How the CIA Allegedly Turns Everyday Devices into High-Tech Spy Weapons

Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google’s Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.

The “weaponized” software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.

One program, known as “Weeping Angel,” can even be used to infect Samsung “smart” TVs and covertly activate their built-in microphones to record conversations and then transmit them over the internet, WikiLeaks said.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

The documents also reveal that the CIA as of 2014 was “looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” WikiLeaks said.

“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks suggested.

Although it posted online nearly 9,000 documents and files related to the Orwellian tools — a cache it called “Year Zero — WikiLeaks said it had decided to hold off on releasing the actual software.

“WikiLeaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analyzed, disarmed and published,” the hack clearinghouse said in a press release.

There is nothing in the WikiLeaks documents to suggest that the CIA — which is charged with obtaining foreign intelligence for national security purposes — uses any of these devices to spy on American citizens.

The CIA refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WikiLeaks information, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t comment, saying it “has not been fully evaluated.”

A retired CIA operative told The Post that the WikiLeaks disclosure could cripple the agency’s high-tech surveillance capabilities.

“This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations,” the former agent said.

“This will be bad for the agency. They will have to re-examine its procedures for doing this type of work.”

Cybersecurity experts said the material appeared genuine.

Jake Williams of Rendition InfoSec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, noted the files’ repeated references to operation security.

“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.” Read the rest of this entry »


Feminists Complain: If You Sexually Harass Siri on Your iPhone, She Doesn’t Fight Back! 

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Siri wasn’t programmed to be a Social Justice Warrior. Feminists want to change that.

Hank Berrien reports: A woman writing for Quartz.com laments that bots such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home exhibit signs of submissiveness that not only reflect the feelings of dominance among men but also reinforce the concept that women are made to be submissive.

“People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

[Also see – Yeah, Siri Was Asking for It by Jonah Goldberg ,at The Corner]

Leah Fessler writes, “People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

[Read the full story here, at Daily Wire]

Uh-oh.

“By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

And this: “Justifications abound for using women’s voices for bots: high-pitched voices are generally easier to hear, especially against background noise; fem-bots reflect historic traditions, such as women-operated telephone operator lines; small speakers don’t reproduce low-pitched voices well. These are all myths. The real reason? Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Home have women’s voices because women’s voices make more money.”

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“People tend to perceive female voices as helping us solve our problems by ourselves, while they view male voices as authority figures who tell us the answers to our problems.”

And the usual false statistics: “Even if we’re joking, the instinct to harass our bots reflects deeper social issues. In the US, one in five women have been raped in their lifetime, and a similar percentage are sexually assaulted while in college alone; over 90% of victims on college campuses do not report their assault.” Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Reportedly Developed Custom White House App to Optimize Speed-Pardons

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The Mechanics of Mechanophilia: Why Men Find Siri Sexy

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We all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

How would you feel if you walked in on your flatmate pouring his iPhone a glass of Cristal and remarking on her exceptional ‘wallpaper’? Open mouthed and curious, right? Well, welcome to the future. For some technophiles at least.

Apart from neo-Luddites, we all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

A survey from 2012 revealed the extreme level of attachment many of us feel towards our gadgets. It found that three-quarters of the 2,500 people polled said losing a personal device would give them more anxiety than losing a wedding ring. Another from 2016 discloses that nearly 40pc of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than their co-workers, parents, children or friends.

Of course, such interactions could be simply checking the time – and if you started calling your friends to do that they’d think you’d gone batty – but what these stats betray is the shaping of an emotional bond between man and machine that seems to be growing year on year.

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“People use things in a sexual way all the time. You could name any object, from a radiator to a tin can, and there’s someone out there that gets sexually aroused by it.”

–Professor Mark Griffiths

Sci-fi programmes like Humans, depicting the trouble caused when overly lifelike AI get mixed in with the rest of society, may be fictional, yet our relationship with tech still gets closer and closer. Quite alarmingly close.

Virtual assistants (VA for short), also known as personal assistant A.I.s, are digital secretaries that can schedule meetings, order meals, play audio and visual files, and assess online accounts. Not to be confused with ‘virtual assistants’ that work remotely and are actual people, current VAs on the market include Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and, of course, Apple’s Siri.

“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually. Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”

— Steve Worswick, an expert in the field of digital A.I

Last month, in an interview with The Times, Illy Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, creators of a virtual assistant and satnav known as ‘Robin’, said that 5pc of interactions in their database are classified as “clearly sexually explicit”.

Trawling the Internet for evidence of the above I discovered a Reddit forum titled: ‘I masturbate to Siri and I feel disgusting’. The poster says he’s a 20 year old male, who started talking to Siri sexually as a joke before realising that “it really turned me on.”

The phenomenon clearly has farther reaches than one sole forum post. VA creators and chatbot companies predict such interactions and put algorithmic safeguards in place to deter feelings of emotional and sexual attachment from costumers.

[Read the full story here, at telegraph.uk]

Earlier this year one of the key writers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Deborah Harrison, revealed at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” regarded Cortana’s ‘sex life’ adding, “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”

Steve Worswick is an expert in the field of digital A.I. He’s also the leading developer of Mitsuku, a family-friendly online chatbot.

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“Mechanophilia: love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”

He told Telegraph Men that he used to have a banning system (five strikes and you’re out) for anyone who attempted to have sexually explicit conversations with Mitsuku. However, he received so many emails from people who wanted to treat the bot sexually, that he removed the strike system and instead programmed Mitsuku to either ignore sexual requests, say something to steer the conversation to other topics, or simply insult the user.

Worswick believes men are using Mitsuku in this way and seeing bots as “sex objects” simply because they cannot fight back, have no legal rights, and are not going to judge them or contact the authorities or their wives or girlfriends.

Read the rest of this entry »


Leaked Images Claim to Show iPhone SE Display, Confirm Lack of 3D Touch Support 

Chance Miller reports: Earlier this week we shared drawings of Apple’s upcoming 4-inch device and reported that Apple plans to call the device the iPhone SE. Now, French site NowhereElse has shared images that claim to show the front display portion of the upcoming device. We’ve long reported that the iPhone SE won’t feature support for 3D Touch, and these images corroborate that.

3D Touch, a flagship feature of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, works by taking advantage of a pair of capacitive touch sensors beneath the display. As you can see in the image above, which shows the iPhone SE next to the iPhone 6s, the smaller device lacks the sensors necessary to support 3D Touch.

[Read the full story here, at 9to5Mac]

Other than the lack of 3D Touch, the leaked images don’t appear to show too much about the iPhone SE. 3D Touch was one of the features highlighted the most when Apple announced the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus last year. The company also touted Live Photos, a feature that the smaller iPhone SE is expected to offer. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple to Judge: Drop Dead! 

Where would you draw the line between liberty and security?

Stephen Green writes: Here’s the setup.

San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook owned an iPhone 5c, which may have been used — probably was used — in planning and perhaps even executing the holiday party terror attack with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

That iPhone 5c, just like any other up-to-do-date iOS or Android smartphone, has disc-level encryption baked into the OS for users who want that level of privacy, for good or for ill.

Yesterday,U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to bypass the phone’s security functions, and furthermore “to provide related technical assistance and to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.”

[Read the full story here, at PJ Media]

Here’s what happened next:

Hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who assert that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.In his statement, Mr. Cook called the court order an “unprecedented step” by the federal government. “We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” he wrote.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond publicly to Apple’s resistance.

The F.B.I. said its experts had been unable to access data on the iPhone 5c and that only Apple could bypass its security features. F.B.I. experts have said they risk losing the data permanently after 10 failed attempts to enter the password because of the phone’s security features.

The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook’s former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which consented to the search.

Because Apple declined to voluntarily provide, in essence, the “keys” to its encryption technology, federal prosecutors said they saw little choice but to get a judge to compel Apple’s assistance.

Mr. Cook said the order amounted to creating a “back door” to bypass Apple’s strong encryption standards — “something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”

Security hawks are on solid ground when they worry (as I do) that Farook’s encrypted iPhone might contain data valuable to government efforts to stop future terror attacks on U.S. soil, or to aid intel efforts to locate, track, and kill Farook’s ISIS contacts overseas.

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But that’s not the only worry, as Doug Mataconis explains:

From Apple’s point of view, there seem to be a myriad of issues motivating the decision to take what has the potential to be an unpopular decision given the circumstances of this case. First of all, there is the fact that ever since the company made the decision to strengthen security on its phones in a manner that essentially allows customers to encrypt data in a manner that makes it nearly impossible to access without the appropriate pass code, the concerns about data security have only become more prominent and that providing a backdoor that does not exist right now would only serve to make the data itself less secure overall. Second, as the Post article notes the use of the All Writs Act in this manner appears to be unprecedented and, if upheld, would essentially allow the government to do almost anything in the name of law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Finally, and perhaps most strongly, it’s important to note that law enforcement isn’t asking Apple to provide information that it already has, which is what an ordinary search warrant does. It is essentially asking a Federal Court to compel Apple to do something, in this case create a backdoor that does not exist. This arguably falls well outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment and, if upheld, would give law enforcement authority to compel technology companies to do almost anything conceivable in the name of a purported investigation or surveillance of a target. That seems to go well beyond what the Constitution and existing law permits law enforcement to do.

Read the rest of this entry »


Google Exploring Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital.

Yang Jie reports: The jury is still out on the business benefits of Shanghai’s free-trade zone— but one notable U.S. tech giant is among the firms that has dipped a toe into the pilot area’s waters.

“The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data”

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., set up a company in Shanghai’s pioneer free-trade zone last year, according to online filings reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital and greater freedom in terms of industries that foreign businesses can participate in.

The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the issue. The company’s establishment was first reported on Monday by The Paper, a Shanghai-based media outlet.
Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Owners Must Agree Not to Have Sex with ‘Emotional Robot’ Pepper 

There is a robot on sale in Japan billed as the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. It has proved to be very popular — however, before you bring Pepper home, you must sign a contract promising not to have sex with it.

The original news story was published at an earlier date. Read more here at IGN.com:


Back-Alley Upgrades: In China, $100 Can Get You an 128GB iPhone Boost

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In China’s unbridled marketplace, you can pay $5 for soap made from human breast milk, $800 to take a cosmetics CEO out during Christmas and $430,000 for a purple Bentley convertible once owned by a corrupt official.

If you’re an Apple Inc. device user, you can also now boost your iPhone’s storage from the cramped-feeling 16GB standard to a cavernous 128GB for less than a hundred bucks.

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Mobile phone repair shops in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have sparked curiosity on sidewalks and social media by offering the service, which appears aimed at the many aspirational Chinese device users who can’t afford the roughly $200 premium attached to large-capacity iPhones….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ


Narcissus and the iPad

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Apple Removes Drone Tracking App 

WASHINGTON – Apple is known for keeping a pretty tight leash on apps, often blocking or refusing to sell programs it deems too offensive or too sexually suggestive.

The creator of an app that tracks published reports of American drone strikes around the world probably figured his program was in no danger of running afoul of Apple’s strict rules.

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But this week, Metadata+ was removed from the App Store for having “excessively rude or objectionable content,” reports CNet.

The app was designed by Josh Begley, one of the editors of The Intercept, to publish data on…(read more)

Source: CBS DC


Apple’s iPhone Market Grew 75% Year Over Year In China

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Apple’s iPhone market grew 75% in China year over year, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on stage today. The Greater China region is Apple’s second largest market after the Americas….(read more)

Source: TechCrunch


You Call That an iPad? That’s Not an iPad. THIS is an iPad

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Apple Announces iPad Pro With New Larger Screen

 reports: Apple announced a new big-screen iPad at an event in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday. The new iPad, the iPad Pro, will have a 12.9-inch screen with a 2732 X 2048 resolution.

The long-rumored tablet will be the most powerful iOS device ever released, Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said at the event. The iPad Pro’s A9X chip will be 1.8 times faster than the A8X in the iPad Air 2. The device will also have a 10-hour battery life and a four-speaker audio system for improved sound performance. The iPad Pro is 6.9 mm thick, just a bit thicker than the iPad Air’s 6.1 mm, and also features an 8 megapixel camera.

The cheapest model the iPad Pro will cost $799 and have 32 GB of storage. A 128GB version will cost $949, and a 128GB version with LTE capability will cost $1,079. Read the rest of this entry »


Old School Automats are Back, Courtesy of the Minimum Wage

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From the New York Times:

There’s a new quinoa restaurant in San Francisco — yes, quinoa restaurants are a thing in San Francisco, so that’s not what’s noteworthy. At this restaurant, customers order, pay and receive their food and never interact with a person.

The restaurant, Eatsa, the first outlet in a company with national ambitions, is almost fully automated. There are no waiters or even an order taker behind a counter. There is no counter. There are unseen people helping to prepare the food, but there are plans to fully automate that process, too, if it can be done less expensively than employing people…

Horn-and-Hardat-Automat-Times-Square-Vintage-Untapped-Cities

Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple TV 4 Hardware Revealed: A8 Chip, Black remote, 8/16GB Storage, Same Ports, no 4K 

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Priced at $149, will include universal search for finding content across providers.

Mark Gurman reports: The fourth-generation Apple TV, set to be unveiled at an event on September 9thand released in October, will feature a mix of new and familiar hardware, according to reliable sources. While the new device will sport a much faster processor than the current Apple TV, a color-matched remote control, and a somewhat larger body, it will lack support for 4K video streaming and have the same basic ports as the third-generation model…

[Next-gen Apple TV priced at $149, will include universal search for finding content across providers – AppleInsider]

[Also see – Apple TV Rumor Roundup: Everything We Think We Know – Gizmodo]

The current Apple TV design, first released in late 2010, has 8GB of internal storage for caching media, and the fourth-generation boxes in testing surprisingly range from 8GB to 16GB of storage. We are told that Apple has considered two pricing strategies: the simultaneous release of a $149 base model with 8GB of storage alongside a $199 16GB model, or the release of the 16GB Apple TV alone at $149. In either case, Apple will offer a $149 Apple TV.

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While the new Apple TV will include an App Store for deep support for gaming, sources say that the limited storage offered by 8GB and 16GB flash memory is appropriate for the new model, as all content outside of applications will be streamed directly from the Internet. Additionally, the new Apple TV runs an iOS 9 core, and iOS 9 includes several new features for reducing the file size of App Store apps, including the ability to load games in level-sized chunks and stream rather than store videos within app binaries.

[New Apple TV Will Feature Universal Search, Start At $149 – BuzzFeed]

[Also see – The next-gen Apple TV could be the most exciting product Apple has released in years – BGR.com]

Sources indicate that the new Apple TV will be powered by the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coming in behind the A9-based iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. In iPhones, the A8 is notably less powerful than the A8X chip found in the iPad Air 2, which includes an additional processing core and improved graphics. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: New Apple TV to be Unveiled in September, but Without Expected TV Subscription Service

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The Apple TV is also expected to gain Siri voice search support in its update this fall, as well as more on-board storage.

Chance Miller reports: According to a new report from BuzzFeed News, Apple is currently planning to unveil its refreshed Apple TV in September. The company had originally planned to unveil the device at WWDC this summer, but scrapped it from the event at the last minute. A September unveil has seemingly been expected since the announcement was pulled from WWDC.

“It was reported in the past that the device will not feature support for 4k content, as Apple feels there is not a large enough market for the feature at this time.”

The report goes on to corroborate much of what we reported earlier this year. The refreshed Apple TV is expected to be slimmer than the current-generation device and will feature Apple’s new A8 chip. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Violet vs Siri: Watch a Frustrated Four-Year-Old Have an Argument with Siri About Nothing for Three Minutes


Big Moon Presents: Tales From Deep Space

Come for the luxury, stay for the adventure!

From Amazon Games, and Amazon Games & Apps, I share this item because of the talent involved in the making of the video. It’s written by Pundit Planet favorite author and good buddy Robert Ferrigno. Known for stylish crime fiction novels, nor fiction, and more recently, futurist political fiction, the Assassin series: ‘Prayers for the Assassin, Sins of the Assassin, and Heart of the Assassin, followed by ‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’ (all available through Amazon, conveniently) Also, a friend of National Review and occasional NRO contributor (this item about author Elmore Leonard, for example) We have some Ferrigno-related news archived here, Robert was an inspiration when this site was being launched, we love having a reason to include him. Lot of other talented involved in the project, too.

Now that Robert is doing story design for games, currently at Amazon, we often don’t know what projects he’s involved in, while he’s working on them. Today, however, this video got released, and is being promoted at the Apple Store, among other outlets, so naturally want to show it here, too. Here’s a description:

E, one of the game’s two playable characters, could very well be a distant relative of Lost Winds‘ young hero Toku. A traveling salesman by trade, E gets his luggage mixed up with CASI, a combat assured secure inventory drone, on the Big Moon space station. At the same time, the station’s servile Meek population stage an uprising. E and CASI must work together to recover the lost luggage and unravel the secret behind the Meek revolt.

Dire circumstances to be sure, but Tales From Deep Space keeps the tone light, with delightful cartoon graphics and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Lost Winds was lauded for its unique visuals, and Tales carries the same excellent pedigree.

[Also see – Kindle Now Hosts Over 12,000 Marvel Comics Via Online Store]

The pair travel the station, solving puzzles, collecting collectibles and taking on the meek in simple combat as they move from task to task. Navigating the corridors and platforms of Big Moon is a matter of tracing a line from one of the characters in the desired direction — if there are jumps to be made or boxes to climb, E and Casi handle that on their own.

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Most puzzles involve splitting up the team in traditional co-op platformer fashion — one takes the high road, unlocking doors and activating elevators for the character taking the low road. Some obstacles requiring more thinking through than others, but on the whole the challenge level hovers around moderate.

Tales From Deep Space is a delightful puzzle platforming adventure that would be right at home as a downloadable console title or a quirky Steam offering. It just happens to be a Kindle Fire exclusive.

In the past I’ve been hesitant to talk about Amazon-exclusive games. Hell, I had to make a new app review icon for this article, because I’d never seriously considered the Fire serious contender to traditional Android tablets and iPads. That’s starting to change. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Mad Men’ Retrospective

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Mad Men Retrospective on Google Play Includes Free Episode

 writes: “Mad Men,” as it nears the finish line after eight years on TV, is getting a virtual retrospective on Google Play that will allow fans to relive the show’s run — a promo that includes free streaming access to the series’ very first episode.

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Under a pact with LionsgateGoogle Play is debuting “The Mad Men Experience,” at madmen.withgoogle.com. The website is billed as an interactive, art-exhibit-style destination set in the world of 1960s Madison Avenue with more than 300 pieces of content released for the first time in a digital environment. Those include rarely seen artwork interviews with cast audio commentaries and other features.

Don-Draper

The deal is Google Play’s first digital fan experience for a TV show, and it’s aimed at driving viewers to purchase episodes and full seasons of “Mad Men” from the online store. In addition, for a limited time Google Play will stream season one, episode one (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) for free on Google Play, available to users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. All prior seasons of “Mad Men” also are available for streaming on Netflix, and for purchase on Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Instant Video services. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Space Gray Gadget Review: Apple Watch Hands-On and First Impressions

Dom Esposito writes:

…Apple Watch is finally available to preorder, but if you missed the mark at 12:01 a.m. you might be waiting quite a while to get your hands on one. Luckily, Apple is providing try-on appointments that will allow you to get a taste of the experience and feel one out for yourself. Recently, we took that opportunity to get our hands on a few and offer some initial impressions on the hardware and software…

In the video below, we take a look at three Apple Watch models and the widely popular Apple Watch Sport in Space Gray. Along with that we took a tour of the software available on the demo models and it was quite interesting. Apple Watch is definitely a very different product from anything we’ve seen the company offer, but along with that it brings a unique experience that no other product can match up to.

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We got our hands on the 42mm Apple Watch with the Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and Link Bracelet band styles. Each band really does bring an entirely different look, feel, and experience to the table. The Apple Watch Sport comes along with a “custom high-performance fluoroelastomer,” but don’t let the generic term “rubber” turn you away. It actually feels very nice.

Is it all worth the hype? Well, that’s somewhat subjective, but check out our hands-on and first impressions video above for a closer look at Apple Watch hardware and software:

We also took a brief look through the software UI and features with the demo models. While these demos are running loops throughout various portions of the interface, there’s still quite a bit that you can do to test out its functionality. It’s smooth overall, but we noticed a bit of lag here and there. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Want 8 More Minutes? Watch Apple’s Watch and MacBook Event in 11 Minutes


Apple’s Spring Forward event was quite eventful (repetition intended). Apple TV got a big price drop and an even bigger exclusive partnership with HBO. The Apple Watch was priced for every single tier. And there’s that ultra-thin, minimal-ported MacBook.

 


Fraud Comes to Apple Pay

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Daisuke Wakabayashi and Robin Side report: It didn’t take long for fraud to find its way to Apple Pay

Some banks are seeing a growing incidence of fraud on Apple’s mobile-payment service as criminals exploit vulnerabilities in the verification process of adding a credit card, according to people familiar with the matter.

“The fraud issue was brought to light by Cherian Abraham, a payment expert who works with banks and retailers on mobile-payment strategies, in a blog post in late February. He said fraud “is growing like a weed, and the bank is unable to tell friend from foe.”

Banks are tightening the verification process in an attempt to curb the fraud, these people said, declining to be identified citing a confidentiality agreement with Apple.

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The fraud issue was brought to light by Cherian Abraham, a payment expert who works with banks and retailers on mobile-payment strategies, in a blog post in late February. He said fraud “is growing like a weed, and the bank is unable to tell friend from foe.”

“Stolen identities and lifted credit card numbers are not unique to Apple Pay. Stolen cards have been a problem for a long time in e-commerce transactions, where the rates of fraud are higher than in-store credit card purchases.”

Abraham said it’s not “an anomaly” to see fraud accounting for about 6% of Apple Pay transactions, compared to about 0.1% of transactions using a plastic card to swipe. He noted that fraud rates vary by issuing bank.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the fraud rates, but said Apple Pay is “designed to be extremely secure and protect a user’s personal information.” She added that “banks are always reviewing and improving their approval process, which varies by bank.”

Stolen identities and lifted credit card numbers are not unique to Apple Pay. Stolen cards have been a problem for a long time in e-commerce transactions, where the rates of fraud are higher than in-store credit card purchases. However, Apple Pay – thanks to its quick and easy checkout process – can combine some of the vulnerabilities of online shopping and the instant delivery of buying a product in store. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s the Apple Watch Good For?

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Developers and designers debate whether the Apple Watch will find its purpose

John Pavlus  writes: When Apple unveiled the first iPad in 2010, many pundits scoffed. Among the gripes: tablet computers had been tried before without success; most people already had laptops; and wasn’t it just a giant iPod Touch?

 “A watch is a very covert object,” she says. “I could see a new kind of private language or low-level communication emerging from this kind of wearable, using pulses or squeezes.”

— Laura Seargeant Richardson, a user experience expert at Argodesign, a consultancy based in Austin, Texas

The market, as we know, reacted differently. Tablet computers are now a hit—thanks in no small part to Apple’s savvy design, which offered people something that was instantly comprehensible and easy to use, but also flexible enough to suggest thousands of new applications.+

With the upcoming release of the Apple Watch, the company seems poised to repeat the trick. Despite a raft of existing smart watches from companies including Samsung, Motorola, and Pebble, wearable technology has resisted mainstream appeal, partly because the devices don’t feel particularly useful (see “So Far, Smart Watches Are Pretty Dumb”).

apple watch humor

The advance marketing for the Apple Watch has done little to explain why this product will fare better, but the tools (WatchKit) and documentation (Human Interface Guidelines) released for app developers provides some clues. They suggest a simple, intuitive mode of interaction centered on streamlined alerts. If the market influence of the iPhone and iPad are any indication, the user experience patterns that Apple establishes may come to define what all smart watches are “for” in eyes of their users.

The Apple Watch might seem like a computer that resides on your wrist, but technically that isn’t the case. Apps that run on it are actually just extensions of iOS apps that run on an iPhone; they use the watch as an auxiliary display. This encourages developers to exploit the device as a kind of remote control for their existing iOS apps, and imagine the UX accordingly.

clocks

“You’re not allowed to run code on the watch at all,” says William Van Hecke, user experience lead at the Omni Group, a productivity software vendor that’s developing apps for the Apple Watch.

Nik Fletcher, product manager at Realmac Software, says his team “carefully reduced the core essence” of the company’s to-do list app, called Clear, in order to adapt it for the Apple Watch. Whereas the full iOS app lets users reorder tasks or mark off entire lists in one stroke, and includes animations and sound effects, the new version focuses on what Fletcher terms “recall and completion.” Upcoming reminders can be viewed using the watch’s (noninteractive) Glance view, and individual items can be crossed off. New entries must be input via the iPhone or Mac version of the software. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Apple’s New Oscars iPad Ad

Five years after Apple’s first iPad ad debuted during the Academy Awards in 2010, its new iPad Air promo will again screen during the Oscars on Sunday and tout its filmmaking abilities…100 more words 


Apple’s not-so-secret weapon in streaming music

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Apple’s Titan Car Project to Challenge Tesla

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Apple Has 100s Working on Design of a Minivan Like Vehicle 

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Ramsey report: Apple Inc. has revolutionized music and phones. Now it is aiming at a much bigger target: automobiles.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.

“There are products that we’re working on that no one knows about. That haven’t been rumored about yet.”

— Chief Executive Tim Cook, to Charlie Rose, in September

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple ultimately could decide not to proceed with a car. In addition, many technologies used in an electric car, such as advanced batteries and in-car electronics, could be useful to other Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad.

Apple often investigates technologies and potential products, going as far as building multiple prototypes for some things that it won’t ever sell. Any car would take several years to complete and obtain safety certifications.

But the size of the project team and the senior people involved indicate that the company is serious, these people said. Apple executives have flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. A Magna spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple’s industrial design team is staffed with several people who have experience at European auto makers. Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a famous industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson created a concept car for Ford Motor Co.

Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did the smartphone with its iPhone, said a person familiar with its work. Even though Apple defied expectations of slowing growth with a 30% rise in revenue in the quarter ended December, the company is under constant scrutiny of where its next breakthrough product will come from.

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, Mr. Cook said at an investor conference that he does not believe that companies naturally start to slow as their revenue grows. He said this was “dogma” and that Apple didn’t believe in putting limits on what it was capable of.

A side benefit of the project, according to one of the people, is that it has persuaded many Apple employees who were thinking of leaving the company to stay and work on an exciting new endeavor without the pressure of churning new products every year.

Other Silicon Valley giants are looking at autos. Google Inc. has been working on a self-driving car for years. The head of Google’s autonomous vehicle project said last year that the company aims to forge a partnership with auto makers to build a self-driving car within the next few years. A self-driving car is not part of Apple’s current plan, one of the people familiar with the project said. Read the rest of this entry »


College Students Prefer Their iPhones Over Sex and Beer

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According to a super not scientific study

But those people are wrong. There is one thing college students care about more than sex, drugs, parties or anything else. And that is their iPhones. At least, according to a recent study conducted by Student Monitor. Researchers surveyed 1,200 undergrads around the U.S. to choose “what’s in on campus” from a list of 77 options, Fortune reports.

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Apple’s iPhone earned the most votes, with 66% of students selecting it. The next most popular results were coffee, texting, Facebook, iPads and Instagram. Beer was #7 on the list and “hooking up” was #12. Read the rest of this entry »


Pope Francis to Families: Get Off Your Screens and Actually Talk to Each Other

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[VIDEO] OS X Yosemite: Top 5 Features

Top Five Features Of OS X Yosemite

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Detroit Man: iPhone 6 in Exchange for House?

iphone_AP

A man from Detroit has offered to sell his house for an iPhone 6

The unnamed individual originally listed his three-bedroom property for $5,000 (£3,100) in June, but has now slashed the price to either $3,000, or the latest version of Apple’s iconic smartphone. He would also accept a 32GB iPad, and is willing to negotiate, according to his estate agent, Larry Else.

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The three-bedroom house in Detroit which can be bought for the price of an iPhone 6

“Detroit’s not a monster. It’s just ahead of the curve”

— Kevin D. Williamson

The 2,400-square foot house is in poor condition, with broken windows and peeling paint, in one of Detroit’s poorest districts. Even so, the trade has highlighted the contrast between America’s thriving technology industry in Silicon Valley and the economic blight still affecting other parts of the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple will No Longer Unlock User’s Mobile Devices for Police, Even with Search Warrants

Obama Big brother

The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

big-brother-halfThe move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.

Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »


New Apple Watch Allows Wearers to Start and Stop the Flow of Time

apple watch humor

Tim Cook announced Tuesday the release of Apple’s long-rumored watch, the latest in wearable technology. 

Here are some features of the new device:

  • 13-megapixel camera enables users to take crystal-clear pictures of wrist
  • Allows wearers to start and stop the flow of time
  • Discreet, but not so discreet that anyone would mistake it for a regular watch
  • Comes in a variety of colors and styles to express your personal submission to the planet’s dominant tech company
  • Adjustable ticking volume
  • All the convenience of a traditional watch that needs to be charged every 12 hours
  • Built-in thinkpiece regarding the increased connectivity yet simultaneous isolation of the millennial generation
  • Small size and intricate circuitry able to drive twice as many Chinese workers to suicide as iPhone
  • Makes it easier for muggers to see whether or not you’re carrying an expensive electronic device
  • Another screen to throw into your current rotation of things you look at

Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Remember When Apple Used to Crush Leaks with Ruthless Efficiency?

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Me Neither!

TMZ.com reports:

…We’re told the phone was smuggled out of a Foxconn factory in China … where the majority of iPhone models are manufactured.  The owner of the phone says the smuggler is his friend — an ex-employee —  who worked in Foxconn’s hardware department designing the outer casing for the new model…(read more)

 TMZ.com


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Apple agrees to $400 million settlement in ebook price-fixing case


Wireless Power from Across the Room

Charge it: An iPhone in an Energous case gets a charge from the transmitter in the background.

Charge it: An iPhone in an Energous case gets a charge from the transmitter in the background.

For MIT Technology ReviewRachel Metz writes: “Do you want us to charge your phone?” George Holmes asks. Normally, that would be an odd question. But Holmes is the vice president of sales and marketing for Energous, a company that is developing technology called WattUp that will allow you to charge smartphones, tablets, and other small gadgets from across a room without wires.

Energous hopes other companies will license this technology and build it into all kinds of products and places, so you can easily power your iPad while sitting on the couch browsing Instagram, or top off your phone while buying a coffee or playing Candy Crush in an airport. It will face competition, however, from a startup calledWitricity that uses a different method, and already has the backing of some major electronics companies.

For now, WattUp’s technology is still in the demo stage, which means it’s not very good-looking. But it works, and during a visit to my San Francisco office, Holmes wants to show it off. Read the rest of this entry »


McDonalds Hires 7,000 Touch-Screen Cashiers

Would you like some microchips with that burger? McDonald’s Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money.

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McDonald’s shows off a touch-screen kiosk installed in France in 2009. McDonald’s Europe

“Welcome to McDonald’s . My name is HAL 9000. May I take your order?”

 writes: McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker. Read the rest of this entry »


BOOKS: ‘Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide: 2nd Edition’ Kindle Download, Free

zombie_Amazon offers downloads of Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide 2nd Edition for free.

Dealnews says: ‘That’s $3 off and the lowest price we could find. A Kindle or Kindle-enabled device is required to download and read this eBook.’
From the Amazon description:

100 top-rated professional rules that will help you stay alive in the zombie apocalypse! 

While everyone else is hiding in their house, being eaten alive, and waiting for it to all blow over, 
you’ll be high on the streets kicking undead ass & having a gold ol’ time! 

This is more than just a funny book with rules about the zombie apocalypse… this might actually save your life and the lives of your friends & family! 

Read the rest of this entry »


‘RED FRIDAY’ – The Non-Communist Version: Discount-Crazed Shoppers Rush China’s Apple Stores for Wonderful Capitalist Goodies

Photo: Jason Y. Ng

Photo: Jason Y. Ng

“It’s like a refuge camp!” wrote Jason Ng, who tweeted this photo from Hong Kong

FORTUNE —  reports:  No, these aren’t customers lining up for the launch of the iPhone at China Mobile (CHL). That event is scheduled for Jan. 17, a week from now.

These are shoppers at Apple’s (AAPL) Hong Kong store drawn by the discounts the company is offering for its second-annual Asian Red Friday sale.

Read the rest of this entry »


Apple strikes multi-year deal with China Mobile

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The long-awaited deal will see Apple sell its iPhones in the world’s largest smartphone market via China Mobile’s retail stores on January 17 for the first time

 writes:  Apple has announced a long-awaited distribution deal with China Mobile, the world’s biggest phone carrier, which could generate billions in revenue for the world’s most valuable tech company.

Demand for iPhones, once hugely popular in China, have slumped there as lower-priced rival smartphones from Samsung and Chinese companies entered the market.

The financial terms of the deal were not announced, nor were the details of pricing and availability for its latest iPhone, the 5S and 5C lines, which Apple said would be available at a later date.

The phones will go on sale in China Mobile’s retail stores on January 17 for the first time, but customers will be able to pre-order from December 25.

Read the rest of this entry »