iPhone 7 to Ditch 3.5mm Jack in Favour of Dual-Speaker Setup

iPhone 7 to Ditch 3.5mm Jack in Favour of Dual-Speaker Setup: Report

As you may have heard from past reports, Apple is said to be considering shipping the iPhone 7without a 3.5mm headphone jack. Reports that began coming out last year claimed that the Cupertino-based company will be getting rid of the decades old port in an attempt to further slim the iPhone’s waistline, and introduce a new set of Bluetooth headphones. Earlier reports speculated that those who want to use wired headphones would be forced to buy a 3.5mm to Lightning port adapter, or buy a new certified Lightning port headphone. Analysts are now able to shed more light on the things Apple could do.

Apple could replace the 3.5mm headphone jack with another speaker, believe Barclay analysts Blayne Curtis and Christopher Hemmelgarn. The current set of iPhone models ship with one speaker at the bottom, placed next to a lightning connector and a headphone jack. According to the analysts, the iPhone 7 will sport a dual-speaker setup.

The Barclay analysts also noted that the iPhone 7 is likely to launch with Lightning-equipped headphones, as has been reported earlier. These headphones, however, are unlikely to support the dynamic noise-cancelling system. The Cupertino-based company will instead basic digital code for this year’s flagship smartphone, they expect. For the iPhone 7s, the supposed handset that Apple will launch next year, the company will include Cirrus Logic’s for more advanced noise-cancelling, which interestingly also requires a digital codec.

“We still believe there is potential for AAPL to add ANC in the IP7S but believe AAPL is including just the digital headphone in the IP7 this year,” they wrote (via MacRumors). “Recent speculation surrounding the elimination of the headphone jack in the IP7 is consistent with this move as AAPL will need to provide a digital headset inbox but likely was not willing to spend the extra cost for the ANC functionality.”

Apple Being Asked for Access to Just One iPhone, Says White House

Apple Being Asked for Access to Just One iPhone, Says White House

The court ruling ordering Apple to help unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino attackers represents just one case, the White House said on Wednesday, emphasizing that the US Department of Justice is asking the tech giant for access to a single device.

In a briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest deferred to the Justice Department but said it’s important to recognise that the government is not asking Apple to redesign its product or “create a new backdoor to its products.”

Earnest said the case was instead about federal investigators learning “as much as they can about this one case.”

“The president certainly believes that is an important national priority,” he said.

The Department of Justice stressed in a statement on Wednesday that its request was “narrowly tailored,” and chided Apple. “It is unfortunate that Apple continues to refuse to assist the department in obtaining access to the phone of one of the terrorists involved in a major terror attack on US soil.”

Most technology security experts, including many who have served in government, have said technical efforts to provide government access to encrypted devices inevitably degrades security for everyone. It is an argument that has been made since the 1990s, when the government tried and failed to force tech companies to incorporate a special chip into their products for surveillance purposes.

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone,” Cook said in a statement on Tuesday. “But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.”

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai endorsed Cook’s stance in tweets on Wednesday.

“We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders,” he wrote. “But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent.”

US Appeals Court Upholds Apple Ebook Settlement

US Appeals Court Upholds Apple Ebook Settlement

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Apple’s $450 million settlement of claims that it harmed consumers by conspiring with five publishers to raise ebook prices.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected a challenge by ebooks purchaser John Bradley to the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of Apple’s class-action antitrust settlement with consumers and 33 state attorneys general.

US District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan had approved the settlement in November 2014.

Apple agreed to the accord after Cote in July 2013 found it liable for having played a “central role” in a conspiracy with the publishers to eliminate retail price competition and undercut market leader Amazon Inc’s dominance.

The alleged conspiracy caused some ebook prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from Amazon’s $9.99 price, according to the US Department of Justice.

Cote ruled after a non-jury trial, and the 2nd Circuit later upheld her liability finding.

Apple has appealed that finding to the US Supreme Court, saying it could harm competition and the economy.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in its current term whether to hear the Cupertino, California-based company’s appeal.

Under the settlement, Apple would pay $400 million (roughly Rs. 2,735 crores) to compensate consumers plus $50 million (roughly Rs. 341 crores) for legal fees if the liability finding is upheld.

But if a retrial is ordered, Apple would pay just $50 million in compensation plus $20 million (roughly Rs. 136 crores) in legal fees. If the liability finding is overturned, Apple would pay nothing.

In Wednesday’s decision, the 2nd Circuit said Cote did not abuse her powers or act prematurely in approving the settlement.

It pointed to expert testimony that the accord, combined with $166 million of settlements with publishers, could actually award consumers more money than they claimed to have lost.

The 2nd Circuit also cited Cote’s observation that Bradley’s arguments were made by a “professional objector,” meaning a lawyer who hopes to win a fee for resolving “stock objections” to class-action settlements.

Bradley’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

The five publishers are Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Group Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan.

The case is In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-4649.

Apple Pay Launched in China, Takes on Country’s Internet Kings

Apple Pay Launched in China, Takes on Country's Internet Kings

Apple Inc launched its mobile payment system in China on Thursday in a bid to convince the hundreds of millions of users of the country’s entrenched, dominant services to switch.

“We think China could be our largest Apple Pay market,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, told Reuters in an interview in Beijing.

In an early boost, China’s biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), was among the banks that said earlier this week that customers would be able to use Apple Pay from Thursday.

However, Apple Pay has not had an easy ride so far in China, the fifth country to get the service. Even in its US home market, Apple has faced sceptical retailers in its effort to develop a new revenue stream.

China is not likely to prove any easier to crack.

“People switch applications for significantly better experiences, it (Apple) has to deliver not just a little bit more secure, or a little bit easier to use,” said Mark Natkin, founder of Marbridge Consulting.

Greater China is Apple’s second-largest market by revenue, and the world’s biggest smartphone market. By the end of 2015, 358 million people, more than the US population, had already taken to buying goods and services by mobile phone, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The vast majority are using payment services from China’s two biggest Internet companies that have existed for years.

Social networking and gaming firm Tencent Holdings Ltd operates WeChat Payment, and e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, through its Internet finance affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, runs Alipay.

“With 100 percent saturation of local payment systems, no one in China is clamouring for Apple Pay,” said one retailer who declined to be named for fear of harming business prospects. “Today, everyone has a local payment option on their phone, so Apple Pay is a solution in need of a problem.”

Banks on board
Deeply ingrained in China’s Internet, domestic payment services cover much more than ride hailing, food delivery and online shopping. Users can invest in wealth management funds, pay utility bills, send gifts to friends and give to charity.

An Ant Financial spokeswoman said Alipay has over 400 million active users, with 80 percent on mobile.

“Alipay is an app for both (Google software) Android and (Apple’s) iOS system and has little requirements for the make and model of the mobile phone,” she said.

The US firm has 19 of China’s biggest lenders as partners. That means 80 percent of China’s credit and debit cards are eligible for Apple Pay, usable at about one-third of all locations that accept those cards, Apple’s Bailey said.

Apple’s approach is to not compete with banks and UnionPay, said Bailey.

“China UnionPay and our Apple Pay solution has a huge advantage, given the footprint of China UnionPay,” she said. “Its merchant acceptance network far exceeds what any of the other mobile platforms have today.”

Though banks have been rivals elsewhere, industry watchers say this tactic may offer Apple its best prospect.

Zhao Longkai, associate professor of finance at the Peking University Guanghua School of Management, said China’s banks, and state-backed payment card monopoly China UnionPay, have rankled at the popularity of alternative mobile systems associated with Alibaba and Tencent.

“The entry of Apple Pay has the potential to change the strategic landscape,” said Zhao. “UnionPay now has an opportunity to bring a new alliance to defend the market that it is losing to Tencent or Alibaba – Apple Pay first needs to figure out a way to win over Chinese customers.”

What Apple and the US Government Are Fighting Over

What Apple and the US Government Are Fighting Over

Apple Inc is resisting a federal court order that it help the US government break into the iPhone 5c(Review) of Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in a December shooting in San Bernardino, California, which the government has described as a terror attack.

The following is an explanation of the technology and data privacy issues at hand.

Q. Why does the US government need Apple’s help?
A. The government wants Apple to provide technical assistance to help it break into Farook’s phone. Apple’s mobile operating system encrypts virtually all of its data so that forensics experts cannot access email, text messages, photos or other information unless they enter a password.

The phone requires two digital “keys” to unscramble the data: a passcode entered by the user when they want to use the device and a unique 256-bit AES key that is coded into the hardware during manufacture. The hardware key cannot be removed from the device, which prevents hackers from copying the contents of its hard drive and then cracking the passcode with the help of powerful computers.

Apple’s mobile iOS system offers an auto-erase function that will wipe the device after 10 failed attempts to unlock it. The government says it is not sure if Farook enabled that function but has not attempted to unlock it because it does not want to risk losing the data.

Q. What exactly does the government want Apple to do?
A. The government has asked Apple to create a new version of iOS that disables the auto-erase function. It also requested the new software circumvent a feature that causes delays of up to one hour when nine wrong passwords are entered – making it possible to break into the phone using the “brute force” method of trying millions of different passwords. The government says it is possible for Apple to create software that will only work on the device used by Farook.

Q. What are Apple’s objections?
A. Apple says that such a tool would essentially create a “backdoor” that could be used by the FBI or others to break into any iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a letter to customers, cited the possibility of the specially created software falling into the “wrong hands” and rejected the notion that it would only be used in this single case.

Cook also said that the move would establish a dangerous precedent. “The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge,” he said.

Q. Is Apple right?
A. It is not clear why Apple would worry about the specially created software being stolen or misused, since the work would take place in Apple’s labs and would presumably be no more subject to theft than any other Apple software. Apple is known for its strong security and there are no known incidents of its source code or cryptographic keys being stolen.

Further, the same technique would not work on devices launched after the 5c because they are equipped with a chip known as “Secure Enclave,” which helps encrypt data using both the password and a unique user ID that is provisioned during manufacturing and not known to Apple.

The bigger concern is the precedent. If Apple complied, it would mark the first time a software company created a tool to break into its own products in response to an order from law enforcement. Technology companies and privacy advocates fear an endless stream of similar requests – not just from the US government, but also from foreign governments and even litigants in civil cases. Technologists are horrified by the very idea of deliberately creating software that undermines security.

Q. Why is practical compromise impossible here?
A. Apple is drawing a line in the sand to avoid setting a precedent.

Q. What information is the government seeking?
A. Prosecutors say they believe data on the phone could help determine who Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik communicated with as they planned the shootings, where they traveled to before and after the attack, and other details about the attack.

Q. Will all the data the government wants be on the device?
A. Not necessarily. Even if the government is right in its assumption that the phone was used to plan that attack, Farook may have used encrypted apps that wipe all evidence of communications. For example, Islamic State uses an mobile messaging service known as Telegram for propaganda and recruitment. The service allows the group to broadcast messages to large numbers of followers, then move to private, one-to-one encrypted messaging that likely cannot be retrieved by forensics experts.

Q. Are there similar issues with Android devices?
A. Smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system offer a variety of encryption options, depending on the manufacturer and model. Forensic technicians can “bypass” passcodes on some of the devices, according to a November report by Manhattan’s district attorney. Google can remotely reset the passcodes, when served with a search warrant and an order instructing them to assist law enforcement to extract data, allowing authorities to view contents of a device.

Apple Could Bypass iPhone Security, Experts Say – But Won’t

Apple Could Bypass iPhone Security, Experts Say - But Won't

Faced with a federal judge’s order to help investigators break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters, Apple may well argue that the request places an unreasonable burden on the company.

In fact, experts say that complying with the government’s request wouldn’t be particularly challenging for Apple. But doing so might set a dangerous precedent that could threaten the data security of the millions of iPhone users around the world.

The phone in question was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a December attack. Investigators don’t know if the phone contains important evidence about the attack or the couple’s communications – and because its contents are encrypted, they won’t unless they can get the passcode to unlock it. The phone was issued by Farook’s employer, the county of San Bernardino.

Investigators can’t just try random passcodes until they hit on the right one, either. The phone has apparently enabled an Apple security feature – a sort of self-destruct option that would render the phone’s data unreadable after 10 incorrect passcode attempts.

The judge’s order requires Apple to create a unique software package – one Apple CEO Tim Cookdescribed as “a new version of the iPhone operating system” – that would allow investigators to bypass the self-destruct system. The same software would also let the government enter passcodes electronically, eliminating both the tedium of manual entry and the enforced delays the iPhone system imposes after a few wrong guesses.

Apple opposes the order, arguing that such software would amount to a security “backdoor” that would ultimately make iPhone users across the globe more vulnerable to information or identity theft. Both the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have pledged to support Apple, saying that the government’s request endangers security and privacy.

From a technical perspective, making such software shouldn’t be difficult for Apple, experts say. But once created, it would be nearly impossible to contain, says Ajay Arora, CEO and co-founder of Vera, a startup that provides companies with encryption services.

“Imagine if that got into the wrong hands,” he says. “What they’re asking for is a God key – and once you get that, there’s no going back.”

The demands being made of Apple border on the bizarre, says Lee Tien, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “Asking a technologycompany to make its security less secure is a crazy, stupid thing to do,” he says. “It’s like asking water not to be wet.”

The government’s best bet may be to argue that its request doesn’t actually create a backdoor, even if that’s how Apple characterizes the request, says Robert Cattanach, a former Justice Department attorney. But Apple is probably right to worry that a government win in this case will lead to broader requests down the road.

“If the court rules in favor of the government, then I think the stage has been set for the next step, which is, ‘Thanks for removing the auto-wipe. Now you need to help us defeat the code’,” Cattanach says. “If you’re the government, you’re going to ask for that.”

Apple Resisting Magistrate Order to Share iPhone Information

Apple Resisting Magistrate Order to Share iPhone Information

Apple has rejected a judge’s order to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, warning it was “too dangerous” to create such a backdoor to the smartphones.

US magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple on Tuesday to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI, including disabling an auto-erase feature after too many unsuccessful attempts are made to unlock the iPhone 5c.

Federal prosecutors had filed a motion requesting Apple’s help after the FBI failed to crack the phone’s code two months into the investigation into the December rampage.

Syed Farook, a US citizen, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, California, before they were killed in a shootout with police.

But Apple said it would fight the judge’s order, firing the latest shot in a growing debate over encryption pitting the government against tech companies.

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement on the company’swebsite.

“We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

Cook said it was too risky to provide the requested software because it could allow ill-intentioned individuals to unlock any iPhone and raises major privacy concerns.

“The US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone,” Apple said.

“In the wrong hands, this software which does not exist today would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

“While the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control,” he said, adding that Apple has cooperated with the FBI thus far.

By disabling the security features, the FBI would be able to attempt as many different password combinations as needed before gaining access to the phone.

It was the property of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which employed Farook, and the authority had agreed to the search of the phone.

Pym ordered Apple to provide software that would only run on the device in question, or any other technological means to access its data.

But Apple said it was impossible to create such a tool that could only be used once, on one phone.

“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” Apple said.

“In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

The US government is concerned that commercially-available encryption benefits criminals.

Tech companies, intent on securing the trust of consumers after government spying revelations made by Edward Snowden, have been reluctant to be seen as helping authorities spy on users.

“We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack,” Apple said.

“The implications of the government’s demands are chilling.”

“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data.”

Cook warned that if Apple complied with the order, the government could demand surveillance software to intercept, access health and financial data, track users’ location or access a phone’s microphone or camera without the user’s knowledge.

“We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country,” Cook added.

US Attorney Eileen Decker had earlier called the order “another step a potentially important step in the process of learning everything we possibly can about the attack in San Bernardino.”

FBI Director James Comey revealed last week that investigators had not been able to crack open the phone two months into the investigation.

Apple Acknowledges iOS 1970 Date Bug, Says Fix Is on the Way

Apple Acknowledges iOS 1970 Date Bug, Says Fix Is on the Way

Apple has acknowledged a bug in its iOS mobile operating system that is rendering many iPhone handsets, and other iOS devices useless. The bug triggers when a user changes the date on the iPhone, or iPad, or iPod to May 1970 or earlier. The Cupertino-based company assures users that it is working on a fix.

Users reported last week that changing the system date on their iPhone, or iPad, or sixth-generation iPod touch to January 1, 1970 was restarting the device and forcing it to onto a never-ending bootloop. Once affected, there is little to nothing a user could do to fix the device.

Addressing the issue, Apple wrote on its support website that changing the date on your iOS device to May, 1970 or earlier will brick it. The iPhone maker assures that an upcoming software update to iOS will resolve the issue.

As we noted earlier, the issue affects every iOS-powered device that has a 64-bit SoC – which means that A7, A8, A8X, A9, and A9X SoC models are impacted. Which in other words mean, the iPhone 5s,iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone 6s, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, iPad Air,iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPod touch sixth-generation are affected.

It isn’t clear exactly what is the triggering the bug, but a leading theory (video below) on the Interweb says the glitch revolves around “integer underflow caused by the Unix epoch,” in which a user forces the time to a near 0 value (because an iPhone allows January 01, 1970 as the first accepted date, it considers it as the starting point), which causes every app or process that requires timestamp verification to fail.

If you’ve accidentally already bricked your iOS device, the best thing for you to do is to take it to an authorised Apple support store.

Apple Pay to Go Live in China on Thursday

Apple Pay to Go Live in China on Thursday

Apple Inc’s Apple Pay mobile payment system will be available in China from February 18 for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) customers, bank representatives said in social media posts on Tuesday.

The technology giant had previously said the system would launch in China in early 2016, making it Apple Pay’s fifth country as it accelerates development of a planned new revenue stream. ICBC is China’s biggest lender by assets.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on ICBC’s posts on the projected launch. The lender is set to be joined by a raft of peers: Apple’s China website lists 19 Chinese lenders as official Apple Pay partners, and state media reported two other lenders will also go live with the service from February 18.

Greater China is Apple’s second-largest market by revenue, but the company faces an uphill battle to match that prowess quickly in mobile payments.

Apple Pay’s beginnings have been less than auspicious in other markets, including scepticism from retailers in its home market. But in China, Apple Pay’s issue will be how to compete with dominant and entrenched players, serving shoppers well used to paying for goods and services with their handsets.

China is the world’s biggest smartphone market. By the end of 2015, 358 million people, more than the population of the United States, had already taken to paying by mobile phone, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Dominating those payments are China’s two biggest Internet companies: social networking and gaming firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, through its Internet finance affiliate Ant Financial Services Group.

Tencent operates WeChat Payment, while Ant Financial runs Alipay.

Apple Pay has also struggled to gain traction with banks in some countries. In Australia, the four main banks are holding out against the new entrant. The company in Britain faced resistance from big banks over fees before relenting.

Earlier on Tuesday, China’s state radio reported on its website that China Guangfa Bank Co Ltd and China Construction Bank Corp said on social media they would also launch Apple Pay on February 18.

A China Construction Bank spokesman declined to comment, while Guangfa could not be reached for comment.


Apple Ordered to Aid FBI in Unlocking California Shooter’s iPhone 5c

Apple Ordered to Aid FBI in Unlocking California Shooter's iPhone 5c

A US judge on Tuesday ordered Apple Inc to help the FBI break into a phone belonging to one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, California, the latest episode in a long-running dispute between tech companies and law enforcement over encryption.

Apple must provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators seeking to unlock the data on Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c (Review), US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of US District Court in Los Angeles ruled.

This includes disabling its auto-erase function, which activates after 10 consecutive unsuccessful passcode attempts, and allowing investigators to submit passcode guesses via electronic means.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling. The company has five business days to contest the order if it believes compliance would be “unreasonably burdensome,” Pym said in her decision.

The US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles on Tuesday requested the court compel Apple to assist the investigation.

“Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search, but has declined to provide that assistance voluntarily,” prosecutors said.

Tuesday’s order comes a week after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told members of Congress that investigators have been unable to access the contents of a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. The December 2 attack by Farook and his wife killed 14 people and injured 22 others, and the couple was later killed in a shootout with police.

Government officials have warned that the expanded use of strong encryption is hindering national security and criminal investigations.

Technology experts and privacy advocates counter that forcing US companies to weaken their encryption for law enforcement purposes would make private data vulnerable to hackers, undermine the security of the Internet and give a competitive advantage to companies in other countries.

Apple may say it cannot comply with the government’s request on grounds its default encryption standards prevent it from being technologically capable of doing so. The company took that position in a case last year, telling a U.S. judge in Brooklyn, New York, that it is “impossible” to unlock its devices that run an operating system of iOS 8 or higher.

The phone belonging to the Farook ran on iOS 9.

The government, however, said in its filing that it is asking for the disabling of “non-encrypted barriers that Apple has coded into its operating system.”