Edward Snowden and Andrew "Bunnie" Huang announced Thursday plans for a hardware monitor for smartphones. The device would attach to the devices internal attends and watch for unexpected wireless traffic. The goal is to alert users that they phone may be transmitting sensitive information.
Their add-on would appear to be little more than an external battery case with a small mono-color screen. But it would function as a kind of miniature, form-fitting oscilloscope: Tiny probe wires from that external device would snake into the iPhone's innards through its SIM-card slot to attach to test points on the phone's circuit board. (The SIM card itself would be moved to the case to offer that entry point.) Those wires would read the electrical signals to the two antennas in the phone that are used by its radios, including GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular modem. And by identifying the signals that transmit those different forms of radio information, the modified phone would warn you with alert messages or an audible alarm if its radios transmit anything when they're meant to be off.
The monitor they argue is saver than putting the phone into airplane mode as that too could be hacked. Plus, the phone could still be usable while monitoring activity.
This is certainly a sophisticated operational security solution, but still kind of cool.
Report: Unannounced Apple Car ship date slips
The anticipated ship date for the rumored Apple car has been pushed back by a year to 2021, according to a report from The Information. Prior reports had claimed 2020 was the timeline for initial production.
While Apple's car ambitions are a poorly kept secret, you still have to chuckle at reports of delays of something not even acknowledged.
Gorilla Glass 5 coming later this year
In lab tests, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 survives up to 80 percent of the time when dropped face-down from 1.6 meters onto rough surfaces, far outperforming competitive glass designs.
Gorilla Glass is used in many smartphones, including the iPhone. If it's available in necessary volumes, it's probably a good bet the next iPhone will ship with Gorilla Glass 5.
Apple patent on cellular MacBooks
I don't really pay much attention to patent stuff because it doesn't mean anything. Patently Apple though caught my eye on a recently granted patent involving cellular functionality in MacBooks.
An electronic device such as electronic device 10 of FIG. 1 may contain wireless circuitry. For example, electronic device 10 may contain wireless communications circuitry that operates in long-range communications bands such as cellular telephone bands
I tether my MacBook Air pretty much daily to my iPhone. It's not much of a chore with macOS/iOS Instant Hotspot feature. Still, it's a bit of a pain that needs to re-tether when the laptop goes to sleep or basically every time it's opened. A MacBook with iPad-like LTE networking would be pretty great. Of course, that's another monthly device fee and odds are that convenience will suck up more paid bandwidth, but I've wished for the option since the original iPad.
BlackBerry CEO criticizes Apple's privacy stance
Mixed messages from BlackBerry CEO John Chen. He was speaking at BlackBerry's Security Summit this week:
Via The Inquirer:
"One of our competitors, we call it 'the other fruit company', has an attitude that it doesn't matter how much it might hurt society, they're not going to help," he said.
"I found that disturbing as a citizen. I think BlackBerry, like any company, should have a basic civil responsibility. If the world is in danger, we should be able to help out."
This doesn't mean that BlackBerry is handing out your information willy nilly, though, and Chen pointed out that a lot of "nonsense" has been reported about the company and its approach to such situations.
"Of course, there need to be clear guidelines. The guidelines we've adopted require legal assets. A subpoena for certain data. But if you have the data, you should give it to them," he said.
My understanding is that's basically Apple's position too. If they have the data, they provide it upon legal request. But if they don't have then you don't have the data. He also stats he's against any mandated backdoors.
Chen made similar comments last year during the Apple-FBI PR battle. It's weird and doesn't make much sense to me. I'll guess Chen is hoping rhetoric will win some favor with government buyers.
HBO streaming up, Netflix down
The clear winner in HBO's June quarter was the sixth season of the HBO original series Game of Thrones, which garnered 25.1 million viewers, up from 20.2 million viewers in the previous season. Jeff Cusson, a spokesperson for HBO, told Ars over the phone that it was the "first time any show on HBO has continued to grow after six seasons," adding that the network's digital platforms helped bring new viewers into the aging season because a lot of them binge-watched the previous five seasons this quarter. The network noted that Game of Thrones viewership on HBO Go and HBO Now was up 91 percent from last season, when HBO Now was still exclusive to a few devices and Internet plans.
Netflix saw gains below its stated expectations. It only added 160,000 new subscribers in the US last quarter, well below the company's 500,000 subscription projection.
It's speculated that recent price hikes have hurt Netflix, while Game of Thrones obviously has helped HBO doing the period.
Both have some great programming during the golden age for TV. HBO has some great active shows and a huge library of shows, while Netflix is quickly ramping up a lot of quality shows.
U.S. Army Special Ops to switch from Android to iOS
The iPhone is "faster; smoother. Android freezes up" and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye, the source said.
When trying to run a split screen showing the route and UAS feed, the Android smart phone will freeze up and fail to refresh properly and often have to be restarted, a process that wastes valuable minutes, the source said.
"It's seamless on the iPhone," according to the source. "The graphics are clear, unbelievable."
The comments section is entertaining.
Apple Music gains iTunes Match
One of the biggest complaints about Apple Music over the past year was that it wouldn't properly match songs subscribers had in their existing iTunes libraries. That problem is being fixed by Apple.
Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn't always match the correct version of a particular song. We've all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc.
Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past.
Apple Music is the $10 per month streaming service that beams you music for a monthly fee. iTunes Match is a yearly $25 per year service that syncs up your music libraries between devices. One essentially is rented music, the other manages the music you own. With Apple Music, now you get both services.
I like iTunes Match because it makes everything seamless between devices. I can buy or rip a song on a computer and it will be available to download from Apple on all my devices. iTunes Match also supports playlists.
Making this feature available on Apple Music, gives Apple Music more value. It's basically worth $2/mo to me.
SoftBank makes bid to acquire ARM
UK chip designer ARM has agreed to a whopping buyout offer from Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank for £24.3 billion (~$32 billion)--the deal comes just weeks after Brits voted to exit the European Union.
SoftBank said it would retain ARM's senior management team, brand, and lucrative partnership-based business model.
Other reports have suggested Apple and Intel may make a bid in hopes of swaying shareholders, but it appears the SoftBank deal is pretty far along.
Based on reports, SoftBank is interested in ARM's strategic position as more and more things have embedded CPUs. It stands to reason that customers like Apple should expect business as usual.
It would make sense for Intel to want to acquire ARM as it to date it's losing the mobile CPU race. Apple would be a little weirder because while it obviously relies heavily on ARM, Apple is only a part of ARM's business. I wouldn't see Apple licensing to countless vendors and that would be a very big price to acquire ARM just for itself. An Intel-Apple deal though might be interesting.
Apple proposal for streaming royalties may squeeze Spotify
The Copyright Royalty Board is accepting comment on statutory rates for downloads and interactive streaming services. The new term is set to run 2018-2022. Apple, Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon, and RIAA are expected to provide comment on the proposed new rates.
Apple's comment Friday was revealed through the New York Times. Apple proposes simplifying the rates, which would be higher than the current rates. This may put pressure on competing streaming services, particularly Spotify and Pandora that offers free tier of service.
Although the bulk of Apple's proposal with the Copyright Royalty Board is confined to three brief paragraphs, it would have wide implications if it were adopted. Songwriting rates paid by interactive streaming services like Spotify are now governed by a byzantine system that includes a division between what are known as mechanical and performance royalties for the same songs. Apple's proposal would cover all songwriting royalties with the same rate. (Royalties for recordings are accounted separately.)
What Apple does not say in its filing, however, is that the statutory rates it proposes would not apply to its own services. When the company introduced Apple Music last year, it struck direct deals with music publishers at rates that are slightly higher than usual.
It's an interesting wrinkle that Apple may not be affected by what it's proposing, but when t's time to renew it would seem likely that terms of any existing deal will be altered if the statutory royalty rate is more.