California Stories March 23, 2016

cellebrite

Israeili YNetNews reports that the so-far unnamed “third party” which has offered to help the FBI try to break into the San Bernardino iPhone is Cellebrite, a mobile forensics company based in Israel.

The FBI has been reportedly using the services of the Israeli-based company Cellebrite in its effort to break the protection on a terrorist’s locked iPhone, according to experts in the field familiar with the case. Cellebrite has not responded to the report. But if it is indeed the “third party” in question, and it is able to break into the terrorist’s iPhone, it would bring the high-stakes legal showdown between the government and Apple to an abrupt end. Cellebrite, considered one of the leading companies in the world in the field of digital forensics, has been working with the world’s biggest intelligence, defense and law enforcement authorities for many years. The company provides the FBI with decryption technology as part of a contract signed with the bureau in 2013.

Cellebrite declined to comment officially, and no information was given as to the method the company plans to use. One unlikely source claims to know …

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California Stories March 21, 2016

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A detailed behind-the-scenes look by Bloomberg at the showdown between Apple and the FBI details how it had been on the cards for years before the San Bernardino shootings. Among the details revealed are that Apple provided the FBI with early access to iOS 8 so that the agency could understand the impacts ahead of its introduction.

The government’s concern about Apple’s increasing use of strong encryption dates back to 2010, said one source.

Long before iOS 8 was launched, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies had fretted about Apple’s encryption, according to a person familiar with the matter. In 2010, the company introduced the video-calling app FaceTime. It encrypted conversations between users. The following year, the iMessage texting application arrived; it, too, featured encryption. While neither of these developments caused a public stir, the U.S. government was now aware how much of a premium Apple put on privacy.

It was around this time, says the piece, that the FBI started pushing the White House to introduce new legislation which would guarantee law enforcement access to data on smartphones and other devices. These attempts were reportedly abandoned when the Snowden revelations changed the public mood …

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California Stories March 16, 2016

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Fight for the Future, the protest group that organized demonstrations in support of Apple outside its retail stores, plans to hold a demonstration outside the next Apple/FBI court hearing on March 22nd. Re/code reports that the group has created a website inviting people to voice their support for secure iPhones, comments from which will be displayed outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Riverside, California.

The FBI wants to force Apple to weaken the security measures that keep all of us safe. This is misguided, and dangerous. On March 22, when Apple goes to court, we’ll display thousands of statements from Internet users outside the courthouse.

Fight for the Future has so far had mixed success with its protests …

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California Stories March 11, 2016

U.S. Attorney General argues San Bernardino County is the owner of the iPhone, Apple should help ‘the customer’ [Video]

In an interview on The Late Show, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Stephen Colbert that the government in the San Bernardino case simply wants Apple to help a customer.

What we’re asking [Apple] to do is to do what the customer wants. The real owner of the phone is the County, the employer of one of the terrorists who is now dead.

California Stories March 10, 2016

Tim-Cook-arms-event

Will Apple stick to business as usual later this month at its press event for the new iPhone SE, Apple Watch, and Mac updates? Or will it use the very public stage to also address the ongoing FBI/San Bernardino/encryption controversy?

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California Stories March 9, 2016

fbi

While an earlier public poll showed the majority of the public siding with the FBI in the dispute over whether Apple should be forced to help the government break into an iPhone, the public mood appears to be shifting. A WSJ/NBC poll shows that, overall, American voters are now almost evenly split on the issue.

Neither the WSJ nor NBC has yet released the full poll – only the results relating to the Republican primary race – but CNET has reported the numbers.

Overall, American voters are evenly divided over whether Apple should cooperate with FBI efforts to crack open a terrorist’s iPhone.

47 percent said they feared the government wouldn’t go far enough in protecting national security, while 44 percent feared it would intrude too far into citizens’ privacy.

As you’d expect, there was a significant difference in views among registered Republicans and Democrats …

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California Stories March 8, 2016

woz

Appearing on Conan last night, Woz said that he sided with Apple in the FBI fight, first because he’s always been strong on human rights, as one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but because governments shouldn’t be able to tell manufacturers to make their products insecure at a time when security is so important.

He argued that there is absolutely no reason to think the FBI would learn anything from the iPhone in question.

They picked a lame case. They picked the lamest case you ever could […]

[For the shooters’ own phones] Verizon turned over all the phone records, all the SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone, that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone, and it’s so lame and worthless to expect something’s on it and get Apple to expose it.

Revealing that he had once written something that could have acted as a Macintosh virus, he said he’d thrown away every line of code because he was so scared of what might happen if the code got out …

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Hillary Clinton says Apple/FBI dispute is “the worst dilemma ever”

While most politicians have come down on the side of the FBIBloomberg reports Hillary Clinton is an exception. Not that she’s on Apple’s side: from her remarks, she doesn’t know whose side she’s on, she just wants there to be a solution but has no idea what it should be.

California Stories March 7, 2016

lavabit

The implications of the FBI forcing Apple to create a compromised version of iOS to break into an iPhone could be profound, argues Lavabit – an encrypted email company that closed its service rather than comply with an FBI demand to hand over its encryption key. Company founder Ladar Levison (above) was found to be in contempt of court when he refused to hand over the key in 2013.

Lavabit is the latest of more than 40 companies and organizations to file an amicus brief in support of Apple, reports TechCrunch.

It warns that iPhone and iPad users may reject future iOS updates, which would leave security holes unplugged.

If the government is successful, however, many consumers may not be as trustful of these updates because of a fear (actual or imagined) that the updates will contain malware to provide a backdoor into the data on their iPhones. The result is that fewer people will automatically accept the automatic updates and the overall security of iPhones across the country will suffer.

But the effects of a ruling against Apple could go even further, the company suggests …

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miller

The battle between the FBI and Apple continues to be played out in the media. On the same day that Apple SVP Craig Federighi said that the FBI wanted to create a weakness that could be used by hackers and criminals, NYPD’s head of counter-terrorism weighed in during a radio interview. The Daily News quotes John Miller accusing Apple of providing aid to murderers, among other things.

I still don’t know what made [Apple] change their minds and decide to actually design a system that made them not able to aid the police. You are actually providing aid to the kidnappers, robbers and murderers.

He cited the same quote used by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance during the Congressional hearing to support this contention, that a criminal described iOS 8 as ‘a gift from God’ …

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California Stories February 26, 2016

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FBI director James Comey – who had previously claimed that “the San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent” – has now admitted that it would. The Guardian reports that Comey made the admission when testifying under oath yesterday to a Congress committee.

The ultimate outcome of the Apple-FBI showdown is likely to “guide how other courts handle similar requests”, James Comey told a congressional intelligence panel on Thursday, a softening of his flat insistence on Sunday that the FBI was not attempting to “set a precedent”.

Asked if it was true that police departments around the country also wanted to gain access to locked iPhones, he agreed that it was …

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California Stories February 25, 2016

doj

Apple may be battling one branch of U.S. law enforcement on a terrorist-related issue, but CNN reports that the company is working closely with another on a broader fight against ISIS. Apple is one of six leading tech and media companies offering assistance to the Department of Justice in countering ISIS messaging and posts on social media.

At a meeting conducted at the Justice Department on Wednesday, executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, MTV and Buzzfeed offered their input to top counter intelligence officials, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting.

In all, nearly 50 companies and community groups participated, along with the National Security Council, the State Department and the British Embassy.

The issue is not just one of propaganda, said National Counterterrorism Center director Nick Rasmussen, but of directly encouraging acts of terrorism …

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California Stories February 18, 2016

tim-cook-privacy

Civil rights organizations have expressed strong support for Apple’s resistance to a court order instructing it to create special firmware that would allow the FBI to break into an iPhone – with tech companies doing the same, albeit in a weaker fashion.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted a statement in which it said that it applauded Apple for standing up for the rights of its customers, and would be making its views known to the court.

Essentially, the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security […]

EFF applauds Apple for standing up for real security and the rights of its customers. We have been fighting to protect encryption, and stop backdoors, for over 20 years. That’s why EFF plans to file an amicus brief in support of Apple’s position.

The Verge notes similar support from both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International …

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California Stories July 30, 2015

Apple SoMa Photo Credit: Todd Johnson/San Francisco Business Times
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Apple SoMa

Photo Credit: Todd Johnson/San Francisco Business Times

Apple may hold its annual developers conference and many press events in San Francisco, but the company’s campus is located about an hour southeast of the city in Cupertino. Despite naming its new custom font used on MacBook keyboards, watchOS, iOS 9, and OS X El Capitan after San Francisco, Apple is remaining in Cupertino for its larger Campus 2 currently being developed. But Apple has reportedly picked up some sizable office space in the city’s South Market neighborhood… expand full story

California Stories May 18, 2015

A new flyover of Apple’s under construction Campus 2 project in Cupertino, California gives us one of our closest look yet at the site. We also get our first detailed look at work started on Apple’s new auditorium on the campus where it plans to host events when the project is complete.

The video below comes courtesy of MyithZ who was able to get these shots from just 120ft up, much closer than previous drone flyovers and Apple’s own aerial shots.

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California Stories May 14, 2015

An Apple Store in Monterey, California was evacuated yesterday as employees began to fall ill reportedly due to a package delivered to the location covered with an unknown substance. CBS reports that “fire and hazmat officials determined the package was contaminated in transit when an unknown substance most likely leaked onto the package’s exterior.” expand full story

California Stories May 13, 2015

Tesla has taken its recruiting of Apple employees to the next level: the electric car and energy company has hired away Apple’s Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting, Cindy Nicola, to become Tesla’s new Vice President of Global Recruiting. Nicola has already noted her new role and start month of May on her LinkedIn profile.

Notably, Apple actually hired away Tesla’s Lead Recruiter in 2014 for its own electric car project, as we noted in our extensive profile of Apple’s automotive related hires. Interestingly, that former Tesla recruiter Lauren Ciminera has already left Apple to work on a new “confidential” project, according to her own LinkedIn page and confirmation from a source…

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California Stories April 3, 2015

Beautiful aerial photography shows Apple’s latest Campus 2 construction progress

These might be the best photos yet of Apple’s currently under construction Campus 2 site in Cupertino.

The new photos were published by The California Sunday Magazine and shot by Michael Light, a San Franciso-based photographer and pilot that managed to get some gorgeous photos of the site from his aircraft and outdo the drone shots we’ve see up until now.

We’ve previously shared a number of aerial shots straight from Apple and drone operators flying over the site regularly. All of the latest images, news updates, and drone flyovers for Campus 2 can be found in our ongoing timeline tracking progress at the site.

The most recent updates came last month when Apple shared official aerial shots of Campus 2 and city officials approved a recycled water project that is being partly funded and led by Apple and its new campus.

Click below for both shots from The California Sunday Magazine:

California Stories March 31, 2015

[youtube https://youtu.be/9vy6M3qXbdQ]

The latest drone flyover of Apple’s under construction Campus 2 gives us our closest look yet at the site. expand full story

California Stories March 18, 2015

Apple seeds Safari 7.1.5 and 6.2.5 betas to developers for Mavericks and Mountain Lion

Apple today has released a pair of Safari betas for earlier version of OS X. Safari 7.1.5 beta for OS X Mavericks and version 6.2.5 beta for OS X Mountain Lion are both available on the Mac Developer Center for registered developers. Safari 8.0.5, which includes the same upgrades as the Mavericks and Mountain Lion versions, is not available as a separate download, but it comes as part of the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 developer and public betas. Here are the focus areas for these Safari betas:

California Stories March 9, 2015

Shuttle-Bus

Apple is ensuring that its sub-contracted shuttle bus workers get a better deal, directly funding a 25% bump in their pay and requiring contractors to pay a higher hourly rate for split shifts–where drivers work both mornings and evenings but are kept hanging around without pay between the two …  expand full story

California Stories February 10, 2015

apple-Solar-reno

During Tim Cook’s talk at the Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2015 today, the Apple CEO announced a new initiative that will see the company build a solar farm in Monterey County, California that Cook called Apple’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious” energy project yet. expand full story

California Stories January 31, 2015

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Apple is preparing to take some pages out of the traditional jewelry store playbook. For the upcoming 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, Apple is planning several new features for its retail stores to support the device. As we reported several months ago, Apple is planning on allowing customers to actually try on the watches and test out different band styles inside of stores. With the high-expected price tag of the gold watch models, Apple will also step up its security features for stores…

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California Stories January 22, 2015

applewatchbattery

Although Apple has said that the Apple Watch will need to be charged nightly, the company has not disclosed any details on how long the wearable’s battery will last. For the first time, people with knowledge of the Apple Watch’s development have provided us with the specific performance targets Apple wants to achieve for the Apple Watch battery, but the actual numbers may fall short of those targets.

According to our sources, Apple opted to use a relatively powerful processor and high-quality screen for the Apple Watch, both of which contribute to significant power drain. Running a stripped-down version of iOS codenamed SkiHill, the Apple S1 chip inside the Apple Watch is surprisingly close in performance to the version of Apple’s A5 processor found inside the current-generation iPod touch, while the Retina-class color display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second.

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes…

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