Apple agrees to pay smaller suppliers faster as part of Obama’s new ‘SupplierPay’ program

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According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama is set to announce a new program called “SupplierPay” to help boost small businesses, and Apple is one of the 26 companies listed as having already signed on.

The program intends to send money down the supply chain and help strengthen contractors and smaller businesses by giving them access to lower-cost capital and thereby opening up opportunities for hiring more workers. This, the White House hopes, will increase investments at the small business level as well. Read more

Russian government drops iPad in favor of Samsung tablets over spying fears

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Russian government officials have stopped using iPads in an official capacity, instead opting to use offerings from Samsung according to a new report by Business Insider. The new Samsung devices are custom, secured tablets designed to be used with the confidential information government officials often need to handle.

Russian officials have denied that the swap is an effort to stop supporting American companies following sanctions related to the Ukrainian crisis. It also doesn’t seem to relate to recent rumors that the US government had backdoor access to Apple’s iOS devices—a claim Apple has denied.

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Apple provides update on government requests as tech companies reach settlement with DOJ

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Just a few days later after Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his thoughts about the NSA and data collection transparency, Apple has posted an update to its website with new information regarding account data requests. The company’s press release comes as US Department of Justice comes to a settlement with technology companies over how they are allowed to disclose information about government data requests.

A statement from the DOJ explains the agreement will allow “detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities.” Due to these new guidelines, Apple has now been able to report FISA and National Security Letters separate from law enforcement requests as show in its graphics above and below.  It also notes the new data released today replaces the U.S. data from its Feb. 5 2013 Report on Government Information Requests.

Apple-National-Security-orders-02Apple has been working closely with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the Department of Justice to advocate for greater transparency with regard to the national security orders we receive. We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the U.S.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that he would push congress for more transparency regarding controversial surveillance programs and how companies can disclose information related to information requests. At the time, Cook said that there was much the company couldn’t speak about due to gag orders:

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Apple joins tech titans in calling for government spying reform and limitations

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has joined Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and other giants in the tech industry in calling for a reform of the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Earlier this year it was revealed that the National Security Agency was using information from these companies and more to monitor citizens across the nation without warrants.

The companies allegedly involved in the “PRISM” program denied turning over any user data to the government, but a leaked NSA slidedeck (seen above) seemed to imply the opposite.

The new collaborative campaign, called Reform Government Surveillance, cites five driving principles in its drive to curb excessive government spying:

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Norwegian government blocking Apple from capturing 3D Flyover Maps data in Oslo

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Oslo, Norway in Apple Maps (No 3D available)

Update: From a 9to5mac Reader in Norway:

Regarding the issues where the Norwegian government is blocking Apple from mapping the capital, Oslo, in 3D: it seems the law that is being sited actually was withdrawn in 2005, but issues with an old computer system in the police department blocks the update from being put to use! http://www.osloby.no/nyheter/Loven-som-hindrer-Apple-a-flyfotografere-Oslo-ble-vedtatt-opphevet-i-2005-7277631.html

Apple is being blocked from capturing 3D, aerial footage of Norway capital Oslo for its iOS and Mac Maps applications, according to Norway-based newspaper Aftenposten. As part of removing Google Maps from iOS, Apple, last year with iOS 6, launched its in-house Maps app with 3D “Flyover” data being a premier feature. Flyover allows users to see a 3D representation of many cities across the globe.

According to today’s report, Norway’s National Security Authority is not allowing Apple from capturing the 3D data needed for the feature. Apple uses small aircraft equipped with advanced camera systems and actually flies them around buildings. The data is then processed at Apple and formatted for the Maps app…

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DoD to grant Apple’s iOS 6 & Samsung Galaxy devices security approval for widespread use by US government agencies

DOD-iPad-USThe iPhone and iPad have already been cleared for use by a number of US government agencies, and in February the US Defense Department confirmed plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports the DoD is about to grant two more important security approvals that could increase the number of agencies allowed to deploy iPhone, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy devices:

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, the agency that sanctions commercial technology for Pentagon use, is set to rule that Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones, preloaded with Samsung’s Knox security software, conforms with the Pentagon’s so-called Security Technology Implementation Guide, according to people familiar with the approval process. That would allow it to be used by some Pentagon agencies for things like sending and receiving internal emails, according to these people.

Separately, DISA is expected to rule that Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 6, conforms to a different security-requirement guide, these people said. That would allow iPhones and iPads to be used by military agencies for nonclassified communications, like email and Web browsing.

The report from WSJ explained Samsung has been steadily increasing its attempt to break into corporate and government markets by hiring a new team of security experts and former RIM employees to reach out to Western governments and corporations: Read more

Apple under fire from governments in both hemispheres over alleged anti-competitive practices

Apple may face an anti-trust investigation in Europe over its iPhone contracts with carriers as it defends itself against separate investigations for alleged price gouging in Australia.

Apple was informed last year that it would be required to attend a hearing by Australia’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications to explain why its pricing of digital content was higher in Australia than in the United States. The hearing is now underway, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, with Apple asked to explain why content sold through iTunes is marked up between 30 and 70 percent higher than in the U.S. Apple is blaming wholesale pricing agreements in the country.

“The pricing of this digital content is based on the wholesale prices which are set through negotiated contracts with the record labels, movie studios and TV networks,” said Mr King, who is Apple’s vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia.

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Apple calls DOJ settlement with publishers unlawful, says trial is necessary

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement in April with three of the publishers involved in the eBook price-fixing antitrust suit against Apple. Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster were part of the settlement, which would allow Amazon to return to its previous wholesale model and the publishers to set and reduce prices for eBook titles freely. PaidContent provided an update today on the case by reporting Apple has filed a document with the Southern District of New York. It called the proposed settlements with the three publishers “fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented.” Apple argued that since it is not settling, the settlement would unlawfully end contracts those publishers have with Apple.

The proposed settlement would require the three settling publishers — HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — to terminate their existing agency pricing contracts with Apple. Apple says that isn’t fair: “The Government is seeking to impose a remedy on Apple before there has been any finding of an antitrust violation.” This case, the company states, revolves around “an alleged conspiracy to force Amazon to adopt agency.” So a settlement “enjoining collusion or precluding publishers from forcing agency on Amazon would be appropriate,” but Apple is entitled to defend its contracts in court.

Apple is hoping the courts decide to reject the settlements or delay a ruling until after the June 2013 trial. Apple also discussed Amazon’ role in the case. It claimed the government has “unwittingly placed a thumb on the scales in favor of Amazon”:
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Amtrak ditches hole puncher for iPhone, new service tool scans tickets (Photos)

Government-owned railroad service Amtrak is set to use Apple’s iPhone and a new app as an electronic ticket scanner.

The New York Times reported that train conductors have been training to use the tech during select routes since November. The addition allows passengers to load a specific bar code on their smartphone screens that the conductor can scan for tracking purposes. Of course, passengers can still print their tickets per usual for Amtrak’s iPhones to scan.

Amtrak said 1,700 conductors would use the iPhone on routes across the country by late summer. The iOS device will come with a case containing an extra battery and a bar-code scanner. It will also come equipped with an app for scanning and indicating special conditions, such as whether passengers are disabled— and when and where they are departing— for coordinating a wheelchair lift. The app will even enable conductors to report the train’s mechanical failures.

The NYT article does not mention it, but 9to5Mac discovered mobile and emerging technologies developer Übermind claims to be the brain child behind the app’s shiny, new features. It’s website provided a few images (below) that depict what Amtrak described when detailing the iPhone’s case, battery, and app:

“Paper tickets are so 19th century. We ushered Amtrak’s conductors into the 21st century with our workforce automation solution. The bottom line for Amtrak: better customer service, better labor relations, and real-time business intelligence. Riders, taking the train just got fun again. [..] We worked with Amtrak to design and implement the engaging Digital Passport feature within Amtrak’s passenger iPhone app. With the personalized passport, riders can earn stamps for travel, share achievements to social networks, and view a map overlay of personal ridership stats. Train Masters, wanted.”

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Apple starts pushing back iPad launches?

People awaiting iPads in the Czech Republic were told they’d be in the first group of countries (outside the US) to get an iPad on March 25th.

We’re not sure why but the Czech Republic iPad website now shows they just got pushed back a month. (for those not in the know, Dubna=April).

Update: Apple has removed (not corrected) the launch date.

Update 2: Apple has finally got its Czech translator on the ball – says Brezna (March) now

Could be some issues with equipment and government specific to Czech Republic, a translation error or could be supply constraints like last year.

Time to hit eBay?

(Thanks Pavel!) Read more