Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘apple’ Category

Tim Cook and the Data Industrial Complex

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TechCrunch is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook has begun to basically throw down the gauntlet with respect to the global trade in digital data, suggesting that it has exploded into a “data industrial complex.”

“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

“Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.”

This discussion came about as a result of a keynote speech Cook was giving to the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels.

Cook also addressed the issue of artificial intelligence, saying that “at its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency.”

“For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.”

I find it fascinating that Cook tied up AI and privacy. He’s clearly looking well ahead to where some of the next major digital battlegroups are likely to take place, and the raw horsepower AI could bring to privacy violations.

Cook went on to say that Apple is “in full support of a comprehensive, federal privacy law in the United States.

He argued that a U.S. privacy law should prioritize four things:

  1. Data minimization — “the right to have personal data minimized”, saying companies should “challenge themselves” to de-identify customer data or not collect it in the first place
  2. Transparency — “the right to knowledge”, saying users should “always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for, saying it’s the only way to “empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t”. “Anything less is a shame,” he added
  3. The right to access — saying companies should recognize that “data belongs to users”, and it should be made easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data
  4. The right to security — saying “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Over the past several years, Apple has positioned itself as a protector of digital privacy rights. However, it should be noted that  Apple is also far less dependent on digital advertising revenue as are other key players in the tech space (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.)

Written by turbotodd

October 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

Apple Chips

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How about that rough stock market ride yesterday?

All I have to say about that is that it’s October (check your stock market history).

But yesterday’s steep selloff hasn’t stopped deals from happening.

TechCrunch is reporting that Apple will buy a part of Dialog Semiconductor, a chipmaker based out of unit, for $300 million in cash and a commitment of another $300 in further purchases from the company.

While Dialog is describing this as an asset transfer and licensing deal, it will be Apple’s biggest acquisition by far in terms of people: 300 people will be joining Apple as part of it, or about 16 percent of Dialog’s total workforce. From what we understand, those who are joining have already been working tightly with Apple up to now. The teams joining are based across Livorno in Italy, Swindon in England, and Nabern and Neuaubing in Germany, near Munich, where Apple already has an operation.

TechCrunch suggests this deal is part of a continued emphasis on Apple’s "putting considerable effort into building faster and more efficient chips that can help differentiate its hardware from the rest of the consumer Electronics pack….and comes at a time when many expect Apple to release a VR headset in the future."

Dialog says post the acquisition, the remaining part of the business will focus more on IoT, as well as mobile, automotive, computing and storage markets, specifically as a provider of custom and configurable mixed-signal integrated circuit chips.

Written by turbotodd

October 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

Close Those Circles

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As goes Wichita, so goes Wichita Falls.

Reuters is reporting that one of America’s oldest and largest North American life insurance firms, John Hancock, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones.

Reuters story indicates that policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app.

Presumably that doesn’t include buying pints of Chocolate Häagen-Dazs.

Privacy and consumer advocates have already raised the alarm, wondering whether insurers like John Hancock could use the data to select for more profitable customers, and penalizing those who don’t close all their Apple Watch circles every day.

And you thought it was just a cool digital watch you could show off to your friends!

Written by turbotodd

September 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

About Those New iPhones

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If you’re in the market for one of those new iPhones, there’s plenty of reviews coming out. What you want may depend on who you read.

The New York Times’ Brian Chen starts his review by saying he’d been a naysayer on the growing size of smartphones. But after spending a week with the new iPhone XS Max, Chen seems to have come around to the idea of having a much larger phone in one’s hand.

One reason for the change was that Apple had managed to cram a bigger screen into a slightly smaller body, which meant that Chen could hold the XS Max in one hand and type messages easily. So, less bevel, more screen space.

Chen indicated that he also liked the jumbo screen for practical reasons, finding it beneficial for reading maps when driving, when writing longer emails, and even for reading recipes in the kitchen. Just try not to do all three of those things at once!

Yet even Chen encouraged those looking to buy a new iPhone to try before you buy, because there are several sizes for different prices and they’ll all be in Apple stores to see first hand soon.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern did us all a favor by providing a very simple to read breakdown of the three new iPhones introduced last week:

  • iPhone XS: An upgrade to the 5.8-inch iPhone X from last year. It still starts at $1,000 and begins shipping Friday, Sept. 21. (The original X is gone. RIP.)
  • iPhone XS Max: A giant version of the XS with a 6.5-inch screen— Apple Inc.’s biggest-ever phone display. It starts at $1,100 and also ships Friday.
  • iPhone XR: A new model that doesn’t have the two-camera system and vibrant OLED screen, but does have a slightly larger 6.1-inch LCD screen and apparently better battery life. It starts at $750 and ships on Oct. 26.

She called the XS and XS Max “fabulous phones,” then hedged by writing that “we’ve hit a point where every smartphone is great – it comes down to what you want and what you want to spend.”

For the XS Max, she explained that “if you want a ginormous screen on an iPhone, the XS Max’S beautiful 6.5-inch OLED display is here for you.”

Taking photos, watching videos, FaceTiming, Fortniting, even writing emails felt more immersive on the big phone. But two things hold me back from going to the Max.

However, she concluded that unless you are in an iPhone upgrade program or absolutely dying for that Max screen, she suggested not jumping from the X to the XS.

“Going back to last year’s model, I missed the speed boost a bit, but not enough to drop another grand or more.”

And she reminds us not forget that the new iOS 12 is expected to speed up certain elements, particularly on older phones.

In fact, I just upgraded a now ancient iPad Air (Gen 1) to iOS 12, and it already seems like it’s 40% faster with the upgrade.

As for those looking to go more down market for one of these new iPhones (if down market can even be ascribed to these categories and prices of smartphones), the iPhone XR is poised to do very well.

While it doesn’t have the two-camera system of XS and XS Max, it does have a 6.1-inch LCD screen and ostensibly better battery life, and costs several hundred dollars cheaper.

And if you’re on the fence and might be looking into Android land, don’t forget that the Google Pixel 3 is expected to announce around October 9th.

TechRadar provides some rumor, innuendo and leaked pics of the new Pixel just in case you want to hedge and build some anticipation. 

Me, I bought a 6 Plus off Gazelle earlier this year for less than $500, and it works beautifully on iOS 12.

But am I tempted…?!!

Written by turbotodd

September 18, 2018 at 10:33 am

Posted in 2018, apple, iPhone, iPhone XS

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Bigger, Better iPhones?

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First off, for those of you in the North Carolina and South Carolina and Virginia and surrounding states, I wish you well in the coming days and hope that you all stay safe, sound, and dry!

Hurricanes are no fun. We found that out first-hand last year with Harvey here in Texas.

But neither rain nor sleet nor storms can prevent Apple from announcing their next slate of gadgets, which they’re slated to do here in about 45 minutes.

I love all the guesswork that goes into trying to figure out what Apple is going to announce at these events, but All Things How is taking a crack at the tea leaves by analyzing the Apple products sitemap on the company’s website.

In its analysis, they discovered that the company is introducing at least two new iPhones, the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max.

Some details:

iPhone XS Display Size: 5.8-inch
iPhone XS Max Display Size: 6.5-inch
iPhone XS and XS Max Storage Options: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB
iPhone XS and XS Max Color Options: Silver, Black, and Gold

iPhone XR Display Size: 6.1-inch
iPhone XR Storage Options: 64GB and 256GB
iPhone XR Color Options: Black, White, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Coral

We’ll all know more for sure in a couple of hours.

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2018 at 11:16 am

Posted in 2018, apple, weather

Tagged with , , ,

Oh Thank Heavens

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It’s all about convenience.

MacRumors is reporting that 7-Eleven announced yesterday that Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted at nearly all of its 10,000+ locations across the United States.

The company also highlighted some of the technology improvements that it has introduced recently including the 7-Eleven NOW app for placing on demand orders with Apple Pay, the 7Rewards loyalty program that allows customers to earn points for purchases, and the 7-Eleven Bot on Facebook Messenger to allow customers to get quick answers to questions.

Those all-critical questions that often arise at 2 AM, like: “Do you have any hotdogs left?”

To use Apple Pay at 7-Eleven stores, customers will need an iPhone 6, 6s, 6, 7, 8, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, SE, or X, and/or a compatible Apple Watch model.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2018 at 9:35 am

Posted in 2018, apple, payments, retail

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Apple AR Acquisition

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Happy Thursday.

Reuters is reporting that Apple has acquired a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, a sign that Apple has ambitions to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world.

The company, Akonia, could not be immediately reached for comment, according to Reuters. it reports the company was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists and had originally focused on holographic data storage before pivoting to creating displays for AR glasses.

Neither the purchase price nor the date of the acquisition was revealed, although one executive in the AR industry said the Akonia team had become “very quiet” over the past six months.

Reuter’s suggests that this acquisition is the first clear indication about Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in AR hardware: producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit in the glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively low price.

Meanwhile, from The Verge we learn that Google’s Titan Security key set — which includes a USB key, a Bluetooth key, and various connectors — is now available to we mere mortals for only $50.

The Titan keys work as a second factor for a number of services, including Google Cloud customers, Facebook, Dropbox, and GitHub. But as The Verge points out, they’re built particularly for Google account logins, and, specifically, the Advanced Protection Program announced last October.

The Verge writes that “Because the keys verify themselves with a complex handshake rather than a static code, they’re far more resistant to phishing attacks than a conventional confirmtion code. The key was initially designed for internal Google use, and has been in active use within the company for more than eight months.”

Google has also indicated the production process makes the keys more resistant to supply chain attacks, because the firmware is sealed permanently Into a secure element hardware chip at production time in the chip production factory. Google says that the chip used is designed to resist physical attacks aimed at extracting firmware and secret key material.

Anything to keep the very bad people away from my data.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2018 at 9:49 am

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