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Published: 2017-05-23T05:45:29+00:00

 



A Tip for Apple in China: Your Hunger for Revenue May Cost You

2017-05-19T17:20:00+00:00

Li Yuan, writing for the WSJ: Apple's latest predicament centers on its App Store. Last month, Apple told several Chinese social-networking apps, including the wildly popular messaging platform WeChat, to disable their "tip" functions to comply with App Store rules (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), according to executives at WeChat and other companies. That function allows users to send authors and other content creators tips, from a few yuan to hundreds, via transfers from mobile-wallet accounts. Those transfers are offered by the social-networking apps free of charge, as a way to inspire user engagement. Now, those tips will be considered in-app purchases, just like buying games, music and videos, entitling Apple to a 30% cut. For Apple, which has been observing slowing growth in mature markets, China is increasingly becoming important. But the company's my way or high-way approach might hurt the company's image in China. And that image as well as fortunes of local companies, is what the Chinese authorities deeply care about. As Yuan adds, "while it's understandable that Apple wants to tap the App Store for more money, its pressure on the app platforms risks alienating powerful Chinese companies, turning off Chinese iPhone users and drawing unnecessary attention from the regulators." Executives of these IM messaging apps tell WSJ that Apple has threatened that it would kick their apps out of the App Store if they don't comply. The problem is, WeChat is way more popular in China than Apple -- or its iPhones or its services or both combined, analysts say. WeChat is insanely popular in China, and people love to use the app to pay for things they purchase and send money to friends. Apple's greed could end up resulting in millions of new Android users, analysts said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm

2017-05-19T03:30:00+00:00

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lobbying records in New York state show that Apple, Verizon, and the tech industry's largest trade organizations are opposing a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair your electronics. The bill, called the "Fair Repair Act," would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit "software locks" that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York's robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they're spending money on public record. According to New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, the printer company Lexmark, heavy machinery company Caterpillar, phone insurance company Asurion, and medical device company Medtronic have spent money lobbying against the Fair Repair Act this year. The Consumer Technology Association, which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers, is also lobbying against the bill. The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition -- which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees -- is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Launches Google Assistant On the iPhone

2017-05-18T21:40:00+00:00

At its I/O 2017 developer conference, Google announced the Google Assistant is coming to iOS as a standalone app. Previously, the only way for iOS users to get access to the Assistant was through Allo, the Google messaging app nobody uses. For those interested, you can download the Google Assistant on your iOS device here, but keep in mind that your device needs to be running iOS 9.1 or higher. VentureBeat reports: Google Assistant for iPhone won't ship on Apple's mobile devices by default, and naturally won't be as tightly integrated into the OS. But it is addressable by voice and does work with other Google apps on Apple's platform. Apple has API restrictions on iOS, so Google Assistant can't set alarms like Siri can. It can, however, send iMessages for you or start playing music in third-party apps like Spotify. You also won't be able to use the Home button to trigger Google Assistant, so you'll need to use the app icon or a widget.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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App Maker's Code Stolen in Malware Attack

2017-05-18T16:00:00+00:00

Mac and iOS software developer Panic has had the source code for several of its apps stolen. An anonymous reader writes: Panic founder Steven Frank said in a blog post that it happened after he downloaded an infected copy of the video encoding tool Handbrake. He said there was no sign that any customer data was accessed and that Panic's web server was not affected. Users have been warned to download Panic's apps only from its website or the Apple App Store. Panic is the creator of web editing and file transfer apps Coda and Transmit, and the video game Firewatch. On May 2, Handbrake was hacked, with the Mac version of the app on one of the site's download servers replaced by a malicious copy. In what Mr Frank called "a case of extraordinarily bad luck", he downloaded the malicious version of Handbrake and launched it "without stopping to wonder why Handbrake would need admin privileges... when it hadn't before. And that was that, my Mac was completely, entirely compromised in three seconds or less."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple Starts Assembling iPhones In India

2017-05-17T22:40:00+00:00

Apple has successfully completed its first trial run assembly of the iPhone SE in India, reports The Wall Street Journal. "We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru," Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch. "iPhone SE is the most popular and powerful phone with a four-inch display in the world and we'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month." From the report: The four-inch SE is Apple's least expensive model, running $399 in the States. Some retailers in the country have managed to undercut the cost, lower the entry level price of the handset by around $80 -- but even at that price, it's still substantially more expensive than most. In spite of its relatively low pricing, the SE doesn't appear to have made quite the splash Apple was initially anticipating in the country. Apple has long been working to move production to the country, hoping, in part, to retake some of the market it has lost in China in recent years, as domestic handset sales have grown. Locals are hoping that such a move could reduce the retail cost of the SE even further, by as much as $100. But while $220 is certainly a lot more palatable, that still marks a substantial premium over the average handset price. It's the world's fastest growing market, having recently surpassed the U.S. to claim the number. The Indian market is expected to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of one billion smartphone sales over the next half-decade.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Qualcomm Sues Apple Contract Manufacturers

2017-05-17T14:00:00+00:00

Qualcomm on Wednesday sued the manufacturers that make iPhones for Apple for failing to pay royalties on the chip maker's technology, widening its legal battle with the world's most valuable company. Qualcomm's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a federal district court in San Diego, accuses Compal, Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron of breaching longstanding patent-licensing agreements with Qualcomm by halting royalty payments on Qualcomm technology used in iPhones and iPads. From a report: Apple sued Qualcomm in January, accusing it of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. Qualcomm said in the complaint that Apple is trying to force the company to agree to a "unreasonable demand for a below-market direct license." Qualcomm said last month that Apple had decided to withhold royalty payments to its contract manufacturers that are owed to the chipmaker, for sales made in the first quarter of 2017, until the dispute is resolved in court. "While not disputing their contractual obligations to pay for the use of Qualcomm's inventions, the manufacturers say they must follow Apple's instructions not to pay," Qualcomm said in a statement on Wednesday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple Receives Patents For Bezel-Free Display, Touch ID Button Embedded In Screen

2017-05-17T10:00:00+00:00

Apple has just been granted patents for two of the biggest features expected from the iPhone 8: an edge-to-edge display, and a Touch ID button embedded into the screen. 9to5Mac reports: The edge-to-edge display patent has the rather mundane heading "Reducing the border area of a device." It describes how a mostly-flat display can have a curved border area allowing it to wrap around the sides of the device: [...] "This relates to methods and systems for reducing the border areas of an electronic device so as to maximize the display/interactive touch areas of the device. In particular, a flexible substrate can be used to fabricate the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel (referred to collectively herein as a 'circuit panel') of a mobile electronic device so that the edges of the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel can be bent. Bending the edges can reduce the width (or length) of the panel, which in turn can allow the overall device to be narrower without reducing the display/touch-active area of the device." The embedded Touch ID patent is one of many submitted by Apple, describing different approaches it could take. This one re-uses language from a separate patent granted back in February, describing the benefits of allowing a user to authenticate without having to remove their finger from the screen: "Where a fingerprint sensor is integrated into an electronic device or host device, for example, as noted above, it may be desirable to more quickly perform authentication, particularly while performing another task or an application on the electronic device. In other words, in some instances it may be undesirable to have a user perform an authentication in a separate authentication step, for example switching between tasks to perform the authentication." Apple has been granted a total of 56 patents today. For more information, visit Patently Apple.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Tech Sector Is Leaving the Rest of the US Economy In Its Dust

2017-05-17T01:25:00+00:00

Yesterday afternoon, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and is up over $1.5 trillion since the start of 2017. "And the companies doing the most to drive that rally are all tech firms," reports The Verge. "Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains." From the report: All of these companies saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S. economy, which grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year. That divide is the culmination of a long-term trend, according to a recent report featured in The Wall Street Journal: "In digital industries -- technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services -- productivity grew 2.7% annually over the past 15 years...The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries -- health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail -- where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period." There is no industry where these players aren't competing. Music, movies, shipping, delivery, transportation, energy -- the list goes on and on. As these companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry. Meanwhile Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple To Refresh Entire MacBook Lineup Next Month, Air and Pro To Feature Kaby Lake

2017-05-16T18:40:00+00:00

Apple will unveil new laptops during its annual developer conference, known as WWDC, next month, reports Bloomberg. The company is going to refresh the MacBook Pro (as well as Air and just the 'MacBook' models) with new seventh-gen processors from Intel, the newest available, the report adds. Last year, Apple launched three new MacBook Pro laptops with older sixth-generation chips, which means people who already own the newer model may be a bit dismayed by Apple's refresh. From the article: Apple is planning three new laptops, according to people familiar with the matter. The MacBook Pro will get a faster Kaby Lake processor from Intel, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. Apple is also working on a new version of the 12-inch MacBook with a faster Intel chip. The company has also considered updating the aging 13-inch MacBook Air with a new processor as sales of the laptop, Apple's cheapest, remain surprisingly strong, one of the people said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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US Law Allows Low H-1B Wages; Just Look At Apple

2017-05-16T18:00:00+00:00

An anonymous reader writes: If you work at Apple's One Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino as a computer programmer on an H-1B visa, you can can be paid as little as $52,229. That's peanuts in Silicon Valley. Average wages for a programmer in Santa Clara County are more than $93,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the U.S. government will approve visa applications for Silicon Valley programmers at $52,229 -- and, in fact, did so for hundreds of potential visa holders at Apple alone. To be clear, this doesn't mean there are hundreds of programmers at Apple working for that paltry sum. Apple submitted a form to the U.S. saying it was planning on hiring 150 computer programmers beginning June 14 at this wage. But it's not doing that. Instead, this is a paperwork exercise by immigration attorneys to give an employer -- in this case, Apple -- maximum latitude with the H-1B laws. The forms-submittal process doesn't always reflect actual hiring goals or wage levels. Apple didn't want to comment for the story, but it did confirm some things. It says it hires on the basis on qualifications and that all employees -- visa holders and U.S. workers alike -- are paid equitably and it conducts internal studies to back this up. There are bonuses on top of base pay. Apple may not be paying low wages to H-1B workers, but it can pay low wages to visa workers if it wanted. This fact is at the heart of the H-1B battle.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Should You Leave Google Chrome For the Opera Browser?

2017-05-15T23:20:00+00:00

mspohr shares a report written by Jason Koebler via Motherboard who makes the case for why you should break up with Chrome and switch to the Opera browser: Over the last few years, I have grown endlessly frustrated with Chrome's resource management, especially on MacOS. Admittedly, I open too many tabs, but I'd wager that a lot of you do, too. With Chrome, my computer crawls to complete unusability multiple times a day. After one too many times of having to go into Activity Monitor to find that one single Chrome tab is using several gigs of RAM, I decided enough was enough. I switched to Opera, a browser I had previously thought was only for contrarians. This, after previous dalliances with Safari and Firefox left me frustrated. Because Opera is also based on Blink, I almost never run into a website, plugin, script, or video that doesn't work flawlessly on it. In fact, Opera works almost exactly like Chrome, except without the resource hogging that makes me want to throw my computer against a brick wall. This is exactly the point, according to Opera spokesperson Jan Standal: "What we're doing is an optimized version of Chrome," he said. "Web developers optimize most for the browser with the biggest market share, which happens to be Chrome. We benefit from the work of that optimization." Slashdot reader mspohr adds: "I should note that this has also been my experience. I have a 2010 MacBook, which I was ready to trash since it had become essentially useless, coming to a grinding halt daily. I tried Opera and it's like I have a new computer. I never get the spinning wheel of death. (Also, the built-in ad blocker and VPN are nice.)" What has been your experience with Google Chrome and/or Opera? Do you prefer one over the other?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple Releases macOS 10.12.5, iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, tvOS 10.2.1

2017-05-15T22:00:00+00:00

On Monday, Apple released point updates to all its operating systems. Starting with the desktop, the macOS 10.12.5 update for Sierra is the fifth major update since the operating system was released in September of 2016. The iPhone-maker also released the iOS 10.3.2 for iPhones, iPads and iPods to the public. The update for Macs offers a range of bug fixes, improvements to Night Shift, and a long list of security patches. The iOS 10.3.2 update offers "bug fixes and improves the security." More details -- including what's new in tvOS, and watchOS -- here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Slashdot Asks: In the Wake Of Ransomware Attacks, Should Tech Companies Change Policies To Support Older OSs Indefinitely?

2017-05-15T14:40:00+00:00

In the aftermath of ransomware spread over the weekend, Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, writes an opinion piece for The New York Times: At a minimum, Microsoft clearly should have provided the critical update in March to all its users, not just those paying extra. Indeed, "pay extra money to us or we will withhold critical security updates" can be seen as its own form of ransomware. In its defense, Microsoft probably could point out that its operating systems have come a long way in security since Windows XP, and it has spent a lot of money updating old software, even above industry norms. However, industry norms are lousy to horrible, and it is reasonable to expect a company with a dominant market position, that made so much money selling software that runs critical infrastructure, to do more. Microsoft supported Windows XP for over a decade before finally putting it to sleep. In the wake of ransomware attacks, it stepped forward to release a patch -- a move that has been lauded by columnists. That said, do you folks think it should continue to push security updates to older operating systems as well?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Gorilla Glass Maker Corning Gets $200 Million From Apple's US Manufacturing Investment Fund

2017-05-12T23:20:00+00:00

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Apple made news and scored some positive PR earlier this month when the company announced a $1 billion fund aimed at investing in U.S.-based manufacturing. Now it's ready to announce the first big investment from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. New York-based Corning Incorporated will be receiving $200 million from the tech giant's coffers, money that will go toward its Harrodsburg, Kentucky R&D facility. Corning is a logical first choice for Apple. The two companies have worked closely for roughly a decade, when Apple first pushed Corning to create a chemically strengthened glass for the iPhone. The resulting product, Gorilla Glass, has since become the standard for nearly every smartphone maker out there. As Apple helpfully adds in a news release touting the funding, the relationship thus far "has created and sustained nearly 1,000 U.S. jobs across Corning's R&D, manufacturing and commercial functions, including over 400 in Harrodsburg." And indeed, aside from a brief dalliance with synthetic sapphire crystal a couple of years back, it's been a pretty fruitful partnership.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft Is Surprisingly Comfortable With Its New Place In a Mobile, Apple, and Android World

2017-05-12T14:40:00+00:00

An anonymous reader writes: The company that once held a mock funeral for the iPhone -- complete with dedicated "iPhone trashcans" -- now has a very different attitude about the company of Jobs. The Microsoft whose old CEO Steve Ballmer in 2007 famously predicted the iPhone had "no chance; no chance at all" of getting market share, now readily accepts and embraces a world where the iPhone and Android dominate personal computing. Microsoft talked a lot here at its Build 2017 developer conference about extending Windows experiences over to iOS and Android devices. And it's not just about fortifying Windows. Microsoft says it not only wants to connect with those foreign operating systems, but by bringing over functionality from Windows 10 (along with content) it hopes to "make those other devices better," as one Microsoft rep said in a press briefing yesterday. The developers here at Build cheered when Microsoft announced XAML Standard 1.0, which provides a single markup language to make user interfaces that work on Windows, iOS, and Android. In one demo, the company demonstrated how an enterprise sales app could be extended to an iOS device so someone could continue capturing a potential client's data on a mobile device. Windows not only sent over the client data that had already been captured, but also the business-app shell that had captured it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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