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Mitte Kickstarter aims to create smart home mineral water system

The Mitte smart home water system — almost fully funded on Kickstarter in its first day — is aiming to allow users to create their own mineral water at home.  The system first purifies water with a “proprietary distillation-based method,” then adds back in minerals to increase the health benefits of drinking the water produced more in line with the natural water cycle. The replaceable mineral cartridges come in three varieties: Balance, Vitality and Alkaline, which mimic the minerals found in Evian, Vittel, and Essentia, respectively.

Canada bans locked cellphones and unlocking fees, effective Dec. 1

The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced that as of Dec. 1, 2017, all cell phones and other mobile devices sold in Canada must be provided unlocked. Further, as of that date, Canadian cellular carriers will also be prohibited from charging any fees for individual and small business wireless service customers to have their mobile devices unlocked.

Nuvyyo adds new Tablo Dual to its over-the-air TV DVR lineup

After expanding the Tablo over-the-air TV DVR to the Apple TV last year, Nuvyyo is releasing the new Tablo Dual starting June 4. The $250 device now includes 64 GB of onboard storage — where the original relied solely on an external hard drive to use DVR functionality — but it still supports the addition of an external hard drive of up to 8 TB for those who find 40 hours of HD recording not to be enough. Tablo Dual is available only in a two-tuner version, and is priced at $50 more than the basic two-tuner Tablo; users looking for a four-tuner model will still need to go with the original Tablo, which remains available in Canada from the company’s web site.

Apple denies responsibility for in-flight Beats headphone explosion, points to third-party batteries

Apple has pointed to third-party batteries as the cause of a woman’s Beats headphones exploding on a plane in February, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was sleeping on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne when she was woken up by the sound of an explosion and a burning sensation on her face. The woman’s face, hands, and hair were burned, and she sought compensation from Apple for the replacement of the headphones and clothing which was ruined as a result of the incident. In a statement released by the woman’s lawyers, an Apple representative stated that the investigation “indicated the issue was caused by a third-party battery.” The woman had purchased a standard set of AAA batteries in Australia, and noted that she was extremely disappointed with Apple’s decision as the headphones require batteries, however Apple does not specify a specific brand of batteries anywhere on the headphones or their packaging.

Apple releases JavaScript API for playing Live Photos on the web

Apple has unveiled LivePhotosKit JS, a new JavaScript API that will allow web developers to incorporate support for playback of iOS Live Photos into their web pages. The API presents the player as a DOM element in a similar way to an image or video tag, and can be customized with photo and video resources and developers can choose to either control playback programmatically or provide controls to the end user. The new API is also relatively easy for web developers to implement, requiring only that they embed the JavaScript in their webpage and then enable JavaScript strict mode; an NPM installer is also available. Inline players are then added to HTML blocks using declarative markup. The new LivePhotosKit JS player is supported by most modern browsers, including Safari and Chrome on iOS and macOS, Chrome and Firefox on macOS and Windows, Edge and Internet Explorer 11 on Windows, and Chrome beta on Android devices.

Social media companies reach $5.3m settlement in iOS contacts privacy lawsuit

Eight social media firms have agreed to a settlement of $5.3 million in response to a class action lawsuit that had accused them of breaching privacy by uploading users’ personal contact information on iOS devices, AppleInsider reports. Citing a report by Law360 (subscription required), the settlement agreement was filed earlier this week in a San Francisco federal court, proposing that Foodspotting, Foursquare, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik, Path, Twitter, and Yelp pay into a $5.3 million fund that will then be dispersed to qualifying claimants — anybody in the U.S. who used any of the identified apps between 2009 and 2012 — after attorney fees are paid, of course.

Hacker releases iPhone hacking tools allegedly stolen from Cellebrite

A hacker who allegedly stole over 900 GB of data from Israeli forensics company Cellebrite has publicly released a cache of the files related to older iPhones, in addition to Android and BlackBerry devices, Motherboard reports. The stolen data suggested that Cellebrite, the company rumored to have helped the FBI in the San Bernardino forensics case, had also sold its technology to a variety of oppressive regimes such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. The hacker’s motivation appears to be focused on stirring up the debate around backdoors and their use by authoritarian societies, as well as demonstrating that tools created to hack devices like iPhones are certain to make it out in the wild. Apple CEO Tim Cook made a similar point that such backdoors are ““too dangerous to create” when he penned an open letter last year opposing the FBI’s attempts to force Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

European Union announces an end to wireless roaming charges in June

The European Commission has announced that negotiators have come to a deal that will put an end to wireless roaming charges in European Union member countries as of June 15, 2017. Representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission have agreed on how wholesale roaming markets will be regulated such that Europeans will be able to travel within the EU without incurring any additional charges for roaming to different countries, effectively creating a “roam-like-at-home” system where travelers will be able to place calls, send text messages, and use data on their mobile devices anywhere in the EU at the same prices they pay in their home country. Regulators also agreed to wholesale caps on rates for voice calls and text messages, as well as a staged reduction over the next five years for wholesale data charges; these new wholesale caps represent the maximum charges that customers will pay while roaming if they exceed their contract limits.

Report: Fitbit to acquire Pebble

Fitbit is putting the final touches on a deal to acquire Pebble, according to a report from The Information (via TechCrunch). The original report indicates that Fitbit will be paying a “small amount” for the well-known smart watch maker, which has been struggling recently with a downturn in investments that forced it to cut its staff by 25 percent earlier this year. The Information also indicates that the deal is more about Fitbit acquiring Pebble’s intellectual property and software assets, rather than the product itself, noting that Pebble and its products would be “closed down over time.”

FBI looking to crack Minnesota mall terrorist’s iPhone

The FBI is attempting to gain access to the iPhone that belonged to Dahir Adan, the culprit in the recent stabbing attack in a Minnesota mall, Wired reports. Last month, Adan randomly stabbed 10 people in the mall before being shot by police; at a press conference today in St. Cloud, Minnesota, FBI special agent Rich Thornton noted that the agency has obtained Adan’s iPhone, which is locked with a passcode, and is “in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.” Thonton did not reveal any details about the iPhone such as the model or version of iOS being used on the device, which will be key factors in whether the FBI will be able to circumvent its security measures.

Samsung acquires Viv, an AI assistant made by the original Siri team

Samsung has acquired Viv, the AI system developed by the original creators of Siri, TechCrunch reports. Siri was originally a company acquired by Apple in 2010, which was developed into Apple’s own integrated voice assistant of the same name. A little over a year later, Siri’s co-founder and CEO, Doug Kittlaus, left Apple to pursue new opportunities, ultimately founding Viv Labs in 2012. A demonstration of Viv was shown at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference earlier this year — the demo revealed a more conversational and personal system that allows users to interact with multiple services through an open developer platform, allowing for more complex queries than Siri can typically handle. Viv also incorporates a “dynamic program generation” feature that allows it to better understand user intent and build routines to handle tasks on the fly.

Incipio acquires Griffin Technology

Incipio Group has announced the acquisition of Griffin Technology, the latest in a series of acquisitions that have recently included Skullcandy, Clamcase, Incase, and Braven. “Griffin has a 25 year history of designing, manufacturing and distributing iconic mobile accessories,” stated Andy Fathollahi, Founder and CEO of Incipio Group. “As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business,  enterprise and education verticals.” Griffin will continue as a stand-alone brand and retain its global headquarters in Nashville. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Rumor: Apple to announce iMessage for Android at WWDC next week?

A new report suggests that Apple may announce plans to release an iMessage app for Android at next week’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. According to “a source familiar with the company’s thinking” cited by MacDailyNews, Apple’s goal behind such a move would be to focus more on its service offerings beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms, specifically pointing to reports that Apple is looking to add person-to-person Apple Pay payments via its messaging platform. The move would not be unprecedented, considering the release of Apple Music for Android devices late last year, and would potentially improve the messaging user experience for iOS users who have close friends and family members using Android devices, allowing them to communicate using iMessage features with all of their contacts, including the ability to properly participate in group messaging conversations, share videos and photos in full resolutions, and avoid other carrier SMS restrictions. While the source noted that the timing of the actual announcement could change between now and Monday, they emphasized that the iMessage service would “definitely” be coming to Android at some point this year.

Report: Bluetooth 5 to be announced next week

The Bluetooth SIG appears to be on the verge of releasing the next generation of the Bluetooth specification, dubbed Bluetooth 5. In an email sent to SIG members, Executive Director Mark Powell revealed that the Core Specification Working Group is currently finalizing the next release, and that on June 16 the SIG will formally announce it, marketed simply as “Bluetooth 5.” Powell adds that the new branding drops version and point numbers in marketing in order to simply communications. Powell goes on to explain some of the technical benefits of Bluetooth 5, confirming previous reports that it will “quadruple the range and double the speed” for lower-energy Bluetooth communications, and will also deliver new functionality for location-relevant information and navigation designed to provide increased support and simpler deployment of beacons and Bluetooth location-based services around the world. Full details are expected to be revealed during a media event in London on June 16.

Unicode Consortium approves 72 new emoji

The Unicode Consortium has approved 72 new emoji for inclusion in the Unicode 9.0 standard, scheduled for release this month, expanding on the existing base of 1,601 emoji with a handful of new symbols that have long been requested. The new emoji build on existing themes, such as facial expressions, animals, and food, and a new roster of sports and medal-style characters have also been introduced in time for the Rio Olympics. Specific new emoji include a selfie, shrugs, clowns, face palms, and rolling-on-the-floor-laughing, while new animals include bats, rhinos, owls, and sharks. Croissants, pancakes, bacon, avocados, and kiwi fruit will be added to the food roster. Although the Unicode 9.0 standard becomes official this month, Apple will still have to add support for the new emoji to iOS. With the announcement of iOS 10 around the corner, it’s unclear whether these will appear in a coming point update to iOS 9 or whether users will have to wait until iOS 10, likely in the fall, before seeing the new characters.

LAPD hacked into iPhone 5s for murder investigation

The Los Angeles Police Department successfully hacked into a locked iPhone 5s belonging to the slain wife of “The Shield” actor Michael Jace, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times. Reviewing court papers, The Times discovered that LAPD detectives were able to hire an outside an outside “forensic cellphone expert” who was able to “override the locked iPhone function” and gain access to the data. The case notably involves an iPhone 5s, which has previously been considered more secure than the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino case, although it wasn’t specified which version of iOS the phone was using, or whether Touch ID was enabled.

Steve Jobs biopic available on Blu-ray, DVD today

After a rocky rollout, disappointing box office returns and pointed criticism from those who knew the Apple founder best, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic is available on Blu-ray and DVD today. The film, which traces Jobs’ life alongside three of his most iconic product launches, met with mostly positive reviews and garnered Academy Award nominations for stars Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, but never really caught on with the general movie-going audience and was pulled from theaters after two weeks. Despite ruffling plenty of feathers at Apple, the movie arrived on iTunes today, though with no promotion or fanfare.

Zagg to acquire Mophie for $100 million

Accessory manufacturer Zagg has announced that it has signed a merger agreement to acquire iPhone battery case maker Mophie for $100 million plus additional adjusted earnings over $100m across a 12-month earn-out period. In a press release on Zagg’s website, the company notes that the combination of the two companies will create a market share leader in the battery case, external battery, screen protection, and tablet keyboard accessory categories, and that the combined 2015 net sales of the two companies were about $470 million. The merger will also create expanded distribution opportunities for both companies, and allow strengthening and consolidation of engineering and manufacturing resources in China. The merger is expected to close during the first quarter of 2016, subject to the usual regulatory approvals.

New York bill would force Apple to build a ‘back door’ into iPhone encryption

The New York State Assembly is presently considering a new bill that would require Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to build “back doors” into their devices which would allow them to decrypt data upon request from law enforcement, according to a new report by Onthewire. New York state bill A8093, originally drafted last June, would require that any smartphone manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that is “sold or leased in New York” must be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Should the legislation pass, anybody selling a non-compliant smartphone — that is, one manufactured in 2016 that cannot be unlocked or decrypted — could be subject to a civil penalty of $2,500, and would be prohibited from passing that penalty on in the price of the smartphone.

Samsung appeals Apple patent case to Supreme Court

Despite having agreed earlier this month to pay $548 million in damages, Samsung has now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the previous verdict, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. While Samsung agreed to pay the damages to Apple as ordered in the earlier judgements, the company also made it clear at the time that it “reserves all rights to obtain reimbursement from Apple” as well as the rights to “reclaim or obtain reimbursement of any judgement amounts paid by Samsung to any entity,” should the judgement be reversed.

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