A federal judge has ruled the government cannot use the All Writs Act to force Apple to unlock an iPhone, a judgement that could have far-reaching implications in Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the FBI, Reuters reports. While all eyes are on Apple’s public debate with the FBI over whether or not the company should unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists, a similar case has been working its way through appeals courts. Last October the Department of Justice dismissed Apple’s argument against helping the government break into the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer, saying the company’s operating system is “licensed, not sold” to users. But U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein disagreed with the DOJ’s assessment, stating that he does not have the legal authority to order Apple to disable the phone’s security measures.
The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to match the 12.9-inch model in functionality, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard, but 9to5Mac reports the smaller device could sport improved cameras as well. Sources said internal prototypes of the 9.7-inch model appear to include a 12 megapixel rear camera — a big upgrade over the 8 megapixel camera that shipped with the first iPad Pro last November. The improved camera would make sense given the new iPad’s smaller size. As we noted in our review, beefing up the camera on a 12.9-inch device wouldn’t really make much sense given how difficult it is to use it for photography. The new iPad is also expected to include a FaceTime HD camera above the front display and be able to record 4K video like the iPhone 6s, both upgrades over the first iPad Pro.
Apple vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell will testify before Congress tomorrow about the company’s stance on helping the FBI create a back door to access an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino terrorists. Sewell’s prepared remarks were released ahead of tomorrow’s testimony, and while they simply reiterate Apple’s stated position that creating a means to break iPhone encryption is dangerous, this will mark the first time the issue has been aired in testimony before Congress. Apple has stated that it wants Congress rather than the courts to decide the issue. FBI Director James Comey, New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Susan Landau are also scheduled to speak to Congress tomorrow on the legal questions surrounding the FBI’s request. [via Vice’s Motherboard]
A recent court filing by Lisa Olle, manager of Apple’s Global Privacy & Law Enforcement Compliance Team, details Apple’s efforts to aid authorities investigating the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Apple Insider reports. The document shows that Apple provided same-day turnarounds on no fewer than three FBI requests, delivering all the information it had on file related to several names and user accounts as early as Dec. 5, three days after the attacks. Olle appears to be part of the team responsible for providing the FBI with alternatives to extracting all available data about the attackers and claims the company made every effort to cooperate. “Throughout the investigation, I and other Apple representatives, including a senior engineer, continually made ourselves available to the government, on a 24/7 basis, participating in teleconferences, providing technical assistance, answering questions from the FBI, and suggesting potential alternatives for the government to attempt to obtain data from the Subject Device,” Olle stated in the declaration.
Leaked photos said to show the inner workings of Apple’s new ‘iPhone SE’ seem to confirm earlier rumors that the new phone will lack 3D Touch capabilities, French website NowhereElse reports. The images, obtained from an anonymous source, show that the metal plate over the internal components of the new phone lacks spaces for both the haptic engine and screen connections associated with 3D Touch. As previously reported, the new phone is expected to feature some features of the iPhone 6 family in a shell more akin to the iPhone 5s.
A U.S. appeals court has overturned a $120 million jury award granted to Apple from a May 2014 patent trial, Reuters reports. The earlier ruling from almost two years ago had ordered Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million in damages for using Apple’s patented technology without permission, including Apple’s “quick links” and “slide to unlock” features. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., however, ruled this week that Samsung did not actually infringe on Apple’s “quick links” patent, and that the two other patents that covered the slide-to-unlock and auto-correct features were in fact invalid. The court did note, however, that Apple was liable for infringing one of Samsung’s patents, presumably the patent for video and photo organization included in the same 2014 case, for which Apple was ordered to pay Samsung $158,400 in damages.
Following a report in January that indicated Apple’s new iPhone with a 4” display would be dubbed the “iPhone 5se,” 9to5Mac is now claiming that Apple may in fact simply designate the newer spiritual successor to the iPhone 5s as merely the “iPhone SE,” dropping the numeric designation altogether. Presumably, Apple would be highlighting the “Special Edition” meaning of the designation, and perhaps wants to avoid bringing the smaller, 4”-screened model into the same family as current iPhones, while minimizing the device’s roots — despite reports that it will look nearly the same as the iPhone 5s. The iPhone SE is still expected to retain the same design, features, and price points as previously reported; it’s unclear whether this latest information is a matter of Apple having not finalized the naming, or if the previous information was inaccurate.
Apple Pay is coming to France over the next few months, according to a new report from Les Echoes, but as with Apple’s recent efforts to roll out Apple Pay in other countries such as Australia and Canada, negotiations with the French banks are turning out to be a bit more challenging than expected, and the service may in fact roll out on a “bank-by-bank” basis. Apple is reportedly still in negotiations with “a small handful” of major French banks, with the sticking point being the usual matter of transaction fees. Traditionally, these transaction fees in France are relatively small compared to other countries, representing as little as 0.2 percent of the transaction amount, whereas Apple is demanding a higher cut for Apple Pay transactions, similar to what Apple has negotiated with the banks in the U.K. — possibly as much as 5 cents per transaction. The report notes that Apple’s position in the negotiations may have also been impacted due to its recent deal with Union Pay to launch Apple Pay in China, where the tech giant has reportedly made concessions, agreeing to take no per-transaction fees for the first two years and then only 0.07 percent after that. As a result, due to the difficulty in negotiations, Apple has reportedly abandoned any efforts to launch with multiple banks simultaneously, and will be engaging in discussions with individual banks who will implement Apple Pay at their own pace, and according to their own technical requirements. [via iPhon.fr]
As expected, Apple has filed its official motion to the courts, asking a judge to throw out the order requiring it to help the FBI hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, Re/code reports. In line with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s open letter from last week and his comments to ABC News, Apple is arguing that the case would set a “dangerous precedent” by forcing Apple to create a back door to defeat its own security and undermining the security and privacy of “hundreds of millions of users.” Apple is maintaining that the government has misapplied the 200-year-old All Writs Act in requiring Apple to specifically develop new software to defeat the iPhone’s security model.
New information suggests that Apple may in fact be planning to release the next-generation of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad with the name “iPad Pro” rather than using the “iPad Air” designation. A new report from 9to5Mac claims the new iPad will follow the same trend as Apple’s MacBook Pro series, whereby Apple will simply provide two “iPad Pro” models in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. The report also notes that precedent for this was also set with Apple’s naming convention for its 12-inch MacBook, basically dropping the “MacBook Air” designation from that particular model, despite it being an apparent successor in that lineup. The iPad Pro designation for the new 9.7-inch iPad model will presumably be based on Apple implementing similar features to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard. It’s unclear if the iPad Air name would disappear completely, or if it would be used for a similarly-sized iPad in the future which lacks those “Pro” features. The news suggests that the move is an effort by Apple to also simplify its iPad lineup, with sources indicating that Apple is slowing down production of older iPad mini and iPad Air models. Apple is expected to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad at an event on March 15.
Apple has now published the session videos from its Apple TV Tech Talks, a series of events the company held in various cities over the past few months to help aspiring developers build and design apps for the new fourth-generation Apple TV. The talks opened in Toronto on Dec. 7, 2015 and ran through eight more cities before finishing up in Sydney earlier this month. The sessions covered tvOS, the capabilities of the new Apple TV, general app and user interface development and a deeper dive into graphics, gaming, and media streaming applications. The complete set of eleven session videos can be streamed or downloaded from the Apple TV Tech Talks Videos page, along with transcripts of the sessions, related documentation, sample code, and other resources.
New supposed schematics of the upcoming iPhone 5se show the phone will be based on the design of the iPhone 5s, rather than adopting a new design closer to the iPhone 6 series, 9to5Mac reports. Sources suggest that the new device will basically sport the same exterior design as the iPhone 5s, with significantly upgraded internal hardware. This would seem to make sense considering Apple’s choice of iPhone 5 family naming for the new device, which many earlier rumors speculated was going to be dubbed “iPhone 6c.” A case maker source revealed to 9to5Mac that the device “looks nearly like a 5s” with dimensions that are indistinguishable from the early model. The schematics also seem to indicate that Apple has chosen to relocate the sleep/wake/power button to the side of the casing, similar to the iPhone 6 models. The edges of the device and front glass panel are also expected to be slightly curved at the edges, although reportedly not to the extent of curvature on the iPhone 6 models.
Cook speaks out against FBI iPhone request as Apple pursues stronger security for future iOS updates
In last night’s interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, Apple CEO Tim Cook outlined the company’s objections to the U.S. government’s request that Apple build a new version of iOS to help the FBI unlock the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter. Cook likened the the idea of creating an entirely new build of its operating system to the “software equivalent of cancer,” stating that Apple would essentially have to write a new piece of software that would be “bad news to write” and that it believes would be a “very dangerous operating system” due to what it would be capable of doing, as well as the precedent that it would set. As Cook went on to explain, acceding to such a request could open the door to other government requests for more extensive custom operating system modifications to enable other types of surveillance, putting customers at risk and “trampling” civil liberties.
“If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write—maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera ... I don’t know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country.”
Cook told ABC News that Apple has cooperated with the FBI in every other way, but drew the line at building a customized piece of software that would create a backdoor that would compromise the iPhone’s security design. As Cook explained, “We gave everything that we had” to the FBI, and at this point neither Apple nor the FBI even knows if there is any other information on the iPhone in question, but that to do what the FBI is now asking would “expose hundreds of millions of people to issues.” The issue is not merely about privacy, but also about the public’s safety and protecting Apple’s customers, Cook said.
Tim Cook has given an exclusive interview to ABC’s “World News Tonight” anchor, David Muir, discussing Apple’s opposition to the FBI’s demands that the company unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The interview is scheduled to air tonight, Feb. 24, on ABC’s “World News Tonight” between 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. EST, and across other ABC News platforms. The extended interview will be available at ABCNews.com immediately following the broadcast. Good Morning America, Nightline, ABC News Radio, and ABC NewsOne are also expected to air portions of the interview.
Apple is gearing up to take its legal fight with the FBI over iPhone encryption all the way to the Supreme Court, Bloomberg reports. The company is arguing that the FBI is overstepping its authority by using the All Writs Act to compel Apple to overcome security measures built into the San Bernadino shooter’s phone and is asking the courts to have Congress settle the dispute. Apple already has an advocate in Congress, with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) issuing a public letter asking the FBI to withdraw its lawsuit against the company and leave the question to lawmakers. “Using the court process and an antiquated law to coerce a private sector technology company is especially inappropriate in this situation because Congress has been actively debating the very issue of the appropriateness of mandating ‘back doors’ and other ways to weaken encryption,” Lieu wrote.
Apple may be planning to limit the functionality of the Apple Pencil in iOS 9.3, according to a new report from MacRumors. Several iPad Pro users running the iOS 9.3 beta have noticed that, unlike in the current iOS 9.2 release, the Apple Pencil can no longer be used like a finger to navigate the iPad UI in the beta version. In iOS 9.2, the Apple Pencil can be used to tap on buttons, select text, scroll, access menus, and more, while iOS 9.3 betas limit the Pencil’s functionality to drawing and writing functions within apps. While many beta testers who have experienced this problem have assumed the omission may be a bug, it has now persisted into the fourth beta of iOS 9.3, with no mention of the limitations in the iOS developer release notes either. Further, Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley disclosed in a recent podcast that he had heard from insiders at Apple that this may in fact be an intentional design decision by Apple.
Indie band The 1975 has announced via Twitter that they’ll be streaming a live performance at 12 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 25 on Apple Music’s Beats 1 station. The video teases performances of songs from the band’s upcoming album, and Twitter feeds for Beats 1, Apple Music and Zane Lowe are all promoting the event. Apple has upped its promotion of Apple Music in recent months, producing an original show based on Dr. Dre’s life and offering a Taylor Swift concert documentary to entice users to the service.
Apple Pay fees charges in China are less than half what the company demands from U.S. banks, Chinese website Caixin reports. The digital payment method launched in China last week after grueling negotiations over what Apple would be able to charge in a market already flooded with mobile payment methods. Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Chinese banks are paying Apple around 0.07 percent of each transaction — substantially less than the 0.15 percent U.S. banks are rumored to pay. “Apple is tough, but so are the four banks,” one anonymous employee said. “The final agreement is a result of compromise from both sides.”
While the FBI claims that a “backdoor” created by Apple to access the San Bernadino shooter’s phone would only be used in this one circumstance, The Wall Street Journal reports there are at least 12 other cases where the U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing Apple for data from iPhones. None of those investigations have been made public, but sources said they are similar in that prosecutors are attempting to compel Apple to bypass the security code feature. The other cases don’t involve terrorism charges, and many are also different in that they involve older phones than the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernadino case.
Apple has released three of its latest betas to developers today with iOS 9.3 beta 4, tvOS 9.2 beta 4, and watchOS 2.2 beta 4. The public version of iOS 9.3 beta 4 will likely also be released later this week. We’ll update our iOS and tvOS “Inside the betas” article later on with any relevant information, although changes thus far appear to be minimal, with a cosmetic change to the Night Shift icon in iOS 9.3 beta 4, and new firmware for the Siri Remote.