An unverified tip claims Apple is preparing a promotional video ahead of next week’s event touting the ability to shoot 4K video on the new ‘iPhone SE,’ Apple Insider reports. Until now there hasn’t been speculation one way or the other as to whether the new phone would be able to capture 4K video, but if rumors about the new device’s camera and CPU being basically equivalent to those of the iPhone 6s are accurate, the omission of 4K recording would seem to be an artificial limitation, rather than a technical one.
John Oliver — from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver — has unleashed his satirical brand of humor on Apple’s fight with the FBI over cell phone encryption, spending the last half of this week’s show on the issue. After pointing out the simplified way that Apple’s critics portray the security issues at stake in the case, Oliver admits it sounds scary. But once he lays out Apple’s case for not wanting to create code that could used to hack all of its devices, Oliver concludes, “The FBI and its supporters can be weirdly dismissive of that issue in ways that indicate they either don’t fully understand how technology works or are pretending not to.” The segment lambasts the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel the company’s cooperation and the idea that the code Apple makes to access the phone can be destroyed after a single use.
After last week’s leaked case photos hinted at a larger camera in the upcoming iPhone 7, another round of photos posted by French website NowhereElse appear to snow a much larger camera opening in the new device. Purportedly from a Catcher Technology factory, the schematic plans show the back case of an alleged iPhone, with changes to the hole for the camera and a lack of antenna lines. The camera hole appears bigger than the camera hole on the iPhone 6 or 6s, hinting at some sort of upgrade, but since the photos appear to show the 4.7-inch model, they shed no more light on other rumors that the iPhone 7 Plus will be getting a dual-camera system.
Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, has officially debunked the longstanding myth that users should quit background iOS apps in order to improve performance or save battery life, 9to5Mac reports. A 9to5Mac reader emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook asking the company for an official stance on whether this was necessary. The message was passed on to Federighi who responded with an uncategorical “no.”
While Apple’s own support documents and various iOS presentations over the years have pretty clearly implied that force-quitting apps should not be necessary except in cases where apps become unresponsive, there has been a persistent myth for years that force-quitting apps somehow improves the performance or battery life on iOS devices, perhaps due to the way that multitasking works on traditional Windows and OS X-based computers, not to mention Android devices. Further, even Apple’s own stance has not been entirely consistent at the lower levels, with iLounge’s own editors and readers encountering Genius Bar staff in Apple Stores who have recommended closing apps to “improve performance.” However, since the multitasking frameworks in iOS exercise an almost draconian control over background processes, most apps are actually suspended when in the background, using no CPU or battery power at all. While there are exceptions to this rule, these are usually obvious, such as navigation apps that use the actual GPS hardware (as opposed to mere “geo-fencing” apps that trigger location-based alerts), Voice-over-IP apps, and apps that play or record audio in the background. In many cases the user should be well aware that these apps are running, and are likely actively using them in some way.
French website NowhereElse has posted what it claims to be several leaked photos of a silicone iPhone 7 case obtained from an accessory manufacturer, fueling previous rumors that Apple is doing away with the headphone jack. The clear case appears to fit a phone similar to the iPhone 6 and 6S in shape and button placement, but with a cutout for a second speaker where the previous phones had a 3.5 mm headphone port. Apple has been rumored to be looking to drop the headphone jack in favor of adding a second speaker for stereo audio, and is expected to launch cord-free Beats earphones alongside the new iPhone 7.
Citing pre-publication notes from DigiTimes — a notoriously spotty source for Apple news — The Motley Fool reports Apple has “plans to launch a 5.8-inch iPhone featuring rigid AMOLED display panels in 2018 or even earlier in 2017.” The report, cited as coming from Taiwan-based Apple supply chain makers, echoes previous rumors that Apple would be turning to LG Display and Samsung Electronics to supply the new screen technology for an upcoming generation of iPhones. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted Apple will release two variants of the iPhone 7 Plus this fall — one with a single lens camera and another with a dual-lens camera — but this new report is the first mention of Apple considering production of a 5.8-inch iPhone model.
The U.S. Department of Justice is appealing last week’s court ruling that prevented the government from forcing Apple to unlock an iPhone, Reuters reports. The DOJ has submitted its arguments to a higher court after a magistrate judge in Brooklyn ruled the All Writs Act can’t justify asking Apple to help the government access an encrypted device. The new filing cites the ruling of a judge in California who found the All Writs Act an acceptable rationale for compelling Apple’s cooperation, pitting two lower courts against one another. While the cases are slightly different, the government’s use of the AWA to justify its position is the same, and Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is willing to take the California case all the way to the Supreme Court. The DOJ has at least a dozen more iPhones it wants cracked in a similar fashion, and FBI Director James Comey has publicly admitted that success in applying the AWA in any of these cases would be used as a precedent to justify similar legal requests moving forward.
Apple has released yet another beta for its upcoming iOS update, in the form of iOS 9.3 beta 6. The new beta has been released to both developers and public beta testers. With an iOS 9.3 final public release believed to be around the corner, this sixth beta could be the last beta seen before the iOS update goes live to all users. Apple also released a sixth watchOS 2.2 beta to developers today. Anything particularly noteworthy will be found in a future update of our Inside the betas piece.
Lavabit, the secure email company that shut down in 2013 rather than hand over its encryption key to the U.S. government, has joined the growing list of companies filing amicus briefs on Apple’s behalf as it battles the FBI in court, TechCrunch reports. In the brief, Lavabit details the “extraordinary assistance” the FBI demanded three years ago, after public disclosures by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden led authorities to the company’s email service. “In the same vein, the government now seeks extraordinary assistance from Apple,” Lavabit wrote, arguing that “the government’s extraordinary request eviscerates the purpose of the All Writs Act, and unnecessarily compromises the proprietary intellectual property of a private company that has not been implicated, in any way, with the crime under investigation.”
The National Assembly of France has voted in favor of a bill that would penalize smartphone makers such as Apple who refuse to cooperate with terrorism inquiries, The Guardian reports. The move, which goes against the wishes of the French government, took the form of an amendment to a penal reform bill related to the end of the state of emergency which has been in place in France since last fall’s Paris terrorist attacks. The state of emergency is expected to be lifted in May. The amendment stipulates a private company that refuses to hand over encrypted data to any investigating authority could face a €350,000 fine ($385,000), and up five years in jail for those deemed liable. The French government has shown a reluctance to take on large phone companies in this manner, leading the report to speculate whether the amendment will actually make it through the remaining and lengthy parliamentary process, which would include a vote and possible amendment by the French Senate, possible constitutional review, and additional commissions.
In response to Apple’s reluctance to aid U.S. authorities in cracking iPhone encryption, one French politician is proposing a 1 million euro fine for every iPhone Apple refuses to unlock in France, Le Parisien reports. French Socialist MP Yann Galut noted eight instances where phones tied to terrorist attacks have been inaccessible to police, suggesting that stiff fines might compel companies like Apple and Google to cooperate with authorities. “Only money will force these extremely powerful companies like Apple and Google to comply,” he said.
When pressed during testimony before Congress, FBI Director James Comey was forced to admit that his agency would use the precedent from a win in the San Bernardino iPhone case to compel Apple to unlock more phones (via Apple Insider). After weeks spent trying to reassure the public that the government’s request for Apple to break into a terrorist’s iPhone would result in one-time access used only in this particular instance, Comey told members of the House Judiciary Committee, “If the All Writs Act is available to us, and relief under the All Writs Act fits the powers of the statute, of course” his agency would apply the precedent to other cases involving iPhones. The admission underscored Apple’s emphasis on the far-reaching nature of the case, given that sources have said the Department of Justice already has at least a dozen iPhones it wants unlocked. In a ruling handed down Monday, a federal judge sided with Apple in a similar case, arguing that the government doesn’t have the legal authority to use the All Writs Act to gain access to encrypted iPhones.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee may file a “friend of the court” brief asking that Congress be allowed to decide Apple’s encryption dispute with the U.S. government, Reuters reports. Five sources confirmed the possibility, although they were quick to caution that no final agreement had been reached. The move would be an unusual intervention by Congress in a legal proceeding and needs to be filed by Thursday’s court deadline for consideration. Sources said the filing would argue that the Feb. 16 federal court order for Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c threatens the constitutional separation of powers, but the committee won’t file anything until today’s congressional testimony from Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell and FBI Director James Comey is concluded. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and several other large technology firms are expected to file briefs on Apple’s behalf.
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.
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.
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.
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.