Tim Cook: Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica consumer data debacle forces tech industry beyond self-regulation

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Speaking on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook for its mishandling and commercialization of consumer data, and again concedes that the time may be past for self-regulation of how companies handle personal information.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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At this year’s Oscars, diverse forces agitated for change

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Last night at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Best Actress award-winner Frances McDormand used her acceptance speech to champion inclusion riders, obscure contract clauses that actors could put in their contracts requiring the demographics of the cast and crew to meet certain diversity goals. She explained backstage that after 35 years in the industry, she had only learned about inclusion clauses last week, but believes they could be a game-changer for an industry that has often been criticized for its lack of diversity. “It changes now,” she said. “And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that.”

McDormand’s speech was one of the more radical moments in an evening full of other milestones, where Jordan Peele became…

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Canada forces Apple and Primate Labs to testify in iPhone battery scandal

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Though lawsuits and government investigations into Apple’s iPhone battery debacle multiplied and went international in January, Canada’s government escalated its investigation today, bringing representatives of Canada’s Competition Bureau, Apple, and Primate Labs — the Toronto, Canada-based company that unearthed the issue — to testify before the House of Commons’ standing committee on industry, science, and technology.

Faced with charts from Primate Labs’ Geekbench that showed dramatic performance reductions across multiple iPhones, Apple admitted last December that it had been slowing down certain iPhones based on declining battery performance. The company publicly apologized, then dropped the price of replacement iPhone batteries to $ 29 in the U.S. ($ 35 in Canada) through the end of 2018.

The members of parliament (MPs) seemed primarily concerned with ensuring that Canadian customers were being treated fairly by Apple, both prior to and after Apple’s admission. Representing the Competition Bureau, Alexa Gendron-O’Donnell explained that the organization’s interest was in protecting consumers from false or misleading advertising and that a U.S. company operating in Canada must comply with Canadian civil and criminal laws, including the truth in marketing requirements of the Competition Law. Responding to questions from the MPs, she noted that there was not as yet a law prohibiting planned obsolescence in Canada, and that based on Competition Bureau policy, she isn’t able to comment on whether the agency was already dealing with Apple in this case.

John Poole of Primate Labs noted that although his company had received consumer complaints of slowdowns in iPhones, he originally believed that they were attributable to an issue with iOS 11. However, a Reddit post noting performance improvements after a battery replacement led Primate Labs to investigate further. Based on additional research, Poole determined that the cause of the slowdown was introduced in iOS 10.2.1, though he didn’t know exactly why.

MPs asked Poole whether the issue affected Canadian and U.S. iPhones differently — after checking Geekbench data, and to the best of his knowledge, Poole said he didn’t think so. They also asked whether Poole felt the battery issue was evidence that Apple engages in planned obsolescence, and Poole said that while he originally might have thought so, Apple’s explanation that it slows devices rather than letting them become unstable made more sense. Still, he felt Apple’s lack of transparency in the matter was an issue.

Poole was also asked if Apple had misrepresented the iPhone to the public. While Poole noted that the public knows Apple’s claims tend to be “up to” and ideal case scenarios, consumers wouldn’t have expected their devices to get slower over time due to battery issues. Additionally, he said that Apple representatives at stores would tell people nothing was wrong with their batteries.

In a separate panel, Jacqueline Famulak and Simon Potter represented Apple Canada, initially reading from prepared remarks before answering questions. Famulak explained Apple’s prior public statements on battery performance, saying that the company’s power management software was designed to enable customers to keep using flagging devices, rather than forcing them to replace phones that would otherwise face the risk of unexpected shutdown. She said that software updates always come with a “readme note” that the customer can read before installation, and that the 10.2.1 note disclosed the power management solution. Beyond offering discounted batteries, she mentioned that the latest version of iOS includes battery management tools.

MPs aggressively questioned Famulak, noting that Poole’s work had seemingly established that unexpected shutdowns can happen at 30% battery life, yet Apple’s slowdowns can begin at 70% remaining battery power — if Apple wasn’t interested in degrading the user experience, why would it slow phones before they hit that 30% point? Famulak said that if other conditions are established, such as a very low temperature or chemical aging of the battery, the phone would manage its power and slow down even if it wasn’t at 30%. She later said that the 30% number wasn’t necessarily accurate.

Another MP asked Famulak what Apple is doing to educate customers about the problem. She responded that they’ve put out statements, and moreover, the company is still selling the affected models, not pulling them from the market. The MP noted that it’s not prominent on the company’s web site, and he wouldn’t have known about it but for news reports.

In a particularly testy exchange, MP Brian Masse asked Famulak why she thought the governments of so many countries were investigating Apple — wasn’t there a cause? Famulak responded that she didn’t believe Apple had done anything wrong.

For the time being, there appear to have been fairly few complaints — only 20 — to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, though the Competition Bureau couldn’t disclose the number of complaints it had received regarding potential false marketing by Apple.

Apple – VentureBeat

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Airbus, Delta, Sprint, and others join forces to make plane Wi-Fi suck less

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In-flight Wi-Fi is pretty terrible, but when you consider that a plane going roughly 500 mph can have an internet connection at all, it’s still an impressive technological achievement. Even so, a few companies think they can make plane Wi-Fi less terrible, and have formed the ‘Seamless Air Alliance.’

The group currently consists of Airbus, Delta, Sprint, Bharti Airtel, OneWeb, GoGo, EchoStar and two US-based satellite companies. There are only two concrete proposals at the moment – make in-flight internet faster, and make it accessible to everyone on the plane without a separate charge.

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Airbus, Delta, Sprint, and others join forces to make plane Wi-Fi suck less was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Google and Nest’s hardware teams are joining forces

Google acquired home automation company Nest back in 2014 for $ 3.2 billion. Now Google is integrating the smaller company even more by merging the Nest and Google Hardware teams into one working group. As noted by CNET, Google's AI, which powers its…
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Where are our cyber peacekeeping forces?

Cyber warfare is upon us, from interference in elections to a leak of cyber weapons from a national stockpile. And, as with most evolutions in warfare, the world is largely unprepared. Cyber peacekeeping presents significant challenges, which we explore in our research. Any theatre of war now includes cyberspace. It has been used in targeted attacks to disable an adversary’s capabilities, such as Stuxnet, where Iran’s ability to enrich weapon-grade Uranium was disrupted. It can also be exploited in traditional warfare through electronic interference with intelligence and communication systems. With little to guide nations and scant experience to build upon,…

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The Next Web

Discord and Spotify Join Forces to Let Users of Both Listen to Music Together

Two of the apps I find myself using the most on my iPhone are Discord [Free] and Spotify Music [Free]. Neither should need any kind of introduction, but in case you haven’t heard of them, Discord is a gamer-centric chat service that spawned from the defunct mobile MOBA Fates Forever (another piece of Discord trivia: Some of the same folks behind OpenFeint are in charge of Discord). We’ve got really awesome TouchArcade Discord Server that’s filled with hundreds of people talking about iOS gaming around the clock. We also use it to coordinate TouchArcade content, so the whole TouchArcade crew is super active. Spotify Music is my preferred online music service, largely because I’ve been using it forever and now I’m so deep in the Spotify ecosystem with different Spotify-connected hardware and services I can’t ever leave. (This is how they get ya’!) That being said, I have zero complaints with Spotify and the $ 9.99 I give them is some of the best money I’ll spend in a month.

On Discord, music bots have been a thing for a while now. Basically, a bot joins your server and then using convoluted chat commands you can make them play music over a voice channel so you can have a shared listening experience with friends. Well, Discord and Spotify just teamed up and if you update your Discord client you can link them directly to do everything music bots used to do, but with way better functionality and user experience as it’s all baked directly into Discord.

The integration is super simple, but if you get stuck anywhere take a look at this page for help on getting your Spotify account linked and how to use all the new stuff. You’ll need to have Spotify premium to use the group listening functionality, but, as I said, a premium subscription is a great way to spend money. Now get your butt over to the TouchArcade Discord Server!


Ketchapp and Tencent Join Forces to Conquer the Chinese Mobile Game World

While we don’t cover a ton of industry news like this on TouchArcade, when it involves China I always think it’s fascinating as it’s really difficult to even wrap your head around the sheer scale of things over there. Here’s the gist: Ketchapp catapulted into popularity with the release of 2048 [Free] and since then has been rapid-fire releasing mini games on to the App Store that all seem to get glued at #1 top free for at least a moderate amount of time. (For instance, right now Finger Driver [Free] holds the top spot.) Meanwhile, Tencent is the biggest investment corporation in the world and has their finger in practically every pie imaginable, particularly in the mobile sector, as their chat app WeChat [Free] has just under one billion monthly active users. In the mix with WeChat is Weixin, which is sort of the same app with slight differences which largely seem to have to do with segregating things inside and outside of China.

Anyway, Weixin is the most popular mobile app in China to an extent that’s truly unbelievable. It’s not at all hyperbole to say that everyone with a phone capable of having Weixin has it installed and uses it on the regular. They recently added a game platform to Weixin that they’re calling “Weixin mini-game” which works pretty similar to the Facebook’s Instant Games. You play them without ever leaving the app, or downloading additional applications. Everything exists inside of Weixin, which removes almost all barriers of entry to people playing these games.

Ketchapp is one of the first partners added to the Weixin mini-game platform, and soon those 980 million monthly active users will have access to all sorts of Ketchapp games right inside of the same chat app that everyone is glued to. It’s hard to really think of anything that compares in Western markets, as I’d say that Facebook’s platform is probably the closest thing we have to WeChat, but it seems like the traction that Facebook gets with all the additional stuff they keep adding to Facebook Messenger [Free]. Comparatively, folks seem to go wild for these WeChat additions, making this an absolutely massive slam dunk for Ketchapp and its parent company Ubisoft.

What does this mean for mobile gamers in the west? Probably not much, but it’s wild how different all these markets can be even though we’re all on the exact same platform.


iPhone battery fire forces brief evacuation of Zurich Apple store

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An Apple store in Zurich, Switzerland was temporarily evacuated on Tuesday after an iPhone’s battery at the service desk overheated in the middle of a removal procedure, emitting smoke.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News