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Apple’s fight with FBI leads to speculation on possible penalties, jail time

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.

‘iPhone SE’ to lack 3D Touch, debut on March 21

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.

Apple loses one patent appeal to Samsung, others remain pending

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.

Apple Pay to roll out slowly in France in coming months

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]

Apple files motion to dismiss court order in FBI iPhone hacking case

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.

Report: Apple to name new 9.7-inch iPad model iPad Pro, not iPad Air 3

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 releases session videos from Apple TV Tech Talks

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.

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 to discuss Apple’s battle with the FBI on ABC’s World News Tonight

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 to argue FBI overstepped its bounds, code is protected speech

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.

Report: iOS 9.3 may remove Apple Pencil navigation capabilities (Update: Apple says no)

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.

Apple Music to stream live concert from The 1975

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.

Report claims Apple Pay fees in China are half of what U.S. banks pay

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.”

Sources claim DOJ wants Apple to unlock at least 12 more iPhones

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 releases iOS 9.3 beta 4, tvOS 9.2 beta 4, watchOS 2.2 beta 4 to developers

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.

Apple Stores to extend Genius Bar time limits, improve walk-in updates

Apple is working on a way to make sure customers visiting an Apple Store’s Genius Bar for support can get their issue resolved in one appointment, even if their visit goes over the allotted time, 9to5Mac reports. The current booking system provides 10 minutes for an iOS device appointment or 15 minutes for a Mac, and if a problem can’t be solved in that amount of time the customer is left to book another followup appointment so the technician can move on to the next customer. In the next few months, the company plans to let Genius Bar technicians extend an appointment beyond those time constraints if necessary, with employees speculating that the new system will rely on an algorithm to reassign that technician’s next appointment to other employees within the store as needed. To serve all scheduled appointments despite the new variable time limits, employees believe the change may require pushing back break times until an appointment is completed, but won’t change the break’s length once they can finally go.

Apple reiterates, strengthens its opposition to FBI’s demands in iPhone ‘backdoor’ request

In a memo sent out this morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook thanked employees for their support during the company’s high-profile fight with the FBI and reiterated the company’s position against complying with an order to develop a new “backdoor” to decrypt information stored on the cell phone of one of the San Bernadino shooters,Buzzfeed reports. Cook responded to the FBI’s request via an open letter to customers last Tuesday, and today Apple posted a Q&A addressing further questions customers may have about the growing debate, explaining that the removal of privacy safeguards and the legal precedent set by such a move would put all Apple users at risk of having their personal information compromised. While FBI Director James Comey argued in a blog post that the FBI isn’t looking for a master key for access to all iPhones, Apple said the FBI’s argument — that the unlocking technique, once created, would be used only once for this specific iPhone — is impossible to guarantee. “Yes, it is certainly possible to create an entirely new operating system to undermine our security features as the government wants,” the document reads. “But it’s something we believe is too dangerous to do. The only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.”

U.S. Justice Department calls Apple’s legal challenge a ‘marketing strategy’

In a further salvo against Apple for its refusal to unlock an iPhone for the FBI, the New York Times reports that the U.S. Justice Department has now filed court documents demanding that a judge immediately order Apple to provide the necessary technical tools, precluding any opportunity for the company to provide a formal response. Prosecutors for the Justice Department are asking a federal judge to enforce the court’s order of Feb. 16, stating in court documents that Apple’s refusal to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” rather than any kind of legal rationale. “Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court’s order of February 16, 2016,” the latest filing reads, “Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order.”

Following an order by a federal judge earlier this week to unlock an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded with an open letter, reiterating the company’s stance on digital privacy and stating that the company would challenge the order to create a “backdoor” for government access to encrypted content, citing “implications far beyond the legal case at hand.” Apple’s lawyers are expected to file a formal response to the order by next Friday, likely challenging it on the basis that the Justice Department’s demands and the judge’s order exceed the government’s statutory powers in gathering and searching for evidence under the All Writs Act — a law dating to 1789 which is being used as the court’s justification for ordering Apple to comply.

Further details of Apple-FBI iPhone showdown revealed

An article in The New York Times provides some additional background details on what led up to Apple’s recent legal battles with the FBI over unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The Times profiled Tim Cook and his past efforts involving digital privacy and human rights, and highlighted scenarios where Apple has previously worked with law enforcement agencies in responding to data-extraction requests, contrasting those with the current situation in which the CEO of the Cupertino company is now digging in his heels.

Notably, Apple has cooperated with law enforcement agencies in past years, although the company has often required that officials bring the devices under investigation to the company’s headquarters to be worked on by trusted Apple engineers in RF-shielded Faraday bags. More recently, however, with the development of iOS 8, Apple had taken steps to make it virtually impossible for even Apple engineers to gain access to encrypted iPhone data, essentially putting “keys squarely in the hands of the customer.” Apple continued to comply with court orders to the extent that it could, and in another situation similar to the current FBI request, a federal judge in New York ruled last October that the U.S. Government was overstepping its boundaries in the use of the All Writs Act to compel Apple to open an iPhone for a drug investigation — that particular case also still remains pending. Interestingly, the Times report also notes that Apple did work with the FBI following the San Bernardino attack to gather and provide data from the iPhone in question that had been backed up to iCloud. However, investigators also wanted unspecified information on the iPhone that had not been backed up, resulting in the judge ordering Apple to create a tool specifically to allow investigators to easily crack the iPhone’s passcode to gain access to the device.

Apple issues iOS 9.2.1 patch to fix ‘Error 53’ problem

Following reports earlier this month that certain unauthorized repairs made to iPhones were causing device failures,  Apple has now issued an updated version of iOS — version 9.2.1 — that will restore any iPhones that have been “bricked” with this error message as well as preventing future iPhones from being disabled in the event of third-party repairs. Apple has also issued a support document detailing the error and the process to update or restore devices that are affected by the issue.

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