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Canadian motorist receives fine for looking at Apple Watch while driving

An Apple Watch user in Canada has received a $400 fine under the province of Ontario’s distracted driving laws for looking at her Apple Watch while driving, GuelphToday reports. Victoria Ambrose, a student at the University of Guelph, was stopped a red light in April when a campus police officer pulled up alongside her and noticed her looking up and down at a device several times. Ambrose also reportedly failed to notice the traffic light turning green, and didn’t proceed until the officer shone his cruiser side light into her car to get her attention. The officer subsequently pulled her over and charged her with driving while holding a hand-held communications device.

TeenSafe parental monitoring service leaks thousands of childrens’ passwords

A service designed to help parents monitor their childrens’ internet activity on iPhone and Andorid devices has leaked thousands of users’ passwords, ZDNet reports. The service, TeenSafe, purports to be a “secure” monitoring app for both iOS and Android designed to allow parents to view their child’s text message conversations, monitor who they’re calling, accessing their location and web browsing history, and more. It appears, however, that for iOS devices the service relies on parents supplying their childrens’ Apple ID passwords, which are stored on the company’s servers, possibly in order to access iCloud data. However, a U.K. based security researcher, Robert Wiggins, discovered last week that TeenSafe had actually left one or more of its servers unprotected and accessible by anyone without even a password requirement.

Apple’s AirPort Base Station stock dwindling

Apple’s stock of AirPort base stations is beginning to sell out, MacRumors reports, following the company’s formal exit from the Wi-FI router business last month. MacRumors notes that the AirPort Extreme is already being listed as “sold out” on Apple’s online store in the U.S., although it remains available in limited quantities in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The smaller AirPort Express and storage-equipped AirPort Time Capsule models still remain in stock online in several countries, although the entire AirPort lineup has disappeared entirely from Apple’s online store in several European countries. Apple stated last month that its AirPort products will continue to be sold “while supplies last” although nothing was said about what those supply levels are.

Apple’s reputation falling behind in China

The perception of Apple in China is starting to fall behind that of domestic smartphone makers like Huawei, according to a new survey reported by the South China Morning Post. Conducted by an independent research company, Reputation Institute, the survey reveals a decline in Apple’s reputation among Chinese consumers, placing the company in 12th place, in a ranking of 155 companies, both Chinese and multinational. Huawei placed second overall, while Google ranked in fourth place. According to the survey, many Chinese consumers also believed that Huawei “stands out from the crowd” and is more “genuine” than Apple. Approximately 30,000 Chinese consumers were polled in the survey, which includes 280 companies, of which only the top 155 made the final list. For the most part, the survey indicated a shift toward more home-grown Chinese brands, although the Chinese domestic search engine, Baidu, ranked far behind Google, landing in the 125th spot, while Intel, Rolex, Nokia, and Lufthansa all ranked in the top 10, with Intel taking first place. [via iPhone in Canada]

 

Nokia selling digital health business back to Withings co-founder

Nokia has announced that it is in fact selling off its digital health business, and in an ironic twist, it’s being sold to Éric Carreel — the co-founder and former chairman of Withings, the company that Nokia bought the business from in the first place. The move signals an end to Nokia’s foray into the consumer market, after it announced earlier this year that it was undertaking a “review of strategic options” regarding its Digital Health business, which it acquired when it purchased Withings two years ago. The sale, which is expected to close in late Q2 2018, pending the approval of certain terms and conditions, is expected to be part of Nokia’s shift to become a business-to-business and licensing company. [via Engadget]

Qualcomm lowers licensing rates in effort to appease Apple

Qualcomm is adjusting its licensing model to lower fees, Reuters reports, in a move that will hopefully help to resolve the company’s ongoing battle with Apple and others over what the other companies have called unreasonable licensing rates and royalties. The new terms would allow handset makers such as Apple to license Qualcomm’s smaller set of “standard essential patents” for a lower rate of 3.25 percent, as opposed to the normal five percent fee that Qualcomm charges for rights to its full patent suite. The “standard essential patents” are said to include only those need for access to mobile data networks, but Qualcomm has in the past tried to push customers to licensing both sets of patents to avoid lawsuits. Now, the company is taking steps to make it easier for customers to license just the lower-cost set of patents, as well as adding the patents for the next-generation 5G wireless network to the basic suite at no additional cost.

ACLU launches petition for Apple and other tech companies to sign ‘Security Pledge’

The American Civil Liberties Union has released a petition calling on Apple and other tech companies to sign a four-point “Security Pledge” promising to take key steps to protect their customers’ privacy, security, and liberty. The pledge requires companies to commit to ensuring all users have access to their personal data and control over it, ensuring data is protected against breaches and other unauthorized disclosures, limit the amount of data collected to only what is strictly necessary, and ensure that all data collection and related policies are implemented in such a way as to avoid discrimination.

Nokia rethinking its Digital Health business

Nokia has announced that it is undertaking a “review of strategic options” regarding its Digital Health business, a market that the company entered two years ago when it acquired Withings. The rather brief post highlights the suite of products in the company’s Digital Health portfolio — hybrid smart watches, scales, and digital health devices that effectively all came from the Withings brand — and notes that the review “may or may not result in any transaction and other licensing changes” and that it will make another announcements “if and when appropriate.” While the vague blog post is relatively unclear, the review suggests that Nokia may be considering divesting itself from the health business altogether, after recent reports suggesting that it had overestimated the value of Withings’ assets in the first place, and struggles with regulatory issues that resulted in some features being removed from its products earlier this year. [via The Verge]

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.

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