Chinese Agencies Demands Result in iBooks and iTunes Shut Down

Apple is one of the few companies that has managed to stay active in China where regulation of digital services is strictly controlled by the countries many agencies. That was until last week when several of Apple’s services were shut down in China.

Apple’s iBooks store and iTunes movies were shut down last week, following the demands of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. Apple has since responded saying that they hope to “make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible”, something that implies there is a condition to the services.

Apple managed to launch Apple pay in the country just two months ago, and with it counting China’s as its second biggest market, any services that are stopped would have a huge impact on the company. China is known for the censorship of its technology, with the country hidden behind “the great firewall” while it’s suspected that several groups within the country are behind large-scale hacks in other countries.

Recently Apple denied ever handing over its source code to China, a move that may or may not have contributed to the states less favorable look for the California-based company.

Apple Denies Handing Over Source Code to China

During an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing earlier this week, entitled “Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives,” which discussed the feud between Apple and the FBI over an iPhone tied to the San Bernardino shootings, Indiana State Police Captain Charles Cohen, Commander of the Office of Intelligence and Investigative Technologies, accused the Cupertino company of releasing its iOS source code and user data to China, while refusing to do the same thing for the US.

“I saw several news stories that said Apple provided the source code for the iOS [operating system for iPhone and iPads] to China,” Cohen said.

Following Cohen’s claims, for which he provided no evidence, Bruce Sewell, Apple’s General Counsel, confirmed that the company had “been asked by the Chinese government” for the source code, but that “we refused.”

Apple was also accused of possessing a key to access encrypted user messages and data – which would mean the company’s claims of end-to-end encryption were fraudulent – which it disposed of at the end of 2014.

“We have not provided source code to the Chinese government,” Sewell countered. “We did not have a key 19 months ago that we threw away. Those allegations are without merit.”

Image courtesy of Shelley Palmer.

Apple Pays $25m to Patent Troll

Apple has paid a “patent troll” $24.9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging infringement over its Siri personal assistant. The payment will be split between the Marathon Patent Group – a business whose stock in trade is exploiting patent licences to file lawsuits against infringing companies – and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), from where a professor and student claim they invented the voice recognition and response system that Apple has implemented in Siri.

US Patent No. 7,177,798 describes a “method for processing natural language input,” using a database containing “case information, keywords, information models, and database values.” The lawsuit [PDF] alleged that Siri “processes natural language” in exactly the manner outlined in the patent.

Drs. Cheng Hsu and Veera Boonjing – the former a Professor of Decision Sciences and Engineering at RPI, and latter being a doctoral student at the time the patent was filed in 2000 – assigned their patent to the university, as is the common practice for inventions developed within academic facilities. Professional patent troll Marathon Patent Group – was made aware of the filing via its subsidiary Dynamic Advances and used it to file a lawsuit on behalf of RPI, taking half of any award in return.

“Apple encourages consumers to use Siri as claimed in the ’798 Patent and, in fact, has entire webpages devoted to teaching consumers the benefits of using Siri to process natural language inputs, how to use Siri to process natural language inputs, and encouraging them to buy Apple products so they can use Siri to process natural language inputs,” according to the filed lawsuit.

The plaintiffs were successful, settling the case with Apple for $24.9 million, though reports suggest that RPI was eager to hold out for more money.

“Dynamic Advances believes RPI has unreasonably withheld its consent to the reasonable royalty rate set forth in the settlement agreement between Dynamic Advances and Apple, and that issue may have to be resolved in arbitration,” the company stated.

For Dynamic Advances, though, Apple is but its first victim – the company “believes that other voice recognition products infringe the ‘798 patent.” Is a suit against Microsoft’s Cortana set to follow?

Skylake Core M Heading for Apple MacBook

Last year, Apple surprised the world with their new MacBook, their thinnest laptop yet. In a first, the slim device only had one USB Type-C port and featured a fanless Intel Broadwell Core M CPU with a Retina display. Today, Apple has updated their MacBook as they’ve previously announced. The new laptop features upgraded internals throughout, with the headline being the new Skylake Core-M CPUs.

The new Skylake Core m3-6Y30, the Core m5-6Y54 and the Core m7-6Y75 all keep the same base clock as their Broadwell counterparts but the m3 sees a 100Mhz drop in boost, the m5 100Mhz increase and the m7 200Mhz increase. Combined with the architecture improvements, CPU performance should improve but not by much. The iGPU get upgraded to an HD 515 which uses the new Gen9 architecture and a 50Mhz boost for the m7. This should lead to a nice boost to graphics performance.

Other changes are the use of LPDDR3 1866 up from 1600. The battery also gets a bump up by 1.7 Wh to 41.4 Wh, gaining an extra hour of battery life. Storage also reported is improved with a new PCIe SSD but no word yet on specifics. Finally, we get a new Rose Gold, aka Pink, colour option for those that want it. Pricing remains the same as the current lineup.

Apple Poaches Telsa’s Engineering VP

Apple, hard at work developing its own electric car – codenamed Project Titan, and rumoured to be undergoing R&D at a secret facility in Berlin, Germany – has poached Telsa Motors’ Vice President of Engineering Chris Porritt to work on a “special project”, according to Electrek. I wonder what that could be..?

The move follows reports that former Project Titan lead Steve Zadesky has left Apple, with Porritt appearing to be his natural replacement. Porritt’s CV includes a stint as Aston Martin’s Chief Engineer, a period during which he helped develop the One-77 supercar, V12 Zagato, and Aston Martin DB9 before leaving in 2013. Do you know who one of the biggest Aston Martin fanboys is? Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, who famously owns both a DB9 and a Vanquish.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has previously joked about his company’s employees moving to Apple, calling the company the “Tesla graveyard”.

“They have hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

While much of the design work for the Apple Car is said to be handled from its Cupertino headquarters, the Berlin lab is handling the development side, while the vehicle is due to be built in Austria by automotive engineering outfit Magna Steyr. The car is expected to hit the market in either 2019 or 2020.

AMD Scores Apple Mac Design Wins with Polaris

After many fruitful years of partnerships with Apple, AMD is reportedly continuing the relationship with their latest Polaris based GPUs. Apple has alternated MacBook Pro suppliers between Nvidia and AMD in the past but tended towards AMD more with the Mac Pro. According to the source, the performance per watt of 14nm Polaris combined with the performance per dollar of the chips is what sold Apple.

AMD has long pursued a strategy os using smaller and more efficient chips to combat their biggest rival Nvidia. Prior to GCN, AMD tended to have smaller flagships that sipped less power and had lesser compute abilities. This all changed around with GCN where AMD focused on compute more while Nvidia did the opposite. This lead to Nvidia topping the efficiency charts and combined with their marketing soared in sales. If the rumours are true, Polaris 10 will be smaller than GP104, its main competitor.

With Polaris, AMD should be able to regain the efficiency advantage with both the move to 14nm and the new architecture. We may see Polaris based Macs as soon as WWDC in June, just after the cards launch at Computex. In addition to a ‘superior’ product, AMD is also willing to cut their margins a bit more in order to get a sale as we saw with the current-gen consoles. Perhaps, is AMD plays their cards well, we may see Zen Macs as well.

Apple WWDC 2016 Dates Revealed

Every year in June, Apple hosts their WWDC event and this year is the same. During the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple usually announces new OS X, iOS and other OS revisions. After running from June 8 to 12, this year’s event will go from June 13 to 17. Interestingly, the first about the dates came out from Siri when she was asked about the event.

Since Siri spilled the beans earlier today, Apple has since updated their event page, officially confirming WWDC will run from the 13th to 17th. Registration begins now till April 22nd with a $1,599 price tag for the San Francisco event.

This year, Apple is planning make major announcements for OS X, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. Some reports are suggesting that OS X might get a brand update to MacOS to bring it in line with the rest of Apple’s lineup. In addition to renaming the OS, there may be updates to Mac hardware as well due to newer Intel CPUs.

With a June event timetable, we may hopefully see some new GPUs in Macs as well. Computex will be happening 2 weeks prior so we may well get Polaris or Pascal GPUs in the refreshed Macs. We’ll bring you more information on WWDC as it comes out.

San Bernardino iPhone Proves Useless Following Decryption

After a lengthy court battle, lasting months, that sought to compel Apple to compromise the security on an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook, the FBI finally achieved the feat on its own. The result? Absolutely nothing of use was gleaned from the device, according to an anonymous source within US law enforcement.

“A law enforcement source tells CBS News that so far nothing of real significance has been found on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, which was unlocked by the FBI last month without the help of Apple,” CBS News reports. “It was stressed that the FBI continues to analyze the information on the cellphone seized in the investigation.”

It is still unclear who was responsible for bypassing the encryption of Farook’s iPhone 5c, nor the mean by which it was achieved. Multiple sources, however, suggest that the FBI enlisted the help of a private group of “grey hat” hackers to help crack the device.

“The FBI cracked a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of professional hackers who discovered and brought to the bureau at least one previously unknown software flaw, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Washington Post. “[…] The people who helped the U.S. government come from the sometimes shadowy world of hackers and security researchers who profit from finding flaws in companies’ software or systems.”

“The company that helped the FBI unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone to get data has sole legal ownership of the method, making it highly unlikely the technique will be disclosed by the government to Apple or any other entity, Obama administration sources said this week,” Reuters revealed. “[…]The sources said the technology used to get into the phone was supplied by a non-U.S. company that they declined to identify.”

Regardless, FBI Director James Comey has suggested that the FBI will likely keep the exploit it used to access the iPhone to themselves, lest Apple attempt to patch the vulnerability. “If we tell Apple, they’re going to fix it and we’re back where we started,” Comey said. “As silly as it may sound, we may end up there. We just haven’t decided yet.”

Apple Claims ‘Most Effective Security Organization in the World’

In a recent press conference with some of Apple’s engineers, the company stated that they had the ‘most effective security organization in the world’. It wasn’t just an idle statement either, with them revealing a number of the security features that are packed into their iPhone both on the hardware and software levels.

The conference itself was a highly technical affair, with the attending engineers going to great lengths to detail the security protocols they have in place. More than just being a podium for Apple to  grandstand, this conference was a show of clear defiance against the revived effort by the US government to unlock the iPhones of criminals with them restating the point that making the popular smartphone less secure for them would risk compromising the privacy and security of their customers.

Unlike Android and the numerous companies developing Android devices, Apple control all aspects of their phone’s development which allows them to bake security into every level of their device, from hardware to firmware to software. The features employed in order to make the device so secure include a number of both industry-standard and Apple-specific features, which, when employed together secure the device at all levels, making it impossible to even flash the device with a hacked version of iOS or similar super-low-level attacks. They also believe that the chance of a bug occurring at a low enough level to cause a major compromise is small.

Getting users to ensure their phones run the latest version of iOS is another important step to keep devices secure, as each new iteration of the mobile operating system includes new security improvements and bugfixes. Some of the ways that Apple have employed to increase the adoption rate of the newest versions of their software include shrinking the size of the operating system from 4.6GB in iOS 8 to just 1.3GB in iOS 9 and also offering “while you were sleeping” update options, both of which seem to be effectual, with iOS 9 having an adoption rate of 80% so far.

It is plain to see how important Apple believe that security and encryption are to our future by the effort they put into ensuring their devices are secure. Their struggle to convince governments that slackening of security and precedents to force companies to unlock devices would have long-term damage is likely far from over, but we can be assured that Apple (and many other tech firms) will continue to struggle against these demands and ensure a safer and more secure digital future.

iTunes Allowance to Shutdown Next Month

iTunes allowance is a service that allowed parents to place money into their child’s iTunes account on a monthly basis. No need to allow them to borrow your card or even for you to type into or access their account, preventing you from hundreds of pounds of charges to your card you never expected. Come next month though and the service will be shut down.

In an announcement, Apple has stated that after April 13th users aren’t able to create new iTunes allowance setups, with all current allowance setups being shut down as of May 25th. If you are one of the many who already has a system in place, don’t worry any unused allowance will remain in the account until it has been used, while Apple is keen to stress that similar effects can be achieved using different schemes they provide.

If you are looking to provide for your family, you can share your purchases through the family sharing feature while if you are looking to take sole control of the system then using the  iTunes gift system would be ideal. With no reasoning behind the removal of the feature, people are left wondering if the new systems will teach the same values about money and the consequences of spending an allowance.

Hackers Could Crash Your iPhone Over Wi-Fi

Remember when we told you that your iPhone could crash if you set it to a certain date? Well, even though you would have to perform the date changing manually in order to trigger this bug, it looks like hackers could still abuse it via Wi-Fi. Apple has issued a fix in the beta version of the iOS 9.3 operating system in order to address the glitch, but two researchers named Matt Harrigan and Patrick Kelley have exploited the tendency of iOS devices to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks that they recognize in order to prove a point. The exploit involved creating a new network with the same name but with a hostile time server that would cause nearby iPads to reset their time and refuse to reboot. Fortunately, the team worked with Apple to release a fix for this bug before they published their findings.

“The reboot caused all iPads in test to degrade gradually, beginning with the inability to unlock, and ultimately ending with the device overheating and not booting at all. Apple has confirmed this vulnerability to be present in 64 bit devices that are running any version less than 9.3.1.”

The same method is much harder to implement on iPhones, as they receive network time updates differently when compared to iPads. Still, the researchers have stated that it is definitely possible to brick an iPhone using Wi-Fi as well. In order to protect yourself, you should make sure that your iPhone and iPad are running iOS 9.3.1, and you should definitely avoid using internet connections without safety certificates or Wi-Fi networks that are not password protected. Just in case you want to see the glitch for yourself, you can have a look at the following video.

Homeland Security & Trend Micro Recommend Uninstalling QuickTime Now

When it comes to software that you may not have heard of, or even used, recently QuickTime appears on my mind. A popular video software the system seems to have faded away, from both ours and Apple’s minds. These actions have led for Trend Micro and the Department of Homeland Security to recommend that if you have QuickTime installed on your Windows PC, uninstall QuickTime for your own safety.

The warnings both from Trend Micro and the Department of Homeland Security come as Trend Micro discover two new critical vulnerabilities within the software that could be used by remote attackers to gain control of your system. While there aren’t any active attacks targeting this problem, both groups are recommending you uninstall the software from your windows system as Apple will no longer release security updates for QuickTime on windows.

The options seem pretty clear-cut, uninstall some software or risk being exposed to a threat that will never get fixed. While QuickTime on Mac’s is unaffected, Windows users should look to use some of the alternative options available for them if you want to watch media content on your PC.

For information on how to uninstall QuickTime, you can visit Apple’s support page here.

Apple & FBI Heading Back to Congress to Debate Encryption

When Apple and the FBI first appeared in front of congress the debate was if Apple could be ordered to unlock an iPhone, and if so should they then create a method where they could easily access future devices for law enforcement? While the case revolving around the San Bernardino phone is over, with the FBI gaining access with help from an external group, the debate is still far from over with both the FBI and Apple looking to appear before a congressional committee to debate encryption yet again.

The debate over encryption will see several people join the committee as witnesses, including Bruce Sewell (General Counsel, Apple Inc), Amy Hess (Executive Assistance Directory for Science and Technology, FBI) and Amit Yoran (President, RSA Security). Other witnesses include Ron Hickman representing the National Sheriffs Association and two police officers, Captain Charles Cohen and Chief Thomas Galati (Indiana state police and New York City Police respectively). With two university representatives Daniel Weitzner (MIT) and Matthew Blaze (University of Pennsylvania) appearing as well, it would appear that congress want to hear the debate from research, implementation and law enforcements points of views in an attempt to fully understand the debate that is raging on in countries all over the world about privacy vs protection.

With countries all over looking to this court case as an example of how technology has advanced while the law remains unclear, the congressional hearing could have a big impact on companies throughout America. The hearing will take place on April 19th and will be streamed on their site for ease of access.

Suspect iPhone 7 Leak Could Actually be True

Whenever Apple develops a new product, there’s usually various leaks and theories about the company’s future direction. This is especially when case when the latest iPhone is upon us and creates a media frenzy. Often, the leaked designs are innovative renders which are simply not possible to produce on a mass scale. Recently, a leaked image claimed to show the rear unibody of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 handset. The image was rightfully met with scepticism because the three dots near the bottom look like a Smart Connector. According to the reliable Japanese Apple blog MacOtakara, which was reported by MacRumors,  “the possibility is great” that both the image of the iPhone 7 Plus housing and the design sourced from Catcher are “the real thing.”

The images also suggest that there won’t be a huge difference in the device’s form factor compared to current offerings with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Previous rumours have hinted at Apple’s plans to remove the headphone jack and introduce dual stereo speakers. The source goes into detail about the possibility of two new sensors positioned at the top of the device. It’s uncertain what these will do but it could revolve around adjusting ambient lighting based on an environment’s temperature. Another consistently reported rumour is the introduction of dual cameras on both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Clearly, it’s difficult to deduce if the leaked image is authentic, but MacOtakara has a reputable history when disclosing details about upcoming Apple products. As the release date dawns nearer, more rumours from multiple sources should appear. If the widespread report regarding the lack of a headphone jack is true, I’m really interested to see the reaction among consumers. Apple probably perceives this is a bold, revolutionary step to streamline the iPhone’s design. However, this surely is coming at the expense of basic functionality.

Security Flaw Allowed The FBI To Create The iPhone Cracking Software

Apple vs the FBI looks liked it would never end, originally starting with the FBI requesting (and then a federal judge ordering) Apple’s support in unlocking and gaining access to an iPhone in a court case. Apple looked to defend itself and ultimately the FBI recalled its actions when it received support from an outside party. It has now been revealed how the tool used by the FBI gained access to the iPhone through the use of a security flaw.

The security flaw, one that was previously unknown to Apple, allowed the creation of a tool to crack the four digit pin used to protect the phone from 10 failed attempts to gain access to a phone. The group that provided the tool to the government was a group of “grey hat” hackers who actively seek out flaws in software to then sell on to groups such as the government.

The exposed flaw affects both the iPhone 5 and iOS 9 iPhones, and may not affect work on newer versions of both iPhones and the iOS operating system. With FBI director James B. Comey saying that they may or may not disclose the security flaw to Apple, but with the latest leak revealing where they need to focus, Apple may now fix the problem before others are able to exploit it.

The CITE That No One Will Live In

When it comes to technology, people are constantly told to test it before release. Car makers are being warned that they need to slow down the release of automated driving in order to help people find and understand the risks and dangers of having a machine make decisions which will ultimately affect thousands on a daily basis, and with large companies like Tesla and Apple looking to get in on the automated car business, everyone wants to be safe before their cars hit the road. The site for Apple’s testing may have become revealed, though, in a brand new CITE.

No that is not a spelling mistake, CITE stands for The Center for Innovation Testing and Evaluation, a 15 square miles of desert located within New Mexico. Set to cost around $1 billion and begin sometime this year, Pegasus Global Holding will begin the construction of the city for 35,000 people, but no one will ever live there.

Dubbed a “City lab” the city will feature everything from hospitals and highways to schools and could be used for testing self-driving transportation and green energy systems, with a research campus designed to help people study and understand technology on a city-wide scale before it’s released to the real world. With an estimated operational date of 2018, it could be a while before we see a city that’s fully automated, which is all good for us as long as they don’t name any of the systems Skynet or the Red Queen.

US Congress Bill Plans to Make Effective Encryption Illegal

In the wake of the FBI’s feud with Apple over bypassing the encryption of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, the US Congress is proposing a new bill that aims to outlaw effective encryption, what is termed “technical assistance”, requiring any company or entity to build in backdoors to its security systems for law enforcement to exploit.

In a draft of the proposed bill, written by a committee led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and leaked by politics news outlet The Hill, businesses are required to release “information or data” if served with a court order – meaning that they are legally obligated to have access to that data in the first place – or provide law enforcement agencies with “technical assistance as is necessary to obtain such information in an intelligible format or to achieve the purpose of the court order.”

While talk suggests that the leaked draft of the bill is close to its final iteration, its final draft could still change, especially since it does not have the support of President Obama. It is not yet known if this version of the bill has been submitted to Congress.

“While the bill claims that it in no way is designed to force companies to redesign their products, this is a subtle hypocrisy,” Jonathan Zdziarski , a computer forensics and encryption expert, wrote in a blog post. “The reality is that there is no possible way to comply with it without intentionally backdooring the encryption in every product that may be used in the United States.”

“This bill would not only be surrendering America’s cybersecurity but also its tech economy, as foreign competitors would continue to offer—and bad guys would still be able to easily use!–more secure products and services,” Kevin Bankston, Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, told Vice Motherboard. “The fact that this lose-lose proposal is coming from the leaders of our Senate’s intelligence committee, when former heads of the NSA, DHS, the CIA and more are all saying that we are more secure with strong encryption than without it, would be embarrassing if it weren’t so frightening.”

Apple Have Filed a Patent For a Keyboard-less Macbook

Have you ever used multiple screens? you know when you’ve just set up that second screen for the first time and you’re trying to figure out how everything works now. Well, why not have that one a laptop but with a little twist, the second screen, is right where your keyboard used to be? Apple may be trying to do just that with one of their latest patents looking at a keyboard-less Macbook.

The patent was only made public on Thursday but was filed all the way back in September 2015 and seems to show what contains an area described as a “force sensitive input structure for an electronic device”, essentially a large touch screen area where your keyboard used to be.

Apple uses the term “zero-travel” to describe the keyless surface that doesn’t have to move when you press it. The surface, however, does include designs for haptic feedback, just like when you type away on your phone and vibrates back at you.

As a bonus, the system would allow you to configure what you need, need a giant touch pad, you’ve got it. Keyboard and number pad? It’s all yours. While this design is no way unique, with the Acer ICONIA 6120 featuring a touch screen where your keyboard is normally giving you all you need to create and upgrade your inputs as your needs arise.

While it may not become a product for a few years, we are seeing more and more devices that look to do away with dedicated input areas and make use of touch or motion controls. Do you think it’s a good movement away from the keyboard or will there always be a place for keyboards on your laptop?

Orbweb.me Now Also Supported on All Thecus Linux NAS’

It has been a little over half a year since Thecus introduced the support for Orbweb.me on their WSS-based NAS’. That was so successful that the support now has been extended to all of Thecus’ Linux-based NAS’ too. Whether you run the older Thecus OS 5.0 or the recently released Thecus OS 7.0, you can now have easy access to your NAS and everything that’s connected to it from anywhere.

Some might say, I already have access to it all from everywhere, that’s the point of a NAS. But the ease of which you have access to it, how easy it is to use, and the security behind it isn’t always the same. The Orbweb.me application brings a new remote access experience to Thecus Linux NAS from any web browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox as well as mobile devices powered by iOS and Android.

Orbweb.me is a P2P (Peer To Peer) module that allows users to easily view, stream and manage files in their NAS anytime and anywhere. Best of all, you don’t need to know your IP address and it works well over shared connections too.

Orbweb4.0 offers several features including webcam monitoring with timeline view and snapshot. All these features further increase Thecus NAS functionality. The Orbweb.me application is also available to download for any windows PC in its basic version, but because of the partnership between Thecus and Orbweb, Thecus NAS include a subscription for the Orbweb.me Ultimate Version that otherwise require an annual $69.99 subscription fee.

Thecus NAS uses an arsenal of security protocols and features to maintain user´s data safety. To prevent data from coming under attack when data is being transferred, Orbweb.me uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure all data traffic.

iOS Lock Screen Bypass Vulnerability Fixed By Apple

Apple has reportedly fixed a security flaw in the iOS operating system that would allow attackers to be able to bypass passcode lock screens on iPhone 6S and 6S Plus that are running version 9.3.1 of iOS. The bypass would have allowed malicious parties to be able to access the address book and photos of a targeted device, which could expose a lot of private data.

German security firm, Evolution Security, were responsible for discovering the bypass, which takes advantage of the integration of Siri with apps such as Twitter or Facebook, as well as the new 3D Touch feature that is included only in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Even while the device is locked, an attacker would be able to request information on @ tags from Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo. From there, the 3D touch’s hard push feature can be used to bring up the context menu for a string such as an email address. This menu provides the ability to add the data to a contact in the phone’s address book and from there, by accessing the choice to change user pictures, the photo gallery can be launched.

According to the Washington Post, the vulnerability was patched by Apple on Tuesday without users needing to install a software update. Considering the high level of security on the iPhone that led to Apple’s protracted battle with the FBI, it is surprising that so much user data can be exposed by a flaw in the lock screen, which is often the first and last line of defense for the security of the data on the device.

The FBI Have Started Briefing People About How They Broke Into The iPhone

After the recent court battle people, the FBI have been rather quiet regarding how they managed to get into an encrypted iPhone. That was until recently when the FBI started briefing senior officials about the methods they used, so it’s likely we won’t hear about it anytime soon.

The FBI have already given a briefing to senator Dianne Feinstein (Vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) about the technique they used to get into the iPhone 5C. Although no real details were given, it would seem that this may be the first of many with senator Richard Burr (the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) was also offered a briefing, something that he has not accepted yet.

Feinstein and Burr are currently supporting a bill that would see companies required to help the government gain access to encrypted technologies that companies create. This new bill would see Apple and other companies compelled to help bypass or remove encryption on their hardware and software, something which the White House has yet to support.

With the new bill in sight, Feinstein and Burr also believe that companies like Apple shouldn’t be informed about the techniques the FBI used to gain access to their device, with Feinstein saying, “I don’t believe the government has any obligation to Apple. No com­pany or in­di­vidu­al is above the law, and I’m dis­mayed that any­one would re­fuse to help the gov­ern­ment in a ma­jor ter­ror­ism in­vest­ig­a­tion.”.

With encryption now one of many technological advances that governments and law enforcement now struggle with dealing with, it should be interesting to see how governments address this and if they choose to work with or against companies in dealing with the dangers this technology possesses if used in the wrong hands.

Apple to Use Old or Refurbished IPhones to Break Into Indian Market

The Indian market is one notoriously hard to get into for many firms selling devices at a premium, with many Indian customers being incredibly sensitive to high pricing and the import taxes for the country are high. In response to this difficult market, Apple has a new plan to gain a foothold in India: selling older and refurbished iPhones at cheaper prices.

Compared to their strong advance into the Chinese market, Apple’s progress in India has been slow. Despite increasing the number of distribution channels across a number of Indian cities, the Cupertino-based company only managed to sell 1 million phones in the last quarter, making up just a 3 percent share of the Indian smart phone market.

According to Vishal Tripathi, a research director at Gartner, most of Apple’s recent growth in the Indian market has come from sales of their older devices such as the iPhone 4S and that they may be seeking to target the lower-end of the smart phone market with these dated models, a vastly different approach to in the West. Even the new (and cheaper) iPhone SE, with a price tag of 39,000 rupees for a 16 GB model is unlikely to gain much of a foothold in the market amongst price-conscious customers according to Tripathi.

Currently, Samsung leads the Indian smart phone market, possessing a mighty 27 percent share of the 25 million devices shipped in India in the last quarter, trailed by Indian firm Micromax at 14.1 percent. There is no doubt that Apple wants a piece of this potentially lucrative market, which one of their main smartphone competitors currently controls. Whether this strategy will take hold remains to be seen, but Apple looks to have an uphill battle ahead of them in India as many in the country see them as simply dumping old end-of-life models into the market.

WhatsApp Turns on Encryption for All Platforms

In a move that is sure to rile the FBI, following the law enforcement agency’s feud with Apple over its refusal to unlock the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, instant messaging app WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption to every iteration of its software on every platform, providing added security to an additional one billion users.

“Building secure products actually makes for a safer world, (though) many people in law enforcement may not agree with that,” WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton told WIRED.

“We’re somewhat lucky here in the United States, where we hope that the checks and balances hold out for many years to come and decades to come. But in a lot of countries you don’t have these checks and balances,” added Jan Koum, the second co-founder of the company. “The argument can be made: Maybe you want to trust the government, but you shouldn’t because you don’t know where things are going to go in the future.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive of WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, was a vocal supporter of Apple during its court struggle against the FBI. “We’re sympathetic with Apple,” Zuckerberg said during a technology conference in February. “I don’t think requiring back doors into encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do.”

Steve Wozniak Experience Mars Through VR

GTC 2016: As a special guest experience, NVIDIA enlisted Apple co-creator Steve Wozniak to take the helm in the Mars Rover.

As an person who has made it clear in the past of wanting to sign up for the one-way ticket to Mars, NVIDIA have made it possible to experience the same thing without leaving the comfort of your own couch. ‘Woz’ as part of the experience chucked a VR headset on and showed us how real the overall feel of being on Mars was.

Jen-Hsun and Wozniak joke about finally finding Matt Damon but you straight away get the feel as to how immersive the experience of Mars can be.

This was made possible from utilising the GeForce GTX Titan to give the best possible quality taking into consideration how realism is of the keypoint and this leads to IRAY VR technology.

IRAY VR utilises a pre-rendered source of light probes that is then rasterized and reconstructs the image based on what the eye expects to see as a completed composition.

Apple Will Start Phasing Out Plastic Bags This Month

Buying an Apple product is almost as symbolic as the illuminated apple located on the back of your device, with the whole experience of walking out the store reminding you of that new gadget feel before you’ve even opened the box. Part of this experience is the bag you get the new product in, a plastic bag emblazoned with the Apple logo. This part of your experience may be changing with Apple looking to phase out plastic bags later this month.

Revealed by 9to5Mac, a note sent to employees reveals plans for the bags to be replaced by paper bags. The new paper bags will be made with 80 percent recycled materials, a move intended to further Apple’s goal of leaving the world “better than we found it”.

The change will start on the 15th April, with stores looking to use up their plastic bags as soon as they can. Much like when you go shopping customers are now also going to be asked if they want a bag and being given the choice between medium and large sizes, both of these actions look to help reduce the number of bags used and the amount of material given away in the form of bags.

If this wasn’t enough, people who are looking to recycle their iOS devices will get a new “Apple Renew” card, a gift card made out of recycled paper.

With Apple already running their facilities on renewable energy and now using recyclable materials for their stores, leaving the world better than we found it is a step closer to being a reality.

iPhone Unlocked By Fingerprint Because Of A Warrant From The LAPD

While we were so focused on the Apple Vs FBI court battle that was going on, it would seem that the FBI were up to their usual tricks. I refer to the first known case where a user was made to unlock their iPhone by fingerprint because of a warrant.

The court case was overseen by a Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge who agreed that David Charles Baust could not be forced to hand over his iPhones passcode. The judge did say he could be compelled to supply his biometric information to unlock the device, though, a measure that seems very similar in its outcome.

The warrant issued allowed an LAPD agent to visit the premises of Baust and a Paytsar Bkchadzhyan and acquire a fingerprint for the purposes of unlocking the iPhone, a trick that can be mimicked with something as simple as Play-Doh. The warrant contains the line “Law enforcement personnel are authorized to depress the fingerprints and/or thumbprints of the person covered by this warrant onto the Touch ID sensor of the Apple iPhone seized… on 25 February”. The inventory of the property taken in the search doesn’t even help narrow down what they searched for, as they state “PAYTSAR BKCHADZHYAN – FINGERPRINT ON IPHONE DEVICE”, a rather ambiguous term when keeping track of something.

The fingerprint didn’t help as after 48 hours of not unlocking your iPhone with touch ID requires that you enter your passcode anyway, a piece of information that the Judge had already ruled out being forced from the suspect.

This could have repercussions, such as in the case where a person from England is being asked to unlock his device over a case that could see him tried in America, where you could be seen as providing evidence against yourself by providing something like your biometric information or passwords. These are all protected in America under the fifth amendment, the right to not incriminate yourself.

FBI’s iPhone Breaking Trick Might Leak Soon

Everyone’s already aware that the FBI has recently closed its court case against Apple because they figured how to break into the locked iPhone with the help of an undisclosed party. However, even though the FBI is trying to keep the cracking method a secret for obvious reasons, chances are that this critical information will leak soon, especially since the agency has offered to help other authorities that are facing similar issues with locked phones in criminal cases. If a court were to force the FBI to disclose this information, defense attorneys would cross-examine all of the experts involved in the process, and the flaw would eventually be exposed. In that case, Apple would immediately move to fix the vulnerability and would likely announce it to its customers.

Moreover, if the FBI would choose to use the method on phones belonging to living criminals, defense attorneys would have a very good excuse to pry and ask for specifics. Then there’s the possibility that the tool’s creators could sell it to another party, in which case the likelihood of it to leak might increase quite a bit. Apple’s experts have stated that “flaws of this nature have a pretty short life cycle,” which means that we’re likely to find out exactly how the FBI cracked that iPhone very soon.