Yesterday, users in Iran lost access to Apple’s App Store. When users attempted to connect or download apps, they received a message saying that the App Store was “unavailable in the country or region” in which they resided. The cessation of services began around noon GMT yesterday, and services resumed around 5:00am GMT this morning, according to social media posts and sources who spoke with Bleeping Computer. A virtual private network (VPN) could still reach the App Store normally.
Media coverage and social media posts were quick to speculate that the store’s downtime was an Apple-imposed ban driven by US economic sanctions against Iran, as Apple is based in the US. However, we are not yet aware of evidence to support this. An accidental outage is also possible, as is a block imposed by Iran’s government—Iran has previously blocked the Google Play store, though that block was later lifted. Apple has not responded to our requests for clarification.
Because of US sanctions, Apple has no formal presence or operation in Iran, and its App Store is not officially supported there. The company does not sell phones there, nor does it work with any vendors that do. It nevertheless had an 11-percent market share in the country as of last year, as Iranians have purchased millions of iPhones smuggled in from other countries. Iranian app developers have published apps to the App Store for use by Iranian iPhone owners.
Apple has gotten into the habit of releasing new iPhones that look just like its old iPhones. We’re not talking about the typical “S” updates that we’ve been used to because they came out every other year. That trend ended beginning in 2016, when Apple used its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus design for the third consecutive year on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Then in 2017, Apple used a nearly identical design yet again for the fourth time on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Long story short, we should probably expect Apple’s new iPhone X design to reappear several times in the coming years.
Even though Apple has begun to reuse its designs more and more recently, the company still tries to add a few new details here and there each year. In 2017, for example, it made the backs of its iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus glass instead of aluminum. This year, Apple will reportedly add some flare to its recycled iPhone X design by mixing in at least one new color, and an image of the 2018 iPhone X successor in that new color might’ve leaked for the first time yesterday.
A photo leaked on Monday that supposedly showed several housings from Apple’s 5.8-inch iPhone X successor set to be released later this year. One housing was pictured in the same white and silver color available now, but another was shown in a new gold color. It wasn’t terribly attractive, and you can see it right here if you want.
Apple’s 2018 iPhone X follow-ups have been rumored on several occasions to introduce a new gold color option that was noticeably absent from last year’s iPhone X lineup. If Apple does indeed add gold to its lineup when it releases three different iPhone X successors in 2018, we hope the new color looks more like graphic design Martin Hajek’s mockup at the top of this post than the possible leak we saw on Monday.
Hajek shared a number of different designs in a blog post on Tuesday, including the one seen above that shows a gold 2018 “iPhone X” next to a gold 2018 “iPhone X Plus.” This is definitely our favorite design, though Apple could be more inclined to use a design similar to the current silver iPhone X, which actually has a white back.
Hajek also mocked up the phones with a black back, and they look awful. Fingers crossed this isn’t the route Apple chooses to take.
Today, top individuals from around the world convened at the World Government Summit to discuss the agenda that should govern the next generation of governments. Yesterday, a select few of these leaders gathered secretive meeting to discuss the guidelines that nations should use as they help their people come to terms with no longer being the only sentient species on the planet.
The event was organized by the AI Initiative from the Future Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The goal of the day was a noble one. The closed-door roundtable was intended to lay out guidelines for the global governance of AI — a roadmap for all nations to adopt.
And it attracted some of the most powerful and influential minds in the world. Representatives from IEEE, OECD, and the U.N. Managers from IBM Watson, Microsoft, Facebook, OpenAI, Nest, Drive.ai, and Amazon AI. Governing officials from Italy, France, Estonia, Canada, Russia, Singapore, Australia, the UAE. The list goes on and on.
Futurism was fortunate enough to have exclusive access to the event.
At times, the room was full of inspiration. At others, I found myself wading through the despair that surrounded me. Yet, even when the conversation turned to topics fraught with the most frustration — like whether or not it’s possible to govern AI research or if humans could ever take power from truly sentient AI — there was hope.
The day is young. The dawn of AI is just beginning. We yet have time.
When H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama opened the day, it was with hope. He addressed the crowd, which included luminaries such as Stuart Russell, Sui Yang Phang, Jaan Tallinn, IBM’s Francesca Rossi, and Amazon’s Anima Anandkuma, saying, “This day is going to change history. Whenever a group of individuals of such diverse backgrounds comes together, great things happen.”
He continued more soberly, noting that the last time the world faced a threat of this consequence, it resulted in the creation of the Manhattan project. But this time, he added, the stakes are higher.
“I’m not trying to be negative, but it has to happen now.”
Yet, solutions were elusive. The attendees agreed that history has long shown us it’s impossible to stymie technological and scientific progress. What becomes banned or over-regulated simply relocates to back alleys and hidden rooms. To avoid this, the attendees agreed, the best option seems to be a dual approach: First, nations must incentivize research in areas that provide the most benefit and least risk to society. Second, they must invest heavily in AI research and development. It is thought that, by keeping pace with corporations and innovators, governments will be better positioned to anticipate and prevent any problems along the way.
Once leaders take the time consider, make sense of, and compile all of the findings from yesterday into a report, the hope is that more concrete and actionable steps will emerge.
Though the day itself ended with few clear answers, the attendees were generally positive. “The number of both technical papers and start-up companies has exploded in recent years,” one attendee offered. “It’s amazing. But we’re still pretty small. We see the same faces at all these conferences. We still have a chance to make solutions.”
Cyrus Hodes, Vice President and Director of The AI Initiative, shared this optimism. “Such a gathering has been much needed and will help the international community embrace the enormously positive impact of AI while at the same time getting prepared to mitigate potential downsides.”
There is, of course, much work ahead. To date, there have been many initiatives, and plenty of talk, but no answers. Our future depends on how soon we commit to the search for them. It is a start.
You may have seen this video if you watched the Apple event, but in case you missed it here’s Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive introduce the new iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus don’t need such a wordy introduction, so here’s the low down in under a minute. The new LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 can make calls while you surf – something that Apple demoed yesterday. Here’s a more dramatic version of that demo: It turns out that people form a deep emotional connection with their Apple Watches, check out some heartfelt letters by fans: And finally, this…
Plus, a digital media veteran takes over the LA Times, CNN launches a daily news show on Snap, and how do you follow totality?
President Trump returns tonight to a deeply divided Arizona for a nighttime rally with his core supporters in Phoenix. The state’s two senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are among Trump’s most vocal critics within the Republican Party. Last night, Trump gave a speech — his first nationally televised prime-time address since January — outlining a new strategy to carry on the nearly 16-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, which will likely call for the deployment of up to 4,000 more U.S. troops. [CNN.com]
Digital media veteran Ross Levinsohn is the new publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times. Levinsohn made his digital reputation by helping News Corp acquire Myspace in 2005, and he ran Yahoo for a stretch; this is his first newspaper. His appointment is part of the paper’s latest restructuring under management by the Tronc conglomerate, which also resulted in the firing of several top editors. [Peter Kafka / Recode]
In an effort to get more video in front of more young people, CNN launched a daily news show exclusively for Snapchat. NBC launched a twice-daily news show on Snapchat last month; CNN’s three-to-five-minute “The Update” will run every day at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, teens are leaving Facebook faster than expected, according to a new study — but lots of those teens are turning to Instagram, which Facebook owns. The study also predicts that Snapchat will be bigger than both Facebook and Instagram in the 12- to 17-year-old and 18- to 24-year-old categories by the end of the year. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]
Facebook has made a permanent page for Safety Check, its feature for letting others know that you’re safe during an emergency. The dedicated tab, which will roll out in the next few weeks, lists catastrophes and crises all over the world. [Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge]
Smartphone “hijackings” are on the rise: In a growing number of online attacks, hackers are calling up carriersand asking them to transfer control of a victim’s mobile phone number to a device under the control of the hackers; they can then reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number as a security backup. [Nathaniel Popper / The New York Times]
Yesterday, the launch of a Chinese communications satellite ended in failure when the rocket carrying the probe somehow malfunctioned during flight. It’s a significant loss for China since the vehicle that failed — the Long March 5 — is the country’s premier heavy-lift rocket. And its failure could have a significant impact on the future of China’s ambitions in space.
It’s still unclear exactly what happened. Shortly after the flight, China’s official press agency, Xinhua, simply reported that “an anomaly occurred” during launch and that there would be an investigation into the problem. But some clues seem to indicate the issue may have started in the main core of the rocket. A plume of gas was seen around the main engines of the vehicle…