectionable content

In its new guidelines, Apple says that apps on its platform “should not include content that is offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, in exceptionally poor taste, or just plain creepy.”

The company goes on to lay it out in no uncertain terms: “realistic portrayals of people or animals being killed, maimed, tortured, or abused … Depictions that encourage illegal or reckless use of weapons and dangerous objects, or facilitate the purchase of firearms or ammunition … Inflammatory religious commentary” are all forbidden.

User-generated content

Any app that depends on user-generated content or social networking services has to have “a method for filtering objectionable material from being posted to the app; a mechanism to report offensive content and timely responses to concerns; the ability to block abusive users from the service; published contact information so users can easily reach (the developer).”

Spamming

What would an app be without some kind of spam, right? Well, Apple app users are about to find out. 

Going forward, app developers are required to get customer consent and build in an opt-out feature that permits users to turn off those pesky push notification ads. 

If you don’t like it, go somewhere else

“The guiding principle of the App Store is simple - we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful,” was how Apple laid out the future for app developers. The company didn’t pull any punches about how firm its new stand is, either.

“We do this by offering a highly curated App Store where every app is reviewed by experts and an editorial team helps users discover new apps every day. For everything else there is always the open Internet. If the App Store model and guidelines are not best for your app or business idea that’s okay, we provide Safari for a great web experience too.”

With an eye towards the safety of children and the curtailment of spamming and offensive content, Apple put developers on notice that it’s going to be taki...
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Apple fined another €25 million for its iPhone slow down debacle

Despite its apologies, the company may still face further retribution

Pay up, mon frere. Three years after it was discovered that Apple was purposely slowing down older versions of its iPhones, possibly in hopes of prodding consumers toward buying a newer model, France’s overseer of consumer affairs has fined the company €25 million ($27,342,875 U.S.) as a result of its own investigation. Apple has agreed to fork over the entire amount.

The General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) announced the fine on Friday. 

While Apple has already asked consumers for their forgiveness and promises it’ll be more informative going forward, its planned obsolescence still leaves it vulnerable to governmental investigations both at home and abroad. In Italy, Apple was fined 5 million euros ($5,468,575 U.S.) for the phone slowdown and another 5 million for neglecting to give customers necessary information about how to ensure the health of an iPhone battery or how to replace it. 

A quick refresher

In case you missed it, the basics of the blunder is that iPhone owners were not informed that the updates of the iOS operating system (10.2.1 and 11.2) they installed would, in all likelihood, slow down their iPhone thanks to a dynamic power management device that came with those updates, especially if the device’s batteries were old. Apple has apparently learned its lesson and gone one step further by extending the life of its devices’ batteries.

Adding insult to misery, iPhone users couldn’t roll their operating software back to an earlier version that didn’t have the new feature.

Pay up, mon frere. Three years after it was discovered that Apple was purposely slowing down older versions of its iPhones, possibly in hopes of prodding c...
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Apple takes to the streets to offer on-site repairs

The initial rollout covers only six U.S. markets, and the extent of the service appears limited for the time being

With consumers having less and less time to take care of interruptions that upset their normal schedules, it looks like Apple is coming to the rescue by offering on-site repair for iPhone owners who can’t find the time to visit a repair shop or Apple store, much less send their phone in to be fixed.

As reported by MacRumors, Apple is trying out its new on-site service in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Consumers in those markets should see that option when they visit Apple's Support site.

Research conducted by ConsumerAffairs and MacRumors suggests that the service is provided by Go Tech Services. The company is an Apple-authorized service provider and is not directly governed by the tech giant -- much like the relationship between Geek Squad and Best Buy. Findings suggest that Go Tech is a new service offered by SquareTrade, an Allstate company.

Can everything on my iPhone be repaired on a house call?

There’s no official word from Apple or Go Tech on what can be repaired at a customer’s home or office. MacRumors reports that a cracked iPhone display could be fixed but not a battery replacement.

And price? There’s no official word on that either, but MacRumors reports that “an on-site visit fee may be charged in addition to the provider's standard repair cost.”

With consumers having less and less time to take care of interruptions that upset their normal schedules, it looks like Apple is coming to the rescue by of...
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Apple working on fix for parental control bug

The bug appears to be related to iCloud syncing

Apple has promised to fix a vulnerability in one of the new parental control features released Tuesday in iOS 13.3. 

A feature called Communication Limits is supposed to prevent kids from communicating with people not in their contacts unless a parent enters a security passcode, but the safety feature can easily be bypassed if contacts aren’t stored in iCloud, according to a CNBC report

“Communication Limits does not work as advertised if contacts are not stored to iCloud by default,” CNBC found. 

After tapping on an incoming text from an unknown number, CNBC discovered that a "Restricted Contact" page appeared. However, the page could be bypassed by tapping on an “Add Contact” option. Selecting the option would give kids the ability to communicate with the person behind the number in question. 

In a statement, Apple said the issue “only occurs on devices set up with a non-standard configuration, and a workaround is available.” It added that it’s “working on a complete fix and will release it in an upcoming software update.” 

While Apple works on a fix, users can ensure the feature works properly by forcing contacts to sync with iCloud. This can be done by going into settings, navigating down to "Contacts," choosing "Default Account,” and changing it to iCloud. Alternatively, parents can set the device to “Downtime” mode to prevent kids from adding any new contacts. 

Apple has promised to fix a vulnerability in one of the new parental control features released Tuesday in iOS 13.3. A feature called Communication Limi...
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Apple defends its policies in response to Congressional antitrust probe

The company refutes the claim that it engages in anti-competitive behaviors

Apple has responded to questions raised as part of an antitrust probe launched in September. Lawmakers previously sent a letter to Apple officials asking, among other things, for the company to shed light on how much revenue it has generated from product repair services since 2009.

Kyle Andeer, the company's vice president for Corporate Law, produced Apple’s responses to the Antitrust Committee. Andeer said the annual costs of providing repair services has “exceeded the revenue generated by repairs.” 

The tech giant has previously been accused of making it difficult for users to get Apple devices fixed by making them go to its own stores or authorized repair centers and then charging high rates to fix faulty devices. 

Repair service questions

Asked if the move was a way for Apple to “elbow out competition and extend its monopoly into the market for repairs,” the company said no. Andeer said Apple’s goal is to “achieve a safe and reliable repair for our customers, whether that repair is done by Apple or a service provider designated by Apple.” 

To that end, the company doesn’t allow independent repair stores to access its spare parts and repair manuals. He said it’s “not feasible to split products into its component parts without significant risk of damage to those components.”

“Apple has spent time and money to make Apple devices incredibly user friendly—but they are still complex, very technical machines,” Andeer said. “And there are a number of factors that go into achieving the goal of ensuring repairs on these complex devices are safe and reliable.” 

Andeer noted that Apple has set out to make user repairs easier to obtain in recent months by partnering with Best Buy to offer user repair services at many of the retailer’s stores. The company has also established a new system to verify independent third-parties. 

Default browser questions

In response to a question regarding why Apple doesn’t allow iPhone users to assign a third-party browser as their default choice and whether that move is anti-competitive, Andeer pointed to security and privacy reasons. He said Safari is “an essential part of iPhone’s functionality.” 

“Safari is one of the apps that Apple believes defines the core user experience on iOS, with industry-leading security and privacy features,” Andeer said. “Safari is an ‘operating system app,’ like the Phone, Camera and iMessage, which are designed to work together.” 

In the company response, Andeer noted that there are many apps that compete with Apple’s services, such as web browsing, maps, music, and video. Overall, Apple argued that all of its policies are in the best interest of users and that it doesn’t engage in anti-competitive behaviors. 

Apple has responded to questions raised as part of an antitrust probe launched in September. Lawmakers previously sent a letter to Apple officials asking,...
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Apple may be heading toward subscription-based iPhone payment system

CEO Tim Cook says many consumers are interested in a recurring payment system

During an earnings call with analysts this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook signaled that the company is open to the idea of launching a subscription-style model for paying for iPhones, CNBC reported.

“We are cognizant that there are lots of users out there that want sort of a recurring payment like that and the receipt of new products on some sort of standard kind of basis and we are committed to make that easier to do than perhaps it is today,” Cook said. 

During the call, Cook said Apple sees subscriptions as a major growth area and pointed out that it’s already catering to customers who want to bundle services.

“In terms of hardware as a service or as a bundle, if you will, there are customers today that essentially view the hardware like that because they’re on upgrade plans and so forth. So, to some degree, that exists today,” Cook said in response to a question on the matter from analyst Toni Sacconagi. 

Laying the foundation

CNBC noted that Apple has been “laying the groundwork” for a subscription model for its iPhones for years.

In 2015, the company began allowing its users to pay off their iPhones on a monthly basis. The tech giant also offers an iPhone Upgrade Program, which includes an AppleCare warranty and an option to upgrade to the latest iPhone once the user has paid a minimum of 12 monthly installments for the older model of the device. 

Additionally, Apple currently offers trade-ins, which enable consumers to sell their older iPhone back to Apple in order to receive a discount on a newer model.

“We also continued to see great results from our trade-in program with more than five times the iPhone trade-in volume we had a year ago,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. 

Paying with Apple Card

Cook announced on the call that Apple is also set to launch a program that lets consumers buy an iPhone with their Apple Card and pay no interest on the sum for two years.

“I am very pleased to announce today that later this year, we are adding another great feature to Apple Card,” Cook said on the call. “Customers will be able to purchase their new iPhone and pay for it over it over 24 months with zero interest. And they will continue to enjoy all the benefits of Apple Card, including 3% cash back on the total cost of their iPhone with absolutely no fees and the ability to simply manage their payments right in the Apple Wallet app on iPhone.”

The Apple executive added that “one of the things we are doing is trying to make it simpler and simpler for people to get on these sort of monthly financing kind of things.” 

During an earnings call with analysts this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook signaled that the company is open to the idea of launching a subscription-style model f...
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iPhone 5 owners must update software to avoid losing web browsing, email, and other functions

Users are being urged to update to iOS 10.3.4 before November 3 to maintain normal phone functionality

Apple is urging all iPhone 5 owners to update their device to the latest software within the next few days or risk losing core online features, including web browsing, email, and more. 

In full-screen alerts on the devices of affected owners, as well as in a support document on its website, the tech giant advised iPhone 5 owners to update to iOS 10.3.4 before 12AM UTC on November 3 in order to “maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.” 

Apple added that the update requirement stems from a GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6 of this year. 

Users who don’t update their device by the specified date will no longer be able to get over-the-air software updates or use iCloud backup, so they will need to connect to a computer to restore. 

To verify that a device is up to date, users can tap on Settings and then on Software Update. 

Problems reported among new iPhone owners

Apple's warning to iPhone 5 owners comes on the heels of user complaints from those who downloaded the company's iOS 13.1.2 update for their newer iPhone, iPad, and iPod. 

While the software update was supposed to fix a number of issues, users complained of issues ranging from battery drain, call dropping, and web pages shutting down for no apparent reason. 

“This 13.1.2 version is a disaster,” posted one Facebook user. “[It] has ruined the ease of correcting text character by character. Have had to reboot twice to attempt to correct.” Singing to the choir of disgruntled users, another wrote “Apple iOS 13.1.2 downloaded, and I regret it. Very little seems to work right.” 

Users who hadn't yet installed the update were urged to hold off on downloading it, while those who had already downloaded it were left simply to wait for Apple to roll out a fix for the issues.

Apple is urging all iPhone 5 owners to update their device to the latest software within the next few days or risk losing core online features, including w...
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Apple reportedly plans to release a $399 iPhone

An analyst says the device would have the same processor as the iPhone 11

Many consumers might want an iPhone, but the price tag can be prohibitive for some people. To fill this market niche, the tech giant will reportedly introduce a budget iPhone next year that would retail for $399.

Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF Securities who covers Apple, reported over the weekend that the new iPhone, despite its low price, will have the same processor as the recently released iPhone 11, which sells for between $699 and $1,099.

Kuo says the new phone will be called the iPhone SE2, and it will have a similar design to the iPhone 8. That means it can use some of that model’s parts but will feature an upgraded processor and camera. 

Apple has yet to comment on the report. MacRumors describes Kuo as a credible source when it comes to Apple.

“His research notes often provide a solid look at Apple's future plans and while he is not always correct, his predictions on future Apple products are accurate enough to make him one of the most reliable sources for Apple rumors,” the website says.

Aimed at the iPhone 6?

While Apple sells some previous iPhone models at low prices, those devices feature older technology. For example, the iPhone 6 models do not run the latest iPhone operating system, IOS 13.

A $400 phone featuring an improved camera and the latest processor could well be a game-changer when it comes to competing with lower-priced phones.

In a note to clients, Kuo predicted the new iPhone could prove attractive to consumers still using iPhone 6 models who have been reluctant to upgrade because of cost. Kuo says as many as 200 million consumers could still be using those older devices.

Kuo says the fact that the iPhone 6 models can’t run the latest operating system may create a “more urgent replacement demand.”

Apple introduced the iPhone 11 series last month, with three new models featuring improved cameras and a new processor. At the same time, it cut the price of the iPhone 8 to $449 and the iPhone 8 Plus to $549.

Many consumers might want an iPhone, but the price tag can be prohibitive for some people. To fill this market niche, the tech giant will reportedly introd...
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Apple’s latest iPhone update includes feature to combat spam callers

Activating the ‘silence unknown callers’ feature sends robocalls straight to voicemail

Apple’s most recent iPhone update, iOS 13, includes a tool to help consumers minimize the number of unwanted calls they receive. The tech giant’s new “Silence Unknown Callers” option lets iPhone users send any call straight to voicemail if it isn’t from a number found in their contact list.

Users who have updated to iOS 13 can activate the feature by opening Settings, tapping “Phone,” navigating down to “Silence Unknown Callers,” and toggling the button to “On.” 

Enabling the feature will stop unknown calls from coming through, meaning users won’t have to manually hit “decline” when they see a likely robocall coming in. Missed call notifications will still pop up after Apple sends the call to voicemail, and the number that called will still show up in the recent call log.

Apple warns that some calls -- such as those from a medical office or any other establishment that isn’t in a phone’s contact list -- may also be thwarted by the feature. In that case, users can head to the “Voicemail” tab in the Phone app and listen to or read the transcript of the voicemail and decide whether the person should be called back. 

Robocall numbers still elevated

During the month of September, consumers received 4.5 billion robocalls. While that number is down 5.2 percent from August and 13.5 percent from the all-time high in March of 5.2 billion robocalls, YouMail CEO Alex Quilici says robocall numbers for 2019 are still frustratingly high. 

"Happily, September had a meaningful but unsurprising decline in robocall volume, as it was a shorter month than August and included the Labor Day holiday weekend," the executive said in a statement last week. "While that's still good news, the tougher news is that we received over 43.3 billion calls in the first 9 months of the year, and we are still on pace to wind up with nearly 60 billion calls to U.S. consumers this year."

Federal regulators are aware that consumers are fed up with robocalls and continue to push for the integration of tools to fight spam callers. The FCC has urged phone companies to adopt new standards to combat robocalls, and AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers have announced new spam call-filtering tools in an effort to appease both regulators and frustrated consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in July that it upgraded its Do Not Call (DNC) initiative to make its interactive robocall data site easier for consumers to use.

“The page allows consumers to search the data interactively, for example, by clicking on a specific state or county. The information will be updated quarterly,” the FTC wrote.

Apple’s most recent iPhone update, iOS 13, includes a tool to help consumers minimize the number of unwanted calls they receive. The tech giant’s new “Sile...
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Apple cautions against using third-party technicians for display repairs

The company has advised iPhone 11 users to get their phone fixed at company-approved locations

Two weeks after unveiling three new iPhone models, Apple is advising iPhone 11 users not to go to third-party technicians for display repairs. 

The company said iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max users need to ensure their device gets fixed using genuine parts. Failure to go to a service provider or technician that hasn’t been vetted by Apple could result in incorrect color calibration, multi-touch issues, ambient light sensor problems, or other issues. 

“Additionally, repairs that don't properly replace screws or cowlings might leave behind loose parts that could damage the battery, cause overheating, or result in injury,” Apple said in a statement on its website.

Apple said iPhone 11 users who replace their screens with an aftermarket component will see a message that reads, "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple display." The message will remain on the lock screen for four days. After that, it can be found under the “About” section in “Settings.” The warning will not affect the ability to use the iPhone or its display.

“If you need to replace your iPhone display, it's important for certified technicians who use genuine Apple display parts to repair it,” the company said. “Only technicians who have completed Apple service training and who use Apple genuine parts and tools should replace iPhone displays.” 

Two weeks after unveiling three new iPhone models, Apple is advising iPhone 11 users not to go to third-party technicians for display repairs. The comp...
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Apple rolls out three new iPhones with improved cameras

The company will also provide a video streaming service for $4.99 a month

Apple has announced its 2019 product upgrade with three new iPhone models, an always-on watch display, and a popularly priced streaming service.

The new devices are the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Upgrades include a brighter display and a new triple-camera system with a “pro-level camera experience” and an expanded lens range. Apple says the changes will deliver huge improvements to low-light photography and allow production of high-quality action videos.

In addition to those changes, the company says the new iPhones will be more powerful than the previous generations and have improved battery life.

The iPhone 11 will sell for $699, $50 less than the model it is replacing. The 11 Pro will go for $999 and the 11 Pro Max will cost $1,099. All three models are scheduled to ship on September 20.

Price cut on the iPhone 8

At the same time, Apple has lowered the price of some of its older devices. Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are getting a $100 price cut, selling between $449 and $549. It’s also discontinuing the Xs and XS Max models.

Improvements to the Apple Watch are also getting some attention. The Apple Watch Series 5 introduces an Always-On Retina display that never goes into sleep mode. Other upgrades include a built-in compass to current elevation feature and international emergency calling that connects users with emergency services in more than 150 countries.

“We’ve seen Apple Watch have a meaningful impact on our customers’ lives and we’re excited to deliver even more capabilities with Apple Watch Series 5 and watchOS 6,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “The seamless integration of new hardware and software delivers an enhanced experience that makes it even easier to stay active and connected to the people and information users care about.”

Apple TV +

Apple also served notice that it’s stepping up its game in the streaming wars, positioning Apple TV + to take on the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The service will launch November 1, offering original programming for $4.99 a month. As an added bonus, consumers who purchase an Apple device will get a one-year subscription to the service at no charge.

Offerings include “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and “The Elephant Queen.” The service will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch, Mac, and other platforms, including online at tv.apple.com.

Apple has announced its 2019 product upgrade with three new iPhone models, an always-on watch display, and a popularly priced streaming service.The new...
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Apple makes App Store modifications as it prepares for antitrust litigation

The company is being tight-lipped about the changes, but a senior executive says the situation is being ‘improved’

It’s not a proven axiom in Big Tech, but Apple, for one, is hoping that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

That ounce is a tweak Apple’s made to its App Store’s algorithm so, by design, fewer of its own, self-produced apps would crowd the top search results.

And the pound? There’s no guarantee Apple’s move will carry that much weight, but the company is about to enter a slate of antitrust investigations, so any move to separate “anti” from “trust” couldn’t hurt.

Getting to the top of the charts

The App Store changes were brought to light by the New York Times when its reporters presented new research about App Store search result rankings to Apple.

That research -- which was fueled by search term tracking done by SensorTower -- showed that Apple’s own apps ranked first in 735 of roughly 60,000 search terms tracked. “Most of the tracked searches were obscure, but Apple’s apps ranked first for many of the popular queries,” the Times wrote

“For instance, for most of June and July, Apple apps were the top result for these search terms: books, music, news, magazines, podcasts, video, TV, movies, sports, card, gift, money, credit, debit, fitness, people, friends, time, notes, docs, files, cloud, storage, message, home, store, mail, maps, traffic, stocks and weather.”

When the Times handed over its research, Apple owned up to the changes. Well -- sort of owned up.

Apple executives Eddy Cue and Philip Schiller -- both at the top of the App Store food chain -- refuted any possible allegation that Apple’s algorithm gave precedence to its own apps. Rather, their position was that Apple-owned apps typically rank higher than others simply because their apps are a) more popular; and, b) typically a closer match to broad search terms. For example, if someone searched for a “photo” app, Apple’s “iPhoto” app might rise to the top organically.

“There’s nothing about the way we run search in the App Store that’s designed or intended to drive Apple’s downloads of our own apps,” Schiller told the Times. “We’ll present results based on what we think the user wants.”

Why the tweak?

As the Times turned up the heat, Schiller held steadfast to his position, but Cue admitted the situation was “improved.”

Was Cue’s admission related to the accusation that Apple built in some sway for itself in the App Store? We may never know, but what we do know is that Apple’s antitrust defense team has a lot on their plate with consumer-oriented cases regarding the App Store monopoly, iPhone prices, and antitrust claims from its peers. Any angle they can work to soften the blow could work in the company’s favor.

It’s not a proven axiom in Big Tech, but Apple, for one, is hoping that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.That ounce is a tweak Apple’s m...
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Apple scraps technology that would allow users to text off the grid

Apple Watch lovers will still have a version of the app

Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Apple has paused the rollout of technology that would allow people to send text messages to other iPhones (not other platforms like Android, though) when those users are off-the-grid -- meaning without cell service. 

For people who find themselves in remote locations like ski slopes or hiking in the mountains, the upsides of the technology could have been a game-changer in locating someone who’s lost or needs help.

According to The Information, Apple and Intel were collaborating on the technology, with plans to integrate Intel’s chips into future iPhones. The original patent Apple applied for details technology that functions something like a walkie-talkie in which the messaging between the phones would be transmitted via a 900MHz radio spectrum. 

There was no reason -- like a security flaw -- given as to why the project was scrapped. However, The Information said that the person at Apple who was championing the technology had left the company. It’s also possible that Apple’s recent squabble with Qualcomm could have been a factor.

Apple Watch wearers who like the watch’s version of the walkie-talkie feature will be happy to know that that version isn’t going away. However, it does require a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, which the scrapped version didn’t.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Apple has paused the rollout of technology that would allow people to send text messages to other iPhones (not other platf...
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Apple expected to announce camera-focused iPhones at annual press event

A report suggests two ‘Pro’ phones are on the way

Two of the three iPhones Apple is expected to debut next month will be “Pro” phones, featuring an emphasis on the device’s camera performance, according to a Bloomberg report. 

The phones will boast a new triple-lens camera system, which combines wide angle, telephoto, and ultra-wide lenses. The publication says the upcoming “Pro” models will take the place of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. 

The iPhone 11 Pro software will enable it to take three images at once and merge them into higher-resolution pictures “rivaling some traditional cameras.” The device’s low-light camera performance will also be enhanced.  

Upgraded functions

In addition to the new “Pro” models, the tech giant will reportedly unveil a successor to last year’s iPhone XR. A second rear camera will be added to the device, which will equip it with the ability to shoot in enhanced portrait mode and zoom in further without the quality of the shot being impacted. A change to Face ID, “multi angle” sensor hardware, is also expected to be announced in a few weeks. 

“The phones will include a new multi-angle Face ID sensor that captures a wider field of view so that users can unlock the handsets more easily – even when the devices are flat on a table,” Bloomberg reported. 

Aesthetically, Bloomberg says “at least some colors” of the devices will feature a new matte finish. The devices will also be more durable, thanks to enhanced shatter protection and water resistance. The publication also claims Apple is likely to release new AirPods and a smaller, less expensive HomePod smart speaker as early as next year. 

Apple’s annual iPhone announcement event, which has been held in September for the past four years, is expected to take place on Tuesday, September 10 this year.

Two of the three iPhones Apple is expected to debut next month will be “Pro” phones, featuring an emphasis on the device’s camera performance, according to...
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Apple suspends program that let contractors listen to Siri conversations

In response to privacy concerns, the company has temporarily suspended its ‘grading’ program

Apple has temporarily pulled the plug on a program that let its employees listen to Siri voice recordings. The practice was called “grading,” and it was intended to help boost Siri’s speech recognition accuracy and quality. 

Apple said it listened to less than one percent of Siri voice conversations and that the recordings were anonymous. Nonetheless, the tech giant has decided to suspend the program in the wake of a recent Guardian report which found that Apple contractors “regularly hear confidential details” on Siri recordings. 

Apple told the publication that its goal in letting staffers listen to some conversations was to “help Siri and dictation … understand you better and recognize what you say.” The article sparked a wave of criticism, which has now resulted in Apple suspending the program while it decides how to proceed. 

“We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy. While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch

In an upcoming software update, Apple will give users the ability to opt out of participating in the company’s grading program. 

Apple has temporarily pulled the plug on a program that let its employees listen to Siri voice recordings. The practice was called “grading,” and it was in...
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Apple plans to offer 5G support on all three upcoming iPhones

A recent acquisition has paved the way for 5G support on all 2020 iPhones

In a note to investors over the weekend, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will offer 5G support on all three models of its 2020 iPhones. The move is intended to help the tech giant compete with Android, which is adding 5G support to its lower-cost Android smartphones.

Earlier this summer, Kuo said he believed two of the three upcoming iPhones would support 5G. The analyst now says Apple will add 5G support to all the new devices. 

Kuo said Apple's recent acquisition of Intel's smartphone modem chip business bolstered its resources for developing iPhones with 5G capabilities. However, the company doesn’t plan to drop Qualcomm technology in favor of using its own in-house 5G chip until 2021, according to Reuters.

“Apple has more resource for developing the 5G iPhone after the acquisition of Intel baseband business, ” Kuo said in a note seen by MacRumors. “We expect that the prices of 5G Android smartphones will decline to $249–349 USD in 2H20.” 

“Consumers will think that 5G is the necessary function” by the time they are launched, he added. “Therefore, iPhone models which will be sold at higher prices have to support 5G for winning more subsidies from mobile operators and consumers' purchase intention.” 

All three versions of the 2020 iPhone will likely support both the mmWave and sub-6GHz versions of 5G. Meanwhile, Android phones will only support sub-6GHz. 

In a note to investors over the weekend, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will offer 5G support on all three models of its 2020 iPhones. The move is i...
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Apple expected to phase out butterfly keyboards

The company is reportedly planning to use a more durable scissor mechanism in upcoming laptop models

Apple’s notoriously problematic butterfly keyboard will be phased out this year, MacRumors reports. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the tech giant will introduce a scissor-switch keyboard design starting with its 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

The company unveiled its butterfly keyboard in 2015, advertising it as being “refined for greater comfort and responsiveness” compared to its standard “scissor” design. However, users began noticing that the keyboards tended to malfunction after being exposed to dirt or dust.

Apple acknowledged the issue and tried to fix the problem by introducing several changes, including adding a silicone barrier to keep dust from getting behind keys and using “new materials” in the keyboards’ switch mechanism to improve reliability. 

The tech giant launched a repair program for users who were still experiencing problems, but now it appears that the company is looking to scrap the troublesome keyboard design altogether. 

The new scissor keyboard won’t be as prone to failure from heat, dust, and other small particulates, Kuo said in a previous note to investors seen by MacRumors. Enhanced durability will come by way of glass fibers to reinforce the keys. While it will be thicker than the butterfly keyboard, Kuo believes most users won’t be able to feel the difference.

It is expected to be found on the new MacBook Pro, which will most likely launch in September. Other laptops will get the updated keyboard in 2020. 

Apple’s notoriously problematic butterfly keyboard will be phased out this year, MacRumors reports. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the tech giant will int...
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Apple allows parental control app back on App Store

OurPact has been restored to the App Store after it was removed ‘out of the blue’ earlier this year

Apple has allowed OurPact, one of the parental control apps pulled from its App Store earlier this year, back on its app marketplace. 

The New York Times reported in February that Apple pulled or limited the reach of 11 of the 17 most popular screen time monitoring and parental control apps from its App Store without warning developers. 

The apps that were kicked off relied on Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology to track and manage users’ screen time. They were also similar to Apple’s “ScreenTime” tool, which gives parents control over an iPhone’s usage. 

OurPact allowed back 

Affected developers accused the company of engaging in anticompetitive practices by clearing out rival screen time management apps, but Apple defended its move by saying privacy concerns were at the heart of the matter.  

“Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” Apple said in a statement.

“These apps were using an enterprise technology that provided them access to kids’ highly sensitive personal data,” an Apple spokeswoman told the Times. “We do not think it is O.K. for any apps to help data companies track or optimize advertising of kids.”

In response to Apple’s decision, OurPact published a statement in which it noted that MDM only allows it to collect “very limited but standard anonymized” data for crash reports. 

"They yanked us out of the blue with no warning," OurPact CEO Amir Moussavian told the Times in February. "They are systematically killing the industry."

Several months later, OurPact has been reinstated to Apple’s App Store and given approval to use MDM. The former is thanks to Apple’s recent introduction of less stringent App Store restrictions related to the use of MDM and Virtual Private Network tools. 

"We take this as a positive sign that Apple is working in cooperation with us,” an OurPact spokesperson said. “They realize device management solutions belong not only in the business world and in the classroom but in a family environment."

It remains to be seen whether other parental control apps that were pulled will be allowed to return to the App Store in the wake of Apple’s revision to its review guidelines. 

Apple has allowed OurPact, one of the parental control apps pulled from its App Store earlier this year, back on its app marketplace. The New York Time...
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Apple announces free repair program for MacBook Air owners

The company says a ‘small number’ of devices may have a logic board flaw

Apple is offering free repairs for 2018 MacBook Airs after finding that a “very small number” of current generation, 13-inch MacBook Airs are having logic board problems, 9to5Mac reports. Logic board issues could prevent the computer from turning on.

The company has emailed owners of MacBook Air computers with serial numbers known to be impacted by the issue to let them know that a free repair is available at any Apple Store or authorized service center. Customers who want to know if their device is among those impacted by the flaw can also take their computer to those locations. 

The free repair offer will last for four years. 

9to5Mac notes that Apple hasn’t provided many details about the logic board issue, other than saying that it has to do with “power.” The publication notes that some users found that they weren’t able to boot up their 2018 MacBook Air at all when the device first launched.

The logic board issue is the latest of several MacBook flaws to be announced in recent months. Just a few days ago, Apple recalled some older MacBook Pro models over a battery issue that caused overheating. Prior to that, the company introduced a repair program for owners of MacBooks with defective butterfly keyboards.  

Apple is offering free repairs for 2018 MacBook Airs after finding that a “very small number” of current generation, 13-inch MacBook Airs are having logic...
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The security of Apple’s new single sign-on feature faces new questions

Online experts praise Apple’s new feature, but questions remain about its reliability

Among the laundry list of nuances and updates Apple unveiled at its WWDC 2019 earlier this month, one was Sign In with Apple, a privacy-oriented feature allowing users to use their Apple ID to log into third-party apps and websites.

The idea of a “single sign-on” isn’t anything new. As a matter of fact, more than a million sites integrate the OpenID protocol, counting Google, Amazon.com, Microsoft, and PayPal among its customer base -- but not Apple.

The benefits for single sign-ons are many -- like reducing password fatigue to saving time not having to re-enter passwords for the same ID -- but, according to one industry organization, it could pose potential security issues when used with other single sign-on mechanisms. 

Here’s the rub

Apple probably didn’t expect any problems when it decided to veer away from the Open ID blueprint and create its own version, but one has reared its ugly head.

The OpenID Foundation (OIDF), a non-profit organization whose primary goal is standardizing the technology and keeping all its implementers on the same page, says that Apple’s version of the technology could possibly put its users’ security and privacy at risk.

In a letter to Apple, OIDF praised Apple's authentication feature for having "largely adopted" OpenID Connect. But after that pat on the back, the tone of the letter changed. 

“The current set of differences between OpenID Connect and Sign In with Apple reduces the places where users can use Sign In with Apple and exposes them to greater security and privacy risks,” cautioned ODIF’s Nat Sakimura.

OIDF didn’t leave Apple twisting in the wind, however. Its team put together a checklist of recommended code modifications Apple could employ to close any gaps between Sign In with Apple and OpenID Connect. 

Should you use Sign In with Apple?

For the moment, the next step is open-ended and sitting on Apple’s desk. As you might expect, Apple has rigorously defended Sign In with Apple, and there’s no guarantee that the company will respond to OIDF’s clarion call.

Nonetheless, if a consumer decides to use Sign In with Apple, they’re promised, for one thing, that Apple won't use the tool to track internet activity, a plus that the company says it has over Google and Facebook’s single log-in widgets.

Another consumer plum is that if a user decides not to share their personal information, any site or app that requests the consumer’s email will instead be given a unique, Apple-generated email address that those messages will be forwarded to, in essence masking their true identity.

"The concept of being able to sign in without using a real email address is a step in the right direction for consumers,” was the take of Ray Walsh, data privacy expert at ProPrivacy.com, and part of an expert panel Engadget asked for its consumer take on the situation. 

“Being able to sign in without sharing a real email address removes one crucial bit of data from those services' hands. However, web services still get to collect other crucial data from users when they visit their sites -- which can still be used to track them. When you visit a website, that service automatically receives your IP address; this is an extremely valuable tracking tool. Thus, Sign in with Apple is only removing one small piece of trackable data from the equation."

Dana Simberkoff -- chief risk, privacy, and information security officer at AvePoint -- explained that the feature could be good for both Apple and consumers.: "If it's done right, not only [is it] a win for Apple but also a win for consumers that may be able to take advantage of a more privacy-centric sign-in option,” she said.

Florian Schaub, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, agrees that the consumer comes out a winner with Apple’s single sign-on process. "The ability to easily generate random email addresses and Apple handling the management of those credentials will make it much easier for consumers to protect their personal information when interacting with mobile apps and online services,” he said.

“It's interesting to see Apple take on the well-established single sign-on offerings by Google, Facebook and others but with a focus on making it easier for people to protect their privacy. It will of course require you to trust Apple to stay true to its promise and not track or analyze with which services you have accounts and how often you log in to those."

Among the laundry list of nuances and updates Apple unveiled at its WWDC 2019 earlier this month, one was Sign In with Apple, a privacy-oriented feature al...
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Apple says new round of Chinese tariffs would lower its economic contribution

The tech giant says the threatened tariffs would hurt its ability to contribute to the U.S. economy

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Apple said the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on Chinese goods could result in “a reduction of Apple’s U.S. economic contribution.” The company said the new round of tariffs could also have an impact on its global competitiveness.

“The Chinese producers we compete with in global markets do not have a significant presence in the U.S. market, and so would not be impacted by U.S. tariffs. Neither would our other major non-U.S. competitors. A U.S. tariff would, therefore, tilt the playing field in favor of our global competitors,” the letter said.

The letter was filed during the seven-day public comment period for proposed tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese goods. Apple, which is expected to launch its new iPhones in September, says the tariffs in question would impact almost all of its devices, including the iPhone, MacBook, AirPods, and Apple Watch.

"We urge the US government not to impose tariffs on these products," the company said.

If the tariffs go into effect, Apple is considering moving between 15 and 30 percent of its hardware production out of China to avoid them, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

China’s top technology company Huawei has also been feeling the effects of the Trump administration’s trade talks. Earlier this week, the company warned investors that its smartphone shipments could fall by 40 million to 60 million as a result of America’s trade dispute with China.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Apple said the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on Chinese goods could result in “a redu...
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Apple adds Best Buy to list of authorized third-party repair locations

Trained Best Buy technicians now offer ‘expert service and repairs’ of iPhones and other Apple devices

Apple announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Best Buy to expand its repair coverage beyond its own stores.Consumers can now have their Apple devices repaired at almost 1,000 Best Buy locations.

The tech giant says 7,600 “newly Apple-certified technicians” (trained Geek Squad employees) now offer same-day repairs at many Best Buy locations.

“At Apple, we’re dedicated to providing the best customer service in the world,” Apple Care VP Tara Bunch said in a press release. “If a customer ever needs to repair their products, we want them to feel confident those repairs are done safely and correctly.”

Tripling repair center locations

Combined with Apple’s existing authorized third-party service locations, the latest partnership brings the number of U.S. locations that offer repairs on iPhones and other devices to 1,800. Apple said that figure is three times higher than it was just three years ago.

“We’re always looking at how we can reliably expand our network of trained technicians and we’re excited to partner with every Best Buy store so it’s even easier for our customers to find an authorized repair location near them,” Bunch said.

Apple says its partnership with Best Buy will put Apple-certified technicians in closer range of consumers in locations such as Yuma, Arizona; Sioux City, Iowa; Twin Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Bismarck, North Dakota, where its retail stores aren’t as conveniently located.

Eight out of ten Apple customers will now be within 20 minutes of an authorized service provider, Apple said.

Apple announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Best Buy to expand its repair coverage beyond its own stores.Consumers can now have their Apple device...
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Apple’s iOS 13 update includes feature to prolong battery life

The new feature slows the rate of battery aging by reducing the time the device spends fully charged

Apple’s iOS 13 update, set to launch for iPhones this fall, includes a feature that will extend battery life by preventing the device from overcharging.

On its website, Apple explains that the new feature -- dubbed “optimized battery charging” -- works by getting to know a user’s daily charging habits.

“iPhone uses on-device machine learning to understand your daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use it,” the company said. For the remaining 20 percent, the phone switches to a slower “trickle charge” which “eases the electrical current to extend battery lifespan.”

Consumers will have the option of enabling or disabling Apple’s upcoming battery-extending feature.

Improving battery performance

Throughout 2018, Apple faced criticism over the way it handled the update that slowed down older iPhones to preserve battery life. Lawsuits filed by iPhone customers claimed Apple deliberately slowed down aging phones in order to drive sales of new iPhones.

Apple has maintained that the performance management feature introduced with iOS updates 10.2.1 and 11.2 was meant to “improve customers’ user experience” by extending the life of their phone battery.

In the wake of the battery throttling debacle, the company added an option that lets users check on the health of their phone’s lithium-ion battery. Apple also dropped the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements and vowed to be “clearer and more upfront” with users about whether a software update could affect the performance of their iPhone.

Apple’s iOS 13 update, set to launch for iPhones this fall, includes a feature that will extend battery life by preventing the device from overcharging....
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Apple facing lawsuit from developers over App Store monopoly

The suit claims that Apple's 30 percent commission and $99 annual developer fee has cut unlawfully into developers’ potential earnings

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit from two app developers who accuse the company of using its App Store monopoly to charge “profit-killing” commissions. The complaint filed on Tuesday claims Apple’s practice of imposing a 30 percent commission on all app sales is anticompetitive and “sets the stage for Apple to abuse its market power.”

Additionally, the suit contends that Apple’s rules of pricing apps at a minimum of $0.99 and charging developers an annual “developer fee” of $99 are "especially damaging to smaller and new developers."

"Between Apple's 30 percent cut of all App Store sales, the annual fee of $99 and pricing mandates, Apple blatantly abuses its market power to the detriment of developers, who are forced to use the only platform available to them to sell their iOS app," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, the law firm that filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

"In a competitive landscape, this simply would not happen,” Berman continued. "Today's lawsuit seeks to force Apple to end its abusive monopoly and allow competition in the distribution of iOS apps and related products, to get rid of its pricing mandates, and to reimburse developers for overcharges made through abuse of its monopoly power."

Antitrust complaints

The latest suit comes less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that a group of iPhone owners can proceed with their class action case against Apple, which also claims the company violated antitrust rules by taking a 30 percent cut of sales in its app marketplace.

The suit says consumers have been harmed by Apple’s practice of taking a cut of sales because the company doesn’t allow users to download apps from any platform other than its official App Store.

Apple made an effort to have the case dismissed by noting that developers set the price of their own apps and that it’s merely an intermediary. Since customers technically buy their apps from developers, Apple said only consumers should be able to sue developers.

However, the court didn’t side with Apple.

“We disagree. The plaintiffs purchased apps directly from Apple and therefore are direct purchasers,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the court’s four liberal justices in the decision. “Apple’s line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits.”  

The latest developer suit also takes issue with Apple’s practices and seeks to mitigate its App Store monopoly.

"We think app developers should be rewarded fairly for their creations, not over-taxed by a corporate giant," Berman said. "After 11 years of monopoly conduct and profits, we think it's high time that a court examine Apple's practices on behalf of iOS app developers and take action as warranted by the law and facts."

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit from two app developers who accuse the company of using its App Store monopoly to charge “profit-killing” commissions. Th...
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Apple to break iTunes into three separate apps

The platform will be replaced by three apps called Music, Podcasts, and TV

Apple announced Monday that it’s breaking up iTunes and replacing it with three standalone apps called Music, TV, and Podcasts.

The decision to dismantle the music-media platform, which launched with the first batch of iPods in 2003, was revealed at Apple’s annual developer's conference in California. Apple’s VP of Engineering, Craig Federighi, hinted that consumers have expressed interest in a version of iTunes that is capable of doing more.

“Customers love iTunes and everything it can do. But if there’s one thing we hear over and over, it’s can iTunes do even more?,” he said.

Splitting up the iTunes workload

Each of the apps that are set to take the place of iTunes will manage a portion of the workload formerly shouldered entirely by iTunes, with a few additions.

The Music app will primarily offer music and personalized recommendations; the Podcasts app will enable users to search with the help of machine learning; and the TV app will feature a combination of content from networks such as HBO and Showtime and original content from Apple.

Users will still be able to buy and download songs through Apple’s Music app, and movies and TV shows can be purchased in the TV app. Previous purchases and media libraries will be maintained in each new app on Mac computers, a spokesperson told CNN Business.

The change, slated to be implemented later this year, means users soon won’t see iTunes automatically pop up when they sync their iPhone, iPod, or iPad. The device will instead sync via the sidebar in Finder on Macs.

Apple announced Monday that it’s breaking up iTunes and replacing it with three standalone apps called Music, TV, and Podcasts.The decision to dismantl...
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Apple hauled into court over disclosing iTunes users’ personal data

A lawsuit claims the company didn’t honor its privacy promise

Three Apple iTunes users have filed a lawsuit against the company for purportedly disclosing -- and selling -- their listening habits, purchases, and personal data to advertisers without getting their consent.

The rub is simple: in the plaintiff’s mind, Apple didn’t practice what it preached in an Apple billboard reading “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”

Apple’s ad seems innocent enough given that it ran only in Las Vegas and was riffing on Vegas’ tourism line, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” However, Apple made a blunder when it also pointed to Apple.com/privacy in the ad. On that site, the company clearly says that every Apple product “is designed from the ground up to protect [user] information. And to empower you to choose what you share and with whom.”  

That mantra is widely used. Only a few weeks ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook kept that consumer promise alive when he said Apple doesn’t want consumers’ data.

The disgruntled iTunes users are from Rhode Island and Michigan, states that have laws in place that protect records of entertainment purchases. In their lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, the plaintiffs claim that iTunes’ disclosure of consumers’ personal data is not only illegal, but also alarming because it allows the company to target “vulnerable members of society.”

“For example, any person or entity could rent a list with the names and addresses of all unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000 who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application,” the lawsuit points out. “Such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed.”

Spy Tunes

Whether Apple can prove its intentions weren’t as marauding as Facebook’s has been, there is evidence that the company has made similar missteps before.

“A person’s taste in media can be highly personal, yet all of Apple’s more than 10 billion song and 200 million TV and movie downloads are potentially traceable by the George Smileys of the world the world’s spies, stalkers, yellow journalists, and opposition researchers,” wrote Andrew McAfee, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) back in 2011. (Author’s note: Smiley is a spy in John le Carré novels.)

“Of course, this is nowhere near as big a deal as privacy holes in online health or financial information would be, so we should keep this issue in perspective. But it is an issue, I think.”

Whether Apple is speaking out of both sides of its mouth is something for judge and jury to decide, but it’s possible the company might use existing language in the company’s advertising and privacy policy as a shield.

“To ensure ads are relevant, Apple’s advertising platform creates groups of people, called segments, who share similar characteristics and uses these groups for delivering targeted ads. Information about you is used to determine which segments you are assigned to, and thus, which ads you receive. To protect your privacy, your information is used to place you into segments of at least 5,000 people,” Apple states in that policy.

Calling out the tech industry

It’s interesting to note that while Apple may be the one in the lawsuit’s crosshairs, the plaintiffs pull other companies into the mix, spreading the blame across the larger tech landscape.  

“Apple is not alone in jeopardizing its subscribers’ privacy and well-being in exchange for increased revenue: disclosing subscriber information to data aggregators, data appenders, data cooperatives, direct marketers, and other third parties is a widespread practice in the publishing industry.”

Three Apple iTunes users have filed a lawsuit against the company for purportedly disclosing -- and selling -- their listening habits, purchases, and perso...
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Apple announces updated iPod touch

The new iPod touch features ‘enhancements to power, capability and communication’

Apple on Tuesday introduced an updated version of its iPod touch. The latest iteration of the device contains an A10 Fusion chip which makes the device “twice as fast as before” and gives it the ability to handle Group FaceTime calls and augmented reality apps, according to the company.

The release of the upgraded product comes a full four years after Apple debuted the first version of its iPod touch. In addition to getting faster A10 Fusion Chips, Apple has announced that it’s rolling out a new Touch model that boasts 256 GB of storage for consumers who want more storage capacity.

The device remains the same in terms of appearance, with a physical home button and a four-inch screen. However, the internally-refreshed device is still cheaper than most newer iPhones.

The iPod touch is available now for $199 with a 32GB capacity, $299 for 128GB, and $399 for the 256GB model.

“We’re making the most affordable iOS device even better with performance that is twice as fast as before, Group FaceTime and augmented reality starting at just $199,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing, said in a statement. “The ultra-thin and lightweight design of iPod touch has always made it ideal for enjoying games, music and so much more wherever you go.”

Apple on Tuesday introduced an updated version of its iPod touch. The latest iteration of the device contains an A10 Fusion chip which makes the device “tw...
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Apple vows to inform consumers if an update will slow down their iPhone

The company has pledged to be ‘clearer and more upfront’ with users

Last year, Apple faced criticism and numerous lawsuits after it came to light that it failed to inform owners of older iPhones that a software update might slow down their devices.

Now, Apple has promised UK watchdog Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it will “be clearer and more upfront” with users about whether a software update could affect the performance of their iPhone.

The group noted that Apple has "already started to be more upfront with iPhone users” in the wake of the iPhone slowdown controversy, but yesterday’s pledge "locks the firm into formal commitments always to notify people when issuing a planned software update if it is expected to materially change the impact of performance management on their phones,” the CMA said Wednesday.

Greater transparency

Additionally, Apple has vowed to give iPhone owners easier access to information about battery health and unexpected shutdowns, as well as guidance on how they can optimize the health of their phone’s lithium-ion battery.

“This could help people improve the performance of their own handset after a planned software update by, for example, changing settings, adopting the low power mode or replacing the battery - rather than resorting to having their phone repaired or replaced,” CMA explained. “The firm has agreed to do this both for current and future iPhones.”

Apple has maintained that the performance management feature introduced with iOS updates 10.2.1 and 11.2 was meant to “improve customers’ user experience” by prolonging the life of their aging phone battery.

In early 2018, Apple apologized for the way it handled the update and then took several steps to mitigate consumer frustration. Those steps included dropping the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements and adding a new Battery Health menu in iOS 11.3 to “further assist our customers and help extend the life of their iPhones.”

The CMA said on its website that Apple has now agreed to “improve the information it provides to people about the battery health of their phones and the impact performance management software may have on their phones” in order to comply with consumer law.

Last year, Apple faced criticism and numerous lawsuits after it came to light that it failed to inform owners of older iPhones that a software update might...
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Apple to pay Qualcomm up to $4.7 billion as part of settlement

A resolution was reached in part because Apple needs chips that will connect new iPhones to 5G

In its second-quarter earnings report, Qualcomm revealed that it will get between $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion from the deal it reached with Apple to resolve its years-long patent royalty dispute.

The two companies agreed on terms of a settlement early during an April trial, putting an end to a dispute that had been brewing since 2017.

The legal battle started when Apple argued that Qualcomm was abusing its position as a dominant supplier to charge “exorbitant” fees for patent licensing. Apple then began using Intel chips, which prompted Qualcomm to push to get iPhone imports banned in several countries for patent infringement.

Apple needed 5G chips

Apple had little choice but to settle with Qualcomm because it needed 5G modem chips for its 5G iPhones, according to Bloomberg. Apple originally planned to use Intel chips but determined they wouldn’t be ready in time for the 2020 release of the devices.

“If they didn’t settle with Qualcomm soon they’d miss next year’s product,” Mike Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, told the publication. “Building their own baseband will take years and Intel is behind. Maybe that was the final thing that got this done.”

In addition to requiring a one-time payment from Apple, the settlement calls for the two companies to enter into a six-year licensing agreement, as well as a "multiyear" wireless chipset supply agreement. The $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion Apple will pay Qualcomm will include "cash payment from Apple and the release of related liabilities,” Qualcomm said, according to Axios.

“We are also pleased to have reached multi-year agreements with Apple and look forward to continuing to support them as a customer,” Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in a statement.

In its second-quarter earnings report, Qualcomm revealed that it will get between $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion from the deal it reached with Apple to reso...
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Apple removes rival parental control apps, prompting accusations of anticompetitive practices

The tech giant says the apps were pulled because they pose privacy and security risks

Apple over the weekend pulled 11 out of 17 of the most-downloaded screen time and parental control apps from its App Store because they put user privacy and security at risk, according to a New York Times report.

The report suggested that the tech giant engaged in anti-competitive behaviors by removing the apps because, in doing so, Apple snuffed out rivals to its own Screen Time software.

In an effort to shed light on why the apps were removed, Apple published a statement on its website explaining that the apps were abusing a kind of technology called Mobile Device Management (MDM). The tech giant stressed that use of the technology, which can give an app developer access to a range of sensitive user information, “is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device.”

“Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” Apple said.

The company noted that one of its App Store guidelines states that apps “should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description.” MDM aren’t intended to be used to track and limit phone use, Apple said.

Accusations of anti-competitive practices

In response to Apple’s move, two developers (Qustodio and Kidslox) filed complaints with the European Union’s competition office, arguing that Apple forced them to modify their apps in a way that would make them less useful in comparison to Apple’s parental controls, according to the Times.

Spotify has also recently accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive practices and limiting consumer choice on its Apple Music platform. In March, CEO Daniel Ek argued in an antitrust complaint that Apple forces rival streaming services to compete with Apple Music by charging a 30 percent tax on in-app purchases.

Earlier this year, Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren outlined a plan to prevent large tech companies like Apple from engaging in anti-competitive practices. To keep tech giants from stifling competition, she proposed designating large tech platforms as “platform utilities” and appointing regulators committed to reversing illegal and anticompetitive tech mergers.

“Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants,” Warren said.

Apple over the weekend pulled 11 out of 17 of the most-downloaded screen time and parental control apps from its App Store because they put user privacy an...
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Apple apologizes to consumers experiencing issues with MacBook keyboards

Consumers have complained that the company’s butterfly keyboards have unresponsive keys

On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook.

“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

Apple added that the “vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard” before stating that consumers who are still experiencing keyboard issues should contact Apple Support.

Apple’s apology was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which published a story on Wednesday that let readers choose whether to view the story with or without e’s and/or r’s in order to see the impact of a keyboard that isn’t working properly.

Criticism over keyboards

Apple unveiled its “butterfly” keyboard in 2015, advertising it as being “refined for greater comfort and responsiveness” compared to its standard “scissor” design. However, users began noticing that the keyboards tended to start malfunctioning after being exposed to dirt or dust.

A lawsuit filed last May alleged that the company’s “butterfly” keyboards are “prone to fail.”

“As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing,” the suit said.

Over 35,000 people have also signed a Change.org petition asking for Apple to recall the flawed keyboards.

In 2018, Apple updated its keyboards to include a new part inside each key designed to keep dust and other particles out. However, the company never confirmed that the improvement was related to keyboard issues.

On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook. “We are aware...
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Apple TV+ to launch this Fall

Apple’s new streaming platform will feature exclusive programming

At a special event on Monday, Apple announced that its new streaming service, called “Apple TV+,” will be launching this Fall in more than 100 countries.

No pricing details were given, but the company said its forthcoming subscription service “will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more.”

  • Steven Spielberg will be leading a reboot of the sci-fi series Amazing Stories;

  • Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell will be in a comedy/drama about a TV morning news show which focuses on male-female dynamics at work;

  • Jason Momoa will star in a drama/horror series called See;

  • Kumail Nanjiani will produce a show about immigrants and children of immigrants;

  • Oprah will be producing two documentaries for the service;

  • Sesame Workshop is teaming up with Apple to develop a new show called Helpsters that helps kids learn computer coding skills.

Several big-name talents were present at the “It’s Showtime” event to speak about their new projects, but no trailers were shown.

Apple promised that subscribers to the new platform will “enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.” New programming will be added every month.

Apple TV+ will work on the TV app for iOS and Apple TV, on the Mac via a TV app to be released later this year, and on smart TVs that can now run Apple's software.

Additional details to come

The tech giant provided a few details about projects that are currently in the works but left several questions unanswered. For example, Apple didn’t say which shows will go live at the launch of the service or if its lineup of shows will be distributed all at once or weekly.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, described the initial unveiling as a “sneak peak of Apple TV+” and added that the company “cannot wait” for viewers to tune in starting this fall.

“Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet,” Cue said in a press release. Apple said pricing and availability for Apple TV+ will be announced later this fall.

Crowded streaming market

Apple’s new streaming product will enter into a crowded streaming market -- one that is causing many consumers to experience “subscription fatigue.”

“Consumers may be entering a time of subscription fatigue,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte, which last week released its latest Digital Media Trends survey. The survey found that nearly half of consumers felt there are too many options and too many monthly fees to keep track of.

Media companies eyeing a piece of the streaming market share need to “keep a close eye on consumer frustrations, including advertising overload and data privacy concerns,” Wescott said.

At a special event on Monday, Apple announced that its new streaming service, called “Apple TV+,” will be launching this Fall in more than 100 countries....
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Apple testing sleep-tracking functionality for Apple Watch

The company could add it to the device as early as 2020 if tests are successful

Apple is currently testing a built-in sleep tracking functionality for the Apple Watch, Bloomberg reports. If the tests are successful, a source says the company plans to add the functionality to the Watch by 2020.

Bloomberg notes that Apple will have to increase the battery life of the Apple Watch or figure out a way to run the sleep-tracking functionality in low-power mode while the person sleeps. Alternatively, the company could also just ask users to charge their battery in the morning.

“Each Apple Watch model to date is advertised as being able to last a day with the need to charge it each night,” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote. “In comparison, Fitbit’s watches with sleep tracking are marketed as being able to last as long as a week on one charge.”

New health- and fitness-related functionalities for the Apple Watch are put through “rigorous testing at labs around its campus,” Bloomberg said.

“The company also conducts in-house testing for new sensors on exercise equipment such as treadmills and bikes and has analyzed the Watch’s swim-tracking feature with testers at on-site swimming pools,” according to the publication. “The company also has testing chambers to mimic outside weather conditions and monitor users’ breathing and perspiration.”

Focusing on health

Adding a sleep-tracking functionality to the Apple Watch would expand its lineup of health and fitness tracking offerings. The Apple Watch already informs users if their heart rate has reached an unusually high or low rate and can detect irregular rhythms that could indicate risk for atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The company has also modified its Health App to allow users to view parts of their medical records. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple may be aiming to allow patients to share their health information with other health apps.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said health will likely be the company’s greatest contribution to mankind.

“If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health,” Cook said in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

Apple is currently testing a built-in sleep tracking functionality for the Apple Watch, Bloomberg reports. If the tests are successful, a source says the c...
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Group FaceTime still not working properly for all users

Users have noticed a minor bug still affecting the service

After word began spreading of the presence of an eavesdropping bug on FaceTime, Apple released an update that included a fix. However, Group FaceTime calls are still not working as intended for all iOS users, even under the iOS 12.1.4 update, MacRumors has reported.

Some users are finding that it’s not possible to switch from a standard FaceTime call to a group video chat because the option to “Add Person” isn’t available. Apple is reportedly aware of the issue but hasn’t provided a timeline for when it will be fixed.

Until a fix is released, those who run Official Apple Support Twitter accounts have suggested that users start their Group FaceTime sessions with "at least two additional" people.

The original bug

Apple was first alerted to the original FaceTime flaw at the end of January. The bug allowed callers to hear and see the person on the other end before they accepted the call.  

It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when reports of the bug began spreading on social media, that the company addressed the flaw. Apple disabled the feature earlier this month and issued the following statement:

"We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix," the company said. “We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”

The iOS 12.1.4 update re-enabled Group FaceTime and fixed a “logic issue” in the service with “improved state management,” according to its release notes.

“Apple is actively working on iOS 12.2 Beta which has not yet seen the addition of the patch for Group FaceTime, but we'd expect them to address the ongoing bugs in a later 12.2 beta release,” MacRumors said.

After word began spreading of the presence of an eavesdropping bug on FaceTime, Apple released an update that included a fix. However, Group FaceTime calls...
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Apple to launch Health Records feature for veterans

The feature will allow veterans to see their medical information in the Health App

Apple has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs to enable veterans to see their medical records -- including allergies, known conditions, medications, procedures, and more -- on the iPhone Health Records app.

“We have great admiration for veterans, and we’re proud to bring a solution like Health Records on iPhone to the veteran community,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “It’s truly an honor to contribute to the improved healthcare of America’s heroes.”

The tech giant said the new feature for veterans is coming “soon,” but it didn’t say if the access would come by way of an iOS update.

Betting on healthcare

Last March, Apple announced that iPhone users at more than 100 hospitals and clinics across the country would be able to access parts of their medical records through the Health app. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple may be aiming to allow patients to share their health information with other health apps.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said health will likely be the company’s greatest contribution to mankind.

“If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health,” Cook said in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

Apple said the goal of its forthcoming feature for veterans is to “empower people to better understand and improve their health, enabling them to view their medical information from multiple providers in one place easily and securely.”

“We’re excited to bring this feature to veterans across the US,” said Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of Technology.

Apple has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs to enable veterans to see their medical records -- including allergies, known conditions, medic...
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Apple to issue fix for FaceTime bug next week

The company said it’s ‘committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate’ reports of bugs

Apple has apologized for the FaceTime privacy vulnerability that became public news on Monday after having been discovered by a user and reported to the company more than a week prior.

The bug allowed callers to hear the person on the other line before they agreed to accept the call. If the recipient tried to block the call or turn off the device, their video camera would automatically begin recording. That video would then be sent back to the caller.

Apple disabled group FaceTime as a temporary fix, but only after reports of the bug had been shared widely in the media. The company had originally become aware of the flaw more than a week before it became public.

More permanent fix to come

On Friday, Apple said it will roll out a fixed version of the group calling feature next week.

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week," the company said in a statement.

The tech giant credited the family of a 14-year-old boy who helped discover the flaw and report it to Apple.

"We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process,” Apple said.

Slow response to the issue

Earlier this week, New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office would be opening an investigation on the bug -- specifically, Apple’s lag time in informing consumers of the flaw.

“We’re launching an investigation into Apple’s failure to warn consumers about the FaceTime privacy breach & their slow response to addressing the issue,” James said. “New Yorkers shouldn't have to choose between their private communications & their privacy rights.”

In its Friday statement, Apple attempted to win back consumers’ trust by saying that it’s “committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports.”

"We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix," the company said. “We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”

Apple has apologized for the FaceTime privacy vulnerability that became public news on Monday after having been discovered by a user and reported to the co...
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New York Attorney General to investigate how Apple is handling the FaceTime bug

The probe will center on the company’s slow response to the privacy flaw

New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday the launch of a probe into the recently discovered FaceTime bug.

The bug -- which was discovered by iPhone users and not security researchers -- enabled callers to hear the person on the other line before they had agreed to accept the call. If the recipient tried to block the call or turn off the device, their video camera automatically began recording. That video would then be sent back to the caller.

“The damage potential here is real. You can listen in to soundbites of any iPhone user’s ongoing conversation without them ever knowing that you could hear them,” 9to5Mac wrote on Monday. “Until Apple fixes the bug, it’s not clear how to defend yourself against this attack either aside from disabling FaceTime altogether.”

Slow response to the issue

Apple disabled the offending feature after it became public on Monday, but questions regarding the timeline for the deployment of the fix have lingered.

In its investigation, the Attorney General’s office will be focusing on Apple’s slow response to the FaceTime bug. A consumer first reported the bug to Apple more than a week before it was shared widely in the media.

“We’re launching an investigation into Apple’s failure to warn consumers about the FaceTime privacy breach & their slow response to addressing the issue,” James said. “New Yorkers shouldn't have to choose between their private communications & their privacy rights.”

The Attorney General’s office will be evaluating Apple’s actions in relation to the laws set forth by the State of New York, James noted.

“We must use every tool at our disposal to ensure that consumers are always protected,” she added.

New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday the launch of a probe into the recently discovered FaceTime bug.The bug -- which w...
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Apple promises to fix eavesdropping FaceTime bug sometime later this week

A bug in the app allows callers to hear and see people who did not accept calls

People who own iPhones have noticed a disturbing phenomenon. When they make calls on the FaceTime app, they can hear the person on the other line before the recipient has agreed to accept the call.

And if the recipient tries to block the call or turn off the device, their video camera automatically turns on, unbeknownst to the person being recorded.  A video is then sent back to the caller.

The discovery wasn’t made by a security research firm, but by iPhone users who caught the flaw and posted videos on social media to demonstrate how it works. The Apple news site 9to5mac.com then successfully recreated the bug using two iPhones that run on Apple’s 12.1 operating systems.

“The damage potential here is real. You can listen in to soundbites of any iPhone user’s ongoing conversation without them ever knowing that you could hear them,” the publication wrote on Monday. “Until Apple fixes the bug, it’s not clear how to defend yourself against this attack either aside from disabling FaceTime altogether.”

Issues surfaces on Data Privacy Day

The discovery came on January 28, the same date as Data Privacy Day, a holiday created by tech industry giants to celebrate privacy. Or the idea of privacy, anyway.  

“On this #DataPrivacyDay let us all insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Monday, in celebration of the holiday.

In practice, Apple seems not particularly excited about tackling this privacy issue. As consumers began sounding alarms about the eavesdropping bug, an Apple spokesman told reporters that “we’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”

With no specific date provided by Apple as to when the problem will be fixed, Apple experts and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have urged people to disable their FaceTime app to avoid being unknowingly recorded by people on the other line.

"The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk," Cuomo said in a statement.

As of Monday evening, Apple appeared to disable the group chatting feature on FaceTime.

People who own iPhones have noticed a disturbing phenomenon. When they make calls on the FaceTime app, they can hear the person on the other line before th...
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Apple to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases

The company altered its guidelines to make it possible

Apple has altered its App Store Guidelines to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases to friends and family, according to MacRumors. The company previously prevented users from doing so.

Prior to the change, Apple said apps "should not directly or indirectly enable gifting of in-app purchase content, features or consumable items to others."

On Wednesday, Apple tweaked its guidelines to say, “Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others." The tech giant notes that the gifts can only be refunded to the original purchaser and cannot be exchanged.

Since the gifting policy is new to Apple, it’s not yet clear how the company plans to implement the change.

Currently, users can gift an app to someone else by tapping the three dots icon next to its price and selecting the “Gift App” option from the menu. From there, the recipient will be sent an email with a credit for the app.

Apart from making the revision to section 3.1 of its guidelines, Apple hasn’t provided details on how in-app gifting will be handled. The company is expected to offer more information about gifting support for in-app purchases in the near future.

Apple has altered its App Store Guidelines to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases to friends and family, according to MacRumors. The company previousl...
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iPhone users report major headaches with cellular data not working

If you haven’t upgraded to the newest version of iOS, wait until the coast is clear

Apple woke up on Monday to a giant problem attributed to its latest iPhone operating software update. Forbes reported that iOS 12.1.1 is "killing" the data of many iPhone users and forcing them to go online via WiFi.

"Major issues using cellular data," and "I’m concerned that this is potentially a bigger issue than just iOS 12.1.1" commented frustrated users on Twitter.

Gordon Kelly, Forbes’ consumer tech reporter, deduced that with more than a billion iPhones in active use, the issue "is clearly having a sizeable impact on a number of users."

Apple’s newest iPhone software had good intentions -- stability improvements for dictation, DoNotDisturb upgrades, the ability to make iPhone use "less addictive," and FaceTime improvements among them -- yet, the company apparently failed to heed reported issues from users and released the update anyway.

"Consequently, I would advise anyone who has yet to upgrade to iOS 12.1.1 to do so cautiously," Kelly wrote. "With any minority problem, the odds are on your side that you will escape unharmed, but those who are affected are hit with one of the worst problems a smartphone owner can have."

What to do

While this problem can be a giant hassle, it’s not Apple’s modus operandi to leave issues like this unmet.

In fact, the company is already addressing the problem on its Twitter channel.

"We want to help resolve any issues you may be experiencing with iOS 12.1.1. Have you noticed whether these issues seem to be happening only with certain apps? Please DM us the answer here to get started," the company tweeted. Its support team is available every day to answer your questions, from 5am-8pm PST, on the company’s Twitter channel.

Should you be worried?

While the company won’t "confirm security issues until an investigation has occurred and patches or releases are available," there are no reports that personal data has been breached as part of the issue iPhone users are experiencing.

ConsumerAffairs searched for proven fixes but was unable to find any that users claimed success with -- restarting and resetting network settings and rolling back the system software to a previous version among them.

If you have an iPhone that’s impacted by the data/WiFi issue, your best bets are to either a) be patient until Apple rolls out a fix; or b) contact Apple and ask for help.

However, if your operating system hasn’t been updated to 12.1.1, it may be wise to turn off "Automatic Updates" in your system settings until the problem has been corrected.

Apple woke up on Monday to a giant problem attributed to its latest iPhone operating software update. Forbes reported that iOS 12.1.1 is "killing" the data...
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Apple to launch ‘Entrepreneur Camp’ for female app developers

The company wants to provide mentoring to app-driven businesses owned or led by women

Apple has announced that, in January, it will launch a free app development program specifically for female entrepreneurs with app-driven businesses.

The two-week program, called Entrepreneur Camp, will give female app developers the opportunity to attend private coding sessions with Apple engineers, learn more about app design and marketing, and receive ongoing mentoring from an Apple Developer representative.

Apple says its immersive program was “designed to create new opportunities for app-driven businesses owned or led by women through an intensive technology lab.”

"Apple is committed to helping more women assume leadership roles across the tech sector and beyond," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We're proud to help cultivate female leadership in the app development community with the new Entrepreneur Camp, and we're inspired both by the incredible work that's already happening, and what's sure to come."

Focusing on female iOS developers

Those eligible to participate in the program must be part of a company that is female-founded, female co-founded, or female-led, and has at least one woman on the development team. The program is inclusive to transgender women. The company must also have a working app or prototype.

"It's a fact that women are underrepresented in the industry," Esther Hare, Apple senior director of worldwide developer marketing and executive sponsor of Women @ Apple, told CNET. "And there's a huge disparity [in the] entrepreneur world when it comes to access and funding. There's an opportunity to do more and give exposure to women-led businesses."

Apple is currently accepting applications for its first session, which will take place at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The pilot camp will be comprised of 10 companies, but a new session will be held each quarter with up to 20 participating companies.

In addition to receiving training and support, each company will get a free year in the Apple Developer program and two tickets to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for the following year.

Apple has announced that, in January, it will launch a free app development program specifically for female entrepreneurs with app-driven businesses.Th...
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Apple reports a defect affecting some iPhone X devices

If your phone is affected, Apple will fix it at no charge

If you seem to be experiencing a lack of response when you touch the screen of your iPhone X, it might not be your imagination.

Apple says it has determined that the displays on some of the phones may have touch issues because there is a component in the display module that might fail.

You know your phone is one of those affected if the display, or any part of it, does not respond or responds intermittently when you touch it. Apple says the defect can also cause the display to react at times that it wasn't touched.

If it's found that your iPhone X has the defect, Apple or an authorized Apple service provider will repair it at no charge. First, the phone will get a thorough inspection to make sure it's one of the affected models.

Breaking new ground

Apple introduced the iPhone X in September 2017 and broke new ground, both in regard to design and features as well as price. The iPhone X retailed for $1,000.

The X is encased in glass with a 5.8 inch Super Retina display with an enhanced camera and a Face ID system that can be used to unlock the phone and make payments. The device, however, was not without a few issues. In July, Alan of Albany, N.Y. contacted ConsumerAffairs to report repeated problems with his X.

"I have had an iPhone X for three months and am already on my third phone," Alan wrote in his post. "The facial recognition keeps malfunctioning. It also seems to freeze up and needs rebooting often."

A few months after its release, technology site CNET reported that the iPhone X appeared to be unusually fragile, primarily because of its glass back. It said the amount of surface that can break when subjected to impact is double that of the iPhone X predecessors.

Unknown number of devices are affected

Apple hasn't estimated how many iPhone X devices are affected by the faulty display component, but Forbes notes that the company did not say what it usually does when reporting an issue -- that the problem affects only a "small percentage" of devices.

Before taking your iPhone X in for service, Apple recommends that you back up your device to iTunes or iCloud first. If the device has other damage, such as a cracked screen, Apple says that issue will need to be resolved prior to the service.

Meanwhile, Apple says consumers who have already paid to replace their display module because of this defect can contact the company about getting a refund. The company provides full details here.

If you seem to be experiencing a lack of response when you touch the screen of your iPhone X, it might not be your imagination.Apple says it has determ...
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Apple will be able to throttle iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X

This week’s release of iOS 12.1 includes the tech giant’s ‘performance management feature’

Apple has added iPhone 8 and iPhone X models to its lineup of phones it may one day throttle to prolong battery life, despite having told U.S. senators in February that the controversial feature isn’t as necessary for these models.

In an update to its support page, first reported by The Verge, the company said the feature -- which Apple says is meant to prevent unexpected shutdowns -- has been expanded to 2017's iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.

“Additionally, users can see if the performance management feature that dynamically manages maximum performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns is on and can choose to turn it off,” Apple said.

“This feature applies to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus. Starting with iOS 12.1, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X include this feature, but performance management may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design.”

Can be disabled

Last year, Apple faced a great deal of backlash for not being upfront with consumers about the presence of the feature. In response to user discontent over its performance management feature, the tech giant introduced a cheaper battery replacement program.

The company was just recently hit with a $5.7 million fine from an Italian watchdog group for failing to tell consumers about the “essential” characteristics of the lithium-ion batteries in its phones.

Earlier this year, Apple told Congress that these newer iPhone models had “hardware updates” that would make throttling less necessary.

"iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance-management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown," Apple said at the time.

The feature did end up making it into the models after all, but it can be toggled off by entering the Battery Health section of Settings and disabling the Peak Performance Capability feature.

Apple has added iPhone 8 and iPhone X models to its lineup of phones it may one day throttle to prolong battery life, despite having told U.S. senators in...
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Apple users in U.S. can now download their personal data

The company has revamped its privacy portal to allow consumers to download data linked to their Apple ID

Consumers in the U.S. can now download a copy of the data Apple has stored about them.

The tech giant’s new privacy portal, which was unveiled on Wednesday, follows the May implementation of a European data-privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Under GDPR, consumers in Europe have the right to obtain a copy of data a company holds about them, rescind previously-given consent for a company to collect data about them, and request that data be deleted.

In an effort to bring the same privacy tools to consumers in the U.S., Apple has now fulfilled an earlier promise to offer a service that allows users to download a copy of all the personal data the company has about them that is linked to an Apple ID.

How to download your data

With its new privacy portal, Apple is giving U.S. users the ability to access the information held about them, delete information, pause an Apple.com account, or even shut it down.

Here’s how to retrieve data associated with a particular Apple ID account:

  • Go to Apple’s Privacy Portal.Sign in with your Apple ID and password and enter your two-factor authentication code if you have it enabled.

  • Request a copy of your data. Click on “Obtain a copy of your data” and select the data that you would like to download, or choose “select all” to download everything.

  • Go through the account verification steps. Apple must confirm that you are the account holder and may ask you a few additional verification questions. Once the data is compiled and ready to download (which can take up to seven days), you will get a notification and be sent a .zip file with the information.

Consumers in the U.S. can now download a copy of the data Apple has stored about them.The tech giant’s new privacy portal, which was unveiled on Wednes...
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Apple to donate Apple Watches to eating disorder study

A new study will use data from Apple Watches to help predict binge eating incidents

Apple is donating its Apple Watches to 1,000 participants of a new study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative.

The study, which will be conducted by the the University of North Carolina's medical school, aims to shed light on the underlying biological changes that cause a person to suffer from a binge eating disorder.

A person may be diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder, such as bulimia nervosa, if they slip into a pattern of binge eating and then purge or exercise to excess in an effort to compensate for the amount of calories they were unable to stop themselves from consuming.

Monitoring biological changes

The study will enroll 1,000 participants over the age of 18 who are stuck in this cycle of eating large amounts of food in a short period of time followed by a compensatory behavior.

Each participant will be given a free Apple Watch. They will also be instructed to sign up with a mobile app called Recovery Record, which will let them keep a digital log of their thoughts and feelings.

The data logged by the Apple Watch will allow researchers to see each participant’s heart rate, with the goal of spotting any sudden increases prior to binge eating episodes. Participants will also receive tests to analyze their genetics and bodily bacteria, which will be used by researchers to gain further insight into the causes of the disease.

"We need to collect data from a whole lot of people to see what it looks like," said Cynthia Bulik, founding director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and author of Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide. "We want to know if it has a biological and behavioral signature."

Predicting binge eating incidents

The researchers say the ultimate goal of the study is to observe a particular change that would enable them to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. With this information, a follow-up study could be designed to help set up some kind of alert when a person is at risk of binge eating.

"We're interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge," said Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of Recovery Record. "And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode."

At least 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. About 1 in 50 western women between 15 and 24 years old suffers from bulimia.

Apple is donating its Apple Watches to 1,000 participants of a new study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative.The study, whi...
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Apple files patent to detect spoofed calls on iPhones

With spam calls on the rise, Apple is seeking to come up with a solution

Apple has filed a patent called “Detection of spoofed call information,” which would enable iPhones to analyze whether an incoming call is legitimate, AppleInsider reports.

“A mobile device receives an invitation to commence a media session. The invitation may be from a legitimate caller or from a spoofing caller. The mobile device checks parameters using templates to evaluate a consistency of the invitation with respect to a database in the mobile device,” Apple said in its description of the patent.

If the system believes anyone has performed call spoofing on the inbound call, it will alert the user before they answer the call.

Cracking down on nuisance calls

News of the patent filing, which was initially made on April 5, 2017, comes a month after recent research showed a dramatic uptick in the number scam calls made to mobile phones.

Last month, a report by First Orion predicted that nearly half of all calls made to mobile phones in the U.S. will be scams by next year. The firm said the only way to curtail these calls is for the industry to come up with effective call protection solutions.

Phone spoofing is different from phone spam in that it’s considered an offense by the FCC. The practice refers to the manipulation of caller ID in ways that disguise the identity of the caller. Phone spoofing violations are subject to steep fines.

Nonetheless, Apple’s technology could represent a step in the right direction toward reducing the overall number of unwanted calls consumers receive. It’s worth noting that the company files numerous patents each week, so there’s a chance it may never become available.

Google has also expressed an interest in curbing spam and nuisance calls. At its “Made By Google” event this week, the tech giant unveiled a Call Screen feature that utilizes Google Assistant to help detect and block spam calls. The company also recently updated its phone app with the ability to send spam calls straight to voicemail.

Apple has filed a patent called “Detection of spoofed call information,” which would enable iPhones to analyze whether an incoming call is legitimate, Appl...
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Apple tells Congress there's no evidence its servers were bugged

The tech company has doubled down on its denial of last week’s Bloomberg story

Engineers at Apple have told Congress they have found no evidence of tampering with their servers purchased from Super Micro that would allow China to intercept data.

It follows the company's strong denial last week in response to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek story that circuit boards in the servers, obtained through a Chinese subcontractor, contained a tiny microchip giving the Chinese government access to data residing on the servers.

Reuters reports it obtained copies of letters Apple Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos wrote to the House and Senate committees on commerce. Both panels have said they planned to investigate the claims in the Bloomberg reports.

In the letter, Stathakopoulos said the claim had been thoroughly investigated, both before and after the article appeared. Reuters quotes the Apple executive as telling the committees that “Apple’s proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity. Nothing was ever found.”

Offers to brief committees

Stathakopoulos said he would be in Washington this week and offered to brief the staff of the committees on Apple's findings. At the time Bloomberg published its claims, Apple and Amazon both vigorously denied their servers had been compromised.

Apple said it was "deeply disappointed" that the Bloomberg reporters working on the story did not appear to consider the possibility their sources were wrong.

"Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs," the company said in the statement. "That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple."

Amazon was also adamant in its denial. In a statement, the company said that it had “found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications."

At the end of last week, Bloomberg said it stood by the substance of its story. It said the claim that a Chinese government entity had inserted a "bug" into a component widely used in servers was based on interviews with 17 anonymous sources.

Engineers at Apple have told Congress they have found no evidence of tampering with their servers purchased from Super Micro that would allow China to inte...
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The new iPhones are out. What do you do with your old one?

Patience may prove a virtue if you’re willing to wait a few months

Apple paraded out its new iPhone models on Friday. As the clock struck 8am local time around the world, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and Apple Watch Series 4 went on sale.

Buying -- and keeping up with -- technology has turned into a pricey game. When Apple released its first iPhone in 2007, the price was $499 for the 4 GB model and $599 for the 8 GB model. Now, customers are looking at nearly double that price if they want to buy the new iPhone XS with 64 GB.

Granted, the improvements Apple has made -- like fixes for the microphone and battery issues -- along with the bells and whistles it’s added over the years, make keeping up with the Joneses alluring. But, what about that older model iPhone you have? Does it have enough value to trade it in or sell it on the open market?

It depends.

ConsumerAffairs researched the values a consumer could expect to get from selling or trading in their old iPhones. If you trade your phone in directly to Apple, the values run from $70 for an iPhone 6 to $525 for the most recent iPhone X.

But it’s worth doing some shopping, as other online tech buyers might offer more. When ConsumerAffairs checked prices for that same iPhone 6 on certain exchange sites, we found better prices than those that Apple offered, but lower values than Apple was allowing for factory unlocked iPhone 7 models.

For consumers who are Apple diehards and wouldn’t give an Android phone the time of day, Apple has a program called the “iPhone Upgrade Program” which allows consumers to get a new iPhone every year with AppleCare+ included for as little as $37.41 a month.

Patience may be a virtue

MacWorld cautions against buying an iPhone the moment a new model is launched.

“You might be happy to wait a month or two after the launch and wait for supply to catch up with demand, and for any problems with the new phones to be identified and (hopefully) fixed,” wrote MacWorld’s Karen Haslam.

“We'd say that it's worth buying a new iPhone within nine months of it launching, but by June/July we'd recommend putting off your purchase until the autumn - unless your current iPhone is broken and won't tide you over for three or four more months. It is our experience that after the event the prices of the current-generation iPhones will drop. And if you're really not bothered about specs, you might be able to pick up an even older iPhone that Apple has discontinued as mobile phone companies discount those models to clear stock.”

Haslam also reminds consumers that Apple no doubt has a Black Friday promotion up their sleeve. While Apple might not drop prices on its phones, it’s possible the company may offer an additional gift card.

Thought about repurposing your old phone?

If you’re insulted by the prices companies are offering for older model smartphones, there are dozens of ways to turn them into something useful.

If you have Wi-Fi handy, phones can be repurposed into TV remotes, dedicated Skype stations, baby monitors, or even digital cookbooks.

“In general, it’s a good idea to keep an old smartphone as a backup in case your shiny new model breaks for any reason,” suggests BensBargains, “but you can certainly reuse it elsewhere in your life at the same time.”

Don’t forget the possible tax deduction

For consumers who are small business owners or use their phones for business purposes, buying a new phone might provide a tax deduction.

However, buyers should be aware of a caveat involved in pursuing that option.

“If people have used their phones for a business and have written off the cost on their taxes, they may be surprised to learn that the trade-in value is now considered taxable income,” wrote Morris Armstrong, an Enrolled Agent licensed by the IRS and tax practitioner, in comments to ConsumerAffairs.

“If a consumer bought an iPhone for $1,000 and took that amount as a tax deduction, then trades it in against a new model for, say, $400, that $400 is taxable income!”

Apple paraded out its new iPhone models on Friday. As the clock struck 8am local time around the world, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and Apple Watch Serie...
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Apple unveils newest iPhones and watch

The Apple Watch moves closer to becoming a medical device

Apple has introduced three new iPhone models and an updated Apple Watch. It's the watch that's creating the most buzz so far.

Called the Apple Watch Series 4, the redesigned and re-engineered watch takes another step closer to becoming a medical device. It includes a new accelerometer and gyroscope to detect hard falls, along with an electrical heart rate sensor that has earned a De Novo classification by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA worked with Apple

As Apple unveiled the new watch, the FDA released a statement from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb welcoming Apple's entry into the healthcare field, noting the new watch has two apps that consumers may find particularly useful.

"One app creates an electrocardiogram, similar to traditional electrocardiograms, to detect the presence of atrial fibrillation and regular heart rhythm, while the other app analyzes pulse rate data to identify irregular heart rhythms suggestive of atrial fibrillation and notify the user," Gottlieb said. "The FDA worked closely with the company as they developed and tested these software products, which may help millions of users identify health concerns more quickly."

The new Apple Watch with GPS alone will be available for pre-order in 26 countries and territories beginning Friday, September 14. The watch with GPS plus cellular will be available to order in 16 countries Friday. Both will be in stores Friday, September 21.

New iPhones

Apple has also introduced three new additions to its iPhone line-up -- the iPhone Xs, the iPhone Xs Max, and the iPhone XR. All three phones feature the all-screen design introduced with the iPhone X.

The phones are different sizes, ranging from 5.8 to 6.5 inches, and all three feature enhanced cameras, processors, and operating systems.

The iPhone Xs starts at $999, while the iPhone Xs Max starts at $1,099. The iPhone XR starts at $749.

The iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will be available for pre-order starting Friday, September 14, with availability beginning Friday, September 21 in more than 30 countries and territories.

The iPhone X will be available to pre-order beginning Friday, October 19 and in stores beginning Friday, October 26.

Apple has introduced three new iPhone models and an updated Apple Watch. It's the watch that's creating the most buzz so far.Called the Apple Watch Ser...
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Faulty logic boards causing some iPhone 8 devices to malfunction

Apple says it will fix affected units for free

Some iPhone 8 devices are malfunctioning as a result of a manufacturing defect. Apple has acknowledged the problem and issued a recall of iPhone 8 devices sold between September 2017 and March 2018.

The company said on its website that faulty logic boards are causing “a very small percentage” of iPhones sold during this time frame to unexpectedly restart, freeze the screen, or not turn on at all.

Consumers experiencing any of these problems can get the logic board in their device fixed for free, as long as the device in question is in original condition (meaning no physical damage, such as a cracked screen).

Apple said the affected devices were sold in the U.S., Australia, China, India, Japan, Macua, and New Zealand.

iPhone 8 owners can check to see if their device is affected by entering the unit’s serial code number on the company's website. To find the device's serial number, go into: Settings > General > About > Serial number.

Some iPhone 8 devices are malfunctioning as a result of a manufacturing defect. Apple has acknowledged the problem and issued a recall of iPhone 8 devices...
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Apple launching donation program to support National Parks

The company says its goal is to ‘leave the world better than we found it’

Starting August 24 and continuing through August 31, Apple customers will be able to support America’s National Parks by making a purchase using Apple Pay on apple.com, through the Apple Store app, or at the company’s retail locations in the United States.

For every purchase made, Apple is donating $1 to the National Park Foundation. Proceeds will support the National Park Foundation's mission to protect national parks through projects like habitat restoration and historic preservation, as well as with support programs like Open OutDoors for Kids, according to Apple.

“America's national parks are treasures everyone should experience, and we're proud to support them again this month by donating a dollar for every purchase made with Apple Pay at one of our stores,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

“These awe-inspiring places are our national inheritance, and Apple is doing our part to pass them on to future generations — just as extraordinary, beautiful and wild as we found them.”

Apple Watch activity challenge

Apple is also introducing a National Park-themed fitness challenge, which will start on September 1.

Apple Watch users who either walk, run, or do a wheelchair workout of 50 minutes or more will earn an Activity app award and stickers that are inspired by national parks. The challenge is in celebration of Redwood National Park’s 50th anniversary.

The App Store also plans to highlight apps designed to help users navigate and explore national parks. Apple ran similar initiatives last year.

Starting August 24 and continuing through August 31, Apple customers will be able to support America’s National Parks by making a purchase using Apple Pay...
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Apple tells lawmakers iPhones are not listening in on consumers

Policymakers are concerned about the privacy of users’ devices

In an effort to ensure consumers’ privacy when using their own devices, U.S. lawmakers recently stepped in and confronted both Apple and Alphabet.  

Back in July, Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper, and Robert Latta wrote a letter to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet’s chief executive Larry Page. The group expressed concerns about reports that users’ devices could “collect ‘non-triggered’ audio data from users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri.’”

This week, Apple formally reported that iPhones do not listen to consumers without their consent, and the company doesn’t allow third-party apps to do so either.

Apple wrote a letter back to Walden and his group, confirming that iPhones do not record users’ while waiting for Siri wake-up commands. Not only must apps clearly display a signal that they are listening to users, but users are also required to approve microphone access for all apps. Additionally, Apple confirmed that Siri does not share users’ spoken words.

According to a spokeswoman for the Republican majority on the House and Energy Committee, “both companies have been cooperative thus far. The Committee looks forward to reviewing and analyzing the responses as we consider next steps.”

Third-party apps

The lawmakers were concerned about Apple’s iPhones, but they also had reservations about third-party apps and their ability to record users.

In the letter to lawmakers, Apple confirmed that it had banned apps from the App Store due to violations of its privacy regulations. However, the company did not report whether or not it had banned any app developers. Additionally, Apple puts the onus on app developers to inform consumers when an app is removed due to privacy violations.

“Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer’s compliance with their own privacy policies or local law,” Apple wrote in the letter to lawmakers.

In an effort to ensure consumers’ privacy when using their own devices, U.S. lawmakers recently stepped in and confronted both Apple and Alphabet.  Bac...
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New iPhones could have chip delays after a major supplier is hit with a computer virus

Despite the setback, analysts say it won’t be a huge impact to Apple

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of Apple’s main suppliers for iPhone chips, was recently hit with a computer virus outbreak. While the company has warned that revenue will likely take a hit, shipment dates will also be affected.

The virus struck TSMC on Friday, forcing the company to shut down its semiconductor fabrication plants. TSMC publicly shared the news on Saturday, noting that third quarter revenue will likely be down three percent, or $255 million, from previous estimates.

TSMC reported that the virus occurred due to “misoperation” during the software installation process for a new tool. No confidential information was released or compromised, and though there have been no indications of any kind of cyber attack, analysts are pushing TSMC for more information on what exactly happened.

“In our view, ‘misoperation’ is simply not good enough an explanation,” said Fubon Research. “Although TSMC pointed out data integrity and confidential information were not compromised, we think TSMC needs to provide more details of what happened to alleviate the security concerns of customers and long-term investors.”

TSMC reported that 80 percent of its affected tools have been repaired, and the virus should be completely gone by today. Additionally, the company informed most of its customers of the issue but didn’t specify which customers had been notified.

TSMC and Apple

As one of TSMC’s biggest customers, Apple utilizes the company to create its A11 processors in the iPhone X. TSMC will also be producing the next generation A12 processor that is expected to be released in Apple’s newest phones later this year.

As of right now, analysts are unsure of the effect this virus will have on Apple and the production of its iPhones.

Fubon Research reported today that it expects 1.5 million to 1.7 million A12 chips will be delayed because of the virus, though the company is expected to produce 83 million units for iPhones in the second half of 2018.

“Since TSMC indicated the delayed shipment from this incident will be recovered in the following quarter, we think there will be no meaningful impact on Apple’s new coming iPhone,” Fubon said in the report.

Additionally, KGI analysts reported that an impact on iPhones would be minimal because the supply chain “usually prepares for these incidents and manufactures surplus chipsets during the initial ramp-up stage.”

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of Apple’s main suppliers for iPhone chips, was recently hit with a computer virus outbreak. While the c...
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Apple becomes first $1 trillion company

The firm's market cap reached a milestone on a strong earnings report

Apple, as a company, moved into rarefied air Thursday as it became the first American company to be worth $1 trillion.

A company's value, or market cap, is determined by multiplying the number of shares of the company by its stock price. Apple's market cap hit the $1 trillion mark when the stock rose to $207.04 a share. It reached an intraday high of $208.38 before closing at $207.39.

The catalyst for the move was a better than expected earnings report, issued at mid week. Apple did not increase its share of the smartphone market during the quarter, but it had stronger iPhone profits because it sold units at a higher average price. It also recorded gains in its growing services business.

Stock market guru Jim Cramer says Apple's value can go even higher because he says the firm shouldn't be valued like a tech company.

'It's a consumer products company'

"It's a consumer products company with the best devices ever, which is why it's got more customer loyalty than practically any other brand on earth," Cramer said on CNBC. "Yet the stock is much, much cheaper on an earnings basis ... than Clorox. If we simply valued Apple like the bleach maker, guess what?"

Cramer then suggested $300 a share isn't an unrealistic price for Apple. He said the company's recent success has come from its subscription services. He notes Apple now charges consumers a monthly fee to backup their data.

Revolutionary innovator

Apple has been a revolutionary innovator during the technology revolution, but has been far from an overnight success. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the company in Jobs' garage in Los Altos, Calif. The company struggled until it introduced the Macintosh, a self-contained personal computer, in the 1980s. The Mac was also the first personal computer to use a mouse for navigation.

The company had its ups and downs throughout the fast-changing 1990s, but Jobs returned to become CEO of Apple in 1997, putting it in the lead of product development. After introducing the iPod music player, Jobs unveiled the iPhone in 2007, which he predicted would change the world. (See video below)

Jobs died in 2011 and Wozniak left the company in 1985, though he remains as a co-founder and consultant.

“Of course I’m proud of Apple, but I don’t measure the world by human simplifications like round numbers,” Wozniak told Yahoo Finance. “A company is great because it is great.”

Apple, as a company, moved into rarefied air Thursday as it became the first American company to be worth $1 trillion.A company's value, or market cap,...
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Apple ordered to pay $145 million in damages for patent infringement

A jury decided that some iPhone models infringed on wireless communications technology patents

A federal jury in California found Apple guilty of patent infringement. WiLAN, a Canadian intellectual property company, was awarded $145.1 million in damages as a result.

Based on a statement released by WiLAN, the patents involved in the case relate to some of the iPhone’s wireless technologies. One is for a “method and apparatus for bandwidth request protocols in a wireless communication system,” and the other is for “adaptive call admission control for use in a wireless communication system.”

Though Apple has yet to comment on the jury’s decision, the company does plan to appeal and has “earlier rejected claims of infringement in pre-trial filings,” according to Reuters.

History in court

This isn’t the first time Apple and WiLAN have met in court.

In October of 2013, a court found that Apple did not infringe on WiLAN’s wireless technology patents. The Canadian firm -- which touts itself as “one of the most successful patent licensing companies in the world” -- accused a number of companies, including Apple, HP, and HTC of using proprietary wireless networking technology without a proper license.

Of the companies involved in the suit, Apple was the only one that didn’t agree to settle, instead choosing to go to court.

WiLAN sought $248 million damages in the suit, but Apple argued that Qualcomm was responsible for the license, as it was the manufacturer that supplied the wireless components under scrutiny. Apple’s attorneys argued that WiLAN was looking for a bigger payday, and therefore decided to go against Apple. However, the jury ultimately ruled in favor of Apple.

A federal jury in California found Apple guilty of patent infringement. WiLAN, a Canadian intellectual property company, was awarded $145.1 million in dama...
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Apple scurries to fix issues in new MacBooks

Overheating and excessive throttling have been impacting product performance

Apple is in serious damage control over the new MacBook Pros that the company released last week -- the models the company pitched as "70 percent faster" and "ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing."

As reviewers put the new machines to the test, one critic found an issue that caused the machines to unduly throttle when in those "advanced" situations like exporting video.

YouTube reviewer Dave Lee discovered that the new MacBook overheats when it’s operating at full speed for a certain period of time. According to Lee, performing a video export in Adobe Premiere took longer on a new MacBook equipped with the latest Intel CPU than it did on a 2017 MacBook using an older version of Intel.

"Power throttling and thermal throttling isn’t anything new -- we’ve seen them in MacBooks for years," Lee said. "We’ve seen it in lots of devices, including Windows, but this degree of thermal throttling is not acceptable."

Once Lee uncovered the problem, other reviewers and testers put the new MacBook through its paces and many replicated the throttling problem.

To Apple’s credit, it didn’t sit still when it heard about the problem. On Tuesday, the company released an update (macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update for MacBook Pro) for its system software, one that the company hopes will address the bug once and for all.

An Apple spokesperson told CNET that a missing digital key which affects the laptop's thermal management systems was to blame for the issue.

So, buy or hold off?

While the issue raises concerns, it doesn’t appear to be something a typical user would encounter.

John Poole, Founder of Primate Labs, put the new MacBook through a "stress test" and offered his recommendation for the device. "If your work doesn’t involve long-running tasks that are CPU- and GPU-intensive (such as Premiere) then the new MacBook Pro should provide a considerable increase in performance," he said.

There don’t seem to be any other issues lurking for the new MacBooks. Apple went to great lengths to make sure the last bugaboos -- which included keyboard and battery issues -- were taken care of in the new models.

While Apple offered gratis fixes for those issues, getting a free repair isn’t a given. As most anything related to technology is wont to do, consumers are wise to consider extended warranties, especially if they plan on holding onto a unit for more than three years.

Apple is in serious damage control over the new MacBook Pros that the company released last week -- the models the company pitched as "70 percent faster" a...
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Apple releases new MacBook Pro models

The new models include a possible fix for the problem of dirt getting stuck under keys

Apple MacBook lovers are enjoying Christmas in July as the tech giant’s new 13-inch and 15-inch models are out and Apple is hoping consumers find the new models better than ever.

The company touts seven upgrades to its MacBook line, including the ability to crunch code faster, adjust the color of the display to match a room’s ambient lightning, and the addition of a fingerprint ID sensor.

“The latest generation MacBook Pro is the fastest and most powerful notebook we’ve ever made,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

“Now with 8th-generation 6-core processors, up to 32GB of system memory, up to 4TB of super fast SSD storage, new True Tone technology in its Retina display and Touch Bar, the Apple T2 chip for enhanced security and a third-generation quieter keyboard packed into its thin and light aluminum design with all-day battery life, it’s the best notebook for pro users.”

Will this make Mac users happy?

While iPhones are Apple’s bread and butter by a longshot, MacBooks account for 80 percent of all the 100 million Mac computers out in the world.

MacBook users are a zealous bunch, but will the new models create lines around Apple stores waiting to get their hands on one?

Having “Siri” on board to answer users’ questions is likely to bring a smile. However, some Pro users might have to bite their tongue when it comes to the ports on the computers. MacBook Pros are devoid of HDMI and USB ports, and SD card slots which will probably frustrate those already equipped with those connections and sting a little more when they have to buy more dongles to recreate those connections.

The new True Tone technology is generating some buzz. With 500 nits of brightness (a nit is a unit of measurement of luminance), the new models are slightly brighter than an iPhone, but not as bright as, say, the newest TV screens. The new True Tone technology takes into account the color temperature of an environment and adjusts accordingly to created a more natural appearance.

While those enhancements might make some Mac aficionados happy, there are those who are unimpressed.

"I like the improvements to the new MacBooks, but they don’t fundamentally add any new black and white features prior Macs didn’t have," Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told ConsumerAffairs. 

"What would have been most interesting would have been the addition of touch screen or even LTE for a fully mobile experience," he added. "These features are reserved for the iPad Pro, which is more strategic to Apple than the Macs."

About that keyboard

It was only last month when ConsumerAffairs reported that Apple had fessed up to issues with MacBook keyboards, offering free service to repair the issue on customers’ devices.

Apple seems to have taken great strides to make sure those issues don’t rear their ugly heads again. On the new MacBook Pro keyboards, iFixit discovered that Apple has built a silicone barrier under each key.

While the silicone muffles some of the clicking sound when a key is pressed, “This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure,” reported iFixIt.

“In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.” but may also prevent dust and debris from getting underneath the keys and blocking the key mechanism.”

And the battery issues?

In April, ConsumerAffairs reported that a component in some of the 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops might fail and cause the computer’s built-in battery to expand. At the time of the finding, the company said that this was not a safety issue and offered to replace any affected batteries free of charge.

ConsumerAffairs reached out to Apple to find out if any improvements to the MacBook batteries were made in the new models, but as of press time, has not received a response.

Looking for a deal?

Along with the two new MacBook models, Apple is also offering a Back to School discount to students, parents, and teachers that includes a pair of Beats headphones and education pricing.

Apple MacBook lovers are enjoying Christmas in July as the tech giant’s new 13-inch and 15-inch models are out and Apple is hoping consumers find the new m...
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Former Apple engineer charged with corporate espionage

The company claims he stole data from its autonomous car project

The FBI has arrested a former engineer at Apple on charges of stealing company secrets on behalf of a Chinese start up.

A complaint, filed in federal district court in California, says Xiaolang Zhang, who worked on Apple's autonomous car project for two and a half years, was taken into custody over the weekend as he attempted to board a plane for China.

The complaint charges that Zhang downloaded proprietary data before resigning in May, telling Apple he was returning to China to care for a family member. At the same time, he disclosed to his former employer that he planned to take a job with Xiaopeng Motors, a new electric car company affiliated with Alibaba, China's counterpart to Amazon.

“Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our intellectual property very seriously,” the company said in a statement.

Downloading sensitive information

Apple said it is cooperating with federal prosecutors and will do all it can to make sure anyone found guilty of stealing trade secrets is held accountable for their actions. The company said Zhang's job at the company involved designing and testing circuit boards for Apple's autonomous car project.

The complaint notes that Apple became suspicious after Zhang told his superiors about his plans. When he appeared evasive during questioning, the complaint says, he was asked to turn over his work-related electronic devices.

The company says a forensic examination revealed that Zhang's network activity surged in the days before his resignation, including “bulk searches and targeted downloading copious pages of information.”

Surprise revelation

While the incident may play into the current hot topic of the trade war, and the Trump administration's charge that China routinely steals intellectual property from U.S. firms, CNBC said it found an even more significant take away.

The business news network said that buried deep within the complaint is the fact that more than 5,000 Apple employees are currently working on the company's autonomous vehicle project, many more than previously thought.

The complaint reveals that about 3.7 percent of Apple's 135,000 employees are working on the top secret project. That suggests Apple's autonomous car project is much larger than first thought.

Earlier this year, when tech site ZDNet ranked the top autonomous car projects, it placed General Motors at the top of the list, followed by Waymo. Apple did not crack the top 10.

The FBI has arrested a former engineer at Apple on charges of stealing company secrets on behalf of a Chinese start up.A complaint, filed in federal di...
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Researchers find a flaw in Apple’s new security feature

The new restrictions can be tricked with a $39 device that Apple sells in its own store

On the day of its official release, technology security gurus are raising a red flag over Apple’s new security feature, USB Restricted Mode.

The feature was designed to shield iPhone users against passcode-cracking devices used by law enforcement, essentially immobilizing any attempts at accessing the device after it’s been in locked mode for an hour.

Computer security forensics firm ElcomSoft has found a $39 device -- one Apple sells on its on website -- that runs contrary to Apple’s instructions, fooling the restricted mode and giving access to anyone using the device.

“What we discovered is that iOS will reset the USB Restrictive Mode countdown timer even if one connects the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory, one that has never been paired to the iPhone before (well, in fact the accessories do not require pairing at all),” wrote ElcomSoft’s Oleg Afonin in a blog post.

“In other words, once the police officer seizes an iPhone, he or she would need to immediately connect that iPhone to a compatible USB accessory to prevent USB Restricted Mode lock after one hour. Importantly, this only helps if the iPhone has still not entered USB Restricted Mode,” Afonin commented.

Making sure its research is as inclusive and objective as possible, ElcomSoft says it plans to test as many USB adapters as possible and found that one, the Apple Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter ($9), does not work to defeat USB restrictions.

The reaction

The Twittersphere was bristling with news of the workaround with tech watchers like Mashable agreeing that Apple’s new security feature was “painfully easy to hack.” Another site tweeted a step-by-step on how to trick the feature.

Needless to say, the issue raises a number of questions.

Why is Apple’s USB Restricted so easily fooled? Can Apple patch its own security hole? The answers are uncertain, but critics are making it clear that Apple has an issue with its Lightning communication protocol.

“The ability to postpone USB Restricted Mode by connecting the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory is probably nothing more than an oversight,” summed up Afonin.

“We don’t know if this behavior is here to stay, or if Apple will change it in near future. According to our tests, both iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12 beta 2 exhibit similar behavior; however, this can change in subsequent versions of iOS.”

In a statement to ConsumerAffairs, Vladimir Katalov -- CEO, co-owner, and co-founder of ElcomSoft -- added that a small adjustment on Apple's part could go a long way towards making some consumers more comfortable.

"What we want to see is more granular control over what can and what cannot trigger the USB Restricted Mode. There are people who'd prefer unlocking their phones every time someone connects an accessory to the Lightning port instead of being subjected to the flawed restrictions. Apple already took care of the people who don’t want the new feature, so we’d like to see some love for those of us who just can’t have too much security," he said.

On the day of its official release, technology security gurus are raising a red flag over Apple’s new security feature, USB Restricted Mode.The feature...
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Apple launches special news section ahead of midterm elections

The tech giant is aiming to present readers with reliable news ahead of this year’s crucial races

Apple has unveiled a new 2018 Midterm Elections section in Apple News, which gives U.S. readers access to important political content through November.

The news section will offer coverage from Fox News, Vox, and other selected outlets, along with special exclusives like The Washington Post's Election Now dashboard, a weekly briefing from Axios, and Politico's Races to Watch.

Apple says the goal of the section isn’t to censor politics, but to present consumers with a selection of top stories from trustworthy sources.

“Today more than ever people want information from reliable sources, especially when it comes to making voting decisions,” said Lauren Kern, editor-in-chief of Apple News. “An election is not just a contest; it should raise conversations and spark national discourse.”

“By presenting quality news from trustworthy sources and curating a diverse range of opinions, Apple News aims to be a responsible steward of those conversations and help readers understand the candidates and the issues.”

Combating false news

Apple isn’t the first tech giant to implement efforts to fight false news in the wake of the 2016 election and ahead of the November elections. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have also taken steps to stem the spread of misinformation on the web.

Facebook recently announced that it is expanding the scale and scope of its third-party fact-checking program, which relies on a combination of technology and human editors to make news from less reliable sources less visible. The company also announced that it would begin fact-checking photos and videos in addition to text.

In March, Google launched a new effort called Google News Initiative, which aims to combat the spread of misinformation during elections and breaking news moments. Google said it was working with Harvard University’s fact-checking organization First Draft for the program, which identifies inaccurate news stories and removes them from Google News rankings.

Twitter announced earlier this year that it would notify nearly 678,000 users that may have inadvertently interacted with now-suspended accounts believed to have been linked to a Russian propaganda service called the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Apple’s news section for the 2018 Midterm Elections is now available to U.S. readers and will remain up through the elections in November.

Apple has unveiled a new 2018 Midterm Elections section in Apple News, which gives U.S. readers access to important political content through November....
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Apple announces plan to crack down on ad trackers

The company’s latest software improvement will help users keep their browsing private

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose is a forum for the company to showcase its latest strides in technological advances, as well as show consumers what’s to come from the tech giant. The conference opened yesterday, and Apple is showing its commitment to customers’ privacy right out of the gate.

At last year’s conference, Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), a desktop Safari feature that monitors how often users visit certain sites; if a website isn’t visited for 30 days, Safari will automatically purge the cookies.

This year, Apple is building off of this software in an attempt to become a leader in the arena of consumer privacy. The company’s next rollout of updates will allow consumers to block Facebook, Google, and other platforms from tracking them across different websites based off of “likes” or “shares.”

“We’ve all seen these like buttons and share buttons,” said Apple software VP Craig Federighi. “Well it turns out, these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we’re shutting that down.”

At the conference, Federighi demonstrated how the newest updates to Safari will show a pop-up window that asks users whether or not they want to allow a plugin to track their browsing. It will also have a feature that counters browser fingerprinting techniques that track users from site to site, which happens even when users clear their cookies.

“Data companies are clever and relentless,” he said. “It turns out that when you browse the web, your device can be recognized by a unique set of characteristics like its configuration, its fonts you have installed, and the plugins you might have installed on a device.”

Apple’s stance on privacy

Apple’s initiatives to protect its customers line up with many of its past actions. Back in 2010, then-CEO Steve Jobs said that his company “always had a very different view of privacy than some of [its] colleagues in the Valley.”

“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English and repeatedly,” Jobs said. “I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.”

In the eight years since then, Apple hasn’t changed its tune.

“I think that the privacy thing has gotten totally out of control and I think most people are not aware of who is tracking them, how much they’re being tracked, and the large amounts of detailed data that are out there about them,” said current CEO Tim Cook. “We think privacy is a fundamental human right.”

Facebook strikes back

While Apple’s latest move may protect users from many different online platforms that may be loose with their data, Facebook didn’t take to Apple’s announcement too kindly.

The social media giant took a huge hit earlier this year following a scandal that left over 87 million users’ data repurposed by Cambridge Analytica. Though CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent a great deal of time answering questions from Congress and promised that his company is recommitting itself to stricter privacy regulations, Facebook continues to be a target due to what critics say are rather lenient privacy settings.

Following Apple’s announcement, Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos took to Twitter to question whether Apple was really committed to protecting privacy or the move was “just cute virtue signaling.”

Facebook continues to take heat over revelations about its data privacy practices. Just before Apple’s announcement, the New York Times reported that Facebook’s data-sharing partnerships with various phone and device developers was going strong -- despite the company’s claim that they ended these data sharing practices in 2015.

“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose is a forum for the company to showcase its latest strides in technological advances, as well as...
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Apple set to unveil software to monitor iPhone use

The company is working to make their devices less addictive

After facing much scrutiny from its shareholders for the addictive quality of its devices, Apple announced that it will be releasing software that helps iPhone users monitor how much time they spend on their devices.

The company opened its Worldwide Developers Conference today in San Jose, and while its typical for the tech giant to discuss the countless ways its devices are becoming even more intuitive to its users’ needs, with this latest upgrade, Apple is doing the exact opposite. This year, Apple is making a point to show consumers how to use their devices less.

“We need to have tools and data to allow us to understand how we consume digital media,” said Tony Faddell, a former senior Apple executive who worked on the original iPhone and iPad. “We need to get finer-grain language and start to understand that an iPhone is just a refrigerator, it’s not the addiction.”

Engineers at Apple have been working on Digital Health, a new initiative that will help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and also give a breakdown on time spent on each individual app. These tools will be bundled into a menu inside the Settings app in iOS 12 -- the likely name of Apple’s newest operating system.

The surge in tech addiction

The decision to inform users of their (potentially) excessive gadget use comes after Apple faced a high amount of criticism from shareholders on the addictive quality of the company’s devices.

In early January, Jane Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System -- two investors that hold $1 billion in stocks between them -- urged the company to develop software that limits how long children can use its smartphones. The investors wrote a letter to the company, pointing to studies that show excessive phone use can cause sleep deprivation, disrupt lessons, and harm students’ ability to concentrate on school work.

“According to [an] APA survey, 94 percent of parents have taken some action to manage their child’s technology use, but it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone,” the investors wrote in the letter. “Imagine the goodwill Apple can generate with parents by partnering with them in this effort and with the next generation of customers by offering their parents more options to protect their health and well-being.”

Back in 2016, a survey by Common Sense Media reported that half of U.S. teenagers believe they are addicted to their phones. Respondents said they often felt pressure to respond to text messages immediately.

However, Apple is now committed to helping users who struggle to get offline. The new Digital Health software will allow consumers to cap the time they spend on their phones or on certain apps.

Other updates out of Apple

In addition to Digital Health, Apple is expected to make other announcements that may want to make users pick up their phones even more. The company is working on unveiling updates to its augmented reality (AR) software with new tools for the iPhone and iPad.

“We’re already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect, and learn,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Put simply, we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.”

After facing much scrutiny from its shareholders for the addictive quality of its devices, Apple announced that it will be releasing software that helps iP...
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Jury hands Apple a victory over Samsung in patent dispute

Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple $539 million

A federal court jury, deliberating in a long-running patent dispute, has ruled that Samsung must write Apple a very large check.

When he introduced the iPhone in 2007, the late Steve Jobs made a point of saying Apple had been careful to cover its new product with patents. Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple, was reportedly furious when the market was soon flooded with competing smartphones using Google's Android operating system.

In particular, he accused Samsung of ripping off the iPhone's design and features. The two companies have been in court ever since.

The California jury determined that Samsung owes Apple $539 million for infringing upon five company patents. Most of the damage award covers three Apple patents for the iPhone design. The rest of the award covers two utility patents.

Awards damage increases from $399 million

The verdict came in a retrial that Samsung had lost, which required it to pay Apple $399 million. The jury hearing the most recent case increased the damages.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.”

In that 2016 case, the court ruled that damages from patent infringement should be based on the portion of the device that infringed on the patents, not the profit from the entire device, as Apple had argued.

But Samsung has not always been victorious over Apple when the two have ended up before the Supreme Court. Last year, the high court declined to hear Samsung's appeal of a 2014 lower court ruling which had found that it infringed on some Apple design patents.

According to technology publisher CNET, the latest jury verdict cements the importance of smartphone design.

A federal court jury, deliberating in a long-running patent dispute, has ruled that Samsung must write Apple a very large check.When he introduced the...
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Apple offering $50 credit to consumers who paid for a new iPhone battery last year

The credit applies to batteries purchased for iPhone 6 models or later

Apple announced today that it is refunding $50 to consumers who paid for an out-of-warranty battery replacement for an iPhone 6 or later model any time last year.

The $50 credit is part of Apple’s $29 battery replacement program, which went into effect in December 2017.

Apple started offering lower-cost battery replacement options to consumers after it confirmed that software updates in older iPhone models had a feature that throttled battery performance in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. The company faced dozens of lawsuits as a result of the feature.

Following its admission and apology for its lack of transparency surrounding the issue, Apple said it would slash the price of replacement batteries for iPhone 6 models or later from $79 to $29. Apple later sped up its battery replacement program due to customer complaints.

Now, Apple says it will reimburse all customers who paid the full $79 to replace an out-of-warranty battery before December 29. The offer applies to customers who had their battery replacement done at an Apple store, Apple Repair Center, or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Eligible consumers will be notified via email before July 27 with details on how to obtain an electronic funds transfer or a credit on the card that was used to pay for the battery replacement.

Apple announced today that it is refunding $50 to consumers who paid for an out-of-warranty battery replacement for an iPhone 6 or later model any time las...
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Apple, Goldman Sachs partnering to develop a new credit card

The card could launch early next year

Apple and Goldman Sachs are reportedly working together to develop a new credit card product, which could be introduced as early as next year.

The card would be branded with Apple Pay, the tech giant’s digital payment service, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with familiar with the matter.

The deal would help extend Apple’s payment brand, as well as help the company make money from products other than iPhones and other gadgets.

The joint venture will also benefit Goldman Sachs by helping the financial institution enter the consumer finance business, which it has been trying to do for some time. Goldman Sachs has been seeking to branch out from investment banking and trading to everyday consumer banking activities, such as deposit-taking and personal loans.

Apple currently has a credit card with London-based Barclays, which Goldman will replace. The Barclays card offers interest-free financing on Apple product purchases. However, Apple makes only 0.15 percent per transaction. Goldman Sachs could more than double that percentage, according to the Journal.

The partnership could also include Goldman offering in-store loans to Apple customers for the tech company's products, the report said.

Apple and Goldman Sachs are reportedly working together to develop a new credit card product, which could be introduced as early as next year. The card...
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Apple acknowledges microphone issue affecting some iPhone 7 models

The problem affects devices running iOS 11.3 or later

Apple has acknowledged that some iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices running the latest iOS 11.3 software may have microphone issues.

In a leaked internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple warns Authorized Service Providers that iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.3.1 have rendered some phones unable to use their microphones during phone calls, preventing users from being heard during calls or FaceTime video chats.

Affected customers may experience a grayed-out speaker button during calls, the memo said.

Service providers have been told to ask users to disconnect any Bluetooth headset or other audio accessory connected to their devices to see if that fixes the issue. If the issue persists, service providers should run an audio diagnostic on the device.

Initiating a repair

“Affected devices will display a ‘device could not detect dock’ or ‘accessory not supported’ alert in the diagnostic panel, in which case the service provider can initiate a repair for the iPhone,” MacRumors said.

The memo added that in the event an affected iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus is out of warranty, the service provider can request an exception for this issue. However, it is not clear if the repair will be free.

There have been several documented cases of Apple users complaining about microphone problems after downloading iOS 11.3 or later, but the issue isn’t widespread. A source told AppleInsider that it's an "extremely rare problem, with a need for repair being rarer still."

If consumers do encounter this issue, they can schedule specific appointments with Apple Authorized Service Providers via the Contact Apple Support page by following these categories: iPhone > Repairs & Physical Damage > Unable to Hear Through Receiver or Speakers > Built-in Speaker > Bring In For Repair.

Apple has acknowledged that some iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices running the latest iOS 11.3 software may have microphone issues. In a leaked intern...
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For some, the Apple Watch is a lifesaver

Doctors say the device can detect dangerous heart problems

William Monzidelis is alive today because he was wearing an Apple Watch. At least, that's what his doctors say.

A report by Apple Insider tells the story. The 32 year-old man was at work last month when he began to feel dizzy. He was bleeding internally but had no idea until his Apple Watch showed his heart rate had surged and sent an alert, telling him to seek medical attention.

Monzidelis' stomach ulcer had erupted, causing him to lose 80 percent of his blood by the time he got to a hospital. Doctors credited the device, purchased most often as a fitness monitor, with saving Monzidelis' life.

"I would have been working in my office and they would have found me dead," he told Apple Insider.

Story isn't unique

It turns out Monizidelis' story isn't unique. In 2017, 49 year-old attorney Scott Killian thought he was in perfect health. In fact, he had just completed a series of expensive tests to measure his heart health.

Then in the middle of the night, his Apple Watch woke him with an alert from a third party app called HeartWatch. It warned him his heart rate had surged, suggesting he could be suffering a heart attack.

Killian told 9to5 Mac his watch picked up an issue that $10,000 worth of medical tests did not. Killian's doctor said the device probably saved his life.

“He said had I kept sleeping, I probably wouldn’t have woken up,” Killian said. “I would have died in my sleep.”

More common than you think

If you Google “Apple Watch” and “lifesaver” you'll find these kinds of stories are more common than you might think. Back in 2015, the tech publication SlashGear reported the Apple Watch saved a teen's life when his device warned him his heart rate had reached dangerous levels while he was in class.

Instead of ignoring the warning, he notified the school nurse, who sent him to the hospital, where doctors confirmed a diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome that is caused by muscle injury, where the protein myoglobin is released into the blood, causing the liver, heart, and kidneys to shut down.

Healthcare professionals have shown increasing interest in wearable devices' ability to provide critical health warnings. A recent Cleveland Clinic study looked at the Apple Watch's role in healthcare.

The study affirmed the technology's ability to accurately detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), a leading cause of stroke.

William Monzidelis is alive today because he was wearing an Apple Watch. At least, that's what his doctors say.A report by Apple Insider tells the stor...
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Apple is now totally powered by renewable energy worldwide

The tech company claims its global footprint is as clean as it can be

Apple announced on Monday that its entire global business is fueled by 100 percent clean energy. Everything that powers the company -- from its new Cupertino headquarters to stores and data facilities -- is certifiably renewable, fulfilling its 2016 commitment to becoming totally green.

“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.

“We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

Producing clean energy

However, Apple's flag-waving should be viewed with an ounce of caution. While it says its energy is "100 percent renewable," a report from The Verge points out that the company "uses the term to signal that it buys enough green energy to offset its global power consumption."

This line of reasoning allows the company to meet its goals in areas of the world where relying on renewable energy isn't necessarily viable; for example, clean energy isn't readily available in areas like China where Apple operates overseas facilities.

Nonetheless, Apple’s efforts are worthy of being considered proactive in Mother Earth’s eyes. All in all, Apple has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, its most ever in one year. It also has 15 more projects underway.

Once everything is in place, more than 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy generation will be dispersed across 11 countries.

Good for both business and communities

Over the course of the next five years, renewable energy is set to grow faster than any other power source. The International Energy Agency’s crystal ball sees a future where renewable energy will make up 40 percent of the world’s power by 2040 and, no doubt, Apple wants to be a leader in that metric.

At present, Apple ranks sixth on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100, behind Microsoft, Intel, Google, Kohl’s Department Stores, and Bank of America.

Others on that list include a variety of corporate green energy trailblazers ranging from the National Hockey League (NHL) to Netflix, IKEA, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), and the cities of Dallas, Austin, and Portland, Oregon.

Good for Apple’s bottom line, too

In 2016, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Apple the right to sell power it doesn’t need from renewable resources it owns or has under contract.

As part of its green energy plan, Apple is buying Renewable Energy Certificates -- tradable, non-tangible energy commodities -- that provide a mechanism for the purchase of renewable energy that is added to or pulled from the electrical grid.

Apple’s clean power investments also include wind and solar energy facilities, and the company is set on making sure all new facilities meet the clean energy mark. All in all, the company counts 25 renewable energy projects around the world.

Apple announced on Monday that its entire global business is fueled by 100 percent clean energy. Everything that powers the company -- from its new Cuperti...
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Apple moves to cut ties with Intel and use its own processors by 2020

More device-to-device integration and a larger profit margin are both possible

Apple took a large bite out of Intel on Monday. The company announced that it will be making its own chips for its Mac computers by 2020, which sent Intel stock tumbling as much as 9.2 percent before finishing the trading day down 6 percent.

The plan, according to Bloomberg, is still in incubation, but Apple’s goal is to make the company’s entire array of devices -- including Macs, iPhones, and iPads -- work seamlessly with each other.

Codenamed “Kalamata,” the project will likely take several years and multiple steps to complete.

Breaking up is hard to do

This shift could be quite a sting for Intel, but it could mean more cash going in Apple’s own pockets.

The chipmaker has had a significant chunk of Apple’s business going back to 2007 and was paid $300 on average for each Intel chip Apple installed in one of its products. It’s estimated that 5 percent of Intel’s revenue stream -- more than $1 billion a year -- comes from the Apple money tree.

The move is probably also confusing to Intel. It’s a complete about face from Apple’s announcement in February to drop Qualcomm chips from iPhones and go exclusively with Intel chips.

Is this the start of a trend?

With device-to-device processor integration added on top of cost-savings, Apple would have extra flexibility in launching new products, and having control over its hardware should strengthen the security level of its products.

While a 5 percent hit to its revenue is something Intel can handle, the bigger question is will other manufacturers, a la Apple, take to building their own chipsets.

Bringing all component manufacturing in-house is uncharted waters for Apple. The company’s 2010 purchase of Intrinsity, a Texas-based semiconductor maker, seemed to signal a desire to wean itself off Intel. Lately, the company has sourced custom processors from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung. It has also used ARM-based co-processors for special functions such as the Touch Bar and Power Nap features on MacBooks.

Still, making every single component may be a Herculean task. For example, Apple uses more than 20 different (and mostly foreign) manufacturers to build an iPhone. Those include Samsung for batteries, Toshiba for flash memory, and Sony for cameras.

Can this move mean more jobs?

If President Trump had his way, Apple would make everything in the U.S. In his 2016 presidential bid, Trump declared that “we’re going to get Apple to build its damn computers in this country instead of other countries.”

Carrying the torch of “very large tax cuts for corporations” in hand, Trump spoke directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook after the election and said he expected Apple to bring more manufacturing jobs to the U.S. Trump even went as far as saying that Cook had made clear-cut promises.

“I spoke to [Cook]. He's promised me three big plants - big, big, big... We're gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries," Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last July.

Apple took a large bite out of Intel on Monday. The company announced that it will be making its own chips for its Mac computers by 2020, which sent Intel...
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Apple faces dozens of lawsuits over throttled iPhones

Fifty-nine lawsuits could be combined into a single class-action suit tomorrow

Apple has reportedly been hit with numerous lawsuits following its admission that it deliberately slowed aging iPhones to preserve battery life.

At least 59 separate lawsuits have been filed by iPhone customers since December, when news of the software update that slowed older iPhones first broke, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Apple customers have accused the company of slowing their phones in order to drive sales of new iPhones, according to court records.  

Those who filed claims are seeking an unspecified financial award, attorneys’ fees, and free iPhone battery replacements, as well as a corrective advertising campaign. A legal meeting in Atlanta tomorrow aims to combine all the U.S. cases into one class-action lawsuit.

Negative impact on the brand

Apple has maintained that slowing down the batteries in older iPhones keeps them from automatically shutting down during certain high-speed tasks. However, iPhone customers who filed lawsuits claim the practice is used to encourage people to shell out more money for a newer iPhone model.

Wayne Lam, a smartphone analyst with the research firm IHS Markit, believes the class-action suit “won’t amount to a hill of beans.” Experts say it’s more likely that the lawsuit will damage Apple’s brand, which could lead to even bigger problems for the company.

“It’s the brand damage that is even more risky and expensive for Apple,” said Holger Mueller, a technology analyst with Constellation Research.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Apple over potential securities violations related to the way it informed consumers about the update that slowed older iPhones.

Apple has reportedly been hit with numerous lawsuits following its admission that it deliberately slowed aging iPhones to preserve battery life.At leas...
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Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for new regulations on data and privacy

Cook says the data breach at Facebook is ‘dire’

At the annual China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for stronger data privacy regulations to prevent “dire” situations like the leak of Facebook user information from happening again.

Last week, news surfaced that Facebook let Cambridge Analytica harvest data on 50 million users without their consent in an effort to target messages to voters during the 2016 presidential election.

To protect users’ data, Cook said tech companies need "well-crafted" data privacy regulations.

Change needed

“I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook said. “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life -- from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”

Cook said Apple has worried for years that something like the recent Facebook data leak might happen. "Unfortunately that prediction has come true more than once," he said.

“We’ve worried for a number of years that people in many countries were giving up data probably without knowing fully what they were doing and that these detailed profiles that were being built of them, that one day something would occur and people would be incredibly offended by what had been done without them being aware of it,” he said.

Curbing “platform power”

Cook isn’t the first to suggest that tech companies need to be better regulated. Earlier this month, internet creator Tim Berners-Lee commemorated the 29th birthday of the internet with an open letter. In the letter, he urged for more regulation of big tech platforms.

“Platform power” has made it possible for people to “weaponize the web at scale,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data,” he writes.

To help solve the problem, Berners-Lee called for socially-minded regulation.

"A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease...tensions," he wrote. "Today’s powerful digital economy calls for strong standards that balance the interests of both companies and online citizens."

At the annual China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for stronger data privacy regulations to prevent “dire” situations...
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iPhones headed for a chip change in 2018

Apple to drop Qualcomm baseband chips and go exclusively with Intel

While Qualcomm’s chip relationship with the iPhone goes back to 2011, Apple started splitting its baseband chip orders with Intel and Qualcomm when the iPhone 7 was released in 2016.

However, reports are now circulating that Apple may switch from Qualcomm-based chips to Intel ones altogether. Some Apple watchers consider this a big gamble because of differences in performance. In tests performed by Cellular Insights, the iPhone 7 Plus using the Qualcomm modem “had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem.”

While Apple never disclosed its reasons for limiting the Qualcomm modem on the iPhone 7, those familiar with the situation feel it was an effort to level the performance playing field between the Verizon/Sprint and the AT&T/T-Mobile versions of the phone. Now, with only one supplier, the iPhone’s performance might be slower with the Intel chip, but at least it should be consistent and without any speed comparisons like it faced when Qualcomm was a co-supplier.

What’s the real backstory on why Apple is changing chip makers?

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a legal spitting match for more than a year, according to several reports. The squabbles started when Qualcomm accused Apple of sharing its proprietary code with Intel. At the same time, Apple alleged that Qualcomm overcharged for chips and refused to pay the tech giant promised rebates.

Qualcomm sits on a treasure trove of patents -- more than 130,000 of them -- and they’re the kinds of things that make phones run. If you want to manufacture a phone that has the ability to send and receive data or one capable of a high-speed internet connection, you more than likely have to get a license from Qualcomm.

However, to get that license, the company charged Apple as much as a 5 percent royalty on the average selling price of its phones. That means Apple handed over as much as $40 to Qualcomm on an $800 iPhone.

Apple got tired of paying a royalty it considered unfair and asked Qualcomm to give them a break on standard-essential patents. When things didn’t go Apple’s way, the company decided to wage war and Qualcomm retaliated in kind. Patent validity, anti-trust, vindictive marketing campaigns -- no threat was left off the table.

Apple sued Qualcomm for a billion dollars in the U.S., plus another $145 million in China. The company even raised the bar another couple of notches with 20 filings in federal court alleging that there was “mounting evidence of Qualcomm’s perpetuation of an illegal business model that burdens innovation.”

It may not be a great time for Qualcomm to be bullish

To make matters worse, four global regulators have fined Qualcomm in the last three years. In the latest instance in January, the European Commission slapped the company with a $1.23 billion fine and said its practices prevented competitors, such as Intel, from supplying 4G LTE radios to Apple for five years.

The immediate impact of Apple’s supposed shift from Qualcomm to Intel was felt by all three players at the close of business on Monday. Intel shares were down 3.53 percent; Apple shares were down 2.5 percent; and Qualcomm shares fell by 6.57 percent.

Reuters also reports that rival Broadcom Ltd made a $121 billion “best and final offer” to acquire Qualcomm Inc, raising further questions about the company’s ability to see its way clear from all its entanglements.

While Qualcomm’s chip relationship with the iPhone goes back to 2011, Apple started splitting its baseband chip orders with Intel and Qualcomm when the iPh...
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iPhone introduced 10 years ago today

Device arguably changed how humans interact

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said on January 9, 2007.

In a presentation to the Apple faithful, Jobs proceeded to introduce a new mobile phone that not only turned an industry upside down, but changed how human beings interact with one another.

In the 10 years since Apple's introduction of the iPhone, smartphones have been used less for talking and more for communicating on social media, buying things online, getting directions and watching TV. In other words, they have become computers in our pockets. Chances are, you're reading this on one.

It was a vision that Jobs, who died of cancer in 2011, laid out in the presentation below.

Exclusive to AT&T

Apple partnered with AT&T in the development of the iPhone and for several years, AT&T was the exclusive carrier for the device.

In his presentation Jobs mentioned that Apple had patented its revolutionary design, expressing confidence that the smartphone future belonged to Apple. But after Google's Android operating system appeared and was adopted by many electronics manufacturers, a protracted legal battle ensued. In the end, Apple found that it had to share the smartphone space.

According to Statista, there are approximately 215 million smartphone users in the U.S., with the number estimated to reach 222.9 million this year. The number of users worldwide is projected to reach 2 billion by the end of this year.

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said on January 9, 2007.In a presentation to the Apple faithful, Jobs procee...
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Apple will likely win big over Samsung's Note 7 disaster, analyst says

The expert says Apple will likely gain between 5 and 7 million customers

Samsung’s Note7 debacle has truly shaken the mobile division of the company, along with its customers’ confidence. While the South Korean company will be scrambling for some time to mitigate the damage, competitors like Apple are likely to enjoy a bit of a boom.

But how much should the tech company expect to gain from the situation? According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, quite a lot. The expert says that Apple will likely gain 5-7 million customers because of Samsung’s phone disaster. Kuo says that many disenchanted Note7 owners will make the leap to the iPhone 7 Plus because of the device’s dual camera, which will be a big drawing point.

The analyst arrived at the prediction after examining sales of the Note7. Before reports surfaced about their tendency to catch on fire, Samsung’s device was a hot commodity; around 12 million of the devices were originally sold.

Half may defect

Kuo says around 50% of those customers are likely to choose an Apple device as a replacement, while the other 50% of customers will consider devices sold by Android manufacturers Huawei and Google, which recently released its new Pixel smartphone.

While Kuo’s prediction is only an educated guess, real numbers on Apple’s performance confirm that the company has been thriving as of late. The company’s stock has risen in recent weeks due to the Note7 issues, and fourth quarter projections look pretty favorable. Investors will be able to learn more when Apple releases its earnings report on October 25.

Meanwhile, Kuo predicts that the Note7 failure will only impact Samsung for a couple more months. However, if more of its devices continue to have technical problems, then its image may take a long-term hit. Customer complaints have flooded in over many the company’s other products recently, so it will likely be something the manufacturer will need to be careful of going forward.

Samsung’s Note7 debacle has truly shaken the mobile division of the company, along with its customers’ confidence. While the South Korean company will be s...
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Apple sued by scorned upgrade members

Members say the company showed preferential treatment towards new customers during the iPhone 7 pre-order process

It used to be that the release of a new iPhone was greeted by insane levels of enthusiasm by faithful consumers. While lines at the Apple store no longer extend outside and around the block, there are still those who scramble to pick up the latest iteration of the popular smartphone.

However, some of these consumers feel jilted by Apple and are voicing their displeasure in the form of a lawsuit. They allege that Apple showed preferential treatment to new customers during the recent preorder process for the iPhone 7, leaving members of Apple’s Upgrade Program without a new phone when the products were released. This is especially egregious, the complainants say, because being a part of the program is supposed to guarantee an upgrade every year.

“While scores of customers signed up for the program and were ready to take advantage of the every-year upgrade with the release of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple had a different plan in mind. It allowed non-iPhone Upgrade Program customers to snap up the limited inventory of the new devices while telling countless iPhone Upgrade Program customers to ‘check back later,’” the lawsuit stated.

Preferential treatment

Consumers who sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program are usually sold new iPhones by Apple when they’re released. The payments for the phones are divided up into 24 monthly installments, and consumers who pay at least 12 of the 24 payments are eligible to trade in their existing iPhone when a new one comes out, or after six months.

By favoring new customers and not following through on upgrades for members, the complainants say that Apple failed to deliver on its promise of an upgrade “every year.” Now members will have to wait weeks or months for a new batch of phones to become available. Additionally, the lawsuit says that forcing members to wait now will inevitably lead to them having to wait again next year or pay extra to secure the latest phone.

The lawsuit is seeking reimbursements for any payments made on 2015 iPhone models while members of the iPhone Upgrade Program wait for their new phones. It also demands that Apple allow members to be eligible for the 2017 iPhone next September, even if they’re delayed in purchasing the iPhone 7 this year. The complainants also require that the company not restrict availability of supplies to upgrade members in the future.

It used to be that the release of a new iPhone was greeted by insane levels of enthusiasm by faithful consumers. While lines at the Apple store no longer e...
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Should you upgrade to the iPhone 7?

Some plans and carriers will cost you more than others

Apple's introduction of the iPhone 7 last week didn't make much of a splash. Apple stock actually went down afterward.

Gone are the days when excitement surrounded the launch of a new smartphone and consumers would line up outside stores to buy them. Yes, the new phones are better than the old ones they replace, but the improvements have become incremental. The price has also gone up.

So now that the iPhone 7 will soon be available, a question a lot of consumers might be asking is whether it makes sense to upgrade, and if so, who has the best deal?

Crunching the numbers

Unfortunately, there's not a simple answer, but personal finance website WalletHub has crunched the numbers and has shed some light on the subject. The 32GB version of the iPhone 7 starts at $649, assuming you were to pay the full price upfront. However, most consumers take the option of paying a portion with each monthly bill.

WalletHub estimates keeping your old iPhone will save you money, and you don't really need a calculator to figure that out. But the savings might be more than you think. It says keeping your old phone and using the Walmart Family Mobile network can save more than $1,324 over a two-year period.

Consumers on a family plan can save up to $2,294 by keeping their old phones and getting coverage from RingPlus Mobile.

Okay, but suppose you've already decided you want to upgrade. Should you consider switching carriers to make it more affordable?

The best deals

According to WalletHub's calculations, consumers who want the new iPhone can save up to $1,074 by paying the full price of the phone upfront and signing up for a no-contract plan from RingPlus Mobile, rather than the same types of plans from T-Mobile and Verizon. Walmart comes closest with a cost of $1,579.

Only four carriers offer an installment plan on the iPhone. Of them, WalletHub says Sprint offers the best deal, at a cost of $1,757 over two years. AT&T comes closest, with a cost of just over $2,000.

After looking at the numbers, maybe you're rethinking your plan to purchase the iPhone 7 but are wondering how much you would save at your particular carrier if you just kept using your current phone. WalletHub has broken that down as well, showing that T-Mobile and Verizon provide the biggest savings over two years – $1,324.

Still not sure if upgrading makes sense, or are you entertaining the idea of switching to an Android phone? WalletHub developed this calculator to help you figure it out.

Apple's introduction of the iPhone 7 last week didn't make much of a splash. Apple stock actually went down afterward.Gone are the days when excitement...
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Apple to launch bug bounty program in September

The company will pay out substantial rewards to those who find flaws in their products

Increasingly, technology producers and companies are using outside resources to test for security weaknesses in their products. Now it seems that the trend has extended to Apple, which plans to launch a bug bounty program in September.

Initially, white- and gray-hat hackers will only be able to participate if they’re invited by the company. However, individuals may be able to work their way into this elite group if they find a particularly interesting bug or flaw.

Successfully collecting a bounty could be quite lucrative for participants or the charities they choose to donate to. Apple has declared that it will match any donation made by participants on a 1:1 basis.

According to an Apple Insider report, the company is willing to pay out:

  • $200,000 for bugs connected to secure boot firmware components;
  • $100,000 for extraction of confidential material protected by Secure Enclave Processor;
  • $50,000 for execution of arbitrary code with kernel privileges;
  • $50,000 for unauthorized access to iCloud account data on Apple servers;
  • and $25,000 for access from a sandboxed process to user data outside of that sandbox.

The tech company hopes that incentivizing the discovery of potential threats will decrease the likelihood that a flaw is exploited on millions of consumer devices. Expansion of the types of bug categories that will be incentivized will be addressed at a later date. 

Increasingly, technology producers and companies are using outside resources to test for security weaknesses in their products. Now it seems that the trend...
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Apple unveils system upgrades at developers conference

In new operating system, Siri is being assigned more tasks

It was show and tell day for Apple, as the company previewed the latest wrinkles in iOS 10 for developers attending the annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.

In years past, the WWDC witnessed the dramatic unveiling of new products like the iPod and iPhone. This year, the emphasis was on system enhancements to existing hardware.

Apple says it has made major upgrades to Messages, redesigned a number of apps, and expands what Siri can do.

“iOS 10 is our biggest release ever, with delightful new ways to express yourself in Messages, a native app for Home automation, and beautifully redesigned apps for Music, Maps, and News that are more intuitive and more powerful, making everything you love about your iPhone and iPad even better,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

More jobs for Siri

In iOS 10, Apple has extended Siri into new areas to work with existing apps. For example, developers will now be able to use Siri to interact with apps using just voice commands. New areas of interaction include photo search, ride booking, personal payments, and workouts.

The Maps app in iOS 10 has also gotten a makeover. Apps like OpenTable will be able to book reservations into Maps, and ride-sharing apps can be accessed through Maps as well.

Apple says Maps has even been upgraded with intelligence to figure out where you might want to go next, based on the appointments in your calendar and where you have gone in the past – a feature some might find a little creepy.

Siri has also been given new capabilities to help you watch TV. Teamed with Apple TV, users will be able to use Siri to search for video content by topic or theme. Later this month Siri will start searching YouTube for specific types of content.

Siri and Apple TV

“The future of TV is apps, and Siri on Apple TV has changed the way we interact with our television and these expanded features will continue to deliver viewers what they want to watch even faster,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “There are over 6,000 apps to enjoy on your Apple TV including over 1,300 video channels, which are even more fun to watch with the new Siri features combined with single sign-on.”

Apple also announced upgrades for Apple Watch, the company's offering in the increasingly crowded wearable tech field. It said WatchOS 3 will be able to instantly launch favorite apps and will have enhanced health and fitness capabilities.

Among the new Apple Watch apps is Breathe, which will encourage users to take periodic breaks throughout the day for breathing exercises.

It was show and tell day for Apple, as the company previewed the latest wrinkles in iOS 10 for developers attending the annual World Wide Developers Confer...
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Apple earnings raise questions about smartphone future

Will consumers keep upgrading now that they have to pay the full cost?

Apple shocked Wall Street this week by reporting its first quarterly earnings drop in 13 years. Sales and revenue were down, along with profits.

Of course, when you are talking about Apple these days, you are mostly talking about the iPhone, which has become the iconic company's principal product. In the U.S., the iPhone makes up about half the smartphone market.

But in what some see as a troubling sign, iPhone sales in the latest quarter were down 16%; the cause is mostly blamed on slowing sales in China. However, Apple's troubles may have less to do with its global marketing efforts than how U.S. consumers are reacting to changes in the smartphone market.

When smartphone makers, like Apple, were posting solid quarterly sales increases year after year, the system was a little different. If you were a customer of one of the major cellphone carriers, you didn't directly pay the full cost when you purchased a new device.

Smartphone subsidies

It was standard in the industry for the carrier to “subsidize” the cost, by selling the newest iPhone or Android device for $199 or less. They were willing to do that because it locked customers into a two-year contract. To repay the company for picking up part of the cost of the phone, consumers had to pay for cell service for two years.

After two years, consumers were on a month-to-month basis with the cellphone company, free to cancel at any time with no early termination fee. However, they were encouraged to upgrade to the very latest smartphone for a subsidized price, triggering the start of another two year contract.

In 2014 major carriers began moving to a different business model. The big profit was in selling data. They revised monthly plans and began phasing out the phone subsidies.

Paying the full price

Now, consumers pay the full price of a phone – either in a lump sum up front or on a payment plan over 18 months to two years. They can cancel their contracts at any time but would have to pay the balance owed on the phones, so the system has the same effect as the old two-year contract.

Carriers are doing quite well with this arrangement, but it remains to be seen what impact it will have on smartphone manufacturers. When consumers have to pay the full price for a new iPhone, will they be as willing to upgrade every two years? The Apple earnings report could be seen as evidence that they are not.

Smartphone developers like Apple may also be victims of their own success. Both iPhone and Android devices are highly sophisticated, with high-quality cameras and lightning-fast processors.

How much better can they get? And if they don't significantly raise the technology bar, will consumers be motivated to spend $600 to buy one, when their current phone seems to be just fine?

Apple shocked Wall Street this week by reporting its first quarterly earnings drop in 13 years. Sales and revenue were down, along with profits.Of cour...
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Justice Department withdraws court order that would force Apple to bypass its own security

The action comes after a successful attempt to access information on the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters

After an extended period of protest from privacy advocates and Apple, it looks like the FBI won’t be needing the tech company’s assistance in unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. According to a Reuters report, the agency reported on Monday that it had successfully gained access to the phone.

The successful hacking attempt brings to an end a legal battle that had been escalating in the privacy community. Until Monday, Apple had strongly denounced a court order that would have forced engineers to create a backdoor so that the feds could access the phone.

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a back door into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. . . As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought,” said Apple in a statement.

Privacy concerns

Unfortunately, the dismissal of this case does not necessarily put consumer fears about privacy to rest. A clear line has been drawn in the sand between law enforcement and tech industry experts; the former believes that not having access to encrypted data will hamper criminal investigations, while the latter believe that undermining security features puts everyone at risk.

Members of the tech industry also believe that giving in to such demands would give the judicial system too much power. In essence, the courts would be able to turn private companies into their agents in order to obtain information.

This isn’t to say that tech companies are completely unwilling to help police investigate crimes – they just aren’t comfortable with lowering their own security features in order to give agencies like the FBI the level of access that it wants.

“We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated,” said Apple.

After an extended period of protest from privacy advocates and Apple, it looks like the FBI won’t be needing the tech company’s assistance in unlocking the...
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U.S. Supreme Court denies Apple appeal on price-fixing charges

The company must pay $400 million to e-book consumers

After years of appeals and court proceedings, the U.S. Supreme Court has closed the book on a suit against Apple. On Monday, the court ruled that the company will be forced to pay a $450 million settlement for its role in fixing prices on e-books on the Apple iBooks platform. Consumers of those inflated e-books will receive $400 million in the settlement and $50 million will go towards plaintiff lawyer fees.

“Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books is settled once and for all,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

Fixing prices

The case goes back to 2012, when Apple and five book publishers – Macmillan, HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster – were sued by the Justice Department and the attorney generals of 33 states. The charges were that the companies conspired to raise e-book prices, working together to take undue money from consumers.

While all of the book publishers eventually settled the case, Apple continued to fight the decision. The company made an appeal to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, saying that it was simply raising prices to encourage competition and that it was not in violation of any antitrust laws.

With an appeal pending, Apple agreed to pay $450 million if they lost the case in court. However, if it won a retrial, then it would only pay out $70 million. If it won that retrial, then the company would not be on the hook for any payment.

Plea denied

Unfortunately for Apple, the court determined that the company had engaged in price-fixing. In one last-ditch effort, Apple tried to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – but its plea was denied on Monday.

“The outstanding work of the Department of Justice team – working with our steadfast state attorney general partners – exposed this cynical misconduct by Apple and its book publisher co-conspirators and ensured that justice was done,” said Baer.

After years of appeals and court proceedings, the U.S. Supreme Court has closed the book on a suit against Apple. On Monday, the court ruled that the compa...
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New iPhone becomes a weapon in carrier price war

New phones debut Friday with discounts from T-Mobile and Sprint

T-Mobile is at it again. The mobile carrier that immediately priced the new iPhone 6s below where Apple did has now lowered the cost to certain customers once again.

For customers with JUMP! On Demand and an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to trade in, the new iPhone 6s or 6s plus is just $5 a month for the 6s and $9 a month for the 6s Plus, for an 18 month term. The company previously announced a $20 a month plan without a trade-in, which is less than Apple's rate.

“With these incredible $5 and $10 a month deals, we’re giving customers just one more reason to come to T-Mobile,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “This is a deal that only the Un-carrier could create, let alone make into a reality - and the crazy demand we’re already seeing tells me the carriers’ customers just aren’t buying their BS anymore. For your new iPhone, the choice couldn’t be clearer.”

Even older phones accepted

T-Mobile says the new price promotion builds on its previously announced $20 a month for a new iPhone 6s 16GB with JUMP! On Demand, without a trade-in. In addition to the $5 deal, the company is offering lower rates when customers trade in older phones; $10 a month with trade-in of iPhone 5s, Note 4 or Note edge and $15 a month with trade-in of almost any other phone you own, like the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, HTC M8, and Motorola Droid Turbo.

T-Mobile says its customers who pre-ordered with a trade-in will receive the same reduced rate with an upfront bill credit.

At the end of 18 months, you turn in your iPhone – but there is another option. T-Mobile says you can keep the device when the agreement is up by paying $125 less than the full retail price. That comes to $524 for a new iPhone 6s 16GB without trade in. With a trade-in, you can keep your iPhone 6s 16GB after 18 months by paying a total of $254.

Sprint's iPhone Forever

T-Mobile isn't the only carrier hoping to use the new iPhone to pull in new customers. Earlier this month Sprintannounced its iPhone Forever plan. Qualified Sprint customers can get the iPhone 6s for $15 per month and iPhone 6s Plus for $19 per month with a trade-in.

Customers who choose not to trade in an existing smartphone at the time of purchase can get the iPhone 6s for $22 per month and iPhone 6s Plus for $26 per month. After that, Sprint customers can get a new iPhone every year.

iPhone Forever is available on any eligible Sprint rate plan and upgrade eligibility is included in the price. Through Dec. 31, 2015, Sprint says customers on any other carrier, or existing Sprint customers who are upgrade-eligible and turn in any smartphone, will get the promotional rate of $15 per month on iPhone 6s.

The latest iPhones make their debut Friday. In years past each release was greeted with excitement worthy of a quantum leap in technology. These days, there may be more excitement – certainly more competition – built around the rate packages.

T-Mobile is at it again. The mobile carrier that immediately priced the new iPhone 6s below where Apple did has now lowered the cost to certain customers o...
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Hackers gnaw into the core of the Apple Store

Many popular apps may be infected; users should download newer versions

Apple's App Store defenses have at last been breached. The company confirms that a tool used by developers was copied and modified by hackers, allowing them to insert bad code into apps at the store.

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks said in a blog posting that about 40 apps had been contaminated with malware, dubbed XcodeGhost. A Chinese security firm said it had found more than 300.

The infected apps include the messaging app WeChat and the business car scanner CamCard. 

Apple has removed all of the infected apps that have been identified so far and is working to assess the damage, according to a spokesperson.

The Palo Alto researchers said that once the malicious code can go to websites hosting viruses, which are then installed on the user's Apple device. It can also open pop-up screens that probe for personal user information, including passwords to their Apple account.

Innocuous-looking

Once the infected apps are downloaded, researchers said, the malicious code can open particular websites designed to infect the device with more viruses. It can also open innocuous-looking pop-up screens that ask users for more information, like passwords to their Apple account.

“Since the dialogue is a prompt from the running application, the victim may trust it and input a password without suspecting foul play,” Palo Alto Networks said in its blog post.

A partial list of apps that may be infected was published by BusinessInsider and other sites. In some cases, only the most recent versions are infected and not all language versions are infected.

  • Angry Birds 2
  • CamCard
  • CamScanner
  • Card Safe
  • China Unicom Mobile Office
  • CITIC Bank move card space
  • Didi Chuxing developed by Uber’s biggest rival in China Didi Kuaidi
  • Eyes Wide
  • Flush
  • Freedom Battle
  • High German map
  • Himalayan
  • Hot stock market
  • I called MT
  • I called MT 2
  • IFlyTek input
  • Jane book
  • Lazy weekend
  • Lifesmart
  • Mara Mara
  • Marital bed
  • Medicine to force
  • Micro Channel
  • Microblogging camera
  • NetEase
  • OPlayer
  • Pocket billing
  • Poor tour
  • Quick asked the doctor
  • Railway 12306 the only official app used for buying train tickets in China
  • SegmentFault
  • Stocks open class
  • Telephone attribution assistant
  • The driver drops
  • The Kitchen
  • Three new board
  • Watercress reading
  • WeChat

If you have any of these apps isntalled, the safest course is to delete them and download a new version from the App Store when it becomes available.

Apple's App Store defenses have at last been breached. The company confirms that a tool used by developers was copied and modified by hackers, allowing the...
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iOS9 available today; it's the latest operating system for iPhones and iPads

Lots of new features, including improved security

Apple enthusiasts already know this, but for the rest of us, here's a reminder: iOS 9 is available today. It's the latest version of the software that makes iPhones and iPads run.

This latest version of Apple's venerable mobile operating system has lots of new features you may or may not care about, but Apple insists the new operating system is devoid of many bugs and overlooked irritants which drove many iFolks to distraction with iOS 8.

Of course, if you're the cautious type and you're not unduly determined to have the very latest version of anything Apple, there's nothing wrong with waiting a week or two. There will undoubtedly be a few glitches that come to light in the first days.

Among its biggest advantages, iOS 9 is quite a bit more compact than its predecessor, weighing in at a mere 1.3 gigabytes of free space needed for an update. iOS 8 wanted 4.58, which was more than many consumers had available.

But what's so great about 9? According to Apple, the search function is much improved, Maps and News work better, Siri is better behaved, and there are new multitasking features that will let you run two apps at once. 

Smart & secretive

Siri is not only smarter and better behaved, she's also good at keeping secrets, like other Apple products and services. Although Siri tries to notice and keep track of your wants and needs, she does it all on the hardware in your phone -- not in someone's cloud. 

This is part of Apple's "privacy built-in" policy, often cited by CEO Tim Cook as a prime differentiator between Apple and competitors like Google and Microsoft. Their "free" services are paid for, at least in part, by their mining of the data they capture from their users, whereas Cook swears that Apple is not looking over your shoulder. Nor is it reading your mail, which is now encrypted for better security.

There's a complete list of new and improved features on Apple's website.

Apple enthusiasts already know this, but for the rest of us, here's a reminder: iOS 9 is available today. It's the latest version of the software that make...
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T-Mobile undercuts Apple Store on price of new iPhones

Customers would end up paying significantly less each month

When the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, announced Wednesday, go on sale Saturday (pre-orders), T-Mobile customers are going to find it costs less to get it from the carrier than if they were to buy it at the Apple Store.

A lot less.

When Apple introduced its smartphone upgrades, it started the price of the 6s at $27 for 24 months and the Plus at $31 for 24 months. That works out to a price of $648 and $744 respectively.

But in his blog, T-Mobile CEO John LeGere said the carrier will offer the devices at a lower price; $20 a month for 18 months for the 6s and $24 a month for 18 months for the Plus. That means the $648 phone from Apple costs $360 from T-Mobile and the $744 Plus at Apple goes for $432 at T-Mobile.

The catch

The catch is this deal is for customers signing up for Jump! On Demand, a T-Mobile program where you trade in your phone after 18 months and get a new one. It's very similar to an auto lease. The customer does not pay for the residual value of the phone at the end of 18 months.

Those who pay the full price from Apple own their devices once the payments end, just like buying a car. Jump! On Demand customers who want to keep their iPhones at the end of 18 months may do so by making a one time $164 payment for the 6s.

“That means your total cost to own your phone is just $524 – that’s a screaming deal,” LeGere writes. It’s special introductory pricing for our launch, and it won’t last long.”

Lifetime Coverage Guarantee

At the same time, LeGere introduced what he calls the T-Mobile Lifetime Coverage Guarantee for customers buying one of the new iPhones.

“For as long as you use your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus on T-Mobile, if you aren’t completely satisfied with your coverage experience we’ll refund you for every penny you’ve paid for your new device in the first month, or after that, we’ll unlock it at no charge so you can use it with one of the other wireless companies,” LeGere writes.

The CEO said his company will also refund up to a full month of service fees. If a phone is unlocked, he says customers will be able to keep the interest-free payment plan at standard prices.

When the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, announced Wednesday, go on sale Saturday (pre-orders), T-Mobile customers are going to find it costs less to get it fro...
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Apple updates iPhone, introduces bigger iPad

Siri now integrated into Apple TV, helping to find your favorite program

In the past, Apple's product announcements were anticipated with bated breath and barely concealed excitement by the faithful. These days the bar is a lot higher.

With that in mind, Wednesday's presentation in San Francisco was more about improving a mature product portfolio instead of unveiling huge technological advancements. Still, the company showed it is willing to move in a new direction that includes a larger iPad and a stylus, the Apple Pencil.

But most of the attention was on the upgrade to the iPhone, with Apple CEO Tim Cook introducing the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. Some analysts are calling them “bridge phones” since there aren't many dramatic departures from last year's versions.

3D Touch

The new phones have something Apple calls 3D Touch, which it says is a new way to interact with content. It works by sensing pressure to enable new gestures — what Apple has named Peek and Pop — so you can dip in and out of content without losing your place. Press lightly to Peek at a photo, email, web page or other content, and press a little deeper to Pop into the content itself.

Live Photos is a new feature that alters images, bringing still photos to life by capturing a moment in motion. The improved camera also takes video up a notch, capturing video in 4K resolution – 3840 x 2160 – delivering over eight million pixels.

All the upgrades are powered by the A9 chip, which Apple claims is the most advanced chip ever used by a smartphone; it delivers faster performance and extends battery life.

“The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything — 3D Touch lets users interact with iPhone in entirely new and fun ways, and the innovative Live Photos brings your pictures to life,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “These are the most advanced iPhones ever, with 7000 series aluminum, ion-strengthened glass, the new 64-bit A9 chip, 12-megapixel iSight and 5-megapixel FaceTime HD cameras, faster Touch ID, LTE and Wi-Fi.”

Bigger iPad

In addition to the new iPhones, Apple introduced a new, 12.9 inch iPad with a host of optional components that can, in essence, turn the tablet into a laptop – which begs the question, why not buy a laptop in the first place?

Working with the iPad Pro is the optional Apple Pencil, which can be used for drawing and sketching on the tablet. Apple says the system has been tweaked to provide for extreme detail, such as fine art and precision drawings.

In addition to the Pencil, Apple is introducing an optional keyboard with the new iPad, giving the device many of the same features as the popular Microsoft Surface. The keyboard attaches to iPad Pro’s Smart Connector port, eliminating the need for a separate battery, on/off switch or Bluetooth pairing.

Apple TV

Finally, Apple took a new approach to its Apple TV product, introducing a Siri-based remote so users can search for programs using their voice. Apple TV runs the new tvOS operating system, based on Apple’s iOS, enabling iOS developers to create new apps and games specifically for Apple TV and deliver them directly to users through the new Apple TV App Store.

“There has been so much innovation in entertainment and programming through iOS apps, we want to bring that same excitement to the television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Apps make the TV experience even more compelling for viewers and we think apps represent the future of TV.”

In the past, Apple's product announcements were anticipated with bated breath and barely concealed excitement by the faithful. These days the bar is a lot ...
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American Express adds Apple Pay for corporate cards

Company was among the first to accept it for consumer cards

American Express says it is the first major corporate card portfolio that has been activated for Apple Pay, allowing business members to pay on the go using their compatible Apple mobile devices.

Cards that may be used with Apple Pay include only corporate cards issued to employees of commercial card customers working in the U.S. The Corporate Green Card, Corporate Gold Card, Corporate Platinum Card, Corporate Centurion Card, Business Extra Corporate Card and Corporate Defined Expense Program Corporate Card are all eligible. Prepaid Cards and other products are not eligible.

“Businesses today are going digital, and American Express is at the forefront of digital innovation, helping companies to streamline their payments systems and simplify their processes,” said Greg Keeley, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Payments, American Express. “We continue to invest and expand digital offerings for our corporate customers in ways that maximize security and enhance the user experience.”

For use at contactless merchants

Apple Pay allows American Express members to register their eligible card and pay with their mobile devices at contactless merchants – those using a smart chip technology – in stores, or within participating apps that accept American Express.

The company adopted Apple Pay for its consumer cards and OPEN Small Business Cards in late 2014.

American Express praised Apple Pay for its security and privacy features, saying they mesh well with those that it offers. When you add a card to Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers.

Apple Pay instead issues a unique Device Account Number, that is encrypted and securely stored in the secure element on the customer's device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

But as with any wireless, encrypted technology, nothing is 100% secure. As we reported in June, security researchers at the mobile security company Wandera discovered and warned Apple about a vulnerability in iOS that would allow hackers to set up a wi-fi spot and then, once an iDevice connects to it, present it with a fake “captive portal” page imitating the genuine Apple Pay page asking users to enter their credit card data.

How it works

Apple Pay debuted last October, getting Apple into the mobile wallet game. To use it, customers just hold an iPhone 6 near the contactless reader with a finger on Touch ID. You don’t even have to look at the screen.

Among phones, Apple Pay is only compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the only iPhones equipped with the requisite NFC radio antennae.

To pay with Apple Watch, just double-click the side button and hold the display of Apple Watch up to the contactless reader. A gentle tap and beep confirm that your payment information was sent.

According to MacWorld, Whole Foods Market has seen mobile payments increase by more than 400% since Apple Pay launched last year. Square integration is expected to expand its use to small, independent retail businesses.  

American Express says it is the first major corporate card portfolio that has been activated for Apple Pay, allowing business members to pay on the go usin...
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Apple Watch sales drop by as much as 90%

Still a bestseller by smartwatch standards, but that's not saying much

Is the Apple Watch destined to be the next big iFlop? According to a report by California-based market researchers Slice Intelligence, Apple Watch sales have dropped 90% in the United States since the watches first went on sale in April.

These are unofficial estimates, as Apple generally doesn't release its sales figures. Slice based its estimates on e-receipts from shoppers who have allowed access to their inboxes for such data.

Slice's most recent report is very different from what it said in mid-June, when it told Reuters that it estimated Apple had sold about 2.79 million watches since April — and that Apple likely stood to make even higher profits off the sale of watchbands and other accessories.

Stagnant sales

Apple sold an estimated 1.5 million watches during the first week it was available, according to Slice – about 200,000 per day. But now, Slice estimates Apple is selling fewer than 20,000 watches per day in the U.S. sometimes less than 10,000.

Apple itself has not commented on the report, but some Apple fans are taking umbrage on the company's behalf. Apple Insider said that “Widely publicized study data reported by clickbait sites as evidence that Apple Watch sales have 'plunged' and 'are tanking' actually shows something completely different: that Apple has launched the most successful smartwatch product by a vast margin.”

Apple Insider didn't specify which “clickbait” sites were saying such things, but tech-news sites reporting the plunging-sale statistics did nonetheless point out that even if the 90% drop is true, the Apple Watch still remains the best-selling smartwatch to date.

Daily Tech, for example, said “Indeed, the Apple Watch is a blockbuster -- but in smartwatch terms. Last year all Android OEMs combined only summed up to roughly 720,000 sales of Android Wear smartwatches. When the Apple Watch went on sale on April 10 via a preorder, it quickly racked up 1.5 million orders, in a week doubling Android's entire sales total for the last year.”

Successful, but in small terms

So even pessimists agree Apple Watch is a smashing success by smartwatch standards; it's just that in tech-company-sales terms, circa mid-2015, “the best seller on the smartwatch market” is kind of like being “the most maturely behaved student in preschool” — impressive in some contexts, but not necessarily a standard which a 39-year-old adult (or 39-year-old best-selling multinational tech company) should brag about surpassing.

Of course, even if the Apple Watch does prove a failure, that doesn't necessarily say anything about the current or future market for wearable tech devices; it could simply mean there's not much of a market for a wearable device that's completely useless on its own, but works only as an accessory to another expensive device (in this case, an iPhone 6).

Is the Apple Watch destined to be the next big iFlop? According to a report by California-based market researchers Slice Intelligence, Apple Watch sales ha...
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Apple launches Apple Music services today

With streaming music, artists' social media, a radio station and musical “bubbles”, you never need leave

Today, Apple finally launched its long-anticipated Apple Music streaming subscription service. In fact, Apple launched three separate services today, all huddled together under a single “Apple Music” umbrella: the Apple Music streaming service; iTunes Connect (a sort of Apple Music/social media hybrid); and the Beats 1 radio station.

You'll need to upgrade your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to iOS 8.4 if you want to sign up for Apple Music right now. An Android-compatible version is supposed to come out this autumn.

Apple fans have been able to buy music by the song since 2003, when the iTunes Store opened. But the iTunes Store is a la carte, whereas Apple Music is more like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Basic ad-free Apple Music streaming subscriptions will be free for the first three months, and will then cost a flat monthly fee – $9.99 per month for an individual, or $14.99 per month for a family plan covering up to six people. (The numerical cost is the same in pounds and euros, too – £9.99 per month in the United Kingdom, €9.99 monthly in the Euro zone.)

Customizing the music experience

Although the supply of songs is almost “unlimited” from Apple's end, remember that streaming music does count against your mobile phone's data limits.

In addition to Apple Music, there's also iTunes Connect, which is a type of social media – but only for musicians, not fans. Artists will be able to set up profile pages to share content, most likely videos or music tracks. But fans will not be able to use Connect to communicate with each other — which makes it hard to predict whether Connect will actually be successful. As the Guardian noted, “a lot of the success or failure of the service will depend on whether or not artists genuinely aid music discovery, or simply use the service for self-promotion. Following Pharrell Williams to find out his favourite tracks is one thing; following him to see a playlist of his last few singles is rather less exciting.”

The Beats 1 radio station will be free for everyone, even people who don't subscribe to Apple Music.

Among the features available to subscribers is the For You tab, which Mashable called the “real heart of Apple Music …. basically your music homescreen.”

When you tap For You, you'll see a series of “bubbles” representing different genres of music; you can expand the bubbles corresponding to genres or artists you do like, and discard the bubbles you don't like. Also, as Rolling Stone said, “The service will also scan your music library to see your preferred artists. Much like Netflix, this feature tells the company what music you like and what artists you are indifferent to … so that it can make educated guesses on playlists and other content.”

Scanning your music library

What if you don't want Apple to scan your pre-existing music library? Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an opt-out feature.

A reporter for Business Insider commented, “It's really useful that Apple figures out your music taste for you, as it saves customers from manually selecting which artists and genres they like.” Whether he was being sincere or sarcastic is hard to tell.

That said, if you genuinely have a hard time knowing what taste in music you have – “Look at all these songs in my collection! But which ones do I actually enjoy? I cannot possibly be expected to know such arcane trivia” – then you will be relieved to learn there's an app for that, and Apple Music's bubble system makes it easy to expand your musical bubble without ever having to leave it.

Today, Apple finally launched its long-anticipated Apple Music streaming subscription service. In fact, Apple launched three separate services today, all h...
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Apple Watch early reviews: it's a nifty device, but don't bother buying it

Wearable tech is definitely coming, but the Apple Watch isn't quite there yet

Though the Apple Watch, Apple's first new product line since the iPad, won't be available to the public until April 24, a handful of tech writers and reporters have spent the past week previewing the upcoming new devices, and those reviews all came out today.

The results are an odd mix: pretty much everyone agrees the Apple Watch is an amazing new piece of technology, yet even the most enthusiastic reviews found a lot to complain about. (My personal cover-all-bases prediction: the Apple Watch will prove either a dazzling success for Apple, a colossal failure, or something in between. You heard it here first!)

The Watch combines many features of a wearable miniature iPhone, iPod and iPad combination, with some new technological features as well. For example, the underside of each watch is outfitted with what Apple calls a “Taptic Engine,” which lets the watch literally tap you on the wrist anytime it wants your attention.

The Apple Watch review in Bloomberg BusinessWeek actually kicks off with a description of the Taptic Engine in action:

I’m in a meeting with 14 people, in mid-sentence, when I feel a tap-tap-tap on my wrist. I stop talking, tilt my head, and whip my arm aggressively into view to see the source of the agitation. A second later, the small screen on my new Apple Watch beams to life with a very important message for me: Twitter has suggestions for people I should follow. A version of this happens dozens of times throughout the day—for messages, e-mails, activity achievements, tweets, and so much more. Wait a second. Isn’t the promise of the Apple Watch to help me stay in the moment, focused on the people around me and undisturbed by the mesmerizing void of my iPhone? So why do I suddenly feel so distracted?

Fashion statement

The Wall Street Journal concluded that the Apple Watch was more of a fashion statement than an actual useful gadget:

After over a week of living with Apple’s latest gadget on my wrist, I realized the company isn’t just selling some wrist-worn computer, it’s selling good looks and coolness, with some bonus computer features. Too many features that are too hard to find, if you ask me.

Re/Code.net's reviewer felt the opposite — it's pretty nifty having these techno-gadgets strapped to your wrist, but not very fashionable:

I’ve liked having access to iMessages, email and photos on my wrist. I didn’t resent the reminders to get up and move around after I’ve been sitting for too long. I even got used to accepting or rejecting phone calls from my wrist. … Apple Watch strives for high fashion, but it still looks like a techie watch. Even if you can easily swap out the basic, smooth plastic band for a more elegant one — the $149 leather band, the $149 Milanese loop or the $449 link bracelet — the face looks kind of like a miniature iPhone.

On the other hand, Re/Code feels that if you must wear a smartwatch solely as a fashion statement, the Apple Watch is probably your least-worst option:

… the face looks kind of like a miniature iPhone. With that said, I’ve worn my fair share of smartwatches and none are as good-looking as Apple Watch....

Quite smart

The New York Times agreed with the Wall Street Journal on two main issues: both think the watch is good-looking – the Times said it “looks quite smart, with a selection of stylish leather and metallic bands that make for a sharp departure from most wearable devices” – and both think the device is plagued by typical first-gen technology issues.

Quoth the Times: “the Apple Watch works like a first-generation device, with all the limitations and flaws you’d expect of brand-new technology.”

And if you ask the Wall Street Journal writer if you should buy yourself a new Apple Watch, she'll tell you no:

[E]very time I gaze down to admire it, I start seeing how the next one will look better. You could say the same about many fashion objects, but watches should be timeless (ironically). Unlike the Cartier I got for college graduation, the original Apple Watch’s beauty will soon fade. Unless you opt for the cheapest $350 sport version, you should really wait for the future.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.K.'s Telegraph said pretty much the same thing, going on at length about the Watch's many neat and nifty features before concluding:

That’s not, however, to say that even Apple fans with £299 burning a hole in their pocket should rush out and buy this first generation Watch. It’s beautifully designed and frequently rather useful - but history suggests version two or three will be even better.

Even worse, at least according to the Times: unlike earlier Apple product lines, the Apple Watch could prove difficult for “tech novices” to use, at least at first:

unlike previous breakthrough Apple products, the Watch’s software requires a learning curve that may deter some people. There’s a good chance it will not work perfectly for most consumers right out of the box, because it is best after you fiddle with various software settings to personalize use. Indeed, to a degree unusual for a new Apple device, the Watch is not suited for tech novices. It is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives.

Of course, if you want to manage (or even limit) the way the digital world intrudes on your analog real life, altering notifications and other settings on those techno-gadgets you already have might be a better bet than buying a new techno-gadget, and is definitely less expensive.

Though the Apple Watch, Apple's first new product line since the iPad, won't be available to the public until April 24, a handful of tech writers a...
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Apple Watch: As glamorous as Google Glass?

It's hard to know just what to say about such a frivolous creation

When Google Glass debuted, it was widely derided as looking unbearably geeky. Also, some called it a privacy nightmare. When the Apple Watch debuted yesterday, it was given the worshipful treatment reserved for motherhood, the flag and Apple.

Just why this should be so is not quite clear. Both gadgets are basically luxury items -- something no one really needs and probably won't use very often, merely status symbols for those who are into such things.

After all, for $25 you can buy a Timex watch that will tell time just as well as the Apple Watch. Whether it's better looking is a matter of taste. The Timex won't remind you of meetings and won't automatically change time zones when you get off the plane.

On the other hand, the Timex will work even if you don't have an iPhone 6, something you can't say about the Apple Watch, which will sell for $349 to $1,099 (or $10,000 if you want it in gold). Also, the Timex will run for a year or more on a single battery. The Apple Watch? Maybe 6 or 7 hours.

The Apple Watch will do things the Timex won't, of course. It will place calls, send texts and maybe let you know if you're approaching a Starbucks or other temple of modern marketing. 

In other words, matters of status aside, the Apple Watch will save you the trouble of taking your iPhone out of your pocket to send a text. You'll still have to look at your wrist to see what time it is though. 

If that's worth $1,099 to you, grab your iPhone 6 and order one now. It will ship April 24. 

When Google Glass debuted, it was widely derided as looking unbearably geeky. Also, some called it a privacy nightmare. When the Apple Watch debuted yester...
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Identity thieves come to Apple Pay

Apple's mobile wallet remains secure, but the cards attached to those accounts might not be

Just how safe is Apple Pay, anyway? Apple's “mobile wallet,” a standard feature on the iPhone 6, first became available last October, and not only offered people the ability to pay for things with their mobile device (as opposed to carrying a credit or debit card with them), it also promised to be far more secure than traditional American credit card purchases.

Hence the huge upset this week, when the Wall Street Journal reported that “Fraud comes to Apple Pay”:

It didn’t take long for fraud to find its way to Apple Pay .

Some banks are seeing a growing incidence of fraud on Apple’s mobile-payment service as criminals exploit vulnerabilities in the verification process of adding a credit card, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hardly an anomaly

The Journal, in turn, learned this from Cherian Abraham, a payment expert for Drop Labs, who on Feb. 22 published a blog post “Explaining the current state of Apple Pay fraud.” And that current state sounds pretty awful: according to Abraham, it is “hardly an anomaly” for fraud to appear in as much as 6% of all Apple Pay transactions, compared to a mere 0.1% of transactions with regular plastic credit cards.

Sounds like a catastrophe for Apple Pay. Yet it's a little more complicated than that: the security gap isn't with Apple Pay itself, but with the credit cards being attached to Apple Pay accounts. As the Guardianexplained: “crooks have not broken the secure encryption around Apple Pay’s fingerprint-activated wireless payment mechanism. Instead, they are setting up new iPhones with stolen personal information, and then calling banks to 'provision' the victim’s card on the phone to use it to buy goods....”

To make an analogy: imagine an old-fashioned bank vault secured with a special new kind of lock that's guaranteed impossible to open unless you have the key. Without the key to open the lock, not even the most talented lockpicker or safecracker in the world can get into that vault.

So the lock can never be broken or picked, but that does not mean the vault can never be robbed — it simply means that would-be robbers have to obtain a copy of the key first. And in this analogy, Apple Pay did a great job in creating unpickable bank-vault locks; problem is, the banks themselves have been very careless in handing out copies of the keys. And there's nothing Apple can do to fix the problem; it's the banks who need to improve their key-sharing protocols.

Fortunately, the banks have a strong motivation to do this, since they're the ones losing money from this fraud — not Apple Pay, and not the various merchants who accept it. As the Trustev anti-fraud blog pointed out, “The banks are the ones footing the bill here, and taking huge losses in the land rush to be everyone's default credit card for Apple Pay. It's on them, not Apple, to solve the issue.”

Just how safe is Apple Pay, anyway? Apple's “mobile wallet,” a standard feature on the iPhone 6, first became available last October, and not only offered ...
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CVS and Rite-Aid stop accepting Apple Pay

What made them jump off the bandwagon after less than a week?

This past week has been a bad one for boosters of the Apple Pay mobile-payment system, which only launched last Monday.

First, due to a glitch somewhere in Bank of America's software, Apple Pay customers with Bank of America  accounts found themselves double-charged for everything they bought, and Apple Pay ended up collecting quite a bit of bad publicity over it even though fault for the mess did lay entirely with BoA.

And now the major pharmacy chains Rite-Aid and CVS have announced that they would stop accepting Apple Pay (with more companies likely to follow their example).

When Apple unveiled its then-new iWatch and iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, the devices' Apple Pay capability was trumpeted as a major selling point. And that same day, CVS was quick to announce that it would accept Apple Pay at its stores.

So what happened since then to make CVS change its mind? The company hasn't publicly said, but chances are it's because CVS decided instead to work with a retailer-owned group called the Merchant Customer Exchange to develop a competing mobile payment option, CurrentC, due to be released sometime next year.

Giving away data

Here's the problem: from the perspective of a customer who wants a non-cash payment system, Apple Pay offers two advantages over the current status quo of credit or debit cards. The first advantage benefits merchant and customer alike: Apple Pay's use of tokenization is supposed to make it far more secure against hacking and identity theft than today's easy-to-fake and easy-to-steal American credit cards.

But the second advantage, which benefits consumers, arguably works against the merchants' best interests: current credit and debit card payment systems grant sellers alike the ability to collect lots of potentially useful marketing data about individual buyers and their shopping habits – where do you shop, what do you buy, how much do you pay for it.

However, Apple Pay promises customer anonymity: the company itself can't collect this information about you, and neither can the merchants who accept Apple Pay.

How much data will the upcoming merchant-owned CurrentC mobile payment system collect about its customers? Information about CurrentC and just how it'll work has not yet been made available.

This past week has been a bad one for boosters of the Apple Pay mobile-payment system, which only launched last Monday....
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Bank of America double-bills accounts for Apple Pay users

Promises to repay double charges; fix the glitch responsible

Poor Apple. On Monday, the company officially launchedApple Pay, its long-awaited mobile-payment system promising greater security than credit or debit-card payment systems thanks to the process of “tokenization” (which basically means that even if a hacker does successfully break into a retailer's database, or plant malware on a store's cash registers, he won't be able to steal anything useful, only a now-worthless authentication token).

So Apple launched its new era of secure reliable mobile payment on Monday, and the very next day it started getting bad publicity over a serious glitch that wasn't even Apple's fault but Bank of America's, which double-charged certain customers for anything they bought with Aple Pay.

“Problems with #ApplePay - it looks like my @bankofamerica account was double charged by @Walgreens” one man Tweeted on the morning of Oct. 21.

The next morning, CNN Money published a story by tech reporter Samuel Burke, who mentioned being “among the first people to try out Apple Pay the moment it came available on Monday” and said he was double-charged for every purchase he made with Apple Pay.

Since his Apple Pay account was tied to a debit account through Bank of America, he called BoA “and they assured me it was a problem on Apple Pay's end. That seemed feasible, because all of the purchases I made without Apple Pay were only charged one time.”

Sounded feasible but turned out to be false; later that morning, a Bank of America spokesperson publicly admitted and apologized for an unspecifid glitch in Bank of America's software that resulted in double-billed charges for about 1,000 account-holders.

But Bank of America also promised to refund all double charges, so by the standards of contemporary problems with non-cash payment systems, this Apple Pay double-billing business proved to be only a minor inconvenience.

That said: if your mobile wallet is tied to your Bank of America account, you might want to hold off on using Apple Pay until this glitch is fixed.

Poor Apple. On Monday, the company officially launched Apple Pay, its long-awaited mobile-payment system promising greater security than credit or debit-ca...
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Apple's iPod is obsolete, but iPod anti-trust class action suits are not

Possible setback for Apple in a decade-long lawsuit

Earlier this month, Apple unveiledits latest-gen iPhone 6 and first-gen iWatch, and also officially discontinued its iPod family of MP3 players.

Though iPods were undeniably cutting-edge technology when the first one was released in 2001, by 2014 they were officially obsolete. But their legacy lives on, especially in the decade-old anti-trust class action suit Apple's faced over them.

Courthouse News reported today that last week, a federal judge denied Apple's attempt to exclude a certain expert witness chosen by the plaintiffs in that suit. (The judge also denied the plaintiffs' attempt to exclude the testimony of Apple's chosen counter-witnesses, so it's hard to say which side, if any, “won” this latest round in the legal battle.)

Apple released its first iPod player in 2001. What's the difference between an iPod and a non-Apple MP3 player? Not much, except that iPods were Apple-branded, and could only play Apple-branded MP3 files — in other words, if the iTunes store didn't offer a particular song, your iPod couldn't play it.

Disharmonious

In July 2004, the RealNetworks company put out a product called Harmony, a workaround allowing iPod owners to play any MP3 files, not just Apple-branded ones, on their devices.

On July 29, 2004, Apple released a statement suggesting RealNetworks was engaged in criminal hacking activity:

“We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod, and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods.”

Sure enough, in December 2004 Apple quietly updated its iPod software so that music from RealNetworks could no longer play on iPods — which also meant many iPod owners suddenly found they couldn't listen to their own music libraries anymore.

So in early 2005, an iPod-owning Apple customer named Thomas Slattery filed a class-action suit against the company, claiming that its policy of limiting iPod owners to iTunes music violated federal anti-trust and California's state unfair-competition laws.

An amended suit filed in 2007 with different lead plaintiffs also says that Apple's actions limited iPod owners to songs from the iPod store.

Stymied

As of earlier this year, the plaintiffs intended for Stanford economist Roger Noll to offer testimony claiming two basic things: one, that the Apple software updates limiting iPods to playing iTunes music made it “more costly” for an iPod user to switch to a different brand of MP3 player, since it was so difficult to get songs that could be played on all devices. Noll also planned to testify that Apple's software “encouraged” iPod owners to only buy songs from iTunes.

As a result of these (apparently self-evident) claims, Noll further intended to testify that as a result of this effective monopoly, Apple was able to charge more for its devices, for a total of $305 million in damages to consumers.

Of course, experts hired by Apple for the defense disagree with Noll's analysis.

Apple's attorneys sought to exclude Noll's testimony, and the plaintiffs in turn sought to exclude the testimony of Apple's counter-experts, but last week, as Courthouse News reported, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers denied both motions.

Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its latest-gen iPhone 6 and first-gen iWatch, and also officially discontinued its iPod family of MP3 players....
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Bad week for Apple: bent phones followed by flawed iOS update

But Apple will replace bent phones -- if they pass a "Visual Mechanical Inspection"

If you downloaded and installed Apple's iOS 8.0.1 software update on Wednesday, whether to your iPhone, iPad or iPod, bear in mind the update proved to be so flawed, the company stopped the release a mere hour after starting it.

The Wall Street Journal initially reported that Apple yanked the update after hearing complaints from customers that the update not only interfered with their phones' ability to make calls, but disabled the TouchID sensor which allowed people to unlock their phones with their fingerprints.

Of course, iOS 8.0.1 was supposed to fix several flaws with iOS 8.0, including problems with the large phones' “reachability” (or ability to be used with only one hand), a bug that prevented users from accessing their photos, or uploading photos and videos from certain platforms, issues with various apps, and more. Instead, the intended fix only traded one set of major flaws for another.

The flawed update can no longer be downloaded and installed. However, for people who have already put iOS 8.0.1 on their iThings, it's uncertain as of press time what, if anything, Apple plans to do for them.

Bent out of shape

This hasn't been the only embarrassment Apple's faced this week; the company received plenty of bad press after people who bought iPhone 6 Plus devices complained that the phones are flimsy enough to bend out of shape, especially when people kept the phones in their pants pockets.

However, Apple finally responded to such complaints by offering to replace any bent iPhone 6 Plus models – after Genius Bar employees subject the phones to a “Visual Mechanical Inspection” to ensure the warranty covers the damage.

So if you are plagued by such a bent iPhone 6 Plus, you might try visiting your local Apple Store to see if your bent phone passes the Visual Mechanical Inspection. Thus far, it's too early to report how those VMIs turn out for bent-phone owners.

If you downloaded and installed Apple's iOS 8.0.1 software update on Wednesday, whether to your iPhone, iPad or iPod, bear in mind the update proved to be ...
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Reports: Apple iPhone 6 bends in your pocket

Is this normal wear-and-tear, or something worse?

How sturdy is Apple's new iPhone 6, anyway? An ever-growing number of customers are saying that the phone has a tendency to bend from the pressure when carried in people's pants pockets.

TechCrunch reported it yesterday, noting that every time a new Apple device is launched, looking for the first flaw in it has become a popular sport. “Unfortunately, this year we haven’t been able to come up with something entirely new. With the iPhone 6 and, more pointedly, the iPhone 6 Plus, reports suggest that the phone will bend when left in a pocket, seated, for a prolonged period of time.”

TechCrunch also noted that there were similar complaints about the iPhone 5 when it first came out.

The Washington Post picked up the story at 3:30 a.m. (Eastern time), reporting that “The new iPhone 6 bends,” and before 9:30 that morning, the Post updated its story to say that “Questions about the supposed bent iPhone 6 are now showing up on the [official] Apple users forum, without, so far, a response from Apple. The actual number of people claiming to have encountered this issue remains very limited.”

Disaster!

However limited the number might be in the official Apple forum, it's exploded on Twitter under the hashtag #bendgate. A typical complaint came from Alan Pope @popey, who also tweeted a photo to illustrate his complaint: “Disaster! Took phone out of my pocket and it's bent.”

At the same time, Apple also had its share of defenders, both on Twitter and elsewhere. “In all fairness, anyone who puts a gadget made of aluminium in their back pocket and sits down deserves for it to bend.”

Wired's Gadget Lab blog seemingly had little patience for the whole affair, pointing out that “Duh: Of course the iPhone 6 Plus can bend in your pocket.”

Meanwhile, the gadget reviewer Unbox Therapy posted a video to his YouTube channel called “The iPhone 6 bend test.”

He said, “Normally, I wouldn't do a video like this, but I woke up this morning and saw a number of reports claiming that the iPhone 6 Plus was bending inside of people's pockets.”

The bend test

So he carefully inspected his own phone, which he'd been using and carrying for the past couple of days, and “noticed a tiny little indentation toward the center of the device.” He was then able to make that small indentation grow into a full-fledged bend by applying pressure to the ends of it — that said, it's not known just how much pressure he applied, either.

Unbox Therapy also posted a “follow-up” video applying the bend test to the Samsung Galaxy, claiming that it did not bend. (Assuming this is true, there's a very simple explanation why: the Galaxy case is plastic, not metal.)

Even if the latest iPhone iteration is more likely to bend than you should reasonably expect from a device of that particular size and composition, there does appear one way for Apple users to avoid the problem: take it out of your pants pocket before you sit down, especially if you're wearing tight pants. The same holds true if you have a Galaxy or any other type of phone: maybe your device won't bend, but under enough pressure, anything can break.

One industry expert says the bending isn't all that surprising. 

"This is Apple's first device with a phablet sized screen, but it is not the first bending issues to surface on larger devices like the Galaxy S4," said David Anderson of Protect Your Bubble, a warranty provider for iPhones and other devices. "There have been many customers who have broken their screens or bent their devices by sitting on them while in their back pockets."

Anderson said there have even been previous cases of Apple's iPhone 5 and 5s having bending issues when put under a lot of stress.

"As the screens and devices get larger and thinner it will simply take less stress on their metal frames to bendm" he said. 

How sturdy is Apple's new iPhone 6, anyway? An ever-growing number of customers are saying that the phone has a tendency to bend from the pressure when car...
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Watch out for these iPhone6 scams

Nobody's giving free phones away over Facebook or email, either

Well, that didn't take long: Apple had barely finished formally unveiling its new iPhone6 earlier this month before various scammers started using the lure...

Latest iPhones are built to last, tests find

SquareTrade finds the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are tougher than previous models

Tired of hearing about the newest iPhones? Fair enough, but amidst all the hoopla over technical upgrades, consider this: warranty company SquareTrade says the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are tougher than their predecessors, making them better able to withstand harsher treatment

The new phones did especially well in the "grip-ability" test, meaning you're less likely to drop yours onto the subway tracks or into the toilet. The iPhone 6 also held up well when tested for drop damage, surviving falls from four feet with only minor knicks. 

The 6 Plus didn't fare quite as well in the drop test but, tests aside, if you're going to spring for a top-end phone it's probably a good idea to spend a few dollars more for a protective case.

The phones also did well when confronted with that most feared enemy of consumer electronics -- water. That's not something previous iPhones haven't always handled very well so it's a welcome change.

See more in this SquareTrade video:

Tired of hearing about the newest iPhones? Fair enough, but amidst all the hoopla over technical upgrades, consider this: warranty company SquareTrade says...
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Apple's “warrant canary” died; did Patriot Act spy activities kill it?

Despite Apple's pro-privacy headlines this week, something darkling might lurk behind the scenes

There's possible bad news for privacy advocates and Apple customers alike: a sharp-eyed look at Apple's two most recent Transparency Reports (more specifically, what's not in them) suggests that, despite the company's recent announcements affirming its strong commitment to protecting customers' privacy, it might have been forced to secretly spy on people under provisions of the Patriot Act.

First, a little background: Apple CEO Tim Cook made privacy-related headlines twice this week, first for giving a televised interview to PBS' Charlie Rose where, among other things, Cook said the company is not in the business of collecting or selling people's private information. He also discussed (and obliquely criticized) the U.S. government's mass, warrantless surveillance of its citizens, and other revelations exposed by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I don’t think that the country or the government’s found the right balance. I think they erred too much on the collect everything side. And I think the [U.S.] president and the [Obama] administration is committed to kind of moving that pendulum back,” Cook said to Rose.

A couple days later, Apple updated its Privacy Policy, promising more stringent protections for customers' personal data. Cook also released an open letter saying, in part, that “Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

Incidentally, Cook's statement in no way contradicts the suggestion “Apple has handed sensitive customer data over to the government;” it only specifies that the government wasn't able to reach in and grab such data by itself.

Gag order

Cook released his letter on Sept. 17. The very next day, Gigoam.com discovered that a look at Apple's two most recent Transparency Reports (from a total of three) strongly suggests the FBI or some other branch of government is secretly forcing Apple to spy on its customers, though the company is legally forbidden to admit this since it's operating under a legal gag order.

Such claims might sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but under modern U.S. law – specifically the Patriot Act – they are all-too-plausible.

Apple didn't get into the habit of writing and releasing Transparency Reports until last November, when it issued its first-ever such report, including some language which BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow first identified as a potential “warrant canary.”

The phrase “warrant canary” stems from the older saying “canary in a coal mine,” which in turn alludes to a common mining practice from the old days: before going down into the mines for a day's work, miners first had to make sure no poisonous or suffocating gases had collected there overnight. So before descending into the mine themselves, they'd lower a cage holding a canary or other small bird. If the bird lived, that proved the air in the mine safe to breathe. But if the bird died, the miners knew something was wrong.

Secrets are secret

A warrant canary is a statement meant to show that an organization, such as a tech company or even a public library, has not been forced to comply with a secret (and possibly warrantless) government investigation coupled with a gag order. And should the warrant canary later disappear, that suggests the opposite.

In Apple's case, its Transparency Report from November 2013 (which is available here in .pdf form, but only covers the first half of 2013) included this potential warrant canary statement: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

What does that mean? Section 215 says that the FBI can order any person or organization/entity to hand over “any tangible things,” provided the FBI says it is “for an authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

However, as the ACLU points out in its call to reform the Patriot Act, Section 215 goes far beyond standard constitutional limits on how the government is allowed to perform investigations:

The FBI need not show probable cause, nor even reasonable grounds to believe, that the person whose records it seeks is engaged in criminal activity. 

The FBI need not have any suspicion that the subject of the investigation is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power. 

The FBI can investigate United States persons based in part on their exercise of First Amendment rights, and it can investigate non-United States persons based solely on their exercise of First Amendment rights. For example, the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because they don't like the web sites she visits. They could spy on her because she wrote a letter to the editor that criticized government policy.

Another part of Section 215 — the part that makes “warrant canaries” a necessity in modern-day America – specifies that “Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing the fact to anyone else. Those who are the subjects of the surveillance are never notified that their privacy has been compromised. If the government had been keeping track of what books a person had been reading, or what web sites she had been visiting, the person would never know.”

Timeline

So let's recap what we know so far: in November 2013, Apple decided to release a Transparency Report for the first time, covering all activities through end-of-June that year, and including a statement which might be interpreted as a warrant canary, especially since (as Gigoam announced on Sept. 18), the canary does not appear in Apple's next two Transparency Reports.

If you believe that the statement “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us,” which appeared only in the first of three Transparency Reports, was indeed put there as a warrant canary, that strongly suggests a behind-the-scenes timetable something like this:

January 1 through June 30, 2013: Apple was not forced to comply with any Section 215 orders.

Sometime between July and November 2013: Apple got a Section 215 order and was forced to comply, meaning it not only had to turn over sensitive customer data to the government with no regard for warrants, probable cause or other constitutional niceties, Apple was also legally forbidden from telling anybody about this.

Early November 2013: Determined to let people know something's going on yet forbidden to outright say so, Apple released its first Transparency Report including the warrant canary, announcing it had no Section 215 orders as of June 30, 2013 — knowing full well that the canary's absence from its second Transparency Report would strongly imply that Apple did receive such an order shortly afterwards.

Missing canary

Gigoam's discovery of the warrant canary missing from Apple's latest two reports is not the only discouraging bit of Apple-related privacy news to come out this week. On Sept. 17, when Apple updated its privacy policy, it boasted that any data stored on a mobile device with the iOS8 operating system was so secure, even the police and Apple itself couldn't access it unless they know your own personal, secret password.

More specifically, Apple said, “it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Of course, “technically” can cover a lot of ground – after all, the Patriot Act including the whole need for warrant canaries is, many would argue, technically unconstitutional and therefore can't happen in America, yet current legal reality does not reflect this at all.

And so, on the same day that Gigoam.com first noted the possible death of Apple's warrant canary, Wired's Threat Level security blog found the technicality, noting that “Despite Apple's privacy pledge, cops can still pull data off a locked iPhone”:

iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski offered a word of caution for the millions of users clamoring to pre-order the iPhone 6 and upgrade to iOS 8. In many cases, he points out, the cops can still grab and offload sensitive data from your locked iPhone without Apple’s help, even in iOS 8. All they need, he says, is your powered-on phone and access to a computer you’ve previously used to move data onto and off of it.

Such claims might sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but under modern U.S. law – specifically the Patriot Act – they are all-too-plausible. ...
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Apple says even the government can't get your private data with iOS8

But protections only apply to information on your device, not in the cloud

Apple updated its privacy policy this week and released a letter from company CEO Tim Cook, both expressing the company's overall commitment to customer privacy protection, and the iOS8's security features in particular.

Apple says its new privacy protections are so stringent, some of your stored data is thoroughly inaccessible even to Apple itself — and even if the police or other government agents have a warrant for it.

Apple updated its Privacy Policy on Sept. 17, saying that “The changes were made predominantly to cover new features in iOS 8, or to provide additional information on current use of data such as your date of birth or information you’ve provided about others (for example, when sending products or gift certificates to another person). None of these changes are retroactive.”

After several reassurances about protecting users' privacy and/or personal information, the new privacy policy also says this:

“It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for Apple to disclose your personal information. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.”

Post-Snowden

That's pretty standard corporate-boilerplate language from any company that has your personal information (even dating back to the pre-Internet, pre-computer era): we'll keep everything we have on you private, unless we are legally ordered to do otherwise.

Yet such assurances take on a slightly different meaning in a post-Edward Snowden world, where it's old news that the National Security Agency routinely tracks Americans' whereabouts and monitors our electronic communications en masse, without warrants, probable cause or other things required by the constitution. The government has even ordered tech companies to hand over private data about its users — then made it illegal for the tech companies to admit what they were doing.

But Apple went even further in its newly updated “Privacy/Government Information Requests” page, saying:

On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.

In addition to these assurances, written by anonymous Apple employees, Apple's CEO Tim Cook also posted a letter on Apple's Privacy page, saying:

“Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

(Hopefully, Cook's statement is true. If, however, it's one day discovered otherwise, remember not to judge him or other technology executives too harshly; if they're lying, it is only to comply with current American law, which makes it illegal for Apple, Yahoo or other tech companies to inform their customers if the NSA or other arms of government are collecting data on them, with or without a warrant.)

Apple updated its privacy policy this week and released a letter from company CEO Tim Cook, both expressing the company's overall commitment to customer pr...
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States, Apple reach settlement in e-book price-fixing lawsuit

Consumers stand to get up to $400 million if the settlement is upheld

Thirty-three states reached a settlement today in their e-book price-fixing lawsuit against Apple Inc. Consumers nationwide will receive $400 million if the district court’s liability holding is affirmed.

"This settlement – contingent on the outcome of Apple's appeal – represents a fair and equitable effort by all parties to resolve this litigation," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. "Consumers across the country have already received compensation from $166 million in settlement funds paid by the five publishers involved in this price-fixing conspiracy. Through the terms of this settlement, they will receive additional compensation from another $400 million should the states prevail in the appeal."

Last year, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that evidence presented at trial showed Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy designed to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices. Apple has appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  

Under the settlement announced today, if Apple loses its appeal, it has agreed pay $400 million in compensation to e-book consumers.

“The price-fixing conspiracy between Apple and the publishers caused an immediate increase in cost to these consumers. We’re pleased that additional ill-gotten profits may ultimately be returned to consumers,” saidColorado Attorney General John W. Suthers.

Apple's  appeal is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Thirty-three states today reached a settlement today in their e-book price-fixing lawsuit against Apple Inc. Consumers nationwide will receive $400 mi...
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Will new Apple updates threaten Google's bottom line?

There's good reason to say yes ... or no

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference grinds on and continues to be a hugely big deal for iFans everywhere. Truth to tell, even Apple-free households have reason to take interest. Apple's a huge player in the computing industry, and if the company unveils anything truly innovative, everyone else will eventually follow. Remember: before there were generic “tablets,” there was the iPad.

After Day Two, it turns out that Google stockholders (and anyone else concerned with the welfare of the search-engine giant) might worry that Apple's latest update might hurt Google's bottom line. As AdAge magazine asked on June 3: “Did Apple's 'Spotlight' [local search function] update just sideline Google Search ads?”

The question arises from the fact that Apple has made Microsoft's Bing search engine the default on its upcoming products, in addition to its current status as the default search engine for voice-activated Siri products. (However, Google will remain the default search engine for Apple's browser Safari.)

Furthermore, Apple Spotlight users will get web-only search results stripped of ads — gutting one of Google's money-making models.

No guarantees

None of this guarantees that Google has reason to worry, though. AdAge notes that Apple's Bing-powered search engine generally brings back far fewer results than Google.

Bing has, in previous commercials, tried portraying this as a positive feature – you'll get a small number of search results specific to your query, rather than a large number of search results cluttered with useless junk – but, as AdAge noted, “Apple would have to prove that its small number of results are accurate enough to fulfill someone's query. Good-enough search has never been enough to unseat or take share from Google.'

It's day two of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which continues to be a hugely big deal for iFans everywhere. Truth to tell, even Apple-free house...
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Apple kicks off Worldwide Developers Conference

New operating system unveiled Monday; hardware innovations not expected

The Worldwide Developers Conference is for Apple kind of what the Super Bowl is to football, except it lasts a whole week, there's only one team, and hardly any beer commercials to speak of. So on second thought it's not like the Super Bowl at all, but it is a very big deal.

For Apple fans rather than developers, the high note so far has been the preliminary unveiling of the new iOS8 operating system, which is currently available only to developers but should be released to users this fall. However, the real suspense is whether Apple plans to unveil any new hardware, rather than software, at the conference.

Current rumor says that the answer is no, though until the conference ends on June 6 nobody (outside a few high-ranking Apple executives) can say for certain.

Apple streamed the conference live for those with Safari; for everyone else, a wide variety of media outlets have live or semi-live bloggers covering the event.

The Worldwide Developers Conference is for Apple kind of what the Super Bowl is to football, except it lasts a whole week, there's only one team, and hardl...
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Apple to release new operating system, updated iPads

Promises extended battery life for MacBook Pro

Tech and consumer journalists could save a lot of time if they’d program their work computers so that pressing a single key made the sentence “Apple’s releasing some new products” instantly appear on their screen.

Anyway, Apple’s releasing some new products. Specifically, updated iPads and a new operating system called OS X Mavericks, which will add an extra hour and a half to the battery life of a MacBook Pro, according to Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi.

The Washington Post tech blog reported the upcoming Apple unveilings as part of a larger piece discussing the current market for tablets.

“While Apple continues its reign on top of the tablet world, analysts say the company is beginning to see some of the same competitive pressures it faced in the smartphone market. It once dominated that market, but has recently been unseated by smartphones running the Android operating system.”

Of course, the Post also quoted Apple executives insisting they’re not remotely worried about competitors in the tablet market; as Apple chief executive Tim Cook said, “Our competition is confused … We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal. We still believe deeply in this category, and we’re not slowing down in our innovation.”

Which is why we said tech journalists could save a lot of time, if they’d program their work computers so that pressing a single key made the sentence “Apple’s releasing some new products” instantly appear on their screen.

Tech and consumer journalists could save a lot of time if they’d program their work computers so that pressing a single key made the sentence “...
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The new iPhone 5C comes in colors everywhere

The 5C is not only colorful, it's also a lot cheaper than its predecessor

Apparently taking its cue from the Rolling Stones, Apple today unveiled the new iPhone 5C, one of two phones that will replace the current iPhone 5.

And what's so new and different about the 5C? Well, not much. It's basically the same as the iPhone 5, now officially yesterday's news. A new, fancier model is the 5S.

The "C" -- we think -- stands for "color" and that's because the 5C, well, it comes in color everywhere -- at least five of them. 

Or it could stand for "cheap." The 5C will cost just $99 with a contract, thus making one of the world's costliest smartphones more affordable, as Apple works to boost its market share in developing countries. 

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, showed the colorful versions of the iPhone 5C today at the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. It's made of polycarbonate plastic, in green, blue, white, red and yellow and has no visible seams.

"The iPhone 5C is beautifully, unapologetically plastic," Schiller said. "Multiple parts have been reduced to a single polycarbonate component whose surface is continuous."

The 5S

And then there's the new high-priced spread, the iPhone 5S. No colors here. It comes in aluminum but features a faster processor and a fingerprint sensor that is supposed to make it more secure. With a contract, the iPhone 5S will set you back $200, twice as much as the colorful 5C.

Both phones will be available in the U.S., Japan and China on September 20. 

Apparently taking its cue from the Rolling Stones, Apple today unveiled the new iPhone 5C, one of two phones that will replace the current iPhone 5.And w...
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Suit wants Apple to protect consumers from porn

Lawyer wants company to install controls on all devices

Apple has seen its share of litigation, but this may be the most interesting suit yet.

Chris Sevier, 36 a Nashville lawyer and model, wants “all [of Apple’s] devices,” including the iPhone, sold “in 'safe mode,' with software preset to filter out pornographic content."

Sevier’s trail of tears began when he bought a MacBook Pro, which came with the web browser Safari already installed. Sevier “accidentally misspelled ‘facebook.com,’” according to the complaint, “which lead [sic] him to ‘fuc[*]book.com’ and a host of websites that caused him to see pornographic images that appealed to his biological sensibilities as a male and lead [sic] to an unwanted addiction with adverse consequences.”

Sevier admits in the complaint that he “ loves Apple ... and knows that it has good intent,” and is certain that the company is concerned with the welfare of our Nation's children, while furthering pro-American values."

Nevertheless, Sevier wants Apple to “set the example for all device makers” and equip all of its devices with strict controls on access to porn, requiring the user to “take proactive steps to block pornographic images.”

“Apple is hijacking great sex”

Among the reasons Sevier gives for his request are “patriotism” (“American [sic] is in many respect [sic] a lighthouse for the rest of the world to follow, arguably because it was formed on Judeo-Christian values ... Apple should set the example for device makers all over the world...”); “knowledge” (“the burden to safe guard [sic] its consumers should fall on Apple, not the purchasers who would otherwise not like to be inflicted with the myriad of problems that stem from viewing porn”); and that “Apple is hijacking great sex by failing to sell its products in safe mode” (“pornography ... obviously encourages lust, which hijacks great sex, making the thrill of engaging in deviant behavior the primary objective of intercourse”).

Whether any of these colorful opinions constitutes a legal cause of action remains to be seen.

In his complaint, Sevier suggests that there will be a groundswell of outrage if Apple does not comply with his suggestion, writing that “Apple should see this lawsuit as a warning sign of the class action lawsuits to follow in the event Apple elects to resist the Plaintiff’s reasonable request.”

“Save ... countless marriages”

Sevier insists in his complaint that he “is not a proponent of legislating morality in the extreme,” writing that “members of society should not be prosecuted for ‘being human.’” Nevertheless, he says that porn controls on Mac devices could “save ... countless marriages [and] impact generations to come.”

The complaint, filed in federal court in Tennessee, alleges fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability, outrageous conduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Apple has seen its share of litigation, but this may be the most interesting suit yet.Chris Sevier, a Nashville lawyer, wants “all [of Ap...
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"Tough to see" Google Glass having big impact: Apple CEO

But Tim Cook says "wearable devices" have a big future

People have been wearing wristwatches since, well, forever and we've been strapping on various types of music players ever since the Sony Walkman debuted in 1979.  And, of course, some folks wear guns, so really, there's nothing new about "wearable devices," even though the term has only lately come into vogue thanks to Google Glass.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook says it's "tough to see" how Google Glass will gain wide acceptance, given objections about privacy and the risk that wearers will make themselves targets for muggers.

Instead, Cook hinted at the D: All Things Digital Conference yesterday that Apple's still-unannounced wearable devices will get a better reception, the Wall Street Journal reported.

It's been rumored that Apple is developing a wristwatch-like device that functions like a smartphone, sort of a latter-day Dick Tracy gizmo.  Cook wasn't revealing details but said that Apple has "several more game-changers" in development.

Cook also announced that Apple has hired former Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson to oversee the company's environmental activities. 

Perhaps sounding somewhat defensive, Cook turned aside complaints that Android devices have overtaken Apple in the smartphone and tablet market. He said Apple is more concerned with having happy customers than with having the most customers.

People have been wearing wristwatches since, well, forever and we've been strapping on various types of music players ever since the Sony Walkman debuted i...
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Pressure grows for cheaper iPhone

Report suggests new iPhone could be offered at lower cost

The iPhone lags Android phones in sales but Apple remains the most profitable smartphone maker. Some Apple fans think that's small consolation, that the company could dominate the smartphone universe if only it would lower the price of its flagship device, the iPhone.

Currently the iPhone 5 sells for $649 through most participating carriers but is $199.99 with a two-year contract. That happens to be the very same price as Samsung's newest smartphone, the Galaxy S4.

However, budget-conscious shoppers can get other Android phones for much less. The Samsung Galaxy Stellar is just $19.99 with a two-year agreement. The LG Lucid 2 at Verizon Wireless is free when you sign on for two years. Some in the tech world think Apple would sell more iPhones if it had a cheaper version that wasn't two generations behind.

Persistent rumor

Last week the buzz about a possible lower-cost iPhone got louder. A technology news site in Japan – Macotakara – has reported that Apple is preparing for trial production of a new device, the iPhone 5S, that will come in a variety of colors. This isn't the first time these kinds of rumors have floated to the surface. In fact, Apple shot down one such report earlier this year.

But it's worth noting that Apple's co-founder, the late Steve Jobs, vowed Apple would never produce a seven-inch iPad. Yet in 2012 it did exactly that, rolling out the popular iPad Mini. One reason for the device's popularity, tech analysts said, was its lower price tag. They suggest the same thing could help iPhone sales. So tech analysts tend to look at Apple's denials with a bit of skepticism.

The Macotakara report suggests the cheaper iPhone would carry an unsubsidized price as low as $350, meaning its subsidized price could fall below $100. The report also said Apple is planning an update of its current iPhone and iPad products, presumably at their present price points.

Repair costs aren't cheap either

Consumers rate Apple iPhone
The cost of the iPhone isn't the only concern for Michelle, of Lawrenceville, Ga., who spent nearly $700 for an unsubsidized iPhone 5. It was what happened when the phone stopped working that sparked her ire.

“I had to bring it to the Apple store because they couldn't restore it,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “They said they couldn't do anything about it but I must replace the phone for another $250 and another $100 for insurance. One-thousand dollars total that I had to pay for this phone. Arghhhghhhhhh.”

Even when iPhones can be repaired, it's expensive. Marketwatch.com recently reported that the going rate to repair an iPhone 5 with a damaged screen is $229, more than the initial subsidized cost of the device.

More companies turning out Android phones

While Samsung is viewed as Apple's biggest smartphone competitor, it is only one company turning out Android phones. Other companies are increasing their sales at a rapid clip as they, combined, turn out dozens of new model phones in the time it takes Apple to update the iPhone.

LG has announced a doubling of its smartphone sales over the last 12 months. LG credit that growth to the fact that it has produced phones for both the premium and budget markets.

The question is, is Apple about to follow suit?

The iPhone lags Android phones in sales but Apple remains the most profitable smartphone maker. Some Apple fans think that's small consolation, that the co...
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iPhone 4: The check is in the mail

It's the final chapter of Antennagate settlement

The Apple iPhone 4 has achieved its place in history as the last iPhone not spookily inhabited by Siri. But the phone was also responsible for one of 2010’s biggest tech scandals: “Antennagate.”

Within days of the phone’s June 2010 release, users discovered that when the device was held a certain way, it received almost no signal. Users said that putting one’s hand over the phone’s metal frame in the lower left-hand corner -- where the antenna is exposed -- led to a marked decrease in signal strength.

Unsurprisingly, the issue quickly produced a flurry of lawsuits, with class actions filed in California and Maryland by the beginning of July. Ultimately, 18 cases were filed, although all were ultimately combined into a single class action.

Last year, Apple agreed to settle the matter for $53 million. This week, the final chapter of Antennagate will be written, with $15 checks being sent to eligible class members. Apple had also offered free iPhone 4 cases in place of monetary compensation.

Jobs: “Just avoid holding it that way”

The issue provoked a characteristically brusque response from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. When a customer emailed Jobs to ask, “What's going to be done about the signal dropping issue[?],” Jobs replied, “Non issue. Just avoid holding it that way.”

Jobs did ultimately issue a mea culpa, stating that, “We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.”

Consumers who receive a check must cash it by July 16. If you haven’t filed a claim yet, it’s too late -- the deadline passed in August 2012.

Glassgate

The iPhone 4 was also at the center of “Glassgate,” involving the device’s alleged propensity to shatter when dropped. A Los Angeles suit centering around that issue claimed that “Apple ... failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective.”
The Apple iPhone 4 has achieved its place in history as the now-ubiquitous smartphone that first introduced the world to Siri. But the phone was also...
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Duplicate downloads from iTunes? Pay up, the judge orders

Court dismisses suit that claims Apple's policies are deceptive

Apple's stock price is down and there are fears that sales of iPhones and other iStuff may be slumping but you've got to give Apple credit for one thing: the company has good lawyers.

Just the other day, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that claimed the MacBook Pro drains its battery even when it's plugged in. The judge said Apple's promotional literature had never claimed the battery wouldn't go dead. Case dismissed.

And now, another judge has dismissed claims that Apple deceptively charges consumers for downloading the same song more than once. The judge said -- guess what? -- it's not deceptive because Apple discloses that multiple charges accompany multiple downloads.

Robert Herskowitz and Phoebe Juel had hoped to represent a class of customers who were charged for multiple downloads of the same song from iTunes.

Apple argued that the plaintiffs "do not and cannot point to any legal obligation requiring Apple to provide them with a second download of the same song free of charge. To the contrary, their agreement with Apple expressly bars that claim, and provided an express and exclusive remedy that plaintiffs ignore." That remedy is to contact Apple for assistance, Courthouse News Service reported.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh agreed with Apple, noting that "the agreement in effect at the time of Juel's purchase contained an express provision that purchasers were not entitled to re-download a song free of charge."

The judge noted that Apple's Terms and Conditions state that "products may be downloaded only once and cannot be replaced if lost for any reason." 

In both cases, the plaintiffs have the opportunity to amend their original complaints.

New computer, no songs

Consumers rate Apple iTunes

Sometimes, of course, hanging onto your iTunes titles is easier said than done. Ellen of Grand Island, N.Y., said in a ConsumerAffairs postingthat she bought a new desktop computer last November.

"When I went to transfer the 30-plus songs I had purchased on iTunes, the songs disappeared," she said. "Thus began the saga of over 10 hours spent  responding to emails, over 3 hrs on the phone with their support team. None of their steps worked to retrieve my already paid for songs!"

"I believe this is a ruse to get customers to buy songs over and over to increase their revenue," Ellen groused. "This borders on greed to me."

It's not just music that sometimes strikes a sour note wit Apple customers. Lynn of Hot Springs, Ark., tried to buy two audio books that she could listen to during an upcoming road trip. But Lynn, who said she has limited vision and is not very computer-savvy, soon found that only one of the books would play.

"After hours of searching and struggling to read and understand all the help webpages, I finally managed to speak directly to an Itunes customer service person. They were unable to figure out the problem and furnished phone number for Apple," Lynn said. "The Apple rep immediately told me that I had purchased an "iBook", not an audio book. They suggested I contact iTunes for solution."

Lynn did that, but didn't get much in the way of results. iTunes refused to credit her for the mistaken purchase.

"They did not care about honest mistakes, being blind in one eye, being over 65 and not the best on a computer. Their customer support was not to soothe or assist the customer," she said.  "I may have only spent a few hundred a year with iTunes and they won't miss my business, all over a $12.00 book."

Apple's stock price is down and there are fears that sales of iPhones and other iStuff may be slumping but you've got to give Apple credit for one thing: t...
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Judge dismisses suit claiming Apple misled MacBook Pro purchasers

Users say the battery runs down even when the machine is plugged in

Though so far unsuccessful in court, disgruntled owners of  MacBook Pro laptops continue to flood social media with their expressions of outrage about what they regard as the expensive machines' substandard performance.

"I have the new 13" MacPro and even when it's plugged in, if you are using a site that is graphic intensive, it starts to drain battery power," a consumer named Sharon said in a ConsumerAffairs posting.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in California dismissed a suit filed by Alex Tomek, who alleged that in 2011, he bought a MacBook Pro based on Apple's claims of "huge leaps in performance."

But Tomek, whose suit sought class-action status, said he soon found the battery was not charging under certain conditions and that sometimes the machine was draining power from the battery even when it was plugged in. Eventually, it go so bad that Tomek said he had to stop working and turn the machine off to let it recharge.

Not enough power

Tomek's suit alleges that the 85-watt power adapter supplied with the machines is not up to the job of powering the the 2.3 gHz Intel Core 17 processor and its accompanying AMD Radeon graphics processor, despite Apple's advertising which promised that users would be able to "surf the web wirelessly for up to 7 hours on a single charge."

Tomek said consumers were complaining about the problem since the machines were released but received no satisfaction from Apple, which the suit alleges has "failed and refused and continues to faill and refuse to provide adequate customers service ... to cope with this defect."

In its defense, Apple argued that Tomek had failed to build a strong case for his assertion that Apple had intentionally misled purchasers. 

In dismissing the case, the judge wrote that the suit was "devoid of any facts demonstrating that Defendant ever represented to Plaintiff that the MacBook Pro's battery would not drain under certain circumstances, even if plugged into an external power source, resulting in a shutdown. In fact, Defendant's support representative told Plaintiff the battery drain was 'expected behavior.'"

Also, the judge noted, Apple claimed battery life would be "up to" seven hours, thus leaving itself considerable wiggle room. Tomek has the option to amend certain provisions of the suit and refile it.

Though so far unsuccessful in court, disgruntled owners of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops continue to flood social media with their expressions of outrage abo...
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Apple paying $53 million to settle 'water damage' claims

Customers' iPhone warranty claims were denied because of supposed water damage

Make no mistake, if you get your iPhone or other sensitive electronic device wet, you will likely cause irreparable, or at least expensive, damage. Over the years, however, many Apple iPod and iPhone owners have claimed that Apple used "phantom" water damage as an excuse not to honor claims for other damage and defects.

Apple has now agreed to a $53 million class action settlement with some of its customers whose claims were denied because of Apple's assessment that the devices were exposed to water, thus voiding the warranty.

Hundreds of thousands of consumers would be eligible for cash payments under terms of the settlement. The payouts are expected to amount to a few hundred dollars per person.

The proposed settlement, which will not be final until it is approved by the court, doesn't affect everyone who owns an iPhone or iPod. Only consumers with the iPhone 3G and 3GS or iPod Touch will be eligible to receive compensation.

Robert, of Slidell, La., is one of many consumers who've written to ConsumerAffairs about the problem. Robert writes that his iPhone 4 stopped working a month after he purchased it. He took it to the Apple Store to have it evaluated.

“The Apple Store took the phone in the back room, came out several minutes later and said the phone is not warranted because of liquid,” he writes. “The phone was not wet. I believe the Apple Rep wet my phone and thus I had to purchase another phone for more than the first one cost me at AT&T.”

Honest mistake

More likely, it was an honest error. According to court documents, a moisture-sensing tape made by 3M has been shown to be affected by humidity, and can thus indicate false positives. The paper tape is attached near the headphone jack of the devices, allowing technicians to quickly determine if moisture had gotten inside. In the documents, Apple has admitted no wrongdoing.

Whatever the reason, the issue of water damage has been a hot one over the years. Jeff, of Minnetonka, Minn., reported in February that his iPod Nano claim was denied – wrongly, in his opinion.

Kept in a baggie

“Only use the Nano when running,” Jeff wrote. “It went dead, so I went into the Apple Genius Bar and they said dead due to water damage. Told him only use it when I run and it's in a baggie. He said 'sorry it's water damage.'”

Johanna, of Castlerock, Colo., got the same story when she filed a claim on her iPod Nano.

“I brought it in to an Apple store to find out what's going on and they said there was water damage,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “What? I have never gotten the device wet. My husband and I used it for running, so the only thing that makes sense is sweat."

Non-working iPhones

There have been more complaints about denied claims for non-working iPhones. Last September Jean, of Milford, Pa., contacted us about her daughter's iPhone 4S. As soon as she loaded IOS 6.0, she said she lost wi-fi capability.

“We tried everything, but all failed,” Jean writes. "So we were supposed to get a replacement, unfortunately Apple pulled the water damage scam on us.”

Consumers whose names and addresses are on file will be notified by mail of their eligibility for payment when the settlement is approved. Notices will also be placed in USA Today and MacWorld.

The lead attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Jeffrey Fazio of Fazio Micheletti LLC, San Ramon, Calif., and Steve A. Schwartz of Chimicles & Tikellis LLP, Haverford, Pa. 

Make no mistake, if you get your iPhone or other sensitive electronic device wet, you will likely cause irreparable, or at least expensive, damag...
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New year brings new bug to iPhone

Some users report Do Not Disturb setting does not turn off as scheduled

Some iPhone users may be a little harder to reach today. When the calendar turned over to 2013 Tuesday, the Do Not Disturb function in the iOS6 operating system -- the mobile platform for the iPhone and iPad -- developed a bug, according to users.

The Do Not Disturb function, which is new to iOS 6, allows users to set a time when their phone will not ring -- calls will go directly to voicemail. Users schedule the time for the feature to start and to end.

The problem, apparently, is that since the new year began, the Do Not Disturb function does not always turn off as scheduled. As a result, calls continue to go to voicemail.

Bad timing

In a bit of bad timing for Apple, the company chose this week to launch a new commercial, featuring Venus and Serena Williams, promoting the Do Not Disturb function.

On the MacRumors Website, a place where Apple product users post comments, there was some discussion of the problem today.

Didn't notice right away

“I didn't notice anything wrong with it yesterday on the 1st because I was sleeping in, but it's officially on two minutes after it should have turned itself off on the 2nd,” a user going by aardwolf posted.

Another user using the handle Bezetos wondered why Apple bothered to make an ad promoting a feature that has been available on other platforms.

“Will I be going too far by saying that Apple are starting to have little to say for themselves these days?” Bezetos asked.

Other posters reported that going into “settings” and turning off the Do Not Disturb function, then turning it on again, seems to reset the system so that it operates properly.

Some iPhone users may be a little harder to reach today. When the calendar turned over to 2013 Tuesday, the Do Not Disturb function in the iOS6 operating s...
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Where is Your iPhone in Most Danger?

Study finds most damage occurs in the kitchen

Last month we reported iPhones tend to have a lot of accidents. SquareTrade, a company that sells smartphone insurance policies, released a study showing that damaged iPhones have cost U.S. consumers $5.9 billion since their introduction in 2007.

But where and how does this damage occur? SquareTrade can now answer that question, releasing a study that shows 51 percent of accidents to iPhones happen around the home, usually in the kitchen.

Unusual not so unusual

The study also revealed that "unusual" iPhone accidents are much more common than previously expected: In addition to an astonishing nine percent toilet mishap statistic, the research shows that five percent of iPhone users have put an iPhone in the washing machine and six percent of users have put their device on top of their car and then driven off.

"Smartphones have become our third hand -- our instinctual resource for information and entertainment," said Ty Shay, SquareTrade's CMO. "Whether or not you're the one in ten that drops your iPhone in the toilet, you're likely taking your phone everywhere, and that habit needs protection."

Danger zones

As far as danger around the house, the survey ranks it this way:

  1. the kitchen (21 percent of accidents around the home happen here)
  2. the living room (17 percent)
  3. the bathroom (16 percent)
  4. the driveway (10 percent)
  5. the bedroom (8 percent)

SquareTrade, of course, would like to sell you an insurance policy to cover your phone or other device. Considerations before making such a purchase should be how much you paid for the phone and what the replacement cost would be, what exclusions or deductibles are included in the policy, and how careful you tend to be.

Keeping your phone out of the kitchen, it appears, greatly improves your odds.

Last month we reported iPhones tend to have a lot of accidents. SquareTrade, a company that sells smartphone insurance policies, released a study showing t...
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Some iPhone Users Report Battery Drain, Other iOS 6 Issues

Some new and older iPhones aren't reacting well to the update

No one is happy with their smartphone battery life these days but the release of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 has increased the complaints from iPhone users. Not just users of the new iPhone 5 but from those using older models, who have installed the new operating system.

It turns out iOS 6 is taking a toll on batteries in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Eric Zeman, a technology writer for Information Week, reports testing the iPhone 5 for 10 days and finding the battery life to be very good. He credits it to a larger battery and efficient power management in the A6 processor.

But when he installed the new operating system on older iPhones, it was a different story.

Noticeable change

“With Wi-Fi on, but cellular data turned off on the 4 and 4S, neither device lasts 24 hours any more,” he writes. “They used to--and still should--last several days at a minimum.”

But not everyone is as happy with their iPhone 5 battery life as Zeman is. Jim Tanous, writing in the MacObserver, says a strong LTE signal will run down the iPhone 5 battery faster than a weak signal, or when connected via 3G.

“While all cellular devices experience decreased battery life when cellular signals are weak, the relatively few areas with strong LTE signals means that iPhone 5 users may see less than half of Apple’s advertised running time,” he writes.

Other headaches

Consumers rate Apple iPhone

Apple's new iOS 6 appears to be causing other types of headaches as well. Jean, of Milford, PA, reports her daughter's iPhone 4S has been unable to connect via WiFi since she installed iOS 6.

“Her phone worked fine with iOS 5.1 but once she updated to iOS 6.0 then no WiFi,” Jean wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “We tried everything, but all failed.”

Jaime, of Ironton, Ohio, has an even older iPhone, the 3GS. She reports that her phone locked up when she updated it with iOS 6.

“I attempted to restore my phone with iTunes, this did not work as my phone continued to be locked up,” Jaime posted on ConsumerAffairs. “I called AT&T, my Wireless Service Provider, they called Apple Customer Care, they suggested I try and do the restore again because their servers were bogged down with all the IOS6 problems. I tried to restore again with no luck.”

Just get a new phone

Jaime said an Apple rep's suggestion to her was spending $149 and getting a new iPhone.

“Why should I have to spend money to replace my phone, when they created the problem in the first place,” she asked.

Meanwhile, Adam Engst, writing on the Apple news site Tidbits, thinks he's stumbled across another possible reason for the rapid battery drain on phones running iOS 6. He traced his problem to corrupted bookmarks in his phone's browser.

“Since I don’t really use Safari, I’d never worried about the fact that the bookmarks had been imported from multiple other systems years ago and horribly duplicated through who knows what syncing services,” he writes. “Despite this, they’d never caused problems in previous versions of iOS.”

No one is happy with their smartphone battery life these days but the release of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 has increased the complaints from iPhone users. Not...
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