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iOS 10 is only three months old but with iOS 10.2 Apple AAPL +0.16% is already onto its fifth update (sixth if you include iOS 10.0.1 which Apple quickly bolted into the original release) and iOS 10.2.1 is already in testing. Why? Because ladies and gents, while iOS 10.2 does contain a fun surprise, it doesn’t bring the crucial fixes many users crave and instead carries something else you might not have been expecting…

‘Great Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating operating system updates for the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.

Apple iOS 10.2. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Nasty Surprise #1: ‘30% Bug’ Made Even Worse

Remember the ‘30% Bug’ I brought attention to in November? It is a problem which causes many models of iPhone to die when their battery reaches about 30% of charge remaining. The problem was subsequently referenced by the Chinese Government’s watchdog the China Consumers’ Association in a warning to Apple as it was failing to “meet basic consumer needs for normal wireless communication.”

Well iOS 10.2 brings no fixes for this issue. Given Apple continues to deny any model other than the iPhone 6S is affected (though it has widened the range of affected 6S model numbers entitled to free battery replacements), this is probably no surprise.

That said this also won’t do much to pacify affected users, notably on Apple’s official Support Communities forum where the 11 page thread I previously reported on has now ballooned to 50 pages. Moreover some users are reporting iOS 10.2 makes the problem even worse on their devices.

“Same here, iOS 10.2 actually made the problem worse,” says Apple Support Communities poster ricardo jb in response this growing theme on thread. “The battery percentage seems to get stuck at some level for a while, even with battery draining apps such as pokemon go running, then it drops different percentages at different moments, it’s really random.”

Many users claim the issue began with iOS 10.1.1 and it can affect all iOS 10 compatible iPhones (the iPhone 5 and above). So perhaps a fix can indeed be made in software without the need for a battery replacement, but if so then iOS 10.2 isn’t it.

Nasty Surprise #2: New Tracking Telemetry Is On Your Device

The plus side to the 30% Bug is Apple has promised to look into it and said it would release a software update this week which would track the battery consumption on iPhones to help the company get to the bottom of the problem.

That’s all well and good but – surprise – it turns out the tracking software is baked into iOS 10.2 and no mention of this was made in the release notes. Apple exclusively confirmed the integration of the telemetry tool with iOS 10.2 to me today and that it is installed on every compatible device, regardless of whether they are affected by the bug.

Concept render of the 2017 10th anniversary iPhone alongside current models - what Apple should be focusing on but for ongoing battery issues. Concept image credit: Veniamin Geskin

Concept render of the 2017 10th anniversary iPhone alongside current models – what Apple should be focusing on but for ongoing battery issues. Concept image credit: Veniamin Geskin

Needless to say that’s good news for some, but there’s no transparency here. Many would have expected the tool to be its own separate update and some users do not want new forms of tracking software on their phone – whether through personal preference or professional need. Especially when no specifics have been officially disclosed as to how it works, exactly how it tracks, where the information it gathers is sent, if it is anonymised or how long the data will be kept.

There’s no reason to believe Apple is doing something deliberately nefarious here, I suspect the intentions are well meant – it’s just good manners to ask first.

And, at the very least, to put the inclusion of the tracker on the release notes. After all if “Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not re-order items in lists” was deemed important enough to make it then so should “[Temporary anonymised] battery tracking telemetry to investigate battery problems as reported by users/Forbes/the Chinese government’s consumer watchdog”.

Update: Apple has contacted me to say the battery data reporting software is a diagnostic tool not a tracker and is for users who have opted into diagnostic tools.  If it provides further information on how the software works or why it was left out of the release notes I will update again. 

Nasty Surprise #3: Broken EarPods Stay Broken

Another Apple Support Communities hot topic, this 11 page thread has grown to 24 pages since I reported on it two weeks ago and affected users have been complaining about it since September. In short: the microphone from Apple Earpods is malfunctioning during calls due to a software glitch.

Ending and restarting calls can temporarily rectify the problem but not for long and even a full Factory Reset has not solved the issue for affected users. Posters say Apple Support has only suggested they keep restarting their devices for now, so there were high hopes iOS 10.2 would provide a better solution – but the response is pretty uniform:

Apple Support Communities users consistently point our there is no improvement in iOS 10.2 for their EarPod problems. Image credit: Apple
Apple Support Communities users consistently point our there is no improvement in iOS 10.2 for their EarPod problems. Image credit: Apple

As such, while iOS 10.2 brings niceties like ‘TV’ (which replaces the ‘Videos’ app) and 100s of new emoji, it seems a smaller number of more pressing issues will have to wait for the arrival of the iOS 10.2.1 – at the earliest…

Author:  Gordon Kelly

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2016/12/14/apple-ios-10-2-battery-tracking-bluetooth-problems/#2620dafb2499

Categorized in Others

Apple Maps is picking up an invaluable integration for electric vehicle drivers: ChargePoint integration.

While electric cars are slowly working their way towards affordability, Apple Maps is giving the EV owners a helping hand with the integration of ChargePoint's stations. ChargePoint offers more than 30,000 charging stations around the world, and the integration into Apple Maps is literally putting them on the map with EV charging station badges. Apple Maps users can tap one of those icons for directions and station info like hours of operation and pricing (with Apple Pay support), or ask Siri "where's the closest charging station?" for directions.

The vast majority of ChargePoint's network consists of Level 1 and Level 2 chargers using the J1772 connector standard. The charging rate for such stations varies widely, but is generally between 3- and 15-miles-per-hour of charging. Of the 31,000 ChargePoint stations, roughly 400 are DC fast charge stations, offering SAE Combo or CHAdeMO connectors at 50KW for up to 100 miles of range per hour of charging — so long as you have a compatible car.

Tesla, the leading EV maker, uses a smaller proprietary connector, but includes an adapter for J1772 chargers with every car and sells an adapter for use with CHAdeMO stations.

While ChargePoint is the largest commercial EV charging network, they're not the only EV charging game in town. Like with most things in tech, there's a community-driven alternative: PlugShare. This option aggregates more than 120,000 chargers globally from a wide variety of networks, including ChargePoint, Tesla, and even chargers installed for businesses and homes that are making them available for public use.

It's still nice to see EV chargers getting included in Apple Maps — Tesla and Bolt and Leaf owners will be pleased to know if there's a charge nearby.

Source : http://www.imore.com/

Auhtor : DEREK KESSLER

Categorized in Science & Tech

APPLE EMERGED AS a guardian of user privacy this year after fighting FBI demands to help crack into San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone. The company has gone to great lengths to secure customer data in recent years, by implementing better encryption for all phones and refusing to undermine that encryption.

But private information still escapes from Apple products under some circumstances. The latest involves the company’s online syncing service iCloud.

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft has found that Apple’s mobile devices automatically send a user’s call history to the company’s servers if iCloud is enabled — but the data gets uploaded in many instances without user choice or notification.

“You only need to have iCloud itself enabled” for the data to be sent, said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft.

The logs surreptitiously uploaded to Apple contain a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. They also include missed and bypassed calls. Elcomsoft said Apple retains the data in a user’s iCloud account for up to four months, providing a boon to law enforcement who may not be able to obtain the data either from the user’s phone, if it’s encrypted with an unbreakable passcode, or from the carrier. Although large carriers in the U.S. retain call logs for a year or more, this may not be the case with carrier outside the US.

It’s not just regular call logs that get sent to Apple’s servers. FaceTime, which is used to make audio and video calls on iOS devices, also syncs call history to iCloud automatically, according to Elcomsoft. The company believes syncing of both regular calls and FaceTime call logs goes back to at least iOS 8.2, which Apple released in March 2015.

And beginning with Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 10, incoming missed calls that are made through third-party VoIP applications like Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber, and that use Apple CallKit to make the calls, also get logged to the cloud, Katalov said.

Because Apple possesses the keys to unlock iCloud accounts, U.S. law enforcement agencies can obtain direct access to the logs with a court order. But they still need a tool to extract and parse it.

Elcomsoft said it’s releasing an update to its Phone Breaker software tool today that can be used to extract the call histories from iCloud accounts, using the account holder’s credentials. Elcomsoft’s forensic tools are used by law enforcement, corporate security departments, and even consumers. The company also leases some of its extraction code to Cellebrite, the Israeli firm the FBI regularly uses to get into seized phones and iCloud data.

In some cases, Elcomsoft’s tool can help customers access iCloud even without account credentials, if they can obtain an authentication token for the account from the account holder’s computer, allowing them to get iCloud data without Apple’s help. The use of authentication tokens also bypasses two-factor authentication if the account holder has set this up to prevent a hacker from getting into their account, Elcomsoft notes on its website.

Apple’s collection of call logs potentially puts sensitive information at the disposal of people other than law enforcement and other Elcomsoft customers. Anyone else who might be able to obtain the user’s iCloud credentials, like hackers, could potentially get at it too. In 2014, more than 100 celebrities fell victim to a phishing attack that allowed a hacker to obtain their iCloud credentials and steal nude photos of them from their iCloud accounts. The perpetrator reportedly used Elcomsoft’s software to harvest the celebrity photos once the accounts were unlocked.

Generally, if someone were to attempt to download data in an iCloud account, the system would email a notification to the account owner. But Katalov said no notification occurs when someone downloads synced call logs from iCloud.

Apple acknowledged that the call logs are being synced and said it’s intentional.

“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices,” an Apple spokesperson said in an email. “Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.”

The syncing of iCloud call logs would not be the first time Apple has been found collecting data secretly. A few months ago, The Intercept reported about similar activity occurring with iMessage logs.

Chris Soghoian, chief technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said he’s not surprised that Apple is collecting the information.

“It’s arguably not even the worst thing about iCloud,” he told The Intercept. “The fact that iCloud backs up what would otherwise be end-to-end encrypted iMessages is far worse in my mind. There are other ways the government can obtain [call logs]. But without the backup of iMessages, there may be no other way for them to get those messages.”

Still, he said it’s further proof that “iCloud really is the Achilles heel of the privacy of the iPhone platform. The two biggest privacy problems associated with iCloud don’t have check boxes [for users to opt out], nor do they require that you opt in either.”

Jonathan Zdziarski, an iOS forensics expert and security researcher, said he doesn’t think Apple is doing anything nefarious in syncing the call logs. But he said that Apple needs to be clear to users that the data is being collected and stored in the cloud.

Authorized and Unauthorized iCloud Collection

iCloud is Apple’s cloud service that allows users to sync data across multiple Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs. The iPhone menu corresponding to the service gives users the option of syncing mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, browser history, and notes and wallet data. But even though call logs are automatically getting synced as well, the menu does not list them among the items users can choose to sync. Because there’s no way to opt in to sync call logs, there is also no way to opt out — other than turning off iCloud completely, but this can cause other issues, like preventing apps from storing documents and data (such as WhatsApp backups) in the cloud.

“You can only disable uploading/syncing notes, contacts, calendars, and web history, but the calls are always there,” Katalov said. One way call logs will disappear from the cloud is if a user deletes a particular call record from the log on their device; then it will also get deleted from their iCloud account during the next automatic synchronization.

Katalov said they’re still researching the issue but it appears that in some cases the call logs sync almost instantly to iCloud, while other times it happens only after a few hours.

In addition to syncing data among their devices, users can also configure their iCloud account to automatically back up and store their data. Katalov said that call logs get sent to the cloud with these backups as well, but this is separate from the trafficking his company discovered: Even if users disable the backups, their call logs will still get synced to Apple’s servers.

“I would suggest Apple to add a simple option to disable call log syncing, as they do that for calendars and other things,” Katalov told The Intercept, though he acknowledges this would likely take some re-architecting on Apple’s part. Nonetheless, he says, “They should allow people to disable that if they want to.”

Even as Apple has increased the security of its mobile devices in recent years, the company has been moving more and more data to the cloud, where it is less protected. Although iCloud data is encrypted on Apple’s server, Apple retains the encryption keys in almost every instance and can therefore unlock the accounts and access data for its own purposes or for law enforcement.

“All of your [iCloud] data is encrypted with keys that are controlled by Apple, but the average user isn’t going to understand that,” Zdziarski said. “You and I are well aware that Apple can read any of your iCloud data when they want to.”

A report in the Financial Times nine months ago indicated Apple plans to re-architect iCloud to resolve this issue and better protect customer data, but that has yet to occur.

Apple discusses the privacy implications of iCloud collection on its website and does say that implementing backups will send to iCloud “nearly all data and settings stored on your device.” A 63-page white paper on the site discloses more clearly that call logs get uploaded to Apple servers when iCloud backups are enabled. But neither document mentions that the logs still get uploaded even if backups aren’t enabled.

Even in an online document about handling legal requests from law enforcement, Apple never mentions that call logs are available through iCloud. It says that it possesses subscriber information that customers provide, including name, physical address, email address, and telephone number. It also says it retains IP connection logs (for up to 30 days), email metadata (for up to 60 days), and content that the user chooses to upload, such as photos, email, documents, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks. The law enforcement document also says that Apple’s servers have iOS device backups, which may include photos and videos in the user’s camera roll, device settings, application data, iMessages, SMS and MMS messages, and voicemail.

The only time it mentions call logs is to say that iCloud stores call histories associated with FaceTime, but it says it maintains only FaceTime call invitation logs, which indicate when a subscriber has sent an invitation to someone to participate in a FaceTime call. Apple says the logs “do not indicate that any communication between users actually took place.” It also says it only retains these logs for “up to 30 days.”

But Elcomsoft said this is not true. Katalov said the FaceTime logs contain full information about the call, including the identification of both parties to the call and the call duration. He said his researchers also found that the FaceTime call logs were retained for as long as four months.

Early Clues From Frustrated Apple Customers

Some users are aware that their call logs are being synced to Apple’s servers, because a byproduct of the automatic syncing means that if they have the same Apple ID as someone with a different device — for example, spouses who have different phones but use the same Apple ID — they will see calls from one device getting synced automatically to the device of the other person who is using the same ID.

“It’s very irritating,” one user complained in a forum about the issue. “My wife and I both have iPhones, we are both on the same apple ID. When she gets a call my phone doesn’t ring but when she misses that call my phone shows a missed call icon on the phone app and when I go to the phone app it’s pretty clearly someone who wasn’t calling my phone. Any way to fix this so it stops?”

Another user expressed frustration at not knowing how to stop the syncing. “I use my phone for business and we have noticed in the last few days that all of the calls I make and receive are appearing in my wife’s iPhone recent call history? I have hunted high and low in settings on both phones but with no joy.”

There’s no indication, however, that these customers realized the full implications of their logs being synced — that the same data is being sent to and stored on Apple’s servers for months.

Apple isn’t the only company syncing call logs to the cloud. Android phones do it as well, and Windows 10 mobile devices also sync call logs by default with other Windows 10 devices that use the same Microsoft account. Katalov said there are too many Android smartphone versions to test, but his company’s research indicates that call log syncing occurs only with Android 6.x and newer versions. As with Apple devices, the only way for a user to disable the call history syncing is to disable syncing completely.

“In ‘pure’ [stock versions of] Android such as one installed on Nexus and Pixel devices, there is no way to select categories to sync,” Katalov said. “For some reason, that is only able on some third-party Android versions running on Sony, HTC, Samsung, etc.” The company already produces a tool for harvesting call logs associated with Android devices.

There’s little that subscribers can do to prevent law enforcement from obtaining their iCloud call logs. But to protect against hackers who might obtain their Apple ID from doing the same, they can use two-factor authentication. But Zdziarski said there’s another solution.

“The takeaway really is don’t ever use iCloud. I won’t use it myself until I can be in control of the encryption keys,” he said.

Source : https://theintercept.com

Auhtor : 

Categorized in Social

Even though Apple has long been one of the most successful, profitable and closely-observed tech companies on the planet, it’s absolutely dumbfounding how often armchair pundits and analysts manage to get everything wrong about the company. In a dynamic that still defies explanation, Apple’s success is rarely applauded; on the contrary, its success is often used to justify the position that the company has peaked and is about to undergo an unforgiving fall from grace.

That notwithstanding, the sentiment that Apple has lost its ability to innovate, meaningfully increase revenue and otherwise succeed has seemingly grown by leaps and bounds over the past few months. From critics bemoaning the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar as nothing more than a gimmick to analysts criticizing the iPhone 7 for sporting the same form factor as the two previous iPhone models, the idea that “Apple is doomed” is not only persistent, but is arguably more prevalent than it’s been in years.

Sure, Apple has the iPhone 8 coming out next year, and sure, analysts believe that the device will shatter all existing iPhone sales records, but that’s apparently as high as Apple will be able to go, according to some. In fact, analysts at Oppenheimer believe that Apple will soon “embark on a decade-long malaise.”

In a research note obtained by Business Insider, Opppenheimer writes: “Apple lacks the courage to lead the next generation of innovation (AI, cloud-based services, messaging); instead will become more reliant than ever on the iPhone … We believe Apple is about to embark on a decade-long malaise. The risks to the company have never been greater.”

Nothing in the tech sphere is ever predictable, but I think we can all agree that predicting where a company will be in 10 years is utterly absurd. Consider this: the iPhone didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Even in a more compressed time frame, look at how quickly Netflix managed to turn into an entertainment juggernaut and how quickly Microsoft managed to turn things around with Satya Nadella at the helm.

The idea that Apple lacks the “courage” to be at the vanguard of the next generation of innovation is certainly interesting, and not wholly without merit, but it completely ignores the fact that no one at this point knows what the next great area of innovation will be. Will it in fact be AI? Or will it be augmented reality? Or, perhaps, virtual reality? Or maybe it will be something completely different, something that’s not on anyone’s radar at the moment.

Microsoft famously missed the wave of smartphone innovation that Apple ushered in when it released the iPhone. Apple, however, has yet to miss a wave of innovation. Consequently, the idea that Apple is about to fall into a “decade-long malaise” seems a bit off the mark.

Apple certainly faces a number of challenges, but it’s always struck me as peculiar that Apple is never afforded the benefit of the doubt when it has a long track record of delivering innovative products to the marketplace.

Oppenheimer’s note concludes: “We believe its strong profitability, a cash hoard for protection, and one last ‘growth’ hurrah from the tenth-anniversary phone will keep investors interested in the company.”

Funny thing is, analysts have been predicting Apple’s ‘last growth hurrah’ for years on end.

Author:  Yoni Heisler

Source:  http://bgr.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

And all the other Apple news this week.

As the holiday season kicked off this week, some of Apple’s internal plans might have stepped out from the shadows.

Over the last several days, rumors have been swirling that Apple is hard at work on next year’s innovations. Those reports suggest the company is eyeing major improvements to its iPhone and is drumming up ways to make its mapping service Apple Maps compete more effectively with market leader Google Maps. Meanwhile, Cupertino has remained silent about its future plans, preferring instead to let the rumor mill do its thing while the company works feverishly on whatever is next.

But Apple wasn’t silent about all matters this week. The company’s CEO Tim Cook spoke in detail about Apple’s corporate values and touted the iPhone maker’s ongoing support for AIDS research. He also hinted that the long-awaited Bluetooth-based headphones, known as Apple AirPods, might finally find their way to store shelves in the coming weeks.

This is Fortune’s weekly roundup of the biggest Apple news this week.

It’s been an interesting week in Apple news and once again, as we detail the biggest headlines. Read on for more:

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  • Apple Maps hasn’t been able to match Google Maps in navigation accuracy or number of features, but Apple could be working on that. The company has reportedly secured approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones over roads around the world to capture photos, videos, and other traffic data that would be bundled with Apple Maps. The company is also reportedly working on a feature that would let users navigate the inside of a building. If all goes well, at least some of the new Apple Maps features could be released next year.
  • The number of iPhone 7 activations between Black Friday and Cyber Monday was up 13% compared to an average of the previous four weekends, according to mobile app analytics company Localytics. But that figure was down from last year’s iPhone 6s activation increase of 36% during the 2015 shopping weekend.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with USA Todaythis week that his company tries “thoughtfully” to “leave the world better than we found it.” The comments came after Apple announced it had expanded its support for the (RED) campaign, focusing on helping people with AIDS and hopefully eradicating the disease by 2030. Apple is offering a wide array of programs, all aimed at potentially donating millions of dollars in support of the fight against AIDS.
  • It’s a bad idea to buy Apple product chargers and adapters from companies you don’t know. A UK watchdog named Trading Standards tested 400 counterfeit Apple chargers recently and found that just three of them were protected against fire and explosion risk. The counterfeits are being sold in Australia, China, and the U.S. and pose a serious safety risk. The organization’s takeaway: Spend extra cash on genuine products.

Author:  Don Reisinger

Source:  http://fortune.com

Categorized in News & Politics

Apple is plotting two research and development centers in China. The designer of consumer electronics cites stronger collaboration with “manufacturing partners” as a reason. That’s probably just a slice out of the real fruit that’s hanging over Apple’s head. Other likely reasons suggest Apple is keener than ever to hold onto its threatened status as a must-have brand for Chinese consumers.

Here are five other reasons Apple is pushing its R&D in China, according to views collected from tech industry analysts.

1. More iPhone sales. Apple once had a market of 25.4% in China, edging out Samsung in late 2014. It now lags local Android-based brands such as Huawei and OPPO, which led market share polls for the first time in June. In the second quarter of this year, Apple shipped 8.6 million smartphones, a 31.7% decline from a year ago. Huawei led with 19.1 million units, market research firm IDC reports. Sales of iPhones went on to fall 33% in the third quarter this year versus the same period of 2015. More R&D in China means access to employees of those local brands, who might defect over to Apple for the right salary package.

This picture taken on April 22, 2015 shows Chinese workers posing with a cheaper local alternative to the Apple Watch, made on their assembly line in a factory producing thousands every day in Shenzhen, in southern China’s Guangdong province. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

2. The image it’s tied to China’s economy. Like other foreign brands, Apple gets accused in China of just wanting to make money and leave. This image issue matters as the nationalistic Chinese find they can make smartphones on their own and need not depend on a foreign brand even if it’s a traditional status symbol. “Foreign companies in the past have been accused of capitalistic carpet bagging in China, so R&D is a good public relations move to show commitment to Chinese consumers,” says Danny Levinson, an early-stage tech investor with Matoka Capital in Beijing.

3. A better idea of what the Chinese user wants. Chinese consumers traditionally look to foreign brands for durability and status. But foreign developers, especially those with a one-size-fits-all model such as the iPhone, easily fail to match other expectations. About half of Chinese digital consumers use an electronic device while watching TV, for example, and “switching between different platforms is becoming more common,” Accenture found in a 2014 report. And because China’s middle class is new and shy, consumers prefer Android models over the iPhone for the price. The Beijing and Shenzhen R&D centers will help Apple grasp these trends by being close to some of China’s top tech firms and universities. Can it develop a $320 iPhone?

4. A lead over Google. Google has a troubled history in China over refusal to censor search results. It shut down its Chinese search engine in 2010 after a hack attack. But Chinese smartphone brands all use its Android operating system and you hear murmurings about the Silicon Valley software icon’s hope to expand R&D if not in China at least near it. That reentry would be a direct threat against Apple. “The first and obvious (concern) is that they do not want Google to be back in China and not them,” says Alicia Garcia, chief Asia Pacific economist with the French investment bank Natixis.

5. Reliable relationships with supplies. Apple’s supply chain depends increasingly on China in addition to its historical sourcesJapan, Korea and Taiwan. Shenzhen, site of Apple’s second planned Chinese R&D center after Beijing, is bubbling over with companies that can supply or assemble high-tech gear at decent prices. Desay Battery and Sunwoda Electronics provide batteries, for example. Apple has worked as well with BYD, a Shenzhen assembler and component maker. BYD ended up filing a patent lawsuit. Analysts still warn that Chinese companies will steal technology, sometimes for relaunch it as a knockoff brand. It’s clear why Apple needs stronger relations with suppliers.

Author:  Ralph Jennings

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/

Categorized in Science & Tech

Both the 12.9-inch and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro are due for an upgrade, and their absence in Apple’s recent iPhone and MacBook Pro events appear to signify that the powerful tablets would have a dedicated release just for themselves. With numerous rumors emerging about the iPad Pro 2’s specs and release date, speculations are high that Apple’s next productivity tablets would be the tech giant’s best ones yet.

The first two iPad Pros that the company launched were designed to bridge the gap between Apple’s tablet and notebook line. Prior to the iPad Pro, the tech giant’s tablet line was widely considered as devices that are specifically designed for the casual user. While enterprises embraced the iPad, the tablet in itself was not really advertised as an enterprise-grade productivity machine. This changed last Fall when Apple unveiled the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, followed by the 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this year.

The 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro was Apple’s first attempt at creating a new, portable device that is powerful enough to serve as a replacement for full-fledged computers such as the MacBook Air. However, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s rather unwieldy size, its mobile operating system and the fact that its Keyboard Cover and Apple Pencil were accessories that needed to be separately bought compromised much of the device’s potential. Even after Apple released its smaller sibling, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, users’ issues about the devices remained largely the same.

With the iPad Pro being advertised as a hybrid enterprise-grade device, it is entering a market that is dominated by powerful 2-in-1 machines like the Microsoft Surface Pro, a device that has continually gained a formidable reputation as a portable machine that delivers the best computing experience in the industry. Thus, for the iPad Pro 2 to perform better than its predecessor, it must be able to accomplish a number of very important things.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is Apple's first enterprise-grade tablet, which is designed to replace notebook computers.

Provide A Real Multitasking Experience

One of the biggest gripes of iPad Pro users was the fact that the device simply does not perform very well when it comes to multitasking. While the 12.9-inch iPad Pro introduced the concept of split screen computing for its users, the fact that it could not even display two MS Word documents and an internet browser at the same time crippled its productivity. Numerous fans of the device, including Apple aficionados, remarked that the multitasking features of the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro simply felt too unrefined.

For the iPad Pro 2, Apple would be wise to make sure that the upcoming device’s multitasking features would be far smoother than before. Fans of the powerful tablet have suggested a more intuitive multi-application system, which could easily toggle between multiple windows of the same app beside a running application. After all, enterprise users usually deal with multiple Word docs and Excel spreadsheets while taking down notes at the same time. Being able to do this on a system that does not feel incomplete and limited would definitely help.

Provide A Significant OS Boost

While both the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro are devices that were advertised as productivity machines, numerous users have remarked that iOS simply pales in comparison to the robust feature set of Apple’s desktop-grade operating system, MacOS. While the iPad Pro did maximize the utilization of iOS, users of the device have been left wanting. iOS has always been a mobile operating system, and it is perfect for smaller devices like the iPhone. For larger machines like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, however, numerous fans have remarked that MacOS would simply be a far better fit for the device.

While it would be a long shot to think that Apple would release a MacOS-bred tablet next year, a significant boost to the feature set of iOS would definitely add to the device’s selling points. When the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was released, numerous users immediately noted that several iOS apps simply don’t do justice to the machine’s massive real estate. If the iPad Pro 2 could at least make sure that it does not simply feel like an oversized iPhone but a completely different breed of computer, it might be able to stand toe-to-toe with Microsoft’s Surface line of devices.

The Smart Keyboard is one of the most important accessories for the iPad Pro, though its reception among fans has largely been mixed.


Improve The Smart Keyboard And Apple Pencil

The iPad Pro’s productivity feature lives and dies with its two primary accessories, the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. However, both accessories attracted the criticism of numerous users. Numerous fans, for one, have stated that the keys in the Smart Keyboard are simply far inferior to the excellent keys found in the MacBook Air. The lack of a trackpad on the Smart Keyboard was also a source of frustration for many as numerous productivity applications such as MS Excel are best used with a pointing device. As for the Apple Pencil, users have also remarked that the nifty stylus still has a huge area for improvement.

Thus, it would be best if Apple would introduce a revamped Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro 2. The simple addition of a laptop-grade trackpad and a better set of keys would take the device a long way. Apart from this, an improved Apple Pencil, complete with an eraser function, would also improve the experience of the device significantly.

iPad Pro 2 Conclusions

Apple might very well have a winner with the iPad Pro 2. Rumors are high that the next generation of Apple productivity tablets would be far better than their predecessors. Speculations about the device are encouraging, with fans pretty much unanimous in the belief that the entire iPad Pro 2 range would be equipped with the A10 Fusion chip and coupled with at least 4GB of RAM. Storage-wise, the iPad Pro 2 would most likely keep Apple’s 32GB/128GB/256GB options, though a 512GB variant for the 12.9-inch variant is also rumored to be in the works.

While it is certain that Apple would improve upon the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the tech giant might need to step away from its comfort zone in order to ensure that its next breed of productivity tablets reach their utmost potential. With a speculated release date of early to mid-2017, the iPad Pro 2 would need to be in a completely different league than its predecessors. If any, rumors about the device have been very encouraging. Thus, when it comes to the iPad Pro 2, the ball is truly in Apple’s court.

Source : http://www.inquisitr.com

Author : Simon Alvarez

Categorized in Social
In the fight against encryption, Apple has positioned itself as a staunch defender of its user privacy by refusing the federal officials to provide encryption backdoors into its products, as well as implementing better encryption for its products.

However, a new report from a security firm suggests Apple's online syncing service iCloud secretly stores logs of its users' private information for as long as four months — even when iCloud backup is switched off.

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft discovered that Apple's mobile devices automatically send its users' call history to the company's servers if iCloud is enabled, and stored that data for up to four months.

And it turns out that there is no way for iCloud users to stop this phone call syncing service unless they completely disable the cloud synchronization feature.

Elcomsoft, which sells software to extract data from Apple's iCloud backups and works with police and intelligence agencies, says the company should tell its customers exactly what personal data it is backing up—and should give users an easy option to turn it off.
 

Why does this Matter?

apple-icloud-backup
If you own an iPhone or iPad, your device automatically collects and transmits private information — including call history, phone numbers, dates, the length of calls, missed calls, FaceTime calls — to iCloud if it is enabled.

Not just this, your iPhone also send information collected from other third-party applications that use VoIP service, including WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.

"We discovered that yet another piece of data is stored in the cloud for no apparent reason," Elcomsoft's Oleg Afonin writes. "Using an iPhone and have an active iCloud account? Your calls will sync with iCloud whether you want it or not."
Apple stores this information for as long as 4 months, and while the company encrypts everything, Privacy buffs note that Apple could become an easy target for law enforcement seeking access to user data.

The security firm also raised doubts over possible government surveillance that could be performed.
 

What's more? Elcomsoft says that the logs are uploaded from any iPhone which has iCloud Drive enabled and that this effectively allows spying on you "without you even knowing."

"Syncing call logs happens almost in real time, though sometimes only in a few hours," says Elcomsoft CEO Vladimir Katalov. "But all you need to have is just iCloud Drive enabled, and there is no way to turn that syncing off, apart from just disabling iCloud Drive completely. In that case, many applications will stop working or lose iCloud-related features completely."

Apple: No Need to Worry

However, Apple says there is no reason to worry.

Yes, the company says there is nothing wrong with its feature, as it is simply part of its iCloud service that allows its users to access their calls from any of their devices that use an Apple ID.

Moreover, Apple guarantees that all of its customers' data is encrypted and two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security for blocking any hacking attempts from hackers or law enforcement.

Here's what the company said in the statement:

"We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices. Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' data. That is why we give our customers the ability to keep their data private. Device data is encrypted with a user's passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user's Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication."

So, as long as you keep your Apple ID to yourself and use a strong password, you do not need to freak out over this report of your call logs being "secretly" sent to Apple.
 

Disable iCloud Drive to Prevent Apple from Logging Your calls

The solution? At the time, the only way to prevent Apple from logging your call history is to simply disable iCloud Drive altogether.

Besides this, you can also manually delete every call entry from your iPhone or iPad, and this will automatically remove the data from iCloud on the next backup.

Apple is not the only company that syncs its users' call logs to the cloud. Android smartphones also sync its users' call logs to the cloud as part of backups. Windows 10 mobile devices also sync call logs by default with other Windows 10 devices that use the same Microsoft account.
Author : Swati Khandelwal
Categorized in Social

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft recently discovered that Apple’s mobile devices with enabled iCloud feature automatically transmit their users’ call logs to the company servers without any notification.

According to Elocomsoft the relayed information contains a list of calls made and received on the mobile device and also phone numbers, dates, times and duration of the calls. Furthermore, it is not only call logs that are sent to Apple’s servers, but calls made through WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and Facetime; with the data being stored by Apple for as long as 4 months.

Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Sputnik that users are essentially left unaware of this feature because there’s no notification that call logs can actually be synched with iCloud. He also remarked that it’s hard to say exactly how legal this particular feature is in terms of privacy issues.

"To be honest, I haven’t read Apple’s privacy agreement completely – it is a very large document, about twenty pages or so. ofcourse it does mention that some of your information can be stored to iCloud. But there’s other document that shows and describes in detail what information stored in the iCloud can be shared by Apple with the law enforcement, by the legal request of course; and there’s no single mention of the call log synching there. Apple only says that they can provide law enforcement with iCloud backups, the information stored in the iCloud backups and some other data stored in the iCloud, but nothing about the calls," he said.

Katalov pointed out that such information could be of great interest to law enforcement agencies and that there are basically two ways for them to access that data.

"Law enforcement people can contact people directly and get all the information stored there; it is encrypted of course, but the thing is, everything stored in Apple’s iCloud (well, almost everything) is encrypted in the way that the encryption keys are stored along with the data, so there’s no problem for Apple to decrypt everything and provide the plain-text information. And the other way of course is to use the software like ours to get access to the information stored in iCloud, but in that case of course you will need iCloud credentials such as the Apple ID and password or the authentication token," Katalov explained.

He added that there are also two ways for iPhone users to protect their information, but each of these methods has its own drawbacks.

"The simplest, but probably not the most effective one is to disable iCloud completely; if you can't do that then at least enable th two-factor authentication for your account to make it harder for hackers to get at your information. But still, you have to know that law enforcement can access your information stored there regardless of whether the two-factor authentication is enabled or not," he surmised.

Author:  TECH

Source:  https://sputniknews.com

Categorized in Social

“It is details like these we worked hard to get right—these little things that make the whole experience easier and more seamless,” said Clay Bavor.

Bavor is Google’s VP for virtual reality, and he was discussing the company’s new VR headset. Hours before he stepped on the stage, a large number of Google executives had already spunned similar lines as they announced Google Pixel, Google’s first-ever Android phone. The entire product launch of Google Pixel sounded like a Google Apple mashup. Google Pixel is built on Google’s collective strength, i.e. two decades of search – engine prominence, and at the same time it has hardware capabilities better than Apple’s.

In 2010, when Google released its first flagship smartphone, the Nexus, Apple was at that point on its fourth-generation iPhone. Google didn’t make Nexus phones itself - throughout the years, they were manufactured by HTC, Samsung, and LG. However, they were the most ideal way to experience Android as Google planned it to be used.

smarpthone-war-google-pixel

Unless Google includes a genie into their new Pixel smartphone, no one is truly going to care. After all, Apple won this smartphone war a long time ago. But Google knows the future better than anybody else in the world. And, it knows that in a few years, it’s going to be the undisputed king of Android smartphones.

Google is taking complete ownership for software and hardware on the phone. They basically replicated Apple’s mojo when it comes to smartphone design. Mind you, this war isn’t over who designs the best smartphone.

Apple may have had a head start when it comes to the design part. By swiping through the generation of its smartphones and carefully planning the product that keeps running on them, it could tailor the user experience more precisely than Google.

Google, then again, is more than just ‘Google’. Between gmail, calendars, maps, chat, and recent offerings like Google Photos, most Apple aficionados spent and still spend a lot of their time on iPhones using Google’s products.

Waging a Smartphone War

At first glance, the Pixel seems like it is competing with the iPhone. Google says the phone’s camera is rated higher than the one in iPhone 7, and that a 15-minute charge can restore seven hours of battery life.

If the Pixel’s hardware measures up, its product offerings could make it the first smartphone positioned against iPhone to knock it off its throne. It is bundled with full-resolution backups for photos and 4K video, which equals to more disk space, and also integrates with Google Assistant, Google’s first-ever personal assistant.

The assistant can extract requests from conversational questions, and follow up by requesting more information. It appears to be significantly more valuable than Siri, yet at the same time nowhere close.

Google over and again emphasized another value that separates it from Apple, ‘personalization’. Google has a humungous database of information about its clients, and it’s not afraid to use it. Search patterns, emails, voice queries, location history, and texts. With access to this information, Google Assistant can out together a pretty good picture of what the user is going to want to need.

The convenience Google can offer may exceed the privacy concerns. Google isn’t hesitant to gather up more data about its users, since it supposes the users will overlook the privacy factor as convenience and benefits. Probably the most powerful things its Assistant can do—like proactively telling you should leave sooner than usual for your meeting across the town, or may be, take another route to avoid an accident, etc.

It can gather real-time traffic data from thousands of other Google Maps users to make every life convenient for you. Regardless of the possibility that the Pixel is a better and capable smartphone, and Google’s services attract buyers willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a high-end smartphone, Google’s still a long way to go.

Recently, the Play Store overtook the iOS App Store in the number of apps it hosts, and the number of developers it attracts. It’s still losing when it comes to quality offerings. But it seems, though, that Google is getting more serious about beating Apple. When app developers feel they’re being left behind if they don’t support Android, they’ll start flooding the Play Store ecosystem with better apps.

The Future of Mobile

So what exactly is Google trying to achieve? With the introduction of the new hardware, it will provide enough value to its users to achieve their primary business goals.

Google is, has been, and will always be a search engine. This is where it generates most of its revenue. The comprehensive business model of using personalized data in order to offer relevant ads to its audience is not going to change in anytime soon.

So how can this identify with Pixel? The Google Pixel is basically a drop in the ocean, where the ocean is characterized as the end-to-end strategy for Google’s personalized search strategy.

To take it to the next level, Google needs to take ownership for hardware which can give the ultimate value to its user base. Google has attempted to accomplish this goal in the past by acquiring the Android ecosystem and improving it.

In the long run, Google realized that controlling the software wasn’t sufficient. Google may have the best development platform, yet Apple’s better hardware made iPhones speedier, more reliable, and less inclined to errors, and much more.

With Google Pixel, the search engine giant gets to control its own hardware, and innovate on the surface and the inside. It can leverage on the massive amount of data it has collected over the users from billions of users and create the most convenient phone as well as the best advertising platform for its partners.

By controlling both the hardware and the software, it can implement hardware changes at a much earlier stage and enable software changes over time. With Google Pixel, it can now innovate in short-term as well as long-term.

Who Will Win?

During the last decade, Apple has been releasing one great iPhone after another. Their user experience is top notch, however, their hardware is the ultimate winner. Constrained to work within the limits of smartphones made by different manufacturers and not ready to control software updates for its Android, Google has lost in many arenas.

The Pixel smartphone is Google’s way for positioning itself to have full control of hardware, software, user experience, and integration with IoT and much more. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly Google will move and whether it will make Apple fail in the long race towards the smartest smartphone. For now, it looks like Google is certainly winning.

Source : technowize.com

Author : ANNA VERSAI

Categorized in Social

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