Apple and Valencell Settled their Patent Dispute

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watchOS 5 on Apple Watch

Biometric firm Valencell and Apple have settled a long-running patent dispute. MacRumors confirmed that that the lawsuit was settled in September 2018. Valencell provides the optical heart rate monitoring and biometric sensors in a number of devices. It claimed Apple solicited information about its technology on the pretense of a potential licensing agreement in the run-up to launching the Apple Watch.

The biometric company also accused Apple of deciding it was more financially beneficial to risk infringing on Valencell’s patents than to license them, claiming that the practice was “consistent with the statement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that Apple has ‘always been shameless about stealing great ideas.'” Valencell had requested a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing future acts of infringement, as well as damages and an ongoing royalty rate for licensing purposes should a permanent injunction not be granted.

Google Hopes No One Notices it's a Digital Oil Baron

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A day after the company got fined over privacy and consent practices, Google CFO Ruth Porat says data is more like sunlight than oil.

Most people know the phrase “data is the new oil,” a theory about how the world’s most valuable resource is information rather than petroleum. Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday morning, Google chief financial officer Ruth Porat said: “Data is more like sunlight than oil … It is like sunshine, we keep using it and it keeps regenerating.”

Google wants to ride the coattails of alternative energy instead of being associated with those nasty old oil barons in the hope that no one will notice similarities. Also the phrase “We keep using it and it keeps regenerating” underscores the belief that data can be collected from people and used for free.

AMD Radeon Navi GPU Support Coming to macOS

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AMD Radeon Navi GPU support is coming to macOS. Code for four graphics cards is present, referring to Navi 9, Navi 10, Navi 12, and Navi 16.

The new device ID is 0x73101002. We need to keep our eyes on this kext development for more news and support as its getting close to the “Navi-dad”. we saw similar code in Sierra prior to the Vega release. Navi in 6 months?

Feliz navidad everyone!

Police Looking for WalMart iPhone Thieves

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Police are looking for WalMart iPhone thieves who stole US$40,000 worth of iPhones and Apple Watches across multiple states.

The suspects are identified as James J. Jordan, 42, and Jahmir Andre Mitchell, 19, both from Philly. They remain at large, but face felony charges of participating in a corrupt organization, receiving stolen property and retail theft and a misdemeanor conspiracy charge.

Sounds like these guys are suspects in multiple cases. Hopefully they will be caught.

Tesla Granted Permission to Sell Model 3 in Europe

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Tesla Model 3.

LONDON – Tesla received permission to start selling the Model 3 in Europe. Bloomberg News reported Monday that the Dutch vehicle authority, RDW, gave the firm the go-ahead. It could start delivering the Long Range Battery version of the vehicle in February. The news came just days after CEO Elon Musk announced that the company was going to lay off 7% of its full-time staff to reduce the price of the Model 3.

The European launch is crucial for Tesla as it navigates what Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk called a “very difficult” road ahead. The company is cutting jobs so it can profitably deliver lower-priced versions of the Model 3, Tesla’s first car targeted for the mass market. Musk has pointed to sales of the sedan in Europe and China as a main reason he isn’t concerned about any potential setback caused by a halving of the U.S. federal tax credit, to $3,750, on Tesla purchases as of Jan. 1.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Images Leaked

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Samsung Galaxy S10

On Friday, VentureBeat’s famed phone-leaker Evan Blass tweeted a picture of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range.  It featured the Galaxy S10E, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+. The Verge reported on the leaks, saying that the Galaxy S10E is likely to be the cheaper model in the range. It has just 2 cameras at the back, while both the other two models three. The report also noted that Samsung and Verizon are thought to have held discussions about bringing 5G to the U.S.

Blass points out that this image features the Galaxy S10 lineup in clear cases, with the S10E on the left, the S10 in the middle, and the S10+ on the right. The S10E features two cameras on the back, while the other two have three. The S10+ also appears to have a pair of front-facing cameras with a larger hole-punch.

New 'Shot on iPhone XS' Film Set for Chinese New Year Release

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Shot on iPhone XS Chinese New Year

Apple looks set to release a new “Shot on iPhone XS” film in the near future. 9to5Mac picked up on Chinese reports which indicated that the new clip will be will be released to coincide with Chinese New Year. Those reports suggested that the latest iPhone XS short will be officially announced on January 25th. Apple released a “Shot on iPhone XS” film back in September 2018. It showed off the camera’s slow motion, time-lapse, and 4K capabilities.

A post on Chinese social network QQ.com shares what appears to be teaser materials for the film. Text invites you to click on text to reveal the protagonist of the film, and doing so reveals a man with a taped-up bucket … Other text asks whose story will be told, and how the secret will be kept, revealing further images of the man on the back of a motorcycle and a closer shot of the bucket.

Google Investigation Shows Apple Was Right About Face ID

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Take this with a grain of salt because this tweet is all I’ve seen about this. But David Ruddock of AndroidPolice mentioned a Google investigation trying to determine if certain types of fingerprint sensors are secure.

Another CES Story: I’ve heard Google is currently investigating whether current optical fingerprint sensor designs are secure enough to be used for TrustZone auth (mobile payments, banking apps, etc). There is real concern optical FPRs may be too easy to spoof.

Although facial recognition came to Android first, it was there for convenience as a way to unlock your device. But Apple added it for security, and it looks like they bet on the right horse.

A List of macOS Touch Bar Apps

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The Touch Bar on recent Macs doesn’t seem to get a lot of love, but David Nield writes about macOS Touch Bar apps that do make use of it.

We’re only going to limit ourselves to mentioning one Apple app in the list, but dig around, and you’ll find that pretty much every native macOS program includes some Touch Bar shortcuts you might find useful.

Personally I’m of the opinion that the feature is gimmicky and doesn’t add much functionality to Macs.

Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science

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Recently I wrote a PSA on Wi-Fi and cancer, and a lot of people disagree with me by sending me links to studies and other news that also disagree. That’s fine, but at the same time a lot more effort goes into scientific research than cherry picking Google results. I don’t claim to know better than these studies, but a scientific study needs to be taken into context of the field as a whole. John Oliver had a good segment on studies and how they can be misunderstood. Compound Interest has a rough guide to spotting bad science and red flags to watch out for. I’ve made use of this guide for some time, and I think it’s helpful.

This graphic looks at the different factors that can contribute towards ‘bad’ science – it was inspired by the research I carried out for the recent aluminium chlorohydrate graphic, where many articles linked the compound to causing breast cancer, referencing scientific research which drew questionable conclusions from their results.

Cortana no Longer an Alexa or Google Home Competitor

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Google Home smart speaker

Microsoft no longer sees its Cortana digital assistant as a competitor to the more popular Alexa and Google Home. The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, said that it should be further integrated with its rivals’ platforms instead, The Verge reported. Microsoft and Amazon already partnered for some Cortana/Alexa integration, and this is clearly where Microsoft intends to take the product next – more of an app or service across multiple platforms, not hardware to be sold.

CEO Satya Nadella revealed that Microsoft no longer sees Cortana as a competitor to Alexa or Google Assistant. “Cortana needs to be that skill for anybody who’s a Microsoft 365 subscriber,” explains Nadella, referencing Microsoft’s new consumer subscription push. “You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just like how you use our apps on Android and iOS so that’s at least how we want to think about where it’ll go.”

Federal HTTPS Certificates Not Renewed Because of the Government Shutdown

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Gove Expired HTTPS

The U.S. Government shutdown has affected a whole host of areas in the public sector. One that might not immediately spring to mind, but is rather important nevertheless, is federal HTTPS certificates. Techcrunch had a look into the issue and compiled a list of all the federal HTTPS certificates that expired, or are about to expire. It included domains that redirect to the Congressional record and websites for agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If you go to one of the sites with an already expired HTTPS certificate, such as disasterhousing.gov, you get a warning that the site might not be secure.

During the government shutdown, security experts noticed several federal websites were throwing back browser errors because the TLS certificate, which lights up your browser with “HTTPS” or flashes a padlock, had expired on many domains. And because so many federal workers have been sent home on unpaid leave — or worse, working without pay but trying to fill in for most of their furloughed department — expired certificates aren’t getting renewed. Renewing certificates doesn’t take much time or effort — sometimes just a click of a mouse. But some do cost money, and during a government shutdown, there isn’t any.

Thoughts About an iPad-First Workflow

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Ryan Christoffel writes about key things to think about if you want to adopt an iPad-first workflow.

Software limitations aside, the iPad clearly has a lot going for it; the iPad Pro is a more attractive Mac alternative than ever before. But moving to the iPad still involves some growing pains. The longer you’ve used a traditional computer, the harder an iPad transition can be. There are a few key things, however, that can help make your iPad adoption a success.

I’m not fully iPad-first yet because I still need to get a keyboard for it. But once that happens then my transition will be complete.

The Facebook 10 Year Challenge Might not Just be a Harmless Meme

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iphone facial recognition

If you have been on Facebook or Instagram recently, you will have noticed the “10 Year Challenge”. Users post a profile picture of themselves from 10 years ago and another from now. It is meant to be a harmless meme that laughs at ourselves and late 2000s fashion. But could there be something more sinister to it? Katie O’Neil wondered in Wired if the “10 Year Challenge” is actually helping Facebook develop a facial recognition algorithm.

Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years. Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise…In other words, it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos.

Federal Prosecutors Push Huawei Criminal Investigation

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huawei logo

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. are pushing a criminal investigation against Huawei. The Chinese firm is alleged to have stolen trade secrets from U.S. business partners, including T-Mobile U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported. This latest development puts even further pressure on the company. It has already been caught up in an investigation by the U.S. Government into intellectual property theft by Chinese companies. It’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December 2018 at the request of the U.S.

The investigation grew in part out of civil lawsuits against Huawei, including one in which a Seattle jury found Huawei liable for misappropriating robotic technology from T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Wash., lab, the people familiar with the matter said. The probe is at an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment soon, they said.

Chinese Think-Tank Blasts Apple's Taiwan and Hong Kong References

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Apple China flag

A Chinese think-tank criticized Apple, Amazon and a number of other firms for the way they reference Taiwan and Hong Kong, Reuters reported. Tawain is considered a wayward-province by China. Hong Kong was returned to China by the British in 1997 and is a semi-autonomous region. Apple is amongst a number of firms that refers to both Hong Kong and Tawain as separate from mainland China, something the Chinese government has been trying to crack down on recently.

China last year ramped up pressure on foreign companies including Marriott International and Qantas for referring to Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate from China in drop down menus or other material. The report was co-written by [Chinese Academy of Social Sciences] CASS and the Internet Development Research Institution of Peking University. An official at the Internet Development Research Institution told Reuters that it had not yet been published to the public and declined to provide a copy.

Did You Know the IRS Offers Free Tax Filing?

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Private tax companies don’t want you to know this, but if your income is below US$66,000 the IRS offers free tax filing software. If your income is above US$66,000 you can still file for free, but you’ll have to do it manually with fillable forms. However, thanks to the long government shutdown this year, tax returns will end up being late.

Collection 1 is a Massive New Data Breach

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Troy Hunt, creator of the Have I Been Pwned? tool, wrote a blog post about the latest data breach called Collection 1.

Let’s start with the raw numbers because that’s the headline, then I’ll drill down into where it’s from and what it’s composed of. Collection #1 is a set of email addresses and passwords totaling 2,692,818,238 rows.It’s made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources.

To find out if your account credentials were leaked, visit haveibeenpwned.com.

Questions for Apple in 2019

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Since 2015 Above Avalon has published a list of questions for Apple, across hardware, software, services, and “big picture.” Here are the questions for Apple in 2019.

January is a great time to embrace the unknown rather than come up with Apple predictions for the next 12 months. Accordingly, this is my fifth installment of Apple questions as a new year kicks off.

It’s a big, detailed list and lays out things we wonder and things rumors have suggested.