Patents

Apple Ordered To Pay $506 Million In Damages For Processor Patent Infringement (hothardware.com) 71

MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: Apple has been ordered to feed a recognized patent troll hundreds of millions of dollars for infringing on a patent that has to do with technology built into its A-series mobile processors. Initially Apple was on the hook for $234 million, owed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) after it won a patent dispute against the Cupertino tech giant. However, a judge this week more than doubled the fine by tacking on an additional $272 million. U.S District Judge William Conley in Madison ruled that Apple owed additional damages plus interest because it continued to infringe on the patent all the way up until it expired in 2016. WARF is reportedly a non-practicing entity that exists only currently by defending its patents in litigation. The lawsuit filed in 2014 involves U.S. Patent No. 5,871,752, which describes the use of a predictor circuit that can help processors run more efficiently. WARF claimed the technology was used in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors that power the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and various iterations of the iPad. Apple is not commenting on the matter, though it's being reported that Apple plans to fight and appeal the ruling.
Businesses

Trump Says Apple's Tim Cook Has Promised Him He'd Build Three US Factories: 'Big, Big, Big' (cnbc.com) 183

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed to build three big manufacturing plants in the U.S., a surprising statement that would help fulfill his administration's economic goal of reviving American manufacturing. From a report: Apple CEO Tim Cook called Trump to share that the iPhone-maker would do more manufacturing domestically, Trump told WSJ. "I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he's promised me three big plants -- big, big, big," Trump was quoted as saying. Apple has already said that it would start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States. With its wide network of developers, Apple has already created two million jobs in the United States, according to Cook.
IT

Adobe Announces that in 2020, Flash Player Will Reach Its 'End-of-Life' in Light of Newer Technologies (webkit.org) 148

Adobe said on Tuesday it will stop distributing and updating Flash Player at the end of 2020 and is encouraging web developers to migrate any existing Flash content to open standards. Apple is working with Adobe, industry partners, and developers to complete this transition. From a blog post: Apple users have been experiencing the web without Flash for some time. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch never supported Flash. For the Mac, the transition from Flash began in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed. Today, if users install Flash, it remains off by default. Safari requires explicit approval on each website before running the Flash plugin.
Social Networks

It Looks Like Facebook Is Also Building a Smart Speaker With Touch Screen (techcrunch.com) 46

From a report: Facebook may launch its own smart home gadget to get you messaging more friends and looking at more photos. DigiTimes reports from Taiwan that Facebook is building a 15-inch touch screen smart speaker. Citing sources from the "upstream supply chain", Chinese iPhone manufacturer Pegatron is building the device for a Q1 2018 launch, with a small pilot run having already been produced. It's said to have been designed by Facebook secretive new hardware lab Building 8, using an LG in-cell touch screen with magnesium-aluminum-alloy chassis. While no further details are known about the speaker's functionality, it could potentially extend Facebook's feed of photos and videos plus its dominant messaging platform into the bedroom, living room, or kitchen.
IOS

iOS 11 Will Prevent Your iPhone From Automatically Connecting To Unreliable Wi-Fi Networks (trustedreviews.com) 88

A new feature spotted in iOS 11 beta 2 intelligently manages wireless networks based on their reliability, learning to ignore those that are too far away to provide a consistent experience. TrustedReviews reports: It follows the company's Wi-Fi Assist feature which meant handsets would switch to a data connection when Wi-Fi networks became too slow. Naturally, users weren't thrilled with the resulting data usage issues, and it seems Apple is looking to do better this time around. This new feature will disable "Auto join" for any network which suffers from low speed issues or is deemed to be generally unreliable. Users will, of course, still be able to join these networks manually, but the change should prevent the frustration that comes from iPhones automatically joining networks users know to be inadequate. At this point, there's no way to know how well the feature will work, and there will undoubtedly be issues when it eventually arrives in iOS 11.
Businesses

Push Notifications From Popular Apps Are Becoming Increasingly Useless And Annoying (wired.com) 163

David Pierce, writing for Wired: Push notifications are ruining my life. Yours too, I bet. Download more than a few apps and the notifications become a non-stop, cacophonous waterfall of nonsense. Here's just part of an afternoon on my phone:
"Hi David! We found new Crown jewels and Bottle caps Pins for you!"
"Everyone's talking about Bill Nye's new book, Everything All at Once. Read a free sample."
"Alex just posted for the first time in a while."
I get notifications when an acquaintance comments on a stranger's Facebook posts, when shows I don't care about come to Netflix, and every single day at 6 PM when the crossword puzzle becomes available. Recently, I got a buzz from my close personal friends at Yelp. "We found a hot new business for you," it said. I opened the notification, on the off chance that Yelp had finally found the hot new business I've been waiting for. It did not. So I closed Yelp, stared into space for a second, and then opened Instagram. Productivity over. Over the last few years, there's been an increasingly loud call for a re-evaluation of the relationship between humans and smartphones. For all the good that phones do, their grip on our eyes, ears, and thoughts creates real and serious problems. "I know when I take [technology] away from my kids what happens," Tony Fadell, a former senior VP at Apple who helped invent both the iPod and the iPhone, said in a recent interview. "They literally feel like you're tearing a piece of their person away from them. They get emotional about it, very emotional. They go through withdrawal for two to three days." Smartphones aren't the problem. It's all the buzzing and dinging, endlessly calling for your attention.

AI

Quest for AI Leadership Pushes Microsoft Further Into Chip Development (bloomberg.com) 34

From a Bloomberg report: Tech companies are keen to bring cool artificial intelligence features to phones and augmented reality goggles -- the ability to show mechanics how to fix an engine, say, or tell tourists what they are seeing and hearing in their own language. But there's one big challenge: how to manage the vast quantities of data that make such feats possible without making the devices too slow or draining the battery in minutes and wrecking the user experience. Microsoft says it has the answer with a chip design for its HoloLens goggles -- an extra AI processor that analyzes what the user sees and hears right there on the device rather than wasting precious microseconds sending the data back to the cloud. The new processor, a version of the company's existing Holographic Processing Unit, is being unveiled at an event in Honolulu, Hawaii, today. The chip is under development and will be included in the next version of HoloLens; the company didn't provide a date. This is one of the few times Microsoft is playing all roles (except manufacturing) in developing a new processor. The company says this is the first chip of its kind designed for a mobile device. Bringing chipmaking in-house is increasingly in vogue as companies conclude that off-the-shelf processors aren't capable of fully unleashing the potential of AI. Apple is testing iPhone prototypes that include a chip designed to process AI, a person familiar with the work said in May. Google is on the second version of its own AI chips. To persuade people to buy the next generation of gadgets -- phones, VR headsets, even cars -- the experience will have to be lightning fast and seamless.
Iphone

Apple Sued By State Farm Over Alleged iPhone Fire (cnet.com) 165

An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Insurer State Farm and one of its customers, Wisconsin resident Xai Thao, allege that one of Apple's older iPhones had a defective battery that led to a fire last year. A lawsuit filed on Thursday by both State Farm and Thao claims that her iPhone 4S "failed" and "started a fire at Thao's home." The lawsuit further claims that "preliminary investigations show evidence of a significant and localized heating event in the battery area of the iPhone." It also declares that there were "remnants of internal shorting, indicating that an internal failure of the iPhone's battery caused the fire"... The State Farm lawsuit says that Thao's iPhone was "in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition" when she bought it in 2014. The suit is claiming in excess of $75,000 in damages.
Music

Steve Jobs' Life Is Now An Opera (cnn.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes CNN's report on a new project from Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell: "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" is set to open on Saturday night at the Santa Fe Opera, home to the largest summer-opera festival in U.S. The high-tech production, which runs until August 26, jumps in and out of key moments in the Apple founder's life, from early product-development days alongside Steve Wozniak and the launch of the original iPhone, to his wedding day with Laurene Powell Jobs... The opera features an electronic score, developed by Mason Bates, that incorporates sounds from the products Jobs created, including the audio synonymous with turning on an early Macintosh computer. The libretto, or operatic script, doesn't call out words like Apple or iPhone due to copyright issues; instead, it uses descriptors like "one device" to reference the smartphone. "Only one device, does it all," the libretto reads. "In one hand, all your need. One device. Communication, entertainment, illumination, connection, interaction, navigation, inspiration..."
One scene in the high-tech production shows Jobs standing in his family's garage on his 10th birthday. When his father gives him a workbench, the walls around them light up into video screens...
Businesses

iPhones Are Priced 'High in the Extreme' But They're Worth It, Says Apple Co-founder Wozniak (scmp.com) 291

An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple's iPhone has been losing ground to domestic competitors in China. That is because Chinese smartphone makers offer sophisticated functions at reasonable prices, according to Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and one of the pioneers of the personal computer industry. "Here is what I admire about Chinese phones: really good, intelligent decisions about how to lower the cost but keep enough of the functionality in, because I am into products that are good, well designed, nice looking, but at prices that the average person can afford," he said. Still, Wozniak believes the quality of Apple's product makes it worth the high price tag. "In life I don't believe in quantity as much as I do in quality. So you may not have the hugest share in the market or be the No 1, but you should have the best product you can possibly build and Apple qualifies for that," Wozniak, told reporters after he discussed artificial intelligence with Liu Zihong, chairman and chied executive of Royole, in a technology forum held at Tianan Cyber Park in Dongguan, Guangdong province, on Tuesday. Unlike Chinese smartphone brands that prioritise cost-effectiveness, Apple's popular and more expensive iPhone handsets are still the leader in innovation in certain features despite being more of a "safe product," he said. "Apple products are safe. And Apple's pricing is high in the extreme. It's a safe bet for a lot of people, and when you love Apple you are willing to pay for it," he said.
Businesses

Apple's Risky Balancing Act With the Next iPhone (macworld.com) 136

Long time columnist Jason Snell: As there always are at this time of year, there are lots of rumors out there about what the next iPhone will be. This year we're hearing that Apple is going to release a high-priced, next-generation phone in addition to the expected iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models. [...] By most accounts, Apple's next-generation iPhone will offer a similar design. But also, by many accounts, Apple is struggling to create that product -- and when it arrives, it may be expensive, late to ship, and supply constrained. This is one of those areas where Apple may be the victim of its own success. The iPhone is so popular a product that Apple can't include any technology or source any part if it can't be made more than 200 million times a year. If the supplier of a cutting-edge part Apple wants can only provide the company with 50 million per year, it simply can't be used in the iPhone. Apple sells too many, too fast. Contrast that to Apple's competition. On the smaller end, former Android chief Andy Rubin announced the Essential phone, but even Rubin admitted that he'd only be able to sell in thousands, not millions. Same for the RED Hydrogen One -- groundbreaking phone, hardly likely to sell in any volume. The Google Pixel looks like it's in the one million range. Apple's biggest competitor, Samsung, has to deal with a scale more similar to Apple's -- but it's still only expected to sell 50 or 60 million units of the flagship Galaxy S8.
Programming

Apple's Pitch To Indian Developers: Think Local, Stay Up To Date, and Aim For Design Awards (ndtv.com) 35

An anonymous reader shares an article: With just under half-a-million registered Apple developers in the country, India is among the most active markets when it comes to making apps for Apple's platforms, but the iPhone-maker took its time before getting involved with the local ecosystem in a meaningful way. Things started to change earlier this year, when Apple setup App Accelerator - a first-of-its-kind initiative, in namma Bengaluru, India earlier this year. More than three months later, the company's efforts are starting to shape up. Gadgets 360 spoke to many developers who have signed up for the App Accelerator, and they are pleased with how things are going so far. Registration to the App Accelerator - which is capable of hosting 500 developers per week - as well as attending the sessions, is free and open to everyone. At the App Accelerator sessions, which range between two to four hours, "evangelists" from the company are getting developers up to speed with the newest technologies, and guiding them to improve their apps and make the best out of the available resources. Developers told Gadgets 360 they get to understand what new technologies Apple specifically recommends they target, with SiriKit being one such example. That's a big and helpful change, developers say, because Indian companies often take long time in leveraging new features Apple introduces. The most crucial advice that developers have walked out of the campus with, they tell Gadgets 360, has been to reconsider their target audience. The evangelists have told them to make apps that serve to the needs of the local market, instead of focusing their energies in chasing the Western audience.
Iphone

Would You Buy the iPhone 8 If It Cost $1,200? (9to5mac.com) 561

As we near the launch of the next iPhone, rumors are swirling about what it may feature. One of the most recent reports comes from developer and blogger John Gruber, who claims the iPhone 8 will have a starting price of around $1200. 9to5Mac reports: He last week said that he believed that what we've been referring to as the iPhone 8 would be called the iPhone Pro and that he actually hoped it would be really expensive: "I hope the iPhone Pro starts at $1500 or higher. I'd like to see what Apple can do in a phone with a higher price." As you might imagine, that generated quite a bit of discussion. Gruber has backed down somewhat from this position, and is now suggesting a starting point of around $1200: "$1,500 as a starting price is probably way too high. But I think $1,200 is quite likely as the starting price, with the high-end model at $1,300 or $1,400." His argument is effectively that Apple is constrained in what it can do in a phone because any technology included in the phone has to be available in huge volumes. If it were willing to sell fewer at a higher price, then it would have more options. There has been speculation that Gruber may have been tipped by Apple, and using his posts to prepare the ground for what would otherwise be a severe case of sticker shock. But Gruber denied this. If Apple does launch the iPhone 8 with a 4-figure price tag, would you buy it?
Cellphones

Nest Founder 'Wakes Up In Cold Sweats' Fearing The Impact Of Mobile Technology (fastcodesign.com) 106

theodp writes: Fast Company's Co.Design reports that Tony Fadell, who founded Nest and was instrumental in the creation of the iPod and iPhone, spoke with a mix of pride and regret about his role in mobile technology's rise to omnipresence. "I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?" Fadell said. "Did we really bring a nuclear bomb with information that can -- like we see with fake news -- blow up people's brains and reprogram them? Or did we bring light to people who never had information, who can now be empowered?"

Faddell added that addiction has been designed into our devices, and it's harming the newest generation. "And I know when I take [technology] away from my kids what happens," Fadell explained. "They literally feel like you're tearing a piece of their person away from them-they get emotional about it, very emotional. They go through withdrawal for two to three days." Products like the iPhone, Fadell believes, are more attuned to the needs of the individual rather than what's best for the family and the larger community. And pointing to YouTube owner Google, Fadell said, "It was like, [let] any kind of content happen on YouTube. Then a lot of the executives started having kids, [and saying], maybe this isn't such a good idea. They have YouTube Kids now."

The article suggests Fadell is describing a world where omnipresent (and distracting) screens are creating "a culture of self-aggrandizement," and he believes this is partly rooted in the origins of the devices. "A lot of the designers and coders who were in their 20s when we were creating these things didn't have kids."
Businesses

Qualcomm Seeks To Ban Imports And Sales of Apple iPhones in New Lawsuit (cnbc.com) 129

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports, according to a new lawsuit. From a report: Apple has allegedly infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents, including technology that improves iPhone battery life, according to Qualcomm. Now Qualcomm wants Apple to pay damages. "Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement. Qualcomm ultimately wants regulators to investigate which phones use cellular processors from Qualcomm's competitors, and halt sales of iPhones that violate the patents. Qualcomm said it has filed complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and with the United States International Trade Commission. It's not immediately clear how many iPhones that would affect.
Iphone

iPhone Bugs Are Too Valuable To Report To Apple (vice.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes: Last year, Apple launched a long-awaited bug bounty program to reward friendly hackers who report flaws in the iPhone to the company. Despite inviting some of the best hackers in the world to join, it's a bit of a flop so far. The iPhone's security is so tight that it's hard to find any flaws at all, which leads to sky-high prices for bugs on the grey market. Researchers I spoke to are reluctant to report bugs both because they are so valuable and because reporting some bugs may actually prevent them from doing more research. "People can get more cash if they sell their bugs to others," said Nikias Bassen, a security researcher for the company Zimperium, and who joined Apple's program last year. "If you're just doing it for the money, you're not going to give [bugs] to Apple directly." Patrick Wardle, a former NSA hacker who now specializes in MacOS research and was invited to the Apple bug bounty program, agreed. He said that iOS bugs are "too valuable to report to Apple."
Businesses

US Government Seeks To Intervene in Apple's EU Tax Appeal (reuters.com) 75

The U.S. government has sought to intervene in Apple's appeal against an EU order to pay back up to 13 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in Irish taxes, Reuters is reporting. From a report: iPhone maker Apple took its case to the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second-highest, in December after the European Commission issued the record tax demand saying the U.S. company won sweetheart tax deals from the Irish government which amounted to illegal subsidies. The decision was criticized by the Obama administration which said the European Union was helping itself to cash that should have ended up in the United States. The Trump administration, which has tentatively proposed a tax break on $2.6 trillion in corporate profits being held offshore as part of its tax reform, has not said anything in public about the case.
Encryption

Apple Tests 3-D Face Scanning To Unlock Next iPhone: Bloomberg (bloomberg.com) 74

Five years ago, Apple made fingerprint scanners on smartphones popular. Now the company may have found a better technology to replace it. According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, the Cupertino-based company is exploring 3D facial detection as a replacement for Touch ID fingerprint authentication. From the article: This is powered by a new 3-D sensor, added the people, who asked not to be identified discussing technology that's still in development. The company is also testing eye scanning to augment the system, one of the people said. The sensor's speed and accuracy are focal points of the feature. It can scan a user's face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, the person said. It is designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table, rather than just close up to the face. The feature is still being tested and may not appear with the new device. However, the intent is for it to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to the person.
Iphone

The Life, Death, and Legacy of iPhone Jailbreaking (vice.com) 150

From a Motherboard article: Jailbreaking is the art of hacking into Apple's ultra-secure iOS operating system and unlocking it -- and thus allowing users to customize the phone, and write or install any software unimpeded by Apple's restrictions. At the time I met with Todesco (a person who offered jailbreaking service), in December 2016, there was no known jailbreak (for the iPhone 7) -- no public knowledge of this hack -- for the latest iOS version that was installed on my iPhone (iOS 10.2). The world's first jailbreaking step-by-step procedure, discovered in 2007, was posted online for all to see. Subsequent jailbreaks were used by millions of people. At one point, there was even a website -- called jailbreakme.com -- that was free for all to use and jailbroke your phone simply by visiting it. [...] Ten years after the iPhone hit the sleek tables of Apple Stores worldwide, and the first-ever jailbreak, that Wild West is gone. There's now a professionalized, multi-million dollar industry of iPhone security research. It's a world where jailbreaking itself -- at least jailbreaking as we've come to know it -- might be over.
Businesses

Despite Hacking Charges, US Tech Industry Fought To Keep Ties To Russia Spy Service (reuters.com) 69

The U.S. tech sector pushed the government to keep ties with Russia's spy agency, despite reports that Moscow meddled in the U.S. presidential election, Reuters reported Friday. The sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration last December outlawed U.S. companies from having relationships with Russia's spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which presented a dilemma to Western tech companies. Reuters says, the FSB also acts as a regulator that approves the importing of technology to Russia that contains encryption, which is used in products such as cellphones and laptops. Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz and Jack Stubbs, reporting for Reuters: Worried about the sales impact, business industry groups, including the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, contacted U.S. officials at the American embassy in Moscow and the Treasury, State and Commerce departments, according to five people with direct knowledge of the lobbying effort. The campaign, which began in January and proved successful in a matter of weeks, has not been previously reported. [...] The sanctions would have meant the Russian market was "dead for U.S. electronics" said Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, who argued against the new restrictions. "Every second Russian has an iPhone, iPad, so they would all switch to Samsungs," he said. [...] The lobbyists argued the sanction could have stopped the sale of cars, medical devices and heavy equipment, all of which also often contain encrypted software, according to a person involved in the lobbying effort. The goal of the sanctions was to sever U.S. business dealings with the FSB -- not end American technology exports to Russia entirely, the industry groups argued. "The sanction was against a government agency that has many functions, only one of them being hacking the U.S. elections," said Rodzianko.

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