We show that the MEMS gyroscopes found on modern smart phones are sufficiently sensitive to measure acoustic signals in the vicinity of the phone. The resulting signals contain only very low-frequency information (<200Hz). Nevertheless we show, using signal processing and machine learning, that this information is sufficient to identify speaker information and even parse speech. Since iOS and Android require no special permissions to access the gyro, our results show that apps and active web content that cannot access the microphone can nevertheless eavesdrop on speech in the vicinity of the phone.
Apple’s documentation on the tel scheme is really short and easy to read. While reading the first paragraph something caught my attention:
When a user taps a telephone link in a webpage, iOS displays an alert asking if the user really wants to dial the phone number and initiates dialing if the user accepts. When a user opens a URL with the tel scheme in a native app, iOS does not display an alert and initiates dialing without further prompting the user.
So if I click the link in Safari I get the prompt asking me to confirm my action, if I click the link in a native app’s webView it doesn’t ask and performs the action right away (makes the call).
Do people read documentation?
No. And it’s bad.
I instantly assumed people do read documentation so there was no way a big player like Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, etc. would do such a silly mistake… but I was wrong.
Apple may well be the only tech company on the planet that would dare compare itself to Picasso.
In a class at the company’s internal training program, the so-called Apple University, the instructor likened the 11 lithographs that make up Picasso’s “The Bull” to the way Apple builds its smartphones and other devices. The idea: Apple designers strive for simplicity just as Picasso eliminated details to create a great work of art.
Steven P. Jobs established Apple University as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed. Courses are not required, only recommended, but getting new employees to enroll is rarely a problem.
Although many companies have such internal programs, sometimes referred to as indoctrination, Apple’s version is a topic of speculation and fascination in the tech world.
It is highly secretive and rarely written about, referred to briefly in the biography of Mr. Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Apple employees are discouraged from talking about the company in general, and the classes are no exception. No pictures of the classrooms have surfaced publicly. And a spokeswoman for Apple declined to make instructors available for interviews for this article.
There’s a nice little feuilleton in the New York Times looking at why everyone whines about their iPhone slowing down when Apple releases a new variant.
Starting from a personal complaint by a professor, one of his students looks at the incidence for “iPhone slow” in Google Trends and notes that there’s a leap every time a new model is released.
That is released – not announced – so it must come from actual use, rather than just thinking that it isn’t quite up to date.
It’s also noted that releases of new Samsung models do not coincide so strongly with leaps in similar search terms. Obviously there’s something specific to Apple here, and that’s that major upgrades to the iPhone coincide with upgrades to iOS, something which 90 per cent of iPhone users will implement.
Famously, Android users do not tend to upgrade their OS over time. So, we might think that this observed slow-down is a result of trying to run the new OS on old hardware which isn’t quite up to supporting it. And we’d probably be right there.
However, we can now go off on our own and go a little further than this. For what’s really remarkable about these OS upgrades is how good Apple has been at keeping new versions of iOS compatible with old versions of hardware. No one at all would suggest running today’s Samsung bloatware (that bit that floats around on top of Android) on hardware three years old. But it seems perfectly acceptable to be running this year’s iOS on old kit. It’s also at this point that we can wander off into a couple of bits of economics for illumination.
Russia has proposed that Apple Inc and SAP hand the government access to their source code to make sure their widely used products are not tools for spying on state institutions.
Apple’s App Store design is a big part of the problem. The dominance and prominence of “top lists” stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them. Top lists reward apps that get people to download them, regardless of quality or long-term use, so that’s what most developers optimize for. Profits at the top are so massive that the promise alone attracts vast floods of spam, sleaziness, clones, and ripoffs.
Quality, sustainability, and updates are almost irrelevant to App Store success and usually aren’t rewarded as much as we think they should be, and that’s mostly the fault of Apple’s lazy reliance on top lists instead of more editorial selections and better search.
The best thing Apple could do to increase the quality of apps is remove every top list from the App Store.
In 1991 Steve Jobs’ company commissioned an head-to-head programming competition to show how much faster and easier it was to program a NeXT computer vs a Sun workstation. The NeXT operating system went on to be the foundation for Apple’s Macintosh OS-X about a decade later.
By the time its entire fleet of 24 satellites has launched in 2018, Skybox will be imaging the entire Earth at a resolution sufficient to capture, for example, real-time video of cars driving down the highway. And it will be doing it three times a day.
The ability to take such frequent imaging will certainly aid Google’s Maps product, but it also opens up a market for competitive intelligence. Skybox says they are already looking at Foxconn every week and are able to pinpoint the next iPhone release based on the density of trucks outside their manufacturing facilities.
This NYT profile of Tim Cook opens with a harrowing anecdote from the Apple CEO’s early life in 1970s Alabama:
Bicycling home on a new 10-speed, [Cook] passed a large cross in flames in front of a house — one that he knew belonged to a black family. Around the cross were Klansmen, dressed in white cloaks and hoods, chanting racial slurs. Mr. Cook heard glass break, maybe someone throwing something through a window. He yelled, “Stop!”
One of the men lifted his conical hood, and Mr. Cook recognized a deacon from a local church (not Mr. Cook’s). Startled, he pedaled away.
Reflecting on this event in December during his acceptance speech for Auburn University’s International Quality of Life Award, he said, “This image was permanently imprinted in my brain, and it would change my life forever” — human rights and dignity are “values that need to be acted upon,” and Apple is a company that believes in “advancing humanity.”
Of course. Remember this?
I wonder if that deacon is still alive. I want him to see how vastly that one act of hatred has backfired…
What we saw last week at WWDC 2014 would not have happened under Steve Jobs
It wasn’t touted onstage, but a new iOS 8 feature is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy. As spotted by Frederic Jacobs, the changes have to do with the MAC address used to identify devices within networks. When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, they randomize that address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network.
“Any phone using iOS 8 will be invisible to the process”
Why are iPhones checking out Wi-Fi networks in disguise? Because there’s an entire industry devoted to tracking customers through that signal. As The New York Times reported last summer, shops from Nordstrom’s to JC Penney have tried out the system. (London even tried out a system using public trash cans.) The system automatically logs any phone within Wi-Fi range, giving stores a complete record of who walked into the shop and when. But any phone using iOS 8 will be invisible to the process, potentially calling the whole system into question.
For the first time, iOS 8 opens up the keyboard to developers. And once new keyboards are available, you’ll be able to choose your favorite input method or layout systemwide.
Braille keyboard anyone?
Here’s the truth about WWDC keynotes:
- The fact that they’re part of a conference devoted to informing developers about Apple’s platforms means that the emphasis will be on software–particularly operating systems–and the odds of a radically new hardware product being announced are just about nil;
- Since epoch-shifting hardware is out of the picture, any devices which do get announced are, by definition, only incrementally superior to their predecessors;
- No matter how newsy the keynote is, some people–especially ones who were hoping for something extremely specific which didn’t get announced–will deem it a snoozefest;
- There’s a very good chance that Apple’s stock will fall in the wake of the keynote, presumably indicating that Wall Steeet was not instantly impressed.
Amazon’s power over the publishing and bookselling industries is unrivaled in the modern era. Now it has started wielding its might in a more brazen way than ever before.
Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices. The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention.
“How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media.
Amazon is, as usual, staying mum. “We talk when we have something to say,” Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive, said at the company’s annual meeting this week.
It’s a good thing the Justice Department fixed the ebook antitrust issues. Perhaps they need to punish Apple some more to take care of this?
According to various court records and people who have worked with Samsung, ignoring competitors’ patents is not uncommon for the Korean company. And once it’s caught it launches into the same sort of tactics used in the Apple case: countersue, delay, lose, delay, appeal, and then, when defeat is approaching, settle. “They never met a patent they didn’t think they might like to use, no matter who it belongs to,” says Sam Baxter, a patent lawyer who once handled a case for Samsung. “I represented [the Swedish telecommunications company] Ericsson, and they couldn’t lie if their lives depended on it, and I represented Samsung and they couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it.”
It was the same old pattern: when caught red-handed, countersue, claiming Samsung actually owned the patent or another one that the plaintiff company had used. Then, as the litigation dragged on, snap up a greater share of the market and settle when Samsung imports were about to be barred. Sharp had filed its lawsuit in 2007; as the lawsuit played out, Samsung built up its flat-screen business until, by the end of 2009, it held 23.6 percent of the global market in TV sets, while Sharp had only 5.4 percent. All in all, not a bad outcome for Samsung.
The same thing happened with Pioneer, a Japanese multi-national that specializes in digital entertainment products, which holds patents related to plasma televisions. Samsung once again decided to use the technology without bothering to pay for it. In 2006, Pioneer sued in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, so Samsung countersued. The Samsung claim was thrown out before trial, but one document revealed in the course of the litigation was particularly damaging—a memo from a Samsung engineer stating explicitly that the company was violating the Pioneer patent. A jury awarded Pioneer $59 million in 2008. But with appeals and continued battles looming, the financially troubled Pioneer agreed to settle with Samsung for an undisclosed amount in 2009. By then, it was too late. In 2010, Pioneer shut down its television operations, tossing 10,000 people out of work.
Even when other companies have honored competitors’ patents, Samsung has used the same technology for years without paying royalties. For example, a small Pennsylvania company named InterDigital developed and patented technology and was paid for its use under licensing agreements with such giant corporations as Apple and LG Electronics. But for years Samsung refused to cough up any cash, forcing InterDigital to go to court to enforce its patents. In 2008, shortly before the International Trade Commission was set to make a decision that could have banned the importation of some of Samsung’s most popular phones into the United States, Samsung settled, agreeing to pay $400 million to the tiny American company.
Intel has already recognized that it is in the company’s long-term best interest to get into the ARM game in one capacity or another. At the same time, Intel no doubt has also recognized that it is not in the company’s short-term best interest to start producing large quantities of ARM-based chips for any company that asks. Intel has only so much production capacity, and the opportunity cost is too high to start producing low-margin ARM-based chips at the expense of its more profitable x64 processors. The company is at a crossroads: its short- and long-term best interests don’t align, and it has to choose one at the expense of the other.
That’s where Apple’s cash hoard comes in.
It’s interesting he doesn’t suggest Apple should outright buy Intel.
But as for building a chip factory for Intel, as well as the other worries he mentions, perhaps Apple should outright buy ASML to get a lead start on their EUV technology…
From the constant harping about the supposed “failure” of Apple’s iPhone 5c, you’d think the phone is selling poorly. The reality is that middle tier model, while dramatically less popular than Apple’s top of the line iPhone 5s, still managed to outsell every Blackberry, every Windows Phone and every Android flagship in the winter quarter, including Samsung’s Galaxy S4.
Microsoft is not unique in claiming the right to read users’ emails – Apple, Yahoo and Google all reserve that right as well, the Guardian has determined.
The broad rights email providers claim for themselves has come to light following Microsoft’s admission that it read a journalist’s Hotmail account in an attempt to track down the source of an internal leak. But most webmail services claim the right to read users’ email if they believe that such access is necessary to protect their property.
Millions and millions of people use iMessage every day. But how many people know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes, or what happens to a message once you send it?
Maybe a handful. Up until now, the vast majority of what we knew about iMessage’s inner workings came from reverse engineering and best guesses. This week, however, Apple quietly released a document that breaks it all down.
Mr. Cook’s comments came during the question and answer session of Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, which the NCPPR attended as shareholder. The self-described conservative think tank was pushing a shareholder proposal that would have required Apple to disclose the costs of its sustainability programs and to be more transparent about its participation in “certain trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability.”
As I covered in depth yesterday, the proposal was politically-based, and rooted in the premise that humanity plays no role in climate change. Other language in the proposal advanced the idea that profits should be the only thing corporations consider.
That shareholder proposal was rejected by Apple’s shareholders, receiving just 2.95 percent of the vote. During the question and answer session, however, the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook two questions, both of which were in line with the principles espoused in the group’s proposal.
The first question challenged an assertion from Mr. Cook that Apple’s sustainability programs and goals—Apple plans on having 100 percent of its power come from green sources—are good for the bottom line. The representative asked Mr. Cook if that was the case only because of government subsidies on green energy.
Mr. Cook didn’t directly answer that question, but instead focused on the second question: the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable.
What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.
“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.
As evidenced by the use of “bloody” in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I’ve ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.
He didn’t stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
It was a clear rejection of the climate change denial, anything-for-the-sake-of-profits politics espoused by the NCPPR. It was also an unequivocal message that Apple would continue to invest in sustainable energy and related areas.
At WWDC in 1997, Steve Jobs, having just returned to Apple, held a wide-open Q&A session. There’s video — albeit low-quality VHS transfer? — on YouTube. It’s a remarkable session, showing Jobs at his improvisational best. But more importantly, the philosophies and strategies Jobs expressed correctly forecast everything Apple went on to do under his leadership, and how the company continues to work today. In short, he’s remarkably open and honest — and prescient.
It would appear that if Apple wants to rein in the targeted negativity the tech media loves to dish out, it will need to begin spending billions like Samsung to promote tweets, push favorable reviews, pay spiffs as incentives to retail sale promotion and generously ply journalists with free products.
The US Postal Service hopes Steve Jobs can do for it what he once did for Apple.
The late Apple co-founder will be featured on a commemorative US postage stamp in 2015, according to a US Postal Service list of approved subjects obtained by The Washington Post. Usually kept secret to maximize buzz over stamps’ subjects, the list includes subjects the post office plans to commemorate on stamps for the rest of this year and the next couple of years.
The stamp will be a little bit more expensive than usual and it comes only in 2 colors, it will have rounded corners.
And finally Apple haters can give his backside a lick…
Jeffrey Grossman, on Twitter:
I have confirmed that the SSL vulnerability was introduced in iOS
6.0. It is not present in 5.1.1 and is in 6.0.
According to slide 6 in the leaked PowerPoint deck on NSA’s PRISM program, Apple was “added” in October 2012.
These three facts prove nothing; it’s purely circumstantial. But the shoe fits.
PETER MCWILLIAMS: I think they’re hoping people are going to fork out $2,500 for a computer for their home. And I can’t see it.
ADAMS: What do you get for the $2,500 now?
MCWILLIAMS: What you get is a screen, a nine-inch screen. You get a keyboard. You get 128K of RAM, which is internal disk storage. And you get a 3-1/2-inch disk drive.
ADAMS: Let me translate a bit here or try to translate. You’re saying it has a very good memory. It has a 3-1/2-inch disk drive, which is not compatible with other computers. What’s the standard size, then?
MCWILLIAMS: The standard is five-and-a-quarter inch. And they have made a corporate decision that the 3-1/2-inch drive is going to make it. I don’t see it myself. But this whole computer is a calculated risk on Apple’s part. If the world is ready to accept a brand-new standard, this machine will make it. If it’s not, the machine won’t make it.
And it will have certain specialized applications like in architectural firms and so forth. But on the whole, it’s gambling that the world is ready to accept a new standard. My personal point of view is that the world is not.
BLOCK: That’s the late author Peter McWilliams, talking with our former host Noah Adams 30 years ago tomorrow, January 25th, 1984. They were talking about Apple’s Macintosh computer, which had just been introduced.
It’s hard to believe that the people who did the recent Apple ad and the people who did the recent Samsung ads live on the same planet.
“Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this. It’s being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry.”