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Seth's Blog: Hardware is Sexy, But It's Software that Matters ( 77

American author and entrepreneur Seth Godin argues that though hardware is nice and dandy, it is the software that matters. And not just software that runs on a computer, "but the metaphorical idea of rules and algorithms designed to solve problems and connect people," he writes. Godin has used the piece to note how Apple has increasingly grown focused on hardware, and as a result, it's not putting much effort to fixing its software. He writes, "Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it's free, no competitors. Keynote, a presentation program that hasn't been improved in years. iOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty. iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon. No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they've stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new." From the article: Software can change faster than hardware, which means that in changing markets, bet on software. It's tempting to treat the user interface as a piece of fashion, some bling, a sort of jewelry. It's not. It's the way your user controls the tool you build. Change it when it stops working, not when you're bored with it. Every time you change the interface, you better have a really good reason.John Gruber disagrees. He writes: Software, in general, is much better than it used to be. Unlike 1995, we don't lose data due to bugs very often. (For me personally, I can't even remember the last time I lost data.) But our hardware is so much better than our software, the contrast is jarring. An iPhone is a nearly perfect object. Sleek, attractive, simple. The hardware is completely knowable -- there are only five buttons, each of them easily understood. iOS, however, is effectively infinite. The deeper our software gets, the less we know and understand it. It's unsettling.

Apple Releases iOS 10.1 With New Portrait Mode For iPhone 7 Plus ( 48

Apple has released iOS 10.1 to the public today for all iOS 10 users, and with it comes several new features, a long list of bug fixes, and various other under-the-hood improvements. One of the biggest new features introduced is a new "Portrait" mode, which uses the dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus to create shallow depth of field portrait photos with plenty of background bokeh. MacRumors reports: To achieve the blurred look, the image signal processor in the device uses the wide-angle camera to create a depth map while the telephoto captures an image, dissecting the different layers of the photo to decide what to blur with an artful "bokeh" effect. It works on people, pets, and objects, but it does require good lighting to achieve the proper results. The update also [...] brings Transit directions to Japan for the first time. There have been some tweets to the Messages app. It's now possible to play Bubble and Screen effects in Messages with Reduce Motion enabled, something that wasn't previously possible. There's also a new option to replay Bubble and Screen effects. It's important to the note that the "Portrait" mode is still in beta, and will not work flawlessly. Mac Rumors has a full list of the changes made to iOS 10.1 embedded in their report, which you can view here.

Most 'Genuine' Apple Chargers and Cables Sold on Amazon Are Fake, Apple Says ( 191

Apple says it bought Apple chargers and cables labeled as genuine on and found that nearly 90 percent of them to be counterfeit. The revelation comes in a federal lawsuit the company filed against a New Jersey company over what Apple says are fake products that were sold on Amazon. Engadget reports: When Apple got in touch with Amazon about the issue, the website told the former that it got most of its chargers from Mobile Star LLC. The iPhone-maker stressed that since counterfeit cables and chargers don't go through consumer safety testing and could be poorly designed, they're prone to overheating and catching fire. They might even electrocute users. Tim Cook and co. are now asking the court to issue an injunction against the defendant. They also want the court to order the seizure and destruction of all the fake chargers in addition to asking for damage

Macs End Up Costing 3 Times Less Than Windows PCs Because of Fewer Tech Support Expense, Says IBM's IT Guy ( 512

An anonymous reader shares a report on Yahoo (edited): Last year, Fletcher Previn became a cult figure of sorts in the world of enterprise IT. As IBM's VP of Workplace as a Service, Previn is the guy responsible for turning IBM (the company that invented the PC) into an Apple Mac house. Previn gave a great presentation at last year's Jamf tech conference where he said Macs were less expensive to support than Windows. Only 5% of IBM's Mac employees needed help desk support versus 40% of PC users. At that time, some 30,000 IBM employees were using Macs. Today 90,000 of them are, he said. And IBM ultimately plans to distribute 150,000 to 200,000 Macs to workers, meaning about half of IBM's approximately 370,000 employees will have Macs. Previn's team is responsible for all the company's PCs, not just the Macs. All told IBM's IT department supports about 604,000 laptops between employees and its 100,000+ contractors. Most of them are Windows machines -- 442,000 -- while 90,000 are Macs and 72,000 are Linux PCs. IBM is adding about 1,300 Macs a week, Previn said.

iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Significantly Outperforms Intel LTE Modem, Study Finds ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple elected to use LTE modems from two different sources, Qualcomm and Intel. The A1778 and A1784 iPhone models use a GSM-only Intel XMM7360 modem while the A1660 and 1661 iPhone models use a GSM/CDMA-compatible Qualcomm MDM9645M modem. Apple's decision has already caused some disappointment among customers because the GSM-only Intel modem is not compatible with as many carrier networks as the GSM/CDMA Qualcomm modem, and now independent testing conducted by Cellular Insights suggests there are some significant performance differences between the two modems, with the Qualcomm modem outperforming the Intel modem. Using an RS TS7124 RF Shielded Box, two RS CMW500, one RS CMWC controller, and four Vivaldi antennas, Cellular Insights created a setup to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower using two iPhone 7 Plus devices, one with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm modem. The goal of the test was to measure the highest achievable LTE throughput starting at a Reference Signal Received Quality of -85dBm (a strong signal) and gradually reducing the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker. Three LTE bands were tested: Band 12, Band 4 (the most common band in North America), and Band 7. In all three tests, both the iPhone 7 Plus models offered similar performance in ideal conditions, but as power levels decreased, Cellular Insights saw "unexplainable sharp dips in performance" in the Intel modem, finding a gap "north of 30%" in favor of the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus. In the charts, the Qualcomm modem maintains noticeably higher throughput speeds than the Intel modem as signal strength decreases. According to Cellular Insights, in every single test, the iPhone 7 Plus with a Qualcomm modem "had a significant performance edge" over the iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem.

Higher-End Smartphones Make You Happier, Says JD Power Study ( 126

A new J.D. Power study published Thursday found that users who pay more for their smartphones report higher satisfaction than those who pay less for their smartphones. The study also found that among ATT and Sprint customers, Samsung phones ranked highest in overall satisfaction, while T-Mobile and Verizon customers preferred Apple iPhones. Jessica Dolcourt via CNET writes about the other conclusions made by the J.D. Power study: - Customers of ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon (full-service carriers) report more satisfaction than customers on Boost Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS and Virgin Mobile (co-contract carriers).
- Full-service customers pay an average of $361 for their phones compared with prepaid customers' $137 average.
-Customers who pay more for their phones report higher satisfaction.
- This is likely because high-cost phones perform better. (Editor's note: no duh)


Target Passes Walmart As Top US Corporate Installer of Solar Power ( 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Target is the top corporate installer of solar power in the USA with 147MW installed on 300 stores. Walmart is close behind with 140MW, while Ikea has installed solar on 90% of its retail locations. The Solar Energy Institute of America (SEIA) report shows over 1,000MW of solar installed in almost 2,000 unique installations by the largest corporate entities in the country. Additionally these groups have more than doubled their installation volume year on year, with 2015 seeing a total of 130MW, while 2016 is projected to be closer to 280MW. Big box retail locations offer some of the best potential spaces for solar power to be installed -- on top of square, flat structures and in previously built parking lots. The average size of an installation by a company in this group is about 500kW -- 75X the size of an average residential solar installation. The RE100 organization has signed up 81 global corporations (many on the SEIA list) who have pledged 100% renewable energy. "We're incredibly proud of the progress we've made in improving building efficiencies and reducing environmental impact. Our commitment to installing solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020 is evidence of that progress" -- said John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target. The geographic breakdown of solar installations is based upon three main drivers -- good sunlight, expensive electricity and state level renewable mandates, with Southern California having all three. The northeast USA, with its expensive electricity and aggressive clean energy push, has been on par with California (50% of total solar) for commercial installations. A report put together by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) breaks down the various state level laws that support corporations going green -- and, without surprise, it becomes clear that the legal support of renewable energy is a definite driver.

Television Needs To Be Reinvented, Says Apple SVP ( 199

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service at Apple, isn't happy with the current state of how people watch TV. He said we currently live with a "glorified VCR," the interface of our current TV is the problem and we need to reinvent it. Cue pointed out a number of other issues he has with today's TV:"It's really hard to use [a cable box or satellite TV]. Setting something to record, if you didn't watch something last night, if you didn't set it to record, it's hard to find, it may not be available. There may be some rights issues," Cue said. "It's great to be able to tell your device, 'I wanna watch the Duke basketball game, I don't care what channel it's on.' I just want to watch the Duke basketball game. Today you got to bring in the TV, go through the guide, find which sports programs or whatever -- it's just hard to do."

China Overtakes the US in iOS App Store Revenue ( 53

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch: China has now overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, according to a new report out this morning from app intelligence firm App Annie. The country earned over $1.7 billion in Q3 2016, which puts it ahead of the U.S. by over 15 percent. The U.S. had been the number one iOS market since 2010, the report notes. Today, Chinese consumers spend more than 5 times the amount they were spending compared with just two years prior. In addition, the report predicts that China will drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. The estimations are likely accurate -- App Annie had said at the beginning of the year that if China's rapid App Store revenue growth continued at the same pace, it would overtake the U.S. by year's end. And that has now occurred. This growth is largely being driven by games, and here, China's lead has also widened over the U.S. during the past quarter. Games drive 75 percent of App Store revenue, even though non-game apps make up the majority (75%) of those distributed in Apple's mobile marketplace.
Data Storage

32GB iPhone 7 Has 8 Times Slower Storage Performance Than 128GB Model ( 159

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple isn't telling you everything about its phones. Few weeks back, GSMArena reported that the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had significantly slower storage performance than the 128GB and 256GB models of the device. In a new video, Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger conducted a series of speed tests that confirm the discrepancy in storage speeds between the different configurations of Apple's phone -- and it turns out the 32GB iPhone is about eight times slower than the larger capacity storage version of the device. For his first test, Hilsenteger used the free PerformanceTest Mobile app to compare the read and write speeds of the iPhone. While there was little difference between the read speeds of the 32GB and 128GB models, there's a huge disparity when it comes to write speed. The 32GB iPhone writes at 42MB per second, which is nearly eight times slower than the 128GB version's 341MB per second. Hilsenteger then performed a real-world speed test, which included transferring movies from a MacBook to the iPhone using a USB cable. While the 256GB model took two minutes and 34 seconds to complete the 4.2GB file transfer, the 32GB iPhone 7 needed a total of three minutes and 40 seconds for the same transmission.
Operating Systems

Researchers Bypass ASLR Protection On Intel Haswell CPUs ( 72

An anonymous reader writes: "A team of scientists from two U.S. universities has devised a method of bypassing ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) protection by taking advantage of the BTB (Branch Target Buffer), a component included in many modern CPU architectures, including Intel Haswell CPUs, the processor they used for tests in their research," reports Softpedia. The researchers discovered that by blasting the BTB with random data, they could run a successful collision attack that reveals the memory locations where apps execute code in the computer's memory -- the very thing that ASLR protection was meant to hide. While during their tests they used a Linux PC with a Intel Haswell CPU, researchers said the attack can be ported to other CPU architectures and operating systems where ASLR is deployed, such as Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. From start to finish, the collision attack only takes 60 milliseconds, meaning it can be embedded with malware or any other digital forensics tool and run without needing hours of intense CPU processing. You can read the research paper, titled "Jump Over ASLR: Attacking Branch Predictors to Bypass ASLR," here.

Google To Launch Streaming TV Service In Early 2017 ( 21

It looks like the internet search giant is expected to beat Apple to the punch by releasing its streaming TV service early next year. The Wall Street Journal notes that CBS has agreed to bring content to the service, while 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney are in the final stages of talks to add their content to the service. What's more is that the service is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand." Karl Bode for DSLReports writes: The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting customers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs." While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might provide promising if bundled with Google FIber's existing broadband offerings. Google is looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Rumored To Remove Old-School USB Ports On Next MacBook Pro ( 307

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: First the headphone jack, now the USB port? Rumor has it that Apple may get rid of the USB 3.0 port and the Magsafe port (where the charger plugs in) on the next generation of MacBooks. Japanese tech site Macotakara, which accurately predicted that Apple would kill the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, now also claims that the USB port is on the way out. The move would be similar to Apple's latest 12-inch MacBook and its streamlined profile. There's also word that Apple may discontinue the 11-inch MacBook Air to focus instead on the 13-inch laptop. Discontinuing the 11-inch MacBook Air would also potentially boost sales on the 12-inch MacBook. If these rumors are in fact true, then the new MacBooks will have only a USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Both of these ports are about the size of the part of an iPhone charger that plugs into the phone. But since most laptop accessories still plug in via the USB port, Apple owners might have to use an adaptor, or upgrade their technology. Meanwhile, the new MacBooks would likely be charged through the USB-C port or Thunderbolt 3 port. Currently, Apple already sells a USB-C dock with other USB and HDMI ports for $79. The USB-C port uses USB 3.1 Standard, according to PCWorld, which will connect to a wide variety of accessories, such as external hard drives, cameras, and printers. The USB 3.1 can also transfer data between the host computer and the peripheral accessories at a speed of 10 gigabits per second, which is twice as fast as the USB 3.0. Apple is expected to reveal the new Macs at an October 27th event in Cupertino, California.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Announces a Mac Event On October 27, Says 'Hello Again' 84

Apple announced on Wednesday that it will be holding an event on October 27. The tagline of the invite is, "hello again." This suggests that the rumors are true and that the company will indeed announce a fleet of new Mac products. The original Mac was introduced with the word "hello" in 1984. People have waited for years now for Apple to refresh its Macbooks -- some of the products in Mac line haven't received an update in 1000 days. Many expert even said earlier that Apple should stop selling the old MacBooks. The new MacBooks are expected to ship with Intel Skylake processor and a contextual keyboard. Not long ago, the company was also exploring the idea of a MacBook without a 3.5mm audio jack.

'Cultlike' Devotion: Apple Once Refused To Join Open Compute Project, So Their Entire Networking Team Quit ( 236

mattydread23 writes: Great story about the Open Compute Project from Business Insider's Julie Bort here, including this fun tidbit: "'OCP has a cultlike following,' one person with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. 'The whole industry, internet companies, vendors, and enterprises are monitoring OCP.' OCP aims to do for computer hardware what the Linux operating system did for software: make it 'open source' so anyone can take the designs for free and modify them, with contract manufacturers standing by to build them. In its six years, OCP has grown into a global entity, with board members from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Intel, and Microsoft. In fact, there's a well-known story among OCP insiders that demonstrates this cultlike phenom. It involves Apple's networking team. This team was responsible for building a network at Apple that was so reliable, it never goes down. Not rarely -- never. Building a 100% reliable network to meet Apple's exacting standards was no easy task. So, instead of going it alone under Apple's secrecy, the Apple networking team wanted to participate in the revolution, contributing and receiving help. But when the Apple team asked to join OCP, Apple said 'no.' 'The whole team quit the same week,' this person told us."
Desktops (Apple)

Report: Apple To Unveil New Macs At An October 27th Event In Cupertino ( 142

According to Recode's sources, Apple's updated Macs will be unveiled at an event in Cupertino on October 27th. Recode reports: The move had been long expected, given that the company released MacOS Sierra last month but had yet to introduce any new computer models sporting the software. It also comes just in time for Apple to have the new products on sale for the full holiday season. Apple has gone a long time without making significant changes to any of its Mac models, with most experts encouraging customers to hold off all but essential new purchases until the lineup was updated. Tops among the rumors have been reports that Apple will introduce a new MacBook Pro sporting a row of customizable touchscreen keys. The Mac event is expected to take place at or near Apple's Cupertino campus rather than in San Francisco, where the company held many recent events, including the iPhone 7 announcement.

Clinton Campaign Considered Bill Gates, Tim Cook For Vice President ( 171

WikiLeaks has been releasing thousands of emails over the past couple of weeks belonging to Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta. One of the more interesting tidbits revealed from the email dump was the list of potential running mates considered by Clinton's campaign. The Verge reports: Clinton's vice presidential candidates, while not altogether surprising, include some vaguely interesting choices like Bill and Melinda Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra. In the mail, Podesta says he has organized the list into "rough food groups," one of which includes all the people mentioned above. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz are also in this "food group," along with Michael Bloomberg. With just under 40 names on the list, it's not immediately obvious how close any of these people came to actually being asked to take on the role (Tim Kaine is on the list).
The Almighty Buck

Apple is 'Intransigent, Closed and Controlling' Say Banks ( 284

Apple is increasingly trying to get banks to implement its Apple Pay mobile payments solutions, but some banks are avoiding Cupertino giant's offer, saying that the company is "closed and controlling". From a report on Financial Review: Three of Australia's big four banks have described technology giant Apple as being "intransigent, closed and controlling" and accused it of attempting to freeload on their contactless payments infrastructure while slowing innovation in digital wallets. In an increasingly acrimonious dispute, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corp and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are arguing that the engineering of Apple iPhones prevent them from delivering mobile wallets to millions of customers. This is because Apple Pay is the only application that works with the iPhone's "near field communication" (NFC) antenna, which communicates with payment terminals. In their latest, 137-page submission filed with the competition regulator, the banks argue that by locking them out, "Apple is seeking for itself the exclusive use of Australia's existing NFC terminal infrastructure for the making of integrated mobile payments using iOS devices. Yet, this infrastructure was built and paid for by Australian banks and merchants for the benefit of all Australians."

1 In 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Owners To Switch To iPhone 7, Says Analyst ( 212

Branding Brand recently conducted a post-recall study asking Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users which smartphones they would consider upgrading to. While 40 percent of them said they are ready to jump ship to a different manufacturer, 30 percent of respondents said they are likely going to be switching to the iPhone. However, according to one analyst, that number could be even higher. Softpedia reports: KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that approximately 50 percent of those who ordered a Note 7 are now very likely to go for an iPhone 7, as customer trust is collapsing in the Samsung ecosystem and all these buyers are no longer planning to stick with phones manufactured by the South Korean firm. Between 5 to 7 million Note 7 orders are likely to transfer to Apple, the analyst says, and the iPhone 7 Plus is expected to be the main model benefitting from this transition. Other Android phone manufacturers, including Huawei, are also likely to benefit from Samsung's fiasco, and Google itself could also record an increase in Pixel sales following the Note 7 demise. But Apple will certainly take the lion's share here, mostly thanks to the iPhone 7 Plus currently being positioned as a direct rival to the Note 7.

Apple and Other Tech Companies Have Registered Their IP in Jamaica, Tonga, and Elsewhere For Years ( 42

Apple's product launches are notoriously secretive, but the Cupertino, California tech giant is sure to do one thing ahead of a big reveal: file trademark paperwork in Jamaica. From a Quartz report: It did this for Siri, the Apple Watch, macOS, and dozens of its major products months before the equivalent paperwork was lodged in the United States. Likewise, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft routinely file trademarks for their most important products in locales far flung from Silicon Valley and Seattle. These include Jamaica, Tonga, Iceland, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago -- places where trademark authorities don't maintain easily searchable databases. The tech giants are exploiting a US trademark-law provision that lets them effectively claim a trademark in secret. Under this provision, once a mark is lodged with an intellectual property office outside the US, the firm has six months to file it with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When the firm does file in the US, it can point to its original application made abroad to show that it has a priority claim on the mark.

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